Friday, October 31, 2008

How many managers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Answer: I think that question is best directed to my supervisor...

A while back I talked about outsourcing. Tonight, I feel like talking about managers. Just sheer number of them.

I talked to a lot of managers today, in addition to my day to day supervisors. And after being introduced to all these people, I still don't know who is really in charge. Duties are divided up by regions, by products, by customer size, days of the week, phases of the moon, zodiac and favorite color. Then there are hierarchies within all these categories. I think I had to copy three different managers I'd never met in person on an e-mail from some other manager I'd never met in person.

There's so many managers, it's amazing we get any work done. (Nyuk nyuk nyuk.)

And being Halloween, we didn't mind all the managers today. There was way too much candy floating around, and several people dressed up. I didn't manage to get a costumer together, but I did pull out my Brain Slug from two years ago. It was a real hit with the people who'd seen Futurama.

(This is this best brain slug clip I could find:)

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WIP: Big Ol' Titty

I'd lost my blogging mojo for a while, but I'm back, and I brought boobs!

Tit Bit Knitting

It's a little hard to tell in this picture. The yellow one with the pink nipple is a completed Tit Bit. The brown ones are in progress.

On Saturday I went to the Tit Bit event at Gauge that I wrote about last week.

They had tit cakes!

Tit Cakes!

It's funny, Norma Knits just posted about booby cupcakes. These aren't quite as literal as the ones she links to. These are more subliminal. It's a little more obvious from the side.


They tasted good too.


This is Dell. She is going to be one of the recipients. She came to see what we were doing and take some pictures.

Tit Knitters at Gauge

Gauge is working with the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin to knit the breasts. The ones we are working on now will probably be used as examples. Then we'll take "orders." The Tit Bits can be knit in several sizes and adjusted to fit just right. It makes more sense to make them to order.

A representative from the BCRC (I forgot her name) came and talked to us (and answered a lot of our questions.) She showed us one of her prosthetic bras. It was heavy, and cost several several hundred dollars. (Insurance covered part of the cost, but it was still expensive.) She talked about how expensive and uncomfortable regular prosthetics can be. It was easy to see why these could be a better choice for many women.


These are the rocks that Gauge provided to put inside the tit bits along with the Polyfil. The weights help center the breast in the bra, without making them too heavy.

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This is my tit bit so far. And it is only one tit bit. I'll sew the pieces together to make a single tit bit.

I decided to make a big tit bit. I'm using a yarn at a larger gauge than the pattern recommends. (This is Bernat Cottontots.) When I tied the optional nipple, it was huge! So I decided to make a big boob to fit the nipple.

(Besides, there's plenty of big women out there too.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Prop 2: Discuss

Allow me to take a detour into local politics here in Austin. I'll try to keep it short.

While I'm very decided about my presidential pick, I haven't voted yet because I'm very undecided about Austin's Prop 2.

Here's a brief history:

There's a shopping mall called The Domain in Austin. (One of the Austin Meet Ups meets at the The Steeping Room in The Domain.) The Domain gets subsidies from the city.

The people behind Prop 2, Stop Domain Subsidies, say this is a bad deal, and the developers misrepresented themselves. These three videos explain their side better than I can:

There are some very valid points, and I am sufficiently convinced that the Domain subsidies were a bad idea.


The other side, represented by Keep Austin's Word, say that if Austin goes back on this deal, it will open the city up to the lawsuits. (Not to mention the general ethical matter of the city going back on it's word.) They also say that Prop 2 goes beyond on The Domain, and will make sweeping changes that will affect other incentive programs, including an affordable housing development at the old airport.

Also, Prop 2 changes the city charter, and many question whether changing the charter goes too far. (It's sort of like the city equivalent of a constitution, if I understand correctly.)

Here's an add they've been running on local TV stations. (Keep in mind, this is a tv ad, so there isn't time to go as in depth as the mini-documentaries I posted from Stop Domain Subsidies.):

There's some details I haven't been able to straighten out yet. And when I figure these out, I'll know how to vote:

-Would the city really be opening itself up to lawsuits by passing Prop 2?

