Tag Archives: yarn

Every Which Way Crochet Borders By Edie Eckman: A Review And A Giveaway

This book review is part of a blog tour* to celebrate the publication of Edie Eckman’s new book: Every Which Way Crochet Borders.

Waaaaaaaay across the Atlantic in the US, is a woman who likes to live life on the edge. She’s based in Virginia** (which is on the edge of the US, you’ll note. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.) And this month, she’s brought out her second book about ornamental crochet borders. Y’see? Life on the edge. This woman adores borders. Can you imagine living in her house? Borders. Everywhere. I bet even her fridge has a perfect little fringe of picots across its top.***

Edie Eckman Every Which Way Crochet Borders review

But for just a few moments, I shall be serious.**** This is a book with charts and written instructions for 139 different crocheted borders. (Don’t be fooled by the fact that the numbered patterns only go as high as 125: there’s also designs A-N to top up the total.) You can apply these motifs to your crocheted, knitted, or fabric projects. That’s great, but what I really like is that the first thirty pages are devoted to the principles of creating the right border, in the right yarn, and the right colour(s) for your project. It will not tell you that your knitted washcloth must be edged with three rounds of purple puff stitch, but it will show you how to design an original border that’s just right. I like the fact that it’s not prescriptive, but instead empowers you to be creative.

Edie Eckman Every Which Way Crochet Borders review

Same design. Different colours. Big difference.

So of course, I had to have a play. Time was short and the twinnage were tetchy, so I’ve only made one border for this post. But I’ve followed Edie’s patterns/charts in other books before, so I know that they’re reliably clear and accurate.

She advocates working a base round in the same colour as the body of your project, in order to neaten away a multitude of wobbly yarny sins, and prepare for the ambitious stitchery ahead. This woman talks sense, and I wasn’t about to disobey:-

Edie Eckman Every Which Way Crochet Borders review

Ha, they’ll never see my wobblesome edges now.

I do like the fact that there’s a photographic directory at the back. Experience has taught me that I’ll never again buy a stitch dictionary without a photographic index. Look at all the pretties!

Edie Eckman Every Which Way Crochet Borders review

It was so hard to choose. But 68 is a nice number. Let’s try 68. (Yarn = Stylecraft Special Chunky. Hooks = Clover Amour: go speak to Janie Crow if you fancy some these super-speedy hooks. No that’s not an affiliate link – I just think that Jane is brilliant at what she does.)

Edie Eckman Every Which Way Crochet Borders review

The first round.

Now I’m immediately sinning by working a border that’s bigger than the fabric it encloses, but this is just a swatch, so I hope that you’ll forgive me.

Edie Eckman Every Which Way Crochet Borders review

Round two. Ding ding!

The written instructions combined with the charts should ensure that everyone is catered for, regardless of whether you’re a visual or a verbal thinker. There’s also an adapted chart that you can use if you want to work each design in back-and-forth rows, rather than in rounds.

edie beckman every which way crochet borders

Oops: never scribble reminders on your hand when you’re due to photograph said hands for a blog post. (Still, that’s not as idiotic as the time when I wrote loads of reminders on my hand at bedtime and then went to sleep… with my hand pressed against my face. Thank goodness I looked in the mirror before I went to work the next morning. Don’t try this at home, folks.)

Each design requires multiples of a specified number of stitches, but I warmed to Edie considerably when I saw that she’d included a brief note on fudging stitch counts. (Is it me, or does ‘fudging stitch counts’ sound like something you’d mutter under your breath when your mum’s visiting and you can’t swear properly?)

edie beckman every which way crochet borders

The range of designs is enormous, from very simple edges, to clever and elaborate borders:-

edie beckman every which way crochet borders

HOW cool is this?!

It’s written using US crochet terms, so those of us on the Brit-side will have to remember to adjust accordingly (unless you’re like me and show a rare disloyalty to the UK by using American crochet terms). In case you need a reminder, Edie includes a brief table of translation.

edie beckman every which way crochet borders

But between bouts of flicking through these fabulous finishes, I completed #68. Here y’go:-

edie beckman every which way crochet borders

Delightful, no?

Sorry folks, the final gong has sounded and the giveaway has closed. But a’fear ye not, there’ll be plenty more giveaways on this site soon…

A-n-y-w-a-y, did I mention a giveaway? I do believe that I mentioned a giveaway. Would you like to win a copy of this marvellous book, regardless of which corner of planet Earth you currently call home? Yes? YES? Well read on, Macduff.

To win a copy of Every Which Way Crochet Borders, leave a comment below. To gain a sneaky additional entry, you can also ‘like’ the Yarn’s Facebook page here, and leave a comment under the Facebook post for this blog post. (For Facebook comments only, you’ll need to include some way of reaching you in case you win – your Ravelry username would be just perfect.)

The competition is open worldwide, from RIGHT NOW until noon UK-time on Saturday 25th February 2017. After the gong sounds at that very moment, all the entries will be gathered up and a winner will be chosen randomly with assistance from the marvellous yet inscrutable folks at random.org. The winner’s contact details will be passed to Storey Publishing, so that they can arrange for your prize to be sent out. Don’t worry, neither they nor I will spam you.

And if you’re not lucky enough to win, you can buy a copy right now (£13.99 in the UK, and, um, other prices in other places). Enjoy!

edie beckman every which way crochet borders

#68 rocks.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for review, so obviously my shallow and fickle mind has been swayed by a mere freebie, and you cannot trust a single word I say.

 

∗See yesterday’s post at Not Your Average Crochet, and tomorrow, hop on over to Petals To Picots.

∗∗No, I’m really not her stalker. I just read the blurb on the back of her book.

∗∗∗With apologies to Edie if your home is actually a temple to white Scandi minimalism.

∗∗∗∗No I don’t believe that, either.

