Recently in Shadow Boxes Cardigan Category

The Holographic Cardi Goes Home

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who sent me good birthday wishes! As birthdays go, it was a pretty nice one. To help me celebrate, my parents came to visit over the weekend. This gave me some motivation to finish up a project that just needed a few little things to be completed... like weaving in a million ends. So while my folks were out at the motorcycle show that was in Chicago this weekend, I got my act in gear and put an end to those ends.

It's always nice to be able to show a sweater on the intended recipient. So here's Mom showing off her sweater. See how happy she is to have me finish this sweater?

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Holographic Cardigan Finished!

Here's a couple of shots from the side that show off the stealth elements of this sweater:

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Holography from the Side

But from the back it almost looks like just a striped sweater:

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Shadow Boxes Cardigan from the Back

It still amazes me that even though I know those boxes are there, unless I am looking at it the right way, even I can't tell that there is something special about this sweater.

This is a clever sweater from a construction perspective. Maureen Mason Jamieson added some elements that definitely make this piece look a lot more polished when it is finished. The button band is a double thickness, which makes it easier to attach and stabilize a button. There are actually two buttons -- one decorative one on the front and one on the back of the opposite tab, and this helps stabilize the closure. And she included selvedge stitches everywhere necessary to make the seaming easier.

While the garter stitch aspects of this sweater can get a little monotonous, the result is a very nice sweater. The Shelridge Farm yarn is nice to work with -- not to soft, not too hard... a little softer than Shetland, but still firm. The fact that it is hand dyed means that there are subtle shading variations in it. Which adds a little more depth to the sweater.

What did I learn?

  • Well, I still don't like to weave in ends.
  • The Japanese Three Needle Bind Off
  • Button bands with a double thickness make for excellent supports for you favorite closures -- especially heavier buttons. I'll be remembering this technique in the future.
  • It's obvious that the designer put a lot of thought into the finishing aspects of this sweater. This is a very good reminder that doing a lot of thinking beforehand can lead to a better finished product. Nothing was left to chance in this sweater -- and, as a result, I got to give my mom a sweater that I think is gorgeous and that looks "handmade" but not "homemade".
  • Did I mention that I still don't like weaving in ends?

And in case you were wondering who that last Angel scarf was for...

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Dad and his Fuzzy Bunny Scarf

Mom wasn't the only one to go home with knitted presents. Dad got both the Rowan Polar scarf and my most recent Angel scarf. I think it goes quite well with his new motorcycle jacket.

There's still more to talk about from the weekend... but I'll continue with that tomorrow. Right now, there's some Manos waiting to run through my fingers.

Not Quite There Yet

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You would have thought that 5 days in Ann Arbor would have resulted in at least one completed sweater. Well, not quite. There was one completed scarf, another scarf that got started (some Rowan Polar that Mom had and wanted to become a scarf for my Dad), a second sock that almost got finished, a felted bag design session for my sister-in-law and start on a new sock.

That's not to say that I didn't work on the the Holographic Sweater... here's the sweater with both sleeves. It may look seamed, but that's just an illusion due to the brightly colored table cloth.

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Please Give Me Some Seams

I also got the body all seamed up. No, I haven't woven in the ends yet (I wanted to make sure that the fit on the sweater was good before I did that...yes I can rationalize anything). In the interests of full disclosure, I must note that the background against which this sweater has been shot is the futon in my office in Chicago. Yes, the sweater came back to Chicago. Sigh. Fortunately my parents are planning a little trip to Chicago in February so I have a month reprieve.

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All Seamed Up

Here's some proof with regards to the seams. Let me just say now that I don't like seaming garter stitch stripes to each other. Nopenopenope. I'm not sure why I find this so challenging, but I do.

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Side Seams and Texture

Now all that awaits is the bottom band and the neck band. Oh, and all those ends.

