From Mama, With Love – Blog Tour and Contest

Posted on | April 9, 2014 | 7 Comments

Several months ago, a good friend, Tanis, contacted a couple of us about an idea she had – what if a group of knitwear designers who also happen to be mothers put out a completely independent collection of handknit designs inspired by and made for their children? I loved the idea — both because I love designing knits for little people (quick satisfying knits that take a skein or two of yarn – what could be better than that?) and because I’ve been veering more and more towards independent publishing in the last couple of years and the opportunity to do that with the support of talented friends spurring each other on was too good to resist. Each contributing designer is someone whose designs and aesthetics I’ve long admired or who I’ve had the luck to know in real life, and in most cases, both. I think you’ll find that they are already familiar to you (Tanis Gray, Kate Gagnon, Margaux Hufnagel, and Melissa LaBarre-Rogers).

We collected ideas, sketches of designs, and an outline of a plan. I think the resulting collection is a good representation of each of us and our distinctive voices while meshing cohesively as a whole. There are lots of projects to suit all tastes – from simple but beautiful accessories to slightly more complex manipulations of color and texture that would easily fit in amongst a family’s most prized heirlooms. I’ll talk more about specific designs in the collection in a future guest blog post during our tour’s stop at Ysolda’s website, but for now, here are a few photos to whet your appetite. Patterns are available as part of the e-collection until October 1st. Thereafter, patterns will only be available individually.

Now for the contest…
Post a comment in the comments section on who your favorite person to knit for is. It doesn’t have to be a child or even a human! I’ll choose a winner randomly in a week to receive 2 skeins of Dream in Color Groovy in Velvet Port to knit my Kyle vest, pictured below (though of course, you don’t have to knit Kyle!). Groovy is a great, plied 100% superwash (!) merino wool yarn in chunky weight dyed in a variety of gorgeous nearly solid and variegated colors. Check out the full palette on Dream in Color’s website. Contest closes at midnight EST on Wednesday, April 16th. I’ll announce a winner on Friday, April 18th.
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Be sure to follow the rest of our blog tour (italics for completed posts):
Friday, April 4th, Carol Sulcoski of Black Bunny Fibers
Monday, April 7th, Melissa LaBarre of Knitting School Dropout
Tuesday, April 8th Tanis Gray of Tanis Knits
Wednesday, April 9th, yours truly :)

Friday, April 11th, Susan B. Anderson
Monday, April 14, Kate Gagnon Osborn of Kelbourne Woolens
Wednesday, April 16, Vickie Howell, Host of Knitting Daily
Friday, April 18, Carol Feller of Stolen Stitches
Monday, April 21, Kate Chioccio of Dragonfly Fibers
Wednesday, April 23, Julie Crawford of Knitted Bliss
Friday, April 25, Katie & Kara of Nice & Knit
Monday, April 28th, Ysolda Teague (Guest Blog Post from me)
Tuesday, April 29th, Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Friday, May 2nd, Cecily Glowik McaDonald of Winged Knits
Monday, May 5 – Carrie Bostick Hoge of Maddermade
Wednesday, May 7th – Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails
Friday, May 9th – Kate & Courtney, of Kelbourne Woolens
Tuesday, May 13, Jessica Correa, of Dream in Color Yarn Co.
Thursday, May 15, Kristen Kapur of Through the Loops
Tuesday, May 20, Tanis Lavalee of Tanis Fiber Arts
Friday, May 22, Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting

The Rhinebeck Sweater Collection – Spring Brook

Posted on | October 16, 2013 | 1 Comment

I was thrilled when Ysolda first shared with me over a year ago her vision of a Rhinebeck sweater collection and asked me to be a part of it. I thought, ‘What a cool idea!’ Rhinebeck is the perfect inspiration for a sweater collection. And having designers design their idea of a perfect Rhinebeck sweater — something they’d like to wear themselves in yarn available at Rhinebeck — gives the collection an intimate, personal feel.

