Keeping Calm and Carrying On

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Between the Queen’s death and the  Remembrance of 9/11, I was feeling a bit gloomy, so I decided to write about my knitting adventures to help you get distracted by my antics.

Having finished my Christmas knitting, I decided to spend a little time using up some of my many scraps before knitting the super secret thing for Bullywoolies and then moving on to my sweater delights.

First of all, I finished my scrappy blanket,

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and I finished my giant granny square crochet blanket (I ran out of scraps and just quit):

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Then I knit a hat which I didn’t read the title of carefully.

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This is A Glimpse of Spring by Willow Canda, and I read ‘hat’ looking at the photo of it, but it is in reality a beanie. Meaning, it comes down to the top of my ears and looks ridiculous on me, so I think I will put it in my stash of hats to give away. Surely it will fit some child somewhere.

Continuing on with gray scraps, I knit a pair of mittens, which was fun because I hadn’t knit mittens in a while

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and I tried a new-to-me DROPS pattern for a hat called Autumn Acorn, which was a free pattern knit from the top down:

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I really enjoyed knitting this not only because I rarely knit top-down hats, but also because it had a very unusual and fun-to-knit method of increasing the crown:

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There are really only 3 increase rounds for the crown! Amazing!

Returning to my Crunkle Socks (a paid pattern by Kay Jones) knit out of Bantam Sock by Chicken Lady Fiber Arts, I finished them and admired their sparkley-ness and have worn them, but I managed a quick photo before grinning myself into a coma from all the sparkles (which are not apparent in the photo):

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 I had almost a full cake of Red Heart Fleece Hugs yarn, so I decided to knit a smallish baby blanket from it. I chose a Fleece Hugs pattern and cast on the required number of stitches and set out. The pattern didn’t say to put in stitch markers, so I didn’t. The knit skill level was “easy”.

Harumph. Arghhhhh.

 This pattern has a ripple effect, meaning it has increases and decreases, making it go up and down. Which, generally speaking, is “easy” enough to do if you just follow the pattern. 

BUT!!!

This yarn is like knitting with fur, nice furry acrylic fur that really, really hides stitches extremely well, making it impossible to see your stitches at all. Before I knew it, I had knit about 5” of the blanket and thought it looked a bit weird, so I counted the stitches (really hard to do due to all the fuzziness) and found that I had inadvertently added 20 stitches to my original number cast on. T*w*e*n*t*Y.

Oh dear.

So I briefly toyed with the idea of just throwing the yarn away because I really hated it, but then reason replaced the anger and I chose to rip it out, which was fairly difficult due to the aforementioned #%’gfk;;6^}# fuzziness of it. This time I added blasted markers to mark increases (green markers) and decreases (purple markers) to see if that will help keep it tamed. But be warned: if it doesn’t help, this blanket WILL be tossed and laughed at with glee as I dance around the kitchen. Well, ‘dance’ is stretching it; swaying from side to side waving my arms would be more like it.

You’ll see a picture if I get it done. Or you won’t, if I set it on fire. 

Anyway. Hope I made you laugh. Keep calm and carry on and remember to smile!


Happy Scrappy Blankets

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Hi! I hope you are doing well. There is a mouse in our house. She looks pretty chuffed because there is no cat to catch her. Soon she’ll tell all her friends and we will be overrun with mice; mice are cute when there is one of them, but when they number 25,806,447,864 it is more like an army. 

I have been working on my last Christmas present and will soon begin another project I can’t talk about, but I have been planning and plotting my free time knitting and it looks like it’ll be fun!

My first happy scrappy blanket is the Memory Blanket that is made out of DK and sport weight bits and bobs that I have been collecting over the years. It will be done tomorrow, August 25th, as planned. I might later decide to do a border, maybe an I-cord border, to finish it, but for now it is almost done. 
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After I “finished” my scrappy crescent shawl a while ago, I was left with a significant number of fingering weight scraps. I don’t have enough to make a blanket right now, but I can start one and then as I get more scraps, I‘ll add them to it.

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Scrappy blankets look weird because you just add a new color when you run out of yarn, which makes it look quite wobbly, but as you are only snuggling with it when you are on the couch or in a recliner, that is fine. 

