Family, fiber festivals, Knitting

Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival 2017

Yesterday was as close to a perfect day as I am likely to get! πŸ˜ŠπŸπŸ‚

The weather was beautiful and it was Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival day in Berryville, Virginia;Β and I got to go with my sister-in-law, Annelies and my two-year-old niece, Vera!

We met up in Harrisonburg to carpool to the festival; and truly, the brilliant smiles with which they greeted me totally made my whole week! πŸ™‚

Well stocked with fabulous company and good coffee, the 1.5 hour drive flashed right on by and before we knew it, we had arrived at the festival just in time to get a prime parking spot! (An unusual occurrence for me! πŸ˜‚)

I showed Vera how to politely examine the soft and luxurious yarns on display in the vendor booths. Not only was this fun, but it helped re-direct the two-year-old urge to pull all brightly colored skeins off of the shelves and hooks! πŸ˜‚πŸ’—

But of course, the biggest hit of the day, by far, was the animals: Alpacas, sheep, and angora goats!

These adorable alpacas were so friendly and calm!

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The white one is named “Fenway”, and the brown is “Carpe Diem.”

 

They were just chillin’ and people-watching, and socializing with whomever came by to say hi!

Vera took a couple of minutes to warm up to the alpacas since this was her first time seeing them up close! Watching another child petting them certainly helped. πŸ™‚

 

Once she had a chance to get to know them a bit, she absolutely loved them!

 

I swear she was having lots of fun – right up until we asked her to smile for a photo!

 

Fenway was very cooperative and photogenic! πŸ™‚

Later on, the sheep really wanted to share a popcorn snack!

 

And across the isle, a super nice girl brought her goat right up close so Vera could pet it!

 

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In addition to enjoying the wonderful animals, I was also excited to snag a great book…

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…some gorgeous yarn…

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100% alpaca and SO soft! πŸ˜„

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…and a blending board!

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My plan for the blending board is to use it to blend my Angora Rabbit’s wool with Alpaca wool so that I’ll have enough to knit something special once it’s all spun up!

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Annelies was on a mission to find the perfect yarn to crochet a hat for Vera to match her new Winter coat! Here’s the yarn!

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And here’s the hat!

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By mid-afternoon, Someone was completely worn out from so much fun, and took a very good nap all the way home!

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A hand-knit shawl does make an excellent car-seat blanket, don’t you think?! πŸ˜‰

Do you go to fiber festivals? Do you have a favorite? Got plans to visit any this season? We’d love to hear all about it!

I’m excited to be heading to the Fall Fiber Festival @ Montpelier this coming weekend! Stay tuned for updates! 😊

Family, Hats, Knitting

Most Loved Project

The topic for Day 3 of the Yarn Love Challenge this month was “Most Loved Project.” This threw me off for a few days as I have difficulty determining which of my projects I love most! πŸ˜‰

But then it occurred to me that looking at this question from a Handknit Recipient’s perspective might be interesting. So now I’ve got a slightly sarcastic but humorous take on “Most Loved Project” to share with you! πŸ˜„

…Not long after we were married, I wanted to knit something practical for Hubby that he would enjoy wearing. Naturally, a hat came to mind!

When asked what kind of hat I should make for him that he would actually wear, Hubby said: “Black, and plain. No cables, no patterns, no colors; just black and plain.”

Of course, I thought: ” BORING!!” But I wanted to knit him something he would like, so I tried my best to knit him the black, plain, BORING hat! But…

I couldn’t resist adding a red angora lining! “Angora is so soft, and no one will see it on the inside,” I thought…

Hubby was dubious, but he did bravely wear the hat – all of one time, to a family gathering (my family of course)! Unfortunately, a bit of red fuzz from the angora lining emerged and remained mingled with his facial hair. It wasn’t glaring, so I didn’t notice it, and probably no one else did either. But Hubby was SO mortified when he noticed it in the mirror that night, that he refused to ever wear the hat again!

So the infamous black, plain, not-so-boring hat became mine and has been well loved and much worn despite the fact that it is too big for me! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Do you have a fun “Most Loved Project” or Handmade Gifting story to share? We’d love to hear it!

Happy Knitting!

Knitting, Stash

In ProgressΒ 

I’ve been working away and making good progress with my yarn stash organizing and cataloging! It feels good to see my Yarn Stash Notebook filling up with yarn samples and data, and to see my Yarn Stash becoming more orderly, accessible, and therefore useable!

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Progress on the Yarn Stash Notebook!

I do take frequent breaks to do some actual knitting though! πŸ˜‰

Right now, I’m loving knitting the sample for my newest design (coming soon!!)! πŸ™‚

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Lacy, stripy chevrons…!

