Prepare for Eye Candy

Oh boy, oh boy. My new Woodland Woodworking support spindle showed up and it is beyond gorgeous.

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Feast your eyes!

If you haven’t heard of Woodland Woodworking before, you must immediately go admire Carl’s work. His spindles are fairly unique in both shape and style. I had never encountered a teacup spindle before his, and rarely have I seen any spindles painted with such gorgeous precision.

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Pretty, pretty snowflakes!

His custom list is filled up months and months in advance and his updates seem to be few and far between, and sell out in seconds. In truth, I was hoping to land this blue snowflake beauty, but I am thankful to have been able to purchase any spindle at all. The one I received is a bead spindle made of German hornbeam and redheart. It is quite lightweight (0.87 oz, or 24 g) and shorter than some of my other support spindles (9.75 in).

My collection currently consists of a Texas Jeans Russian spindle in curly maple, a Texas Jeans Tibetan in maple and purpleheart, the new Woodland Woodworking bead spindle, and a Hipstrings tahkli for cotton spinning in carbon fiber and acrylic. The two Texas Jeans spindles are the longest at 12″ and 11″, while the tahkli is the shortest at 9″. The Tibetan is the heaviest (31 g), followed by the Russian (27 g), then the new bead spindle (24 g), and finally the tahkli (7 g).

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Spinning tip comparison.

What I found really interesting is the difference in the thickness of the spinning tip of the new Woodland Woodworking spindle from the tips of the Texas Jeans support spindles I’ve been accustomed to using. The WW tip is much thicker than the TJ spindle tips. So while the spindle is lighter, you don’t get quite as much spinning force bang-for-your-buck as you do with a thinner-shafted spindle and it took my fingers a little bit of time to adjust to the different feel.

I can tell that I could get really wrapped up in analyzing the different spin times / feels / speeds etc. of different spindle types. I may or may not have already begun a spreadsheet tracking the dimensions of my spindles. I suppose this means I’ll just have to obtain one of every kind for a thorough analysis… what do you think? ;)

(P.S. The lovely fiber I’m spinning on the new spindle is some Merino wool hand-dyed by June Pryce Fiber Arts. I love the colors!)

WIPWed #77: Counting Down!

The holidays are creeping ever closer, aren’t they? Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it, and there’s only just about a week left until Christmas! Even though I’m not knitting many presents this year, I was still up into the wee hours putting together gifts.

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Photo project!

With all the digital photography these days, I forget how much I like to play around with actual printed photos. Back in high school, I worked in a CVS photo lab and made piles and piles of carefully curated albums of my friends and family. While digital photos are fun in their own right, I don’t get the same pleasure from scrolling on a screen as I do from flipping through a book. (Although I have been known to spend an ungodly amount of hours putting together digital photo albums. Blurb is awesome for that, btw.) While making some wedding photo collages, I was reminded that I should print pictures more often… you know, when I have spare time (hah!). Onto the WIPs!

Overdyed Cypress:

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Motoring along on my vest. Click for project page.

I found some time to work on my Cypress vest again! I have revised my original goal (finishing by the end of November) to finishing by my birthday, near the end of January. I’m determined to wear a handknit garment when I turn 30. I think I can do it!

Big Purple Cowl:

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Malabrigo Mecha, colorway Whales Road. No project page as of yet.

After several days of waffling over a few bulky cowl patterns for my fashionable, pre-teen Christmas giftee, I started a completely different one than the others I had listed: Millwater. I really adore this pattern, and have knit it before, but I think it might be better suited to thinner yarns like the DK for which it was written. It’s simple enough that it should work in any yarn, but the scale of things gets thrown off with bigger yarn and needles. For instance, in the bit I started above, I modified the garter stitch counts and changed the cable from 24 stitches of *k2,p2* rib to 16 stitches of *k1,p1* rib to make it less gigantic. While that’s fine, I’m feeling like it’s missing a bit of oomph and the garter is a little denser and less smooth than I think this yarn wants to be. Back to the drawing board…

Petrol BFL:

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Countess Ablaze BFL/firestar/silk in Petrol.

I am this close to finishing the singles for this spin. I cannot wait for it to be over. While the Babe is a perfectly serviceable wheel, after spinning on my new Lendrum it just feels clunky and somewhat coarse, instead of smooth and relaxing. Nearly there, though, nearly there. That bit of fiber is all I have left, and the plying should go quickly enough.

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Review & Giveaway!