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Stylecraft Blogstars Meetup, aka Not Too Shabby A Weekend

It’s much easier to write blog posts when things are going wrong, or when nothing much has happened. Comic anecdotes come more readily when you’ve mistakenly put your husband out for collection with the recycling, or when you’ve spent an insomniac half-night pondering a mysterious chicken-shaped splodge on the bedroom ceiling.

stylecraft mill Slaithwaite Spectrum Yarns Yorkshire

Here’s a clue about where this blog post is going.

Unfortunately,* things have gone catastrophically well this weekend… which was immensely fun to experience, but isn’t very funny to describe. I have lovely yarn/knitting/crochet-related things to show and tell you about, but it’s not going to be very funny. Aware of this problem and feeling desperate, I resorted to going for an extra-long run today, because my biggest idiocy generally happens knee-deep in mud and four miles from home, but even that went uncharacteristically well. I give up!

Warning: this blog post may contain scenery.

Anyway, to the point.

On Friday, I zoomed up to West Yorkshire at the wheel of the Blunderbus (replacement for the Stinkwagon) to join in with the second meet-up of the Stylecraft Blogstars at and around the Stylecraft mill in Slaithwaite.

Stylecraft mill spectrum slaithwaite yarn

The Stylecraft mill is the one behind the chimney in the distance on the right.

Shall we do the introductions first? It’s a cliché to say so (and I write that as someone who likes to take clichés out the back and beat them mercilessly) but these folk really don’t need a whole load of introduction. Let’s introduce them anyway.

stylecraft blogstars

From the left: Jane Crowfoot, me, Sarah at Annaboo’s House, Heather at The Patchwork Heart, Julia at Hand Knitted Things, Lucy at Attic24, Helen at The Woolly Adventures Of A Knitting Kitty, Emma Varnam, Sandra at Cherry Heart, Lucia at Lucia’s Fig Tree, and Kathryn at Crafternoon Treats. (Sadly, Sue Pinner wasn’t there this time.)

Living on the opposite side of the planet was NOT considered an adequate excuse for non-attendance. It’s tough being a Blogstar: you have to do stuff way past midnight.

And joining us via Skype at heaven-knows-what time of the night or day, was Angela at Get Knotted Yarn Craft (pictured on the laptop above), and Zelna at Zooty Owl. Phew, what a line-up!

yarn stories

So we met, and we shared ideas, news, over-enthusiasm, wine, a hotel, gossip, yarn, workshops, food, and a trip out to the Knitting And Crochet Guild historical archive. (More on the Knitting And Crochet Guild in a separate post, because it was fascinating.)

Naturally, we insisted on a hotel with its own helipad. One has standards, y’know.

This was a gathering where nobody batted an eyelid if you pulled out your knitting during dinner or crocheted throughout a meeting, or if you talked about yarn for an hour without even pausing for breath, or if you were observed arriving at the hotel with luggage comprising only one toothbrush and 85 knits/hooks-in-progress. Obviously, we knitted/hooked throughout pre-dinner drinks:-

Someone kindly took a photo before the yarn came out at dinner:-

These are my kinda people, and they’re probably yours, too.

It would be fair to say that we were treated rather well.

stylecraft

What? For ME? Oh I couldn’t possibly! … Actually, maybe I could, if you really insisted…

We began with an update on what’s coming soon from Stylecraft. I’m sorry, but this really is a if-I-tell-you,-I’ll-have-to-kill-you situation, until the new batches of yarns are officially released. More news to come very, very, soon.

stylecraft blogstars

Saturday was a day filled with marvellous things at the mill, including a workshop on Tunisian crochet:-

Busy. Concentrating.

It’s quite fun, once you get the hang of the strange knit-cum-crochet rhythm:-

At least they gave me exactly the right mug for my green tea:-

We admired each other’s work. Look at ThePatchworkHeart’s blankets!

And Lucia’s Fig Tree’s blanket!

(Maybe I should have brought my chair.)

It was all wonderful, inspiring, invigorating, and exciting, and I’m probably not alone in having come away with a whole hairy heap of ideas.

View from the window.

My only gripe was that it was all over far, far too soon.

Still, there was still a little time before sunset to run around the town getting shots of the magnificent viaduct that cuts across the town:-

And see?

And see?

And as the sun threatened with some sincerity (I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME!) to sink below the horizon, I grabbed a last few images of the countryside around Slaithwaite:-

All in all, a pretty good weekend.

 

*OK, I’m not really ungrateful.

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The Voice Of Wisdom. (That’ll Be You.)

You were right, of course. All of you. That swatch was never going to work.

Thank you for your comments. Can you believe it, we had a near-unanimous consensus. That never happens online. What even is the point of the internet if you can’t damage your keyboard by violently punching out vitriol like HOW VERY DARE U IMPLY THAT MAGIC LOOP IS BETTER THAN DPNS!!!!!!!!! I HOPE MOTHS EAT YOUR MERINO AND THE CAT CHEWS YOUR NEEDLES!!!!!! You folks are way too sane and reasonable to be pootling about on the web.

Anyway, you spoke as one – or at least as only one-and-a-bit – and you were right. Yes, my plan to knit this fancy jumper (pronounced s-w-e-a-t-e-r outside these shores) in variegated yarn was a very bad plan indeed.

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I love the fitted, scoop-neck shape of it, though. And I love the luscious shades (with NO PINK – hurrah!) in this Adriafil Knitcol, so I’m keeping the form of the jumper but knitting it in stockinette. Oh, and I’m working most of it in the round to minimise purling, and adding the tiniest hint of shaping at the waist. What can possibly go wrong? (Don’t answer that, please. Let me live in my cheery, delusional, bubble for a wee while longer.)

