IS #6: Giving

This week’s Inspiration Saturday post was inspired by a gift.

Catalina Baby Alpaca Worsted

What you see above is the first wearable item my mom has ever crocheted! She tried knitting years and years ago when I first got into it and was entirely unsuccessful. She knit a “square” that was so misshapen that when folded in half, it looked like the perfect winter garment for a particular part of the male anatomy (think about it). While highly amusing, it was a frustrating experience for her and she basically gave up on crafting. Then I tried getting her into crochet, since it was a bit faster to do and I thought maybe she would enjoy handling just one hook and one stitch at a time better. She liked it and made a few things for around the house, but she couldn’t do it perfectly so she wasn’t happy with it and she almost quit. But, while I was home over Christmas, I showed how to use Craftsy and she signed up for Vickie Howell’s crochet class— which was just what she needed to make it all click for her. She  sent me this scarf as a gift, her first really successful project, because she said I inspire her. I love it.

She used a soft, alpaca yarn and it feels really nice. It is also the first handmade garment anybody has ever given me, which when considering the vast numbers of handknit items I gift every year, is a little bit sad! (Somebody make me stuff! haha) But I love that she gave me her first project and I will wear it with pride and admiration of how she didn’t give up, despite genitalia-shaped first attempts at yarncraft.

If you happen to be feeling in a giving mood, Afghans for Afghans is running a quick campaign for hats, mittens, and socks for teenagers (ages 14-21). The small or medium size of my free Giving Comfort hat pattern would be perfect for this and knits up quickly in bulky yarn or worsted weight held double, which many Ravelers have done. The deadline is tight (January 24th) but you can whip up a hat or mittens in under a week, I bet!

Speaking of tight deadlines, anybody feel like test knitting something quickly? (UPDATE: I think I have all the help I need for now, thanks guys!)

Sneaky peeky!

The test knit requires less than 100-150 yards of one colorway and about  75 yards of another of heavy worsted or aran-weight yarn. You only knit with one colorway at time and it’s an item for your neck region. Please email me at shoelaceswitcher at gmail dot com or leave a comment saying you are interested in testing if you can finish the knit and post a picture on Ravelry by January 22nd (I know, I know! but I promise this is quick, especially the small size). If you could help a knitter out, I’d be eternally grateful. Plus, I can send you some yarn to knit it with (Malabrigo Twist) if you can guarantee you will be done in time! (Twist is my favorite yarn ever, so that should tell you how grateful I would be for your help…)

If you’re feeling inspired this week and would like to share, please link along below!


Like so many wonderful knit bloggers and other type A personalities out there, I’m feeling the need to recap my year and think about some creative goals for 2013. And since I’m a scientist at heart, I’m doing this the best way I know how: through the mighty Excel spreadsheet.

Figure 1. This figure displays the number of finished objects (blue) completed in 2012, 2011, and 2010 as well as the works in progress (pink) still on the needles: current WIPs were begun or worked on in 2012 while ancient WIPs were begun in 2011 or earlier. Total numbers of projects in each category as well as data labels for 2012 FOs and current WIPs were added.

From this graph, we can see that 2012 was slightly more productive than past years (44 FOs vs. 41) with hats being the standout category for FOs (n=18). I finished more cowls and miscellaneous items (bracelets, cuffs, dishclothes) than in previous years, as well as my first pair of completed mittens. I finished fewer mitts, shawls, and scarves than the past couple of years, which was an interesting trend and rather unexpected trend.

My 2012 finished socks (n=6) were about average (n=5 in 2011, n=8 in 2010), but considering that last year I vowed to make 2012 my Year of Socks, that’s pretty sad. Halfway through the year I got quite distracted, I haven’t finished a pair since June! I have, however, somehow accumulated 12 pairs of sock WIPs on the needles! TWELVE PAIRS!! If I keep going at this rate, soon I’ll have more current sock WIPs than FOs of all time.

Although my year of socks idea totally backfired, I did get make a good start on designing, publishing 7 patterns (3 free, 4 paid) which are hosted on Ravelry, Craftsy, and Patternfish.

Top L to R: Beribboned Hat, Giving Comfort, Huacaya. Bottom L to R: Beribboned Wrists, Fiasco, Ribby Holiday Socks, and Syrinx Shells.

