Lake County Fair 2014 – Part 2



Since my last post was mostly about my entries in this year’s Lake County Fair, I wanted to run a second post and show you some of my favorite things on display in the Arts building that were entered by other people.  The quilts are always amazing to see.  My two favorites happened to have the same subject matter:  cats.

I love the colors in this one:


I would totally display it in my house.


I love the whimsy of this one:



Speaking of cats, I also admired this bag that was entered in the sewing division:



This was one of my favorite baby blanket entries:



I love to see the knit and crochet pot holders.  The entries this year were so cute!!!  Unfortunately they weren’t displayed very well, so it was tough to get good photos:


The first place winner is all of the way on the bottom right of the photo above.  Only a corner of it can be seen, but it is a really nicely done sunflower and I love it.  Next to it, partly covered by that red ribbon, is a mug of hot cocoa.  I think the pom-pom marshmallows is such a cute idea. 


This winter bird was one of my favorites:


I’m pretty sure it was cross stitch.  It took a second place ribbon.


Here was a crocheted afghan with little dogs on it:


I also love the purple and green one hanging to the left of it.  It reminds me of cabbages growing in a garden.


This knit baby sweater and hat was really well done.  It took first place:



And here’s a children’s sweater with little sheep on it that earned a second place ribbon:



Aside from the crafts, I also enjoy seeing the antiques on display at the fair.  They are shown on the third floor of the arts building, so I always walk through to see what people have entered.  I keep saying that one of these years I will enter some of my antique sock stretcher/dryer collection.  One of these years…

Since I obviously enjoy fairs and ribbons, I thought it was so fun that some people entered their antique Lake County Fair ribbons:


How neat to see these old ribbons from years passed.  These are from 1958, and this person won a ribbon for his/her ribbon collection!


This person had so many ribbons that he/she had a flag or a banner made out of them (seen here folded up in the display case):


What a neat idea!

As much as I enjoyed this year’s fairs, I am glad that the fair season has come to a close.  I am always so tired and “all faired out” by the end of August.  I’m looking forward to next year’s fairs (and hopefully next year I’ll be a bit more prepared than I was this year), but now I’m ready for pumpkins and cider and fall leaves. 

~Happy knitting!

Lake County Fair 2014 – Part 1


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Ok, I’m all set and ready to post about the Lake County Fair this year!  Here it goes!

The fair was hopping again this year.  I could not believe how many people were present on exhibitor’s night!  It felt like more than usual as we all packed into the Arts building to see if we had won. I was literally shoulder to shoulder with other participants for most of the evening.


As always, there were so many wonderful crafts on display.  Quilts and afghans lined all of the walls, and every display case was packed.


A sample of the knit and crocheted toys on display.

A sample of the knit and crocheted toys on display.


Some of the crocheted shawls.

Some of the crocheted shawls.


I had seven entries in the fair this year, and I ribboned in four.  My Radiating Star Blanket, my On The Road Shawl, and my Linen Stitch Scarf did not place.

There were SO MANY knit shawl entries this year, and they were all so great!  Go knitters!  Clearly, I need to amp up my game for next year if I plan to enter a shawl.

So many knit shawls!

So many knit shawls!  This is only a sampling of the competition.  I wish they were displayed open so that all of the detail could be appreciated.

I did well in hats this year. 

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Both my crochet and knit hats can be seen in the case behind me: crochet hat on the stand to the left and knit hat in the front right.

I earned a first place (blue) ribbon in a rather large category of knit hats.

My lace, knit Heart Hat earned a first place ribbon and my Broken Seed Stitch Socks earned third.

My lace, knit Heart Hat earned a first place ribbon and my Broken Seed Stitch Socks earned third.



My only crochet entry this year was this Tapestry Crochet Heart Hat, and it took second place in another rather large category.  I was pleased!



I earned a third place ribbon in socks.  I entered my Broken Seed Stitch Socks that I knit in cotton/bamboo.

The winners!

The winners!  My entry is on the far left (white ribbon).

More beautiful sock entries.

More beautiful sock entries.

My Fisherman’s mittens took second place (red ribbon) to a pair of white, lace gloves.