-How far will Prop 2 go beyond The Domain to affect other incentive programs? (The Austin Chronicle is against Prop 2 for this reason. They think the Domain was a bad deal, but Prop 2 just goes too far to support.)

I'm not willing to take either groups word at face value on these topics. What do you think?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Knit Your (Tit) Bit

Gauge has all sorts of fun stuff coming up this weekend. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary party. I don't know if I'll be able to make it, but I'll be there Sunday for Tit Bit knitting.

From the Gauge website:

Sunday October 26, 3-6PM

After losing her breast to cancer, knitter Beryl Tsang was depressed and frustrated by her options in prosthetics: all were "too heavy, squishy, or ugly... they reminded me of raw liver, and the bra resmebled the suspension system of my 1995 Volvo." She decided she could knit something better from the luxurious yards in her stash. The result - the "Tit-Bit" - ia s hand-knitted breast pattern which can be customized in dimensions and materials to satisfy the requirements of any woman.

To conclude Breast Cancer Awareness Month we invite participants to knit Tit-Bits, check out an array of examples from practical to outrageous, and talk to breast cancer survivors modeling their own Tit-Bits. BCRC staff will offer information on prosthetic options as well as on breast cancer detection, education and support

things to bring if you'd like to knit donations:

machine washable yarn - keep in mind knitting will be worn against the body so soft is good

needles for your yarn -

a copy of the pattern -

we'll provide fiber fill and weights

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Welcome Mental Floss Readers!

A while back I mentioned the Mental Floss College Ain't Cheap Tuition Giveaway. There was a reason I mentioned it. (Besides the fact that someone might want to actually want to apply for it.)

Today, the Mental Floss blog gave a shout out to me and my blog. Apparently they thought knitting was "mental" enough to earn a link. (Or maybe I'm just mental.)

So since tens of people (well, actually just ten people, as of now) are coming to my blog through the Mental Floss blog, I need to make this entry a really good one. Hopefully one or two of you will come back sometime.

I think it's a good time to update everyone on my current projects.

Enough Yarn?

I haven't worked on my Entrelac Scarf in a while. The last time I worked on it, I thought it was time to do the final "tier" on the squares. After winding the rest of the ball, I've decided I can do a couple more tiers before binding off.

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I've been focusing on my Chevron Scarf recently. It's progressing nicely. Of course, it's will look even better after I block it. (The pattern is from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.)

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On the spinning front, I'm still working on a single from the Coopworth wool I bought at Yarnorama on the Hill Country Yarn Crawl. (Here it is on the Niddy Noddy.) I'm still planning to ply it with the Blue Faced Leicester wool I bought. I bought so much wool, I'm thinking I may use spin some of it for the Fiber Friends Festival.

Speaking of the Fiber Friends Festival, I got more details from Suzanne at Hill Country Weavers. It looks like this year they are taking a 12% commission, but there's no flat fee for advertising. Also, they're asking for donations for a charity auction. It also looks like they're trying to organize the set up a little more than last year, separating items by category.

I've been thinking more about what I want to make. I have my usual "inventory" of scarves, mini-stockings, hacky sacks, felted potholders and coasters, etc. I need to refresh some areas. Also, I would like to add other items. Like these:


When I was in Florida, and doing a lot more craft shows, I bought a bunch of glass balls for a ridiculously low price after Christmas. At the time I was going to do some wire beading, but now I think I need to do some crochet. (Or possibly beaded crochet.)

Now I think I need to find the rest of them. (Yes, that's only part of them.) Then again, how many can I really expect to make before the festival?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's about that time of year...

I got the following e-mail from Hill Country Weavers today:

HILL COUNTRY WEAVERS invites all of our fiber artist friends to participate in our 3rd HCW FIBER FRIENDS FESTIVAL on DECEMBER 13 & 14, 2008.

