WIPWed #98: Stealth Socks and Sheep-Shaped Soap

There are three things I’ve confirmed recently:

  1. I really love slipped stitch sock patterns,
  2. Tina of Blue Moon Fiber Arts is the queen of teal colorways, and
  3. sheep-shaped soap is just about the cutest thing ever.

My Favorite Socks Ever:

WIPWed #98: Stealth Socks and Sheep-Shaped Soap

BMFA Socks that Rock LW, colorway Gran’s Kitchen. Click for project page.

Still rockin’ this pair of socks, and still absolutely loving them. Loving them so much, in fact, that I’ve cast on ANOTHER PAIR.

Stealth Socks:

WIPWed #98: Stealth Socks and Sheep-Shaped Soap | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Socks That Rock HW, colorway Grimm. Click for project page.

The pic is blurry but the colorway, Grimm, is absolutely glorious. Tina really knows her way around teals, man, and the pooling is pretty fun on this pair. These are stealth socks because I’m trying to knit them quickly (by the end of the month) and on the sneak, for a certain someone-whom-I-live-with’s birthday. (Here’s hoping his eyes just glaze over when I go on and on about socks and won’t realize these are for him.)

Sheep-Shaped Soap:

In exciting news, I’ve added some new soap to the shop that I’m absolutely in love with. Blackberry Crumble is a goat milk soap scented with blackberry, sage, and a touch of gingersnap fragrance oils that is juicy and bright. I got a little more creative with the Peaches & Cream soap, which consists of white and peach-colored layers of goat milk soap and is scented with southern peach and cream cheese frosting fragrance oils. It smells just like a sweet, decadent, summertime dessert and is finished off with a sprinkling of red and white jojoba beads on the bottom. These soaps are so cute, I honestly can’t stand it.

That’s all from me this week! As for reading, I sped through the Outlander novella “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” which gives a little insight into Roger’s parents’ past and am looking for my next read. Any suggestions? Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Review: Myra Cowl and Colinton Australia Lace from Louet

A few weeks ago, Louet sent me a gorgeous skein of Colinton Australia Lace yarn to knit up the Myra cowl pattern by Trudy Van Stralen for review. The Myra cowl pattern is part of a special collection of patterns to highlight Louet’s new partnership with Colinton Australia yarns.

Review | Woolen Diversions

Colinton Lace and Myra cowl from Louet

As soon as the yarn arrived, I was eager to cast on. The colorway I received, Dove, is a gorgeous, pale pink that looked both delicate and sophistacted. Colinton Lace is a 2-ply laceweight mohair yarn with 225 yards in each 50 g skein. Most mohair yarns I’ve worked with are brushed for a halo or plied with silk or linen, but this yarn is pure kid mohair and it is more sleek than it is fuzzy. I adore the shine and hand of this yarn and think it looks and feels a lot like silk. This means it has a lovely drape and very little elasticity.

Blocking.

Blocking.

I thought the pattern, a simple lace cowl worked flat and then joined on the short ends, was well-suited for the yarn. The stitch pattern is a garter-based lace that easy to work and really opens up nicely with blocking. I did have a few mishaps with dropped stitches during the course of the project, which was due partially to the slipperiness of the yarn, but would have been easy to avoid with a different needle choice (grippy bamboo or carbon fiber would do the trick). I recommend adding a lifeline every few repeats, just in case.

The pattern is not charted, only written out, but the lace pattern is simple enough that a chart isn’t strictly necessary. I had no problems with the pattern until I reached the finishing instructions, which were a little confusing. The pattern includes a diagram of the three-needle bind off on a separate page, but then switches to a description of kitchener stitch (or grafting) for closing the cowl without fully explaining the three-needle bind off in the finishing section, which threw me off at first. Update: It turns out that I was working from an older version of the pattern! The newer version has a nicer layout that includes a chart and makes it clear that you have the option of finishing with either a 3-needle bind-off or grafting. I decided to go with the three-needle bind off using a needle a couple sizes bigger so the bind off would be loose. When you use this technique, you usually want to begin with the right sides facing each other so that your seam is on the inside or wrong side of the cowl. However, since the garter-stitch lace pattern is fully reversible, the distinction doesn’t matter so much for this cowl.