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Obviously it would be a very bad idea to get caught up in knitting a new jumper this week, when there is so much else to do. Yeah, I’d never be weak-willed enough to do something like that. Oh, wait:-

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So, my friends, this jumper may turn out to be lovely, or it my turn out to be a disastrously shouty cacophony of colour, in which case I’ll just wear it around our freezing house to scare the spiders*/bailiffs/burglars.**

I’ve made jumpers in Adriafil Knitcol before: small ones, for the twinnage, and they were lovely (the jumpers, I mean, not the twinnage. The twinnage are monstrous.) Exhibit A of woolly delight:-

adriafil knitcol

…And travelling further back in time, Exhibit B:-

adriafil knitcol

But I had to wait (and wait) until the boys had grown out of all of those before making myself one, because wearing the same clothes as your children would be… well I’m not sure what it would be, but I think we can agree that it would not be indicative of a healthy family dynamic. That said, we’re not above wearing wellies-on-a-theme:-

Rainbow wellies

All of the twinnage’s Knitcol knitwear has now been outgrown and/or has felted when the washing machine broke down mid-cycle (which was NOT AT ALL infuriating, as you can imagine). So I’m free to wear Knitcol. Hurrah!

My headless friend would like to show you some progress:-

Am I mad to think that it might just work?

 

*Just had to Google ‘Do spiders have colour vision?’ after writing that. In case you’re interested, the chunky, lazy, ones hanging around in cobwebs on your ceiling waiting for lunch to come to them, don’t. If a spider tells you that it can see colours, run away now because it’s probably one of the more go-getting types of arachnid, such as a jumping spider. Also – and potentially of more concern – it spoke to you. It’ll be asking you how to access the World Wide Web, next.

**Actually, the twinnage have got that one covered, in their six-year-old style. A large notice has appeared on one of our upstairs doors, saying ‘Burglers [sic] are stoopid. And ther is an il dog in this hous’. Just for the record, we have never had a dog, ailing or otherwise. But the sign seems to be working, because we haven’t been burgled.

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So Shall We Find Out Which Lucky Folk Have Won The Giveaway?

I know. It’s been a fair few days since the gong sounded, marking the end of the It’s A Stitch Up giveaway. (To be fair, the gong didn’t sound particularly loudly, since it’s made entirely of yarn.) In meagre defence of my tardiness, we’ve had the inspectors in at the hospital where I work this week, and I had to pop across the Severn Bridge into south Wales, in order to go and endure the viva exam for my MPhil degree in (novel-)writing. The viva went surprisingly well. And no, the novel has absolutely nothing to do with knitting or crochet.

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

So let’s get on with the happy job. As announced here, two lucky folk amongst you are to win a gorgeous 100g skein of Awesome Aran wool, as well as the pattern with which to knit it, all courtesy of the over-generosity of Suzie at It’s A Stitch-Up.

Altogether, there were 280 entries to the contest. Wowzers! Thanks to each and every one of you for taking part. And if you’re not lucky enough to win this time, do go and have a browse amongst the goodies available through Suzie’s website. (Please note, I cannot accept responsibility for the ensuing damage to your credit card. Seriously. I can’t.) Oh, and there are more giveaways coming up soon, so you’ll have more chances to win stuff after Christmas.

So let’s find out who’s won. Usual Twisted procedures apply: all entries have been numbered, then the oracle that is random.org has been consulted for the numbers of the winning entries. OK?

So who exactly are the mysterious people hiding behind these numbers? Step forward and take a bow, M. Curran and Sheila Harvey-Larmar! CONGRATULATIONS! I shall be in touch pronto to ask for your address which I shall pass on to Suzie so that she can send you your prize.

Right, I’d best get on with starting my Christmas preparations. Oops. This is poor, even by my low standards. Still, the kitchen is sporting little touches of festive cheer…

…And we’ve enacted the annual ritual of going to buy the tree, much to the excitement of the twinnage.

…And Rudolph ‘the buck stops here’ the reindeer has come downstairs from his usual spot on the wall of the guest room.

knitted reindeer head

…Also, my friend has been making the sweetest little decorations using the husks of real silk cocoons. How clever is she?! Look! She takes orders if you ask her very nicely.

Anyway, judging by how many of you joined me on the naughty bench after my last post – sorry it was such a squeeze – it seems that I’m not alone in my festive tardiness. I think I’d better go and buy a bigger bench.

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A Small Diversion

Yes, (on the off chance that you were about to ask) there is still time to enter THIS most fabulous and fluffy of giveaways! Go take a look!

Also, if you’re in the mood to win stuff and are reading this post within an hour or two of it being published, I designed and knitted a little decoration which could yet be yours through the Stylecraft Advent Giveaway, today only: look!

So, yeah. Following this debacle, I had a post almost written about my change of plan, jumperwise:-

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Jumper-in-progress

But then somehow, I ended up going and looking at some rather splendid yarn and needles, which I can’t resist telling you about instead.

It was Saturday, and I’d read about a rare open day at the premises of a local supplier that sells unusually marvellous yarn and the equipment with which to knit it. It would be tough to argue that I need any wool or needles right now, but you can probably guess exactly where this blog post is going.

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Somehow – and it will forever remain a mystery how this happened when I’d been so very dedicated to the important quest of going out to buy vacuum cleaner bags and broccoli – somehow, I ended up looking both ways to check that the coast was clear, then sneaking over the Oxfordshire border into the rolling hills of west Berkshire. The sun was just beginning to set in a particularly photogenic way, but I didn’t get any pictures for you (sorry) because time was not on my side.

On one of those whims that usually gets me into all manner of trouble, I was heading for the premises of a company called Purlescence. If you happen to see the Stoic Spouse, please don’t tell him: he’s under the illusion that vacuum cleaner bags were particularly tricky to find that day.

Anyway, it wasn’t far. Let’s just ignore the fact that I stank of diesel after an unfortunate incident at a petrol station on the way.

Now of course most of you are in no way local (but Purlescence operate via mail order worldwide so in effect, you are), but will you look at this yarn! You have to let them know if you want to visit because they don’t operate a conventional bricks-and-mortar shop. (To be fair, I probably wouldn’t let anyone in if I had all this yarn, either.) But occasionally, they hold an open day.

