Friday, December 29, 2006

Increasing

It's been a while since I've put up a video. But I'm having a heck of a time loading onto Youtube, so until it shows up there, here's a link to some video on m own server. I'll add more if I can afford the bandwidth!

The holidays were great. I'm still recovering, still basking in the fun and companionship, and today I enjoyed the calm of a Saturday at the Landy Household (Gerry and the kids took down the tree while I sat and went over the final proof of Romantic Hand Knits, cursing myself and blessing Donna...)

For Christmas Gerry got me a microphone for my ipod, if I can figure out how to work this thing I may be doing podcasts from the shops where I teach

(At this point I'm envisioning a podcast where I would interview knitters & shop owners across the country.)

I went up to Hopewell, to the East Fishkill library for a little chat with some knitters on Thursday - what a blast that was! As you can see, I'm famous. I talked at length about me, and then followed up with more stuff about me, and then a little bit about knitting.

I was told it was funny, the folks seemed to laugh. They bought some books and I did a few private one on one short lessons with some folks - an EXCELLENT day overall! Then Cindy took me to a MAGNIFICENT lunch and we bonded over our love of database design. Knerds who Knit.

I'm bursting at the seams over a project I'm working on. WIth any luck it will be ready to unveil at TNNA (which I'll be hyping on a very small scale - one on one with a few editors.) I do have a distributor, which is a step in the right direction.

I'm concerned that it's a brilliant idea, but that my execution won't live up to the concept. Is my best good enough? I don't spend a lot of time pining over skills I don't have, but I want to do this one really well. This whole self-publishing vs. "real" publishing has been one of the best educations I've ever had - I learn every day how much I don't know, and also how little that matters. What matters is knowing where I'm lacking, and finding people or applications or reference materials that can help me bridge the gaps.

This year at TNNA Offinger is offering space to teachers ($75 per space) where we can put up a little mini-booth with information about our classes. I've printed a bunch of large-format postcards to hand out, and made a big poster of the same image. My brilliant idea is that I've put instructions for cabling without a cable needle on the back, so hopefully the shop owners will want to keep the card around for a while and not pitch it immediately.

Once we move to MN Gerry will be Mr. Mom and I'll be able to schedule more teaching engagements as my books come out. I really need to work up some new classes based on projects in my books... Learn-as-you-go-marketing 101.

I'm treating myself to TWO beers tonight (isn't it obvious? I'm just about to tell you that you have a beautiful smile...) which is something I haven't done in weeks. I tlak about drinking like I do it a lot, but I'm a total lightweight.

We've had cases of Anchor and Blue Moon in the fridge for weeks, we downed quite a bit at the party, and now Gerry and I are celebrating our Saturday with a bit of the smooth and pale bubbly brew. I do love beer. I have maybe one every two weeks.

Well - back to my VK project. With any luck I'll have it done tomorrow, then back to the packing up of dishes, books and summer clothes! It's a very easy pattern, but I reknit the front of the sweater because I wasn't happy with the way the intarsia was flowing. This is where being a fast knitter becomes a hinderence - I KNOW I can do things so quickly that I bite of large mouthfuls of project then choke on them. I guess I shouldn't drink and knit.

Here's a shot of Mr. Butkis (named after Dick) - the loudest 15-year old cat in the world. As Gerry says, "Who knew that the fountain of youth was yelling...?"
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Both Ends


Candles, originally uploaded by modeknit.

When both of the ends of the candle are lit, it's hard to write entries in the blog.

It's been QUITE a week - lots of work, lots of company, lots of fun and a little angst. That's to be expected whenever there's family, liquor in an enclosed space...

My sister in law and nephew have been here - for the most part having a heck of a good time and eating as much crap as we can shove into them. Ah, the holidays...

My cousin was up for just a day and a half, but it was so tremendous to have what's left of my family together for Christmas that it made everything worth it. Of course, I wasn't the one who had to take FOUR PLANES from West Virginia just to make the visit happen... Thanks so much for coming, Jan!

But the Main Event was the actual opening of the gifts on Christmas (and on the few days before - residual Hanukkah gifts...) It seemed to be a nice amount, no one was overwhelmed, no one felt bereft and lacking, and we all realize just how lucky we are.

