Fashion Friday :: Stitch Fix Review #8, opinions please?

My eighth Stitch Fix* box arrived on Wednesday night, just as I was leaving for a meeting. I tore into it anyway, just to get a glimpse of what awaited me when I got home, and I liked what I saw. I’ve been trying this service out for nearly a year now, and I never fail to get excited when that box arrives!

So now here we are, at my eighth Stitch Fix review. If you’d like to read previous reviews, you can check them out here:

Stitch Fix Review #1

Stitch Fix Review #2

Stitch Fix Review #3

Stitch Fix Review #4

Stitch Fix Review #5

Stitch Fix Review #6

Stitch Fix Review #7

In some ways, this box was easy, because sizing and pricing made some of my decisions for me. Actually, regarding pricing, I have to say I was overall super-happy with the pricing in this box. I found the prices very reasonable for most of the pieces I received; the best total price I think I’ve seen (or close to it).

I was most excited to see that I’d been sent another pair of skinny jeans. Last fall, I got some skinny jeans that I fell in love with, but they were both too tight and too spendy. This time, the price was perfect, but the fit was too loose. This isn’t a problem I’ve ever had with Stitch Fix pieces, as the opposite has tended to be the case, even though everything I’ve been sent has been technically my size. Anyway, I love the jeans they sent, but they’re too big in the waist.

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I’m obviously not even sucking my stomach in (the way I would normally do if I were showing you a shot of my tummy), and there’s still too much of a gap there, especially for skinny jeans. They’re also a little baggy in places in the legs. The price is so right, though, so it’s a real shame. However! I think I have located these jeans, or some that are very similar, online elsewhere – the first time I’ve successfully done this with a Stitch Fix piece – so it looks like I’m going to be able to try these one size down. I’ll report back!

The next piece had the opposite problem – too small!

polka-dots!

polka-dots!

(You can also see in this picture how baggy the jeans are in a few places – wouldn’t be a problem for normal jeans, but not the right look for skinny jeans). I love these polka dots, but the top is overall a bit small and the sleeves in particular are too tight for comfort. I don’t know if you can tell, but there are two zippers on the front (outlined in red) – a cute idea, but unless they are unzipped (which I would never, ever do), they create some weird lumps because of the stiffness of the zippers.

The next piece I would’ve kept, except for the price.

silver necklace

silver necklace

This is very much my style, and I think it’s really cute. But it’s $48, and it just doesn’t seem worth that to me. I know I always sound cheap about jewelry, but I’m just really particular about what I spend my money on in that department.

So those three pieces were easy to decide about. The next one I was initially on the fence about. It’s a 3/4-sleeve navy cardigan, and I totally love it, but I was afraid that it, too, was too tight.

navy cardi

navy cardi

It seemed the buttons were straining a bit – and that’s a look I really dislike. However, the more I have tried it on, the less it has done that, because the sweater is stretchy. I tried it on first without anything else on under it (since I was afraid that something under it would make the buttons strain even more).

But then I paired it with a dress I received in my very first Fix:

with chili pepper red dress

with chili pepper red dress

And YES, this is a definite keeper. This cardigan makes this sleeveless, plunging neck dress totally work appropriate, don’t you think?

I like the cardi open, too (though not for work when paired with this dress):

with cardi open

with cardi open

I think it’s going to be a perfect layering piece for spring and summer, plus it’s only $38. Perfect! Yay!

So that’s three I’m sending back, one I’m definitely keeping, and one more I’m on the fence about. It’s this lightweight sweater:

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I love the feel of it – it’s very lightweight and soft, a nice transitional piece (which I am always in need of at this time of year). The teal is very pretty (up close, it’s actually blue, white, and yellow):

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The lighting is off in this photo, but it gives you an idea of the stitching. The seams along the edge of the sleeves and the body are raised, and I like the cabled raglan detail as well.

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I’m just not sure it’s all that flattering, and I try really hard not to buy things unless I’m going to feel great in them. So it’s a tough call, and I know it’s hard to tell much from the pictures, but if anyone has any opinions about it, I’m interested. Especially if you have ideas about styling. I could just consider it Saturday knock-around-the-house wear, but it’s a bit pricey for that – I only want to keep it if it’s something I would wear, to work or elsewhere.

