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.

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Mending

Turns out that three straight weekends of excitement and good times catches up with a girl. The Fiasco had a wretched cold over the weekend (and somehow managed to throw me a kick-ass birthday celebration despite it) and I’m feeling a tad worn down today myself. I ended up taking a partial sick day and sleeping through yet another snow storm.

Despite the need for recovery, there’s no denying that I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful time. We rented a house so a bunch of out-of-town friends could visit and have enough space to sleep. We ordered some Thai stir fry and noodles and the Fiasco grilled a ton of chicken and cooked up several dipping sauces. We had snacks, delicious cocktails, and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. There was knitting and board games, as well as brunch and a little shopping at the local yarn store, The Mermaid’s Purl. Nary a word was spoken about football and that’s exactly how I like to spend my superbowl weekend.

I picked up a gorgeous braid of Merino fiber by sweetgeorgia yarns (called ‘Sugar Shack’) and Katy knit me a pair of beautiful wristwarmers. I’ve been complaining about how cold my office is and how I needed a new pair and she totally delivered. I love to wear these under my sweaters as they really help keep the heat in while my hands are up on the keyboard without getting in the way (no finger restrictions). She used the karkom wristwarmers pattern (with several alterations) and Madelinetosh DK (in ‘Nebula’) and they’re perfect.

Mending | Woolen Diversions

Oh, darn.

After the Fiasco and I both blew holes in our socks over the weekend, I knew it was time to finally face the darning pile. I think I have about a dozen pairs in there that need repair… and man, I’m not fast at it. It took me 45 min to mend each hole last night, but I was also distracted by TV. I think mending all the socks will be my goal this week, as I’m really tired of wearing the same two or three pairs over and over, while the rest sit in sad-holey-limbo. Plus, the more I fix now, the fewer holes we’ll wear in the remaining pairs with overuse… right? (Sigh…)

I hope your week is beginning restfully!

The Best Gifts Are Handmade

Last week, the Fiasco and I drove up to Boston to spend New Year’s Eve with a couple of our closest friends and their adorable toddler. (My apologies for the lack of photos, she’s seriously the cutest thing.) We had what has turned into our typical, relaxed NYE celebration: yummy food, some champagne, knitting, board games, and barely staying awake long enough to watch the ball drop (all the while wondering who the heck all those newfangled pop stars are). This year, though, we were also surprised with a wonderful gift.

03-IMG_2174A whole group of our friends coordinated to knit us this gorgeous blanket as a wedding present. They each contributed a few squares, even ones who learned to knit in the past but don’t regularly do it anymore, and sent them to Bridgit for sewing up.

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I adore the pattern and color palette they chose. Apparently, I made the choice of pattern easy by gushing about the Vivid blanket designed by tincanknits right around the time that my friends were coming up with this secret plan.

01-IMG_2170As you can see, the colors of yarn they used (Vally Yarns Colrain) coordinate perfectly with our couch and the tencel in the blend gives the fabric a lovely sheen. The project took a bit longer than they had expected and I can only imagine all the plotting and scheming that went on behind my back! I was wondering why everybody’s knitting production appeared to have halted. Whenever I asked them what they were working on I got such vague responses as “Oh, that alpaca sweater still” or “Some baby stuff” or “School’s been so busy I’ve barely knit at all” etc.

Dudes, we totally love it.

We love it so, so much. I don’t know if we can ever properly thank them. Handmade gifts are the best, as are our friends, and we’ll think of them every time we snuggle up under this blanket, and I love that.

What’s the best handmade gift you’ve ever given or received?

Merry & Bright

I hope those of you who celebrate it have had a Merry Christmas and a happy Boxing Day! I am back from my holiday travels and am very happy to be home. My trip involved drinks and debauchery with some very lovely friends in Brooklyn, a visit to a yarn store (of course), copious amounts of cookie decorating with my nephews, and plenty of gift-giving and receiving. It always feels like it goes by in a blink and all you’re left with is an aftermath of boxes to unpack and things to put away, doesn’t it?

I received some lovely knitting and spinning books, skeins of yarn, and piles of fiber so I’m pretty sure my hobbies are all set for a while! I found the Peace Fleece yarn at a yarn store in Brooklyn, it’s a nice sheep-y yarn with gorgeous tweed flecks in the blue. The giant balls of undyed Romney (29 oz combined!) were a gift from the Fiasco’s uncle that he purchased at a local farm. I love that he goes there every year to buy me roving, although I need to find a way to let him know that 29 oz is quite a lot of wool to work through, before my fiber stash takes over! Then Santa brought me the remaining goodies: a braid of Falkland wool from Three Waters Farm, 3 skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Twisted which will be perfect for a sweater, and some very cool Opposites Attract sock yarn that was dyed to make two coordinating-but-not-matching socks.

Adding all of the above to my stash has reminded me how few of the skeins that I received last year have been knit up. (Hint: zero.) I’ve nearly finished spinning the braid of fiber I received, I’m working up the gradients into a shawl, and I’ve wound up the Yaksi… but yeah. I need to get moving. My goal for the weekend is to start some socks with my new sock yarn AND finally begin a shawl with my delightful Yaksi yarn (which they don’t even offer anymore in DK weight, only fingering).

