The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Change is good, and then we craft

Guests have been hosted, and summer is finally well under way.  The time crunch was hellish but we were able to tackle all the tasks.  This gathering was all in T’s honour.  Two years in having this outpouring was simply wonderful.

Summer flowering planted by irieknit

Blooming in time for you, dear readers (not the guests as intended!).

As it happened, I also lucked into a birthday with favorite people all either in our space or about to arrive for the weekend.

It was as small as we needed it to be but included T’s teachers for the main (religious) event.  The integration of these threads was so tremendous for him.  We missed his grandfather on N’s side very keenly.  I also could not help but miss those who started the journey with us but are fallen away.

On the Olde English Babydoll Southdown fleece

Very recently, in the past week or so, I have started to prepare some of Olivia’s 2015 fleece from Laurie’s Little Lambs farm.  The link is to my post with the fleece pictures, background.

Preparing Olde English Babydoll Southdown wool on handcards by irieknit

Handcarding Babydoll Southdown locks

Making floor-space for guests meant moving wheels, which in turn meant that I very much missed spinning on those wheels.  This is my 2nd project started after our folks left.

Back in 2015, I had a very good plan to use the Meck paddle combs for the longer locks in this fleece.  Three years later here’s the hitch in that very good plan in 1 hyphenated word: set-up.  The kitchen table used to be such a good place for pointy steel wool combs!

Here we are.  Schacht cotton cards, the Louet flicker brush, an old bed sheet & mornings before the house wakes up are glorious.

Spinning handcarded rolags by irieknit on Antique Canadian saxony flax wheel

Pretty sweet tool for the job – antique (presumed Canadian) flax wheel

These rolags are a joy to spin fine.  There is something amazing about the twist meeting the spiral character of this wool’s crimp.  Plus, when spun clockwise this antique wheel has a very smooth draw-in/motion.

The surprise – for me at least – is how the strong colour-banded locks have lost that definition in blending.  I noticed this morning that it starts when I flick the blocky staples before loading on the still card.  Darker fibres are stretching out into what looked like strong white upper bands (butt-end) as soon as I flick.

Waste and handcarded rolags from preparing Ontario Babydoll Southdown wool by irieknit

Sneaky VM, waste, and primo rolags from Babydoll Southdown locks

All reports of Southdown locks holding an insane amount of VM are true.  I am currently trying to get over just how much VM lies within.

The clear container holds the waste as I sort for the cards & flick locks.  Out of the picture are short-but-useful locks.  It’s slow but very enjoyable carding work.

Handknitting wool yarns in Byneedleandthread bag for child size sweater

A sweater for young T

This “Little Pixels Pullover” is now close to the hem, and is a stranded design.  Another pullover that T was looking forward to had fit issues, and is going to a school friend’s little brother.

Since my thrilling April “Talland Tee” knit, kiddo was feeling a bit left out of the knits.

Handspun Romeldale/CVM dyed yarn in Talland Tee tunic by irieknit

Much needed knitting bliss – a handspun, dyed, Talland Tee

It’s not an indoorsy summer (or life, really)

As we got along with making summer plans later than is comfortable, I was looking for a spindle-type computing solution.  Spindle-type in that it can leave the relatively secluded desktop, and still be a working tool.

Spinning dyed Masham wool on Jenkins Lark spindle by irieknit and library book

Jenkins Lark spindle at the library this week (Sheepytime Knits Masham wool fibre)

We know, I still don’t have much in the way of coffeeshop (or business) time – not if I also want to keep crafting.  The 2 hours while T did a library program this week was such a rare type of quiet daytime moment.  Still, there are days when I could do some more keyboarding if it would be both with us + not hurting my wrists.

Local trail with Queen Anne's Lace by irieknit

Queen Anne’s Lace on a walk this week

Enjoying more full days together is splendid thing.  The compare & contrast with 2017 this time really shows how splendid when I find the quiet moments to reflect.

This post, written after T’s bedtime, is new.  The file transfer, software install work is still not complete but I like my new keyboard.  We hope it will pan out as more frequent TKK shares; perhaps less Twitter ephemera.

