Thursday, June 30, 2005

The yarn. It was definitely the yarn.

Because I totally heart this version of the OSW:

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I tinkered a bit with the pattern, too (longer sleeves and such), so maybe it was the pattern a little bit, but this yarn--I want to knit everything in it now. Don't you think it would look fab as an Hourglass? Although it would be a bit heavy, probably.

Anyhoo, it is Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton in Colorway 204, according to the tag, although it looks like CM20 on their website, and it is gorgeous oranges and raspberries, like a blood orange. I saw it when I went to the store to get the yarn to finish the other OSW (which shall be frogged as my sister rejected the whole concept of the OSW) and was totally possessed by it. The only problem I had was that the skeins were so tangled that they were absolutely awful to wind--one took almost two hours, which, considering that there are only 100 yds/skein, is QUITE a long time. It did not reduce me to tears, but it was a close thing.

So, deets:
Pattern: Glampyre's "One" Skein Wonder Shrug. I added length to the sleeves and to the body by knitting back and forth on those sections after finishing the increases.
Yarn: Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton, Colorway 204, 2 skeins and change
Needles: 8s for the main body and sleeves, 5s for the seed-stitch on the sleeves, and 6s for the ribbing.
Started: Tuesday, June 28
Finished: Thursday, June 30

And for those of you who enquired about the Key Lime Ice Cream, it is a recipe that I adapted from Cooking Light. You need an ice cream maker to make it, technically, although I've always wondered what would happen if you just whipped up the mixture in your kitchen-aid or something and then froze it. But I digress. You'll need:

2 cups total of variously fatty milks. I like to use 1 1/2 cups 1% milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream for reasonably good mouthfeel and slightly lower fat.
1/2 cup bottled key lime juice, unless you are feeling insane and want to squeeze your own.
1 can of fat-free sweetened condensed milk Don't forget to scrape out all the extra out of the can and eat it straight from the spoon, even though you will feel a little sick after.
dash of salt
1 box Junket Vanilla Ice Cream Mix* Usually available in supermarkets near the ice cream toppings section.
approx 3/4 cup crushed cookies. There is some debate over what kind of cookie works best. Some people are graham purists, although I really like it with Pepperidge Farms Gingermen. Pepperidge Farms Bordeaux are also good. Suit yourself. And put in more than 3/4 cup if you want--I usually do, but it seemed piggy to call for more than that in the recipe.

Mix the first 5 ingredients together, chill for an hour, then add to your ice cream maker. When the ice cream is almost frozen enough, mix in the cookies. Pour into a container and freeze for two hours, then eat.

*I personally do not find the ice cream mix to be an essential component of this recipe. But SOME PEOPLE, when the store is out of it and you make the ice cream anyway because it was their special birthday request, will be all "groooooooooooss!" and "why even booooooooother?" and "it's not the saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame" if it's not there, even though they are turning 29 and not 5. Ahem.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Me? Impatient?

Yeah. To no one's surprise, there was no Pakucho Organic Cotton at the yarn store, but honestly, I did not feel one little bit like waiting around for it to be shipped (even from speedy Elann-love you Elann!), so I did what any sensible & impatient knitter would do: bought a skein of Knit 1 Crochet 2 Cottonade and just finished the thing off in a different color (a la Anna, but without the flair). The jury? Out.

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I don't know if it's the pattern, the yarn combo, or what, but I'm just not really feeling it. I'll sit on it for a while, but I might send it to my sister to see if she likes it better than I do.

Speaking of my sister, June 28 is a double party in Nothin' But Knit-land: it's my sister and brother-in-law's anniversary

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Who doesn't love a Duck Tour?

and Marc's birthday (29! Such an infant.)

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Bailey says, "I love my Uncle Marc so much it makes me pee! But not on the couch."

I'm off to make some key lime ice cream to celebrate.

Monday, June 27, 2005

One skein my ass.

This weekend I thought I'd jump on the knitblogger bandwagon-du-jour and whip out a One Skein Wonder (do you really need the link?). Alas, I was TOTALLY THWARTED. Because I did figure I would need more than one skein, so I bought two of the Pakucho Organic Cotton from Elann while I was buying some other stuff for a project to be discussed later, thinking that since I needed 175 yards for my size, and 2 skeins of the cotton was 176, I would be a-ok. Tight, but OK.


