Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Muleteer Socks

This is my first attempt to design a sock pattern - or really to write down one of my favorite sock construction recipes. I hope it is helpful!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Would You, Could You Playaway?

1. My library has a chance to win $10,000 from the Playaway people, who publish books on lovely little dedicated MP3 players.

2. My mad librarian friend has made a pretty funny video to express our delight with Playaways, and hopefully generate votes.



3. Please Vote For Us Here! (Each of your email addresses gets a vote!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Winston in Triumph

The other day our library had its annual Pet Show out on the back lawn. I usually go to pet everyone else's pets, but this year I brought my own: Winston!
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I felt bad leaving my other dog, Buster, home - he'd have loved to come too, but he's a little bigger and has a tendency to knock little children over and lick them when they're down. Winston is a bit more portable.
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We had a fabulous time. Winston has never had so much love in one day. He met other dogs,
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and was petted and had his ears skritched by child
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after child
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and if any noses got within his range, he kissed him. (Some of his victims regretted letting him do this: his breath could be better.) Whenever he seemed to get tired of being patted, I gave the next child a piece or two of kibble from a stash in my pocket. Pugs are very food-motivated; he perked right up again!

All of my fellow librarians who could, came out to meet him. We're a very dog-loving department.
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No pet who comes to the Pet Show leaves without his just reward. Winston is now officially the Best Kisser!
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All photos in this post courtesy of my friend Goldiebug, who usually gets stuck being our library photographer. Thanks so much!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why Dyers Reskein

I thought my new self-striping yarns looked pretty good yesterday. I twisted them into fake skeins to photograph them, but the yarn was still really in those ultra-long loops I dyed it in. I could have left it that way but I didn't know how long it'd be before I dyed all of it, and I was concerned about potential tangling. So I dug out my old inkle loom and wound the yarn into standard-sized skeins.

Transformation!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

It Is A Good Day to Dye

Last Saturday Sarah and I had our first annual dyeing day. Sarah's good enough to store all our dyeing junk in her garage, so when I got up there around 11 AM I started hauling it out and setting it up like a whirlwind because I had about eight skeins of yarn I wanted to dye.

We ordered a bunch of new acid dye colors from the Dharma Trading Company so the first couple hours was consumed by making stock solutions, but by about 1:30 or 2 I was ready to begin. As it turned out, I was only able to get four skeins dyed, but I'm extremely satisfied with my results, and I was so pooped I could barely move on Sunday, so I guess I worked hard enough. (Sarah managed to dye three sweaters' worth of yarn! I don't know how she did it.)

I keep thinking I should learn to love some of the more random techniques, so I "jar-dyed" my first skein. I hadn't done this before - I picked up the technique off a Ravelry forum called "Love To Dye". You take your dry skein of yarn and stuff it in a quart size canning jar, then toss in small amounts of several colors of dye. Then you fill the jar with a mixture of vinegar and water and microwave it until the water is clear. It's pretty cool when you pour the water in and the colors *poof* into being down the sides of the jar!

Here is the resultant skein:
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The yarn is Knitpicks' Bare Sock Yarn and I used little spoonfuls of Dharma's Caribbean Blue, Deep Magenta and Strawberry Red plus Jacquard's Scarlet. If I use this technique again I'm going to layer in some dye powder while I'm stuffing the yarn in the jar, since very little color migrated to the inner layers of the skein. I sort of like the white-plus-color look I got here but I'd been shooting for a red-and-purple skein. I name all my colorways even though I have no intention or ability to go into production and sell my skeins, so this one is dubbed Surprise!

The other three skeins were somewhat fiddly handpaints, so that's why they took me so long. I like knitting patterned socks in semisolid yarns, but I also LOVE knitting plain socks in self-striping yarns. I wore last year's favorite pair of hand-dyed self striping socks
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clean through the heel in just under three months. (Cue sad, sad face.) This particular yarn was 100% superwash merino, and clearly I am too hard on my socks for this, which is why I'm switching back to yarns that have some nylon in them. Enter my new favorite: Sheila's Gold from Wool2dye4.com! This yarn is a blend of wool and nylon, and it's tightly plied so it looks like a string of beads when you get close enough. It's light and fluffy, and the only drawback from my perspective is that it's thinner than the sock yarns I like best, which can only be described as "beefy". I love the ones that are right on the edge of Sport, about 360 yards per 100 grams, while Sheila's Gold is listed as 400 yards to 100 grams. Still, that's why they make little needles, isn't it?

