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Oh Helen

Not only have I finished a pair of socks this summer, but I also started – and finished – a new scarf.

This is Oh Helen.  It’s another free pattern I found on Ravelry.

The yarn is Twirl Twirling Petals; I bought it at Yarns on First during our day trip to Napa when we were visiting Rooster and his wife.

I mentioned, in previous post, how easy of a knit those socks were.

Y’all, this scarf was even easier – as long as I paid attention to which side I was on.  I may have had to tink back ten or fifteen rows after I discovered that I had gotten off track.

Oops.

Let’s talk about the yarn a minute.

This was the first time I’ve ever had to remove pieces of debris from the yarn I’ve knit with.  It was a little annoying.

With that said, I absolutely love the colors in the yarn and the way it’s spun (or is the term plied?) together.

Because gauge wasn’t important, I decided to use both skeins.  Waste not want not!  Here’s what I had left.

What can I say?  I like to live life a little dangerously when it comes to knitting.

I gave the scarf a bath in cool water when I finished.

I should have taken a picture of this pre-blocked.  It’s a pain to pin out knitting projects, but the results are always worth it.

See how open the stitches are?  The pattern really shines through because of the blocking.

For blocking, I use thick, foam play mats that fit together like puzzle pieces.  They are the perfect thickness for the stainless steel T-pins and blocking wires that hold my knitted pieces down.

The scarf only took three days to knit – not even full days, mind you.  Because I used size 8 needles, my hands didn’t cramp up.

The yarn is a blend of Alpaca, goat, and wool, and boy is it warm.

Photographing this in 80+ degree heat and humidity was fun.  Ahem.

I’d originally taken pictures of the while I was wearing flowered shorts and a pink flowered shirt, which I had worn while visiting with a friend earlier that day.

And I posted said pictures on Instagram – because I’m extra like that.

When I looked at the pictures, I realized that I was committing a grand faux pas and not showcasing my work very well.

This is definitely a scarf that begs to be matched with something solid.

The lacy pattern needs to be set off with a darker background.

Although I’ll be back in school by the time I can start wearing this, at least I’ll be grinding away in style.

 

Knitting Shenanigans

As you have probably seen, I’ve been taking the low-key approach to my summer vacation.

Not only have I been spending a lot of time at the pool, but I’ve also indulged in a bit of TV time.

Ahem.

I’ll not apologize, though.  First off, it’s World Cup season, and I’ve had a blast watching every other team beside the U.S. play (you should see me rolling my eyes right now).

That requires a lot of sitting time, which has translated into knitting time.

If you followed my posts about my trip to California, you saw a running theme – socks – or rather the creation of a pair.

I finished them about a week after we got home.

These are my Hermione’s Everyday Socks, the second pair I’ve made from the free pattern I got off of Ravelry.

It’s a seriously-easy, easily-memorized pattern, so it was perfect when I was distracted by close games that often ended in PKs.

Do you see that calf muscle action happening?  It’s the 80 Day Obsession, my friends.  I did crop out my rear end from these pictures.

You’re welcome.

The yarn is Brazen Stitchery Paparazzi Sock, and the colorway is Headmaster.

Go ahead and marvel at my cleverness when pairing the yarn and pattern together.  This is what happens when a teacher is on summer vacation – her brain starts working properly again.  Ha!

I purchased the yarn in San Antonio (Inskein Yarns) when we were out there for Rooster’s basic training graduation.  I guess you could say that these socks are now one of my souvenirs from that trip.

Not that I need to justify any yarn purchase.

Ahem.

I did a rib cast on, which I found here.

If you want to see more details about the socks, check out my project page on Ravelry.

California – Day 1

Day 1 technically began when we landed at 12:30am.

Oh, and hello snack machine.  I was s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g.  I discovered this treat while waiting for my luggage.

Enough about that though.

Props to Rooster and N for staying up late to make the hour-long drive to pick us up.  Even though I had not slept in almost twenty-four hours, I was pumped!  If you’re a military mama, you know the joy of seeing your loved one, stationed so far away.

We chatted the entire way back to their apartment, and I made some videos, one of which is below.

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We greeted Gus, their dog, when we got in.  He was so excited to see us, despite the late hour.

