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Tag Archives: balaclava

it might be winter, but snow?

Mt Hotham in the Australian Alps. Image from Wikipedia

We had some today, apparently. I know we had lots of rain and some hail because I happened to be out at the time: driving YoungB to training on the other side of town. Training was cancelled, so the coach messaged when we were only about 10 minutes from home, which meant we could turn around and come home again. We did. The dilemma then is, do I stay up and capitalise on being mostly awake by bowling over a stack of housework? Or do I go back to bed and get some more shuteye? I opted to take my knitting to bed. I know, it was neither one thing nor the other and the best choice would certainly have been more sleep. However, I felt at least a little bit productive. And then it snowed up in the Hills. It was more like sleet, some reports have it; but the photos I’ve seen suggest it really was snow, however light a covering it generated for a little while. It’s a big deal for us to have snow. We get out and build ridiculously small snowmen and have a great time. Whether snow or sleet, it’s certainly been a cold day.

YoungB is on his way to what might well be some serious snow (heavier falls are forecast in the very near future, I gather; something like 60 cm in the next couple of days) for a week of fun. It wouldn’t be fun to me – I hate the cold; snow is lovely on postcards and Christmas cards but not in real life, thank you – but he’s young and doesn’t mind the cold TOO much, so I think he’ll have a good time. He elected not to go with the pillowcase option for one of his dress-up costumes, which saved me from a fair amount of head-scratching. We settled on a large garbage bag which would provide protection of all sorts, we reckoned! For the Cops and Robbers night, he’s taken his black balaclava. Like I said, they’re popular items, those black balaclavas. He’s taken his red beanie and his black toob, too. Oh, and the grey sweatshirt I made was on his back. So even if I didn’t refashion a pillowcase, my handiwork has gone with him.

Whatever your weather is doing, I hope you’re having a productive weekend. I think I’ll go and stand in front of the fire for a bit and then? Then it’s back to the knitting.

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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Knitting, Sewing

 

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but this one was never for me

Of course I didn’t finish the beanie, even minus the pompom. So there I was this morning with the temperature close to zero – the Canadian coach admitted to feeling cold so we reckoned we were allowed to as well – and no woollen beanie. What to do? Borrow Dr C’s? No, that would never do. I might fall and it might end up in the lake. We wouldn’t want such a fate for a harmless piece of headwear.

So I ended up wearing this instead!

So I ended up wearing this instead! It’s my trusty old favourite, Patons Book 483, pattern 26, Knitted Family Helmet

A long time ago I was making a balaclava for a then-colleague. Loss of a major contract and resulting diminution of workflow saw her move to the opposition. Somehow, we lost touch and, despite my best efforts, I was never able to get the completed balaclava to her. it has languished in my FO box for a few years now, awaiting its moment. These are not my colours, having been chosen specifically for the colleague whose colours they are. But, as YoungB pointed out, any colour is your colour when you’re cold. True, that. So I rolled up the balaclava and used it as a beanie.

As it happened, I tripped on some uneven paving and over I went. The balaclava/beanie remained firmly in place, keeping my head warm. I admit that I was very, very tempted to roll it down and use it as a balaclava, because my face was uncomfortably chill. I thought that might be too wimpish altogether and, well, you know, too embarrassing for YoungB who was out there on the lake putting in some good work in a single scull. Besides, I have some pride!

Now that there’s less urgency about a beanie for me, I shall push on with the last few rows of Middle Niece’s Easy Lace Cowl – which remains my commuting knitting and of which I managed a few rounds on the way home from rowing this morning – and then, but only then, finish the beanie. Famous last words? Could I finish the beanie by Wednesday (rowing training again) AND the cowl so that I could deliver it to Middle Aunt for delivery to Middle Niece? Stay tuned. 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Knitting, Rowing

 

