Craving Colour

Happy Weekend Everybody! The sun is shining and there is much to celebrate.

Yesterday was Canada Day *waves flag proudly* and my friends in the US will be celebrating their nation’s Independence Day on Monday.

Over in Europe, there’s the Wimbledon finals, the Tour de France AND the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

And it looks like Mother Nature has finally decided to let us have some summer weather. :D

All very good reasons to raise your glass and cheer!

~~~

Most of this week it’s been pretty rainy around here causing me to regard mostly colourless projects as, frankly, kind of depressing.

White, Grey, Grey/Rust/Grey, and Khaki. *sigh*

There was only one solution…

CAST ON!

Digging around in my sock yarn stash, I picked out the brightest, happiest combination I could find, grabbed my copy of Last Minute Knitted Gifts and my 24″ set of 3.5mm Addis.

I Dream of Oceans Scarf

“I Dream of Oceans Scarf”

VOILA! Instant happy.

It’s the very popular Chevron Scarf pattern by Joelle Hoverson done in Sheeps of Egyptian Cotton Handdyed Merino Fingering Wt in “Pacifica” and Lotus Yarns Chakra in “Jenna”.

A great take-a-long project that I can pick up and do a few rows on whenever I need a blast of colour.

~~~

Regardless of the icky weather earlier this week, my Mitered Crosses Blanket seems to be progressing nicely:

Mitered Crosses Blanket, 4 squares

4 squares down, 6 more to go.

Each block seems to be a 2-day project, so I give it a couple more weeks and they should be done.

I’m still thinking about how I want to handle the border as I really am not a fan of applied I-cord. (Don’t get me wrong, I like the look, but I find it a bit of a pain to do.) Guessing it’ll depend on how much yarn is left after the squares and filler pieces are done.

~~~

This weeks quickie project was knit out of some of my first wheelspun – remember this?

Handspun Pumpkin Patch BFL

Well, it became this:

Mind's Eye Hat

“Mind’s Eye Hat”

One of the hat patterns from Shannon Okey’s Spin to Knit book.

I don’t think it came out too bad for 62 yds of (badly) Navajo-plyed, eye-searing BFL.

You won’t lose me in a crowd anyhow LOL.

~~~

When the sun came out in full force on Thursday, I took the rare opportunity to work on my embroidery projects that tend to get neglected in favour of my knitting obsession.

I got a little bit more done on the petit-point version of “Witchwork” by Amy Law that was designed for the Monica Ferris novel “Blackwork”.

Rather than ordering the kit from Kreinik (it just wasn’t in the budget when I started it last year), I ended up substituting the Silk Mori and Braid with DMC Cotton and Metallics on white linen from my fabric stash.

My version is a little more vibrant than the Kreinik original, but I really like how it’s coming out. I’ve just started the final border, so the embroidery should be done fairly soon.

Witchwork Petit Point

(I apologize for the fuzzy picture, my camera’s acting up again.)

It will eventually grace the top of one of these boxes.

The piece measures *less* than 4″ square. Next time I’ll throw a coin in the picture for scale.

My other cross-stitch in progress is a kit I bought for myself aeons ago just before I went for gallbladder surgery (and a good two years before I found out I was Celiac).

I pull it out and work on it from time to time when I have the inclination.

Bookshelf Cat Cross-stitch

It’s the “Frederick the Literate” kit designed by Charles Wysocki.

I love it lots. And I got a fair bit done on it while watching the live feed from Wimbledon on Feegle (my Netbook).

Thursday was a very good day.

~~~

Yesterday, I started a new pair of socks for the July SKA Challenge (Fair Isle/Intarsia), got a little carried away and finished the first sock at around 1:45am.

Fair isle knitting apparently has a hypnotic effect on my brain, causing me to not notice hunger, fatigue or even Canada Day fireworks. It’s powerful stuff.

So, I share with you the grand total of my Friday accomplishments:

Turkish Stashbuster Socks #1

The first Turkish Stashbuster Sock.

And when I say “stashbust”, I mean STASHBUST! There’s everything from tapestry wool, scraps of aran wt wool to quadrupled Kroy 3-ply fingering wt in these things.

Turkish Stashbuster Socks #2

When they’re done, I’ll have used up a full *17* balls from the stash. Small ones, sure – but they’re out of the stash all the same. And it’s the small leftover balls that drive me bananas.

It’s the Turkish Sock pattern by Bronwyn Lowenthal (from “Love to Knit Socks“) which is written for 14 different colours of Debbie Bliss Aran on 4mm needles. I used 3.5mm and found them plenty big enough.

I think they’ll look fabulous with my steampunky hiking boots this Fall, don’t you?

Steampunk Boots

July is also a “Mystery Sock” month – a colourwork pattern designed by Stephanie van der Linden – WOOHOO!!!

I’m going to finish off the stashbuster socks first then cast on for them. I already have the yarn pulled – can’t wait to show you!

~~~

I mentioned before, the Tour de France is on, in fact, it started this morning.

And any fiber person can tell you that means only one thing…

THE TOUR DE FLEECE HAS BEGUN!

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your wheels/spindles!

My goals are pretty up in the air at the moment, but I *have* started spinning one of the larger bunches from my fiber stash and will go from there.

Tour de Fleece Day One progress

8 oz of Pacific Wool & Fiber “Spinner’s Choice” Colonial Heather Wool Top in “Jewel Great Britain”.

My first test run was coming out a little thick, so I plyed it back on itself and started a new bobbin.

I’ll ply each bobbin back on itself to make things easier all around.

It’s really pretty stuff, teal and green with shots of burgundy – YUM.

(Just for the record, I haven’t joined any of the numerous teams – simply spinning for fun this year.)

~~~

Speaking of spinning, I did finish up a skein of handspun that I was working on earlier this week:

Handspun Jewelled Rainbow

It’s about 438yds of fingering weight (4 oz) spun on my Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle that I couldn’t bring myself to ply. So I finished it off as a singles yarn.

This delicious BFL Top is from Woolgatherings with the very descriptive title of “Dyelot: BFLM02181101″. I call it “Jewelled Rainbow”.

It reminds me of Malabrigo. If Malabrigo dyed BFL.

Hands off – it’s mine :P

~~~

I’m pretty sure that’s it for now.

