Christmas DIY: Pipe Cleaner Ornaments

Wrapped Pipe Cleaner Words
On a lazy Sunday night I’ve got a couple of lazy Sunday projects for you. These two ideas are so so simple that it feels a bit like cheating to put them up, but I love the impact so much that I have to share them.

I’ve had a huge basket of Lion Brand Bon Bons sitting in my studio since I did a sponsored project with them ages ago, and wouldn’t you know it if those little suckers didn’t come in handy again. This is what I mean when I say I only do sponsored posts with companies I actually use. They sent me samples and I keep giving them new projects whether they want them or not. Anyway, rambling aside, they really are perfect for this project. Any yarn will do, especially any little yarn remnants you’ve been hoarding, but I liked the Bon Bons because they’re easy to maneuver around the pipe cleaner.

Pipe Cleaner Word Step 1
To start twist together enough pipe cleaners to spell your word. I did a dry run by bending the pipe cleaners into a word shape to know exactly how big I’d need to make it, but you’ll want to keep your pipe cleaners straight for wrapping. Shoving yarn through the center of tiny letter loops is no fun.

Pipe Cleaner Word Step 2
Then you just wrap and wrap and wrap. I tied the yarn in a knot around the pipe cleaner about a 1/2″ from where I wanted the color to start and then backtracked. That way I wrapped the yarn over my knot to cover it up and hide any tails. When I was ready to switch colors I did the same basic thing – went ahead about 1/2″, tied a knot, then tied a knot with the new yarn in about the same place and backtracked to wrap over both knots.

A little glue on the ends keeps the yarn from sliding off the tips, and then you just bend the pipe cleaner into whatever word – or in my case, sound – that you want.

Pipe Cleaner Chain
While I was in the pipe cleaner aisle I found these bright neon ones and they just looked like a fuzzy ski parka to me, so I had to have them. Later on that same shopping trip I saw a red and white chain garland and I knew exactly how my fuzzy ski parka was going to find itself on the tree.

Pipe Cleaner Chain Step 1
The size of chain I liked best was when I cut the pipe cleaners in half. Which is easy enough to do with scissors, but if you have wire cutters handy you’ll prolong the life of your scissors by using instead.

Pipe Cleaner Chain Step 2
Wrap the pipe cleaner in a circle and twist the ends over on itself. Not together like you would a bread twist tie, over on itself so keep the circle going.

Pipe Cleaner Chain Step 3
Thread that chain onto your next piece before twisting and then keep on building.

What I love about both these project is their simplicity. These are simple enough to entrust to the youngest of kids, but they still add a lovely punch of color to your decorations. Plus, it gives you a chance to keep those young hands busy as you sit together making Christmas memories.

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Christmas DIY: Yarn Ball Ornament

Yarn Ball Ornaments
For every knitter I’ve ever talked to, the finished item was only half the joy of knitting, if that. Most knitters I know would be content to just have balls of yarn piled up in every room, surrounded by the luscious colors and extravagant fibers, even if we never got to knit again. Most of us actually do live that way, stashes of yarn piled up in every spare space, more than some of us could ever get around to knitting but it won’t stop us. Such is the appeal of the yarn that we love.

So when brainstorming cozy, this was one of the first places my mind stopped. Balls of yarn all bundled up and waiting to be made into something lovely, looking lovely all by itself in the meantime.

Yarn Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 1
Yarn balls, even small ones, take quite a bit of yardage, which costs money, and can weigh an awful lot. So to become an ornament that can hang on a flexible tree branch we have to come up with a way to cheat. My brainstorm came in the form of ping pong balls. They’re super light weight and will give you a perfectly round starting point.

Yarn Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 2
I spread some white glue all over the ball. It provides an easy starting point, but it will also keep all the remaining yarn in place against the onslaught of pokey branches or curious cats. After a couple of experiments, I found that the yarn ball looks tidiest and most appealing (to me anyway, ymmv) if the yarn is wrapped in groupings. I wrapped the ball four times each direction before turning.

Yarn Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 3
If you’ve never made a yarn ball, this next step might sound like I’m making things needlessly complicated. But if you have tried to make one, then you know how easily it can go from a ball to an egg. Or a football. Which doesn’t matter even a little bit if you’re just trying to keep your yarn neat as you knit, but if you’re trying to make a pretty little ornament it can make things complicated. Here’s the method I came up with to keep things spherical.

