I’m in a pretty cool place right now, knitting-wise.  I’ve almost finished all the class models and summer models I had planned to do. (Plus at least one that I hadn’t planned – see below.)  I still have to finish off the fingers of the second Winter Bride glove and that’s taking me a while.  The whine factor in this is pretty high: (1)  it’s the second glove, (2) it’s little tiny stitches and little tiny diameters, and (3) I’m not so hot at using double-points, in fact I’m pretty slow and clumsy with them.  Two more fingers to go,

and it will be done soon enough and then I’ll soon love it again.

But really, whining is a part of knitting.  Knitters love to whine!  If you could ever find a knitting project that only took 10 minutes, I guarantee that the last 2 minutes would involve complaining about how it’s taking forever and why can’t it just be done already???!! We are patient and persistent folks, but we feel no need to be quiet about it.

So anyway, my decks are pretty clear right now, which gives me a great excuse to browse Ravelry and think about new projects.  Brooklyn Tweed’s new Wool People collection came out recently – nothing made me gasp with delight but there are plenty of nice sweaters there.  What I really want is to live in Jared Flood’s photographic world, wherein I would be prettily posed in an attitude of quiet confidence, in a perfectly fitting sweater, flatteringly accented by diffused sunlight at all times.

So while I think about new projects, I’m going to make Brother-in-Law socks (they will be moving to Charleston in a year or two and I think his need for wool socks will drop dramatically.)  I plan another hoodie for Maxwell the Great (Nephew) because his mom says the summer one I made is his favorite thing to put on (and how sweet is that to hear?) and he’ll soon outgrow it. And I have in mind to go through our huge file of free shop patterns, updating and making new models from current yarns where needed.

That really should keep me quite busy and my schedule full, but I do get distracted.  I had no plans whatsoever to make the Refined Arches Tabard but as soon as I saw the pattern, I knew it would be a perfect project for Shibui Twig.  I had to make it! And so I did.

It’s airy and open for summer in Twig, and would be a nice layering piece in lightweight wool or lace weight mohair for fall.  I would say it’s an intermediate project because, even though it’s all lace, every other row is a rest row and there’s no shaping.

 

We have lots of classes starting in July (it’s almost here!!!) including a beginner class.  If you have been on the fence, now is the time to commit; most have only one or two spaces left.  Socks, mitts, hat, sweater and a chicken!  What more could you possibly want?

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer and accomplishing everything you planned – or nothing at all!  Have fun!

Well, it was fun, and it’s almost over, and I have to admit I’m glad.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m at loose ends for too long, I tend to fall into bad habits – the same bad habits I fight against all the time: too much couch time, too many snacks, too few chores or useful projects.  I did enjoy the first half, though.  I went to my home town for a bridal shower for the daughter and future son-in-law – both so sweet – of one of my cousins.  It was given by the daughters of another of my cousins, and it was great seeing all those lovely folks again.   Another day, I got to have brunch with Maxwell the Great (Nephew) and of course, his mom, dad, and grandmother. He’s cuter than cute, and despite his mother’s warning, there was no food-hurling.  He was very, very good!

I also bought some wonderful yarn for the fall and thought wistfully about the big yarn show in Columbus, which is happening this coming weekend.  Really, it’s better if I don’t go, I just get into trouble (inventory-wise, not in any interesting way) but – all that beautiful yarn in one place!!!!

The only knitting I did was to finish Pearl, the sweater I’m teaching later this summer.  It knit up like a dream in Plymouth’s Worsted Merino Superwash.  I made it in PINK (extreme pink-ness) and it’s pretty cute.  I can only do a bad photo right now because it’s still damp so I dare not stretch or hang it, but here it is:

I made two modifications to this version:  (1) I used German short rows instead of wrap-and-turns for the shoulders and the sleeve caps, and (2)  I did only 1 lace motif at the neckline and didn’t carry it down the front, just to show that you can make it this way if you wish to.  The next one I do (which will be while the class is knitting it) will have the lace the whole way down the front.

See how happy she looks? I like the verticality of the lace column, and it won’t be so tedious to knit the body.  The lace is pretty and worth the effort.