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this one is for me

Those from truly chilly climes can stop reading now, but anyone who considers temperatures below 10 degrees cold enough to need a good beanie will understand why I’ve decided that, no matter what else I knit, I have to knit a decent beanie for myself. It’s not that I’ve never had one. Why, I remember knitting any number of decent beanies back in the 70s – photos from winter beach holidays provide evidence of all the younger fry happily sporting such made-by-me items – and at least one of them must have been for me. I had a silly one that I knitted to take to Italy, where I knew it was going to be damn cold and I was right; minus 22 will do your head in nicely if it’s not covered. It was made from a collection of leftover wool and had a matching scrappy pompom made specially by one of my patients. I loved that beanie and the pompom (because of its provenance), but I couldn’t say for sure what happened to it. It might have been lost in one of the many moves. Or Dr B, who hated it and hasn’t a humorous bone in his body, might have surreptitiously disposed of it.

I’ve made lots of quick, acrylic beanies for YoungB and a balaclava for myself in the meantime and they’ve done the job well enough most of the time. Even unique, labelled beanies will disappear from child care (a couple of YoungB’s hadnknitted beanies did), so I wasn’t anxious to use good yarn that would benefit others. Sorry if that’s selfish, but I was cranky enough about having things stolen (the children might easily have mixed things up but the adults would have known what did and didn’t belong to their own child; and the adults could easily have read the identifying nametag). I didn’t need to feel angry as well about the yarn involved! I used wool for YoungB’s first balaclava, but we agreed that by then he was old enough to speak out in defence of his ownership and that the balaclava probably wouldn’t be a casualty; nor was it. We still have it.

On my own behalf, I’ve been accustomed to working in airconditioned buildings where I haven’t had to worry greatly about my head being cold, so the walk to and from from the bus was about as much as I needed to consider and therefore my acrylic balaclava, worn down as a proper balaclava or rolled up and worn as a beanie, did the job. That’s no longer the case and I changed my mind very quickly the other day when I was out on a long walk, wearing a little acrylic beanie I’d made for YoungB some years back – I have a small head, so the size difference was negligible – and feeling distinctly that something wasn’t working. My ears were cold!

Having enjoyed the results of recent beanies knitted with decent yarn, I last night cast on one for myself in some more of Bendigo Woollen Mills’ Murano yarn, this time in shade 021, a blue/green/purple mix. They’re definitely my sorts of colours (not only appealing to me but also quite good with my greying blonde hair and accompanying fair complexion). Just for variety, however, as well as speediness, I decided that this time rather than a fancy pattern with cables I’d use pattern 15 from Paton’s Book 483 as my basis. It’s a fairly plain ribbed affair, getting its fun element from stripes but it’s a slightly different shape from others I’ve made recently. Because the yarn I’m using is self-striping, I’m just ribbing to the point where the pattern says to start stocking stitch. And, you know, it has a pompom. We’ll see about that. I might make one. Then again, I might not.

The question, really, is whether or not I can finish it in time for tomorrow’s early morning walk around the rowing course.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in Knitting

 

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stress differentials

Eldest Aunt spent Christmas with us and at one stage she and I were talking about dressmaking. I was interested to hear that she’d actually made a lot of her own clothes when she was at school. I wasn’t altogether surprised though, because she’d attended a girls’ technical high school and dressmaking was a compulsory subject throughout her years there. However, I was startled when she admitted that she’d never worn anything she’d made because, according to her, she’s always been such a perfectionist that none of it had ever been good enough. I’ll bet it would have been at least as good as anything RTW that she might have bought; and I am quite certain that insecurity rather than perfectionism drove her refusal to wear anything she’d made (I accept that some might posit a case for perfectionism springing from insecurity and/or vice versa). I was curious as to why she hadn’t been forced to do so (money having been expended on purchasing the fabric, you would have thought) and, yes, aghast at the wastefulness.

In my family, if money had been spent on buying fabric to make clothes, you jolly well wore them whether you liked them or not. Having said that, I should point out that most of the clothes were made by Great Aunt, whose sewing if not perfect was certainly excellent and highly professional. I have a wonderful dressing-gown sleeve lurking in the scrap bag I inherited from her. For some reason, she must have cut something wrongly, because I know that the matching dressing gown (Youngest Aunt’s, I seem to recall) had the requisite number of sleeves. But the seams are beautifully flat-felled and so neat that I keep that little sleeve to provide inspiration. Everything Great Aunt did was of that calibre, whether it was her sewing, knitting or embroidery.