After you wrap the yarn four times around the ball, turn it and wrap four more across it in the other direction. Now you can’t just keep turning between these two positions while keeping the ball spherical, so imagine that there is a compass sitting on top of your ball. If the south arrow is pointing at you when you’re holding it, turn it until the east arrow is pointing at you. Now imagine you’re looking at a clock. Turn the ball so that what was 12 o’clock becomes 3 o’clock. This is one of those things that’s hard to write out so if you’re confused than give a watch to the video down below. You’re basically just turning the ball a quarter of the way around on both the x axis, and the y axis.

Yarn Ball Ornament Tutorial
When you’re happy with how you’ve got the ball wrapped, cut the yarn leaving about a 5″ tail. Push an inch or so underneath the last group of wraps and use it to tie around the loop to make your ornament hanger.

These work up so quick and take such little yarn, that I think once the season is over I might just make a whole bunch of them to sit in a bowl on a desk somewhere. Yarn is just so lovely, it’s totally worth being an object of art.

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Christmas DIY: Flannel Shirt Ornaments

Flannel Shirt Ornament
As a teenager growing up in Seattle during the 90′s, I rarely wore an actual coat. Normally I wore layers of flannels. Usually stolen from my sister, who stole them from my dad. Since I never had many clothing options growing up, I remember that one day I actually buttoned the flannel, just to get a little variety in my weekly wardrobe, and I honest to goodness got made fun of for it. Trends are weird.

So on my Bundled Up Cozy Christmas tree, a flannel ornament was a must. But just like my Sweater Balls from earlier this week, I wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t literal. I’ve already got my Ugly Christmas Sweater ornaments, and coming up I have little sweaters and little coats, so I felt like the shirt shaped ornament was more than covered. With this little flannel I just wanted to give the impression of a shirt, which also meant it was ridiculously easy to whip up.

Flannel Shirt Ornament Tutorial Step 1
The back piece measures 3 1/2″ tall and 3″ wide, which was really just an arbitrary pick so you could easily change that and make it as big as you want. For the front you’ll need two pieces measuring 3 1/2″ tall and 2 1/2″ wide, although if you need to cut it thinner you can. I left myself a ton of room to maneuver. Then you’ll need two pieces to be your collar which are 1 1/2″ squares.

Flannel Shirt Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Fold one of the front pieces over and overlap it with the second front piece until it measures 3″ wide. You’ll want that seam to be off center by about 1/2″ to make room for buttons. Sew in place right up to the edge of that fold.

Flannel Shirt Ornament Tutorial Step 3
Fold the two square collar pieces into triangles and place them on top of the finished front piece so that all the raw edges line up together.

Flannel Shirt Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Place a loop of yarn or string on top to act as the ornament hanger. Put your back piece on top of the stack with right sides together and sew all the way around, leaving a 1″ opening for turning and stuffing.

Flannel Shirt Ornament Tutorial Step 5
Turn right side out and glue three buttons right down the center of the shirt. Once the glue is dry, stuff it and sew it closed.

Flannel Shirt Ornament Tutorial
I don’t know what it is about making these little, but in a miniature version even a grungy flannel shirt looks as sweet as can be. I made these fairly small so I think I’ll put them close to the tip of the branch so they can get the attention they deserve. And once again, I’m thinking how cute these would be as package decorations. Maybe it’s the miniature effect again. The mother in me wants to protect the widdol baby shurt.

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Christmas DIY: Sweater Ball Ornaments

Sweater Ball Ornaments
I think a good cable knit sweater just might be one of the most beautiful things two hands can make. I don’t really find them incredibly flattering, at least on my figure, but the intricacies of the patterns are something that I could stare at forever. Cable knit is also really time consuming, and if you want to make it look like a traditional ball ornament, it’s even more so as you try and coax a flat textile into the shape of a sphere. Which is where my trusty thrift store came in. For a few dollars I could rescue a cable knit sweater from the rack of used clothes and in a few minutes – instead of a couple of days – I can have my ball ornament swathed in beautiful texture.

Sweater Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 1
I just used the sleeves for this project, I was saving the body of the sweater for an upcoming ornament, but it made it really easy to get the size right. I just shoved a styrofoam ball inside the sleeve, pinned one end to the top, and cut the other end long enough for it to be pinned to the bottom. The part of the sleeve right above the cuff was the perfect size and I didn’t even have to make adjustments, but further up the shoulder it got wider so I pinned the sides in where they met on the ball and cut off the extra where the sleeves seam was.

Sweater Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 2
To make this fit your ball, you’ll need to cut off the corners of the square sleeve and finesse it to fit around the round ball. I found the neatest way to do this was to make three lines, one out of the side seam, and two more dividing the ball into thirds. Pinch the extra sweater material and cut it right off, pinning as you go to keep the sweater from unraveling or shifting around.