Stitch Fix #8

Stitch Fix #8

*Stitch Fix is a personal shopping/styling service – you fill out a style questionnaire on their site so that they get a sense of your “style profile.” Then you pay a $20 “styling fee” and they hand-pick five items for you, based on your preferences. They ship the box to you, you try everything on, and then you select what, if anything, you want to keep; the $20 styling fee goes toward the cost of anything you choose. If you don’t want to keep anything, you ship everything back in the package provided (they keep the $20 styling fee). If you decide to keep everything, you get a 25% discount (minus the $20 you already paid them). I do not receive any compensation from them for reviewing my experience with them.

But I *do* get a credit towards my next Fix if you schedule a Fix for yourself via my referral link: here. If you have questions about how it works, you can see their FAQ here – and I am more than happy to answer any questions based on my experience, too.

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Crackerjack :: A Conceptual Knitting Project (any baseball fans want to join me?)

I know that most sports fans right now have their minds on basketball, but not me. It’s officially spring now (WOOHOO!) and I can’t help it – I am leaning towards baseball season, hard. Please tell me I have some fellow baseball fans out there, yes?

I grew up as an Atlanta Braves fan, like my mama and my grandmother, and it took me more than a decade of living in Michigan to finally open my heart to the Tigers – I had a hard time making the switch from National League to American League love (thanks to that pesky designated hitter rule). But once I did, I became a fully committed fan. Now, I am ALL IN.

Comerica Park

Comerica Park

All my fellas are all in, too. It’s been great fun for My Old Man (a lifelong Cardinals fan) and me to introduce our kids to the love of baseball.

photo-103

Miguel Cabrera Bobblehead day at Comerica Park, 2013

What does any of this have to do with knitting? A lot, actually, but I will have to save most of my musings for another day. For now, I just want to talk a little about a conceptual knitting project I have in mind, and to see if anyone else might want to join me.

Are you familiar with conceptual knitting? The first conceptual knitting project I’m aware of was the Sky Scarf, by Lea Redmond. The idea is to knit a scarf that matched the sky – a different garter stripe each day based on the weather: rainy, cloudy, sunny. It’s a very cool concept, and it makes each project unique to the knitter, based on when and where s/he knits the scarf. A similar concept really took off last year, with the My Year in Temperatures scarf, each stripe representing the actual temperature of the day. I’m captivated by the idea of conceptual knitting not only because of the uniqueness of the finished project, but also because it’s a long-term idea executed in very small increments – if you keep up with it, you only need to knit a little each day, and at the end you have a kind of living document of that year or season.

I was thinking about conceptual knitting last fall, as I was eagerly cheering my team on in the postseason as well as wishing for a Tigers-colored handknit to keep me warm in October. The idea for Crackerjack took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Now that this year’s regular season is about to begin, I am ready to make it happen.

The plan is to create an infinity cowl that I start on the first day of the regular season and finish on the last day of the regular season, with the hope of getting to wear it during the postseason while cheering my team on to the World Series (a girl can dream!). Here’s how it’s going to work. Detroit Tigers colors are navy blue, white, and orange. Since they wear grey uniforms for away games (as all teams do), I’m going to throw grey into the mix as well. So I’m going to work this project in those four colors – blue, white, orange, and grey – and I’m going to assign each color to a home win, a home loss, a win away, and a loss away. I’m going with white for home and grey for away since those correspond with the uniforms for those games. So here’s what I came up with:

Crackerjack stripe colors

Crackerjack stripe colors

Please to be ignoring my terrible writing.

And here’s how a portion of it would have looked if I had done at the beginning of last season:

colored pencil rendering of  a Detroit Tigers Crackerjack, 2013

colored pencil rendering of a Detroit Tigers Crackerjack, 2013

I think it’s going to be super-fun to see how the colors stripe and block, based on how the season goes. I hope there will be a LOT of blue and grey!

