Catch Up & A New Venture

I have not posted in an embarrassingly long time. I have had a lot of knitting to share and ample time to sit down and work on a blog post, but I’ve had a hard time feeling like I deserve to spend my time doing so. I got laid off at the end of September from my job of almost two years. (Go back a little over two years and there is a nearly identical post.) I do not have the luck when it comes to steady jobs. I have also not had the luck as far as finding a new job. Most of my spare time I feel I must spend hunting for, applying for and sometimes interviewing for jobs. I am trying to remain positive that the right thing will come along, but some days that is really, really difficult. I actually feel like I’ve interviewed for the right job many times over since September but I have not gotten an offer from anyone yet. The market is very competitive right now. At every interview I have managed to get I have been told how many people (usually 50+) applied for the job and how they are interviewing at least half of them. It takes just the tiniest little things for someone else to have a slight edge over someone else. I am signed up with about 5 temp agencies (as of today) and have gotten just a couple of jobs from them since I’ve been home. One of them was a month-long. I am getting unemployment. Things could be worse…but I really just want to be done with this job hunting phase and be back to work.

I will get around to talking (briefly) about what knitting I have finished since my last post but first let me tell you about my Etsy shop. In a desperate attempt to feel like I’m contributing (even just a little bit) to my household while I look for my next job I have started an Etsy shop. I have been told by several people in the past that I should consider opening an Etsy shop and selling my knitted items. Mostly I’m selling some cute, decorative Mason Jars with knitted cozies. I made a slew of these as Christmas gifts this year. I am also posting a few items that if people would be interested in they can custom order and I will knit it up special for them. I’m not telling you about this shop to ask you to go buy something from me, but I am asking that if you are an Etsy user, please go visit my shop and maybe like it or an item (or several) that I’m selling. The more traffic that I get and the more likes I get the more attention it will draw from others and maybe some potential customers will find their way to me.. Thanks in advance!  Here’s the link: NicolesKnitGifts

New Finished Objects (corresponding photos below)

A. Turkish Bed Socks by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas – I made these for me. Despite having to battle second sock syndrome with these I love how they turned out and hope to make them again.

B. Pacifier Leash by Angela Munden – Made for my niece. Sometimes she likes to chew on it…silly girl!

C. Wildstyle Hat by Me – Minnie dressed up as Wildstyle from the Lego movie for Halloween. I improvised a hat to look like her hair.

D. Elizabeth Elaine Dress by Taiga Hilliard – I Love this designer. She has the sweetest little baby dresses! I am gearing up to knit another! This one was for my niece! She wore it in her 6 month photo shoot!

E. Molly Hat by Erin Ruth – One of my fabulous sisters in law and I organized a trade. I would knit her a hat and she would make me a quilted table runner. I do not have a picture of this hat on my SIL…so my husband is the stand in model.  (Don’t tell him.)

F. Milo by Georgie Hallam – I love this pattern, I have knit it a few times before. This one was part of my niece’s Christmas gift.

G. Candle Cozies by Silje Camelie – I made these as Christmas gifts for my kids teachers as well as for several family members. They are fun to knit and really cute! (These are also what I’m selling in my Etsy shop.)

H. Chopper Mitten Liners – I used the pattern Classic Mittens by the Bernhard Ulmann Co. to make chopper mitten liners for my Dad. I hope they work well for him on ice fishing trips. 

I. Calypso Shrug/Shoulder Wrap by Debbie Haymark – I started this ages ago and hated it. For some reason I remembered it and went back to work on it. It became my Mom’s Christmas gift. I still need to get better pictures of it before my Mom gets the final product this weekend.

Repurposed Piano

As excited as I have been to finally post about this … I have been procrastinating. I wanted this post it to be as perfect as the subject matter is. I’m not sure why I’m being mysterious about it, if you are friends with me on Facebook or Ravelry you’ve already heard. So…here it goes.

I have received the ultimate gift one can give a knitter (outside of unlimited purchasing power at the yarn store of their choosing.) For my 35th birthday, which was last weekend, my husband gave me a beautiful, one of a kind, and extremely special to me yarn hutch/cabinet / thingy (I’m unsure what to call this piece of furniture to fully do it justice.) Here is the story of how it came to be.