Here's how far I got:

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The seed stitch of one sleeve got done, but barely. Here's how much yarn was left after I bound off:

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The other sleeve and the ribbing remain unfinished. I have to go out to do some errands this afternoon, so I think I'll pop into the yarn store to see if there is any chance that they carry this yarn, although I'm pretty sure they don't--so I'll have to wait for another shipment from Elann before I can finish this up. Luckily, they ship fast, because this is going to be a very cute and useful little shrug, albeit tee-tiny.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hole-Free Short Rows: A Little Tutorial

So if you've been here for a while, or if you've plowed through the archives, you might know that I used to have a big problem with holes in my short row toes and heels. Big holes. Gaping, ugly holes.

But no more!

Several people have emailed or commented and asked how I got over the hole problem, and I emailed them back, but realized that it might be easier to see what I'm talking about with pictures, so I made Marc take 186 pictures of me knitting and threw together a little tutorial.

First, three disclaimers.

a) I have no idea if what I'm doing here is "right"-but it works for me. Your mileage may vary.

b) This may be old news to many of you, in which case roll your eyes and go about your business--but I'm still such a newbie knitter, even after 4 years or so, that I need little tips and techniques like this, and I hope it's helpful to other people like me.

c) This is not a tutorial on wrapped short-rowing in general. For that, see Nona's excellent tutorial, Wendy's toe-up sock pattern, and many, many other sources. I'm just going to tell you what I do when I get to the wraps. Which is this.

1. Knit until you hit the wrapped stitch you want to work:
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2. Slip the wrapped stitch to the right needle:
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3. Use the LEFT needle to enter the two wraps from the LEFT:
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4. Slip the wraps onto the right needle. All three stitches--the original stitch and two wraps--are now on the right needle:
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5. Use the tip of the left needle to tease the original stitch out from under the wraps:
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6. Replace the two wraps on the left needle: the three stitches should now be stitting separately:
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7. Knit the three stitches together through their BACK loops:
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8. Admire your neat decrease:
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For the purl side, same deal, but purl normally, through the front loops.

This looks like a lot of annoying steps (Marc: "How do you remember all of that?" Me: "Because I'm a GENIUS, honey, that's how."), but it's really quite fluid once you get going. It does take a bit more time than just picking up the wraps with the right needle and K3-ing, but I think the finished effect is worth a little extra time. Because, you know--no holes.

Questions? Suggestions? Inprovements? Lay it on me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Baby Knittin'

My friend Jodi just sent me these pictures of her new little baby Arden all decked out in stuff I knit for her:

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The baby hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (as with everything in that book, charming, but not really last-minute. You want me to make HOW much i-cord for that tie?) and

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a cabled blanket of my own design, if by design you mean "I cast on a bunch of stitches and started cabling." Actually, that blanket represents my first extended experience with both cables and mattress stitch, and I feel like it taught me well. Both items are in the discontinued Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, Lemongrass and Snow, and are nice and nubbly.

I also tie-dyed the t-shirt that Arden is wearing in the hat picture, because Jodi had a Very Crafty Baby Shower, which is the only kind to have really. Jodi is also the only person outside my family that I knew who knitted before I had the imaginary internet friends, so she is very reassuring to have around. We lived together for years and years until she left me and our other roommate Eliana and got married, and then we had the Worst Roommate Ever after that. Thanks a LOT, Jodi. But way to churn out the kid. I don't want any of my own, but it's nice to knit for other people's.

Rounding second....heading for home

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One down, one to go. Although I think I might redo the two-color ribbing: it's 4x2 right now, but I think it would be better as 3x1, and it maybe should be an inch longer for the proportions to be right. I already redid it from 2x2, though, so it might just stay as it is. We'll see how lazy I feel when I'm done with the second one.

Let it be noted that I was working diligently on this sock during the Sox-Indians game last night. I lapsed in the 8th, though, and put it down to rest my hands, at which point the Indians scored two runs to tie the game. I picked it back up and started knitting furiously, and as I did my boy Johnny Damon banged home two to cinch the win.

Behold: the power of the Red Sox Sox.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Not so knitty.