And here are my yarns:

Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd Worsted

Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd Worsted

The blue I’m going with is actually not a navy – I bought some navy last fall and it was so dark it looked black. Paired with the orange, it looked like I was getting ready for Halloween. I don’t want actual tiger stripes in this project, just Tigers stripes. But the blue I’ve got is not quite as royal as it looks in this picture (nor is the orange as neon as it might seem here). Stonehedge Fiber Mills is one of my favorite yarns, and it’s Michigan-made, which is a bonus.

I’m wondering if anyone else out there might want to try this with me? I would suggest going with white for a home game (either win or loss) and grey for away (either win or loss). If your team only has one additional color (like the New York Yankees, for instance, whose colors are navy blue, white, and grey), then I would suggest picking whichever color you like the best and assign that one to all wins, whether at home or on the road. So taking the Yanks as an example, you might do blue for wins both at home and on the road, white for home losses, and grey for road losses. Assuming a lot of wins, you would have a scarf with a lot of blue, interspersed with lines and blocks of white and grey.

Personally, I think this will be a fun way to chart the 2014 season for myself, not to mention that, by late September I will have a Detroit Tigers infinity cowl to wear while I watch the postseason.

I’ve created a pattern page on Ravelry.  It has the most rudimentary instructions there (essentially what I’ve already said here), but I will be updating it in time for Opening Day, with an actual (free) download – it will be more of a recipe than a full-on pattern, so that you can use whatever yarn you’d like at whatever gauge that works for you. I just thought I’d go ahead and post all of this now, in case anyone would like to join me – so that you have a little time to gather your yarn.

See you on Opening Day! RAWR!

See you on Opening Day! RAWR!

 

 

Knock, knock! Who’s there? YARN

I made some yarn, y’all. It feels like a big deal because I haven’t had a lot of time at the wheel lately. This is only the second skein of yarn I’ve made since the beginning of the year. It started out like this:

Hello Yarn Southdown, "A Bit of Zip and Sizzle" (December 2013 Fiber Club)

Hello Yarn Southdown, “A Bit of Zip and Sizzle” (December 2013 Fiber Club)

I’d never spun Southdown before, and I liked it!

stripe-y!

stripe-y!

I spun it up into 332 yards of light worsted chain-ply, slated for socks for one of my kiddos. One of these days.

I split the fiber to yield short repeats of the color changes, and the yarn turned out pretty much exactly as I’d hoped.

20140318-185129.jpgI love it when that happens.

 

A Few Green Things

I’m giving a nod to St. Patrick’s Day today by both wearing green and knitting with it (and that will be pretty much the extent of my celebrations). Also, I’m ready for spring, and surrounding myself with green makes me feel hopeful that it might arrive one of these days.

I’m plugging away on Little Buddha’s Deuce.

The Deuce #2

The Deuce #2

That’s a pretty small amount of progress I’ve made, but I haven’t had a lot of time – the weekend seemed to go by in a flash!

I also pulled out an old project over the weekend. I’m looking longingly at it but trying not to pick it up and work on it, since Little Buddha has asked me to be knit-monogamous while I work on his sweater.

Cloud Bolero

Cloud Bolero

Ravelry tells me I cast on for this in the spring of 2010. Though I never even took one shot of the work-in-progress back then, I finished the body and had only the sleeves left to go before I set it aside. What happened was I decided I wanted it a bit longer, and that was going to involve undoing the picot bind-off – not my favorite thing to do in any circumstance, but I knew it would be made all the more difficult because it was single-ply handspun. I really, really want this sweater for this spring though, so I WILL make this happen. I’m posting this here to try to keep myself accountable.

Meanwhile, I’m wearing this handknit today:

Cape Cod

Cape Cod

I love this sweater so much. I originally envisioned it for cool summer nights but didn’t finish it until September. It has turned out to be perfect for fall and winter – and a very welcome splash of bright color in the dark, cold months. I especially love it paired with black.

And because it is still ridiculously cold here (it was in the low teens when I got dressed), I’m also wearing a super-cozy cowl with my toasty winter coat. This is a new free design I hope to be releasing later this week. It’s so super-squishy that it makes me not resent the endless winter quite so much.

Handspun Sprout

Handspun Sprout

How about you? Working with or wearing any green today? What did you work on this weekend?

