Final Part

It seems like a long time ago, but here goes for the final part of my vacation last month.

I went to the Bay Area again, and for the first time in years and years, I got to see in person a sister interim pastor, Nancy Martin Vincent! So good to catch up with her and life.

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Then I went to UCSF to see Dr. Fancy-Schmancy and everything is good, I’ll see him in September, hopefully for the last time.

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In the evening, I got to stay with my friends Mary Elyn and Jeff in Oakland, so I didn’t have to trek up to Santa Rosa in the rush-hour traffic. Their garden is a delight!

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The next morning, I went to see my friend Sophie at Bluebird Yarn and Fiber, which sadly is closing because Sophie is off to new adventures and love. (There’ll be a separate post later)

And I squeezed a lunch in with my clergy gal friend Linda, who is now doing all things weaving – and has the inkle loom to prove it. Apparently I gave her the yarn for the project she’s currently working on (no, I don’t remember it at all!)

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So I had had a pretty full day by the time I got to my cousin’s house, but it was great to be able to give her the sweater I’d been working on since Christmas:

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And it mostly fits. A bit big in the shoulders, but oh well! She seemed happy with it.

and a friend of hers, Charlotte, came over because she knits and was having a hard time getting a scarf to felt – she was using the yarn Touch Me! which is a cut rayon with a wool core. But she has a newer side-loading washing machine and it doesn’t really felt well, so we ran it through Marie’s older top-loader a few times, and then finished it off in the dryer, and it worked!

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There was a gathering of knitters at my friend Judy’s and so good to connect with everyone, and I was a complete fail at taking any photos – bad me! I miss them all a lot!

The next day we gathered to celebrate my cousin’s graduation with her Masters of Social Work, which she did in three years while working full time – very impressive. She got a job in the field at the start of her third year, and so is fortunate to go straight into work without having to job hunt. Here she is with her great fiancé Rich, who started his own local veggie farm at the same time. Great couple! Now Rachel (and Rich) can plan the wedding!

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Me, Rachel and Marie (Rachel’s mom)

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Middle Part

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The next part of my trip last month was finishing up the conference, seeing more friends, and heading to a Dodger game.

I got a photo with Franklin Habit, who is such a lovely human being, as well as a great knitting instructor. His class on knitting tessellations made my brain hurt in a good way!

Want to see a tessellation:

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And here’s Franklin – I love that he has a distinctive personal style!

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I had a pre-birthday dinner in Pasadena,

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and the next morning I got together with more friends for brunch at a cafe near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena called Lincoln. It’s a hipster/locavore kind of place and my Parmesan eggs and the bacon were delicious!

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On Monday, I went with my 2nd mom Bonny to one of her favorite eateries, the North Woods Inn which has been there forever, and the decor shows that not much has changed in a while:

That evening, I got to a Dodger game with my friends Bev and Jim, and Allison was able to help with using up a ticket that we had leftover. It was great to see Vin Scully on the screen before the game – it is his last season announcing for the team. Definitely an end to the era.

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Then it was time to return to Fresno for a day or two. And lucky me, the yarn for the next installment from the Ysolda 2016 club arrived!

The yarn is Skein Queen’s Ullvarme – a sport-weight wool which is made from a fiber collected by a company who gathers the wool as a waste product in Sweden. The card says “This wool can contain a blend of Dorsets, Suffolks, Dalasau and some Friesian milk ewes.”

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Aren’t those beautiful colors? Fortunately, Brandy approves of the yarn!

And Izzie wants to make sure that you know that she was around too:

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The Next Part

So, I managed to post on my first day of vacation – And it’s been radio silence on the blog, although you might want to check out my Facebook and Twitter feeds, where there photos posted.

In short, it was great. There were a lot of different parts of it, and like that amazing tasty salad that has many different qualities to it – crunch, imami, sweet, sour, salt – the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

First, I headed south to “the Southland” (yes, we really do call it that!) where there were friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year because of the not traveling thing. I stayed with my second Mom, Bonny, who remembers the day I was born because she lived a door or two down from my parents, and took in my brother while my parents went to the hospital. We had a good time, and hilariously compared our eating-alone habits of grazing rather than eating actual meals. So blessed to have her in my life.

