Category Archives: fandom

Socks for big damn heroes

Ladies and gentlemen, I promised a full update when my new sock patterns were up for online consumption, and I’m pleased to finally do so!

Hi, I’m a geek. Have we met? I mean, sure I love artsy things, and inspiration can and does come from everywhere. But sometimes, my friends, that inspiration is television. I like television. I like other things, too, but you know, I like television. And I like talking about it. I never understand it when people watch a show every week and then don’t feel the urge to go blather about it (or via email, since, as established, I’m a geek) with a friend the next day. Working with said inspiration is also pretty easy when you are working with yarn dyed by friends who share said television geekery. Last winter I did some mitten patterns with Kim’s yarn, inspired by her Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer themed colourways, and this summer I’ve been at work on a few sock patterns which are all named for Firefly characters. (It took me a while to come around on Firefly, and why I should care to go watch a show that only lasted one season. Then I got the DVDs and discovered why. It’s awesome.)

The mittens and gloves came in a set of 3 (one for each weight of Merino/cashmere/nylon yarn), so somehow it seemed natural that the Firefly socks should also come in a set of 3. (one for each…kind of sock yarn? Sure!) So then I had to pick three characters to work with, and it turned out that was the easy part. I present to you, officially launched online, three Firefly-inspired sock patterns – all worked for 2 sizes, all designed with Indigodragonfly Yarns in mind. (If substituting, work with a yarn that will allow you to obtain the same gauge.) Each are available for individual sale on Patternfish and Ravelry, for $6. If you’re purchasing on Ravelry, you can get all 3 as a collection, for the price of 2. (Links below).

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These are called “O Captain My Captain”, for Captain Malcolm Reynolds, and are worked in the most practical of sock yarns – superwash merino 2-ply. I love this yarn, it’s the same one I worked with for my “Staked” sock pattern last fall, and is very versatile. I envisioned these socks as being the ones as potentially for either men or women, so I wanted to keep the lines simple but still with a bit of excitement to them – much like Mal himself. But as noble as Mal is, he’s also a little bit broken and twisted, so that’s exactly what these cables do. There are instructions on how to “place” the cable breaks, and that placement is entirely up to you. You could break the same cable in the same place all the way down the foot, or alternate around the leg.

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On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are worked from the cuff down at a stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, on 2.5mm needles, and socks to fit up to a size 12 women’s or size 10 men’s foot should be fine with one 375 yds/100g skein of the Merino sock.

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Next up is “Kaywinnit”, for Kaylee, who is most at home in the ship’s engine room but still longs for girlish frills and pink ruffles. So, I wanted a sock that would be relatively simple, but still with a bit of frills. I hope to have accomplished that with these, where there is a chevron/garter “ruffle” at the top of the cuff.

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On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are also cuff-down, and once you’re past the cuff it’s pretty smooth sailing with a knit-and-purl textured pattern down the rest of the foot, and if you’re lucky to snag some of the Shiny Sock (includes silver) while it’s still going, you can also look forward to a few sparkles! This sock yarn behaves a little more like sport-weight, so even on 2.5mm needles this pattern assumes a stockinette gauge of 7 sts/inch. If substituting yarns, look for something a little heavier than your usual sock yarn.

Finally, for the fanciest lady on the Firefly ship, these are called “Companion.” Plain socks wouldn’t do for Inara, I mean, have you seen the number of silk gowns she has to parade around in? No no, even just cables wouldn’t do. This gal needs some beads as well. So, after a few years of wanting to play with beads, I finally broke them out for Inara – this is my first beaded sock design.

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If you’re not inclined towards beads, they are easily omitted from this sock – and you’ll still have a few twisted cables to keep your interest – as they are placed with a crochet hook and not pre-strung. You’ll also need to pay attention to your “stopping place” with the beads, i.e. don’t go right to the toe. Stop placing the beads once you reach the point when your shoe is going to come into the picture. I have to say, though, I really like the elegance and extra bit of sparkle they add.

On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are also worked cuff-down, and are the most advanced of this little collection, involving twisted-stitch cables as well as the bead placement. But if you’ve got experience with that sort of thing, you’ll find yourself getting into a rhythm pretty easily. They also assume a stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, and are worked using Indigodragonfly Merino/cashmere/nylon sock.

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My goal with this little set of socks was to come up with a set of patterns that was not only consistent with the Firefly character aesthetics, but which also used a variety of techniques for a variety of skill levels or interests. Each pattern does something a little bit differently than the other. I hope you’ll find one (or two?) in there that sparks your interest!