Every third weekend of October, the streets of Rhinebeck, NY are filled with knitters, spinners, weavers, and other yarny folk converging on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival — better known simply as “Rhinebeck”. The timing is ideal for sweaters. The hot, endless days of summer have given way to the shorter, crisper days of fall. Gorgeous foliage makes a beautiful backdrop for the yarn, barnyard animals, festival food, and meetups with friends — both planned and fortuitous.

For most knitters attending Rhinebeck, knitting the “Rhinebeck sweater” has become an annual tradition. Choosing the perfect yarn and pattern, last minute knitting as the deadline looms, all of this is very familiar to frequent festival-goers. And so it was with me and my sweater for Ysolda’s collection.

What better location for a photoshoot for the Rhinebeck Sweater Collection than Rhinebeck itself? But somehow, I found myself blocking my sweater the night before and setting up fans and the air conditioner to blow forced air over the damp piece to encourage it to dry more quickly. On the ride up, as my husband carefully navigated the winding roads leading up to Rhinebeck and my daughter babbled in her carseat, I was weaving in the last errant ends.

Somehow though I did manage to finish and I’m happy to finally be able to share the results.

For me, vests are the ideal transitional weather sweater and very versatile. They’re easy to wear and can be dressed up or down depending on what you decide to wear underneath. I kept the armhole edges and hem raw and unfinished because the yarn I used, Bijou Basin’s Tibetan Dream Sock Yarn, drapes beautifully. But if you’re using a springier, bouncier yarn, you may want to crochet an edging to help everything lie flat. A curved lace that mimics the look of cables cover the fronts, with some subtle shaping to narrow the lace as the neckline approaches. Mine is knit with a close to moderate fit, but I can see knitting this with a moderate to generous fit and lengthening it to be more flowy and romantic.

Check out the other great designs in the collection in the Rhinebeck Sweater Collection in the lookbook. I’m honored to be in the company of so many wonderful designers. Ysolda will have copies on hand at Rhinebeck, or you can order a copy online here.

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Metropolitan Knits – Chat with Author Melissa Wehrle

Posted on | September 7, 2013 | 1 Comment

Recently, I had lunch with knitwear designer and author, Melissa Wehrle, where we chatted about knitting, designing, and her gorgeous new collection — Metropolitan Knits. Melissa was kind enough to let me pick her brain on what inspires her, the genesis of her book, and her insights into the industry.

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In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that Melissa is a dear friend of mine. In fact, when I was gearing up to write this post, I did a quick email search to find our first correspondence, dated July 22nd 2006 (7 years ago!):

Hi Melissa,

I bought your pattern a few weeks ago using my
connieokay@yahoo.com account.

I finally received the yarn that I intend to use
(Jaggerspun Zephyr) and would like to join the KAL.

Thanks,
Connie

The manner in which we met really speaks to her generosity as a knitter and designer. I fell in love with one of her indie patterns (Grannie Smith), bought it, and instantly ran into trouble with it because I was new to knitting sweaters and new to knitting lace. Because I didn’t know any better, I blithely emailed the contact on the pattern and Melissa responded within 48 hours and hand held me through how to block a lace gauge swatch, decreasing in lace, and the fit of set-in sleeves.

She’s continues to be the first person I go to for design advice and knitting encouragement. She’s active in her knitting community and really passionate about her craft. But I’ll let the rest of the interview speak for itself (my questions in italics, her responses in bold):

Your book is wonderfully varied — from textured stitches to lace to jersey and everything in between. Do you have a favorite fabric to work with? What are some of the qualities of hand knit fabric that speak to you?

I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite, every fabric speaks to me at some time or another. Although I must admit that I do love knitting lace and cable stitches, they keep the knitting interesting. I love designing hand knit fabric for the simple reason that I can start from scratch and get exactly the look I am going for, whether it is a slinky loose knit jersey cowl or a structured chunky cable cardigan. I am also drawn to rustic, woolly, sheepy yarns, something that you just can’t buy in any store.

I love how the designs in your book are very different and yet they totally work as a cohesive collection. You have very classic shapes such as the Magnolia Cafe Cardigan and Atrium Cardigan and then some very bold and dramatic pieces like the Carriage House Cardigan with its cinched back detail and free floating fronts. When you were planning the collection, what elements did you envision would tie the collection together?

