Thursday, December 29, 2005


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Does anyone recognize this scarf pattern? Yes, it's the Irish Hiking Scarf. I'm knitting it for my husband from yarn that he selected (Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed in Ivy). It works up quickly and is an easy pattern to memorize. No wonder it's so popular. When I first started knitting, I mistakenly thought that knitting cables was something reserved for only the very advanced knitter. However, I soon learned not to judge the difficulty of a knitting technique solely on the complexity of the result. Cables look complicated, but they are not. If you have never tried them, I would recommend this pattern as a good place to start.

P.S. I think I'm finally getting back to normal after having the flu for a week. It's no fun to be sick at Christmas, but I was still able to have a good time. I just had to rest more than usual. It was great to see my daughter, but hard to have our visit come to an end. Miss you already, Robyn!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Everyone

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This pillow is a gift from my neighbor. She does such beautiful work. I love it!

Well, tomorrow is the big day. The tree is decorated, the presents wrapped and all is ready. Only one little hitch--I have the flu. I'll be doing my best not to share this with my family this Christmas. My daughter and her husband made it in from Arkansas very early this morning. Having them here is a gift in itself. So, even though I'm sick, I'm sure to have a great Christmas and I hope you do too.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Another Christmas Hat

Thanks to everyone who commented on the hats in my previous post. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated! Those hats were my favorite, but I was also pleased with the way this design turned out.
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A simple Christmas tree shape with a star button on top. I was able to knit four of these.

I ran out of time to knit a pair of booties for every hat, but I was fortunate to find some tiny socks at the store to which I added some Christmas embellishment.
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Now it's time to concentrate on getting things ready for Christmas day. Only six days left! We were way ahead on some things this year like gift buying, but way behind on other things. Finally bought our tree this weekend. It's not decorated yet, but at least it smells like Christmas now.

Monday, December 12, 2005


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This is the beginning (and end) of the mittens I mentioned I was making for myself. I decided to use some of the Brooks Farm yarn I bought recently and the pattern guide for basic mittens from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. I realized something though--I have never owned a pair of mittens. Afterall, there's not a huge need for them in this part of Texas. I usually just wear a pair of store bought gloves if the weather gets cold enough. Because of this I really have no idea how mittens are supposed to fit, but I'm pretty sure they should fit loose enough to have some wiggle room for your fingers and this one does not. Too tight. And though I love the yarn, I now know I would rather have a pair of mittens from worsted weight yarn, not the fine guage this is. This yarn is too nice to use for something I'm not thrilled with. So, live and learn and rip out and start over.

However, this pair of mittens turned out just as I hoped they would.
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I found this pattern yesterday on Diana's blog. They way I understand it, she took the pattern for Holiday Mitten Ornament from Frugal Knitting Haus and clearly rewrote the instructions. Also, it looks to me like she modified it to be knit with dpns, which I love. Her instruction page includes little boxes for checking off rows completed. Good idea! Since I knitted two mittens, I checked the boxes for the first one and erased them for the second one. A convenient way to keep track of your place. These mittens are about the size of a regular business card, not including the thumb. I'm using them to dress up a Christmas gift and later they can be hung on the Christmas tree. They were fun and quick to knit, only about two hours for both. For yarn I used Lion Brand Cotton-Ease. I think Diana used left over Cascade 220. It doesn't take much so use what you have.
P.S. When it came to finishing, I just ran the yarn through the remaining stitches instead of using the kitchener stitch. I also crocheted a chain and attached it to the edge of each mitten.

Friday, December 09, 2005

For The Babies

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These are the Christmas hats, booties and blankets that I'm sending to The Preemie Project. It may look like a lot, but it doesn't take as much time as you might think to make these little items. In my case, I can knit a pair of booties in an hour and a hat takes an hour or two depending on the size. So, it is very possible to knit a whole set in an evening, two at the most. The blankets go together even faster. This work brings me joy. Can you tell I love workin' for the little babies? I'm going to knit some every day anyway, why not spend a few hours making something for someone else? And still, there is time to knit for myself. I'm loving my new socks and with the weather a little on the cold side (even here in Texas), I've had a chance to wear some of the things I finished this year. My wool scarf kept me warm yesterday and I received several nice compliments. I was wearing nice warm socks too. And, this shawl has seen some action lately. Right now I'm working on mittens from some of this lovely yarn. So, if you've been thinking of knitting for a charity, but weren't sure you had time, I would like to encourage you to give it a try. The Preemie Project would love to have you as a volunteer...something to think about for the new year.