I’ll be able to talk about my sock knitting adventures and my knitting video adventures in a few days! See you then! Happy knitting.


Treading Water

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Hi there! I can’t really talk about my knitting right now, so I thought I would talk about other things, like Christmas advent calendars and mini skeins and whatever.

I watch a handful of podcasts on YouTube about knitting, and they all pretty much have the same format (which is about what I do in this blog but I am not doing it on video). The podcaster (or two or more podcasters) have a little chit-chat about the weather or something going on in their world, and then they talk about what they are working on, followed by their finished objects, finishing up with what they have bought or acquired be it yarn or patterns or needles or gadgets. Then they usually talk about what they want to knit or are planning to knit, a little about their kids or the trip they just took or whatever.  
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Usually after watching a podcast I want to buy the yarn they were gushing about or the pattern they made or are making or want to make, or the New Knitting Thing they were enraptured with. Then I usually take myself firmly by the hand and say, not today. If I still want it a week or two after I hear about it, I may buy it. I wonder how many people buy stuff they don’t really need by just hearing about it? A lot, I bet.

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A lot of people go gaga after mini skeins - 10g or 20g little skeins of usually fingering weight or DK weight yarn that are hand dyed and packaged 5, 8, or 12 together at a time. Now to me, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to have all these little skeins of different colors. But that’s because colors aren’t the most important thing in my knitting world. I know, seems odd, but what can I say. I’d rather focus on the garment design and the stitches and the tools than the color. But for most knitters, color is everything. And those mini skeins give them the chance to buy 5 or 8 or 12 colors at a time instead of 1 or 2 or 4 full skeins.

Every podcast has something that makes it different as well. Some people are in a different country, some are hand dyers, some just have a good sense of humor. But one person that I watch loves yarn, makes hand dyed yarn, and she loves the same books that I do!

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Holly of Mystery Mouse Knitting loves to read  mystery books and knit. She’s not a huge yarn dyer, but what she has is named for something related to a book. She had colors reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and lately, Nancy Drew mysteries. She makes a few skeins, they sell out, and then she puts up another color. But the best thing is, she is offering her first yarn Advent Calendar, calling it Holmes for the Holidays. It includes twelve 20g mini skeins; a full skein of yarn, all in gorgeous Victorian colors no doubt; some stitch markers; and other treats and surprises.

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The big surprise is that you follow the clues as they appear and solve the mystery of what Sherlock Holmes story the whole thing references! I thought about it for a good long while and then I bought it. So I will have a nice little gift that comes just in time for Christmas! Usually these advent calendars are pre-ordered in the summer, and are delivered in October or November. I think she has a few left, but if you want this advent calendar, you’ll have to be quick because I think she’ll be ending preorders really soon.


Scrappy Blanket

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It’s another beautiful day here on the coast of Maine. The sun is shining and hummingbirds are strumming at the feeders. I keep thinking that it will not be long before autumn and winter changes everything. I’ll always enjoy my summers.

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Last night I bound off my Scrappy Shawl/Scarf thing. It’s really more of a scarf than a shawl because I couldn’t make myself knit it any larger. It’s one more WIP off the needles!

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I started a Memory Blanket  with my DK/sport weight scraps back in March, mostly because I failed miserably making a crocheted blanket, so I decided to knit one.

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The Memory Blanket is good because each square is picked up from two previous squares, and if you weave in the two ends of each square as you finish them, the blanket is done when the last square is done. 

The difference between my Scrappy Shawl and my Scrappy Blanket is: I love love love my Scrappy Blanket! See? I told you I was a bad  Project Parent. 
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I knit a square on my Scrappy Blanket every morning when I have my coffee. I can watch my YouTube videos as I knit, drink my coffee, and it’s a great way to start the day. It feels like those mornings when I was a wee little girl, going down to the kitchen and spending time with my father while he had his coffee. Special times.

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My Scrappy blanket is almost done. I decided to make it ten squares wide and fifteen squares long, and I have thirteen squares left to do. I’ll be done on August 25th if all goes well.

Wonder why it’s called a memory blanket? Each square uses yarn from another project, and I think about them as I knit. There are among the many a Harriet square …

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and a Beekeeper square …

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and a Sitwell Shawl square. 

