The Joker and the dropped stitch

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I have been working quite diligently on the Joker and the Thief shawl, going through all of the pattern with some decent speed.  I was looking at the amount of remaining yarn and I knew I could knit a bit of the last pattern repeat.  As I got closer to having to make that decision, I looked at the main color.  It might have gone for another half repeat and then I would have to immediately bind off.  This sounds like a game of yarn chicken, which you all know that I do not like doing.  So I went with the pattern as written and just bound off.  It is off the needles, with a significant amount of ends still needing some weaving, but a lot less then if I did not weave as I knit.  Once that is done I can wash and block this (probably will grow a bit) and I can immediately put it away until fall.  Summer is starting to really kick in here and wearing a Yak and Merino scarf sounds lovely, but not right now.

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With that off the needles I needed to figure out what to cast on next.  This ended up being a bit of a dilemma on my part, I have a lot of things I wanted to start.  One being the Atlas that I received the kit for, but I knew right now I needed something a little easier to work on.  I like having a simple and a more involved/complicated/more then just garter or stockinette project going on at the same time. So I went to my queue to see what peeked my interest and there were a few things. Sweaters would be nice, but I think 90 degree weather with no AC at home would not be enjoyable. There were some lace shawls that looked like fun out of colorful gradient fingering weight, but I kept going. Then I remembered something a friend of mine made and I searched frantically to find it in my queue. I found it and looked at its requirements, 2 skeins of fingering weight yarn in two good colors. I have a few good pairs in stash that I can use, so I started looking at the stash (online of course). I thought about a Madelinetosh combo that I have had for a little bit now, but I decided to save that for some brioche (and I didn’t want to dive into the big bin for it). Then I remembered I bought some yarn for a design that I just was not going to make. I pulled out the skeins and they were perfect for this project. One was a semi solid brown and the other this slightly multi teal with burnt orange that worked well with the brown (it should, they were purchased to work together). The yarn is Verdant Gryphon Eidos in the colorways Anubis and Epistemen which are turning into the Snood Barcelona.  This pattern is simple in it’s techniques, but you do have to pay attention when performing the short rows.

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Yes that is a Star Wars Slipper Stitch Studios bag (I couldn’t resist buying this when the email went out, I may have a problem) and the pattern is working up nicely in this yarn.  I hope I can make a decently sized cowl out of the yarn I have, which I should have plenty of yarn (famous last words).

 

The sweater is still on time out right now, I just don’t want to work on a full merino wool sweater in the summer.  I might pick it up again once I finish something, but I needed a new easy project.  Queue up the Vanilla is the New Black socks again, this time in the Stray Cat Sock Yarn in the colorway, Revolution.  Seemed fitting with July 4th just behind us and July 14th coming soon (if you don’t know, July 14th is Bastille Day in France).  I wound the yarn and I am super excited to start it up.  Side note, I do speak French (my second language, long story of how I became fluent) so it’s fitting I pay attention to the 14th of July.

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And the Tour de France has started, not that I am interested in watching it.  But the Tour de Fleece has also started and granted I have had a slow start.  I did a little spinning last night on my Lendrum out of some fiber from stash (a surprise I know, but this has been on that bobbin for a few weeks/months now) and I did a little light drop spindle spinning as well.  Hopefully I can do more spinning and weaving this summer, since nothing needs to be on my lap.  Maybe I’ll get a lot done during this tour, but only time will tell.  I am going back to my short rows and hopefully not messing them up.

