Tiny wins

Sometimes it’s nice to be challenged, and sometimes it’s not. Work is pretty stressful – it has been ever since I joined this company (1.5 years ago), so what I need from my hobbies is a little peace and positive progress. Some quiet time to reflect, let my hands get on with things and my mind to stop fizzing. I can feel people’s disappointment when they ask what I’m making and it’s the same thing *again*, but that’s what I need at the moment. And I think there’s a lot of be said for practising your technique. I’ve definitely got better at some of the basic stuff.

jumpers

This is a jumper for the small rabbit and a jumper for the regular sized rabbit. The smaller jumper has a purl central double decrease (CDD) which the larger jumper does not. My first attempt at the purl CDD was pretty terrible. But I kept going, thinking ‘Yeah! It’s fine. FINE! Totally fine.’ It was not fine. So first thing next morning I unravelled everything to the point where the front, back and sleeves were separate panels and put them back on the needles.

unravelled

Except obviously I put two panels back on the needle the wrong way round, and then I took them back off the needles and put them on the right way round but in the wrong order. The picture above is when I’d transferred some panels to DPNs so I could re-transfer them back the right way round.

When I’d finally got myself together and everything in the right order it was 8.30am and time to start work. Which was annoying. (I’m very lucky to have a job. Don’t think I don’t know that). I managed to grab 30 minutes lunch break though, so I got back to it, and I used the technique from this video. It worked! So from chaos, a little order. And one more rabbit is clothed. I’ll take that as a win.

bunny_bowl

Here’s the rabbit in the jumper. Previously he was in the dress, but he didn’t seem to love it, so the blue bunny got the dress and he got some slightly too-tight trousers and a now-nicely-knitted jumper. This is the second rabbit I’ve put in a dress that just seemed to hate it. Sometimes I look at them and they’re just not happy. He looks happier now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

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I decided to batch-knit some animals for various reasons. Stashbusting, gifts that need to be given and again, the need to do something that will probably turn out fine. Look at that though. Same pattern, and yet… someone wasn’t counting their stitches. I think they’ll be ok. When they’re done that 4 sets of clothes that need to be made. That includes the grey and brown ones from the bowl photo too.

I still don’t seem to have endless time on my hands. That novel I was never planning on writing will never get written at this rate! What I had planned on doing was teaching myself to knit in a more elegant fashion. I’m all fingers and thumbs and the flicking technique looks great, but… so far, so little time. I’ll get there.

walking

I did manage to get out for a walk yesterday though. We’ve lived here for over 2 years and this is the first time I’ve managed to walk this route. From door to field is about 8 minutes. I can’t believe it’s taken over 2 years to do an 8 minute walk! Now I know how easy and nice it is, I’ll do it again.

So that’s all from me. Hope you’re safe and well wherever you are.

tatting

Keeping busy

I can’t help but think people with hobbies are the lucky ones. People who can get absorbed in something they love for hours at a time, figuring out how something works, how to get something right, or just building up to a steady rhythm. Doesn’t matter what the hobby is, if you can do it in your own home and you have the equipment, you’re one of the lucky ones.

I took up crafting again as an adult for various reasons. But I kept it up for my mental health. In the past my partner travelled for work a lot, so I’d go for weekends, half a week, or a week or two without seeing people outside of work. Not talking to anyone from a Friday night to a Monday morning. Crafting, making things, helped give a rhythm or focus to what sometimes felt like a never-ending stretch of time.

And despite the fact that he stopped travelling a few years back (right around the time I started – although I too have now stopped) I’ve kept the crafting up, more or less. I like having a focus outside of work. I like starting things and finishing them. I still think the daily grind of an office job provides very little satisfaction when it comes to finishing things. Making stuff of your own helps with that.