If you are a FELTER, CROCHETER, KNITTER, BASKETEER, WEAVER, SPINNER, EMBOIDERER, NEEDLE FELTER, or DYER and would like to sell your fiber related hand crafted items please email us! This year we would also like to invite those of you who make supplies or accessories for the crafter (for example, hand made stitch markers, knitting bags, or fiber-themed greeting cards & journals).

HCW will be providing a tent and banner in front of the store for 2 days as well as placing an ad in the paper. To help everything run smoothly all participating artists are required to volunteer for a 4-hour(-ish) shift of the festival (non-weekend shifts are available).

TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS EXCITING EVENT (or if you have any questions) please contact Kathy Bateman at info AT hillcountryweavers DOT com or call 707-7396 for more details.
It's starting to finally feel like summer is ending (and it's only late October!) It's time for me to start gathering my inventory and working on some more stuff for the Fiber Friends Festival. Felted coasters and potholders sold really well last year. I think it's time to make some more.

I've always done really well at the Fiber Friends Festival. The crowd always seems to understand the value of handmade items, and there is little risk associated with throwing your hat into the ring. Some larger craft shows charge upwards of $150 for a booth. (Back in the day, I spent about $60 for a booth at a community event, and ended up sunburned and a few dollars in the red.)

It looks like I have some work to do before Dec. 13.

Tuesday Tens: Ten "Secrets" of Sally Comes Unraveled

Recently, I read about the Secrets of the J-Walk Blog, one of my favorite non-knitting blogs. It inspired me to share some of my own "secrets." Here's a (sort of) behind the scenes look at my blog.

1. My camera is an Olympus C150. I only know this because of I looked it up on Flickr. I do know it's abilities are limited.

2. I have a few tips for "point and shoot" cameras like mine. Make sure the light source is coming from behind you and shining on your subject. Don't use the crummy zoom, it will only make things blurry. Instead, take a picture far away and crop the hell out of it. The pictures are huge when you down load them anyway.

3. Speaking of Flickr... Most of my pictures are on my Flickr page. I tried putting them on Blogger in the beginning, but I ran out of room pretty quickly. I'm still toying with the best ways to format the pictures.

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4. I ask permission before taking pictures in yarn shops. They're almost always
ok with it, once they confirm it's not for commercial use. I've only had trouble twice. Once the owner didn't speak English very well and thought I was publishing a book. (She eventually said yes.) The other was the picture above, taken outside of A Major Knitwork on my first trip to California. It had absolutely nothing to do with the staff of the shop. They were closed for the TNNA convention. It was a rogue security guard who got angry when I took this picture outside the store.

5. Despite, my jokes, I have more than two readers. I often talk about "both of my readers", but according to my stats, I seem to average around 30 unique visitors a day.

6. I usually blog like I have thousands of readers. Because someday I hope I will.

7. If I don't post on a given day, it's probably because I fell asleep. Chances are I conked out with my computer still on.

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8. You can tell the location of the shot by the background. Well, that goes without saying, but sometimes it's less obvious with the close ups. If the background is dark green, the item was placed on my green chair in the living room. If it's light blue, the picture was taken on my bed. My "mirror shots" (like the one above) are taken at my bathroom sink. However, the layout of my apartment puts the bathroom sink outside the actual bathroom (like a Motel 6), so I'm really outside the bathroom in front of my closet door.

Poncho Pig - Knitwear Model

9. In case you missed it, Poncho Pig became my knitwear model after this blog entry. I'll warn you, I was feeling especially whiny that day.

10. I like to think I'm a good writer. My degree is in journalism and I wrote for small town newspapers for three years. My style is plain and straight forward, and this has both helped and hindered my writing career.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Does it turn back to a pumpkin at midnight?

I think I'm getting my Cinderella references crossed, but that's beside the point.

Speaking of points, there are an awful lot of pointy features on this glass wheel. If I had that hanging around my house for very long, I'm sure someone (probably me) would lose an eye. But I guess they didn't make a glass wheel because it was practical.

I'm also intrigued by the spinning technique. I think this is spinning from the fold. I'm amazed that the spinner (spinster?) seems to be getting such even yarn with what looks like no drafting.

