In Excess!

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I’m totally hooked on a new hat pattern that I found.  It’s the Excess hat pattern by Anat Rodan.  You can find it for free by clicking HERE.

One of the things I love about this pattern is that the hat is knit from fingering/sock weight yarn.  I love knitting with yarn of this weight, and I have a ton of sock yarn in my stash, so this project is perfect for left overs. 

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Stockinette brim already folded over and closed by knitting both sets of stitches together on a third circular needle. The body of the hat is then continued in the round from there.

The other thing I completely adore about this pattern is the brim.  It is actually a band of stockinette that is folded over and then closed up on three sets of needles (this requires that you begin with a provisional cast-on).  It makes a really neat and tidy looking brim.  I think it looks leaps and bounds better than the traditional ribbed bands described in most hat patterns.  I may be ruined for all other hat bands now.  I think I’ll be subbing in this technique wherever I can.

I pretty much followed the pattern for the hat pictured here.  I used Plucky Knitter Primo yarn in fingering weight, in this gorgeous purple color.  I thought it worked out super.  I knit the brim on this hat with size 5 circular needles, and the body of the hat with size 6 circulars. 

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The hat is very stretchy and the fit turned out perfect.  I have already worn this hat on several occasions, and I love it. 

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I couldn’t seem to get pictures that do this little hat justice.  It looks so much better in person.  I would recommend that anyone give this pattern a try, especially with a nice, hand dyed, fingering weight yarn.

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I have actually already completed a second version of this pattern (and I’m contemplating a third…) with the same yarn base, but in a lovely gray color.  This time I increased the number of cast-on stitches by 20, and used size 3 needles for the entire hat.  Since the yarn is so thin, I wanted the second hat to have a tighter weave to it to help hold in warmth.  I worked the body for many more rows to make the hat longer so it’s a bit more of a slouch than a stocking cap.  It also turned out awesome.  Photos are coming soon!

 

~Happy knitting!

At long last…

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I’m sorry about my lapse in posts recently.  Life has gotten really busy, as life does, and I finally feel like I can take a breath and share some projects again.  At long last, here are my finished Skyp socks!

I actually finished these socks several weeks ago, and have since started some hats that I will post about soon (I discovered a fantastic, free hat pattern that I absolutely love).

Skyp socks finished to the level of the foot.

Skyp socks finished to the level of the foot.

I mentioned in a past post that I chose to knit these socks simultaneously on two sets of DPNs.  I’m still not sure if I prefer this method to just doing one at a time.  It is definitely easier to ensure two identically constructed socks.  Since knitting for me is more or less meditative, I am awful at taking notes on the modifications and alterations I make to a pattern as I go along, so I would guess that most of the pairs of socks I have made in my life are (imperceptibly) different from each other in construction.  In any case, I’ll probably knit my next pair of socks by this method again just to give it more of a chance before I decide which approach I like better.

The finished product sure worked out.

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I really love this hand dyed yarn I bought at Stitches this year.  Since I only had a very small skein to work with, I actually split it in half by weight, using my gram scale.  Then I used some left overs in the complementary brown color to make the heel and toe to extend the yarn a bit more.

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I usually like to make socks with a longer leg, but since I really felt that I HAD to make socks from this yarn, I made them as long as the yardage would allow.

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My goal was to use every last inch of the yarn if possible.

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Here’s what I ended up with when both socks were complete.  I think I succeeded!

As soon as these socks hit the Soak Wash for blocking, I was on to this:

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An awesome hat pattern with construction unlike anything I’ve made before, knit in fingering weight, Plucky Knitter Primo yarn.  This one is actually already done, and I’m making a second in a different color (but same yarn base), which tells you something about this pattern.  I almost never knit a pattern twice, and I think I’m going to need at least three of these before I’m done! 

~Happy knitting!

Some New Mittens for Fall

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After I finished my summer fair knitting, I had nearly a whole ball of left-over Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love yarn in a pretty, ruby red color left just sitting on the table next to my favorite chair.  For a commercially produced yarn, I actually really like the way it looks and feels.

I have a mini-stash of Debbie Stoller (of Stitch N’ Bitch fame) yarns, including Washable Ewe, Alpaca Love and Bamboo Ewe.  I tend to pick these up when odd balls go on clearance at the big chain craft stores in the area.  Since this one was the only ball of this yarn that I had, I wanted to make something nice for myself with it, both to have the satisfaction of using up all of the yarn, and to have something made from it close to me so that I could continue to enjoy it.

  I decided to make myself a new pair of fingerless mitts for my early morning drives into work.  It is always chilly in the Midwest in the early mornings during fall, and my hands are often cold when I’m driving.  I have an old, go-to pair that someone from knitting group made for me several years ago, but they are well-worn, and thought I could use new ones to add to the mix.

I wanted something simple, so after perusing patterns on Ravelry, I decided on the Peekaboo Mitts pattern as a template.  I wouldn’t have enough yarn to make the pattern as written, so I made a smaller version, and I added a little heart motif to the back of each hand by strategically placing purl stitches within the stockinette stitch.

 

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Top and bottom surface of each mitt.