After chatting a few minutes, we headed to bed.  By then, it was about 2:30am.

Now, I’d packed a lot of stuff, a third of which was workout attire.  I’d been doing Beach Body’s 80 Day Obsession, and I did not want to miss a routine.  I’d installed the Beach Body On Demand app and had downloaded the workouts I’d need while I was away.

Rooster’s apartment complex has a gym, and the kids had told me how to get in.  My plan was to wake up before everyone else, do my thing, and then make it back in time to get going with that day’s adventure.

The gym was amazing!

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Look at that view!!

Look at all of that space and those mats!

I don’t use circuit machines, but for anyone who does . . .

I had packed my sliders and resistance loops along with my workout sheets, so I was set.

I loved the free weights.  They were easy to hold on to (not all weights are, y’all).

I had such a great workout!  Look at the picture below and how I’m bending that right leg.  This program has helped me so much with my strength and flexibility!

I got on the treadmill when I finished my workout and put in a couple of miles because I knew that we would be in the car, and my legs were used to moving!

When I got back to the apartment, everyone was awake and waiting for me!  I’d misjudged my time, so I had to hurry and get ready.

Then, we were off for our first adventure.

Now, driving in the wee hours of the morning, it had been dark, so we had not gotten a true look at the land.  Mid-morning, things looked a lot different!

There were BIG hills, and everything was brown.  Rooster explained that things turn green in the winter, when they get the bulk of their rain.  It was not what I expected, that’s for sure.

So, where were we going?

Well, the part of California where the kids live is close to Napa and Sonoma – land of the wine making.  Visiting a vineyard was high on my list.  Rooster’s wife, N, is such an awesome young lady.  She had researched wineries and had talked to friends.  She found the perfect place for us, which I’ll show you in a moment.

Meanwhile, we were driving.  The closer to Napa we got, the more the landscape changed. We passed vineyard after vineyard.  It was amazing!  We also passed a wine train.  I kid you not.  We had looked at those tours, but they were expensive.  Maybe next time.  😀

With all of the chatter in the car, it didn’t seem like it took any time until we arrived at our destination . . .

V. Sattui Winery was beautiful from the road, and even more lovely when we got out of the car.

We walked under this lovely arbor to get to the entrance . . .

We were greeted warmly by employees who explained how to go about with the wine tasting.  First, though, we wanted to do a bit of exploring.  We saw this building (I’m not sure what it’s used for) . . .

There was an old wine cellar that we didn’t go into.

The main attraction was the deli and shop.  That’s where the action was happening.

The cheese department was incredible and made me wish that I wasn’t lactose intolerant.

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Rooster and N got some of it before we left.

There was a variety of balsamic vinegars to taste including this passion fruit one, which I am probably going to have to order – it was divine.

N had checked on the food available in the deli to make sure that I would have something to eat (told you that she’s fabulous).  The winery had picnic tables set up outside for people to eat at, and our plan had been to buy lunch and eat there.

Here’s a sample of the menu . . .

Here’s what I wound up getting . . .

Both were delicious; I had some of the anti-pasta leftover, which I ate the next day.  The Kale Salad was good, but I’ve learned that kale and I do not get along, no matter how it’s doctored up.  Just sayin’!

The day could not have been more perfect for visiting wineries.  Look at that sunny sky!  It could have been raining, for all I cared, because I was with my kids.  Nothing could have removed that smile from my face.  ❤

After we packed up our leftovers, we went back into the winery for more fun – shopping and wine tasting!

The way it worked was that for $20, each person could taste up to five different wines.

Rooster’s wife had been advised, by a friend, to find a younger person to help us with this.  Enter Ed, our fabulous guide to all things wine.

We really had no idea where to start, so he asked if we liked sweet or dry.  We preferred sweet, so he started us off with the Off-Dry Riesling, which he said was actually closer to sweet than dry.

I am a HUGE fan of Riesling, so this was exactly what I wanted to hear.  This one was really good.  I do not care for dry wine.  This was perfect – not too sweet and definitely not dry.  Even Rooster enjoyed it, which was interesting because I’d never seen him drink wine before.  Ahhhh . . . the joys of having adult children – responsible adult children, I might add.