My entry can be seen on the right of the photo. The white gloves that took first place also won the Sweepstakes Rosette for the whole knitting division (seen on the left of the photo).



Knit and crochet glove and mitten entries.

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As always, I had a great time this year.  Stay tuned for yet another post about more great crafts on exhibit at the fair.  There were so many wonderful things!

~Happy crafting!


Even More Will County Fair!

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Yesterday I posted about my participation in the knit and crochet categories in the Illinois Will County Fair.  Today, I want to share some photos of my favorite things that other people made.

But first I have to tell you that my friend Dawn is adored by all goats.


It’s true.  When she approaches, they all come running.  This little white one wouldn’t let her leave.  If you look closely, I swear the goat is smiling.



I also have to tell you that I convinced my friend Kim to enter the fair this year.  Kim likes to crochet, and she’s very artistic.  She came up with bunches of entries.  Here are two of her stuffed toys that won ribbons:

The two toys on the left were crocheted by Kim.

The two toys on the left were crocheted by Kim.


Speaking of crochet, I love this basket of flowers that someone entered.  Isn’t it great?  It is so well done.



And since we all know I’m partial to the knitters, I have to show off this fine, knit centerpiece on display.



And how about a Rubik’s Cube cake?  It just cracked me up!

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Speaking of food, my favorite (and the judge’s favorite) crocheted pot holders this year:


I speak from experience when I say that it is tough to keep finding new, fair-worthy pot holders to enter.  I love the toast and eggs! 


Lastly, I just get a huge kick out of this entry in photography:  it’s someone’s open-mouthed cat wearing a Snuggy.  From the look of that blue ribbon there, the judges appreciated it too.

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I had fun seeing all of the exhibits.  As you know, I look forward to the summer fairs every year, and this one did not disappoint.



All smiles on the day of judging.  [From left to right:  me, Dawn, Kim and Chester (Kim's dad)].

All smiles on the day of judging. [From left to right: me, Dawn, Kim and Chester (Kim’s dad)].

~Happy knitting!


Knit One…. Crochet Two…

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Since I haven’t been posting as much as I would like lately, I thought I would share what is currently on my needles….. and what was recently on my hook!

Last year, I decided to enter not only some knitting, but also a crocheted item into the county fairs.  I couldn’t find any fair-worthy pot holder patterns for my entry this year (but I think I found a pattern for NEXT year), so I decided I would crochet a hat instead.

I chose this:


It is a tapestry crochet pattern.  Tapestry crochet is sort of like stranded colorwork in knitting, except with single crochet stitches.  The resulting fabric is really thick because you carry all of the yarn strands within the stitches of your work.  For this reason, it is often used for elaborately patterned baskets. 


I chose some worsted weight wool yarn for the project in colors I thought would work well together.  All of the yarn was from my existing yarn stash.


My hat about half way done. You can see why this technique is often used for patterned baskets.

I should have chosen a sport weight yarn, and dropped down a few hook sizes because my hat came out way too big to be a pull-on cap as the pattern intended.  In order to shrink the hat, I soaked it and ran it through the dryer, which did help to some degree.




Since the hat could still work as a ‘slouch’ style hat, I added a really large pom pom to the top to weigh the hat down and make it slouch better when worn.



I entered the hat into the Lake County Fair this year, and despite its challenges, it scored a second place ribbon.  I was excited and happy to have ribboned.

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The red hat in the front right corner of the case behind me in the photo (below) was my knit hat entry which actually won a blue ribbon this year.  I love fair season.  My items are still on display at Lake County Fair at the time of this post, but up next for me will be the Will County Fair. 

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Since I have no socks to enter in that fair this year, I picked up my only half completed Snowflower socks that I started making for my cousin Sharon a year and a half ago.  I thought I could finish the second sock, enter them into the fair, and then finally send them to Sharon, who lives in Canada, when the fairs are all done.


So far so good on that plan.  The second sock is currently in the Soak wash in preparation for blocking, and I expect to have the pair ready in time for the fair in another week.

~Happy knitting!

