Second Birthday Celebration June 16-17

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It’s our birthday and you’re invited! June 16th 5-7:30 join us for a party at the Studio, 634 Grand Canyon Drive in Madison, Wisconsin.  We’ll have live music, prizes, a pop-up shop from a local maker, and cake!

Saturday June 17th we’ll have classes with Susan B. Anderson, a sidewalk sale and and more pop-up-shop action. Both days you can win prizes when you visit us. More class details coming soon!

We’re so happy to be in the Studio and hope you can join us to celebrate.

 

Knitcircus Podcast #94

A blast from the past; recorded in December.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Show Notes:

Knitcircus Kindness KAL (Knit ALong)

TED talks – girls who code

Vogue Knitting Live New York

Vogue Knitting Live Las Vegas

Come What May Colorway

Infinity Drop-Stitch Scarf

Wood Violet Mitts

Fashion Week Colorway

Hummingbird Colorway

Spring Fling Fun!

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Thanks to everyone who came to the Spring Fling party and Saturday celebration. We had a blast!

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This fun group didn’t drink the Kool-Aid, but their yarn did, in my home-safe dyeing class! We had such a good time, and they all created such fresh spring colors.

 

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Just like when we have friends coming over for a dinner party, hosting a Studio party gives us a reason to spruce everything up and put up some fun decorations. We played up the Tea Party for the new Alice in Wonderland yarns.

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Shari drew up a friendly welcome sign, and we brought out the special Spring Fling colorway. We had a few left, so we’re leaving them up in the store just a couple days longer…

IMG_6478Ann showed us her masterful top using a Still Flying gradient  undyed yarn and a very cool slipstitch pattern. Beautifully knitted!

 

Saturday, the fun continued as John Loeffelholz led a group of intrepid knitters thorough the intricate process of knitting with sock machines. They don’t make these babies anymore, so you have to learn the ins and outs of these antique machines…

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Sorry this wasn’t the best photo, but the people in the Sock Machine class were totally absorbed the whole time, and learned a ton about coaxing their metal friends to perform. John is one of the nation’s experts on using sock machines, so we’re very lucky to have him in the area. Thanks, John!

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How cool is this thing?!?!?

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And they even made a sock at the end! Pat has a big smile for a job well done.

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The party continued in the store on Saturday, with lots of visitors out and about enjoying the gorgeous weather. This lovely young knitter drove over from Milwaukee to check out the yarns in person and show off her mad knitting skills. This was one of three pairs she’s working on! She loves that you just cast on and knit the Gradient Stripes and they do all the striping for you. As a new sock knitter, she said it gave her confidence.

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It was an event to remember, and we’re definitely doing it again next year. Happy spring everyone and thanks to everyone who came to see us!

Happy knitting,

Jaala

 

 

Knitcircus Podcast #71

 

Amy and Jaala dish about their adventures at Vogue Knitting Live New York! Also affectionately known as the “Namedropping Podcast.”

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast:

Vogue Knitting Live New York

Knitlandia, by Clara Parkes

Savvy Girls Podcast

Laura Nelkin

Jill Draper

Knitting Ephemera, by Carol Sulcoski

Mason-Dixon Knitting/Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner

Oink Pigments

Yarn It

Stella Task Lights

Matilda musical

Discovery Center Star Wars Costume Exhibit

Indigodragonfly

Shetland Wool Week

Hazel Tindall

Tenement Museum

Donna Smith

Long Island Livestock Company

Franklin Habit

Lily Chin

Meg Swansen

Sasha Kagan

 

Go, Sports Knitting!

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It’s football season again, and some of us at Knitcircus are super excited! Mainly Shari; Shari is in charge of every step of keeping track of and shipping out orders. Shari works really hard and doesn’t ask for much, so when she talked, I listened! So, for Shari, Cindy and all of you wonderful football, fans, we have new Team Colors Gradient Stripes!

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We’re in Madison, WIsconsin, home of the UW-Madison Badgers, so every weekend around now the whole town starts sporting red and white. We were so excited to get these colors out, that we didn’t have time to knit up socks! Shari whipped up the mini-scarves on a knitting machine.

Shari and I had a Sock-Off to try to see who could knit more in one evening. She won!

