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Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Summer is almost done, so I thought it might be time to look at some of this summer’s projects.  There might also have been a few hints from friends and family that my blog has been eerily quiet.  =)  So, time to get back to posting what’s been going on in my everyday life.

Spinning

Spinning has been on my mind a lot lately, so I guess I’ll start with that.  Tour de France was this past month and those in the fiber world know what that means – Tour de Fleece!!  Basically, the Tour de Fleece is the spinner’s version of the Knitting Olympics.  Every day that the bikers cycle their way around France, those of us who spin – well, spin!  I was a member of two teams this year – Team Sasquatch (where people who listen to certain podcasts join together and form a spinning team) and Team Raw Power (a team made up of those who enjoy working with raw fleece and wanted to incorporate that into the Tour).  So, my goal for Team Sasquatch was to simply spin for at least 30 minutes every day.  My goal for Team Raw Power was to start with a pound of fleece and process it and spin it.  There was some discussion about starting with dirty fleece, but due to some of the team members living in very humid conditions where it can take a week for fleece to dry, it was decided that the fleece could be washed before the Tour started.  Here is the pound of some lovely Cormo wool that I decided to tackle for this Tour.  It was a lovely mocha brown, but the staple length was about an inch (unstretched) so I had been spending a lot of time trying to figure out the best method of processing the fleece.  I finally decided that simple carding made the most sense since getting the short staples onto my large combs would have been a bit more of a challenge than I was prepared for.  In the end, I did try combing about an ounce of the fiber.  I loved how that skein turned out, but it really was just too much work for the amount of time I had.  The rest of the pound (minus 2 ounces, more on that later) I carded on my carder.  As for the final 2 ounces of the wool, well, that got carded with some lovely silver gray angora I purchased while at the Snake River Fiber Fair!  The picture to the left is of my drum carder.  The picture below is of the wool batts I made on the carder.  The round piles of wool are rovings I made after combing the wool.  These were all spun up into 2-ply yarns.  The combed fiber turned into a finer yarn (maybe DK weight) and the rest were spun into a heavier yarn (probably a heavy worsted weight yarn).  All yarns were spun with a long draw, or woolen.  The darker skein that you see in the middle is an extra skein I spun during the Tour of a blend of alpaca, wool, cotton, and some other fibers (lost the band) that had been sitting around since October.  I had already spun 2 ounces, so I figured it was past time to finish up the last 2 ounces.  That particular skein is destined to be knit into some lovely, warm, and incredibly soft gloves!

Knitting

Speaking of knitting …. I have been doing quite a bit of knitting this summer.  I started knitting a shawl in spring for a knit-a-long that was themed around The Fellowship of the Ring.  The first pattern in the series was a mystery knit-a-long in which one section of the pattern is released every 2 weeks or so.  The pattern was the Evenstar Shawl (designer’s blog here) and I posted a picture of the gauge swatch probably back in March.  There’s a picture of the finished shawl as it is blocking below.  I know you can’t see much detail from here, but you can kind of get an idea of how huge it is!  I’ll post a better picture of it later (when I can convince someone to model it for me!). 

Today’s Project

Finally, here’s what I’m working on today – fleece.  I got two Shetland fleeces from a lovely shepherd out in Oregon (there farm here).  These are some of the loveliest fleeces I’ve ever seen!  One was a white with bits of gray fleece and the other was a mostly gray fleece.

Here are pictures of the process of sorting and dividing the fleece into manageable pieces, soaking, and drying.  After the fleece has dried, I’ll be pulling out my carder again and processing the fleece with that.  

Our poodle, Bailey, is helping, with picking over the fleece and dividing it up, as you can see below!   

Okay, so maybe Bailey isn’t really helping so much as sunbathing!

The next picture is of the fleece soaking in the utility sink.

And, finally, there is a picture of the fleece drying on two old window screens that I found under our deck. 

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer!