I am ever so thankful to everyone who supported my endeavors this year. Whether you purchased a pattern, provided feedback, modeled for photos, test knitted, donated some finished knits to charity, blogged about my pattern, provided yarn support, featured my pattern at a show, or just plain cheered me on here on the blog, I appreciated every bit of it, so thank you! I’ve enjoyed seeing my ideas come to life on other people’s needles and am looking forward to seeing what design opportunities come up in 2013.

One very big accomplishment of 2012 was learning how to spin. I went from my first spindle to my first wheel in 11 months and I am completely in love with the process. Even though I have not produced a ton of handspun, I’ve learned a lot by experimenting and reading up on differnt sheep breeds in my ongoing Spinner’s Study. And now that I have the wheel I feel like my focused spinning time will increase and hopefully a bunch of gorgeous, finished skeins will magically appear.

Since I’ve realized that I suck at sticking to specific goal lists (like finish 13 of anything in 2013) I’m going to keep my 2013 goals fairly broad:

Design goals:

    • publish a Malabrigo Quickie (in progress)
    • publish a design with Cephalopod Yarns (in progress)
    • publish a design with The Verdant Gryphon
    • publish a design with KnitPicks
    • publish in an online or print magazine
    • finish and publish 4 more socks for my How I Met Your Mother series (2 in progress)
    • design a shawl

Non-Design Knitting goals:

    • finish (or frog) all of my ancient WIPs (started in 2010-2011)
    • knit a pair of socks from handspun yarn
    • finish my First Garment vest (in progress)
    • knit a real sweater for me
    • work on my (long neglected) sock yarn blanket

Spinning goals:

    • spin a truly worsted-style skein using short forward draw
    • spin a truly woolen-style skein using long draw
    • spin a skein of 3-ply sock yarn
    • spin a skein of laceweight 2-ply on my spindle

That’s a pretty do-able list, I think. And of course, the overall goal is to knit down my beautiful, embarrassingly large stash. While I did not go entirely cold sheep this year, I did significantly cut down my 2012 yarn purchases from 2011 and I hope to continue in that vein. I have too many pretty skeins squirreled away not to use them and with all the spinning, I’ll just keep adding more!

I’m sure that’s enough Type A babble for today. As usual, that took much longer than I expected and was a diverting way to procrastinate away some time better spent on something else! (Old habits die hard…) Once again, thanks so much to everyone who reads this blog and helps me fuel my various obsessions, it wouldn’t be the same without you! Have a great year, everyone.

Finished-Object-Friday #5

Warning to family members: this post will involve photos of some of your holiday gifts, so you might want to look away!

There’s nothing like the week before the holidays, I feel like such a knitting champ as I finish project after project. It’s the closest thing we get to a rush, I think, as knitters… next to maybe that feeling when you drop a whole bunch of money on yarn at once (though that’s less of a rush and more of a queasy feeling). Onto the FO’s!


BMFA Socks that Rock Mediumweight, colorway Aubergenious

I finished my Uproar cuffs, designed by Hunter Hammerson! This was a fun little pattern, which I will definitely be knitting again, especially since they take practically no yarn to make. These are not for me, if they were I probably would’ve knit a couple extra repeats to get a better fit, but I think they’ll fit the recipient just fine.

Santa’s Syrinx:

Malabrigo Yarn Rasta, colorway Ravelry Red

This quick-as-lightning cowl is my Syrinx Shells pattern, this time knit in a solid colorway. I had to fight a very strong urge to buy great big green buttons for this… it would’ve been overly festive, methinks. The solid colorway and black buttons really class it up, too. You can close this cowl a few different ways (like with ribbon or toggles) and this time I chose to attach the buttons on the far side like so:

This way it will snug up closely to the recipients neck when buttoned across through the yarnover holes. Alternatively, if you have more yarn you can just keep knitting and knitting to make a thick, cozy scarf, like Anne Weaver is doing with hers, check it out!.

