Lotus Hooded Duster

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It’s finally time! I’ve received many requests over the last few years to design a hood for my Lotus Duster free crochet pattern, and it’s been on my to-do list for long enough – today we debut the hood addition to this design! 😀

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The hood is partially made, then inserted into the main pattern rather than added after the entire thing is finished, so if you are working the Lotus Duster you will be adding the hood after Round 22, then continuing with the main pattern from there and working over the hood brim in addition to the rest of the garment. Also, I made the version pictured here sleeveless (because I wanted to wear it this summer) and I made a few adjustments to the sizing as well, which are explained in the instructions 🙂

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If you like these patterns and want the portable, printable, ad-free version, good news! The Hood Tutorial is now included as a bonus PDF along with the PDF version of the Lotus Mandala Duster pattern, available in my Etsy Shop and Ravelry Pattern Store! And don’t forget my offer for bundled patterns with my new pattern discount codes:
15% off of 2: MF15OFF
20% off of 3-4: MF20OFF
25% off of 5-6: MF25OFF
30% off of 7+: MF30OFF

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The pattern given for the Hood is more of a tutorial and doesn’t include specific stitch counts like the main Lotus Duster pattern does. I also used a random mishmash of yarns, some slightly bigger than I would normally use for this design, which makes a difference in sizing and gauge, etc – so I left the hood instructions open with modifications for individual gauge and preference. I considered using the standard yarn that I use for the main pattern, but I just really wanted to make this crazy thing using all these crazy yarns!

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The majority of the yarns used in this example are either upcycled by me from old sweaters (see my detailed tutorial on how to recycle sweater yarn) or rescued from the thrift store. If you liked this project, give a girl a fave over on the Ravelry project page for this design!

Oh, and those leafy wrap bracelets I am wearing are from another FREE crochet pattern of mine, the Ivy Crown garland.

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Lotus Hooded Duster

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Materials: 5.50 mm hook
Extra yarn – I would estimate the hood addition requires 300-500 yards of yarn more than the standard pattern. Please refer to the main pattern for more info on materials needed, gauge, etc.

Notes: As mentioned, I made a few tweaks to the sizing of this sleeveless duster to get the look I wanted. I started working the main pattern in size Small, then added length and width by working some of the extra rows suggested in the Large size – but not all of them, so the size came out more like a Medium.

Instructions

Work the Lotus Duster 2.0 pattern through to Round 21.

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On Rnd 22 I made an adjustment to the amount of double crochet that I worked across the chain loop that creates the armhole opening.

22. Ch 3 – counts as first dc. 1 dc in the next dc (3 dc in the next ch-1 space, 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc) 9 times. 3 dc in the next ch-1 sp, 1 dc in the next dc. 1 dc in ea of the next 30, 33 ch sts. 1 dc in the next dc (1 dc in the next ch sp, 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc) 9, 13 times**. 1 dc in the next ch sp, 1 dc in the next dc. 1 dc in ea of the next 30, 33 ch sts. 1 dc in the next dc (3 dc in the next ch-1 space, 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc) 63, 65 times. 3 dc in the next ch-1 sp, join with a sl st to the 3rd ch of beg ch-3. – 460, 488 sts”

Instead of working 1 dc in each of the chain stitches made for the armhole loops (making 30 total dc over each armhole) I worked 20 total dc into the armhole loop itself, not the stitches. This means that the stitches can stretch across the loop made by the chains and are not anchored to the stitches themselves – to do this, just insert the hook underneath the chain loop to work your stitches across (do not insert your hook into the actual stitches, just the space underneath the chain).

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I forgot to get an actual picture at this stage, so this one is from a little later in the pattern. Still, check out how the stitches are arranged across the armhole loop space – this accomplishes a slight tightening at the bust and shoulder area and makes room for the extra draping material that will be added by the presence of the hood. If these step seems confusing or you are having trouble with sizing, it’s 100% okay to skip this step – it’s not a crucial adjustment. I just made this change because it helps keep all that pretty lacey material tucked around the shoulders for a better fit.

So with that in mind, finish Round 22 as written with or without the armhole adjustments. Once Rnd 22 is complete, set the main body of the duster aside to begin the hood.

Hood Instructions

Using the 5.50 mm hook and your yarn of choice, Chain 35.

The length you chain depends on your gauge – if you hold the chain starting at the nape of the neck, it should be long enough to reach the back of your head. If 35 is too short, chain more.

Row 1: Dc in the 4th ch from hook, ch 1, sk next st. (Dc, ch 1, sk next st) 14 times, or however many times you need to reach the second to last stitch of the chain. Dc, ch 1 in next st. In the last st of the chain, work (Dc, ch 1) 3 times. Rotate the piece so that you are working into the bottom of the chain stitches, creating a chain with stitches on both sides. Dc, ch 1 in the next st, sk next st. (Dc, ch 1, sk next st) 14 times. Dc in next st. Dc in the final st.

Row 2:  Ch 4 (counts as first dc + ch 1), turn. (Dc in next ch -1 space, ch 1) 16 times. (Dc, ch 1) twice in ea of the next 2 ch-1 spaces. (Dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) 16 times. Dc in the final dc of the previous row.

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The central chain at the back of the hood
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The instructions in bold create two increase spaces at the tip of one end of the piece. Through the next part, you will work the same kind of increase in each of these two increase spaces on every row – so it’s helpful to mark them!