The yarn I’m using is Knit Circus Greatest of Ease in “Over The Rainbow Speckles,” and Expression Fiber Arts Resilient Superwash Merino Sock in “Pistachio.”

I’m also really enjoying my “just for fun” knit…

The very start of my Leaves of Grass shawl!

The pattern is “Leaves of Grass” by Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed)…

Feeling like I need to switch to a longer cable soon…!

The yarn I’m using is Madelinetosh Pashmina in “Thoreau.”Β It’s super soft and squishy and feels lovely in my hands as I knit. I can’t wait to snuggle up in this shawl on those cool Autumn evenings (they are still a long ways off, so I have plenty of time to finish!) πŸ™‚

This is the very first time I’ve ever knitted a circular shawl, and I’m finding that I’m really taken with the ease and simplicity of the Pi Shawl construction! At the beginning of this project, the one piece that I had absolutely no idea how to do was the circular cast on. This tutorial by Knit Picks was super helpful, and I quickly discovered that it’s not as hard as it looks! πŸ™‚

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Working on Leaves of Grass with grass for company! πŸ˜‰

Something I’m really enjoying with this knit is the excitement whenever I finish one chart and move on to the next! It’s fascinating to see how the different motifs fit together, play on each other, and seem to grow together! (This effect with the stitch patterns will be easier to see after blocking!)

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Leaves of Grass shawl.

Now that I’m on the second-to-last chart and have completed the last increase round, I have a total of nearly 600 stitches on my needles! Even though each round now takes a while to complete, I’m still excited and enjoying working this shawl! I can’t wait to see it finished! (And I’m sure I’ll be knitting another circular shawl before long!) πŸ˜‰

And last but not least, I’m trying out something new – knitting with beads!

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Practice Swatch: Arrowhead lace with beads.

This is just a little practice test swatch I’m working with some leftovers of a gorgeous alpaca yarn and some seed beads I have on hand. It took me awhile to decide where to place the beads with this Arrowhead Lace stitch pattern, and I’m still not quite sure I’m happy with the result. I think I’ll knit on it a little more and then block it and see what I think then. πŸ™‚

Of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts too! πŸ™‚ Where would you place the beads in this stitch pattern? Have you ever used beads in your knitting before? If so, what do you think of the technique? Do you like the effect?

I’d also love to hear about whether you’ve knitted or considered knitting a circular shawl before! If you’ve made one before, did you enjoy the experience? Why or why not?

As always, best wishes to each of you, and happy knitting!

~Sarah

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Knitting

When Life Gives you Lemons…

Knit like crazy! πŸ˜€

We all have our “off” days. It’s part of life. Every day can’t be totally awesome, or there’d be no such thing! I’ve had a lot of awesome days recently, so I guess I was overdue for anΒ “off” day…

Usually when I’m having the occasional “off” day, it’s the little stuff that can get under my skin and irritate me, even while I’m doing my best to handle it well. πŸ™‚

And then there’s the entirely unexpected stuff that can just jump out and smack you (sometimes rather hard) when you’re not expecting it! That’s (literally) what happened to me the other afternoon!…

Arriving back from a lovely grocery shopping trip with two of my sisters, I was rushing to get those groceries in the house (we live a good distance from town, so time is a factor with those refrigerated items…). Both hands full with eggs, milk, and meat, I was booking it towards the front steps, and then… One of my flip-flops caught on the concrete steps as I was on my way up to the front door. Thinking I could catch myself with my other foot on the next step in time to restore my balance, I tried to take that next step up real quick,… Misjudging the height (the steps are not quite standard size), I caught my other flip-flop and catapulted (rather awkwardly) first into the front edge of the storm door that we had propped open, and then onto the concrete stoop…!

Rather bruised and battered, (but much wiser regarding the dangers of flip-flops and concrete steps plus hurrying with both hands full), I am utilizing the best comfort and coping strategies I know:

  1. Knitting…Lots and lots of knitting this evening – as much as I want! πŸ˜€
  2. Doggy cuddles…Lots and lots of doggy cuddles (while knitting of course)! πŸ˜€


I’m already feeling a lot better! Even my slightly bruised ego is recovering. πŸ˜‰

Do you use knitting as a comfort and /or coping strategy on occasion? I’d love to hear about how knitting has helped you get through something difficult as well!

~Happy Knitting!Β 

Knitting, shawls

Summer Shawl Knitting…

One sure sign of a truly deep love of knitting is a knitter who keeps on knitting despite the Summer heat! πŸ˜‰

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Knitting the Kathryn Scarf on my back deck!