When planning the collection, the overall idea of New York City and little details throughout my designs then acted as a larger umbrella in which each chapter fell under. For each chapter, I wanted to tie everything together in three ways. Sticking to a season (either Fall, Winter, or Spring), a loose feeling of uptown, downtown, and city parks, and a separate color story for each chapter. I felt as long as I stuck to these three ideas for each chapter, I was a little less restricted in developing the silhouettes for the book.

What do you like best about designing hand knits (and more broadly speaking, knitting)? What do you like least? How does your day job as a designer for a junior sweater company inform your work – or are they completely separate endeavors?

I love seeing other knitters make my creations. While knitting them for myself is quite enjoyable, it isn’t quite the same as seeing your sweater show up at a fiber festival or even Ravelry. With so many great patterns out there to knit, having a knitter choose to invest their time in my design is the ultimate compliment.

There isn’t really much that I don’t like about designing hand knits, although swatching for new designs isn’t exactly high up on my list. I have missed so many submission calls even though I had some great ideas because it involved knitting up a swatch. I don’t know why this should bother me so much, especially since I live for gauge swatches! When I can communicate my idea with only a sketch, yarn and stitch description is when I am happiest.

My full-time job as a sweater designer is pretty different from the hand knit side in regards to how the product gets made, but I do gain knowledge and inspiration from each that cross over. For example, I have measured and fit more sweaters for my full-time job than anyone would care to imagine! I then take this experience over to my hand knits to tailor a really nice fit for my patterns.

Like many designers working today, you share your work in a variety of venues. What is your favorite medium for show casing your work? What do you think is the future of hand knit design?

This is a tough question for the simple reason that I share my work in a variety of venues for different reasons. I think when it comes down to it, it is really the design that decides where it belongs. Every publication has a different audience and I try to cater my design work with this idea in mind. For example, while having a larger audience such as a magazine is always nice, sometimes a design is too unique to fit in and calls to be submitted to a smaller internet publication or be self-published. Also, diversification never hurts! Sometimes new fans are found this way.

Hmm, future of knit design…….if I knew, I’m not sure I would tell!

How did you come upon New York City as the overarching theme for your book? In what ways is the city represented by your collection? Do you have a follow up collection in mind? What’s next on your plate?

When I was offered the chance to do my book, without even thinking about it too hard, I knew New York had to be the main theme. There is just so much inspiration to be taken from the city and the people living in it. With 20 patterns, I felt this was the perfect venue to really let my the idea of the city shine. I tried to represent a different part of the city in each of the three chapters. In Heart of the City, the designs are a bit more polished and uptown in feeling. For Urban Bohemia, I went for a more casual downtown feeling. And finally for City Gardens, I was inspired by all of the different green spaces around the city from Central Park to the High Line.

I’m not really sure what will be my next project. I’m taking a little bit of time off to recover, promote the book, and fill back up the well after such a large project. I do hope to get back to publishing new designs soon though!

Tinsel Trading Company

Posted on | August 16, 2013 | No Comments

Today I had lunch with the lovely Melissa Wehrle – I’ll write about our discussion in a future blog post devoted to highlighting her recently published book, Metropolitan Knits: Chic Designs for Urban Style. But for now, I wanted to mention our quick post-lunch visit to Tinsel Trading Company.

I was introduced to this shop by a friend who’s very much into card crafting and makes the most gorgeous, tasteful, thoughtful cards. When I first visited the store with her, I was definitely overwhelmed. I stood meekly in the corner, flipping through Treasured Notions (a craft book inspired by the products of Tinsel Trading) while she confidently navigated aisles stacked with boxes of silk flowers, rolls of lace, and drawers of beads. Just to give you an idea of how random some of this stuff is – one jar was filled with tiny bird figurines made from paper feathers, another had small discs of carpet, and a third contained old, yellowing matchbooks.