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Row 3: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), turn. (Dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) 17 times. (Dc, ch 1) twice in the next space. Dc, ch 1 in the next space. (Dc, ch 1) twice in the next space. (Dc in the next space, ch 1) 16 times. 1 dc in the final ch-1 space, 1 dc in the final dc of the previous row.

Row 4: Ch 4 (counts as first dc + ch 1). (Dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) 18 times. (Dc, ch 1) twice in the next space. Dc, ch 1 in each of the next 2 spaces. (Dc, ch 1) twice in the next space. (Dc in the next space, ch 1) 18 times.  Dc in the final dc of the previous row.

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Side profile of the hood addition, folded in half – at 9 rows

Keep working in this same manner, placing increases at the two increase points on every row, until your hood has 11 total rows (or until the hood is tall enough to reach the top of your head).

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The next few rows skip the increases to add depth to the hood without adding more height. You can repeat the next two rows as many times as you like to get the depth of hood that you want/need, but remember that since there are still 15 rounds left in the main pattern that will add height and depth to the hood, so you really don’t need this part to be a fully functioning hood yet.

Row 12: Ch 4 (counts as first dc + ch 1). (Dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) in each space across. Dc in the final dc of the previous row.

Row 13: Ch 3 (counts as first dc). (Dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) across. 1 dc in the final ch space, 1 dc in the final dc of the previous row.

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Once your hood addition is completed, cut your yarn and tie off. Now we are going to  attach the hood to the work-in-progress main body of the duster.

My hood addition when finished by itself is about 20″ across the bottom, and 12″ at the highest point. 

Attaching the Hood

On the main duster, use a stitch marker to mark the central dc between the armholes. I do this by counting how many v-stitches are in the row below, then finding the central v-stitch or space between v-stitches – the double crochet above will be the central point. Align the hood’s flat edge with this point, matching the end of the foundation chain to the middle point marked on the duster.

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Attach yarn, insert hook through both the vest and the hood at the central point. Work a sc in ea dc through the hood, working 2 attaching stitches for the side of every DC at the end of a row. This was 25 stitches for me to get to the end of the hood.

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Half the hood is now attached – now we start on the other side and attach the opposite half.

Count out the amount of sts needed for the other side. Cut yarn and reattach at this point, then work toward the central point using the same strategy to attach.

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Of course, you can always just whip stitch the hood onto the main duster if using a crocheted method of attaching seems like too much bother. I prefer a stitched seam here because the hood is going to be resisting against the weight of the rest of the duster (which is not light) and I want the seam to be strong and not stretch too much.

Once your hood is attached in whichever fashion you prefer, cut your yarn and tie off. It’s time to pick back up where we left off on the main body of the duster at Round 23. Only now, we will be working all the rest of the rounds across the brim of the hood as well as around the main body.

“23. Ch 3 – counts as first dc. (Sk next three sts, 1 dc in the next st. Ch 3, 1 dc in the same st) 114, 121 times. Sk next three sts, dc in the next st, ch 1. Hdc in the 3rd ch of beg ch-3 to join.”

Round 23 creates V-stitches all around the garment – to work the first round that includes the hood, work a V-stitch over the arm opening stitches as  instructed…

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Then work a V-stitch in every other ch-1 space around the brim of the hood addition.

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Continue the round across the entire brim of the hood, and then around the main body as well, using the instructions given. Remember that because of the hood addition, your stitch counts will not be the same as given in the main pattern.

Once Round 23 is complete, all remaining rounds can be worked as written in the main Lotus Duster pattern, just working around the entire body including the hood! One more consideration is the half-rounds at Rnd 35 and 36 – because you have added a hood, you’ll have to recalculate what amount of stitches constitutes the top half of the garment and then work the half-rounds across that amount of stitches, not the amount given in the main pattern.

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To calculate this number, count the total number of stitches in Rnd 34, then divide that number by half. Beginning with the Rnd 34 join at the side of the duster, count out your V-stitches that equal half of the total. Mark the final stitch of this set, then work Row 35 and 36 only on that portion following the instructions given. For my duster vest, half of the total equalled 224 V-stitches.

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Once the garment in completed, I cut the yarn and wove in the ends. I added the slip stitching necessary to anchor the ties as shown in the main pattern, then added two braided ties on each side.

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Since I left this version sleeveless, I finished the armholes with a row of dc around the inside.

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I really love this particular version of the Lotus Duster – the lack of sleeves makes it a good garment for warmer weather, but the hood and the length make it mysterious and costume-y enough to be a stunning festival piece! In my tradition of naming these after female singer songwriters, I’m calling this baby “Florence.” ❤

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The polymer clay horns and woodland tree spirit pendant I am wearing in this shoot came from my amazing friend Wendy Davies from Dark Pony Art – please check out her art and give her a like on her Facebook Page!

If you like my designs, you can head over to my Facebook Page too and hit that follow button!

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As always, I’m filled with gratitude for everyone who likes, comments, shares, and creates my designs! I can’t help but remember a time when where I am at now seemed beyond my wildest imaginings ❤ And it’s all possible because of you magical beings out there who support me, thank you so much ❤ I am honored to create with you!

-MF

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Wayfarer Ruana

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When I began drafting this post over a year ago, it was to take notes on my first attempt at some of the beautiful and colorful knit ruanas I had seen floating around online. Unfortunately for me, that first attempt (which took over a year for me to finish!) just didn’t turn out. It happens. The final product was pretty, but just too big to conceivably wear, even after several attempts at damage control. It makes an incredible blanket, however.  And since the point was to use up small scraps of leftover yarn, it was indeed effective.