Prior to dyeing day I wound three long skeins, about 25-30 feet around. I tied them in a bunch of places, chained them up like a warp to keep them from tangling, and soaked them over Friday night. I wanted the socks to end up with two highly contrasting ~1/2 inch stripes sort of like Dorrie the Little Witch's stockings, or maybe Pippi Longstockings. I dyed half of each skein solid black and then painted the other half in a variegated colorway.

Here's the first one:
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I love, love, love the pale apricots and pinks and yellows I used on the colored half of this skein. They remind me of Valentine's Day cookies or petit fours or tea cakes. The black half of the skein is actually black-brown because the dye stock I used had been in storage for a year and the color sort of went off. It fortuitously works out, though - I think of it as devil's food cake and that goes with the tea cake/petit four thing. The colorway names for this set of yarns come from book titles (I'm getting my librarian geek on), so this skein became Sympathy for the Devil.

I mixed new black dye stock for the other two skeins, so they have true black as their dark half. For There's Something About St. Tropez,
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I used Dharma's Caribbean Blue and Jacquard's Sun Yellow. The skein really makes me think of ocean waves and beaches.

The last skein is my favorite, though. I called it Vampire Kisses,
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and it's got all the rich juicy reds I love.

Now I have a terrible problem: I can't decide which one to knit first! I think I'll put them in a bag and pick one at random: that's the only way to be fair!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What a DAY!

Today my friend Sarah and I met up with my other friend Chrissy and her family at the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster. This is the 15th annual show, but today is the first time I've gone. We had a fabulous time!

There are getting to be a lot of these fiber shows around - I'm not sure if there are more these days because knitting, spinning, etc. are getting more popular, or if I'm just noticing them because now I knit (and I've dabbled in spinning although I kicked the habit some years ago.) This show had a competition for handspun skeins of yarn, and for fleeces, and a sheep auction.

They also had VENDORS. Four barns full of vendors.

I went in with a certain budget in mind, and I came within fifteen dollars of staying inside it. I feel pretty proud of myself! Oddly enough I did not come home with a bunch of sock yarn; there were some really pretty skeins of it there but I ended up not buying any. What I did buy was two enormous skeins of worsted weight Corriedale from Briar Rose Fibers - enough for a sweater - in a lovely hand-dyed purple-and-goldy-brown combo. I'm going to make an Every Way Wrap, although I am going to change the cable section to something else because cabling? Not my favorite. Love the look, hate to do.

Now, I forgot my camera (KICKING MYSELF), but interesting sights included

* an entire wall of Createvely Dyed yarn - they had an ENORMOUS display.

* A number of adorable alpacas, all newly sheared, so their wooly heads looked like big lollipops on skinny curved sticks. A couple of them didn't mind being patted, although alpacas generally are shy and don't really like petting.

* An adventurous sheep who slipped his leash and ran off through the crowd. He was a black sheep, and maybe he felt he had to live up to it, but he (or she - I really couldn't tell; he was in swift motion) eluded one set of would-be captors by leaping five feet in the air and landing well beyond them. Then the idiot animal dashed into one of the vendor barns and was causing great consternation in there when somebody closed the sliding door we were watching through. I heard later that the sheep was caught and returned to captivity so someone must have grabbed it before it escaped to the other end of the barn. It strikes me that there is a reason Scripture refers to humankind as sheep a lot, and it isn't a compliment.

* An enormous ram being auctioned. I'm not that expert in sheep anatomy, but no way was that an udder.

* Some very cute sheep waiting for auction, who liked having their ears skritched. My skin liked their lanolin, too!

By the time we had seen all this I was tired and hungry and a bit fried by the sun - Chrissy (the well prepared Mom) had given me some sunscreen, but it was HOT today. Our group was too big to keep together; we kept peeling off and meeting back up with one another, but by early in the afternoon everyone was done. As in, stick a fork in me - I'm done!

We all went our separate ways. Sarah and I ate a late lunch at Matsos, a Wooster eatery we'd often gone to in our college days, and then we drove slowly up through campus toward home.

That's when it got weird. We stopped in the street in front of Wagner Hall, our old dorm where we roomed together, and were reminiscing about college, and then I went to pull away. I had the horrible sensation that something was wrong with the car, and there was this sort of suck-WHUMP sound. Turns out that I'd stopped the car with the left rear tire right on a big, gross road patch and when I went to drive off it pulled right out of the street and went with us. Naturally it couldn't fit through the wheel well, and there we were, gooped tight.