Better Late than Never: Lake County Fair 2013

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I decided that if I don’t post about last year’s Lake County Fair right now, I probably never will.  It’s nearly the 2014 fair season already, and there is only so much time left for procrastination!


This was my second year participating in this fair, and I really enjoy it because there are always so many entries.

In 2013, I entered a hat, socks, a shawl, a scarf (all knitted) and a crocheted pot holder.  I was excited about the pot holder because it was the first crocheted item I had ever entered into a fair.  I have been crocheting since I was a little kid, but I prefer the appearance of knitted objects, so I don’t do a lot of crochet these days.


My entry took 2nd place, earning me my first ribbon for crochet (red ribbon in photo above).  Personally, I loved the blue chicken (see photo above) which – oddly – didn’t place at all. 

I made a partner for my pot holder for entry into the Will County Fair later in the summer, and the set took first place.

The hat I chose to enter was the Butterfly Beanie (seen with blue ribbon below):


I entered my Red Maple socks:


I entered my Cladonia shawl:


After being a little disappointed that I didn’t take any first place ribbons in 2012, I was pleased to have won blue ribbons (first place) in knit socks, knit hats and knit shawls this time. 

The scarf division was huge in 2013.  I think that there was likely somewhere around 30 entries.  I entered my Painted Cables Scarf (a previous first place winner at the Will County Fair), and it did not place.

Here are some of the scarf entries (my entry can be seen at the far upper right of the photo):


The following photos show projects entered by other participants (meaning, none of them were made by me).

More scarves:


I love to see all of the afghans that have been entered.  Here are some of my favorites:


Here was the Sweepstakes Rosette winner:


My favorite entry in the fair had to be this crazy, crocheted, ruffle pillow.  This thing was HUGE!  It was something like three feet in diameter.  It took a second place ribbon.


There you have it:  my 2013 Lake County Fair experience.  Now I can look forward to this year’s fair season.

~Happy knitting!

Will County Fair — 2013

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I should be calling this post “better late than never“! 


The Will County Fair was held from August 21st to the 25th last year (2013) at the Will Country fairgrounds.  I entered this fair for the first time in 2012 (see that post by clicking HERE), and really liked it.  After my experience in 2012, I knew I would enter the fair again, and I did so in 2013 in a BIG way with ten entries. 

My pretty friend Dawn came with me to see the results after judging.  She’s from Wisconsin, so not only is she super-nice (have you ever noticed that everyone from Wisconsin is just really nice?), but she also loves to visit the cows.  I think the cows liked it too!



It’s not hard to get carried away with your own fair entries at this fair (especially when you knit as much as I do!) since you can enter each class TWICE.  For example, you can enter two hats into the knitted hats class, meaning you have the potential to ribbon twice in one class.  Many fairs will only allow one entry per class.

The other thing I noticed when looking at the fair premiums book this year is that knitting and crochet were present in more than just their own designated divisions (as they are in most fairs).  This meant that outside of any class entry (hat, socks, afghans…) in the knit and crochet divisions, I was also able to make some entries into two other divisions:  ‘Textiles’ and ‘Infant’s Garments’.   Recall, each division will have a Best of Show awarded as well, so I was eligible (in theory…) to win three Best of Show ribbons.  But I didn’t win any of them.  Blah.

This organization really makes it worth submitting entries!  I ended up with a ton of opportunities to ribbon, and I did end up doing fairly well.  I nearly doubled my money spent in entry fees and brought home 9 ribbons:  four 1st place ribbons, four 2nd place ribbons, and one 3rd place ribbon. 

Up first, in the Textiles Division – a section called Towels.  I had never entered this section before, and honestly, wasn’t even sure I should have been entering since it was not a knit or crochet division.  In this section, there were eight classes for towels of all types, most involving sewing and embroidery.  I noticed one class entitled “collection of 3 kitchen towels, each different”.  There was no mention of how these towels could be made.  I wasn’t sure what the heck it meant, but since I love (LOVE LOVE LOVE) knitting cotton towels for my kitchen, I thought it was worth a shot to pick the best three I had made, and enter them, just to see what would happen.  I was sure this was not what the category was meant for, but hey, knitting creates cloth which then qualifies as a textile, right???