Even if the things you’re making aren’t that useful… I haven’t tatted anything in ages, but I made this at the weekend:

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I enjoyed it, although the mistakes are a bit annoying. I really love the rhythm of shuttle tatting. Such a nice motion. I got a bit obsessed with the brilliant tatters on instagram for a while – they’re all very good, and so much more talented than I am. But at the end of the day, this is a job for a lot of them. It’s not a job for me. There’s no harm in settling down in a cup of tea and following someone else’s pattern. What I want isn’t to be the best ever pattern designer, it’s just to feel the motion of the thread and the shuttle in my hands. I’m still amazed I can make something like this at all. And all just from a ball of thread and some knots! Amazing.

And there’s still knitting. This one still needs the rest of her outfit. She has a really sweet face that I’ve not managed to capture in this photo, but I’m really pleased with her actually. And I like her white ear.

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While I was making her some trousers I made another pair too. I have other animals to make as gifts, so I thought I’d go into batch production mode.

messy

The kitchen table is a mess. That’s 4 pairs of arms, one body, one finished foot and one foot in progress on the needles. For some reason I thought making multiples of each body part would be a good idea. I’m not sure if it was or not. Jury’s out. I think I need to make 2 rabbits, but then I had the idea that I’d like to make a silver fawn. Felt like the grey and the white together would look nice. We’ll see.

I’m still looking for the perfect shawl pattern. I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying wearing the shawl I made. I’d still like it to be a faction bigger, but now it’s been worn a bit it’s loosening and softening up nicely. I like this cowl – it looks like a decent kind of length, but I’m not sure about colourwork in the round. I’m half tempted to just try it with some stash yarn for a few rows and see how annoying I find it. I like this patterned cowl too – literally that one, I think the colours are great. But again, I’m still not sure how up for that much colourwork I am… We’ll see.

What are you making? Whether you’re super productive or super unproductive I hope you’re finding a rhythm that suits you. Stay safe and well.

 

 

Small, medium, large

When I finished the shawl, mentioned in the previous post, I didn’t think I’d have much of a chance to wear it. Spring is (almost?) here and the weather should be getting warmer. As it happens, the weather isn’t warmer yet, and the company I work for switched to working from home 2 weeks ago. The room I work in at home is really cold (2 outside walls, no sun until the afternoon) so the shawl has been perfect – so warm. I’ve worn it every day. Too-tight stitches on too-small needles was the best thing after all!

I’m still missing knitting it though. If ever there was a time for mindless knitting it’s now. Stupid thing is, it took me months to find a shawl pattern I like and… that might be the only pattern I like! I like it because it doesn’t have a middle seam, and it doesn’t have big sections of knit stitch. Don’t ask me why, but I don’t like either of those things. Completely irrational I know. I also like how solid the Almina pattern is. I’m not a massively feminine dresser. I’m not one for lace trims etc (even though I quite like tatting lace trims). I just want something simple, and unfussy to wear. That shawl was perfect. I’m wondering about En Voyage next, maybe? It looks great in black too – even though I did say I should knit in brighter colours. Aisé is another option. I’ve already knitted Jared Flood’s Guernsey Wrap. If you’ve got any suggestions, let me know.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to finish the folks I started:

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This is the small rabbit pattern, from Little Cotton Rabbits. It’s knitted in Rico baby classic DK yarn, on 2.5mm needles. I half made it just to see how big it would be.

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The one on the left is the same pattern, but in cascade 220, on 2.75 needles. The dress on the right does fit the one on the left. It’s a bit tight to get on, but once on, is fine. But as it fits the one it’s on so well, I might make a new dress for the one on the left.  (Are you still with me?) The one in the middle is the standard pattern, also in cascade 220, on 2.75 needles.

I have a short pair of 2.75 sock needles which aren’t bad for travelling – they don’t get bent when they’re shoved in a bag in a hurry. I had to travel a bit over the last 4-5 months and spend some time away from home, so took these with me. Easy to make a leg on the train, or an arm in a waiting room.

Overall,  the cascade 220 ones are more robust, so better for the children I’m going to give them too. The one in Rico will have to wait to find a new home. She was an intarsia test too – I’m still pretty bad at it to be honest.