Sarah ran across the street where there was some decorative stonework, to try to find a flint hand-axe to scrape the tar off. She made some progress with the scraper but soon ended up pulling at it with her hands. I tried, too, and soon I was even further be-tarred than she was; I had it thickly plastered all over both hands, including over most of my fingertips and nails. Giving up on sanitation, I just pulled the worst of the goop off and dumped it back in the pothole it came from.

Now what could I do? I had to drive us out of there, but if I even touched my steering wheel, I was never letting go again. I probably should have looked for sand or dust - that's what Sarah did - but I had the bright idea of layering the tar with grass so I could touch my steering wheel without adhering to it. Green furry paws is what I ended up with, and to add insult to injury they were still tacky. I gripped the steering wheel around some paper and drove gingerly northward.

We decided to try the Speedway gas station on the North end of Wooster, hoping that they'd have some kind of solvent. At first they sprayed us with some kind of scrubbing-bubble cleanser, which helped a tiny bit, but it wasn't looking good. Then Sarah, who is still working in chemistry and who therefore has a more recent grasp of solubility and solvents than I do, had a brain wave and grabbed a bottle of fuel-injector cleaner, which worked like a DREAM! I have hands again!

For the rest of the evening I refuse to do anything more strenuous than push the button on the remote control. I deserve some rest, after my day of rest!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ah, the exciting life!

People think of libraries as peaceful, sleepy places where nothing much happens.

Hah.

There I was, about 12:30 this afternoon, peacefully eating my lunch and playing Sudoku on the web, when a loud voice rang out from the PA: “Everybody please evacuate the library immediately!”

Well, we have regular fire drills so we knew what to do: starting from the back of the library we swept all the patrons before us, out the front door, and chivvied them over to the far end of the parking lot. It was cold, and drizzling, and everyone hoped against hope that some kid had just pulled the fire alarm and they’d allow us back in shortly.

Then we noticed the fire department had the street cordoned off. Someone told us there was a bomb scare: a suspicious package had been found at the gas station on the corner, and we should all to go home for an hour!

I figured it’d turn out to be a false alarm – Stow is a pretty small target, after all – so I went peacefully home and took my dogs for a walk. Sure enough, an hour later my boss called to tell me I had to come back to work. But still nobody knew what had really happened.

Turns out that the whole center of town was paralyzed by a duct taped box of used kids’ toys!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Puggy Humor

Click through to view, if necessary!
funny pictures
moar funny pictures

I love my department!

I work with some great people at my library. For example: one of my colleagues thought we needed a little morale booster. So she ordered us some custom M&Ms!
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Ref rules? We rock? No, Barbara - YOU rock! (I think it worked!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The pitter patter of little feet...er...paws

It's high time I announced an addition to my family!

He's been seen before, briefly, but this post is entirely about my newest baby: Winston!
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I've been looking for a new dog since I lost my beloved Stormy in 2008; some of you were with me during the Great Princess Debacle of 2009. Late last fall I applied to Ohio Pug Rescue and in late January I got Winston!

He had a sad story: Winston was in the pound, where he'd been taken after being picked up as a stray. I don't know if his original owners were feeding him caramels or what, but he had such advanced periodontal disease that the pound had classed him as "unadoptable". Pug Rescue pulled him out of the pound in September and spent the rest of the year getting his teeth back in shape - the remaining teeth, that is; his foster mom was calling him "Gumby"!
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(I renamed him for obvious reasons.)













Of course, this sad story has ended happy. He's well embedded here.
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Like most pugs, he likes it best on the sofa, and good luck keeping him off it, though he learned pretty quickly that he's not supposed to go on the love seat. He's a veteran snuggler, cuddling beside me while I watch TV and knit, helping me type on my laptop, and keeping me warm at night. (During the last cold snap he developed a new tendency to go under the covers, which I think is hilarious.) He snores and snorts, and when he sleeps with his head on my leg he sort of whistles through his nose. I also think this is hilarious. There may be something wrong with me.
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Despite these respiratory issues, Winston is quite active, and likes to go on long brisk walks with me and Buster.
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Of course, the first month or so there was easily 14" of snow on the ground. Winston has about an 8" ground clearance. That was fun.

He's also a big sweet kisser.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches

Oh dear. As if I didn't have enough things to do...

I'm taking a quick break from South America to celebrate - or wallow in - nostalgia. School Library Journal recently conducted a poll which resulted in a list of the "Top 100 Children's Books". Now, nobody agrees completely with these Top 100 lists; I use them as reminders of things I loved and suggestions of things to look into.

