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.
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 and espresso chili.)
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.
I need your help! I have a couple hats in progress, one for me and one for Lila. I also have 3 faux fur pom poms, because I couldn’t decide which colour would work best. Not that having 3 to choose from is helping much, mind you. So will you help me play matchmaker with
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Friday. That’s the day we’re supposed to be ready (except for the knitting) and though I suppose progress is being made, I’m starting to feel the pressure of the little details. You know, small things like needing a huge number of cookies baked or a mammoth amount of groceries even though the car broke down, and things are getting tight. I’ve responded to this in several inappropriate ways, like considering cocktails at three in the afternoon, repeatedly looking over the spreadsheet while sighing deeply, or setting calendar alerts that remind me to worry about all of this in July of next year.
I think the strain is starting to interfere with clear thinking. This morning I consulted the spreadsheet, saw that today is the day I’m to start the ice lanterns for Solstice, and then spent 25 minutes hopelessly cleaning out the fridge freezer to make room for the molds, dejectedly realized it isn’t remotely possible unless I throw away all our food, declared defeat and reconciled myself to a holiday without lanterns, and then walked to the post office to mail a few last minute far-away things. I was stomping along, wishing I could feel my feet, shivering and wondering why I hadn’t worn my long underwear, when it occurred to me that Canada *IS* a freezer at present, and I returned home to fill the molds and set them outside. I’m pretty sure that the backyard is much colder than the freezer – and suddenly I find myself hoping it stays that way.
Another pair of socks is done, perfectly matching and ideal for the recipient, who really likes things that way – and a little sweater is just a few rows away from finished, and that means I’ve spent the day watching for the post truck, and opening the front door and checking the porch to see if I missed it coming, despite my constant vigilance. It has not. The yarn I need for the next round is still out in the world somewhere, though I know it’s in the country – it can’t be long now, and I’m starting to get nervous. I can start more socks, but…. slippers, a cowl, and a sweater are on in the wind as I type this, and tomorrow I might snap and go to a yarn store to see if I can buy something to be a stopgap. I’ll bake some cookies, vacuum half a cat off of the carpet, wrap a few things and see what happens next. I know patience is supposed to be a virtue, but the solid week of knitting is supposed to start on Saturday when Joe leaves town, and I’m starting to get sweaty. (Hold on. I’m just going to check the porch again…. Nope.) Let’s do gifts for knitters. Maybe it will be here after that.
Gifts for Knitters: Day 11
There are not many generalizations that we can make about knitters, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: Knitters love bags. Few and far between are the knitter’s who don’t have a bunch of them, and don’t want another. The odds are pretty good that a bag will be well received, especially if it’s knitter-specific. Tom Bihn’s Swift was designed by knitters, for knitters, and is tried and true. New to me, but admired by a quilter friend who spotted them in person, My Stow-n-tow look good, and are machine washable and have no zippers or velcro. (These are two of knitting’s natural enemies.) Della Q has quite a few to choose from, and I’ve been carrying a Lexi Barnes for (literally) years and years. If you’re thinking a little more upscale, I’m wild about these from Jul Designs, one that says Make, and the other (appropriately) Knit.
Gifts for Knitters: Day 12
You got a bag last year? That’s cool, you can still stay with that theme, because knitters like bags that go in bags. Project bags are fun, knitters need tons of them (they keep yarn from (theoriticaly) tangling with your knitter’s keys or headphones) and they’re super fun to shop for, because I promise, no matter what your knitter is into – there’s totally a project bag for them. There’s fabulous box bags from Splityarn (I can’t get enough of them) I think Binkwaffle dumpling bags are sweet, wedge bags are nifty, Tom Bihn stuff sacks are classic (I like the ones with clear bottoms so I can see what’s in them) or, hunt up one that suits your knitter. Get one with yarn on it, or cats, or dragons, or hedgehogs or (here it comes Tall Allison) get a Doctor Who themed one.
Gifts for Knitters: Day 13
I know there’s only a small chance this could work for your house and your knitter, but if it’s even remotely possible… you should buy knitting wallpaper.
(PS. the yarn still isn’t here.)
I’ve barely begun my Christmas shopping, so if you are anything like me and have some kids to buy for, why not help get the love of knitting started early and get them a knitting themed kid’s book? Knitting Books for Toddlers: Ages 2-4 Clockwise from top Left: Knitty Kitty: This is a great book
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We’re home again, after travelling westward from Quebec in a snowstorm yesterday, and I think that the whole adventure was a grand success, if you use that metric that I do, which is to say that my legs are not broken, some knitting was accomplished, and I didn’t meet anyone on the ski patrol in a formal sense.