In fact, I like everything about this sweater and would be happy to have several in many different colors and fabrics in my wardrobe.  I like 3/4 sleeves, but it would be easy to carry them down to full length. The neckline is flattering and is finished with a neat I-cord bindoff.  The picked-up sleeves have short row caps which are interesting to work, and you can choose whatever your favorite method is to work the sleeves in the round (I used magic loop – if you don’t know how, learn it in our Magic Loop Mitts class.  The classes overlap a little but you’ll know the technique by the time we get to the sleeves and using it in a different application will reinforce your knowledge.)

The length of the sweater is great and easily adjustable, and the a-line silhouette is perfect for my body and easily eliminated if you aren’t quite so cursedly pear-shaped. The light worsted weight wool is good for at least 6 months of the year here. plus it’s machine-washable.  I may end up finishing the drying in the machine, too, just to see how that works.

To sum up, I couldn’t be more pleased with this pattern and the yarn and the result!  Classes are filling up nicely (I love this summer’s schedule) so check them out here.  And heads up if you’re intrigued by lace knitting and beading – Karen’s Eternal Optimist knit-along starts on June 15th! The link will take you to some beautiful projects on Ravelry – then come in to see Karen’s version in person – it’s simply luscious.

By the by, we’ll be closed Saturday June 17th because of Art on the Avenue – you know the drill: no parking, lots of crowds and kids and dogs so lots of frenetic barking on the part of Purl and Jack, lots of hair-pulling and yelling on the part of me – so, sorry!

How much more time is left?  How much more money do you need?  How much more stuff do you want?  More clothes, more food, more kudos, more recognition, more social standing, more, more, more?

A death in my family – the first in my generation – and a reunion of sorts with my extended family has made me reflect on what I want for the next few years of my life, what I enjoy about having this little business, and what I would wish for the years beyond.

What I like about the business:

  1. Helping you choose the right yarn for your project.  I really know a lot about yarn and will never try to sell you something that won’t work.
  2. Helping you with problems in your knitting.  There’s no need to apologize for “taking up our time.”  That’s what it’s all about, as far as I’m concerned.
  3. Teaching classes.
  4. All the stuff you like: buying yarn, talking about yarn, thinking of new projects, talking about knitting, and most of all, knitting.
  5. Designing projects I can’t find good patterns for.  This is not really part of the store; it’s just something I enjoy and would like to do more of if there is ever enough time.

What I don’t like about the business:

  1. Being at the store when no one else is there.  There’s no one at home doing the dishes or the laundry or running errands or waiting for the cable guy or arranging doctor appointments or paying bills or taking the dogs to the vet.  I, like many of you, get to do that in my “free” time.  That’s why I’m giving myself more of it by being closed on Tuesdays now (and probably forever.)
  2. Selling.  I’m not good at it.  I won’t point out a lot of stuff you don’t express an interest in or a need for.  If you don’t look around, you’ll miss a lot of nice yarn and projects and ideas.  Take some time to poke around. (Or don’t; it’s entirely up to you.)
  3. Minor bugaboos that affect every small business: random requests for donations from strangers, junk phone calls, and people pretending they want to buy yarn from me when what they really want is free advice for their project from Michael’s or AC Moore or “America’s Yarn Store” which is hubris if I’ve ever heard it and may be the only yarn store around when the dust settles.  Don’t you wonder how that will go?

My family’s loss of a really good guy, great dad and “Pap” (as his grandkids called him), and my cousin’s sweet husband of 49 years seems to me an occasion to step back a bit and see where we are and where, if we’re given the opportunity, we go from here.

And while we reflect, here are some finished sweater projects to inspire our knitting, lovely as they are.

Rochelle Mann, her own design, in Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash:

 

Donna Hain, Eyelet Cardi, in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool:

Eleni Geishauser for her husband, Snowshoe Aran, in Plymouth Galway:

Virginia Conrad, from The Best of Lopi, in Fibre Company’s Cumbria:

Anne Alderman, Modern Wrapper Fine, in Lana Gatto Feeling (with husband John):

 

Virginia Griffith, Sunshine Coast, in Juniper Moon Farm’s Zooey:

Anne Nordhoy, Vitamin D, Modern Wrapper Fine, and her own creation, in various wonderful yarns:

Thanks to everyone who endures my poor photography and my ramblings here.  Writing to you all may be my very favorite part of having the store!  See you soon.