Speaking of socks, check these beauties out:

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Gorgeous socks NOT knit by me!

Megan (a.k.a. wahoo10 on Ravelry) knits so many socks that she just can’t make use of them all, so she sells some of them for a very reasonable price. Even though I have a million pairs of socks in progress, I’ve had a really hard time finishing any lately and all the ones I own have blown holes. So, even though it felt a little like cheating, I purchased the Waffle Creams knit with Eidos yarn (left) and the Marlene socks knit with Sundara sock yarn (right) and I do not regret it one little bit. The socks are gorgeous, fit well, and are made from patterns that I like the look of but would probably never finish knitting (so many twisted stitches!), so cheating be damned–I’m glad to have them!

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Alchemy socks for the Fiasco.

Lest my dear Fiasco think he’s forgotten, I also plan to put some serious work this weekend into the socks show above. They were intended to be a Christmas gift, I even started them way back in October, but, alas, is is difficult to find time for sneaky sock knitting in my busy schedule. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I hope to finish these sooner than later. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Heavyweight in Tea & Alchemy and the pattern is out of my head. I hope to write it up at some point, also sooner than later.

For those of you still merry-making, enjoy it! There is knitting and a movie with my name on it while the Fiasco geeks it up on a new computer game. #home

 

 

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!)

IS #82: Small Business Saturday Edition

I must keep this post quick because I’m taking a big exam tomorrow (eek) but in the spirit of #SmallBusinessSaturday and the upcoming #CyberMonday, I thought I’d highlight a few small, independent businesses that handcraft perfectly gift-able items. There are so many incredible things to choose from on Etsy, so I’m narrowing this list down to shops that I’ve purchased from personally or the shops of people whom I follow on social media (blogs, Instagram, etc).

Royalty Soaps:

Photo copyright Katie White of Royalty Soaps. Click for shop.

Katie makes the most incredible cold-process soaps. The things she does with color and ‘toppings’ (for lack of a better word) are so creative. I’ve been using a lemon creme scented bar that is just divine. I’ve tried out a fair bit of handmade soaps lately, and the ones from Royalty Soaps have an incredible lather and feel so good on my skin, they don’t dry it out at all. They are my current favorite, hands-down.

Amy Hood Arts:

Photo copyright Amy Hood. Click for shop.

Amy is a Rhode Island knitter and artist that I met at a knit night some time ago. Her shop is a mix of gift-able items, with handmade zippered pouches prominently featured. As a marine biologist, I love the nautical and natural themes that run throughout her work.

Haldecraft

Photo copyright Lorena Haldeman. Click for shop.

These monster mugs are just the cutest! So creative, they’d make a really fun gift. Lorena’s mix of products is impressive. She carries ceramics in her Etsy shop, as well as handspun and hand-dyed yarn and handmade soaps on her other website. Busy lady!

June Pryce Fiber Arts:

Photo copyright Cheryl and Jenn. Click for shop.

Cheryl and Jenn are the lovely (semi-local!) ladies behind June Pryce Fiber Arts. They carry hand-dyed fiber, yarn, gradient kits, stitch markers, project bags, and shawl pins. I really liked the look of the lap mat featured above. Its job is to catch any VM that drops out of your fiber while spinning or to protect your lap from whatever messy crafts you are doing. Nice idea!

Northbound Studio:

Photo copyright Misty Ostrowski. Click for shop

Apparently I’m on a bit of a pottery kick, but I think these mugs and other table accessories made by Misty are so adorable. I’ve been watching her make these on Instagram and I love the kind of ‘cutout’ patterns she decorates them with.

katerynaG:

Photo copyright Kateryna Golovanova. Click for shop.

If you’re looking for a handwoven or handknitted beauty of a garment for someone really special, I’m pretty sure that Kateryna is your gal. I found her shop through some posts on the Socks That Rawk! group because she uses a lot of my favorite sock yarn to weave her gorgeous creations. They’re all as breathtaking as this one!

Mary Buttons:

Photo copyright Mary Clarke Edwards. Click for shop.

Speaking of weaving, Mary occasionally weaves amazing fabric from some of my other favorite dyers (Cephalopod Yarns! Verdant Gryphon!) and fashions it into lovely pouches. The one pictured above is actually fabric printed with a cable knitting design, which is pretty nifty in its own right!

The Knitting Artist:

Photo copyright Lisa Urban. Click for shop.

Lisa is an artist who makes incredible paintings of handknit still-lifes. I especially love the colors and textures in the piece featured above. You can purchase prints of her paintings or handmade greeting cards featuring larger-than-life knitting stitches, perfect for all the fiber enthusiasts on your gift list!

Caffeine Girl:

Photo copyright Deborah Kades. Click for shop.

Deborah makes colorful and creative polymer clay necklaces and bracelets. I love the button necklace shown above, all the colors make me so happy! She recently posted all sorts of nice things about my Sweet Sheep lotion bars on her Caffeine Girl Creates blog, which is what inspired me to write my own post featuring small businesses that I admire! Thanks, Deborah!

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Use coupon code THANKS2014 at checkout!

Don’t forget that the free shipping special is still ongoing at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. Enter code ‘THANKS2014’ at checkout to receive free shipping on all orders, everywhere, through Monday Dec. 1st. Happy indie shopping! What’s been inspiring you, lately?

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