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Last Wednesday was the spinning guild meeting.  We were told to bring 1 ounce of fiber in a brown paper bag for a challenge project.  I dutifully packed up some fiber I had dyed and headed to the meeting.  We all exchanged fiber (via a passing game) and I got 1 ounce of alpaca, white.  We were then issued the challenge to spin the fiber and make something from it, to be creative.  Yikes!  The very word sends a little shiver of anxiety up my spine.  I’ve never seen myself as being adequately creative.  I know, sad, right?  So I’ve decided to take this challenge seriously and really try to stretch myself, maybe prove to myself that I’m more creative than I give myself credit for.  I’ve also decided to keep a journal for this particular project to both help the project along and as a reminder of what I did.  Since I want the finished object to be a surprise, I’m going to wait until I’ve made the object and given it back to the person who gave me the fiber in the first place and then I’ll blog about it here.  I might even make a special page for my creativity challenge.  =)

In The Kitchen

I’m back to cooking from cookbooks again.  My sister turned me on to the cookbooks by Ellie Krieger (So Easy and The Food You Crave) and my sister-in-law told me about a cookbook by Tosca Reno called The Eat-Clean Diet.  So I’ve come up with a few menus and snack ideas from these three books.  I’ve actually already made two recipes from the So Easy cookbook, the Spicy Egg and Avocado Wraps and the Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats.  The wraps were a nice healthy lunch for The Husband and myself (mine being minus the avocado since The Husband stole all those for Himself!).  The wraps include lettuce, tomato, avocado, hard-boiled egg and cucumber plus other ingredients.  The Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats were an excellent sweet ending to lunch.  They’re like the rice crispy treats we made as kids, minus the processed sugar/marshmallows and with the addition of peanut butter and dried fruit (or chocolate chips or just about anything else one can think of).  I made mine with dried cherries.  Seriously yummy!  I did have to put them in the fridge a bit longer than suggested to firm them up and I made my typical mistake when making rice crispy treats – I didn’t press them down hard enough.  Shoot.  Oh well, I just pressed them down again after they had chilled enough so they weren’t quite as sticky.  I would give this recipe a double thumbs up.  More recipe auditions to come.

In the Craft Room

I’m still working on the Evenstar Shawl.  It’s coming along really well.  We’ve received the second-to-last clue and closing in on finishing this thing.  I’d put in a picture, but it really does look like a pile of snarled yarn at this point (well, maybe not that bad).  Believe me, when I’m done and it’s been blocked, I’ll probably be posting pictures everywhere!

Another project I’m working on is learning to darn socks.  I asked my sister to send me her hand-knitted socks that had holes in them so I could learn how to fix them and she kindly obliged.  I was all ready to go until I saw that thread, not just yarn, was involved.  Hm.  What you have to do with the thread really isn’t that hard, it just means I have to go find it in the craft room.  Hrmph.  That might require some excavation and several days of wandering in the jungle of yarn and fiber.  Never fear, I’ve a flashlight around here somewhere.

On The Bookshelf

I’m currently reading a book by Warren Fahy, “Fragment.”  So far, it seems to be one of those novels that means to scare you with what nature can, does, and could come up with.  Think along the lines of “Jurassic Park.”  Hm.  Not my favorite type of novel since I’m generally not in favor of making nature seem like our enemy.  I’m going to stick with it though.  I’m hoping that there’s some redemption at the end of the novel and that the apparently scary aspects of nature and evolution are being misinterpreted.  I’m crossing my fingers here.

Also on the bookshelf, are “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde.  I’m still reading both books, but they’re a bit on the back burner as “Fragment” is a library book and needs to be read first.  I love “Villette” but have been frustrated with the huge amount of French in it.  The French is not interpreted in footnotes and I’m one of the few who didn’t study French in school.  So, I’ve taken to using an interpretation program on my computer.  This does not make “Villette” a particularly portable read.  I pretty much have to read it while sitting at the computer.  It may take a while to finish it.  I’ve just started “Dorian Gray” for a book group, so I don’t really have too much to say about it so far.

More updates later.  I’m hoping to have more updates on the garden in the next week.  It has finally warmed up and is sunny, so there should be more opportunities to plant.  I’ve planted three blueberry bushes in the backyard, but I’ll save that for later.  Oh, and I’ll also have to post pictures of Bailey, the poodle, and her new haircut!