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And yet somehow that bag of scrap yarn remained full for the entirety of the two years I’ve been developing this 😛

Maybe it wasn’t so unfortunate. After all, I had an incentive to try to do it again, and this time I had a few additional touches I was excited about trying. So, I started the NEXT one. Good thing too, because if there is one thing I love to have around, it’s a big colorful knitting project that requires zero brainpower.

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My favorite projects do tend to involve recycling and reusing stuff, and this thing has supreme scrapbusting capabilities. Especially on the two skinnier front panels, you can really use up fairly small lengths of leftover yarn with ease, because you don’t have to weave in those ends! At least, not as many ends as you’d think, as long as you change yarns at the end of the row. I mostly hit the mark on this, usually with just a yard or two to spare on whatever tiny yarn ball I was using. Occasionally I gambled on a small length and lost, and had to change mid-row.

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Since the yarn ends on the outside edges of the ruana are left knotted and then blended in with the added fringe, you save a ton of time doing that much-maligned finishing work. But you still have to weave in the ends for the grannies 😛

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I hope you enjoy the free tutorial I whipped up for this project – it’s more of a guide than a pattern, since the dimensions/materials/yardages are left somewhat variable and a lot of it is open for (and it fact demands) personal interpretation and creativity! Of course, if you have any questions about how I did mine, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂 And, if you like it, throw me a favorite on the Ravelry project page.

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Oh, and this thing is COZY. Basically this wrap cocoons you in soothing waves of color and texture and mind-melds you with the universe. Basically.

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Wayfarer Ruana

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Final dimensions: Roughly 65″ x 65″ when laid flat.

Materials:

Part 1 (Knit):

8 mm (US size 11) knitting needles (24″ circular and 40″ circular)
A whole buncha yarn – I used mostly #4 and #5 weight from leftovers. If you’ve got thinner yarn you want to use up, remember you can always double it up with another strand! I used 4 skeins of a silver bulky weight (I Love This Chunky from Hobby Lobby) as my “base” yarn, using a little in the main body and 3 skeins for the trims and collar.

Part 2 (Crochet):
4.50 mm crochet hook
DK weight yarn – I used a variety of colors (20 skeins) from Drops Lima, a wool/alpaca blend, and had plenty left over.

Tapestry Needle
Scissors

Techniques:

Part 1 (Knit):
Cast on (CO)
K (knit)
P (purl)
Stretchy bind off (tutorial video here)
Standard bind off
Picking up stitches from the edge of the row (tutorial video here)
Not absolutely necessary but I found to be extremely helpful: this tutorial on speed knitting by RJ Knits.

Part 2 (Crochet):
Magic Ring (MR)
Double crochet (dc)
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Granny square join-as-you-go (great tutorial here)

Part 1 Instructions: The Main Body

Using spare balls of scrap yarn / orphan skeins / leftover yarns

1.CO 50 sts to the 24″ circular knitting needles
2. Turn, K every stitch across
3. Rpt Step 2, changing yarn at the end of the row whenever you think you don’t have enough for another full row (or whenever you feel like it). Tie the old yarn tail and the new yarn tail into a knot. Work until you have 130 rows. Transfer your piece to a stitch holder – this completes the first front panel, one of the two skinny halves of the front.

4. For the second front panel, repeat Steps 1-3 until you have another full 50 st x 130 row piece.

5. Switch to your 40″ circulars and knit your first rectangle onto the new circulars. Cast on 10 extra stitches, then knit your second rectangle on. You now have both of your front panels, plus 10 new stitches in between for the collar, on the 40″ circular needles.

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Close-up of the collar area

6. Turn, knit every stitch across, continuing to change & knot yarn as before. Work 130 total rows.

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5. Bind off. My favorite is the stretchy bind-off, directions for which are in this great video from Knitting with Cheryl Brunette.

Trim:

1. Using the the 40″ circular, pick up sts along the edge of the piece – I used my  bulky “base” yarn and got about 180 stitches (1 stitch per 2 rows). Here’s a great video from the indomitable Purl Soho on picking up stitches from the side of garter stitch rows.

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Picking up stitches from the side of the rows, front side

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Picking up stitches from the side of the rows – view from the back. Notice the ridge formed by the side of the rows on this side – this is where we will attach the extra fringe later.

2. K for 10 rows. Bind off using the standard method – to make the Part 2 joining easier, I would not recommend stretchy bind-off here.

3. Repeat trim on the other side, making sure that you work the second edge with the same side facing, positioning all ends to the back of your work (so that the fringe will be all on the same side).

Collar:

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1.  With 40″ circular needles, pick up stitches on the side of the rows beginning on the inside of the front panel up to the collar, then around and down the inside of the of the opposite panel (remember only 1 stitch per 2 rows)

From this row of picked up stitches we’ll work a 4×4 rib. If you are picky about not ending up with partial ribs, you could go to the trouble to make sure the amount of stitches you pick up is divisible by four, but I didn’t – and was divisible by four anyway! Lucky me.

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2. For the 4 x 4 rib, *K 4, P 4* across the entire row. Work 8 total rows in the rib by knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches in every row. Cut yarn and tie off. Weave in any ends from the main body left on this inside edge.