Cat on Byneedleandthread frog design knitting bag in sunbeam by irieknit

Melly cat in healthier days

Our Mel is now a week into treatment for diabetes.  Many thanks to all those who have liked, and replied to my tweets as we were finding out what had him so ravenous & thirsty.  We have tests ahead, of course, but he is feeling better.

 


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August of hitting a stride

This is not typically a fabulous month but the past 4 or so weeks have exceeded all August expectations.

Central park reservoir panoramic view New York skyline

Attribution & laurels: N

We celebrated Emancipation Day, August 1st with family.  There were a lot of new nephew cuddles, and good times with his parents.  We stayed with wonderful friends.  Their windowsill shows all of my travel spinning of Wensleydale.

The people of New York were rather taken-in by my carob Turkish Delight spindle by Jenkins Woodworking.

Spinning dyed Wensleydale top on Jenkins Delight Turkish spindle carob wood

Sweetening the travel pot

There was also quality time aka aeroplane knitting with a baby gift for our this-week born new cousin in Toronto.

Handknit baby gift Gidday Baby Cardigan and beanie in Sirdar Baby Bamboo

Gidday cardigan set for baby G!

This cardigan is Gidday Baby pattern by Georgie Hallam.  Can I just whisper, “Gidday pattern!”  This was a July 29 – August 9th pleasure of knitting with stashed Sirdar Baby Bamboo yarn.

Yoke and buttons on handknit Gidday Baby cardigan by irieknit

This is an awfully sweet yoke.  My main colour is #122 with the contrast in cream.  The hat was just as fun to knit and is Louisa Harding’s striped beanie hat. My copy of her Natural Knits for Babies and Moms is much loved & heavily used.

But I digress.

Lox on a bagel with cream cheese

Attribution: N

We were well-fed, and soon got over for baby’s first museum visit.  The crowds!  It’s hard meeting an infant’s needs in those crowds but our new parents did a fine job, and he was pretty cheerful.

American Museum of Natural History Pleistocene Colossochelys prehistoric turtle

At my special request, attribution: N

Search engine diving shows this dinosaur as Colossochelys the Pleistocene turtle but I am not sure in retrospect.  We were at the American Museum of Natural History.

Sunset at Riverside Park Manhattan NY

Riverside Park, Manhattan Attribution: N

It was such a short but packed trip.  I came home with craft books from the Strand Bookstore, a new-to-me set of Meck Russian paddle combs, and wheels that are now on my Mighty Wolf loom.  The best part was having such a blast welcoming nephew, F.  I think he likes me.

The Learning Curve – bead embellishment

Before & after our trip, I participated in a 4-part guild workshop on bead embroidery with William Hodge of Armure Studios.

Bead embroidery workshop samplers by irieknit

Carried away? Bead embroidery

It felt like jumping back into the childhood sandbox of embroidery with crazy bling.  Fun but also greedy for time to do even these small amounts.  I will never begrudge a handmade bead embroidery work its price again.  It’s joyous but where does the time go?

Detail of bead embroidery sampler by irieknit

Well, I did hear, “Start simply,” but couldn’t stop.

Each participant had her own approach.  Mine was to follow the instruction about total bead cover and the ’80s patterned fabric.

The faux pearl bead to the right has special comedic value.  It, ahem, moves of its own volition.

William shared many pieces in his personal collection from different cultures as well as his own work.  It was fabulous, and I was glad for the breaks between workshop parts.

It was just perfect having the Naked Craft exhibition on at the AGB while taking this workshop.  The bead embroidery pieces by contemporary artists are astonishingly beautiful but I also saw the raw commitment – eye-strain, materials, design, time.

Finishing my thoughts

With thanks to PAKnitWit who ran the aptly named ‘Shawl for All’ knitalong, I used all 756 yards of my superwash merino dyed by Southern Cross Fibres.

Handknit Diminishing Returns shawl in handspun superwash merino yarn by irieknit

Diminishing Returns Shawl in my handspun yarn

This was 8 of 9 designed sections in Sarah’s Diminishing Returns triangle shawl.  I used 3.5 mm needles, and loved each second of this relaxed me-knit.

Stockinette and garter stitch knitting with gradient handspun yarn

It’s an elegant & simple concept.  You move through stockinette & garter stitch blocks that reverse roles.  Just right for a strong gradient like my Sugar & Spice 2-ply yarn but the design is very versatile.  I hope that others will use handspun yarn to make this pattern too.

