Bookending the Month

Getting my second blog post of the month in just under the wire, 30 days after the first one! Never mind that I’ve been writing blog posts in my head each week, I have to actually commit them to the page for them to mean anything. Here’s a mish-mash of Things That Are Happening Lately, including a sale, FOs, and a WIP!

Thing The First: Sale!

sale

Remember Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe? You haven’t heard much from me about it lately (I really need to outsource marketing) but we’re still creating lovely, lanolin-rich lotion bars and lip balms over here! I’m currently running a sale of 15% off a purchase of $15 or more through December 7th. These moisturizers make great holiday gifts and work really well on dry, chapped winter hands.

Thing(s) the Second: FOs!

GUYS OMG LOOK I FINISHED THINGS AND THEY ARE FABULOUS.

This is the Flax pattern, designed by Tin Can Knits, and it fits him perfectly. I knit the 2-4 year size on smaller needles with slightly tighter gauge and it worked out well for my son, who is in the 95th percentile for height and 91st for weight at 17 months old. I provide some measurements on my project page. I used Malabrigo Rios and this knit was totally enjoyable, I’m even considering making an adult-sized one for the Fiasco (but don’t tell him, he’s still holding his breath for more socks).

This is the Roar, A Dinosaur Hat pattern by Kate Oates and it’s already been on lots of adventures, including numerous walks around the neighborhood and on the beach with Nanny and Poppy over our Thanksgiving visit. Those spikes were a tiny pain-in-the-tuckus to sew on because I hate finishing but I’m happy with all but one of them and I’m probably the only person who will ever really notice the messed up one. Again, I used Malabrigo Rios at a slightly tighter gauge and I think I knit the child size because my kiddo has a 19.5″ head.

Both coordinating FOs together, with bonus sloth butt! 😀 I’m really happy with both of these projects and still have enough yarn leftover from the 3 dark green and 1 bright green skeins to make matching mittens and maybe even a cowl or neckwarmer of some sort. I love it when that happens! Does anyone have a suggestion for a toddler-sized neckwarmer? I feel like I’ve never really seen a little kid wear one before.

Thing the Third: WIP!

I have since begun three new projects, all intended as gifts, which I don’t appear to have listed in Ravelry yet (who am I even?!?!) so I’ll blog in more detail about them later, but this one is my current favorite:

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Those colors, though, am I right?!?!?! The yarn is Freia Handpaints Ombre Worsted in the Blue Velvet colorway and it’s ridiculously pretty stuff. The yarn is a single-ply wool, and by feel it’s likely not Merino (or definitely not 100% Merino) as it has a bit more body and bite, not quite as much fluffiness. I’d describe it as a “sturdy” yarn and I imagine it would make really excellent mittens or garments that receive a lot of wear. I’ll reveal the pattern and an FO pic after it’s been gifted. (Just building suspense for next time!) I haven’t done a ton of gift knitting over the past couple of years and it feels really good to be planning presents for people again.

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Less Blogging, More Knitting

While I might be blogging less than I’d like, I am managing to knit more than I have been! And thus I am rewarded with a finished thing.

This cowl is the Skye Boat Cowl pattern by Judy Marples (I love basically everything she designs) and the ridiculously pretty yarn is some long-gone Verdant Gryphon Zaftig (worsted weight merino/cashmere/nylon) in the Burying Beetle equivalent colorway. I used two skeins and the cowl is a comfortable length to wear draped around the neck, it won’t work doubled up, but the fabric is tall/wide enough that it’s still cozy and warm. The yarn is so squishy and delicious, and the variegated colorway works great with the the stitch pattern.

I also really like that the stitch pattern looks great on the wrong side, as well. The slipped stitch ribbing makes a nice edge, and the three-needle bindoff is a simple finish. Basically, I loved everything about this knit. I actually finished knitting it months and months ago but took a long time to get up the motivation to block it, bind off, and weave in ends. Turns out it’s a lot harder to find time, energy, and floor space for finishing projects when you have a toddler.

Oliver is 15.5 months old now and is a ridiculous amount of fun. He’s a big fan of walking everywhere himself now, exploring outside, and scooping things up with spatulas and spoons. Being his parent is getting more and more fun as he’s getting older. I looooooooved the tiny helpless newborn stage but I don’t think anybody would call it fun. But now there are regular tickle fights and games and goofy gestures and so much dancing and many, many books. He even says “mum mum” in this sweet little voice and I’m reasonably sure he’s referring to me and not the cats. It’s amazing.

Work has been insane since about July, when a coworker left and I took over his projects and it’s been deadline after deadline after deadline. There have been many late nights and weekends working. So many that the Fiasco and a good friend of mine and Oliver and I are escaping for a weekend trip to go to Rhinebeck in < 2 weeks. This knitter needs a vacation and Rhinebeck is the perfect little escape to remind me that I am a creative person who might someday have time for hobbies again. I have an modest yet ambitious goal of finishing spinning that pink yarn that’s been on my wheel/spindles since (hold onto your hats) $%@#ing 2014 and knitting myself a pussyhat with it, since I’ve knit many for others but none for myself. We’ll see if I actually manage it in time…

Are you going to Rhinebeck, or another fiber festival? Do you have any project goals?