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Back in the Kitchen

Yes, I know.  It’s been a while since I posted.  Between the cloudy weather and it being Tax Time, I wasn’t particularly in the mood to blog.  It’s still Tax Time, but at least the weather has warmed up.  Today it’s a sunny 63 and it actually feels like spring might be on its way.  Daffodils have just started blooming and there are some trees in bloom too.  Some of the trees are just starting to show a mist of yellow green and the snow has begun to melt on the lower parts of the mountains.  So, since Mother Nature has actually shown some signs that she might actually consider giving us a spring, The Husband spent the afternoon out in the yard cleaning up the downed branches, trimming bushes, and getting two of the garden plots ready for planting.  He also planted the Arugula seeds and the Daikon Radishes.  Everything else either needs to be planted indoors or needs to wait until the end of the month or later.   Hurrah for Spring!!

In The Kitchen

Yep, I’ve been back in my kitchen and playing with my food (grin).  While listening to Stitch It, I heard Meghan mention a website that has recipes for people on a no gluten/no processed sugar diet.  I don’t have an allergy to gluten, but I do try to limit my processed sugars, so I headed on over to Elana’s Pantry.  She has a TON of recipes over there and some of them look really, really good.  The Lemon Kale Chips will probably be a future kitchen experiment at our house.  However, today’s recipe was a special request from The Husband.  He was craving chocolate chip cookies, so I made Elana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies They’re made with almond flour, agave syrup, and dark chocolate.  I had to go pick up the almond flour and the chocolate chips, but I had everything else on hand.  After I mixed everything together, I thought the batter looked pretty runny, so I went back to her recipe to double check my measurements.  And, there at the bottom of her recipe, I noticed a little warning about Bob’s Red Mill almond flour NOT being recommended.  Guess which kind of almond flour I bought.  Sigh.  So, I decided to try making some adjustments on my own.  I added probably another half cup of almond flour to the batter (I essentially used the entire bag of flour.  Hey, I didn’t want that little bit of leftover flour anyway.) and then baked the cookies longer than I normally would.  The cookies were still extremely tender after 2 minutes of cooling, so I let the cookies cool completely on the pan. This made it possible to get the cookies off the pan without them falling apart.  As far as taste, they taste pretty good.  They don’t taste like normal sugary chocolate chip cookies, but they’ve got a pretty good flavor.  The dark chocolate chips are a lot more noticeable in these cookies than regular chocolate chips are in normal chocolate chip cookies.  The texture is really different too, but in a good way.  These cookies are not crisp and light, like we were taught cookies should be and like we’re used to eating.  They’re soft, dense, and curiously chewy.  With this particular flour, you can really feel the bits of almond in there.  So, I’d say these cookies are a winner, I’ll just make sure to get the correct brand of almond flour next time!

In the Craft Room

There isn’t a whole lot of new stuff going on in the craft room, but I did finish a few projects.  I spun up some 1-ounce dye samples from last year’s spinning guild dye exchange and came up with this light worsted weight yarn.   I really liked the way it came out, but had no idea what I was going to do with it.  After visiting with Kristine at Three Wishes (one of my local yarn stores), I decided to knit it into a Gothic Revival Shawl.  I was concerned about the yarn looking too busy, but I think that it will be alright.  It will look more blended, overall, from a distance.  The shawl is knitted up but still needs blocking.  I’m hoping to get to that this week sometime, I just have to find someplace to block it that the cats will leave it alone.

Also finished in the last week is my Mondo Cable Pulli.  Finally, a sweater that came out perfectly!!!  Now, this does not mean that there aren’t mistakes in there, I’m sure there are some.  No, my definition of perfect is that it fits(!), I like the color, I like the way it feels, and I like the way it looks.  I’m soooo happy with this sweater!  It was a lot of fun to knit and the Malabrigo yarn is really soft.  I know it will probably pill, but I’m so happy with the sweater that I don’t care!  The only difficulty I had with it was the ribbing at the bottom.  I knitted it too loose the first time around and this made it flare out a bit.  So, I ripped it back and knitted it again with smaller needles.  It still curls up a little bit and, if I really wanted to, I could rip it back again and try a different rib pattern (a 4 x 2 rib as opposed to a 4 x 1 rib).  I’m not that upset by the curling.  I might try basting on some grosgrain ribbon to help hold it down or maybe baste in (very loosely) some elastic thread, but I’ll probably just try steaming it first, if I ever take it off!

