Category Archives: sock summit

Filling the well

Well knitting friends, Sock Summit has come and gone for a second time. Good times were had by all, though I can attest that about 99% of us were pretty much saturated by Sunday. I think a naptime section of the Oregon Convention Centre would go over big. Maybe just a few sleeping mats and pillows in 20 minute spurts, you know? To let the knowledge sink in and the fatigue pass for a few minutes. But all in all, I think the fatigue is okay when you know you’ve been doing lots of mingling and learning and knitting and thinking, and this was a pretty awesome event. Steph and Tina and all the ST-1 and ST-2 team members deserve all the adulation in the world.

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It was bigger than the first time around but no less significant, and I am always impressed at how easy it is to “run into” knitters you know even when you are in such a big group. There were knitters all over the airport and on my flight to San Francisco (I am carrying on the vacation a few more days, taking the liberty while I’m already on the west coast), and it turned out that I spent the end of my Sock Summit trip much the same way it began – in an airport with Sandi Wiseheart. We knitted and chatted about our classes and thought about Knitting and Related Plans, and it was good. Sometimes I think events like this are the best purely for the non-event times, because when else do you get thrown in the path of knitters at such regular and like-minded intervals?

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On the last day of Sock Summit I attended a lecture with Fiona Ellis, and spent the rest of the day mingling around the marketplace, and getting to do two things I didn’t do last time at Sock Summit. One was to visit an actual real live yarn shop in Portland (you know, actually leaving the marketplace at the convention centre and going to a store. Whoa, man. Michele (thanks, Michele!) offered to drive me to her spot which is Twisted – and it is indeed an awesome shop.

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It is a pretty brilliantly arranged space – they have managed to create a shop that feels both big and small at the same time, is lit perfectly to show off all the colourful yarn, AND they have a great selection of materials – both yarn and tools. They also had one of the most fantastic bulletin board posting I have ever seen. Check this out and even if you can’t see all the notes, you can get the idea:

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These are all swatches knitted by folks at the shop, all with the exact same needle size, yarn, number of stitches and rows, and the same swatch style (flat, with garter at the edges). And you know what? Not only did none of them achieved the exact gauge written on the ball band, but none of them had the same gauge as another person in the group. Maybe two of them had the same stitch gauge, but differed in row gauge, or vice versa. It was great. This is why gauge swatching can be so powerful, my knitting friends.

The other thing that happened on Sunday is something that was new this time at Sock Summit, which was the ‘Fleece to Foot’ competition. Six teams of spinners and knitters worked from freshly-shorn fleece to produce as much as possible of a pair of handspun and handknit socks. And that fleece, it was as fresh as you could get. The nervous young sheep waited amongst the camera happy knitters, then protestingly but cooperatively sat for their public shearings.

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Then the fleece was sorted for the best locks and Clara Parkes (yes that Clara Parkes) took the first ones to card up and spin as a sample guideline for the spinning teams, who then worked for the next five hours as furiously as possible. I missed seeing the completion of the competition, but it was pretty great to watch in the early stages.

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Although I have now left Portland I have the rest of the week in San Francisco to look forward to – likely a combination of tourism and leisureliness, and more eating and visiting with knitters. Here’s hoping all of that goes according to plan.

Have a great week ahead! Catch you next time from The City.

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“You can’t fight the light.”

So, if you should happen to have the chance to spend your birthday at a Sock Summit or similarly knitting oriented extravaganza, may I just take a moment to recommend it quite highly. Yesterday, I started with a “second breakfast” befitting the occasion (cupcake held from a purchase day before, from Cupcake Jones),

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did some crazy awesome swatching with Cookie A and ‘oddball stitches’,

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then convinced fellow classmate Jane to come with me to split a hamburger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches (thank you, Brunch Box – we regretted nothing), then picked up knitter Johanna and stopped at the Saturday Market for ice cream.

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Then I filled a notebook listening to photography wisdom from Franklin Habit,

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joined with several hundred other knitters for a “super secret” (maybe not so secret) flash mob,

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and then met up with a bunch of more knitters for dinner.

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Thanks, knitters! Can we do it all again next weekend? I don’t think I want Sock Summit to end.