Maybe the fiber turns back into Rapunzel's hair at midnight? But only if Rumplestilsken prevents her from pricking her finger on a pointy thing. (Or something like that.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spinning Coopworth

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Now that I have more fiber I've started spinning again, and it feels good.

This is the Coopworth that I bought at Yarnorama. It's very nubby and light. There's all sorts of little pills in the roving. I've been leaving them there, rather than trying to pick them out. It adds character.

The fiber has a lot of "grip" to it. Yet it's light enough that it's easy to make it really thin. In fact, I'm trying not to make it too thin.

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It's going pretty fast. I haven't decided if I'm going to try to spin the whole bag at once, or come back to the rest later.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why Cookie Cutter Budgets Don't Work

The CNBC website has a budget calculator that helps you plan a budget. I decided to try it out for laughs. And I did laugh. Where do they get this crap? And what makes them believe this formula will work for everyone.

At the top, I plugged in $2,000 as a nice round number for monthly take home pay. My job is in sales, so we get bonuses based on performance. A bad month can be as low as $1,600 a month. $2,000 is a good month. $2,200 or $2,400 is a really good month.

Here's what I spend versus what CNBC says I should spend.

Housing: CNBC - $600 Actual - $525

This is pretty accurate. Keep in mind, I'm paying bargain basement prices for a neighborhood most of my friends wouldn't live in. (I'm perfectly happy, though.)

Transportation: CNBC - $360 Actual - $230

I'm one of those lucky people with no car payment, so I think I may be overestimating my gasoline. (I included car insurance.)

Debt: CNBC - $200 Actual - $120 (Goal - $0)

Eventually I'll redirect most of this money towards savings. I also pay more for "windfalls" like the $30 I got for my Rainbow Brite Lunchbox and my profit sharing bonus at work. At this rate I'll be debt free in seven months. (Probably sooner, after I get back on eBay.)

Food: CNBC - $280 Actual - $200

This is if I'm really, really good and don't eat out very much.

Household: CNBC - $140 Actual - $280

WTF, CNBC? This is category is basically household bills. Even if I didn't use AC, I'd have to cable and internet to come anywhere close to their estimate. (Call me high maintenance.)

Savings: CNBC - $200 Actual - $50 (Goal - $150)

I'll have more to throw at this when I pay off my debt.

Everything else: CNBC - $220 Actual - $595

Ok, this is where things get interesting. It looks like I have a lot of "free money," but CNBC doesn't account for medical expenses, which for me is about $295 a month for regular medications and doctor appointments. (This is with insurance. And it doesn't even account for the cost of insurance. This is all based on take-home pay, and my job deducts my health insurance.) So we're down to $300 on a good month. On a bad month, it's more like $100.

So NBC says this should be your budget:

Housing – 30%
Transportation – 18%
Debt – 10%
Food – 14%
Household – 7%
Savings – 10%
Everything Else – 11%

But this is what mine looks like in a good month:
Housing - 26.25%
Transportation - 11.5%
Debt - 6%
Food - 10%
Household - 14%
Savings - 2.5%
Medical - 14.75%
Everything Else - 15%

I think I'm doing just fine, despite not fitting in the lines.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yarn (Store) Pr0n: Yarnorama

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Yarnorama was the third stop on the yarn crawl. We had lunch while we were there. (It helps that they have their own cafe so you can grab a bite after the drive.)

Yarnorama isn't strictly yarn. They have equipment for several types of fiber arts. I was looking forward to buying more fiber. Here is a herky-jerky look at their fiber selection.


They had some beautiful drop spindles. Click on the picture to get a better look at the craftsmanship.

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Here's some more spindles and other tools. I considered getting a wrist distaff that doubled as a wraps per inch tool, but I decided to save my money for fiber.

Spinning Wheels

They also have a nice selection of wheels and looms. Clara bought a Louet Julia while she was there.

