Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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It's been a while, I'm not sure I remember how to do this, hehe.

Hope you had a Happy Halloween:

Happy Halloween!

No trick or treating for us this year; I think next year will be our first. Scott's been a "turn the lights off and hide" kinda person, but Lily's softened him up, heh.

Speaking of Lily, here's a pic from September, at 16 months:

Sept 2008

and in October, when she insisted on trying on my sweater (Wicked in Koigu Kersti) with me:

Oct 2008 - Trying on mama's sweater

(She now regularly asks to take off her shirt when she sees my WIP's on the sofa.) 'Course, it took mere seconds for the yarn to be wrapped around her once:

Oct 2008: Trying on mama's sweater

so I reminded myself to breathe and took it off her casually. Dropped stitches? Pshaw, I may forget this when I see them, but they don't intimidate me. (I'm thinking a similar sweater fit to her size would be wicked cute on her, no?)

We made it to Rhinebeck this year! (I had high hopes of finishing Wicked, but it was not to be.) I nearly went a day early and took a carding class, but I wimped out. To make myself feel better, I took the day off work anyway and carded up some washed Romney from a fleece I picked up at MDSW earlier this year (pictured here):

Drumcarded Romney with silk

One pass on my SuperCarder made a nice prep; from R to L, pure Romney; 20% white Tussah Silk; 20% dyed Tussah Silk.

I spun a small sample:

Sample skein; drumcarded Romney with silk

Overplied; but I think it will make a nice sweater yarn. Definitely like the 3 ply on this one.

I digress.

I had a wonderful time at Rhinebeck. On Friday, we went to the Culinary Institute of America and dined in their cafe. We remembered why we don't eat out any more. Having a VERY active toddler makes it much harder to enjoy a meal. But it was worth it.

We only took 1 photo at the festival; we were too busy running around or dealing with crowds or taking care of Lily to pull the camera out. But Friday was more relaxed. After lunch at the CIA, we hung around a bit and took a few pics:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

That's Scott's new toy. Mega wagon. It worked out well at the CIA, but was too large to navigate the crowded barns at the festival (holy crowds, Batman!). Lily did get to nap on it the first day of the festival, though, so that worked out well.

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Yes, those are technically capri's. It was on the chillier side, but Lily is always warmer than we are. She's still at 90th percentile for height, but down to 50th for weight. We don't know where she gets it from. It's a mystery. Yeah, the capri's - she goes through clothes shockingly fast. At 18 months now, she's just outgrown her 18 month clothes.

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

She loves to run away from me:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

She hasn't figured out how to climb stairs yet:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Or else she just has way too much fun leaning.

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Running down the hill!

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Spinning! It's a bit blurry, but I love my off-centeredness in this one:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Later that afternoon, we discovered the car tire had a slow leak. While we had it fixed, Scott showed Lily a cricket:

Rhinebeck 2008: Found a bug!

and she did a good job of being "gentle, gentle" with it.

Rhinebeck 2008: Found a bug!

The only Rhinebeck picture:

Rhinebeck 2008: Asleep at last

Ahhh, asleep at last.

The best part of Rhinebeck was getting to hang out with my fiber friends. I've been so out of the blog world and generally out of touch and isolated. It was good to feel welcomed and be part of the community, even for a short while. Thank You!!!

We have yarn!

Handspun by Stefania (but handspun by me) Corriedale/Silk in osage and indigo:

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk

398 yards, 5.25 oz. Not yet washed and set, but still, yarn. Yay!

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk

And spun singles:

These are the two bobbins of A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk:

A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk

Some parts were a breeze to spin, and some were rougher roving bits (coarser fiber that was more fuzzed up) that took more work to keep relatively even. There are little slubby bits throughout which will give the finished yarn charm.

About 8 oz and I don't want to think about how many yards of plying ahead of me...

Buoyed by that success and cheered by your comments, I pushed on to finish the second bobbin of Lorna's Laces Sheperd Top in Glenwood:

Lorna's Laces Sheperd Top in Glenwood

The previous bobbin on top, the latest on bottom.

After spinning so much roving, especially the somewhat slubby Rambouillet/Silk, it was comforting to be able to spin nice even singles. It was like, hey, I can spin! Cool! I also had to move my back hand much further back to accommodate the longer fiber length.

One weird thing about the Lorna's Laces Sheperd Top is the ends: they are cut off with scissors, instead of pulled apart. To avoid any short, cut fibers, I pulled out the shorter end bits and chucked them.

The fiber itself is a nice, smooth spin. I have a few more colorways, and like the Glenwood, they all have sequential color series, instead of being randomly or spotchily dyed. I can see myself getitng tired of spinning the colors "in order", spinning to chain-ply, and chain-plying, so I will have to get creative with how I spin the other rovings.

With only the Foxfire Fiber Camel/Silk and Hello Yarn Shetland left, I reluctantly chose the Foxfire Fiber. While gorgeous and luscious, I knew it would take longer and be a trickier spin. The Hello Yarn would be a good carrot to keep me going.

Or so I thought.

When I pulled out my sample card, I realized I was really spinning laceweight on this. Fine. The stuff that takes for-e-vah. Here's bobbin 1:

Foxfire Farms Camel/Silk in Honeysuckle

And I wish this were bobbin 2, but it's just bobbin 1 again, cuz it's so pretty I can't resist:

Foxfire Farms Camel/Silk in Honeysuckle

Again, it felt nice to spin smooth, even singles. Ahhhh. I can spin evenly!

The prep is delish. No felting, very loose. I slowly remembered how I had spun the first bobbin (I make it sound so long ago but it was April). I pre-drafted to a manageable thickness, which was time consuming but, well, manageable. Because of the short and long fibers, I balanced between controlling longer fibers with my pinky and ring finger, and the shorter fibers with my thumb and index finger.

But the spinning felt like cycling uphill into the wind: lots of peddling but little visible progress. Every inch of roving pre-drafted out to at least a foot, which, at laceweight, took a long, long time to spin.

