Slippers

It’s Been a Busy Weekend!

There are times my weekends are so busy that I look forward to my work week. Right now, at about 4:30 on Monday evening, I’m almost feeling that way. I said almost, okay? I’ve had a very productive weekend, though it didn’t feel that way at times. It was relaxing but, in looking back, I managed to get a lot done.

Just today, I finished knitting the pieces for one of another pair of slippers; this time it’s The Options Slipper pattern, not a freebie but a comfy looking slipper, another one of Kris Basta’s designs. The pieces knit up quickly and I like how the finished slipper looks. I’ll knit all the pieces before I sew mine together.

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This weekend, I managed to finish two pairs of slippers, knitted one of a pair, and almost finished knitting John’s felted clogs. I was hoping to have them finished today but won’t quite make it. I have one more sole to knit then seam together before I can felt them. I could finish them tonight but I have a little bit of a headache and don’t want to push it. Besides, the weather’s turned mild again and slippers aren’t quite as important as they were last weekend, when the temperatures were well below freezing.

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In addition to all the knitting, I put together a beef stew for tonight’s dinner and for leftovers this week. Leftover stew, with dumplings, makes a great workday lunch…. tasty and filling. I also made a loaf of Sourdough Whole Wheat and Rye bread, made with some of the discard starter that’s been waiting to be used. It turned out amazingly well, considering I didn’t have some of the ingredients the recipe called for. Seriously, I KNOW I have caraway and anise seeds somewhere in this house. Do you think I could find them? Anyway, the bread turned out really well, very tasty and should make some good sandwiches this week (if John doesn’t eat it all while I’m at work). I’ll definitely make this bread again.

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The stew turned out really well this time, too, better than my usual stew. I don’t use a recipe but this time I did things a little differently than I usually do, added a few ingredients I don’t normally add. Like what, you ask? Well, I threw in a little of my homemade apple cider vinegar and some tomato sauce. I don’t normally add those but I know that vinegar can help to break down the connective tissue in beef. There isn’t enough there that you can taste it, just a tablespoon or two. I thought the tomato might boost the beef flavour (again, just a tablespoon or two) and I was right. I can taste the tomato but it isn’t overwhelming, just an accent. All that’s left is to make the dumplings.

I had planned on making some body butter to help combat dry winter skin but, when I looked at what the ingredients were going to cost, I decided to buy a ready made, locally produced body butter. Once I got home, I indulged in a lovely, hot, candle lit bath. It was so relaxing, so enjoyable, and the scent of the new body butter so relaxing (it contains jasmine and ylang ylang in addition to a few other essential oils)… I might just have to have another bath tonight.

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Categories: Baking, Blogging, bread, Cooking, Finished, Kitchen, Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slippers

With cooler weather upon us, and still some snow on the ground, slippers seem to have become the project of the month. I have two pairs on the go, John’s felted clogs and a pair of house slippers.

The Bosnian/Siberian slippers are off the needles; all that remains is the weaving in of ends. That’s so much fun…. not. It’s one of those little jobs that only, really, takes a few minutes but it’s tedious. I’m really pleased with the slippers, though. They’re colourful and they’re cute.

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Here you can see a bit more of how they’re constructed. They’re worked from the top down and once the upper foot is at the required length, the sole is worked in short rows to the back of the heel.

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The short rows continue up the back of the heel, picking up stitches along both edges. It’s a pretty ingenious method of knitting them, really. The garter stitch fabric feels cushy and I love the contrast between the multi-coloured yarn and the blue.

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If you do decide to make these, there’s one minor change I would make; instead of using  straight needles, I’d recommend using a circular needle. It has more give. As you can see, there’s quite a bend in the knitting. The center point becomes a little awkward to work on straight needles; that said, it’s definitely doable, just easier on circulars.

I’ve also started another pair of slippers for the basket. This time it’s a pattern by Kris Basta, aka KrisKrafter. This is the Better Dorm Boot slipper pattern (available free through Ravelry). The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, held double.

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These are going to be thick. I have one off the needles already and just draping it over my foot feels so cozy and warm. I might find myself wearing these rather than putting them in the basket for guests. The pattern, again, is an easy one to follow and well written. Again, these can be knit on straight needles but I found that, after a while, I was feeling the weight in my hands (I’m not a kid anymore, yanno?) so I switched to a circular needle instead. That made a big difference for me.