 Well, the judges saw it my way, and I actually took first place (blue ribbon) in the category!  I was shocked. 

The other section in Textiles that I entered was Pot holders.  I entered a section called “crocheted pot holders, set of 2”, and again, took first place (blue ribbon). 




    Folded Flower Set




I liked the watermelons and the piggies better than my pin wheel pot holders, but I was happy for the ribbon.

 As a long shot, I also entered this same section in a class called “Hot dish mat, any kind”.  I entered a really simple trivot that I had made just for fun earlier in the summer.  It was actually one of a set of pot holders I made, now in use in my sister’s kitchen.  It took third place by default (only three entries in this whole category!!!).  It can be seen all of the way at the bottom of the picture below (white ribbon).  Notice, the blue ribbon winner in this class took the division Best of Show (big purple ribbon).



 I knit my first baby sweater earlier that year, and I entered it into this fair.  This class was set in a division called Infant’s Garments.  I really like the sweater that I knit (The Maile Sweater pattern in Malabrigo fingering weight yarn, colorway: eggplant), and even used vintage buttons from my beloved antique button collection on it.  I was hoping for a real shot at Best of Show. 

The night before the fair, I was rushing to block and finish everything to my satisfaction (as usual), and I ended up accidentally overblocking the sweater to within an inch of its little life.  It looked totally stretched out, and it was too late to do anything about it. 


It took second place!  Argh!  I worked so hard on that sweater.  I was bummed to have missed a shot at Best of Show (all of the blue ribbons in a division are judged against each other for Best of Show). 

Here is the super-cute, fluffy (not stretched to the point of fatigue) first place winner:


Notice that this entry also took Best in Show for the division.

Here was my favorite baby sweater that I photographed, not only to share the cuteness with you, but also because I must make one someday too:


You can click the photo to see the details (duckies!!!).  I just LOVE this sweater, and as far as I could tell, it did not win any ribbons.  Fairs are funny that way.  Sometimes, you just never know.

 All of my other entries were in the division called “Knitted Articles”.  I entered two hats, and took both first and second place in the class (seen at the top of the photo below).


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 I entered two pairs of socks and again took both first and second place in the class:


RedMapleSocks2    BrokenSeedSt4


 In scarves, I entered both my Breath of Fresh Air scarf and my Linen Stitch Scarf.  The first did not place, and the Linen Stitch scarf took 2nd place.  Somehow, I took no photos of my winning scarf at the fair, but here is a pic of the scarf after I made it:



And last, but not least, here are some additional winning entries (not made by me) that I loved.  I just had to take photos so that I could share.  This bag, clearly a first place winner, was huge, and so well done!  That green color never gets old to me.



I can’t remember what class this ribbon was for, but it had to have been either ‘crocheted baby blanket’ or ‘crocheted afghan’.  Either way, it’s gorgeous!



Here was one of my all time favorites at the fair.  This pencil drawing of a horse is so amazing.  This person is SO talented!  You have to see it in person to get the full effect. 


There you have it:  my Will County Fair experience for 2013.  This year, I will make a mental note to get better photos of my own entries.  I also entered the Lake County (IN) Fair in 2013, and I will try to post about the fun I had there soon.

~Happy knitting! 

FO: Organic Cotton Market Bag

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This week I crocheted a market/tote bag.  You may remember that I made one of these a few years ago (see post by clicking HERE) for my sister’s birthday.  I crocheted this one from the same Patons Pure 100% organic, cotton yarn, but this time I used a coordinating variegated color blend for the top band and handles.


Even though I used the same pattern (The Green Grocer Bag by  Vicki Mikulik ), this bag came out significantly smaller than the one I made for my sister.  This is odd because I actually used a smaller hook for my sister’s bag. 

The bag shown here was crocheted using a size I hook.  The pattern calls for an H, but I currently have no idea where my H hooks are.  I used roughly three and a half balls of yarn (at 117 yards each) for this bag.


Details about my reasons for knitting this, and the last several hats I have posted about are coming soon!