P.S. I am just so touched by Rob's nice post today! Truly, for me, one of the greatest parts of blogging has been the meeting of new friends. If ThreadBear was closer to Chicago, you can bet I'd be sitting at their table or on one of their couches every weekend.

Not Forgotten

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Almost a Sweater

You might be thinking that in all my excitement about felted bags that I forgotten about a sweater for my very special Mom person. Actually, I've been keeping something from you... I finished the first sleeve on Sunday (I wouldn't let myself start the Kureyon version of Chicago until I got the sleeve finished). Amazing how completing the sleeve begins to make the project look like a real and wearable sweater.

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Sleeve at A Different Angle

I really feel like I am in the home stretch now. One more sleeve, the collar, and the finishing work on the bottom of the cardigan and it will be done. I'm not going to dwell yet on all those ends that I am going to have to sew in or the task would just be too daunting for me. But I still have hope that Mom will have the sweater before I come back home Ann Arbor.

We had a great KIP tonight. I so love seeing everyone -- and we had a great time trading ornaments. There's something special about having a group of buds to hang out and knit with.

And just a brief note in the shameless commerce component of my life... if you don't like PayPal and/or would rather use a money order, that's totally fine with me. Just send me an email to theresaATkeyboardbiologistDOTnet or patternsATkeyboardbiologistDOTnet (replace the letters in caps with symbols)and I'll send you my address. I don't have a P.O. box and I'm a little uncomfortable publishing my home address on the web. Be sure if you send me a money order to send me your email address, too! I'm not equipped to do mail order hardcopies. If you would like a hard copy, the guys at ThreadBear have them.

First Holographic Sleeve

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I think I have safely overcome my fear of not having enough yarn to finish the Holographic Cardigan for Mom. Here's the "flat" view of the sweater with 1/2 of the first sleeve in place.

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Parallel Lines

It is a testimony to how much I love my Mommy that I am willing to contend with weaving in all those different colored ends. Here's the more interesting view of the sleeve.

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Checkerboard

I love doing sleeves from the top down. With even decreases every 6 rows, I am always "looking forward" to the next shaping or color changing event, plus the sleeves are narrowing. That's a good recipe for keeping my attention. I really do like the construction of this sweater so far. The only draw back is that I have a lot of wool in my lap and it's something of an effort to keep the yarn from getting tangled around extraneous ends and sweater parts. I'm going to try to be faithful to this sweater project until I get it finished, and just work on some other smaller projects when I need distraction.

Before I close, I just want to make a few quick comments about felting. Although that Bucket-O-Something that I put up yesterday does not fall into my "unqualified success category" I'm not too disturbed by that. Part of why I enjoy designing felted things is that I really do like the fact that you mix 2 parts engineering with one part biology and one part magic to get something new and different. While I wish I had a hat that looked like it was supposed to, I did learn a few things from the project (even if I forgot to include them in yesterday's post).

  1. Beware felting different fiber densities in different parts of the same connected garment -- rates of felting could be different. Part of the reason that my brim is wonky is because the band uses a single strand while the brim uses a double. The next time I try, I'll stick with a single strand. If you know your stockinette is going to "roll up" then at least cast off purlwise on a right side row. Knitwise and purlwise castoffs roll in different directions.
  2. Don't felt without the right tools. I should probably have had a steamer and some good cylindrical shaping form to help this project along. I am now beginning to wonder if Bonne Marie's steaming and shaping operation doesn't do a little pre-felting of the fabric that means she gets better results when she heads to the washing machine.

And if you want to see a fantabulous Bucket, check out Bonne Marie's latest. Wow! I gotta get me some of that!

Countdown to Columbus... 3 days!

Holographic Run Way

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Flight 15 you're cleared for take off...

