The same place

I was going to post yesterday, but truth be told, I spent most of my blogging time reading comments. You guys really know how to go to town, don’t you? I’ve read all of them now (I think, there are really a lot) and I want to say how much I appreciate that for the very largest part, that there can be respectful disagreement, and that it can be handled decently.  You guys are awesome in the kindness department. While I was reading, it turns out that I didn’t really get off the rainbow train, because another wee thing fell off my needles.  It doesn’t exactly match the bootees, because it was made from the leftover Dream in Color passed on to me by a generous knitting buddy, but it’s darned nice – it’s a little bigger too, not a newborn size, which is a good thing. Impending Grandson arrives at the tail end of April, and as much as it doesn’t feel like it right now, winter will be over. This one should fit him in the fall – when the winter (sigh) comes back.

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Pattern: Tulips (size 6-9m)  Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, and I don’t know the colours because the labels are long ago gone. They’re darling though – and yes, I know this is probably the 6th time I’ve knit this sweater, and no, I’m not even a little sick of it.

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I cast on some bright socks too, as antidote for the next thing on my needles, which is a big squishy warm and cozy cowl for me, knit out of my new yarn crush, Får, from Woolfolk. (I actually like it so much that I came a hair’s breadth from ordering a sweaters worth ten minutes after I finished my swatch. It’s freakin’ delicious.)

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I decided to knit Grus, and I swatched, then merrily cast on for the larger version. 8 (rather long) rounds later, I realized that things weren’t lining up right, thought about tinking back to figure out where it had gone wrong, realized that I’d failed counting to 4 really early on (and more than once) vowed for the 2824745th time in my knitting career not to establish patterns when I wasn’t concentrating (or when I was chatting with Jen and having a glass of wine – rookie move, that)

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and ripped it back –

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and started again. This time, free of the distractions of anything fun or charming, it turns out that I can count to four as many times as I would like, as long as nobody interrupts, me.

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If I am ever the sort of person who has a gagillion dollars, I am going to fund a study to discover what it is about knitting that destroys an otherwise clever person’s ability to count, while still leaving their other skills intact.  Say it with me. 1. 2. 3. 4. Repeat.

Rainbow Boy

Right now, Luis’ favourite book at our house is The Rainbow Bear. My girls loved it too, and I took it out from the book bin just before Christmas because I though that Lou was ready for the sad story of a bear who just wanted to be  colourful, and lived out the downside of trying to be something you’re not, learning that each of us is supposed to be exactly as we are for things to work right. Maybe that was in my mind, or maybe it’s the winter grey that’s getting to me, but this weekend I sat myself down, and made my impending grandson a pair of bootees. I’d saved the leftovers from a pair of Rainbow socks a while back, with this exactly in mind. (Well, bootees in mind, but not bootees for my grandson. He was a sparkle in his mother’s eye when I saved it.)

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I was totally right about the book. Luis loves it, and I was knitting the bootees on the subway a few days ago, feeling cheerful and happy about the whole thing, when a very nice lady sat down beside me and asked what I was making.  I told her my daughter was expecting a baby, and that I was making bootees.  “Oh, it’s a girl!” she chirped, and I paused for a second, and then said that it was a boy.

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She looked at me for a minute, and I could tell that we were entering a fragile moment, one that we were going to disagree on, and this being Canada we’re good at disagreeing politely in public, and so she said “Goodness. Aren’t those a little… girly, for a boy?”

Now, since we are good at disagreeing in public, I did tell her what I thought, and I was gentle. “No” I said. “I don’t think it matters.” She looked at me for a minute, and she said “You’re right. He’ll be tiny. It won’t matter.” I looked at her for a second, and I said “Oh, I think it’s fine in general” and then she said this. “Of course – though when he’s bigger, you won’t want someone taking him for a girl.”

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We didn’t go any further than that, it was the subway, after all. Here’s the thing though – I think what happened there was pretty sexist. Not the overt sort of sexism that’s wound up with women having a significant pay gap, or men still owning most of the property and having most of the money (despite women having most of the education, but that’s a fight for another post.) I mean – and let me be perfectly, absolutely, fantastically clear… I think that if you’re worried about what would happen if a boy is taken for a girl, then you’re sexist. It means that you have a plan – whether you’re aware of it or not. It means that you treat boys one way, and girls another, and that you think you need to know if a baby is a boy or a girl, and that there would be consequences of some kind if you got it wrong.