Then after a day I went to check in at Vogue Knitting Live! in Pasadena –

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and headed into LA where I had dinner with my cousin Allison, who now lives there with her fiancé Eben. We ate at a great pizza place called Olio at the Grand Central Market. So yummy! Most importantly I got caught up on the Wedding plans. Oh, and I learned about this place:

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But never got to try it out. Next time!

I saw a couple of LA landmarks on my way back to Bonny’s house, including this one:

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Los Angeles City Hall

Vogue Knitting Live

There is much to like about Vogue Knitting’s events: they have top-notch teachers, the event is very well-organized and they obviously care about the knitting world. The students who came in the classes were all fabulous too. However, in spite of magically talented teachers who I may never get to learn from again, the event was a very down-scaled affair compared to last year. No teacher panels in the marketplace, fewer vendors, and while I loved the relatively small size of the classes, it added to a very empty feeling in the convention center. It was clear that this event was not going to be happening here next year (it looks like they’ll be heading to Florida instead). But there were still lovely things like these incredible art installations in the Marketplace:

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Indeed, I had a great time there – I ducked out on a few things I had signed up for because there were friends and family to see instead. Like my friend Lisa who lived a stone’s throw from me growing up who and hadn’t seen in about 30-odd years. She was also at the event, so we went to lunch in-between our classes, and it was great to catch up!

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I had amazing teachers: Steven Be, Amy Detjen, and Franklin Habit. Amy really does dress in purple hair to toes, and StevenB is really like a rock star and out of the box as one could hope, and Franklin Habit has the gentle habits of a true gentleman and wears his heart on his sleeve. I’ve walked away with a bunch ways to play with yarn that can definitely keep my busy for the next year or so.

Which reminds me that yarn was acquired, although I bought only one skein of yarn. Amazing! But it certainly makes a statement (Yes, it has sparkles).

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The color way name?

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But I also bought another cat pin from Sacred Laughter, because everyone should have at least more than one of hers!

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In the next post, I finish up my travels south with a trip to a hipster café, dinner with great friends, and go to a sportsy-event that brings back my childhood in a strong way. When I return home, yarn magically arrives in my mailbox.

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All the knits

Today is my first day of vacation. I might have started a bit early last night:

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I like to joke that a real vacation for me might just consist of lots of knitting, a bit of wine, and a great view. And yes, I will be going to a knitting event – Vogue Knitting Live! in Pasadena. I am taking all my classes purely for the teachers this time – in other words, this is about the entertainment value. I will be stalking taking classes with Amy Detjen, Franklin Habit, and Steven B. It should be a blast, and if I learn something, cool!

In the meantime, I am getting out of that knitting trough. On Saturday, our Sheeper Than Therapy knitting guild met for the first time at the church I serve. It was great to hear how much folks like the new location!

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And there was much knitwear to celebrate completing:

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While at the meeting, I compared notes with my knitting buddies who are also in the 2016 Ysolda Club, and none of us had completed the Banyan stole or shawl – not one! And if you check the Ravelry group, the number of folks who’ve completed it is pretty small. That was enough for me – I frogged the thing on Saturday, and yesterday found a lovely MKAL pattern from 2013 that was in my library, the Meadowsweet Shawl, and cast on. This Triskelion yarn is truly lovely; I’m already through the first chart, and planning to add some repeats because I have a lot more yardage of the amazing yarn:

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Next up is to acquaint myself with the Sara Lace Cardigan project, and then figure out a really easy project to have when I’m social knitting in classes and the MarketPlace at Vogue knitting.

Finally, Clara Parkes Knitlandia book is winging its way to me as we speak. All the knits, all the time!

 

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Knitting Trough

I’m in a knitting trough. The past couple of months have had their stresses, and unusually for me, that has resulted in less, rather than more, knitting.