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Still going, still good

One thing I learned from the last Sock Summit is that, for me at least, having knitting classes 4 straight days in a row is a recipe for being really really exhausted by Sunday afternoon. This time, I planned for that and allowed myself a day of no classes whatsoever on Friday. It worked out pretty well.

I spent a few hours strolling around the marketplace (acquired 2 more skeins plus a 15-minte chair massage which was GREAT), and chatting with knitters there;

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Then I had the most delicious brown rice bowl for lunch from a food cart, which I ate too fast to be able to take a picture of it, visited a cupcake place and scarfed down a life-changing chocolate ganache cupcake, and hit Powell’s later with some fellow knitters. (Powell’s were ready for the knitters).

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And, oh yes – I finished the crochet bind-off on my Peacock Feathers shawl and then BLOCKED IT. (Thank you, hotel bed). I do indeed get to wear it as my birthday shawl today.

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Today for my birthday I get to take knitting classes all day, shop with knitters, then have dinner with knitters. Looking forward to all of it!

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“No way can I get 100s of people to do THAT.”

There’s that story about the daredevil who made a really crazy jump, and did it awesomely, and then crashed at the end of it and needed several casts and recovery time. And when they asked him if he would do it again he said no, because, “I really miss the first time.”

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Being at Sock Summit 2.0 is sort of like that – those of us who were lucky (super dee dooper lucky, believe me we know) enough to be there the first time around still really miss it. But unlike the daredevil, we’re ready to be back and raring for more. A lot of it is oddly familiar. We made it our routine so intensely for 4 days in a row, that even 2 years later, getting off the tram in front of the Oregon Convention Centre yesterday morning felt a lot like…well, we were trying to figure that out. Not like coming “home” exactly. Sort of like coming back to a college reunion, but where you actually want to see most of the hordes of people who are there. I can only imagine the conviction it took for Stephanie and Tina to commit to this show a second time. As they said at the Opening Reception – this time, they knew what they were in for.

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The first day was pretty darned great. I went to a full day class with Cat Bordhi (her “Knitting Sleuth” class), and sitting with fellow Canadian knitter Dennine (who is wearing an awesome yellow shawl here that I’ve totally forgotten what pattern it was when I asked her) in a class that started at 9am, it wasn’t even 9:30 yet before we both turned to each other and whispered, “well, I don’t know about you but I just got MY money’s worth.” It was mind-expanding in the way that Cat Bordhi’s classes always are.

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And with the help of perseverance, stimulating conversation, and the promise of a yarn-filled marketplace, all of us made it through our Day 1 classes and carried on for the shopping. And shopping there was. (And still is, I’m sure). The marketplace is just about worth the price of admission on its own, and it gave the “experienced” half of our hotel suite group a lot of glee to see the “new” members of our group happily looking over their purchases last night. It’s like Rhinebeck on crack. And air conditioning.

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It’s a bigger group this time, which you can tell just by being here. There are more people around and the vibe just feels bigger. And different and better, in many ways. Um, Sock Summit 1.0 did not have a flash mob planned for Saturday, just saying. (See below for a very short video clip of the Opening Reception practice. My delighted laughter may not stop.)

Now Day 2 is on its way, and I’m happy to have it as a free-roaming day, for more market perusal and a visit downtown for Powell’s. It’s good to have a loose day this time around for some slower pace and recharging. And just being around the Sock Summiters is pretty great in itself.

Happy sock knitting, whether you are in Portland or elsewhere!

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Still smaller than New Jersey

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I was, admittedly, not going to do a post-Sock Summit stash enhancement post (contented as I was to simply hug my new stashlets and pet them and call them George), but then a few people prodded me about it, and verily I cannot help but want to share a few of the goodies. As the sign above taken from the Red Fish Knitting booth would seem to indicate, my seemingly sizeable stash is still smaller than it could be, and heck, it’s pretty, so why feel guilty, right? Right.