The next wine we tried was Gamay Rouge.

It was a little sweeter than the first wine; you could taste the strawberries, cherries, and cranberries used to make it.

Now, the Mr. is not a wine guy.  The SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) he’s on to manage his Crohn’s restricts the types of alcohol he can have.

Ed, being the awesome guide that he was, noticed that the Mr. wasn’t participating and asked if he liked bourbon.  He said that he did, so Ed pulled this out.

That is actually a dessert wine – blended with brandy.  The Mr. really, really liked it.  You should have seen his eyes light up.  I didn’t try it, well just because (although the Mr. said I should because it’s really sweet).

Ed pulled out another bottle of something for the Mr. to try (I can’t remember what it was), but he liked the Madeira better.

Next up for those of us tasting wine was Bacci Rosato.

This is a rose wine with a host of fruits involved in the making.  It was okay – not bad but not my favorite.

The next wine we tried was a Moscato (didn’t take a picture).  It was sweet and very tasty.

Another wine we tried was Muscat (again, no picture).  I think this one was a sparkling wine, so it had some fizz.  Now it was pretty darned good – tasted like Sprite.

The last thing Ed presented us with was a combination of the Moscato and the Gamay Rouge . . .

Y’all, this was dessert in a glass!  It was so delightful and refreshing!

The only left to do when we finished was to decide what to buy.  We were so fortunate because Ed wound up not charging us for the tasting.  We knew that Rooster was going to be free because the winery offers free tastings to those on active duty with the military.  Well, Ed blessed us by comping the entire experience – for all of us!  That left us more money to buy wine!

I knew that I couldn’t get anything home without incurring some breakage, so the only option left was to purchase some for shipping.  The winery required either six or twelve bottle purchases.

Darn.

I filled out the order form, all the while chalking the purchase up to souvenirs.  Ha!

I also bought N a one of the bottles that she’d enjoyed.

We just received our wine order a couple of days ago – on the Mr.’s birthday – perfect timing since the Madeira was his birthday gift from me (it was pricey, let me tell you).

That’s going to last awhile because I rarely drink wine at home these days – part of my attempt to eat and drink healthier.

After the wine tasting, we loaded up in the car and headed in the direction of home.  We did make a couple of stops first.

We had seen this sign going in, and people had stopped to take pictures, so we made sure to stop and grab our own.

I took one of the four of us, which I won’t post, and then Rooster took a photo of the Mr. and me.

Of course I grabbed a selfie, not noticing, until later, the people behind me (people can be so oblivious sometimes – talking about them, not me).

I’m not sure why, but these railroad tracks caught my attention . . .

Maybe it was the connection between trains and the West.

We made one other stop in downtown Napa.  I’d scouted out yarn stores, and this one was not too far off the beaten path.

Yarns on First is the name of the shop.  It’s not large, but it has a good array of yarns.

I wanted to hurry since this stop was obviously all about me, so I immediately asked the lady inside if she could point me to yarn that had been produced locally.

First up was the Twirl, which I believe is made, from start to finish, by someone local (she even raises the sheep).  I found a shawlette pattern, Oh Helen, on Ravelry that I’m going to use this for.

I also bought this . . .

This yarn will be made into a pair of socks.  Of course.

We walked around a bit in downtown Napa.

Isn’t this mural pretty?

Then, we headed back to the apartment.

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To avoid traffic, N navigated Rooster a scenic route home.

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There were lots and lots of sharp curves, which Rooster drove around carefully and skillfully.

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In fact, I rode in the backseat of the car the entire time we were in California.  I didn’t get carsick one time – a first for me and a tribute to the kids’ excellent driving.

Meanwhile, Chicky sent me this picture of the dogs . . . getting their evening snack.

Yes, they were totally spoiled while we were gone.

Dinner that evening was at a restaurant called BJ’s.  What a fun place; it had a large menu with several dishes that I could eat with my vegan diet.

Gus, Rooster and N’s fur baby, was extremely happy when we got back and settled in for the night.

Y’all, I slept so good that night.  If you’ll remember, we’d gotten in at 12:30, gone to bed at 2:30, and then I’d gotten up around 6.  It had been a wonderfully busy day – the start to a great vacation.