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PART 2 Instructions: Granny Square Trim

4.50 mm crochet hook
Assorted DK weight yarns
Gauge: 1 square = 6″

Next we’ll make TWO separate strips of 11 granny squares (about 6 inches in length each). You can definitely use scrap yarn here too, but I used a set of colors from Drops Lima yarn for a more uniform appearance.

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To begin the granny square, make a magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc), 2 dc into the ring, ch 3. (3 dc into the ring, ch 3) 3 times. Join with a sl st to the first dc of the round. Cut yarn and tie off.

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Rnd 2: Join new yarn to any ch-3 space. Ch 3 (counts as first dc), 2 dc in the same sp, ch 3. 3 dc in the same space, ch 1. (3 dc in the next ch-3 space, ch 3, 3 dc in the same sp, ch 1) 3 times. Join with a sl st to the first dc of the round. Cut yarn and tie off.

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Rnd 3: Join new yarn in any ch-3 space. Ch 3 (counts as first dc) 2 dc in the same sp, Ch 3, 3 dc in the same space, ch 1. 3 dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1. (3 dc in the next ch-3 space, ch 3, 3 dc in the same space, ch 1. 3 dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) 3 times. Join with a sl st to the first dc of the round.. Cut yarn and tie off.

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Round 4: Join new yarn in any ch-3 space. Ch 3 (counts as first dc), 2 dc in the same space, ch 3. 3 dc in the same space, ch 1. (3 dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) twice. [3 dc in the next ch-3 space, ch 3, 3 dc in the same space, ch 1. (3 dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) twice] 3 times. Join with a slip stitch to the first dc of the round. Do not cut yarn.

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Rnd 5:

If this is your first square for the strip, work as normal. If this is not your first square, connect ONE of the sides to the previous square on the strip by beginning with any chain-3 corner and ending with the next, using this join-as-you-go method from Attic 24. If you prefer, you could also make all squares individually and seam them later 🙂

Sl st in the next 2 dc and in the next ch st so your hook is positioned to begin the next round at the ch-3 corner. Ch 3 (counts as first dc) 2 dc in the same space, ch 3. 3 dc in the same space, ch 1. (3 dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) 3 times. [3 dc in the next ch-3 space, ch 3, 3 dc in the same space, ch 1. (3 dc in the next ch-1 space, ch 1) 3 times] Repeat [bracketed] instructions 3 times total. Join with a sl st to the first dc of the round. Cut yarn and tie off.

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Joining Seam

Once you have your 2 strips of grannies, check to see if they are roughly the length of the sides of the ruana by laying the strip against the edge of the trim. Ballpark is fine here, you just want to make sure neither piece is overly stretched or scrunched to match. You may end up needing one more or less granny, depending on your gauge and yarn choices.

Weave in all your ends and block if desired. Lay out the main body of the ruana and settle your granny strip up against the trim, the RS of the granny facing the same side as your ridge (where the fringe will be). Thread a tapestry needle with some spare DK weight yarn and use a simple whip stitch to attach the granny squares to the trim of the ruana all the way down across. Repeat on the other side.

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Clean up any ends remaining from your joining seam.

Fringe:

Using a 6″ piece of cardboard, book, or other object to wrap yarn around, cut a bunch of lengths of yarn for your fringe. Fold each length in half, then loop through the ridges made from picking up the stitches along the edge of the main body.

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Catch the leftover ends of knotted yarn in your fringe as you go, repeating across the edges on either side of the ruana. Once you have finished, cut the fringe down to just a little longer than the garter edge trim (you don’t want it covering your pretty grannies too much).

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Hunt down any stray ends that may need weaving in, then sink into the cozy rainbow bliss.

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Kudos to model Daisey Denson for keeping that hat on her head like a champ despite the very GUSTY winds coming off the lake!

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-MF

Time and Tied

My ideas have seemed a bit dammed up lately, to be honest. Not for lack of inspiration, and not even for lack of time  – okay, maybe a little bit for lack of time. Even though I have tons of time to work on crochet et cetera, it never seems to be enough for the amount of things I want to do and create. And, as many creative types know, the more you create the more inspiration you get, and so you are doomed because you cannot possibly ever keep up because the harder you work the more ideas you’ll have.

At least, that’s what it’s like for me.

But I don’t mind things feeling a little tied up, because my experience has been that in matters of creativity it’s best to let things come to you when the time is right.

For instance, my giant bag of orphan yarn has contained, for several years now, balls of recycled yarn from scads of thrift store sweaters. I used a bit here and there, but no project seemed to be eager to fit the bill for the sheer quantity of recycled yarn in this particular weight (usually the sweater yarn I get is somewhere between lace weight and sport weight).

That is, until I just accidentally decided to use some of it in the free pattern for the  Lotus Mandala Duster I made recently based off of my original Lotus mandala motif. Suddenly a whole new world of possibility opened up for these former sweaters! In between the actual pattern writing for my paid patterns and working on my stash of art yarns and hand dyed wool roving, I busted hook to do as the yarn commanded.

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And so out came the “Emmy Lou” duster jacket, made primarily out of recycled sweater yarn but also featuring a good bit of yarn that I spun myself (see this post for more info on that handspun).

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I haven’t gotten pictures of it on an actual person yet because I couldn’t wait 😉

In addition to the pattern being free (you can find it on this blog post), I also wrote an extensive, somewhat insanely detailed tutorial last year on how to reclaim yarn from thrift store sweaters, which can be found in three parts:

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn:

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Getting Started and Breaking In V. 1

Breaking In V.2

Unraveling & Finishing

Naturally, before I have even made much of a dent in my stash of previously reclaimed sweater yarns, I ran out and picked up these misty-hued beauties from the thrift store for a future recycled sweater lace duster. I didn’t mean to, I swear. I was looking for summer clothes at the time.