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When I was a kid we had a crappy old piano in the basement. I taught myself how to play from my Mom’s old piano books until she signed me up for piano lessons. I enjoyed that horrible old piano until I graduated and moved out of the house. Many years down the road I was married and my parents were looking to get the piano out of their house, so it came to my house. I played it some, but mostly it was just another piece of furniture for me to put knickknacks on. Many more years down the road my husband starts asking if we can get the piano out of our house. No one really uses it and it takes up an awful lot of space. The piano held a lot of sentimental value for me, but he was right. There was no real reason to keep hanging onto it. (Even if my kids ever really pushed to take piano lesson I also have a hugely awesome Casio keyboard they could learn on.) I put the word out that we had free piano up for the taking. Probably not surprisingly, no one wanted a piano that has been out of tune longer than I’ve been alive. I was about to list it on Craigslist and see what happened when my husband started suggesting taking it apart and making something new out of the pieces. (I think originally this idea horrified me more than just giving it to someone else to enjoy.) Eventually I agreed and watched sadly as MY piano became many bits and pieces. For months he worked on this thing in the garage. Originally he was building this as a piece of furniture for his home theater, but when the basic structure was finished and he tried it out down there he knew it didn’t fit. I have been hinting/nagging for years that he should build me some sort of storage unit for all my yarn. (Because lots of baskets and bins stacked in the corner of the living is not really a great or attractive system.) He liked the idea but always kind of put it at the bottom of the list. It seems like fate that MY piano would transform into MY yarn cabinet. I am in love with sitting next to it (and all my yarn in it) and knitting in the evenings.(I should note that not ALL my yarn fits in here. Yet) I am so amazed at my husband’s ability to build things. I don’t understand where he gets it from or how his brain works to make marvelous things like this come to life. It was fun to watch him work on this and really amazing to see the finish product.(Thank you for letting me brag about my amazing gift and my husband who built this for me.)

Part of me wants to leave this as a stand alone post like it deserves, but I do have some finished knitting. I finished the Hooded Baby Sweater with Back Zipper for Baby Girl. I have even hand sewn in the zipper and handed it over to my Mom to machine sew it in more firmly (that is usually the part I procrastinate on.) I also finished the hat I bought not one, but two knitting books to get the pattern for Baby Girl. It is Bunny Tail by Susan B. Anderson. I actually first knit the ears with the yarn held double for the inner ear, but it made the ears too heavy and flop forward. (I included one photo below that shows the hat when it had one of each type of ear I tried.) I took them apart and just knit the ears with the one color. They are still way cute! I also knit two other baby items. My sister’s friend is having her first child and my sister asked if I’d knit something for her to gift to this new little girl. I did some Saartje’s Booties…but in the round! Someone took this great pattern and made it in the round, which is genius! I so much prefer knitting things in the round. I also knit Mini Tearsa by Taiga Hilliard. My niece is modeling the items for her  new friend who will be born shortly. I do have some new things on my needles, but I’ll wait and post those soon in a new post!

If you read this whole thing you are amazing – thanks!

I can’t believe how fast summer has flown by. A few short weeks and we’ll be back to school! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

 

New Dress & Nostepinne

I am starting to feel the crunch of a looming deadline. Baby Girl will arrive in roughly 6 weeks and I feel like I still have so much I want to knit for her. This is a self-imposed deadline of course. I can obviously keep knitting for her once she arrives, I just have an idea of what I want done and folded neatly into a gift bag for the hospital visit. I still have one hat I wanted to knit and one more pair of booties too. I am still working on the large mystery item which is close to fully knit but it going to require a lot of finishing work. I also cast on something new for Baby Girl on Friday evening. (I will resist mentioning all the other cute little patterns I want to make for her…there are oodles of them.)