Sweater Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 3
Keep cutting off the corners and pinning in place until you have the whole ball covered. To make sure that I was leaving myself enough room to cover any raw edges, I pinned one side over the top of the other. This set me up so that my handstitching could be extra neat.

Sweater Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Use a needle and thread to handstitch the edges down. To keep those raw edges in check I did a little needleturning – where I used the point of my needle to tuck the ends under as I sewed them in place. The needle can make a much cleaner fold than you could with your fingers, and catch any little thread that wants to go rogue.

Sweater Ball Ornament Tutorial Step 5
When your seams are all sewed down, sew on a loop of coordinating yarn to hang your ornament from.

Sweater Ball Ornament Tutorial
My first ball was a little messy for my liking, but that’s the nice thing about using thrift store sweaters. If you screw up you’re not out much. I just cut that piece of sweater off and went back for more. And then the next time I tried I figured out a better way to stitch things in place and I was much much happier. Now I get to enjoy all the beautiful texture these ornaments will bring to my tree, and I get to feel righteous about taking a shortcut. I saved a sweater.

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Christmas DIY: Argyle Pillow Ornament

Argyle Pillow Ornament
I decided early on that I was going to have to get a little creative with the shape of the ornaments for this tree. If I made every single one in the shape of a sweater, then soon enough it would stop looking like a Christmas tree and more like a clothesline. (Although that might have been a whole lot easier.) So as I was brainstorming winter clothing, I wanted to come up with some ideas that would allude to tradition without being literal. This little argyle pillow ornament is an example of what I came up with. It’s just a square pillow so it doesn’t look like an item of clothing, but that argyle pattern is so traditional and iconic that you can’t look at it without imagining it stretched across a chest in a cozy knit.

Argyle Pillow Ornament Tutorial Step 1
I found this patterned polar fleece that came printed in blocks of color, and that’s what inspired the shape of this. I just cut the fleece apart and let the print make my decisions for me, but any polar fleece will work. Really, most fabrics will work for the pillow part, but I went with polar fleece because it was snugly, and because then I wouldn’t have to worry about hemming the diamond shape. My squares measured 3″ and you’ll need two of them. To get the diamond shape I just printed one off the computer and used it as a pattern to cut my pieces out.

Argyle Pillow Ornament Tutorial Step 2
Sew the pillow on the front of one of the squares. I just used my sewing machine and steered right up to the edge of the diamond, but if you could always zig zag over the edge. This will help if you have a fabric that would fray.

Argyle Pillow Ornament Tutorial Step 3
Using perle cotton and a running stitch, embroider an X over the top of the diamond. You could use your sewing machine for this part too, but you’d have to either use a thread that was in a sharply contrasting color or go over it a whole bunch of times to get it to show up.

Argyle Pillow Ornament Tutorial Step 4
Sandwich a loop of perle cotton between the front and back pieces of polar fleece and sew around the edges, leaving an inch or so open for turning. Turn right side out, stuff, and sew or glue closed.

As I was making the video for this ornament I was struck all over again by how sweet these little ornaments are and I decided that these needed a little more attention than they were going to get on the tree. So to wrap my packages this year I’m going to use some of my finger knit garland as ribbon, and then one of these little ornaments as a package decoration. They work up so fast that it’s no pain to share them and I think the combination will be so adorable people won’t want to open their presents.

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How to make a pom pom

How to make a pom pom
So I’m using these as ornaments for my Cozy Christmas tree, but knowing how to make a pom pom is a tool every crafter should have. These will be my workhorse ornaments on my tree, adding texture and color to the deep part of the tree, but I love them as package decorations, and of course, what inspired them in the first place, as hat toppers.

You can buy templates and tools to make perfectly consistent pom poms every time, but I prefer to use every crafter’s best tools – their hands.

Pom pom tutorial Step 1
Wrap your yarn around something, a whole bunch of times. That’s pretty much all there is to making a pom pom, you just have to decide what to wrap it around, and how many times. As I mentioned, I like to use my fingers. I just use a different number depending on how big I want to make the pom pom, and then I wrap and wrap and wrap until the yarn bundle is about as wide as it is tall. (It’s very scientific.)

Pom pom tutorial Step 2
When you’re satisfied with your wrapping job, run an end of the yarn through all the loops and pull it as tight as you can. Run it through a second time and tie a knot.

Pom pom tutorial Step 3
If you want a hanger like I have, run the end of the yarn through a third time and this time make a loop. Tie a knot around the loop to keep it in place. Another way to tell if you’ve wrapped enough to make it full is if the yarn nearly makes a circle when you tie that knot in it. This one is a little on the light side, but there’s a way to fix that.

