About jingersnaps

Knitting, baking, reading, studying, and crafting in New Orleans.

Thankful for Pie 2019 Edition

It feels a little silly to have a big round-up post riding on the heels of so many catch-up posts, so we’re going to do things a little differently this time.

Less talk, more reminders of the things that I loved this year, in no particular order.

Now, what did I love most?  Well, what’s always the closest to my heart at all times? Yep, you guessed right.

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It’s pie.

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And ice cream. Homemade is best, always.

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But let’s not forget the whole world of treats available to us. Snoballs from Hansen’s…

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Fresh beignets and frozen coffee from Cafe du Monde with a walk in the park…

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2019 roundup

Homemade birthday cakes…

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And brownies!

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And cookies!

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And waffles!!

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And, most especially, super fancy birthday brunch with my very dear Internet friend Alon Shaya. Or at least at his restaurant when he probably wasn’t there.

It’s all so good.

But we made sure to appreciate our vegetable friends this year, as in previous years, through growing our garden and participating in Grow Dat’s amazing CSA program.

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And what to go with all those veggies and sweet treats?

Alcohol, apparently, if my camera roll is any indication.

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All the best things.

And what else did I love this year?

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Dan. I mean, just every day.

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There just no one else I’d rather live my life side-by-side with. Dan is the best.

And of course, our children.

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Just the sweetest, fluffiest babies ever. Bowie and Trip bring us joy every day, unless they are actively destroying the house. Well, sometimes those things happen concurrently.

I’m thankful for quiet moments.

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And little adventures.

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And several booty-shaking opportunities.

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Seriously, Planet Booty and KP will make you dance so much you lose 10 pounds, every show.

But most of all, the thing I loved most this year, probably because it came in such few and far-between moments, was making things.

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Effervesce.

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Tiny kimono.

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What? My DNP project totally counts. I birthed that thing from my womb.

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Mary Blanket Squared.

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Night Sky Saurey.

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Sandworm!

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Cardamom, and the Little Dragon Hat.

And this year, unlike most years, I got to experience the beauty of mending together things that were once broken.

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I’m not going to go through the arduous process of counting my patient load this year or the amount of pages I wrote, which were considerable, because it only reminds me of the time I spent away from the things I really love the most. So please, as you look back on this year with me, take the time to remember the things that made you most happy, the things that made the year worth living.

And just remember that all of you reading this just made the list for me.

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Happy new year, everyone. Let’s make it a good one.

Catch-Up Time, the Last: a Plethora of Kimono

Here it is, our last catch-up post for the fall and winter of 2019.

You remember my dear friends Jonathan and Rebecca? Of course you do. Just last year, I knit them some socks to keep them warm during their cold Bay Area nights.  This summer, I got the exciting news that they, too, were expecting a baby, although she wasn’t due until at least January.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve fully explained just how important these people are to me on here before. Jonathan is my oldest friend. I know that we all have people that we follow on Facebook and check in with occasionally from elementary school and high school, and of course we consider them friends, but Jonathan is the friend who has always been a major part of my life, despite multiple moves and life shifts by the both of us all across the country over the past 22 (is it 22?!) years.

I was sitting here trying to figure out how to sum up how we became friends and stayed close all of these years, but really, it’s not necessary. Just know that he has shaped who I am today and that I love him dearly. Rebecca makes him sublimely happy, and she accepted me and embraced me immediately when we first met, so she deserves the world.

So, as you can see, this baby coming into the world of two of my very favorite people was a big deal. So big that only one knitted item wasn’t going to be nearly enough to show just how happy I was for them.

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And so we have here, a plethora of kimono.

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When I told Dan about the baby, he said, “Oh, you need to make one of those baby sweaters that you made for Dani that time.” He was talking about when my friend Dani in Colorado was expecting for the first time, and I made her two little sweaters, based on the fantastic pattern One-Piece Baby Kimono by Cristina Shiffman, part of the seminal classic knitting book, Mason-Dixon Knitting. At the time when I made those sweaters (here and here, if you want to see how cute they were!), Mason-Dixon Knitting was still a relatively new blog/phenomenon. I was delighted to find out that they are still going strong, now selling their own beautiful yarns and pattern kits.

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However, sometimes it just doesn’t get any better than the classics.

In this case, I went with my own stockinette-based tweak of the pattern. When you modify the pattern so that you do it this way, you can get a whole sweater out of only one ball of Cascade 220 Superwash, my very favorite yarn for baby stuff, plus it just looks super chic and elegant this way, yes?

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Yes.