The shop owner’s grandfather was apparently a bit of a hoarder and spent his lifetime collecting odds and ends from all over the world. The result is a fascinating and contradictory blend of found treasures and random flotsam. Stepping into this warehouse of new and vintage notions, ribbons, lace, and paper products feels like entering the world’s biggest garage sale or a great aunt’s forgotten attic, a feeling heightened this month by the moving sale currently underway. Yes, Tinsel Trading Company is moving to somewhere on the upper east side – and to lighten their moving burden, they’re having a huge sale through the end of this month. I didn’t have much time today, but I think I’ll be back to collect a few trinkets to bring home to Olivia. She’s recently gotten into crafting (through art classes at Gymboree) and she’d get a kick out of making collages out of some of this stuff.

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New Line/New Logo!

Posted on | August 3, 2013 | 9 Comments

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A little more than 2 years ago, my life changed irrevocably with the arrival of a squalling, demanding, endearing, intoxicating, impossible, wonderful creature — my daughter, Olivia. On some level, I knew that I would have to shift my life around to accommodate this new presence, but at the time, I didn’t appreciate just how seismic a movement would be required.  I thought, somewhat naively, that I’d still be able to work at my full time job, maintain my relationships with my friends and (!) husband, and continue to knit and design at the pace I’ve established in the the years prior. For those of you who didn’t laugh in my face, thank you for humoring me. I discovered soon enough how sorely deluded I was.

Still, I managed to publish a few designs here and there — mainly collaborations with yarn shops, indie hand dyers, and book contributions as well as a few independently published baby knits.

The latter is obviously inspired by my new status as a parent. Baby knits are the perfect antidote to long, involved adult garments. They’re quick, don’t require a lot of yarn (I often find just the perfect match in my existing stash of oddballs and leftover skeins from bigger projects; or in my considerable collection of sock yarn), and the results are often quite satisfying. There is nothing like welcoming a new life into this world with a lovingly made handknit.

I asked my brother, a graphic design artist, to help me brand the kiddie branch of my design line. I had a few ideas about what I wanted the logo to include — a bunny (Olivia was born in the Chinese year of the rabbit), wee sweaters hanging on a clothesline, and a color theme that echoes the lovely color palette of Quince and Co. yarns, which made frequent appearances in my inaugural designs for Olivia. There were a couple of back and forth edits until he came up with a concept and design I loved. The line is called Piccoli Chinchio — which means Small Chinchios, referring both to my designs (small versions of sweaters I’d wear myself) and to my babies.

Yes, *babies*. Three months ago, my husband and I added another Chinchio to our brood. Meet Kyle! He’s wearing a forthcoming design (in Quince Chickadee).
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Olivia Petit Redux

Posted on | August 2, 2013 | 1 Comment

I’m happy that I’m finally getting around to re-visiting and releasing Olivia Petit under my own design line – Connie Chang Chinchio Designs. The release of Olivia Petit also coincides with a brand new logo for the babies and kids’ section of my design line – Piccoli Chinchio – designed by my talented brother. But I’ll write more on that in a separate post.

Olivia Petit was originally published by Quince and Co and uses their Lark yarn — a hearty, yet smooth wool available in a range of gorgeous colors. The yarn doesn’t have an obvious plied look, but instead is plump and round which really shows off textured stitches to great effect.

This particular pattern has a very special place in my heart because it’s one of the first designs I created for my daughter, Olivia. I made it for her in the 9 month size, but she wore it for a good 4 months that winter. It’s a classic design that’s just special enough for the holidays — with a plain, double breasted front dressed up with glazed, candy-like buttons and an A-line shape punctuated with a textured flower motif in the back.

It’s one of the few designs that sprung to my head completely formed — yarn, buttons, color, shape. Worked from the top down and completely in one-piece, finishing on this is super simple.  Moreover, the yarn weight (worsted) is quite popular, so substitutions would be easy. It would be equally lovely in a nearly solid handdyed yarn or a rustic, tweedy wool. Because there is some simultaneous shaping involved (the neck shaping and raglan shaping are worked at the same time), you have to pay attention at first. But once the pattern is established, it just sails along. I hope you’ll find it as fun to knit as I did.