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Of course, I have to wait until some of the dam of ideas I have sifting around in my head find their proper place in new patterns and tutorials before I can wail away on more recycled sweaters. I guess the moral of the story (not to be confused with the morale of the story) is that everything has to come in its own good time. So, if you are like me and experience the pangs of creative blockage from time to time, don’t stress. Someday you may find your patience amply paid for when your ideas find the right vehicle and you realize that’s what you were waiting for all along ❤

-MF

 

Simple Stylish Market Bag

For the grocery store, farmer’s market, or even beach – these cotton mesh bags are incredibly useful, expandable, and durable. Plus they take up virtually no space when empty.

AND they’re super easy to crochet.

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I posted this bag not long ago, and due to it’s popularity decided to publish the pattern. In the original post I mentioned that it’s made with cotton yarn upcycled from an old sweater – and so is this one!

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For more information on getting your hands on recycled sweater yarn, see my definitive tutorial Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn. You don’t need recycled yarn to make this bag, though – any cotton yarn will do.

Like Vickie Howell Cotton-ish for Bernat. Color shown is

Like Vickie Howell Cotton-ish for Bernat. Color shown is “Cotton Gin.”

Simple Stylish Market Bag pattern

Notes: The chain lengths at the beginning of rounds 1-7 DO NOT count as the first dc.

Gauge is not critical

3.75 crochet hook.

150 yards #3 weight cotton yarn – recycled yarn or store bought, like Bernat “Cotton-ish” pictured above.

Rnd 1: Ch 4. Dc 12 into the 4th ch from the hook, join with a sl st in the first dc. – 12 sts made

Rnd 2: Ch 3. 2 dc in the same stitch. 2 dc in ea of the next 11 sts. Join with a sl stitch to first dc. – 24 sts made

Rnd 3: Ch  3. 1 dc in the same stitch, 2 dc in the next stitch. (1 dc in the next st, 2 dc in the next st) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl st to first dc. – 36 sts made.

Rnd 4: Ch 3. 1 dc in the same stitch, 1 dc in the next stitch, 2 dc in the next stitch. (1 dc in each of the next 2 stitches, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 48 sts made

Rnd 5: Ch 3, 1 dc in the same stitch. 1 dc in each of the next 2 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 60 sts made

Rnd 6: Ch 3, 1 dc in the same stitch. 1 dc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 4 sts, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 72 sts made.

Rnd 7: Ch 3, 1 dc in the same stitch. 1 dc in each of the next 4 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 5 sts, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 84 sts made.

Rnd 8: Sc in the same st as sl stitch join.  (Ch 4, skip 2 sts. Sc in the next st) rpt 27 times around. Ch 2, hdc in the first sc of the round. This positions your hook in the middle of a ch-4 sized space.

Rnd 9: Sc in the same space. (Ch 4, sc in the next ch-4 space) rpt 27 times around. Ch 2, hdc in the first sc of the round.

Rnds 10-23: Rpt Rnd 9.

Rnd 24: 2 Sc in the same ch-4 sized space. 3 sc in ea of the next 27 ch-4 spaces. 1 sc in the next ch-4 space, join with a sl st to the first sc of the round.

Rnds 25 & 26: Sc in the same st as sl st join. 1 sc in each sc around, join with a slip stitch in the 1st sc of the round – 84 stitches.

Rnd 27: Ch 2 to begin a double chain (tutorial here), double chain 50 (or ch 50 normally if you prefer). Skip  22 sts of Round 26, sc in the next stitch (this creates a 22-stitch long gap between Rnd 26 and the double chain of Rnd 27, which will become your handle). 1 sc in each of the next 19 sts. Ch 2 to begin a double chain, make 50 double chain stitches (or ch 50 normally if you prefer). Skip 22 stitches of Rnd 26, sc in the next stitch. 1 sc in each of the next 18 sts. Sl st into the base of the handle chain (your first double chain). You should have 2 evenly placed 50-stitch long chain arcs.

Rnds 28 & 29: 1 sc in each st around, stitching into the double chains as a normal part of your round to form an unbroken, continuous stitch sequence between the bag and handle.

Cut yarn and weave in the ends using a tapestry needle.

Crochet Market Bags

Got questions or comments? Leave ’em!

-MF

Update 12/28/15 – I finally converted this baby to PDF! Download this (still free) pattern via Ravelry.

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn – Unraveling & Finishing

Recycling Sweater Yarn cover

Unraveling / Pulling

Congratulations! It’s time to start building a big fat yarn ball, for a teeny tiny fraction of what it would cost at a yarn boutique.

And this is just the sleeve!

And this is just the sleeve!

You may be tempted to just pull and pull, amassing a huge pile of unraveled yarn beside you. Unless you want a huge headache later, DON’T DO THAT. Your yarn will tangle in a big way when you try to wind it back up. Instead, wind your yarn up into a ball as you go, continuing to wind with every few rows that you pull.

There’s just not a whole lot to say about this part of the process. You pull. You wind. Pull. Wind. It would be pretty Zen except for burrs. Remember those?