So I'm taking a few more 'personal days' before I leap back into my knitting life. Work progresses on several projects, I'm a little slow on some others (but I'll catch up!) Today I actually went to see The Pursuit of Happyness with my sister in law, Hannah and Alex (my nephew). And I cried. It was a lovely movie.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Slightly Ridiculous

This will be the THIRD time I've started this blog entry - the last two times I had to shut down my computer for various reasons without saving my entry. FABulous.

So instead of the wordy, chatty post that I've tried to write, I'll just post some of our holiday images and you can enjoy our season of lights here at Chez Landy.

But first, I had to do some fixing on my current project when I knit 9" during Eragon (took the kids this weekend...) and didn't notice until I got home that I had a mistake 1" into my piece. Here's my fix!





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Thursday, December 14, 2006

I ♥ Jon Stewart

and I don't care who knows it!

Yesterday was a fun day - a tiring day, but a fun day!

The Daily Show was AMAZING! My ears are still ringing from the rock music and the roar of the crowd, the staff there was so great, and Jon was - well - he's pretty great. He also strikes me as someone I'd really HATE to have PO'd at me. My own personal moment of zen? Gerry watching The Daily Show on my ipod as we stood in line.

They were TOTALLY serious about no cameras, and although my knitting needles were fine (I couldn't take them into Dr. Phil last year...) a fellow in the next section of seats had his camera taken away. Oops.

The warm up comedian got a lot of mileage out of my knitting - pulling out all of the old chestnuts like, I must be bored, Knitting is boring, Why on earth would someone knit unless they were bored? He's nowhere near to getting it. I think he thought he'd shame me into putting it away, but I fully intended to knit right up until the show started (I wasn't bothering anyone - no one even noticed before he made a big deal about it...) He did mention several times, "When Jon gets out here it might be a good idea to put that away..." Of course.

Several women made friendly "knitters" eye contact with me as we were leaving the show, and I seemed to have my own tiny cheering section in the audience section to the right of us (we were in perfect seats - front and center!) so little by little knitting is still worming its way into the mainstream. Actually, this sort of thing makes me pretty happy - as knitters we think knitting is EVERYWHERE and folks are going to get sick of it, but the reality is we're a pretty small little group and there's LOTS of room for growth!

I started by taking the train into the city with my little rocking chair in tow. It's quite lightweight, small, and I wanted to drop it off in person at VK. Since I had to be in the city in the afternoon for The Daily Show anyway, it seemed like a good time to take it down to Soho.

So down I went. I had the chair covered in a very heavyweight black garbage bag, so it wasn't apparent what it was. I did, however, whip the garbage bag off while on the subway and snap a photo. I told the amused riders that, "I can never get a seat..." It made me laugh, at least...

Fighting Cold
I've been insanely healthy this Fall - just one sore throat, and a most annoying stuffy nose that I have right now which will NOT go away. I feel like I have the nose of three strong men, that's how stuffy I am. Last night I bought our Christmas Tree and the fellow who tied it to the car has the same stuffy nose - we both blame it on the kids. Once you have kids, you'll seldom have a stuffy-nose free winter again.

So we're going to decorate the tree tonight as part of our first night of Hanukkah celebration. Yes, we're a multi faith household here on Irving Ave, stuffy, but ecumenical.

Published
As some of you may know, I write about interfaith issues every now and then. Nothing scholarly, just random musings about being the only non-Jew in a Jewish home (please, please don't write to tell me that no, my kids really aren't Jewish because I'm not, we're a proud Reform family and if the Rabbi says my kids are Jewish, that's good enough for me!)

For a few years I've been writing essays for Interfaith Family dot Com, and right now they have one of my pieces up, Holiday Au Lait, about doing two holidays in one home - it's here if you'd like to see it.

It's odd, Hanukkah is really a pretty minor holiday - it's nowhere near as important as Shabbat, which we used to be better at keeping - not in a Kosher sense, just in a more regular way. I'm feeling dissasociated from our Temple now - I need to work on that. Anyway, Hanukkah is a hard holiday because the roots are very anti-assimilationist; by default, very anti-interfaith marriage and family. So it's incredibly ironic that it's become the Jewish holiday that is best known by many non-Jewish folk. Here's an interesting essay on this juxtaposition of themes surrounding the holiday by Julie Saxe-Taller.

