Soft or Scratchy?

I am highly amused by the different ways with which the Fiasco and I perceive fiber.

img_3985_medium2

Brooklyn Tweed Quarry in Moonstone

I recently acquired a skein of the relatively new BT Quarry so I could re-knit my failed Fidra hat attempt. This yarn is bulky weight but light-as-air, more like pencil roving than yarn since it contains very little twist and can be pulled apart with ease. I’m completely loving its airiness and am enjoying my re-knit so far.

12534314_539564009539027_1480623174_n_medium2

Fidra hat in progress.

My husband, on the other hand, took one touch and declared it “scratchy”. He says the same thing about my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl, knit with BT Loft. Clearly, the Fiasco is not a fan of Targhee-Columbia woolen-spun wool. What my fingers feel as fluffy, air-filled fuzziness, his feel as prickly, un-smooth scratchiness. It’s fascinating. (To be fair, he said the same thing about a superfine Merino wool yarn once, and declares that only the finest baby alpaca is suitable for his skin, so… grain of salt?)

Have you worked with Brooklyn Tweed yarns before? Do you like their ‘rustic’ hand?

Advertisements

WIPWed #115: How Many Times

How many times must one knit a hit, before one gets to have a hat?

Skunk Reborn:

I re-knit the Fidra hat of last week into… another hat I don’t like. I attempted to get fancy with the decreases, picturing a turn-a-square garter stitch situation, but I just ended up with a very pointy, flat-topped hat. I need to start the garter detail earlier, decrease faster, decrease in more places, or try all three. Either way, this hat is getting at least partially frogged again.

Speckled Sockhead:

IMG_3975

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight in a OOAK colorway.

I remembered to bring my Sockhead hat home for photos this week! As you can see, progress has been made, but I think I still have a few more inches of stockinette to go before I can decrease. I really like how the colorway is knitting up.

Merino Mind Bullets:

IMG_3992

BeeMiceElf Merino fiber, colorway Mind Bullets

I’ve enlisted my new glasspin spindle to help my Turkish spindle along in my spinning project. I’m pleased to see that I’m achieving a similar thickness even though I’m using different tools, so I’m hopeful that the yarn will ply up fairly evenly.

As for reading, I’m still working through Michael Pollan’s Cooked. I may have spoken a little too soon last week when I said it was boring, it got much mroe interesting when he began talking about bread-making and fermenting. I think it’s because those chapters were more similar to the content of my favorite book of his, The Botany of Desire, where he details the way that a few different domesticated plants and humans essentially co-evolved. Here, he’s setting up the same kind of discussion with different forms of yeast, so the writing is more botanical/biological in nature and less philosophical. Anyway, I’m seeing it through.

And that’s about it from me this week! Not too much knitting happened since I’ve been enjoying my new spindle, but that will soon change as I have many knits I’m itching to get started on. Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

WIPWed #114: Win Some, Lose Some

I feel freeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Freeeeeeeeeeeeee! My huge work deadline is over, and while there’s another one next week, for the moment, I’m freeeeeeeeeeeee! Just in time, too, as this weekend is my [final childless] birthday, and I could really use a break.  My parents were supposed to visit but it looks like that plan may fall through due to impending snowstorm making travel less-than-safe. If they don’t visit, I’m going to try to:

  • Go for a walk outside, despite the cold, because I miss nature;
  • Go shopping for some things I’ve been meaning to get (boots, Lush products);
  • Cook a delicious meal with the Fiasco, perhaps with some pots de creme;
  • Watch some movies / play some games;
  • Join the new gym I’ve been eyeing up since we moved and go for a swim (due to the blood clot, doc has advised against most exercise but swimming should be ok and quite frankly, I need to do something or I’ll go insane);
  • Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit all the thingz; and
  • Spin all the thingz.

My plans are not particularly fancy and they involve mostly alone or one-on-one time but honestly, I’ve been so busy since Thanksgiving (basically) that I’m looking forward to some quiet time doing simple things that make me happy. What would you do with a suddenly free (and snowy) birthday weekend?

Now for WIPs and books…

Christmas Katniss Socks:

IMG_3962

BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays. Click for project page.

Same ol’ socks as last time, just a few repeats further along. Lack of knitting time has somewhat impeded progress…

Skunky Fidra:

IMG_3961

The Verdent Gryphon Odyseey in Atomic Skunk, click for project page.

I really wanted to love this hat, but unfortunately, I think I hate it. The pattern was fun, and the yarn is delicious, but together they look pretty awful. Part of me is holding out that blocking would help but really, I don’t think so, I think this sucker is getting frogged. In fact, I already ordered different yarn to knit this hat with instead… what would you do?

