Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bittersweet Cabled Cardigan

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How does a person know she’s in love with knitting? One sign is that finishing a cable-covered cardigan like this means she can immediately cast on for something else. The huge mountain of sweaters she already has is another.

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It’s not like I need any more sweaters. Or socks, or scarves, or anything else, for that matter. But sometimes, I see a pattern and I just think, Yeah! I want to knit that. Sometimes, honestly, the process is the best part. I love knitting.

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Stuff like this is my idea of a good time. That’s how I know I’m a knitter.

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I learned to knit when I was eleven, in the back of a station wagon, listening to Foreigner on the radio, and I have to say it has sort of agreed with me over the years.

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I quite enjoy being able to do this, to make things like this sweater. I actually really, really love it.

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The pattern is 01 Cabled Cardigan from the Fall 2010 Vogue Knitting (my Ravelry page is here) and I used what seems to be my new favorite yarn, Berroco Vintage, which turned out not to have been the best choice for cable work, but which is so lovely to work with and wear that I will forgive it this time.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Shelly

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I have crocheted a snail. He’s pretty cute! I keep trying to resist thinking of him as “Shelly” which is such an obvious choice, something in me tries to avoid the obvious, but that seems to be his name, so what are you gonna do?

These little amigurumi animals are kind of irresistible to me, they’re just so dang cute! The minute I’ve woven in the ends, though, I snap back to my senses and think, Now what am I going to do with it? Well, I guess I’ll just prop him on the mantel and look at him. Hi, Shelly!

The pattern came from a Leisure Arts booklet at the library, which was called something like “Cute Animals to Crochet.” If, like me, you suffer from amigurumi-itis, give this try. Resist the cuteness if you can!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Embroidered Button Pendant

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I told you I wasn’t quite through making these. I can think of twenty other things I’d like to do with a covered button, just right off the top of my head, right now. This one is a 1” diameter flat cover-your-own button (mine was vintage, but you can still get these in the fabric store.) I covered it with a scrap of oatmeal linen and stitched this little flower. The cord is a piece of 1/8” sheer organza ribbon—I glued a clasp on it and everything, but for the next one, I’m thinking of just leaving it longer and tying it.

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Gosh, a girl could just go on and on. The blue one at the bottom is a little corner of a very precious piece of vintage cotton that I am pretty hesitant about using up.

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It seems to me you could have a different one of these for every day of the week!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comfort Knitting Blanket

The Comfort Knitting Blanket is finished.

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This project was born fully of my need to be knitting something while I watched all six seasons of Northern Exposure in a row. John Corbett, I love you! I started it back in November, and never got bored, ever, though I did fall asleep under it once, while it was still in progress. With the hook still in it. I blame the cat, he’s like a sleeping pill.

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Nothing in the world could be easier than this blanket. Want one? Do this: 1. Assemble your yarn. Most of the time, when I make a blanket I just toss together whatever I’ve got lying around, as long as it’s the same (or almost the same) weight. This time, though, for the sake of gauge and uniformity, I decided to stick with one brand, and I chose Berroco Vintage Wool. I’ve gone on about this yarn before, but it really couldn’t be more perfect for a blanket (though you may find the colors a little muted.) It’s soft, drapey, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. 2. Take up your US #7 needles and, using any color you want, cast on 40 stitches. Now just knit until you get bored with that color. Switch colors. Repeat until you’ve reached the length you want—for me, that ended up being 266 garter ridges later, a number I reached by laying the piece of knitting over my body and saying, “Yep, that looks about right.” 3. Now make five more pieces in the same way. 4. Sew them together using a whipstitch in a contrasting color. 5. Call it done, or crochet on a border.

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I used the Bobble-Shell Edging devised by the lovely Lucy at Attic24—you can find it here. She says every blanket deserves a proper border, and she’s so right.

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This blanket has a clean, modern look. Very unfussy. I think it looks like something a man might be willing to use. Here’s an all-over shot. I’m sorry, it’s very blurry.

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Yikes, sorry about that. I can’t seem to hold the camera over my head without wiggling it.