When someone says “What if they were taken for a girl?” It tells me right that minute that you think that would be a problem. You can say all  you like, lady on the subway, that you think boys and girls are equal, but you’ve just revealed that you don’t think the same systems apply – and I’ll ask you this… What if? What if someone took my grandson for a girl? What if they absolutely took a look at this wee human with his gorgeous rainbow feet, and got his gender wrong, and treated him like a girl? What would happen then? What were you planning on doing differently?

If the answer is nothing, my commuting compatriot, then why do you need to know? I understand that there are problems here. That there are things that we think of as manly, and things that are feminine, and that there’s a whole great big system at work and it’s complicated, and hard to buck against, and I’m not saying that there aren’t families and parents where boys have to wear boy clothes, and girls have to wear girl clothes (and live with the fact that there are no goddamn pockets in the garb of the latter) and I am totally copping to the fact that from time to time, I feel the pressures of all of those things,  but here we speak of bootees. Tiny socks for a tiny person, and wouldn’t it be so nice if we could just begin their time on this earth truly thinking for one little minute that the sort of socks that they wear won’t have a huge impact on what happens, and how people treat them?

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On the other hand, we live in a world where girls make less money (globally, 60-75% less) hold less power, do a disproportionate amount of caregiving, and have a 1 in 4 chance (and that’s in North America) of being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, and where someone who is about to be the President of the United States can talk about grabbing women’s privates because he’s powerful – and it will be dismissed by enough people as unimportant (or the way that men talk) that he will still win. So maybe, if I’m being kind… maybe the lady on the subway was just trying to keep our little human safe, because there are very real consequences to being a girl.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled knitting, rather apologetically.

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Undone

The Christmas is coming off the house. The tree is down, an epic struggle to gather up all the needles begun. I keep finding them all over the house. I’ll vacuum, sweep, and heave a sigh of relief that it’s all done, and then there will be more. Stuck to the bottom of socks, down the side of a chair that was by the thing, two in the curtains by the window, and as I wrestled it out the front door, it appears to have shed the equivalent of a small shrub into the shoes on the shoe rack. The decorations are all put away, stocking stuffers are making their way into drawers and coming into use. The cookies are all eaten, and in a desperate attempt to end it all, I threw away three candy canes yesterday. I don’t even know how they got here. It’s starting to be the end of Christmas for knitting too…

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Only a half a sock (and two heels -I’ll do afterthought ones) stand between me and being totally finished – it’s another big man sock, so it’s going on forever, and I’m thinking about having a party when this pair is done. I have this wild fantasy that as soon I finish it I’ll immediately cast on something for me, but some sensible part of me wonders if I shouldn’t begin a huge pair for next year straight off. At least it couldn’t come down to big man socks again. (It is worth noting that I don’t think I have it in me to do this, but surely I can be awarded points for considering it.)  Joe’s socks were blocked and dry this morning, and he put them on for a test wear.

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Yarn: Alisha Goes Around, Descent of Woodpeckers – fingering weight. Needles: 2.25mm Pattern: Barrel Riders.

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They fit, he loves them, and I am ready to knit something bright, colourful and… small. There’s a reason that my friend Denny says that this time of year isn’t for neutral stuff. The world outside is drab, to say the least. Bright and sunny days are few and far between, the days still short, the nights still long. As lovely as that colourway is, it has too much in common with my frozen garden and the bare trees all around me, and I’m glad it’s over.  Now is the time to knit a rainbow.

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Just knit faster

For a few days, I’ve been knitting the second to last pair of socks that I owe Christmas. (So there, you have it. I didn’t finish on time – by a lot.) One pair is for someone I haven’t seen over the holiday, so no rush there, and the other is a pair or socks I’ve been knitting for Joe. I explained to him that if we went skiing, he wouldn’t get socks until after the trip, and for some insane reason he chose the skiing. (I think maybe he has too many pairs of handknit socks for them to be proper leverage. I may withdraw supply.)  Have I ever mentioned that his feet are enormous? Hear me now, young knitters, If I had my life to live over again, I think I’d work harder at cultivating affection for small men. Near the end of every pair of big socks, I imagine the glee of a knitter who’s mate has tiny feet.  Big socks aren’t just a thing because they go on so long (although that is certainly something) but there’s a yarn problem as well.  A single skein doesn’t usually cut it for the people in my life with snowshoe feet, I usually end up with a contrasting heel and toe, adding another skein, something – but the point is that I can’t just walk into the stash, grab a skein of sock yarn and think that I’m going to pound out a pair of socks for Joe. I’ll run out. I know I will.