As to not wearing things, I recall having an absolute meltdown over a particularly hated hat – no, not one that anyone had made, just one that I hated – but in those days, hats were obligatory apparel for women in churches so I had little choice but to wear it. It would not have occurred to me that refusing to wear a handmade article of clothing was ever an option. It wasn’t an option. There was a new garment that had been made, which fitted because of care taken with measurements before and during the making; and, heck, who could argue with the professional finish on those woollen dresses with vintage lace collars?

You could disagree as much as you liked with the fashion that dictated crimplene as a fabric of choice, but the dress made from it? You wore it. You could dislike the styles of the day, as I frequently did, but if a new dress had been made from a current pattern, whether it be something for Sunday best or merely a school uniform? You wore it, no matter what. And I did. Maybe, in spite of my more rebellious nature, I knew when I’d be backing a loser by even attempting to refuse to wear a handmade dress, whereas Eldest Aunt clearly won her quiet battle.

I may have been spoilt, having so many handmade clothes. I probably was. Other people my age, the majority of whom wore RTW clothes but perhaps a greater percentage of handknits than today’s youth, were in no way jealous; mostly, they were dismissive of things that were not shop-bought. The world is a strange place and seems to have come full circle. For years, YoungB was happy to wear things I’d made for him, even pleading with me occasionally TO make things for him (“Could you make me a Ninja helmet, Mummy? Today?” Black knitting, at night. Aagh! That’s the one on the left below; both made using my go-to Patons balaclava pattern).

A popular item, the black balaclava, even if you’re not a bank-robber!

It’s not so very long ago that he was as excited to get new track trousers I’d sewn as he might these days be to take delivery of new motorcycle leathers. And his present genuine appreciation of, for example, his grey sweatshirt, recent PJ trousers and the right-hand black balaclava (same pattern, different size, different yarn) to wear under his motorcycle helmet, or the toob that was even more useful for motorcycling purposes, represents one of those strange turnarounds that make life such an exciting challenge.

I have had dips and swings in my dedication to things handmade if it meant I had to make them myself but I’ve never really stopped. Eldest Aunt now neither sews nor knits because she finds those activitiees too stressful. She channels her energies into yoga and a cafe lifesyle because that’s what helps her to deal with stress. Me? I pick up my knitting or I go and sew a few lavender bags. What about you?

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Knitting, Musing, Sewing

 

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misleadingly spotted

I have to say the weather forecast was misleading. 21 degrees? Nowhere near me!

Spotted just lurking on the bedside table

Spotted this morning atop Dr B’s bedside table pile of books were these keep-you-warm items. He hasn’t had to rug up quite this much in yonks. You will tell me, I know, that they’re not spotted at all but stripey and you’re right; but it was good to see clear evidence that Dr B actually uses something I made for him. That would be the balaclava, which is the colourful number. It dates back a very long time indeed (and was made using my favourite Patons balaclava pattern and any bit of wool I could second to the purpose, hence the fairly wild colour scheme. The job brief was to knit something warm and what it looked like didn’t matter).

I made the fingerless mitts for YoungB (an early experiment with Twinset Ellen’s wonderful pattern) but owing to my less than ideal yarn choice, they stretched significantly. That’s never really a problem because Dr B has very large hands and he’s always happy to have extra bits of covering to keep them warm. The mitts turned out to be a perfect size for him. What happened then was that YoungB appropriated the pair I’d made for myself. Eventually, I made another pair for myself. Then Nonno ended up with those. I still don’t have any!

And as that warmer weather doesn’t seem to be forthcoming, I might need to do something about that sartorial lacuna. What do you reckon, if I start knitting some fingerless mitts for me will the weather take a turn for the warmer?