Oh, yes, we've got stripes tonight. Berry-colored stripes for miles. Over the last couple of days I managed to get the shoulders on the Holographic Cardigan seamed up. This shouldn't have been a big deal -- especially with the selvedge stitches that are designed into this sweater, but it sure as heck took me a long time. I think ripped out one of the seams three times trying to get everything to line up right. I'm still not 100% pleased, but I think when the sweater is on a real person, it won't be a big deal. Fortunately not too many people look at a sweater from the shoulders down. Here's a close-up of my efforts.

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Lining Up Stripes

For some reason I was having a real hard time following instructions tonight... or at least, interpreting instructions. I had to pick up stitches for the sleeve I started on twice. The first time I started with the garment facing in the right direction from a RS/WS perspective, but 180 degrees in the wrong orientation so the cast on edge became part of the "detailing" instead of pulled inside. The second time I got the stitches picked up fine, but had to to set the second pattern row twice before I got it right. I guess I shouldn't have had that glass of wine if I was planning to tackle higher math.

It was kind of a low key night for me overall. Didn't get as much knitting accomplished as I would have liked (mostly because I kept making mistakes, no matter which project I worked on. (Just for the record, Ibis isn't as bad to tink as you might guess from just looking at it), but I did manage to clean my desk. Oh yes indeedy, I live a wild urban life.

Tonight is the Wicker Park/East Village KIP at Letizia's. Come on down if you have some needles and some spare minutes. We'd love to meet you!

Return of the Holographic Sweater

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Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all of you who were celebrating the holiday. I had hoped to post during the four day break I had, but a house full of happy people kept me away from the computer. I did get a few things accomplished. The most significant one was this:

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Holography from the Front
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Holography from the Side

Given how quickly Christmas is approaching, it seemed like a good idea to try to make a little more forward progress on the sweater I hope to give my Mom to celebrate the occasion. Somehow, having someone visit always inspires me to get working on any project I have going for them, and this weekend was no exception. Now both sweater fronts are complete and blocking. Hopefully tomorrow I will get the fronts attached at the shoulders and pick up stitches for the first sleeve. I now feel much more comfortable with the yarn situation for this sweater. I think I will have plenty to complete it. So concerns of that nature will no longer keep me from making progress.

At this point, I have not committed myself to knitting too many Christmas presents.

  • Shadow Boxes Cardigan (Holographic Sweater) for Mom (60% complete)
  • Ibis scarf for my mother-in-law (50% complete)
  • Some kind of felted magic for my new sister-in-law (not started)
  • Moutnain Colors Bearfoot socks for Judy (50% complete)

All of these should be eminently completable if I stay honest and don't get too distracted by new projects. Hopefully I'll get a few things for me finished, too.

I do have to admit that I fell off the wagon on my yarn diet. On Friday, Mom and I took a little trip out to Wool and Company out in St. Charles, IL. I wasn't really planning on buying anything except wool for a felted Bucket-O-Chic so that I can get in the groove with Becky's Bucket-Along. I settled on Cascade 220 9323 (a foresty green color that matches my current coat). I also found some Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille that had to go home with me and another skein of Cascade 220 that has no purpose yet but will go into my fun felting collection. So I wasn't too bad. And then I found Alice Starmore's Tudor Roses and decided that it was time to add it to my collection.

Now I have to be good for a while. Or at least until I head off to Columbus, IN...

Holographic Sweater, Exit Front Left

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I've decided that I can't start any more sweater projects until I get Mom's sweater done. So, with that in mind, here's my current progress -- adding the button band to the front left of the sweater.

This button band is actually quite clever, now that I've done it. Most button bands don't have any structure, but this one is very solid. First you pick up stitches on the wrong side of the fabric at the base of the band. Then you knit a few rows in stockinette in a needle smaller than the regular project needle. You get something that looks like this from the back:

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The Dark Side of the Holographic Sweater

Then you work a Japanese Three Needle Bind Off to bring the flaps together and bind off the edge all together. Click the link above to take a look at how I did it. It didn't seem like a very common technique, so I thought I would take a few pictures in case anyone else wanted to see how it was done. (Hi Mary! I hope this helps make it clear) When you're done with the bind off, this is what you see get:

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Puffed Fair Isle

And here's what the whole sweater panel looks like:

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One Piece Closer to Victory

The whole effect with the button band is one I am going to tuck away for future reference. I love encountering clever new things, and after my Fair Isle frustration, this made everything better.

