Spindle Happy

Goodness knows I have an abundance of spindles. (Remember that time I thought I’d clear all my spindle spinning projects off in the few months I had before the baby was born? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I’m so funny.) But when I learned that Journey Wheel (a.k.a. the makers of Bosworth spindles) were going to be at the Knitting Weekend market, I knew without a doubt that I’d be adding to my collection.

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My new friends.

Bosworth drop spindles are among the best of the best. They’re prized by some of the most prominent spindle spinners in the business, and for good reason. They’re beautiful, perfectly balanced, and have a long, smooth spin. I’ve been wanting one for a long time but have been reluctant to order online because I didn’t know how to tell which one I wanted based just on a description of the size and type of wood. I really needed to see them in person and actually try a few out. Some I liked the look of didn’t spin as nicely as I wanted. One of my spinner friends was right when she said you have to find one that clicks for you.

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Blurry pic of the Midi spindle and Rag Hill Fiber batt.

I first clicked with a Midi size spindle made from Monkeywood. (I admit, I half picked it on name alone.) I purchased a batt from Rag Hill Farm(we’ve vended with them a few times, they’re lovely people!) and started spinning then and there. I’ve been using this batt to practice plying on the fly, and it’s been a lot of fun turn fiber into 3-ply yarn at once, instead of spinning it all into singles, winding it all off, then plying it in a separate step. (Google it, there are lots of videos out there.) Then I came home with a second spindle the next day (a Mini in Heart Pine reclaimed from the roof of an 18th century cabin) because how am I expected to hang around the pretty spindles and chat with the friendly and kind Bosworth couple without buying another?

All in all, it was an excellent show, preceded by a flurry of activity to prepare for it (and to meet some work deadlines) so I’m looking forward to spending my birthday (today!) going out to dinner and relaxing with my Fiasco. My parents are visiting this coming weekend, which should be fun, and I’m planning to spin with my new pretties every second that my hands are baby-free thanks to grandparent occupation.

(Have no fear, all the leftover product from the show will be updated to the shop over the next few days. Just not tonight!)

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Riding the Waves

Oh friends, I can tell these final weeks of pregnancy are going to be a rollercoaster ride. Lately it’s been a mix of time moving super quickly, and ridiculously slowly. Of busybusy things to do and waiting, waiting, waiting. Of running around with errands and appointments and falling asleep almost immediately after work. Of feeling prepared and ready for it all and suddenly feeling anxious about labor and delivery. Of buying the remaining bits and bobs of things we need for baby and pinching pennies to cover my reduced salary over maternity leave. Of wondering about every new ache and pain to just trying to be patient and let my body do what it will. So many contrasts!

This is such a crazy time, the adventure is certainly beginning.

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Tiny bits of progress.

I have not been knitting too much lately. The cardi I finished last week is blocking and awaiting buttons, and I’ve just made a wee bit of progress on the coordinating gradient hat and socks set for Hatchling.

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Coconut Lime whipped goat milk soap

In other news, I made some delectable Coconut Lime whipped goat milk soap for a Sweet Sheep vending event and there are still a few bars left. I’ll be closing shop for the month of July so if there’s something you’ve been keeping an eye on, you should grab it now! Have no fear, though, I’ll be back in action by August. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list or follow the Sweet Sheep Facebook page to stay up-to-date with comings, goings, sales, and updates.

All The Pretty Fiber

The RI Fiber Festival and Craft Fair was this past weekend and it was a lovely time! The weather held out (chilly but no rain) and there were more vendors present than in previous years. Even though we didn’t have time to prep as much as we would’ve liked, Sweet Sheep had a pretty great show, thanks to everyone who stopped by!

There were sheep being shorn and fuzzy bunnies to admire (but not touch, sadly).

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to squish my face into those baby bunnies… *ahem* Anyhow, I made it out of the festival with only two purchases, which showed some serious restraint on my part.