I skied, and this time there were a few moments that approached graceful, a few stretches where the skiing was easier than it has been in the past, and some periods of time where the panic I usually feel was downgraded to mild concern. The thing about being a new skier is that everything I do is the first time I’ve done it, and that means there’s a lot of empirical learning. I’d be headed down a run, thinking about how well it was going, and there would be a flash of a wee dark thing in my way, and before I could make up my mind about anything, I’d be face down in a snowbank, with Joe standing over me saying “Honey, you should really go around rocks.” (It is a credit to the sort of person I am that I did not once reply to this the way I wanted to, which was to say something like “YA THINK”, but instead murmured “Good tip” into the snow.) The truth is that I still lack the skill to make a whole lot of choices while I’m on skis, and I live in fear of one of the toddlers that skis faster than me getting in my way because I’ve really got no guaranteed way of going around them if they fall. (Luckily, it turns out that most or them ski better than I do – though this time there was a particularly inept six year old who struggled to keep up with me.)
My biggest claims to fame this time around were that I didn’t fall off the lift even once (big improvement, I believe last time there was only once I didn’t fall off the lift) and that I can now proudly state that I can turn to my right at will – approximately 95% of the time. (That remaining 5% remains troublesome, unpredictable, and usually results in me sliding backwards down the mountain while smiling at the six year old like I planned it and it’s all part of my “style”.)
I remain, as I was the first time, particularly good at Apres-ski. and much knitting was accomplished – leaving me only mostly behind on the Christmas knitting, not totally behind, as I’d feared. I finished the Tool Box Cowl –
I freely admit that it was so cold while we were skiing that pretty much the minute I finished it, I wore it. I know that’s not standard operating orders for a Christmas Gift, but I was really cold, and I’m sure the recipient won’t mind that I tested it. (For the record, it is cozy. I had my cashmere Pretty Thing on first, and that over top. It was almost enough against the -20.)
I also finished two pairs of socks –
Almost. One pair’s a secret, I’ll show you later, and that pair above was almost finished on the way home, I’ll make short work of it this evening. (Anybody who guessed the colourway was MustStash R2D2 from the series “These are the droids you are seeking” nailed it.)
Joe and I are still on track to finish getting ready by Friday, if the next few days are magical. I ran an errand or two on the way home from the dentist this morning… and now there’s a little wrapping and baking, and a few things on Joe’s list that I’m trying not to worry about, because it’s Joe’s list. I’m focusing my concern on the fact that my yarn isn’t here yet, but hold out hope for tomorrow. Cross your needles, I’ll be ready for it then.
Shall I get start getting caught up again?
Gifts for Knitters: Day 9
Looking for something fun for your knitter’s stocking? Good for you. Lots of knitters have knitting tattoos, but if your knitter isn’t the sort to commit, how about some temporary ones, just for fun? There’s these ones from Ragline Knits, and these ones from Soak, and these ones for the multicraftual, and then these bad boys from Tilly Flop. (I can quietly admit here that I think these are my favourites. Your knitter may vary.) There’s also knit related nail wraps here and here and here. (If you don’t know what a nail wrap is, your knitter might not be into that.)
Gifts for knitters Day 10
Look, I know we’re all having a good time here, and I don’t want to harsh on anyone’s mellow or bring up upsetting things, but the truth is that your knitter has a mortal enemy or two, and helping to defend against their dark arts would make you a hero on the side of light. I speak here, of Moths. There’s lots of stuff to help. You can consider some of the natural deterrents out there like traps, or some natural deterrents, like this moth chaser, or this repellent, or this one, or cedar stuff. These blocks are a charming weapon, or you can buy bulk. If you know your enemy already dwells too close, think about this. I don’t know if it works of not, but as a knitter, I really dig the phrase “no survivors.”
The Brooklyn Tweed Winter 2017 Collection just launched 16 wonderful new patterns, earlier than they usually arrive@! In the past, Brooklyn Tweed has put out it’s winter collection in January. This collection is garment focused, This is a cardigan-heavy collection with seven cardigans (although some may be more of the ‘really big shrug’ variety), five pullovers, two scarves, and one
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The winner of the Within: Knitting Patterns to Warm the Soul collection is……… Jane! Random.org selected her winning comment: “I would have to knit Timber (though it might be more practical to attempt Tread this time of year . . . ). Timber is the perfect relaxed cardigan – my favourite kind! “ Congrats, Jane!