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

TTFN.

How to make 3 weeks disappear

Knit lace. Lots of lace. I guarantee that the whooshing noise of deadlines flying by will become completely imperceptible after 4 days.

But even if your house is a mess and your spouse doesn’t quite recognize the crazylooking person in front of them, you will have something freaking impressive and beautiful when you’re done.

Behold:

Dreamscape Shawl - Complete

My Dreamscape Shawl.

It’s glorious. Deliciously soft, gorgeous drape, and frankly, ENORMOUS.

I wish my photography skills were better so I could do it justice.

I love it.

~~~

The lace knitting inertia continued…

Windsbraut Bertha - Complete

Windsbraut Bertha

Also delectibly soft (Mondial Gold Merino/Cashmere), HUGE (70″x 38″) and horribly photographed.

~~~

But what if I don’t knit lace? I hear you say…

Knit socks.

My hubby tends to overlook the dusty furniture if I knit him socks.

D-Man Socks - Complete

Stripey D-Man Socks for my Danny-boy.

Aloe Vera infused (Austermann Step) socks, because I love him lots.

AND I got the stripes to match – yeah BAYBEE!

~~~

But you do have to know when step off the train to Crazyville.

The Patchwork Blanket out of sock yarn?

Patchwork Cushion - complete

Well, it became a rather funky looking Patchwork Cushion instead.

This is what the back looks like:

Patchwork Cushion - Back

The rest of the leftover sock yarns will be addressed at another time.

~~~

What of the Christening Set?

Progress has been made:

Christening Gown - Progress

It’s slow going – but I’ve been informed that nephew Marc will be christened in September, so I have some time.

The sticky white cotton on tiny needles with 3 active cats in the house also makes me slightly paranoid with sessions of manic handwashing after touching *anything*.

I hope my sanity survives the creation of this set, I really do.

~~~

How to soothe the madness?

Let’s try some nice stockingette.

Lady Grey Tunic

This is my cotton Lady Grey Tunic. Which I hope will look something like this when it’s done:

Knitted Tunic with Lace Border

Pretty hunh? It’s free pattern (found here).

~~~

And when all else fails, you can’t beat good old garter stitch.

And no one (with the exception of Elizabeth Zimmermann – have you seen the new book? WANT!) does it better than the gals from Mason Dixon Knitting.

Now, I have been continuing to work on the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket (20 more ridges to go on block #7), but I had something slightly less epic in mind.

A Mitered Crosses Blanket.

10 afghan squares. I think I can handle that.

Not having any Noro Silk Garden (sniff), I delved into the stash and came out with some tweedy woolly goodness with which to make my version.

Mitered Crosses Blanket - Square 1

Red Cross to the rescue :D

~~~

As I’ve once again rejoined the world of the (slightly) sane, I will talk to you all again next week.

TTFN

Published in: on June 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm  Comments (2)  
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Just One More…

Ahh yes, the plaintive call of wild and domesticated knitters alike:

“Just one more” (row, round, stitch, skein, ball),

“Then I’ll get to” (sleep, housework, cooking, bathing, blogging).

I am not immune and that is why there was no blog post last week.

I had personal goals that I wanted to hit and, well, I figured you guys knew me well enough to know that if there was a gap in my blogging, there’s probably some good stuff coming in the next post.

And there is!

So here we go…

~~~

Sockapalooza

In the last 2 weeks, I finished a whopping *4 pairs* of socks. Yes, I said FOUR.

Crocodilian Socks - Done Crocodilian Socks - Complete

The Crocodilian Socks (aka the Entrelac Socks from HELL) were finished first. As expected, the second one went a *little* faster than the first due to extensive notetaking.

BadgerDan declared them quite comfy and wore them most of last weekend. He does, however, mention that one really shouldn’t wear entrelac socks in workboots as they’ll give you some weird-ass welts on your instep.

Sound advice, thank you dear.

Garden Stroll Socks - Complete

Those were followed closely by the Garden Stroll Socks.

(Very cute – I really need to pick up some summer skirts to wear them with.)

Next past the finish line was my “fun stuff” project from the week before last.

Now, I may not have mentioned it before, but I try and do something quick and frivolous every week to break up the steady work on my epic projects.

Sometimes they get ripped out and you don’t hear about them, but for the most part, they do get finished and that’s the origin of all the bags, hats and other ephemera speckled throughout my posts.

I generally call them my “day projects” as they normally only take a day or so to finish.

Well, this time I decided to tackle some crocheted socks.

Why? Because you can never have too many socks.

(Do you *hear* the sarcasm? Yes, I know I have a problem. I’ll figure out what to do about it. Eventually.)

These ones I totally blame on the yarn which didn’t want to work for any other thing I tried to use it for and I just wanted it out of the stash before it influenced any of the other balls. (Hey, if stash can breed, it can also organize an armed coup.)

Patons Kroy Summer Moss

Behold – 2 upstart balls of Patons Kroy Jacquards in “Summer Moss”.

And here’s what they became:

Crocheted Carnival Socks

I used the “Ultimate Crocheted Socks” pattern by Dorothy Hardy which I had attempted about 5 yrs ago and gave up on, but managed to muddle my way through this time.

Crocheted Carnival Socks - Complete

I call them my “Crocheted Carnival Socks“.

Being toe-up, I simply continued the leg until I ran out of yarn and then proceeded to do the cuff in some solid Patons Kroy 4-ply in Burgundy.

I think they have been tamed quite nicely :D.

Bliosan Socks - complete

And last, but not least, I finished off my Bliosán Socks today!

Janel threw us a bit of a curveball with the last clue – shaped arch construction on the foot.

Bliosan Socks - Bottom Bliosan Socks - top

Sneaky. Clever. Pretty darned funky.

~~~

Fun Stuff

Last week’s little fun project came in the form of a wee stuffed bird.

Stripey Chirp - front

Meet “Stripey Chirp“. He’s 3″ tall and made out of scrap Noro Kureyon, and some other wools.

Stripey Chirp - side

(My apologies for the fuzzy photos, it was late at night when they were taken.)

The pattern is another one of Rebecca Danger’s adorable creations called “Chubby Chirps” and is available for free.

(I may have fallen down and purchased her Big Book of Knitted Monsters. Shhhhhh!)