So tonight we light the first candle, eat some latkes, spin the dreidle, eat the gelt that mom hasn't eaten and we'll ALSO put up the tree, decorate the house and don our gay apparel. And we may even make our way to the movie theatre to see Eragon or Charlotte's Web (a toss up - wouldn't it be cool if they mixed the movies...?)

Quoted
I'm also quoted right now in an article on Knitty about the percieved slowdown in knitting. You can read the article to see what I think about this - for the most part I feel that rumors of knitting's demise are greatly exaggerated. However, I also feel that there will be a shaking out of less-than-viable shops and designers who thought it would be a cool way to make money, but are starting to see how many hours of work go into every dollar we put into the bank.

I love what I do - I'm very lucky - but it's a LOT of work and draws on entirely separate skills (artistic, communication, organization and MATH!) and that's a hard dance to keep going. When you add in the level of compensation, even if you're relatively well known as a designer, well - it's a labor of love. This isn't a complaint, it's just an explanation of why we sometimes see a designer pop up, then sort of fade away. It's a hard thing to keep going, this self-promotional, designing, writing, teaching dance.

Speaking of Work...
I finished up 2 parts of a BIG project yesterday - a secret project that I'm hoping to unveil this Spring. We'll see. It's a major investment of both time and money, and I'm crossing my fingers that the idea is as good as I think it is. And I started a sweater on the way to The Daily Show and got this far on it by the time we went inside...
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Resting & Dealing

Dealing
I arrived home to so many boxes, letters, contracts - all kinds of things that needed to be dealt with! I have several sweaters that need to be knit, or swatched for knitters, so I have my work cut out for me. Some gorgeous stuff from Lorna's Laces arrived, and as soon as I get a nice swatch worked up I'll ship it out to my terrific knitter and await the results. There's a nice time frame, no big rush, and that's a wonderful luxury we don't get much in the knitting world!

Before I left I started a chair seat for VK's Knit.1, but didn't really get the groove of it until last night when I finally finished the knitting and sewed the seat on the chair. I'm very happy with how it looks, the lace pattern is wonderful for a chair seat and the Shaker chair frame is a perfect canvas for some nice knitted lace. Working with nylon twine is an adventure, but also quite lovely once you get past the fact that it can pick and split terrifyingly in the knitting!

I spent Saturday resting - just catching up on brain-down time - and preparing for a Knitting With Wire class at the Westchester Knitting Guild on Sunday. I have such a warm feeling toward this guild, it was one of the first places to hire me back when I started doing the knit teaching thing a few years ago, and I get such a lovely, warm reception from these strong and confident women. One thing I don't have to waste a lot of time on with this group is convincing them that they're good knitters!

It amazes me how much time goes into getting someone to realize just how good they are. It's understandable, and one can't undo years of self-doubt in a knitting class, but sometimes it's too easy and comfortable for us to retreat into an "Oh, I'm such a ninny, I can't do this..." attitude. NOT a problem with the Westchester Guild, and I'm proud of them for it!

It was a nice sized class - we were in the children's program room at the Chappequa library and at one point I thought we might get kicked out for being rowdy. But the kind librarians closed the door and left us to our devices, and we cackled and laughed locked away in privacy. I'm ashamed at how bad my face-memory (okay, my memory in general) is - I have the worst time remembering folks, and - of course - that makes the folks who I forget feel that they weren't memorable, or that I don't care about them enough to remember them. It's not the case at all, it's just that I can't seem to get myself to remember how some faces look.

A few years ago I heard a scupltor saying that he had a condition where he can't recognize or remember faces when he sees them in person, but when he sees a still photo (preferably black and white) he CAN remember them. I don't know if this is entirely the case for me, but I though it was interesting!