 

Finally, check out the Knitting Sarah blog for a wonderful review of my Sweet Sheep lotion bars. Sarah is hosting a giveaway you can enter through the comments (winner will be picked on Monday) and there’s a special coupon code for readers of her blog! Thanks for the lovely review, Sarah!

P.S. This is my 500th blog post! That sounds insane! Apparently, I’m quite verbose. Thanks for reading, friends!

Better Late Than Never

While we’re cutting it a little close for Christmas, I did finally get the last of my holiday lotion bar scents up in the shop!

Ribbon Candy is a delightfully sweet, berry-kissed scent that is both festive and delicious. It is included in the Season’s Treats sample-sized gift set (along with Peppermint Cocoa and Gingersnap). I’ve also created a Winter Wonderland gift set that contains Fresh Snow, the now-well-known-Jingleberry, and Winter Gardenia. There’s still time to ship before the holidays if you place your order soon! (Last day to order is Dec. 19th.)

The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that the Yarn Harlot suggested my bars as part of her most excellent Gifts for Knitters series! She in fact said that they “look fabulous”… which basically made my day/year/life. :-D Woohoo for Sweet Sheep!

Packing a bulk order.

I spent much of the weekend busily re-stocking the shop and filling bulk orders. My house smelled… intense. Crisp Pear, Apple Butter, Sandalwood Vanilla, Cinnamon Chai, and Black Tea don’t mix quite as well as one would think, when they linger in the air. In fact, all the combined scents gave me a massive headache for most of Sunday, so I took it pretty easy after that. I could hardly even knit!

Coutness Ablaze BFL/silk/firestar in Petrol.

So I spun a bit here and there instead. I even made time on Saturday to head out to the Rhode Island Spinner’s Guild monthly meeting. I haven’t been to a meeting in so long, but every time I actually get myself over there I’m always so glad I went. I don’t think there’s a lovelier, friendlier group of spinners around. Everyone is so welcoming and willing to share their knowledge, their fiber tools, and their skills. It’s wonderful. I highly recommend joining a group if you haven’t yet. It’s well worth making time for, even in the middle of this busy season.

Are you part of a guild or knitting/spinning group? If not, what’s holding you back?

IS #83: Bulky Cowls

‘Tis the season… for bulky handknits! Not only are they on trend at the moment, but they’re also a knitter’s best friend when it’s 12 days ’til Christmas and gifts still need to be made. Not that I’m in that situation, because I said I wasn’t going to knit any gifts this year…

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Malabrigo Mecha, colorway Whales Road

Except for one (there’s always one). There’s a young lady on my gift list who wants accessories for Christmas and no store-bought, machine-made cowl is going to befoul her pretty little neck while she’s related to me. So a bulky cowl in the yarn pictured above, it will be. But which pattern?

Casu Cowl:

Photo copyright Galia Lael. Click for pattern page.

I’ve had my eye on this lace-and-texture cowl for quite some time. It’s a free pattern that is written for worsted weight yarn but is easy to scale up. Knitted end-to-end (like a scarf) and then grafted together, you can make it pretty much any size you need.

State Street Cowl:

Photo copyright Carrie Bostick Hoge. Click for pattern page.

I’m such a sucker for lace-writ-large, and this cowl does not disappoint. The stitch pattern looks a lot like the one used on the ever-popular Monkey Socks and the size and shape make it seem so cozy.

Drop Stitch Cowl:

Photo copyright Abi Gregorio. Click for pattern page.

I’ve seen this cowl turn up quite a bit on blogs and project pages. I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be simpler, and would look best in super bulky yarn (as shown) vs. my tiny-in-comparison regular bulky yarn. I would especially love this drop stitch pattern knit in colorful yarn.

Shawl Collared Cowl:

Photo copyright nevernotknitting. Click for pattern page.

This cowl is just hands-down, super classy. The thing I hate about some short cowls is that they’re never QUITE close enough to the neck! They tend to just hang there like pretty knitted jewelry, too short to wrap twice around for snugness but long enough that they let too much air in around the neck. The shawl collar here fixes that with double thick garter stitch coziness right where you need it! I probably won’t knit this for the pre-teen gift I’m planning right now but I’ve certainly talked myself into making one for me ASAP!

Voluminosa:

Photo copyright Katja Ottosson. Click for pattern page.

This cabled gorgeousness would be right up my stylish giftee’s alley. It’s lush and dramatic and a little bit sassy, plus it looks totally snuggle-able.