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After you knit one, which seriously only takes an afternoon if you’re motivated, you can’t help yourself and need to keep going.

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And going.

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And going.

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They are just too much cuteness. You can only really consider stopping after five.

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The colors I chose, in descending order here, are Cascade 220 Superwash in #1946 Silver Grey, #873 Extra Creme Cafe, #905 Celery, and #1949 Lavender, and Berroco Vintage in #5101 for the white.

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Dan picked out the ribbon colors, and I think he did a wonderful job. They are all 1/2″ satin ribbon from Offray, and there are so many colors out there, you’re bound to find a great match.

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Weaving and sewing in the ribbon is a particular bit of fiddly business that I enjoy. In the original pattern, they only recommend sewing in the ribbon in ties on the side.

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I can’t ever help myself, and I always have to go a little bit further. For mine, I wove the ribbon in and out of the eyelets, skipping two bars on top and one on the bottom. If you try to just weave it in-and-out of each hole, this width of ribbon starts to crumple and fold over in an unattractive way. By skipping holes on the top to create a larger “bump,” everything lays flat and lovely and shiny.

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See?

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After these were blocked and be-ribboned, they got sent off to San Rafael with all my love, just a few weeks ago. I’m glad I sent them early, because Jonathan and Rebecca’s birthday baby girl decided to come over a month early! She is perfect and beautiful, and I hope that she understands just how much she is loved, not just by her amazing parents, but by those of us across the country, sending our love and good wishes and warmth in the form of teeny, tiny handknit sweaters.

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So that just about wraps it up for this fall and winter. I am still exhausted, mostly in the brain area, but taking the time to sit and write these out has helped me to see how much I accomplished this year that wasn’t just assigned to me by professors.

In real life, I am a fairly prickly person. I am slow to friendship. I am exacting and organized and suspicious. Those people around me, the ones who love and care, deserve so much more love and appreciation than I am ever able to fully present with just words. So, I make things with my hands. I try to infuse the good thoughts and warm feelings that lurk deep within so that they can see them, finally, on the surface. And I hope that they understand.

Catch-Up Time: Mending

I am a staunch believer in the idea that knitted (and most handmade items, in fact) are meant to be used, not just observed from afar. I try to make it clear that I want people to wear their hats and socks and scarves and sweaters until they are hanging on by their last stitch.

However, since I have only been knitting for the past 20 years (only!), and I am typically a huge yarn snob that shells out for the good stuff, I have yet encounter a need for a repair.

(You can just feeeel the foreshadowing, right?)

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Cue the sad trombones.

Dan noticed two tiny holes in his beloved vest earlier this year, and after a few moments of heartbreak, I knew what I needed to do.

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These, for the untrained, are felting needles. They are the sharpest things you will ever meet, and they have teeny, tiny little barbs running up the edges of their star- and triangle-shaped stabby bits. These barbs catch onto the natural “shingles” of the wool hair follicles, and when you punch them up and down enough times, cause wool fibers to “felt” and bind together.

Now, usually people use these guys to make little felt sculptures or appliques, working with the unspun wool roving itself. However, since Dan’s vest was made out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, a yarn made with a distinct “woolen spun” texture that leaves the fibers loose rather than tightly plied, I figured that I could use these bad boys to fix up the holes and reattach the yarn ends, rather than having to stitch up a repair.

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It’s kind of hard to see because of all the texture going on, but dead center in the button band, you can see a purl stitch that’s been separated right at the middle of the purl bump. Due to Shelter’s texture, the hole didn’t really unravel at all, which is really just one of the billion reasons why you need to make something out of it already.

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I snipped off a tiny piece of yarn from the leftover bit of skein, maybe 0.5cm long, and laid it across the broken purl stitch.

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And then I carefully stabbed it about a thousand times.

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There were two broken stitches here, and now all you can see is moss stitch and button holes! I was pretty damn pleased with myself.

However…(bum bum buuuuummmm)…that wasn’t the end of the mending needed this year.

For some reason, this is also the year that decided that a whole bunch of our handknit socks were all going to break stitches in almost the exact same place.

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You might be thinking, Jinger, do you have a terrible moth infestation? Or, do you have a horde of tiny mice with scissors who hate you?

But, I’m thinking that these were all about human error. Where is each hole? Right near the top, where you grab the sides to hike up your socks, of course. Turns out that Dan and I are just monsters with sharp, pointy hands, who like to destroy the things we love most.

Felting needles were definitely not an option here, with multiple broken stitches, a little bit of unraveling, and varying fiber types. How to repair these wounds?