~~~

Epic Garter Stitch

What really has been taking my time up has been a slight obsession with my two blanket projects.

I finished the middle 12″ of the Patchwork Blanket which consists of 36 two inch mitered squares:

Patchwork Blanket - Centre Square

Sock yarn. 2.5mm needles. This is gonna take FOREVER!

So I decided to upsize the squares a little:

Patchwork Blanket - 6

The 6″ squares still take forever to knit (about a day each), but at least it *seems* like progress.

The Moderne Log Cabin Blanket has also been getting a fair bit of love:

Moderne Log Cabin Blanket - Block #7, 35 ridges

Block #7 is now over the halfway point… only 62 more rows to go.

This is Hockey Playoff knitting at it’s best :D. (GO CANUCKS GO!!!)

~~~

A New KAL

A bunch of my Plurk friends twisted my rubber arm and suddenly I found myself participating in WendyKnits’ Summer Mystery Shawlette KAL

Lucky Penny Shawl - Clue 1

I’m using MadelineTosh Tosh Sock in “Copper Penny” on 4mm needles and decided to call it my “Lucky Penny Shawl“.

It’s been easy going so far:

Lucky Penny Shawl - Clue 2 Complete

The largest clue (Part 3) is due out in a few hours, so you know what I’ll be up to tonight :P.

~~~

Next Week’s Agenda

All this clearing off my proverbial desk is to free me up to work on my nephew’s Christening Set which I hope to get done in the next 2 weeks.

I also have the last 3 clues left to do on my Dreamscape Shawl.

Never a dull moment around here.

TTFN.

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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Baffling Brain Fogs and Resulting Chaos

The Thursday before last, I couldn’t do my regular blogpost as I was the helpless victim of an inexplicable brain fog.

This fog was very strange and kept me in it’s evil clutches for about a week and a half. It scrambled me so bad that I could barely string 2 relevant thoughts together.

You can imagine what it did to my knitting. It fairly near reduced me to tears.

Nothing would work, and when I bravely soldiered on, it caused much cursing due to skipped instructions, miscounting and multiple rippings back of hours of stitching.

~~~

Adventures in Entrelac

I did, somehow, manage to finish the first Crocodilian Sock through sheer willpower and gritted teeth.

The leg took 3 runs at it to get the stitchcount down to where it fit an 8″ leg.

Final count = 45 stitches. Fingering wt. On 2.25mm needles. BIZARRE.

I swear, entrelac must warp the space-time contiuum or something.

Upon finally reaching the cuff, I changed first round of cuff to (K1, P1, KFB) to increase stitchcount from 45 to 60.

I also had to alter the first row of the heel by knitting into the front & back of each of the 15 stitches to bring it up to the required 30.

Okay, from here-on-out this should be a cakewalk, right? Wrong.

Following instructions, I diligently worked the heel and half of the gusset as written:

Crocodilian Socks - Sock 1 heel

Then I tried it on. The rectangular heel turn (Welsh?) as a rule doesn’t work well for me, but the worst part was that *the gussets weren’t lining up*. One side was about an inch ahead of the other side. HUNH??

For the life of me, I couldn’t work out how to pick up the bloody stitches evenly on the sides of the entrelac instep.

Being so fed up with this idiot sock at this point, I did the only logical thing possible.

(No, it didn’t involve copious amounts of alcohol or screaming, although those thoughts did filter through the fog.)

I ripped back to the heel turn, did a regular triangular heel turn (French?) and proceeded to knit the gusset and sole without joining to the instep. When the sole was long enough, I simply kitchenered it to the bottom of the toe and sewed up the sides of the foot.

Crocodilian Sock 1 - Done

DONE.

This pair is going to BadgerDan because I simply cannot get over my ambivilent feelings for this pattern enough to wear them.

~~~

Lace Limbo

I didn’t dare even *attempt* to pick up one of my shawl projects, but I had promised my friend Heather Zoppetti (aka “Digitalnabi”) to test knit her newest sock pattern “Bobbie Strow“.

It took me *three days* to knit the lace cuffs. This would generally take me the matter of *maybe* 4 hrs.

Garden Stroll Socks - Sock 1 progress

This is as far as I got on my version – “Garden Stroll Socks” Thankfully far enough that I could send my notes off to the ever-patient Heather with confidence.

These will now become the resident “purse” socks until they’re done as the hard part is over.

~~~

Maybe It’s a Yarn Weight Thing

Sure, that’s it – you’re overloading on sock & laceweight yarns. You need to knit with some chunky yarn.

Emmaline has been in the queue for a while, why not give it a go? Okay.

After screwing up the bodice increases 3 times, it occurred to me that perhaps gauge wasn’t the issue after all.

It did get done though, however slowly.

Emmaline Bodice

I had to put it away, but pulled it out again yesterday and finished it this morning:

Emmaline Top Complete

Emmaline Top

Finally – a Finished Object! (a week late.)

~~~

What Can I Do????

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to a Knitter who can’t concentrate enough to knit – let’s just say it isn’t pretty.

Over and over I muddled over in quiet desperation what I both wanted to do and *could* do in this troubling state.

I was almost to the point of hysteria when a little internal voice answered.

“You can spin”.

So I took it’s advice.

I spun:

Life's Lemons on Spindle Life's Lemons - Skeined

Highland Handmades Superwash BFL – “Life’s Lemons” (4 oz)

And spun…

Fertility Handspun Handspun Fertility

Intentions Yarn Superwash BFL – “Fertility” (4 oz)

And spun…

Handplyed Brown Heather Shetland

Handplyed Recycled Shetland (from sweater) – Brown Heather (36g – 2 ply lace to 4 ply fingering wt)

And spun some more…

Handspun Cinnamon Simon

LlamaGoldsmith Alpaca Roving – “Simon” (1.3oz)

Toasted Almond Alpaca Wool

Louet Dyed Eastport Alpaca/Wool Roving – Toasted Almond (2oz)

I even spun up some itty bitty samples into 55yds of self-striping laceweight singles:

Self-striping laceweight alpaca

Natchwoolie Samples of: “Black” Alpaca; “Hazelnut Truffle Fawn” Alpaca/Tussah Silk; “Milk Chocolate” Alpaca; “Sterling Mixed Grey” Alpaca/Tussah Silk (total weight: 12g)

~~~

All Spun Out

Relaxing a bit, time to branch out a little and ease yourself back to knitting. How about some crochet?

Fingerless mitts – that should be simple enough…

Bohemian Opera Gauntlets

Bohemian Opera Gauntlets

Wow, those were unexpectedly fast and easy.

Bohemian Gauntlets

And very sexay!