The list is below. It turns out that I've read 53 of the 100 (thanks to my Teen Librarian friend Christina who has handed me some of the more recent entries on the list). I feel pretty good about that. But now I'm working my way through the book descriptions on the SLJ blog and my to-read list is getting pretty long. As is my to-re-read list. Now all I have to do is learn to read and sleep at the same time!

#1 Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
#6 Holes by Louis Sachar
#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry
#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
#12 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl
#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riodan
#22 The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
#27 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
#28 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne
#29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland /Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
#30 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager
#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#34 Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling
#36 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
#48 The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements
#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl
#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene
#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
#65 Ballet Shoes by Noah Streatfeild
#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
#70 Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
#72 My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton
#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
#77 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
#80 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
#84 Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander
#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary
#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
#93 Caddie Woodlawn by C. R. Brink
#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
#96 The Witches by Roald Dahl
#97: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
#98 Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Okay, my mind is now officially blown

I was wondering why it seemed that life was accelerating on me, faster than my ability to keep up.

Now I know.

In Which This Blog Dabbles in Art History

Did you ever have an itch you couldn’t scratch? A “the word is RIGHT on the tip of my tongue” moment? I call them input/output errors. Yeah. Try being like that for four years.

I have a taste for the religious art of the middle ages and Renaissance – undoubtedly a legacy from my long years in the SCA. Awhile back I found an image I really liked, and I borrowed it from the Internet – I had this program that would turn any digital image into a jigsaw puzzle you could do on your computer – but I neglected to write down the artist’s name, or the name of the image either. And since you just copied and pasted the picture into the puzzle program, I didn’t even have an actual digital image on my computer!

So ever since then, I’ve been trying to remember who painted it, since I keep talking about it and I want my victims to be able to see what it looks like!

Now, I figured I remembered enough distinctive things about this painting that I should be able to find it using Google-fu. I knew:

1. It was a painting of the Crucifixion.
2. I’m not a learned art historian, but I’ve done a lot of looking and I can recognize some of the major national styles. My painting was definitely in the Flemish or German style - not Italian at all! Also, it used linear perspective, so it could have been painted no earlier than the early to mid 1400s.
3. The painting – and here’s the unique thing – was set inside the nave of a church. The cross is planted right there on the black-and-white tile, and stretches up until it almost touches the vaulted ceiling.
4. The reason I find this painting so powerful is this: way in the back of the church, you can see a priest celebrating the Mass. He is elevating the Host at the moment of consecration, tying together the sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass.

You’d think that would be enough detail, but you try looking at all the images you get when you Google “Flemish crucifixion”! Adding phrases like “inside a church” didn’t help at all – I just got a lot of photos taken inside churches.

Of course I wasn’t thinking about my painting and searching for it all the time. I’d forget about it for months and then something would recall it to my mind, or I’d start describing it to somebody, and the hole in my memory would start to itch again.

The reason I’ve told this whole long story is that today, I FOUND IT AGAIN! I was complaining about how I couldn’t find this painting when a colleague suggested I should look through Sister Wendy’s book 1000 Masterpieces that we have in our reference collection. Seemed like a good idea, so this afternoon between answering patrons’ questions I leafed through the book. I should have leafed in reverse order, because I found my painter in the Vs. He is Rogier van der Weyden and my painting is the Seven Sacraments Altarpiece:

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I need to share my feeling of utter triumph that I was able, through my vast librarian skills (my painting wasn’t even IN Sister Wendy’s book – I just recognized the style and tried Googling the artist’s name), to come up with the information. If I’d ever seen the side panels I’d probably have found it quicker, since they depict the other six sacraments and that might have given me a hint as to the name. But still!

I confess that part of my motivation in posting this is so that I can never lose it again. As long as my blog shall endure, I have my painting at my fingertips!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Knitting Olympics

This is the first year I have competed in the Knitting Olympics. This is because, last time the Winter Olympics rolled around I wasn't yet a knitter! Ah, me - it seems like just a moment ago. When I had money, instead of a stash.

I am proud to say I have finished my project with hours to spare:
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Gorgeous, isn't it? It's a christening gift for my new godson, Gabriel (he's being baptized in about eleven hours.) I finished the bind off about twenty six hours ago and blocked it last night. Now, before you chide me about leaving things to the last moment, I would have been done earlier. Let the following picture essay tell the tale:
At the start, picture an innocent ball of yarn. (No photo taken because I didn't know I'd need one...)
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