Baby knit parade

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Holy, I did not mean to disappear for that long. But having a newborn, and everything that goes along with that (no sleep, literally-full hands, a whole new routine, etc.), plus the holidays pretty much took me right out. It’s not that I didn’t know life was going to change, it’s just that it’s impossible to know how much your life will change until it does, and then you’re playing catch up.

But, here I am! And it’s pretty good timing, since Helen has now grown into some of the the things I knit for her before she was born! (She was so petite at birth that even the newborn-sized knits didn’t fit until recently.) So, without further ado (and before she wakes up*), here are the knits Helen has been wearing during what has so far been an absolutely freezing winter (last weekend it was -39 C/-38 F with the windchill, and it was windy).

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Tiny Foot Tubes + Little Joggers
Pattern:Rocky by tincanknits • Yarn: MC – Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in Sargasm; CC – Anzula Squishy in Rootbeer (both deep stash)

I’ve already written about the little sock kick I went on in the last weeks before Helen was born, but of course I only knit one really small pair. They are the only pair that fit her, of course, so until she grows into the other socks and booties, these little foot tubes are getting good wear.

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A better shot of the pants. (Helen is 6 weeks here.)

Also pictured here are the Rocky joggers I knit after Helen was born, making them the only thing so far I’ve knit for her (as opposed to for the unknown baby). Wool pants are pretty much indispensable for a winter baby I think, at least for the kind of winter we’ve been having. At first I worried I’d chosen the wrong colour (don’t get me wrong, I love this colour combo, but it’s not exactly standard), but as you will see they go surprisingly well with various tops. The only change I made to the pattern was to modify the waistband: I worked 1×1 rib for 2 inches, rather than doing the fold-over waistband in the pattern. I changed it because, while I like the look of the waistband in the pattern, it isn’t all that stretchy, which limits the wear-time of these pants. The 1×1 rib is stretchy and adds height, so it will ensure Helen can wear these pants for a while (we’re still folding up the bottom cuffs, so there’s plenty of length).

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Playdate — Pattern: Playdate by tincanknits • Yarn: Raventwist Torc in Wild Forest (more deep stash). (Helen is 8.5 weeks old here.)

I will admit that I did not love knitting this little cardigan — I found it a bit fiddly for a baby sweater — since it has a lot more structure than a baby sweater really needs (though, since this pattern is sized from 0-3 months all the way to adult 4XL, that structure makes sense). That being said, it has been a real workhorse in Helen’s wardrobe. It was the first sweater that fit (ie., that she wasn’t swimming in — as you can see, there’s still room for her to grow into it), so he’s been wearing it since she was about a week old. I also love the colour of this yarn. Vibrant green is just the thing for a winter baby.

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Puerperium Cardigan — Pattern: Puerperium Cardigan • Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts PureWash DK in Spearmint (leftover from this gifted sweater). (Helen is 9 weeks old in this photo)

This little Puerperium Cardigan was the first thing I knit when I was pregnant (once I let myself starting knitting for the baby, that is.) It was a very quick knit, and even though it didn’t fit Helen during the puerperium phase, it is a great little sweater now. I have knit this a few times before and always gone with short sleeves, which are easy to put on a wriggling baby (and reduce the bulk under an outdoor suit) and make this a great little sweater for layering. I also really like that the buttons are set along the side, out of the way of her many chins. This is a nice snug fit on her now, and should fit for a little while longer, but I definitely see more iterations of this sweater staying in rotation for a while. It’s a classic for a reason!

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Ruby Romper — Pattern: Little Sister’s Romper by PetiteKnit • Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere Sock in Poppy (leftover from this shawl). (Helen is 10 weeks here.)

This might be my favourite baby knit ever, though it’s not her most worn (she’s only just grown into it). I just think it’s adorable, and I’m already plotting more rompers and bodysuits because they are pretty irresistible. This also took very little yarn, which is a definite bonus, since it makes the pattern a good candidate for leftover half-skeins or special 50g skeins that otherwise might languish in my stash.

So, that’s Helen’s current handknit wardrobe, with more items waiting in the wings (so to speak). I also have a few knits planned for her, if I can find the time to work on them. It’s definitely a good thing that baby knits are quick!

(*Obviously writing this was a jinx, since she woke up 10 minutes later! Being okay with something simple taking longer than anticipated is one of the things I’m learning.)

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Two weeks

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Today is/was my due date, but better yet, today our daughter is two weeks old! The bed rest was a pretty good indication that she wasn’t going to wait around, and she did not! Two weeks early is actually pretty good (especially since it counts as full term), and even though she’s little, she’s growing like crazy and has filled our days (and nights) with more than we could have thought possible.

