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Archive for the ‘Knitting’ Category

The bonding process seems to be going well with the littles. They readily go into the bonding pouch each day, with much less crabbing at me about it. Inara, particularly, gives me more trouble about leaving the pouch than she does about entering it. Not really sure what that signifies. Today she nipped at me when I tried to get her out, and she’s not generally the nippy one!  That honor is Zoe’s, who will reach between the bars to grab my hand with hers and pull it close enough to nip. Still hasn’t broken the skin, but it’s not for lack of trying! Others have advised me not to pull away when she nips because it will give her the idea that she’s the boss, so I don’t, but it’s difficult not to, because those tiny teeth sting!! But I guess progress is progress.

Speaking of progress, Aneira’s bag is coming along well. I removed all the stitch markers on Bryony’s to motivate me to rip it back, but I haven’t had the guts to do it yet. That’s going to be a huge snarl of yarn. I’m not looking forward to the mess and I’m procrastinating. I know I have to do it soon, but I’m dreading it. 

I’d like to try my hand at glider toys too, and I have one idea already, but I have to get some glider-safe yarn before I try it. And I may have to take some sewing lessons as well, as I can barely sew a straight line as it is. Mom’s sewing machine has been in its box for the majority of the last ten years. I have it, I should learn to use it. I don’t know how much aptitude I’ll have for it with lessons on board, but I know how little talent I have for it without lessons!! Kind of wishing now that I’d taken the home economic class I disdained in high school! I’d be a lot farther on!

I’ve heard you can knit/crochet glider toys with fleece straps, so I’m curious how that can be done. I’m going to try looking on YouTube to see if there are any videos of that. Wish me luck!!!

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Finally, finally, finally, for the first time in my life, I’ve completed a knitting project! On needles! Okay, granted, it’s just a scarf using one skein of yarn, but it’s still the first time I’ve actually finished one! So I’m proud of myself!

I think part of what enabled me to finish it was the fact that it wasn’t the very basic knit stitch I was taught as a child, the garter stitch. That stitch rapidly became boring, and I was never a big fan of its aesthetic. I just don’t like the way it looks. I don’t know why, but there you go.

I still have, at last count, a billion other projects in varying stages of progress, or lack thereof. I have a very hard time staying with one project; I have to have the ability to jump around from one to another to another. It means that it takes forever for me to finish anything, but at least it stands a chance of being finished eventually. If I had to stick with only one thing until I was done, it would never get done. And the bigger the project, the more often I’m likely to bounce away from it and come back in a few months.

If that drives you crazy, imagine how I feel!!

I would love to be able to see a project through to completion without putting it down for months on end and then coming back to it. It’s like I’m genetically incapable of doing so! Honestly, the fact that I worked on Bryony’s scarf every night for two weeks (once I came back to it) is a feat of willpower. My normal MO is to come back to it, do a few rows, and I’m gone again. Only with weaving do I happily stay with it from start to finish. In fact, once I start a weaving project, I’m either with it till it’s done, without stopping, or I have to be pried away from the loom with a crowbar. Doesn’t matter which loom.

Anyway. Bryony is in love with her new scarf, and I’ve already had to take it away from her until winter, as she was determined to give herself heatstroke by wearing it all summer long. Yeah, not an option. So it’s been given its own hanger in the hall closet, and she can have it back the very second it gets cold. I’m waiting to see how long it takes before the rest of the family places their requests…

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See, what happened was...I needed a new picot gauge...and these were right there...

See, what happened was…I needed a new picot gauge…and these were right there…

My six week externship has begun and is a week in!!! My degree in veterinary technology is within sight! It’s exhausting work–every night I come home with aching feet and an overwhelming desire to go straight to bed–but I love working at my externship clinic. Too bad it’s only for six weeks, because I really like everyone there, and it’s essentially across the street from my house. It’s the shortest commute I’ve ever had! And I’m learning a lot, because they’re actually taking the time to make sure of it. I’m not just doing laundry, cleaning kennels, and washing dishes. I’m filling prescriptions, taking medical histories, monitoring anesthesia, restraining animals, calculating drug dosages and drip rates, doing bloodwork…I’m doing what I set out to do! It’s amazing! Okay, so it took forty+ years to get to where I wanted to be, but I’m there!