New to the show this year (I believe, unless I missed her last year) was Amanda from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I had just recently purchased a batt from her Etsy shop but still couldn’t resist the brightly-dyed braid of Polwarth in the Snow Cabbages colorway #noregrets. And I knew as soon as I touched the pretty pale blue gradient of Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon in Chrystee’s booth (Play At Life Fiber Arts) that it was coming home with me. Concrete Sky is going to be the next thing on my wheel, for sure. SO SOFT OMG.

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O-Wool skeins for Hatchling’s Sky Blanket.

This wasn’t a festival purchase, but I recently wrote about Knit The Sky and the sky-themed blanket I’ve been inspired to make over Hatchling’s first year of life. I debated yarn choices for a while until I remembered that O-Wool sells gorgeous superwash fingering weight yarn at a great price, and I already had two grey skeins stashed that would be perfect for cloudy days. Snagging a skein of the white, yellow, pale blue, and dark blue to round out the sky possibilities was a no-brainer. I appreciate all the suggestions on my previous post of how to go about knitting this blanket. I’m feeling anti-mitered squares at the moment since I’ve had a mitered square blanket on the needles for years and I feel weird about starting more than one of those monsters at a time. Audry had a helpful suggestion of coloring in squares on graph paper to remember what days each individual square represented so I could join them appropriately, which was a concern of mine. I think I’ll do a little swatching and measuring soon so I can get a sense of whether I want to go with joined squares or stripey garter stitch.

All told, my stash is very happy about its fluffy new members and I’m feeling inspired to get on with new projects!

Five Things Friday

It’s Friday! And I’m celebrating with a list of random things I’d like to blab about.

1- Despite my best efforts at focusing on one WIP, knitting time was minimal this week and my Rotted Days shawl is still not done. However, I am loving the final purple wedge and am still excited to wrap this one up soon.

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So very purple!

2- I’m digging this new cookbook by Andi Mitchell, Eating in the Middle. She wrote an excellent book called It Was Me All Along about her struggles with weight loss and disordered eating that really resonated with me. This cookbook focuses on ‘mostly wholesome’ meals for when you are not actively dieting or indulging, just eating at a healthy maintenance level. The buttermilk dipping sauce and chicken fingers were delicious, as were the morning glory muffins, and the chia seed breakfast pudding I just devoured.  I highly recommend both her books, and her blog if you’re interested in healthful eating or weight loss mindset.

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Om nom nom.

3- I gave myself my 200th lovenox (blood thinner) injection of this pregnancy. Only about 140ish more to go before Hatchling arrives! I will spare you the photos of my black-and-blue belly but some of the bruises are really spectacular, color-wise. Thankfully, they don’t usually hurt, they’re just a bit of a nuisance.

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Emptied box #1!

4- I came across this On the Spice Market shawl using Miss Babs gradient sets and I’m totally in love. I don’t have time for a new shawl right now, and even if I did, so many of Melanie Berg’s shawls have a similar trendy/stripey vibe that I’d have a hard time actually choosing which one to knit, but this one would be near the top of my list, perhaps even in those colors. So pretty!

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Photo copyright Melanie Berg.

5- I’ve updated Sweet Sheep with some out of stock lip balms, including Spearmint and Toasted Coconut. I know Toasted Coconut has been unavailable for a while as I’ve had several requests from customers who are very big fans of it to restock! So it’s there now, just in time to take your lips on a tropical vacation this spring.

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Toasted Coconut lip balm… more om nom nom.

What random things are floating around on your mind this Friday? Have a lovely weekend!

Sweet Sheep Featured Flavor: Lemon Lime

In the interest of fighting the rainy-day blues, I’ve decided to extend the 15% off sale I’ve had running for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. (Are you part of my mailing list? I occasionally run sales that I only announce there, and this was one of them. Do sign up if you haven’t already, I send out news only about once a month!) But, since it’s rainy and gross and I’m wishing for the sun, the spring sale will now run through April 8th. Enter SPRINGSPRUNG at checkout to earn 15% off your purchase! This week I’m featuring the sunniest of lip balm flavors that I make: Lemon Lime.