Purlescence Fyberspates

Those beauties in the foreground? They’re Fyberspates Vivacious, which I’ve loved for its inky richness ever since I used it when I designed this:-

knitted mandala

There was so much yarn in that room. I may have drooled just a little, but hopefully nobody noticed. Triskelion (see this picture ↓) is new to me, but hello, handsome. That’s 70% baby alpaca, right there.

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This is sounding far too much like some sort of sponsored post, but I promise that it’s not. The very kind owner did refuse to let me pay for a couple of pieces of equipment that I will be reviewing here early in the new year just as they’re properly launched, but this really is just a saw-stuff-from-a-local-indie-supplier-and-loved-it post. Go take a look!

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The Perfect YARN GIVEAWAY For A Winter’s Day

On a cold and dull* November day, what do you need to warm the cockles of your heart? Well, duh: lovely hand-dyed yarn, of course, and a pattern with which to knit it. So don’t you reckon it’s time for another giveaway, open worldwide?

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

 

Enter from stage left, Suzie, bearing skeins of marvellously colourful wool.

Twisted: Hello, Suzie.

Suzie: Hello, Twisted.

Twisted (shivering): Cold, isn’t it?

Suzie (also shivering): Gosh yes, it is cold… as one might quite reasonably expect at this time of year.

Twisted: Indeed. Shall we stop speaking as though we’re characters in an exceptionally badly-written play?

Suzie: Yes, lets. Would you like some yarn?

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Suzie is based in east London, from where she runs her indie yarn/pattern company, It’s A Stitch Up. IASU started out as a blog, and her tutorials and patterns rapidly became super-popular. Last year, she started selling her hand-dyed yarn, too, shipping worldwide to meet ever-increasing demand. Her yarn is ethically-produced (in terms of animal welfare and environmental impact), British-spun, and dyed with inspiration from her surroundings, especially from the natural world. Yup, I’m struggling to find anything not-to-like, too.

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman

Suzie got in touch with me recently to talk about her yarn. As it happens, she’s a friend-of-a-friend, but that’s beside the point. We talked particularly about her Awesome Aran (think worsted-weight, USians), which is spun from British-produced wool from the always-haughty-looking Bluefaced Leicester sheep.

blue-faced leicester

Superior-Sheep Knows It’s Superior.
(Photo credit: Andrew Curtis.)

Have you knitted or hooked with Bluefaced Leicester? It’s soft and it’s tough (in a good way, I promise) which is why it’s often used for sock yarn. It has quite a lustrous appearance, too. Suzie sent me a sample skein, along with the pattern for her Shipwreck Cove cowl. Look at the very subtle hint of variegation in this semi-solid colourway. It’s called ‘Heart Of Glass’, and it’s available in 100g (3.5oz) skeins. It feels soft and dense, and it’s very cosy against the skin. Look!

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Anyway, I knitted the cowl. Maybe my gauge was off, but I ran out of yarn just before the end, so I decided to use some spare yarn I had lying around to make the cord and the pom-poms. (It was cotton, so it separated beautifully to make the pom-poms extra-fluffy.)

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Ah, pom-poms. I hadn’t made them since childhood.**

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Fortunately, I could just about remember what to do. (Yeah, I know you can buy pom-pom makers but really, two doughnuts of cardboard work just fine.) Place the pieces of card together, wind yarn (doubled, quadrupled, or whatever to save time) around and around until you can’t fit it through the centre any more or until your layer of yarn is looking nicely thick. Use a crochet hook to pull the yarn through the centre hole if needed. I also used a crochet hook to wedge the yarn in place whilst I began to cut every strand of yarn around the perimeter of the disks.

how to make pom-poms

Then, when you’ve cut every strand, you’ll need to pull the cardboard disks apart VERY SLIGHTLY to enable you to wind a piece of yarn around all your strands and tie a knot that’s tighter than any knot you’ve ever previously tied in your life.

how to make pom-poms

Now you can remove the card, fluff up your lovely pom-pom, and give it a light trim where needed. Do NOT allow anyone with perfectionist tendencies to complete this stage, as they will trim and trim (and trim) until there’s nothing left.

how to make pom-poms

Isn’t it cutesome? (Oughtn’t I to be taken outside and shot for crimes against language, having used the ‘word’ cutesome?)

how to make pom-poms

And here, expertly modelled by my headless assistant, is the finished cowl. It’s very cosy. And pretty.

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If you browse the It’s A Stitch Up website, you can see all the rich shades that Suzie has dyed in Awesome Aran, as well as her other yarns. She also sells knitting kits, her own knitting patterns, and vintage haberdashery.

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But let’s talk about the giveaway, because it’s a good’un, thanks to Suzie’s extreme generosity. She is offering TWO shivery-but-yarn-loving readers of this blog from anywhere in the world the chance to win a 100g skein of Awesome Aran, and the cowl pattern to go with it. See? I told you it was good.

Usual Twisted contest conditions apply. To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. To gain an additional bonus entry, visit this blog’s Facebook page, ‘like’ the page and leave a comment on the post about this giveaway, with some way of reaching you if you win – Raverly username, for example.

The contest is open from RIGHT NOW until 12.00 midday (UK time) on Saturday 10th December 2016. After this, a random number generator will be used to select two lucky winners, whose details will be passed to Suzie so that she can contact them and arrange delivery of the prizes. Good luck!

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman.

Photo credit: (c) Suzie Blackman.

∗ The weather is now scuppering the mood of this blog post by suddenly being sunny. Still it’s cold. Very cold. You’ll need knitwear.

∗∗…when I used to make big pom-pom critters with stuck-on eyes, and arms made of pipe-cleaners. They were irredeemably naff, so let us speak of them no more.

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‘Head Over Heels’ Sock Yarn Review

See these?

head over heels stylecraft sock yarn review

These are happy feet.

If it weren’t for the fact that they’re pointing skywards, then they’d probably be dancing. Badly. So be glad that they’re safely away from the ground.