Merino Mind Bullets:

IMG_3964

Spinning progress! Click for handspun page.

I’m holding true to my goal for 2016 and spinning more than I had been. In fact, I’ve been reaching for this wee spindle more often than my knitting, and I have a fat little turtle of yarn to show for it. I still feel like I’m not even making a dent in the fiber, but at least I’m working on it.

Reading:

IMG_3965

Books, books, books.

I know it’s only January, but “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler is the best book I’ve read all year. I absolutely loved it. She’s funny and charming, as expected from seeing her comedy, but she’s also really smart and emotionally deep and poetic in her essays. She wrote a lot about pregnancy and motherhood which resonated with me right now, and it was all-around fabulous. I think I read it in 3 days, I couldn’t put it down. “Cooked” by Michael Pollan is less wonderful, but still interesting. He’s exploring 4 different modes of cooking (fire = grilling, water = stews, air = bread baking, earth = fermenting) and he’s getting quite loquacious over the symbolism of these kinds of cooking, their roles in human development and society, and their impact on gender roles in the kitchen. It’s a little… pretentious? Honestly, it’s boring at times and his metaphors and social philosophizing area a bit of a stretch. His other books were much better, but I still like to read about his cooking experiments and there are some interesting bits in there.

That’s it from me this week! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

WIPWed #113: New on the Needles

Thanks for all the congratulations and commiserations on my last post! It’s lovely to hear the experiences of mothers who have been there, done that, seen some crazy things, and gotten through to the other side. I’m still intending to write about the holiday gifts I made and the yarn I acquired, but the days keep slipping by and here we are at Wednesday Thursday already, so day-late WIPs it is.

Christmas Katniss Socks:

IMG_3944

BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays. Click for project page.

The Katniss socks have been my main WIP lately. The cables are fun to work and show up pretty well even in this variegated yarn. What’s been really fun, though, is trying out the brand new Tigger Targhee yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Tina named it ‘Tigger’ since it is an exceptionally bouncy yarn. It’s so bouncy because its construction is fairly unique in the sock yarn market: it’s an 8-ply cabled yarn, made from 4 plies of 2-ply yarn that have been overtwisted and then plied together. All that ply twist means it has lots of spring!

IMG_3919

Comparison of Socks That Rock LW (left) and Tigger Targhee (right).

This photo shows Socks That Rock LW and Tigger Targhee, side-by-side. STR is a traditional 3-ply yarn that also has lots of spring. Both yarns are roughly the same heavy fingering weight, so you can imagine how incredibly thin the 8 plies of TT must be. The colors on TT look a little more muted to my eye, likely because all of the twists break up the way light reflects. I’m looking forward to seeing how they feel when I wear them. Anyway, there’s your dorky yarn deconstruction for the day.

Skunky Fidra:

IMG_3947

Verdant Gryphon Odyssey, colorway Atomic Skunk. Click for project page.

Continuing my recent hat streak, I’ve barely just begun the new bulky weight hat pattern from Gudrun Johnston, Fidra. It’s so pretty! So fluffy! Must have! I’m also still working on my Speckled Sockhead but that lives at the office so I have no recent photos.

IMG_3946

My reading of late.

Two books have occupied my attention lately, one just for fun and the other for research. Mindy Kaling is hilarious (which should not surprise me since she wrote for The Office) and I love her current show The Mindy Project. Her book of memoir-like short essays and stories is quick and fun to read, highly recommend. The Baby Bargains book is essentially a resource where people did all the market research for me already, and just tell me what is best to buy. The authors base it on their own experience as well as feedback from thousands of their blog readers. It’s like reading all of the Amazon reviews for every product I could ever need all at once, without having to sort through the shitty ones that just say “this shipped very fast ” (DUH, IT’S AMAZON). It also clues you in on how to cut corners, stick to a budget, avoid expensive pitfalls, etc. I used their Bridal Bargains book during wedding planning and it saved a lot of sanity.

That’s it from me today! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

 

Review: Ancient Arts Fibres Big Squeeze

I have a soft spot in my heart for bulky weight yarn, and this beauty is officially one of my new favorites.

12224589_1678464922369190_983958773_n

The yarn is a brand new bulky weight superwash Merino from Ancient Arts Fibres. Each skein consists of about 130 yards of 2-ply superwash Merino wool, hand dyed in Canada. I was originally planning to make some mittens, but at the last minute switched to a lacey winter hat, instead.