Oh sure, I’ve been knitting a lot of socks. And a shawl for a friend who had a birthday in March (Reyna, in Zen Serenity Lace Merino-Silk Single).

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Oh, and just finished a twin Renya (by request) for another friend (in Mountain Colors Twizzlefoot in the Harmony Iris color way – merino/silk/nylon blend) whose birthday was in April. It’s blocked:

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Yeah, I know for a lot of folks that would be a lot of knitting. It’s all about expectations.

I do have two larger projects that are biggies, a sweater, and a shawl from Ysolda – and a little stuck.

I can hear all the knitters saying, “What, you are not excited about an Ysolda shawl pattern?” Well, part of the problem is that this pattern kit, part of her 2016 club, had two options, a long rectangular stole, and a crescent shaped shawl. I thought to myself, gosh, I really have so many crescent shawls, I’ll make the stole for a change. Except, when I see the actual finished ones, they end up being a scarf, and almost a goth kind of scarf. Now that’s ok if it is your style, but it is not mine. What I need to do is rip out the stole part (I’m not that far along) and start the shawl.

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I just need to rip this out.

The sweater is one that I really will wear a lot – Vera Sanon’s Sara Lace cardigan, out of a fingering weight blue yarn. I love it, but I have to keep track of all the increases and lace charts because it’s a top-down cardigan, and that stress thing makes me not want to have to keep track of things.

But vacation begins on Monday, and I am sure by the time I go to Vogue Knitting Live! in Pasadena next weekend, I will be out of my knitting trough.

 

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Lifecycle of Socks

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I love to knit socks – in fact, they have become my comfort knitting. I almost always have a pair on the needles because they are a perfect in-between kind of knitting.

But even great socks get to the point where I am done with mending. Like these:

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Ok, that sock on the right? Well, I lost its mate in my move last year. So, technically still a great sock if I only had one foot. Those other two pairs? I am done, done, done with mending them.

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I’ve mended each of them multiple times, and extended their useful life by at least a couple of years. But no more. They do have one thing in common – they are made of yarn that is 100% wool, no nylon content at all. For the
non-sock knitters, that means that without the nylon to help with the abrasion of shoes and walking, they break down more easily.

So, where do good socks go to die in my household – well, I can’t just throw them away. And so it has come to pass, that I will be putting them aside for the annual dryer ball gift making in December. It turns out that cutting them into pieces and rolling them tightly makes a terrific core for wrapping beautiful roving around them. Like these:

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Box of Socks

I am about to send out a box of socks to Afghans for Afghans, so their life-cycle will not be evident to me, but that’s ok:

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I just finished up one more pair, so it will be 11 pairs of youth/adult socks and 3 pairs of newborn ones!

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Amid all these socks for other people, I did knit one pair for me!

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love this spring-like color way – the yarn is Regia 4 – Mosaic in the Istanbul color way, paired with Cascade heritage solids for the toes, heels and cuffs  in Blue -5604. Score another for the sock drawer!

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Let’s Pretend

As some of my readers know, I moved about 11 months ago, and in the process, brought my 2 cats to a new location, where, instead of a 2nd floor balcony, I have a 1st floor patio. Having had one cat disappear for over 3 weeks, I really didn’t want to let them roam. I tried putting Izzie on a harness, but she kept escaping it.

In looking at options, all of them would require a fair amount of cash layout, and since I’m only here for a couple of years, it seemed like a lot of bother, then my leg got injured and everything was put on hold.

For a number of months, we were in a detente mindset – I’d hang out with them on the patio, and try to prevent Izzie from jumping up on the top of the fence and roaming. I spent a lot of energy nagging her, and the second she jumped up she had to go in. Brandy seemed cool with hanging out. Here Izzie dreams of things beyond the fence.IMG_0962

Then I lost interest in trying to keep this all so boundaries. It turned out that when Izzie did escape, she only wanted to hang out ab0ut 20 minutes, and would come when called, and often just wanted to perch on the top of the fence to look at stuff. Brandy then got a bit adventurous and hopped up. And she comes even more quickly than Izzie (I suspect because she was lost for three weeks that time years ago and doesn’t want a repeat).