Since externship started, I haven’t really had the energy for any crafting, but I did inadvertently learn a lesson: you can never have too many of the same tool. No, seriously. You can’t have too many crochet hooks, knitting needles, tatting shuttles, tatting needles, etcetera. I say this because in looking around my studio, I have numerous works in progress on various types of needles, all at the same time. Granted, yes, I could use the same crochet hook on all my crochet projects, because I can remove the hook without too much trouble, but I prefer to leave the hook with the work, and the same goes for the tatting needles. With knitting, there is no way I’m pulling the needle out. And the tatting shuttles can’t be removed until the project is done either.

Fortunately, there are enough inexpensive knitting needles and tatting shuttles out there that buying another set for that project you’re just dying to start isn’t an issue. I can grab a pair of knitting needles at Walmart for about $3. A pair of plastic tatting shuttles runs about $5.50, pre-coupon, but I get coupons pretty much weekly from JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby. The one from Hobby Lobby is always 40% off, and is reusable, which is nice. JoAnn’s is generally 40-60% off. I can’t complain. It’s easy to come by two or three dollars for another set of shuttles or needles just by scrounging through the change in my wallet or going through the sofa cushions, and let’s not forget checking pockets while doing laundry!

…yes, I was at both Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s today…my picot gauge broke and I needed a new one, and there was a pair of inexpensive shuttles, and I had a coupon…

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You know what tatting patterns remind me of? Those puzzles where you have to trace every line without picking up the pencil or retracing your steps. I know that’s not strictly true, as you can add thread where you need to, but the butterfly, for instance, is one long piece of thread curved into the design you want. Kind of cool, actually.

I don’t know why, but my double stitches consistently twist themselves upside down. I generally realize it when I’m making a picot and slide it into place, and, lo and behold, it’s either completely upside down, or partially twisted because the previous stitch is upside down and the current stitch is right side up. It’s easy enough to fix, but still a little frustrating when you don’t know why it’s happening. There’s definitely a learning curve here.

One of the books I bought, Learn to Tat by Janette Baker, came with a DVD. Actually, the book appears to be a literal script of the DVD, like a child’s read-along book. I started watching it last night, and learned that, at least according to the author, I had my shuttle loaded incorrectly. If you’re looking down at the shuttle, the thread should exit on the lower right. Mine exited on the upper left, which actually made more sense to me as the work was in my left hand. None of the other videos I’ve seen mention this, so I don’t know if it’s something specific to this author or not, but I reloaded the shuttle anyway. There are  nine classes included in the book and DVD, and then a section on patterns and projects. I’m going to work through the book slowly, with lots of repetition!!

I made a second little purple butterfly last night, and it only took me about twenty minutes this time, compared to the hour for the first one. Not bad, but I spent a good portion of that time untwisting my stitches. Grrr. I’ll figure it out eventually, I hope.

I think tonight, I’m going to take a break from tatting and go back to Bryony’s scarf for a little while, add a few more rows to it. Naturally, I would be knitting a scarf when winter is just about over, even here in Colorado. The temperature has been in the 50s and 60s lately, and more often than not, while I carry my jacket just in case, I’m not wearing it. It definitely hasn’t been scarf weather.

On the home front, things have been pretty good between the PIP and I. We haven’t had any arguments in quite awhile (I hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing this). He came to the conclusion, on his own, that if I met someone he wouldn’t stand in my way, which was nice. Unfortunately, I’ve seen what’s available to me on dating websites and I’m not terribly impressed. In point of fact, there were only a couple of guys I was interested in, and they were either not interested in return, or turned out to be trying to run a scam on me. I’ve since given up on dating sites. Sometimes, the devil you know actually is the better option!!

Besides, I never go out anyway!!! Who has time? Between family, school, homework, and studying, there’s only a little time left before going to bed that I’d rather spend playing with yarn, blogging, and watching TV! And this is not New York, where there is something to do 24/7. Things close around here, and I’m not a bar-hopper. So, for the next hour or so, I’m going to drag out my “Lost” DVDs, daydream about Sawyer, and do a little knitting! Have a lovely night, folks!