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Mmmm, cozy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Salvaged bowl pincushion

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Years ago, I bought this little wooden pot. It has tiny grooved carvings all over it, and had a carved lid with a wood knob. It looks Indonesian; possibly it came from Pier 1, but I like to imagine a more exotic origin. I like to think it came home as a trinket in someone’s carpet bag as they traveled home by steamship from some diplomatic posting. Well, I picked it up in a junk shop, so I can make up my own story.

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Anyway, for a long time, it was on my bedside table. Well, we live with a big dog, and the fifty-third time she accidentally knocked it on the floor, the lid broke.

Nothing goes to waste around here, not if I can help it, so I saved the bowl and waited for inspiration.

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I made it into a pincushion. If you have a little cup or bowl or container you like, you can do this too. It works best if the sides of the bowl are somewhat straight, or if it once had a lid, because the lip inside will help keep the cushion in place.

Here’s what to do: Cut two circles of fabric about an inch larger than the diameter of your bowl. Sew them together with wrong sides facing, leaving an opening. Turn and stuff tightly. (I stuffed mine with a combination of fiberfill and sawdust.) Sew the opening closed. Thread a needle with a length of embroidery floss or pearl cotton. Bring the needle up through the center of the bottom, and wrap it around the side. Pull tight. Do that again, until you have divided the stuffed circle into six sections. Make sure the floss is pulled tight. Knot it at the bottom. Chose a button or two, and sew them to the top center. Now carefully stuff the whole thing into the container. I didn’t use any glue, I just wedged it in there and tucked the sides down until it was smooth and nice. That’s it!

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jar cozy, with Crazy Daisies

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See my Crazy Daisies there in the picture? My husband brought me those for No Reason a few days ago. I know! That never happens to me, I don’t get flowers unless it’s Valentine’s Day and I’ve reminded him a bunch of times beforehand that I would like some flowers for Valentine’s Day, please. So I did get some Valentine’s Day flowers, but these aren’t them. These are just for whatever, just because he loves me, I guess, and just because they’re called Crazy Daisies, which is probably the real reason altogether. They are crazy, too, they turned the water purple. I love them.

Yesterday it was an amazing 50 degrees, and all the snow went away and the ice chunks fell off the roof and disappeared, and you could just smell it in the air. There was a softening, a breath. A thaw. We’ve made it through to the other side, hooray! (Of course, today the wind is howling and the yard looks like an arctic tundra, but that’s not the point…)

Because the weather was so spectacular, a friend and I took off on a thrifting spree. She’s the perfect thrifting buddy—we like almost, but not quite, the same stuff, so we don’t fight over the loot. We were out for hours and came home with the hugest carload of finds—my goodness, I couldn’t believe it. We kept looking in the backseat and shrieking at all the bags and lampshades and pillows and fabric that was piled up back there. I scored some good stuff, and am chock full of ideas now. We had lunch at Panera (mmmm, their French Onion soup is so delish!) and then came back here so she could learn, finally, how to crochet.

I’d been telling her how easy it is, all you do is hook up a loop and pull it through for goodness’ sake, and she’s crafty, she can do it. She’s also a perfectionist, in the best possible way, which is why all her finished projects look like they were made by a pro, so I knew she’d persevere until she got the hang of crochet, which she did.

We made some little jar cozies. Nothing but single crochet, around and around, until you reach the top of the jar and cut the yarn. So easy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beaded Fabric Pendant

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This is another one of those projects that inspires me to go a little overboard and make ten million of them. They are that easy, and the possibilities are so unlimited. You need a cover-your-own-button kit, a scrap of fabric, seed beads, and a pendant blank (I think that’s what it’s called. I got mine at Joann Fabrics. It’s just a plain disc with a loop hanger at the top.) Cover the button first, then sew on the beads. Then glue the beaded button to the pendant blank (I used E6000) and wait ten minutes. Make sure the glue is dry before you wear it—I had terrible visions of cementing this thing to my chest, but I was in a big hurry to wear it right away! (It didn’t happen, the glue was dry. Whew!)