~~~

On a Roll

Hmm… perhaps you should try to do something with all those tiny balls of dishcloth cotton that have been driving you nuts…

Crocheted Dishcloths

Clockwise from top: Big Blue Flower Washcloth; Nature Star Tawashi; Spumoni Starflake Tawashi; Forget Me Not Tawashi; Eye-Searing Leftover Dishcloth; Softie Leftover Washcloth

Little balls of cotton? GONE.

~~~

Then Badgerdan returned home from Toronto with a set of Ikea Kassett CD Boxes.

Who knew that this small act could make me deliriously happy and spawn a joyful afternoon of cutting up sleeves from the overloaded CD binder all to the tune of blaring 1990s music?

CD boxes

I am such an organizational geek.

With my appetite whetted, I moved onto the 2 unsuspecting DVD binders with scissors in my scheming hands…

DVD Collection

Believe it or not, there’s 76 DVDs and 14 extra empty sleeves in that small plastic dollarstore basket. I’ll pick up a snazzier box for them next week.

And the binders didn’t go to waste!

Cross-stitch Binders

They’re now safely housing my collection of cross-stitch patterns and magazines. :D

This little adventure got rid of 2 plastic binders, one slightly warped CD binder and 2 plastic magazine holders. YEAH BAYBEE!!!

~~~

There’s still some residual fogginess going on, but the worst of it seems to have passed.

I think I can safely start on Clue 6 of Evenstar without too much chance of casualties.

I hope.

TTFN.

(Note: Will be back to regular Thursday updates starting next week.)

Breaking Even

Remember back in March when I told you about the master plan to work my yarn stash down to more reasonable levels?

Well, I encountered my first fullblown challenge to the plan a little over a week ago while out shopping with a girlfriend at the local Salvation Army Thriftstore.

You see, I found yarn.

Good yarn. Wool yarn. Useful yarn.

Lana Grazia Lavabile

2 balls of Lana Grazia “Lavabile” (100% Wool, DK, 110m/50g) in a lovely camel colour @ 99c each.

Simpsons Supremacy 4-ply

1 oz ball of vintage Simpsons Supremacy 4-ply “All Purpose” Fingering Yarn (50% Wool/50% Nylon) @ 79c.

Total purchase price = $2.79

Now here’s the kicker – at that point, I had only earned 30% of a single new yarn purchase. A deficit of 2.7.

Translation: I would need to use up a full **27 balls of stash yarn** before even looking at any new fiber purchase. ACK!!!!!!!

After I finished thwacking my head against the wall for a bit, I girded my loins and decided to face the monster head on.

~~~

First up – finish the Sampler Baby Blanket.

I simply couldn’t afford to wait another 2 months for the CAL patterns.

So a few more filler squares, a couple more February squares, four of the April squares for the corners and a sewing marathon later, I had this:

Sampler Baby Blanket - Sewing Complete

Added an improvised border and VOILA!

Sampler Baby Blanket - Complete

One crib sized baby blanket ready for the baby nephew :)

~~~

Next – finish the Exploding Plum Blanket.

And holy cow, did it ever explode! It’s almost 6 ft wide!

Exploding Plum Blanket

Had to get a little creative at the border due to goofing up the pattern sequence a little and not wanting to pull it back to correct it. It’s not perfect, but it still looks pretty cool :).

~~~

Well that’s 22 balls down. Need 5 more. Hmmm…

I *had* planned on using some Malabrigo for this month’s Woolly Wormhead KAL Hat (“Waffle Slouch“) – maybe I’d better check the wool “oddball” case instead.

Rummagerummagerummage

Here’s 22yds of a dark brown mercerized wool (okay, that’ll totally work for the brim…), 71 yds of brown tweed Aran wt (nice for the body… but will it be enough? Better be sure…) and 28 yds of red heather (well, it blends a *little* with the tweed… maybe some stripes?)

Crossing my fingers, I used the stitchcount of the smallest size with larger needles and hoped for the best.

The brim yarn yielded a good 2″ of ribbing on 5mm needles. (The pattern said 3″, not too bad.)

Upsized the needles to 5.5mm for the Aran wt tweed and got to work. After a couple of repeats, decided that I’d need the red heather after all and threw a single repeat of it after every 2 of the brown tweed. Had *just* enough tweed to finish the hat. (Whew! That was close!)

There’s still a little bit of the red heather left… hey, how about a flower applique? There’s that one in the Knit 2 Together book

Add an army surplus button from ye olde button box and…

Crunchy Granola Hat

The Crunchy Granola Hat is born.

I swear to you that the red heather wool isn’t NEARLY as pink as the photo suggests and actually blends with the brown.

I’ve been wearing it for 2 days now – it’s cute as Hell.

Webcam Hat Shot

~~~

Damn – still behind by 2.

It’ll be summer soon… maybe it’s time to do something with those pesky balls of shiny cotton-blend ribbon yarn.

Enter the Steampunk Safari Scarf.

Steampunk Safari Scarf

I offset the ribbon with some heavier mercerized cotton braid in a deep rich brown.

The pattern is called “The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief” by Orange Flower and only calls for 240yds of DK wt yarn.

BTW, did I mention that it’s *FREE*?

Webcam Shot, Scarf

Lovelovelovelovelove. OMG – Must. Make. More.

~~~

Beginning Yarn Stash Talley: -2.7
Current Yarn Stash Talley: +0.1

And that, dear Reader, is why this week’s post is a day late.

Now there’s the small matter of the 9 more balls that need to be used up before this GORGEOUS Highland Handmades Corridale can come home.

Highland Handmades Peacock Corridale

I *really* need to get on that.

TTFN.

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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Getting My Crafty On

In the immortal words of David Wooderson (aka: Matthew McConaughey)

“All right, all right, all right”

The Mojo – she is BACK!

I even managed to resurrect some old skills and learned a new knitting technique this week – but more on that later.

Let’s tidy up some loose ends first…

~~~

Evenstar Clue 5 was the first on the docket:

Evenstar Shawl, Clue 5 Complete

I don’t think I’ll ever get over how pretty this shawl is. Just 2 more sections to go!