For the pair I just finished for him, I decided to chance it. I had a skein of yarn I really liked (Alisha Goes Around –  Descent of Woodpeckers. No link because I think she’s done making yarn, is she? Bueller?) I was going to hunt up something matchy for the cuff, heel and toe, and then I noticed that the pattern, Barrel Rider, said that it would be enough yarn. Now, I’ve been tricked by that before, but I was feeling wild, so I went ahead. I finished the first sock on the plane home, and sat there – remaining ball in one hand and the sock in the other, trying to be a human scale. Was the sock heavier? Maybe? I started the second one (because I was on a plane. What choice did I have?) and resolved to weigh things when I got home and make sure I wasn’t wasting my time. Well, when I got home, it turned out that the battery in my scale was done, and going to the store for another seemed really traumatic. (Did I mention I have a cold? They make me alternately angry and sure I am unloved. Neither of those people should go to the store.) I decided to keep going, and told Joe that if I ran out of yarn I would knit a pink toe on it.

I’m pretty sure he thought I was kidding. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. The game of yarn chicken continued, with me knitting faster and faster, trying to outrun the yarn, and up until just a few rows from the end, the suspense was killing me.

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I don’t know why I worried. There was tons left.

Like she says

I have a young friend, she’s pretty little, and we have heart to heart conversations from time to time, and when things are extra meaningful to her, when she really wants you to understand that what’s she’s saying is important, or that you’ve come to the significant part, she’ll tell you and then tack on “IN REAL LIFE.”  I don’t know if it’s because kids today are so well acquainted with all the ways that something can be not real life, like TV or movies or games or cartoons or that maybe the world is getting strange enough that a little kid could be concerned that you thought that things weren’t really happening to her, but to her avatar, but her choice of words always makes me smile. “And then, Auntie Stephie, the big wave came, and it was so high, and it was coming nearer to me, and then it knocked me down.. IN REAL LIFE.”

I was going to come here and apologize for being gone so long, and explain that it was the holiday and then Joe and I went to Edmonton just before the New Year for his work and then we went skiing at Jasper and that whole time that I wasn’t at home the IP address I was at was blocked and the stupid helpdesk who could fix it had a 4 hour wait (because secretly, I think this was a worldwide plot) and I couldn’t connect to the blog from away, and then when we got back late on Thursday night I had a cold and… I thought about telling you all of that, but the truth is that I probably could have gotten here… except for the IP thing, but for one thing, and that was that things kept happening to me IN REAL LIFE.

I would be walking towards the computer, and something would happen. A person who was present would be in front of me, and they’d ask me to do something with them, or for them, and I’d glance over at my laptop, then at their face, and then I’d think “I’ll get to the blog later. They’ll understand.” and off I’d go. Over and over things like this:

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solsticecandles-2017-01-06 luisxmascookies-2017-01-06 samsings-2017-01-06 megalexlou-2017-01-06 santamouse-2017-01-06 frankielight-2017-01-06 erinandco-2017-01-06 lalthekids-2017-01-06

erinandicookies-2017-01-09 louknits-2017-01-06 kidsandlou-2017-01-06 newyears-2017-01-06  ice-lanterns-2017-01-09 familyselfie-2017-01-09 thewitches-2017-01-09 megandalexlou-2017-01-09

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It was all I could do to keep up. IN REAL LIFE. In any case, I’m back, and my cold’s a lot better and I think I’m mostly caught up on the madness and it’s been about 30 minutes since someone asked me to do something, and I have bags of knitting to show you, and I think I’m finally going to take down the tree before it’s nothing more than a stick with ornaments on it,  and can you tell me what happened to you this holiday, IN REAL LIFE?

See you tomorrow. I mean that.

Maybe he has no idea

Last night was perfect.  I try not to get to invested in counting on things being perfect, since so much of the universe remains out of my control and it turns out that matchlessly ironed napkins guarantees no happiness (although I admit, it feels like it should) but it all came together beautifully.

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The traditional Solstice peppermint bark was finished on time, and the candles were lit,

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and the soup steamed on the stove and the ice lanterns glowed outside, and it even snowed, in a perfect, dark, and quiet solstice way.  It was amazing, and the best part was that as I set the last of the lanterns on the edge of the porch, and surrendered my fate to the universe, gave up entirely on ever being finished anything on time..

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The post truck pulled up, and a very nice man handed me my yarn.