In Westchester we made wire bangle bracelets - everyone did beautifully, and many of the women finished their bracelets themselves (over achievers!) and all walked out with enough wire and beads to make a few more for Holiday gifts if they want. I make them for friends who have had new babies in the family (a nice auntie or grandma gift) in the birthstone of the new baby, and they're also nice birthday gifts.

Home Angst
Right before the class on Sunday I got the word about the home inspection and what our buyers want from us. It's not bad, not really, but some of the stuff is a little ridiculous (and had already been addressed in the homeowners disclosure, we'd already stated what we were prepared to do to remedy some of the items.) A frustration. As of Friday the contingency is off (actually, I think they have until Mon to present any financial documents they'd need to give us to get out of the contract, but the word from all parties is that our buyers' buyers are pretty much all settled in and their mortgage is set, so it seems that WE'LL be set then, too!)

We haven't felt 100% comfortable going into contract on a home until we felt that our own contract was contingency-free, so this will give us the latitude to begin closing in on the houses that appeal to us. I'm bummed because a house we liked (on the computer, not in person) has just gone off the market (sold?) and if we'd felt that we could, we may have made a bid on it. But there are other lovely houses to see (two, specifically, that are appealing to us) and I'm chomping at the bit to get out to MN after TNNA in San Diego to go into contract on something.

Cheap Date
Tomorrow we're going to the Daily Show. We wrote for tickets a while back, got the confirming email and then wrote back on the day we were supposed to. The whole process is VERY confusing - we have friends who got locked out because they didn't do it 'correctly' - so we're a bit apprehensive. The kids are getting a ride to and from Hebrew school with classmates who also go to their public school, and good friends will watch the kids after Hebrew school until we get back. The arrangements that go into any kind of child-free parent outing are astounding.

If I can arrange it I'll go into the city early and drop off the above chair to the VK offices (better to drive it than ship it!) then meet Gerry for our date with Jon. I hope they let me knit in the audience.
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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Unwinding at Home

I'm home.

I missed this so much, sitting in my own chair, kids reading or playing with cars & k'nex and Gerry with the paper. This morning Hannah climbed into bed with us - what a nice hug. I noticed last evening when we picked up the kids (they went to a movie while Gerry came to the airport) that Hannah's taller than Max's best friend's mom. She had a growth spurt while I was away.

Thursday was my Unwind class - and it was (as always) SO enjoyable! Unwind has a very warm place in my heart for several reasons; I love the shop, I love Stephanie, and it's the shop where I met Crazy Aunt Purl. Three good reasons for being a lifelong fan. The class was larger than we'd anticipated, which is always a good thing (much better than the alternative, although a smaller class carries its own charms!) and the students were SO wonderful! Working hard, dilligent, funny, chatty in the best way AND able to deal with my end-of-the-weeklong-trip shortness with such grace. Thanks everyone! We had a book signing and I did a wire demo before the class, both were lots of fun.

When I got back to the hotel I met up with Debbie Brisson and we had drinks and a GREAT chat before we both went to our rooms and crashed (she was in the room just below me - how odd!) Of course, for us "drinks" meant I had dinner, we had a beer, and then we had an amazing DESSERT! It was exceptional - and the best part was making a new friend in the knit publishing world. It's always a delight to meet someone whose work you admire and realize that they are REALLY a good person - yay!

The flight home was uneventful, crowded, a little late (high winds in Newark made us leave an hour behind schedule) but overall not so bad. I have to thank Marilyn for her gift - you know what I mean, Marilyn - because it saved my bacon - literally. I can't imagine the trip without it! As our plane landed in Newark I took some photos out the window, moving my camera around so the lights would dance. Here is a montage of several of the shots.

The in-flight movie was the same shown on the flight from Houston to LA, Little Miss Sunshine. I had heard how good it was, and that I should see it, but I hadn't seen it yet. I loved it - GO SEE IT. I went to college with Steve C, we were in the drama department together and were friends. He was such a good guy - quiet, but funny and kind. It was good to see him in the movie with a beard (which he wore all through college) because he looked - to me - like 'himself.' Do we every really get past our college impressions of old friends? I did a lot of knitting on the plane - on a cabled bag and on the mitered malabrigo jacket (which is coming along beautifully!)

Speaking of the flight from Houston, it was on a Rolls... Touch me!