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Here’s the start of my Badger Tracks socks!

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And Shari’s Lambeau Leap!

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Here it is modeled by Shop Dog Sasha….

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So if you’re a Packer Backer, check out Lambeau Leap! All of our Team Colors (two-color sock sets) will be expedited and dyed within the next two weeks if you want to get them in hand for your gameday knitting!

Take care and have a wonderful weekend,

Jaala

Favorite Knitted Gifts

November is here, so the knitting world is experience a giant virtual cast on party for gifts! Whether you’re trying to create a sweater for your dad, dishcloths for everyone in your book club, or a shawl for a friend, you’re probably experiencing the excitement of choosing patterns to knit.  Now may not be the time to experiment wildly; I know I like tried-and-true patterns if I’m on a deadline.

Cindy and I have compiled lists of our favorite go-to patterns for giving to loved ones.

Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette
Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette

Of course, the first is my own Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette pattern; the garter stitch and easy-to-predict increases make this an easy knit to complete. It’s 400 yards of any weight yarn.

Wendy D Johnson’s Toe Up Sock Patterns. Anything by Wendy Johnson is going to be a solid hit. Her toe-up slip-stitch heel vanilla sock is my go-to sock pattern anytime.

Wendy Johnson's Toe Up Socks
Wendy Johnson’s Toe Up Socks

Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth

This one’s a classic for a reason! The first knitted dishcloth I ever saw was actually this pattern made by Mike’s grandma, so the title in my case is literally true! After you make one, the pattern is so intuitive that you can basically take this along anywhere and turn out lovely dishcloths surprisingly fast.

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How I Make My Socks by Susan B Anderson. You all probably know by now this is my very favorite top-down sock pattern. Susie has knitted a drawer full of socks with this pattern, and many happy knitters have used it for perfect socks.

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photo: susan b anderson

I also love her Tiny Tree and Waiting for Winter Mittens/Mitts.

Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec
Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec

Anna Hrachovec’s Mochimochi Land patterns; I’ve knit many tiny adorable toys for my kids from Anna’s patterns. Pretty much any one can be turned into an ornament, from snowmen to desktop computers!

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Of course, hats and cowls make great winter gifts, and for a limited time, I’m offering the Wisconsin River Valley Cowl – a super easy pattern perfect for gift knitting – free to kick start the season! This works up quickly with just one 100g skein of your favorite worsted-weight yarn.

Cindy’s Picks

Knitcircus web, finance and outreach expert Cindy can knit up a storm. She’s famous around these parts for knitting a pair of socks for everyone in her extended family one year.

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She loves Koolhaas by Jared Flood; works for men or women!

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Gaptastic Cowl by Jen Geigley; chunky and stylish knit!

Some of Cindy’s other favorites include:

Autumn by Jane Richmond

Marram Hat by Mimi Codd

Storm Warning by Liz Corke

Indie Gift-a-long

Have you heard about the Indie Gift-a-long? This is an awesome event for knitters; starting on November 13th, many talented independent designers are offering patterns on sale, and if you join the Ravelry group for the Giftalong Knitalongs, you can win prizes, too! Wonderful designers like Stephannie Tallent, Lee Meredith, Adrienne Ku, Dani Berg, Corrina Ferguson, Alicia Plummer, Laura Chau and many more are participating! You can see a list of all 293 designers here.

Happy holiday knitting,

Jaala

New Gradient Stripes Colors, Yarn Clubs & Gramma Nancy’s Giveaway

Hi, Knitters,

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Happy Halloween!

Lil Buddy carved that pumpkin up there, while I sorted through the innards for the seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicacy we enjoy just once a year! I put them on a tray with parchment paper, olive oil and seasoned salt and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Both of my kids are old enough that they’re going off with different friends tonight. They’re just getting so grown-up!  It’s a pretty cold day for our poor trick-or-treaters, though; we woke up to snow on the ground. Lots of layers under those costumes…

New November Gradient

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I couldn’t resist announcing this one day early; the new color for November is Defying Gravity. It has wonders like you’ve never seen! It’s all grand- and it’s all green! Defying Gravity begins with a bold emerald, then fades to a smoky forest green. A gorgeous color to show that nobody in all of Oz- no wizard that there is or was- could ever bring you down.  The one shown is a 150-g double gradient, meaning it starts and ends with the same color. You can also, of course, order regular Matching Socks sets and 100g gradients.