These days, my needles are full of projects and ideas, so with any luck this fall will have more designs coming your way. Socks are for all occasion, but sweaters and other accessories are just the ticket for cool weather, so those are in the plans for sure.

I’ve also got to find something new for a regular not-designed-by-me project, so that’s something I’ll put my mind to in the next few days. Until next time, happy knitting!

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Filed under design, fandom, socks

Pretty cunning, don’t you think?

I’ve been getting steadily busier the last couple of months here at Knitting to Stay Sane, with designs and designs-still-being-dreamed up. I have a list of sweater plans the length of my arm. At least two shawls. And no fewer than two Harry Potter inspired knits, now that the final film has been released and reminded me of how fun that sort of knitting is. (Neville’s cardigan, man am I ever ON IT when Sock Summit is over. Plotting has begun.)

Speaking of Sock Summit, I have the great fortune to have three designs that will be winging their way to Portland along with me. These are the Firefly-inspired knits I alluded to a week or two earlier, and I am well pleased with them. They’ll be making their debut in the Indigodragonfly booth (#1001), and then in full release online via Ravelry and Patternfish some time in early August. (In other words, when I’ve had a few days to recover from Sock Summit, and let the SS shoppers have a few days of exclusivity and glee. ;) ) So if you’re headed to Sock Summit, these can all be yours this week! If not, I’ll be sure to give the heads-up on this blog when they are available for all.

So dear readers, I am pleased to give you a sneak peek of the Firefly-inspired sock patterns that will soon be making their way out into knitting world, each showcasing a different yarn and different set of techniques.

‘O Captain My Captain’ is for Mal, and features not just noble, upright cables…but broken ones, too. Broken cables for a broken guy. These ones are intended for either men or women, and are shown in the ‘Captain Tightpants’ colourway of Indigodragonfly Merino Sock.

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‘Kaywinnit’ is for Kaylee, and uses simple stitches and texture for a combination of practicality and frill. Our shiny gal deserves a bit of both in her life, don’t you think?

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And finally, ‘Companion’ is for Inara, to whom I gave not just my precious twisted cables – no no, she deserves just a little bit more – but the application of a few beads. The beads are optional, but so darned gorgeous. And her yarn is the merino/nylon/cashmere, no less. Doesn’t a space geisha deserve that extra luxury?

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I’m very happy to show you these socks, as they’ve been waiting patiently for a while.
And now, I’d better get back to the grind – there’s not just knitting but packing to be done!
Happy Monday!

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Filed under design, fandom, finished object: socks

Tangentially related to knitting

There are some days when, despite having a blog devoted almost entirely to knitting, I come across something else that I can’t help but want to show off; like finding a cool thing and needing someone to run to and say “LOOK, I found this cool thing,” because finding it makes your day better.

Sometimes those things are fannish videos edited together from clips of Harry Potter films.

(Note: also includes clips from the most recent film).

I love fannish offerings like this that distill the original text into the very essence of what makes it great in the first place – in this case the friendship and inherent acts of everyday bravery that have grown these characters into not just admirable young people but admirable role models in general.

Stories like the Harry Potter series are powerful because you know that as you turn one page at a time or watch one scene after the next, there are millions of other people doing the same thing. And it makes me smile to know (and then have confirmation later), that the thousands (millions?) of knitters watching these films are parsing out all the beautiful knitted garments worn by the characters, and/or reverse-engineering patterns to make them. Heck, I’ve got my own hand-knitted Ravenclaw scarf as testament to that.

I don’t think it’s a surprise that knitters have started to gather around popular stories like this, and expressing their fan appreciation through their knitting. I like that the same thing can be said about knitting, if such a bold statement can be allowed – that knitting one stitch after the next means that you belong to a group of people who are doing the same thing, putting one stitch after another, possibly with a certain amount of bravery in a world that expects you to get your socks and sweaters from Wal-Mart, not through a laborious but knowledge-dependent and possibly community-building process of handcraft over a period of weeks and months.

Here’s to you, knitters – fannish and otherwise!

