Playing Hooky with Lucy from Attic24

attic4 stripeI’ve got something a bit special on my blog today as I’ve been chatting to the very lovely Lucy, aka crochet pattern designer extraordinaire and blogging powerhouse behind the massively successful Attic24 blog.

I’m such a big fan of Lucy’s blog and her crochet patterns (especially her blankets) are all totally gorgeous. In fact, it was her blog that inspired me to start blogging about my crafty exploits and random life bits and pieces, so this post is pretty special for me!
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Lucy is going to be hosting a Q&A session at Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas Fair, which is being held at Manchester Central from November 20-22. I’m looking forward to the event a lot and I’m really hoping that we’ll get to say hi and get to compare crochet hooks (joke – well, the last bit anyway!).

If you can’t make it to Manchester (or if you are heading there and would can’t wait to pick Lucy’s brain) then I chatted to her about her love of crochet, how she started and found out exactly what is her favourite pattern…


Hi Lucy! Thanks for stopping by for a chat. First things first, I’d love to know how you first got into crochet and how did you learn how to do it?
Hi Kate, lovely to be here! I trained in art and textiles and ran my own creative business making hand made greetings cards and textile art before I threw it all in a cupboard and closed the door when I was 7 months pregnant with my first child. Five years (and two children) later, up to my eyeballs in being a Mummy, I wanted some creativity back in my life. I craved something just for me (oh that precious, elusive “me time” when you have small children!) something that I could do that wouldn’t involve electrical equipment and a whole craft room set-up. A good friend suggested crochet as she had just learnt and thought I would like it. She lent me a hook and over a cup of tea at the kitchen table she taught me how to use my hands and crochet a chain. I still remember that Tuesday afternoon so clearly, with hindsight it was a momentous turning point in my life! I went to a local yarn shop that same day and bought my own hook and yarn along with a small beginners book to teach myself the basic stitches, then used the internet to learn how to make a granny square. And the rest is history…..

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What is it about crochet that you love the most?
There are so many things I LOVE about this amazing craft. I love the things you can make and fill your home with (I am obsessed with crochet blankets, I love them so much). I love the vibrancy of yarn shades and the way that crochet lends itself so beautifully to colour play. I love the fact that with crochet I am never, ever bored as I always have something wonderful to occupy my hands and mind. And I love the sociable nature of crochet, the way it fits in with my busy life and has given me so many opportunities to belong to social groups (both in real life and online) and make friends.

Why is your blog called Attic24?
This is an easy-peasy question with a straightforward answer! Starting my blog coincided with a house move to a new area. My house a Victorian terrace with an attic room under the eaves and a window looking out over the Yorkshire hills. This is the room where I used to have my computer desk and small creative work space, it’s where I used to go every morning with a cup of fresh coffee to sit and write my blog and connect with outside world when I was in a new town, making a new start and finding my feet in a new community. Starting my blog really did keep me afloat and happy at a time when my life was a little bit adrift and lonesome.

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What is your favourite crochet pattern you’ve either written or tried out?
Oooo tough question….hmm….(engaging brain cogs to think about the oodles of patterns I’ve written)….I think it would have to be the Neat Ripple pattern, I’ve made five blankets using this pattern and it always feels exciting and satisfying and produces great results every time. It’s a wonderful go-to blanket pattern.

If you had to give someone starting out in crochet one top tip, what would it be?
My top tip would be to find an actual person to teach you how to hold your yarn and tension it evenly as you work. This is so fundamental to the pleasure of crocheting and something that is very hard to learn from a book. With correct tension and yarn control, your crochet will always look good, plus you can get some satisfying speed going when your hands are working in the right way!

Which pattern designers/crochet bloggers do you admire the most?
There are so many crochet bloggers and designers out there now, the online crochet community has grown enormously since I first began in 2008. I don’t think I can pick a favourite, but I do admire all the crocheters out there who share their patterns, ideas and inspirations freely. There is a huge amount of talent, creative spirit and generosity within the blogging community and I’m very proud to be a part of it.