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Knitting

 

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replicating the toob

Bikes, whether of the pedal or motor variety, bring attendant problems, among which are to be found helmets and what you have to do when you’re wearing one and the weather is cold if you want to keep your head and face warm. (That made sense, didn’t it?) You want to be warm but not hot. Whatever keeps your head and face warm must not fall down when your helmet is pulled over it. There should be no bumpy adjustment mechanisms. Such things are OK with a pushbike helmet, where they don’t run into the helmet, but problematic with a motorbike helmet which covers a lot more of the rider’s head.

Dr B had what he called a toob – it might even be a Toob, though I think one of his other pieces of paraphernalia is an actual Toob – and Boy borrowed it to keep his face warm during his five-days-a-week motorbike ride into school. Winter here is nowhere near Antarctic in its coldness but it’s cold enough and although Boy loves the knitted balaclava I made him, it’s not quite the solution it could be because it’s too bulky under his helmet (even though I knitted it in soft yarn and sewed it up using a very flat seam, there’s just not a lot of space in a motorbike helmet, which is as it should be, of course).

The toob covered the bottom half of Boy’s face and didn’t need to go under his helmet in the way a balaclava does, so it was a winner. Except that it tended to pull down a bit when the helmet went on and the adjusting knob had a tendency to dig in but, you know, despite those disadvantages it was warm and not bulky. I offered to sew an imitation toob using black polar fleece (already in my stash, left over from sewing a supporter’s scarf for our first Head of the River regatta nearly five years ago) and sewing in some elastic instead of an adjusting knob. Boy and I discussed what width and softness of elastic we should use.

The other night, I sat down and made one, which is really a prototype in the sense that the elastic was a bit hit and miss and perhaps a firmer one than I should have used (I didn’t have quite enough of the softer elastic we’d decided on). But the toob doesn’t pull down when Boy pulls his motorbike helmet on and it keeps his face warm (he’s already used it for several short rides to shops), so, even if it’s a prototype, it’s functional.

Black imitator on left, blue original on right (showing knob adjuster)

I couldn’t say it was difficult. I mean to say, how hard is it to sew a simple tube? One side seam. Hem top and bottom leaving a small gap at one end to thread elastic (I could have made it with an attached elastic, but I didn’t). That end will be the top, because you pull the toob over your head and adjust it so your nose is nice and warm. It required only very simple sewing, which I can do reasonably well. Boy could have done it, but he was busy with homework. The toob works fine. I recommend such a thing if you’re looking for a quick, easy project (and you have a cyclist of some variety or other who’s looking for such an end product).

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Cycling, Knitting, Rowing, Sewing

 

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clothing diary

I’ve already outlined the first few days of wearing scarves/cowls. Here’s the rest of how I managed to wear me-made during May, although not to any great extent, certainly rarely with anything approaching styling and equally certainly with much repetition; to the point of boredom, really!

Saturday, 5/5: Triangular neck warmer with weekend clothes.

Sunday, 6/5: Green and blue scarf, with blue jumper over white T-shirt, blue trousers and green jacket. You’d think I must have been going somewhere to get that dressed up, and so I was. Youngest Aunt and I attended a matinee performance of The Merry Widow, which we thoroughly enjoyed. And on the subject of me-made, Youngest Aunt was wearing a little knitted scarf that I made for her birthday the year before last.

Monday, 7/5:The same green and blue scarf with black jacket and trousers (for work)

Tuesday, 8/5: A by-design casual day at home/out and about, which was unexpectedly warm; so the dodgy Portia top with blue trousers and cardigan fitted the bill no probs.

Wednesday, 9/5: Once again, the blue/green scarf with grey trousers and houndstooth/grey jacket. OK for court; and sorry about the poor photography, but you can see the scarf. I should add that I have a shorter scarf I made from the same fabric about four years ago and I wear that quite often during summer, as it’s short and more decorative than truly functional.

Blue-and-green scarf, a long version

Thursday,10/5: black and white scarf with black trousers, jacket and shoes, and white stretchy top. OK for court, though the matter didn’t proceed. Photographed on phone. Crappy pic, to be sure; I must have been feeling extraordinarily browned off when I took it! Changed to colourful scrappy crocheted Moebius when I came home (because I needed extra warmth).

OK, I match the decor. Can I go home now?