First, apologies if you've commented/emailed in the past few days and haven't gotten a response--my gmail account is acting up (half the time I can't get it to load in either Firefox or Safari) and I haven't had the patience to deal with it recently. So, a general thanks for all the nice comments on Tim (who is now renamed Richard Parker, and is presently engaged in terrifying Vim's cat Friday) and on Bailey's b-day--I know I'm a dork, but it can't be helped. Everyone else who celebrates their pet's birthday, you have my full support.

This weekend was full of many things, but most of them were not knitty. Instead, there was eating and drinking and celebrating and realizing how much I'm going to miss all my friends when I leave Austin. Which is why I don't necessarily feel like knitting right now: what I really like about knitting (most of the time) is that it keeps the hands busy while leaving the mind free to think, which is great when you're trying to, say, write a dissertation. It's less good when all the things you're thinking about are sad.

That said, I did make progress on a Red Sock, and re-applied the i-cord to the top of Via, picking up only 3/4 of the stitches, which seems to have fixed some of the sloppy sagginess. We'll see once it's re-lined.

And I am also wrestling with an all-too-common dilemma these days: what on earth to make for my Sockapal-2-za pal? First of all is the issue that my pal is a SERIOUS knitter--like, so good that I probably wouldn't have even signed up if I knew I would get someone that good. But it is done now, so I will fight the intimidation. So I have to decide which way to go: my pal specifed that she mostly wears socks in a plainish color, and would like cables, but that a bright loud pair might be fun also. Enter the contestants (both from stash; I'm not ruling out a trip to the store, but it would be nice to use what I have):

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Periwinkle Lorna's Shepherd Sock. I'm thinking for these I would borrow the pretzel cable from Shedir, and work it up the sides.


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Koigu KPPPM Colorway 411. For these, Broadripple.

Either sock would be pleasing for me to make: I would like the cable practice, but I also do need to re-tackle lace as a concept, and Broadripple would be a good start.

What do you think? My feeling is that if someone says that they mostly wear plain socks, then they mostly wear plain socks, and that is what they should get, because they might think they want a bright loud pair, but they probably don't. Thoughts?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Terrible Twos

Today is the second birthday* of Miss Bailey Bean O'Sullivan**.

What did she get for a present, you ask? Well, some of you might have wondered what happened to the original flowered lining for Via Diagonale:

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She's quite pleased with it.

*All they told me was "mid-June." So I arbitrarily picked the 16th. Because why not?
**Marc thinks it's weird that Bailey and I have different last names. That's just the way it is, buster. I can't explain it.

Crouching tiger,, tiger?

Is it? Could it be?

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Ah, indeed. For the past five days we’ve been stalking this one, and here he is at last: the elusive Knitted Texan Tiger, in his natural jungle habitat.

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Though he looks rather more like a large newt than the feline he is, the Tiger is fearless, and will face down even the fiercest canine predators.

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Sadly, this Tiger is extremely endangered, due to his pain-in-the-ass pattern, because apparently women in the 1940s had nothing better to do while sitting around waiting for the war to end than weave in a zillion ends and figure out what embroidered chain stitch is.

Luckily for the species, however, this Tiger will be residing in a protected environment at the home of my friend Vimala, who will defend her dissertation tomorrow. Yay Vimala!

Pattern: Tim the Tiger, from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s online collection of knitting patterns from the 1940s
Modifications: I made his belly white, instead of orange. Much cuter, and more accurate.
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes. Two skeins Pumpkin, one skein each Cloud and Coal (These colors were perfectly tigery. But if I were making Tim again, which I wouldn’t, due to his pain-in-the-assiness and overall resemblance to a salamander, I would find a fingering-weight wool, because as Knitted Texan Tigers go, he is really quite ginormous: 2 feet long from snoot to tail tip.)
Started: June 10, 2005
Finished: June 15, 2005
Recipient: Dr. Vimala, PhD.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Via Meh-agonale

So sad--I finished Via, but I am completely underwhelmed with my workmanship. Look:

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It's saggy in weird places, the handles aren't centered, and it just feels sloppy. I am happier with the lining though. All it took was one person to outright not like it (thanks, Shelby!) and I was pushed over the edge. I ended up with a cream colored linen (or something linen-esque, anyway) which I think suits just fine:

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But anyway, back to the problem. I guess I could give it to my advisor the way it is, but I think I would feel very "hey, mom, here's the lumpy ashtray I made you in kindergarten!" about it. Which leaves me with 1) not giving it at all or 2) doing a serious makeover on it. This would involve removing the lining and the handles and unsewing the bottom, and then ripping the 87 thousand miles of applied i-cord, and at least one pattern repeat, then re-sewing the bottom, re-applying the i-cord and re-lining the bag. That's not insurmountable, I guess, but it's not what you want to be faced with after finishing a project like this. I'm going to have to sleep on it.