Well, that’s it for today.  The sun is still shining out there and it’s still warm enough to sit outside.  I think I’ll go sit on the porch and bask in the warm sunshine and enjoy the smell of spring in the air.

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As you can see, I’ve updated my recipe ticker to reflect the 4 recipes I’ve made.  But more about that in the In The Kitchen section.  The Olympics and Ravelympics are over.  I’m both relieved to have the deadline met and behind me, but my knitting is feeling a bit aimless these days.  I’ve already knit a pair of slippers since Closing Ceremonies and I have a shawl I could work on, but without the entertainment of the games and the pressure of a deadline, well, it just isn’t the same.  I did have a good time making the slippers though.  =)  They are the Bunny Hop Slippers from Craft Magazine.  Mine aren’t pink bunnies though, as you can see.  I couldn’t find a pink chunky yarn that I really liked.  The colors just weren’t right.  So, I bought some green Plymouth Galway Chunky and then dyed up some fiber in some coordinating (I hoped) green dyes and decided to go for it.  Where is the green dyed fiber?  Why, inside!  They’re called thrums and you knit them in as you knit the slipper.  They add for extra cushion and extra warmth.  I’ve tried them on several times and they are definitely cushy and they immediately began warming up my cold toes.  I haven’t actually worn them around the house.  They’re still too new.  =)  These slippers knit up super fast and probably cost $13 to make with $12 being the cost of the yarn.  The buttons were cheap buttons from JoAnn’s and the thrums were cheap wool bought from The Sheep Shed Studio.   So, the project was fun and cost effective!

In The Kitchen

I’ve been cooking in the kitchen again.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of two of the recipes I made.  The first recipe was called Hutspot.  It is a dish from Holland and seems like it is a basic “boiled dinner.”  The recipe says you can either use boneless beef chuck or venison round steak for the meat and I chose to use beef.  If my brother was somewhere nearby, I might have chosen to use venison since he hunts and does a fabulous job preparing deer.  I simmered the beef for about 2 hours in 2 cups of water.  Then added potatoes, carrots, and onion.  When everything is fully cooked, you remove the meat and mash the vegetables with milk and butter.  It was a warm, filling meal, but not as flavorful as we’re used to eating.  With this dinner, I also made Au Gratin Cabbage.  This was a perfect way to use up leftover cabbage from the borscht.  Again, it wasn’t the most flavorful dish, but it did use up the cabbage and some carrots (add some milk, egg, and cheese).  The milk and egg mixture seemed to settle to the bottom, but the cheese stayed on top and was a nice addition to the dish.

So, that was last week.  This week, I made Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos and Apple Carrot Salad.  The burritos involved dicing up 3 cups worth of sweet potatoes and some onion.  After that, it was super easy.  You add black beans and then wrap the mixture up in tortillas and bake for 20-25 minutes.   Spices included cumin and cinnamon, so there is the flavor we were missing last week!  The Apple Carrot Salad is made up of shredded apples and carrots (of course) and mixed in a dressing of honey, lemon and orange juice.  You also add some shredded mint and raisins.  Again, a more flavorful dish than last week.  The fruit salad definitely balances out the more heavy burritos and is a wonderful salad for a rather dreary day.  The lemon and orange juice tastes like pure sunshine!

Out to the Garden

The worms are doing well.  We had a bit of difficulty figuring out how much moisture they needed.  I think the bedding gets dryer here faster than we were expecting.  We added some water to their bedding last night and they are definitely more active today!  I went down to the Worm Bin after making supper this evening to add the carrot and apple scraps (more moisture) and there was plenty of movement in the bedding.

Books, Books, Books

I quickly wanted to mention a website I joined late last year.  Goodreads is a place to keep track of the books you’ve read, books in your library, books you’d like to read as well as a place to meet people with similar reading tastes and to join reading groups to discuss books you’ve read or are reading.  I’m currently reading “Persuasion” by Jane Austen (with CraftLit) and am still reading “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” by Anne Bronte for a reading group I’m participating in.  You can participate in discussions and the social aspect of Goodreads as much or as little as you’d like.  Go take a look.