Top: Behold the burr - it's wrapped around the yarn I'm pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.  Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

Top: Behold the burr – it’s wrapped between the yarn I’m pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.
Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

They’re little loose strands of fiber that wrap themselves up around two strands of yarn in the sweater, making them appear connected.  They happen most frequently at the edges of a knit piece. The one pictured above is a really mild one. Sweaters with higher content of fuzzy fiber (mohair, angora, alpaca, etc), even sweaters with a high content of regular wool, are prone to bad ones.

At 54% alpaca, this sweater is composed of 100% burr.

At 54% alpaca, this sweater is composed of 100% burr.

If you get a burr so bad you can’t tell what is yarn strand and what is loose fiber, get in there with your trusty seam ripper and poke around.  A gentle tug can help reveal things too, but whatever you do, don’t just pull and pull at the tangle, that will only make it worse.

The only other advice I can offer for defeating these things is just keep at it – practice makes it a lot easier to recognize and deal with them. Once you figure out where the problem is, get the crook of the seam ripper in there and sever the fibers forming the burr.

Another good reason I don’t use scissors is that it leaves the tiny bits of seam yarn hooked around the ends of the rows, making pulling later on somewhat more complicated. The yarn gets stuck on the seam bits, and if you are already pulling a yarn that is prone to burrs this just intensifies the frustrations.

Hint! Recognizing a double knit – It’s not easy to tell a double knit sweater when selecting a victim. Unless you’re really good, you probably won’t know until you break in – when you discover you have two strands to pull instead of one. No worries though, because it’s really not so much harder than having one single strand – but you can’t pull several rows of one and not the other. My method is to pull them together and wind them separately if I want thin yarn, or just wind them together if I want a thicker strand.

Finishing

You’re almost there! By now you should have several balls of yarn harvested from the pieces of sweater you separated earlier. You will also have noticed that it’s wrinkly and kinky, still retaining some of the shape it took when it was a knit sweater. If’n you prefer, you can leave it just like that and be done with this project. If you do that and then make another garment from this yarn, you may suffer a minor change of shape and size when you wash and block the finished piece. If that doesn’t bother you, then stick a fork in yourself because you’re done.

If you intend to get the kinks out of your yarn, you are going to need something to wind your yarn ball onto to form a loop. The back of a chair works just fine, but I infinitely prefer a niddy noddy, a little handheld device that not only winds your yarn into a convenient loop, but also measures yardage. I made one cheaply out of PVC pipe – the instructions are here at the Anticraft.

Wind your yarn up onto your device until you run out of yarn ball. Use small lengths of yarn or string to tie the bundle in 4-6 different places, loosely, then slip the yarn off of your winding device. Do this with every ball.

Recycle Sweater Niddy Noddy

Recycle Yarn Niddy Noddy

Next, get a bucket, tub, bowl, or clean sink and fill it with enough luke-cold water to cover your yarn. Dunk all of your yarn bundles, making sure to leave them submerged long enough to get it soaked through. Don’t agitate it. Gently press it under if you must (I usually must).

It's not lunch, it's recycled yarn!

It’s not lunch, it’s recycled yarn!

After it’s soaked, remove your yarn and lay it on a towel or hold it over the sink to GENTLY squeeze excess water out. It should still be wet feeling when you’re done, but not dripping water. Grab your hangers – I use two for every individual bundle,  but you can double up – it just takes slightly longer to fully dry if you do.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Drying

Loop the bundle around one hanger and hook the second to the bottom of the loop.

When I first started recycling sweater yarn I used a can to weigh down my yarn after dousing it, until I received some wonderful advice – just use another hanger. Cans are too heavy and will overstretch your wet yarn, not to mention they are difficult to balance on the yarn! Hook the top of a solid plastic hanger at the bottom, give it a little tug, and let it hang.

I have used a steam iron to straighten out the kinks in my yarn before, but it was not worth the trouble at all, and if you’re dealing with a sweater that’s part synthetic materials, you risk accidentally altering the feel of your fibers. These days I leave my yarns to hang in the laundry room and forget about them for a few days until they are dry.

Recycle Yarns

(Left to right) Two recycled cotton sweater yarns and a fun primitive-look handspun.

Hint! If you want to speed drying, wait about half a day and then rotate the bundle on the hangers. The top will have dried more, as gravity pulled the water to the bottom of the bundle. Putting the wetter part at the top will spread the water out again as it flows downward, speeding evaporation.

Once your yarn is dry, it’s done. Wind it back up into the ball or skein style of your choice. This is a good time to have a yarn swift and winder, but as for me I haven’t budgeted for those yet.
You may want to measure your yardage. You can do this using the niddy noddy and counting wraps, or you can do it the lazy way by counting out a few yards and weighing it via your trusty digital scale. Grab a calculator – the formula for grams per yard is total weight / yardage. So say I weighed 10 yards and it registered at 2 g… that would mean the yarn weighs .2 g per yard.

You may ALSO want to measure WPI (wraps per inch) of your yarn – this is also a factor in determining yarn weights and categories, and it’s an easy one. Grab a good ol’ plastic ruler and start wrapping around, not overlapping your yarn but laying each wrap closely beside the other. However many wraps it takes to cover an inch is your WPI.

BUT WAIT! You can re-spin or dye your recycled yarn! Instructions for those things aren’t included here, but maybe someday I will get around to it. You’re probably tired of reading now anyway.

Or maybe you were two posts ago.

Recycled

Recycled Nylon/Angora/Wool blend, re-spun to add more FLOOF

If you have feedback on this tutorial, I beg of you to leave it here good sir or madame.