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My Favourite Articles and Links This Week Trying to problem solve? Go for a walk with the intention to think about the problem. 2016 is widely acknowledged to have been a lousy year, but there have also been awesome things that happened in 2016 – here’s 99 great things that happened in 2016. I love the very
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1. This morning Joe and I got up at 6am and got our scene together, and went to the airport. We have a coffee maker where you pour the beans into it, and then it makes one cup of coffee at a time. This morning, I got the only cup of coffee in the house before it ran out.
2. Joe is pretending not to care but I think it is a strain on our relationship.
3. Not as much as a strain as it would be if he got the last cup, I think.
4. I knit at the meeting last night but I didn’t finish a sock.
5. That puts me a little behind but I am trying not to panic because today is a new day.
6. The Tool Box Cowl is bigger but still not done but I hope today is the day because I am sort of panicking about that one. I can handle a single day where I don’t meet a deadline, but two days in a row could start to be a trend.
7. We’re in Quebec City and it is properly cold and snowy.
8. Gifts for knitters: Day 8. (See what I did there?) No matter what your knitter is in to, knit wise, they need to block their knits. How they block things is going to depend a lot on what they make, but there’s some stuff that’s useful to everyone. For sure, your knitter would find a use for a blocking mat (they roll up and don’t take much space) or a set of these foam tiles that lock together.* (They’re a little less chic, but it’s super cool that you can put them together into the shape you want. If your knitter makes everything from sweaters to scarves to shawls, that could be a plus.) Toss in some T-pins, and you’re good. If your knitter makes lace, then they might love a kit with wires. This Inspinknity set is good (and there’s several types there.) This set is just fine, and I’ve owned this set forever. (I actually own those, and the Inspinknity ones, and use them together often.) If you’re the handy type of non-knitter, you could totally make your knitter a set of blocking wires, and they’d love it. They appreciate things you make yourself, it’s totally what they’re into. I promise
*Yes. If you think you saw some foam floor tiles like that at the Home Depot or Canadian Tire, you’re right. They’re the same. Can totally be cheaper if you find them on sale. Do it.
Within: Knitting Patterns to Warm the Soul (that’s the full title!) Is a 6-pattern collection from Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook, a talented duo who make teaming up to do pattern collections look like a genius idea. The collection includes a cardigan, a pullover, a hat, a scarf, a shawl, and a pair of mittens.
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I know it seems really unlikely, but I think things are okay over here. I think this even though my yarn hasn’t arrived (it’s okay, I have lots to knit) and even though there’s not a lot of finished anything kicking around. I think this even though I’ve spent a big chunk of the day getting ready for a meeting tonight, and even though I’ve got to go to that meeting. (It’s okay, I’ll knit on the subway on the way there, and at the meeting, and on the way home. Everybody at the meeting is used to me by now.) I think this despite the fact that I’m not (quite) packed for a little trip Joe and I are taking tomorrow – and I think this even though it’s a ski trip (apparently I ski now. I was wondering if that was a one off last year, but Joe’s really into it) and even though you can’t knit while you are skiing, or while you’re recovering from the broken arm I worry about getting while skiing. (I’m not very good.)
I think this even though that cowl (it’s another Tool Box Cowl, this time knit from a Lorna’s Laces String Quintet called “Flute”) is sort of just started, not “almost finished”, which is what I just almost typed, and I do believe it’s all going to be just fine. (Pardon me while I tidy the dining room, a wrapping paper bomb seems to have gone off in there.) I know all of this seems delusional, and there’s no way all of this is going to get done, but it doesn’t feel that way today. Today, I’m a lady with hope, and that could just be because I finished up arranging the stockings with Santa yesterday, or it could be because it seems like there’s still a lot of time – but I absolutely feel like I’ve got this. I’m sure I do.
Gifts for knitters: Day 6
Short and sweet, if your knitter wears tee shirts. This one is a total classic (and I’m wearing it right now – trust me, even if you don’t get it, your knitter will.) If your knitter’s a guy? How about this one?
Gifts for knitters: Day 7 (Look at that! All caught up.)
How about a little pottery? Jennie the Potter is a fabulous thing, especially on the 15th of this month, which she has her next shop update. If that’s not your knitters thing, check out Creative with Clay. There’s mugs, and bowls, all with knitting on them. Still not right? How about a sheep mug? Not that one? How about this one? Personally, I think I like this one.