In the Dye Pot

Nothing is in the dye pot yet, but I need to get started on my fiber for my dye exchange which is coming up this month.  I’ve already got my fiber and my dyes, just need to get started.  Hopefully I’ll have an update for that in my next post!

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I’ve crossed the finish line for the Sweaterboard Cross in the Ravelympics. Yay! Here is my finished Slinky Ribs sweater drying on the blocking board.  Whew!  It feels really good to have one event out of the way.  Now to concentrate on the Fleece-to-Finished-Object event/Sock Hockey.  Here is the finished yarn I spun.  Pretty, no?  I’ve already started knitting up the socks in one of my favorite patterns.  I just have the toe left to knit on the first sock and then I’ll immediately cast on the second sock.  Pictures when those are completed.

Of course, no blocking project would be complete without the requisite deposit of cat hairs.  Sophie has decided to be the contributing cat on this one.   I spent most of the afternoon chasing Pumpkin off the sweater and then, in the evening, somehow Sophie managed to sneak up there.  Sigh.  Oh well.  What’s a few cat hairs among friends, right?

In The Garden

The worms for our worm bin arrived yesterday.  Yes, they came through the USPS.  Here they are still in their box and bag.  I had already prepared the bedding in the worm bin since I had been notified they’d were on their way.  The bedding is coconut coir, soaked in water and excess water squeezed out.  I then added a couple of handfuls of dirt from our yard so the worms would have some grit to help them process their food.  I also added a small bunch of potato peels buried in one corner so they’d have a snack if they were hungry.  Then, I introduced the worms to their new home.  In other words, I dumped them in!   Yep, that’s a pile of worms you see there.

I spread out the worms, breaking up any clumps as I found them, and settled down to watch them as they began digging their way down into the new bedding.  After watching for about 10 minutes or so, most had disappeared.  I put the lid on the bin, turned off the light, and left them to their new house.  It will probably take them a few weeks to recover from the traumatic journey to this new land, but eventually they’ll settle in and begin eating my vegetable scraps and getting on with making me some lovely compost/fertilizer for my garden.

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We’re in the last week of the Ravelympics and, as the title of the post says, exhaustion is setting in.  Actually, I might be tired because I stayed up too late and have just completed 2-1/2 hours (count them, two  and  a  half  hours!) of plying my sock-weight yarn for the Ravelympics.  I’m pleased to announce that said yarn, all 625 yards of it, is in the hot tub taking a nice soak and preparing for its final event, sock knitting.  =)  Oddly enough, a soak in a nice warm, sudsy, tub of water is sounding pretty good to me too at the moment.  I’m sure that the picture of the yarn still on the plying bobbin is out of focus due to overly tired hands and that those hands would benefit from bubble bath therapy.

In The Kitchen

Another two recipes have been cooked from Simply In Season.  Last night I felt like having breakfast for supper, so I whipped up the Nutty Sweet Potato Waffles and Sausage and Apples.  Now, I don’t have a waffle iron and I refuse to get one on the basis of it having only one function and it seems silly to take up precious kitchen space with an appliance that only does one thing and won’t be used that often.  If I could find one that doubles as a griddle, I might be tempted to buy it.  My mom has one like that and I’m holding out for one like hers.  Where was I….oh yeah.  So, no waffle iron means no waffles so I made them into pancakes instead.  The recipe was HUGE and the pancakes were filled with all kinds of healthy ingredients:  mashed sweet potatoes, ground hazelnuts (yum!!), ground old-fashioned oats, whole wheat flour, etc.  They were heavier than typical pancakes but perfect for supper.  The flavor of the hazelnuts really came through and reminded me of Nutella, which might be a nice addition to these pancakes (just a little smear on top).  The Sausage and Apples was a really simple recipe and combined the flavors of apples, sausage, onions, a wee bit of Dijon mustard, and basil.  The combination of apple and basil was a bit unexpected, but good.  Leftover pancakes went into the freezer for breakfast on another date.  There wasn’t a lot of the Sausage and Apples left over, so those will be eaten as a side dish at another meal.  I’d make both recipes again, but maybe cut the waffle recipe in half so we don’t have so many leftovers.