Pom pom tutorial Step 4
Then you take a pair of scissors to your yarn and cut all those loops open, directly across from where you tied your knot. If it looks a little less than full it just means you didn’t get quite enough wraps to make it as tall as it is wide, so you just have to give it a haircut until it’s the same. Don’t aim for perfection here. Unless you’re a hairstylist you could obsess your way to your pom pom being a nub.

Plus, I think it looks a whole lot cuter if it’s a little on the ragged side. That’s what makes it charming and homespun, and not just something you picked up at the store.

These are so simple to make that soon you’ll find yourself looking for places to put another one. Seriously. Just ask Pinterest what you can do with a pom pom. Your computer might explode.

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Christmas DIY: Crocheted Sock Ornament

Crocheted Sock Ornament Tutorial
True confessions: in all my knitting, I haven’t gotten around to a sock yet. I live in California where we don’t really need socks, plus if I’m going to dedicate my rare knitting time to a project, I want it to be visible and not have to go through the wear and tear of a sock. And yet when I see the sock yarns and all the wonderful patterns available, my resolve starts to waiver.

This ornament gives me a chance to play with those beautiful sock yarns, but I was able to cheat since I didn’t have to worry about it ever actually fitting anyone. No double pointed needles, no gussets, just single crochet and letting the variegated sock yarn do all the work. The shaping comes from simple increases and decreases that even the most beginner of beginner crocheters can accomplish, while they’re gathering up their courage to tackle real shaping.

Crocheted Sock Ornament
Crocheted Sock Ornament Pattern:
Chain 17 stitches (or 30 stitches to make a loop to hang it)
Row 1: single crochet in the first chain from the hook (or the 14th for the loop) and all the way across the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Rows 2 – 24: single crochet (sc) across the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 25: Increase by single crocheting twice in the first sc of the row. Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn. (We’ll abbreviate this method of increase by writing “inc 1″)
Row 26: inc 1, Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 27: Sc until the last stitch. inc 1. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 28: inc 1. Sc until the last stitch. inc 1. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 29: Sc until the last stitch. inc 2. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 30: inc 2, Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 31: Sc until the last stitch. inc 2. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 32: inc 2, Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 33: Sc until the last stitch. inc 1. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 34: inc 1, Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 35: Sc until the last stitch. inc 1. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 36: inc 1, Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 37: Decrease by skipping the first single crochet (sk 1), Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 38: Sc across the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 39: sk 1. Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 40: Sc until the last stitch. sk 1. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 41: sk 1. Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 42: Sc until the last two stitches. sk 2. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 43: sk 2. Sc across the rest of the row. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 44: sk 1. Sc until the last three stitches. sk 3. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 45: sk 2. Sc until the last three stitches. sk 1. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 46: sk 1. Sc until the last three stitches. sk 3. Chain 1. Turn.
Row 47: sk 2. Sc until the last three stitches. sk 1. Chain 1. Turn.
Tie off.

Crocheted Sock Tutorial Step 1
You’ll need to make this pattern twice for each sock. A front piece, and a back piece that includes a loop for hanging.

Crocheted Sock Tutorial Step 2
Match your two pieces together and gather all your loose threads on the outside. Unless you are a seriously consistent crocheter, your socks might be shaped a little differently. Pin the edges together as necessary to get them to line up neatly.

Crocheted Sock Step 3
Join them together by single crocheting all the way around the edge. I used that opportunity to crochet over all my ends too, to save me the step of having to weave them all in. Just take the ends you’ve gathered together and line them up neatly along the edge, then just crochet right over the top of them.

I took these pictures immediately after crocheting, but before I hang them on the tree I’m going to give them a simple blocking by getting them damp and letting them dry flat. That will help take some of the curl out and get them to hang straight.

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Christmas DIY: Cold Hands Warm Heart Cross Stitch

DSC_0006w
Since cross stitch is my first crafting love, I can’t let a tree go by without a little something. This year I went back to a saying I used to hear all the time as a kid. I don’t know why I heard it so often then and not so much now. Maybe as a child I had more occasion to touch adult’s hands and have them apologize for their temperature, maybe once I moved to California the saying became a whole lot less relevant, or maybe it’s collecting dust on the nostalgia shelf like “rad” and “keep on trucking.” But I vividly remember the recess monitor holding my hand and offering this sentiment with a smile.

DSC_0004w
After stitching this simple design up I backed it with a piece of blue flannel and sandwiched another piece of blue flannel on the top, with a piece of grosgrain ribbon tucked in between. Like the Ugly Christmas Sweater ornament from yesterday, just sew around leaving an inch wide opening, turn right side out, stuff, and close.