The knitter gets to keep a lid on the purl stitches as the triangle grows, which I appreciate.  The top-down triangle adds 4 stitches every other row, and that grows quickly!

Wearing Diminishing Returns triangle shawl in handspun yarn by irieknit

Treating myself to the handspun goodness

Also appreciated? The length on my arm as the shawl crosses.  It’s just how I like a shawl.

Hug of handspun Diminishing Returns triangle shawl by irieknit

Squooshy is also good

The home for this knit along is the Knit Wit group on Ravelry.  We had a good lead time for blocking & also taking these pics.  As I told the group, this one will see lots of wear in the cooler weather.

Sock knitting by irieknit and Turtlepurl Live Long and Prosper yarn

Spock sock!

New socks of unusual size (9″ circumference) are off the needles!  As soon as I saw Turtlepurl’s post for her Live Long & Prosper in this self-striping pattern, I had to get it for N.  It is a 75% superwash merino/ 25% nylon blend, and I used 2.25 mm double-pointed needles.

Handknit men's socks by irieknit in Turtlepurl Live Long and Prosper yarn

Spock socks in the wild

He is smiling in this picture, and approves of the finished socks.

Back view of handknit men's socks with Turtlepurl Live Long & Prosper yarn

The columns of stitches are just paired slip stitches passed over knit front & backs.  Easy to work, and perfect for other plane trips this spring.

Knitted baby gift Telemark pullover in Sirdar Baby Bamboo

Belated baby gift!

The last finished thought is this version of a Telemark 2.0 pullover that I made for our baby cousin in Montreal.  It was a nail-biting use of more from my Sirdar Baby Bamboo yarn stash.

Handknit baby Telemark pullover by irieknit

Is the placket reading as weird to you as it is to me?  It might be a comprehension problem on my part but I did try to follow the instructions as written there.  It has been on its way this week, and I hope they like it.

Lark Turkish-style spindle by Jenkins Woodworking spinning by irieknit

A Jenkins Lark!

Spindles are on the front burner again.  Next month I will lead a guild workshop, and I am preparing the materials.  It’s a full 4-part introductory workshop, and we will go from first steps to plied yarn.  It’s my first formal teaching, and I am so excited.

In my down-time, I can play with this tulipwood Lark spindle by Jenkins Woodworking.  Luckily, I missed 2 others for sale last week because this was offered in Ontario.  Quick flight, no foreign exchange issues, and I love the tulipwood!

The Delight in the travel collage above is 5g heavier at 28 g.  Its arms sit low on the shaft (the Lark is mid-shaft), and are approximately 2 cm wide x 8.75 cm long.  The Lark’s arms are a slim 1.25 cm wide x 9.5 cm long.  The slighter profile is great for winding-on, and will hold that much more of a cop is my guess.


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Hearts alive for your Valentines

Happy Valentines Day, dear blog!

Yoked lopi sweater stranded knit

Pop-up hearts 

Do you see the band of hearts?  It was an unplanned surprise on the needles!  I was simply re-using this Faeorese motif again but flipping from a white background to the brown.

Faeroe stranded knit motif lopi sweater

Faeroe border motif

It is charted on p. 118 of Traditional Scandinavian Knitting, and is listed simply as, “border from man’s cuff (Faeroe).  The sweater body is the 34” chest from the free Vormorgun vest pattern.  I am usually no fan of yarn company patterns but this one was clearly written, and correct.

Lopi yoke knitted sweater

Hunting for and combining the yoke motifs was a lot of fun.  The best words of encouragement were from Sheila McGregor at p. 132,

Faced with this range of possibility, it is more than a little depressing to see what the average yoked jersey looks like.  Yokes are very easy to experiment on and spectacular designs can be worked with only three colours…

book Traditional Scandinavian Knitting

The book in question

Miss McGregor (as the Foreword so names her) has helped me into other books on stranded knitting, and so the interest grows.  Will you join me in heeding her call for us knitters to return to a “finer and more craftsmanlike approach?”  It’s been fun so far!

Felted heart pin Valentines Day

I heart you.

