Saturday, December 27, 2008

FO: Hemlock Ring Blanket

Earlier this week I finally finished the edging on the Hemlock Ring blanket. It didn't turn out quite like I'd expected - even though I washed and blocked it and it is nice and natural and sheepy, it is not as lovely and flat as Brooklyn Tweed's. I did more increases than the one he knit, and also used a slightly smaller needle and just slightly finer yarn compared to Eco-Wool.

In any case, it was a long term project and I'm glad it is wrapped up! It looks like I will be delivering it tomorrow to be given as a wedding gift - a belated one.

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6 skeins at 220 yards each of natural Lismore Sheep Farm all natural wool, not dyed, just plain dark brown heathered wool. The blanket comes out at about 45 inches across, a nice size for the back of a couch or for a very warm lap. Good stuff!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

FO: a better bucket

Hat! After finishing the Tilted Blocks scarf and with only a carry-on bag to my name I desperately needed a new project! After much investigating of the availability of Malabrigo in the Los Angelos area (disappointing!) SubliminalRabbit and I found a decent selection at the Compatto Yarn Salon. The LYS staff were welcoming and fabulous, I would highly recommend stopping in.

I was looking for something purple-ish to complement my verging-on-lime-green wool winter duffle coat (now in its fourth year of service, great value!) - and this was a standout:

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Velvet grapes. I got started straight away on the Better Bucket Hat pattern (pattern lower down on page, available as pdf) (Ravely link):

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And this pattern is fabulous:

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Happy days. Purple hat to go with green coat, warm liner for coat hood. I am ready for bitter Atlantic Canada, and I've had my first chance to knit with Malabrigo. I have a skein of laceweight but it is just sitting purdy on my shelf for now.

Happy holidays!!

FO: Tilted Blocks scarf

Here is the story of the FO that I haven't even mentioned.

Once upon a time (last year? longer than that??) a very lovely friend sent me a fabulous package that contained, among other wonderful things (like knitting note cards!), a skein of Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock in the Devon colorway:

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The yarn was special. It took a long time for me to figure out how to both show off the lovely color and utilize the delicious squishability factor of the yarn, without overwhelming it with some complicated pattern.

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I was finally prompted to make this a traveling project when the stars aligned to make a trip to southern California possible at the start of the school break. I had meanwhile just taken a look at Knitting New Scarves (Ravelry Link)

I tried a simple cable in a narrow scarf, thinking I'd be able to wrap it around once or twice, the cable only revealing itself on close inspection:

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The cable disappeared almost completely (granted, I knit it on a st st background rather than reverse st st) (thought it did catch the interest of a young teenager in line at the Twilight premiere as we all jumped up once they opened the theater, then came to a sudden stop - and the girl in front of my friends and I in line remarked, 'that's cool!' - which felt great - interesting the young ones in the craft, you know?) and I wasn't happy with the improvisation.

It occurred to me to try something along the lines of the Tilted Blocks scarf (Rav link)

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It worked out:

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I used this pattern as the basis for the scarf, but changed directions with the blocks a few times rather than just keeping them going on the diagonal, and I put in a few squares at random that are knit in stockinette or stripes of stockinette and reverse stockinette, rather than having it be completely garter stitch. A great traveling project, and the scarf is the perfect length with just one skein!

This came out absolutely fabulous and I am looking forward to wearing it once back in the temperate environs of Atlatic Canada. For now, in the Rockies, I'm still using a thicker, neutral colored scarf, but this one is calling my name. Thanks, MH!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Coraline: super itty bitty knitting!

You may have heard of the new stop-motion film coming out in 2009 - Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman's eponymous novel. You might be interested in checking out a bit of the teeny weeny knitting that went on to help clothe the characters: click here and then on the top drawer of the vanity on the left - and in the second drawer there is a pdf download of one of the teensy patterns. Fun!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WIP: Hemlock Ring Blanket

I haven't been able to blog about this even though I started it weeks and weeks ago, just in case. If you're on Ravelry you might have seen it, but here it has been quite hush hush.

I've been working on a Hemlock Ring Blanket in some yummy natural lanolin-licious Nova Scotian wool, undyed, minimally processed - I picked up 6 skeins at the local farmer's market awhile back with this project in mind.

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Great value, great yardage, and straight from the source: Lismore Sheep Farm.