Rustic Elegance:

Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Worsted, one of a kind colorway

This is the Hasselnusse cowl pattern by Anne Hanson that I raved about in my Inspiration Saturday post. I loved everything about this pattern, it is such an appealing design and I think I found the perfect buttons to compliment the look of the pattern and the yarn (if I do say so myself…). The yarn is fantastic, too. Zen Yarn Garden is a new-to-me indie dyeing company that I first encountered at Stitches East. The yarn pictured is a worsted weight Merino wool/cashmere/nylon blend that is really wonderful and their colors are gorgeous. I’m kicking myself for not buying the second skein of this colorway that I saw at the show, especially since the cowl used just over half the skein. I feel like I have a lot of yarn left but not quite enough to do much with. Oh well! It was perfect for this cowl.

Ever More Ribbons:

Malabrigo Yarn Rios, colorway Azules

Here’s another pair of my Beribboned Wrists finished! I intended this pattern to be for wristwarmers, but a knitter requested thumbs added to turn them into fingerless mitts and I’m glad I included the option. I love wearing them as wristwarmers but I know plenty of people prefer the fingerless mitt style and I think they work great as both. If you’re thinking of making a pair, feel free to join the KAL, there’s still time to enter to win the prize!

Be sure to check out more FO Friday projects below. That’s all from me for now, as I’ve got cookies to bake and bags to pack and gifts to wrap… To all those who celebrate, have a great holiday!

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #13

I hope you folks are having a wonderful week! My shiny new job as a marine biologist at a consulting firm has seriously cut into my knitting time, but since I like the company and the work very much, that’s ok. 🙂 Still, I do have a couple things to show you, so here we go!

Beautiful Briny Sea:

SG Bugga in Box Jellyfish and Cephalopod Yarns Bugga in Blue-Ringed Octopus

I’m still working on this freakin’ Flamboyan shawl, although I’m done with it emotionally. I tend to get really tired of plain stockinette shawl knitting and even though this is actually mostly garter stitch, purling back those middle stitches was getting to me. I was also annoyed that the pattern only gave a length to knit to instead of a number of repeats. Another Raveler with a gorgeous version of the shawl was kind enough to indulge my OCD and count the number of YO holes she made on hers so that I could try for a similar size. (For those wondering, it’s an even 50.) Then I was really excited to move onto the next section, until I tried starting the ribbing off by candlelight while the power was out and my stitch count got way off. Go figure, deep blue yarn is really hard to see in the dark! So this shawl might be stuck in that so-close-yet-so-far stage for a while yet.

Ever More Ribbons:

Malabrigo Yarn Rios, colorway Azules

Yes, folks, yet another version of my free Berriboned Wrists pattern. :What can I say? They’re fun and simple to work and they make great gifts. This pair is a part of the Beribboned KAL I’m hosting in the Designer’s Co-Op KAL and CAL group on Ravelry as well as the Project Stash Show of Hands KAL. They are destined to be a gift for a teenager but they’d be great for anyone on your list. When my mom visited a couple of weeks ago she ‘adopted’ (a.k.a. flatout stole) a pair of mine, and I must say they look fabulous on her and it thrills me that she’s gotten lots of compliments on them!

Hi, Mom!

There’s still plenty of time to join in the KAL if you’d like. It runs through 12/31/12, at which point I will randomly draw a winner from the finished projects to receive a $20 gift certificate to either The Verdant Gryphon or Cephalopod Yarns. You can knit either the wristwarmers/mitts or the hat (which is on sale for one more week!) to qualify. One participant, Anita, knit a great version of the wristwarmers using cords and beads to lace them up instead of ribbon:

From Blacky67’s project page, used with permission.

I hope you decide to join us! I‘d love to see what you come up with. Click the images below to either come visit the KAL or check out more WIP Wednesday posts!

Cheerful Mitts and Afterthought Thumbs

After all the stress and natural-disaster-related worries of late, how about a little cheerful knitting and a brief afterthought thumb tutorial on a Monday morning?

These are my Beribboned Wrists pattern knit with Malabrigo Worsted in Natural for the body and i-cord knit with Socks That Rock Mediumweight in On Blueberry Hill to lace them up instead of ribbon. I love the rainbow effect of the color changes in the STR paired with the simplicity of the super-soft Malabrigo, don’t you?

I knit the Worsted size but ‘accidentally’ knit the DK chart for it. The only real difference is that the DK chart is a bit longer. I decided to add the optional afterthought thumbs that turn these into fingerless mitts instead of wristwarmers. They are a tad small for me, but since they are intended to be gifted to a young girl, that’s ok! If you’ve never knit an afterthought thumb before, you should give it a try because they are pretty simple and since they don’t involve shaping they are a flexible method for modifying patterns. You knit until the point where you’d like the thumb to be, then you knit a few stitches with waste yarn, turn your work and purl back over those waste yarn stitches, then resume knitting in the round with your regular yarn, and forget all bout the thumb until the end!