I’m not yet sure what I’ll end up knitting, I have been kicking a few ideas around for a design so I might end up going with one of those if I can get my swatches in order. Do you have a favorite quick gift pattern? Any great bulky cowls you’ve seen lately? Share with us in the comments below!

IS

Jingleberry!

Alright, folks, the votes are in and the name for the new sweet, spruce holiday lotion bar scent is… Jingleberry!

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Yaaaaaay! I have a name!

Even better, it’s now available for purchase, and if you’re in the US, there’s still time to order before Christmas! Thanks to everyone who suggested names and voted, this was really fun! Congrats (and special thanks!) to ELM for suggesting the winning name.

Just a quick note today, have a happy Friday, everyone!

WIPWed #76: Neutral

A terrible thing happens when your December is full of work/life deadlines: you kind of miss the whole thing. You get a little bit like “Huh? Christmas is coming? When is that happening again? Let me check my calender…” despite the many images of holiday cheer flooding all forms of media. You feel a bit like it’s not really happening. My favorite part of the holidays is the anticipation and the build-up beforehand, and because I basically plowed through November preparing for the GRE and am now barreling through December with grad school applications and work deadlines, I’m left blinking in confusion at how it could possibly be December 10th already.

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We did get the tree decorated, though, Limulus style.

I’ve been living so far in the future that I’m missing the present, and I’m trying to remedy that. I’m trying to remember that there’s always January for the resolutions and the plans and the goals, that December can be for going easy on things and taking care of deadlines one step at a time. I’m trying to remember that spending an evening shopping for gifts and baking treats is not a waste of time that I should be spending more productively. That relaxing, itself, can be a worthwhile use of time. (The Fiasco will likely laugh his ass off when he reads that line…)

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Falkland on my new Lendrum. Click for handspun page.

So I’ve been taking a few minutes a day to spin on my new wheel. Nothing ambitious, no grand plan, just working my way through the 17 oz of Falkland wool I got from Webs and loving the thin, even single I’m spinning with hardly any effort. That’s my second bobbin, I’ve spun up about 5 oz already. Sherrill from The 1764 Shepherdess (Baabonnybelle on Instagram) is proposing a #spin15in15 hashtag to spin for 15 minutes a day starting in January. I intend to use it.

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New design in the works. Click for project page.

Even my knitting has been uncharacteristically neutral. This cowl is a delightfully soothing knit in a squishy, fluffy farm yarn from Foxfire Fiber. It’s intended as a Christmas gift (I know, I couldn’t resist) and it’s also the first new design that I’ve worked on in a long time. It’s been nice to play with stitches again. (If you’re interested in testing this cowl, please email me at alicia at woolendiversions dot com. You’ll need less than 200 yards of a fluffy DK or worsted weight yarn. Something like Malabrigo worsted, Brooklyn Tweed Loft, or a woolen-spun handspun skein would work nicely.)

So here’s to slowing down, tackling the to-do list one thing at a time, and letting my dreams of exciting and colorful future projects and endeavors wait until January, because I’m determined to pay attention to December before it’s gone. What are you working on this week?

(P.S. There’s just one more day to vote for your favorite name for my new holiday lotion bar scent! Check it out here. It’s a close race between Home for the Holidays and Jingleberry!)

Name This Scent! Vote

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with name ideas for this lovely, sweet, spruce-y, holiday lotion bar scent:

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We had some really, really great ones! The random number generator chose comment number 2, so congrats nerdinthebrain! Once this fragrance has a name, I’ll stick a label on a bar and send it your way. Now, I narrowed down the names to TEN choices based on logistics (had to fit on the label!) and some subjective opinion. :) Please vote for the one you like best, and tell your friends! Whomever supplied the winning name in the first place, will receive a lotion bar and lip balm of their choice. Voting will close this Thursday, and winner will be announced Friday.

Which name do you think best fits the holiday scent depicted in the photo above?

I’m excited to see which name wins, and thanks to everyone who made suggestions, it was tough to narrow it down!

In related news, I’ve added some of the new winter scents up on Sweet Sheep! Hover over the photos below to see their names.

New scents means some of last season’s are now on sale for 20% off. And while we’re at it, I should let you know that the last day to place ready-made orders before Christmas is Friday, Dec. 19th, I’ll be traveling on the 20th and will ship before I leave. The last day to order custom items (like our custom gift sets!) will be Friday, Dec. 12th. Shipping will be delayed starting Dec. 20th and will resume again on Dec. 29th.

Well, all of that pretty much took up my entire weekend. How was yours?