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I choose to believe that it’s a testament to my knitting skill that I hadn’t had to buy a darning egg before, but I think it’s more likely that I knit mostly for people who live in warm climates and only wear their knitted socks once or twice a year.

Anyway, time to get down to business to save our precious lizard, helix, and complement socks.  I had never done this before, but I looked at the instructions on the back for an abnormally long amount of time, plus several different tutorials online. And then I shoved them all back in a drawer and waited another week until I could stomach it.

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Now, the technique I’m using here is the “grid” method of darning socks, helpfully explained in detail here by the Radical Homemaker. You spread the area that needs repair over the darning egg to flatten everything out and make sure that you can see the stitches clearly.

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Then you run your darning thread in vertical lines, catching each side of the hole with a little bit of allowance on each side so that they are firmly anchored in the stable areas.

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After that, you do the same thing running in horizontal lines, anchoring the stitches and weaving in-and-out of the grid lines exposed.

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When you’re done, you have a little patch that’s stable, frayed ends that are trapped in the grid and unable to unwind any further, and a pretty cool-looking scar to show the sock’s rightful battle wounds.

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Really, if you have a penchant for variegated yarns and stripes, you really can’t see much of anything at all. The area is no longer quite as stretchy as the rest of the sock, but our scars act the same way, right?

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Even when they aren’t visible, they serve as a reminder for the things we’ve been through and the harm we’ve survived. They remind us of our weak points and the parts of ourselves that we’ve built up to be stronger.

And in this case, they remind us that the things that we make for ourselves and others are meant to be incorporated into our daily lives. Used so aggressively and lovingly that they fall apart and need mending. Trusting that what made them strong in the first place is what will help them to come back to life.

Catch-Up Time: Night Sky Saurey

For our next catch-up post, we have a real labor of love.

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Not that it was a difficult thing to make at all, but it was a project infused with love from the start.

You remember my lovely friend Kelli?

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Of course, you do! She is a glorious ray of sunshine in my life, and when she told me that she and her husband Taylor were having a baby, I immediately got to work finding the perfect baby blanket pattern for her. After finishing up a happy dance around the kitchen, of course.

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Kelli is a very stylish lady. She effortlessly surrounds herself with handpicked items that suit her perfectly, without ever looking too very. She taught herself calligraphy, and it is always a treat getting hand-addressed letters and cards from her in the mail. She loves the handmade and the one-of-a-kind, making her the ideal person to grace with a truly loving handknit project.

I’m pretty sure it was only a few days (maybe even the next day?) when I starting prying her for details about her perfect baby blanket. Cables? Stripes? Intarsia?

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Lace? Bingo. Introducing our Night Sky Saurey.

Kelli and Taylor weren’t going to find out the gender of the baby ahead of time, and she had already decided on a “night sky” theme for the nursery, so something lacy and reminiscent of the starry, inky night sky was just perfect.

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She picked out the pattern herself, from a curated selection from me, and specified that she wanted it in navy blue.

The pattern? Saurey from Berroco, made in Berroco Modern Cotton. The color Goddard was just the perfect shade, somewhere between navy and royal blue, to evoke those sleepy nighttime nursery vibes.

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Now, I am apparently not the only person who thought that it was just perfect, because it was on back-order from every single online store I could find, for at least 2 months. However, patience won the day, and I ended up with 3 skeins of this beautiful stuff with 2 months to spare to knit the thing.

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And let’s talk about this yarn for a second. Kelli specifically wanted cotton, something that would be able to be washed and beat up a little bit and not get too hot, because regardless of the season, we do live in Louisiana where the weather is trying to murder us at all times. Modern Cotton is a pima cotton and modal blend, meaning that it’s super soft and pliable, not hard and unforgiving like a lot of other cotton yarns, but still very resilient.

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It’s got great stitch definition, even when knit up a little bit loosely, like is required for this pattern. It’s also got a wee bit of a sheen, and when combined with the lace yarnovers and the tiny spaces between the stitches, it makes it look like it’s shimmering when it moves.

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I mean, could there have been a more perfect blanket for a night sky theme? Or a friend more deserving? I don’t think so.

Only two more installments of catch-up posts! More baby stuff, plus something I’ve never done before! Exciting!

Catch-Up Time: the Killer Sandworm Beastie Hat

Almost a year-and-a-half ago, my co-worker and friend Samantha gave me a little book full of knitting patterns for baby hats, mittens, and scarves. And every single pattern features an awesome monster.

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How cute is this?! So freaking cute. (Here’s a link to go get it!)

