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9 posts from September 2012

28 September 2012

Chickens, cousins, Grand Marais

It's always interesting to navigate in a city via second-person GPS -- where someone (me) is monitoring the electronics and relating directions to the driver (Rusty). In that fashion, we took an extraordinarily scenic drive to my cousin Gail's house in Duluth.

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The garage is to my left -- I'm standing in overflow parking (also basketball court) -- and this is the view from here.

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If you're not familiar with Duluth, it's hilly -- like San Francisco -- but with the added excitement of winter!! So here I am from the same spot, looking down at the entry to the house. The chicken coop (shown below) is right below me.

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It looks like a playhouse, doesn't it? When Gail saw some photos I'd posted of Rusty doing repairs to our playhouse, her first thought was, "That would make a great chicken coop!"

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This is the garage -- I was overcome by it all, I guess, so you'll have to imagine the beautiful view from the upstairs studio. Gail's jewelry studio -- RockOn Jewelry -- is up there. I don't know how she gets any work done. There's also room up there for her boys' instruments and whatnot.

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We met Gail's husband, John, and my cousin Gordy for lunch at Lake Avenue Cafe (I had the Squash Spaghetti Salad -- yum!). (I'll talk a little more about trip food in another post.) After some adjustments by both photographer and subjects, we had our picture taken.

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Too short of a visit, but I'm pretty sure I'll be finding my way back again before too long.

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Aaaaahhhhhhh. We did not mind one single bit driving up the scenic North Shore again on Tuesday afternoon.

Our destination was East Bay Suites, Grand Marais, where we planned to settle and make our base for a few days. It was spectacular.

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We had a kitchen, and a local food co-op was practically next door, so we were able to stock the 'fridge, cook for ourselves, and eat in for a few meals. Not to mention coffee. We're sort of snobs about that.

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The view from the kitchen/living area.

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The view from the bedroom. I took a photo from my pillow every morning!

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It's a great little town, and very "arty." The North House Folk School is incredible, and I would love to visit sometime and take part in a workshop. The Grand Marais Art Colony had just held Plein Air Grand Marais and we were delighted with both the venue and the show! We visited a number of terrific galleries during our visit.

Are you bored yet? More to come... food, knitting, yarn, adventures!

 

27 September 2012

Along the way

Still making waves in northern Wisconsin...

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These clouds just KILLED me.

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Picnic!

While I was mostly unplugged during this vacation, I did update and share camera-phone photos on FB the whole time. (I haven't even looked at my actual camera photos yet!) It would be more accurate to say that I contributed to social/electronic media, but was not much of a consumer. I posted but didn't interact on FB much, nor did I blog or answer many emails; I barely used my phone and, while we watched a couple of movies in the evening, we didn't watch TV at all -- I had very little knowledge of what was going on in the whole wide world.

It was really pretty great, though I think it's made re-entry harder than I've ever experienced.

Anyway, I loved Ali's comment on the photo above: Ohhhh, Dad's expressions are priceless.

Because, of course, they are.

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This is the lake at Superior (above) and if you look closely (or click to embiggen), you can see ships! I lived in Superior for a year shortly after high school graduation and I never paid attention to, much less appreciated, Lake Superior.

True and very sad story.

I didn't recognize a single thing as we drove through Superior. I never had a car when I lived there, and might have been more aware had I ever driven anywhere. It seemed much more spread out than I remembered. We did stop at Fabric Works and I found a little skein of yarn to take home.

Rusty had done some recon via Google Earth prior to departure and one place he wanted to check out up-close-and-personal was the area on the other side of Duluth's iconic Aerial Lift Bridge. There are a couple of major bridges in that area and we experienced them all!

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I didn't connect with my cousin until late Monday night and knowing that we'd likely head back to Duluth on Tuesday, we didn't go far north to find lodging. The Island View Resort at Knife River was cute enough to check out and, boy, am I ever glad we did! That's our view from the cozy porch. The place was clean as a whistle, which is saying something for a 75-year-old resort cabin. The words "Marge Perfect" were even uttered a few times -- a term coined by my sister to describe to her sons the level of clean she was looking for, based on my mother's standard. The boys made a little plaque. Trust me, it is not a term we use lightly around here!

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The Lighthouse at Emily's was just down the road, and we lucked out with live music (on Mondays) as accompaniment to dinner.

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It was a real gem.

I was kind of sorry that we'd only be spending one night there.

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One last view from the porch!