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As I’ve said before, Pinterest is a dangerous website. There’s very little that can’t be found there, and when it comes to crafts, I’ve got patterns pinned from every craft I’ve taken an interest in, from tutorials on new stitches or weaves to patterns for actual items.

There was a particular scarf that popped up under the keyword “crochet” that I really liked

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Deborah Norville Collection Serenity Garden Yarn Hibiscus

(and I hope I linked the scarf and not the entire website), and I have to say that as much as I like variegated yarns, I’m not a huge fan of those that contain every color under the sun. My favorites tend to be the ones that segue naturally from color to color, such as dark purples fade into progressively lighter shades until they get to white, or purple fades to red via burgundy, and so on. This scarf contains an entire rainbow of colors.

This is not to say that I don’t own rainbow variegated yarns, because I do. I can’t help myself. But those yarns aren’t generally bought for me. They’re bought to make things for my kids, who love bright primary colors; the more, the merrier. Not my style. But I fell for this scarf.

As it turned out, it was misfiled. It’s not a crocheted scarf, it’s knitted. Well, I’m not a

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Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny Party

great knitter. I’m still essentially a novice, but Jo Haward’s pattern is so very simple, although it looks complicated, at least to me. There was nothing for it but to drag out my knitting needles and try it.

So presently there are two scarves going on two different sets of needles. One is being done in the Deborah Norville Collection Serenity Garden Yarn in Hibiscus, which is a variegated red and made of Dralon Microfiber, so says the label.

The other is being made in Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny in Party, an acrylic variegated rainbow.

I’m not sure which one I like best. Seriously. The Hibiscus seems like it will have more drape than the Party, which is all to the good, but the Party won’t be any slouch either.

Yeah, I know…I needed more WIPs like I need another hole in my head, but it was irresistible!

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Head and neck so far.

Head and neck so far.

So far, Toothless is going surprisingly well. No, really, I am surprised. I’ve never followed a pattern in my life. I’ve had to learn what all these abbreviations stand for in the course of making the piece, train myself to keep count and use stitch markers to help me with that…I’ve always crocheted by the seat of my pants. The woman who taught me really only knew basics herself. She taught me double crochet only. That’s not a bad thing; first time out, I made a king-sized bedspread, crocheting two strands together and working it in four sections, which I then crocheted together. It lasted for years. The baby blankets I made for my oldest are now in the care of my youngest, ten years later. Thanks to her, crochet was the first fiber art I actually enjoyed doing.

Now, thanks to the Internet, I’m able to learn things that I never could before. YouTube is a fantastic site for tutorials in pretty much anything! I spent some time today watching the tutorial on making Toothless’ body and wing arm, which were a help in interpreting the written instructions I printed out so I could work on him while waiting for Aneira to get out of school.

The easy part is the actual crochet, meaning the act of insert hook, pull up loop, yarn over, pull through. Easy peasy. The difficulty is in the black yarn, making it hard to see where you need to go next, and in keeping track of where you are. It’s not hard when every round changes by either increasing or decreasing, but when you have to do nine rounds that are exactly the same and you can’t find your row counter, that’s a difficulty. So I’m not sure exactly where I am, really. I’m either dead on target, one row over, or one row under. Given that it’s me we’re talking about, I think that’s actually pretty good. So, yes, it’s easy and difficult at the same time. Still, it’s fun, watching it come together. That was one of the things that I liked about crochet from the beginning. With knitting, as a kid, it was so slow. In comparison to crochet, if I spent the same amount of time doing each, crochet showed a lot more progress than knitting in terms of size. It might not actually have been that way, but it looked that way, and that was my reward for sticking with it. I could knock out a baby blanket in a day if I wanted, something that I couldn’t do with knitting. If I’m honest, I’m still better at crochet than I am at knitting, but now that I know more about knitting, I can at least say I’m still interested in it, even if I’m not the best knitter.

I’ve had two more requests for Toothless stuffies, putting me up to six. I haven’t gotten through one yet, so I’m not committing to more! For all I know, to make the four for my family may take me forever!