The Sock Summit marketplace was formidable. It was enormous, bigger than I think any of us expected. Most of us made multiple visits and shopped as much as we could, but sadly even the most dedicated among us couldn’t see everything there was to see. There was also the challenge of fitting in the marketplace around other things – for many of us the largest portions of our days were taken up with classes, or volunteer shifts, or seeing some of Portland, or simple meet-and-greet on the spot, and so our shopping had to happen in sort of precision strikes of an hour or so. Still, it was very hard to resist. So many pretty things, so little time.

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One of the highlights of Sock Summit was the Dye For Glory competition that preceded the event. Yarn dyers were invited to submit entries in several possible dyeing categories (I think they pretty much covered every possible method of applying colour to yarn, and the entries were all gorgeous). Well, colour me surprised and pleased when Lorna’s Laces entered several colourways – y’all know of my love of knitting Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers. When I saw the red/grey/purple ‘Vampire Tea Party’ colourway I knew I’d have to have that one. When I found it in person nestled right next to the pleasantly green ‘Ghoul’s Gala’, I snagged that one as well, since green is a shade sadly lacking from my expanding Lorna’s Laces stash. (Now that I am 1.5 pairs away from having a Lorna’s Laces Jaywalker pair for every day of the week, I feel the only option at that point is simply to keep going. Maybe one for every day of the month. Who can tell.)

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Blue Moon was, unsurprisingly, a strong presence at Sock Summit and their centrally-placed booth always had people browsing. I had planned to simply get a skein of their special ST-2 colourway (how could I resist all the red/pink/purple shades?), but then saw that they had a sizeable rack of mill ends and snagged two of those as well. And then throughout the weekend I would find myself being drawn back…and get more. I surprise myself to have brought back this small heap of Socks That Rock, two heavyweight, one mediumweight, and four lightweight, mostly mill ends. I think this’ll do me for STR for a while, and will let me skip the lineups at The Fold at Rhinebeck. (Famous last words, or no?)

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Speaking of Rhinebeck and gaggles of knitters, one vendor I was very happy to have a look at under milder shopping conditions was Briar Rose. Surely they need little introduction, no? Beautifully dyed skeins in long yardages. They are always popular but even though I’ve seen them at Rhinebeck I’ve never made a purchase there. After a bit of decision-making time I took the plunge at their booth at Sock Summit, and made my way off with a sweater’s worth of their bulky weight in a purple-green combination called ‘sonoma’. Perhaps this will take the edge off of the fine gauge sock knitting I am bound to be doing in the near…well, until the end of time, at this rate. Heh.

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Now that I have a spinning wheel and will now have to actually start using it seriously can devote more efforts to developing a fibre stash, I did look out for a few nice bits of roving. These ones followed me home from Becoming Art and Wool Candy – two small Etsy dyers I’m unlikely to come across in person soon – and some absolutely decadently soft Australian merino from Ms. Gusset, an indie Australian dyer who I think is still new and developing her business. I don’t think she’ll have too much trouble, with beautiful things such as these.

There are, admittedly, other bits and pieces from my Sock Summit stash, though many have already been gifted away or are reserved for gift knitting. Another thing I haven’t blogged about too much are the actual projects from the four wonderful classes I took, but I think I will enjoy coming back to these throughout the coming fall. (Oh God. It’s almost fall. Someone help).

Today I’m enjoying a restful and hermity day in air conditioned comfort and allowing myself some time to ponder some design work. I hope your weekend is a good one, and that you have some knitting stash to enjoy!

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“What is valuable in the knitting world has changed.”

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The final day of Sock Summit has concluded, I am now in the very slow packing phase, and have absorbed so much and met so many new people and touched so much yarn and have so many new things I want to knit on, that I have entirely reached saturation. I am not sure I am capable of coherent conversational ability let alone blogging, but heck, I’m going to try.

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Last night at the Ravelry party (all kinds of fun), I was talking to WonderMike (formerly of Y-Knit podcast awesomeness) about how we were all just continuing to use the same vocabulary to describe this week/end. He was going with “amazing” over and over again and I had started really favouring “ridiculous” – ridiculous numbers of people, ridiculous amounts of knowledge, ridiculous quantities of yarn, ridiculous levels of sock-knitting enthusiasm. We vowed to start trying to use other words, but even still it would mean basically the same things, like “awesome” or “fascinating” or “marvelous.”