The first 1/3 took over 2.5 hours. Ick. At least 5 more hours to go. Just spinning time! Very disheartening. Very, very disheartening.

In desperation, I tried spinning without pre-drafting. It took some getting used to, but I got the hang of it. Somehow, the next 1/6 took .5 hours, and the following 1/4 took 1.25 hours. Woohoo! Now that's progress I can live with! Another 1.25 hours or so should finish it off! Totally do-able by this weekend.

Please don't mention plying.

The lesson: pre-drafting is not always the best thing, or even necessary. I try to minimize pre-drafting anyway, because it takes so long and, frankly, I'd rather be spinning. Not to say it doesn't have its uses.

Three different projects, three different spinning styles, and what will be three different types of handspun. A good workout!

Like the Yarn Harlot, I may have bit off more than I can chew.

After much internal wrestling, I decided to join the Tour de Fleece. Between the heat and the Mobile One,

IMG_8422

spinning time has been non-existent of late, and the TdF was a good excuse to get back to it.

For my challenge, I wanted to choose something that would push me (ergo, challenge), but something do-able, and useful.

I considered spinning a sweater's worth of yarn out of a beautiful colored Corriedale fleece I had washed, which is high on my list of spinning dreams right now:

Colored Corriedale Fleece

But when I considered:

  • the fleece was only partially washed, and
  • I had not sampled, and
  • I did not have time to sample or wash more fleece AND spin; and furthermore,
  • I didn't know which sweater from A Fine Fleece I would spin for (because that much was a certainty) and sweater choice would affect the type of yarn I would need to spin,

I nixed that idea.

I nixed several other ideas, but finally settled on:

Clearing the bobbins. The Schacht bobbins. All 8 of them.

Certainly challenging, but most likely do-able, and very useful. Besides, one bobbin was clear, 2 bobbins were full and ready to be plied, and one had a very small amount of fiber on it. Totally do-able, right?

I also decided to add a second challenge:

Spin every day, for at least 15 minutes, but shoot for an hour.

That would get me in the right mindset, and perhaps back on track with this whole spinning business.

So. Crazy? Do-able?

The ready-to-be-plied bobbins are 5.4 oz Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk roving in osage and indigo, purchased at MDSW this year. It's difficult to capture the blue/greens and gold tones:

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk

So much fiber sits around waiting it's turn so I put this on the wheel almost as soon as we got home.

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk

It's mostly plied already.

Next, 8 oz of A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk roving that I bought at Rhinebeck last Fall:

A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk

A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk

and started spinning at Spa in February:

A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk

I finished spinning it tonight! Only about 1.5 oz of it was previously spun at fingering weight, so it was quite a bit of work. There's still the plying, though...

And here's where it starts to get a bit hairy.

5 oz of Lorna's Laces Sheperd Top in Glenwood, to be chain-plied for self-striping socks:

Lorna's Laces Sheperd Top in Glenwood

Half is done, so 2.5 oz to spin. Thin.

Foxfire Fiber & Designs Camel/Silk in gorgeous Honeysuckle. So soft and yummy, but a tough spin with the long silk fibers and short camel fibers.

Foxfire Farms Camel/Silk

2 oz already spun, 2 oz to be spun. Thin. Lace weight. Hmmm.

And perhaps the home stretch:

9 oz of Hello Yarn Shetland:

Hello Yarn Shetland

Half already spun:

Hello Yarn Shetland

to match 4 oz of this Hello Yarn Shetland:

Hello Yarn Shetland

that you previously saw as this 2-ply (my latest favorite skein):

Hello Yarn shetland - 2-ply

...

Two weeks to go...

...

Crazy, right?

...

Dare I tell you... the final bobbin, the one I laughingly said had only a small bit on it... it's 4 oz Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce:

Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce

Beautiful, isn't it? There's only a very small amount spun up. Technically, it could just be "spinning a sample". (Right?)

Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce

Or...

Maybe it will be my TdF "Bonus Round"...

Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce

Hooboy, it's been so long I don't know where to begin. Let's keep it short and manageable, shall we?

We're alive and well!

Lily is thriving and a real trip to watch. She's got such personality!

IMG_7528

Though most people don't see it because she's become very reserved with strangers. She's learning and growing so fast; loves to dance,

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tells stories, crazy curious about everything, and just started walking across the room.

Walking!
wearing papa's hat

It still amazes me that we all started this way, that we all had to learn to crawl, and walk, and eat.

Motherhood is really hard, harder than I expected (and I expected hard). I think the hardest part has to do with having another person around all the time, someone who needs constant interaction and care. Scott and I are both introverts, and cherish our quiet time. We need downtime to recharge from the day. Learning to be around and interact with someone (almost) 24/7 was exhausting. We're getting used to it, and she doesn't need the same constant interaction now, so it's getting better. But when she goes to sleep, man, do I need my knitting/spinning time!

I wouldn't trade it for anything, though.

IMG_7650
sock shenanigans

There has been a good bit of spinning

Hello Yarn shetland - 2-ply
Hello Yarn Shetland in browns and greens, spun 2-ply

Indigo Moon Merino/Alpaca/Silk - 2-ply
Indigo Moon Merino/Alpaca/Silk, spun 2-ply

and knitting going on (and the usual stash enhancing),

November socks - in progress
November Socks; yarn is Zen String Serendipity Fingering in November

Monkey socks - in progress
Monkey socks; yarn is Shibui Knits Socks in Orchid

even a bit of drum carding.

Drumcarded merino/silk
carded merino and silk

I finished my Skater's Undertop (and wore it to Spa!),

Skater's Undertop - in progress
last pic I took

and Scott's Cobblestone (the week before it got too warm to wear), and I'm in the midst of the ZephyrStyle Tree Jacket in Tess' Designer Yarns Cultivated Silk & Wool.

Tree Trunk: in progress

After seeing Julia's finished sweater, I immediately cast on. The yarn is softalicious, but catches on any scruffy bits on my hands. Now that it's too warm to wear, I'm not as motivated to finish...