It looks a little like a piece of porcelain, doesn’t it? I want to do one with my initial, and then one with a little embroidered flower, and then a whole pile more, just using little pieces of my favorite fabrics.

This idea came from Felt, Fabric, and Fiber Jewelry by Sherri Haab.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Knitted Mug Cozy

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If you’re like me, you have a whole cupboard full of mugs with silly sayings, little kitties, or corporate logos. I have a million of these mugs, and a million other really awesome mugs, handthrown pottery ones, and so on, but somehow, the corporate logo mugs always end up at the front of the cupboard. Fight back, I say! This clever little pattern is from the very beautiful book A Knitter’s Year by Debbie Bliss (ooh, aahh—the photo styling alone is worth a look.)

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This project took me less than an hour, and used up some scraps. Thrifty! Cozy! Is this thing me, or what?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crafty Space

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This messy corner is my work studio, carved from the already limited living space in my teeny farmhouse. My family is very generous about stepping around my project piles and mostly refraining from comment about all the piles of yarn and half-completed projects that litter every surface in this room.

I love that wooden desk chair. That baby was $1 at a yard sale. Can you believe that? It swivels! It reclines! One of my very best finds, for sure.

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I’m desperate for an IKEA. The nearest one is five hours away, so I am planning a pilgrimage. As soon as the snow melts, I’m hooking up the trailer and heading down there, ready to experience the wonder that is affordable Scandinavian design, permeated with the smell of cinnamon rolls. I am so ready. I need a bunch of shelving, as you can easily see. What a mess, right?

Until I took over this room, I was trying to be as productive as possible while storing the sewing machine in the closet and stashing the fabric in a dresser in the garage and stuffing the yarn into plastic bins. I drove myself crazy, knowing I had black snaps or that perfect button or a 1/4” red gingham, knowing it was in a box somewhere, but it was raining or snowing, or maybe it was just cold outside, or maybe I’d rummaged through all the boxes and couldn’t find it and now it’s taken me an hour of searching already, and I’m too mad to bother.

I’d get the machine set up on the kitchen table and my ironing board all out and ready to go, and then it’d be time to clear it all away and make dinner. So frustrating. You all know what I mean.

It is a wonderful thing to have a dedicated work area. I have a ton of ideas.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I love pompoms

I tell you what, these things are a little bit addictive.

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For years, I’ve been laboring under the delusion that the pompoms you make by wrapping yarn around a little piece of cardboard are good enough, thank you, and that I know how to do these things, heck, I’ve been making pompoms since 1973, right? Putting them on my ice skates (you did that, too, I’m sure) and thinking my pompoms were just fine.

I see the light! I see it! I got me a little set of two pompom makers (the pink and yellow one, made by Clover) and hoo, boy! I sat down with my scrap basket and just could not stop. The possibilities are endlessly interesting, and you can use up the teeniest little bit of some precious yarn you can’t stand to throw away. These are some superior pompoms, full and fluffy and totally awesome.

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I can already see my Christmas tree next year…it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas, is it?

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Felicity’s Lipstick Granny Square Blanket

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The lipstick-colored Granny Blanket is done! 

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I never got tired of working on this thing, not once, although weaving in that last end is always the best thing ever.  Last night as I was working on the edging, I kept stopping to just gaze upon it, you know what I mean?  Just kind of smoothing it lovingly with my hand and murmuring, “Oh, isn’t that preeetttyyy?”  The picot edge is Lucy’s—you can find it here

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This blanket was meant to be.  I started it back in September after seeing one innocent little photo in a magazine.  I’m highly suggestible, I guess, because I saw the photo, thought, “Hey, I have a whole bunch of red yarn!”  and dropped everything to start making squares, right then and there. I worked on it a little while, then it sort of fell to the end of the line.  I got it back out a few weeks ago and crocheted my little fingers to the bone so I could get it done before winter’s over (though, actually, there’s no end in sight, so I guess I need not have worried.) 