Monday, December 05, 2005


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Two socks, finished and ready to wear. These are the Go With The Flow Socks (Interweave Knits Summer 2005) that everyone's been making. I was full of doubts when I was knitting the first sock. My guage was off just a little, so with each stitch I wondered if I could fix things where they would fit. Well, it was a relief to find I could, so the second sock was much more fun to make. I'm happy with the results. I've only worn them long enough to photograph them, which by the way was not easy to do, but they seem to fit fine.
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Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas Hat

The Preemie Project needs over 100 Christmas/Winter themed hat and bootie sets for the next donation on 12/16 (mail by date is 12/9), so I've been busy knitting Santa Hats. I've used this pattern and this one. They are both really cute, but take a little longer to knit than a regular hat because you knit the top long enough to flop over. As I knitted these I began to realize that I would not be able to finish all the hats (not to mention the blankets) that I've committed myself to making in the next two weeks, so I came up with a Christmas hat that is faster to knit.

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Yarn: Bernat Soft Boucle' in white (contrasting color)
Caron Simply Soft worsted weight in red (main color)

Needles: US size 7 dpns

Gauge: 5 sts = 1"

Finished circumference 8" (10", 12")
To fit a baby: 1-3 lbs (3-5 lbs, 6-8 lbs)

Cast on 40 (48, 56) sts. in contrasting color. Divide stitches as evenly as possible on three needles. Join in the round. Knit until hat measures 1-1/2" (1-1/2", 1-1/2") from cast on edge. (The measurement for this part is approximate. I tried to knit the brim just long enough so it would roll, but not show where the new yarn is joined on the wrong side.)

Change to main color and knit until hat measures 3-1/2" (4", 4-1/2") from cast on edge. Begin decreases.

Decrease Rounds:
Rnd 1 *K6, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 2 K
Rnd 3 *K5, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 4 K
Rnd 5 *K4, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 6 K
Rnd 7 *K3, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 8 K
Rnd 9 *K2, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 10 K
Rnd 11 *K1, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 12 K
Rnd 13 K2tog around
Rnd 14 K

Cut yarn leaving an end for sewing top. Pull through remaining stitches and draw up tightly to secure. Fasten off. Make a pom-pom from contrasting color and attach to top. Weave in all ends.
Copyright 2005 by Tracy Batchelder
For charitable and personal use only.

Please consider making one of these hats for The Preemie Project. Even though I did my best to be accurate with the instructions, it is possible that I made a mistake as I am still working out all the details.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Brazos Bend

There was so much cooking and eating going on earlier this week that I didn't get a chance to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Hope you had a good time. Yesterday while many of you were out fighting the shopping crowds, I was taking a walk in Brazos Bend State Park.
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This park is very close to our house, but we don't take advantage of that fact often enough. I guess we are too busy or the weather is so hot we don't feel like being outdoors. Yesterday the sky was overcast and the temperatures were in the 70's, so we headed out. While my husband fished from the pier, my son and I walked around the lake. There are alligators in this park. We saw a big 14 foot gator across the bank. I couldn't get a picture of him from where I was, but he was huge! Saw lots of buzzards too--about 50 or more circling overhead. It was a bit creepy. And the armadillos were everywhere. This one let me get really close to take his picture.
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There are lots of deer in this park too, but we didn't see any. Maybe next time.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Needville vs. Liberty Hill