New Gradient Stripes Colors!

More new colors are joining the lineup; it’s just so much fun making these!

 

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Race to the Cookie Jar; a cheerful variation of the color developed by the Cookie Crumbs sock knitting group, stripes from yellow to yellow-green, to green-blue, before ending on several shades of blue.

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Captain America: Red fades to white, then to blue in a series of thin stripes. For Truth and Justice!wit & learning 2

 

Wit & Learning are the celebrated virtues of these colors; classic blue stripes with silvery gray, creating a gradient effect. We think they’d be very cozy in a library or a plush easy chair, snuggled up with a good book.Third in the Harry Potter House Colors series.

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Vampire Boyfriend fades in a series of thin stripes from a pale red to scab rust, before ending in a deep red-black. It would look just as good defending the Hellmouth as it would standing up to the Volterra, or cracking open a bottle of O Negative in Bon Tomps. Care for a bite?

Yarn Clubs Out!

We promised they’d be done by the end of the month, and they are! All of the second All Wrapped Up club packages, first Firefly packages and half of the first Matching Socks club packages went out today. The rest of the Matching Socks will be headed your way on Monday.

Aran Knits Winner

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The winner of the Interweave Knits Aran Lace Knitting with Stephannie Tallent DVD is Suzanne. Thanks so much to Stephannie for the giveaway and to everyone who entered!

New Giveaway

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New Giveaway! We have a copy of Gramma Nancy’s Animal Hats (and Booties, too) courtesy of Potter Craft. Nancy Nielsen made hundreds of hats for her son-in-law’s Navy shipmates over the years and has collected a menagerie of road-tested patterns for babies and kids!

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If you’re interested in winning a copy of this, please leave a comment about your baby and toddler knitting; who and what are you knitting? What’s your favorite baby gift to knit? The Random Number Generator will choose a winner next Tuesday, November 4th.

Take care, have a happy and safe holiday and stay warm,

Jaala

 

Make Your Own Magic Yarn Ball

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Here at Knitcircus, we use a many-step process to create self-striping gradients that change colors effortlessly as you knit. It’s all one continuous yarn, with no knots ever! But there’s a fun and easy way to create your own special color-changing balls of yarn at home. A Magic Ball uses smaller lengths of yarn joined together to make one fun color-changing skein! Another way the term “Magic Ball” is used is to describe a yarn ball with little treats wrapped inside, so the recipient gets little gifts and surprises as they knit.

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Today, I’ll show you how to make both!

Make Your Color-Changing Magic Yarn Ball

Magic Yarn Balls are about the best stashbuster ever. The first step is to find all of those beloved balls left from previous projects, mini-skeins, even scraps a couple of feet long. It will be easiest to knit with your Magic Ball if all of your yarns are a similar weight (fingering, sport, worsted, etc). So you may want to organize by weight first, then play with color groupings you like. This should be fun, so take some time to place different colors together and see what you like. The way the colors interact may surprise you!

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organizing by color

Some tried-and-true palettes are:

warm colors: reds. purples, yellows, oranges

cool colors: blues and greens

jewel tones: deep, saturated versions of red, blue, green, teal, purple

neutrals: browns, beiges, grays, cream, undyed

rainbow: crayon-box brights

tropical: yellow, green, peach, orange, pink, magenta

earth tones: browns, grays, deep greens, pale blues

Once you have your yarns and colors, start joining them together to make your Magic Ball! I like to vary the lengths so it’s a surprise, but you can also have fun by making all of the yarns the same length (say, 5 yards) to create stripes for planned pooling projects, etc. Just start winding your yarns onto a ball-winder or wind by hand (if you want to put treats inside, read the section on Adding Treats before you start winding). To make your yarn ball look extra special, you can wind each section going in a different direction, as Susan B. Anderson describes in her Everlasting Yarn Balls video tutorial.

Fancy Joins

You can use an overhand, square knot or whatever you usually use for knotting when knitting to join your lengths of yarn together. If you want to get fancy and make your ball knot-free, here are some techniques to try.