In the meantime, I promise not to bore you with endless pictures of tote bags, but I am enjoying finding little ways to improve on them. Here's my most recent version, which I'm particularly pleased with:

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So cute, right? It has cherries! And piping! And, best of all,

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a fully functional, not entirely crappy zippered pocket! (I'm pretending that the visible pocket lining around the edges is a design choice.)

I also made some progress on the Red Sox Sox over the weekend, and, gloriously, the toe of the second, smaller version is just as good as the first one! Hurrah! (Although evidently I should have worked on them more to prevent the Sox from dropping 2 out of 3 to the stupid Cubs. Which, laugh all you want, but I was knitting them during the third game, which the Sox won 8-1, but not during the two losses. I blame myself.) But mostly I was knitting a Secret Gift Project, which will not have to be secret for much longer. So if I don't post over the next few days, it's because I'm being secretive and sneaky.

Finally, you've all gone to marvel at Sgt Pepper already, yes?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Socks of Summer

First, thanks to all who weighed in on the bag lining question. I know I'm being difficult and whiny. But I hate the feeling of giving a gift that's not quite right--especially after I went to all the bother of knitting the outside. So I've decided that I will make one more fabric expedition tomorrow, and look for something cream-colored, perhaps with small purple flowers, and if that doesn't work, I'll just go with what I have.

My sewing fervor has not abated over the past few days, and I have made a few things that I am pleased with, but I decided to venture into zippers yesterday and things got lumpy and botchy. I am determined to conquer the zipper (buying a zipper foot for the machine might help), but after a particularly disatrous stab at a zippered pouch, I decided I needed my feet on the ground again, and cast on for this totally fun project:

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Red Sox Sox! I am so pleased at the thought of having them, which you will absolutely understand if you are part of the Nation, but will probably think I am crazy if you are not. I actually bought this yarn (Cascade Fixation) at the beginning of baseball season, but am just getting to them now. It's fine--they'll still be done in time for when it matters.

Now, the thing is, I think I'm going to rip them and start over--I forgot to compensate for the extreme stretchiness of Fixation when I calculated my cast-on, so they're just a bit too big. But before they go, I thought I would show you The Most Perfect Short-Row Toe Ever.

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Isn't that pretty? I think I've finally got it nailed, which is good news for my Sockapal2za partner-to-be.

I'll leave you with an extra closeup, so you can admire its goodness. I'm actually a little afraid to rip, for fear that I'll never do such a good job again....

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Opinions Please!

I sewed up the lining for Via and pinned it in in preparation for (ick) hand-sewing it, but I'm still not sure it's quite the right thing. But I'm pretty sure that part of my hesitation is that I have a pair of pajamas that have a fairly similar print to the lining material, so every time I look at it I think, what are my pajamas doing in there? So, objective readers, what do y'all think?

Here's how it'll mostly look when it's being carried around (it looks a little lumpy b/c I need to shorten the lining a bit):

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And here's a closeup.

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So: Yuck? Good? Good enough?

Generally non-commenting Austin friends, feel free to weigh in here, since you actually know the recipient.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm SEW crafty!

Come on, like you didn't see that one coming?

Last night I tackled the sewing. And here is what I have to say: Sewing is totally fun! And takes sooooo much less time than knitting! Why didn't anyone tell me about this before? Here's what I kicked out last night, with the help of Mariko's great pattern:

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Two super-cute tote bags! The bigger one (about 12 x 18) was a practice project for me--I didn't want to mess around with the lining for my advisor's bag or with that Amy Butler fabric until I felt pretty sure that I wouldn't screw things up. I'm really happy with how it came out though, and I love the two fabrics together:

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Then I got all show-offy and decided to make a second, smaller one (5 x 7) as a birthday present for a friend, and kicked it up with some decorative stitching:

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Like little sharks' teeth! I'd take credit for the cute, but you know what? The sewing machine did it all. Yay sewing machine!