Now, it turns out that this may or may not be as good a thing as I had hoped.  I almost thought – as I looked at the calendar and looked at the pile of yarn, that it might have been better if it hadn’t come until after Christmas. I’d have had to go to the store and buy a few presents, but it would have been okay. I could have finished things after the holidays, and avoided the whole mad knitting dash, but the package arriving on the evening of the 21st? I held it in my hands, and I felt something, and it felt like hope. Could I? That’s what I was thinking.  Could I pull off a modified plan, now that it was here? I mean, there’s no way I can make all the things I thought were doable, but…. doesn’t it seem now like it’s worth a shot? I started knitting a little faster.

I finished the first little sweater that was on the needles, and wound the yarn for the second, and at some point I texted Joe a picture of the finished sweater, and he cheered and said it looked good, and I replied that the yarn had come, and that I could start the second one.  “You’re knitting another sweater before Christmas?” he wrote.

“And a cowl.” I replied.

“Honey, you might be screwed.” he typed.

We’ll see about that, I thought, but I just typed “Good night.”  Hold onto your needles knitters, let’s just see.

 

The Longest Night

I am, dear ones, still yarn-less. The package hasn’t arrived, and I keep thinking about throwing some sort of a fit about that, but I find myself unable to work up a good head of steam about it.  Maybe it’s that so much has gone right so far, or maybe it’s that I’ve spent part of the day texting with my sister. There is a perspective in being able to do that this year, the gifts I’ve yet to make don’t seem so important when I think about the gifts we’ve already been given. Erin is reasonable well, Megan is expecting a baby, my friends and family are safe and warm.  Today is one of my favourite days of the year, and I’ve spent most of it getting ready for our gathering tonight, when so many of my favourite women will arrive here, and I’ll light the candles, and the ice lanterns, and bring light to the darkest day of the year.  It’s 3:40 as I write this, and just becoming twilight – a short day indeed. Tomorrow there will be a fraction more light, as this hemisphere moves back towards long days… when the sun reaches far into the evening.

Our Lady Rams of the Comments made a gift of posting this poem one Solstice, and I’m reposting it again today, because it’s just the loveliest thing. Read it over, light a candle, bring your loved ones close, and hold fast against the longest night.  Peace out, knitters.

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

Susan Cooper

There’s always something

Friday morning there was still no yarn, and I snapped. Jen lives near a nice yarn shop (The Purple Purl, if you’re in the hood) and she needed to stop in there for some some emergency yarn, and I thought that if she was going anyway and the yarn wasn’t here anyway, and given that Jen was coming over here that evening to do gingerbread with her kids, that the smart thing to do was to have her trot a little replacement yarn over here. There was no way I was starting the knitting rumpus of a weekend I had planned with no yarn… and besides I figured that the best way to make the yarn arrive was to replace part of it. It stands to reason that some law of the universe would mean that the box of yarn and Jen would arrive at the same time.  I called over to the shop, made a few quick decisions, and got yarn for a hat, and yarn for a little sweater. That would hold me, I thought, and I kept prepping for the party. When Jen arrived, I looked past her for the mail truck, but it wasn’t there.

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Never mind, I thought to myself. I had enough yarn now to get me through until Tuesday, and surely the yarn would be here by then.

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I knit with the yarn I had, and worked on the other tasks that I had the stuff for – and by the time that Saturday night rolled around, and Joe got on a plane after his parents Christmas party, I was ready.  I spent Sunday in my pajamas, gloriously alone, and knitting. I worked on the hat and the sweater, and I only checked the porch for the yarn about 8746 times.

Monday I was back at work, and I knit a little when I thought I could get away with it, and I made a few other non-knitting presents (I know, who knew there was such a thing around here?) and I checked the porch 847365 times. Evey time I left the house for something, I was convinced the box would be here when I came back – and every time my hopes were dashed.  The yarn didn’t come.

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Today – well, today I went to the dentist, and I picked up a few odds and ends for a gathering this evening, and I looked at that little sweater, it’s almost done, and I know I’ll finish it tonight, and … there’s no yarn. (I just checked the porch again, in case the postie left it there and I didn’t hear him. It’s still not there.)

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So, here I sit. There’s still a snowflake’s chance in hell that it will turn up today, so I’m not going to panic just yet, but I think that if I wake up tomorrow morning without it, I’ll have no choice but to come briefly undone. It was such a good plan, and to have it thwarted by the mail service is driving me wild. I’ve never had a package take this long. (It will be two weeks as of tomorrow.)  I can feel in my bones that if I give up entirely and go to the yarn shop in the morning it will be sitting there smugly when I come back, frozen and not at all contrite, satisfied with the havoc it’s wreaked on my spreadsheet. (It has occurred to me that someone might have nicked it off the porch. You hear tell of stolen packages this time of year, people making off with boxes full of gifts. It’s never happened in my neighbourhood, but imagining the look on the felons face when they discover that their plunder is a box full of yarn does have a certain entertainment value.)