A quiet word

Yesterday, I tweeted my thanks to Sasha and Jillian for the SpinDoctor podcast.  In the early, terribly shy days of my learning to spin, I found and lurked within the amazing catalogue of shows that Sasha produced.  Jillian joined seamlessly, and it never wavered.  Much later, I joined the podcast’s Ravelry group.

SpinDoctor gave me markers, reviews that I trust implicitly, laughter in my neck of the woods.  The straight-as-an-arrow content meant a great deal to me, and so did the warm delivery.  Most of all it is the only podcast that actually made me a better spinner.

Jamaicans say this instead of goodbye:  Walk GOOD!

Knit rabbit soft sculpture mohair tail

Yes, I made a Rabbity with a kid mohair tail. For this occasion!


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One thing in common

Lately, I have let the spirit move me.  Getting past ambitious ideas that were keeping me back.  Also past old habits of deference with people in my life.  The silly notions fell away, and something important has started to happen.  For one thing, I started a sweater on July 2nd.  A short and largely disappointing summer turned out of its skeins and into a garment that I will be proud to wear.

The yarn was upstairs since it came out of successive cochineal dye baths last August 25th.  The 25g of cochineal that taught me what its “medium shades of the colour range” might be.  Pink – each exhaust tinted.  This year 2 competing ideas rented space in my brain:  (a) overdye it now; (b) monochrome acrobatics on the needles.

I am not entirely clear on what brought me back to handspun sweater knitting on July 2nd.  Sure, I was laid up, and it’s been a cool summer but what exactly led me to Sarah Swett‘s “Everyday Striped Cormo Shirt” design?  Self-care is part of it, surely.  As is a need to draw on the sparks that created what I wrote down as 1,528.84 yds with two red ink lines underneath.

This simple design perfected over what Sarah wrote is her “series of everyday handspun clothing.”  The exemplar described by Sarah succinctly as:

Fine yarn and a loose gauge give it drape; seamless construction makes it easy to put on and take off; a close but by no means tight, fit means it is so comfortable I can hardly tell it is on.  And the stripes? They’re just fun.

My haggard (I remember July 2nd well) brain probably just remembered Sarah’s spring workshop.  I learned there how powerful simple ideas carried to execution really can be.  Sarah wore and spoke about her striped shirt as she taught the class.  Something brought this all together.  Plus, the one size given as 36″ bust would fit.  My yarn gave a close enough gauge, and I would juggle the light pink like nobody’s business, right?  Right.

The stripes were fun.  I learned Meg Swansen’s jogless jog.  My version is knit with U.S. size 6 needles.  Looking closely you can trace my improving attitude toward the end.  See the short cast-on at the lower edge?  I was in no mood to pull it out & start over.  Increases happened later.  Immediately after which we have the Yardage Be Damned phase, i.e. a K2, P1 ribbing, and also that extra inch in the body.  It really is the same knitter who then goes off-pattern and drops her 1st steeked neck.

Neck secured for steeking

I used Meg Swansen & Amy Detjen’s crochet method in Knitting with Two Colors to secure the 3 steek stitches.  It was a very deep breath before I cut.  Instead of casting 20 stitches off for the neck, I held them on scrap yarn.  On the next round I cast 6 stitches on by the backwards loop method.

All’s well that ends well – steeked scoop neck for handspun

This was what Elizabeth Zimmerman called a “kangaroo pouch neck.”  My motivation was simply that I wanted to continue knitting in the round, and Maggie Righetti has very hard words for casting-off neck stitches in any event:  Sweater Design in Plain English.

Apart from ends being woven in, armholes joined and blocking, I finished a sweater in exactly a month at an unusual time of year.  Sarah Swett has given the spinning community the fruits of her working a simple idea to perfection.  I loved every stitch.  Such an elegant solution for my surprisingly pink yarns.

What else I hath wrought

This beautiful Border Leicester x Corriedale pin-drafted roving is a gift from a friend.  It’s 15 oz beautifully processed by Morro Fleece Works, and yesterday I broke into it for real.

Gift fibre takes shape

A very satisfying 161 yds turned out by the Spinolution Mach 2.  As I will maintain to anyone who asks, the Mach 2 is a fine wheel for what it does.  This yarn a dye-pot candidate – black walnut, I think.