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I am sure that many of us are pondering how to re-enter both our knitting and non-knitting lives, now that we’ve had this super-saturated event filled with knowledge and interaction. (Sleep and a stiff drink are still high on my list, personally, but as for a Step 2…) On the one hand, it will be great to be in our own beds again and settle a bit, but on the other, home has the disadvantage of not being filled with my 1600+ closest knitting friends. I would find it hard to believe it, though, if an event of this sort of magnitude wouldn’t have some kind of gradual ripple effect. All of us are going home with our heads full, and we’re going to have to spill that out when we meet knitters at home. I mean, dudes, I learned a gusset stitch pickup thing from Meg Swansen that is so much better than the crud I’ve been doing, and if I even get to pass that on to a few more knitters it’ll be just one example of the millions of big or tiny ways the Sock Summit has enriched the knitting community.

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At the Luminary Panel this afternoon, Tina and Stephanie hosted a panel of some of the most experienced and knowledgeable knitters in the industry today, which just happened to coincide with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s (99th) birthday. The amount of wisdom and curiosity in their collective heads is pretty staggering, and yet also very approachable because I think their questions resonate with a lot of the questions ‘regular’ knitters also have on a regular basis. It is hard to sum up everything that was said in that panel, but I rather like the way Lucy Neatby said at one point quite simply, that “knitting satisfies many needs and we are lucky to have it.”

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Sock Summit 2009 was truly a unique event and I am lucky to have been able to be a part of it. I’ve met a lot of new people (and uh, new yarns) that I hadn’t met before, at least in person, and it was a great boost. It has expanded my brain and I hope the good that has come from Sock Summit will be passed on throughout knitting world, and that anything less than good will be managed and made constructive. Nothing has been said for sure about if/when/where another Sock Summit will happen (though I doubt very much that the organizers would make this an annual event, as I can only imagine the recovery time required after such an undertaking…), but even if this is the only one that ever exists, it is already an event of which stories will be told for quite a while.

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And now, I have some packing to do. If it’s all right with you, I’m just going to let the remaining photos from the last couple of days speak for themselves. Long trip ahead tomorrow and I’ll be sure to catch up again from the other side. I hope you’re enjoying your knitting corner of the world, wherever you are. If you’ve been at Sock Summit and have other blog posts/photo posts to report from it, please leave a link in the comments, it would be lovely to have more stories to read!

Thank you, Stephanie and Tina and all the Sock Summit teams. You did good.

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“Twenty years ago there was no SSK.”

Something happened this afternoon in my class at Sock Summit, for which I am still now just grasping the magnitude, and I may need to have a stiff drinkie and a lie down before I go forward with my evening.

Right, so I was in a class taught by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen (quoted above), which was also being audited by Barbara Walker. And at one point Meg was explaining different ways of working decreases, and paused since she had the opportunity, to ask Barbara if she was indeed the one who first thought up the SSK.

And Barbara Walker said, “yes.”

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“Their record was for 256. Their record was doomed.”

Day Two of Sock Summit is behind me now, folks, and the whirlwind is still going strong. My feet hurt, I am 99% out of touch with non-knitting non-Portland world, but I’m just continuing to tell myself that’s OK because at the moment knitting world is going pretty great down here in Portland. Today, I got up, hung out with some knitters, listened and learned about design from Marjan Hammick (Yarnissima), and talked a little German with her, participated in a record-setting Guinness Book of World Records knit-in, bought more yarn, escaped to downtown for a delicious hamburger, investigated Powell’s bookstore where I scored a hardcover copy of Meg Swansen’s Knitting, bought cupcakes, and did a quick turnaround before heading out to the Sock Hop at the Portland Art museum.

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It continues to be pretty trippy, being here. At the Sock Hop I chatted with a few people and commented that “you know, this is all pretty hysterical,” and whoever I was talking to would nod vigorously. Someone (the Canadian gal above from Make One Yarn Studio whose name I cannot remember), added that it is hard to know “am I done?” at the end of the day/class/event/etc because it all sort of meshes and keeps on going in your head.