Back to my newly cast on item. I LOVE when I cast on a project and it feels like magic! I always love knitting, but I’m talking about a project that goes smoothly and feels fun and exciting to knit and as the item takes shape you can just tell that it is going to live up to expectations. I was going to try to keep this item a secret too, but I think I already revealed too much about it while talking to my sister on the phone. It is a dress. I will not show a picture beyond this boring one below. I will also not share the pattern name, yet. I am knitting the 0-3 month size. It is knit in fingering weight yarn. I really like how it is turning out. Despite checking my gauge and moving up a needle size I keep looking at the neck hole and wondering if it should really be that tiny. It has been awhile since I’ve had a newborn of my own, but wow, tiny! There are button holes knit into the garment but I am already planning on adding a button loop so that if the neck is too tiny the garment can still be functional.

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I have to give a shout out to Knit Picks. I know I was kind of harsh after their systems got hacked and MANY of us had our credit card info stolen, but this makes up for it. I really have resisted shopping with them since the hacking ordeal, but I may have to revise my position and just use the PayPal feature they have now instead. About 4 years ago for our anniversary my husband bought me a swift and ball winder from Knit Picks. They have since gotten a lot of use. Recently one of the wooden screws that holds up the spinning part of the swift broke and in turn the swift was no longer functional. I called Knit Picks to see if I could just get a new wood screw to try fix the problem. They shipped one out immediately, for free. I tried it and the swift still wasn’t working. Possibly the problem was with the part the screw, screwed into. I called them back to see if they had any ideas of what I could try. They sent me a brand new one, for free, after four years of use on the original one! The one I got in the mail is their newer version! It is so nice. I am totally impressed with how well they are standing by their products. They just as easily could have told me “tough luck, lady.” Way to go Knit Picks, you have earned back my business!

My ball winder from Knit Picks has also stopped working properly. It would be tempting to call and see if I can score a new ball winder too, but unlike the swift I know that the reason it is not working is my own fault. It worked fine until I bought a skein of Yowza! from Miss Babs. This is 400-some yards of worsted-weight yarn. That makes one GIANT ball of yarn! At one point of its winding some of the yarn slipped off and got sucked into the gears that turn the winder. I have taken the thing apart and removed the yarn and tried to put it back together right, but it has not been the same since. A new ball winder doesn’t cost that much money, but I have still been reluctant to buy one. My broken one is still kind of limping along. I decided to buy a nostepinne. Basically a nostepinne is a wooden dowel that you can use to hand wind a center pull ball of yarn on. I ordered from a company that I found on Etsy (if you want to know who, let me know and I will go check.) I watched a few YouTube videos when it arrived and hoped for the best. It took much longer to wind a ball of yarn this way than I expected. Mine also didn’t turn out as the shape I usually get from my ball winder. I may have wound it too tightly as I had trouble getting it off the nostepinne at the end. It was kind of a fun experiment for me though. I will keep practicing! A few of the podcasts that I listen to have talked about nostepinnes. I guess there is a theory that using a ball winder stretches the yarn out and using a nostepinne instead would not. I feel like I did more damage to my yarn using the nostepinne than the ball winder, but that is probably just due to my inexperience.

It is snowing in MN again today. The weather has been so very depressing this winter. My kids have 38 days left of the school year, not counting today. I am just hoping it does not still feel like winter when their summer vacation starts.

Radio Silence

It has been months since I last posted. It was hard to write a blog post about my new knitting when all my new knitting was a secret! I know my sister reads my blog (which I love) and so I was trying to avoid talking about my knitting projects for Baby Girl here. The problem was that all of what I had been knitting is for Baby Girl. It was not a bad problem to have, I love knitting for babies. I just missed updating my blog. I solved my own problem though. I have handed over all the completed items, so now I can talk about them here!  (She did offer that I could say right at the top of my posts if she should skip reading particular entries; but, what fun is that?)

The very first item I knit for Baby Girl is a tiny little hat. Upon finishing it I realized it would fit her for about 2 seconds, or not at all. Oh well, if it never fits her maybe she can use it as a doll hat someday. I had visions of knitting matching booties for this hat but have since abandoned the idea due to the possible failure of the sizing on the hat. I used a preemie hat pattern but sized it up…I maybe didn’t size it up enough. (I do love the color gradation though.) The pattern used is Preemie Baby Beanies by Karen Everitt.