IMG_3929

The pattern is Galicia, designed by Trelly Hernández. The lace isn’t charted, which is why I only rated the pattern 4 stars (plus it only comes in one size), but it makes a really lovely hat, and the decreases are nice and neat.

The yarn is squishy with a middle amount of twist (not too much, not too little) and I had no problems with splitting. It performed really well in the lace and holds the shape of the blocked hat nicely. After the holidays, I’ll probably buy myself another skein to make those mittens I had originally planned to mitt, as I bet the yarn would make some delightfully squishy cables. I had a peach-sized ball of yarn left over from this hat. My favorite part about it, surprisingly, is the hot pink color. I am not generally a pink-loving person, but this particular shade coordinates nicely with the accents on my coat.

IMG_3925

Plus, it’s so bright and cheery, how can you not love it? All around, I’d give the yarn 5 stars, well worth a try and reasonably priced at $23/skein for some decent quick gift-knitting.

I’m signing off for the holidays, hope all who celebrate have a merry time!

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:

IMG_3902

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:

IMG_3916

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.

Exhaustion Doesn’t Cut It

The past couple of weeks have utterly worn me out. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend was fun but busy with lots of traveling. Then the following week was non-stop work for a very large deadline that is still somewhat looming over my head. Then this weekend we moved. Packing, moving, and unpacking rate very highly on my list of least favorite things, but my Fiasco is a magnificently talented moving master, so it all went smoothly. He and his brother and mom really put the hustle on and made moving as painless as possible. They’re wonderful and skilled in ways that I am not. In fact, my dear Fiasco single-handedly painted the new walls (who thought poop-brown was a good wall color?!) and painted over our old walls (goodbye teal, yellow, green) and cleaned the old place up without a finger lifted from me, as I’m still working on that damn deadline.

2015-12-06

Sage green is SO MUCH NICER than poop brown.

I know, I’m lucky.

Needless to say, my knitting has suffered. I have yet to cast on the mittens I talked about 12 days ago, and the only thing I’ve done is a bit of ribbing for a Sockhead Hat:

12317721_490075307838103_2131183770_n

This is the only project of which I’m currently certain of its whereabouts, since it lives in my purse. Everything else is in Tower of Boxes Limbo Land. It’s not a super interesting knit but I am really loving the yarn (a mediumweight Socks That Rock mill end) and it’s going to coordinate perfectly with my favorite bright blue fleece.

It’s interesting to see the split in bloggers’ attitudes towards the upcoming holidays. Some are in full-on confident gift knitting mode, aiming to knit a bajillion-and-0ne-things over the next month. Others are approaching the beginnings of panic mode, realizing that there are only so many hours in day. And still others express surprise that Christmas is less than 3 weeks away. I fall into the latter group, with a heap of ‘bah humbug!’ added in for good measure. I am probably just tired, but with all the running around recently, I can’t even fathom decorating or buying stuff for gifts. I swear, there’s nothing like moving and subsequently having to put away every single item in your possession to make you really, really sick of stuff. Bah humbug, indeed.

So I’m listening to a holiday playlist while I work in the hopes of turning my mood around and I’m actively trying to avoid scoffing at capitalist greed whenever I see/hear/read holiday ads. It’s part of why I didn’t participate in Black Friday or Small Business Saturday or BuyStuffSunday (I’m sure Sunday is called something) or Cyber Monday with Sweet Sheep. It all just felt too… contrived. Meaningless, and pushy, and not-the-point.

What do you do when you’re just not feeling the spirit?

 

 

FOFri #44: Two Hats, Plus Tassels

Two FO Friday posts in a row?! I think it’s fair to say that I’m on a roll, especially because this post contains two FOs. The speediness of hat knitting is one of my favorite things.

Antlers for Dad:

I busted this project out in just 5 days. FIVE DAYS, WOOT! Then it took forever to dry, so it arrived well past my Dad’s birthday, but still… I made the effort? The pattern is the free Antler Hat by TinCanKnits and it’s a really fun, zippy little project. I knit it in the Madelinetosh Vintage called for and absolutely, 100% love that yarn. It’s a dense, tightly-twisted worsted weight superwash Merino with a nice, smooth hand that is perfect for cables (though it takes a while to dry).

FOFri #43: Two Hats | Woolen Diversions

Tidy hat crowns make me unabashedly happy, blurriness and all.

I knit the adult small, but be warned that the cables make the hat quite snug. Anyone with a head bigger than my 20.5″ one will likely prefer the large. Also, if you’re aiming to wear it slouchy style, you’ll want a larger size and to knit an extra couple of repeats. This size only looks good worn as a beanie with a folded brim, otherwise it’s an awkward length. Knit as written, highly recommended.