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Stubborn

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Yes I am talking about a machine today, it’s been over a week with it and it definitely has its own character. My Legare (which I don’t think I’ve shown here, but have other places) has his own character to him. He doesn’t like cotton or other non animal fibers, like most machines. Those fibers are not elastic and machines can have difficulty working with them. Not all machines, but some. This new machine gave me a scare a few days ago, I wanted to try out the 64 stitch cylinder to do some test socks for my mom, so I loaded in the cylinder with some lubricant and attempted to secure it it with the screws. The original screws are too big to fit this new cylinder. So I started to wonder what I could do, I have no clue what size of screw it would need or anything of that nature. So I went to someone who did, my father who thankfully had some screws. Then I got it mounted in the machine, so I tried to attach the ribber adjustment lever (aligns the ribber plate, so that the needles are aligned properly) and the screw was not long enough. Apparently the newer cylinders didn’t have a spacer built in, so I went back to my dad. Everything screwed in, I started adding needles, a few at a time. I cranked the machine to make sure it was not catching. About 8-12 needles in (every other slot, since I wanted to make a cast on bonnet which helps a lot) the machine would jam. I found the needles that did it and replaced them. Added some more, more jams, more replacing and finally I had half of the needles in. And the thing would jam every 1/4 rotation. I was freaking out, this should be ok, the machine was restored by a professional (not me, I only did my Legare).

I went to the ravelry group, thinking they might know if it was an issue with a piece that makes the machine change gauge and knit. Then I thought to bring out the Legare and try the cylinder on there, which would eliminate that gauge piece. It jammed on the Legare too, but I noticed something. That cylinder wobbled, as if it was not mounted at all. Then I realized the screws were not all of the way in, so I removed it and put it back into the auto knitter. Screwed in and backed up, then repeated until it was tight. I added needles like before and low and behold it was fine. So it works, user error and the whole time when I realized it I could hear the previous owners voice telling me “well duh.” The previous owner wouldn’t say that, but this machine has that attitude, as they can. So I did some test knitting and it’s all working, besides the ribber I haven’t tried it yet. But I know how to work it and do all of the necessary things with the machine.

The Joker and the Thief you might ask if it’s still going. And yes that is, but it is small. I think I’m going to add another section of the last/first section to use more yarn, it’ll be a lot of stitches and more yarn used (and ends, oh boy) but it’ll be better. It’ll be done just in time for summer.  But now that I am one more repeat from the end, I think it might be big enough, just to wrap around the neck once.  I’ll decide soon, maybe I’ll do a quick block before I decide to knit more on it.

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A new addition

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I mentioned before a good friend of mine passed, which I am finally feeling better about. The sting of not being able to see them at knitting group has subsided. When she passed she had a lot of yarn, tools, and other crafty supplies remaining. About 3 years ago, she asked if I would bring my sock machine to the shop so she could see it in action. I of course obliged since I did talk about it a bit, my machines name is Robert (with a French Canadian accent since that’s where he was made). I brought him in and she was hooked on the idea of making a pair of socks in an hour. She asked about different machines, my thoughts about them, and what machines to consider buying and from where. I mentioned NZAK was an option, being a new machine it wouldn’t need restoring and timing of the ribber and main knitting piece (the cylinder). I told her that my machine I restored and timed myself which took some time and if she was up to it, go for it, but know it will take time. I recommended an eBay seller who does all of this for you and you receive a fully functional machine. She ended up buying one from them and started learning how to use it.

It turns out she did use it a little and was starting to learn how to get it to make ribbing, which is a complicated feat in the beginning. Then she passed and the machine was there. There was someone who was interested but was hoping it was an NZAK and not the original machine. They decided to not take the machine home and I knew it would not go anywhere. The poor machine needed a good home, so there were two choices, let it sit there wanting to make socks or take it home. I had to think about it, I don’t need another machine. She did have some pieces it would be hard to get and I might be able to find, but it would be hard. These machines aren’t big, but they have a lot of parts and all of my tools and yarn are taking up space and I’m running out of it. But an idea came to mind, I’m working on getting my online knitting business going again, focusing on socks for now and maybe doing more down the line. I thought of an idea, any socks made on my machine would be normal (not that the others would not be). Socks from her machine would have part of the proceeds donated to research for the disease that she was battling. So I knew what to do, I bought the machine. It’s home with me now and it’s gorgeous. Needs some oiling but should knit with no problems, she kept good care of it.