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My sister  requested one item that she wanted me to knit for Baby Girl: Booties, specifically those booties that look like little Mary Janes. I have knit a pair or two of these before, so that was an easy one. for Baby Girl I have knit two pairs so far. A pink pair and a purple pair. Each pair coordinates with one of the several hats I’ve knit. I kind of want to knit one more pair of booties in a neutral color so that if she is dressed in something that pink or purple doesn’t really go with she still has booties to wear. The pattern I used is Saarjte’s Booties. It is a great pattern! Easy to follow and minimal sewing of seams at the end. My favorite part of these is finding cute little buttons! The pattern used is Saartje’s Booties by Saartje de Bruijn.

At one of the two LYSs (Local Yarn Store) that I frequent I spotted a sample baby hat I fell in love with while shopping for yarn for booties. I asked the shop lady if they sold the pattern and she told me that they didn’t, it was from a book. I immediately went online and ordered a cheap used copy of the book from Amazon. To my surprise, when the book arrived the hat was nowhere to be found in its contents. I went on Ravelry, looked up the pattern and discovered that it was in the book “Itty Bitty Hats” rather than “Itty Bitty Nursery” as the shop lady told me. I was able to buy the Kindle version of the book fairly cheaply. I have not knit the hat that I bought 2 different books to get the pattern for yet, but I did knit two others from the Itty Bitty Hats book.

The Upside Down Daisy hat is very cute. I don’t think mine turned out quite as well as the one pictured in the book. I was surprised that the hat was knit in its entirety and the flower was knit separately and then sewn on. I feel like if the pattern was knit in such a way that the petals were incorporated into the hat design rather than being an afterthought it would have had a better finished look. (That might just be me though, I am not awesome at the sewing/finishing part of knitting.) The pattern used is Upside Down Daisy Hat by Susan B. Anderson.

I also knit a hat that doesn’t really have a name in the book. There were three hats in the beginning of the book that are Simple Baby Hats 1, 2 or 3. You chose 1, 2 or 3 based on the weight of yarn you were using. Then there was three different ideas of toppings to put on the hat: fleece strips, tulle strips or feathers. I loved the look of the tulle one – so girly! It was a fun quick knit that I did on my scrapbooking weekend. The pattern used is Simple Baby Hat 2 by Susan B. Anderson.

I blended a couple of patterns to make this headband. The flower is indeed knitted and not crocheted. I kind of prefer crocheted flowers. I will need to make another and crochet the flower. Not that this didn’t turn out cute. I am worried that this is going to look positively massive on a newborn sized head. I will have to aim to make the crocheted flower smaller too. The pattern for the headband is Spring Baby Headband by Amy Andersen. I do not know the name of the pattern that I used for the flower – I’m still trying to track it back down. (Sorry!)

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Part of the idea behind all these cute little newborn accessories is that my sister wanted some cute things that could possibly be used for newborn baby photos. We realized that Baby Girl would need a diaper cover or something that would look good with the cute hats and booties. I knit up this soaker pattern. It will be perfect for photos, but should not be used as a functional soaker. I used the wrong kind of yarn for it to be used functionally. A true soaker should be knit out of 100% wool. The wool naturally acts as a moisture barrier. I used a wool/acrylic blend that seemed much softer than the 100% wool yarns. The pattern used is Snapdragon Soaker by Heather Fox.

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I do have a few others things in the works for Baby Girl that I can’t talk about yet. One of them is quite large and I have been working on it for months now. The end is in sight for that one, but it will probably be the gift I bring to the hospital when I get to go meet Baby Girl. I have been starting to get excited about knitting something other than baby things. I’m thinking Minnie needs a cute knit top to wear when it finally warms up here in MN. I also bought a cute pattern book of clothes that would fit her American Girl dolls. I haven’t knit anything out of there yet. I had thought I would knit myself a winter headband to wear in lieu of my winter hat, but it is getting a little late in the year for that. My itchy fingers will have to wait a little bit longer!