I'd like to have some gorgeous finished object photos like Cheryl, but I tell you, finding an afternoon with Scott and I both free and me freshly showered and baby okay on her own is not so frequent. Nevermind the fact that I am in serious need of a haircut. (Lily gets almost twice as many baths as I do showers. I'm beginning to envy her.)

We're heading to MDSW next week, can't wait! I'll be volunteering at the Fleece Show again (guess how many fleeces I'll walk away with?). Lily turns 1 the day we leave. She doesn't know it yet, but she'll finally get to eat some of that ice cream she keeps seeing us eat (I've been able to eat a lot of ice cream while nursing, it will be a hard habit to break).

Hmm, not so short or manageable, but good to be back.

Remember this handspun?

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm. Last seen unwashed back in June. What a difference a wash and a whack makes.

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

One thing Ravelry is giving me an itching to do is knit up more of my handspun. I want to knit this:

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

into something yummy. I have 2 ideas:

  • Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style
  • the lacy Skater's Top that is designed to go over the Skater's Undertop I'm knitting now (though I don't want to wear them together)

Speaking of the Skater's Undertop, Ravelry also helped me find photos. Veronik Avery has some in her flickr set (Undertop and Lacy Top).

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

I have 520 yards in 3.7 oz. I made a reasonably-sized Flower Basket Shawl out of one skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk (440 yards in 3.5 oz), so I think the shawl would be fine yardage-wise. I'm not sure how the striping nature of handspun would work out, but it's a simple pattern.

The Skater's Top uses 2 skeins of Rowan Kid Silk Haze, which is 458 yards in 1.75 oz. I have more yardage, but I find it hard to believe that my little skein will be enough for a top, even a lacy one.

What do you think? Which would you start?

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

Sunfires

Shortly before Rhinebeck, I took Laurie's "challenge" to heart and thought hard about what Rhinebeck knitting I might bring. I don't knit socks enough to stalk indie-dyer websites. What did I have that was unique? And then it hit me: handdyed handspun self-striping chain-plied yarn in fiery colors. What could be more fitting?

Navajo-plied Sunfires

Naturally, I was too preoccupied with Lily to knit a single stitch.

Navajo-plied Sunfires

The yarn stayed in my bag until 2 nights ago. And started to become socks:

Sunfires Fantastic - in progress

The pattern is Welt Fantastic from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. I'm not sure if the pattern interferes with seeing the color gradations from light to dark and back again. Here's the other side:

Sunfires Fantastic - in progress

What do you think? Patterned? Plain?

Three weeks seems to be my manageable post-interim. How sad.

With empty bobbins comes the need to fill them:

Miss Babs BFL in Rock Wall - singles
Miss Babs BFL in Rock Wall - for 3-ply

All of them:

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in The New Black - singles
Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in The New Black

Every last one:

Miss Babs SW Merino batt in Sunrise! - singles
Miss Babs superwash batt in Sunrise! (color SO not accurate)

Big projects require more brain cells (and time) than I have to spare, so socks in plain:

Jester socks - in progress
plain sock in Fleece Artist Merino Sock yarn in Jester

and fancy:

Embossed Leaves Socks - in progress
Embossed Leaves Socks in Koigu KPPPM in P323

With limited time for creative outlet, I've been at least trying to match sock yarns to patterns as well as I can. The Fleece Artist in Jester is too busy for patterning, so that was an easy decision. For Embossed Leaves, I thought the "leafy" Koigu colors would be a nice complement. But I'm not sure if the darker colors obscure the leaves; and perhaps it's too literal, too:

Embossed Leaves Socks - in progress

Ah well. Sock one was finished at the Yarn Harlot signing in Burlington, MA a couple of weeks ago, and sock 2 is almost done. I think I like 'em anyway.

I do have one bigger project on the needles. Needed something after finishing FBS. More soon.

It's been an eventful almost-3 weeks. (Of course, any almost-3 weeks with a baby is bound to be eventful.)

First, she had her 2 month appointment. My, has she grown! I mean, you can kinda tell in the photos, but... She was 12 lb 1 oz and 25" long! 90th+ percentile. She got some shots and boy, did she scream! It was kind of refreshing in a way. She's been such a quiet baby, not crying too much, so it was good to know that she could belt it out if she needed to. Scott was totally unnerved, poor guy. Me, I laughed and joked with the nurse. Because, well, it was an unavoidable situation, and there was nothing I could do, and if I didn't see the humor in the situation and stay objective, I'd probably be crying too.

The next couple of days Lily didn't feel so great, low grade fever, etc. Poor kid. Didn't sleep so well at night. And then there was the heat. She stayed up until 6 am several nights in a row, and drank often. Then we got a cool night and she slept through it, thank goodness. But it was all downhill from there.

After a couple of good nights it started up again, only this time, it was 8 am and nursing every 1.5-2 hours (I joked that she was getting ready for college, pulling all-nighters and drinking too much... but really, not so funny), sleeping no more than 30-60 minutes at a time and not falling asleep after nursing. The power of the boob was no more. She slept during the day, but that didn't help me at night. Nor was it enough for her, and she started getting baggy eyes. Babies should not have baggy eyes! Finally, after almost a week and no signs of improvement (and in fact, signs of it getting worse), I took her to the doctor to rule out any physical issues. She checked out perfectly healthy (and weighed 12 lb 12 oz!): her circadian rhythms are out of whack. So we stayed up a few hours more before crashing and by then she was so exhausted (as was I) that she (drumroll!) slept through the night! And she's been sleeping through the night since then (knock on wood).

But now, she's not napping during the day. And everything that used to work to get her to sleep before, not only does not work, it upsets her! Oy vey. I'm beginning to understand that, with babies, and probably children in general, you don't fix one problem without gaining a new one. That is, you trade in one set of trials for another, and it goes on, and on, and on... I don't quite have a working knowledge of this yet, as I believe that, once I do figure out how to get her to take more than one 60 minute nap between 8 am and 5 pm, I'll breathe a sigh of relief, pat myself on the back, and think I'll have some kind of respite. Newb.