So that’s what I’m going to do with it, make socks in her memory and pay it forward. I am also considering doing custom orders from other knitters to make socks on either machine, giving the choice of my machine or hers. Letting them know that I will donate to that organization if they choose hers. It’s what I am going to do and I think it is the best way to pay it forward and remember her.

If anyone is interested in this I can let you know when everything is ready to start production.

I did give it a quick cleaning and oiling last night and out some yarn through it. Knit just like it was supposed to, though I might have gone a little overzealous with the tension and it was not happy with such a tight gauge, but I got it knitting again. I was going to try one of the new cylinders, these pieces determine the number of stitches in a sock, but realized I needed new screws to hold that one in place. But I got it working on one of the original cylinders and that’s something. I’m going to get the screws and make sure the ribber is still going alright. Maybe I’ll crank out some socks for my mom shortly.

Moving along, gaining meters

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As many of you know there is an event going on right now called Stash Dash, I hinted to it a few posts back. This event every year is to challenge yourself to knit as much of your stash and complete projects languishing on the needles. It’s not just knitting, spinning, weaving, and even machine knitting make an appearance in this event. While listening to one of my knitting podcasts a few weeks ago while driving up to Berkeley (I do this every week), the KnitMoreGirls talked about stash dash. I remember them talking about it in years past, but never really decided to participate. This year when I heard them talking about it, I decided this was the year to do it. My stash has grown so much recently (the past 2 years or so) that I am out of storage space. With the looming reality that I will be moving out and the idea of having to move the stash freaked me out a little, I knew I needed to knit it down. The machines will play a part in this of course, but I need to do some spinning and hand knitting too. The socks I just finished count towards this, about 340 meters. That’s a good start but I need more meters to get through more of the stash.

Remember The Joker and the Thief I started recently? It’s going quite nicely, I’m really hoping that it grows like I think it will when I block it. I think it will but it has about 900 meter potential when it’s done. That’s pretty good, I have the rhythm of the pattern going and it’s pretty good autopilot knitting, except for two rows I have to pay attention to. Super happy with how it’s looking though and I’m doing something I always try to do with multi color knitting, weave in ends as I go. There are a lot of ends already, I’m really glad I started weaving in the ends as I go.

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But that’s not enough meterage, I’m falling behind in how much I want to have done by the end. I think I’m going to need to get the machines going again. I haven’t used them in a while, but they’ll blow through yarn like crazy. The sweater I started a while ago just needs the collar made and then attached. Also needs a sleeve added into the body and the ends woven, but that is almost 6 skeins of yarn to count towards the goal. Maybe with the remaining bits I can make some socks and get the full meterage.  I think I’ll have some good ideas to get a lot of meters for this challenge.

Moving Forward

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When we last left off I was working on some swatches for fun and for some other purposes.  I can tell you they are all done and I like how they all turned out, except the first it needed to be redone.  I don’t know what it is, but I like to swatch, maybe a future project will be just to swatch everything in larger blocks and make a swatch blanket.  That sounds like a great idea to have something useful and functional in multiple ways.  I get the swatches I need and then over time I can have a blanket, I would need to coordinate the colors a lot to do this.  With those done I could concentrate on some other knitting that I have wanted to do.  Remember those socks I forgot to photograph?  Well here they are in all of their sock glory, yarn is Stray Cat Socks in their Denim and Dandelion colorway and it’s such a fun color.  I am glad I chose this pattern to knit this into, though I think for the next few pairs I might make a few vanilla is the new black socks, something about that pattern makes me happy.  I think it’s the stockinette paired with that ribbed heel that makes me excited and a great pattern for grab and go knitting. Enough talk about patterns and socks, lets see these happy socks.

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The yellow is a little brighter in person, but all of these colors are just so happy and cheerful.  The heels are a little pointy, I know but they do fit over my heels.  That’s what counts and maybe one day I will actually wear my hand knit socks, instead of just making them and storing them away.