John’s felted clogs are coming along, too. One slipper is off the needles and just needs the second sole finishing. If all goes as planned, he could be wearing them by the end of this weekend.

And, speaking of this weekend….

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Categories: Blogging, In Memoriam, Knitting, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Knitting Kind of Day

It really is a knitting kind of day. Winter has decided to come early to our area. This week, we received a few inches of the white stuff. Pretty but, in the words of a much younger Ethan, I no like it. Night time temperatures have been hovering around -10ºC, with daytime temperatures around -1ºC.

When the temperatures are like that, it’s good to get your hands into wool. John desperately needs a new pair of slippers… again. I’ve been making him slippers almost yearly for a few years now. As long as he likes them, I’ll keep making them. This year, we’re going with a heathery brown with burgundy trim. I bought the yarn, then asked his opinion. Thankfully, he likes the combo.

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The pattern I’m using, as usual, is the Fibretrends Felted Clog pattern by Bev Galeskas, AC-33. I had to purchase the pattern because I can’t find the one I originally bought. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere but, I must say, the new version of the pattern, printed on white rather than the turquoise they used to print on, is much easier to read and follow.

At this point, I have the first sole worked, ready to start on the upper part of the slipper. It does take some concentration to knit these, which is why I only completed the sole last night. After all, drinking a glass or two of wine while knitting isn’t terribly conducive to concentration. Better safe than sorry. As the lottery corporation ads say, “Know your limit. Play within it.”

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The last pair I made… now in tatters.

I’ve also decided that we should have some house slippers handy for when Kristen and the kids (and/or whoever else) come to visit. The floors here can be chilly and, obviously, we really don’t want people leaving wet, snowy boots on in the house. A basket of slippers near the door would be a good thing. I do have a few pairs here but they’re old and they’re wearing out.

I set out to find a pattern. I didn’t want anything difficult; no felting because those are made to fit specific feet; as little sewing as possible; something appealing because no one wants to wear ugly slippers. I mean, seriously, would you wear ugly slippers?

In my Ravelry search, I came across a few patterns based on a Russian/Bosnian slipper. I downloaded three versions of the pattern and drove across town to Michaels to buy some inexpensive acrylic yarn (I want to be able to throw these slippers into the washing machine as needed without worrying about shrinkage). I came home with three skeins, one variegated and two solid colours, navy blue and dark green.

Then, last night, while John was napping, I cast on for the first slipper, in the small size for testing purposes. By the time bedtime came around, I had one slipper finished.

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Ends still need to be woven in

I’m impressed with the pattern. The whole slipper is knit in one piece on straight needles, although I did switch to a circular about half way through because the increase area at the top of the foot creates a 90º angle that bunches up a bit on straight needles. There’s no sewing up at all, only weaving in a few ends. And they’re cute. I’d wear these if my feet were cold (I like my Crocs with woolen socks) and someone offered me a pair to warm my toes.

The pattern I used is Slip Stitch Slippers by Nailya Plaskey. It’s well written, easy to follow, and turned out very well. The only small change I made was in the heel area. The sole is worked on 11 stitches from the toe to the heel; for the heel area, I decreased gradually from 11 stitches to 7 stitches, only because ankles are narrower than heels and I think it may help the slippers hug better. We’ll see.

Now, breakfast and tidying up. Then…… Knit on!

Categories: Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Ends Now

Well, it sort of ends now. Today is the last day to get your comments in (on the blog, not on Facebook); I’ll be making the draw for 6 soap samples tomorrow.

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Test pieces for some of my soaps… don’t they almost look good enough to eat?

It’s a long weekend here in Canada; we celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday. We will not be doing the “turkey thing”; I’d rather have a nice quiet weekend without the hectic busyness of cooking a full turkey dinner. That’s not relaxing at all, thankyouverymuch! I was thinking of putting together a big pan of lasagna, to be honest. Not very Thanksgiving-ish, is it? Certainly decadent, though!

I have every intention of filling the weekend with knitting related stuff. I have a book on the iPod (The Confessor by Daniel Silva) and a couple of projects on the needles; I am ready to relax!

First though, John’s slippers are finished… the knitting and the felting, although I will have to throw them back into the washer to felt a little more. For some reason, one slipper felted more than the other.

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My washer isn’t the best one out there, that’s for sure. I get lint on everything, and I do mean everything! I’m leery of washing anything white because I’ll end up with dark lint streaks on it; I’m afraid of washing anything dark because I end up with light lint streaks all over it. It’s rather frustrating, to be honest. In the case of the slippers, though, at least we can brush the lint off.