Getting Started & Breaking In V.1

Breaking In V.2

-MF

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn – Breaking In V.2

Recycling Sweater Yarn cover

Breaking In Version 2

Start at the same place you would for Version 1 – the end of the sleeve, where your hand would come out.  Remember those two fat lines we talked about?

Top: Correct seam Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

Top: Correct seam
Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

Take those two fat lines and pull them apart, separating them down the middle.  In between those two knit edge pieces are the horizontal bars of the seam.

Top: Pulling apart the knit edges Bottom: The seam strands between the edges, highlighted. This is what you want to cut.

Top: Pulling apart the knit edges
Bottom: The seam strands between the edges, highlighted. This is what you want to cut.

Version 2 uses a pair of scissors to cut up the seam, severing those bars.

And here’s the part about why I don’t use scissors – imagine sitting there, pulling and pulling away at the sweater pieces trying to reveal that seam – eventually the strands joined WITH that seam start to stretch, too. It becomes really easy at this point to mistake one strand of knitting for the actual seam. And it only takes one snip into the wrong place to interrupt that nice fat yarn ball we will be building later. NOW, if you don’t mind having a greater amount of smaller lengths, you can certainly choose the scissors option and speed things up; personally I’m in it for as much unsullied, uninterrupted yardage as I can get.

Anyway, get your scissors in there and cut!

Recycle Sweater Yarn Scissors method

You can deal with the rest of the seams the same way – separate the knit edges and cut the seam in between them.

Now that you’ve got your seams taken care of, you want to get to the pulling. I understand. You Version 2 users are wild and free spirits. You like to feel the wind in your yarn & caution be damned.

Which is why some of you might want to take the ultimate cheater route – skipping over the often frustrating collar seams entirely. Lay out your sweater like this:

DSCN0727

You CAN’T cut INTO the KNIT PIECE on the vertical lines – if you are a knitter, you understand why (this severs the yarn in a million different places…. Just like those incorrect seams we talked about).  You have to cut the SEAMS on the vertical lines no matter what. But you CAN cut INTO the knit on the horizontal lines, just below the collar and sleeve yokes, separating the chest pieces without any more fuss.

Seam Cut Yes No

The green shows the cut line. Do not cut on the red line unless you are cutting the seams.

Same goes for the sleeves – you have to deal with the seam that runs down the sleeve, but you can cut off the top if you choose.

Seam Cut Yes No 2

The upshot is that you will have to deal with all those little cut pieces of yarn in the knit before you find your continuous strand. Start plucking those babies off until you find your way in.

Upcycle Sweater Yarn bitsEven if you don’t take the ultimate cheater route, Version 2 users will probably want to deal with finding the yarn to pull by cutting off at least the VERY TOP of the knit sweater piece once separated. The “top” of the piece is going to be the part that was closest to the collar of the sweater.

Top of the sleeve piece

Top of the sleeve piece

The top will be bound off, not loose. Use the scissors to snip the very edge of the piece off.

Sweater Recycle Yarn top chopPluck off the little guys to find your way in.

Hint! I have found that when you have to clear off bits of cut yarn, stretching the piece width-wise helps loosen things up so you can pull out the severed bits.

Once you find your continual yarn strand, it’s finally time to pull.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

Getting Started & Breaking In V.1

Unraveling & Finishing

-MF

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn – Getting Started & Breaking In V.1

Recycling Sweater Yarn cover

Sweaters fear me. I’ve fully unraveled at least 25 sweaters so far and chopped or altered dozens more. Regardless of whether you make a habit of it, every fiber enthusiast should do it at least once! You can get awesome, unique yarns on the cheap that you can reuse or re-spin. It’s also a helpful skill if you’re in the garment reconstruction game. And so, drawing on my experiences, I have put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to getting in on the recycled yarn action.

Getting Started

Everything

Equipment for purists:

1. Seam ripper

2. Scissors

3. Appropriate sweater

4. Niddy noddy (find DIY instructions here)

5. Plastic bags (for storing your yarn and labels)

6. Plastic hangers (I prefer the notched ones)

7. Drop spindles or spinning wheel (ONLY if you want to re-spin your yarn – this is totally optional)

8. Digital scale

9. Plastic ruler (not pictured)

10.. Tons of patience (not pictured)

Equipment list for the quick & dirty: Appropriate sweater, seam ripper, scissors. Patience optional.

First of all, this can be a time-consuming endeavor. I’ve spent upwards of 10 hours unraveling a single sweater before (it was a lovely double-knit lace weight cream colored 100% English wool – *dreamy sigh*)  and though you can pare down the process by choosing the quicker methods, what you save in money spent at the yarn boutique, you pay for with your time.

Selecting a sweater

Thrift stores, garage sales, your friend’s wardrobe rejects – all good places to find victims. I even once unraveled a sweater I found on the street in San Francisco.

But here’s the catch – you MUST find a sweater with the right seam. It should look like this on the inside seam:

Top: Correct seam Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

Top: Correct seam
Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

A correct seam will have the two edges of knitting pursed together in a pair of fat lines.

And incorrect seam, on the other hand, will just have one line, with the knit held together by serger stitches with sewing machine thread. Watch out for one-line seams!

Top: Incorrect Seam Bottom: Incorrect Seam, highlighted

Top: Incorrect Seam
Bottom: Incorrect Seam, highlighted

If the seam is serged together, this means that the knit piece was actually cut to fit, severing the yarn on every single row – and you will get nothing but a zillion short strands of yarn for your trouble.

