Five Things Friday

Since I have absolutely zero FO’s and no actual knitting or spinning progress to show you (actually less than what I showed Wednesday since I bit the bullet and frogged back that green sock), I figured I’d share 5 random things that are making me happy today.

1) I’m really intrigued by this Kelbourne Woolens Mystery KAL:

Image copyright Kelbourne Woolens. Click for blog post.

I’m not usually a fan of mystery KALs, and I need another shawl (ok, project) like I need a hole in the head, but I like the the patterns that resulted from the previous two MKALs (here and here) and I’m intrigued by the yarn they’re promoting: The Fibre Company Meadow, a laceweight blend of Merino wool, llama, silk, and linen. Also, hyndrangeas are my favorite flower. I think I’m grasping for excuses here…

2) This recipe for a Paleo rhubarb clafoutis is absolutely scrummy, and super simple to make. Most Paleo-fied desserts are shockingly high in fat and calories, but this one is comparatively easy on the metabolism. You mix eggs, almond milk, almond meal/flour, coconut sugar, and fruit (I’ve used both rhubarb and strawberries) and bake it into a delicious little bread-pudding-like treat. The recipe serves 8, and each serving contains 173 cals, 10g fat, 17 g carbs, 11.5 g sugar, and 6.5 g protein. I occasionally double the serving and have it for breakfast topped with blueberries. Yum!

Photo from FastPaleo.com

3) This article from Cool Green Science delves into the details of why being in nature makes us happy. The isolation of people, especially kids, from nature is something I really worry about as an ecologist/conservationist/Earth-conscious human and I’m stoked that people are doing work to provide hard evidence about why it’s important for us to have regular experiences outside of climate-controlled walls and glass windows. In particular, the article writes “Numerous studies suggest that recent increases in the levels of mental disorders globally are tied to increasing urbanization and people’s decreasing exposure to nature.” Now doesn’t that sound like something we should care about?

4) On that note, I’m going camping this weekend and am ridiculously excited about it! Even though it’ll be chilly at night, I can’t wait to be OUTSIDE, in the WOODS, for multiple days IN A ROW, with actual honest-to-goodness, in-person FRIENDS! (That sentence, right there, is a reminder of how isolated I usually am from friends, the outdoors, and leisure time.)

5) And finally, I leave you with this random photo of my fluff-tastic Darwin, posing in an awfully majestic manner.

My fuzzy little man.

Have a happy weekend, friends!

WIPWed #92: Monkeying Around

Oh, the exquisite pain of ripping back a whole sock leg. Oh dear, how it stings. #knitterproblems

Camelot Monkeys:

WIPWed #92: Monkeying Around

Traitorous socks. Click for project page.

See that green sock? I got all the way through the cuff, leg, heel turn, and gusset pickup before I realized that I had, in fact, forgotten that I’d cast on 68 sts, not 64 sts, when I began the pink sock back in December. I had added a purl stitch between each repeat to give the pattern a bit more stretch. It’s not super visible and it’s not like the socks will exactly match anyway (being different colors and all), but the patterning on the pink sock looked a bit more sculpted to my eye, and I knew that every time I put them on I’d feel like the green sock was a tad bit tighter (whether it really was or not). Thus, frogging commenced. I was tempted to put the socks in time out and just start something new, but I HELD MY GROUND and re-started the green sock with a minimum of grumbling. I feel like I’ve reached a new level of knitting maturity here, folks. Hurrah for me.

MalMarch Nube:

WIPWed #92: Monkeying Around | Woolen Diversions

Plying time, nearly there! Click for handspun page.

I’ve been rather monogamous in my crafting (having zero free time will do that to a gal) but I did manage to squeeze in a bit of time to ply my Malabrigo Nube singles. I’m making a cabled yarn, which means that the two bobbins of 2-ply yarn you see above is just the first step of plying. Next, I need to run each bobbin through the wheel again to add extra twist to the yarn, then I will ply each 2-ply yarn together in the opposite direction to make the final cabled yarn. I confess, I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

As for books, I finished The Elephant in the Laboratory and have moved on to Mama, PhD. Of all the ‘balancing career and motherhood’ type books I’ve read lately, I like this one the least. It’s by far the most depressing, and is full of essays by women whose experiences are unlikely to be similar to mine. They mostly have humanities PhDs in topics like literature or theater and from what I understand, science is quite a different beast. (Better or worse, who knows.) The essays are written much more poetically than those in the other books, though, and can be quite emotionally moving, albeit usually bleak. I read one this morning by a woman with a special needs autistic child that was just heartbreaking. This review on Amazon sums up my impressions pretty well.