Speaking of touching, my thumb is just beginning to heal - finally - what an annoyance it was! I covered it with medical tape and makeup during the taping, I hope it doesn't look too stupid.

Today I'm resting, catching up on email, organizing myself and unpacking. Tomorrow I drive up to Chappaqua for a knitting with wire class with the Westchester Knitting Guild, then back home for more rest before I put together the plan for our goodbye to South Orange holiday party, and for our eagerly anticipated holiday guests!! I came home to SO MUCH YARN which must be worked up as sweaters. Oy!
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Thursday, December 07, 2006

I need to move it, move it...

I'm sitting on my butt at the Safari Inn, enjoying the peace, catching up on email and IMPROVING tremendously my cabling handout (my apologies to my class last night - you are the last class to get the OLD handout!) Actually, it was the class last night that inspired me to change the handout - their comments were very insightful and I realized that there is a better and easier way to explain the material in writing.

Yesterday I was at The Knitters Studio, and I had such a FABulous time. I just love Liz, I love her staff, and I always find that the class participants there are SO much better than they think they are! All of these closet knitting savants masquerading as "beginning" knitters - I prefer to call them "new" knitters! I feel like a fraud showing them something that they obviously already have somewhere in their DNA. I tell my students that by the time the cabling class ends their hair will turn red, their nose will turn up and they'll be reminiscing about 'the oul' country...'

Make it a point to visit The Knitters Studio and you may have a hard time leaving! I always feel so much at home here - and obviously the customers do, too!

I just heard from my producer that Stitchy McYarnpants & Marnie MacLean are both staying here - maybe we can have a drink this evening if I can track them down. There's an outside patio (but it's probably going to be chilly...) Maybe after my Unwind Class we can meet...?

Speaking of hotels, here's a little trip down memory lane of my stays at several of the fine, fine establishments I've crashed at over the past few months. There's nothing like reminiscing.

Today I went shopping, I had a quest to find a nice pair of sandals. I went to a shoe warehouse type of place, not really expecting much, and then I wandered across the holy grail of my shoe shopping experience. The elusive size 11 women's Birkenstocks at an AFFORDABLE price. Hooya! So it was an amazing shoe buying adventure. I am SO not-sex-in-the-city. I like my shoes cheap and flat.

And now to go get my laundry and dress for Unwind!
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Action!

After a VERY early morning flight on Monday from Tulsa to Houston and then on to LA (check out the moon in the morning stky) I arrived in LA yesterday and picked up my rental car and high-tailed it to Burbank for rehearsal.

Stefanie, our producer, was a great cheerleader, making us feel so positive and accomplished as we worked through the different steps of the projects.

This morning was the Knitty Gritty shoot - it was so much fun (as always!)

First I demonstrated the rasta hat with Vickie Howell (every time I'm on the show I feel so much more comfortable - she's such a delight!) Then Drew demonstrated the steps to make the matching doggie sweater, which went SO smoothly (he's so good at the explanations!) and then we took some playing around with the doggie shots with all of the great knitsters - they were so wonderful! Overall a really great morning!

Stephanie Pearl McPhee was at the studio to rehearse for her shoot tomorrow, and we also had a chance to chat with Michael DelVecchio, the author of Knitting With Balls - it was quite wonderful to meet him in person! Drew and I sat around chatting with the other guests for quite a while before finally leaving to go get lunch, and I found the Knitty Gritty experience was definitely more fun with a partner in crime.

It's lovely here - folks are saying that it's cold, but I'm feeling quite comfortable. Of course, this was my last stop, so by comparison it's equatorial here... We're staying at the Safari Hotel, and it's really terrific! Good rooms, free high speed wireless, HBO and Comedy Central and a heated pool - what else could a girl want?

Tomorrow I teach at The Knitters Studio at 6:45, after a book signing at 6:00 - I love that shop! I'll be driving Drew to the airport in the morning, and will probably spend most of the day resting up from my last few days of heavy activity and restless nights. Thursday I'll be teaching at Unwind in the evening, starting with a wire knitting demo at 4:30, a book signing at 5:00 and a class at 6:00. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by - Unwind is SUCH an amazing shop, light and airy and full of groovy yarns - woo!