 

 

Baked :: Paleo Blueberry-Espresso Brownies

Paleo Blueberry-Espresso Muffins

Paleo Blueberry-Espresso Muffins

I made these for a potluck last night, and I thought they turned out outrageously good. I’m sort of obsessed with them now. They aren’t Whole30-compliant (thanks to 1/2 cup raw honey in the batch), but if you aren’t doing Whole30 and you are able to eat both eggs and nuts then you need to make these right now!

Get the recipe.

(note: the “coconut cream concentrate” the recipe calls for is also known as coconut butter; if you can’t find it in the store, you can very easily make your own)

Beginnings, and a Question :: The Deuce, #2

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I cast on last night for Little Buddha’s sweater, in the yarn he picked out last fall. I showed him this morning, and the following discussion ensued:
LB: If you did nothing else but knit, on just that one project, for 24 hours straight, would you be able to finish that in a day?
Me: Yes.
LB: Then could you maybe not knit on any other projects until you finish my sweater?

Oh, my little boy does know me, doesn’t he? Monogamous knitting is not my strong suit, but how could I say no to such a sweet request?

Fashion Friday :: from curly to straight (and back again)

So I tried something this week that I’ve never done before – I flat-ironed my very curly, very thick hair. And it worked. And I liked it.

A lot of curly girls know their way around heating appliances quite well; I am not one of them. I’ve never used a flat iron and I’ve had a blowout precisely once, about fifteen years ago when a hair stylist friend asked me to let him try it. It took forever and then curled right back up before the night was done. In sixth grade, tired of being teased about my unruly red hair, I let my mom and my aunt chemically straighten my hair. It was an unmitigated disaster – the chemicals damaged my hair, which hung straight but also limp and gave my classmates new reasons to tease me. What’s more, the curls came back within a week. In my late teens, I finally accepted my curls, and in my twenties I finally discovered how to wear them (number one rule: no more short layers, including bangs!) and what products to use (number one rule: the right conditioner is key). I quit wanting what I didn’t have, I learned to love what I did have and to treat it right, and I honestly never really considered trying to straighten my hair in any way – blowouts, flat irons, or chemicals. My curl type is “3B,” which is to say that I have corkscrew type curls and my hair is curlier the shorter it is. I typically wear it in long layers:

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I’ve been doing all sorts of playful things, appearance-wise, lately, including experimenting with new hairstyles. My new desire to try some new things does not at all imply some sort of rejection of my natural curls. I am still and always Team Curly! But sometimes, it’s just fun to do something different.

When I had the urge to look into flat-ironing curly hair, I went to YouTube and found this fantastic video - her hair is much curlier than mine (3C? 4A?) and it seemed like if she could do it, I should be able to. So I set out to acquire all the proper tools and products. I bought this flat iron, which I think is the one she recommends in the video (her link was dead, but she mentioned the name in the video):

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I got the Conair Infiniti Pro Tourmaline Ceramic 1″ Straightener (only $22 and it has ceramic plates – also comes with a bonus bottle of Argan Oil).

Next I consulted my hair and makeup guru, Heather:

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Then I set off for Sally’s Beauty Supply to see to gather some products. They didn’t have the Moroccan Oil Heather highly recommends, so I decided just to use the Argan Oil that came with the iron for this time. They also didn’t have the heat-resistant spray mentioned in the video, nor the finishing spray Heather told me about. So I got what the women at Sally’s recommended, Beyond The Zone Turn Up The Heat Protection Spray (which I ended up really liking).

I got home and got to work. I’m about to show you photos, but please no judging on my bathroom mirror. Ugh! I didn’t realize when I did this quite how dirty it was – the camera seems to pick up every speck – and I certainly would’ve cleaned it had I realized I’d be showing it to all of you! Anyway, here we go. I started with clean, dry hair, with my usual leave-in conditioner and one of my usual gels (I rotate through a few), dried under a hood dryer.

(honestly not loving how my hair was looking that day)

(honestly not loving how my hair was looking that day)

I sprayed the heat-protection spray everywhere and started sectioning it the way the girl in the video does:

uh....

uh….