Because John’s slippers are finished, I’ve allowed myself to start his sweater. I’ve gone through one ball of yarn so far and that’s just knitting a few rows each evening while watching a show or two on the computer (we don’t have a tv… by choice).

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The stitch pattern is an easy one to memorize and read and, as you can see, knits up fairly quickly. The yarn feels really nice in the hand and makes a cozy fabric. I don’t think he’ll be at all disappointed with this cardigan. I’m already a little jealous.

I also have another small project on the needles. I’ve decided I like having a face cloth on the go; they’re the perfect small project – they knit up fairly quickly, even with fine yarn, and they’re a usable little item. I don’t especially like using them in the kitchen but I do like using them on my face.

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This time, I’m using Paton’s BumbleBee baby cotton, a 100% cotton, DK weight, that I do believe has been discontinued (yup… just checked; it was discontinued in 2005… and, yes, I’ve had it that long!). It’s a very soft cotton, nice to work with and knits up beautifully. I have about a half dozen or so balls of it so there will be a few of these face cloths in my linen closet before too long, or they’ll be given as gifts, accompanied by a bar or two of handcrafted soap.

Speaking of soap, I don’t think there will be any soap making this weekend; I’m out of coconut oil and I’m waiting for an order of a couple of items to arrive from Voyageur Soap & Candle in Vancouver. I could just run out and pick up some more coconut oil but soaping isn’t high on my priority list this weekend.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Finished, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ugly Soap = Learning Experience

One of the things I’ve learned in my foray into soap making is that you WILL make ugly soaps – not intentionally, mind you, but you will make them. I have one soap that I wouldn’t even consider sharing with anyone, ever.

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This is a peppermint/rosemary soap I made at the end of August. That batch was cursed from the beginning. The recipe called for way too much of the peppermint leaves, it never got hard and there’s so much peppermint oil in it I could use it as a substitute for Vick’s VapoRub. Seriously, a fail all around.

I went to the Soap Making Forum and started reading about rebatching and confetti soaps and anything else I could find about turning ugly soaps into a usable and, possibly, even pretty soap. Or, at the very least, better looking. Here’s the result of my reading… and learning.

The new, and very much improved, Peppermint Soap.

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I grated up three bars of the ugly peppermint soap, made a batch of coconut milk soap, poured about half the batter into the soap shavings, mixed it well and poured that mixture into the mold. Then, carefully, I poured the rest of the soap batter over the base and made the top pretty. It gelled completely within a couple of hours and, by this morning, was hard enough to unmold and cut.

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That is a much prettier soap than the original soap, wouldn’t you agree? Just for the sake of comparison, here’s a picture with both bars.

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I’m looking forward to trying it in about a month. It still smells very minty but not as strong as the original. I think this will be a great “wake me up in the morning” kind of soap. I just need to practice some patience.

Speaking of patience, I also need to learn patience when it comes to unmolding my soaps from the silicone molds. They do take a little longer to firm up, I find. I’m not sure why, really.

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These are the soaps from the daisy mold. I love them but I did damage two of them by trying to take them out too soon. I should have waited the full 24 hours or longer. Ah well… a couple of uses and you won’t see the flower anyway. And it’s not as if they’re for sale. They sure are pretty, though, and I think the recipe is a good one. We’ll see how it hardens within the next couple of days.

Today, I’ll be trying a new (to me) technique, a feather swirl. John’s out right now, trying to make a tool for that purpose. It uses a hanger (yes, a wire coat hanger) or something a little thicker. I found something that will, hopefully, work but it needs shaping; John’s taken it to his work shop to bend it in the vise they have there. The technique creates a feather inside the soap using 3-4 colours. It’s the October challenge over on the Soap Making Forum and I’ve decided to enter; I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.

Ok, time to stop procrastinating; there are dishes to be done, slippers to felt (yes, I’ve finished the knitting; I just need to stitch them up and felt them), soap to design, a letter to write. Today’s going to be a full day!

Categories: Contest, Just stuff, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t Forget – Soap Giveaway

You have one week left to enter to win a 6 pack soap sampler. Leave a comment and you’re entered!