Since I wanted my cowl to be a bit wider and shorter than the one pictured in the pattern, I cast on 45 stitches for 2.5 repeats (instead of 2 repeats as written). This blocked out to about 41″ circumference and 12″ wide, which I’m really happy with. It’s not long enough to double up but it’s the perfect length to wear as a pretty, lightweight accessory. It’s delightfully warm for its lightness and the yarn really shines. The fabric developed a slight halo with wearing and shed a little bit on the dark shirt I wore it with the first day, but not enough to bother me. My Fiasco found it itchy, but he is very sensitive to prickle and has been known to say “I think Merino is kind of scratchy” so that’s how low his tolerance is.

In conclusion, the Myra cowl is a pretty accessory and would make a good beginner lace project due to its simple geometric stitch pattern, and I absolutely love the yarn. I really didn’t think I liked mohair all that much until I tried this yarn, but I would use it for another lace accessory in a heartbeat.

GIVEAWAY: I’d like to give my copy of the Myra cowl pattern away email a copy of the updated Myra cowl pattern to someone who would like it! Leave a comment on this post and let me know what other pattern from the Louet Colinton Collection you would like to make. Share this post on facebook or twitter for an extra entry (leave a comment letting me know you did!) and make sure you leave your e-mail so I can contact you. I’ll draw a winner next Monday, 7/6!

WIPWed #97: Monogamy Makes For Boring Blogging

I have been motoring along on the same two knitting projects, which means my WIPWed post looks nearly the same as last week’s, just with a few more inches of knitting on each thing. This is great for progress, but pretty boring for blogging. Here’s an update anyway!

My Favorite Socks Ever:

WIPWed #97: Monogamy Makes For Boring Blogging | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Socks That Rock LW, colorway Gran’s Kitchen. Click for project page.

Still in love with this colorway and enjoying this pattern, still my favorite socks! I’m crossing my fingers that I can finish them this week and — get this — I even have plans to knit ANOTHER PAIR of this SAME PATTERN (that never happens). That’s how much I love it, guys.

Colinton Cowl:

WIPWed #97: Monogamy Makes For Boring Blogging | Woolen Diversions

Colinton Australia laceweight mohair, colorway Dove. Click for project page.

My laceweight mohair cowl is growing, growing, growing but as you can see, we had a little mishap. Mohair fibers are more slippery and less elastic than wool, so it’s pretty easy to drop stitches (especially if you’re all wrapped up in a particularly thrilling episode of The Vampire Diaries while you’re trying to knit). When I knit with this yarn again (and that’s definitely when, not if, because it’s lovely) I’ll likely use bamboo or carbon fiber needles, which are both a little more grabby than my wooden ones to help prevent the dropping from happening in the first place. The cowl and I need to have a careful tinking back date soon.

Eggplant in Ashes Singles:

IMG_3126

BeeMiceElf BFL/silk, colorway Eggplant in Ashes. Click for handspun page.

Remember the 2-ply vs. singles sampling I did a few weeks ago? I’ve decided to give the singles yarn a try. I’ve nearly finished the first of two braids of this gorgeous BFL/silk fiber from BeeMiceElf, when it’s done I’ll finish the yarn and knit a mini version of the bias stripe wrap to see how I like it. If it works, great! I’ll finish spinning the rest of the yarn and plan to knit that scarf. If I don’t like it, I can always spin the rest of the yarn up and then ply the two singles together for a 2-ply instead (I think/hope).

