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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Still on Track!

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I finished my March Knit Something of the Month Club Something last night! After knitting about 3/4 of one sock in the other pattern before deciding it wasn't going to work for my foot, I started over on the Waving Lace socks. This is the third pair I've knit in this pattern and I still love it. It's pretty but easy to memorize, so it makes a nice portable project. Finishing these up before the end of the month means I'm still on track in my little club. Now you can see something else on the blog too! (Oh, the red things sticking out of the socks are my sock blockers. I got them from The Loopy Ewe.)

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waving Chicken

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I'm around the heel turn and working gusset decreases now! I should be able to finish it by the end of the month, but it's all I'll be working on until it's done. (Fair warning, you might see it again tomorrow.)

Logan continued the rest of yesterday as he began it - he spent the afternoon moving furniture around (which he isn't supposed to do), but at least he wasn't being destructive anymore. We talked last night and decided that today would be a better day. So far, so good.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm in trouble this morning

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I was a naughty puppy. I ate a knitting basket of Mommy's while she was in the shower. I think you should know that first I carefully removed the knitting before chomping down on the basket itself. Usually I play with my toys while Mommy plays in the water, but this morning I decided to try something different. That apparently wasn't a good idea.

Mommy took this picture of me the other day. Can you see how alert I am? Can you see how I'm really paying attention to something out the back door? Can you see how before I was distracted by the something outside I was chasing my tail and I still have it in my mouth? I am such a multitalented dog! Not many dogs can be as aware of their surrounding as I am while still holding onto the weird thing growing out of my butt. (It follows me everywhere.) I don't remember what I was watching out there but it might have been the dog that lives behind us. Sometimes I can see him through the fence. He's big. Mommy says he's a Great Dane but I don't see what's so great about him. I like to bark at him. From inside my house. Where I'm safe.

I hope you have a great day, and remember not to chew on knitting baskets, you'll just get in trouble.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Waving Chicken

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One sock down, one to go on the Waving Lace socks in what should be called the Chocolate Chicken colorway. (Fleece Artist calls it Jester.) I need to get these done by Thursday night when I go to bed to stay on track with my Knit Something of the Month Club plan.

It got cold here again and I have to say I'm not happy about it. I'm SO tired of being cold. It's supposed to be cold all week. That's all I have to say about that. I'm going to go make more hot tea now.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Taygete

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I've gotten a few more stripes on Taygete. Once you get a feel for working with two balls of yarn at once (and as long as you turn your work back and forth and not around and around, you won't twist it), this is a pretty easy project so far. I flipped the point back some so you can see what the wrong side looks like. It's striped also, but the stripes are less defined and more subtle. I'm about 1/4 of the way across the striped section at this point.

I hope you all have a great weekend! I've got to go have a talk with Logan about putting the furniture in his mouth.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Drive by Blogging

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I'm off to a haircut in a few minutes, but I wanted to pop in and show my sock progress. I'm more than halfway to toe decreases! See you tomorrow!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Snowbird

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Slowly but surely I'm moving along on the body of this long cardigan. I'm about halfway between the underarm and starting the pockets right now. I don't know for sure, but I don't think I've ever done pockets before on a sweater so this will be a new thing for me. This cardigan is at the point where it's easy to pick up and put down, which is nice. There's still some shaping details going on even at this point, but they're easy to remember and I don't feel like I need to spend 5 minutes re-reading my notes to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing before I start knitting. That's one thing this designer (Heidi Kirrmaier) does really, really well in my opinion: small, almost invisible details that give a perfect fit on a garment that looks like its effortlessly simple. The simplicity of the finished garment is what makes it so versatile and wearable, but the subtle details really make all the difference in how it fits. While you're knitting it, there's sometimes a lot to keep up with, but the finished sweater is definitely worth it.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Change of Plans

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The Chocolate Chicken is no longer talking to a fish. The farther I got on that sock, the more the little voice in my head (no, not that voice, the knitting one) was telling me that this sock wasn't going to fit my foot. I'm not saying it wouldn't fit any foot, I just didn't feel like it was going to fit my particular foot shape. I've learned in the past not to ignore the voice in my head (the knitting one again, the rest of them are just crazy) because I'll just end up frogging the project later, so I unraveled what I had of the sock and started over with a different pattern.*

I'm now making a pair of Waving Lace Socks (this pattern was in IK Spring 2004 and it's in the Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave book). I've knit this pattern twice before and I really like it, but the other two times I've done it I've used handdyed solids instead of multicolored yarns. It does look different in a multicolored yarn, but I still like it. I've just started the heel flap on the first sock at this point, so I'm making up for lost time on these pretty quickly. I don't think I'll have trouble getting the pair done by the end of the month.