 

It’s time (and almost past time) to be thinking about what we’d like to make for spring and summer, despite the fact that it’s frigid outside and we’re all staying cozy in our biggest warmest wools right now!

You’ve seen the Simple Tee – our class just started this past weekend.  I love the way the straight lines are set off by the subtlety of the curve of the armholes, the clean swoop of the neckline, and the tubular edges of the vent.  Something to wear for any occasion, with the right accessories!

 

 

I’ve already knit up Mariken, designed by Regina Moessmer.  It’s fun and soft in Remix Light (and very inexpensive to make!)  The neckline is big, and I’m going to do a crocheted chain around it to hold its shape.  Otherwise, it’s a wonderful little summer cardy.

 

I don’t wear a lot of sleeveless things these days, but I’m thinking of making an exception for at least one of these:

Construction Zone by Heidi Kirrmaier

I would make this in original Remix, a soft blend of recycled fibers that has plenty of texture to hold its shape and add interest to this plain design.

Dewberry by Martha Wissing

I love the little lace motif at the yoke – lack of shaping keeps the lace simple.  Easy rolled edges and lots of stockinette make it fast.

Kagerou by michiyo

This little vest has so many charming details that I find it almost irresistible. The lace bottom border, the flared shape, the dropped hem, the ribbed yoke – I love it all.  It works as a vest but could certainly be done as a tank top as well.  Love it!

I’m a sucker for an easy-fitting pullover for summer.  Getting dressed is so simple if you have a great lightweight sweater to jump into.

Sunshine Coast by Heidi Kirrmaier

A great top-down summer look, with a few eyelets and bias panels for interest, this has been in my favorites since the day it was published.  Virginia Griffith and Nikki Schower are both well into knitting this, and I’m a bit jealous!

 

 

Bennett Creek by Kelbourne Woolens

Cropped and boxy, with a pretty center cable, this pullover is designed for Luma, Fibre Company’s newest yarn which I’m testing now.  I think I’m in love!

 

 

Perforated Sweater by Suvi Simola

This sweater has a few eyelets at the hem, just for fun, and otherwise is a simple and clean raglan design, easy to wear and accessorize.  I want it in just this color!

Stone Point by Kelbourne Woolens

I’m working on this adorable poncho right now, and am loving the yarn and design to pieces.  I hope to have something for you to see, feel and try on in just a week or so.

I hope you found something to inspire you to get moving on those spring projects – it’s time!

 

 

Don’t we all need to look forward to warmer weather, brighter skies, and lighter clothing at this time of year?  Our Simple Tee class starts in a few weeks and I wanted to talk a little more about it, especially since spring yarns popped in the door this week.

Churchmouse’s Simple Tee design is simple-looking, but filled with features and options.  Long tunic, cropped tee, standard length.  Long sleeve, three-quarter sleeve, cap sleeve.  Vented bottom hem, no vents.  Mix and match to suit yourself.

I made my sample in the longer length, with side vents, which are neatly edged with slip-stitches.

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Right now, my model has one bracelet-length sleeve

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and one cap sleeve

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so you can try it on to see which you like the most.

The neckline is left as-knit, using specific instructions for binding off to prevent gaps and steps.

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All in all, it’s a wonderful, wearable piece, plainly elegant, immensely accessorizable (yes, I know, it’s not really a word, but shouldn’t it be?) and versatile for many occasions.

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I used Hempathy to make mine, a pleasant blend of cotton, hemp, and Modal acrylic, that drapes nicely, is machine washable and holds up under constant wear.  We received some beautiful colors this week

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(plus my color and black) and they added some really lovely multi-colors to the line this year.

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Y-U-M!

If you’ve already signed up for the class, come in to choose your color, and if you’ve been waiting to sign up, now is the time to come in, try on, decide, and get the best selection.

One more thing that I have to show you!  Zen Yarn Garden’s latest Artwalk offering is here.  I have to say that when I saw the painting it was based on, I toyed with the idea of cancelling this shipment.