Barbara Ann asked about my I-cord maker. I spent a little time with this new toy tonight -- the "Wonder Knitter" which makes the I-cords. It's made by Clover and has a product number 3101. It is easy to use and it comes with two heads -- one which lets you do 3 stitch I-cord and one which lets you do 6-stitch I-cord. It works fine with the worsted weight wool that I tried. Just so everyone knows, this is not a "turn the crank get a cord" kind of thing, There is some loop hooking that you have to do. Overall it does seem faster than knitting I-cord, but it's not instantaneous. It also produces a nice, even cord, which I don't always do when I knit.

Meg asked if I would put links to locations for my favorite Michigan stores in my side bar. You can find them under the Chicago links along with a nice reference page I found with addresses for a lot of Michigan fiber sources.

I put the Skinny Angel Scarf and pattern in my Gallery, you can find it here. It's *very* easy and not a bad option if you have a small amount of a nice yarn.

Return of the Holographic Sweater

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Exit, Front Left

Well, I think my next major finished item is going to be my mother's sweater. It's giving me a case of the "not enough yarn heebeegeebees" with regards to the raspberry color, but I think that is just because it was a kit and I didn't get to buy myself my usual extra skein security blanket. This is what happens, folks, when you don't learn about the importance of gauge early in your knitting career -- your knitted garments come out too big and you end up eternally concerned that you won't have enough yarn to finish a project.

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A Little Fair Isle Border
Here's my first official knitted Fair Isle -- the button band for the sweater. Ugh! I thought I remembered how to do the two handed thing... but apparently I didn't do it enough to really get it ingrained. For this I ended up doing it with my left hand and dropping and picking up the alternating color strands. Not a fun or recommended way to proceed, but I figured that there were only 4 rows and I didn't really want to deal with the English method tonight.

The little white yarn thread is a life line to help me pick up stitches. The button band is a double thickness with the Fair Isle pattern on one side and stockinette to cover up the stranding on the other. After my ordeal with the Fair Isle rows, I didn't have the energy to pick up stitches and deal with the back of the band and the Japanese Three Needle Bindoff.

Needless to say, I won't be ordering from Virtual Yarns any time soon. At least not until I do a little practicing. If anyone out there knows of a good book or web reference with good pictures of knitting Fair Isle with both strands in your left hand (Continental) please let me know.

Holographic Back Completed

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Hooray! The back is done. Meeting a milestone on a project always makes me happy. Makes the goal-oriented part of me feel all smug and satisfied. But I will probably be pausing here for a little while before I start on the front.

Why? Well... I'm worried about sweater dimensions. Yes, I did a gauge swatch. Yes, my row and stitch gauge still seems to be correct. But when I complete a piece, I usually expect to have to stretch it a little bit as part of the blocking process. Not here. Here I found myself massaging the sweater into a somewhat smaller form. I am somewhat worried that as I knit across the back of the sweater gravity took some toll on the width, added a little stretch. I think the lengthwise stretching is one of the hazzards of knitting something that is more or less garter stitch.

Normally at this phase in the game I would just bull on ahead and assume it would come out okay. But, I want this sweater to be as perfect as possible. So it will block and I will rest and think about what to do next.

Lucky for me, I have something very nice to relax with. Something soft and seductive, totally decadent and totally for me.

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When I started blogging last year, I had no idea that I would "meet" so many neat people, much less get a chance to hang out with them. On Sunday, the very chic Bonne Marie and I headed out on a little "yarn trolling" expedition in northern Chicago (check out her blog to see the fab mini poncho design she was planning out while we were shopping!).

