WIPWed #110: A WIP-to-Be

I was not able to take pictures of my current WIPs this week, which is really fine because they look exactly the same as last week. I did, however, snap a quick pic of some new yarn that arrived that I’m absolutely itching to cast on.


Ancient Arts Big Squeeze, colorway Cherry Blossom

The yarn is a brand new bulky weight superwash Merino from Ancient Arts Fibres. They’ve kindly sent me the yarn to review and I’m super excited to work with it. I love chunky weight yarns, and this one manages to be both thick AND lofty. Big Squeeze is a totally appropriate name. I can’t wait to wind this sucker up this evening and bring it with me on my holiday travels.


Photo copyright BabyCocktails. Click for pattern page.

My first thought was that I’d like to knit a bulky weight hat, like Mint Schnappes by Thea Colman. There’s something so satisfying about hat knitting, and the bright color would be a nice cheerful way to top off my ‘winter look’ (= ‘I’m cold’).


Photo copyright Trelly Hernandez. Click for pattern page.

Another lace-involved bulky weight hat I really like is Galicia by Trelly Hernández. The lace is simple but charming in its geometric shape. I really like it.


Photo copyright TinCanKnits. Click for pattern page.

However, a few chilly mornings in a row have reminded me that winter is coming and I freaking hate cold fingers. I have one pair of quick, bulky weight mittens that I knit three years ago, but I feel like it’s time for an update and I adored the cable on the Antler Mittens when I knit my dad’s Antler Hat, so this one might be the winner. It’s written for aran weight yarn, but it’s on the same size needles that I knit my last bulky pair, so I think I can work out some size finagling.

What would you knit with about 130 yards of super-squishy bulky weight wool?

As for reading, I’m now listening to The Shoemaker’s Wife and after a slow-ish start, I’m really enjoying it. I’m also reading the Lord John Gray sub-series from Outlander, because you can never get too much of reading about scandalous Scotsmen.

To all who are traveling for Thanksgiving, safe travels and happy holiday!

Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.


Places I Knit

I’m going to be completely honest here. The majority of places I knit are entirely boring as 90% of the time I’m knitting on my couch, the passenger seat of a car, or work meetings. But I totally support knitting everywhere-and-anywhere (well, maybe not everywhere) and would love to hear about some of the more interesting places you’ve knit.

One of my favorite atypical places to knit is the beach:


I don’t mind a little sand in my yarn. The most interesting place I’ve knit was on the porch of our honeymoon casita in Costa Rica:


And perhaps the prettiest/strangest place I’ve knit was in the garden where we were married!


Needless to say, yarn comes with me everywhere. I should probably work on knitting in some more exciting places, though.

This post was inspired by Where We Knit,  the very first Indie Untangled yarn club.

Beer photo by Jay R. Brooks

Indie yarn + pattern + surprise treat inspired by the different places we knit will be shipped out every quarter in 2016: Drops of Honey (nothing cozier than tea + knitting), Two Rivers (based on the Mississippi and the Hudson), At the Brewery, and the Beach in Fall. Sign ups are open now and run through December 20th. A lotion bar by Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe in a special fragrance inspired by the theme will be the surprise treat in one of shipments, too! See more details on the Indie Untangled blog.

What’s the craziest place you’ve knit?

WIPWed #109: On the Move (sort of)

SO MANY THINGS are happening at Chez Woolen Diversions and one of those things is moving. UGH. We’re only moving a few towns over (to a nicer place with lower rent… whoa!) but it’s still a gigantic, major pain. So I’ve been keeping the knitting super simple lately. I’ve even sorted through all the yarn and WIPs and separated out anything I think I might need over the next month in case the rest of the stash gets buried under moving boxes. Like these:


Can you spot Darwin?

Onto less disheartening things, like knitting!

Berrylicious Socks:


BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Berrylicious. Click for project page.

These socks are chugging along. I’m near the toe on one, mid-foot on the other. Not much else to see here…

Rotted Days:


Handspun and a singles yarn I bought at a festival. Click for project page.