I did browse through Pinterest last night for other amigurumi, more out of curiosity than anything, and logged over 150 pins that caught my eye. There were some really cute ones that I’m dying to try, and I’d like to find some nice, complete-in-a-few-hours projects to do for the girls while I’m also working on a flock? herd? of dragons. I found Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Nintendo characters, Looney Tunes characters, Eeyore, Tigger, Pooh Bear, Lalaloopsy, and My Little Pony, all of which will thrill my kids to no end. I really need to lay in a huge supply of stuffing, because once they’ve each got one, they are never going to leave me alone! It’s already begun: Bryony asks me no less than five times a day whether Toothless is done yet. On one hand, answering the same question repeatedly gets very old, but on the other, it’s nice to know that they’re as enthusiastic about toys Mama makes as they are about the commercial versions. So really, not complaining. The day may come when they’re not interested in having me make things for them anymore, although I might get lucky and have them become truly interested in learning how to make things themselves, and then I’ll have company while I play with string!

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A delicious eggplant purple!

A delicious eggplant purple!

Well. Let me tell you, those turban headbands were a hit. Seriously. I made the one for myself – which was actually a bit too large, as I’ve discovered – and the girls each demanded their own. First, I made another white one for Bryony, which also came out a little large for her little head, but she loved it. Then I bought the hot pink and teal blue to make more headbands for them. The hot pink for Aneira took another two days, because I had to intersperse knitting during my breaks from studying (if you suffer from insomnia, pick up textbooks on pharmacology and surgical nursing. You’ll be immediately cured, I promise you). I made hers a touch smaller, and also upped the ribbing from a 2-1 rib to a 2-2, and it worked out beautifully. The teal blue for Bryony was a slightly thinner yarn, calling for size 11 needles as opposed to the size 13s I needed for my and Aneira’s headbands. I upgraded hers to a 2-2 rib and made it smaller also, and haven’t laid eyes on the white one since. Every time that kid walks out the door, I get a hug and a “Thank you for my hair thingie, Mama!” Big hits. I didn’t even get pictures of them before they were snatched by the children! And while I’d love to post pictures of the girls wearing them, I won’t. As I said, way back when I began this blog, this forum is far too public, and I won’t expose my children on it. Far too many predators out there, and they don’t need to see my kids. So I’ll try to snag the headbands back again for pictures. This may take some time.

I’ve finally started on the purple one for myself, once again only able to knit when I’m away from the books, which isn’t often, so I haven’t gotten very far, as you can see from the picture. The purple yarn calls for the size 13 needles, but, well, I didn’t realize that when I started it – because I forgot to look – so I’m doing it on the 11s as a 2-2 rib. The only real difference between the 13s and the 11s is that it’s a tighter knit, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Purple is my favorite color, and this is a deep eggplant shade that I love. I can’t wait to be done with it so I can see how it looks. I’ll take any shade of purple I can get hold of, but the deep, dark amethyst is by far the one I love most, while pastel purple is the one I like least. Pastels in any shade are nauseating for me, at least in terms of any adult using them. I’m not even thrilled to see kids in pastels. You have no idea how sick of pastel pink I was by the time my girls were out of baby clothes. Never have I been so happy to see clothes in other colors.

While the headbands made the grade, on the study front, I did not. Veterinary technology classes are considerably harder than veterinary assistant classes. In the space of a week, my grade has dropped from an A to a C, and I am supremely unhappy with myself for that. I don’t want to just skate into graduation by the skin of my teeth. I want to do this right, otherwise, what’s the point? To that end, I’ve already signed up for tutoring. I’m determined to get it right, one way or another. As I told the hubby last night, I never had a Plan B. This is it. It’s also not as though I’m still in my twenties, with plenty of time to pussyfoot around what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m closer to fifty than I am to forty now, and that has an effect on the landscape. So I either do it badly or I do it well, but it’s getting done either way. If I really work at it and still don’t do better than a C, well, then, at least I passed. The grading system in this field is a little different than normal, though, and my grades aren’t as low as a normal C. A C here starts at 77% and goes up to an 84%, which would be a B anywhere else. So it’s some consolation. A B is 85 – 92 I think, and an A is 93 and better.