Still, she's healthy, and pretty happy when she's not exhausted from the not napping (and when I'm not using the old going to sleep methods - so "last week"); I'm just shy of exhausted and mentally kaput; in short, welcome to motherhood!

(Oh yeah, did I mention I've been working from home part-time the last month? One word: challenging. Good bye, weekend, nice knowing ya.)

She's been getting good at batting the dangling toys on her bouncy seat:

IMG_4330

IMG_4332

and one day she started to grab them, too. Now she regularly holds "red bird" with one hand while knocking around "blue fish". She reached for her dolly, too:

IMG_4321

It's amazing how they can suddenly do new things, isn't it?

Oh oh oh! And she laughed for the first time yesterday!

Supposedly this is a fiber blog, and there has been fiber activities going on. But I'm pooped. So I'll show you a glimpse of the finished cormo/alpaca and save the rest for "tomorrow": 

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca 2 ply

I finally finished spinning the neverending cormo/alpaca! That little bit in the photo ended up taking closer to 6-8 hours to spin, rather than the "couple of hours" I had guessed. Oy vey. I plied a sample and am looking forward to seeing the rest of it plied up:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca 2 ply sample

I can't guess how many yards it will be total, but it will be many hundreds. I've already spent 2 1/2 hours plying the main batch, with at least as much to go. I'm trying not to let it get to me, but I tell you, I'm getting really good at counting to 7.

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca 2 ply sample

This little bit is 35 yards and weighs... very little (my regular scale does not do well on the low end):

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca 2 ply sample

I think it will be nice stuff! Naturally, it will (eventually) become something lacy.

With the spinning done, I got the itch to start something else. All that birthday fiber I showed you? I didn't touch it. I wanted to practice spinning worsted weight, so I pulled out this merino I traded with Natasha back in January:

Luxe Merino in Earth and Sea
1 lb Luxe Fibre merino in Earth and Sea

I split it into 8 sections and then tore those into strips and arranged them to get good color distribution:

Luxe Merino in Earth and Sea

The last several months I've been very into fibers combining blues and browns. Something very organic/earthy about it. Then again, lately I've had a few cravings to spin hot pink, too...

I spun a sample and quickly realized that it's been a LONG time since I've spun anything heavier than sport weight. This will take some practice.

I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from startitis because after plying the sample, I promptly stopped and dug around for something else. This is Montadale roving from Christopher Hall that I purchased at last November's The Gathering:

Christopher Hall Montadale roving

I'm not used to spinning roving. Mostly I spin dyed top using a short forward or backward draw. With the Montadale I tried a longer point of contact draw; it was nice to play with a different (and faster) spinning style. This would make good social spinning.

Of course, after a while I got bored and wanted to spin something else. I don't know if I'm having that too-many-choices indecision (so many things I want to spin!), or if I'm having that post-major-project lull after the cormo/alpaca (though it still needs to be plied). I imagine that's more common with knitting. Have you felt it with spinning?

More happy news

I won a skein of Vesper Sock Yarn in Tandem!

Vesper Sock Yarn in Tandem

If you recognize it then you likely contributed to Claudia's MS Ride. Besides being a good cause, I won something last year, so I knew I would be contributing again. Woohoo!

Fall Anklets

Fall Anklets

Fall Anklets
Started:
6/23/07
Finished: 7/4/07
Pattern: basic toe up, same as the Summer Anklets
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino Sock in Origin (less than half a skein)
Needles: 2.5mm Addis
Notes: Me loves the Fleece Artist Merino Sock. Squishy soft, feels so good. Me loves quick anklets. Knit knit knit done!

Me slightly surprised by longer striping sequence in sock #2:

Fall Anklets

Me feet happy.

Fall Anklets

Beaucoup

I mentioned my burgening stash of beaucoup de sock yarn. More evidence:

Fleece Artist Merino Sock

Me loves the Fleece Artist Merino Sock! Origin, used in the anklets, is in the middle. Next pair, already started, uses Jester, second from left. Plain vanilla socks, good for mindless knitting.

How fast she grows!

For Bea:

IMG_4242
My Lily Bear

Thanks for the reassurances that things get easier sooner than 6 years from now. I needed to remember that last night. Over the last 2 weeks Baby Girl has gone from Easy Baby to "Fussy" Baby (which my sister reminds me is really Normal Baby). It's been a combination of gas / night light / overstimulation / overtiredness / heat. Boy, my troubleshooting skills really come into play here.

The night light we bought because the dark scared her, and she'd wake up and freak out. Turns out the night light meant poorer sleep (for all of us). She's been getting used to the dark and my reassurances, so it's become a non-issue.

The overstimulation was from too much fun. Now we know she can handle only so much playing before she is POOPED. (Lifting your head is hard work!)

The overtiredness was from being overstimulated! And when you're having fun, who thinks about sleep?? But then it hits you. And once overtired, man, it's tough to sleep. Now we keep an eagle eye out for signs of naptime.

Heat, well, not a lot we can do there. We're MELTing in this 90's heat. No A/C, either (casement windows). We always toughed it out before, but dealing with a baby in this weather is making us reconsider our options. Any suggestions on portable A/C's?

Gas, well, still working on that one. I've changed my burping technique and that helps. Also, a lot more belly massages and bicycling of legs going on. In fact, I spent a few hours doing that last night. And nursing. Between 11 pm and 3 am. Hence the need to remember that it does get easier!

Still, she's a relatively easy baby, and outside of those late night hours, I'd be quick to say it.

FBS

Much progress has been made on the Flower Basket Shawl:

FBS Redux - in progress

Ha! Bet you didn't expect to see it so grown!

The pattern uses a heavier weight yarn and only requires 6 repeats of the main chart. Naturally, as I neared the end of 6 repeats, I got kinda excited! Until I noticed the shawl was quite, well, tiny. When I checked my first FBS, I counted 12 repeats. 6 of 12 repeats put me at 30% complete. Ouch!

I've been chugging away, and while the rows feel quite long now (almost 300 stitches on the needles), I can feel the end is near. One more repeat and then an edging. Woohoo!