What to knit in said Summer heat?

My favorite go to is lace! In the Summer, I knit lots and lots of lace! Though I don’t personally limit myself to only working with yarns that are cotton/linen blends in Summer, I do enjoy them, and they’re a great option for cooler Summer knitting and knitwear. πŸ™‚

Shawls are a really useful (and beautiful) garment to create when you’re knitting lace. They can be very light and airy, making the perfect light layer to grab and wrap around your shoulders as the sun goes down on a breezy Summer evening! I find them very entertaining to work, as well as super portable for travel knitting!

Here are a few favorite Summery projects of the past that I would knit again in a heartbeat!

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Flambe

This is the first shawl I ever knit – the one that got me hooked on shawl knitting in fact! It’s the Flambe One Skein Shawl, by Michelle Miller of Fickleknitter. I bought the kit for this shawl in order to participate in a knit-a-long (KAL) that Michelle was hosting. It was SO much fun! A KAL is a great way to connect with people who like a lot of the same things you do, and also provides amazing support and encouragement! (Especially when you’re new to shawl knitting!) πŸ˜‰ This shawl has a lot of happy memories for me! Β Flambe makes a fabulous Summer knit because it’s complicated enough to keep your mind busy, but not too complicated for travel knitting, and it only requires one skein of sock yarn! It’s also perfect for Summer wear as it’s small – just enough to cover your shoulders if the air conditioning gets to be a bit much or there’s a chilly breeze at night. πŸ™‚

 

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Lace Leaf Shawl

This one is the Lace Leaf Shawl, designed by Mary Henderson. It’s a lovely leaf pattern, easy to memorize; and you can customize the size of your shawl by knitting more or fewer repeats! The yarn is a fingering weight merino/silk blend called “Row of Tulips” by Expression Fiber Arts. It was an absolute dream to knit with!

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Obi Shawl

Another Fickleknitter design by Michelle Miller, The Obi Shawl is one of my all-time favorite shawls to knit. In fact, I’ve already made two of them! One I gave away, and the other gets a lot of wear as a favorite go-to layer that I turn to constantly! The yarn is amazing – a merino/cashmere/silk blend called Serenity Silk Single by Zen Yarn Garden, it’s also one of my favorite yarns to work with! The color shown here is called “Dragonfruit!”

I might also finally allow myself to knit a shawl or two from my current list of shawl-crushes…!

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A Hap for Harriet: Designed by Kate Davies; photographed by Tom Barr.
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Fantoosh!: Designed by Kate Davies; photographed by Tom Barr.

I’m totally in love with both of these shawls designed by Kate Davies: A Hap for Harriet, and Fantoosh!Β They are both simple, but elegant, and the yarns used for the samples look absolutely scrumptious! I particularly love the coziness and generous size of Fantoosh!, and the delicate simplicity of A Hap for Harriet. If you’re drooling over these like I am, be sure to check out Kate’s shop – she has kits for sale containing: yarn, pattern, and project bag!

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Rock Island: Designed by Jared Flood.

I’m also loving Rock Island, by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. I find the mix of openwork lace and simple garter stitch captivating! Brooklyn Tweed Vale is a lovely lace weight wool; although for Summer, I think this shawl would also be great in a cotton or linen blend such as Purl Soho’s Linen Quill (wool/alpaca/linen) or Juniper Moon Farm’s Zooey DK (cotton/linen/flax).

While we’re talking about Summer shawl knitting…

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Leaves of Grass: Designed by Jared Flood.

…knitting a circular shawl has been on my bucket list for a good long time now, and I’m feeling the urge to buckle down and just do it! I’ve been eying this one – Leaves of Grass, (another Jared Flood design) as a potentially great Summer knit…hmmm…need to go check my stash and see if I have enough fingering weight yarn… πŸ™‚

Do you knit in the Summer time? If so, what Summer knitting project(s) are you currently working on? Do you have a favorite Summer knitting style or project? I’d love to hear all about it! πŸ™‚

~Happy Knitting!

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Family, Knitting

A Good Visit!

Yesterday we had perfect weather for being outdoors! (In Maryland, that is! πŸ˜‰)

Claire enjoying the shade in the green, green grass at the park!

I got out the baby-carrier and Claire and I walked to the park for a bit!

Smile or smirk? Maybe a bit of both…?! πŸ˜‰
Under the tree with Auntie!
I’ve also made a lot of progress on the “Kayla” infinity scarf!

Kayla Infinity Scarf

Now halfway through repeat # 3,…

So nice to knit on the deck during 😴 nap time! πŸ˜‰

I’m finally almost caught up to my level of progress on the “Kathryn” scarf! 😊 (Which means that I am approximately 3/5ths of the way through both!) 