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~Happy knitting!


Kitchen Cotton FOs #2: A Zillion Crocheted Pot Holders


Folded Squares

It’s always great when you find one of those patterns that you just really click with.  You work it up, not even knowing if you are going to like it, only to discover that it clicks with you, it clicks with the yarn you chose, and it makes really great functional objects. 

The most recent pattern that has been that for me is this simple little folded, square pot holder pattern that I ran into on someone’s blog.  Apparently this pattern has been around a while, but I have not ever tried it before.  Once I did, I stopped making all other pot holders, and I was hooked.

These work as pot holders, hot pads or even wash cloths.  They are double thick but are still only constructed in one piece.  I crochet them from various brands of worsted weight cotton.


I generally nearly never make the same pattern twice.  I just don’t like it.  I like to conquer a pattern (that’s what motivates me).  Once I have correctly executed it, I lose interest and it’s on to the next one.  Sometimes I can hardly finish the second sock in a pair for this reason. 

To the contrary, I can’t even tell you how many of these pot holders I have made since November.  I sort of wish I had counted, just for fun.  If I had to guess, the number is easily approaching 40 by now.  They can now be found in the kitchens of nearly every person who knows me or sees me on a relatively regular basis:  family, neighbors, coworkers….

19  13

When I give home-made items as gifts, I never know who is really going to be into it, and who is going to be thinking, “gee, thanks for the square”.  So unless the person on the receiving end of my pot holder was a knitter or crocheter him/herself, I only gifted one (rather than a set). 

I gave my sister one during the holidays, with a bottle of hand soap, and at the beginning of last week, I got a message from her asking for more, more, more. 

So I made her this set of brown (she asked for brown) and gold ones during the week, and gave them to her last weekend.


I still owe my brother’s girlfriend some, and then I can finally start making some for MY kitchen too! 

Kitchen Set

Before the discovery of this folded square pattern, I made the set of three shown below for myself in these crazy colors that I thought looked so fun together.

Front Side  Back Side

The pot holders in these photos are actually the same set of three.  These are my own design.  They are reversible with the color scheme in reverse on the opposing side, except for the striped one, which was an experiment. 

And finally, here is the set of pin wheel or folded flower pot holders that I mentioned in a previous post.  I made them last summer for a fair entry that required that the pot holders be judged as sets.  As a set, they took first place.

Folded Flower Set

I love the colors that I used for these.  They coordinate with my kitchen so well.

~Happy crocheting!

I Survived…


I survived the polar vortex that made its way to the Midwest this past week.  You know, the one that had Chicagoans referring to the city as Chiberia?  Yep, I live in range, and weathered temperatures that the Smithsonian pointed out, when factoring in the wind chill, were actually colder than the average temperature on Mars.  Excellent.

Up until then, I had still been on my kitchen cotton knitting bender.  For the past six months or so I have been obsessed with knitting practical, usable kitchen items from cotton, but when the temperature hit eleven-below, I switched gears and got to working on a new pair of wool mittens.

I had a pattern printed out on my table in a stack of knitting stuff, and I decided it would do fine.  (I needed these mittens essentially immediately.)  The pattern had no photos and no description, other than what was implied in the name:  Cabled Camel Mittens.  So the project was like one of those mystery knit alongs, where you just go on faith, line by line, and watch your project unfold before you.  It was actually really fun, and I liked the resulting mittens. 


I did end up felting them a bit to make them denser since they were not initially as warm as I was hoping they would be and they were also too large for my hands.  It ended up working out perfectly.

This past holiday season, I did some holiday knitting, as usual, which included some charity knitting, which I love to do.  My neighbor asked me to knit for her church bizarre which was being held to raise money for missionary work.  I knit a stack of winter hats, and completely forgot to take any photos, whatsoever.  It was another rushed endeavor, and she came calling for the donation sooner than I was expecting. 

I did take a quick photo of this hat that I made for a friend’s baby this past fall.  I felt pretty clever when I came up with the idea of blocking it on an over-turned Ball jar:


Incidentally, that same neighbor I mentioned invited me over to knit with her last week, which was really nice of her.  It was the day that the polar vortex came in, and we sat and worked on our projects and watched the storm approach.  I worked on a kitchen towel that I was making.  She was making a gorgeous, sapphire-blue, prayer shawl for another charity project for her church.