Links to purchase the pattern are at the end of the post.

Olivia Petit

Stats/Specifications:
Finished Size: 18¾ (21, 22½, 24¾, 26¼, 28½)” bust circumference to fit 6m (9m, 12m, 2y, 4y, 6y) with a suggested ease of 1 to 4″. Samples measures 21”.
Yarn: Quince and Co. Lark (100% American wool; 134 yards (123 meters)/50 grams); 3 (3, 4, 4, 5, 6) skeins Petal.
Needles: Body and sleeves – US size 6 circular needles. Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Notions: Tapestry needle; stitch markers; stitch holders; 4 (4, 5, 5, 6, 6) x 1/2″ buttons.
Gauge: 21 sts and 31 rows = 4” in Stockinette.

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Click button to buy ($5.00):

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Two new patterns for babies & kids — MacDougal Cardigan and Roosevelt Tank

Posted on | June 5, 2013 | 3 Comments


It’s been a while since I’ve released a pattern — either through traditional publishing channels or under my own indie line — so it’s with great pleasure that I’m sharing two new babies/kids’ patterns under my Connie Chang Chinchio Piccoli Tesori line. Both patterns are sized to fit ages 6 months to 6 years and both use Quince’s line of pure American wool.

I just love Quince’s soft color palette — super suitable for babies and kids (and great for adult garments too!) with a wide range of options certain to please everyone on your knitting list. And the yarn itself is sturdy and unobtrusive — content to play a supporting role, allowing whatever stitch pattern you choose to be the star. Can you tell how much I love this yarn line? If I had more time I’d knit an entire wardrobe out of this stuff!

For these two garments I used Finch, a fingering weight yarn, knit at a looser gauge (DK weight for MacDougal and sport weight for Roosevelt). Because knitting at a DK weight gauge in a fingering weight yarn might result in a fabric that some knitters consider too sheer, I also provide yarn amounts for knitting the cardigan in Chickadee, the next step up in gauge in the Quince wool arsenal.

For a limited time (through midnight Sunday, June 9), I’m offering each pattern for $4.00, instead of its retail price of $5.50. Specs as well as links to purchase both patterns follow.

MacDougal Cardigan
Click button to buy ($5.50):

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Stats/Specifications:
Finished Size: 20 (21½, 22¼, 23¾, 26½, 28)” bust circumference to fit 6m (9m, 12m, 2y, 4y, 6y) with a suggested ease of 1 to 4″. Samples measures 23¾”.
Yarn: Quince and Co. Finch (100% American wool; 221 yards [202 meters]/50 grams); 2 (3, 3, 4, 4, 5) skeins Chanterelle (MC); 1 skein Clay (CC) OR Quince and Co. Finch (100% American wool; 181 yards [166 meters]/50 grams); 3 (3, 3, 4, 5, 6) skeins Chanterelle (MC); 1 skein Clay (CC).
Needles: Body and sleeves – US size 6 circular needles. Neck band – US size 5 circular needles. Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Notions: Tapestry needle; stitch markers; stitch holders; 5 (6, 5, 5, 6, 6) x 5/8″ buttons.
Gauge: 22 sts and 32 rows = 4” in Stockinette with larger needles. 24 sts and 33 rows = 4” in Oat patt st with larger needles.

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Roosevelt Tank
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Stats/Specifications:
Finished Size: 19 (20, 22, 23¼, 25, 26, 27, 28)” bust circumference to fit 6m (9m, 12m, 2y, 3y, 4y, 5y 6y) with a suggested ease of 1 to 4″. Samples measures 23¼”.
Yarn: Quince and Co. Finch (100% American wool; 221 yards 202 meters/50 grams); 2 (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3) in Bird’s Egg.
Needles: US size 5 circular needles. Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Notions: Tapestry needle; stitch holders; One ¾” statement button (button shown is a Jennie the Potter Ladybug button), 1 (1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2) ½” shell buttons for back slit opening.
Gauge:24 sts and 33 rows = 4” in Stockinette.