Kathryn Scarf

I’ve so enjoyed spending time with Baby Claire,…

Playing with Claire!
…and my sister and brother-in-law the last two weeks! 

My sister, Hannah & Baby Claire!
Brother-in-law, Everitte & Baby Claire at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival!

I can hardly believe that today is my last day here! I know I’ll really miss them when I go back home…

Happy Claire modeling her Foxy Hat!
Swing!
Happy Claire in the swing!

But I’m really looking forward to my next visit! I’ll be sure to make it SOON! πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰β€οΈ

Peek-a-boo, Foxy Baby Claire! 😘

Family, fiber festivals, Knitting, Maryland Sheep and Wool

Maryland Sheep & Wool 2017!

It was another great year at The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, folks!

This year I went with my sister, Hannah, brother-in-law, Everitte, and niece, Claire!

There was SO much to see and take in!


Hannah, Claire, and I fell in love with these amazing fluffy purses…


And this very nice lady was kind enough to allow photographs AND point us in the direction of the “Everything Coopworth” booth and these AMAZING sheep-head-ears!!! 😍 🀣😍

Clearly, Everitte was the black sheep of the family… πŸ˜‰πŸ‘


We saw some sheep shearing…


And so many lovely sheep! ❀️


And of course, I couldn’t resist picking up a few new additions to my yarn stash… πŸ˜„ 


This stunning sock blank by Knitty and Color is a birthday gift from Hannah & Everitte! (Thank you so much, guys!! ❀️) I can’t wait to cast on some socks!! 😊


And of course I couldn’t pass up these 100% Merino wool beauties…

Next year, I want to take a class or two… I’ll need to check out the classes earlier than I did this year because they were sold out by the time I even started looking! 

Were you able to make it to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this year? Do you have a favorite fiber festival that you attend regularly? I’d love to hear all about it! 😊

~Happy Knitting!!!

baby, Family, Knitting

A Knitting Auntie!

This week, I’m in Maryland helping to care for my five month old niece, Claire, so that my sister can meet a work deadline!

Claire & I have been having a grand time playing with her baby gym…


… going out for walks (sometimes several times a day!)…




… sitting up (with just a little help πŸ˜‰ )…


… and especially swinging in the swings at the park!! 



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During nap times, I’ve even gotten some knitting time in as well! 


I’m making good progress on Kayla’s infinity scarf now (you may remember that I had to rip back and start again a few days ago…)! 


I’ve already completed one pattern repeat, and am working on the second! 


How’s your week going so far?

Knitting

Rrrrrriiippp It!

Again.


And again.


And yet AGAIN!


What?! You’re likely wondering… rip what? And why? Maybe I should start at the beginning… 

On my needles right now are two scarves…

…one for my friend Kathryn,…


…and one for my friend Kayla!


So there was this gorgeous yarn by Expression Fiber Arts that we all fell in love with…


Once we’d collectively clicked “Submit” on our four skeins (one for each of us plus a lovely mint green that coordinates perfectly!)… 


…it didn’t take long for the idea of designing “sister” scarves to pop into my head! (By “sister” scarves, I mean three different scarves unique to each personality and style, but clearly belonging together. πŸ™‚ My plan is to name each scarf after the friend who inspired it. πŸ™‚

So I swatched several stitch patterns and brought them to K & K for evaluation. 

Arrowhead Lace with Cables
Falling Leaves
Norwegian Fir Tree

The general consensus was that since they were all fun and lovely, it was nearly impossible to decide which to use!!! 


If you follow me on social media, you may remember voting on this to help us decide! πŸ˜‰

Once Kathryn & Kayla had chosen their stitch patterns, we discussed style…!

Kathryn opted for a super long & slender scarf with a very open and lacey stitch pattern called “Arrowhead Lace with Cables.” It will be very dramatic, and also very versatile, perfect for wear in almost every season! 


Given that Kathryn is a talented artist and a wonderfully practical lady, I think this is a very pleasant reflection of her personality. πŸ™‚ 

Kayla selected “Falling Leaves” as her stitch pattern and chose to go with an infinity style scarf. 


A more solid lace compared to Arrowhead, Falling Leaves has a very elegant, flowing quality and I’ve no doubt will produce a joyful, eye-catching statement piece! (I see this scarf as representative of Kayla’s brilliance and expressive of her fullness of the joy and enthusiasm of life!)

Though so different, I think both combinations of stitch pattern and style will showcase the special yarn really well!