 

26 September 2012

North... to Minnesota

We pondered many options when planning our little early fall get-away vacation. Now that I think of it, though, it was always North -- we never really considered heading East or West or South.

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We knew we'd drive and that we had a week -- it was Fall Fest at the Farmers' Market on Saturday, so Sunday was departure day. We knew we'd want to return on a Saturday so we'd have a buffer day on the other side.

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We thought of Toronto -- and Canada in general. Toronto is actually ever-so-slightly south-east of us, but Canada... you know? It's just North!

The Maritimes *sigh* always on my list. Can't be done from here in a week, though.

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We thought of going around Lake Superior, retracing the steps of a trip my dad took us on when I was about 12. We thought of going around other lakes -- smaller ones -- Michigan, Huron.

I didn't think a week was enough for any of it. I like driving vacations, but not vacations when there's nothing but driving!

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We settled on going part-way around Lake Superior -- the east end -- with the North Shore as our destination. We'd have the option of going to Canada (Thunder Bay or Nipigon) if we wanted. I remembered that Kathy camps on the North Shore and that Holly's been there and even had a favorite place to stay.

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It actually turned out pretty great for a lot of reasons -- #1 being visiting some folks. My cousins Gail & Gordy live/work in Duluth; their dad, my Uncle Cliff, recently moved into a Memory Care unit at a facility in Superior; my Uncle Bob lives half-way between Superior and my sister Karen's, and we planned to spend our last night away at Karen's on the way home.

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We'd booked our lodging in Grand Marais, MN, for Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, playing everything else by ear as we hit the road on Sunday morning.

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We took US 51, a familiar route north, but we were in unfamiliar territory once we passed the turn-off to County Road FF at Mercer. We pretty much kissed the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Ironwood, then took a left toward Ashland.

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And then to Bayfield, where all of these photos were taken, and where found a place to spend the night. And not just any old place! It wasn't the first place we called because it's so well known and I doubted there'd be a vacancy, but lo and behold...

While there wasn't any room at The Inn, there was a room at another of their properties, Le Chateau Boutin. Some might think of it as second fiddle, but it was simply gorgeous! That's it up there. Oh, the porch was spectacular! It was nice enough on Sunday evening for sitting (and knitting) and we both thought it was way better than the (first fiddle) Rittenhouse porch. Our bedroom -- oh! With a real fireplace in front of which we cozied up to watch a burning log. The view through the windows is from the bed. Yeah. I could wake up to that every morning!

We walked down to a cute place called Maggie's, on Manypenny Avenue, for dinner. (I love saying, "Manypenny Avenue.") There are a million fabulous places to eat up there. I see now that Wild Rice must be related to Maggie's. I was vaguely aware that it was up there somewhere, having seen it on an episode of Wisconsin Foodie a while back, but couldn't remember... and I guess I didn't really try. It gives me a reason to return.

In the morning, we walked over to the Rittenhouse Inn for breakfast (I sat next to that glorious fireplace). Most of these sky views are from the iron bridge between Le Chateau and The Inn. Then we walked downtown and peeked into a couple of shops.

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I was surprised by the size of the upstairs yarn shop at Brownstone Centre, and with a good selection of commercial yarns. Alas, I didn't make any purchases there. We went next door for a good cup of coffee, up the hill to an orchard where we bought a big bag of Cortlands, and hit the road!

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The weather was great, though definitely fall.

Have I mentioned that I fell in love with a lake?

 

25 September 2012

Ten on Tuesday: Let them eat... pizza!

Nothing like a ToT to get back in the blogging swing after vacation... it's more difficult than I anticipated.

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Pizza Toppings

Not that I'm eating much pizza these days. It's never been the staple at our house that I know it must be at others'. We've eaten most of our pizzas watching football games at my mother's house over the past few years. There have been entire off-seasons without, and that first bite in fall is as good as anything!

So, with that, let me first say that it all begins at the bottom... and I'll have mine on thin crust, crispy on the edges, maybe even with some burned-y parts!

1. Sauce -- just a bit of good tomato sauce or even alfredo.

2. Cheese -- not too much.

3. Mushrooms.

4. Sausage.

5. Olives -- ripe and/or green.

6. Spinach.

7. Artichoke hearts.

8. Chicken.

9. Potatoes.

10. Wild rice.

There was a time when sausage and mushroom was the ONLY pizza for me!

I had potatoes on a gluten-free pizza with Margene in Salt Lake City about a year ago... and, well, you know I've never met a potato that I didn't like.