That’s all for me this week! I am sort of in between books at the moment (I know, gasp!) and have been working my way through the latest issue of Ply magazine instead. Not sure what I’ll dive into next. Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Planning (Way) Ahead

You know what I realized the other day? Rhinebeck is only 4 months away. FOUR MONTHS! That might sound like a whole lot of time, and not even the most dedicated knitter is wishing for fall so soon into summer, but if I want to actually finish a garment before the festival, I need to start plotting now.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Twisted, colorway Grimm Green

I have three skeins of BMFA Twisted, about 1680 yards of worsted/aran weight wool yarn, waiting to become a sweater. This is the same yarn I used for my Overdyed Cypress vest and I know it will make a delightful garment. I’m picturing a button-up cardigan with cables or texture and a thick, cozy shawl collar. However, that vest took me 6 months start-to-finish, so I need to get crackin’ sooner than later. Here are the three patterns on my short list.

Dark & Stormy:

Photo copyright Caro Sheridan. Click for pattern page.

Thea Coleman’s Dark and Stormy cardigan has such a gorgeous cable panel on the back, doesn’t it? It also features a generous shawl collar (which you can see in other photos on the pattern page). The stockinette will likely make the knitting go a little faster. I think this is knit top down with raglan sleeve shaping. My concern is that raglan shaping might not be the most flattering for my larger bust, and I’m wary of getting creative with modifications so early in my garment-knitting career.

Chocolate Stout:

Photo copyright BabyCocktails. Click for pattern page.

Another lovely pattern by Thea Coleman (that woman is a wizard with cables) is Chocolate Stout. This one looks deliciously grandpa-ish, with it  deep pockets, cuffs, and overall texture. It is knit bottom up with a drop shoulder sleeve treatment. Drop shoulders are the same as those on the vest I’ve already made and they were simple enough to work.

Little Wave:

Photo copyright Jared Flood, click for pattern page.

I’m also very much in love with the Little Wave cardi, designed by Gudrun Johnston. I really love the little zig zag/texture stitch and the garter stitch details. It has a less cushy shawl collar than I was picturing, but it still has the same spirit. This one is knit bottom up with a saddle shoulder. I have no idea what my opinion on saddle shoulders might be.

Three gorgeous sweaters with very similar looks, but different constructions. Which would you choose? Why?

Sweet Sheep In Da House

I realized when I posted a picture on Instagram of a nearly-finished lotion bar, that I’ve been in business for over a year and have only one other time actually finished a bar. The first scent I ever made, Sweet Almond, is the only one I’ve completely finished using up. Why is that? Yeah, the bars are really long-lasting because you only use a tiny bit at a time, but it’s also because I literally have lotion bars in different scents all over the house.

I keep a sample-sized bar at work (Pumpkin Spice), in my purse (Kumquat), in the desk in my office (Coconut LIme), in the yarn bowl in my knitting corner (Basmati Rice), and on my bedside table (Lavender EO). When I tell shoppers at fairs and festivals that it’s handy to have one in multiple places, I’m not just selling them a line,  I mean it, I live it! That old adage of the shoemaker’s family going barefoot apparently doesn’t extend to handmade body products, because my skin is never, ever dry. :)

In addition to that silliness above, I wanted to let you know that I’ve restocked some soap!

First, I’ve made more of my popular Lavendar Vanilla soap. This version is made with a honey soap base (purple) and topped with whipped goat’s milk and castille (olive oil) soap (white). These went quickly at my last market so I was eager to make some more!

And second, I used slivers from the edges of the Lavender Vanilla soap as embedded pieces in my new Summer Fields soap. This contains the honey and goat’s milk goodness of the Lavender Vanilla soap within an aloe vera gel soap base. It’s scented with a new-to-me fragrance oil that I can’t get enough of called Grass Stain. I know, the name sounds crazy, but this fragrance is totally delightful. It’s herbal and sweetly floral, while being refreshing and not overwhelming in the slightest. It reminds me of rolling around in the grass on a warm, sunny summer day.