The reason for their joy is no doubt obvious. It involves some splendidly colourful new sock yarn. You may have heard already, but a few months ago, Stylecraft launched a range of 4-ply sock yarn called Head Over Heels. It’s 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon, and it comes in six different marvellously mountain-monikered colourways (Eiger, Everest, Fuji, Kilimanjaro, Matterhorn, and Olympus, in case you were wondering). In the photo above, the completed sock is Eiger (my personal favourite), and the sock-in-progress is Fuji.

picmonkey-collage

I was fortunate to be sent samples of both these shades earlier this year, but I held off posting about it because I wanted to thoroughly road-test the stuff before writing about it. The outcome? I like it. And so do my feet. I enjoyed the slow, leisurely shifts in colour.

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I knitted these socks (four of them, two in each colourway) everywhere, walking to collect the twinnage from school, and on trains and buses, and in the village pub. Socks-in-progress using yarn that does its own colour-changing thing make perfect out-and-about projects, because they’re much more discreet and portable than – say – an afghan. I still looked like an oddball knitting as I wandered the village, but at least I was a semi-discreet oddball.

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I brought the fourth-and-final sock to knit on the bus journey to collect my new car today (bye bye Stinkwagon!) This turned out to be a good thing, because the bus driver must have missed the bit of the training where they tell them to confine their driving mostly to the road, and instead he seemed to have just a little difficulty distinguishing between road and kerb/pavement/verge. The other project I’d brought with me was some complicated fair isle, which proved near-impossible on the top deck of a wildly-swaying double-decker bus. Top tip, people: don’t attempt complex knitting upstairs on a bus, especially when the driver is a bit reckless.

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A basic sock is just fine, however. In fact, the sock was such a good distraction during the more unnerving parts of the journey that I accidentally overshot with the foot section and have thus created a sock that would be absolutely perfect for a rather elegant giant who is possessed of extremely long but slender feet. Know anyone who’s like that? Me neither. Time to rip back a few rounds, I guess.

knitting on the tube

And I will knit them on a train, and I will knit them in the rain, and I will knit them on a bus, and I will knit without much fuss, and I will channel Dr Suess, and hope my knitting ain’t too loose.

That’s not the fault of the yarn, of course, so let’s get back to the review.

So as you can see, the stuff knits up nicely, and I didn’t come across a single knot. Yay! This is a personal thing, but I wish, wish, wish, that more lusciously variegated yarns would be made WITHOUT PINK! Why, why, why, does everything have to include blimmin’ pink?! Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. And yeah, I’m probably in the minority.

running and knitting in public

And I will knit whilst on a run, and I will knit out in the sun…

It’s reasonably soft, and being superwash, it’s pretty tolerant of your washing machine’s general grudge against all fabrics. As you can see from the images below, the length of the repeat varies between colourways, so you can find the yarn that best suits your project, whether you’re knitting socks or crocheting a shawl.

stylecraft head over heels sock yarn review

Images in this collage courtesy of Stylecraft.

  • Head Over Heels is available from major shops and online sellers, and comes in 100g balls. In the UK, it’s typically priced around £6.50-£7.00, so cheaper than many sock yarns.
  • Needle recommendation: 2.25mm-3.25mm.
  • 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon.
  • 100g = 400m.
  • Gauge: 28 stitches / 36 rows.
  • No, it’s not hand-dyed by eunuchs under the light of a full moon, BUT it’s way more affordable than eunuch-yarn could ever hope to be. And it’s soft.

So what are you waiting for?

log fire wine knitting hygge

 

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Weekending, With Added Yarn

Well it’s been a hunkering-down-for-winter sort of weekend. Saturday was Bonfire Night, of course*:-

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(*For the benefit of non-UK readers, this is when we commemorate the attempt in 1605 by an enterprising but treasonous chap called Guy Fawkes and several of his bezzies to blow up the Houses Of Parliament using barrel-loads of gunpowder. The plot was foiled, and poor Guy Fawkes got a proper telling-off (and executed). We mark this occasion annually by lighting fireworks and by setting fire to stuff, including effigies of Fawkes himself, although given that he lived in those dark ages that pre-dated Facebook, most of us aren’t quite certain what he looked like. He is generally assumed to have sported some impressive millinery: don’t pretend that you wouldn’t want a hat like this:-)
Nice hat. Shame about the attempt to bring down the government.

Nice hat. Shame about the attempt to bring down the government.

We took the twinnage to the village fireworks display, wearing all of our knitwear at once. (Let me tell you that the ‘Thermal‘ jumper is very warm, what with all that air-trapping waffle stitch that took eleventy million hours to knit.)

Wow! Fireworks! Some of them look almost floral in these shots, a bit like Dan Bennett’s fabulously stylized flora paintings that I’ve mentioned before.

fireworks-1

The weekend continued with the twinnage helping the Stoic Spouse make the Christmas cake, whilst I scurried off to Oxford for a haircut. (It’s been nearly two years since the last one: I am deeply un-fond of haircuts, so I was slightly sulking at this colossal waste of time.) What on earth could I do to pass the time on the bus to Oxford? Oh hang on, I know:-

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I arrived stupidly early, so went for a wander around Christ Church Meadow, cos there’s nothing like a spot of hypothermia to kick-start your weekend. All was pretty, as is its wont:-

ox

I made a friend:-

dux

These days I don’t go into the centre of Oxford much, but the place feels like a kind of lodestone because so much of my adult life has happened there: studying, working, more studying, parties, relationships, first flat, meeting the Stoic Spouse. There isn’t a street or a pub or a view that doesn’t have some kind of memory attached. In autumn especially, it’s easy to feel nostalgic for student days, which is a bit stupid because I don’t especially want to go back to being a cash-strapped socially-awkward 18-year-old with terrible dress-sense, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. (I still wouldn’t say boo to a goose: geese are mean. But these days, I would say boo to a person.) So on this occasion, after being relieved of most of my hair, I wasn’t too regretful to leave Oxford and head back to my 43-year-old life in the village.