When you are ready to add the thumb, you unravel your waste yarn. With the extra-fuzzy Malabrigo I lost patience unraveling so I opted to cut the waste yarn out. Just be careful where you snip!

This will give you a bunch of live thumb stitches to deal with. You will have one more stitch on the bottom than on the top. I start by picking up a side stitch and all the bottom stitches on one needle. Then I flip the mitt and pick up a side stitch, all the top stitches, and another side stitch. These ‘side stitches’ are just any old random stitches on the edge of the thumb hole that you grab to try to prevent gaps from forming when you begin knitting in the round. It really doesn’t seem to matter which ones you pick up, as long as you aren’t forming holes when you grab them.

After I have both sets picked up, I split the bottom stitches onto two needles. Then I join my working yarn on the bottom right of the thumb hole and begin knitting clockwise in the round. After that it’s just following the pattern for a few rows and binding off!

It’s tough to see in this pic, but sometimes you still get gaps near the start of the round no matter how many extra stitches you pick up. When this happens, I take the tail of my yarn and work it into the fabric to close up the gap. Works like a charm! And the really neat thing about afterthought thumbs is that if you decide you don’t want a thumb later on after all, you can just remove the waste yarn, put the stitches on two needles, and use kitchener stitch to graft them together with matching yarn. If you do it neatly and weave in your ends securely, nobody will ever know there should’ve been a hole there! The only downside to these thumbs is that they can sometimes distort the pattern due to the lack of shaping to accommodate the base of the thumb (like in a gusset), but I think despite that they are useful, quick, and look just fine with many patterns. (I’ll have you know I had to try really hard to resist saying something about giving them a thumbs up. You’re welcome.)

Come join the KAL on Ravelry through 12/31/12!

Unisex Syrinx Shells

With all the craziness of the past week, I never got to properly post about my newly-released pattern, Syrinx Shells!

Malabrigo Yarn Rasta, colorway Arco Iris

Knit with a super bulky Merino wool yarn, the Syrinx Shells cowl works up quickly and is crazy soft and warm. It features an interesting-to-work elongated Estonian shell stitch pattern that really enhances variegated yarns while the simple lace and slipped stitch cables provide a nice edging.

The sample cowl used the entire 90 yards of Rasta and measured 9″ wide and 30″ long after blocking. One of my favorite aspects of this pattern is its flexibility in finishing. You can choose a colorful ribbon to tie it off with a feminine touch:

Malabrigo Yarn Rasta, colorway Indiecita

Or you can choose to close the cowl with a couple of large buttons. My friend Jeremie knit a masculine version using a darker colorway of Rasta and some really great wooden toggles:

Malabrigo Yarn Rasta, colorway Soriano

I just love the way the buttons coordinate! For his cowl, he put the buttons along the cabled edge and closed them through the yarnover holes in the lace. There is plenty of flexibility regarding button placement, so experiment!

Malabrigo Yarn Chunky, colorway Stone Blue

One of my other testers, Katie of the Katherine the Great blog, knit her version using Malabrigo Chunky, proving that if you don’t have any super bulky yarn on hand, you can still get a great-looking cowl out of 80-90 yards of slightly thinner bulky yarn and that it looks just as nice in a solid colorway. The thinner the yarn you use, the skinnier your cowl will be, but you can adjust it as needed for length.

So who’s ready to grab their Size 15 (10.0mm) straight needles and some big-ass yarn and cast on? The pattern is available for $4.00 on both Ravelry and Craftsy, or you can purchase it by clicking the button below.


Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Folks, I have not one, not two, but THREE FO’s to share with you today! Let’s get to it!