Arrowhead Lace with Cables is an easy-to-memorize stitch pattern, 


…and because the “Kathryn” scarf is narrow the rows are short; 


…so I feel like the scarf is just flying off my needles! 

Slightly different story with the “Kayla” infinity scarf, however… 


To get the “Falling Leaves” to lay the way we imagined them, “Kayla” is knit in the round. In order to create enough volume to drape the scarf twice about the neck, I’m working 19 22-stitch repeats. That means a big long cast-on. A really big, 418 stitch cast-on! Which I have already done twice and will now be doing a third time! 

The difficulty with such a large numbers of cast-on stitches, is joining to work in the round. Specifically, it’s super hard to avoid getting a twist in your cast-on! Even when you’ve checked and re-checked and you think you’ve got it, you may later discover a pesky twist lurking! Which is what happened to me today….!

After working 1.5 pattern repeats (that’s 18 rounds, or 7,524 stitches)…


I noticed this:


A twist! Aaauuuggghhh! Do you see it?


Time to rrrrriiiiiipppppp back. 

All 7,524 stitches!


Compared to the time it took to get that far… 


…ripping back took almost no time at all! 



Best not to dwell…. 


So, now I’m casting on 418 stitches AGAIN! πŸ™‚


To help me keep track of my progress, I’m placing a marker every 22 stitches as I go…


That’s a marker for every pattern repeat along the round. There are 19 pattern repeats per round, so I’ll need a total of 19 stitch markers. 


I really like these from the Sheep and Wolf because of their simplicity, pretty colors, and size. (These are the large ones, they also come in medium and small (sock knitting size!); as well as different colors.


As frustrating as ripping back and starting over from scratch seems right now, I know I’ll be glad I did when I have a twist-free infinity scarf ready for my friend Kayla! πŸ˜‰ 


And it’s not so bad! 


See, I’m making progress already! πŸ˜€

Have you ever had to rip a project back? Do you have any handy tips for avoiding the dreaded twist when you join to work in the round? I’d love to hear about it! πŸ™‚

Happy Knitting! 

Knitting, patterns

Β New Pattern Released!

Today, I’m celebrating the release of my new pattern: Twin Leaf Gloves!

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Delicate, yet warm, Twin Leaf Gloves are theΒ perfect cozy accessory for all of those slightly chilly mornings/evenings in Spring & Fall when you just need a little wooly comfort to keep you toasty!Β Knit in the round on double pointed needles, they fly by quickly with just enough lace to keep you focused.Β Designed for a fitted look and sized for women’s hands in small, medium, and large, I bet you (like me!) won’t be able to knit just one pair! πŸ˜‰

 

 

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It’s been a dream of mine, for many years, to begin writing out my knitting patterns so I can share them with you. So today is a very exciting milestone for me! πŸ™‚

This particular pattern, Twin Leaf Gloves, has been in the works for quite a while. The first inspiration for them came about nine months ago at the end of last Summer when I was obsessing over leaf-patterned stitches and fingerless gloves (one of my all-time favorite accessories!). Looking at leaf shapes, it occurred to me that they might go gracefully with hand and thumb gusset shaping for a pair of fitted gloves or hand warmers. As I played around with the idea, sketching and swatching, the Twin Leaf Gloves were born!

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Along the way, I discovered that pattern writing can bring with it a rather steep learning curve… i.e.: Knitting what’s in my head, for myself or a loved one, takes some time, but is relatively uncomplicated compared to writing it down and/or charting it out in a way that makes sense for communicating it with others.

Most of the months between then and now were spent in developing and refining the pattern from my original scribbled notes to a detailed pattern with both written instructions and charts.

And of course, then there was the checking and re-checking of the pattern for accuracy; the first step of which (for me, anyway) involved knitting sample gloves in all three sizes = a lot of time and a lot of math! πŸ™‚

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Overall, I have to say that pattern writing has been a very exciting and rewarding experience for me, even with the rather larger-than-expected learning curve involved! πŸ˜‰

My deepest thanks go out to Allison O’Mahoney of Kniterations for her patient advice, support, and superb technical editing; and to Beth HarnettΒ (Hatknitter on Ravelry) for her heart warming enthusiasm and fabulous test knitting! Ladies, you are a joy to work with, and I am deeply grateful for your input and contributions. ❀

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And now, to spread the joy and celebrate this pattern release, I’m offering two discount options on my Twin Leaf GlovesΒ pattern:

1) Β and enter discount code: New20 to get 20% off your Twin Leaf Gloves pattern through April 25th, 2017!

Or…

2) Get 50% off your Twin Leaf Gloves pattern through June 30th, 2017 when you subscribe to my Newsletter!

Happy Knitting!