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At this point, any delusions I had about presenting photos or captions in any detailed or logical order is sort of breaking down, so I’ll just wing this a little bit. There are a few things about knitting world that this event is reaffirming for me, not the least of which is the community and shared knowledge.

Marjan, for example, takes inspiration from Bavarian stitches just as much as from the photography of Brooklyn Tweed. Cat Bordhi happily puts aside her circulars to knit on two straights if it means the World Record people require it. If you are any knitter at all knitting any particular pattern and need sudden help, another knitter will come rescue you. Everyone is learning from each other.

And if, say, you are Meg, and you are, say, knitting your own lace wedding veil, it turns out you can bring it to the Sock Summit and get people like Barbara Walker and Nancy Bush and, oh, EVERYONE EVER to knit a few stitches on it…

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And if, say, you are Meg and you pull out your lace wedding veil and realize there is a dropped stitch situation going on, in the middle of a Sock Hop, the other knitters will all stand around and support you while you go ahead and fix that.

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Also, if the Guinness Book of World Records shows up, this means that over 1200 knitters will show up and blow the previous Australian-set world record out of the sky, and still even feel a little bit bad about it for the Australians.

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Pretty cool, using yarn to set a record. Also it’s pretty cool to hang out with this many knitters for this many days. I’m sure we’re all going to go through withdrawl by Monday. Good thing it’s not Monday yet.

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More tomorrow, folks, more tomorrow.

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“Yeah, but we’re really talking about a lot of skeins, here.”

This morning I got up, got a Starbucks latte, and headed to the Oregon Convention Center. There, I chatted with Ravelry’s Jess and Stephanie Pearl McPhee before going on to classes with Janel Laidman, Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen. Then I bought yarn in the marketplace and went to the Opening Reception where, after a wonderful greeting by Stephanie and Tina, the entire reception room burst into spontaneous applause and standing ovations, and then we all hung out and talked and mingled and I shook Barbara Walker’s hand and had conversations with Lucy Neatby and Sivia Harding and Abby Franquemont and Ann Budd. And then I talked to Deb Barnhill about toe-up socks until the room was nearly empty, and then we all went off to our separate crash pads hotel rooms, and now I’m having difficulty believing that all of this is actually happening to me. I suspect I am not alone in this.

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Day One of the Sock Summit has passed, and already I am having difficulty recalling everything I have absorbed and experienced so far. It is a singular thing, being here. Anything else I try to compare this to has some level of institutional formality or structured system of recognition or higher levels of impatience or air of…well, normalcy, that really has no place at Sock Summit. Everyone I have met so far – attendees, teachers, vendors – absolutely everyone has commented on how much this is unlike any other event they have attended. I am trying to think of another event or gathering that I can compare this to, and am coming up short.

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Everyone has a smile, everyone is game, everyone is knitting.

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Rebecca and I keep having conversations throughout the day and saying things like, “Hey, you know [X knitter] I met/took a class with/talked to/shook hands with is the nicest ever.” And then the other will respond with, “But you know who is also the nicest ever? [Y other knitter] I met/took a class with/talked to/shook hands with.” And on it goes. And this goes for teachers, attendees, vendors, everyone. There are unlimited photos, conversations, and sock appreciation, and this weekend isn’t even half over yet.

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Today, I touched a sock knitted by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I learned about colour-work from Janel Laidman. I learned about knitting socks from Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen. I listened as Stephanie Pearl McPhee and Tina Newton described the Sock Summit journey in alternating laughter, delirium, and tears. I met dozens of people and many new friends. So far, Sock Summit is awesome.

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Can’t wait for more.

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Big Day Ahead

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Sock Summit is here, the knitters are arriving, and registration is already in full swing. There is a friendly energy around, whenever you encounter another Sock Summit goer. Today will be Day 1 of classes, activities, and general high-intensity frolicking…

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Yesterday I arrived, registered myself up, and then had dinner with my uncle who lives nearby who I haven’t seen in many years. It was a fun time, and I’m glad I did.

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More evenings of knitterly fun lie ahead. Now let’s pretend I’m on completely full night’s sleep, shall we? Right. More later…

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