FBS Redux - in progress

Still loving the Sea Silk, but I'm worried the color will not suit my mom. I knit on anyway.

More Fleece Artist!

I needed mindless sock knitting, and I loved wearing my Summer Anklets, so I started another pair, this time in the Origin colorway:

Fleece Artist Sock yarn in Origin
Fleece Artist Merino Sock yarn in Origin

The color in the skein did not translate as expected when wound:

Fall Anklets - in progress

The contrasts between colors seems much sharper. And then the colors in the sock were unexpected as well. I definitely didn't expect striping, since Summer Anklet didn't much stripe:

Fall Anklets - in progress

However, the more I knit, the more I like it.

Sigh, I'm such a newb sock knitter, aren't I?

Spinning

The effort to empty bobbins has begun in earnest. The Spunky Eclectic merino/silk (Thunderstorm colorway) seemed the easiest to knock off. In a few days I spun the second 2 oz:

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

and then plied:

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm - 2 ply

It needs a washing and whacking, but I am pleased with the results. 3.7 oz, 520 yards, enough for a small shawl. One bobbin freed!

This skein converted me to the treadle counting method of plying. I had always plied "by sight", meaning I'd watch the twist as I treadled and let it wind onto the bobbin when it "looked right". For bulkier and less barberpole-y yarn, this was not so bad. But for hard to see, endless yards laceweight, not so fun. Plus, I think the counting treadles method gives an overall more consistent yarn. I'm sold. (I still kept an eye on how it looked and adjusted my treadle count several times over the bobbin, though.)

Next up, the spun itsy bitsy Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

I will really like this yarn (or so I keep telling myself) but the spinning of it is making. me. nuts. Besides pulling out little neppies, the itsy bitsy-ness makes this 4 oz feel neverending. This second bobbin is taking me hours and hours and I still have this much left:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

Which, granted, is not a lot, considering what I started with, but still, it probably represents another couple of hours of my life.

Scott said, Take a break, spin something else. But I'm persevering. If I don't finish it now, it may sit for many months more.

Anne was more than a little right (in the comments) when she said my mom took my sanity with her. The Friday after she left, I took Baby Girl to the Fabric Place Knit Club to meet my knit buds. One of the first questions asked: How old is she?

They got nothing but blank stares back. I honestly could not even begin to answer that question. How old is she? She's... What's today? What day is it? Hunh?

Fortunately, I was quickly asked when she was born, an answer I could rattle off without thought, and they made their own calculations. Clearly, my mind is gone, and one cannot have sanity without it...

It was really great to hang out with knitters and mothers. Being able to talk about nursing and motherhood was such a relief, I had no idea how much I was craving it. By the time I left I was exhausted (just going out of the house with baby wipes me out; trying to carry on a conversation while holding her and making sure she's okay? Poop-ed.). In an empty parking lot, trying to get her into the carseat and the carseat into the base, I wanted to cry. Knit Clubber Pauline drove by on her way out to see if I needed help. "Oh, I'm fine!" Automatic response. Followed by a joking (but sounding desperate in my ears), "It gets easier, right?" Pauline said something along the lines of, "Oh yeah, much easier now, she's 6 and we just use the booster seat now," while nodding toward the backseat. Me, joking (and sounding ever more desperate), "Just six more years, eh?"

IMG_4009

On the spinning front

It would appear that I'm trying to make up for lost time with the spinning. After 2+ months of wanting to spin but not being able to, I've been slowly catching up. There's the Spunky Eclectic superwash merino plied up:

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto - 2 ply

(yep, colorway Toronto)

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto - 2 ply

Turns out that plying is easier to remember how to do than spinning. I think it's a simpler process. Either that, or the process of spinning brought back physical memories of plying and made it easier.

After plying, I decided to spin up some wool/nylon roving (bought from A Touch of Twist at Rhinebeck). For (what else) socks. I spun a small sample back in February at Spa, but wasn't in the mood for it back then. It's a roughly prepared roving with gradual color shifts that lends itself well to quick, textured spinning. Not worrying about "perfect singles" seemed the way to go.

The first oz or 2 went fairly quickly, but then I tired of it. I worried that the small irregularities would feel uncomfortable on the foot and spent too much time trying to minimize them. So much for not worrying.

Spinning for socks requires roughly 4 oz. About 3 1/4 oz in, I realized it would have been clever to start a second bobbin after the first 2 oz. I am now committed to spinning up the full 8 oz:

A Touch of Twist wool/nylon

I wanted to try my hand at worsted weight merino next, but full bobbins prevented me:

Bobbins

From left to right:

Foxhill Farm dyed cormo/alpaca, spun fine - a bit of felting and a touch neppy made for Not so much fun... should I Abandon?

A Touch of Twist rambouillet - some sections of roving feel soft and lovely, but some feel coarse and No Fun to spin; I have 3 pounds of it, what to do?

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca, spun fine - ~2/3 done, but requires me to pick out small neppies and generally Pay Attention

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm (pretty!), spun fairly fine - needs Some Attention and Time

Time to clear out the bobbins, eh?

With Retro Rib Socks out of the way, I had to cast on for another pair of socks.

I know. I said I wasn't a sock person. I wasn't. But then, the belly thing happened, with attendant unpredictable sweater knitting. And before I knew it, I was in possession of beaucoup de sock yarn. Since then, even more sock yarn has found its way here. From Yarn4Socks.com:

Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sport
various Lorna's Laces

Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Ebony
Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Ebony

Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Ebony
in its full glory

That's some of it. I don't want you to hyperventilate or think me too insane. I'll spread out the photos...

The new socks-in-progress are Waving Lace Socks (also from IK's Favorite Socks):

Waving Lace Socks - started

and the yarn

Handdyed by Sheila of Wool2dye4

was dyed by Sheila of Wool2Dye4. Sheila was my Dye-O-Rama angel, since my pal went AWOL. I wasn't much of a sock knitter back then, so I was considering knitting a shawl, and waited for inspiration. I've been wanting to do something with this yarn all this time!