Willful Hebridean wool

Yes, willful.  The Hebridean rolags got together & decided they would be opposing-ply when they grew up.  Either that or the Watson Martha has a mind of her own.  The 54 yds is 2 plies spun right; 1 spun left, and plied left.  All singles were spun supported long-draw, so we have my first woolen opposing ply, apparently!

The BFL x Shetland roving for these 3-ply yarns all came from Hopeful Shetlands.  It’s further proof that Beth really did teach me how to spin long-draw last spring!  All singles were spun on my Watson Martha – brown in February & grey in August – and plied on a lower ratio.  The 305 yds may not be enough for a Rasta tam that I promised to make but it would be lovely.

The Humblest Linen Washcloth

It was fascinating to knit up the small linen skeins.  They are from tow flax spun on Wee Peggy for Harriet Boon’s class at this June’s Ontario Handspinning Seminar.  The more I ripped back the better the yarn was to knit with!  Such a rustic piece of cloth but I really enjoyed knitting on it.

Morning Glory emerging

Slowly but surely.  That’s all I can say about all of these things.  Slowly but surely.

Hand-combed Romney wool

 


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A little bit warmer

Cold, drab February days inspired more all-over Staghorn cable knitting.  Now, a whole year of on & off knitting has paid off!

The design is the Beach House Pullover by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, Interweave Knits Summer 2010.  The size is 38¼” bust circumference, which gave me a 2″ +ve ease.

Not surprisingly, the Cascade 220 worsted yarn was a trouble-free choice.  So was this pattern – I was able to just follow it to the word.

Suitable for wearing with the stretch jeans

Thanks entirely to this lesson in cable knitting, saddle shoulders and a shawl collar, I am looking forward to the late-February snow forecast with some glee.

Believe it or not, this is a sweater-in-progress.  It started life as raw CVM wool from the Spinning Loft, and I love it.  It’s a *flick & card 2 rolags per spindle, spinning, and repeat from * end deal.

A good, relaxed tortoise’s pace. I shall keep you posted.

Why leave Martha idle when I could have some fun?  Last night I dug deep into the fibre stash & got this Miss Babs Polwarth dyed top out.  I have 8oz, and am tempted to spin a 4-ply yarn.

It is driving out some discontent.  As anything that looks this much like the Caribbean sky on a sunny day is bound to do for me.

Lace in its crumpled infancy.  Starting this Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole ate a chunk out of my Saturday.  The blue yarn is TechKnitter’s Belly Button technique for starting a centre-out piece.  Sanity saved!

Knitting my spindle-spun Bronzed Chai yarn is just so interesting!  I love how Sivia Harding has designed the beading, and this is my first counter-pane pattern.

Housekeeping 

Thank you to everyone who sent wishes for Toby.  His eye healed in a few days.  Apart from needing eye-drops x6 per day, he is much better now.

There’s no concern about any neurological damage.  It took him a bit to drop the act but his walking is back too.  All it took was the doorbell to be rung at night, and he flew up the basement stairs in a flash.

This spring is going to be for learning!  The 2013 Spring String Thing is Friday, April 26, 2013, through Sunday, April 29, 2013 in Lebanon, Ohio.  I’m very excited about my classes, staying at the Golden Lamb again, and getting a tour of the Stringtopia studio.

Right after that, I am also going to Sarah Swett’s Weekend with Wool presented by the Spinning Loft.  It’s Friday, May 17, 2013 to Sunday, May 19, 2013 in Brighton, Michigan.


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Winter Wears On

… also the title of Chapter 2 in “The Country Kitchen“, 1935 by Della T. Lutes.  Here on Day 3 of an Arctic Air Mass, I have to agree with Della:

“As the days begin to lengthen, then the cold begins to strengthen.”  That was in the almanac.  We stay closely housed.  There is little to be done outside except chores…

‘Closely housed’ in this context is not a bad thing.  For there are knits & spins to speak of!

A Lace-weight Mountain Climbed

The Laar cardigan pattern by Gudrun Johnston was love at first sight.  It’s beautiful, and like any of Gudrun’s other designs is very, very well written.