*I don't know if this is against the rules of my Knit Something of the Month Club, but since it's my club and I make the rules, I think it's allowed to change patterns mid-stream when the first pattern just isn't working out.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Something New

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I promised something other than Snowbird and I've got something totally new for you this morning! This is Taygete from Romi's Seven Small Shawls book (this is number 5). I fell in love with the stripes the first time I saw it, but have been putting off starting it until I could get farther on Snowbird. If you're on Ravelry, it's fun to go through all the different color combinations that people are using. I decided to use a pale gray (The Loopy Solids in Dove) and an ivory (Dream in Color Smooshy in Crying Dove) for mine, but as I'm knitting it, I'm thinking of all sorts of other colorways this would be great in. I'll use the ivory for the lace section and the gray for the picot bind off, and then I'll decide if I want to do another one!

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Snowbird, yes, again.

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First of all, I promise that I won't blog Snowbird on Monday. I'll find something else. I almost never blog something three days in a row, but that's all I've really been working on this week. We've been on Spring Break here and I just haven't had Sit And Wait For Caleb Time AKA Sock Knitting Time. That's why you've had so much Snowbird this week.

I did get the sleeves sewn up and while they are long (they come over the tops of my hands a bit, but not past the point where my thumb is attached to my hand if that makes sense), for this type of sweater, I think they'll be fine. If they get in my way, I'll just turn the cuffs back. I have some seaming to do at the underarms and I have to Kitchener stitch the I-cord bind off together, but basically I'm now free to work the body of the Snowbird. Thanks for the advice on getting yarn back from Logan. Fortunately, the other night when he grabbed the ball of yarn, he didn't run off with it or try to chew it. He just stood there with it. Maybe he was just holding it for me. He dropped it in my hand when I told him to and went back to his own chew toys.

Have a great weekend and I'll be back with something (anything) else on Monday!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Snowbird

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Well I got a lot of things done on Snowbird yesterday, but not quite everything I was hoping for. I finished up the sleeves and did the i-cord bind offs, then I picked up the body stitches again and joined the fronts and back. I've got a little less than 2 inches of the body worked below the underarms, but I'm ready to sew the sleeves together now (after I double check the length - they look really long in the photo).

Logan tried to help me work on Snowbird last night, and by "help" I mean he tried to walk off with the new ball of yarn I had wound before I sat down to knit. Repeatedly. He's never shown much interest in yarn before except when he first came to our house and tried to hold the yarn between my hands and the ball. I hope this isn't a new thing with him. I don't want to fight him off the wool around here.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Snowbird

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Do you see this picture? I've started the cuffs on the sleeves of Snowbird! I'm going to keep working on Snowbird today and get the sleeves all finished up. I'll do an icord bind off on the sleeves so those edges match the neck edge of the sweater. I'm thinking it will be easier to sew the sleeve seams up after I've worked a little bit of the body because right now the fronts aren't attached to the back at all. Once I've gotten the body joined together and a little bit worked, there should be a lot less stress at the underarm and the sleeves should go together smoothly. My goal for today is to have a picture of all this right here on the blog tomorrow!

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Monday, March 14, 2011

The Chocolate Chicken Talks With a Fish

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I've gotten some more done on my first sock of this pair, but it's still hard to photograph! If you look at the top of the curve in the picture, you can see two red stitch markers - between that is the heel. Yes, I'm working on the sole and heel half of the sock now! I should probably get a move on this since we're almost halfway through the month and there's a second sock to make.