Slaving Away at the Hodgepodge

Ok, so I’m not exactly slaving away with my answers this week, but I had a hard time finding a catchy title, so slaving it is!  Now, it sounds like Joyce is slaving away as she puts the finishing touches on her new house!  You go girl!  The sneak peeks hint at a gorgeous home!  Let’s get to my answers for her questions, shall we?

1.  What would you say is your strongest sense? 

My strongest sense would have to be smell.  I can smell a cigarette from a mile away, and I’m very sensitive to perfumes and lotions.

2.  Do you believe in the idea of a ‘sixth sense’? Why or why not?

I actually do believe in this.  I know it sounds strange coming from a Christian, but I’ve had too many strange things happen to doubt this.  I knew that something bad had happened to my dad the day he passed away.  I couldn’t explain it, but I got physically ill that afternoon.  I didn’t find out until late that night that he had died.

3.  When do you most feel like a slave to time? Explain.

I feel most like a slave to time when school is in session.  It is then when I live my life in 45-minute segments.  That’s why long holidays and, especially, summers are so precious to me…being free of time constraints.

4.  Have you ever worked in a restaurant? How would you rate the experience? If you could own a restaurant what kind would it be?

I have never worked in a restaurant.  If I could own one, I’d make it one that had a lot of vegan dishes that would appeal to the community as a whole.  One of my biggest frustrations is trying to find good food options when dining out.

5.  Ever traced your family tree? Share something interesting you learned there.

I have never traced my family tree.  I suspect that it would be interesting, though, because I already know that my dad’s side of the family is from France and Germany.  I can only imagine where their relatives came from.

6.  What did your childhood bedroom look like?

I lived in a lot of places when I was younger because my mom was always moving.  The house I spent the most time in was a plantation-style house.  My room was very large.  It had a fireplace in it until it was removed.  I had two closets and a room/attic thing off of it.  I never went in it, though, because it was rumored to have a fake leg in it from the previous owner.  The room was wallpapered, as was the custom back in the 80’s, and had plush carpeting.  I had a canopy bed, that I kept until the day I got married, and a large desk.

7.  Anyone who knows me knows I love_______________________?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to knit.

My latest creation…Hogwarts Express Shawl.

Look at the owls!

This was a very easy project, and I was able to use leftover beads from a previous project.

8.  My Random Thought

My 9th grade students have been working on an essay for the last month.  They’ve spent the past three weeks in the computer lab typing, peer-editing, and revising their essays.  Yesterday was the first day back in my classroom.  I found it very sweet to see the relief on their faces as they entered my room.  It was like they were coming home…to the books I’ve been adding…to their place of comfort.  I adore these kids.

Catching Up

I haven’t done such a great job with my blogging this last week and a half.  I have good reasons.  For now, why don’t we just let bygones be bygones and play a bit of catch-up.

I’ve been doing a ton of sleeping…ignoring the alarm I’ve had set for the last week in my pitiful attempt to start getting back into a routine.  I’ve been sleeping late and then, later in the day, squeezing in a nap whenever possible.

The dogs have complied.  They’re rather chill these days.

Of course, their patience does have limits.  Gambit gets all up in my grill if he even thinks I’m awake.

I’ve been doing some knitting.

With beads.

Which I had to order more of because the gal at the yarn store I visited a few months ago underestimated the amount I needed.

I ordered from GoodyBeads, and boy, was I impressed!  My beads came in record time, and I even got a bag of free beads AND a $5 coupon!  I’ll be ordering from this company again!

Do you see a bit of Harry Potter on the TV in the background of the picture above?

Well, in case you didn’t know, Sunday was HP’s birthday! My running club, the Hogwarts Running Club, is currently hosting a virtual race, the Fantastic Beasts 5K, and the suggested run date was Sunday.

Now, let me tell you that I like doing these races.  I like that the money is given to amazing charities.  I use the Charity Miles app to track my mileage.  They partner up with sponsors who donate for distances covered by its participants.  It’s a win-win all the way around.

What’s been bad, though, is that I am behind several races.  A great thing about virtual races is that you can run them when you want to.  You still get the bling.  You’re competing against yourself and your conscience.