By the time I got home to the brewery, it was mightily chilly, so we were glad to see the log-man arrive to deliver this lot. The twinnage helped me to stack it:-

Happiness is a well-stocked log-store.

Happiness is a well-stocked log-store.

…Which naturally led on to this:-

firepix

…and more knitting, of course, but you’d probably already guessed that.

Not a bad weekend, in all. How was yours?

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All Aboard The Stylecraft Blog Tour Bus For A Giveaway And A Free Pattern!

Have you been following this year’s Stylecraft Blog Tour? Yesterday, designer/author Sue Pinner showed us her marvellous Spinning Top crochet blanket pattern.

Six new shades have been added to the aran and the chunky Stylecraft Special acrylic ranges, and the fine fibrous folk at Stylecraft have mixed these up with some of the existing shades to make a couple of different ten-ball colour packs that they’ll be selling for a while. Over the summer, they kindly gave a few of us yarniacs a pack to try out. (Did I mention that this yarn-blogging thing is SOOOO TOUGH?!) This year’s blog tour gives a dozen of us the chance to show off what we’ve been making with our yarn.

I chose the ‘Parchment’ pack in chunky weight. Look!Stylecraft Special Chunky blog tour
Anyway, welcome to Day Eight of the blog tour. At an unfeasibly early hour this morning, I was woken by a rumbling sound, which turned out to be the colourful Stylecraft blog-tour-bus squeezing its way down our driveway, and parking beside the Stinkwagon. Hurrah! Heaven knows what the neighbours thought, although they’ve witnessed crazier (especially that time when I yarn-bombed our house).

stylecraft blog tour blogstars

The blog-tour-bus! In the courtyard at our house!

So clad only in my third-best pyjamas, I rushed outside to greet the bus.

I’d been thinking long and hard about what to make with this yarn, as it ideally had to incorporate all ten shades. Also, I was in the mood for a spot of crochet. So I designed this scarf, ably modelled by my headless friend, here:-

free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogstars

Would you like the FREE pattern? OK, I’ll pop it at the end of this post.

The finished scarf turned out well, but along the way, my goodness there was a lot of growling, and ripping out, and setting a poor example of emotional self-regulation in front of the children.

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Then, the night before I finished it, I was across the road in the village pub with a group of friends, celebrating the birthday of one of us. (Hmm, that was the sentence that grammar forgot, wasn’t it?) Three of us were knitters/crocheters, so a certain amount of yarnery was going on around our bit of the table. But the poor birthday girl – an avid and skilled knitter – didn’t have any yarn with her! Horrors! Yes of course we offered to sprint home and fetch some for her. But do you know what she did (and I swear she did this voluntarily)? She picked up my scarf-in-progress, which was at the time looking very hairy due to the number of ends I’d procrastinated about weaving in, and she wove in all the ends! All of them!

So I pulled out a sock-in-progress from my handbag and knitted a bit of that instead. (What?? You think that I ever leave the house with only one WIP?) Technology and lighting were against me on the photo front, but here she is:-
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J, I owe you big-time. And I hope you enjoyed your birthday.

So at last the thing was nearly done, and the next day whilst slightly hungover I worked a simple scalloped edge around it. What do you think?
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But now, I have a… difficulty. I want to show you a picture of the thing laid out, so that you can see how the flared end tucks through the slit near the other end to make a loop. But laid out flat, it presents a photographic problem. There’s no other way of saying this: it looks undeniably phallic. So, um, let’s mess things up a bit.

free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogstars

ANYWAY, would you like the chance to win a big squooshy pack of all ten shades of Stylecraft Special Chunky that I used to make this thing? You would? Well that’s a coincidence, because the kind folk on the Stylecraft tour bus happen to have a pristine new pack of yarn all ready to post out to one lucky winner. The competition is open worldwide, but you’ll have to hurry, because it’s only open from 1000hrs to 2359hrs TODAY, UK time, so put down your knitting/hooking for a moment and hurry, hurry, hurry!

Click here to enter!

And so, as the day draws to a close, the tour bus will rumble colourfully on to its next destination: Sarah at Annaboo’s House. It’s clocking up a lot of miles, that bus. Fortunately it’s very environmentally-friendly, existing as it does only in my imagination.

Just in case you’ve missed any, the full list of participants in the blog tour is: Emma Varnam, Jane Crowfoot, Keep Calm And Crochet On, Sue Pinner, Annaboo’s House, Hand Knitted Things, Cherry Heart, The Patchwork Heart, Crafternoon TreatsStylecraft’s own blogLe Monde de Sucrette, and of course this very blog.  

free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogstars

So would you like the FREE PATTERN to make this beast? Yeah? OK, then. Here it is. I’ll put a photo-tutorial for some of the stitches up within the next few days, too.

I’ve also listed the pattern on Ravelry, here.

The Candy-Pop Scarf

Please note: pattern instructions use US terms. (Fellow Brits, I’m sorry: it’s the only area in which I’m not loyal to our land. I’ll post a UK version shortly.)

Dimensions of finished work: 99cm (39”) in length, by 18cm (7”) for most of its length, narrowing slightly before flaring out at one end.

Hook: 6mm.

Gauge: 16 sc sts to 10cm/4”.

Yarn: Stylecraft Special Chunky ‘Parchment’ pack, comprising one 100g (3.5oz) ball of each of the following shades: Parchment (1218), Pomegranate (1083), Sage (1725), Pale Rose (1080), Saffron (1081), Spice (1711), Empire (1829), Gold (1709), Pistachio (1822), and Storm Blue (1722). Now given that this is a whole kilogram (35oz) of yarn and the final scarf only weighs 225g (8oz), you can most certainly reduce the number of shades if you wish to, especially as some of them only make a brief appearance in the pattern.