Last week, I left you with a teaser about an upcoming work in progress – a cardigan for John. When the newest KnitPicks catalog arrived, I showed John one of the pictures of a man’s cardigan that I thought he might like. He wanted to see more so I brought up the KP web site and showed him the rest of the pictures there. He liked it. He liked it a lot. When I asked him if I should purchase the yarn and pattern, he said yes! I didn’t wait!

The yarn was ordered and has already arrived. I have been told, though, that I am not allowed to start the sweater until his slippers are finished. Yeah, they’re still not done.

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The pattern is the Hidden Light Cardigan; to see more pictures, click here. When I showed John the colour choices in the yarn, he pointed to the picture and said, “That one.” Apparently, he really likes that cardigan in that colour. I like it, too, so we’re going with it. I’ve already done a test swatch (just a swatch, that’s all!) and my gauge is right on so I’m good to go… as soon as his slippers are done.

This weekend is a weekend without grandchildren around so I’m getting a few things done. Once I’m finished with this post, I’ll be knitting. Care to guess what I’ll be working on?

Already today, I’ve been out – had my hair cut this morning, wandered around the farmer’s market, did some shopping, picked up a new mold for my soaps, stuff like that. Just before I sat down to write this post, I made a small batch of soap to fill my new mold… and a few more molds.

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I love the Fat Daddio’s silicone molds; the flower molds are so pretty. This one is the daisy; I have my eye on the sunflower, the narcissus, and the rose molds as well but those are a special order. I made a small batch of soap with sunflower oil, superfatted with 1 teaspoon of argan oil and scented with the last of my neroli essential oil. It’s setting now and I can barely wait to see how it comes out. The recipe this time is one of my own devising.

Now, I’m done here for today… I’m off to get comfy and finish those %*$(&^# slippers.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, John's Sweater, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

One Down, Another On The Needles

The Waffle Stitch face/spa cloth is finished! It only took a little over a week to finish one cloth – that actually surprised me; it felt like it took forever! I do have to say, though, that I’m really happy with it. It has a very nice feel to it, not thick but still cushy, with enough texture to help exfoliate and stimulate the skin without being rough. Now, we’ll have to see how it stands up to use. Looking nice is one thing, performance is another.

I’ve also cast on for another face cloth; I figure that if I have the yarn and needles out, I may as well keep going. I think I know a few people who will appreciate these. This time, I using a checkerboard stitch, 5 knit stitches, 5 purl stitches, 6 rows, then alternating the knit and purl stitches. I’m really liking how this one’s working up, too.

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The soap in the picture, incidentally, is the Java Jumpstart soap, one of my favourites (who am I kidding? They’re all my faves!). This one has the most amazing scent and so far, everyone who smells it, wants it.

And speaking of soap, I did a bit of experimenting last night. I’ve been seeing some amazing pictures and videos of something called a Taiwan Swirl (google it and you’ll see why I’ve been blown away). I used two colours (does uncoloured count as a colour?), natural and ultramarine blue and poured alternating sections of each. Then, with a chopstick, the colours are swirled together to form a pattern. Here’s how it looked after I’d finished the swirling…

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I chose not to add any scent to this one because I wanted to see how it turned out. If/when I make another swirled soap, I will definitely add some scent to it. To be honest, it takes almost as much time and thought to decide what scent to use as it does to plan and make the soap. It’s one of the reasons most of my soaps aren’t scented. That, and the fact that I don’t care for perfumed things on or near my face.

This morning, I took the soap from the mold; it’s still too soft to cut but I anticipate that I’ll be able to cut it tomorrow. I am really eager to see how the swirls look inside the soap.

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Normally, I cut my soaps in about nine bars, straight down. In this case, the recommendation is that you first cut about four bars across the mold, then cut each of those bars horizontally. That way, the swirls you see on the top become the sides of the bar. If that sounded confusing, just wait for the pictures.

Back to where we started… knitting. The weather here definitely has autumn overtones. Mornings and evenings have that unmistakable coolness that comes with the changing of the season. Another sign that autumn is on its way is the fact that John’s been whining about not having slippers to wear.

That should be remedied by the end of the weekend. I started his slippers last February; they’re almost done. I think I only need to work one more sole, then put them together and felt them. I’m making a point of getting them done and off my plate.

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Then, I can start on a pair for me!

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Knit Happens

Sorry.. bad pun, I know. It’s true, though. Knit happens when you least expect it. I haven’t been doing much knitting lately at all. John’s slippers still aren’t done.

However, while perusing through patterns on Ravelry, I came across one that I thought I had the perfect yarn for. Turns out I was right.