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Another fantastic thing that happened on Wednesday is that Sue officially became a Crazy Sock Lady, having completed her first pair of socks ever!!!!! Yayyy!!!!!! Congratulations Sue!

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Now I want to knit socks. 


Scrappy Crescent Shawl

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I started a scrappy crescent shawl back in February after watching WatchBarbaraKnit’s (Barbara Benson Designs) How to Knit an Easy Crescent Shawl on YouTube. It is very easy garter stitch; you increase four stitches on one row and increase two stitches on the back row and repeat those two rows until it’s deep enough or long enough or til you run out of yarn. I never run out of yarn - really, it’s a foreign thing to me - but mostly I think I will knit til it just about bores me to death and I’ll bind off. It will make a good shawl to keep warm in the mornings. 

Anyway, Scrappy started off being my knit-before-bed knitting, which moved to my-chair-knitting-to-watch-TV, and then I got caught up in my Christmas knitting and poor little Scrappy forlornly sat under my end table waiting to die, or until I picked it up again. The fact that Scrappy was fairly ugly didn’t help it much. I was using odds and ends of fingering weight scrap yarn, and I found that my socks and shawls had been lacking in nice colors. 

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Now that my Christmas knitting is winding up, I’ve picked up Scrappy again and had to decide, do I rip him out? Or keep going? I shrugged. Scrappy is pretty ugly, but I am only wearing it to keep warm. It’s kind of like a working shawl. The stripes of many colors will be okay I guess. I decided to just increase two stitches in every row because I couldn’t keep track of whether I was on a 2-stitch row or a 4-stitch row. Well, I could keep track of it, but I didn’t really want to, being lazy and all, so I just switched at some point. 

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I hope you are a better parent to your scrappy project than I am. I bet you don’t call it ugly or neglect the proper knitting technique or say, “Well, it will keep me warm anyway.” I hope your scrappy project will benefit from proper planning of colors and care of proper knitting and love!
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The Kai Shawl

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My beautiful Kai Shawl by Kristina Smiley is done, which is good, but I kinda wish it wasn’t done because I enjoyed knitting it so much. Kristina Smiley is aptly named, because knitting her design made me smile a lot, and I am sure that wearing it will make me smile too!

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This is it before blocking. Even unblocked it’s pretty. I let it sit there for a couple days so I could admire it before I blocked it.

Of course, on the actual hottest day of the entire year, and at the hottest hour of said day, I decided it was time to block it. What an idiot.

For my birthday, I got a set of hard-ish foam interlocking blocking mat things and a cool set of blocking combs to use with it. Can I just say, blocking has become a joy and a task to be relished! Why didn’t I get this years ago? 
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There are many types of blocking mats on Amazon, of all different costs, as well as play mats for kids which do the same job. The difference is kids’ mats have fun colors, and knitters’ mats have inches and helpful lines for blocking curved things if you know how to put it together right. (I don’t. Yet.) But the thing that really floated my boat was this set of mats came in a handy zippered bag  and stores upright in a small space! Winner!

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I braved the incinerator-like heat, washed the shawl, and pinned it out. The process was quick and easy and I didn’t even have to swear! Amazing.

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It’s like magic to see how lace opens up like a butterfly’s wings to reveal its beauty.
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Well, it would be easier if I had the kids’ mats so you could see it instead of seeing the lines and stuff, but trust me, it’s beautiful. 

My Kai Shawl should be dry soon in this heat, but the humidity will slow it down a bit. And I can’t wear in this heat anyway. But it will start getting cooler at the end of this month and I will wear the heck out of it then!
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Kindness and Communications

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We recently lost two people who played characters in two of my favorite shows, Dr. Who and Star Trek (the original series).

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The first one was Bernard Cribbins, who played Wilfred Mott, Donna Noble’s grandfather, in Dr. Who. He lived to the age of 93, and was 70 years in entertainment. He was known as the kindest character in Dr. Who. Though his part was relatively small, it was memorable. 

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The second was Nichelle Nichols who was Lt. Uhura, the communications officer on Star Trek. I loved Uhura. She was so beautiful, smart, able to get things done. Nichelle Nichols lived 89 years. I miss her. Another part of my childhood has died with her.