Ends: Lots of colour changes potentially mean lots of ends to be woven in. Unless this is your idea of a rollicking good time, there are a couple of ways to minimise the weaving. First, when you’re working in colour A, and then have only one row of colour B before returning to colour A, you don’t need to cut colour A because the edge of your work will be concealed. So in the pattern, I’ve encouraged you to travel up the side of your work using a sneaky slip stitch to resume working in colour A. Don’t tell anyone I said that, though. Second, where possible, you can crochet around your yarn ends once you’ve started a new colour. It’s not always possible to do this, e.g. if your new colour is being used to work a chain, but it’s possible most of the time.

Abbreviations:-

St(s) = stitch(es).

Ch = chain.

Ss = slip stitch.

Sc = single crochet.

½dc = half double crochet.

Dc = double crochet.

Tc = treble crochet.

YO = yarn-over.

Sc2tog = decrease by single crocheting 2 stitches together.

Yarn colours are given in capitals. Continue in current colour until instructed to change.

Right, let’s get started.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

SAGE. Ch 120 stitches fairly loosely.

  • -1. Ch1. Sc all stitches. Turn.
  • -2. Bobble garland edging. [Ch6. Work 5dc into the 3rd ch from hook, omitting the last YO-and-pull-through for each of these 5 stitches, ending with 6 loops on the hook. YO and pull through all 6 loops. Make a tight ss around the base of the bobble. Ch3. Sc into the 4th st along] repeated to end of row, although final ch3 after the last bobble is worked into the 3rd st along, because you’ve reached the end of the row. (30 bobbles.)
  • 1. You are now going to turn your work and make further rows on the other side of the starting chain. So proceed to the other side of the starting chain by working a sneaky ss at the end of the row. Ss into first ch. Ch1. Sc all sts across the row. Turn. Cut yarn. (120)
  • 2. PISTACHIO. Ch1. [Sc, sc2tog, sc] repeated to end. Turn. (90)
  • 3. Ch1. Sc all sts. Turn. Do not cut yarn.
  • 4. SAFFRON. Ch1. Sc in every st. Cut yarn.
  • 5. PISTACHIO. Switch to other end of row to resume working in Pistachio, working a ss in the end st. Work as row 2 until 2 sts remain. Sc these last 2 sts. Turn. (68)
  • 6. As row 4.
  • 7. STORM BLUE. As row 3.
  • 8. As row 2. (51)
  • 9-10. Both as row 3.
  • 11. As row 2 until 3 sts remain. Sc, sc2tog. (38)
  • 12. [Ch5. Ss into next-but-one st of previous row] repeated to end. The end of the final chain loop will have to be worked into the next st, not the next-but-one st. Turn. (19 loops)
  • 13. Ch3. [Ch1. Sc into the chain loop from previous row] repeated to end of row. Turn. (38)
  • 14. As row 2 until 2 sts remain. Sc in each of the last 2 sts. Turn. (29)
  • 15-16. As row 3.
  • 17. As row 2 (after the initial ch1) until 5 sts remain. 5sc. (23)
  • 18-20. As row 3.
  • 21. As row 4.
  • 22. GOLD. 1sc, [1 bobble, 1sc] repeated to end, pushing the bobbles through to the front and back of the work alternately. Cut yarn. (To create each bobble, work 5 dc into the same stitch, omitting the last YO-and-pull-through of each dc. You will then have 6 loops on your hook. Finally, YO and pull through all 6 loops. Push the bobble through to the correct side of the work. The sc into the next st anchors the bobble.) (11 bobbles, 6 on one side and 5 on the other)
  • 23. STORM BLUE. Working from the side where you left the Storm Blue yarn, ss into edge of previous row so that you can use this yarn for the present row. Ch1, sc into first stitch. [Ignoring the next st from previous row, work a dc into the same-colour st from the row-before-last that’s directly below this bobble on the reverse side of that bobble. Then work a sc into the next st from previous row, i.e. the st after the one you ignored] repeated to end. Turn. (11 vertical bars, 6 on one side and 5 on the other)
  • 24-25. As row 3.
  • 26. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 27. PARCHMENT. As row 4.
  • 28. PALE ROSE. As row 12. Cut yarn. Turn. (11 loops)
  • 29. PARCHMENT. As row 13, but finishing with a ch1 after the last sc. Turn. (23)
  • 30-34. As row 3. (23)
  • 35. As row 3, but on the 4th and the 4th-from-end st, increase by working 2 sts where usually you’d work one. (25)
  • 36. As row 4.
  • 37. PALE ROSE. [Ch5. Ss into next-but-one st of previous row] repeated to end. Turn. (12 loops)
  • 38. Ch4. (4th ch = the first st of current row.) [Sc into the chain loop from previous row, ch1] repeated to end of row. Turn. (25)
  • 39-41. As row 3.
  • 42. POMEGRANATE. Bobble row! As row 22. (12 bobbles, 6 on each side)
  • 43. PALE ROSE. As row 23. (12 vertical bars, 6 on each side)
  • 44-47. As row 3.
  • 48. POMEGRANATE. Ch2. ½dc all sts. Cut yarn.
  • 49-51. PALE ROSE. Resume with yarn from row 47 using a sneaky end-of-row ss, as before. Then work as row 3.
  • 52. [ss, sc, ½dc, dc, tc, dc, ½dc, sc] repeated 3 times, then ss. Cut yarn. Turn.
  • 53. POMEGRANATE. Ch4, [tc, dc, ½dc, sc, ss, sc, ½dc, dc] repeated 3 times, then tc. Turn.
  • 54. As row 53. Cut yarn.
  • 55. PARCHMENT. As row 52, but do not cut yarn. Turn.
  • 56-58. As row 3.
  • 59. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 60. SAGE. As row 3.
  • 61. Ch3. Dc into 1st st. [Ch1, dc] repeated to end. Turn.
  • 62-65. As row 3.
  • 66. As row 61.
  • 67. As row 4.
  • 68-70. PISTACHIO. As row 3.
  • 71. As row 61.
  • 72. As row 4.
  • 73. SAGE. As row 4.
  • 74. POMEGRANATE. As row 4.
  • 75-76. PISTACHIO. As row 3.
  • 77. As row 4.
  • 78. SAGE. As row 3.
  • 79. SAGE. As row 4.
  • 80-86. PARCHMENT. As row 3.
  • 87. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 88. SPICE. As row 3.
  • 89. As row 4.
  • 90. PISTACHIO. Ch3. 2dc into 1st st. [Miss 2sts then work 3dc into the next st] 7 times, 2dc into the last st. Cut yarn. Turn. (25)
  • 91. SPICE. Ch3. [3dc into next gap between clusters from previous row] 8 times. 1dc into last st. Turn. (25)
  • 92. Ch3. 2dc into 1st gap between clusters. [3dc into next gap] 7 times. 2dc into last st. Cut yarn. Turn. (25)
  • 93. POMEGRANATE. As row 91. (25)
  • 94-96. As row 3.
  • 97. SAFFRON. Bobble row! As row 22. (12 bobbles, 6 on each side)
  • 98. POMEGRANATE. As row 23. (12 vertical bars, 6 on each side)
  • 99. As row 4.
  • 100-104. SPICE. As row 3.
  • 105. As row 4.
  • 106-112. PARCHMENT. As row 3.
  • 113. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 114. SAGE. Ch1. Work sc into 1st 11 sts of row only. Turn. (11)
  • 115-116. Ch1. Sc into all 11 sts. Turn. (11)
  • 117. EMPIRE. Ch1. Sc into all 11 sts. Cut yarn. (11)
  • 118-120. Resuming with SAGE, as row 3. (11)
  • 121. EMPIRE. Bobble row! As row 22. (5 bobbles, 3 on one side and 2 on the other)
  • 122. SAGE. As row 23. (5 vertical bars, 3 on one side and 2 on the other)
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Just finished row 122.