She was pregnant at the time, and eventually had her son that November. He was the recipient of the extremely awesome Star Illusion Blanket at the time, but with this new book in tow, I knew that I had to get it together and make him a monster of his very own for his first birthday.

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Introducing…the Killer Sandworm Beastie Hat!

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Now, you’re not going to find this guy in the book exactly, but you will find his inspiration, Serrated Shark Hat. However, I didn’t have enough gray yarn to do the entire body and fins, so I had to get creative.

I started matching up other yarn leftovers (and seriously, this book is amazing for using up all kinds of odds and ends), and found a bunch of black Brown Sheep Nature Spun leftover from my Hamilton hats. I’m pretty sure that the gray that I had was left over from Mischief Managed, but I can’t be totally sure, but it matched weight almost perfectly.

What to do? Stripes!

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I also wasn’t the hugest fan of the way that the teeth worked in the original pattern, so I went on YouTube and found a crochet sawtooth pattern that made some hilariously pointy teeth. (Here’s the link for that one!)

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With its goth stripes and bright green eyes, Dan and I couldn’t deny its uncanny resemblance to the stripey sandworms from Beetlejuice.

Quick note:  Snap-in doll’s eyes are great for this, but they have extremely pointy and scratchy ends that end up on the inside of the hat, rather than being hidden inside the stuffing like they would normally be. To combat this, I sewed some little felt patches to the inside of the hat, covering the posts. I didn’t get any pictures of this, but just make sure you’re keeping those baby heads safe.

I got some pictures from Samantha a few days ago of her son enjoying his hat, and they are just so precious I can’t stand it.

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I mean…those crazy pointy toothed ear flaps just make me so insanely happy. I desperately need an adult-sized one right away.

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Stay tuned for more baby-related projects! It’s never-ending!

Catch-Up Time: Cardamom, the friendly dragon, and the Little Dragon Hat

I am very tired.

For the past eleventy-billion weeks, I have been heavily involved in my (hopefully) second-to-last semester of grad school, including performing my DNP project. And working. And writing a million papers. This may sound like complaining, but really, I think that I’ve earned the right just a little bit. It’ll all be worth it when I can make people call me Dr. Jinger, right?

Right.

Anyway, throughout all of it, I have still been working on a multitude of projects, mostly because my loved ones just will not stop having adorable babies and letting them grow up into adorable toddlers. It’s relentless. So, for the first of these “catch-up” style posts, I’ll be featuring two freaking adorable knitted items that I made for one of the super cute babies in question.

My wonderful friend Tobias and his girlfriend Alexis welcomed a baby boy in September, and because these are the dear friends with whom I lived out my D&D adventures for many years, I knew that I had to make them something that was both adorable and adventure-based.

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“Where thou go’est, weary traveler?”

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Presenting, Cardamom, the friendly dragon.

This sweet little guy was knitted up using the fabulous free pattern Tarragon the Gentle Dragon from Knit-A-Zoo, purveyor of all sorts of cute knitted animals. I loved the original name, but I definitely more of a sweet than savory person, so Cardamom it is.

This pattern really threw me for a loop while I was making it and putting it together, mostly because I just couldn’t get over how freaking cute all of the details were as they appeared. Like, there are little toe bumps on the dragon’s feet.

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Toe bumps!

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The shaping of the head alone gave it so much personality, even before the eyes and spikes got added.

And the spikes!

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Although I had no idea what to expect when I started knitting that little purple strip of spikes (seriously it took me a minute to understand exactly how they would work, but, just trust the pattern, it knows what it’s doing), they sewed in so perfectly and were, by far, my absolute favorite part of the project.

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But, wait! The wings!

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And his little tail!

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So good.

I didn’t really modify anything here, because everything was so perfect. The only thing I did was use my standard felt eyes, rather than the pre-made doll eyes suggested by the pattern, just because I want all of my handmade creatures to look a little bit sad for some reason.

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That face.

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Such a sweetheart.

Now, I had plenty of yarn left over, and I knew that just a little dragon toy wasn’t enough, especially for a future adventure-baby, so I figured that I had to make a little bit of adventuring gear to go along with it.

What better than a little dragon hat to match his new dragon friend?

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Modeled here so excellently by R2D2 is the Little Dragon Hat, made from the pattern Little Dragon by Fox & Crow. Fox & Crow’s website is a smorgasbord of cuteness and style, albeit all in Dutch, but do go give it a look and feel all kinds of knit-based envy.

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The overwhelming delight of being able to match the hat to the stuffed animal? Almost too much.