Thanks for the great response to Belladonna Took! I really enjoyed designing and knitting it and I don't think it will be my last sideways shawlette. I also wanted to let you know that there has been no sign of Jabba the cat since the other morning. After 30 minutes of carrying on after I came back from taking Caleb to school, Jabba left and hasn't been back. My guess is that he went back home, which is probably the best place for him.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Belladonna Took

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The Belladonna Took shawlette is named after Belladonna Took, the hobbit, who became Mrs. Bungo Baggins, mother to Bilbo. J.R.R. Tolkien tells us that the Took family was known for adventures (not at all an acceptable activity for a hobbit) and it was this adventurous Took gene that prompted Bilbo to go on his own adventure with Gandalf and the dwarves. This small shawl is knit sideways and is adjustable according to the amount of yarn you have. Instead of the more common garter stitch or stockinette main body, this little shawl has an easy to memorize lace pattern paired with a lace edging. Easy to wear, it will be useful whether you have your own adventures or choose a more respectable lifestyle, doing nothing unexpected. It's large enough to toss over your shoulders if you should get chilly but small enough to keep in your bag when the Summer comes. The directions are in both charted and written format. The knitting is easy and the design works up quickly. This is a knitting adventure that won't make you late for dinner!

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This shawl is shown in Handmaiden Silk Twist (65% wool/ 35% silk, 400m per 100 g skein). Shown in the colorway Moss, one skein was used. It can easily be adjusted to other weights of yarn just by changing needle size for your yarn and working as directed. Finished size as shown is 62 inches wide by 21 inches deep as measured from the center back down to the point. I should note that while this is a triangle shawl, because it is knit sideways, the point is more shallow than it would be if it were a top down triangle shawl. A less dramatic point on a triangle shawl is more flattering due to the general region of the wearer that the point of a shawl tends to point to.
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Stash Enhancement

The test knit for That Which Rhymes With Pew Nattern is blocking upstairs right now. I'll be putting together the actual pattern part of it and getting photos and getting it all finished up today and tomorrow (so stay tuned, this is a fast knit, perfect for the current season)!

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In the meantime, I'll show you some yarn that will someday become Man Socks. On the right is Ultra Alpaca Fine in black. I've never used this yarn, but I love the Ultra Alpaca in the worsted weight. This has a slightly different fiber content than the other (which makes it better for socks in my opinion) - it's 50% wool, 20% alpaca, and 30% nylon. It looks like it's on the fine side for fingering weight, but I think it will make very nice socks - if it doesn't drive me nuts knitting Man Socks in black. On the left is Dream in Color Smooshy in Grey Tabby, which ironically caused quite a bit of trouble this morning (an actual dark, grey tabby, not the yarn). Apparently this strange cat decided he (or she, didn't look) wanted in our house this morning and wasn't taking no for an answer. This cat clearly has been in a home before because for one thing he went straight for the door and started scratching and meowing at it, and for another he had the physique of Jabba the Hutt, and you just don't get that build living outside and hunting for your food. When we opened the big garage door to take Caleb to school/go to work, Jabba the Cat trotted into the garage and started carrying on by the door into the house. We tried some "No kitty, shoo kitty" but Jabba wasn't listening at all. Finally I approached Jabba, who didn't seem too bothered by me, lifted him up (Mickael thought I'd get a hernia) and took him back outside. Jabba had no problem being carried by me (another sign he's used to a family) and promptly trotted back into the garage after I set him down. (In my own defense, I was hoping Jabba would go about his business elsewhere after being taken from the garage, but no one is as determined as a cat who's made up his mind.) One more time carrrying him out and holding him in the yard while Mickael got the cars into the driveway and closed the garage door and we were finally able to leave. We pulled away while Jabba sat in our front yard carrying on like only a cat that's had all his hopes and dreams come crashing down around himself can yowl. I was fortunately able to sneak the car back into the garage after dropping Caleb off and get the garage door closed before Jabba realized what had happened, but he sat outside for about 30 minutes and meowled after I came home. I may be a prisoner in my own home today! Oh, the yarn, yes, that's why we're all really here, isn't it? Anyway, its a very dark, manly grey yarn that's mostly solid but there are some light and dark parts to it, so it should be fun to knit up. It seems to be a very bouncy yarn, but I've never knit with this one either. And just in case Jabba is holding me hostage, you should probably send yarn - for me, not Jabba.

I'm off to finish up the Pew Nattern!