Then I sectioned it further and got to work, putting a little argan oil on each section and using the Tangle Tamer Max (mentioned in the video) to get each section smooth and following the tangle tamer down each section with the flat iron. This part was pretty foreign to me, as not only am I not accustomed to using flat iron, I also don’t ever use any kind of brush or comb on my hair – I just use my fingers to detangle in the shower and then leave the hair undisturbed after putting gel in it.

Anyway, it worked:

first section, straightened

first section, straightened

It went faster than I expected it to, and before long, half my head was done:

20140314-120141.jpgThere’s a pretty big discrepancy in length, between the straight side and the curly side, but of course the curly side was also still up in a pony tail.

I kept going, and before long I was done:

20140314-120146.jpgHonestly, I was shocked that it worked. I am so used to having hair that does exactly what it wants that I really did not expect to have this much control over it.

20140314-120152.jpgIt took about 50 minutes to do all of it, and that included lots of consulting the video, texting up-to-the-minute progress to Heather, and being interrupted by a son who was, on the one hand, fascinated by what I was doing, and, on the other, terrified that something was going to go wrong. But nothing went wrong, and I was very happy with how it turned out.

the next day

the next day

I’m actually kind of surprised at how much I like the end result. I expected that either it would turn out poorly or that it would turn out right but that I wouldn’t like how it looked on me. I thought I would try it for a day and then go right back to curly.

But here I am four days later, and I feel like my hair is still looking pretty good:

20140314-120212.jpgIgnore that one piece that’s out of place, please! That’s one thing I’m not used to with straight hair – it’s actually possible to have your hair mostly “in place.” With my usual style, I just kind of let it be where it wants to be.

A few things that have surprised me:

  • how fast this was
  • how easy it was
  • how long it has stayed straight
  • how easy it has been to maintain
  • how much I like it

I’ll be washing it this weekend and going back to curly, but I’ll definitely be giving this a go again. It’s been fun to try something new, and to actually be pleased with the result. I still have some things to learn – like how to get the roots on the back of my head done, and how to properly treat my hair each day its straight (brush or comb? wrap and cover at night?), and how to treat the ends. I am interested in any tips anyone who has done this wants to offer.

Wow. Who knew I could write so much about straightening my hair? Some day I may write about my curly hair routine, and then you’ll really be surprised with how much verbiage I can use. Apparently, hair is a thing I can go on and on about.

 

For my tween :: The Deuce

I had a vision in the fall, of coordinated sweaters for both my boys, knit in the same season. It was a lofty goal, one I’ve never managed to achieve, and it was made even loftier by the fact that I secretly hoped I would also be able to make a coordinated sweater for their father. Stop laughing, y’all! I can’t help it – I clearly just don’t understand how the time-space continuum works.

I cast on for a sweater for Tiny Dancer in September, but then got buried in other knitting commitments. After Thanksgiving, I got back to it, finished the body – and realized I was very displeased with my colorwork. In addition to the fact that my tension went wonky, I also decided that my original vision for the sweater was a bit too busy for my kiddo. After Christmas, I finally ripped it back and redid, opting for a much subtler bit of color.

20140313-090053.jpgThe end result is a pretty minimalist sweater design, which suits my little dude just great.

The Deuce

The Deuce

It’s an extremely simple, straightforward design – just a top-down raglan, with 1×1 ribbing on the neck, waist, and cuffs, with three garter stripes at the waist and above the cuffs. It’s kind of silly that it took me so long to knit what is basically the simplest sweater in the world.

garter stripes

garter stripes

I love this yarn to pieces and still mourn the fact that it was discontinued almost as soon as I discovered it. This is Plymouth Tweed, the same yarn I made my Allegheny Dress out of (in fact, the golden stripe is leftover yarn from my dress). I stocked up on a variety of colors on closeout in the fall of 2011, with hopes of eventually knitting sweaters for the whole family. Yes, I’ve had this dream for awhile it seems.

This tweedy sweater reminds me a bit of another sweater I once made him, and I couldn’t resist comparison shots.

The Deuce, on Tiny Dancer, age 9

The Deuce, on Tiny Dancer, age 9

How is this kid a tween already? I mean, perhaps nine isn’t really officially tweendom, but he’s on the verge of ten now, and trust me – the tweenish behaviors are all there. In fact, even though I think this sweater looks really good on him, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he finds it too embarrassing now to wear a sweater his mom made for him.