We hit a couple of stores in Evanston (Montoya and Close Knit) and a couple in Chicago proper (Arcadia and Knitting Workshop). I picked up a couple of books (including Rowan's new A Yorkshire Fable which is absolutely awesome and definitely a "must see") and thought I was going to get away with avoiding any new yarn purchases until I got tempted by an angel.

Lorna's Laces Angel, that is. Angel is a 70% Angora, 30% Lambswool blend that is just irresistable. At least to me. The colorway is called "Seaside". When I saw it at Arcadia, all my will to resist new stash additions evaporated... after all, how much trouble could I get into with 200 yards of the most fabulously soft yarn I'd ever touched?

Heh. Lots. Suffice it to say that you're not seeing the price tags on that yarn for a reason.

I cast this stuff on almost as soon as I got home. I thought I knew for certain what it wanted to be -- a lace scarf. (I've got lace knitting on the brain right now, I think every yarn I see lately wants to be lace.) What could be nicer, I thought than an airy angora scarf wrapped around my neck in the winter?

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This was my first attempt. A modififcation of a pattern stitch in the Blackberry Ridge A Week in the Life of A Knitter's Cat scarf pattern.

I looked at it for a while and then decided that it did not want to be that lace pattern. Somehow all the colors looked muddy to me and the pattern wasn't showing up at all. And so I cast on another... one with big open holes from the Koigu Take Along Scarves pattern book. I figured, hey, Koigu is variagated, right, and so is Lornas. It should work, no problem.

Nope. Nyet. Nein. Nada. Angora swiss cheese. I didn't like it so much I frogged it before taking a picture of it. I regret that now, because I like to show negative results as well as the positive ones to spare others the special joy of learning the hard way.

So then I felt a little frustrated. This yarn did not want to be what I wanted it to be. How could it not want to be lace? And then I heard a tiny soft whisper...You're trying to make me work too hard.. my colors are pretty and complex, my texture is soft and fuzzy, just do something simple with me. Trust that my complexity will make simplicity beautiful.

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So here's my most recent attempt. It's not at all complex, but I do like it. I cast on, knit in stockinette for a while and then halved the stitch number by doing K2tog across an entire row to get the ruffly effect. Now I am just going to stitch in stockinette until I am close to running out yarn and then a ruffle at the other end. I'm not worried about too much curling. The angora has almost no elasticity. When I ripped, you could hardly even tell that the yarn had been stitched, it has no memory at all.

So far Angel is a real treat to knit with. Soft and luxurious, it glides through my fingers almost like it isn't there. Almost makes me want to run out and get myself an angora bunny of my very own. It has a nice halo, and so far there's not a lot of shedding going on. Speaking of shedding... I seem to remember something about putting angora yarns into the freezer for a while to prevent shedding. If anyone out there knows any more about this, please let me know.

Of course, I still have this insane desire to knit lace...

Holographic Home Stretch

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Almost there! I actually completed the first page of instructions for this sweater tonight. At this point, I am about 22 rows from binding off. Carolyn left a comment on my last post about knitted holography. I think that describes this sweater incredibly well! I think from now on I will refer to this as the Holographic sweater. It definitely has an extra, unexpected, dimension.

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Over the weekend, when I needed a break from the sweater and while we were out running errands, I switched over to socks. I'm now the proud owner of one finished Regia MultiEffekt sock. Very fall, don't you think? And having finished a sock for me, I went back to the Opal socks for John. This helps me solve that second sock syndrome.

I've become shameless about knitting in public. While wandering around MicroCenter or Costco, I just knit away while wandering through the aisles. My felted daypack is an excellent knitting companion in this respect. I hold my needles and keep the skein in a zip lock bag in the daypack and just pull on the working strand as needed. I'm probably getting a few very strange looks, but I don't notice because I am too busy knitting. Just say knitting geek. Yep. Yep. Yep. Almost anything I do, I take to geek proportions.