Friday, 11/5: I knew I’d be in court again and that the weather was meant to be slightly warm. I couldn’t decide what to wear but knew the choice would be between blue or blue of some shade with, well, I wasn’t quite sure what! It was blue trousers, once again with the blue/green scarf and the grey sports jacket.

Saturday, 12/5: At home, keeping warm while working in the sewing room for much of the day. Blue bootleg stretch trousers, blue polo-style top and cardigan with the scrappy, crocheted Moebius cowl.

Sunday, 13/5: As it was Mother’s Day and we were having cake and coffee with the nonni, I wore the triangular neckwarmer with yesterday’s trousers and the grey sports jacket. Yeah, I think I need some new clothes! I ended up putting on my old teal lattice jumper (very old; I knitted it in 1984) because I was simply cold and the made-for-me-by-my-Mum shawl, while lovely and warm, was too awkward for work.

Monday, 14/5: The eight-foot-long, knitted side-to-side, three-coloured, linen-stitch scarf, complete with tassels, made its first outing today. I rationalised that I couldn’t really give away something with mistakes in it but I’m sure I could have! Heck, I know the mistakes are there and I can’t see them (not without searching, anyway). I had several comments on how nice the scarf is and how thick and warm it looks. It’s certainly thick and it’s certainly warm, which was a great thing when I was walking home from the bus tonight. The colours are pretty and I took a photo on my phone to prove that I actually wore it. Not that I know how to get photos off the phone and onto my computer, but we’ll deal with that another day.

It really is a lovely thick and warm scarf, and my colleague loves it!

Tuesday, 15/5: So I gave away that scarf, although I wore it to work and out at lunchtime and had put it on to come home again when one of my colleagues, whose elderly mother is presently quite poorly, mentioned how nice it was and I thought, “Well, she’ll probably love it and the colours would suit her,” so I whipped it off and presented it to her, all 75 feet of it including mistakes, as I pointed out! That is, I pointed out that there were mistakes. I didn’t actually point out the mistakes, as I’d have had to have searched to find them. I can knit another such scarf and perhaps make it shorter and wider. Just not tonight, that’s all.

Tomorrow, then, I reckoned I’d be back to my old green scarf or the scrappy, crocheted Moebius cowl, as the weather was decidedly too cold for chiffon fabric scarves. Either that, or I’d have to knit all night and finish off my Stephanie shawlette, which is made with a lovely soft acrylic in a very pretty blue. I pulled it out of the knitting box to check its progress. No, it’s too short and I have to unpick some of what is there because of a very obvious mistake (if not two of them). The trouble is that, being of my own reckoning as it is, I haven’t written down what I was doing, so it might take me a little while to work out the pattern in any case. I keep miscounting the yarnovers, that’s the main problem. In any case, it was clearly not an option for work.

Wednesday, 16/5: It was the Moebius cowl to the fore today. The morning was unfriendly. Boy wore his blazer to school because he was so cold!

Not taken during Me-Made-May, but this is the original long Moebius cowl

Thursday, 17/5: Moebius cowl again (excuse my messy background in the above pic, but it’s better of the cowl than the one I took at work).

Friday, 18/5: A new crocheted Moebius cowl. Yeah, yeah, I know – but it took me only a couple of hours to make and it uses up scraps of yarn that aren’t enough to do anything serious with when looked at individually. Put together? Ah, that’s what scraps are for. Besides, the one I’d worn on Thursday had a pleasant enough aroma of massage oil (post physio appointment) but I didn’t want to be carrying that around with me. Plus, I needed something a bit fancier for an evening outing.

Mixing all sorts of bits of yarn into something warm

Saturday, 19/5: the new Moebius cowl. I was cold!

Sunday, 20/5: the new Moebius cowl again because I couldn’t be bothered looking for anything else. I washed the original.

Monday, 21/5: With the descent to winter weather, it’s hard to get enthused about anything other than woolly scarves or neck warmers. I wore the older Moebius cowl, which garnered compliments for its lovely colours.