My La Vie de Bois socks were Tuesday’s mission:

La Vie de Bois Socks - Done

Mission Accomplished. :D

La Vie de Bois Socks - Complete

I am insanely happy with how these came out. They stop just shy of my calf muscles, so no shaping was required, although I did have a needle the next size up handy should they prove to be getting too snug near the top. It turned out to be unnecessary and they fit perfectly.

The last couple of days, I’ve been tackling the monster that is the Shadowed Cypress Project Bag.

Shadowed Cypress Project Bag - Top

The cotton cinch at the top turned out to be far less “easy peasy” than I thought. In fact, those 5 inches of cotton took the better part of 16 hrs to knit. That “allover cross stitch” pattern nearly killed me. I ended up knocking off the last two repeats to save my sanity.

Then the black cotton wouldn’t behave when attempting to make the twisted cord (or Monk’s cord according to the pattern). Having just about enough with this thing – I decided it was time to play dirty.

I dug out an old curtain tie-back, snipped one end, wove it through the eyelets as instructed, then carefully sewed it back into place on the tassel.

Shadowed Cypress Project Bag - Complete

HA! TAKE THAT!

Next I had to tackle the lining, which I also technically cheated a bit on by re-purposing an absolutely *hideous* drawstring bag that I picked up somewhere. (To my credit – it had gorgeous green satin ribbon ties with blown glass flower beads & was only a buck, so it was totally worth the money.)

Shadowed Cypress Project Bag Liner

All that was needed was to square off the bottom, fold over the drawstring hem and sew it in:

Shadowed Cypress Project Bag - Liner

I know it clashes badly, but it’s for my personal use and no one’s going to see it most of the time anyway.

The fugly was promptly hidden anyway by immediately stuffing the bag to capacity with the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket and it’s yarn.

Mischief Managed. :D

I also finished the 16 square centre panel of the sock yarn Patchwork Blanket:

Patchwork Blanket - Centre

All the squares will radiate out from here. (The colours are a bit off in the photo, but I wanted to show the pattern texture.)

~~~

A little known fact … back in the 1980s when I was a little girl, my parents gave me a loom. It was plastic rigid heddle loom made by Fisher Price and looked like this:

Fisher Price Loom

I distinctly recall using it, but couldn’t for the life of me tell you either what I made or whatever became of it.

But what it comes down to is the fact that I was weaving even before I ever picked up a crochet hook, embroidery or knitting needle. (There was also my unwavering obsession with my Grandmaman’s tiny 4″ wooden working model of a spinning wheel from the time I was a toddler, but I digress.)

Fast forward to a few years ago…

Harkening back to my childhood loom, I worked a trade with an acquaintance for a vintage “Wool Weaving Loom” made by Spears Games in the UK (circa late 1940s-early 50s).

Spears Wool Weaving Loom

It is, according to the label, a “size 3″ model (what it refers to, I haven’t the faintest idea) and had basic instructions on the lid.

Anyhoo…

Late Sunday night I got a wild notion to warp it up and see if I could weave a scarf on the little sucker.

Loom - Warped

I used about 25g of Burnt Orange Patons Kroy 4-ply for the warp (27 threads for those interested) and then started weaving a basic linen stitch scarf with the cursed – err – *cranky* Koigu KPPPM (darned stuff didn’t seem to like whatever I tried making with it) held double for the weft.

Woven Koigu Scarf - progress

Well what do you know… I guess it’s just like riding a bike :).

I wove all day Monday and had a complete scarf by dinnertime:

Woven Koigu Scarf - Complete

A new professional grade loom may be in my immediate future – just sayin’.

~~~

The Sock Knitter’s Anonymous challenge for April is Entrelac and/or “Non-traditional” sock construction. I came prepared for this one.

Drummossie by Rachel Brown has been in my queue since last year’s Sock Madness.

It took a few attempts with different yarns and a stitchcount adjustment, but I think I’ve got it now:

Crocodilian Socks - Sock 1 progress

This Opal Rainforest colourway (“Veronica die Wilde”) is based on a butterfly, but is turning out decidedly more reptilian in flavour, hence their title “Crocodilian Socks

The toe is knitted in the round, the instep is worked flat, then you provisionally cast-on for the second half of the leg which you work in the round to the cuff. The standard top-down gusset heel and sole are worked back and forth starting from the provisional cast on, ending where you kitchener the sole to the bottom half of the toe.

Wacky, but it works. I can’t wait to see how these turn out.

~~~

Desperately needing a mental break from knitting black cotton in the dark last night, I grabbed some chunky acrylic yarn from the closet and started crocheting a quick throw using my 8mm hook and a vintage doily pattern.

The pattern is called “Sunburst Pineapple” which is amusing enough at one-o-clock in the morning, but as my yarn is this great dusky purple and my version will dwarf the original 20″ doily, the name “Exploding Plum” came to mind and put me in a fit of giggles.

Exploding Plum Blanket - Rnd 11

There’s 19 more balls of the Mary Maxim Cloudspun where that ball came from (a neighbour gave it to me) so I expect this blanket will be HUGE.

Goodness! Would you look at the time!

You must excuse me – I have to go be all crafty now.

TTFN.

Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 11:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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Small Steps Forward

I wish I had some finished stuff to show you today, but apparently the same scattered energies that are messing with the weather are having a similar effect on my attention span. So please forgive me if I’m less than articulate this week.

2 shrugs and a baby sweater project were knitted, pulled back, knitted again and finally frogged and the yarn put away in sheer frustration. To the tune of 3 wasted days.

Unless, of course, you take the Thomas Edison philosophical approach – then I simply found multiple ways of how not to make a shrug and baby sweater.

Doesn’t make it any less annoying though.

~~~

I have, however, managed to make some small progress on a few projects, not as much as I’d like, but progress just the same.