So, I have added two things to my queue of knitting items to make. I might not get around to making them right away, but I will make them. I already have the yarn!

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The first is Wilf’s Hat by Patricia Schonhold. It’s a beautiful red hat with cables on it, and I will try to get an airplane charm like Wilf’s to put on it. It’s a free pattern!

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The second is Uhura by Zohar Designs, a shawl that is shaped like a communications officer’s badge with “hailing frequencies” stitches reminiscent of Lt. Uhura’s job on the bridge. It’s available for £3 from payhip. I’ll knit it in red like Uhura’s uniform. 


Flowers and Animals

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.” — Georgia O’Keefe

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It has been quite hot lately. I mean, here on the coast it’s been almost 80 or 81 a couple days and in the high 70s most days. That’s really hot for us. But the flowers seem to quite like it.

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I am really enjoying knitting the Kai Shawl by Kristina Smiley. The motifs remind me of flowers separated by bands of stockinette or garter stitch. It’s easy enough that I can watch TV while I knit, but it’s pretty enough to keep me interested too.

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This yarn is wonderful, as I mentioned before. The speckles of bright pink mixed with a light smattering of purple and blue floating over a sea of white is a perfect canvas for the flower motifs, which will show up better when I block it. I love the colors of Expression Fiber Arts yarn.

I never knit with yak and silk lace weight yarn before. I’ve knit with 100% yak and with 100% silk, but knitting with 50% each yak and silk is the best of both worlds. Both fibers are very soft, breathable and static resistant. Yak is also very absorbable as are all wools, and yak down is the ultimate in softness. 

Unfortunately, silk pupae are killed in the process of making the silk that their cocoons are formed from. However, many pupae are a snack food in China, South Korea and Thailand. I hadn’t really thought about all those little silk worm pupae dying, so probably in the future I’ll try to get tencel or bamboo to pair with my luxury fibers. (That’s assuming that I’ll be able to afford luxury fibers ever again.) But I am enjoying knitting this yak silk yarn to the utmost, and I will love wearing it!


Endings and Beginnings

Hey everyone! I’m back. Sorry I have been gone so long; I took some time off from my blog. I’ve been knitting on Christmas presents so I couldn’t really show anything.

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Pogo left us on July 5 this year. It’s very sad and I miss her like crazy. It’s the first time that we haven’t had a cat since we lost Dippy about twenty years ago, and it feels really weird. I keep catching myself looking for her or thinking I’ll get her some tuna, and then I remember she’s gone. I may be biased, but I think Pogo was the best cat in the world, and she lived to be twenty years old, so I guess she thought we were pretty cool too.

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Anyway. Let’s talk about glorious knitting, shall we? I know that you are on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear what I have been knitting. I’ll tell you what I knit for Christmas presents after New Years, when winter is stretched out before us and we have little to talk about, and Christmas presents will be a good topic to fill the time. But I have done a little other knitting.

I knit some baby things, a hat and sweater for one baby

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and a hat and sweater for another baby,

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 and six little pairs of baby socks and a sweater for my great niece’s baby son. 
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For myself, I bought some merino/bamboo yarn from Chicken Lady Fiber Arts in Colorado in the color Pink Peppermint and knit a cowl:

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It looks funny here but wait:

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It looks much better on!

 I finally caked up some yarn I have been hoarding forever and started a triangular shawl with it. It’s from Expression Fiber Arts (they make luscious yarn), and it’s a lace weight 50% yak down and 50% silk that just feels incredibly yummy:

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I wish you could touch this shawl to experience how wonderful it feels. It’s like a warm, soft, light cloud. I can’t wait to put it around my neck. I might just wear it all fall and winter. Maybe spring too.

The pattern is called Kai Shawl by Kristina Smile.

0DA02F62-752D-4DF5-B8BB-41AD326F6074Today I cast on another WIP, a pair of socks. This is another Chicken Lady Fiber Arts in Bantam Sock, which is very sparkly, because I need more sparkle in my life. It’s 92% superwash merino and 8% lurex (sparkle!) in the PIK (Politically Incorrect Knitters) color. It actually reminds me of collegiate colors, except for the sparkle. Maybe it’s Hogwarts School of Wizardry? Wizards would have sparkle!