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This is the blanket in early November. It's a lot farther along now - I'm working on the edging at long last - but it has been tricky to photograph because it has grown so much. I didn't have a cable needle long enough so I have two 32 inch KP cables with size 9 needle tip on one end and a smaller one on the other - as long as I have the correct size in my right hand to control the size of the stitches it's coming out beautifully as a fudgy fix for the situation - and I bought another size 9 cable needle at my local LYS as a stopgap measure as well.

I hope this doesn't take an age to block as it's quite a late gift already!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

FO: Minimalist Cardigan (in brief)

Finished yesterday. Fab! Hitting road in early morning. Few juicy pictures.
happy holiday knitting!!

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Color is between the two, closer to first shot, really.
Action shots coming soon, hopefully.

ps just ordered Custom Knits (Wendy Bernard) and Yarn Harlot's page a day calendar (to get up to $25, natch) on Amazon, hooray free US shipping! USA here I come!

Monday, December 1, 2008

WIP: minimalist cardigan - nearly seamed!

Wow. I just looked at the blog and realized I haven't posted any work-in-progress pictures for about two months, at least. I didn't look further back than the beginning of October, I couldn't bear it. There has been a little secret knitting but also there has been NO TIME for knitting!! Ok, when I say "no time" (insert air quotes) what I really mean is not enough time.

Minimalist cardigan is my reward for reaching certain word count thresholds on my current 5000 word research paper though, so while the kettle is heating up I will post the most recent pictures! Here she is with the sides seamed to the back piece:

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And here we can pretend this is something like what it'll be with sleeves:

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To tell the truth, the sleeves are now set in but I haven't photographed it again, and I've got one sleeve seamed, one more to go, and am working on fixing the neckband bit. I'd really like to finish this today and get it blocking so it can come on holiday journeys which start this Friday!

Oh, I also photographed the lace ribbon scarf again in slightly better light, so here are a couple of those shots:

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Those colors are looking a bit more accurate. I love the color of this yarn!! Back to my word counting - in just a few days my school obligations will be met and then there will be much knitting and it will be very exciting! Happy December, all :)

Oh, and for Twilight fans! (who are knitters): check out Subliminal Rabbit's pattern for Bella's mittens -- I am so impressed with how fast she got this together - and it's a free pattern!! There's a movie still there as well that shows Kristen Stewart wearing them in a scene - I think she's standing by her awesome old truck. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

revisiting an FO: SWS Fetching

I have several big projects on the go - but this is a post about a pair of mitts I finished almost two years ago, I think. They were living in a suitcase by accident for about a year but now they're out in the open again - and I was wearing them this month a few times - and continually tucking in the yarn ends hanging off the thumb part. I never got around to weaving the ends in. Yet I wore them anyway. I just kept pulling the thread inside the thumb part and adjusting it often. Silly, silly. I am posting about this because I FINALLY ran the ends in. Yay me! These are now 100% finished.

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Laugh if you must, and then go and run in some ends on whatever you're working on - you'll thank yourself later.

As for actual, current projects... I've been using my research paper (originally due tomorrow, now due Wednesday, I don't know which is worse!) breaks to seam my Minimalist Cardigan. Friday I sewed up the sides, yesterday I seamed the shoulders and set in one sleeve. Of course the sleeve caps were a bit long to fit into the arm scythe, but I managed to finesse them so the first one fit in well enough. Today my goal is to work on the paper for a couple of hours and then set in the second sleeve. The last steps will be to sew the sleeve seams themselves and then block this thing - I just couldn't face the blocking before the sewing - I can't wait to see how it fits once the stockinette band around the neck and down the front are laying flat, because right now they roll something awful. Oh, yes, I also have to finish knitting the neckband, because I ran on out of yarn one one side and just left both sides with live stitches so I could continue knitting one side and make it all work out to be the right length. We'll see how that goes!