Time to get back to the books now…break’s over. See you soon!

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Weekend project time!

Weekend project time!

We’re expecting 16 inches of snow to drop on us this weekend. It’s nothing in comparison to the northeastern states and Canada – holy cow! – but generally that means lots of closures in Colorado. I used to regard this fact with some measure of disbelief. After all, in New York, if it wasn’t over two feet deep, almost nothing closed. You could be late to work, but you were still expected to be there, so the first time Aneira’s school closed down here, I was shocked, because there was less than two inches of snow on the ground. Why on earth were they closing?

It took me a couple of years, but I think I’ve figured it out: every single road here has curves or grades. Every. Single. Road. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Picture driving that. I can’t speak for the private schools, but the public schools in my area do not bus, so you’re driving your kids to school and back every day. Just doing that accounts for four trips in the vehicle per day, not including whatever else you have to do. Granted, they’re short hops, but the statistics say that most accidents occur close to home, so that’s four opportunities to wreck your vehicle, not to mention yourself. Then factor in teenaged drivers, cocky with owning their first car. Then factor in other people who shouldn’t be driving: those elderly people who haven’t yet come to the realization that their eyesight isn’t quite good enough anymore, drunks, stoners driving high…add all that up together with curvy roads, or hilly ones. Yeah, I’m thinking staying off the street is a very shiny idea! Sure, there are people who are very capable of driving in bad weather, who know to slow down, how to avoid locking up the brakes, who drive defensively at all times…and then there are those others. Even the best drivers can’t always avoid an accident.

That being said, before things hit the nasty point today, we had errands to run, one of which was for some thick yarn to keep me busy the rest of the weekend after homework is done. Once the girls saw my turban headband, there was no end to the clamoring for me to make one for each of them. I used some of the remaining white yarn to make one for Bryony already, and started another one for Aneira. Then I made a realization: if they both have headbands in the same color, the arguments would be epic. New plan needed. Thus, I went off to Michael’s and Jo Ann Fabric for some hot pink yarn for Aneira, teal blue for Bryony, and purple, of course, for me. This oughta keep me happy for the weekend!

Now that thicker yarns are finally on my radar, I foresee buying more of them. They’re fun for short projects like the headbands, and look just as pretty as fingering and sock yarn. I had a very hard time today, keeping it down to three skeins of yarn, but I had limited myself to spending only a certain amount, and there were a few there that, though I wanted them badly, one skein alone was two-thirds of my budget! There was a skein of a deep, dark purple, with something sparkly all through it, and it was gorgeous, but it would have cost too much today, so I very sadly bid it adieu, at least for now. Thankfully, the BPD wasn’t acting up today, so no manic phase, where I wouldn’t have had a budget, and would have spent every dime I had.

One of the nice things about picking up a craft, any craft, is that it forces you to learn patience. We live in such an instant gratification, disposable world now. Learning something like fiber arts, or pottery, or stained glass or anything else, really does force patience upon you. You envision a knitted scarf in your mind. It’s gorgeous, and you want it now. Well, you’ve got two choices. You can knit what you see in your head, but it’s going to take you a few days to do it because you can’t sit and knit all day. There are kids to take to and from school, homework to help with, meals to cook, laundry to wash, whatever. Or, if you really want it now, you can go buy a scarf at the store, but it won’t be the one pictured in your mind. It certainly won’t be one of a kind!

Can you imagine what life must have been like during the medieval era for instance, when your life and your clothing depended on your own skills? You raise the sheep to shear the wool to spin into yarn to weave into cloth to make a dress. Or you went hunting a boar in the woods and took the chance that he would skewer you while you were trying to do the same to him, so you could bring him back to dress and cook and have meals for a couple of days. I wonder what they would think of our world? “You want a woolen dress? Well, there are thirty or more variations available in as many different stores, in all colors and sizes and prices – choose a place and let’s go get it. You don’t have cash? Hey, that’s all right, just use your trusty credit card. While we’re out, let’s pick up a pork roast at the store. We can take it home, toss it in the microwave because it’s pre-cooked, and have lunch within ten minutes.” Really, what would they think? How would the quality of our clothes, our food, our things, hold up to their opinions? How would they feel about the differences between our worlds? I weave and spin and knit because I enjoy it; for them it was survival. If you didn’t hunt, you didn’t eat. If you didn’t weave, you weren’t clothed. It’s an entirely different perspective. I can’t imagine they would really approve once the novelty wore off. We throw away everything, up to and including marriage. We have instant gratification in just about everything. We have instant mashed  potatoes, for crying out loud. Just add water, butter, and milk, stir, and voila!