I did start something new, I don’t think I told anyone about that.  When these socks came off the needles, I knew I needed to start something else.  I was still burned by the Nelson Pullover, which when people saw the photo of the surgery they freaked out.  Not to worry, it is still ready for it’s sleeves.  I just want to take a break from it and I will pick it up again shortly.  The weather is still holding as much as it can, I might have a chance to wear it. That we will just have to wait and see what happens at this point, I am really enjoying working on something else right now. Oh did I not mention I have already replaced this project on the needles? Well yes I needed a second project, one that was not so large, so I started a The Joker and the Thief out of some Canon Hand Dyes Bruce I bought at Stitches this year. I’m really trying to knit through my stash and what I bought at stitches. This yarn base is delicious to say the least, with a blend of 70/20/10 Merino/yak/nylon, what isn’t there to like. It feels so good when you just grab a skein or when you’re knitting it. I’m using the natural as the background color and a set in 80s dance party for the 6 colors.

Isn’t this pretty? I think this will be a nice addition to my scarf collection. I’ll have it just in time for summer.

Stash dashing

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I have finally recovered from the attack of knitting, that I can look at the sweater without cursing under my breath. I know it was mainly my fault but still, it still stings a bit. But it’s fixed and before you ask I have not touched it since. I figured it would be best to let it rest to get rid of all of the negative knitting mojo is had. I think it is almost out of the bad knitting mojo, but to be sure I let it sit a little longer then I should have. It is getting warmer here and I still want to wear it before the weather gets too warm, but that probably won’t happen so I’ll just have to make due with having it for fall this year.

What have I been knitting in the interim, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been working on some secret projects, I’m hoping at least one of them turns out. They’re at the way beginning stages but when I have more information on them I will let you all know. Besides that I’ve been working on the geek socks, more accurately I finished them. They are not just finished, they are washed and blocked and ready to be worn, I mean put into the sock drawer. Again too warm for wool socks right now, even though there have been some cooler days.

I am participating in Stash Dash which I’m hoping will help my stash loose some weight. Basically if you have not heard about it before it’s an event/competition to see who can use up the most meterage in a given time. I think it’s about two and a half months. I’ll talk more about that later, but I have some to add since the socks are done. I was going to add some photos, but forgot to when I had the lightbox set up. I’ll post pics soon.

What the….

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Well it was bound to happen, my knitting has been fairly well behaved lately. I knew it was up to something, when it’s quiet and being nice I know something must be brewing. Yes, I admit there are times when you think something is brewing and the knitting is just being nice and perfect, nothing bad happens. And then there are times when you have no clue something is wrong and then bam it hits. This was not either one of those cases, this project has been giving me grief for no reason. You may remember the whole issue with knitting too far, not too bad of a fix. Then the whole oops I have too many stitches on the front and it would seem I’m making it for someone with a more female body, not a bad fix. This one takes the cake, a really bad error and I’m still dumbfounded by it. When I was working on my Nelson Pullover I made the correct pieces first, which are for the shoulders in a nice cable pattern. I worked the front and back, joined in the round, and through all of my now small errors, knit all of the way down the body. I was so excited on Monday that I grabbed the now empty needles and started to get ready for the first sleeve. I had to pick up more stitches then was called for but I can deal with that quite easily I think.

So I picked up the first half of the stitches around the sleeve and then I needed to get the stitches from the saddle on the needle. Once they were on I needed to knit them in pattern and pick up the rest of the stitches. I looked at the chart and then the saddle and just stared at it. There may have been a copious amount of cursing in my head when I saw what I had done. This cable is not reversible, it has a wrong side and a right side. What I had done is I had oriented it so that the wrong side was facing on the right side of the sweater. I immediately looked at the other shoulder and I had done that one correctly. I looked back at photos I have taken of the sweater and there it was clear as night and day that this error was there but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t notice this until the entire body was done!