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How did you turn your hobby into your career?
The honest answer to this is By Accident, I am still getting used to the fact that I have somehow morphed into a working mum! I guess the first step to turning my blog into something more than a hobby was the decision I made in 2010 to monetise it. I use the Amazon Affiliates programme as well as Google Adsense to generate a small amount of revenue through commission. In addition to this, I have an option for my readers to “buy me a coffee” using Paypal – this enables me to offer all my designs and patterns for free on my blog whilst allowing those who wish to pay to do so. I love the fact that I am free to keep sharing for free (which I LOVE to do, I am a very good enabler!). I also really enjoyed writing a monthly column for Simply Crochet magazine last year as well as designing a number of crochet projects for various magazines – being asked to do this sort of work makes me feel quite professional and work-like!
But without a doubt, the biggest change for me came in 2014 when I started working directly with the fabulous people at Wool Warehouse. By creating yarn kits to accompany my free patterns which I sell through Wool Warehouse, I have managed to combine my hobby with work. I am thrilled with the way this is going, it really is a dream come true.

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Which is your favourite crochet stitch and why?
Crochet stitch??? OK, confession time…..I don’t know that many stitches, despite my many projects I am still quite a basic hooker in terms of technical variation and stitch knowledge. So I would probably have to confess to loving the good ol’ basic treble crochet, which I use for nearly all my blanket projects – it forms the basis for granny squares, ripple patterns, my popular cosy stripe…I would be lost without it!

You love to use bright and colourful yarns in your designs, but what’s your favourite colour combo?
Favourite colour combo is definitely putting hot and cold colours together for a bit of a zingy effect – eg bright turquoise with hot pink (YUMM!!!), or a softer version of that would be aqua with red.

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What’s next for Attic24?
What’s next – basically keeping calm and carrying on! I’ve got my Sunny Crochet-A-Long in full swing at the moment which will keep me very busy until the New Year. After that I’ve got a new bag kit to launch, it’s a cross-body bag which will come in three different colourways. I’m already pondering new colour schemes for Spring/Summer blankets, plus a Summer wreath design to complete my seasonal collection. I’ve always got a whole heap load of design ideas bobbling about in my Creative Mind, jostling for position and fighting to be let out!


Thanks so much to Lucy for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s so interesting and inspiring for me (and hopefully other crochet lovers) to find out how such a crochet powerhouse started out and turned her hobby into a career.

I hope you enjoyed this chat. Have you checked out Lucy’s blog or tried one of her patterns? If not I really recommend you take a look!

Lots of hooky love,

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All photos copyright of Attic24

 

My Handmade Christmas Wish List

Let it snow

Let it Snow hand lettered baby vest – Little Maldod; Friendship bracelet – Bare Atlantic (I would love this to be personalised with an ‘A’ initial :); Fox garland – Velveteen Babies; Teething necklace – Lara and Ollie.


The new John Lewis ad is on our screens and X-Factor is in full throttle which means only one thing – Christmas is approaching fast. I decided to have a look around my favourite independent shops to pull together a wish list of beautiful handmade gifts which I really wouldn’t mind receiving at all *cough* HINT HINT for anyone who knows me that might be reading this thankyouplease. :)

I hope you like looking at the items I’ve chosen and if you’re keen to shop independent this Christmas then there are lots of lovely things in all of these shops and I’m sure you will find something you love.

Baubles

Personalised hand lettered baubles – Blossom and Bear; Customised Kokeshi family – Sketch Inc; Penguin print – Ingrid Petrie Design; Super chunky cable knit hat – So Satsuma.

Quilt

Geometric quilt – Forest and Found; Handmade and hand painted wooden stacking houses – Little Goldie; Personalised wrapping – Abigail Warner at Selfridges; Hibernation Pack of aran 100% cotton yarn – Three Bears Yarn.


What do you want for Christmas?

Lots of wish list love,

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The Tale of the Little Yellow Hat

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When Albert came screaming into the world five weeks ago Wayne and I weren’t prepared for anything that happened. In those few hours that followed, a little yellow hat became one of the most precious things that we own. It might sound a bit silly, but I’ll explain.

Albert’s birth was pretty hairy. Without going into any gory details, he was born by forceps after a long labour which culminated in the rapid onset of pre-eclampsia. I lost my vision, saw rainbow lights and then had an eclamptic fit shortly after delivery. It was so scary – for me as I couldn’t see Albert or Wayne then blacked out, and for Wayne as he had to watch from a corner as 10 doctors piled into the room to stabilise me. I’m still to this day so relieved that the seizure and complications happened after Albert had been born (as it doesn’t bear thinking about what might have happened otherwise) and I’m so thankful/lucky that everything worked out OK for us all with no lasting effects.