Then home on Friday (HOME!) to see the kids and my wonderful husband. HOME!!! I miss them so much I can hardly stand it. I've enjoyed my LA time, and I've REALLY enjoyed the PT Cruiser I rented, but most of all it was so wonderful to meet Drew in person and get a chance to work with him for a few days.

Drew and I have collaborated on a few projects, and we've talked on the phone quite a bit and email a lot, but this was our first face to face meeting and I think both of us were hoping that the other would live up to our expectations. I think we were both happily confirmed in our hopes! He was a dream to work with, and so much fun to hang out with!

This evening we drove over to Ventura Blvd for a delicious Chinese dinner with Crazy Aunt Purl (!) and SO much laughing and storytelling. We wandered down the street to a Starbucks for further fun - coffee all around, and some very serious discussion (I'm not sure, but by 11:30 we may have solved all of the world's problems - or maybe we just gave up when they flicked the lights on and off - I'm so tired I'm a little fuzzy)

Now I'm just unwinding for a bit before dropping off to sleep - sleep and home, the two things I miss so much!
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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Staff of Life

As I mentioned a few posts ago that I find the backbone of every good yarn shop I've visited is the staff - and that's SO true of Loops!

This is a LOVELY shop - it has such a great selection, lots of good price points, a great variety of yarn and LOTS of wonderful patterns! If you're anywhere near Tulsa, make a beeline to this shop (but please, drive carefully on the icy roads...) and partake of some amazing yarn! Shelley is tremendous - and last night after picking me up and dropping our stuff at the hotel, we went on to the LOOPS Holiday Party where I drank too much wine, had not enough food (I just wasn't hungry, but that was a mistake as the waiter kept filling my glass...) and got a ride home with a nice stranger in a pickup. All around great evening. Thanks to EVERYONE for the amazingly kind reception - and especially thanks to the boyfriend-of-the-woman-whose-name-I-can't-remember who gave me a ride home. I told you I had too much wine...

My flight in was uneventful - not much happened except sitting on my bottom for 3+ hours on that tailbone that I threw myself on a few weeks ago was a very painful experience. It was a fabulous move.

I think just staying in one place for so long is hard, but my sad little (?) bruised coccyx did not enjoy the flight. Oh, how I'm NOT looking forward to the flight on Mon and the really LONG flight on Friday.

The clouds were very pretty, though - the bonus of flying out on an overcast day! And I got a LOT of knitting done on the Malabrigo jacket. Folks were a little concerned about the woman with the flying knitting needles who kept taking pictures out the window, though...

Acting Class
Today I taught the cabling class to an eager and enthusiastic class - what a bunch of gems, just terrific students! I was totally wowed by Kimberly, 13 and a truly magnificent knitter - what a kid! It was a joy to teach this class!

There was no break for lunch - a scheduling glitch (it happens!) - so I found myself chewing partway through the knitting with wire class, and that's NOT a pleasant thing for a class to have to see...

As always with the wire class, I have to run roughshod over the students for the first part of the class to get them to embrace the concept that they will actually be knitting UGLY stuff for the first few rows. I need to devise a better way to get this idea across, I feel like such a meanie.

The beautiful part is that as the class goes on I can see the students 'getting' it, one by one, and embracing the oddness of the wire because they're liking the results. The project I use for my classes now is a pretty fail-safe project a rhinestone button version is shown at right

It's a forgiving bangle bracelet that allows folks to mess up a bit here and there and STILL get a nice, giftable item. I also try to put enough wire in the kit so that if they want to go home and practice or make more bracelets, they'll have enough material to do some serious damage. Everyone left with bracelets that they made - looking quite spiffy. And in a pinch they can use them for traction when they get stuck in snow...

Head 'em up, Move 'em out!
I like to travel by car - that's my favorite way to get from one gig to another. But when I must fly, I have SO much stuff to lug around (especially with multiple teaching engagements) that this is my little way around that problem. I follow the whole thing up with a chuck wagon.

I get some nice comments in the airports. Rollin, rollin, rollin...
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Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf


Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho



Chullo-licious


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