So that’s where we’re at. Still some clothes to make. Still looking for The Next Big Thing. How are you doing?

 

 

 

Background projects and progress

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I started the Almina shawl (Ravelry link) in March 2019, and finished it in February 2020. That’s a long time to knit a shawl. It’s knitted on 4mm circular needles, with Cascade 220 wool. I bought the wool a long time ago to knit a jumper with, but given my terrible issues with trying to knit anything to scale, and having no idea what I’m really doing, I decided against making proper clothing.

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The wool is actually a charcoal grey. I thought I perhaps should never knit anything in such a dull colour again – because if you’re spending so much time with something, surely you should knit with something colourful and joyous… Like the golden yellow in the pattern example? But now it’s done I actually love it. It’s too heavy to wear outside the house I think (!) but in this grey, it’s perfect to throw on to keep you warm. I thought the triangular starting point would forever curl, but the stiff blocking in the top photo took care of that.

I knit far too tightly, but I know the yarn will relax eventually. I used the exact same stuff for the Guernsey Wrap, way back in 2012. Eeek! 2012. I haven’t progressed much as a knitter since then have I? I should be on clothing by now. Probably.

I must admit, I thought the wrap would never end. It seemed to take forever. There were times when I forgot it, and times when I was sick of it. But there were also times I was glad of it. Something to pick up quickly and carry on with. No real need to think about what to do, or where things were. No getting stuff out of cupboards as it just sat patiently waiting on the sofa. I took it away at new year on the annual trip I usually do with friends, and I was on the 2×2 rib by then.  What a joy that is to knit! So satisfying. Such a nice steady rhythm, no need to concentrate.

Now, after being so desperate for it to be over, I miss it. I didn’t realise how often I used it as a sort of guided meditation. There’s been a lot going on here, a lot to process mentally, and I think it’s helped having something ticking on in the background. Slow progress, but progress with every stitch.

There was the deer, too, which you can see in the photo underneath, on the left:

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I made her when Julie released the pattern – or at least, I made her head. I’d assumed I’d make a mess of it, but when that turned out ok, it took me 6 months to make a body and some clothes. She’s made of stash yarn, stuff that’s been knocking about for ages. I do like her dress and cardigan though, a mix of forest greens.

More recently I made the two unclothed rabbits on the right. The small one is Julie’s most recent pattern. I made them to gift, but due to the virus and cancelled plans, they won’t be gifted for a while. The mess in that photo was me trying to figure out what yarn would work for clothing – unpictured is the tiniest pair of rabbit trousers you’ve ever seen. Oops. I got there in the end, but now I have more time I think I might remake the jumper I was going to use. We’ll see. More photos another time.

I’m still trying to use up my stash yarn, so I’ll probably make some more animals while I look for the perfect Next Big Project. Animals are very satisfying to make. No big commitment, and I enjoy seeing their characters emerge. I also love that they’re knitted flat, and the patterns are so well thought out.

If you’re at home trying to work out what to do with your time, you could definitely do worse than use up some stash yarn, to try an animal of your own.

Very occasionally crafting

elephant

Wow. I didn’t expect it to be April before I got around to posting here. I also didn’t expect to have so little to show! Looking back at the very few photos I’ve taken, this wee elephant got her face on 4th January, and then her trousers on the 18th. I finished her jumper on 12th April, and gifted her on 13th. So it’s been quite slow in terms of making anything around here.

I made her for my Physio. (I have a bad back, my Physio is amazing. She got me from not being able to stand to actually walking when I slipped 2 discs at the same time a few years ago.) I almost didn’t hand her over, because while my Physio is wonderful she’s also kinda no-nonsense. I thought she might think it was a bit weird — although we had been discussing knitting previously. But then I thought, well, she has a niece, she could always regift.

Anyway. I’m so glad I did. She was so pleased – and hilariously said she wasn’t even going to show her niece incase she wanted the the elephant for herself!

So that was lovely. And her happiness made my week. (It didn’t make her go easy on my back though. Goddamn that woman has fingers of steel.)