A combination of a long car ride and seeing everybody working on their Stephen West MKAL projects all over instagram (#thedoodler), is what inspired me to pick up my Dotted Rays shawl again. Now that I’ve got the hang of the short rows and don’t have to refer to the written-out-line-by-line pattern much anymore, I’m enjoying this garter stitch knit. I think it’ll be lovely once it’s done, and I’m still enamored of my yarn combination. Great use for handspun! I’m really liking the look of all those Doodler shawls, too, so I’ll probably cast one on someday. I’m staunchly anti-mystery-knit-along, though, so I’ll be waiting until I see everybody else’s finished products before I commit. Also, can we take a second to boggle over the fact that there are already 2,955 projects for that pattern?! At $6 a pop, and assuming that each shawl was a separate sale, Mr. West made over $17,700 in about a week or so. I think I’d faint with joy if I ever saw that much money flooding in instantaneously. Good for him.

Sweet Sheep news:


Sweet Sheep goat milk soap in Chamomile Bergamot

I’ve been hard at work filling some wholesale orders and re-stocking the shop. I’ve added Chamomile Bergamot sheep-shaped goat milk soap, as well as a few sold-out lotion bar scents, such as Cinnamon Chai, Winter Gardenia, Orange Rosemary, Lavender, and Lemon Cake (to name a few). I was supposed to vend this weekend at the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market, but unfortunately, I pulled a muscle in my back that is currently spasming like crazy and has had me flat-on-my-back and out of work for a couple of days, so I’m taking the weekend to recover. (Back spasms hurt like whoa guys.) But, Rhode Islanders take solace: you can now check out Sweet Sheep lotion bars and soaps in person at The Mermaid’s Purl, a great little yarn shop in Wickford! Woohoo!

As for reading, I’m working on The Long War, the second book in a series co-written by Terry Pratchett (one of my epic literary loves) and Stephen Baxter. It’s about humans developing the ability to sort of ‘step’ sideways into millions upon millions of similar-but-different Earths. It’s a super cool concept and I love the (completely fantastical, obviously) idea that there are Earths out there that haven’t been ravaged by us, or that experienced different climactic events, or were not hit by asteroids and still have dinosaurs, or for some reason are populated entirely by butterflies. As an ecologist, it’s a fascinating thought experiment.

Anyways, linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday, and now  I’m off to rest this back. Oy.

FOFri #44: Two Hats, Plus Tassels

Two FO Friday posts in a row?! I think it’s fair to say that I’m on a roll, especially because this post contains two FOs. The speediness of hat knitting is one of my favorite things.

Antlers for Dad:

I busted this project out in just 5 days. FIVE DAYS, WOOT! Then it took forever to dry, so it arrived well past my Dad’s birthday, but still… I made the effort? The pattern is the free Antler Hat by TinCanKnits and it’s a really fun, zippy little project. I knit it in the Madelinetosh Vintage called for and absolutely, 100% love that yarn. It’s a dense, tightly-twisted worsted weight superwash Merino with a nice, smooth hand that is perfect for cables (though it takes a while to dry).

FOFri #43: Two Hats | Woolen Diversions

Tidy hat crowns make me unabashedly happy, blurriness and all.

I knit the adult small, but be warned that the cables make the hat quite snug. Anyone with a head bigger than my 20.5″ one will likely prefer the large. Also, if you’re aiming to wear it slouchy style, you’ll want a larger size and to knit an extra couple of repeats. This size only looks good worn as a beanie with a folded brim, otherwise it’s an awkward length. Knit as written, highly recommended.

Norby & Pease:

And next, I finished my Norby hat, designed by Gudrun Johnston. I’m really pleased with the way the colors worked out, despite my prior indecision. I think repeating the final gradient color throughout the crown of the hat was the most harmonious way to go, and I really love how well this hat coordinates with my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl. In order to add the colorful garter ridges, I had to add a plain knit row into each pattern repeat before the first purl row. This allowed the contrast color to show up properly. This probably lengthened my hat a bit. I had also modified the width to remove one pattern repeat, as it was far too big for my head otherwise. As it is, it’s so lightweight in the woolen-spun Loft yarn that it feels like it could slip right off my head, so I’m glad I made it more snug.

FOFri #43: Two Hats | Woolen Diversions


I wasn’t sure I would add the tassels, a friend of mine basically said they make the hat look like a sleeping cap, but I admit I’m rather fond of them. They were pretty easy/fun to make, too. There is a decent photo tutorial in the pattern, but I took some pics of my own, as well.