Tea is steeped, and hopefully later I'll download the pictures I took yesterday of the progress on the Mini Cardi up to this point.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FO: mini sweater ornament

It happened so fast I didn't even have a chance to mention it! A call went out a couple of weeks ago for contributions to a gift basket for my department to raffle off to raise money at Christmas. I looked around my space, thinking, what do I have that I don't really want that I could give them. I thought of a DVD I have that I will never watch again, or a book that I know I will never read again and can't think of anyone else to give it to. It just seemed like such items would be too incongruous and random. Then I spotted my knitting bag. Hmm. A knitted ornament would be a great idea. I remembered those mini Harry Potter sweaters and thought something like that would be quick and fun! I ended up basing a design off of this pattern, which is actually knit top down, and I wanted to do mine bottom up - I don't know why, because the shoulder turned out all misshapen! I ended up winging it, and this is what we have:

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Those are my department's initials. I put the year on the back:

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I was thrilled when the director of my department won the raffle, thinking she would appreciate the handmade ornament - but then she decided to let us re-raffle the basket so someone else can win it. The drawing is today. I hope the basket goes to someone who will appreciate the effort!! Most of the other stuff in the basket is cookies and chocolates - though someone did donate some teeny containers of play-doh so that's kind of fun.

Ok, tea is steeping, back to my work!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

FO: Lace Ribbon Scarf

I managed to wrap this up right at the end of class Thursday. Although classmates appreciated the squishy yarn and beautiful color, it wasn't until I blocked it and brought it out again yesterday that the pattern was understood. It looks great! This pattern is wonderful, I would totally knit it again - if there wasn't a whole world of great scarf patterns out there.

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The light has been dim for the last few days so I'll try to take a better picture when the sun decides to visit again; the colors are so subtle with this colorway, photographing it is a challenge.

I bought the yarn for this project almost exactly a year ago at the yarn shop that is now my closest LYS; when I bought the yarn I lived hundreds of miles away and south of the border. The shop is celebrating an anniversary of opening, so I went down yesterday with the scarf and an eye out for treats that were promised as well as some yarn sales. I had no trouble finding a salesperson to chat with about my just finished project, and there were some nice cookies around, but I didn't see any deals going (and I don't need any yarn at the moment, so I'd only add to my stash if I saw a good deal...) until I had almost determined to leave. By the door there was a small display of odds and ends, marked down appropriately, but nothing to tempt me.

And now there are only two weeks left in the term and an awful lot needs to happen so sadly there is not going to be much knitting time until early December!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

risk management

Unfortunately not in the crafty context. Today. I have a paper due at 4 today (pretty much done, yay me) and another paper due tomorrow at 5 (mostly done, ok, needs some work, semi-yay me) and I just got distracted from doing reading for class which starts in an hour by this amazing beret, completed by the ADD Knitter:
Selbu Modern

And the yarn looked intriguing, so I investigated further and found that Shelridge Farm in Durham, ON, Canada (so close, yet so far!) produce something that looks amazingly like Koigu solids - same yardage/twist/gauge - for $10.50 a skein. After looking at the lovely solids and then the shipping prices (they don't sell in regular stores, just online and at fiber festivals - they have the next year's worth of travels posted on their site and none of them are close enough to me...) I discovered on Ravelry that they also do handpaints - FOR THE SAME PRICE. How is it possible? You would definitely need two skeins if you knit socks but I have my eye on the free pattern for the Selbu beret, for which I would need two skeins in two colors. mmmmm. Thinking of knitting projects is so much more fun than doing schoolwork!

No new pictures at the moment but a quick update - the Minimalist Cardigan is getting closer - I'm on the second sleeve, about 1/3 of the way up. And there is a plan for a knitting gathering in my dept tomorrow, so I will be bringing that and hoping to get that sleeve done pretty soon. Then I can seam/block, in an order to be determined. The lace ribbon scarf is also very nearly finished, and it is coming with me today - because I'm off to a Risk Management lecture - oh joy!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cuff PDFs now available

It's a sleep foggy rainy sort of Sunday morning and I've got my to-do list of 15 things to get done today - so naturally I am distracting myself with Ravelry - which is NOT on the list.

I've finally gotten around to creating pdfs of my free cuff patterns and uploading them to Ravelry. So not only can you find them here:
Dragon Scales Cuff
Snakeskin Cuff
But you can also download the free pdfs from Ravelry (if you click the link - not the picture - it will ask if you want to download the pdf):
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Dragon Scales Cuff on Ravelry
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Snakeskin Cuff on Ravelry

Let me know if any of this doesn't work out the way it should - it's my first try with Ravelry's file hosting system.
Happy crafting!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

paper marbling craftiness

Yesterday I got up at 6 (after waking up at 1, 2 and 4) and left town at 7 with two classmates, headed for Kentville NS and the Gaspereau Press' Wayzgoose. That's where bookbinders and likeminded people get together. The books done by GP are amazing - gorgeous customized wood block prints and fabulous textured paper covers. They tend to publish poetry and prose by artists from Atlantic Canada.