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Filed under fandom, fearless knitting

We interrupt this knitting geekery for regular geekery

Particularly in the summer when mainstream TV goes on hiatus, I tend to go through bursts of DVD watching or re-watching as I knit. Lately it’s been the X-Files, and since I finished off Season 8 last night (which, interestingly enough, goes by pretty fast when you skip half of it) and still haven’t gotten around to purchasing Season 9 so I can finally see for myself just how desperate the X-Files’ last gasps are, this leaves me looking around for something new. I think I might have to go back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m not sure why, it could be just be because I haven’t watched it in a while. Or, it could be this really kickass tee that arrived for me:

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Now, admittedly I have not (yet) read the Twilight books, so I can really only account for the Buffy part of this equation and not Edward, but I suspect it is only a matter of time before I just have to read them and know, to experience the phenomenon for myself. Like the printed word version of a deep-fried mars bar. But isn’t it some universal fannish law that Buffy > you? I thought so.

The other thing that came in the mail was my order of Moo mini cards, which I want to bring with me to the Sock Summit in August. They are lovely, and I had a lot of fun picking knitting pictures to go on them. It’s like my own little project gallery in handy contact-information form. The only recommendation I have if you order a set of these for yourself is…double-check your info. I spent several minutes writing in the ‘y’ at the end of my email address. Oops.

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And now, I had better go make peace with the fact that it is actually June and that May is not coming back. At least I have yarn to break my fall. Keep the knitting close by!

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This is the story of a pair of socks

I’d like to offer proof-of-life photos and reassure you that yes indeed, the vest has been steeked, finished, and is still alive, but the darned bugger is still damp from blocking and I haven’t been able to get it on to photograph yet. Soon. Soon. It’s cold and it’s vest-wearing time and that Ivy League Vest pattern is some kind of awesome.

Instead, I have a story. Settle in my friends. It’s been waiting for a while, and I still can’t believe that I, the queen of impatience, haven’t told it yet. I suppose there is just no underestimating what will happen when you are in the grips of dissertation distress. But anyhoo…First we go back to mid-2006-or-so, when I was watching Veronica Mars DVDs and doodling argyle patterns in my notebook. Veronica, as the modern smart girl’s hip-happening almost-Nancy-Drew and general emblematic young woman fashion-plate, wears kicky things like faux-argyle diamonds, or small amounts of argyle on hoodies or cardigans, most often in bright pinks and greens. And all of this seeped into my subconscious, and I kept thinking, you know, what Veronica really needs is a nice pair of mini-argyle socks.

‘Socktoberfest’ 2006 rolled around and I ordered myself a whackload of sock yarn from KnitPicks. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I finally got down to making some socks, all the while with Veronica on the brain, and after a few iterations (one nixed attempt is immortalized up at the bottom left of my blog header, in Apple Laine yarn) I finally had these, in KnitPicks ‘Essential’:

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Surely Miss Mars herself would approve. I was so pleased with them I sent them off to Knitty for a pattern submission. Sadly they were rejected, but Amy generously suggested that I self-publish. I let the idea percolate until the summer, when I reminded myself that I didn’t really want a pair of mini-argyle socks (or mini-faux argyle – these are 2-colour in the round, not the 3-colour intarsia of argyle tradition), what I wanted was a pair of mini argyle knee-socks. So, I went back again to the needles, this time with some more sedate shades of Knit Picks Gloss. By October, they were done. I managed a few photos on my own, and Beatrice agreed that the finished socks were adequate:

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Then, I went out for a run one day and promptly fell and skinned my knee so badly that I began to wonder if my knees would ever be photogenic again. And then winter came on, and the thesis stress was there, and etc etc etc…Until finally we come to this weekend and I batted my eyelashes at my sister long enough for her to nab a few shots for me. Les-voila, the Veronica Knee Socks:

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I love them. I adore them to bits and pieces. I have been wanting for months to get the pattern out for sale (as soon as I figure out how to do that), and all it wants is a bit more writing and some sizing instructions. I am hoping that if I post about them now, I’ll work up some sufficient guilt that I won’t let that delay for too much longer. ;)

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They are worked top-town with elastic knitted into the single-rib cuffs, feature shaping along a faux-seam running up the back of the leg, a short-row heel, and use 2-colour stranded technique in the round. I used Knit Picks ‘Gloss’ in Black and Burgundy (2 skeins each), and 2.75mm bamboo DPNs for a stranded gauge of 8 sts/inch. They are warm and smooth, thanks to the blend of wool/silk contained in the Gloss. These ones here are made to fit my 15.5-inch shapely calves, to a length of about 14 inches or so between the cuff and heel.

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A knit saga almost at the end. Whaddaya think, my knitting friends? Good enough for mass consumption? One thing’s for sure – in these socks, you are sure to be noticed, whether Nancy-Drewing it or no.