We named her Helen Juliet, and we are so in love with her.

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The blanket colours are better in the top photo. I will write a proper post about it soon.

Keeping tiny feet warm

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To be clear, right off the top, these tiny feet have not yet materialized. Bed rest is continuing (successfully), and it turns out I wasn’t as done with the baby knits as I thought. I was pretty focused on knitting a new sweater for L until the end of last week when the weather turned chilly and I realized the baby didn’t really have any warm footwear.

Well, no warm footwear made by me, anyway. We of course have some cotton baby socks, tiny pants and sleepers with built-in feet, and a little fleece suit with fold-over hands and feet. But, since we’re having a winter baby, I felt like maybe some warmer footwear was in order.

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Very Small Slippers — Pattern: Made up on the fly • Yarn: Fleece Artist Back Country in Grasslands, SK; Sweet Georgia Superwash Worsted in Slate; and Koigu KPM in #1205

So, I started with little shoes. These are definitely not going to fit the baby anytime soon (I would guess 6 months at the earliest), but they are very cute and there’s no harm in being prepared. Also, they took rather a lot of concentration — in part because they require crochet, which I am definitely not good at — and I don’t think I’ll have it in me to be that focused when I have a small baby to look after. So just as well that they’re ready to go!

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These are so fluffy and soft. I regret not buying a pair in my size.

I bought the sheepskin soles at Gaspereau Valley Fibres (which I deeply wish was my LYS) when I was visiting my family in Nova Scotia on Labour Day weekend. The soles came pre-punched (thank goodness) and I also got a pattern with them, since the shop had several pairs of these little slippers on display. The pattern, I’m sorry to say, was almost entirely useless to me (which is why I’m not naming it — no amount of Googling led me to a digital copy). It was photocopied from (I think) an issue of Interweave Knits, but did not come with the table that explained all the abbreviations. It also lacked a photo, and I neglected to take one of the shop samples, so I was kind of working blind. Not a huge deal for a basic knitting pattern, but the crochet portion, which starts everything off, was a very real challenge (for me. If you have ever crocheted before, I suspect it’s about as difficult as a knitting ribbing). I ended up just kind of crossing my fingers and going for it, and when my stitch counts didn’t come anywhere near the pattern’s, I just worked out my own numbers. I did have to knit and reknit the first slipper three times before I was happy with the shape (and, looking at the pictures, should probably have ripped out and redone the crochet, which is maybe a bit loose), but the end result seems like it will be cozy and warm, which was the whole point.

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The yarn is all leftovers from a pair of socks I knit for my mum. My scale needs a battery, so I don’t know the exact amount of yarn I used, but I’d guess about 30 g for the main and maybe 10 g for the contrast. Definitely not very much. I added the i-cord ties (the pattern just has the ribbing) because babies are notorious for losing socks and shoes, since their feet are really too little to keep them on, and then once they discover they have feet, they delight in pulling socks off. In theory, the ties will help keep these on, but we’ll see.

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After I finished the little shoes, and realized they’d be too big for the first little while, I decided to whip up some little socks. I went with tube socks, since there’s a way better chance of having those fit, and grow with the baby, than trying to guess a foot length and making a tiny gusset. That can come later, when I actually have a little foot to measure.

 

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Teeny Tiny Foot Tubes — Pattern: Made up (and detailed in my Ravelry notes, if you’re curious) • Manos del Uruguay Alegría in A9537

These were a bit tedious to knit, but are very satisfying to have finished. They are so small and adorable. These tiny tubes are also a great way to use up the leftover bits of sock yarn that are too big to throw out, but not really big enough to do anything with. I’d estimate these took about 12 g of yarn, which is not very much at all, and I for sure have enough of the yarn left to knit a third should one go missing (which it almost certainly will).

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I should have included a quarter or something for scale, but they’re about 5.5 inches long.

Despite being a bit tedious (small circles don’t grow as fast as it feels like they should), I so love the finished ones that I’ve already cast on for a second pair. These ones (in more leftover Fleece Artist, in the Blackberry colourway) will be slightly bigger, since babies grow pretty fast and I want to at least make myself think I’ll be ready for that. I actually cast on the same number of stitches, but I went up a needle size and this yarn is slightly heavier than the Alegría. I’ll also add a quarter inch or so to the length. I pulled a couple of other leftovers out of my stash and if this tiny sock bug sticks around I will be ready!