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This one was so much fun, even during the little fiddly bits. I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I originally attached the wrong color and knit 2 spikes in green before I realized that something was wrong.

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And then, after I was finished with all the spikes, I had to go back and undo and replace the very first one again, just because it was one stitch off from laying flat with the other ones, and it was going to make me go insane if I didn’t fix it.

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It was definitely worth it to get it perfect. The hat is a little (lot) too big for the baby right now, but I know he’ll get plenty of use out of it later, when he’s venturing out to explore his new world.

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Don’t they make a charming pair?

I knit both of these with Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, but really any DK- or sport-weight yarn would work wonderfully, as long as it’s not too high on the acrylic/viscose/whatever-plastic content. I only say this because you need to do a fair bit of ironing for the dragon’s spikes and for getting your hat spikes perfect and pointy, so you don’t want something that’s going to melt or get weird and shiny. Rialto is a 100% merino with a very fine multi-ply structure, so you get really good stitch definition.

For these projects, I managed to make both out of 3 balls of Apple and 1 ball of Wisteria, but now that I think about it, I don’t even think that I touched the third ball of the green. August seems like forever ago, you guys. Stay tuned for more catch-up posts as I try to piece back together a year that felt like it took 3 years to pass.

Mary Blanket Squared

Well, it’s been a bit. I have no excuses other than clinicals eating my life this past semester. Everyday is a little bit closer to my degree, and now that I’ve actually physically started my doctoral project, the simultaneous feelings of being-close-to-being-done and still-having-so-much-work-to-do are doing my head in a bit. How do we fix that?

We knit baby blankets!

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And this one, my friends, was really something special.

My friend and co-worker Mary is just a lovely person. You might remember her from nearly two years ago when I knit her a stripey chevron baby blanket for her first baby, and now she’s gone and decided to bring another wonderful person into the world. How very like her.

Mary, in addition to being a fantastic nurse, is also a wonderful visual artist. You can check out (and buy!) some of her art here: Art by MLeon. Her visual language is really striking, particularly if you are a person from New Orleans, and I have been lusting after one of her abstract swamp paintings for a long while.

I figured, after taking a little trip through Ravelry‘s baby blanket pattern section with Mary (and speaking of Ravelry, hell yeah Ravelry, you go Ravelry, good for you Ravelry), that I’d take her preferences into account, but add in a few little extras so that she knew how much I admire her talent and style.

Her oyster paintings really caught my eye, with their swathes of pearls and greys, along with metallic accents. So did this particular colorway of Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Pearlescent. And the handful of beads that I had left over from my exciting venture into beaded shawls. A plan was starting to come together.

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The pattern is Baby Blanket Squared by Jennifer Donze, and it really shows off all of that lovely subtle variegation. From far away, it just looks like varying shades of gray, but up close…

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…you’ve got hints of blue, purple, and cream mixed in, just like an opalescent oyster shell.

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The beads are Toho Japanese glass beads, the clear glass with the silver foil inner lining, size 6/0 E, and you won’t even need a full container. The original pattern doesn’t include the beading, so let me tell you what I did, in case you want to fancy it up with me.

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For each beaded stitch, you take a tiny crochet hook and thread the bead onto the stitch that you are about to knit, just right on top of it, and then place it back on your left-hand needle and knit it normally. Starting with the border chart, I put beads on every corner stitch on the pattern rows (the odd-numbered rows).

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Then, with row 26 (the last row of the pattern chart, where you’re just working plain stitches around), I placed beads on every stitch that had previously been a double-decrease on the row below, to mark the tiny clusters. This makes that last row take approximately a thousand years, but something about those tiny little bits of sparkle make me happy.

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Then, on the bind-off row, I beaded the corner stitches one last time before binding them off, just to make sure the sparkles went all the way to the end. This is optional, of course, because then you’ve got to block it really aggressively to make sure all those little beads lay totally flat.

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Because this is a pattern where every other row makes the blanket grow larger, you will get extremely irritated with it and shove it back in the bag after every few rows, just because you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. My last few rows and the bind-off alone took 1.5-2 hours each, since at that point you have over 600 stitches of sock-weight yarn on your needles. It’s hard not to go a bit stir crazy.

But when you’re finally done and you get to admire all of that hard work?

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It’s so worth it.

That Stroll sock yarn is such good stuff, it’ll have you thinking crazy thoughts like, “Hmmm, maybe I’d like a whole sweater out of this.”

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I mean, can you blame me? It’s just got such a lovely drape and squish. It would probably take 10 skeins to make something that would fit me, and approximately a bajillion years to finish it, but damn if it doesn’t sound appealing right now, in the hazy fog of finishing a project.