It’s That Time of the Month

No, not that time, but the apparently once-a-month occurrence of my carving out a minute or two to blog. Honestly, it’s not even a lack of time, but a sheer lack of energy. If I do get time when I’m not working or chasing my little speed-demon crawler or doing things around the house, I just want to collapse and veg out. I don’t always have enough spoons to be organized and creative and interesting. But enough apologizing! Lack of spoons has not meant a lack of yarn in my life, so let me tell you about it.

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Verdant Gryphon goodies

A couple of blog posts ago, I yammered on about Verdant Gryphon closing down. While it’s true that Gryphon herself has left VG, it appears that VG is in fact actually still producing yarn, despite word-on-the-street (a.k.a. Ravelry) being that they were not going to be doing so. Before I knew that, I made one last-ditch acquisition of my two favorite bases: Zaftig (grey, worsted weight MCN) in November Moonlight and Codex (black/green/blue, light worsted BFL/silk) in Verdant Love. For the sake of my wallet, I’m going to just go ahead and pretend like they really did shut down because I could spend entire paychecks on this stuff…

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VG Zaftig in Burying Beetle, click for project page

Guess how many years I’ve been hoarding that lovely little number in my stash? FIVE. FIVE FLIPPIN’ YEARS. I acquired it in 2012, so excited to use it, but it was too pretty, I was too indecisive, and there it sat. I finally found the perfect pattern for it, though: Sky Boat Cowl designed by Judy Marples. The cowl has so much wonderful texture, plays really well with the variegated colorway, and should be just long enough with the two skeins that I have. This I know because another cowl I knit from two skeins of Zaftig is one of my all-time favorites to wear. I’ve been monogamous to this cowl and haven’t knit anything else since I started it about 3 weeks ago. (The photo above is misleading, as I’m over halfway done now.) I’ve been working on it while I’ve thrown myself into the second season of Outlander on DVD, so it’s really felt like the perfect thing to knit lately  (the cowl was inspired by the poem adapted in the theme song to the show, as Judy blogs about here). I could watch that show and dream about a completely romanticized historical Scotland forever. Except I’d miss spending time with this toothy guy:

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❤  ❤  ❤

In some Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe news, a happy customer and fellow knit-blogger has featured my products in the ‘Monday Makers’ post on her blog, as one of a few excellent gift ideas for Mother’s Day. Check it out if you can. Thanks for the love, Jeannie!

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:

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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.

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.

 

Finally, Some Light

Despite all the snow on the ground, I can feel the winter starting to fade. Birds are singing in the morning, the temps are forecast to be above freezing this week, and the sun is a welcome friend returned. Not only for its warmth, but for its light… because I can finally take some decent FO pictures. (Priorities!)

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Deep Dark Stellaria, click for project page.

When I first finished knitting the Stellaria shawl, designed by Susanna IC, I was a little bit dismayed. I had modified the shawl to be deeper/taller (by leaving fewer stitches between short row wraps) but I had not fully appreciated how long this sucker was. It’s a really big shawl, and I was concerned about its wearability.

At first I thought the shawl would only look ‘appropriate’ worn with a fancy dress to a winter wedding or gothic gala of some sort. But after a few weeks of wearing it as depicted in the second photo above, I’ve decided it works. It’s a bit larger than other shawls I wear kerchief-style, but the layers of garter and lace wrapped the neck around make for a nice cascading effect (plus, they’re super warm). I won’t be wearing this shawl much into the spring, but for the winter, its coziness is much appreciated.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Garnet Tonic cowl. Click for project page.

After my quick blocking of this Tonic Water cowl, designed by Thea Coleman, I decided that it definitely needed another repeat. I was tempted to leave it be, but the extra repeat was totally necessary.

With 8 repeats, the cowl falls to a nice length worn open, and just barely fits comfortably doubled up since it’s such a wide piece of knitting. I love that contrasting stripe (and the way it coordinates with my Lucy hat!) more than I can say, but it gave me the devil of a time. When I first saw the design, I thought Thea had done something really clever with beginning and ending the cowl in the contrast color and invisibly joining in garter stitch somehow. Instead, the directions were much simpler, and just involved adding the contrast color at the end and seaming the edges together using the main color. Since I dislike seaming and was feeling lazy, I decided to finagle a different way to close the cowl. I spent an entire hour messing around with it, trying and abandoning ideas like knitting the edges together or doing a three needle bind-off. Eventually, I settled on doing a garter-based kitchener stitch using the contrast color. You can see the contrast color poking through a little on one side of the join, but trust me, it’s much better than it was. And truthfully, I’m so in love with this cowl that it doesn’t even matter.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorway Winter Slant of Light

While I’m thrilled about spring, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this winter colorway from The Verdant Gryphon. Blues! Greens! Greys! All of my favorite things! And since I love my newly finished cowl in the same worsted weight MCN base so much, I think these skeins are destined to become a cowl, as well. Now to find the perfect pattern…

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe on Etsy

New lip balm flavor: French Macaron!

Spring scents are popping up over at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe, too! I’ve just added a brand new lip balm flavor, French Macaron. It’s delightfully sweet, sophisticated, and indulgent. I’ve also restocked a good number of my other lip balm flavors that had sold out (Toasted Coconut, Lavender, Lemon Lime, Winter Clementine, and Vanilla Mint) and added Spring Meadow and Sea Moss lotion bars back into the rotation.

What would you knit with just under 400 yards of dense and colorful worsted weight yarn? Is spring popping up in your part of the world?