At any rate, here’s the first sweater I made him, when he was three years-old:

Cobblestone, on Tiny Dance, age 3

Cobblestone, on Tiny Dance, age 3

That sweater was knit in Cascade Elite Skye Tweed, which was also discontinued, and which I also bought a bunch of on closeout, also with a never-realized dream of coordinating sweaters for the whole fam. Ah, the kids grow up, but some things never change.

Given how long this winter seems to be going on here in Michigan, perhaps I can still get a sweater knit for his brother before things warm up?

raveled

 

 

For a little boy, a little late (Hap Blanket)

I finally finished the blanket I’ve written so much about (I can’t remember the last time I’ve blogged about a work-in-progress as much as this one). I started this blanket in September 2012, for my great-nephew’s 1st birthday. It’s the same pattern I made for his older brother in 2009, only in reverse colors. I knew from that experience that this was a fun, relatively fast knit – you basically just knit a garter square, which goes quickly, and then about the time you get tired of knitting garter, you add a feather and fan border, with stripes.

Only this time, I made a glaring mistake in multiple places in the lace. I was about 12 rounds in (out of 36) when I noticed it. I tried to figure out how to fix it without ripping all the way back, but I never managed to get it sorted. I set the blanket aside for a bit, and then “a bit” became a few months, and then the next thing I knew, it had been about a year-and-a-half since I worked on it. Ridiculous, I know. I shouldn’t let little mistakes create such big obstacles to completing projects, but sometimes I do.

He and his sweet family came for a visit a couple of weeks ago, and I at least got to show him the blanket, almost done.

I think he likes it

I think he likes it

He’s two-and-a-half years old, and the sweetest little guy. The nice thing about giving a blanket to a toddler is that they do seem to appreciate it more than a baby can.

I loved making this the second time around as much as the first (which is nice, because in general I’m not big on making blankets – they seem to take so long! and then I obviously make them take way longer than necessary). But I’m very pleased with the final product.

Hap Blanket

Hap Blanket

I made it a little more rectangular than square, which I believe is how I did the first edition:
YIP.7.19 - Hap Blanket

The pattern calls for stripes across the body of the blanket as well, but I don’t care for those at all, so I omitted them in both of the blankets I’ve made.

scallops

scallops

I’m so glad I kept reasonably good notes the first time I made this (thanks, Ravelry!), so that I remembered I didn’t care for the bind-off included in the pattern – it made the edges too tight for me. So I did the Russian lace bind-off, purl version: p1, (p1, slip both sts back to the left needle, p2tog)*, till done. The edges turned out perfectly.

love those corner points

love those corner points

The yarn is Socks that Rock Heavyweight, which is the same yarn I used on my other Hap Blanket. I used 1.5 skeins of In the Navy and a skein of Stonewash. I love this yarn as much as ever y’all. It is a dream to work with, the semi-solid colors have so much depth, and the final product is squishtastic.

squish!

squish!

Because the yarn I used is not the aran weight called for, I did as I did last time, and cast on more stitches than the pattern indicates, and then just knit until it was the size I wanted. (If you do this, make sure to knit in multiples of 12 so that your lace pattern turns out right).

The blanket has been a big hit in our household. One of my big guys is now asking me if I’ll make one for him…

20140312-093244.jpg

I suppose if I start making it now, it might be done by the time he’s in middle school. Wait, that is now less than 18 months away (gulp!), so I’m guessing it wouldn’t be done by then.

This blanket is going in the mail to its sweet little recipient, whom I hope will enjoy it for years to come.

love this munchkin!

love this munchkin!

raveled

Same sweater, different cat

I moved the sweater I was blocking this weekend up onto my cutting table so that my arthritic kitty couldn’t get to it, after I caught her making herself at home on the wet wool. The next time I walked by, I was treated to this:

Suki, on The Deuce

Who, me?

Thankfully, no yarn was (irreparably) harmed by their shenanigans. I did have to pull a couple of stitches back into proper place, but the sweater is fine.

Good things these gals are cute! (modeled shots of the sweater coming soon!)