I've been asked by a couple of people "How in blue blazes do you knit so fast, woman?" To be honest, I never really thought of myself as a fast knitter until recently. I am not sure I have a great answer to this question, but here are a few things I can say about it:

  1. I don't mind knitting in public. I'll pull out my sock knitting any where. Chicagoans don't seem to phased. Maybe they all like hand knit socks.
  2. I am a product knitter. I enjoy the process, and I love to learn new things, but I really really want to be able to wear or share the thing I am knitting. When I get close to the end of something, I get totally revved up to get it finished. I stay up late, I get up early, I just get in this mode where I want the creation to become reality. I don't know if this is latent goal-orientedness from my PhD training or just me. All I can say is don't get between me and a sweater I really really want.
  3. I have no children and I am married to a man who not only cooks, but can look after himself. John never gets irritable when I sit and knit, even when I do it compulsively. I try to do the same for him when he is diving into one of his hobbies. We love to be together, but we love to do our own things as well.
  4. When I first learned to knit, my dear knitting teacher tried to convince me that if I held my yarn better I could improve my speed and tension. I ignored her because it seemed too hard. This fall, I decided to take her advice and get some better yarn control going. It took a little while to get used to knitting and purling "the right way" (I hate to say that because I think any way that works for you is the right way) but once I got it down, I saw a vast improvement in my speed and in the quality of my knitting. Definitely a double bonus.
  5. I am definitely in obsessive compulsive mode with my knitting hobby right now. It's been a while since I bought a computer game or read straight through a book. I keep finding new things that I want to try, new clothes that I want to have in my wardrobe.
  6. I've had a lot of stress in my job lately, and knitting helps take the edge off. I can come home from work, sit down in front of my 21" window on the electronic world and immediately move my mind from the days problems to somewhere entirely different. It's very meditative for me.

I think this all boils down to one fact: I spend a lot of my free time knitting. Speaking of which... I think I hear some soft seductive voices from my knitting basket....

Back to the Back

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2/3 of the way

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I didn't get quite as far as I had hoped on the back of the SBC over the weekend. I'm only about 2/3 of the way there. There's still about 7 more inches to go. I'm almost done with the raspberry, however. I'm still amazed at how alternating garter stitch and stockinette can make something that fakes out my eyes so well when I look straight at it.

I swatched the Matchmaker. I'm not going to post pictures of a stockinette swatch, but I did get gauge and as soon as I get a little farther along with SBC, I'll be casting on Culdesac. I'm really looking forward to Culdesac. I don't have anything in my "in progress" list that is too mind challenging right now, and I am actually beginning to feel the need to pick up a more complicated project. Saturday night at around midnight I was combing through my yarn boxes trying to decide if I should start a lace scarf project or not. I restrained the urge (it's not good for me to start anything that late at night) by swatching the Matchmaker.

The Matchmaker is pretty fabu stuff. Soft and rich and easy to knit. It's also machine washable (which surprised me compeltely). It's not dirt cheap, but it's not crazy expensive, either -- $6/skein 120 m/50 g skein. I don't think I've knit with DK weight yarn before, so this should be a fun first. Becky's right about it being worth hugging the postman for!

Speaking of hugging the postman, I got something else in the mail that was in the same postman hugging category on Saturday. Feast your eyes on this:

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4 skeins of Colinette Giotto in Florentina that is destined to become the Sienna Cardigan. Every year John and I throw a big holday party. This cardigan is going to be part of my dress up outfit for the event. I'm particularly pleased with the cost of the top. It pays to order your Colinette from the UK. Without printing actual numbers, even with the book and shipping and handling I still paid around half of what it would cost to buy the stuff here in the US.

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I just love the colors in the Florentina colorway... magenta, pink, blue, green. Hard for a jewel tone girl like myself to resist. It's probably a good thing that I don't have two out of the 3 sizes of circular Addis that I need to get started!

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