Hint! – Check all the seams. I have seen sweaters with both types of seams, always with the incorrect seam at the shoulder yoke. You can still get yarn from these types, you just won’t get intact yarn from the entire thing.

Once you find the right seam, CHECK YOUR LABELS! Fiber content is listed on the tag either at the back collar of the sweater or on a tag at the side seam. We’re aiming for wool or cotton. If you ask me, acrylics ain’t really worth it.

Beware of sweaters that have felted. If you look at the stitches of the fabric and they seem blurry, stiff, or blended, then that sweater has been felted (which is probably why it ended up at that thrift store). It’s pretty common if you’re searching for secondhand sweaters. You can’t unravel it, so move on.

Stay away from anything fuzzy for right now. What you want is a sweater composed of good thick solid wool – no alpaca, angora or mohair – or a cotton sweater where the strands aren’t too thin. Anything with any kind of fuzz halo will cause small fibers that have detached from the sweater to wrap themselves around the strands you’re trying to pull from, causing two unconnected strands to appear connected – and, if tugged at, creating a tiny tangled bundle.  I call these “burrs” and they’re not difficult to deal with, but they ARE annoying. Cottons are less prone to this, but even the smoothest wool blend sweater yarn gets burrs. You should aim to reduce them your first few times unraveling by choosing fiber content carefully. Later when you’ve got more experience you can dig into those luscious angora blends.

Breaking In, Version 1

Now that we’ve got our sweater, how the hell do we get to the part with all the satisfying pulling? This is what I call “breaking in” to the sweater, or in other words getting a knit piece free and ready to start unraveling. I am going to give you the long and neat Version 1 first, then some quick & messy methods in Version 2. Messy people, feel free to skip ahead!

Turn your sweater inside-out. The seam-stitch used to join the knit pieces is basically a crochet chain worked through both pieces, with the crochet loops on one side of the pair of knit edges. Look carefully at both sides of that pair of knit edges. One side will look like this:

Left: I marked the loops of the seam-stitch chain with a Sharpie. Right: The entire seam-stitch along one side of the knit edges is highlighted in blue.

Left: I marked some of the loops of the seam-stitch chain with a Sharpie.
Right: The entire seam-stitch along one side of the knit edges is highlighted in blue.

This seam-stitch ends with a free-standing crochet chain of an inch or so that then gets woven back into the seam.

Turn your attention toward the end of the sleeve (where your hand would come out). There will be a little fat part of the seam at the end: this is where you look closely to pull out the hidden end of the seam stitch. Use your sense of touch – it’s lumpier than the rest of the seam.

Recycle Sweater Seam End 1

Recycle Sweater Seam End 2

I’ve marked that seam-stitch end in Sharpie.

Get your seam ripper.  A few experimental tugs with the pokey end will reveal where the hidden seam-stitch end is. (Remember – the more you unravel sweaters, the quicker you will come to recognize where you need to start. The first time I tried to find this thing probably took me about an hour. Now it takes me all of twenty seconds – so don’t despair!)

Recycle Sweater Seam End Collage

Once you spot that sucker, pull it out.  Looks just like a crochet chain – because it is. And just like a crochet chain, a tug at the loose end will start unraveling it. Congratulations! Now pull the hell out of it, undoing the seam for the sleeve.

Recycle Sweater Unravel Collage

Hint! – you can find your starting point on any seam by looking at the direction of the chain loops on the seam-stitch.

The chain loop bottoms form a sort of arrow where they cross, like this:

Recycle Sweater Seam Direction 1

They’re pointing down in this picture. To find your starting point, go in the OPPOSITE direction….

Recycle Sweater Seam Direction 2

… until you reach the end of the seam. Start there.

Now that you’re pulling, you will start to encounter burrs (stray fibers that wrap themselves around the yarn you are trying to unravel).  If a gentle tug does not break it loose, insert the crook of your ripper underneath the bothersome little thing and sever it.

Top: Behold the burr - it's wrapped around the yarn I'm pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.  Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

Top: Behold the burr – it’s wrapped around the yarn I’m pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.
Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

Keep pulling out that seam. If you’re lucky, that seam will continue on uninterrupted to unravel the side of the sweater, too. If not, you may have to apply the same seam-unraveling method to the yoke of the sleeve first. No matter where the seam is, just follow the direction of the chain to find where you should start to undo it.

Destruction feels so good

Destruction feels so good

So you pull happily along, parting the pieces of the sweater until – yikes! A tag. Take your trusty seam ripper and carefully remove the threads of the tag. Continue unraveling, using your seam ripper to take care of any hidden tag thread as you work past this point.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Tag

Hint! Save the tags with the fiber content and store them alongside your recycled yarn in the zipper bag – just in case you need to know later!

Once you’ve freed a piece of a sweater completely, lay it out and check out the top (whichever end was closest to the collar).

Version 1 Last Step

There will be a familiar looking series of loops on the top edge – this is where it was bound off. Again, following the loops as described before, you can locate the free end of the yarn.

Congratulations, Version 1 user. You are a detail-oriented type, driven to craft your artistic goals to perfection. Your patience is about to pay off when you unravel yard after yard of amazing yarn, uncut yarn.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

You may be a methodical type who wants to undo all the seams and get every piece of the sweater separated first. You may want to get to the really rewarding part where you unravel a freed piece as soon as you can.  Everybody is special in their own way. Moving on…

Breaking In Version 2
Unraveling & Finishing

-MF