001The yarn is King Cole Soft as Silk, 100% acrylic. The pattern is Baby’s Car Seat Blanket. Whether this remains car seat blanket sized or wrap sized remains to be seen. As written, I’m already one quarter of the way through the knitting. The lace pattern is an easy one to read and to remember. The yarn is a joy to work with. I don’t usually like acrylic but this one lives up to the name, soft as silk. It’s also knitting up very quickly as it’s worked on 4.5 mm needles.

Unfortunately, there won’t be much knitting time today. I’ll be picking up the grandkids and a few tomato plants (not necessarily in that order) today. The plan is to do a bit of gardening, tidy up some of the beds, plant a couple of tomato plants along the driveway, plant some garlic in pots, and then to roll out, roll up, and bake the croissants that have been resting in the fridge since yesterday. It will be a busy but productive day.

 

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Garden, Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Nice Quiet Family Kind of Day

It’s a nice, quiet day around here. Trinity, Ethan, and one of the neighbour’s girls are here, all of them on their individual tablets (mine’s safely out of reach); John’s reading on his Kobo and here I am, blogging. It’s Family Day here in BC, a statutory holiday for almost everyone; because a lot of their clients are in the U.S., Kristen’s new job celebrates American holidays. She’s working today, which is why the kids are here.

Even though we’re all on our individual pieces of the electronic world, I have done a few real world things today. I went shopping before picking the kids up from Kristen’s. Once here, while they were all (actually) playing, I baked a cake for tonight’s dessert. We’ll be having a roasted chicken with potatoes and vegetables, a favourite around here.

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Persian Love Cake (not quite like the picture in the recipe)… that’s rose scented, saffron coloured, whipped cream, by the way. The cake is cardamon and lemon flavoured.

It’s been a lovely long weekend and I’m loathe to see it end, to be honest. I still have a lot of stuff I’d like to do this weekend and I know it won’t happen. I’ve started another couple of knitting projects (big surprise, right?). I need more time to work on them. What are they? Well, I’m glad you asked… not much in the way of pictures, I’m afraid.

I’ve started another pair of knitted clogs for John; I know HE’LL wear them………. out. This time, they’re navy with charcoal gray soles. I think that, this time, I may add some leather to the soles; hopefully, they’ll last a little longer than they usually do.

In addition to his slippers, I’ve also, finally, started a tea cozy. I’ve been meaning to make one for years and now that I have a four-cup Brown Betty, it’s time. For the cozy, I’m using some of yarn I had in my stash… forest green and purple.

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Now, it’s time to relax for a while before dinner needs preparing. If the weather was nicer (it’s gray and damp here today but at least the snow has pretty much melted away), I’d shoo the kids outside to play and claim my comfy chair.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cooking, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

THOSE Days

Ever have those days where you seriously want to knit but absolutely just can’t? There’s no real reason you can’t but every time you sit in your favourite comfy chair and pick up something you’ve been working on for a while and seriously look at it, the question forms in your mind… why am I doing this? Yeah, THOSE days!

Well, I’m having way too many of those right now.

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I’ve been working on Ethan’s slippers; then, while the kids were here last week (for the week), I noticed that he hasn’t been at all bothered by the coolness of the floors, even first thing in the morning. There was only one morning that he asked me to help him put his socks on. Trinity? Well, her feet were chilly but she found a pair of knitted slippers in a basket, put those on and was quite comfortable. Why am I bothering to make felted slippers for them?

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Click for the pattern

 

Then, when Ethan came inside after playing in the snow, I realized how painfully pathetic his Dollar Store gloves were for playing in the white stuff, I started a pair of woolen mittens for him. After a day or two, I discovered his ski-type mittens in his back pack. Why didn’t I know they were there? He really doesn’t need another pair of mittens.

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Click fort the pattern

 

I found a really cute pattern for a reading rest for my new tablet (did I tell you I’d bought myself a tablet??), started it, then found a pin on Pinterest for a fantastically simple tablet stand. It involves a metal book end (I just happened to have an extra one) and two binder clips, which I also just happened to have (well, I have one but it still works). Why bother knitting one when this one works just as well, put together in a fraction of the time?

It’s become a little frustrating, truth be told. I want to knit. I really do. Unfortunately, this week I’ve spent more time frogging than knitting.

I think I’ll go cook something instead.

Categories: Blogging, Knitting, No Knitting, Slippers, Socks | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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