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I can only hope that Mary loves her blanket just as much as I do, and that it becomes something special to her, just like she is to me.

Effervesce: A Very Fancy Name for a Very Pretty Sock

It’s my first project of the year! Coming in just under the wire for January, we’ve got Effervesce.

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A fancy name that really does befit a lovely sock, but makes me feel like I’m in a pretentious perfume commercial when I attempt to say it.

Effervesce. By Lancôme.

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But, seriously, those are some pretty things. They deserve a pretty name.

Effervesce. By Dior.

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My friend and co-worker, Kristen, is equally lovely. She is a former dancer and a kickass nurse, and it’s one of my favorite things when I get to give her report in the morning. She’s also a dead ringer for Simone Giertz of shitty robot fame, who is just one of the coolest people in the world. I’m a firm believer that only the coolest people get the coolest doppelgangers, so there you go.

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This pattern, beautifully written and charted by Purrlescent on Ravelry, has so many things that I am just a sucker for. It’s got symmetry between the feet, both in the cable twists and in the overall pattern design.

Effervesce.  By Calvin Klein.

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(Important note: my camera just cannot handle purples, for some reason, so just imagine a sock that is somewhere between all of these disparate photos. Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering in Goose Hollow is actually a kettle-dyed-style mix of blues, purples, and pinks, and it looks like a cotton-candy wonderland.)

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Effervesce.  By Oscar de la Renta.

Even though I’m making an awful lot of fun of the name, this is one of my favorite sock patterns that I’ve knit in a long while.  It’s just too good. Each sock has its cable twists going opposite ways, plus the enlarging twisted rib detail just kills me. There’s something very satisfying about all those super straight lines.

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Like, look at that! So neat and tidy and orderly and perfect.

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As you can imagine, having this type of symmetry required a whole lot of charts. Four, to be exact, and they were super clear and easy-to-follow, which can be quite a feat. What a good job. Plus, there’s a bonus recipe for sangria at the end of the pattern, which, although it’s not my favorite thing, is super fun. Who doesn’t love drinking and knitting?

Effervesce.  By Marc Jacobs.

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I’m particularly enamored of the way the cables unfurl into the slipped stitch heel. I’ll be sneaking these into Kristen’s work locker tomorrow, and I hope she feels the same.  And I hope she loves the name as much as I do.  And then we can both stare off into the middle distance and say it in unison.  Effervessssssce.

Thankful for Pie 2018 Edition

You guys. This year was a hard one to recap due to the fact that so many things were just so terrible this year, just in general. From the world seemingly falling apart around our ears every other minute, to the more mundane and personal challenges that Dan and I experienced…it was difficult to sit and take the time and attempt to see the silver lining of everything that was going on. This year has felt like five years packed into one, but if you would have asked me before I started to sort through my pictures, I would have had a difficult time telling you the highlights. I guess that’s part of the point, though. Taking the time to sit and reflect and see the good things that happened.

It would feel a bit hypocritical to not mention that all of these things probably only functioned as temporary distractions from the greater problems and difficulties that were occurring all around us. However, that doesn’t make them any less important. You’ve got to find those things that make getting through life worth all of the problems and strangeness, right? Here we go.

In January, I got to make delicious chocolate pie with Kelli, one of my favorite people.

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We made plans to make more pie (which hasn’t happened yet because I am a busy, bad friend), and to make a dog sweater for her cutie, Ellie.

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Awwwwwww.

There was also the completion of this masterpiece, now proudly hanging in my dining room.

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I mean, people talk about life goals, but I didn’t know that having a giant picture of Ralph Macchio on my wall was one of mine until I had properly achieved it.

I made the pinkest socks ever for my friend Sabrina, right in the middle of a crazy hard freeze, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t happen very often in New Orleans.

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And I got to attend a wonderful Hamilton sing-a-long with my friends and fellow nurses Eli and Carolyn, plus Tessa, the coolest kid I know.

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Of course I wore my Hamilton hat, plus I met a fellow super-cool shirt-wearer.

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February brought with it a very cool woodworking project from Dan. I’ve been begging him for years to make us a coat rack because Trip loves to infiltrate the hallway coat closet and sequester himself in there whenever anyone opens it. True to form, Dan cut down a tree and made a forest in my hallway.

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It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

This year, we really got into tending our own backyard garden rather than participating in a CSA box, mainly because the washing and storage upkeep on the CSA vegetables would have been pretty impossible with all of my grad school work. In March, the whole yard was sprouting and blooming and glorious. A few highlights from the spring and summer:

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We planted wildflowers in nearly every empty space in order to bring the bees on over, and it worked like gangbusters.