We were signed up for a paper marbling workshop, and it was super fun! We learned about how to prep the paper for the ink by applying an alum solution to one side and initialing the other so we could tell which side was which. The inks have to be mixed with ox gall (mmm) so that they have the right weight and won't sink when applied drop by drop to the surface of the liquid that provides the surface tension so that when a piece of prepared paper is carefully laid down on the liquid, the ink will adhere to the paper. It was so cool! Pictures explain better than I do, however, so here are a few examples of what we were up to:

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Can you see how the ink is floating on the surface of the water? It's water that has been 'cooked' with irish moss, which is a type of seaweed containing carrageenan. After straining, the thick liquid has a particular chemical makeup that makes it ideal for keeping the ink on the surface and the paper from getting sopping wet.

Once the ink has been dropped onto the surface, our instructor had lots of tools for us to use to change the way the ink looked. A stylus, for price swirling, and pieces of wood with nails or needles sticking out of them to create patterns.

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Super fun! It was amazing to see how much ink you needed to apply in order to get a saturated colorful piece of paper. Here are my results:

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The one with only three splotches was my first - none of us realized how much ink we really needed to use, because what is on the surface of the water is what you get, it doesn't spread out the way you might think as you lay the paper down. The one at the top left is a 'ghost' marbling - the second impression taken after the one on the bottom right had been taken up. If there is ink still on the surface you can try a ghost impression. Here are the two bigger ones, which came out the best!

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If only there wasn't so much preparation involved, I'd love to do this again sometime. Luckily, our instructor has a studio in the city here and was telling us about a paper decorating party in late November at the local arts college. We got on his mailing list so I'm hoping to work with him again!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

paca fiesta

So far my new Atlantic Canadian home is providing plenty of fiber-related fun!
Saturday September 27 I hopped on a shuttle bus kindly semi-organized by the Loop and visited the fuzzies at Paca Fiesta!

An introduction:

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The focus was on alpacas, but there was a variety of wildlife in the convention center, more fleeces to be had than yarn for sure! If only I was interested in mountains of fiber that needed to be spun, I would have been in the right place.

Some alpacas:

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cashmere goats:

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super fluffy bunnies!

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this one was some funky special English angora variety with the fuzziest face I've ever seen, and the longest tufts on her ears!

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there were even a couple of llamas:

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There wasn't much yarn to be had but I did snatch a skein of super soft 3-ply chocolate-brown-heathery-black alpaca, totally natural, not sure of the yardage, but it's 73 g (sold by weight, all the skeins were different prices) from The Atlantic Canada Alpaca Farm:

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Obviously I couldn't leave without a bit of alpaca.

There weren't any sheep but they were there in spirit: I took forever selecting a few wool-based skeins from the only proper yarn rack to be seen, and what a rack it was:

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Just pretend it's not blurry, please. There was lots of hand-dyed sock yarn, some of it nylon blend, sea wool (more affordable than the Fleece Artist), silk lace, silk/wool fingering... all gorgeous and hand-dyed. And reasonably priced! I was having so much trouble deciding. The colorways go unnamed according to the labels. I am so glad I picked up some though, because the vendor, I discovered later, does not sell online or in shops - only at festivals!! The Black Lamb is an outfit out of Port Hope, Ontario, and the website doesn't do justice at all to what was on display at the festival!

I picked up my first skein of sea wool (70/30 wool/seacell) in gray, green and blue:

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And two skeins of merino/nylon for a pattern I have in mind, I'm calling this 'roses':

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So pretty!

Overall the show was fun but I'm really glad I caught the noon shuttle and not the 10 am as I'd originally hoped because the return shuttles didn't run until 2 & 4 and being there for four hours would have been way too long. I photographed about half of what was at the festival, so just double the photos above and that was it. Not the biggest show I've been to, and I've only been to two. It was fun though and I got to pet some alpacas and deliberate over pretty yarn which was well priced. All in all, glad I went!

Monday, September 29, 2008

HipKnits in Scotland

Wheee! I'm trolling the web, looking for internships next summer, right now thinking of the UK, and what do I find but knitting on at the National Library of Scotland:
HipKnits
On until the end of October, wish I could see it!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

new WIPs: Minimalist Cardi / Lace Ribbon Scarf

Hello!