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Future baby socks (or booties/bootees)! Left to right: Malabrigo Sock in Lettuce and Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry (which I’ve already cast-on for more tiny socks) and Earth.

While I’m on this kick, are there any bootie/bootee patterns I should be looking at? Somehow, I’ve never knit any until now, but I am finding them so delightful that I suspect there are more in my near future. Please let me know your favourite baby footwear pattern(s) so I can add them to my list!

Sprinkle party

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I have a pretty substantial (for me) backlog of finished knits. Chronological order is all well and good, but since both of these little sweaters use the same yarn in different ways, I thought they’d make more sense as a pair.

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These speckles — which, in the context of kids’ clothes, seem more like sprinkles — are courtesy of the Madeline Tosh colourway Cosmic Wonder Dust. I picked up one skein of it, in Twist Light, a little over two years ago with some vague idea it would be fun for something kid-related (possibly I had Rocky joggers in mind, but I don’t remember anymore).

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Gathering Stripes – Sprinkle Edition — Pattern: Gathering Stripes by Veera Välimäki • Yarn: Fibreyla Barnabas Solids and Semisolids in Daïquiri and madelinetosh Twist Light in Cosmic Wonder Dust 

Anyway, when I was planning what to knit for our little friend Amber’s second birthday, I came back around to the speckles. I’ve been trying to use my stash better, and one of the ways I’m making that work is by thinking about fingering-weight yarn for more than just lightweight projects. Generally, I can get a nice DK-weight gauge by holding fingering-weight yarn double, which makes for a lot more options when it comes to using my rather large (for me) stash of fingering-weight yarns — especially all the single skeins.

Pattern-wise, I settled on Gathering Stripes (though I also considered Sprinkle by Jenn Emerson) because it is a favourite of Cassy‘s and I figure that with two little girls of her own, she knows what she’s talking about. In a non-stash-busting move, I picked up a nice DK weight for the main (and then used just about every inch) and used the speckles (held double) for the stripes.

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I love the way the speckles splash across the stripes, and that the slightly denser gauge of the doubled yarn (same stitch and row gauge, but a denser fabric) gives this sweater a little structure without making it stiff. The yarn I used for the main colour feels amazing (I would swear it was a silk blend, though the label says otherwise), and gives the cowl neck a lovely soft drape. I used three different buttons, since I had them and it seemed like a fun echo of the speckles, and honestly, I love this little sweater. It’s big enough that it should get Amber through a few winters, and will certainly not be the last one I knit.

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Speckled Sunnyside — Pattern: Sunnyside by Tanis Lavallee • Yarn: madelintosh Twist Light in Cosmic Wonder Dust and Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Natural

Even held double, though, I used just less than half the skein, which left (I thought) plenty to whip up a little Sunnyside cardigan a few months later. Sunnyside is one of my go-to baby patterns (I’ve knit it three times before), so when we knew we were expecting, it was one of the first patterns I added to my queue. I thought I had enough of the Tosh Light to knit the smallest size, but once the body was finished it was pretty clear that I did not have enough for the arms.

 

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The colours are more accurate in the first photo, but this one shows you how plain the arms are in contrast to the body.

Luckily, I had a skein of TFA Blue Label in Natural sitting in my stash and the whites matched! I alternated a little with the Tosh I had left, so there are some speckles down the arms, but they are few and far between. It doesn’t really bother me, but it does make for a funny contrast — one I could probably have avoided with better planning and/or ripping back the body a bit to introduce a second colour. But oh well. The finished cardigan is pretty cute and I’m not going to mess with that!

So, there you go! Two very different applications for the same yarn, and very satisfying stash busting. Kind of makes me wish I had more of this one on hand…

(Bed rest continues apace, with quite a bit of knitting to keep me feeling productive. More on that later.)

Destination, 36 weeks

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It has been almost exactly 8 months since I posted last, and it seems like a pretty obvious thing to say, but, things have happened in that time! Most notably, life-wise, L and I are expecting our first baby! If you follow me on Instagram, this isn’t new-news (and maybe it doesn’t come as a surprise anyway). To catch you up either way: I am due in mid-November, we didn’t find out the sex, we are very excited.

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Stripey Newborn — Pattern: Heirloom Hats for Newborns by Purl Soho • Yarn: The Fibre Co. Road to China Light in Apatite and Jade

A week ago, I was put on bed rest. The baby, it seems, is eager to meet us, so I have been assigned the task of fighting gravity by spending my days reclined and calm. Of all the reasons to be on bed rest, this one seems like maybe the best one. The baby and I are both in excellent health, and I feel really good, so besides the very abrupt lifestyle change (no more work, no standing, no more most things, actually), the last week has gone pretty well.