That’s all from me today! Linking up with Yarnalong, as usual.

RI Fiber Festival 2015

The RI Wool & Fiber Festival was a great time, despite some chilly, drizzly weather earlier in the day. There was a nice selection of vendors, a (too) yummy bake sale table, and cute sheep being shorn. Not to mention the Ladies of the Rolling Pin (actually not sure what they’re called, but they dance around with sifters, rolling pins, and a giant cupcake… and I’ve seen this more than once, so I know it isn’t a hallucination!).

We had a great time vending and met some lovely artisans. I kept my purchases to a minimum but after sitting next to them all day, I could not resist taking home a few ounces of colorful mohair locks and a gorgeous, handwoven scarf from the Yarn Crafters booth.

After an incredibly long workweek, the early start, and the busy day, the Fiasco and I collapsed on the couch around 6pm and fell promptly to sleep. I woke up just long enough to transfer to the bed around 11pm and slept full through to the next day! It was rather glorious. Vending is hard work!

Despite all the running around, I did finally have time to take product photos for the newest Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe lotion bar scent: Chamomile Bergamot. This is a bright, clean, elegant scent with gentle floral and citrus notes. It’s part of the new Tea Time gift/sample set that also includes the refined, smoky Black Tea and herbal, fresh Green Tea scents. I hope you check them out!

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Lemon Cake

Man, am I glad this work week is nearly over. I need the weekend, STAT! Luckily, this Saturday (May 16) is the RI Wool and Fiber Festival at Coggeshall Farm in Bristol, RI. Not only does this mean that I’ll get to see my spinning friends and pet some sheep, but I’ll also be vending my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe products from 9am – 4pm, so if you’re in the RI/CT/MA area, you should come on over and say hi! Let’s feature a different fragrance this week, shall we? Lemon Cake!

Lemon Cake solid lotion bar

Why I love it: Lemon Cake is by far one of my favorite lotion bar fragrances. It’s delectably sweet, almost buttery in its cake-yness, with a bright, refreshing lemon note on top. It’s pleasing to just about everyone and I love seeing the look of greedy delight in customer’s eyes when they smell it for the first time. The Fiasco even keeps a tin of Lemon Cake on his desk at school, just to sniff from time to time because it makes him happy (he doesn’t really use lotion). It’s that good.

What it pairs well with: I include Lemon Cake in my Coffeehouse Specials gift set, which also includes Cinnamon Chai (warm and spicy) and Turkish Mocha (coffeehouse delight), two other deliciously dessert-like scents. If you wanted to create your own mix pack, I’d suggest pairing it with Kumquat  (tangy and bright) or Honey Beeswax (rich and warm) to play off the summery, citrus notes.

Frosted Lemon Cake handmade soap

And of course, now you can get the same Lemon Cake fragrance mixed with Cream Cheese Frosting in my new, handmade Frosted Lemon Cake honey base soap!

Hope to see you all at the fiber festival tomorrow. If you do come, let me know that you follow this blog and I’ll give you 10% off your order! Happy Friday!

WIPWed #91: A Sock and a Book

The title says it all, folks. All I have to show today is a sock and a book. First, the sock.

Camelot Monkies:

0513150955b

These socks were my one-and-only WIP this past week, after finishing my mom’s gift socks. I appear to be on a sock kick, and since socks are my most numerous WIP category, I’m glad of it. I began this pair a few months ago (ok, actually, half a year ago, yikes!) in December. I knit the first leg and heel (pink!) and then let them sit but am now happily plugging away on the second sock (green!). The pattern is Monkey by Cookie A. and the yarn is from the fun Opposites Attract series of colorways by Barking Dog Yarns. I love me some cleverly coordinating skeins of yarn.