Yesterday we were in Bryan, Texas to watch the Bluejays play football.
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During playoffs, the team roster is expanded to include players from the Junior Varsity squad. This gives them a taste of what it's like to be in a playoff situation. And, I think the large number of players on the team is supposed to intimidate the other side, but of course, they do they same thing. Look at all the uniforms lined up for the coin toss.
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I think the whole town drove the two hours to Bryan to support the team. Lots of blue shirts and lots of spirit. There is nothing like Bluejay pride! It was obvious that our fans outnumbered theirs.
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At half time the band performed a few requested favorites. They ended the show with an 'N' for Needville and the fight song--always a crowd pleaser.
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Both teams played with heart. It was a hard fought, close game.
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Liberty Hill led for most of the time, though Needville scored first. In the last quarter with less than five minutes on the clock, Needville had their chance. The Jays were behind by seven points. It was first down and only 5 yards to go for a touchdown. We were sure they could do it. They gave it everything they had, but were not successful. Later with a couple of minutes to go, Needville got the ball again on their 30 yard line. Another chance, but the opponents were tough and caused the Jays to fumble and somewhere in those last minutes also scored another touchdown. The final score was Liberty Hill 34, Needville 20.

The fans love their Jays though and after the game began to chant "We are proud of you!"...and we are. Congratulations on a great year.
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Friday, November 18, 2005

A Special Touch

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Yesterday I found time to sew a few blankets for The Preemie Project. I love my new machine! One of the things I love is the decorative stitching choices. These are the two satin stitches I've tried so far. Adding a special touch to blankets is now easy and fun.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

State Playoffs

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It's playoff time for the Needville Bluejays! Saturday's game was against Halletsville and was played in Victoria, Texas. It's been a long time since the Jays made it this far. Everyone in town is proud of their accomplishment. I liked the way these girls showed their school spirit.
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I was cheering for the team as much as anyone, but I was also there to cheer on the band. The half time show was changed up some to feature the flag corps in a routine that required an unusual costume--hot pink body bags.
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It was really cute and the little girl next to me was laughing through the whole thing. I had to leave the game after the half time show in order to make it home in time for a dinner date. When I left, Needville was winning by 3 points. The game could have gone either way. Both teams seemed evenly matched. So, I was really excited when my son called to tell me Needville had won, 24-14. Good job Jays! Next Saturday Needville will face Liberty Hill who won their first playoff game, 62-7. I don't like the sound of that.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Christmas Comes Early

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It's not even December, but I've already opened my Christmas present from my husband. It's just what I wanted! Of course I had to test it out right away, so I made this little flannel bear for The Preemie Project. What a wonderful machine. So quiet and smooth. A big change from my old clackety one. I really wondered if the old one was going to make it through that last round of blanket making. Now I'm all set. Thanks, John and Merry Christmas to you too.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tiny Bunting

This tiny bunting (for a baby less than 1 pound) is based on this pattern. I knit it with size 5 needles and Caron Simply Soft Baby Sport.
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Instead of garter stitch, I used stockinette with a garter stitch border.
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I lined it with a piece of flannel, left over from blanket making, sewing it on by hand to avoid flattening the stitches.
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The whole process took about 3 hours. Two hours to knit and one hour to add the lining. I'm hoping to make several of these for The Preemie Project. The flower embellishments on the front are purely decorative.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cute Hat

I finished the first sock last Friday and it fits! I decided to take a break from tiny needles and itty bitty stitches and indulge in a little instant gratification.
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This cute hat was designed by Debbie, a Preemie Project volunteer. It's knit flat and then seamed together on the side. A great pattern for beginners. I love the shape! The Preemie Project will be donating holiday themed hat sets next month, so I will be working on these in between other things. I also just learned there will be a donation of bereavement items on December 1st. Time to start knitting for the babies again. I won't neglect the sock though. I cast on the second one yesterday and have about 3 inches knitted so far.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

On A Whim

Yesterday morning I read on Judy's blog about a fiber festival in Boerne, Texas. I happen to mention it to my husband and he said, "Let's go!". At first I was hesitant. It's at least a three hour drive one way and I was sure it would be a small event, maybe not worth the effort. But, we didn't have any plans for the day, so we decided a drive out to the Hill Country would be fun whether the festival was good or not. It turned out that there were only about a dozen vendors. But one of them was Brooks Farms!
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It was worth the trip just to finally see and touch the yarn that I've heard so many rave about. I bought enough for a shawl and a mitten/hat set.