So anyway, work has rather taken over. By the time I’ve had a free evening or Saturday I’ve either been too tired, or there’s been something else that needed dealing with. I’m really hoping that this will calm down soon.

The plan now is also to try and make time for myself. Although I said that a week ago and there’s been no luck so far. Next week I’m travelling for work, so it’s out then too. But sometime soon.

So fingers crossed. Now I’ve posted hopefully I’ll be back soon with something more than backache to show for myself!

A Christmas elf

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In the end, I did manage to fit in a tiny bit of Christmas knitting! This is a little elf ornament, mercifully knitted flat and then stitched up at the back. He’s relatively quick to make – as always the thing that takes the longest time is the finishing off. I do like the little collar though and the fact you can use the cast on yarn to crochet into a chain to hang him with.

The pattern is called Little Pixies and is by Amanda Berry. I kind of wonder if he should have legs actually, but when he’s hung up, he looks fine. He’s knitted on 2.75mm needles, and works out at a really nice size. Might make more. (Maybe I should do them right now, and then they’ll be done for next Christmas? I still can’t find my tatting bag so we’re still snowflake free).

In the meantime, the yarn I thought I had, which I was going to use to knit a baby hat over Christmas, I didn’t have at all. Seems I’ve used it all up. I started another hat, keeping fingers crossed that I had enough yarn to complete it, then went wrong while TV knitting and so am down from about 25 rows in, to 5. Ah well. This is why I don’t get paid to knit.

Onwards! Happy new year!

A bear (left) behind

How on earth is it December? What a weird year. I can hardly remember… well, the summer even. It feels like so long ago. This year feels like it’s been 5 years in 12 months, without time to catch a breath. A never-ending stream of things that needed to be done. I’m not sure why, but it’s been a restless year. There’s been no rhyme or rhythm to it.

no_nose_bear

I haven’t had a lot of time to make anything, so the things I have made have happened a bit sporadically. I had a huge panic about the yarn I have just sitting around in boxes, so I made this wee bear, but she never got her own blog post.

Made from Lorna’s Laces sock yarn, she’s actually a really nice size. I think sock yarn could be a good weight for toys. I don’t love the stripes (bit busy), but they’re not as bad as they could be. The pattern (as is often the case) is from Little Cotton Rabbits.  In this photo she has no nose (how does she smell?! etc). I ummed-‘n’-ahhed a lot about whether or not to give her a nose, and seeing this photo I’m still not sure it was the right thing. I think she looks quite cute without it.

with_nose

Here she is with a nose, and with my favourite elephant for a size comparison. And here she is larking around with the rest of the gang…

gang

The dress was another random make to try and get rid of some cotton I don’t really like! To be honest it doesn’t really fit her – and nor does this pink jumper. Both a bit too big.

pink

I really did think about buying more yarn to make her some clothes, even though the whole point of making her was to use up yarn in the first place. As I type there are 2 arms, 2 legs, a body, 2 ears and an almost finished elephant’s head in the kitchen, using up more of the yarn stash. I think I started that in August maybe, but I just haven’t had any time to finish it off.

markers

I did finally make a human sized jumper though! But it was for a very small human. A friend had a baby, and it seemed like a sensible, and hopefully nice thing to make a little jumper. There were a lot of stitch markers involved which almost gave me a nervous breakdown in the beginning, but once I got going, really helped.

progress

There’s a small cable down the front, which made it a bit more interesting to knit. The sleeves were a horror though – I just could not get nice purled cuffs when I was knitting in the round. I was on DPNs (ie, not using the magic loop on circulars) and I’m not sure if it’s just harder on DPNs or I was doing something really wrong, but after 3 attempts, I decided to go for ribbed cuffs. (You don’t even want to know about the language that got me through this phase.) After a severe bit of blocking it turned out ok, I think. Not perfect, but just about ok enough to gift.

blocked

Actually the mother of the recipient wrote me an incredibly nice thank you note. The baby is still a bit small to wear this (it’s for 3-6 months I think) so we’ll all have to wait a bit longer to see if it’s actually functional at all!