Next colour-work installment…the Ivy League Vest, and Why Steeks Aren’t So Bad After All. :)

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Filed under design, fair isle, fandom, finished object: socks

Tease

If you’re not in North America…look! I distract you with a picture of upcoming blog fodder! Lalalala! (Um. That Ribby Cardi FO post is coming, I swear. Any moment now. That collar is just about done. Totally almost done.)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

BUT, if you’re in North America and are a TV-watcher and a knitter, don’t miss Pushing Daisies tonight. Really. Just saying. Well, someone already said it better, but it bears repeating. ;) Bestest episode of anything ever. (For some reason we get that show a day early in Canada, but the US and anyone with cable TV can watch it tonight.)

On I trudge with the day…

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Just the links, ma’am.

No new knitting pics today, although the nail-biting action continues as I work through the 2nd front piece of the Ribby. Fingers still crossed for button-band-worthy leftovers.

This morning while jogging I listened to the most recent Stash and Burn podcast (some days having that new podcast is what gets me out the door), and in this one they had the pleasure of interviewing Jess and Casey of Ravelry. It was great to listen to, and I think would be a great listen for knitters who are either still waiting or are already in Ravelry. They talk a lot about the process of getting the site going and what a tremendous impact it has had on their lives – I already had a great deal of respect for these two for getting the site going, but now I have even more! I definitely recommend checking it out. I also really appreciated Jess’s comments in the podcast about Ravelry and knit-blogging – that they still want these two things to be complementary, not competitive. I’m still reading blogs as much as I ever did, but Ravelry has certainly enhanced a lot of the FO-viewing and pattern-searching that tends to happen through blogs and Googling.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A propos of podcasting, I must say that the Stash and Burn podcast may be the first and only podcast I’ve listened to so far that I haven’t given up on! I’ve listened to all of the episodes, some twice, and it hasn’t fallen by the wayside yet. I know podcast choices are highly subjective, but I think I’ve realized that I enjoy listening to them talk about their knitting because they seem like the kind of people I would enjoy sitting with if they were at a knit night. Thanks Jenny and Nicole, I hope you have a fruitful hiatus before getting back in action.

But most important of all on this fine Tuesday: Tonight, this blessed night, my top guilty pleasure and favourite tv show (as if that wasn’t obvious already) returns to television screens down here North-America-way, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Oh, new television, how I’ve missed you so.

On the subject of the cupcakes in my previous post – Oh. My. I take back everything I said about mint-chocolate not being my favourite flavour. They are veritably swoonable. I shared them with my friend E yesterday (she who requested the flavour in the first place), and this morning she emailed me to say she loved them so much she wrote a poem about them:

> Oh mint chocolate yum yum.
> How I love your sparkly sweet bite
> Your softness and creaminess makes me SWOON!
> I will dream about you tonight. I hope you dream of me too.

I wish all of you pleasant dreams and daydreams, be they knitted, baked, or otherwise ;)

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Filed under fandom, podcasts, ravelry

Discovery

First, I must make a fannish PSA and relay some information I was mentioning to a couple of the gals at knit night last night (and for anyone else reading this who is a fan of Firefly/Serenity, or Joss Whedon productions in general). Tonight through Sunday, internationally (largely US and Canada cities, but some prime UK and Aussie sites are there too, also Paris and others), there will be charity screenings of the film Serenity. Check here for full details and to see if your city is on the list. Information for Saturday’s Toronto screening (and Ottawa and Edmonton) is on this page. This is the second year in a row Joss Whedon fans have staged this fundraiser for Equality Now (which works for gender equality rights), and the goal is to raise $100,000 this time around. (In my head I am thinking, dude, if knitters were involved surely we could make that without breaking a sweat.)

And really, even if you haven’t seen Firefly (the series upon which the film Serenity is based), if your city is on that list then I’d say that ticket would be $12 well spent. Should be a heckuva fun time with all those enthusiastic fans in the audience. I’ve been a fan of Firefly since watching it on DVD about a year and a half ago, and I have to say it was knitters who helped put it on my radar in the first place. All of a sudden there came a time when you couldn’t go on the knitting interwebs without people talking about knitting Jayne hats, and using words like “gorram” and “shiny.” (Now my only question is, what knitting do I bring with me on Saturday? ;) )

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My other important discovery was at knitting night last night, too – see this picture of Em? It might look like she’s holding some regular-old Brittany birch DPNs, but no. Those are hand-made needles made from teeny-tiny dowels found at a hardware store, that she got pre-cut and then sanded down into points herself. (That is also her own handspun fingering-weight. Hand-dyed too. Mm hmm.) We got out the gauge and sized them at 2.25mm – perfect for socks! Brilliant discovery, brilliant. Actually, I kind of feel like I’m stealing her thunder a little bit by posting about this, so I’ll stop that story right there and let her fill in all the miraculous details. But still – homemade birch DPNs! Oh the possibilities.