You know what, I’m just going to say it. I forgot to order yarn for Christmas presents. There. It’s out, and I feel so much better. I’d toyed with telling you something else, just adding a few projects in a few days and pretending that it had been my plan all along, but we’re too close for that. The total and honest truth is that I forgot to write it on the spreadsheet, and it didn’t get done. I wrote down the things I was going to make by names on the sheet, and nodded to myself like it was all arranged, and wandered off to do something like knit a Santa Mouse. I didn’t really realize what had happened until yesterday when I went to knit the yarn I didn’t have and it all came together. (Subtle sign, that one.) I’ve ordered it now (really, not just psychically) and I’m sure it will be here as quickly as the border allows, and everything is going to be fine because it’s not like I don’t have things to do. The plan between now and Christmas is (don’t panic, I’m not panicking) Two sweaters, two cowls, a hat, some slippers, and four pairs of socks.
I’m only waiting on the yarn for the sweaters, one cowl, the hat and slippers. Everything else (that’s a cowl and four pairs of socks, is already on the needles, or at least…. here. It’s going to be a little tight, but fine, and maybe I’ll get all that stuff out of the way while I’m waiting for the yarn to arrive. It’s funny, but I really sort of think that getting everything cast on helps. I know it doesn’t, I know it can’t matter at all, but there’s something about having it all started that makes it seem like it’s going to get finished. Godspeed, little box of yarn.
Gifts for Knitters: Day 4
Now, not all knitters like trinkets and shiny things, but you’ll know if yours does, and if it sounds like him or her, then you can score major points by combining two things that they like, and get some knitting themed jewelry. I hunted around for a bit, and I found this pin (complete with real knitted brass) a cable needle pendant, a ring that’s a knitting needle (bonus, you don’t need to know their ring size) one that looks like knitted fabric, another pendant that’s pretty funny, little sterling balls of yarn earrings, Schoolhouse press has some beautiful things. If you think your knitter would like making their own jewelry, Laura sells some pretty kits, and there’s a funky necklace kit here. There’s lots out there, good luck!
Gifts for Knitters: Day 5
This one will likely seem a little odd to those of you who don’t knit, and think that maybe a knitter would only need one of these – but the mighty needle gauge is a fleeting thing, most knitters struggle to put their hands on one, even though they own several. It’s a safe bet that your knitter would welcome another, even if they’ve got one or ten. There’s ones with birds, or a peacock. Shoes and sheep, ones that are necklaces, like this or this one in sterling silver. You can even get them one with their name on it, so that maybe they won’t lose it as fast, or a Doctor Who one (I threw that in just for Tall Allison. We’ll see if she’s paying attention.)
Any needle gauge is good, I promise, remember though, the most useful ones have both American and Metric sizes on them. Go forth and find one. Or ten. Really, we can’t have too many.
PS: See that? I’m almost caught up.
This time of year fills me with a sort of general, vague panic. Just the creeping feeling, omnipresent and pervasive, that I have forgotten something, fallen behind on something or am about to light the holidays on fire (metaphorically speaking.) I’ve got all kinds of strategies for staying on track, most of all the mighty Christmas Spreadsheet, but mostly I’ve learned that I feel this way because there’s always something that I actually am falling behind on, forgotten or have (occasionally literally) lit on fire. (Usually cookies.) I love having a large family that does Christmas big, but it means there’s a lot of moving parts. This year, I wasn’t doing too badly. I was working the spreadsheet, getting stuff in order, pulling it together, and Joe had his list, and he was working hard on it. It was looking pretty good, something getting done every day, until Joe came to me – handed me a glass of wine (never a good sign) and said “Thing is, I’ve got to go out of town.” Turns out that as much as he’d like to avoid it, he’s got another work trip to make this year.
I took a sip of my drink and thought about that, and decided what I wouldn’t say, which was something about abandonment, and being a team player and how if this meant I had to go to the mall twice or something unreasonable like that, it was right the hell out. I also decided against reminding him that for years and years we’ve had a deal. I cook, clean, knit, organize, make lists, hand out lists, wrap, remind him what we need and when we need it by, and he goes to the store. I hate the store. The store is his. As much as Joe would rather wax his armpits than make cookies, that’s how much I don’t want to go Christmas shopping, and I am willing to do a million other things to avoid it. I thought about laying all that on him, thought about telling him that there is no bloody way that I am going to be here by myself pulling together this whole thing while he’s in a hotel room and not running out of tape at all, while I stand in a queue at The Bay with meringue in my hair, desperately knitting a sock while trying to buy the last stupid roll of wrapping paper in Toronto, even though it’s ugly.