Spring has been slow to arrive in Minnesota. The photo below is from April 4th. I am desperately hoping it was our LAST snow storm until we get back around to next winter.

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Until next time – Happy Spring (hopefully Mother Nature won’t torture us anymore!)

 

 

Burr!!

Happy New Year! Here in Minnesota we have started off the new year in a deep, deep freeze. My kids were supposed to return to school today from Christmas break, but they are at home enjoying an extended break since school was cancelled due to the extreme cold. And I just heard that tomorrow is cancelled as well. (Too bad I still have to go to work.) Our high temperature today is supposed to be -15. The low is -20 and that doesn’t even include the wind chill. With the wind it feels like -40s out there. Yuck! When we get back up around 35 degrees this coming weekend it is going to feel darn right tropical!

So far this year’s knitting has been all about socks. I finished the After Thought Heel Socks for Minnie I had going on simultaneously as the ones I was working on for myself. Technically I finished those last year as I finished them on New Year’s Eve. As much as I came to dread this pattern as it is so dull to work on, this is the kind of yarn that this pattern should be used for. Yarn that is vibrant and exciting all by itself that doesn’t need a busy pattern getting in the way. I love how these turned out and I love that she has worn these many days already in our frigid weather. I will keep this pattern in mind for next time I have busy yarn to use, otherwise I will stick to fun sock patterns.

Since Minnie has a finished pair of socks I decided to start a pair for LJ. I recently downloaded a pattern booklet from Ravelry called Tiny Treads. It is all sock patterns for kids! I picked one called Goosey Goosey. (I have no idea why that is their name.) I am knitting them two at a time on circular needles. I tried this before and it worked on the boring leg area of the socks, but it was a Cookie A pattern (Kai-Mei) and the feet had something rather dramatic going on and I was never going to be able to keep the left sock straight from the right and have the patterns mirror each other, so I gave up on knitting two at a time after that. I have not done it again since and have come to realize that I should. I get second sock syndrome so badly!!

I have also worked on my Brickless a bit, but made very little progress as I had to tink back to fix where I forgot to cast off 11 stitches…whoops.

I forgot to mention in my last post that one of my sister-in-laws has taken up knitting! I am so thrilled. I always love when people discover knitting. She asked if I would teach her how to knit when we were together at Thanksgiving. She came armed with yarn and a pattern. I brought needles and spare yarn to teach her the basics before she started on her first project. She had looked at some instructions on-line previous to our lesson, so she picked it up extra quickly! I am anxious to see how her first project turns out!

My family started off this year with a special treat. For Christmas my husband bought tickets for the four of us to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Orphium in Minneapolis. We Love FOTO! He and I saw it in Orlando almost four years ago. The kids have never seen the stage or movie version, but have loved the music for years. My husband has been very anxious to take them to see it. They did very well and both enjoyed it! It was a wonderful show! I was so glad we braved the bitter cold to see it.

Stay Warm!

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How Time Flies!

My posts keep getting further apart and fewer in number. I just haven’t been feeling like I have anything interesting to say. That, and life has just been too busy. When my kids were little and I was kept busy in the evenings just caring for them, I imagined all the free time I would have one day when they were older and more self-sufficient. Well, I forgot to factor in how much time I would spend on school stuff with them. Between work and keeping my kids on track with the business of going to school, I have almost no time for me. And when I do get time for me I am often too drained to do much besides consider sleeping. Not that I would trade any of it for anything in the world! I am just trying to make the most if it now while I can. I’m sure before I know it we will be empty nesters and I will have nothing but time to knit and read (and I’ll wish I still had kiddos to take care of.)

Since I last posted the kids have gone back to school, LJ turned 10, Halloween came and went and just yesterday we had our first measurable snow fall in the Twin Cities. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is in a few short weeks! And I’m trying not to even think about Christmas – too close for comfort.

Despite how busy I feel, I have been knitting a few things. I am still working on the Afterthought Heel Socks. Remember how I thought those were going to be the way to go with socks because they were going to be so quick and easy?? They would be quick and easy if I wasn’t so bored while knitting them. I am hoping to finish the boring pair I’m working on for me before finding a totally busy, intricate sock pattern that will excite me and keep me interested in the knitting.