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Autumn Bonnet — Pattern: Bits + Pieces by Veera Välimäki • Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Dewberry and Fleece Artist 2/6 Merino in Autumn

As the title of this post suggests, I’m on strict rest until I reach 36 weeks (a little over 3 weeks from now), and since knitting is one of the few activities I actually can do, it seemed like a good time to get back to this blog that I never really meant to give up in the first place. I have quite a back-log of knits to talk about, most of which are even photographed (thank goodness, since my limited mobility means new photos are going to be pretty basic, styling-wise — see the photos in this post for an example of what I mean), but my main motivation is really just to break out of the little bubble I’m now in. Bed rest is a bit isolating, especially if you are somewhere you haven’t yet lived for a year, since that limits the number of visitors you can expect.

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Bobble Bonnet — Pattern: Hugo by Alison McCarney (undecided about the pompom) • Yarn: Indigodragnfly Merino DK in Violet Ending (the button is vintage) 

But, in the spirit of making the best of things, here I am! I have been meaning to get back to blogging for months now, and finally I have the perfect excuse. So, hello! Maybe a chronological recap would make the most sense, but oh well. For a baby set to be born on the doorstep of winter, little hats seem like an item we probably can’t have too many of. The three in this post (presented in reverse-chronological order — the green striped one was my first bed rest project and very speedy) represent three of the typical styles you see for baby hats, and I find each one charming in its own way.

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I am really happy with how the stripes worked out on this. I love the way the colours in the Autumn yarn plays against the solid purple.

The middle one is the smallest. I really should have gone up a needle size, but it is so friggin’ cute (and if the baby is early, it might even fit). It took almost no yarn at all, so I might just knit a second, larger, one and then have two. It was fun to knit and very quick, so I don’t see that as a terrible compromise. The bobble one was also a fun little knit, and of all the similar patterns out there, seems to have the best fit around the bottom (so many bonnets in this style look loose around the base of the head, which just seems draughty). I really like the vintage look of it, and can definitely see myself knitting more bonnets in this style. The top one, in green, is so absurdly soft. I whipped it up in just a few hours (spread over a couple of days) and it was one of those delightfully simple knits that seem to make themselves. It is small, but stretchy, and should fit no matter when the baby comes.

Three hats is probably sufficient for now, but I will probably whip up a little Garter Ear Flap Hat too, sized for the baby to grow into. I cannot resist that pattern, and if this winter is anything like the last one, a cozy selection of hats will not go to waste.

A small thing

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I was going to write about my Fidra hat last weekend, but in the face of so many fantastic pussy hats, it felt weird to write about anything else. And, honestly, I was so busy trying to keep it together in the face of such beautiful, strong, thoughtful protests that I didn’t have time for much else.

Then, I thought I’d write about it this weekend, but after the unconscionable travel ban Trump instituted it felt insignificant. In the face of all the news we’ve seen in the last week, thinking a new hat is consequential is pretty laughable. But.

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This week I have spent more time wishing for the blogs I follow to post content than any week I can remember. I am desperate for inconsequential content — something small to make me feel like there are still good things happening, little blips that remind me that beautiful things are still being made and put out into the world with love. Protests do that for me, but so too do the smaller things like a post about new socks, or a finished sweater, or just a #makenine collage that represents a hopeful vision for the future.

In the last couple of years, there have been a few discussions about the slow but steady drop off in blogging. Instagram is often cited as the reason (it’s so much easier to just post a picture with a long caption), but I wonder if part of it was just that we didn’t need them so much. When the news is good (or, at least, better), we don’t need the same kind of distraction as we do when times are bad or hard. It’s okay to furious and upset about what’s happening in the world and be proud of the new thing you made. We need to take care of ourselves even as we take care of others.

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Pattern: Fidra, by Gudrun Johnston • Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts PureWash Chunk in Meadow.

Last night, I emailed my MP* to call on him to demand action from Canada to help immigrants and refugees affected by Trump’s travel ban. Today, I’m going to tell you about my hat!

I kind of missed the chunky yarn craze that started last winter (maybe earlier), but when these skeins caught my eye during Tanis’s annual Boxing Day sale. I don’t usually go in for impulse purchases (anymore. ahem.) but I can never resist the TFA sale, so I scooped up two skeins of their new PureWash Chunky in Meadow (not a regular colourway, I’m sorry to say) to knit Fidra.