I did a lot of crocheting this winter, mainly to make pot holders.  I made a set in slate gray and navy blue for my nephew who just bought a house. (Again, no photos.  I know.  I suck.)  I also made a box full of them to give as gifts for my neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family.  I used this pattern: Crochet Folded Potholder Pattern which I am madly in love with.  Try it.  Trust me. 

I purchased bottles of kitchen hand-soap, and tied a pot holder to each one with a bow and added a gift tag.  They made super-cute gifts, I think, and I loved making them.


Box of hand-made gifts.

Speaking of pot holders, here is a fancy, pin wheel pot holder/trivot that I made last summer for the Lake County Fair.  Pattern: HERE.  It won second place in a rather large division.  My first ribbon in the crochet division (rather than the knitting divisions).  I was psyched!


I still have some posting to do on last summer’s fairs.  I won a ton of ribbons, and I have photos that I intended to post sometime. 

A few years ago, one of my very favorite knitting bloggers, who always makes the most amazing stuff, quit posting shortly after she began.  I was so disappointed that I left her a comment, asking her not to stop.  She told me that she just loved knitting so much more than photographing knitting or writing about knitting, or posting about knitting.  I think that’s the mode that I have been in for the last few months.  Lots of knitting.  Not much posting.


The warm, winter wear line-up, drying by my back door.

Hoping to post again soon,





I am SO looking forward to the upcoming long weekend!  I will have some work to do since we are beginning a new term next Tuesday at the college, but even so, the extra day will be well appreciated.

The last two weeks have been busy, and even though I managed to stop all caffeine intake for health reasons, I had to break down on Monday evening and start up again for fear that I would never be able to complete everything that I need to get done this week.  Sigh.  On the bright side, I did notice that it seemed to remedy a slightly grumpy attitude that I had been suffering from, though.  It’s funny how that works.

I have managed to keep knitting in the midst of it all, which really improves my stress levels.  I started a new project this past Saturday with this:

Here it is all wound up:

I will post project details soon!

In honor of my upcoming birthday, I also recently acquired this:

It is sort of becoming a new little, private tradition for me that I add a new pair of antique sock blockers/stretchers to my collection each birthday.  I am over-the-moon excited about this set because they appear to be really old.  I mean REALLY old.  I still have yet to find a good resource on the history of these things, but this pair does not appear similar to those that I own that were used in early factories.  I have not seen any resembling the form of this set before, which was part of what excited me about them.  Maybe they belonged to some past household.

The seller told me that he acquired them from an estate sale, and that the estate owner’s son told him that the blockers were in the family for as long as he remembered being alive. 

I don’t tend to be superstitious, but I have to say that these blockers feel like there is a presence about them, and I have had the thought on a few occasions since I purchased them that they are good luck.  I can’t explain it any more than that, but there it is. 

So I’m rather fond of them, even though they smell like a crawl space.

In a previous post, I mentioned that our knitting group hung out again this past Sunday at the Grindhouse Cafe.  It was a super time, and we had our best turn-out yet, with me and Chris H (the regulars) as well as two more group members, and my new friend Lois who I met on the Allegan Fiber Festival trip.  She brought me a pattern that she knew I had been wanting, which was so extremely nice of her, and I was happy to be knitting with her again. 

Lois has been on a baby sweater kick, and she was working on a navy blue one on Sunday.  Chris H, who loves to crochet, was whipping out these sock monkey cup cozies:

She makes them with wool so that they insulate the drink and wick up any condensation that forms on the cup.  She was nice enough to let me take a photo for the blog so that you all can see how cute they are too.

This evening, I just finished grading a stack of laboratory reports, and now I plan to go eat some dinner and do some pre-slumber knitting.  Tomorrow is the last day of the term at work, and Friday will be taken up with faculty meetings and some continuing education (and some knitting if I’m not too exhausted).

Have a great night, and happy knitting!

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