The La Vie de Bois Socks have come a fair distance since last week:

La Vie de Bois Socks 80%

I was going to try and run out the yarn, but decided that an 11″ leg was plenty long enough.

La Vie de Bois Socks - Sock 1

So very pretty and surprisingly stretchy.

La Vie de Bois Socks - Sock 1 Side

I put some quality time in yesterday on Evenstar, getting to the halfway point of Clue 5 (of 7):

Evenstar Shawl, clue 5 50%

And I got a few more rows done on the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket:

Moderne Log Cabin Blanket - Block 7 begun

Must remember that even small steps will eventually get one to a destination, regardless of one’s patience levels.

My inner child is screaming in the backseat right now.

~~~

Needing a positive distraction, I started spinning up some of the happiest darned handdyed roving in my fiber stash:

4oz of Superwash BFL called “Life’s Lemons” (from Highland Handmades)

Spinning - Life's Lemons

Possibly the most perfect cheerful delicious yellow on the planet. Wonderful to spin but it does makes me hungry for pie.

~~~

Something new…

The sheer number of leftover balls of sock yarn was making it hard to close the stash suitcase in which they were stored. Unsurprising perhaps, but something needed to be done.

I gathered all the patterned and handdyed sock yarn balls that weighed under 40g, threw them in an old project bag and grabbed my copy of Vivian Hoxbro’s “Domino Knitting”.

Yep. It’s official.

The leftover yarn levels have reached the mitred square blanket stage.

But rather than go with the diamond style (a la Shelly Kang’s famous Sock Yarn Blanket) like most folks attempting this epic undertaking, I’m going a slightly different route with my Patchwork Blanket.

Using my favorite potholder pattern (#3) in the book as a basis:

Potholder 3

I’m working the squares in randomly pulled colours radiating out from the center until it’s wide enough, then working the top and bottom in pattern until it’s long enough.

Patchwork Blanket

Each square measures 2″ with a cast-on of 27sts on 2.5mm needles.

I have no idea what kind of timeline this project is going to have, but I’m sure it’ll measure in years rather than months.

~~~

My cousin Jeffrey and his lovely wife Susan welcomed their little daughter Anne into the World early Sunday morning.

It was a wonderful bit of news to find out from my Uncle Paul & Aunt Marilyn (the proud new Grandparents) on Monday as we laid Grandmaman to rest in a beautiful ceremony that she would have loved.

A true blessing. :)

TTFN.

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s been a rough week…

But somehow I’ve managed to muddle my way through it and accomplish most of what I set out to do.

~~~

Finished Objects

Today is darling hubby BadgerDan’s birthday and his Torontonian Socks were done with a few days to spare.

Torontonian Socks Complete

The man loves vintage colourwork socks and I am happy to indulge him – once a year.

Torontonian Socks Done

He proudly donned his “hep” hosiery this morning and couldn’t stop smiling. (Until I went for my camera, then he skedaddled off to work. Dammit.)

Happy Birthday Honey – I love you. (And yes, next year you can have argyle.)

Windsbraut Manaus

Windsbraut Manaus turned out to be a 3-parter and easily finished.

I’m quite surprised how little of the Zauberball (col. 1966 “Spring Meadow”) it ended up using. The entire shawl only took about 335yds on 3.75mm needles and came out to about 62″ wide by 25″ long. There’s a good quarter of the ball leftover.

If you have a hank of Colinette Jitterbug in your stash that is languishing due to the short yardage, this might be a good project for it. Just a suggestion.

March 2011 Mystery Socks

The March Mystery Socks were completed yesterday. I really love this colourway of Zitron Trekking XXL (col. 76), which probably explains why it took me so long to use it. Deliciously grapey – I may have to find more.

~~~

WIPs

My Dreamscape Shawl (aka “In Dreams”) is up to date at Clue 4:

Dreamscape Shawl, Clue 4

And since I get a little twitchy when there isn’t a pair of socks on the go…

La Vie de Bois Socks - 1

This morning I cast on “La Vie de Bois Socks” designed by my friend Heather of Highland Handmades with some Indigo Moon Merino Superwash in their “Lichen & Moss” colourway.

La Vie de Bois Socks - 2

“La Vie de Bois” translates to “Life in the Woods”. Lichen, moss… I think it works.

Everything else on the needles/hook remain (mostly) at the same stage as last week.

~~~

My rough week started last Thursday with me somehow spraining the trapezius muscle in my right shoulder (I think I did it while moving our new mattress) and I’ve been in varying amounts of pain ever since. Liberal applications of Vicks Vapo-rub & extra-strength Tylenol seem to have me on the mend now, but it’s still bugging me a little.

Yes, I knit through the pain, keeping my shoulders as still as possible and not making any sudden moves with my head. (Working all those beads into the shawl was a treat, let me tell you. Doing the laundry was quite fun as well. Especially when we ran out of both coffee & Tylenol earlier this week.)

But the toughest part of my week came yesterday evening via phone from my mom.

My maternal grandmother Lucille passed away last night at 7pm.

She had been sick for a long time and went peacefully at her nursing home (I believe) in the company of my uncle Paul – her eldest son. My mom was able to see her on Sunday with my father to say goodbye.

She is survived by her 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren (2 of which are due within the next few months).

I am the eldest of the nine and have many fond memories of her from the summers of my youth at the cottage on Balsam Lake. I prefer to remember her that way before the illnesses took their heavy toll.

Grandmaman was a devout Catholic her entire life and I pray that she finds peace among the Angels and Saints she so treasured.

Take care of her for us Mary. We miss her.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 10:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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I know, I know…

I haven’t posted since last year. I felt like hibernating for a bit. I get like that sometimes.

With the first signs of spring starting to show themselves, I figured it was high time I let you guys see what I’ve been up to.

I’ll refrain from the 2010 rundown of projects, because it now scares ME how much comes off my needles in the space of a year and frankly, it’s not a contest.