Wyatt Wheels was there too. Every spinning wheel is individually made by Bill Wyatt and is a work of art. He told us he flunked wood shop in high school. I found that hard to believe! If only his teacher could see what he's making now. My favorite wheel was the Pegasus made from mesquite.

We had fun visiting with the the ladies from Louisiana. They call themselves Les Trois Ami. They are all three spinners and raise their own sheep. One of the farms has a website. You can tell they love what they do. We bought a hand crafted knostepinde from their booth. This one is small and delicate looking, made from cherry. I'll use it for winding up small bits of left over yarn. It was handcrafted by Terry Selser, the husband of one of the three.

There were animals and music too. Visit my husband's blog for his perspective and more pictures. We acted on a whim and I'm glad we did. I would have never found these treasures otherwise.
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The Bluejays lost their last district football game to West Columbia, 21-7. Playoff game next Saturday.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Look At This

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Here it is. The sock I've been knitting this week. It's Evelyn A. Clark's Go With The Flow Socks. I'm using the recommended yarn, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Solids and the recommended needles, size US1. Of course, I didn't check the gauge ahead of time. It seems pretty close, but the row gauge is off some. It takes fewer rows to get the length so I've just been knitting to the stated length instead of the number of rows called for. That was fine until I came to the heel flap, then I realized I would need to knit all the rows so I could pick up the right number of stitches later. So, the heel flap may be too long and I don't know how that will effect the fit. There was probably a way to work it out, but I don't have enough experience knitting socks to tackle that one yet. So, the doubts are going through my mind with every stitch...Will it fit? Will I have enough yarn? Why didn't I make the leg shorter?...But, isn't that the way it is with all new patterns? It's still a fun sock to knit and in the end I think it will all work out. Here's a close up of the cuff and the lace pattern (which will show up better when worn).
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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Looking Back Part II

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After knitting my first "pair" of socks, I discovered Magic Stripes yarn from Lion Brand. It is a blend of superwash wool (75%) and nylon (25%). It is inexpensive, only about $6 a skein and can be found at craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby. One skein is enough for a pair of socks. I used a basic pattern something like this one and let the yarn do all the work. These socks are holding up well and no special care is needed--machine wash and dry with all your other laundry. I like this yarn and was excited to find some on clearance the other day. I bought three skeins for only $12! So now you know, I'm not a yarn snob. However, I am using a premium yarn for the socks I'm knitting now. More later.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Looking Back

This week I'm knitting socks. I haven't knit a pair of socks since before I started this blog, so I thought I would show you a picture of the first pair I ever knitted.
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No, I don't have three feet. It just took three socks to get one decent pair. I had been knitting for a year and it was my first attempt at using double point needles. I bought a set of Boye aluminum double points and some yarn I found in the clearance bin. I wasn't sure I could figure it out, so I wasn't willing to spend much money on the project. I'm funny like that. The first attempt with double points was a disaster. I couldn't figure out how to handle all the needles and the yarn was very slippery on the aluminum. If you are a beginner with double points, please invest in a wooden or bamboo set, it's much easier to learn on. I set everything aside for a month, then tried it again. One of the hardest things was getting started. Finally, I figured out how to get everything joined in the round. And as you know, once you knit a few rounds the fabric holds the needles in place with no more flopping. I wish I had known about this site. It has excellent free video instruction for knitting a pair of socks. Anyway, things went smoother from that point on except for a dropped stitch or two, a few holes and a sock that ended up being too small. But, it looked like a sock and I was encouraged. So, I did it again, two more times and ended up with a decent pair for my "first" attempt. More later.

Hey Bluejay fans, Needville clinched a spot in the playoffs with Friday night's win over Stafford, 28-25! Thanks Sweeny for defeating Wharton!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Simple Shaw Finished

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Everything about this shawl is simple. A good choice for a beginner or for anyone who just wants to knit without thinking too much about it. It's quick too as long as you don't let other projects take up your knitting time like I did.