(Oh, there is also new stock of Lorna’s Laces sock yarn at Lettuce Knit. That was another discovery. I may have tripped nearby it and my credit card may have fallen out of my wallet. It couldn’t be helped, right? Right. I thought so.)

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Filed under fandom, lettuce knit

The ‘Brennan Cardigan’

[Edited note, Dec 2013 - I'm no longer able to make this pattern available. Many thanks to those who have knitted and shown interest in it! I'll be sure to keep bringing  my attention to new designs in the future :) ]

So, a couple of posts ago I mentioned how my sister had just finished a really awesome sweater, and was going to let me talk about it over here. It’s really a stupidly geeky knitting story to be honest, but since I know I can’t possibly be the only television-obsessed knitter* out there, I’d go ahead and blather about it.

 

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The first thing that you need to know is that I regularly watch the show Bones. And when I say ‘regularly’, I mean that it’s become the only show that I have to watch when there’s a new episode out. Most of my other shows that I was addicted to are now either off the air (things like Alias or Buffy), about to be going off the air (Gilmore Girls), on painfully long hiatuses (Battlestar Galactica) or sucking so hard that I don’t even want to bother any more (Top Model, Grey’s Anatomy). To be fair, I don’t think Bones is about to win any awards any time soon. I enjoy the cast and I enjoy the series of books that the program is (loosely, VERY loosely) based upon, but the writing is pretty darned mediocre. Most of the time, I enjoy the pretty. If there’s a new episode airing on Wednesday nights when I choose to go to Lettuce Knit for Stitch ‘n Bitch night, I get M to tape Bones and then we watch it later.

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So, we spent a lot of the first season mocking the wardrobe and jewelry selections for the main character, Dr. Temperance Brennan. Sure, the woman’s a top-ranked forensic anthropologist and spends half her day bent over lab tables or mucking through crime scenes in boots and jumpsuits, but whatever! That’s no reason she can’t look like she walked off a Vogue cover shoot, right? Riiiiigghhhht. Thankfully, by late Season 1 and now in Season 2, her clothes have started to look more like things a 30-something modern professional might actually wear, and occasionally (like when she’s busy brooding over family history issues), she gets a sweater to wear.

This one (pictured in a few scant shots above) was what she wore in a couple of scenes in the Season 1 finale almost exactly a year ago, and M and I both fell in love with it. The shawl collar, the extra-long length, the bits of v-shaped ribbing at the sides, mmmmm. We wanted it. I was emailing with a friend of mine later that same week, who also knits and also watches Bones, and asked her, “Is it wrong that in my head I’m trying to reverse-engineer that sweater Brennan wore in those 2 scenes on Bones?” and she said, “No, because I want one too and if you write up a pattern you have to give me a copy immediately.” And it just so happened that at the time, M had been staring over this heap of worsted-weight 100% wool that she’d gotten for a song from a friend’s sister, and had been pestering me to write her up a pattern for some kind of long cardigan sweater. Well, my fannishness and knitting obsession combined, and I did my best reverse-engineer job that I could. It ain’t perfect, but it’s darned comfy:

 

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Check out that detail on the side:

 

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It took M the better part of a year to execute it, in between putting it down to work on other things. Also, she and I will both freely admit that the diagonal v-shaped ribbing at the side, while gorgeous, slowed things down a whole lot more than if it had just been plain stockinette. Also, while I did my best at pattern-writing, a lot of stuff got filled in later and so there are gaps in my orignal notes with things like, “do stuff with short rows here”, or “figure out how to write this on a chart later”. So if I can go back and figure out how to fix these things, I’ll happily post the pattern here later.

The other thing I failed on with this first attempt is that I should have made the neckline much lower – you know, for that bit of decolletage for when Agent Booth shows up late at night with Chinese food – and made the shawl collar wider. But M is pleased and so am I. I’d like to make myself one, too. You know, when I get done knitting the list I already have that’s a mile long of course. Hah.

Incidentally, there are only 2 more new eps of this show left this season, which makes me kind of bummed. I’ll need to find some more cracktastic viewing for the summer…

*I recently discovered during my time of injury that my television addiction is not nearly as strong as my knitting addiction. Go figure, eh? ;)

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Filed under brennan cardigan, fandom, knitting addiction