(Note to self: must go through Rav Projects and add year tags.)

~~~

I started 2011 with only 2 long term projects on the needles: the Evenstar Shawl and the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket. Shocking, I know.

They’re both still in progress at the moment:

Evenstar, Clue 4 Complete

I’ve finished up to Clue 4 on Evenstar

Moderne Log Cabin, Block 6 Complete

and Block 6 on the Log Cabin.

I do a row or two on the afghan when I can, but there’s now a deadline for the shawl. Because you see…

Danny, Robin & Babybump

I’M GOING TO BE AN AUNTIE!!!

My sister and BIL are expecting a little boy (to be named Marc Antoine). Evenstar will be used for his Christening and I’ll also be making this set to go with it:

Christening Set

I plan on shortening the sleeves and the ribbon will be white. I have vintage mother of pearl buttons inherited from our grandmother and purchased the 16 balls of pure white SandnesGarn Mandarin Petit fingering wt cotton needed for the set.

Mandarin Petit Yarn

I have a few months before my nephew makes his debut, so finishing this set is totally within the “doable” range.

Really.

Hey, with love and a positive attitude anything is possible.

~~~

Finished Objects

I’ve actually completed quite a bit already this year, motivated by my master stash-busting plan – but more on this later.

(As always, click on the project links for more info.)

*SOCKS*

Smocked Stockings
Smocked Stockings

Cranberry Biscotti Socks
Cranberry Biscotti Socks

Stardust Socks
Stardust Socks (for my Mom)

*OUTERWEAR*
(It’s been a reallllllllly cold few months! Canada. Winter. Brrr.)

Much Needed Legwarmers
Much Needed Legwarmers

Castiel Hat
Castiel Hat

Vintage Mohair Cloche
Vintage Mohair Cloche (crochet)

Ruba'iyat MittensMittens, back
Ruba’iyat Mittens

Bubbles Cowl
Bubbles Cowl

Hudson Handspun Scarf
Hudson Handspun Scarf (for my Dad)

And yes, that is *my* handspun!

Handspun Hudson

*GARMENTS*

Talia Vest
Talia Vest

Banish The Cold Sweater
Banish The Cold Sweater

*BABY STUFF*

Rocketry
Rocketry Baby Cardigan

Little Tiger Baby Hat
Little Tiger Baby Hat

*ACCESSORIES*

Totally Mod Messenger Bag
Totally Mod Messenger Bag

~~~

KAL/CAL PROJECTS

I’m such a joiner ;)

So far I’m keeping up with all of them, which given my track record with KALs has me pretty chuffed.

Dreamscape Shawl (Clue 3 Complete)
Dreamscape Shawl, clue 3

This is another amazing beaded shawl creation from the incredible Susan Pandorf (Pandosu/Sunflower Designs) called “In Dreams” based on Galadriel’s crown from The Lord of the Rings.

She is donating 10% of all her pattern sales over the next week or so going to assist the Japanese Relief effort. If you have ever wanted to purchase one of her lovely patterns – now is the time.

Windsbraut Manaus (Clue 2 Complete)
Winsdbraut Manaus - Clue 2

This mystery shawl is the newest of the Bride of the Wind series from the equally talented Monika Eckert (Wollklabauter).

Monika has also created a lovely stole pattern called Prometheus which she is donating all proceeds from to assist the Japanese relief effort. I urge you to take a look and make with the clicky if you like what you see.

March 2011 SKA Mystery Socks (Clue 3 Complete)
March 2011 SKA Mystery Socks - Clue 3

March is another Mystery Sock month in the Sock Knitters Anonymous group.
The theme: Lace.
The designer: verybusymonkey.
The pattern: Too pretty to resist.

And…

2011 Sampler Afghan (70%)
2011 Sampler Afghan - Jan-Mar

I’m using the 6″ squares from this year’s Crochet Block-A-Month CAL to make a blanket for baby nephew Marc. My design only encorporates the first 6 months of squares as he is due in June and I want to have it done when he arrives.

Blanket Schematic

I made a chart and everything! See – there is method to my madness.

~~~

*OTHER WIPs*

I have two other knitting projects on the go, both well on their way to completion:

Shadowed Cypress Project Bag
Shadowed Cypress Project Bag

I fell in love with this bag (Cinnamon Bark Project Bag by Linda Guzzaldo) the moment I saw it in the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2010 issue and knew it would be perfect for housing some of my larger projects (read: blankets). I just have the cotton cinch top & cords to finish and then sew in the liner. Easy Peasy.

It will (hopefully) look something like this when it’s done:

Cinnamon Bark Project Bag

and last but certainly not least,

Torontonian Socks (for BadgerDan)
Torontonian Socks - sock 1

It’s “prove your love through vintage intarsia” time again (LOL)

Vintage Sock Patterns

Hubby’s birthday is a week away and I still have a good 3/4 of the second sock to knit. I think I’ll be able to finish it in time.