I have so many more soap plans rolling around in my head but only limited time to make them lately so that’s all I have for now. What’s your favorite summer scent?

WIPWed #96: Waxing Poetic

Dear socks, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Your slipped stitches gracefully pop out of a field of blues and greys. Your simple pattern brings me joy and you’ve grown so much in only days. What more could I ask for? When you’re finished, you will amaze.

My Favorite Socks Ever:

WIPWed #96: Waxing Poetic | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Socks That Rock LW, colorway Gran’s Kitchen. Click for project page.

I call that Ode to My Favorite Socks Ever because hot damn, I love these socks. The yarn is from the March kit of the Rockin’ Sock Club and I’m so glad I traded my May skein for another of this colorway because I could knit with this and only this for the rest of my life and not be sad. That aqua is just the right aqua and that grey is just the right grey and I love how it all looks mixed together with white. It took a little trial and error to find a pattern that looked good with the pooling inherent in hand-dyed yarn of short color repeats, but the stitch pattern in Dalekanium did the trick. I am really just using the stitch pattern, knitting my sock top-down with whatever heel and toe I choose. (That free pattern is very similar to the paid Atlantic Current pattern, as well.) The slipped stitches are simple yet effective and I am really loving this knit.

Colinton Cowl:

WIPWed #96: Waxing Poetic | Woolen Diversions

Colinton Australia Lace, colorway Dove. Click for project page.

I’m also madly in love with my mohair laceweight Myra cowl. The mistake I wrote about last week wasn’t too difficult to fix, it actually wasn’t a dropped stitch but a completely wrong row so a little careful tinking got me back on track with minimal fuss. The fabric this yarn is making doesn’t look like much (yet) but it feels absolutely incredible. I think sometimes mohair gets a bad rap and this yarn in particular feels very much like silk. I’m loving it.

I’m also loving the project bag I keep my cowl in. A friend of mine from the spinner’s guild made it for me and I absolutely adore it. She said it was very simple to make, just a couple of squares sewn together cleverly, but I love how it opens up  nice and wide and fits my straight needles easily. Thanks again, Christine!

Finally, I’m totally loving the show I’m watching while I knit my cowl: The Vampire Diaries. The Fiasco can make fun of me all he wants for watching a show about teenage supernaturals (When do shows about high school kids get old, really? Shouldn’t they be old already? High school wasn’t that exciting!) but that man is one sexy vampire and I can watch him all night long. Ahem. Sorry. I just… sigh.

Reading:

I finished Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety and think that it was a really insightful, important read. Yes, a little depressing, but not in the “this can never be fixed!” way, more in the “why do people allow themselves to get bogged down like this?” way. Have hope! Keep trying! Sign petitions! Write your lawmaker! Don’t lose sight of what’s right! I think it was overall a hopeful book, although it’s full of depressing facts and history. Books that open one’s eyes to ‘why’ and ‘how’ of certain realities of society are really important, even if they aren’t an answer in and of themselves.

I came across a blog post with an excerpt from Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute Of It by Andrea Buchanan. (There’s also a whole Literary Mama blog I just discovered, too. Good break time reading!) The book is a collection of heartfelt/humorous/smart essays written throughout the first 3 years of the author’s daughter’s life. It sets out to chronicle her reaction to motherhood and compares it to culture shock. I thought it was really well done and read the thing in 3 days. Worth it!

Have you read any good books lately? I think it might be time for me to take a break from the motherhood-related books and read something a bit more light-hearted and fictional.

Linking with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesdays.

 

Camelot Socks and Other WIPs

Since I missed blogging on Wednesday and we’re halfway to Friday, I’ll post both my finished socks and my works-in-progress today!

Camelot Socks:

Camelot Socks and Other WIPs

Finished, huzzah!