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Am I glad I didn’t!! Here is her rendering of these colors – absolutely wonderful:

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This yarn would be perfect to combine with a semi-solid for Karen’s Red Rock Shawl Class, also coming up in just a few weeks.  You have to see it!

A few weeks ago, I was trying to decide whether I needed to take a jacket to my sister’s house in Maryland for Thanksgiving, or whether a sweater would be enough.  Now it’s perfectly obvious that winter is here, and we need all kinds of layers to stay comfortable inside and out.  It’s time to unpack our warmest sweaters – you know the ones: woolly, cable-y, big and cozy…

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…that we hardly needed at all last year.  As I’m sitting here at my desk, waiting for the house to warm up from its over-night coolness, I’m wearing my favorite old chunky cardigan with fraying cuffs

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and only 4 buttons out of the original 5 still frailly clinging to the band. It lives on the back of my desk chair all winter, close at hand for chilly mornings.

How is your holiday knitting coming along? I have one big project to get done that is far behind due to dithering about what yarn to use while time slipped away. There’s no use showing you what it is because it’s barely started.   I will be on a knitting marathon this weekend and next week so I can get it done, blocked, and on its way before time runs out. I hope you’ve planned better than I and are making good progress on your gifts.

Karen and I have been busy deciding on the projects we want to offer as classes next season.  I’m pretty excited about them – there will be some new techniques for all levels, and some good wearable garments and accessories.  I hope to have the schedule posted between Christmas and New Year as usual, so watch for the email!

I’ll leave you with this nice thought:  There was an article in the Reading Eagle a week or so ago about rates of dementia declining over the past 10 years.  Doctors think it’s because of better health care.  I think it’s because so many of us are knitting!

http://www.readingeagle.com/ap/article/study-dementia-rates-decline-sharply-among-senior-citizens

Keep those needles and those brain cells moving!

I love knitting sweaters.  They’re challenging and satisfying projects, and – if you believe in getting gauge and know how to choose the right size and yarn – they’re custom-made just for you or the recipient and wonderful to wear.  I’m so happy we have lots of people who feel the same way!

Jill Pelchar made this cute hoodie for one of her granddaughters:

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You can see her other grand in the background picking out yarn for her own hoodie.

A couple more summer projects:

Deb Hawk made this adorable top from a combination of yarns she chose:

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And Suzy Crump knit this cute summer tee from a wonderful color of Zooey:

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Knitting for babies is always fun and gratifying.  Marci Frey made this sweet Last-Minute baby sweater for a friend:

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(Please don’t ask me why the photo is so small, I don’t know what I did.)

And Carol Whitcraft made these two matching smocked cardigans for two of her greats!

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Suzy decided to rip another sweater and re-dedicate the yarn to this cabled pullover.  She was very happy with the new sweater and you can see why:

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Rochelle Mann designs her own sweaters from the ground up.  This lovely and flattering cabled cardigan looks great from all angles:

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Debby Andrews worked hard to finish this little summer cardigan and had enough warm weather to still wear it this fall:

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And Sheila Yarus always impresses us with her excellent knitting, her choice of styles to make, and the way she can visualize how they’ll look in different yarns.  Three beautifully successful projects:

In a combination of Silk Garden Sock colors:

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In Shibui Pebble:

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In Fino from Manos:

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Wow, wow, wow, you all!! Wonderful! Thanks for showing us!

Last post, I left you with an enticing photo of huge boxes just delivered.  Those boxes contained 150 (!!) pounds of yarn from Plymouth and we’re still trying to fit it all in the shelves.  It’s a really fun dilemma to have, believe me.  I love it when the store is just bursting with wonderful materials to inspire all of us.  To look at a yarn, feel it, have an idea form in your head about what it can become, and then find the exact pattern you want for it.  There’s nothing better except sitting down to start that perfect project.

Anyway here are two of the yarns we received.  The first is our perennially favorite soft bulky yarn, Baby Alpaca Grande, in wonderful classic shades:

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One for a soft, warm hat or close-fitting cowl (close-fitting is okay, it’s SOFT!), 2 – 3 skeins for a luxurious scarf or cowl, 4 -6 for this easy shrug that will keep you cozy without overwhelming you.