Newborn Albert Newborn Albert

While things were going a bit pear-shaped with me, Albert was taken away to be weighed and a midwife put a little yellow knitted hat on him. It was the first thing he had ever worn and as a result is so special. But this is where I feel bad, as the hat belonged to the hospital and we kind of took it home…

A couple of weeks ago I started thinking about what I could do to show my gratitude to the midwives, doctors and nurses who looked after me, Albert and Wayne that day. It was then I thought about the hat and what it means to me and I wanted to give that to someone else too. So I decided to make some newborn hats to give to the hospital. Whether they are used by lots of babies or taken away the first time they are used by a mum and dad as a memento of their baby’s birth, I would be honoured to make a hat that will become so precious for them.

Here are the ones I’ve made so far and I’m going to aim to make a few more before I give them to the hospital.

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The pattern I came up with is really simple and the hats work up quickly as they are so tiny. If you would like to make a newborn hat, here’s the pattern:

What you need:

  • DK wool in two colours. I used Stylecraft Special DK
  • A 4.0mm hook
  • A darning needle

Stitches:

  • ch – chain
  • st – stitch
  • ss – slip stitch
  • tr – treble
  • htr – half treble

Pattern:

Rd 1: ch2. 10 tr into second ch from hook. ss into top of first tr. ch2.

Rd 2: 2tr in each st around. ss to join. ch 2.

Rd 3: 2tr in first st, tr in next, around, ss to join. ch2.

Rd 4: 2tr in first st, tr in next two, around, ss to join. ch2.

Rd 5-8: tr in each st around, ss to join. ch2 at the end of each round except rd 8.

Fasten off.

Rd 9: Join second colour of yarn. htr in each st around. Fasten off.

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I hope you like the hats and pattern and don’t think I’m silly for getting sentimental about a small yellow hat! If you make a small hat like this I would love to see your photos so please tag me in (beakupcrafts) on Twitter and Instagram!

Lots of little hat love,

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Get a 20% Discount for Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas Fair!

Handmade Fair 2014 0438It’s beginning to look a lot like Chri… WOAH! I know – we’ve just had Halloween and not celebrated Bonfire night yet – and here I am polishing the baubles and bandying the about C-word.

Well, if you haven’t heard, crafting goddess Kirstie Allsopp is bringing her Handmade Fair to the north west with a very festive slant. I really wanted to go to Hampton Court for The Handmade Fair in September but it was a bit far away and I was a bit too pregnant. Good job the Christmas version is coming to Manchester from November 20-22!

Kirstie Allsopp

There are going to be some great people at the Manchester event including Annie Sloan, Kitten Grayson, Zeena Shah, Jane Means, The Ministry of Craft, Lucy from Attic24 and of course Kirstie. You can find more details about The Handmade Christmas Fair here.

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I’m going to try and pop along for an afternoon and if you fancy going too then you can get a Full Experience ticket for £20 instead of £25 (a very nice 20% saving) using the code BEAKUP20* when you buy your ticket online at the Fair’s website.

I love a good bargain and if you’re in the market for getting crafty, learning some cool stuff and meeting some of the best crafts people in the business (and maybe even squeezing in a bit of Christmas shopping) then I reckon this is the event for you.

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If you want to find out more or check out what’s going to be going on at The Handmade Christmas Fair then here are the all important social media details:

I’d love to know if you’re going to be heading to Manchester for this event. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Lots of festive love,

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* Terms and Conditions: Booking and transaction fees apply. Offer applies to Full Experience tickets purchases in advance only and offer ends on November 21st.

Crochet a Snowflake for a Good Cause

Crochet a snowflake kit - Beak Up Crafts

I love it when crafts and good causes go hand in hand especially when that craft is crochet, my absolute fave.

LoveCrochet has teamed up with pattern designer BellaCoco and Three Bears Yarn to create a Crochet a Snowflake kit for the Home-Start Snowflake Appeal.

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Home-Start gives emotional and practical support to thousands of families in the UK every year. The idea of the snowflakes is that they represent the unique and fragile vulnerable children that the charity supports, and the aim is for 30,000 crochet snowflakes to be made to give to the families Home-Start supports to hang on their Christmas trees.

snowflake Three Bears Yarn Crochet pattern

The kits are free (but you can of course make a donation instead of payment) with just £1 charge for postage. If you send a snowflake to Home-Start by November, 16 Kirstie Allsopp and The Handmade Christmas Fair team will display it at the event at Manchester Central between November 20-22nd. It’s a pretty nice thing to do I think.