We went to Sven & Ole's on our last night in Grand Marais (this is skipping way ahead on the vacation travelogue) as per the recommendation of just about anyone who's ever been! We had the Shicken & Vild Rice Zah because I just had to see what having wild rice on a pizza was all about! And it was good.

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So, here we are at the coffee shop on Sunday morning as we headed out. Rusty's got our coffee for the week, I have some tea for the road, and Ali snapped the photo. We didn't realize how well our outfits matched until then, and it made us laugh.

Our destination was the north shore of Lake Superior (which would be the south shore of the northeast part of Minnesota) -- specifically, Grand Marais, MN -- with stops planned (and unplanned) on the way there and back.

If you'd like to know more about our (pretty laid-back) adventures, or see a few of the 100+ photos (just on my phone) I took mostly of the water and sky, stay tuned!

 

14 September 2012

WIP out of nowhere

image from www.flickr.com
Inspired by a number of things, but mostly this yarn from Dixie, in these colors, I've cast on my second Different Lines shawl. (This is the 1000th Different Lines project on Ravelry.) Interestingly, it was a shawl of Dixie's that I saw at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool a year ago that inspired me to cast on the first!

The acid green is DROPS Alpaca and the purple is DROPS Kid-Silk, all from Yellow Dog Knitting.

GET IT WHILE YOU CAN (and ON SALE)!!

image from www.flickr.com
Due to changes at HQ, Dixie began closing out her stock of DROPS at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool, and will continue until it's gone. She's restocking the store with new goods from the likes of Creatively Dyed and Wisconsin's Sun Valley Fibers, and from old favorites such as Malabrigo (just arrived!).

And soon from Make.Do, too!

Anyway, things are changing at the Dog, and it's a great time to stock up on DROPS! You'll have the call the store for the current discount, and stock is strictly limited to on-hand inventory.

And, with that, I'm in full-on vacation mode. I have the entire week off next week and it's been ages!

 

10 September 2012

I went to a sheep & wool festival...

...and I barely saw any sheep!! It was so much fun helping Dixie at the Yellow Dog Knitting booth that I never went into the animal barns!

I saw plenty of people, though! "Thank you" to everyone who stopped by! And double-thanks to everyone who bought yarn!

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We talked a lot with people about the samples we had in the booth. Among the most popular were the designs by Veera that we had: Color Affection and Different Lines. Between Dixie and I, we had three DLs and two CAs -- plus there was another CA on display at Sun Valley Fibers, our across-the-aisle neighbors -- and they were all so different. Dixie had a black & turquoise DL knit in alpaca, an almost monochromatic cream & pale green (?) DL knit in cotton viscose (tres elegant!), and mine was eggplant & pink knit in merino.

(We also had lovely, last-minute neighbors from Little Gidding Farm, featuring suri alpaca. Their Suri Lace Cardigan was a show-stopper... and looked great on Dixie!)

Dixie's CA was one of our show-stoppers; knit in three colors of DROPS Kid-Silk (yep, an affordable version of knitters' crack) it was substantially sized, yet so very soft, light & airy. It was so fun to point out the other two, both in sock yarn, and all of them in completely different color stories.

You'd be surprised, with close to 6000 projects on Ravelry, how many people have never heard of Color Affection.

image from www.flickr.com
Also, there are still a number of people who've never heard of Ravelry. I did my best to inform, but I really need to perfect my elevator pitch for Ravelry -- it can be overwhelming to talk about, I can't imagine what it's like for the uninitiated to hear about.

Another show-stopper was a long, cozy sweater vest, just off the needles (the top of which is just visible over the turquoise tank, below). Dixie's been posting some great Video Workshops, and that sweater vest will be the next one (here's a preview) (look for it in the next couple of weeks, along with a link to the free pattern) (the tank has one, already).

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Make.Do made it's festival debut with a small display and I was very pleased with the reception... and some sales... and some orders.  ;)  I should have taken a photo on the first day instead of the last; oh well. I took delivery of some stock before I left, and should be humming along soon. Y'all have been very patient as I find my footing in all this. If you have an urgent need (hee-hee), drop me an email.

It's been a long, long time since I was "on the other side" at an event such as the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. I am a people-watcher from way back, so I am right at home and quite happy watching the parade. It's also quite fun at an event such as this where 99% of the people in the parade are extremely interested in what you have to offer... a quite captive and engaged audience.