I more or less just improvised the placement of the little heart motif, and I thought it turned out well.

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As you can see, I often block my mitts on the ankle area of some sock blockers.  The ones used here are a set from my vintage collection.  When they are not in use, they are displayed on the wall of my office at home.

So much basil in my garden this year!

So much basil in my garden this year!

I’ve actually gotten some use out of these mitts already this season.

Nearly fall and my tomatoes are still green...

Nearly fall and my tomatoes are still green…

I knit these on size 8, double pointed needles.  I decreased a few cast-on stitches to make the mitts narrower (since I have small hands and I wanted the mitts to be snug). 

I have also since finished my Skyp socks, and cast on (and nearly finished as of this post) a new, fall hat.  Details are coming soon…

~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.

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

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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).

 

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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!

 

FO: Fisherman’s Mittens

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I mentioned in a previous post that my sister requested Angora mittens for her birthday this past July.  I have told the story before of her beloved, Angora, childhood mittens (read about it HERE).  Even though I knit her what I thought was a nice homage to those mittens in some lavender/gray alpaca yarn a few years back, she has still been thinking about those childhood mittens, and asked again for a pair in Angora.

I was surprised that it was as tough as it was to get Angora yarn.  I eventually found some in the form of Kollage Yarns Scrumptious, which is 70% Angora and 30% silk.  I believe the yarn is no longer being made, so it was on closeout at Web’s online.  Not only did I get a good deal, but my sister was able to choose her color.  She likes jewel tones (it seems), and she picked out the colorway Key Lime, which is actually a really deep hunter green with maybe a touch of greyish blue in it.

The yarn is listed as worsted weight, but let me tell you that it is not.  I would describe it as a light sport weight at best, so I needed to find a pattern with some texture to thicken up the mittens. 

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I really dislike knitting the same pattern twice.  (It’s a conquest thing.  Once I’ve conquered a pattern, I’m done.)  This meant I needed to find a new pattern that I wanted to make, that would work with the yarn.  I had a really hard time doing that, but eventually settled on this pattern:  Mittens for the Fisherman by Erica Lueder.  (It’s free, people!!!)

If you are a Ravelry member, here is the link to the pattern there:  Mittens for the Fisherman pattern on Ravelry.

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The pattern is both written and charted, and each mitten is knit identically (there is no official front or back side of each mitten).  I adjusted the pattern a bit for my sister’s small hands, and also for the light weight of the yarn.  I shortened the thumb gusset but had to lengthen the hand by adding another pattern repeat of squares/boxes.

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My sister was kind enough to let me enter the mittens into the fairs this summer since she wouldn’t be needing them until after August.  They ribboned twice:  second place in one fair and third place in another.  So now, as she says, she has award-winning birthday mittens.

 

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~Happy knitting!

 

 

Second Scrollwork

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Now that I’ve got all of my projects back from the county fairs, I can show you my second attempt at Scrollwork.  If you recall, I knit up the first version using Sincere Sheep Equity Sport, and the hat turned out really cute, but smallish and thinner than I had expected.  You can read about it HERE.

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My first attempt at the Scrollwork hat pattern from Brooklyn Tweed.

 

I decided to give the pattern another shot, and this time I used some Plymouth Tweed yarn (which is Aran weight), that I had in my stash.  The colorway is Ecru.  This time I used size 7 needles instead of the size 6’s that I used on the first version.

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Using stitch markers to mark off the pattern repeats helped the project go faster, but did get a little tricky on the rows where the end of round marker must be moved.

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My new ChiaGoo stitch markers.

 

I do like my second version of the hat, but not necessarily better than the first one.  This one is definitely more functional as a warm winter hat, and would be more likely to fit the average person’s head.

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The stitch definition on each hat is different (in a good way) which I find really neat.  Neither looks as nice (in my opinion) as the apparent stitch definition achieved by using the recommended yarn for the pattern which is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.  I linked to the pattern in my previous post, but here it is again, complete with photos of the hat done in the suggested yarn for comparison, if you are interested:  Scrollwork Hat from Brooklyn Tweed (designer Irina Dmitrieva)When you purchase the pattern, you actually get instructions for the hat as well as a coordinating cowl.

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As mentioned in a previous post, this hat actually won second place in knit hats at the Will County (IL) Fair this year:

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~Happy cabling!

 

 

A Farewell Cowl

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A few weeks ago, one of my favorite coworkers announced that she would be leaving for another job.  Today was our farewell party at work to see her off.  There was lots of food and balloons and presents – she is well loved.  I knew when she told me that she was leaving that I would knit her something as a going away gift.

I decided to knit her a herringbone cowl.  I used Plucky Knitter Primo yarn in a sport weight in the colorway Gray Goose. 

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Plucky Knitter yarn is hard to get.  I acquired this yarn on the Ravelry group’s destash page.  Primo is merino, cashmere and nylon.

I used this pattern:  Herringbone Cowl by Lauren Osborne.  It is free on Ravelry and it’s a great pattern.  I enjoyed knitting this cowl, and I want to make another in a heavier weight yarn. 