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I’ve made one snowflake so far but plan on doing a few more with the lovely Three Bears Yarn 100% white cotton DK (which is so lovely to use) before posting them off.

If you want to find out more info then head to LoveCrochet now to pick up a kit of your own!

Lots of snowflake love,

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Apply for The Great British Sewing Bee!

The Great British Sewing Bee

I’m rubbish at sewing (yep, still never used a sewing machine in my life) but I know some people who read my blog are excellent at it. Well, did you know that The Great British Sewing Bee is coming back for its fourth series and applications to star in the show are open NOW? Well they are! All the info is on the poster above but I would love to know if you’re applying (or thinking of it) and it would be awesome to watch you on the programme!

I might be rubbish at sewing but I’m definitely going to be watching along.

Away from all things needle and thread-based, this is a bit of a short and sweet post for me today as I’m writing it while Albert naps (I think he’s going to wake up any minute to be honest for another feed!) but I’m hoping to get back to crocheting and writing patterns and the like soon as he’s starting to get into a bit of a routine. I can’t believe he’s almost four weeks old already. Time is really flying although saying that it feels like he’s been in our lives forever, it’s so weird.  I love him and his little baldy head to bits!

Right, I’m off to go and drink my cold cup of tea before he wakes up.

Lots of sewing love,

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Learning to Knit

Knitted cardigans - Beak Up Crafts

When I picked up a crochet hook for the first time I did it purely because I wanted to make something and I thought it would be easier than knitting. I’m not very coordinated and I figured that as there was only one thing (the hook) to move around, it would be easier to get to grips with than two knitting needles.

I still don’t know if this is true or not (I’d love to hear your thoughts if you can both knit and crochet) as I’ve never given knitting a go, but I’ve got to admit I’m started to get tempted to try and learn. The main reason behind this is because Albert has been given some gorgeous hand knitted cardigans and hats and the different cables, bobbles and stitches look so lovely. I know you can cable in crochet (check out my easy cabled crochet plant pot cosy pattern here) but as much as I love crochet they’re just not the same as knitted ones.

Knitted cardigan - Beak Up Crafts

I learned how to crochet watching YouTube videos so I could always try that with knitting when/if I get a spare minute but I was sent the below graphic which kind of makes it look far from the scary prospect I thought it was. But I still think I will need to watch someone else doing it too and follow along! Yeah, so knitting is added to my list of things to try and do while I’m on maternity leave…

Knitting infographic

Have you got any knitting top tips for me please? I would really appreciate any guidance on this as I’m a total beginner. Also, any good patterns to try that you recommend would be fab!

If I ever get the time, of course! A certain small little person with an increasing appetite for milk is taking up pretty much all of my time right now (not that I’m complaining because he’s ace).

Lots of knitting love,

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Fabric Jewellery Box making with Hillarys Blinds + The Crafty Hen

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A couple of weeks ago (just before Albert was born) I went to a crafternoon hosted by Hillarys Blinds and The Crafty Hen in Leeds. It was a really fun way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon and I met some lovely local bloggers while getting crafty with lots of double-sided tape, pretty fabrics and buttons.

We made a fabric-covered jewellery box using material from Hillarys’ new Jewel range and hair slides with Suffolk Puffs (main pic).

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Here are some photos from the jewellery box DIY:

Fabric-jewellery-box-DIY-with-Crafty-Hen---Hillarys---Beak-Up-Crafts Fabric-covered-jewellery-box---Crafty-Hen-with-Hillarys---Beak-Up-Crafts Stick-the-box-lid-to-the-fabric---Beak-Up-Crafts Folding-in-the-fabric-to-the-corners---Beak-Up-Crafts Buttons-and-ribbons-on-jewellery-box-lid---Beak-Up-Crafts Ring-rolls-for-the-jewellery-box---Beak-Up-Crafts DIY-fabric-covered-ring-box---Beak-Up-Crafts Fabric-covered-ring-box---Beak-Up-Crafts

Bloggers getting ready to craft:

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Lots of jewel-coloured bags and craft supplies:

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The fabric-covered jewellery box and Suffolk Puffs were really fun to make and the ladies from The Crafty Hen were full of personality and so helpful. I would definitely recommend them if you’re looking to host a party with a crafty twist. I hope you like my fabric creations!