I said none of that. I took a deep breath, and asked him when, and for how long. The answer was the worst possible. A week. The week before Christmas. Okay then. I took more deep breaths, and Joe asked if that was going to be okay, and said maybe he didn’t have to, and I thought about it, and thought about how hard he works to make things nice, and then I didn’t say what I was thinking, which was something about how it really wasn’t, and then I went to the spreadsheet, and had a good look. Then I finished my wine, went back to Joe and told him that it was totally fine, if we made one change.
We will be finished before he leaves. We’ll do it all before he gets on a plane. All the shopping, all the wrapping, all the stocking stuffers, the whole thing with the tree. Everything that’s going in jars, everything that needs printing, the stupid trip to IKEA -all of it. He can go, and I’ll smile and drive him to the airport and wish him well, and he can feel great about it and I will too – if we’re all done. “No problem” he said, and I know he meant it. I started changing things on the spreadsheet, and we made a plan to go get a tree, and started to get stuff out of boxes and pull it together – and then Joe stopped, frozen in his tracks, and said “Wait… All of it?” I nodded. “All of it. No exceptions.”
He looked at me stunned, and I couldn’t quite figure out what he was worried about. We have a list. We’ll work the list, and be ready a week early. Boom. No problem. It was kinda exciting, actually. “Everything.” I said, and Joe said “But… not all of it? Not….. ” he paused, and I could tell that he was about to drop something huge. I looked at him questioningly, and finally he said it. “Not the knitting though… I mean….”
I almost laughed. “Of course not the knitting Joe. Get real.”
Gifts for Knitters: Days 1, 2 and 3. (See, I’m going to catch up.)
It’s tradition around these parts, for me to provide ideas for those who love knitters and are tasked with buying gifts for them this time of year. I know that if you love a knitter, and want to get them a present that they’ll love, that it can be confusing to know what you should get, or where to find it, or if it’s any good. To that end, I’ve got a list for you. Not everything is going to be right for every knitter, but if you keep an eye out, there should be something that works for yours.
Day 1: A swift. Does your knitter ever ask you to stand with your hands out, holding a skein of yarn for them? Do you see them with yarn draped over chair backs, or sitting with their legs out, yarn held by their feet while they wind it into a ball? If so, they need a swift. A swift is a yarn holder that replaces … well, you. Buy one of these, and you never have to do it again. There’s all sorts of them. The basic entry level one looks like this, and that works for most knitters -but can be squeaky, and doesn’t last forever. Still, a good start. If your knitter has that kind and complains about it, you could upgrade them to a wooden one, and these are a little nicer. If they have one of those, or you want to get a really great one, take a look at these. They’re hand made, wooden, don’t clamp to anything (the clamping thing can be hard, depending on your furniture) and don’t squeak. They’re beautiful.
Day 2: A yarn bowl. Now, these aren’t for every knitter. Knitters who knit everywhere, trucking their project from place to place, they might not need one of these. If your knitter is the stationary type though, a yarn bowl can be a nice thing. They plunk the ball of yarn in it, and then it doesn’t roll around or get covered with cat hair. There’s wooden ones, and ceramic ones, and Doctor Who ones, and … you get the idea. There’s got to be something on this page that suits.
Day 3: Knitting needle organizers. Look around your house. Somewhere there might be a nest of knitting needles. If they mostly are long and straight, then your knitter might like a knitting needle organizer for straight needles. There’s lots of kinds, but these roll up ones are pretty good. If you see mostly straight needles, but they’re short and fine, then think about grabbing one of these. They’re from Handwork Hardware, and they sort the needles by size (trust me, that’s a great thing) and store them too. I’ve got one, and it’s reduced needle related swearing incidents quite a bit. If your knitter mostly has needles that have a cable connecting them, then they’re into circulars. You can get a hanging one like this, or like this, or – if your knitter seems more the type, there are cloth folders like this, or this. If your knitter has all kinds, or you’re looking for something a little fancier, look no further than Grace’s Cases. (She’ll even do a custom one, and if your knitter is a guy, she’s got ones that are made from suit fabric.)
Original Pattern: Rebus Socks Knitter Extraordinaire: Virpi (Ravelry ID) Mods: Virpi changed the way the gusset fit on the sock, and added an instarsia moose! Details can be found on her project page, here. What Makes This Awesome: It is always worth customizing the fit, especially if you know that the arches of your feet
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