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It wasn’t long before the sunflowers got taller than Dan.

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Then, taller than the fence and the patio roof.

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I could look out of my second-story bedroom window every morning and see them blooming. It was fantastic.

We planted a whole crop of carrots, too, which brings me to another goal of the year, which I started in April: annoying a James-Beard-award-winning chef into being my internet friend.

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Dan had bought me Alon Shaya‘s cookbook, Shaya, a little while back, and I spent a large portion of my year making various recipes out of it and tweeting them out to him personally.

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But, it worked! I can’t tell you how many times I danced around my kitchen, roasting red peppers over the open flame and delighting in the fact that a famous chef was delighting in the fact that I was cooking his recipes. It’s a recursive cycle of joy, really.

In April, I also learned how to suture.

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Another skill, along with knitting and CPR, that will serve me well in the apocalypse.

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Plus, I made a very pretty beaded shawl and flounced around in the park with it, feeling like a pretty, pretty princess.

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In May, Dan and I celebrated our twelfth anniversary, and I sent him on a scavenger hunt around the house, collecting fancy dark chocolate candy bars commemorating various landmarks in our relationship.

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We went to NOMA a whole bunch, to see the beautiful exhibits, and to escape the overwhelming heat.

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And I made a beautiful baby blanket for my friend Christina and her new baby.

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I don’t usually call my own work beautiful, but I can’t remember ever being so proud of a project as I am of Autumn Vindauga. It was the perfect way to kick off the Summer of Baby Blankets, because I was just surrounded by pregnant ladies.

In June, in-between writing essays for my nursing ethics class and knitting furiously, we grew some mystery melons.

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Seriously. We did not plant these. They just appeared. And they were yummy.

Then, my friend Bailee surprised me with what might be the most perfect birthday present anyone has ever received.

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Yes, friends, that is me, clad in my Captain America dress, being held aloft by a very sexy, bearded Captain himself. Do yourself a favor and go look at Sakibatch’s other amazing fandom art and support her! This thing is just glorious.

The Summer of Baby Blankets continued into July.

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I put my fingers to the test with all of these tiny cables, but man, it was worth it.

And I made a tiny rainbow!

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In August, the baby blanket mania finally came to an end with the coolest illusion knitting ever.

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A video that I posted on Tumblr revealing the illusion stars is the most reblogged thing that I have ever posted. A small accomplishment, but people love their illusion knitting something fierce.

Then, Bailee and I attended the Ninja Sex Party concert at the Joy Theatre. Aptly named, because sheer joy was just the theme of the evening.

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I mean, look at that. There’s just sunshine and happiness and glitter and rainbows emanating off that stage.

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Because we got VIP tickets (priced appropriately at $69.69), we got treated to Danny and Ninja Brian’s lovely faces as they answered questions and talked about the music they love.

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We wore an awful lot of glitter, but we definitely weren’t alone. There was so much cosplay and sequins and joy joy joy everywhere.

I was introduced to Planet Booty, an energetic and exciting band that travels with a disco-mirrored mannequin butt that they bring out on stage.

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I did not manage to get a picture of this part because my jaw was hanging open while I danced my ass off.

Then, we rocked out to TWRP‘s electronica-disco-dance-party stylings.

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Then, NSP blew our faces off.

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I would have never known about these wonderful bands and people if Bailee had not introduced them to me, and for that I am eternally grateful. I have been listening to them this entire time while writing this, and it’s just impossible to not be happy while you listen to their music. Seriously, go to their channel and immerse yourself in awesomeness.

September brought more musical greatness.

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My friend Kyle, better known as KP, rapped all about bad bitches right in front of my face. Go check out his Soundcloud. His stuff is just…it seems wrong to say delightful because that’s such a “me” word and not a word for super cool rappers, but it honestly makes me so goddamn happy.

Then, we saw Taylor Swift at the Superdome.

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Yes, I only own one shirt with sequins on it. Again, I was not alone in being a sparkly lady here. Never before have I seen so much glitter. On the crowd, on the stage, floating in the air. It was unreal.

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And snakes!

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There are no words. It was the loudest, brightest, craziest spectacle I have ever seen, and I loved every second.

In October, I made socks for some truly-deserving people.

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Plus, Dan and I went and saw Aaron Mahnke of the Lore Podcast, a truly wonderful little bit of creepy storytelling you should add to your weekly routine.