I recently moved house. And I also recently had to go away for a week for work. Could I find my tatting bag? No I could not. It’s somewhere in the house purposefully placed so I can find it easily. WHERE THOUGH?! Where is it? I just can’t figure it out. This means I travelled with nothing but a book for entertainment, which must be the first time in years. Tatting is so small, you can always find room for it so I take it with me almost everywhere. It feels weird not having shuttles to hand even if I haven’t been tatting for a while. I’ll have to start yet another hunt. I haven’t made a single tatted snowflake this year.

And on that note, I should go. There are obviously, more Things That Need To Be Done. I hope that wherever you are, you have a good holiday season, and a great new year!

 

 

 

 

Busy/not busy

I’ve neglected this blog a little (ok, a lot) as I’m still in craft limbo. I talked before about not being able to settle into a project and it’s still the same. Starting and then not understanding a human-sized pattern hasn’t helped:

delayed

This was going to be my go-to project for a bit. ‘Go-to’ projects are good I think – you know what you’re working on, there’s no decision to be made you can just pick it up and carry on. You just relax into it and the process itself is relaxing. Getting stuck means that I kind of feel bad for not persevering, but then after a busy week at work I’m not sure I can face the perseverance. Then what do do? Not skilled enough to make what I’m supposed to be making, but still want to make something… so…

I made this chap recently:

sketch

And actually, he’s very badly knitted, but I am a bit in love with him. He started out with a pink embroidered nose, which I disliked, so I left him as just a head for ages. A visiting friend picked up the head and berated me for not giving him a body. Feeling bad I unpicked the pink nose and did as I was told. (Who knew you could also unpick a nose…)

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I think he’s a really nice size. And also, maybe I’m really just a kid who hasn’t grown up… I really like making toys. That said, this Millennium Falcon belongs to the Mr:

millenium

Aside from that, I stitched up a few lavender bags from the tatting I had lying around:

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This is kind of hilarious because honestly, that little ribbon is so off centre it’s a miracle it’s even in the shot at all. The power of photography, eh? I did get a bit impatient with the sewing machine. I always want to be better at things than I am.

Time this year has also been taken up in other ways. I’ve worked on our little garden a lot, and it’s been really lovely to watch it grow. On a work trip to Boston (USA) earlier in the year I had a spare Sunday afternoon and walked to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. There is a central garden inside the house, and many of the balconies had window boxes full of beautiful trailing nasturtiums.

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The lighting was a little tricky, but hopefully you get the idea. (And yes, it does look very Italian, despite being in the USA). I came home and immediately planted a packet of mixed nasturtium seeds, all of which dutifully sprang forth.

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People talk about ‘splashes of colour’ – I’m not sure there’s a more apt description. This photo was taken a week or so ago. They look a bit battered today as the rain has been so heavy this weekend. I’ve also been baking a fair bit.

biscuits

These are ridiculously easy ginger biscuits. A little darker than usual as I ran out of sugar and added some black treacle. (Good move). Baking has all the joy of craft I think, with the massive added bonus that you can eat it at the end…

As predicted…

bunny_1

I’m really not feeling that great. I’ve been waking up around 4am every night for the last seven days with coughing fits. It’s getting really wearing. I’m kind of ok in the day, just this ridiculous chest cough at night. It’s steadfastly refusing to turn into something more, (like a proper cold) and just wearing me down bit by bit. Really tedious.

Anyway. That coupled with general ‘fear of starting a proper project’ and ‘oh my god, how did you end up with so much yarn?’ made me think I should take it easy yesterday and use up some more of the orange.

bunny_2

Actually when you pair this orange with white, it’s nowhere near as horrible. If you pair it with anything else it’s either too milky (It’s Rowan Wool Cotton – they’re all kind of milky) or just too… orange. Perils of buying yarn online I think.