Cross your fingers.

~~~

Now, to explain my master stash-busting plan (MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Ahem.)

Last year, I managed to accomplish the huge goal of uploading my entire yarn stash into Ravelry. (Seriously people, this took *months*)

I still have a few stray balls here and there that aren’t inputted and I haven’t included any of my spinning fiber (I upload that when I finish spinning it.) But it’s essentially done.

It was shocking.

Now, don’t get me wrong – My stash hasn’t reached SABLE level yet, but it’s of a significant enough size where I find myself saying “That’s a crapload of yarn”.

I may have mentioned before that I keep my yarn (mostly) in second hand suitcases. What I’m attempting to do is to get it down to where I can store it all in the pretty antique ones and do away with the ugly ones.

There are a few ways to accomplish this – my choice?

I intend to USE IT UP.

Starting in November of last year, I devised a plan which has since been refined.

I have to earn any new yarn and fiber by using up 10 balls of old stash for every single unit coming in.

The following exemptions apply: Christening set yarn (which hubby paid for and had to be to colour specifications – pure white) and any yarn/fiber gifted to me or won in a contest.

I set up a spreadsheet where I’ve been keeping a record of yarn usage for the past 4.5 months and the plan is working beautifully. As of today, I’m breaking even :D.

By doing this, I hope to accomplish a measure of simplicity without a feeling of lack and stimulate my creativity by limiting my choices of materials to what I have on hand.

“Use it up, wear it out and when in doubt, do without.”

In addition to my 10:1 ratio, I’m also including the clause that the majority (95%) of new fiber purchases be made from de-stashes, thriftstores or directly from the independent artisans. I want to know where my money is going and feel good about it.

And isn’t feeling good what life is all about?

TTFN.

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 2:23 am  Comments (1)  
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Peace of Mind is the Greatest Gift

Since my last post there has been a flurry of activity, but not, perhaps, in the way you might think.

Oh yes, there has been the mad rush to finish and wrap gifts, not to mention the last minute grocery shopping. My way just happens to be slightly different from the mainstream.

Over the last 7 years, I’ve made almost all of our holiday gifts (with the exception of a few giftcards sprinkled here and there). Sometimes it was due to financial circumstance, but mostly because I’ve come to realize that I just don’t *get* the retail culture any more.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I was a champion shopper once upon a time. I used to love shopping for the perfect gifts at Christmas. But what has changed is my viewpoint. I want to know where the items I give have come from, what energy they carry. I want to know that they will be used and appreciated. Most of all, I want to make sure that they bring some value to the recipients’ life instead of simply creating clutter for them.

One way I can do this is to personally make useful (and sometimes whimsical) items for the people in my life. I give of myself, my time, and my skills to express my gratitude to them for being who they are.

A gift from the heart, made by my hands to express: “Be warm. Be happy. Smile. You are valued.”

That said, here are some of the holiday gifts I’ve made this year (most of which have been received already) and all of which were made from yarn that was on hand in my stash (project links given at end of post)…

Hats:

Mom's Poinsettia BeretSage Bucket HatRussian Swirl HatBlue Swirl Tri-Peak Hat Emerald City Jester HatCharlie Brown Hat

Scarves:

Fluffy MIL Dress ScarfDanny's Rustic ScarfPheonix Purl Scarf

Mittens:

Christmas Cruiser MittensPicot Posey Mittens

Slippers:

Faroese SlippersFIL Holiday Slippers

In lieu of gifts this year for the adults in my husband’s family (other than my in-laws), I instead made a bunch of hats for charity:

Chunky Red WatchcapSimple Pleasures CapBlue Swirl HatSnow Palace BeretNature Hike HatGreybriar Hat

~~~

The biggest difference, I think, between my “busy” and that of most of North America is that instead of bringing oodles and oodles of new things into the house this time of year, I’ve been clearing stuff out hand over fist.

The de-cluttering bug bit and bit hard. I’ve gone through everything from books to underwear with a razor sharp critical eye, nerves of steel and brutal honesty.

I sorted, re-organized, re-purposed and most of all *purged* anything that doesn’t work for us where we are now and where we want to go in the future.

(This included getting rid of our huge TV – we watch everything online anyway. We gave it to my MIL who needed one in her bedroom. She’s thrilled and the large black hole in my living room is gone – totally win-win :) )

Poor BadgerDan thought he was married to a woman possessed – but he was thrilled and relieved when he could see the top of his desk again LOL.

Several garbage bags and two epic trips to the local thriftstore (with the assistance of a friend’s truck) later and things feel so much better.

My holiday decorations are all things that we love and will fit into two small plastic stackable toteboxes when we take them all down again.

We can walk into our storage room without thinking something is going to collapse on us and we can FIND whatever we’re looking for quickly and easily.

All the books we’ve kept, we are going to read in the very near future, refer to constantly or are such old friends that we couldn’t bear to be parted from them. They all fit into a standard tall bookshelf.

*THAT* my friends, is a holiday miracle.

Next, I tackled my WIP pile. I ripped out projects that gave me the merest hint of stress or guilt and concentrated on finishing those that I knew I could complete quickly and would make me happy.

Woodland Rustic Shawl

Woodland Rustic Shawl - a version of my own Classic Crocheted Shawl pattern worked in a self-striping recycled sweater yarn (what I used to call my “faux Noro” sweater) trimmed in my own handspun natural dark brown Coopworth wool.

Woodland Rustic Shawl - Complete

It’s warm, more comfortable than a cardigan and looks really good over a shirt and jeans. I luff it.

Not So Plain Winter Socks

Not So Plain Winter Socks – my take on Nancy Bush’s Gentleman’s Plain Winter Sock pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks done in a yarn from a local indie dyer (Liza Handdyed Sock carried by Needles & Knits in Aurora, ON) in a one-off untitled colourway that I’ve dubbed “Koi Pond”.

Insane colourful pooling goodness for a grey winter’s day. I dare you not to smile :D.

Right now, I have a mere 3 active projects on my needles and I couldn’t be happier:

Countdown to Yule Scarf
Evenstar Shawl
Moderne Log Cabin Blanket

So what if my scarf wasn’t finished for Yule? (I’m currently on working on the Day 16 chart.) It’s my knitting and I can always wear it on New Year’s. No pressure.

~~~

Holiday plans have been surprisingly simple this year and instead of running around Ontario like headless chickens ping-ponging between family celebrations, we are having a quiet holiday – just BD, myself & the cats.

My parents are flying out to Jamaica on vacation (good on them!), my sister is spending it with her new husband and his family in our nation’s fine capital and my brother will most likely be working the weekend, then going home to a quiet holiday of his own with his girlfriend.

Most of BD’s family is spending Christmas with other relatives and other than a quick get-together with my SIL, her husband & my in-laws tomorrow – we have to be at home as we are on-call at the building for the weekend.

We have a full refrigerator and cupboards, wine & Irish Cream, each other and a stack of movies.

Peace, Comfort and Joy.

We wish you all the same.

Happy Holidays

Christmas Fireplace Wineglass

~~~

Project Links

Hats (L to R):

Mom’s Poinsettia Beret
Sage Bucket Hat
Russian Swirl Hat
Blue Swirl Tri-Peak Hat
Emerald City Jester Hat
Charlie Brown Hat

Scarves (L to R):

Fluffy MIL Dress Scarf
Danny’s Rustic Scarf
Pheonix Purl Scarf

Mittens (L to R):

Christmas Cruiser Mitts
Picot Posey Mittens

Slippers (L to R):

Faroese Slippers
FIL Holiday Slippers

Charity Hats (L to R):

Chunky Red Watchcap
Simple Pleasures Cap
Blue Swirl Hat
Snow Palace Beret
Nature Hike Hat
Greybriar Hat

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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