Lots of bright-coloured fabric love,

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{Review} Art of Crochet Magazine

Art of Crochet magazine - Granny Squares - Beak Up Crafts

I was asked if I’d like to review a new crochet magazine called The Art of Crochet. I’ve been crocheting for a few years now and I’m always keen to learn new things and try out new ideas so I said a big yes. I also loved the fact there’s an ongoing granny square blanket throw project which I thought would be great to grow slowly during my maternity leave.

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I was sent the first three issues so thought I’d share a peek inside. They start from the very basic building blocks of learning how to crochet, like foundation chains, double crochet and the difference of crocheting through front or back loops only.

One thing I really like is the crochet school section in each magazine which goes through a stitch in a clear step-by-step way with lots of photos. There’s also a The Art of Crochet website where you can watch videos of the stitches too if you prefer to learn this way. As someone who learned how to crochet by watching YouTube videos I think it’s great to have both options.

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The-Art-of-Crochet-crochet-basics---Beak-Up-Crafts Art-of-Crochet-Ombre-Cushion-project---Beak-Up-CraftsThere are some really nice projects which I’m going to try out, like the storage baskets and ombre cushion. All of them have really clear instructions and I’ve been impressed with the way they help someone learning how to crochet to build their confidence.

With the first issue you get a 4.5mm metal crochet hook and two balls of wool for the granny square throw. The second comes with a folder to keep all of the issues (which I think is great as it really helps to keep everything organised if your craft stuff tends to get all over the place like mine does!) with your next ball of yarn and the third includes another ball of wool and some dividers for your folder.

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I think the granny square throw which builds with each issue is really appealing. I mean, look at all of those bright colours.

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The first three squares were really basic and are suitable for beginners – double crochet (green), double crochet front loops only (pink), double crochet back loops only (purple) – but they are great to help build up your confidence if you are a beginner and also show what effect working through part of the stitch has.

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I’m really looking forward to seeing this build and as someone who tends to be a bit boring when it comes to granny squares, can’t wait to start doing some of the more complicated motifs and building up the blanket over the coming weeks.

All in all I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far and the quality of the acrylic wool sent is good too and it’s not at all splitty. If you fancy giving crochet a go then I’d definitely recommend it as it’s a much more structured way to learn (but with lots of fun projects) and a lot less haphazard than my YouTube video method!

Is crochet something you fancy learning?

Lots of hooky love,

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Disclaimer: I was sent the magazines to review but all opinions are my own.

 

{Review} Test-driving Three Bears Yarn

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There’s a new UK yarn maker on the block called Three Bears Yarn – you might have heard about them if you’re on Instagram as a few crafters have been test-driving their new range.

I’m lucky enough to be one of them and today’s post is a review of their new Affection range – 100% cotton yarns in DK, 4PLY and Aran weights. I was sent a 50g ball of each in beautiful ice-cream colours. Each ball of yarn is so soft and was a dream to work with.

To be honest, I usually avoid cotton yarn like the plague as it has a tendency to be splitty and difficult to crochet, but this is totally different.

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To give it a good workout and see what I thought I decided to make some crochet baby booties using this pattern from Repeat Crafterme.

One thing I immediately noticed was the weight of the yarn. It might just be because I tend to work with thicker acrylic/wool yarns that the thickness of the Three Bears Yarn weight is a lot thinner. Compared with the width of say a Stylecraft Special DK yarn, the Three Bears DK was a lot thinner (in the duck egg, above). However, this wasn’t to its detriment when I was hooking it up as it worked well – I’d say just make sure you don’t let the thickness of the yarn fool you and tempt you into using a smaller hook. I used a 3.5 (as I couldn’t find my 4!) and it was perfect.

The mellow yellow is in the aran weight and was noticeably thicker but just as good to work with. Again, it’s soft and not splitty at all.

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I think this yarn is great for making baby clothes as it is so soft and feels like it would really last in the wash too.

As for the pattern I used, it was really simple to follow (it’s in US crochet stitches but you can easily convert them here).

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I would definitely recommend this yarn if you want to support UK manufacturing and a homegrown business. Three Bears Yarn is based in Lancashire which I love as it’s where I’m from (I used to work in Darwen a long, long time ago) and the 100% cotton yarn is lovely.

I was also sent a spool of chenille yarn to try which I haven’t had chance to get to grips with yet but I’m looking forward to it.

I’d love to know what your favourite type of wool/yarn is. I feel like I’ve been missing out for years now due to my misconceptions about cotton v acrylic/wool yarn and that maybe I should be a bit more adventurous when it comes to my choices for different projects. Do you have any other recommendations?

Lots of yarn love,

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