In junior high, I spent a summer traveling the upper midwest on a circuit of state and county fairs with my Aunt LaFae, a glass-blower; she would demo and I would paint & decorate, and together we would sell her wares. It was so much fun, and fascinating -- mostly because Aunt LaFae was/is fascinating. Not everyone was there for glass-blown gee-gaws, though it was impossible not to stop and watch when she was doing a demo. It was one of the most memorable summers of my life. Anyway, I had a thought of LaFae yesterday at tear-down... the shift in the atmosphere of the place (which is an actual fairgrounds) made me remember. It was a good shift -- especially when it's been 3 days of pretty spectacular weather and satisfactory sales. I hope all the vendors were able to leave pleased, if not happy.

I thought of my sisters a lot. For one thing, it was Amazing Race weekend and we were not there! For another, Jefferson is where Sharon last lived and it was two years ago at Amazing Race/WSWF time that she rented that apartment.

To conclude on a happier note, I had an absolutely wonderful time, and was delighted that my cousin Rae and her husband Michael came over from Milwaukee on Saturday. I spent a little time walking/talking/shopping with Rae while Michael made some sketches of ewes and lambs, and I'm determined to visit them in Milwaukee next month. Can you believe I've never been to Ruhama's (and that it's for sale?)?

06 September 2012

I used to marvel at myself in the mirror

Updated with a few links... see below.

Not in a good way.

I used to (not very often) stand in front of the mirror at the end of the day -- or even in the morning, as I stepped into the shower -- and wonder how in the hell I could look 9 months pregnant.

Sure, I'm getting older...

Sure, I gained some weight when I quit smoking...

Sure, I could exercise more...

Sure, I could probably eat better...

But, damn it all, anyway. I stopped drinking soda; I was drinking more water; I was riding for miles on my bike, or sweating buckets at Zumba or in the gym; I was eating less red meat; I was eating more fish; I cut down on junk food; I had freakin' salads for lunch everyday with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar for dressing, lean meats, Lean Cuisine, lots of veggies. All of these things over the past few years -- together, separate, to varying degrees. Nothing made any sort of difference at all!

WHY DID I LOOK 9 MONTHS PREGNANT ALL THE GODDAMN TIME???

And that was without even trying. Hell, if I tried, I could look like I was way over term.

Not a good look. Also? Uncomfortable. And? Unhealthy! The numbers were not good at my last doctor appointment and, well, I'll try just about anything OTHER than medication to control some of these things... many of which are completely in my control.

I'm not interested in dieting -- I will have none of the low-cal, low-fat slurries of chemicals that pass for "meal replacement." Sure, I've had a few; but even way back in my WW days, I also used "real" mayonnaise, salad dressings, butter -- I'd just use less. You'd be surprised how much less you need when you're actually eating and enjoying REAL FOOD.

Anyway, long story short -- and I have not quite finished the story (actually, I think the story is ongoing and won't end until I'm dead), and I have SO much more to learn -- I am taking control.

I may not grow much of my own food, but I can support my local farmer as much as I can, and know the people who do grow my food! I can minimize potentially harmful additives and ingredients in my food by buying the best ingredients -- REAL FOOD -- that I can and preparing it myself. From scratch. It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be "cuisine" every night.

I am loathe to find the REAL FOOD at my grocery store crowded out, more and more, by yet another freezer full of heat & serve shit. And, ohmygod, have you been in the "health food" aisle? What a freakin' joke. It's chock full of "healthy" s-h-i-t -- crackers, cookies, fruit roll-ups, brownie mixes. Seriously?

(Ooopsie, am I on a soap box? I don't mean to be... I'm just sharing what's happening here.)

So, it's been maybe three weeks and not to the letter.

I've lost close to 10 pounds, at last check. I consider that all junk weight.

Heh, it's a BABY! (Believe me, there is plenty of weight to lose, but I don't look 9 months pregnant anymore... far less.)

Things are changing, and more important is how I feel.

I've already talked about the reduction in swelling; the ability to wear a previously unwearable (but much loved) pair of sandals!

It is system-wide... I don't feel too-full or bloated all the time. I feel as though I may even be able to start comfortably wearing my rings again.

I've already put a pair of pants in the donation pile and pulled another from "the pile" in the closet; I'm just about ready to part with another favorite pair (I've been wearing a belt!) and go closet shopping again!

It must be the near elimination of sugar that's making me sense things differently. I walked into the house the other night and thought it smelled "good" -- as if someone had baked some cookies or a cake. Turns out that Maddy baked a pizza! It smelled so sweet -- not like pizza AT ALL!