After I was done banging my head against the wall and almost throwing my knitting I needed to create a plan of attack. One thought was quite drastic, to rip out the entire thing to the shoulder pieces and re-knit the whole sweater. I quickly dismissed that idea, since I didn’t want to have to re-knit the whole sweater. The other option I knew would be the one was to perform surgery on that piece, dropping down all but 2 stitches to the cast on.  So then I decided maybe I should drop each section of the cable and work it up so I wouldn’t have to do the whole thing at once.  So I dropped the first section of crossed stitches, everything went so well or so I thought.  I got the stitches back on the needles and I was about to drop the next set and I saw a loop.  A loop of yarn about 20 rows down, so I did it all again.  Then I saw another loop, what is going on?  I remembered seeing a post from the great Romi Hill of her showing a technique she uses on fixing mistakes in lace.  So I attempted it, if you have a weak stomach look away, the image you will see may be frightening (and because it was 9pm at night and I had just gotten home from work, so I didn’t want to do all of the nice photos).

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Scary looking isn’t it?  But trust me it was super easy to do and I was able to get this all laddered up.  I am super happy to report that the shoulder is fixed the way it should be, but I have not been knitting on that.  I needed a break and maybe a glass of wine or maybe whiskey.

I’ll talk to you more about other things later, I need to not think about this.  I promise there will be more fun things on the next blog.

Loss

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I have been holding off talking about something because I have not really wrapped my mind around it.  It’s a topic of something we all have to endure but is hard to discuss.  This something is sometimes expected or unexpected in the way it just hits without any warning.  One of my friends I have from knitting passed away late last month.  She was always at the table on Fridays when we would all be there, laughing, knitting, and giving her opinion (which was always welcome) in a multitude of topics.  I remember clear as day some of her stories, like when she traveled to a variety of places and their version of tea was not something she could drink (too much sugar or citrus), her disdain for coffee (understandable, I did not like it either when I first tried it), and her story of her pinhole film camera.  She was not afraid to do anything she put her mind to and she was an accomplished knitter, weaver, jewelry artist, computer scientist, photographer, and with all of that, one of the most humble persons you would meet.  Whenever we would ask her what she was making she would say, “Oh I’m making this pattern out of this yarn, but I’m making all of these modifications because of these reasons.”  She would almost never knit something exactly to the pattern and would make some really good changes.  She knit prolifically on socks and had a very impressive hand knit sock collection, which she used.  I even got her to purchase an antique sock knitting machine (one that was already refurbished, because I told her the process and how when someone good does it, it’s worth the money) and she did start to use that machine.

I received the notification when I was taking my 10 days off from work and spending some well needed rest, it was the first day of my vacation.  I had to stop what I was doing and just sit there, dumbfounded.  I could not believe this happened so suddenly, even though we all knew she was going through some difficult health issues.  We were all optimistic, as was she, that she would be around to laugh and knit around the table.  I just could not believe that she was gone.  I had to sit there and cry, which I am not afraid to admit to anyone.  One of our knitting friends told me that she was helping our friends husband go through her stash and to arrange a yarn buying event.  I considered it for a second, started looking through her stash on Ravelry, which was meticulously photographed and documented, and I lost it just in the “Bs”.  I knew a lot of the yarn and I was there when she purchased it.  I just could not bring myself to go through all of her yarn and purchase anymore, besides the fact I have a lot myself (not as much as some others).  So I told my friend that I just could not do it, it would be too hard for me.  She messaged me back and told me of something in her stash, that her and another friend of mine had to re-assemble that they thought of me.  They knew that not many people would attempt this pattern with the yarn and knew I wanted to make it, missing out on the opportunity to buy the kit (the dyer has discontinued dying).  I told her that yes, if no one else wanted it, I would gladly take it.

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When I went to the memorial this weekend, there was a mix of her husbands friends, neighbors, and of course the knitters.  We all talked about her, her life, and it was such a beautiful way to remember her.  My friend handed me a bag, which contained the yarn in question.  I was keeping it together fairly well through the whole thing and I was going to loose it again, but I did not.  That yarn is from ColorShift Yarns and its the kit for Atlas by Kieran Foley, which is stunning.  They knew that I would make this and I plan on making this as one of my next projects.  It will be my way to remember her and do something that she would have done herself.  Though this is not the exact kit, because she didn’t like the pinky flesh toned yarn and asked for more of the darker gradient.  So that’s what I’m going to do, knit it just like she would, which surprisingly will be as written (besides the main color).  Once I get the sweater off the needles at the very least, I am going to wind this yarn and knit on my memory Atlas.  She will be missed by us all, but she will always be with us.