Malabrigo Chunky, colorway Mariposa

The blog hasn’t even see this hat yet because I just started it yesterday! Yes, a hat in 2 days! Love it. The pattern is Giving Comfort, a free pattern of mine that is great for gifts because it is unisex, simple-yet-interesting, and knits up quickly. Malabrigo Chunky is my absolute favorite hat yarn, too, because it’s so thick and warm and on size 10 needles knits up at a great density. Its only downfall is that it isn’t superwash. I actually prefer non-superwash yarns but when you’re knitting gifts for little kids, it’s nice to have the superwash factor because they easily forget and toss their beloved hat in the laundry and then the beloved hat is no more. Ask me how my little cousin knows this? (Don’t worry, he got a new one.)

Malabrigo Rasta, colorway Indiecita

This super bulky cowl is another great, quick knit. This is a second sample for my upcoming Syrinx design which will be released next week. But I’m having a ribbon dilemma! What do you think, teal or purple?

Cephalopod Yarns Beastie, colorway Snallygaster

My final FO is an aran-weight version of my newest hat pattern, Huacaya. This hat is a great example of gauge differences at work. The original version was knit with worsted-weight alpaca yarn at a gauge of 5 stitches/inch and 6.5 rounds/inch. It made a soft and slouchy fabric and its final dimensions were 18″ circumference and 8.5″ from cast on edge to crown. The new Beastie yarn I used is a thicker aran-weight blend of wool, alpaca, and silk. It was much plumper and denser than the worsted weight and knit up on the same needles at a gauge of 4 stitches/inch and 5 rounds/inch. The resulting fabric has a more sculpted feel and the size of the hat increased to 20″ circumference and 9 3/4″ from cast on to crown. This makes it much slouchier, nearly beret-like in style.

I wish I hadn’t chopped off my nose in this photo. Woops
 So, if you want a larger or slouchier hat, loosening your gauge (knitting your fabric at less stitches per inch) through either using thicker yarn or increasing your needle size should make that happen. Blocking can make a big difference, too. I blocked the first hat over a large-ish bowl but since there was much more fabric in this second one I blocked it over a large dinner plate, propped up on a cup so that the brim could hang down freely and not get stretched out.
It’s a wooly UFO!
The shape of the plate definitely accentuates this version’s beret-ness. It’s perhaps a bit large for my tiny head, but I like it!
Phew! Three FO’s in one post! That’s the benefit of having a million little projects on the needles at all times. Every once in a while you get to feel like a knitting master. See more FO’s by clicking below!

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #12

What with crazy yarn festivals and some big life changes in the works, I haven’t had a chance to knit a whole lot lately. However, I do have a couple of things to show you so I’ll give a quick update on those. (My apologies for the poorly-lit photos. Rainy day over here!)

First Garment:

Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky, colorway Stone Blue

My bulky vest  is slowly progressing! It has been seamed together, had a bottom hem added, and has armhole edgings. It is currently waiting to have stitches picked up to knit a big ribbed collar. In the meantime, it’s being attacked by Darwin.

Syrnix #2:

Malabrigo Yarn Rasta, colorway Indiecita

The yarn for this cowl was reborn from a previous one that just did not work for me anymore. It was frogged and reknit into another sample of my upcoming design, Syrinx. The design has been tech edited and is currently being test knit. It should be ready for release next week! (Remember you can sign up for my email list if you wish to be notified directly about new designs.) This one will probably be a holiday gift.


Cephalopod Yarns Beastie, colorway Snallygaster

This hat is an aran-weight version of my recently-released design, Huacaya. I am knitting it in a brand new yarn from CY called Beastie which is 60% superwash Merino wool, 30% alpaca, and 10% silk. It is tightly-plied, dense, springy, and essentially unlike any other alpaca-containing yarn I’ve knit with except that it does have the occasional alpaca guard hair. I’m very happy that they are carrying a thicker, aran weight yarn and I think its springiness would work very well in a sweater or cabled design. However, I do find myself wishing that its alpaca content was a more defining feature. Pre-blocking, it seems to lack that wonderful alpaca drape and silk shine that I was expecting. We’ll have to see what it looks like post-blocking…

And that’s all I’ve really worked on lately, all other projects are as they were last time. Click the image below to see the WIPs of others!

Huacaya Release!

There were so many wonderful things about my first Rhinebeck experience that I can’t wait to tell you all about, but I think the most exciting part for me was seeing this:

Huacaya hat

That’s my newest design on display at the Burgis Brook Alpacas booth! At Rhinebeck! (Did I mention that?) Their booth was lovely and inviting and for most of the two days it seemed to be thronged with people, which hopefully means that many festival-goers were able to see my little creation.