  • 123-125. As row 3. (11)
  • 126. As row 4. (11)
  • 127-130. PALE ROSE. As row 3. (11)
  • 131. As row 4. (11)
  • Now go back to row 113, and from the opposite end of the row, work the same 11-st pattern you did for rows 114-131. When you’ve finished this, there should be a 3st-wide gap in the middle of rows 114-131.
  • 132. PARCHMENT. Ch1. Sc the 1st 11 sts. Ch3 across the gap, then sc into the 11sts on the other side. (25)
  • 133. As row 3. (25)
  • 134. Ch1. Sc2tog across 1st 2 sts. Sc until 2 sts remain. Sc2tog. Turn. (23)
  • 135. As row 3. (23)
  • 136. As row 134. (21)
  • 137. As row 134. (19)
  • 138. As row 134. (17)
  • 139. As row 134. Cut yarn. (15)
  • 140. STORM BLUE. As row 134. (13)
  • 141. Ch1. Sc2tog twice. Sc until 4 sts remain. Sc2tog twice. (9)
  • 142. GOLD. Bobble row! As row 22. (4 bobbles, 2 on each side)
  • 143. STORM BLUE. As row 23. (4 vertical bars, 2 on each side)
  • 144. As row 141. (5) Cut yarn and pull through.
  • Weave in ends before working scalloped edging.
  • Edging. SAGE. Begin at end of row -1 (i.e. the bobble edging row). Work around the edge of the piece, finishing at the opposite end of row -1. Cut yarn. Then work all the way around the inside edge of the gap in the middle of rows 114-131. Cut yarn. Here’s how to work the scallops:-
  • Scallops: Sc into end st of row. [Work 5 ½dcs into a row-end st about 2 rows further along. Then sc into a row-end st roughly 2 rows further along] repeated all the way around. The spacing of the scallops is a bit of a judgement call. And when you’re working the inside of a curve, stretch each scallop out over slightly more rows. When you’re working the outside of a curve, work each scallop over slightly fewer rows.

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It’s Not A Popularity Contest! Oh, Wait, Actually It Is…

Hello blog. Just a short one today.

Thank you for all the kind comments that you’ve left lately, you lovely yarny lot. On Sunday, this blog will be three years old. Three! I can scarcely believe it. In my experience, three-year-olds are obstreperous and independent little spirits, prone to embarking on unhinged adventures and removing all of their clothes on a whim. So read here at your peril.

Talking of the blog, I discovered by chance the other day that I’ve been shortlisted for the British Craft Awards!

British Craft Awards

Good grief! I’d have fallen off my chair in surprise at the news if I’d been sitting on one at the time. Anyway, now that the shortlist is out there, the winner is to be selected by public vote. (Can you tell where I’m going with this? What, you can?!) So I would be hugely honoured and grateful if you popped over to their site in order to wang me a vote. And if you’re in the UK, you stand a chance to win big chunky Amazon vouchers, too, just for the trouble of entering. The link is here. Select the Knitting And Crochet option, and then within the question about your favourite blogger, you’ll see this very site listed as an option. If you’re kind enough to vote for me, I’ll pop round and weave in all your yarn ends as an act of gratitude, because I’m not above a little bribery and corruption when it’s needed. Um, thank you.

So has there been knitting and crochet? Well yes, there most certainly has. There’s also been a fair amount of frogging, but I’ve tried to be all adult about it and tell myself that frogging a dozen hours of work is just bringing me closer to the eventual much better outcome. Unfortunately I’m not falling for that rubbish. I’m busy designing something for the Hobbycraft chain of shops and it just wasn’t working. It looked very nice in my head, but the reality was a little less splendid. So I sat in my usual spot at the twinnage’s music group and began to thread my needle many rows down, ready to rip out a lot of stitches. (For privacy reasons, photo taken whilst all the children were out of shot gathered round the teacher’s piano.)

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Onwards, my friends, onwards. I shall not be defeated by a pesky cowl.

May your crochet and knitting be more successful than mine.

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