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I am also still working on the Saroyan shawl. It is lovely! I am well into the second skein of yarn. I should be able to start the decreases soon.  I am anxious to try it on and see if I’m keeping it for me or gifting it. It might be a good Christmas gift for my Mom. (Good thing she doesn’t read this.) I would happily knit this again…probably in a more solid color next time.

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I made my kids their new winter hats. Only Minnie got a new winter coat from Grandma this year. LJ’s coat from last year was a little big last year, so it was still going to work for him this year. I did make him a new hat though…now he has choices. For Allison I knit the Amanda Hat by Gina House. It was a really fun pattern to knit. It was a slip stitch pattern which creates the X’s in the fabric. For Logan I did the Mock Rib Watch Cap by Tanis Gray. I fell in love with the feel of Eco Cloud yarn at my LYS and they had a sample of this pattern knit up with this yarn. I just made it a bit less slouchy for him.

I frogged my Ice Queen. It was turning out fine, but it was slow knitting and I realized that I didn’t think I could see myself ever wearing it. I’m not glamorous enough for it and it wouldn’t mesh that well with either of my winter coats. I was sure that I would wear just a scarf out of this yarn though. So, I am slowly knitting a scarf with the yarn. I am adding a few beads though. While I’m not glamorous , I still appreciate a bit of sparkle.

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The only other new thing that I’ve started is the Brickless by Martina Behm. It is another shawl/scarf sort of piece. I think it is for me, but my projects have a way of belonging to others by the time I’m done with them. It just depends on if I think I can wear it or not. I had no intention of knitting this. One of my favorite podcasts was doing a knit a long with Martina Behm patterns, which I wasn’t participating in. Then, people started posting their shawls on Facebook and Instagram and I fell in love with it. I managed to resist for a few weeks and told myself that it could just go on my list of projects to do someday. Well, you can see how well that worked out.

Happy Autumn/Winter!!

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I Heart Pintrest

Well, we finally moved out of winter in Minnesota, but apparently we’ve skipped spring entirely and moved straight into summer. On Friday, April 19th my kids had a snow day thanks to a late in the season blizzard. This weekend it was in the 70s and we hit 80 today! What a difference. But we still have brown grass and leafless tress. It is crazy to think that my kids will be done with school in a little over a month.

Friday the 19th:

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Yesterday:

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I finished my sunglasses sock. I like how it turned out, but I think the ribbing was meant to keep the glasses in, but mine doesn’t. I just made a little tie to cinch it closed and it works fine. I even like how the purple and green stripes worked out. This was a fun little pattern to do.

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I started a Citron with some of stash…and I’m pretty sure it is getting frogged. I’m just not feeling it. It might be my choice of yarn. Or, it might be the fact that I was doing yarn overs for all the make-ones, which of course results in a series of holes. None of the other photos I have seen of this pattern have those holes, so…I’m not sure mine is right. It might also be that I discovered that I read the pattern wrong. I should probably just start it over again because I haven’t knit in days because I don’t want to work on this.

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Onto the subject matter which is reflected in the title of this post! Pintrest is awesome. I am not new to it, but I felt the need to express my love for it publicly. If you have not checked Pintrest out, do yourself a favor and do it! It is such a fantastic place to get ideas. Ideas for anything! I especially love to look at recipes and crafty stuff. But, there is SO much more on there. I also get a lot of good ideas of things to do with my kids. LJ’s Arts and Academics project for school this year was a Pintrest idea: a Lego maze! I found a craft that I was interested in trying and so Minnie and I did it today. We lined cake pans and a muffin tin with designs of pony beads and then baked them at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. And we have…sun catchers! Well, only one is a sun catcher so far, I need my husband to drill holes in the others.

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I am hoping to get a new knitting project going that really inspires me. I need my knitting to keep my stress levels under control. It has been too many days since I knit at all and it would feel good to sit down with some knitting and let some stress go.

We had a little thunderstorm pass through earlier tonight. Hopefully our April shower will bring some May flowers (and leaves and green grass!)

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