And flexibility. Since cutting most sugar, grain & dairy from my diet, I am more flexible -- with ease and without pain. I won't be doing the splits again anytime soon, but I was pleasantly surprised at being able to easily reach (and scratch) between my own shoulder blades again.

Yes, folks, it's the little things. And little by little...

Suggested reading:

That last one just because.  ;)

04 September 2012

Ten on Tuesday: See you in September

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things I Love About September

1. Back to school! Only one of mine this year (two next year!), and it wasn't the big production it's been in years past, but still exciting -- mostly because she's excited! There have been no second thoughts and it's all about progress and the future.

One of the things I've always loved most about "the internet" is my friendship with people of all ages. This year, I am so flippin' happy to see so many First Day of School photos from all my friends on Facebook. Whether it's the first day of Pre-K, middle school, or high school, everything and everyone is so happy, bright, fresh, new, and ready!

2. Cooler temperatures. That's how it's supposed to work, anyway. I love cooler temperatures at night, getting snuggly and cozy under the covers!

3. Apples. And so many other things at the farmers market. This is the bountiful season!

4. Wool. I actually had Portico wrapped around my shoulders at the market on Saturday morning. Luckily, I always bring a few knitted things because Ali asked for a shawl, too!

image from www.flickr.com
5. Color. It is certainly not going to be peak time for color, but I am looking forward to seeing some autumnal tones when we head north in a couple of weeks. (Two weeks!) Maybe I'll even be inspired to take some photos.

6. Are You Ready for Some Football? I may only have watched about 5# total in the entire pre-season, but I am definitely ready for the regular season to start! It looks like I'll be listening to the first game on the radio, heading home from Jefferson... and that's OK! Hopefully, it'll be very exciting -- to both keep me awake and make the time fly. The high school games have started, too; as the leaves fall, I'll see the field better and better... I love it when the Friday Night Lights come on!

7. Nesting. Forget "spring cleaning," I'm all about getting my nest in order for the Long Winter. This year, I have grand designs for taking stock, cleaning out, and organizing yarn.

8. Cooking. Sort of hand-in-hand with nesting, cooking is all about settling in and stocking up... even if I don't really stock up all that much. The changes I've made to my diet have made me excited about cooking again -- it's all about simplicity, right now, and experimenting with seasoning and flavors.

9. Not Sweating. It was one of the most brutally hot & humid summers we've had in a long time. I was reminded of early days in one of my first apartments -- upper level, no air conditioning -- hotter than freakin' hell. I'd just sit in front of the fan and let it blow; go to the movies, back-to-back matinees (who cared what was playing), just to cool off! Oh, and then there was that summer when Ali was a baby...

10. Vacation! It's a super-busy month with three days at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool, the annual Harvest Festival at the farmers market the weekend after that (a longer day than usual at the market), but the reward will be nearly a week of meandering on the north shore of Lake Superior. There'll be plenty of activity, but also lots of quiet and rest. And knitting.

 

03 September 2012

Ugh

This morning, I thought of the greatest title for this post that I wasn't ready to sit down and write. I wondered to myself whether I should jot it down and, of course, thought "No! It's so great, you won't forget!"

Yeah.

I forgot.

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It's time to count up the hexagons for a total! I was even inspired to make a hexi in honor of my Color Affection... puny and pitiful though it is. Obviously, I need to loosen up a bit!!

So, here's where it stands as of August 31st:

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There was one person to correctly guess the number! Twin Set Ellen, come on down! Your guess of 124 was right on the money.

The randomly drawn number from all eligible entries is 4, and I've sent an email to Melissa.

Thank you all for playing!

* * * * *

Miss Maddy Mo went back to school yesterday... things are going to be a little quieter around here. Not that she's noisy, but it's one fewer person's day-to-day comings and goings.

Quieter.

* * * * *

I had a great Labor Day Weekend of heartfelt and happy laboring, and am very thankful for the holiday.

It'll be a short week ahead, as I have Friday off, too, and will be heading to Jefferson and the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. I'll be there for the whole weekend, lending a hand to Dixie in her booth for Yellow Dog Knitting in Eau Claire. We'll be in the West Country Store, so come and see us (I don't know the exact booth number yet)! I love Dixie's style, and know her booth is going to be amazing -- samples galore! When I saw Different Lines in her booth last year, I knew I had to knit it! This year, in addition to DROPS, she will also have some Make.Do yarns available!

Who's going?

 

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