Spit Splicing: This joining method works well on yarns with some felting potential. It probably won’t work as well on superwash or synthetic fibers. Originally done by using spit and rubbing the two yarn ends together in the hands to felt them together, it can be done with plain water as well. 🙂 Very Pink Knits has a video tutorial on Spit Splicing here.

Russian Join: If you want to make near-seamless transitions in your Magic Ball, you can use the Russian Join method shown in the Knitting Any Way tutorial here. This takes significantly more time than simple knotting, so recommended for a yarn with relatively few changes.

Adding Treats

You can make a Magic Gift Ball by using any existing yarn and re-winding it so that surprises are hidden inside. Carla Krantz has a great Pinterest board with different ideas. You can take small objects and wrap them almost invisibly inside the yarn, or make wrapped packages so many that the yarn can barely contain them! If you’re winding up your magic Joined Ball, you can add the treats as you go.

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Some examples of knitting-related treats are shown here, but of course, you can tailor your special ball to the passions of the intended recipient. A good strategy is to wind the ball around the largest gift, adding the others as you go.

Note: lots of people add things like teabags, small figurines, etc to their yarn balls; your imagination is the limit! But don’t add perishable food items, especially things like chocolate, that can melt. Your friend in California may be very sad when she gets the now-sticky yarn you sent from frozen Nunavut.

You can also decorate your yarn ball with easily-removable pins, buttons, ribbons and other treats for a delightful presentation. Ellen Bloom made this adorable one for the book Knitalong:

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Making Magic Balls is a fun and creative way to make something one-of-a-kind and usable out of those special small amounts of yarn in your stash. If you make some, please let us know in the Knitcircus Ravelry Group so we can ooh and ahh!

Have a great weekend,

Jaala

Trapeze, Calliope, and a KAL

Hi, Knitters,

Wow, what a day, I have not one, but two new yarns to introduce!

But first, some fall apple-picking fun:

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We grabbed my mom, my brother’s family the kids and even Sasha for an afternoon in the orchard last weekend. Can you believe the twins are in kindergarten now?! A good time was had by all, and caramel apples were had by the youngsters. We’ll be making sauce, crisp and maybe some pie this weekend. Does anyone have a favorite apple recipe?

Trapeze Cashmere

Now for the yarn! The first new one is unbelievable; a new 100% cashmere handspun. Fair-trade, spun by a women’s collective in Afghanistan, and probably the softest yarn I’ve ever felt.

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At TNNA this summer, I saw a booth with fair-trade cashmere from Afghanistan. They had samples. Just one touch and I was hooked; I knew we had to get some for our wonderful Knitcircus knitters! We arranged with the wonderful women who run this business to get a special, limited-run of worsted-weight 100% cashmere Trapeze yarn, and now we have it just for you!

The yarn itself is so special I had to develop the deepest, richest, most saturated colors. Every single skein is dyed on its own in a batch of one, with several different dyebaths layered over each other to achieve a color with boundless depth. We named them after precious stones that mirrored the colors’ depth: London Blue Topaz and Pink Tourmaline.

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To highlight the yarn’s specialness, I developed the London Blue Topaz pattern specifically to make the most of the yarn’s yardage and of course, to arrange around your neck and shoulders so you can feel Trapeze’s fantastic softness and drape.

The shawl uses what I think is one of the most elegant stitch patterns, Dayflower Lace, with a diamond-shaped construction.

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Here’s the Pink Tourmaline colorway, a deep, rich red perfect for holiday knitting. (This is the color I kept for myself!)

Calliope: Merino-Cashmere-Nylon DK

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Speaking of cashmere, we’re thrilled to introduce another new yarn, but this one will be available all year round! Calliope is 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon , 10% cashmere, in a touchable, delightfully soft and springy yarn. It’s shown here in our new cozy fall color, Mr. Tumnus, and you can custom order it in any of our repeatable coorways. It’s 230 yards in a 100g cake, or 345 yards in a 150g cake.

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As part of the Calliope excitement, we’re also now offering all of our sport, dk and worsted-weight yarns in 150-g options, which was only available for fingering weights before.