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So that’s me, all caught up. I’ll be done Christmas knitting at the end of August, and I promise from then on  it will be all knitting all the time, though I’m sure it’s dry as dust to most people. I’ll see what I can do to make it more exciting!

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Blocked Magazine

Blocked is a new knitting magazine on the internet, with free patterns, articles about knitting and humorous cartoons. What it is also about is a knitting community made up of people who have been blocked, slandered, called names like ‘racist’ and ‘white supremacist’ and ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘homophobe’ and the like by people who are just plain wrong. Those people have basically tried to ruin the lives and livelihoods of good, caring people, and Blocked magazine has given them a space to write their stories, tell the world what happened to them, set things straight. 

 

If you feel triggered by reading these stories, just download Blocked magazine for the free patterns and knit your heart out. If you like Blocked magazine, there is a place at the back to support it ($5) through a Patreon account for the magazine,  and another page to go to the websites of the people whose stories are in the issue of the magazine, where you can buy their stuff.

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Blocked magazine is put out by many fabulous people. The editor in chief who spearheaded this publication is Neil of UKnitted Kingdom, a feisty Brit with a huge sense of humor who is like a breath of fresh air. Neil has, expectedly, received hate for putting out the magazine, being called all sorts of names mentioned above and having the magazine taken down over their first weekend (it’s up now, no problem). Neil is now the ‘Knitler’ of his UKnitted Kingdom and he is pretty happy about it, too.

This first issue has a 2-page spread about knitting a gauge swatch, my favorite thing! It uses cute little drawings of a mouse with a sweater that came out too small, and one of a sweater that came out too big, and several ideas of how to get around knitting a gauge swatch if you really want to just start knitting but still want to have it come out right. Talk about a useful magazine! I’d put those two pages up on the wall of my yarn shop if I still had one!

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The cover sweater is a pattern in this issue, as well as gorgeous mittens, a cowl, a hat with a modified intarsia in the round motif (with a great blank chart to design your own motif!), a hat with a block pattern (appropriate for the first issue!), a crocheted amigurumi emoticon, and dishcloths. Also, there are a couple of KALs/MKALs too. 

I encourage everyone to go take a look at Blocked magazine. If you agree with it, great; if you don’t agree with it, then fine. I think we all need to get over ourselves a bit anyway. But we can all use a free pattern in these inflationary times too!


Pam’s Gloves

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The gloves for which “Pam’s Gloves” are named were originally bought in Doolin, Ireland at O’Brien’s Craft’s, because Pam’s hands were terribly cold when she, Kevin and Joseph took a trip to Ireland many years ago, long before my stroke.

She wore them a lot, and they eventually wore out. I took them and made a pattern from them to knit her another pair (the original pair were of dark brown wool, and I think that my copy also was dark brown wool). Unfortunately they came out too small and Pam never wore them much. I was thinking Pam needed another pair, in a slightly bigger size, so I started these green ones in Donegal Tweed, because Pam had visited the mill that produced that in Ireland. But then I had my stroke, and it languished unknit for 11 years. 

Recently I found one finished glove and just the cuff of the other one when I was cleaning out my stash. I decided that since this year was going to be about getting rid of my stash, I needed to finish it.

I knew that I had written down my pattern notes many years ago, before my stroke, BUT that was on an Apple Mac (I think it was my tangerine iMac, that tells you how long ago it was) and I used Appleworks, which wouldn’t open now except in some weird text in GoodReader and the chart which the whole pattern depended on wouldn’t open at all. Sigh. So I had to make the chart from the existing glove.

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I ended up using Stitchfiddle.com to make the chart, and the glove came out relatively well, and almost the same size as the one I knit before my stroke. I gave the gloves to Pam for Christmas and she loves them. She says they fit just like the originals gloves did. 
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I did write the pattern for the gloves and was going to make it available here on Demonic Progress, but I found the website for O’Brien’s Crafts. They are still there and still selling children’s mittens that use that pattern. I think that they also have adult size mittens and gloves, but there is only so much that you can put on a website! So, if you want a pair of these gloves, I encourage you to take a look at their website and contact them to see if they have gloves and if they ship to the USA. We should all support craftsmen and small businesses.

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