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This is Susan, the owner. She answered a bunch of my questions, and helped me decide what fiber to buy. She also said I could come back and try out the spinning wheels on the floor before I decide which one to buy. She also helped Clara buy choose her wheel, demonstrated how the silk hankies work and how to spin them.

Silk Cocoons

Speaking of silk, here's some whole silk cocoons. If you shake them you can hear the silk worm inside. (Yes, they're dead. It's gross, but that's how you get silk without breaking the cocoon.)

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They had plenty of yarn as well. There was cashmere, Malabrigo and a nice selection of yarns dyed in-house. Here's some of Yarnorama's hand painted sock yarn. They also their own hand dyed linen yarn and silk hankies.

"Locally Produced Llama"

As the sign says, this yarn is from local llamas. I think it's mill spun. Very nice.

Three Bags Full

In the end, I bought fiber instead of yarn. The one on the left is Corriedale, bought specifically for testing out spinning wheels and learning new techniques.

The middle bag is Coopworth. I'm spinning it right now. After spinning Merino, I was surprised by the "teeth" in the wool.

The one on the right is Blue Faced Leicester (or BFL). I plan to ply it with the Coopworth. Susan thought it would work. All the wool is natural, none of it is dyed.

Yarnorama is a bit of drive, but it is worth it for the selection of spinning surprise. I think I'll be back.

There are more pictures of Yarnorama here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WIP: Chevron Scarf

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I've done a few rows since Saturday, but I knitted almost all of this while riding in the van during the yarn crawl.

This is the Chevron Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. I needed something that would be easy to work with in the car while I was talking with other people. Also, I had borrowed the book from Gauge. By the time I got there to drop it off, I had the pattern memorized.

I'm using US Size 2 needles and some of the Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM) that I bought at Wildfiber.

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I had a little time to wind the yarn at Hill Country Weavers before we left. The yarn on the left is P136. I think the yarn on the right is P527. It's kind of hard to read the tag.

I haven't decided if some lucky person will get this as a gift, or if I'll keep it for myself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Tens: Ten Vendors I Am Looking Foward To Visiting at Kid 'N Ewe

Kid 'n Ewe is coming up in November, and I can't wait. I've been saving my money. Last year I didn't buy much fiber because I didn't know how to spin. Now that I know how to spin, watch out!

Here are 10 vendors I'm looking forward to visiting.

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1. FiberLady - Now that I've spun some bamboo, I'm ready for more.

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2. Hokett Would Work - I bought my drop spindle there last year. They don't have a website, so it's hard to find Jim Hokett's stuff elsewhere. It may be time for a nice WPI tool.

3. Perfect Buttons - They sell dichroic glass buttons. I love dichroic glass.

4. Lynn's Texas Fiber - The website has a nice selection of roving. Mmmmm....roving.

5. Donlee Acres - They get a lot of their fiber from their own animals.

6. Fire Ant Ranch - Here's some more locally grown fiber.

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7. Buffalo Gold - I probably can't afford the yarn, but now that I can spin, I might get a little sample of fiber for spinning.

8. Rosewood Yarns - They're right there in Boerne, so I may go visit the store itself. If I remember correctly, they had a nice selection at the show.

9. Spinning Straw Into Gold - The website focuses a lot on spinning your pet's fur. I'm interested in seeing what they have at the show.

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10. Brooks Farm - I've been focusing on spinning, but there's one vendor I know I'll buy yarn from. Now that I know how awesome they are, I may buy a sweater's worth of yarn. They have affordable, quality yarn.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hill Country Yarn Crawl 2008

After some debate I decided to go on the Hill Country Yarn Crawl and take the bus that left from Hill Country Weavers. I couldn't make it today, when most of the people went and the bus went to the shops out of town. But I did have fun going to all my local shops and getting to see a new one.

You can see all the pictures I took on the yarn crawl here.

Tote Bags

I got to Hill Country Weavers nice and early, where I picked up my passport and my tote bag for all my goodies.


Hill Country Weavers gave out skeins of Plymouth Ocean Side Organic cotton yarn and a booklet with patterns for these dishcloths.