To make one, find a yarn you really like.
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I bought this in Kansas on our summer vacation. I found it at one of the best yarn shops I've ever been too. Next, pick a big size needle to give you a very loose gauge. I used size US 13. Cast on three stitches and knit being sure to increase every other row by making a yarn over after the first knit stitch and before the last knit stitch. This creates an eyelet edge. Continue in this way until the shawl is as big as you want. I went until I had 150 stitches on the needle. On the last row, K1, *yo, k2tog; rep until last stitch, K1. Bind off loosely. Block lightly making sure to open up the eyelet holes along the edges.

Nothing fancy. Just a very soft, light weight and surprisingly warm shawl. I think I'll be using this one a lot to keep warm while I'm at the computer checking out all the latest in blogland.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Knitting Needles

Have you looked at your collection of knitting needles lately? There are so many different types and styles out there and the great thing is that it doesn't really matter what kind you use. You could be knitting with pencils and no one would be able to tell by the end result of the garment. Since needles are really a matter of preference, they might say something about the person using them. I think mine do. Donna of Random Knits is asking us to share our needle stash, so here's mine.
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Can you tell I like things simple and natural? Brittany birch needles are my favorite. I have a set of 10" straights from size US3 to US10.5 and a set of 14" straights from US4 to US17. Most of my dpns are Brittany also, ranging from US2 to US13, but I have a set of Lantern Moon size US1 and Skacel size US0. When it comes to circulars, my favorite is Addi Natura. These are bamboo needles with the same flexible cable as Addi Turbos. I may be one of the few that would choose the bamboo over the turbo. The clicking sound of metal gets on my nerves a little. So, what are you knitting with?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Donation Day

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A few more items for The Preemie Project. No, I didn't make all of these this weekend. I worked on the hats a little at a time over the last month. Finished up the sets with some booties last week and worked on the bear (from The Knitted Teddy Bear) this weekend. This is the hat pattern I use when I want to make a hat quick. And this is the pattern for most of the booties I make. It takes me about 1.5 - 2 hours to make a hat and 1 hour for the booties. I don't consider myself to be a fast knitter, just a persistent one. Now to box it all up and get it to the post office. What will I work on next? I think I should finish the shawl I started a while back and maybe even knit a pair of socks. We'll see how long I can stay away from making baby things...not long I'm sure...I enjoy it too much.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

UIL Marching Contest

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This is my last year as a band parent. My last year to attend UIL Marching Contest. I will experience a lot of these "lasts" this year because my youngest is a senior. Today all the band's hard work came under the scrutiny of three judges in one performance. It was an important day.

I suppose everything started as it usually does. A run-through of the show on the home field before loading the buses to head to Victoria two hours away. Needville's band marches 120 which is large for a AAA school. It takes three yellow school buses and an equipment truck to transport all the students and gear. Before the band even got out of town, the truck loaded with the instruments broke down. My husband and I were already on the road and kept getting updates from our son over the phone. "We're trying to locate some trucks and trailers to haul the instruments." Then, "We're on the road. The instruments will come later, so our performance may be delayed." And the last phone call, "We're almost there. They say we will perform at our regular time. We have to head straight to the warm up room as soon as we get there."

I know the kids, the directors and everyone involved were feeling rushed and stressed. I was nervous for them. But when they took the field, they looked sharp.
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Normally I watch the band perform as a whole, but today my eyes were on my son. I watched as he directed the band and hardly noticed anything else. He was awesome! The band left the field after the performance and we went to wait with them for the judges' scores. No one in the band was smiling. Did they mess up or something? I wasn't really paying attention. Then, I realize they are just nervous. It's hard to smile when you're nervous.

Finally the band director delivers the news...straight ones. An unanimous superior rating!
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Congratulations Bluejay Band!
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Friday's football game: Needville 36, Palacios 9. Could this be a play-off year? Two games left.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Back to Knitting

I started knitting a small hat for The Preemie Project a few days ago. I was trying for size 1-3 lbs, but when I realized it would be smaller, I decided to make it part of a bereavement set (Micro Bunting).

So tiny. It will fit a baby less than 1 lb.
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Lined with soft blue flannel for a special touch.
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Simple hat and socks (Easy Socks) to match.
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May God bring peace and comfort to the family that receives this gift.