Well, I’m behind a few races.  Life seriously got in the way.  I’ve been working out to a grueling Hammer and Chisel program.  I’m five weeks into my second go-round.  My muscles are sore, and it’s too humid in this Florida heat to get out later in the day.

Some of the races are longer, and there’s no way I can do them in one day.  That’s hard too.

My medals have been sitting in their envelopes…race shirts unworn.

I really wanted to do this one since it was only three miles and a special day indeed.

So, I did my H&C workout (two for the day) and then went outside…at 1pm…and walked/ran that sucker.

I hadn’t run since June 13th.  I still managed to do intervals where I jogged .75 mile and walked .25.  More than once.  Go me.

I was sweaty and tired when I finished, but boy was I proud of myself!

Look at that cute Harry Potter picture (top right).  I have SnapChat and use it; however, I didn’t know about filters until I saw something on Facebook.  It took me a little while to figure it out, but once I did, oh man.  There was a HP filter just for Sunday!

Let’s just say that I’ve been having a little too much fun with filters…

Personally, I like the one above.  Makes me feel like I’m back in the 70’s.  And yes, I am a child of the 70’s/80’s.

This week has been all about 4am alarms clocks.  Ugh.  Working out at 4:45 (because it takes me that long to crawl out of bed) is tough.

Yesterday, I felt okay, though, and perked up even more when I saw my bicep in the mirror.  Call me vain.  I don’t care.  I worked hard for that muscle!

I’m really, really proud of my workouts.  I’m getting so much stronger and am going up in weights about every week and a half thanks to my new commitment to log everything on the worksheets I found online.

Yes, that is 25 pounds.

Did you just faint?

I used them last week for dead lifts, which I absolutely love.  They do so much to strengthen your hamstrings which, in turn, help you shape your rear end.  Go me.

I’m also working in the yard…edging after the Mr. mows the front yard on his RIDING lawn mower (ahem)…and using the PUSH mower to do the back yard (ahem ahem).  I wear my heart rate monitor to record the calories I burn.

Almost 400 calories, y’all.  You know where that’s coming from?  Sweeping the debris down the sidewalk.  Talk about an arm and core workout!

Something else I’ve been doing is participating in a Book Love Summer Session on Facebook.

Penny Kittle wrote the book, and I follow her on Twitter.

Her book…her philosophy, in fact…is all about helping students develop a love for reading.  I read her book last summer and felt like I’d found the validation I needed for what I’d been doing (thanks to my wonderful friend, Barb, who first mentored me) in my classroom for the past five years.

I found out, by reading Twitter, that there was going to be a study session, and I signed up.

It’s very low key.  We listen to certain podcasts, because YES, there’s a Book Love Podcast…who knew!  Then, a facilitator posts questions, and we respond.

Ok.  So, confession time.  I don’t really like to listen to podcasts.  I did way back when, but I’m just not good at processing auditory stuff.  I am definitely a tactile learner, but…this podcast.  It’s something else.

Y’all.  I feel like I’ve found my people.  There have been book talks, encouragement, and ideas for fitting too many things in to too little time.

I have cried almost every time I’ve listened to a podcast.  There are testimonials.  There are stories of students’ lives that have been changed.  I see these things happen in my classroom every year, but listening to it online…it’s just so powerful.

Speaking of school, I ordered and received a new set of Kagan mats.  I really like these because I can flip them over and use the other side for something different.  I go through about two sets each year.

I attended training yesterday and today (my reason for getting up at the crack of dawn).  My district uses Canvas, a learning management system that allows students to access class content online.  I used it last year, and my students LOVED it.  It really facilitated things in my classroom.  Students had access to all of my Smartboard files and documents we worked on in class.  Even though I consider myself a fairly advanced user, I learned so much.  The training was low-key, and we were turned loose to create our own pages.  This time allowed me to make much-needed changes.

I’m still debating about which picture to use on the home screen my kids will see when they log in.  What are your thoughts?

Or this…

So yeah.  That’s a big chunk of what I’ve been up to. Ha!

Christmas in July?

Last week, I finished a project I’d started back in April or May…Heartwarming Stockings…a kit I purchased from Knit Picks.