So now we are playing the game I call “Let’s Pretend.”

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I open the sliding door, and they go out. I pretend they will stay in, and then go looking for them if they go over the fence. Usually everyone is in the house with 5 minutes. It seems to be working.

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I went for a walk.

Over the weekend, while on a beautiful stretch of California coast, I went for a walk.

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It sounds so simple, so routine, but for me, over the past few months, going for a walk is something that was completely out of my wheelhouse. I had to save “steps” for the very functional parts of my life – doing the necessary stuff at home, standing briefly for work, so going for a walk, well, no.

I was feeling so much better that when I went on the trip, I even left the cane at home, which reminded me of this passage from the gospel of Mark:

“10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them.”

When Jesus heals, things happen. And it’s not just that there is a physical healing, it’s a return to being in community – a restoration of relationships – being with family, finding a vocation, eating with folks.

I’m finding just this as I am getting better and better. As I’ve gotten out of the foggy meds phase, I can see all kinds of things that need repair and restoration in the rest of my life. My apartment got almost all unpacked when I was injured, but the stuff that didn’t makes it look like I haven’t unpacked. That new TV never got bought (although hey Hitachi – that 1984 solid state TV seems to be indestructible!) In my job, some things (and truthfully some people) were untended because of limited time for focused work, and now I am working that out.

I didn’t go on vacation except for one week after Christmas because I was feeling crappy and staying home seemed like a waste of good vacation time, so I’ll be doing two weeks of vacation that I really, really need to reconnect with family and friends. Oh, there’s also the need to start working out for real, which I think will only add to my quality of life.

True healing is like that – in truth, if one part of our lives is out of whack, it affects everything else. Health is an ecosystem, not just a body thing. Christian healing, unlike our medical system, is a holistic affair.

When I went on this trip over the weekend, I knew that I was going to really need to rest, but even my own assessment of this was actually underestimated. There was no big “plan” for the time, but I brought four knitting projects and a really good knitting book, along with a couple of great general interest books. What I didn’t know, and experienced, was that I needed true Sabbath, to just be and not even do a lot of knitting. I barely worked one sock the entire four days.

But I did go on a walk. And saw amazing sunsets, and even saw friends. Jesus would have called this healing work.


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There’s Always More to Learn

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I just finished my cousin Marie’s cardigan sweater. It’s from a book called Botanical Knits by Alana Dakos, called Twigs and Willows:

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There have been many sweaters that have come off my needles over the years – I don’t know how many, in fact. You’d think by now that I would have learned all there is to know about knitting a sweater, and that would be incorrect.

What the Pattern Said

The pattern for this sweater calls for the fronts and backs and sleeves to be knit separately and then sewn together. I do have a preference for side and shoulder seams in sweaters – they give a better fit, and the sweater is less likely to go askew. The sleeves are set-in, and before now, I have mostly stuck to knitting the sleeve (either flat or in the round), and then sewn them in. I don’t find it hard, but it does sometimes require gymnastics. It also called for a simple horizontonally-knit button hole.