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Lemon Lime lip balm

Why I love it: This lip balm tastes/smells like sunshine in stick form. It’s bright and energizing, summery and sweet. I admit to always loving lemon/lime flavors, as a kid I consistently chose Sprite over Coke and would eat all the yellow Starburst candies if I had my way. Both the lemon and lime flavors come through here for a fun, vibrant lip balm.

What it pairs well with: I don’t have nearly enough citrus scents in stock right now, but the Lemon Cake lotion bar would make a nice little gift set with the Lemon Lime lip balm and Lemon Cake soap. The Kumquat lotion bar is another energizing citrus that I can guarantee you’ll love if you’re drawn to Lemon Lime.

What’s your favorite sunny, springtime scent?

Some Pretty Things

My drafts folder tells me I began this post 11 days ago, which is a good indication of how much I’ve been meaning to blog lately but have not been able to. That said, some work deadlines should be calming down soon and life should be returning to a less hectic level (fingers crossed). On my last post, Audry asked me how I’ve been keeping up with things lately and I must admit, my wonderful talented dedicated selfless husband is the only thing that got me through the weekend. He set up for our Sweet Sheep show so I could sleep, he made lotions and lip balms like a madman Saturday night so we’d have more stock for the next day, and he was an ever-charming salesman when I didn’t have the energy to be on my feet. Basically, he’s the best partner I could have ever hoped for and Knitting Weekend event at Slater Mill was a success for us, largely because of him. 🙂 And, if you’ve been waiting for any re-stocks, we’ve got lots of new goodies (including sheep-shaped soaps) up in the shop.

The marketplace was filled with all sorts of pretty things but I came home with just two items, from a couple of my favorite local vendors.

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Knitting weekend stash enhancement.

I am absolutely terrible at resisting any of Chrystee’s beautiful colorways (Play at Life Fiber Arts), so whenever we’re at a show together I usually have to come home with something. This time I justified my purchase as a sweater for the Hatchling. I think this rainbow set will make a fun gender-neutral striped Babycakes cardi, perhaps with a white or dark green yarn for the trim. And then, of course, I had to get the cutest buttons I’ve ever seen for the baby sweater: tiny turtles from Katy at Katrinkles. Purchase justified.

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Tanis Fiber Arts gift bundle.

While I’m sharing pretty things, here is some of the yarn I received as gifts over the holidays. Above is Raindrops gift bundle from Tanis Fiber Arts. I’ve admired Tanis’ blog and yarns for a long time, but had not yet stashed any so I’m particularly excited to work with this yarn. It’s a lovely skein of 75% Merino, 25% silk fingering weight yarn in pretty pastel purples and blues. I also really love the bag and have hung up the calendar in my office (which my coworker accurately described as ‘yarn porn’).

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts stash enhancement.

And it wouldn’t be the holiday season without a healthy dose of pretty things from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. On the left is a skein of BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight in the special Rhinebeck 2015 colorway that I wasn’t able to snag at the festival itself. The middle skeins are BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight in Golly, a rich, deep red. The skein on the right is some of the new Single Silky Targhee in Fir-Ever-Green. I have a general idea of what these skeins will become (socks for me, socks for Fiasco, hat for me or sweater for baby, shawl of some sort) but no concrete plans yet.

Has your stash been growing or shrinking since the holidays?

WIPWed #112: That’s More Like It

Things are starting to settle in at the new apartment, and I had a wild burst of activity earlier in the week that allowed me to both 1) knit stuff and 2) make stuff for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. Hooray!

Speckled Sockhead:

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BMFA Socks That Rock MW in a speckled mill end that I love. Click for project page.

My sockhead hat is progressing slowly but surely. Just about the start the stockinette portion now.

Hot Pink Galicia:

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Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts Big Squeeze in Cherry Blossom. Click for project page.