I’d made a set of these stockings for the Mr. and me last fall.  When Rooster got engaged, I offered to make his girl her own stocking, which she eagerly said yes to.  Then, I decided to make Rooster a stocking as well so they would have a matching set.

I had almost enough yarn left over from my first set to make this set; however, I had to order a couple of skeins of yarn for Rooster’s girl’s stocking, so I cast on his while I waited for her yarn to arrive.

The great thing about this pattern is that you can customize it.  The pattern has a template, and you pick from various patterns offered for each section.  Rooster’s girl picked out everything, and I went from there.

When I finished Rooster’s stocking, I got to work on his girl’s.

I absolutely love the flowers on this stocking.

When I finished, both stockings got a lengthy bath to ensure that every fiber was soaked through.

Then, I blocked them.

I don’t know if you get a sense of how large these are just from looking at the photos.  I had written down the measurements, but I’ve lost the paper!  Ha!

Rooster’s girl asked if I was going to line them.

I said no, because I didn’t know how, but then I started thinking.

And I started Googling.

And after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I decided that I’d give it a shot.

After I took some measurements, I went to JoAnn Fabrics.

The colors I selected looked great; however, I should have taken a stocking with me, because I made a novice mistake and didn’t double my measurements (hello, this would be an inside lining…like a tube…hence double the amount of fabric required).

Money wasted.

And time.

Ugh.

By this time, Rooster’s girl had come to the house.  I can’t remember what we were doing, but she wound up running with me back to the store, where I got the correct amount of fabric.

I traced around each stocking with a permanent marker, giving myself about a half-inch extra space all around.

Now, I had the bright idea to use my sewing machine to stitch the two halves together.  I’d used my sewing machine, obtained as a gift from a yard sale eons ago, maybe once or twice over the years.

It’s a handy thing…folds down underneath the table.

This thing was d-i-r-t-y.

Look at all of that dust!!

Once I got it plugged in, I made sure it worked by turning on the light.

I got out the manual to make sure it was threaded correctly from the top and ran into a problem when I couldn’t get the bottom bobbin to thread properly.  Maybe my thread was too old…it did keep breaking.  Regardless, I spent at least an hour trying to get it to work before throwing up my hands in surrender.

I’d do things the hard way, thus continuing to live out my mom’s words from years ago…”If there’s a hard way to do something, you’ll find it.”

So, I got out my needle and quilting thread and used a whip stitch to stitch both halves together.

Then, I stuffed each lining into its respective stocking and stitched around the top of each stocking, just under the i-cord.

I was actually really pleased with my small, somewhat even stitches.

When all was said and done, I had two lined stockings.

I am so honored that Rooster’s girl allowed me the privilege of making something so special to commemorate what will be their first Christmas together as a married couple.

 

Big Island Wrapper

Summer vacation…it is so wonderful.

I’ve been splitting my time up into chunks — working out — running errands — reading — knitting — napping — watching TV.  Not necessarily in that order either.

My knitting.  Oh my.  I’m working on something for Rooster and his girl, but I had to order a skein of yarn for it, so I cast on a new project, Big Island Wrapper, on June 18th, using Knit Picks Billow yarn.

First of all, can we all give a big hallelujah for Ravelry?  I always research my projects beforehand…looking for errata and suggestions from others to make knitting each pattern easier.  I found out that there were several mistakes in the pattern.

Whew!

The connection sections can be knit a couple of different ways.  I didn’t like the look I was getting with the original way, so I tinked back and reknit, using the suggested changes posted by others.  You can read more specific details on my project page on Ravelry.

The yarn was easy to work with, although I didn’t like that it was thinner in some places than others.  It’s cotton, which I don’t usually knit with, so it’s heavier, but I like the way it slid through my fingers and off of the needles.

It was a fast knit, and before I knew it, I was giving it a bath.

Then, I blocked it.

I love the look of the netting stitch in the orange section.

I bound off using a picot edge…a lovely touch that beats adding fringe any day.

This is not the usually airy shawl that I’m known to make.

The heavier cotton gives it a solid drape.  It will be warm in the fall.

I am pleased with the way it turned out and the color scheme.  The palette is appropriate given my proximity to the ocean.

This shawl will probably be another favorite!  I look forward to wearing it in a few months.

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