Tuesday, 22/5: Variety – not! – with the newer Moebius cowl, which won accolades from a serious sewist colleague. She recently purchased a dress form to replace one that a so-called friend had broken, and remembers getting her new sewing machine back in the 1970s and feeling as excited about it as if she’d got a new motor car. I recognise that feeling. I shared it when my Mum’s new sewing machine arrived (and it promptly fell to Middle Aunt and me to start sewing on it). It’s the one I’m still using. Middle Aunt now has a newer one which she has used, in combination with her overlocker (purchased for her by Grandpa) to create clothes for all her children and herself quite a lot over the years. She does less sewing these days, being much too busy working and helping run the family business. We exchange notes occasionally, though.

Wednesday, 23/5: What possessed me I can’t say but I wore my little green/blue silky scarf with my grey sports jacket, blue trousers and long-sleeved T. Did I freeze? Only not quite but darn, it was close. Mind you, I had my older Moebius cowl with me as well as a balaclava! When Dr B and I ducked into the shops on our way home, I popped the cowl round my neck. The balaclava, however, I left in the bag. Its time will come. What’s really coming, I have to admit, is overcoat weather.

Thursday, 24/5: The black-and-white scarf garnered praise from my serious-sewist colleague today. But I had my Moebius cowl with me, the older, longer one. I needed it. Apparently today was our coldest May day in 25 years. It was darn chilly, I can’t argue with that. And work being particularly horrid, as it was, I appreciated the hot pack that the physio placed on my neck to help with all the stiffness and pain. It helped combat the cold too.

Friday, 25/5: Today I dragged out my big square of heavy crepe. It’s not really square and I’m not sure if it’s crepe but it’s a crepey style of fabric, to my eye. I’ve had it for a very long time. I bought the remnant well before Boy was thought of, and I would suppose I had something in mind for it at the time. History does not record what that might have been! I decided a few years ago to rescue it from obscurity by overlocking a rolled hem and calling it a big scarf. It’s good because it’s big and a reasonable weight, so I can almost make it double as a lightweight shawl. I like its autumn tonings.

Just what I needed in terms of weight

Saturday, 26/5: I wore the same scarf/shawl as yesterday, tucked into my old orange cardigan; not exactly a culture clash but not quite the same shades. It looked all right on a Skype call, anyway, so no complaints.

Sunday, 27/5: I just couldn’t be bothered today though I ended up with one of the cowls for a while late in the day when I suddenly became rather cold.

Monday, 28/5: Out came the shorter crocheted Moebius cowl again, though not all day.

Tuesday, 29/5: My old green garter-stitch scarf came out to play today. It’s something I knitted to occupy me while Boy was having swimming lessons when he was quite young. It’s functional and I like the colour though it really doesn’t look quite right with the duffel coat, which is a different sort of green! I didn’t take a photo and could only find one old photo where it sneaked into the shot but not in any meaningful way. So, you know, it’s just green and plain and long enough without being too long.

Wednesday, 30/5: Once again I wore the shorter crocheted Moebius cowl for most of the day

Thursday, 31/5: I was at home with a respiratory unwellness (I had to get out of bed and dress because I was coughing too much lying down, there is no justice in life I tell ya) and simply could not be bothered trying to find a me-made anything to wear. I washed two me-made beanies (they’re Dr B’s, though I’m thinking I might appropriate one now that mine has gone to Nonno and, really, Dr B doesn’t need two practically identical beanies – both dark red, knitted to the same broken-rib pattern – does he?), the triangular neck cosy and the shorter Moebius cowl, since I was at home and they needed a wash and the weather was almost cooperative, so maybe that counts?

I wasn’t an official participant, I know, and it’s probably true that dragging out some bit of me-made neckwear is not really a challenge, but I almost managed Me-Made-May. Were it a summer event, I could probably do it with tops (two Portia tops at least plus one or two others that are lurking about the place). I might have to make a more concerted effort in December, say, when I’d be in a with a chance of achieving more meaningful sewing and wearing things I already have in my wardrobe. Sure, I would once have breezed through May in handknits. But not any more. If you participated, how did you go?

 
 

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