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Trish of Tanglewood Fiber Creations was there, with all her beautiful, luscious handspun yarn.

Pam Splurges

Pam got a skein of Tanglewood yarn. It was 50% silk, 50% cashmere, with beads. It was so soft that she decided to wear it as a necklace.

There were only eight people who went on Saturday, so they reserved a 15 passenger van. The van was late. Way late. So more than an hour after we were supposed to leave, this is what showed up to pick us up:

15 passengers?

Yep, there wasn't even enough room for eight, much less 15. They had confirmed the time and the size of the van the day before. We weren't thrilled.

So we waited for another van to come.

Waiting for the van

Finally, a second van arrived. This one was bigger, but there still weren't enough seats. We ended up taking both.

As we talked to our driver in the second van, we discovered that she wasn't a driver, and she didn't have a fleet van. Apparently she works for the owner of the business, but not as a driver. She was driving her own personal van. Her boss had called her up and asked her to come let us use her van. When we needed two vehicles, she got roped into driving us all around town.

The driver was very nice despite the situation. She enjoyed the shops, and she may try knitting. (She already sews.) We had a good time talking. She said she had a great time, and I told her not to tell her boss that.

So that was the main hitch in the plan. We still made it to all the shops, but we didn't have as much time to spend. But we didn't let it ruin our day.

New Notion Holders

Our first stop was The Knitting Nest, where they gave us kits for spider headbands, just in time for Halloween. In addition to the new notion holders, they had several new yarns including Cascade Greenland (the same stuff I got from Wildfire), Laines Du Nord Calipso, Cascade Cotton Rich and Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks. And they had this...

Amy's Vintage Office

This is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Amy's Vintage Office, the limited edition color I've been drooling over. Stacy said they ran out of the sock weight already, and these three skeins in Shepherd Worsted were all that was left. I bought one of them.

Speaking of Stacy, there's a story behind this picture:

Stacy is a trooper

Stacy is a trooper. She cut her hand when she broke the vase her anniversary roses came in. Since then, she's had surgery on her hand. (She showed me her stitches.) This was less than a week ago, yet she was at the store, on lots of painkillers.

She agreed to let me take a picture, and I said I wouldn't put it up if I didn't get a good shot. She joked that I could edit her face out.

Well, I got a bad shot, and Picnik had some effects that matched the Halloween decor. So I went for it.

Hand Dyed Silk Hankies

The next stop was
Yarnorama in Paige, where we had lunch. I'll have a full entry on them later, but I wanted to show off the hand dyed silk hankies. We each got one with a little kit that had instructions for knitting a little pouch. Susan, the owner, showed us how to stretch the silk into roving that we could knit.

Clara's Wheel

I bought a pound and a half of fiber. But that doesn't compare to Clara, who bought a spinning wheel. (It's in the box she's holding.)

After Yarnorama, we went to Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe. We didn't have much time because they closed at five. But we did have time to look around. Everything was 10% off for yarn crawlers. (Even the clearance yarns were 60% off, instead of the usual 50% off.)

Kits from Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe

Everyone got a kit for these little pouches and a pattern for both knit and crochet versions. They were in paper bags, so we didn't know exactly what we got until we opened them.

Handmaiden Sea Silk

The final stop was Gauge, where they gave out vouchers for free classes, and their yarns were also 10% off for yarn crawlers. They still had a good selection of Handmaiden Sea Silk and Double Sea Silk. I snagged a skein of the Double Sea Silk in the "Vintage" colorway.

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Cheva was there sporting her latest creation. (Also, Carly was sporting some cool felted bangles.)

I was happy to find that Gauge has some roving for sale. Now I can get my fiber fix closer to home.

I was exhausted when we returned to HCW, and my arms were full. Here is what I got on the crawl.

Yarn Crawl Booty

There are more details about the yarn here and the fiber here.

And here's all the freebies.

Yarn Crawl Freebies

The bus ride is over, but there's one day left to buy your passports, get you free gifts and enter the drawing. They're at all the participating shops.