  1. Wind yarn around two pieces of cardboard separated by a pen. Thread additional yarn onto a needle, looped on itself twice. Tie a knot.
  2. Secure knotted end of yarn to something sturdy and twist, twist, twist.
  3. Thread twisted yarn through the cardboard under the wrapped yarn, being careful to hold on to both ends of the twisted pieces of yarn so you don’t lose the twist (this is the tricksy bit, especially while attempting to take a photo).
  4. Allow the twisted pieces to twist back on themselves, forming the tassel strand. Then carefully cut the end of the wrapped pieces of yarn that’s furthest from the tassel strand. Use another piece of yarn to wrap around the top of the tassel.

Securing the tassels to the inside of the hat was a bit of a crapshoot, I’m not sure there’s an easy way to explain what I did but it was basically something like “thread the multiple ends of each tassel strand into the fabric of the hat on the inside, then knot them together”. Not neat or tidy, but it did the trick.

I love these hats, tassels and all. Have you made any tasseled accessories?

WIPWed #108: Socks Again

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve really worked on socks. I was on a roll for a bit there, then got sidetracked by Rhinebeck-related knitting and a couple of hats (that I’ll show you on Friday, finished, woot!). But the holidays are approaching, and while I’m not making any concrete gift knitting plans, there are a few things I could picture knitting for a few people, so I’m going to work on them as time allows. Thus, I have only one WIP to show this week.

Berrylicious Socks:

WIPWed #108: Socks Again | Woolen Diversions

Blue Moon Fiber Arts STR Lightweight, colorway Berrylicious. Click for project page.

These very simple socks are knit with one of the Rockin’ Sock Club colorways, and their simplicity is just what I need right now. I turned both heels last night. I still can’t believe that it took me about 6 years of really serious knitting before I realized that knitting socks “simultaneously” on different sets of DPNs is most productive and satisfying for me. No more second sock syndrome, no more languishing at the heel turn, no more forgetting what I did for the first sock and making silly mistakes on the second. This process of knitting bit-by-bit has turned the whole sock thing into an entirely stress-free enterprise because I don’t have to keep track of notes or try to remember whatever little tricky thing I did later on for the second sock. YAY STRESS-FREE KNITTING!

As for reading, I recently listened to Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth on audiobook, but the third wasn’t available from the library so now I’m reading Allegiant on my kindle. If you’ll remember a few months ago my kindle suddenly imploded, and when I called customer service, their response was “Well, it’s an old model, and our cheapest one, it’s basically dead. Here’s a $20 credit for your trouble!” Thanks a lot. I didn’t want $20, I wanted my kindle to work! But, since I’m super lucky and have an aunt who is an avid reader, she took pity on me and just gave me one of her old kindles to use, which is super nice. Take that, Amazon! You can’t make me buy a newfangled contraption!

I think I should stop my babbling there. I’ve been working like crazy filling a few wholesale orders for Sweet Sheep so unfortunately haven’t been able to update the shop as much as I’d like. I did, however, get to make some Cranberry Orange Embed soap recently, which smells yummy and tart:

The soap is a cranberry-scented honey soap base, with pieces of Orange Cream whipped soap embedded within. And don’t forget, you still have a few days to receive 20% off your order with the code INDIELUV20. Use it before 11/15!

Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

FOFri #43: Kelp-y Kelpie Shawl

I am finally getting around to posting FO pics for this project, begun at the beginning of 2014.

FOFri #43: Kelp-y Kelpie Shawl

Gotta love the bikes in the background… Click for project page.

I’m a huge fan of Jared Flood’s Brooklyn Tweed designs, and this Kelpie Shawl was no exception. As soon as a I saw it, I wanted to knit it, and I knew I wanted to use the BT Loft yarn called for (in Sweatshirt). I agonized over color choices for the contrasting stripes, but in the end decided to use a gradient set I had just received as a gift (Black Trillium Fibre Pebble Sock in Pease). The shawl is constructed in a Shetland style, with the center garter stitch triangle knit first and YO holes along the edges picked up to knit the border afterwards.

Because this is a BT pattern and they love their finishing, there’s also a bit of picking up stitches and adding a garter stitch border to the top of the shawl once complete. This is fiddly but not difficult (although it did prevent me from finishing in time for Rhinebeck). The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. My shawl stalled out for so many months because I used the wrong color to pick up the 180+ edge stitches the first time (I used a contrast color when you were supposed to continue with the main color) and just severely procrastinated ripping out and starting again. The only complaint I have about the pattern is that all that garter stitch in the edging is made by PURLING EVERY STITCH instead of knitting. WTF, Jared? Whatever possessed you to think that was a good idea? By the time I realized what was happening, I was too far in. If I make this again, I’ll throw in a plain knit row somewhere to get on a ‘knit every row’ pattern for the garter stitch ridges.