0512152328As for my the book, I’ve finished up Outlander (Why didn’t anyone tell me that the 8th book is not the final book?! It just ends! When will there be more?!) and have re-commenced some soul-searching with Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory. I apologize in advance but it appears that my 30th year will be one of Upheaval and Distress unless I sort some things out, and you’ll likely hear about it here because reading, writing, and research are how I deal. This book is filled with essays written by women who earned their PhD’s from 1970 to now and their experiences balancing their careers with their family life. Work-life balance can be a bit of a taboo subject in science, and there isn’t much guidance to How to Be a Scientist beyond how to work in academia as a professor, which has a dismal hiring rate. (Only 8% of PhD students become tenured professors, yikes!) Alternative job options are basically unspoken of and you really need to do a bunch of digging and take some chances to find things out yourself. This book is a great way to ‘meet’ a bunch of women who managed to find career fulfillment along both traditional and atypical paths in science, and raise some kids, to boot. #mynewheroes

That’s all I have for you this week as I have a major deadline and must get back to writing. Hope all is well! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Soap for Sale!

I was super surprised (and excited!) to see all the love for handmade soap that my Sweet Sheep product survey results reported. I thought I was one of the odd ones who got excited over soap-y goodness, but I’m thrilled that I’m not alone. I’ve had lots of fun experimenting with a variety of soap bases and have created three new soaps for sale. I was inspired by the recent cheery spring weather we’re having here in RI (finally!) and I think these beauties reflect that!

Lavender Vanilla Shea Butter Soap:

The first soap is comprised of Lavender Essential Oil-scented soap (purple) layered with Vanilla Bean-scented shea butter soap (white). The top layer is shea butter and castille (natural, olive oil-based) soap whipped into frothy goodness. Whipped soap has a great spongy texture and makes a luxurious lather. The whole thing is topped off with a sprinkling of jojoba beads and culinary-grade lavender buds.

Frosted Lemon Cake Honey Soap:

This second soap looks (and smells!) good enough to eat! It’s comprised of a Lemon Cake-scented honey soap base (yellow) layered with Cream Cheese Frosting-scented white soap. Like the lavender soap above, the top layer is a whipped soap mixture sprinkled with colorful jojoba beads.

Citrus Surprise Hemp Seed Oil Soap:

Last but not least, this soap is a fun mix of soap bases and fragrances. It contains slivers of the Frosted Lemon Cake soap engulfed in orange-tinted, Kumquat-scented hemp seed oil soap. The orange has a bit of a shimmer to it, and the combination of bright citrus and sweet frosting scents is delectable. And I must admit, I love the way the embedded soap peaks out from the surrounding base!

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll give handmade soap a try. Are you a fan of unique soap? What does your favorite bar of soap look/smell/feel like?

FOFri #40: Just In Time To Be Late

I finished my mom’s Mother’s Day socks just in time… to arrive one day late in the mail. Oh wells, they’re done! Can we take a moment to appreciate that they’ve technically been on the needles since 2013, however, I had only knit one leg until I picked them back up again on 4/28. Which means that I knit about 80% of a pair of socks in just under 10 days! That has to be some kind of record for me.

These is the Flocked Sock pattern by Sara Morris. It’s a nice, simple sock with a fun little slipped stitch repeat framed by garter stitch columns. I added 2 sts to each garter stitch strip so that they were 6 sts wide, and I did my own thing for the heel and the toe, otherwise they are unmodified. I used Miss Babs Yummy 3-ply sport weight sock yarn in the Autumn Forest colorway. This yarn is so squishy and delightful, it was a joy to work with. If the socks look a bit big in the photos, it’s because my mom has longer feet than me. I knit the feet to about 10″ and had a golf ball sized bit of yarn left. If your feet are any larger than that you might want a shorter cuff (mine were about 6″) or a second skein.

IMG_2858I also finally (finally, finally) finished the knitted jewelry frame that I started for myself after making 6 of them for my bridesmaids and then losing the project bag containing the final one for 8 whole months. Man, it feels good to finish that thing, and I love how organized my jewelry is now. I went all #KonMari uncluttering on my collection, too, so that feels good.

All in all, it’s Friday, the sun is shining, I went on a nice bike ride yesterday, I have a massage and a spinning event to look forward to tomorrow, I’ll likely go for a hike on Sunday, and I finished some socks in record time. I’d say things are looking up! Happy Friday, friends.