Gifts for Knitters, Days 16, 17 and 18.

May I suggest a shawl pin? This will only work if your knitter wears shawls. This can be tricky because there is a weird subset of knitters who knit lots of shawls, but don’t wear them. It is not enough to know your knitter has made some, you need to have seen them try to wrap one around themselves. If you have a pin may be good. These ones at JUL are gorgeous, and I’ve always loved the ones that Romi Hill makes.  They’re like gauges and other knitting stuff though, if you hunt around, you should be able to get one that reflects your knitters style. There’s fox ones, and owl ones, leaf ones, octopus ones, Outlander ones, and yes, Tall Allison. There’s a Tardis one too.

How about knit themed linens? Dancing Sheep has this  tea towel? Not that one? Maybe this one? Tilly Flop has a great one, and if you’re thinking bigger? I love this duvet cover, and I’m pretty wild about this one too.

Finally, how about a little love for your knitters hands? You could get them a manicure, or a hand massage, or at least a nice lotion or balm. Don’t just get anything though, the knitter specific ones are designed not to stick to the yarn, or stain it. There’s lots of different companies, like Happy Hands, and Tender Shepherd, Lo-lo Bars, and Everything Balm from Goodies Unlimited. (Actually, everybody needs that stuff.)

Four packages came

I’d put off writing, hoping that that this post would be a triumphant declaration of Canada’s Postal system, and in a way it is, because four (4) packages just arrived on the porch, and my heart leapt for a moment, only to realize that they all contain things that are not yarn. I actually don’t know what they contain, since they’re addressed to Joe.  I wondered if they were things that take us another step closer to finished, so I texted him with “Open or don’t” and he said “DON’T” so I can presume that they’re boxes he’ll check off on his spreadsheet, rather than things I’ll tick off on mine.   I’ve finished another thing or two today, a little sweater is done, and a hat to go with, and I’ve spent today doing all the things that I can do without the box of yarn.

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Gingerbread dough is mixed up and chilling – and decisions have been made about what this year’s “shapes” will be. (Pato voted for ducks, an unconventional but unsurprising choice, if you speak a little Spanish, and Sam requested stars and dinosaurs, snowflakes, a hedgehog or two, and sharks. I’m still trying to figure out the festive nature of sharks, but mine is not to question why. Mine is to bake the cookies and let the rest of it sweep on by me. ) I’ve started to cook for tomorrow night’s gathering, and to do the bit of cleaning and organizing left. (If you’re curious, that’s a black beak bean and espresso chili.)

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I’ve got a some wrapping to do this evening, but when that’s done… well, so am I, box of yarn and knitting, notwithstanding. (That’s a lie. I have a few other bits tomorrow, but the back of it is broken.) If there’s any time left to me this evening I’ll go deep (and I mean deep) into the stash and see if anything in there can be pressed into service. I suspect not, since I’m well acquainted with the contents thereof, and wouldn’t have ordered a thing unless I needed it, so unless Canada Post really comes through for me tomorrow, I suspect I’ll be making time to go to a yarn store and… you know what? I don’t want to think about it. It’s snowing pretty hard right now, and the only thing worse than heading downtown this close to Christmas is heading downtown this close to Christmas after a big snow is that you can’t ride your bike to make it all civilized, so I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m going to pour myself a wee dram of whiskey, cross my fingers, and bake some cookies.  Gifts for Knitters?

Gifts for Knitters Day 14

The knitterly wallpaper was a hit yesterday, so today, let’s stick with the paper theme, and assume you have less space to devote to your knitter’s whims?  I love these cards from Tilly Flop, especially this one. (Seems appropriate.) Lots of pretty sheepy cards here at Worldknit, and if a card won’t do, maybe a notebook? Chickenboots has knitter themed tape (no, that’s not taking it too far) and I think these tags are sweet as pie.

Gifts for Knitters Day 15

Consider something to keep your knitters works of art looking beautiful. You might not know about “pills” but they’re a bane of your knitter’s existence, and away to remove them will always be good.  There’s the old school sweater stone (removes pills, but can leave behind bits of the “stone”. Still, I’ve used it and liked it.) There’s electric solutions – or there’s a nifty tool that I just love, the Gleener.  I can’t imagine a knitter not finding it useful – I use mine a lot, on handknits and storebought clothes alike.  Go forth and shop.

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