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I have come around to hat wearing in the last couple of years and while I agree that I might not need more than one, it is fun to have choices in the morning! Plus, Fidra is an irresistibly quick knit — I whipped this up in an afternoon and then made that enormous pompom the next morning, just in time to combine this photoshoot with the one for my Halligarth shawl (another Gudrun Johnston pattern). I have worn this hat pretty much every day since then and I remain completely delighted by it.

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The colour is exactly what I need at this time of year, and goes perfectly with both my bright red peacoat and my dark green parka. I even had enough yarn leftover to knit a quick little pair of mitts (I bought two skeins, so didn’t have to hold back when I made the pompom, but if you wanted to get this out of one skein of PureWash Chunky, you definitely could). This is pretty much my ideal Boxing Day yarn purchase: Fantastic colour, immediate execution of a plan, no leftovers. It was also the perfect palate cleanser between Halligarth (which took forever) and my next longterm commitment, Oda, which I am dutifully working away on now.

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I love no-leftovers knitting. The mitts are a modified version of Camp-Out Fingerless Mitts (based on my previous pair).

As the Yarn Harlot often says, knitting is a reminder that actions can lead to results. Sometimes the results are quick and satisfying, other times they take concentrated work over a long period of time, but there are results nonetheless. The work matters. I’m going to email my Prime Minister today, and after that I’m going to pick up my needles and knit.

*To find out who your MP is and/or to get their contact info, you can search by postal code here. If you want to get in touch but aren’t sure what to say or what concrete action to suggest, my friend Ned recommends focusing on the Safe Third Country agreement. If you live in a Conservative riding, please also consider voicing concerns about the xenophobic and racist rhetoric coming out of Kellie Leitch’s campaign. Most Conservatives aren’t bigots, and the party needs to be reminded of that — loudly.

A long time coming

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It only took 2.5 years, but Halligarth is finished!

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Pattern: Halligarth, by Gudrun Johnston • Yarn: GBF Hennessy Lace in “Bala Cranberry”

I have loved this shawl since it was published, ordered yarn for it almost immediately, and cast on for it in June 2014. I can’t remember how far I got, but at some point that summer I put it down without any notes, in the middle of a repeat. When I picked it up again in the winter of 2015 (I think), it took me a while to get back in to the groove with the pattern and, after working a couple of repeats, I put it down again.

In the years that this has languished unfinished in my WIP basket, I wished many times that my past self had been more disciplined about buckling down and finishing it. Without being too glitzy, Halligarth is an excellent fancy-occasion shawl, and we have been to weddings and parties where having it as a wrap would have been ideal. But, apparently, not so ideal that I was actually inspired to pull it out again.

Until now. The week after Christmas — the day, in fact, that I cast on for Oda — I decided to see where I was with Halligarth. It turned out I was in a pretty good place. The last time I knit on it, I did myself the service of finishing the repeat, so starting back in was pretty straightforward, and then it turned out that the lace pattern was much, much more intuitive than I had remembered (my skills have improved a lot since I started it, I suppose).

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After blocking, it measures about 75 inches across and 35 down the centre spine. 

Halligarth is written for two sizes, and when I hit the point where I would start the edging for the smaller size, I weighed my yarn to see how things were looking. Back in 2014, I decided to knit this in laceweight, and bought a gorgeous skein of BLF laceweight from the then-newly opened Georgian Bay Fibre Co. They no longer sell laceweight, though, so I knew I had no way to get more yarn if I ran out. Still, when I hit the small-size stitch count, I had 51 g left. I wanted a big shawl, and it seemed like I’d have enough to knit the big size, so I added a lifeline and kept going.

I won’t lie, I came close to putting it down again. The last few repeats are looooong. And, in laceweight, it takes a while to really see progress. For a while, I really thought I might never finish (or that my yardage would fall short), but I made it with 7 g to spare.

And you know what, it was totally worth it. I love this shawl. It is incredibly light (less than 100 g), nice and big, and elegant without being too fancy to wear with jeans if I want to. And that colour… The yarn in general is an absolute delight and if it were still available, I would definitely buy more. As it is, I am considering order a sweater’s worth of one of the heavier bases before the shop goes wholesale-only. BFL is such a lovely fibre to work with and wear, and it’s hard to come by.

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Anyway. I think it’s hilarious that the first thing I finished this year was started in 2014, but I also think it bodes well. If this is a year about action, what better way to kick it off than by finally finishing the shawl I’ve been wishing was in my closet for years?