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Something for the boy and his sister

Posted on | March 12, 2013 | 5 Comments

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Cooking up something here… I think Olivia will get a kick out of having a matching sweater with her little brother.

Wee Austin *PRINTED PATTERN* Errata

Posted on | March 9, 2013 | 1 Comment

It’s come to my attention that there are errors in the printed pattern of the wee Austin Hoodie.  I want to stress that this affects the printed pattern only. If you purchased the PDF from my Ravelry shop or from this blog, this errata does not apply.

My pattern distributor, Deep South Fibers, has had the correct pattern in their hands since late January, but I wanted to also post the errata on my blog and will link to this post from my Ravelry shop in case someone tries to find the errata through that avenue.  Please accept my apologies.  This pattern was both tech edited and test knitted and as far as I know, the PDF in my Ravelry shop has always been the correct version, but do check your copy against the errata here in case you have lingering questions. Errors are in red and their corrections are in blue below:

Wee Austin Printed Pattern Errata:

On page 2, 1st column, in the Woven St Guide, row 3 says:

Row 3: *Sl1 wyif; rep from * to last st, k1.

And it should say:

Row 3: Sl1 p-wise wyif, *k1, sl1 p-wise wyif; rep from * across.

On page 5, 1st column, last sentence of the HOOD paragraph, the final stitch counts after all the stitches are picked up are incorrect.  The last sentence ends with:

85 (91, 97, 101, 105, 109) sts.

And it should say:

63 (71, 79, 87, 95, 95) sts.

On page 5, 2nd column, 1st sentence of the 1st paragraph, the number of stitches given is incorrect.  The sentence says:

Next row RS), placing center of hood markers: Work 5 garter sts, sm, work 37 (40, 43, 45, 47, 49) sts as they appear, place center of hood m, work 1 st as it appears, place center of hood m, work 37 (40, 43, 45, 47, 49) sts as they appear, sm, work 5 garter sts.

And it should say:

Next row RS), placing center of hood markers: Work 5 garter sts, sm, work 26 (30, 34, 38, 42, 42) sts as they appear, place center of hood m, work 1 st as it appears, place center of hood m, work 26 (30, 34, 38, 42, 42) sts as they appear, sm, work 5 garter sts.

On page 5, 2nd column, 1st sentence of the 2nd paragraph, the number of stitches given is incorrect.  The sentence says:

Next row (RS), inc row and incorporating increased sts into ribbing: Work 5 garter sts, sm, work 37 (40, 43, 45, 47, 49) sts as they appear, m1, sm, work 1 st as it appears, sm, m1, work 37 (40, 43, 45, 47, 49) sts as they appear, sm, work 5 garter sts.

And it should say:

Next row (RS), inc row and incorporating increased sts into ribbing: Work 5 garter sts, sm, work 26 (30, 34, 38, 42, 42) sts as they appear, m1, sm, work 1 st as it appears, sm, m1, work 26 (30, 34, 38, 42, 42) sts as they appear, sm, work 5 garter sts.

Vogue Knitting Live

Posted on | February 25, 2013 | No Comments

This post is coming a bit late, but I wanted to get it in before another month passed me by. Last month, I taught a Beginning Sweater Design class at VK Live in NYC. It was my first time teaching at VK Live, but I hope it won’t be the last. The class was fun – though it was a bit tiring to talk for 6 hours (with a lunch break in between). But I loved the energy of interacting with a group of eager knitters hungry to learn. I haven’t done much teaching, but I think I’ll try to do more in the future.

After class, I wandered around the market floor for a little while. It was crowded, but there were lots of interesting booths of yarns, notions, bags, lotions — too many to list! But what caught my eye was the very crowded Plucky Knitter booth. I’ve admired her yarn online for many months and was thrilled to see some of it in person. Sarah and her sister, Hayley, are lovely — and I took home a gorgeous skein of Plucky Feet that I’m currently petting and dreaming about.

I snapped two quick photos to mark my time at VK Live — photography unfortunately was not high on my list of priorities that weekend!

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