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This blanket is relatively small, just 72” x 84”, so it won’t fit on the bed, but I don’t need any more blankets for my bed (Haha!  I just have to laugh at that.  As if I need any more blankets anywhere at all!  My interest in making blankets is in no way relative to my need to have blankets.  I can’t explain this.)  It is mostly wool, culled from the stash, though I did buy four balls of Ella Rae Amity (a wool blend) to make up the light blue inner border of each square.  The red wool is Pingouin Fleur de Laine (this company appears to be gone forever, at least here in the US) which waited so patiently in my yarn cupboard for sooo long and which finally, finally, was the perfect yarn for something.  I bought seven balls of it for 21 dollars sometime in the early 90’s, and then it just sat there glowing like a neon sign, so unashamedly RED, so useless for clothing.  So right for this beautiful blanket.  I actually almost threw it away at one point.  I got a chill just now, thinking about that.

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Love, love, love.  LOVE. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine’s Day Garland

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This room is absolutely drenched in sunlight right now, and it is so gorgeous. I’m hopeless at taking a good picture of it, or even of anything else in the room while it’s here, but it’s so golden and beautiful. This, if you can believe it, is the least blurry of all the shots I took. Maybe the room is full of fairies?

I was all fired up last night and couldn’t sleep, so I hunted around for some red and pink yarn and made this sweet Valentine’s Day decoration. These are all over the internet, with good reason, because they are completely clever and easy. Although I will say I didn’t totally figure out what the heck I was doing until about heart number 7, but that’s just because I’m kind of a newbie at reading the crochet instructions. I don’t know things like which stitch is the “next” one? Like that. I know.

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I’m still a little blown away by how gauzy and dreamy it looks in here right now. This is weird for New York in February. We are accustomed to dull gray skies and dirty piles of snow by now, but this light is just beautiful. Right, anyway. The pattern is here. I used leftover Cascade 220 in that groovy red lipstick color, and a ball of some kind of insane pink acrylic/Kevlar yarn that I bought at the crafty thrift store. That pink yarn is so hearty and firm I don’t think an arrow could pierce it. It is very, um, durable. These pink hearts will last ten thousand years, so it’s a good thing they’re cute.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Granny Square Patchwork Bag

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I’ve been crocheting my hands off, and knitting too, and I even worked on a new(ish) quilt a few days ago, all big projects that are too boring to show you right now, so I decided to bring this little bag out to show you instead.

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I made this before I started blogging, so this is it’s Big Debut. Isn’t it cute? I made 19 granny squares and sewed them together, er, in the shape of this bag. When it was lying flat, it was kind of a cross shape. It was a 5 x 3 square rectangle with two squares sticking out at each edge, which would become the sides. (You can probably figure out how it goes together by looking at the photo.) Then I cut out a piece of oatmeal linen and a piece of calico in the same shape, and fused a piece of interfacing to one of them. I can’t remember which, it’s been a while. Probably it doesn’t matter.

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This calico lining is my absolute favorite fabric of all time, bought as a one yard remnant at the crafty thrift store last year. More than once, I have wished for a whole bunch more of it, but all I had was a yard, and I’ve had to make it last.

While the crocheted piece was still flat, I triple-crocheted along the top edges where I wanted the handles to go. I probably just eyeballed how many stitches I would need in order to have it fit the handles I had. (It even seems like these handles might have been thrifted, too. Keep your eyes out at the Goodwill for ugly purses with good handles!) Then I stitched up the side seams on all the pieces—let’s see, how did the lining go? I probably sewed up side seams on both pieces separately and then put the calico piece inside the linen piece and stitched around the top. That seems right—I’m not explaining it very well. You might have a better way to do it. The linen needed to be there because I didn’t want either the interfacing or the wrong side of the calico to show through the holes in the granny squares.

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I tucked the lining into the bag and hand stitched around the top edge, hand sewed the triple crochets down to secure the handles, and that’s it.