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Snowbird and a Great Question

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Poor little Snowbird! I've lost all momentum on it because I know that I won't be able to wear it until the Fall and I'm distracted by smaller, lacier, beaded projects right now. On the other hand, when I spread it out this morning for it's photo, I can see that I'm probably within 6 inches of finishing the sleeves (that's a guess, I haven't measured). Once I finish knitting and seam the sleeves, it's just body all the way until its done, so we're really not talking about a crazy amount of knitting, I just need to motivate myself to finish it up. If I put Snowbird away until the Fall, I'll have to get myself all sorted out again before I can restart it so I'm really better off finishing it instead of putting it away. On a side note, this morning's picture was taken with a certain puppy about 2 feet away from Snowbird, laying down in a Stay (the puppy was in a Stay, not Snowbird). I think he may be starting to learn what Stay means.

Yesterday in the comments Janet A asked, "Does designing come naturally or can it be learned?" I thought this was a great question so I thought I'd give my opinion (I don't really know if there is a Yes or No answer to this) and feel free to chime in in the comments if you have an opinion too. I think that design comes both from whatever you were born with (the way your brain works, your creative spark) and what you have learned and experienced. I think different designers have different amounts of these two things (natural inspiration versus learned) and honestly they can change from day to day. There are days when I can sit down and come up with three or four design ideas in an afternoon and there are days when I can't design a stockinette stitch sock. I think there are creativity exercises anyone can do to help build up their design "muscle" and the more you practice designing, the easier it gets (I'll give you a couple below). There are also a number of books on design that will walk you through the steps (Designing Knitwear by Barbara Newton is a good one, as well as the more recent Knitwear Design Workshop by Shirley Paden which is exactly what the title says: a workshop on designing). A good stitch dictionary is also helpful when you're looking beyond stockinette (Barbara G Walker's set of 4 are some of the best out there, with the first two being my personal favorites). So while I do think that you probably need some natural ability to design, the more you practice and try to push yourself, the easier it becomes.

Here are a couple of things you can do to exercise your creativity:
  • Grab a stitch dictionary and pick a stitch, any stitch. Try to figure out how many different ways you could use this stitch. What type of yarn would work for it - heavy, light, lace, fuzzy, shiny, etc. Where could you use it - cuffs, edging for lace, as a collar, in a blanket. Really think through all the ways that the particular stitch will work as a design element. You might want to actually swatch the stitch to see how it behaves - is it dense and stiff, will it work better if it's knitted tightly or loosely, is it soft and drapey, does it contract horizontally, figure out why it does these things if you can. Once you've gotten comfortable working with a single stitch, try to pull two or more stitches together as if you were using them in a single project. Remember that not only do you need to pair similar styles of stitches together (lace with lace, dense cables with other dense stitches), depending on how you're going to use them you may need to keep in mind the number of rows and stitches in a repeat of each pattern. It's easier to pair a 12 row repeat pattern with an 18 row repeat pattern than it is to match it with a 20 row repeat pattern. These kinds of things can make a difference as to how easy or difficult your project is to design as well as making it easy to knit.
  • Look at designs you like and try to pick them apart. There is really only a finite number of styles of sweater design - the things that set one raglan design apart from another is the details. Figure out what makes a design special, what makes it stand out. Go through your favorites in Ravelry if you use that feature, go through your pattern stash, go through catalogs and stores and look at ready-to-wear. (Yes, ready-to-wear can be helpful both for identifying trends in style and color and for grounding you in reality. Just because you can design a gorgeous, complex sweater doesn't mean anyone is going to want to knit it and wear it. Let's face it, if we had to choose one item of knitwear in our closets that gets worn year round for all occasions, it would be a fine gauge stockinette, jewel neck pullover. Whether it's cotton for everyday, silk or cashmere for dressing up, long sleeves for Winter, short sleeves when it's warmer or sleeveless in the Summer, we all live in T-Shirts.) Figure out what the different elements are that have been combined to make the design. Try to figure out what element, or combination of them made the design stand out enough for you to buy it or "favorite" it. Knowing how to pick apart other people's designs will make it easier for you to combine elements in your own designs. (I'm not saying that you should copy other's designs, but learning from them is definitely a way of broadening the way you look at things and will help you approach your own designing in a new way.)