I wore my Flower Basket Shawl to my birthday sushi dinner, and it was all I could do to convince my mom she could not leave with it. Scott threatened to do a luggage check. She set out to tell me:

  • all the reasons why it was perfect for her (size, color, drape; you know, all the reasons I love it)
  • how much she really really really in-no-uncertain-terms liked it

If I weren't so attached to it, I would have waved bye-bye to it. Alas for my mom, I am. But, the only way I could:

  • convince her not to abduct it
  • feel okay about keeping my shawl

was to show her this skein of Sea Silk:

Handmaiden Sea Silk in Lily Pond

and promise to send her a like shawl in a few weeks. Because, you know, I have all this knitting time now. (Ha!)

I cast on this weekend:

FBS Redux - started

and as before, am enjoying the lusciousness that is Sea Silk. Good thing, because I happened to order some more in an, ahem, recent sale. Ahem.

(It seems that buying yarn is a replacement for knitting when you're time-poor. Don't tell me you don't know what I mean.)

This weekend I also made time for spinning! It's been a couple of months and I was definitely rusty. But, like riding a bicycle, it slowly came back to me. I'm not quite in my old groove yet, but I'm sure I'll get back there eventually. I've got almost 4 oz of Amy's superwash merino spun:

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto
(see the fiber)

Soon we'll see what I remember of plying.

(Warning: Photo Heavy but Fun!)

Last year I was slackerly in my Project Spectrum involvement. This year I decided to make a better effort to work on some kind of project for each set of colors. I cut it close by doing the work on Feb/March colors on March 30, but hey, better late than never.

About a month ago I had my first carding 'speriments with silk, color and the carder. I decided to do another carding 'speriment for my Feb/March Project Spectrum project, and to incorporate the "lessons learned" from the last 'speriment.

Feb/March colors are blue, white and grey:

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment - materials

I used:

in about a 1:2:1 ratio (first applied "lesson learned": use less silk).

The SuperCarder

Once upon a time, I promised photos of the drum carder in action. I eventually make good. ;)

Here she is:

Pat Green SuperCarder

Note the "No Fingers" warning and the red line. I give the carder proper respect and keep my fingers away from the line.

The lock was not to protect my carder from wily carder-lifting fiber fiends. It's a safety measure to keep the carder power switch in the Off position:

SuperCarder - lock

The variable speed dial goes from quite slow to quite fast. I usually keep it at 50:

SuperCarder - speed dial

In motion, it's a blur:

SuperCarder - in motion

'Sperimenting

I started with a thin layer of white merino (second applied "lesson learned": thinner layers of each color):

Starting with white merino

I figured with merino as the base, the batt would come off the drum easier than it would with a merino/silk or silk base.

White merino on the drum
thin layer of white merino on the drum

I then added a thin layer of the charcoal merino/silk:

Adding charcoal merino/silk

You can see the hint of color on the spinning drum (third applied "lesson learned": spritzing the drum with water periodically to prevent static and allow more fiber to stay on the drum):

Drum in motion

I'm sure I added more charcoal merino/silk than this, but it's the only photo I took:

White merino and charcoal merino/silk on the drum
charcoal merino/silk over white merino on the drum

Next, the fun part - adding color!

Adding dbpg tussah silk

Drum in motion with some blue silk
a little blue

Drum in motion with more blue silk
more blue

Drum in motion with a nice layer of blue silk
nice blue layer

After adding a thin layer of each color:

White merino, charcoal merino/silk, and blue tussah silk on the drum

I continued adding more fiber in whatever order occurred to me:

Adding more fiber

until I got tired or it seemed like the drum carder wasn't holding on to the fibers as well (due to static).

There was a little waste on the infeed drums:

Waste fibers

but not as much as last time.

Also, on the far side of the drum, stray fibers collected:

Stray fibers post-carding

Using the doffer tool in the above photo, I loosened the fibers at the ... I dunno what it's called, the join or the groove or the whatever section that doesn't have any teeth:

Using the doffer to lift up the ends

and then used the batt lifter to roll the batt off the drum:

Using the batt lifter to roll off the batt

You can see the "bottom" of the batt is white because I started with the white merino:

"bottom" of the batt

while the "top" is mostly blue/green from the last tussah silk layer:

"top" of the batt

(there's a better color photo at the end)

Spinning the batt

I tore off a section of the batt, and then split that into 4 strips to spin. No further attenuating was necessary:

Splash of color in the pre-drafted strip
hints of bright color

I spun quickly just to see how it came out, and then created an Andean plying bracelet so I could ply it from both ends:

Creating an Andean plying bracelet with the singles

The resulting 2-ply:

Spun sample

Thoughts

  • I liked the hand/feel better than the last batch; the added merino made a nice difference. The yarn actually feels quite nice.
  • The resultant yarn reminds me of Ashland Bay merino or merino/silk in their multi's colorways because of the tweedy color variation. But I didn't have to spin from the fold. ;)
  • The final colors are much darker and toned down compared to the original silk. It's to be expected, since adding black to anything will mute or tone down a color. But still, it surprised me.
  • I do miss the deep colors of the original silk.
  • The white adds hilights, which is a nice effect.

The carding went about as expected/hoped. The applied "lessons learned" went smoothly and improved the process and results. The colors did not go as expected, however. I felt like I lost the gorgeous colors of the silk. Next time I might try blending with a slightly more muted or lighter shade of the silk so that the silk really stands out. Overall, I had a LOT of fun with this 'speriment and couldn't wait to see how it turned out. :)

Beginning to end

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment

I don't believe it, but maybe you will:

Lagoon 2-ply

That's Lagoon, all plied up. See that little blue tag on the right?

Lagoon 2-ply

Yeah, that one. 925. Yards. Of laceweight 2-ply. That's a mile of singles! No wonder it took so long to ply. (And it did. Take a Long. Time.) I still don't believe it.

Lagoon 2-ply

And when I took it off the niddy noddy? 3.5 oz.