 Knit in Fantastic Knitting Zephyr, I used US #0/ 2.0 mm needles to get gauge.  I tackled this project on & off for just over a year.

This was a tough knit in that it tested both skill and my personal endurance.  The lower body’s miles of stockinette worked flat & fine nearly undid me.

What drew me on was knowing how much I would love wearing this.  And I do!  The side benefit?  It’s charmed the commercial socks off each non-knitter that has seen me flaunting it.

A Sock-weight Mountain Climbed

… or how a good book can avert a knitting crisis.

The pattern is Wendy D. Johnson’s Bavarian Cable Socks.  I cast on in June last year with really nice Indigodragonfly SW merino yarn.  Using an improvised cable needle (i.e. broken DPN) for each twisted-stitch row was not fun.

By September, I was flat-out frustrated.  “Twisted Stitch Knitting:  Traditional Patterns & Garments from the Styrian Enns Valley” by Maria Erlbacher is what rescued me.

I gladly ditched the extra needle, and found a version of the motif charted & named the “Small Chain, #1” Kleines Ketterl.

Thanks to plane knitting (plus), I have a great new pair of textured socks.

Sweaters in Progress

Sleeves!  They are giving problems!  This is my Beach House Pullover by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark.  I love knitting it.  Just not the sleeves.

In early December when I had no business casting on for a sweater, I did.

Sweet Georgia SW Worsted, Botanical

The yarn made me do it!  Can you blame me?

It’s Amy Swenson’s “Mr. Bluejeans Cardigan” for Knitty’s Deep Fall, 2012.  And yes, I bought the yarn on impulse.  From the beautiful new Toronto yarn store, Ewe Knit.

Remember Toby?  He likes my CVM wool sweater project.

A super-springy swatch tells me that this is not as crazy-pants as you think right now…  Tools of the trade = 2 Andean, and 2 Tabachek drop spindles.

Hey, there’s no rush – next year will have winter too, right?!?


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Looking up!

On August 6th as everyone probably knows, Jamaica celebrated 50 years of Independence.  Our athletes achieved more at the 2012 London Olympics than we dreamed possible.

Each medal ceremony where our flags rose was moving.  We were deeply proud to stand and sing the National Anthem with Jamaicans everywhere.  The colours mean:

Hardships there are but the land is green, and the sun shineth – gold.

 

Have Olympics = must knit!  I didn’t take part in the Ravellenics but worked on my Redhook Tunic by Jared Flood.  It now has a complete body, most of a shawl collar, and sleeves-in-progress.  Diane’s colours are just beautiful, and are lining up very nicely.

This is from my surprise Gnome Acres gift certificate!  Just copying the pic makes me smile.  A TKK reader and friend who I first met in the Knit me Happy virtual knit nights really cheered me up, and I can’t thank her enough.  Deb’s a new spinner (yay!), and as you can see is super-awesome with great taste in yarnies!

So, I’ve started listening to a few podcasts, and Knit me Happy is one of them that I really try to stay with good mood or bad.  It’s hosted by Rachel aka TinyGeekCrafter, and the group has really great folks.  Rachel recently lost one of her much-loved cats, Munchkin, after his short illness.  He loved to co-host with flair, and I know all of us listeners will miss him and the tail flashes.

This is a new-to-the-wall acrylic on canvas that my cousin painted for us.  Stretching and hanging it has transformed the living room, and I love it!  If you’d like to contact the artist about her work, you can email me at irieknit at gmail dot com.

Yep – if I am feeling better then spinning has something to do with it!  This is Jacob wool – dyed by Chelsea.  The double entendre in the picture title?  Intended;)

Entirely of its own volition, Lulu’s llama fiber came home with me from this June’s Ontario Handspinning Seminar.  Soft, basically clean and without guard hairs as far as I can tell.

Both samples were flick-carded from the raw Llama and spun on spindles.  The one with less twist (right) is much nicer.

Last week, I had a few free hours and decided to give two handfuls a quick wash.  As her owner promised, she has a flare of white in the blanket!  Getting my hands into this is mood-enhancing as well.

Melvin’s idea of keeping me company.  He’s not letting me turf that old office chair either.

The rough times aren’t behind me but I’m lucky to have special people around me who care, and good things happening at my hands.

Have a great weekend, friends!