Need more crafting

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I have a feeling that I need to branch out more in what I am knitting. I think it might be a little boring for you all to read for a while just about two projects, even though I’m enjoying knitting them. I could start a new project or keep going with a few designs, but I can’t talk about designs as easily. Or I could just get off my lazy butt and do some other crafting, since I do more then just knitting. Yeah I think that’s it, besides I need to gear up for Stash Dash which is coming up. I need to get some machine knitting ready, some spinning close to having singles done and ready for plying, and maybe some weaving. Not sure about the last one, but I know some of my hand knitting will be ready to be counted for it.

The sweater, as you remember, is going very well, much faster then I thought it would have gone because of being so used to fingering weight yarn. The body is almost done I think I’m just about ready to add in the ribbing, then the sleeves. The sleeves will take a little more concentration since there will be a cable down the top of it but that shouldn’t be too bad. It will be a nice bit of complexity to add to my knitting and I will enjoy wearing when it’s done. Which hopefully it’s soon, since the weather has decided to stay relatively cool for this week. I don’t think I’ll have it done in time but I’ll try to.  No photos of that again, it does not look too much different then the last photo, just longer.  Same with the second sock, it is growing, but I think I’ll do some more photos of those two projects once I have a little more progress on them both.

I was going to be doing some bits of spinning today, but something else had to take precedence.  Some minor (not really but for me it wasn’t too bad) computer repair, my laptop needed a new part added to it.  I will not bore you with too much of the details, but my desktop does not get used during the week normally and my laptop does a lot of heavy lifting.  So I needed to take the time to get it working.  Now that the new part is in, I am writing this on my laptop and I am pleased.

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Oh and a little bit more knitting wise, I have a bit of yarn I picked up.  This is a design submission, hopefully I’ll be able to get that done and ready for that.  Since this is time based I am hoping I can get the yarn quickly wound, swatched, designed, and submitted.  Lets see what happens.  And before you ask, no these all will not be all used together.  I just wanted a nice variety of weights in order to better swatch.  Yes the colors are kind of dull, but I needed them to be nice and neutral to figure things out.

Worsted is fast

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There has been some knitting, which should come as no surprise to anyone. But what might to you all as a surprise is that both of my projects are making some fairly decent progress. The socks have been going fairly well, I think about a third down the foot so far and I still really like this pattern. It is super easy, except for the matching the color changes to an appropriate spot in the pattern repeat. Which is not hard if you can count to 4 (sometimes I can’t do this, I blame brain fatigue) but otherwise it’s going well. I have been cramming in little bits of knitting here and then on them as time allows.  My main project right now has been the sweater.

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The sweater is going very well too, I’m sorta cruising still down the body. I forgot something about worsted weight, in particular on sweaters. There is something to be said about anything knit on worsted weight, they go much faster. I knew this to be true but since I usually stick with fingering weight, I forgot just how much faster size U.S. 7s and some good worsted weight will go. Granted I have two knitting machine that can churn out fine knit fabric with worsted weight, hand knitting anything in fingering weight takes a lot of time. I think I’m having a bit of a love affair with this worsted weight sweater. I have not put a lot of time into it and I’m already more then halfway down the body, which is even closer since blocking will change my gauge slightly.  I know this from past experience with swatching, if any of you remember the vest I made.  Yes the same one that could have doubled as a dress because I swatched, but did not block it.  Because of this I know that for every 4″ I will go down one row/round, so I need to compensate for that.  I think for now I will continue down the body until I reach around 14″ then I will re-calculate it’s actual length, compensating for gauge.  For now I just get to keep knitting, I’ll measure again in a little bit.  Maybe I should measure again now.  I’ll do that shortly, I think I’ll just take in the awe of how fast this is and how soft the yarn is too.

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