I made this bunny’s head last year but wasn’t thrilled with it. Yesterday I thought ‘use up more yarn! Do something easy, lazy and finish-able!’ And so I decided to finish this off. It is, of course, a Little Cotton Rabbits pattern. I have a feeling it might be one of the first ones that Julie (the designer) made available.

While I was knitting it, I thought many things, mostly:
• Oh my god, what have you become? You’re knitting an egg cosy. Are you like, 90?
• Umm, are you sure this is going to actually fit an egg? You know you knit really tightly,right?
• Friend [X] keeps chickens and has 2 which produce tiny eggs. You can give this to her! It’ll be O.K.
• Damn it! How is it even possible we have no eggs in the fridge?

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At 4.45am this morning I thought I should just get up, because lying down really wasn’t cutting it. As I made some honey and lemon what did I see in the fridge?! We did have eggs after all!

I did a little photoshoot there and then. It does it fit, just about – and you know what? I love it. It’s ridiculous, but I love it. I might even make another one. It’s really cheered me up.

 

Fidgeting

I can’t think of a better word to describe my current crafting status. After a year of knitting lots of toys from Little Cotton Rabbits patterns, I’ve free fallen (is that a phrase?) into a few months of not being sure what to make next.

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I decided I should sew some of the pieces of tatting I have lying around on to fabric – an example of which is shown above.The creases in the fabric are a rather desperate attempt to sew this on straight. Honestly, sewing really is not one of my main skills. (I think my main one is eating, to be frank.) This actually looks better in real life – it’s almost perfectly monochrome, which I really like.

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This is wonkier. It’s ok – but I think I would be happier if it were a little more regular. One exciting thing though, I had to travel for work the other week and had a free Sunday in a foreign town. I took my jet-lagged self off for a long walk to a craft shop and bought myself some beading needles! The one in the photo is a regular needle, and it only fits through 40% of the beads. I have higher hopes for the beading needles!

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This is actually a project I took on the plane for the trip. In the end I slept (badly) and only got 10 minutes to work on this in the hotel one morning. It’s finished (not in this photo) but I’ve not done anything with it yet. If you’re the tatting type, the overlapping rings were made alternately, (back ring / front ring / back ring etc). Previously I’ve made the back rings first and tatted the top rings second. It’s neater doing them alternately, but much tighter in the centre if you make the back rings first/ front rings second (is this making any sense?). It’s not a major revelation but… thought I’d share it anyway.

I’m in the middle of remaking this in red thread. It’s a fantastic colour and looks great on black, but my phone camera has no idea what to do with such intense colours. I’ll work out how to take a photo if it ends up looking ok when it’s finished.

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I did finish this chap’s trousers. He’d been waiting a long time as I made him when I was living in Athens! The jumper was made at new year. He’s quite nice, even if I do say so myself. Trying to work out where he should live.

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This one was a bit of an experiment, combining bits from different patterns really. I want to make a small rabbit and felt it (just in the washing machine). I’ve not felted this as it was made from old stash yarn and I can’t completely remember what it’s made of. The head was made on DPNs and I *think* I made the body flat and stitched it. I say ‘think’ because the join is so good, I sort of can’t see it – and seriously, I don’t think I’m that good at mattress stitch. It possible pixies came in over night and sewed this one up for me.

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A confession: I hate this orange cotton.
A fact: so does this grey rabbit.

I tried so hard to work out a jumper that might fit him, but I have no idea how jumpers really work. Eventually I managed to make this dress, and the grey rabbit absolutely refused to wear it. After all that effort, someone had to wear it, so the other one finally got some clothes.

But what next? Well, tatting, but that’s just small odds and ends at a time. The next project is going to be a human sized jumper. I don’t have high hopes actually but I will try. This one is top down (ages ago I tried something which was bottom up, and didn’t finish it). I’m hoping that being able to try it as I go might mean I can make something human-wearable. We shall see. I needed to buy a new length circular needle which I’m hoping might arrive in time for the weekend. If not… maybe another Little Cotton Rabbit?
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