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This bag is built for spring. Bring on the ice cream cones and the cotton lawn dresses and the walking in the park. I am so ready.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

You’re Never Too Old

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A few months ago, I knit a little white bunny for a friend’s baby shower, and my daughter, who is nineteen years old, said she would like to have one, too.  Well, I can’t say no to that!  I just love it so much when one of my kids admires what I do and wants me to make something for them.   But I had already made the bunny once, and was finding it hard to get motivated to do it again.  In the meantime, she took up her own knitting, and I kind of wondered if she wouldn’t just make her own bunny, but she focused on scarves instead, and continued to ask me whether I’d made her bunny yet. 

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I kept putting it off, until Alicia Paulson posted this a few days ago, and all of a sudden, I got excited about knitting a bunny again.  This one has movable arms and legs!  I love that an absurd amount.  I used Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica from the stash (sorry, as usual the label is gone, so I don’t know what color this is.)  His vest is knit from some leftover alpaca.

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The very clever pattern is by Barbara Prime at Fuzzy Mitten.  You can knit jackets and dresses for the bunnies, too, and I already feel like making another bunny, for myself this time, and knit it a whole wardrobe of cute things, little bunny clothes with embroidered roses and cables and maybe a teeny scarf, too.  In fact, I already dug the yarn out of the cupboard.  It’s a nice, soft gray.  The next bunny will be a girl.  (Uh oh, I can see where this is going.  You know how bunnies can be.)

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thrifty find

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We have so much snow on the ground right now that the house is full of light, and everything just glows. I think it has snowed every day since the first of December, so out every window there is a frosty wonderland. There are also two feet of snow on the roof, so my husband is outside right now with our brand new roof rake, trying to clear it off. Never in my life did I imagine it would be necessary to shovel snow off my roof, but there you are. Two feet of snow seems like quite a lot. Anyway, I am indoors, beside the fire, crocheting. This little corner of the living room is where you will find me, if I’m home.

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I found this in a thrift store the other day. It is a piece of vintage crewel work, signed “JEG 1964”. There isn’t any glass covering it, so the almost fifty years it has spent accumulating dust had dulled the colors quite a bit. I took it out of the frame and gave it a nice hot bath in Oxiclean, after which it looked much better. I really do love vintage needlework, and I’m so happy when I find one I can appreciate for more than its nostalgic value. This one is perfect.

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That little squirrel down there kills me!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Winter Cotton Crochet Bag

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Because of the slippers, I had a whole bunch of bags of cotton yarn strewn all over the place. I was a little shocked at how much there was. I didn’t really think I’d stashed that much cotton, since I find it a little bit difficult to enjoy knitting with it.

The sight of all that cotton made me sleepy, so I lay down and pulled my Big Sweater up around my feet and fell into a doze. Who knows how many minutes later, I sat straight up and wide awake, and thought wildly, “I can make a little handbag!” That doesn’t happen to you? Hmmm. Well, I dug around in the piles of yarn until I found what I was looking for, three balls of Drops Ice Wintercotton. (Doesn’t that sound lovely? Wintercotton? It is lovely, very much so.) I’ve had it forever, and I don’t even know where I got it or why. It’s a gorgeous icy shade of pale blue, and I used every shred of it for this bag.

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Here’s a little peek at the inside—lined with calico, as all things should be. I’m thinking about re-upholstering the interior of my car in cotton calico…

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Check out that perfect vintage button! Always my favorite part.

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This bag is 10” x 9”. All I did was crochet a rectangle in woven stitch, saving enough yarn for the strap, until the yarn was gone. Then I folded the rectangle and stitched up the sides. I stitched the lining in by hand, and sewed on some bone rings I found at the craft thrift store. (Yes, there’s a craft thrift store! I know!!!!!)

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Then I made a twisted cord for the strap and stitched it in place by hand, added the button and loop closure. (When will I learn to do that BEFORE I sew in the lining? *eye roll*)

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Even though it’s made of “wintercotton,” this bag makes me want to wear short sleeves again. Maybe a little pair of sandals. It makes me want to go somewhere without mittens and a hat and a pair of extra shoes. I guess I am wishing for spring.