Next up: zippers. Wheeee!

Monday, June 06, 2005

No, seriously, ABOUT FREAKIN' TIME.

Ladies and gentlemen, after 8 years of graduate education (2 for my master's, 6 at UT), I am finally, officially, permanently done. As of Friday at 12:30, I'm an honest-to-goodness PhD. It's liberating, but also scary. Because now I'm a grownup, and grownups have to go to work and stuff and not spend whole days knitting. Which is what I'll be doing for the next little while, thanks very much, because did I mention? I'm done.

And how better to celebrate than with a little fiber shopping? Ah, but not my standard fiber. Nope. Today, it was all about fabric.

First, I wanted to find a lining for my now all-but-finished Via Diagonale. I've got everything done except one handle, and I need to take a break before doing that because I totally have knitter's claw, thanks to the unforgiving cotton plus the 18 miles of applied i-cord around the top of the bag. So here's the almost-done shell of Via, plus the fabric I chose for the lining.

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I'm not 100% sure it's the right choice--but I looked at every single purple & green bolt at the Joanne's, and this was the only one that seemed close. So we'll see how it goes--if it's awful I'll go back to the drawing board, but I would like to give this to my adviser sometime this week, so I think I'll probably end up living with it.

So that was one fabric mission, but I also wanted to make a couple things for myself. First, what I think will be a tote bag a la Mariko. I need an official knitting bag, and this might be it:

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I'm hoping there will be enough left over to make a little notions bag to go with it.

And then--I totally saved the best for last--this Amy Butler extravaganza to make a needle case for my DPNs, of which I have a rather rapidly growing number.

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It'll be based on the one in Stitch 'n' Bitch--I made my sister one for Christmas and was pretty happy with how it turned out. But I think I want this one to be double-tiered, and maybe have some extra pockets for stitch holders and such like.

And then finally, because there hasn't been one for days and days, a gratuitous Bailey shot. She got her summer haircut today and looks small and naked and super-cute--and feels like a Steiff bear.

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She won't be quite that cute for long though--her reward for undergoing the torture of the groomer is that I will tie that bandanna into a tug toy and she will destroy it. (Meanwhile, I'm all, that fabric is kinda cute...)

That's all for now--there was some fiber shopping of the other kind too, and some knitting- and Bailey-related graduation presents to talk about, but those will wait until I've caught up on all my emailing!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

About freakin' time.

Oh, Memorial Day weekend. What a lovely barbecue-y, mini-golf-y, poker-winning-y (ok, second place, but $10 is $10) weekend it was. And yet all those activities somehow prevented me from working as assiduously as I might have on my shrug. But last night I stayed up until 3 AM knitting and seaming, and finished everything up today while waiting to get my oil changed. Yay responsible multitasking! Here's the result (and please pardon the lint on the mirror--I actually bothered to wipe off the toothpaste spots for y'all but then forgot to do a second pass for paper--towel detritus):

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I think it's very cute, although try explaining the shrug, as a concept, to a room full of non-knitters who don't shop much. (Marc, trying to be helpful: "So it's like a halter top that makes people look at your boobs!")

I also think the tank top I am wearing under it is cute, and damn if I didn't buy it yesterday at the Target specifically so I could wear it with the shrug. Come to think of it, I might have bought quite a few things yesterday at the Target, including the barette that I am temporarily using as a shrug pin:

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I think it works, actually, although it is definitely more in dress-down mode. A fancier pin might make the shrug fancier as a whole, although Calmer really produces a more nubbly, homespun-looking fabric that probably isn't going to ever be super-dressy. I think this would have been a whole different garment if I had knitted it in the recommended Soy Silk.

Hmm, but perhaps a gerber daisy will dress it up?

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Thanks secret pal!!

Final deets on the Regency Defense Shrug:
Pattern: Regency Shrug, by Mary Jane Mucklestone (from the Summer 2005 IK Staff Project), with modifications to make it fit a non-Olsen twin (so much so, in fact, that I added 10 inches across the pattern from cuff to cuff and about 3 inches vertically)
Yarn: Rowan Calmer, Coffee Bean, 4.5 balls
Started: May 25, 2005,
Finished: June 1, 2005
Recipient: ME! To wear to my dissertation defense.
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