Bundle Up Cross Stitch Pattern
To download the pattern just click on the image above and download the original image. Enjoy it in good health, bundled up in front of the fire as you stitch so your hands will be as warm as your heart.

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Christmas DIY: Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornament

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornament
I have a bunch of friends who have started celebrating the ugly Christmas sweater with an annual party, where they compete to see who can show up with the cheesiest, most over the top, ridiculous Christmas sweater. I don’t live close enough to them to attend one of these parties, but I fully endorse the spirit behind it. Christmas is the one time of year that all my snobby design ideals go out the window and I embrace the camp. It’s time to get silly and festive, so I had to memorialize it in an ornament.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornamen Tutorial Step 1
I made myself a pattern out of chipboard and cut out two layers of knit fabric. This shape is easy enough that I bet you could sketch it out yourself, but I’ve included it down below if you want to just use mine. I used a remnant piece of T-shirt jersey, but any knit will do – including a polar fleece. Pin the two pieces right sides together.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornamen Tutorial Step 2
Insert a loop of ribbon or thread for the hanger between the two pieces of fabric, with the raw ends poking out the neck. Sew all the way around the two pieces, leaving an inch long open space for turning. I like to reinforce the beginning and end of the seam, as well as where the hanger comes out. Those points all get a lot of stress and a few extra stitches will keep it from popping open.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornamen Tutorial Step 3
Snip the fabric in the armpits right up until the seam line. That corner is such a tight squeeze that without this step your sweater won’t lay flat. It will just be all bunched up at this corner. Giving it a snip gives it a little room to move around.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornamen Tutorial Step 4
Turn the sweater right side out, paying special attention to getting the sleeves and shoulders all the way out. Then decorate however your heart desires. I used some white glue and stuck on sequins, since I think a sequined sweater is the very height of campy ugly Christmas sweaters.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornamen Tutorial Step 5
Stuff your sweater, then stitch or glue your opening closed.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornamen Tutorial
We’ve been sitting around at night decorating these as a family, but I think this could be an excellent Christmas party activity. How fun would it be to have all your friends decorate a little sweater to compete for the ugliest, and then take it home as a party favor.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Pattern

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Christmas DIY: How to Make a Finger Knit Garland

Finger Knit Garland
First things first for our Cozy Christmas tree, and that’s a giant knit garland. I wanted even the tree itself to look all bundled up, so I wanted the garland to look like a scarf so long Doctor Who would be jealous. But I also had a lot of other projects to work on, so I needed something that would work up in a hurry, and for a long chain in a hurry there is nothing better than finger knitting.

A lot of kids go through a finger knitting phase in elementary school, although these days, I think it might have been replaced with a rainbow loom phase. When I was a kid I made chains and chains of it so long I could have mummified myself, but I had no idea what to do with it. That’s the one drawback with finger knitting – it really only makes a chain. But that drawback works in our favor for a cozy garland.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 1
To start knitting you’ll need a slipknot. Take the end of your yarn and make a loop around two fingers by crossing the yarn over itself.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 2
Reach through the loop with your fingers and grab the long tail of yarn.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 3
Pull that long tail into a loop, and tighten your knot.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 4
Now you’re ready to get knitting. Put that slipknot on your pointer finger. I have super long fingers so to make a knit that wasn’t crazy loose and open I had to move the knot to the tip of my finger. That just gave it less room to have to stretch.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 5
Start wrapping the yarn around your fingers. Go under your middle finger, over your ring finger, and then behind the pinky.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 6
Then go back the way you came by wrapping to the front of the pinky, behind the ring finger, over your middle and behind the pointer. This makes one row.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 7
Weave back and forth one more time until you have two rows on your fingers.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 8
With two rows in place, lift the bottom loop up and over the top loop, and then over the back of your finger, leaving just one row of loops on your fingers.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 9
This is what the chain looks like after one row. Pick your yarn back up from where you left it in between your pointer and middle fingers, and weave a new row. Lift the bottom row of loops up and over, and repeat until the chain wraps around your house.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial Step 10
To finish the chain so it doesn’t unravel, cut the yarn leaving a few inches. Thread the loops from off your fingers and onto the end of the yarn, pull tight, and tie a knot.

Finger Knit Garland Tutorial
I think this tree looks so adorable all wrapped up I kind of what to get a jumbo pair of earmuffs and call it decorated, but the rest of the plans I have for the tree are too good to stop now. Tomorrow starts the ornaments, and we’re going to begin with a campy holiday classic: The ugly Christmas sweater. Don’t miss it!

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