What I Modified

  1. Moved the Shaping: I Spread the shaping of the sweater from the side seams to “princess seams” on the fronts and the backs. There are a couple of schools of thought about this, but my cousin has a lovely waist, and accenting it with the shaping seemed like a good idea. It came out well:image
  2. Short Rows on Upper Back: Often just one inch’s worth of short rows spread an inch apart will really help the sweater sit better on the body. I remembered to do this!
  3. Top-down Sleeves: Since I had just taken a top-down sweater knitting class that taught me how to do top-down set-in sleeves, it was the perfect moment to tackle this maneuver. Vera Sanon has an amazing trick that I will be using from now on – using a Size 0 needle to pick up the stitches! Do it, and you’ll see that basically a needle this size mimics the tight fit that a sewn in sleeve gets. You can use this wherever you are picking up stitches. Never thought or heard of this before, and it is brilliant. See how good that   looks?image
  4. Bigger Sleeves: I also had to modify the sleeves, because the directions are not written for women who have “real” arms. I increased after the sleevecap  a bit, and then did the decreases, and generally made the sleeves bigger overall, which you can see a bit in the photo above. I actually knit most of the sleeves twice to get them the right size.
  5. Button and neck bands: I also used the Size 0 needle to pick up stitches here, and put more stitches into the band, a la Sally Melville’s Knitting Pattern Essentials. Most patterns will assume a 3 stitches to 4 rows proportion for a stockinette background, but Sally Melville has refined this ratio significantly, and they come out better. Then, when I was binding off the button bands (in 2×2 ribbing), I knit the knit stitches, but did a purl 2 together for the purls – why? In order to make that edge firm. I always think the bind-offs there look messy, and I think you’ll agree I got a clean line (that isn’t too tight).image
  6. TULIPS buttonhole: The pattern called for a simple horizontal buttonhole – which I think is not stable and likely to grow, so I did the TECH Knitting tulips better buttonhole. It is firm, completely stable and looks like “two lips” in the photo above.  Check out the video tutorial on this one as well!

A Sentimental Touch

The last bit that makes this sweater special is that I recycled some buttons from an older sweater. It was the last sweater that I knit for my mom –

 

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Before it was thrown in the washer and felted.

and an aide for her took this beautiful sweater and had it go through the washer, and ruined it (not bitter, really not bitter). Since my mom was a second mom to Marie, I thought it only right that she get these special buttons on her sweater.

It was fun to try some new and older techniques and materials into a new sweater. I wonder what I’ll learn on the next one?

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Other Ways

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This year, with my right leg still in recovery mode (yes, it’s getting better, very slowly), I passed on going to fiber and knitting expos this month, which means missing both Madrona Fiber Arts  (which is on my bucket list) and Stitches West (which has been an easy commute  for years – and now a little longer). That’s not really a bad thing, as last year I went to both Stitches West and Vogue Knitting Live, and have the yarn in the stash to prove it. In fact, I have plenty of wonderful yarn that I’m excited to knit. I may still go to Vogue Knitting Live in May, as it is a fairly easy drive, and I can see family and friends down there too.

But seeing beautiful yarn and accessories is only one of the attractions of these events – I love to learn new things at them too. Fortunately, my local knitting guild is all kinds of awesome, and they contracted with a knitting teacher, Vera Sanon, to come to our guild to teach various ways to knit Top-Down sweaters; the guild footed half of the bill on top, plus there was no conference overhead to pay for, so the class was about a third of the price it would be if it were at a big name conference.

And we learned a lot! I’ve knit a few top-down sweaters, mostly for babies and I think one for my mom, I haven’t been wild about the usual construction – called raglan – which is best for athletics builds with no boobs. I look better in set-in sleeves, as do lot’s of women, and we got to learn a bunch of ways to do them. I also loved her warning us about certain construction methods that have downsides too – so we don’t pick patterns that will lead us to tears. There should be no crying in knitting!

The other plus with Vera is that she also lives in a warm climate so most of her sweaters are out of fingering and DK weight yarns – knit looser for drape and to keep cool. Here are some of her beautiful sweaters:

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What a table of gorgeous knitting. And this is a back detail of a sweater that I am itching to start, called the Sara Lace Cardigan (rav link), which, if you do short sleeves, can be knit out of one skein of lace-weight yarn:

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I’ve got the perfect yarn from last year’s Vogue-knitting event to use:

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In the meantime, the fronts of the cardigan I’m knitting for my cousin are now done, and conveniently, I can apply what I’ve learned in my class to knitting the sleeves top-down. The fronts of the cardigan are the feature with a twig and leaf in relief. Even Izzie was impressed:

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Along the way, I am also knitting socks for Afghans for Afghans. It’s a great organization, and we are knitting baby hats and baby socks for a maternity hospital in Afghanistan. Join me, won’t you? Our group on Ravelry is the best, and we list a bunch of free patterns to use. Baby things like these are terrific for using up odd balls and leftover partial skeins of yarn!

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