So I moved north to Nova Scotia at the end of August. Grad school, that sort of thing. There was some damaged part of my brain that thought I'd have more time to knit as a grad student but that is DEFINITELY not the case. my schedule is currently pretty insane. Mostly great, but crazy, and there has been little time to knit.

In happier news, as I packed up my stuff and carefully selected what yarn would be joining me on my new adventure, I set aside a very special skein of Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino in Bittersweet Chocolate along with the pattern for a lace ribbon scarf. I bought this skein last November in Nova Scotia, and have been taking it out occasionally to gaze upon its magnificence, without knowing what the heck to do with it.

It seemed fitting to cast on for something while on the road back to where I bought it. Which is where I am. I also knew it needed to be something that would be very visible, because I love love love this yarn. So:

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We experienced some totally crazy weather as we got closer to the west coast of NS, and at several points couldn't even see the road or the traffic around us - it was crazy. torrential downpour, lightning in the middle of the day. lucky for us, just as we approached our final destination the sun came out and it was a great afternoon to carry boxes into a new habitation!! so lucky.

The scarf has now grown a little:

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But like I said, there is almost no time for knitting. I did have one great moment during a break from an evening class lecture when I went off to a comfy chair in the atrium of our faculty building to just spend a few minutes with my needles. Normally the whole group of new classmates are quite social, and I enjoy chatting with them. A new friend walked over eventually (I should mention, a male) and said, 'do you take requests?' I looked him straight in the eye and said, 'no. I give lessons.' He laughed, and agreed: 'right, you can teach a man to fish, no?' I love smart people who get it right away. it's so nice to be back in school, to be back in an academic setting. this gent then proceeded to tell me how much he loves wool. loves wool, loves knitted things. and he's the type to pull if off, too - to wear a handknitted vest or sweater and be happy to be warm. I wonder if his gf is a knitter? I didn't ask.

In other WIP news, subliminalrabbit and I are doing a KAL for the minimalist cardigan (ravelry link) from IK 2007 fall issue, but right now she is probably nearly half finished and I am barely 9 inches up the back, and that's because I ditched my work Tuesday night and brought it to the halifax knitters knit night and busted away on it for a bit. There just hasn't been the daily knitting time in my schedule since the start of the month, and it's terrible!! I am using ella rae heathered wool in a bricky burgundy. here is the progress so far, chronologically:

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I swatched on 7s and 6s, and decided on the latter though the former size is called for. It just had better drape and was closer to the gauge.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

fab FO: teahouse sling

remember this?

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I have been using it A LOT in very recent days. As much as possible, in fact. It is small and handy for just going around the corner to the pub. Because I now have a pub practically around the corner! Hooray for walkable urban areas and living in them for the next two years. Yes, I have relocated to the fabulous coastal city of Halifax and yes there is much crafting and yarn here. Let me back up and illustrate approximately how I was able to get that bag, above, unfinished, in usable condition.

Firstly, my thanks to ladysaphira for the use of her incredibly sturdy sewing machine:

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You can feel the history of this thing when you try to pick it up (hint: it's not really a one-handed job).

After a great deal of thought (my notes tell me the knitting and embellishment was finished in April!) I decided to sacrifice this pair of cords to the lining effort, since I wanted to incorporate the pockets on them into the lining of the bag - presto! instant pockets without actually sewing them myself. The cords were too big for me anymore anyway and I'd gotten some good use out of them in the past.

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I cut out a sort of helpful shape from an envelope and tried to approximate the shape of the bag while making good use of the pockets.

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It didn't take nearly as long to sew the thing as it did to figure how to get the pocket placement to work. The sewing and all once I got the rough draft pinned together only took about an hour. I had a bit of trouble getting the machine threaded properly at first so ladysaphira was good enough to stop by and get me back on track!!

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I tried taking a picture of the inside but it was too tough to photograph because of the actual size of the bag. Maybe I'll have another go. Anyway, there's a slash pocket and a buttoned pocket on the inside, and I even stitched in a strip of fabric along the inside of the handle, which makes the knitting lay flat and not curl, which makes it even more useful.

Instead of some cotton that is likely to stretch and become annoying I now have a very sturdy and cute bag!! This was a great project, even if it took me half a year to do the final touches.