FOFri #43: Kelp-y Kelpie Shawl | Woolen Diversions

Blocking took all my pins!

The yarn is… different. It is very high on the fluff and squish factor, and very low on the drape and smooth factor, because it is a woolen-spun yarn. Woolen yarns are spun with fibers going every-which-way so that they trap more air and provide more warmth. This also makes them slightly less strong and slightly more prone to pilling than worsted-spun yarns, where the fibers are aligned in the same direction. The Loft is very elastic and has lots of bounce, so the finished garment sort of perches around my neck, rather than drapes. And to be honest, purling hundreds of stitches of this fuzzy yarn with point needles was a tad torturous. It makes a shawl I associate with words like “workhorse” and “cozy” rather than “elegant” and “dressy”. The triangular shawl shape makes it a tad less easy to wear kerchief-style than if it were crescent-shaped due to the shorter wingspan, but it’s still a generous enough size to wrap around my large frame.

All told, I’m glad I knit with Loft, I love the gradient in the stripes, and I’m happily working away on a coordinating hat, so I’m sure this shawl will get a lot of use. Have you knit with a woolen spun yarn before? How did you like the results?

WIPWed #107: Hat Land

Both of my active WIPs at the moment are hats, and I kind of love it. It’s easy to forget how delightfully quick and deliciously simple hats are to knit, even the ones with a bit of patterning. There were years when I knit hat after hat after hat for holiday gifts, as they really make perfect gifts. This year, I feel like knitting hat after hat after hat for me. #selfishknitter

Norby & Pease:

WIPWed 107: Hat Land | Woolen Diversions

Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Sweatshirt and Black Trillium Fibres Pebble Sock in Pease. Click for project page.

Even though Katy’s idea was a grand one, I decided to just stick with repeating the lightest color in the gradient to solve my dilemma. I think if I incorporate a couple of rows of the color into the crown decreases, too, it’ll look totally intentional. I’m glad I didn’t rip all the way back to the brim, but I’m having a wee bit of nervousness that the hat might be too tight. I removed a repeat of stitches because the brim seemed huge when I originally cast on, and I fear that I might in fact regret that. Only time and a good blocking will tell…

Antlers for Dad:

WIPWed #107: Hat Land

Madelinetosh Vintage, colorway Charcoal. Click for project page.

My dad is not very big on knitwear. He’s always hot, perpetually wears short sleeves, and would totally feel like he was being choked if he wore a scarf or a cowl, he cannot even handle crew-necked shirts. He’s missing some hair up top, though, so he does wear the one hat I knit for him 5 years ago. Recently he mentioned in an offhand way, “You know, I could use another hat”, so another hat he is getting. The problem is that I’m trying to hurry up and finish ASAP since his birthday is Friday and I think it would make a nice surprise. The pattern is Antler Hat by TinCanKnits and the yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in Charcoal. Would you believe this is only my second time using a Madelinetosh yarn, and my first time using this worsted weight Merino? I LOVE IT. It’s such a nice base! I wasn’t super duper impressed with the sock yarn I’ve used in the past (I like a bouncy 3-ply for socks, theirs is a standard, drapey 2-ply) but this base is really nice. I’m hoping the hat blocks out a bit as I’ve also become worried that it’s going to be too small… stupid cables pulling in the fabric. We’ll see, my dad’s head is pretty small, so it could all work out fine.

Other hat patterns I’m deluding myself that I will knit soon (a.k.a. lusting after):

So many hats, so little time, amIright?!


Current reading.

As for reading, I’m enjoying Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. I like these memoir-style stories about motherhood and parenting in general. I think there’s a lot to be learned from other people’s experiences and styles of thinking, even if it’s learning what not to do or how not to be a neurotic mess. Whenever I become a parent, I feel like it’ll be these kinds of personal stories that will prove more useful and comforting than trying to follow a specific school of thought on parenting styles. Do you have any favorite books on motherhood or parenting that you found particularly enlightening?

Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.