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He treated us to a book-signing and a reading from his new book, Dreadful Places, and we chatted for a bit about exhumed graves. Like you do.

In November, we saw Nine Inch Nails.

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Again, there are no words. I will never stop loving Trent Reznor, especially when he pulls out a freaking saxophone in the middle of concert and plays us some ambient end-of-the-world sounds for about 30 seconds, and then puts it away and never mentions it again. My hero.

So, here we are at December. One last project got completed before the end of the year, a little good, good dice bag for Bailee to enjoy while she’s in grad school in London.

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Plus, we’ve got pickles going in the fridge from the last remnants of the garden, tons of bell peppers and green roma tomatoes.

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And, I’ve got a new pair of socks on the needles for my friend and coworker Kristen, all single-stitch twists and bubbles.

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I also wrote the proposal and designed my DNP scholarly project this year and wrote a total of 85,710 words and 320 double- and single-spaced APA-formatted pages on everything from fall prevention to nursing ethical dilemmas to atrophic vaginitis. I saw 411 patients. Yes, I kept track of all of these things because I am a giant nerd. Some of our long-term patients at the hospital passed away or had some crazy near-misses. I sat with mothers and grandmothers and children as they cried in frustration and fear and relief.

I am very tired.

Let’s hope that in the new year, we can truly delight in the things that bring us joy, rather than only using them as a balm to distract from the horrors of the world. I’m trying harder to do this every day, and I can only wish that it gets easier for all of us soon.

Warm Feet = Love

A few years ago, my best friend since high school, Jonathan, and his lovely wonderful wife, Rebecca, moved from New Orleans out to beautiful San Rafael, CA.

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I miss them all the time.

Ever since visiting them in the middle of summer last year, I am also concerned about the state of their feet. The entire San Francisco area is ridiculously cold at night, no matter what time of year, and I knew that this had to be remedied with some precious handknit socks, post-haste.

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I happened to have a gorgeous skein of Mrs. Crosby Loves to Play Satchel hanging around, an impulse purchase made during a huge sale at my favorite LYS, McNeedles. This weirdly-named yarn is one of my all-time favorite sock yarns, supersoft with gorgeous color saturation and a lovely single-ply twist that manages to still yield some great stitch definition with a soft fuzzy halo around it. This colorway, Peacock, is just absolutely stunning, and Jonathan and I felt like it was perfect for Rebecca.

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The pattern is the Cookie A. classic, Monkey. I’ve been wanting to make these since the first time I saw them in Knitty, 12 years ago, and I finally got to add them to my Cookie A. oeuvre.

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Seriously, I have made a lot of Cookie A. socks. Look through the archives, if you don’t believe me, because it’s just now the end of the semester of my second year of grad school, and I just can’t muster up the energy to look them all up and link them here for you. But trust me, there’s a bunch.

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There’s nothing overly twee or clever about these, just a really good, classic sock pattern, with a little bit of lace and mock-cables to keep things interesting.

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They are so incredibly soft and plush. The perfect thing to keep this wonderful woman’s toes warm this winter.

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The only thing that I might change, if I were to make these socks in the future, is to try them with a yarn that’s maybe more tightly-spun or smoother, because even though the halo of Satchel is glorious, it does obscure the more subtle bits of the patterning. I’d love to see what it might look like in something more defined.

As for Jonathan…well, it would just be really mean to make beautiful, warm socks for his wife and not make him anything at all. Too rude to even think of.

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How freaking cool is it that I somehow have pictures of both of these people that coordinate somehow with their new socks? Uncanny. (You’d almost think that I did it on purpose, but I didn’t. I swear. I’m just good at picking out sock yarns, I think.  We all have our talents.)

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I’ve had this skein of Berroco Sox in my stash for years, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it. You don’t just jump into a self-striping sock without having the perfect pattern and perfect person to use it for. This colorway, the tragically-discontinued Lancaster, was an utter joy.

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I mean, that’s a lot of pictures of the same thing over and over, but I don’t know how else to reveal those little flecks of soft browns, purples, pinks, and grays throughout the whole thing. The pattern is my old stand-by, perfect for showcasing crazy stripes and colorfades, the Good, Plain Sock Recipe by the Yarn Harlot.

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Just a standard 3×3 rib pattern to show off all those tweedy stripes. Such good stuff. It’s hard to not feel like an aspiring Ivy League professor trudging through the fall leaves while you’re wearing these.

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These beauties got packed up and sent on their way to California, where they are doing their important job of keeping the toes warm of the people that I love.

That’s what true love is, right? Keeping your loved ones warm, any way you can, even from across the country? I think so.