Silk Moon KAL

We started off the autumn in style with a Ravelry KAL for the Silk Moon Crescent Shawl, now with a new fingering-weight version included in the pattern! I know a couple of people in the KAL are going to work it in fingering and keep on going to make larger shawls, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

The KAL just started, and we have our first weekly winner; Taine on Ravelry got her choice of patterns from my Ravelry Store.

This shawl knits up quickly in either fingering, dk or fingering weight yarn. I made this rainbow one below as my new Silk Moon for the re-release of the pattern and finished it in under a week!

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The lovely model in the photos here is Cindy, who joins us in the Lair to help with Ravelry groups, website and finances. She works at beloved LYS the Sow’s Ear and has lots of knitting expertise as well as the talent for creating and maintaining order, which I dearly love and appreciate. Cindy will be participating in the KAL and checking in with everyone every day!

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My Silk Moon is in Knitcircus Lap of Luxury silk blend in the colorway Over the Rainbow, which you guys know I can’t stop knitting with.

There’s still plenty of time to join us in the Ravelry group, and the prizes will be getting bigger each week. 😉

WASHCLOTHS for a GOOD CAUSE

Stephanie from Space Cadet Yarns just shared this project by a motivated knitter to send handknitted washcloths to be distributed as part of hygiene packs in Haiti. Good cause, and the time commitment is actually charity knitting I can do!

I’ll be knitting up a washcloth this weekend and hope some of you will join in the good, clean, fun. 😉 If you post a pic of your washcloth in the Ravelry group, or a link to your project, i’ll give away a pattern of your choice as a reward for your good efforts!

Patterns and Stitch Markers

 

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Hi, Knitters!

Look at my desk; it’s pattern-writing time.I actually got the whole morning to write up a new pattern yesterday, and didn’t dye any yarn until after lunch. We’ve been very busy in the Lair, with a new shipment going out to Fiddlehead Yarns, (celebrating their 35th anniversary) and a big trunk show headed to Knitche, so this was very unusual!

It made me remember how much I love designing. Of course, I love dyeing, too, but I didn’t realize I had several ideas for patterns pent up that were just waiting for a chance to get on the computer. You Gradient Club members will have your last pacages, with one of my patterns, in the mail next week.

As we rev up for Fall Knitting Season, I’ll be rolling out a number of fun patterns for you, starting with this almost-finished Brass and Steam scarf.

With a combination of textures and cables, it works up quickly with either one or two skeins of Ringmaster Worsted. After working with a lot of lace lately, I really enjoyed knitting this one up, and there’s just one more color change left in my version of the scarf. We just need another round of testing, then this baby will be ready to go to warm up some people this fall!

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And now, since I’ve got this on the needles, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite little knitting helpers, Stitch Markers!august 29 2014 017

 

I’m a big fan of the locking stitch makers (“safety pin”) type; you can find Clover ones just about anywhere. I found this purple one above on Etsy, but honestly, this model only has a few good clips in it, then it breaks. Anyhow, I’m using the purple maker above to tell me which is the right side, in this case, the side where I’ll be making my cable crossings. This particular pattern is reversible, so it can be tricky to tell which side is which. 

You can also see the round, brass-colored markers pretty often along the needles. (These came from the Knitting Tree, but if you want to find something similar online, I love the ones with little beads from Velvet Hippo). I have them placed any time I’m switching from one texture or cable pattern to another, so sometimes there are only two stitches between them! I used to think it was cooler to just keep it all in my head, but then I found myself with textures spilling onto each other’s spaces, and then when I ripped it back, I didn’t feel cool at all.

When I’m doing lace knitting, I place them between every single lace repeat, even if it’s only five stitches wide, and always after the side borders, even if they’re three garter stitches and you do the same thing EVERY ROW. Somehow, I seem to be able to mess that up when interruptions come my way…. These little beauties have saved me tons of time re-knitting.

 

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 Thank you, my little marker friends!

Home

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My kids go to different schools , so Belle has already been back in class for a week, while Lil Buddy still has a few days of freedom left! Soccer has started back up, which he loves, and of course, that leaves plenty of time to cuddle Sasha.

Looks like it’ll be nice and cool here this weekend, so I’m looking froward to doing some yardwork, hanging with the kids (maybe a Devil’s Lake day trip?) and hopefully finishing my Brass and Steam scarf!

Have a great holiday weekend,

Jaala