Books, Books, Books

I just finished listening to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens last night.  I’ve been listening to the CraftLit podcast for a few years, but avoided listening to A Tale of Two Cities until last year.  It sounded so boring and, come on, Charles Dickens?  There were so many other authors out there that I’d much rather read.  But then there were so many comments in CraftLit and in the CraftLit forum on Ravelry about “What would Madame Defarge knit?” that I finally gave in and decided I’d have to listen to A Tale of Two Cities so I’d know what everyone was talking about.  I started by occasionally listening to a chapter or two here and there, whenever I had caught up on the other podcasts.  Then, in the second half of the book, it became a regular listen.  Towards the end of the book, it became an obsession and I’d listen for 2-3 hours a day until it was done.  Now, here’s my question:  Why did no one ever explain about Charles Dickens?!  The book is brilliant!  It’s one of those stories that will probably haunt me for weeks and I’ll definitely remember it for the rest of my life.  I was talking to The Husband last night about it and complaining that no one had told me that Charles Dickens was such an incredible writer and, wow, who knew that A Tale of Two Cities was so awesome?  He replied, “Well, that is why it’s called a classic.”  Sigh.

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In the Kitchen

There was a lot going on this week, so only one new recipe from Simply in Season:  Marrakesh Lamb Stew.  I served this with couscous and apple and carrot slices.  So, overall, a fairly healthy meal I think.  The stew was incredibly fragrant with lamb (bought at a small local green grocer), onion, garlic, and lots of spices.  The full teaspoon of ground cloves was particularly pungent.  One could also smell the cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric.  There were plenty of vegetables in the stew to make it hearty and the addition of raisins and prunes rounded out the flavors with their sweetness.  I would definitely make this dish again, maybe reducing the amount of ground cloves just a bit.  The tart apple slices were a nice contrast to the heavier flavors of the stew.

With this dish made, it’s time to go get more groceries.  I’ve planned several menus for the next week or so.  I’m really enjoying the structure that this little project is giving to my menu-planning.  It appears that there are 49 recipes for the Winter Season section of the cookbook and I’ve only made 5 so far.  Time to get cooking!

Ravelympics Update

Just a quick update on my Ravelympics projects.  The sweater only has about 3-4 inches to go before the body of the sweater is completed.  Yay!  I’ll knit the sleeves next and then some trim around the neckline.  The sleeves might be a bit tricky as they are capped sleeves and incorporate short rows for the shaping.  It shouldn’t be too bad though.  In the spinning department.  I have my first bobbin full and am about halfway through the second bobbin.  Once I have all 3 bobbins filled, I’ll have to ply the yarn, set it, and then I’ll have a pair of socks to knit yet!  So, I’m a bit behind on the spinning.  I’ll need to spin a lot this weekend if I’m to catch up.

Out to the Garden

Okay, it might be a bit early to actually go out to the garden, especially as it was snowing this morning.  But the garden is definitely on my mind.  Last weekend The Husband spent one afternoon raking part of the back yard for more garden space.  We’ll have to rent a rototiller to till up the dirt as soon as the weather gets warm enough.  In the meantime, I’ve been looking at seed catalogs!  As you can see, I’ve already put in an order and received several seed packets.  I love getting seeds, all that potential waiting to happen!  We’ll buy some local tomato seedlings once spring has officially sprung and probably some other seedlings for the vegetable and herb gardens.  We also ordered 3 blueberry bushes to put out in the front yard next to a particularly sunny cement wall.

Since all the seeds have different germination periods and will need to be started at different times and then transplanted out at different times, I’m thinking I may need to make a spreadsheet with all the dates of when each seed needs to be planted and transplanted.  I should also map out the garden.

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the Olympics (and Ravelympics too!)  I’ve really enjoyed watching the snowboarders.  They always look like they’re having so much fun!  And with that, I should probably get back to my own olympic events, knitting and spinning!

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