I have finished another pair of socks, huzzah! (I hesitate to claim to be on a roll, but with 4 pairs of socks finished since January, I think I can officially say that my sock slump is broken.) I used a new-to-me yarn for these (from Barking Dog Yarns) that is dyed in colorways that are basically the inverse of each other. I love their coordinating mis-matchedness.

The pattern is Monkey by Cookie A., which I modified to add a purl stitch between repeats for a 68 stitch cast on. These socks are actually quite roomy, I could’ve either left the purl stitch out (although I like the extra bit of sculpting it gives the stitch pattern) or used 2.0 mm needles for a tighter gauge. However, I was unsure how sizing would work out using a 2-ply yarn that’s a bit thinner than my typical 3-ply Socks That Rock and I wanted to make sure they weren’t too tight. Overall, I’m quite pleased with these and glad to have them off the needles, since I began them 6 months ago (!) in December.

Aqua Sock Experiment:

Camelot Socks and Other WIPs

A sock that is no more.

I was itching to finish my Camelot Socks so I could cast on with the gorgeous yarn I received in my Rockin’ Sock Club March shipment. The colorway, Gran’s Kitchen, is basically the color of my soul. However, it pooled something awful in the first pattern I tried with it, the Turritella Socks from the May shipment. I was seriously not a fan, so I’ve frogged what you see above and am going try the Jaywalker pattern. I’m hoping for some nice stripey action with a different cast on and stitch pattern.

Colinton Mohair Cowl:

Camelot Socks and Other WIPs

Colinton Cowl. Click for project page.

I got into a nice rhythm on my Myra cowl and was really enjoying the mohair lace yarn, until I dropped a couple of stitches. Normally I’m pretty good at fixing lace mistakes but this is a garter-based lace and garter stitch is always a bit trickier to fix. So this project will have to wait until I have time to focus on it when there’s good light (hopefully this weekend).

Other fun things:

I had a fun mail day recently so I thought I’d share. I’m one of the moderators of the Etsy Shops Ravelry group (come join!) and noticed that there was a sweet sale running in JulieSpins shop, so I treated myself to a skein of Glimmer Lace: 75% SW Merino wool, 20% silk, and 5% stellina (sparkle!). It’s a lovely, deep green/grey mix of shades that should make a dramatic lace wrap. I also received a perfect project bag that I custom ordered from Christine of Third Floor Studios when I vended at the RI Fiber Festival this year. It’s the large size bag in cheerful blue prints that I adore. She was super sweet in person, too, and I highly recommend her bags.

Finally, I’m about halfway through reading Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner. This, friends, is a super interesting book. At first, I thought I was going to hate it. The intro talked a lot about upper middle-class mothers with wealthy husbands and lovely homes who were able to stay home from work to raise their children and were anxious, miserable, and unhealthily obsessive over incredibly small details of their children’s lives. There is almost nothing that irritates me more than a lack of reasonable perspective and I feared this book was going to try to validate the plight of these mothers. In a way, it does, but it creates its case by describing the history of behavioral science and society’s views of motherhood in America and how it’s changed over the decades. From the 1920s when mothers were told they’d damage their children by cuddling them too much to the 1970s when mothers celebrated the ability to go back to work to the millennial mothers who are devoted to attachment parenting and a vision of perfect domesticity. It’s truly fascinating to read how the research has changed over the years and often horrifying to read how the media interpreted its messages. And of course, through all of it, feminism and its issues are deeply entwined. (Not once in any of the mother judgement is a father deemed the cause of a child’s problems.) It’s a fascinating read that I can’t put down. If you’re interested in issues of social justice, feminism, or understanding the real societal drivers behind the so-called ‘mommy wars’ (hint, it’s not the moms) you should check it out. Fair warning: it’s pretty depressing, and a bit pessimistic. However, I’m taking it as an example of what not to do, how not to be, what negative thinking traps to avoid, and what societal influences to look out for whenever I become a mom. So, there’s that going for it… a little bit of perspective after all.

Linking up a bit late with Yarnlong and Stitch Along Wednesday.