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I thought the cowl turned out great, and as far as I can tell, my coworker appreciated it.  I cast on several extra stitches than the pattern called for in order to make it long enough that it could be doubled around the neck if desired.

I love the look and texture of the stitch.

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With that finished, tonight I cast on for a new pair of socks.  I am using some yarn I purchased at Stitches a few weeks ago. 

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I’ve been itching to knit another pair of socks – I just needed to wait until fair season ended and my gift knitting died down.  And speaking of sock knitting, I want to mention this:

I am SOOO excited about this book!  Print copies will be available at the end of September.  I’m a total nerd when it comes to the history of sock knitting and the making of socks.  This book includes both topics.  My birthday is coming up, and though I usually get myself an antique sock blocker/stretcher to add to my collection, I think this book will actually be my pick this year.

If you want to learn more about the book, you can click the photo above to go to the publisher’s page, but you can also click HERE to read all about it on Ravelry if you are a Ravelry member.

 

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~Happy knitting!

“Relaxing” on Saturday

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This past weekend, I found myself preparing for yet another fair – this time, the Will county (IL) fair.  I will have nine entries this year if everything goes as planned.  So I spent my weekend knitting, and stressing about the knitting, and stressing about the things I should be doing instead of the knitting. 

Since Saturday was a cool, overcast, nearly fall-like day, I decided (after hours of knitting feverishly indoors) that I should go out and finish my knitting while enjoying the day on my deck.  Since the dogs spend most of the week stuck indoors while I’m at work, I thought this would benefit them as well.

So I gathered my knitting, and my dogs, and my coffee, and my cell phone, and a bed for the dogs, and the citronella candles and headed out to the deck.  After cleaning off the deck chairs, lighting candles, placing dog beds, and filling water bowls, I realized that I probably would already have been done with my knitting had I just stayed inside….

In any case, I tried to take the opportunity to let got of some stress and enjoy the weather and enjoy my knitting.  I’m really bad at relaxing. 

As you can see, I was still sporting Peanuts PJs.

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I was finishing a cotton, kitchen towel for a fun category in the fair called “Three towels, all different, any type”.  The category is not just for knitting, so anyone making any kind of towels can enter, and we all get judged against each other.  It’s way fun (for nerds like me).

 

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One of my dogs settled into his place under my seat, and we all did our best to relax like normal people (eh hem) on a Saturday.

I eventually finished the towel, and I absolutely love it.  It is knit from Bernat kitchen cotton which usually costs more than I am willing to pay, but I got this ball on clearance (I’m guessing due to the color).  It is so soft with great stitch definition.  This towel will definitely get use in my kitchen after it has its big day at the fair.

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In other news, look what also found its way onto my needles over the weekend:

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Yep, I decided to reknit Scrollwork in a different yarn.  (Darn it!  I was so excited about that Rambouillet…).  This time, I used some wool tweed as the pattern called for.  I actually forgot that I had this Plymouth Tweed.  It was also bought on clearance several years ago.  It gave me an opportunity to use my new ChiaGoo stitch markers that I just got at Stitches.  They look like candy:

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I finished Scrollwork #2 Sunday night, and it does appear that it will be my knitted hat entry in the upcoming fair. 

~Happy knitting!

Scrollwork

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I mentioned in my last post that I was knitting with some special wool.  It was Equity Sport from Sincere Sheep.  It is made from Rambouillet sheep, who happen to have kinky fleece as they age. 

 

Here’s a Rambouillet ram:   (photo credit:  Oklahoma State Animal Sciences)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This makes for a great texture in the yarn.

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I was knitting the Scrollwork hat from Brooklyn Tweed, but rather than use tweed yarn, I wanted to try it out with my Rambouillet wool. 

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I knit the hat using size 3 circular needles for the brim, and size 6 circular needles for the body.  This yarn is sport weight, so I knew the hat would be a little smaller than the pattern promised to produce, but hats often turn out too large for me, so I was willing to take the risk.

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The pattern is lovely, and the root-like cables coalesce on the back of the hat:

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Unfortunately, the yarn did prove to be not the best fit for the pattern.  It wasn’t robust enough and the hat, even with all of those cables, is a little on the thin and limp side.  I will also go down an additional needles size on the band if I make this pattern again.  It doesn’t have the springy stretch intended for a ribbed band.

Luckily, after blocking, the hat grew a little, and will be wearable (at least for me….I have a small head).

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In other news, I realized after my last post that I had actually purchased YET another hank of yarn at Stitches Midwest.  I forgot to show it to you, so here it is:

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This was actually my first purchase at the market!  It was only $12 because it is only really half a skein.  I loved the colorway so much that I searched the full skeins in hopes of finding one with no luck.  This was the only skein in the whole place in this colorway.  I was about to walk away when I realized I could still make socks from it.  I have done this before:  weight the skein and split it into two equal halves (by weight since I don’t have a yardage counter, but I do have a gram scale), and then knit a sock from each half, using a coordinating color from my stash for the heels and toes to compensate for scanty yardage. 

Done!  I purchased the yarn, and if you read my last post, you know what happened next…

~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:

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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. 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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