As you can see, I abandoned my mitten plan for this lovely yarn and cast on a gratifyingly-quick hat instead. I realized that I might be a bit short on yardage for the mittens, and I was definitely short on brain power for them. I wanted something to knit for which I wouldn’t have to stress about sizing, and for some reason mittens always stress me out, so hat it was. I’ll post a review of this yarn after I finish and block the hat (still searching for darning needles…).

Sweet Sheep Updates!

I’ve been hard at work trying to get a few last-minute holiday scents up in the shop. Our ever-popular sheep-shaped goat milk soap is now available in sweet-and-decadent Peppermint Cocoa, elegant-minty-floral Winter Gardenia, and bright-and-herbal Orange Rosemary.

A few other favorite scents have just been added to the lotion bar inventory, including Gingersnap, Sweet Almond, Fresh Snow, and Jingleberry. I’ve also added a READY-TO-SHIP custom gift set option, where you can choose three sample sized lotion bars from the list of available fragrances to be packaged in a cotton-muslin bag, perfect for gift-giving. Order this week to ship in time for Christmas! (Last day to order will be Friday 12/18.)

And as for reading this week, I’m back into the second of the Lord John Grey sub-series of Outlander. Not as good as the main series, but entertaining nonetheless.

Wishing you a merry and un-hectic last week before the holidays! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

WIPWed #102: Still Settling Back In

The rest of the conference I was attending last week was great, I even got to briefly visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore (highly recommend!). However, I did arrive home slightly worse for the wear. I’ve had some low-level cold symptoms since deplaning (love that word) and I also injured my foot pretty badly with all the walking around I did at the conference. The top of the arch of my foot has been painful and swollen for well over a week, but the swelling has been going down thanks to lots of icing and resting. I’ve had a  slower settling-back-into-things than I would have liked, but sometimes, you just have to take a break! Taking it easy has lead to a bit more knitting, so that’s good.

Black Tea:

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Plucky Knitter Bello fingering held double. Click for project page.

My Black Tea hat looks nearly the same as last week because I had missed a cable crossing several rows back and spent too much time attempting to fix it by laddering down until I just gave in and frogged back a repeat. One does not always have the patience for tricky fixes!

Berrylicious Socks:

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

These socks also tried my patience this week. I attempted Smokestack Socks and Hermione’s Everyday Socks to no avail – the yarn was just too variegated to look good in either pattern. I finally settled on a simple repeat of alternating knit rounds with rounds of *k3, p1*. Slightly more fun than plain ribbing, but not distracted at all by the colorway pooling and striping. They make for good meeting socks, at any rate.

Grimm Green Stout:

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BMFA Twisted, colorway Grimm Green. No project page just yet.

Now that I’m back home, I’ve finally had a chance to swatch for what I’m hoping will be my Rhinebeck sweater (but I wouldn’t put money on it or anything, time is flying by). This is a swatch for Chocolate Stout by Thea Coleman. It’s going to be a really fabulous, texture grandpa cardi if I can get the sizing just right. The pattern is simple but fun and I’m completely in love with the colorway!

Sweet Sheep Soaps:

I managed to make a couple of new soaps to add to the shop: Coconut Lime whipped goat milk & aloe layered soap, as well as Chipotle Caramel sheep-shaped goat milk soap. Options in the shop are running kind of low as I’m waiting on some supplies to arrive, but once they do I’ll be busy re-stocking lots of different lotion bar scents and soaps, so hang tight!

And as for reading…

I finished the John Irving book I was reading last week and have since downloaded two more to my kindle: Son of an Elephant and Cider House Rules. First, though, I took a quick detour into the young adult version of Discworld with A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. I love this little sub-series about Tiffany Aching, a pint-sized witch with lots of little blue friends in the form of the Nac Mac Feegle. I’m currently reading Wintersmith, the third book in the series, and will probably finish off the series with I Shall Wear Midnight before returning to the John Irving books.

How have you all been? I’m looking forward to catching up on all the blogging I missed! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

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!

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?