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A new yarn for us, Homestead is a sturdy heavy-worsted weight 100% wool from Peru.  It’s a classic wool, great for outer-wear, cardigans, felting, slippers, mittens.  It’s a hand-wash yarn, but that’s its only drawback, everything else about it says Knit Me!  The colors are beautiful, the hand is gratifyingly woolly, the weight will knit up quickly, the price is surprisingly reasonable.

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We have this pretty throw in the shop to show you:

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but I think it would be great for a classic cardigan like this one, designed by Tammy Eigeman Thompson:

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or this very pretty new design by Josee Paquin:

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More, more, more to show you, but no time!  See you soon!

While I’m enjoying our first rainy day in months, I thought I’d show you more new yarns to think about while you’re planning your fall knitting:

(Links to Ravelry in photos below)

Two new colors (to add to our very good selection of natural colors) of Herriott Fine, a lovely fingering-weight alpaca blend that drapes softly:

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I love these colors together, and we have so many other really beautiful combinations, so I would love to use two colors to make any (or all, if only I had six hands) of these great sweaters:

Breton from Brooklyn Tweed

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Antler by Ankestrick

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True Friend by Veera Valimaki

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Seashore by Isabell Kraemer

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Frosty Acorn by Suvi Simola

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We also received more beautiful color ways of Huasco DK, a hand-dyed extra fine merino with a lovely bounce. Most of the color ways are beautifully blended (you can clearly see which one I would leave out of that category, although I’m going to wind a skein and do a small project like an infinity scarf to see what it looks like when knitted) so they would work well for a sweater project:

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Several people are using it for our Modern Wrapper Fine class.  It would also be lovely for:

Breathing Space by Veera Valimaki

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Carpino from Brooklyn Tweed

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Fine Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier

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Or for smaller projects:

Silver leaf by Lisa Hannes

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Pleasant Trip by Laura Aylor

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As with most hand-dyes, if you’re using it for a sweater, you should blend two skeins for about 2 inches when coming to the end of a skein so that any difference in the skeins will not be apparent to the eye. Blending means knitting 2 rows with the old skein, then two rows with the new, carrying the yarns loosely up the edge.  If you’re knitting in the round, you can knit one round with the old, one with the new, again carrying them loosely up the inside.  If you’re a real hard case, you can use two skeins the whole way, but if you’re careful about choosing similar skeins, I think blending for a little while is fine.

Speaking of hand-dyes, our shipment of Manos Maxima has arrived in all its annual splendor!  I can’t even tell you how much I love this yarn.  Come see it!

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Oooh, we’ve received such pretty things this past week.  Can’t wait to show you, but first, just a bit of bragging.

I finally finished a successful sweater, so I think my summer curse is broken.  This is Jameson by Thea Colman, with some very serious modifications.  The first photo shows you the true rich navy color:

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And this one shows the pretty cables better for being a little bleached out:

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My mods:  a lighter-weight yarn but worked at the same gauge, no cables on the back, longer and narrower sleeves, longer body-shorter armhole depth, split hem, narrower cowl neck.  Possibly a few I’ve forgotten for the moment, but they’re all spelled out and available with purchase of yarn, which is knit-able, wearable, and all-around lovable Kathmandu Aran.  We just got all these fabulous colors so the selection is best right now:

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Other suggestions for this yarn might be:

Quick Sand by Heidi Kirrmaier

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and Travelers End by Carol Feller

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and many others!

We received two beautiful new colors of Silk Garden Solo, in addition to the others we already have in stock.  Here are the new shades:

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Are they not gorgeous?  I love them together and immediately thought of this new design:

Spotted Lines by von Hinterm Stein

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But the yarn has so much texture and color that you could use just one color and make a beautiful piece:

Pink Memories by Isabell Kraemer

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Sunshine Coast by Heidi Kirrmaier

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which I am going to knit but I don’t know the exact yarn yet.  We have many, many choices in sport – DK yarns and I dither about which would be the best.

So much more to show you, but with the new schedule, I must go do my own errands before time runs out.  Meanwhile I’ll just quickly say that the beautiful colors of Silky Wool I ordered to make Mentolat came in – I’ve started it and can barely make myself stop!

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More soon!