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Monday, March 07, 2011

The Chocolate Chicken Talks With a Fish

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I've gotten some more work done on my March socks! After reading the comments on this pattern on Ravelry, I found that making the socks exactly as they are written (the number of repeats) made them too wide for a lot of people. I'm paying attention to how wide my knitting is, knowing that I like my socks to fit a bit snug on my foot, so that I don't make them too big around.

When I first started knitting socks, I lucked out on the fit of the first few pairs, but I still remember the pair that I knit that didn't fit. I had followed directions perfectly (just like all the other patterns I had worked to that point) and they came out way too wide. That's when I realized that socks have gauge too and that not all designers have narrow feet like I do. I knew to check gauge on sweaters and big projects, but it didn't occur to me to check gauge on socks. Big lightbulb moment for me! Of course, after knitting as many socks as I have at this point, I can usually figure out how to get a pattern to fit by looking at the stitch count. I've learned how many stitches at which gauge works for my foot and just adjust from that. Everything I've figured out about socks up to this point has been thrown out the window on this pair though - knitting them sideways has me checking and rechecking myself.

Oh and just to tease you a little about what I did this weekend, I'm not ready to give details yet but it rhymes with "Pew Nattern." I'm hoping to get it finished and launched this week or next, so stay tuned! (I told you I was going to do more designing this year!)

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Friday, March 04, 2011

In Dreams and Big Puppy

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Today is the day for the third clue of In Dreams. Unfortunately, I'm not even halfway through with Clue 2. Each row has more beads than the last and beads slow down the knitting, so it's taking longer than I had planned. Of course, finishing up Briar Rose as well as Mickael's Man Socks and Pettine also might have something to do with it.

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I also got a picture of Little Logan in his cave the other day. He had smashed his whole body into it to curl up, which he doesn't often do. Usually there's bits of puppy spilling out of the cave. Logan and I both hope you all have wonderful weekend, whether you have a cave or not!

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Chocolate Chicken Talks With A Fish

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Since it's March, I've started my March Knit Something of the Month Club project, which is socks! I should probably explain the title of this blog post, which is also the name of the project. We have a cookie jar (I think that's what she's supposed to be) that's shaped like a chicken living in our kitchen. She's not used for cookies though. She holds chocolate. All the time. She never runs out of chocolate. We call her (...wait for it...) The Chocolate Chicken. It was a big day in Caleb's life when he was deemed old enough to open the Chocolate Chicken and get his own chocolate out. She's also (as if holding chocolate 24/7 wasn't enough) a very colorful, pretty chicken.

A while back, I bought some Fleece Artist Basic Merino Socks in the Jester colorway. When I got it, I realized it had all the same colors as the Chocolate Chicken (it was easier to see their resemblance before I wound the hank into a pull skein). I knew I had to find something special for this Chocolate Chicken yarn. It sat in the stash for several years, but when I was sorting out yarns for my Knit Something of the Month Club, I decided to use it.

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The pattern I'm using is The Talking Fish, from The Enchanted Sole. This design is worked sideways and I've never knit a sock sideways before. Cuff down, yes. Toe up, yes. Sideways, not so much. So I'm doing something new on this sock that I've never done before. Also, I'll get to practice on my Kitchener Stitch when I sew the sock together, but honestly, I can't see that it will be any harder than Kitchener Stitching laceweight mohair together and I've done that twice now on the Mohair Bias Loops. So, I give you The Chocolate Chicken Talks With a Fish socks.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Pettine Finished

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The last couple of days seem to be a parade of finished objects! Don't worry, I think I'm about out of finished things after today. I finished up Pettine a week or two ago, but I hadn't blocked it out yet and I wanted to show it on the blog all blocked. Unfortunately, I realized as I was unpinning it this morning, I forgot to weave in the ends. Ideally, you're supposed to weave in the ends before you block, but don't trim them down until after blocking. Obviously, I will weave in the ends and trim them and they'll just get blocked whenever I wash the shawlette (if that ever happens). Oh well.

Logan really wanted to help me block this, but he's not allowed in the sewing/stash room yet and that's where I blocked. He has to stop trying to eat furniture before he's allowed in the sewing/stash room. In his defense, I'm not sure how much he's actually trying to eat the furniture because I really haven't seen much chewing or attempted chewing. What I do see is that the sofa keeps being in his mouth. He may just be holding it but I don't quite trust him.

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