Lagoon 2-ply

Not my best plying job (it's quite a bit harder for me when the singles are so thin), but it'll do, and it sure is soft and bouncy. Once it's washed it'll fluff up even more, I'm sure, just as the sample did.

Speaking of sample, here's another sample, pre-wash. See how twisted up it is? The singles lost quite a bit of twist energy sitting around on the bobbins. When I put how much twist I thought was needed when plying (based on my memory of how I spun the singles; no sample card, unfortunately), this is how it came out:

Lagoon 2-ply sample - pre-wash

I had to go through the usual washing/setting process (soak in warm water with some Eucalan; squeeze out excess water; whack against the tub and hang to dry) to see how the final yarn behaved. Time consuming, but necessary.

Now... any suggestions for a 925 yard shawl? Something that takes advantage of the slight striping of handspun? Something I can finish before the end of March for Twisted Knitters? ;)

Melanie asked if the cormo/alpaca I was spinning was neppy. Yup, it is. Not too bad, but they're there:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

It's hard to get a good picture so you can see it, but there are at least 3 neppy points in the above - the white dot, the little bit of clumpy white above it, and some more clumpy white above and to its right.

They're not big clumps, but they definitely stand out when spinning laceweight singles. Or if you're going for consistency. Some neps work themselves out in the spinning, but most have to be picked it out as I go, and I end up with a little pile of neps after each session. Not what I generally like to do, but I've made my peace with it.

There's a little bit of knitting going on. Some Clapotis progress:

Clapotis - in progress
almost 2 full balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite

Clapotis was started because I needed something simpler than neck shaping on Trellis to work on during my gestational diabetes test. (I have yet to finish Trellis.) But the bits of hay and fiber that inevitably fall into my lap while knitting mean I don't really want to work on it while I'm at home, where it might trigger a reaction in Scott.

So....... I pulled out some Tess silk/merino I bought last fall:

Tess merino/silk

and started a second shawl version of Sand River:

Chocolate River

It's dangerous, don't you think? I mean, the whole starting a new project because of some problem with the current project... Not a good trend. Trying to get my WIPs under control over the last 15 months has made me startitis-averse, so much so that... well, it is 6 weeks to my due date, and no baby sweater in sight!

To remedy the situation, I've started a swatch with some Debbie Bliss Cotton DK and picked out a (super) simple DB cardigan pattern. It's about the only infant-sized pattern I could find for Cotton DK; most of the really cute ones are in wool-cotton or cashmerino, which are finer gauge yarns. I had no idea Cotton DK was... well, duh, so much heavier. It seems like DK cotton is much heavier than DK wool. (Or is it just me?)

Last week was a good spinning week for me. In addition to finishing up the Lagoon singles and doing a small amount of sampling:

Lagoon 2-ply sample

I picked up the Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca that I started many months ago (but abandoned in frustration while I fidgeted with the Schacht) and even finished the first 2 of 4 oz:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

Well, that's not 2 oz, don't have a photo of that yet, but just imagine the bobbin a little more full. Here's a gratuitous close-up:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

I also had a little fun with the drumcarder:

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

The colors didn't work the way I hoped (yellow/green was the wrong color to go with charcoal, methinks), but the effect was interesting and the experiment fun.

The charcoal is 50/50 merino/silk JaggerSpun mill ends I bought from Diane at Pollywogs Yarn and Fiber, along with same in natural, and some Fiddlesticks patterns. Since the merino/silk is mill ends (mostly fluffy batts), it benefits from carding.

Dyed tussah silk from dbpg Spinning Wool, Fiber and Yarn

The yellow/green is handdyed tussah silk from Pamela at dbpg Spinning Wool, Fiber and Yarn. I got several colors from her, all gorgeous! Great experiences with both vendors, I highly recommend them.

Here's the finished yarn (well, only 1/4 oz, and not washed or set):

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

And now, if you have no interest in carding or fibers, you can skip down to the preggers pics below. :)

I wasn't sure how to go about blending to get the effect I wanted, so I started with 1/2 oz each of the charcoal and silk, and decided to do a layer of each. The charcoal was straightforward, just a little fluffing of fibers before carding. The silk was slightly more involved.

This was my first time carding with silk, and for some reason, I thought it would be difficult. I pulled off lengths similar to how I prepare to spin from the fold, fluffed them out and passed them into the carder. If I tried to put too much through at once, it did get a bit clumpy or want to stick to the smaller infeed drum.

One problem I ran into was static - the last of the silk didn't want to go onto the carder and I had to use the burnishing tool several times to push down the fiber on the drum to make room. I was really thinking of doing another layer of each, but 1 oz was all that would fit. I've read that spraying/spritzing some kind of water/water-oil/water-conditioner solution will help with the static, so I'll try that next time.

I was concerned that the different fiber lengths between the merino/silk and silk would cause problems carding or spinning. Because I carded them separately, it wasn't a problem, but I wonder if a second pass to blend them more might show problems? In the spinning, I occasionally found the silk getting picked up before the merino/silk, which is what I would have expected with the longer fiber length; but for the most part it was fine, and I adjusted my spinning style to "capture" more of the merino/silk (I think I used more of a point-of-contact spinning style towards the end).

While spinning I ended up feeling like there was too much silk in the mix. Next time I would either add less silk, maybe 75% charcoal and 25% silk, or maybe add in more non-silk charcoal as well. Next time I will probably also make the layers much thinner, throw in a bit of the charcoal followed by a bit of the silk, alternating small batches, rather than doing all of the charcoal and then all of the silk. I might also be more careful with the colors in the silk and try to preserve the color variations, which I feel were lost in this batch.

All in all a fun experiment and much learned. And that, to me, is success.

Preggers pics

Still growing. 33 weeks now! From the front, the flash point near my belly button hints at the contours:

Week 33

But my profile doesn't hint, it shouts "WOAH, PREGGERS!"

Week 33

Those 5-7 pounds had to go somewhere, eh?

Hands for scale:

Week 33

Thank goodness for yoga pants and an understanding workplace; I'm running out of clothes...