My mom never made food out of a box, with the exception of cake mix. She made meals from scratch. We begged for Chef Boyardee to no avail, but the only way we were getting that was by visiting our friends whose parents were more agreeable. I realized before I moved out on my own, though, that Chef Boyardee and others were all garbage food. Now, in adulthood, I’ve yet to hear anyone complain that I made potato salad rather than buying it at the deli counter. No one prefers Prego over my homemade spaghetti sauce. Every member of my family would rather cultivate patience and wait for what I cook than eat pre-packaged food. Okay, there are exceptions. I haven’t yet convinced them that baked macaroni and cheese is better than that Velveeta boxed crap any day of the week!

But anyway, the point is that I think learning how to do things for yourself makes you patient by default. It’s not always going to work, of course, because sometimes you do want it right now, and we do live in a world where it’s possible to get it right now. Ah, but how much better do you feel when you’ve done it yourself? It took you longer, but I’d bet anything that the quality of what you made far exceeds the quality of the one in the store.

I also think that the more self-sufficient you are, the better off you’ll be in the long run, and when the opportunity comes up to learn to make something new and functional, I always want to try it. There are things I still want to learn: candle making, soap making, canning…and if I do, if the apocalypse does come, I’ll be able to provide better for my family, by the ability to give them blankets and clothing, to give them light and a way to keep clean, to store food, and I’d even be able to barter those skills to those that don’t have them. It’s a crazy way to think, isn’t it? But the world wasn’t always industrialized to the extent that it is today, and there’s always the chance that it won’t be again. We thought it would happen once before; remember Y2K?

So far I’ve only tackled small things like scarves, belts, placemats, crocheted blankets, hats…one of these days, I’m going to tackle a sweater, just to see if I can. I’ve developed enough patience now that I know I can finish a project. My only unfinished projects now are the ones I’ve had to frog several times just as I get into a groove. But I’ll go back to them…just not this weekend. This snowy weekend, my skills belong to my girls and the headbands they want!

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I did it!!

I did it!!

Wow! I did it! It took me only a few hours with some big, chunky, thick yarn, and, as promised, used up less than half a skein! I did it!

There were more than a few mistakes along the way, I must admit. Among them, forgetting how to do a cable stitch, for one. That accounted for about three unknit-reknit sessions all by itself, and I am very slow. And my faux-grafted seam could be better…lots better. But it was only my first time, so I think it looks pretty good, and also that I’ll make more! After all, the kids need a way to keep their ears warm too, and they would look so cute in these in some bright primary colors. Aneira, of course, will insist on pink.

I’m so proud of myself right now, I could do a Snoopy dance, but it’s nearly one in the morning, and my studio is directly above Aneira’s bedroom, so I think I’ll refrain. But I did it!!!

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I know I just left here. I know I just posted. But I have to say this, because it is so. Gorram. Irritating.

I just went to cast on the stitches for the turban headband, okay? And the only end I can find for the yarn is the outside end, which means that, should you use it, the skein is rolling around all over the place. Also irritating. Why is it so difficult for yarn companies to leave the end hanging out where it can be found???

Seriously! Nothing is more annoying than having to pull out the entire center of a skein of yarn just to find the end you need, when it’s so simple to just leave it hanging out in the first place. I’m really not in the mood to pull out the yarn ball winder to create my own center-pull skein. I just wanted to sit down and knit while watching mini-me play her video game. Now I’m not even sure I want to knit, just because I don’t feel like rewinding an entire ball of yarn. Gah!

Okay, rant over, at least temporarily. Please return to your regularly scheduled program.

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