Pretty alpaca everywhere!

And now the pattern is available digitally on Ravelry, if you’d like to make one for yourself. It is a feminine, slouchy hat featuring gently-curving lace that works really well with a drapey worsted weight yarn, like an alpaca or silk blend. Knit with alpaca it is soft, fluffy, and beautifully delicate while staying nice and warm due to the properties of the fiber.

Everybody say hi to the back of Rachel’s lovely head! 🙂

The hat is finished with wedge-shaped decreases that converge neatly at the crown. The pattern includes one size (fits an average adult or teen, 18″-22″ head) and has both written and charted instructions. It has been test knitted by several knitters on Ravelry and tech edited by Paula over at Knit and Seek!

Just a bit of silliness.

As evidenced above, I am very excited about this design and hope you enjoy it, too. 🙂


Work-In-Progress Wednesday #11

This has been one heck of a week! The Fiasco has been dealing with some trouble at work, my mom came to visit for a few days, I’ve had multiple job interviews, and I’m preparing for my Rhinebeck trip tomorrow.. Phew! With all the craziness I’ve only done a little bit of knitting but here it is anyway.

First Garment:

Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky, colorway Stone Blue, shown with matching Cascade 220

My bulky vest is still unseamed but I did dig out the perfect matching yarn from my stash to seam it with so I’m counting that as progress. The yarn it’s knit with would be a bad choice for seaming because it is extremely thick and as a singles-type yarn it would be difficult to manage. The matching Cascade 220 is a lighter weight with multiple plies and a tighter twist so it should make the sewing up go more smoothly. I had wanted to finish this thing by Rhinebeck so I’m rewarding myself for getting through this week with ignoring the rest of the world and finally getting back to this sweater. Let’s see how much I finish before I leave tomorrow, shall we?

Beribboned Gift:

Malabrigo Worsted, colorway Natural

The main parts of my mitts are finished! These were intended to be a holiday gift for my  mom, but when she came to visit she appropriated a pair I had already made so now I don’t know where these will end up. That green spot is holding stitches for the afterthought thumbs I still need to add. I also need to knit the i-cord that will lace these up. I’ve started the i-cord twice already, one in a worsted weight yarn that felt too thick for the Malabrigo and again in some sport weight Bugga. However, I’ll probably have to start again once I figure out who these are going to so I can choose an appropriate color. That’s the great thing about knitting these in a neutral to begin with, they’re easily customizable! If you’re interested in knitting some for gifts this season (or for yourself) you should come join the KAL on Ravelry! You can knit either the wristwarmers/mitts or the hat (discount code in KAL thread) and if you finish before December 31st you’ll be entered to win a $20 gift certificate to either Cephalopod Yarns or The Verdant Gryphon. I’d love to see what you make!

There has been no shawl or sock progress this week but I did start two new projects…

Afghans For Afghans Design #1:

Handspun Cephalopod Yarns Bugga Fiber, colorway Yubaba

I’ve had two of my design submissions accepted for the Afghans For Afghans charity e-book being put together by Cephalopod Yarns and Cooperative Press, which I’m super psyched about. I’m not sure how much progress I’ll be able to share along the way but since this design currently consists of a garter stitch square I figured it was safe, if a bit boring, to show. But what a pretty, pretty square, amIright??

Syrinx #2:

Destruction can feel  weirdly good.
Malabrigo Rasta, colorway Indiecita

I never wore this old cowl I made and was seriously itching to cast on another of my upcoming Syrinx cowl design, so I frogged it, skeined it, washed it, hung it for days (bulky yarn takes forever to dry!) and am finally reknitting it. I am amazed at how well this super bulky Merino frogs and reknits. It looks like new! It must be because it’s partially felted to begin with. Whatever the reason, I adore it.

Alright, I think that’s all I’ve recently worked on. Be sure to check out other WIPs by clicking on the photo below.

**ALSO**: if you are going to Rhinebeck, you can check out my brand new Huacaya hat design in person at the Burgis Brook Alpacas booth in Building 35. The patterns will be for sale in the booth and available digitally on Sunday 10/21. I’m still very excited that one of my designs will be at Rhinebeck so I’m sure I’ll be hanging around the booth a bit, come say hi!