Warning: photo heavy post

Spunky Eclectic

At the end of December I took advantage of Spunky Eclectic's 99 cent shipping sale and ordered me some yummies:

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto
Superwash Merino in Toronto; how could I not buy fiber named after my hometown???

Spunky Eclectic Merino in Boogie Woogie
Merino in Boogie Woogie

Spunky Eclectic BFL in Kites
Blue Faced Leicester in Kites

Some months ago I lamented that there were some handdyed fibers that I really wanted to try, including Hello Yarn, Spunky Eclectic, and Lisa Souza. After posting, I realized that, instead of lamenting, I should just save up my budget money and get some! Since then I've picked up some of Adrian's merino/silk, and now Amy's stuff -- 2 down, 1 to go!

At Spa I spun up 4 oz of the Kites BFL and plied when I got home. While pre-drafting, the colors looked much softer and more muted than in the dyed top, but when you compare the fiber to the handspun, they translate well. I love spinning BFL, soft and bouncy with a nice hand. The yarn feels the same:

Spunky Eclectic - 2-ply
Yummy! Wish you could feel it.

I spun with the intention of making socks and I'm curious to see how it stripes. 304 yards should be plenty for me.

Crosspatch Creations

In January I finished spinning up the two Crosspatch Creations batts I bought at Rhinebeck. Here they are post-wash:

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
286 yards

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
342 yards

I used tepid water because of the silk content, but there was still some dye run-off in the red-magenta skein in both the wash and rinse. I'm not sure if it affected the final colors/look, however.

These were fun to spin, a break from much of the "spinning for consistency" I do. I did try to have an overall consistent "core", while allowing the lumps and bumps to form as they would. To be honest, I did limit the size of the lumps and tried to distribute the bumps so they weren't all in a row. It wasn't all willy-nilly. But that doesn't surprise you.

For a yarn of this type, the proof is really in the knitting, don't you think? You don't know what you have until you knit it up. Wouldn't the red-magenta handspun make a nice hat?

The batts were fairly easy to spin from, as well. I pulled off strips and did a little pre-drafting before spinning. The lumps and bumps occasionally got separated out from the rest of the fibers, but for the most part, they stayed fairly well distributed.

Next up, Calico Cat!

Calico Cat was last seen as singles on new WooLee Winder bobbins back in December. (You can see the dyed fiber here.) Now it's yarn!

Calico Cat - 2-ply

I ran into a problem with my WooLee Winder. For some reason, the twist was not translating from the last hook onto the bobbin! Very frustrating and confusing. There was plenty of twist in the yarn going to the last hook, but between the last hook and the bobbin, there was only half as much twist. I couldn't see why this should be! Of course, I didn't realize this until I had finished spinning almost 8 oz and started plying. In the end, I pulled off what I had already plied and ran it through again to add more twist; and for the unplied portion, once I had the amount of twist I wanted, I super-quickly let it jump onto the bobbin so that it sailed past that last hook. Not so fun, and not good for consistency, but more twist.

In the process, I realized the singles had also been spun with less twist than I expected, so the resultant yarn, as a whole, was not what I had envisioned. Not as bouncy or "tight". Also, much less consistent and a little overplied to compensate. Still, the yarn is soft, and I do love the colors:

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

The jumbo skein is 5.7 oz and 536 yards, which is more than would have fit on a regular Schacht bobbin! I have a second, smaller skein which is 1.5 oz and 142 yards. No plans for it yet.

I emailed Nathan at WooLee Winder a couple of times about the problem, but then saw on one of the lists I'm on that he's been pretty busy, and calling is the way to go. I described the problem, and he was as boggled as I was. In the end, he said to try it again without the WW and if that eliminated the problem, to send it back to him. He was really nice about it. I think I'll give it one more go on the WW and then off the WW to make sure. I dunno, I feel bad just sending it back. At the same time, I want it to work! Hehe. The only problem is, when I'm home with my Schacht, I don't want to spin on the Joy. ;)

Corriedale

Last up, some Corriedale 2-ply:

Corriedale - 2-ply

It fluffed up quite a bit after washing and whacking.

I bought this Corriedale from someone reducing their stash about a year ago, and wasn't crazy about it. It had some short pieces in there that caused bumps in my singles, and it didn't draft nicely. It was so long ago, though, that I'm not sure how much pre-drafting I did. But I imagine that the top had become compressed over time.

Anyway, it was another case of, "what do I have to lose?" I ran it through the carder, which took out some of the longer, coarser hairs/fibers, as well as some of the short pieces and a little VM. It also made a nice airy preparation that was easy to spin from. There were still some bumps because of the shorter pieces, but it wasn't as bad. It was a good way to revive the fiber. I still have about a pound of it, but I'm not a big fan of spinning natural colored fiber. :P

Clapotis progress

I've added a few rows here and there to the Silk Garden Lite Clapotis:

Clapotis - in progress

Clapotis - in progress

After knitting, I end up with bits and bobs of hay on my lap. Not crazy about that. But I'm still loving the colors. I'm almost done with the first skein and the first section of the pattern, which means it should be pretty easy to ballpark when to end the sharf/scawl. I'm still optimistic that this will be the one Clapotis I do finish.

PS

Thanks for your kind words about Gram. I wish it could be easier, but it can't. It's Life.

On a brighter note, the doctor's appointment went fine, and I gained -- wait for it -- 7 pounds. In 2 weeks. Holy crap! And I was worried I might not gain 1 pound!!! It's a bit scary, that I can bulk up that fast. In addition to eating more, I added ice cream into my daily diet. Now that I know what it takes, I can back off some of the food and ice cream and eat a more comfortable amount.

[To be fair, my stomach was fairly empty before the last appointment; I could have easily added 2 pounds, between food and water. Today, I made sure to eat a good breakfast (and Ben & Jerry's ice cream; I love me some Cherry Garcia) and drink puh-lenty of fluids before the weigh-in. So really, we're talking about 5 pounds in 2 weeks. (Which still seems like a lot...)]

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