Norby & Pease:

And next, I finished my Norby hat, designed by Gudrun Johnston. I’m really pleased with the way the colors worked out, despite my prior indecision. I think repeating the final gradient color throughout the crown of the hat was the most harmonious way to go, and I really love how well this hat coordinates with my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl. In order to add the colorful garter ridges, I had to add a plain knit row into each pattern repeat before the first purl row. This allowed the contrast color to show up properly. This probably lengthened my hat a bit. I had also modified the width to remove one pattern repeat, as it was far too big for my head otherwise. As it is, it’s so lightweight in the woolen-spun Loft yarn that it feels like it could slip right off my head, so I’m glad I made it more snug.

FOFri #43: Two Hats | Woolen Diversions

Tassels!

I wasn’t sure I would add the tassels, a friend of mine basically said they make the hat look like a sleeping cap, but I admit I’m rather fond of them. They were pretty easy/fun to make, too. There is a decent photo tutorial in the pattern, but I took some pics of my own, as well.

  1. Wind yarn around two pieces of cardboard separated by a pen. Thread additional yarn onto a needle, looped on itself twice. Tie a knot.
  2. Secure knotted end of yarn to something sturdy and twist, twist, twist.
  3. Thread twisted yarn through the cardboard under the wrapped yarn, being careful to hold on to both ends of the twisted pieces of yarn so you don’t lose the twist (this is the tricksy bit, especially while attempting to take a photo).
  4. Allow the twisted pieces to twist back on themselves, forming the tassel strand. Then carefully cut the end of the wrapped pieces of yarn that’s furthest from the tassel strand. Use another piece of yarn to wrap around the top of the tassel.

Securing the tassels to the inside of the hat was a bit of a crapshoot, I’m not sure there’s an easy way to explain what I did but it was basically something like “thread the multiple ends of each tassel strand into the fabric of the hat on the inside, then knot them together”. Not neat or tidy, but it did the trick.

I love these hats, tassels and all. Have you made any tasseled accessories?

WIPWed #107: Hat Land

Both of my active WIPs at the moment are hats, and I kind of love it. It’s easy to forget how delightfully quick and deliciously simple hats are to knit, even the ones with a bit of patterning. There were years when I knit hat after hat after hat for holiday gifts, as they really make perfect gifts. This year, I feel like knitting hat after hat after hat for me. #selfishknitter

Norby & Pease:

WIPWed 107: Hat Land | Woolen Diversions

Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Sweatshirt and Black Trillium Fibres Pebble Sock in Pease. Click for project page.

Even though Katy’s idea was a grand one, I decided to just stick with repeating the lightest color in the gradient to solve my dilemma. I think if I incorporate a couple of rows of the color into the crown decreases, too, it’ll look totally intentional. I’m glad I didn’t rip all the way back to the brim, but I’m having a wee bit of nervousness that the hat might be too tight. I removed a repeat of stitches because the brim seemed huge when I originally cast on, and I fear that I might in fact regret that. Only time and a good blocking will tell…

Antlers for Dad:

WIPWed #107: Hat Land

Madelinetosh Vintage, colorway Charcoal. Click for project page.

My dad is not very big on knitwear. He’s always hot, perpetually wears short sleeves, and would totally feel like he was being choked if he wore a scarf or a cowl, he cannot even handle crew-necked shirts. He’s missing some hair up top, though, so he does wear the one hat I knit for him 5 years ago. Recently he mentioned in an offhand way, “You know, I could use another hat”, so another hat he is getting. The problem is that I’m trying to hurry up and finish ASAP since his birthday is Friday and I think it would make a nice surprise. The pattern is Antler Hat by TinCanKnits and the yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in Charcoal. Would you believe this is only my second time using a Madelinetosh yarn, and my first time using this worsted weight Merino? I LOVE IT. It’s such a nice base! I wasn’t super duper impressed with the sock yarn I’ve used in the past (I like a bouncy 3-ply for socks, theirs is a standard, drapey 2-ply) but this base is really nice. I’m hoping the hat blocks out a bit as I’ve also become worried that it’s going to be too small… stupid cables pulling in the fabric. We’ll see, my dad’s head is pretty small, so it could all work out fine.

Other hat patterns I’m deluding myself that I will knit soon (a.k.a. lusting after):

So many hats, so little time, amIright?!

IMG_3850

Current reading.

As for reading, I’m enjoying Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. I like these memoir-style stories about motherhood and parenting in general. I think there’s a lot to be learned from other people’s experiences and styles of thinking, even if it’s learning what not to do or how not to be a neurotic mess. Whenever I become a parent, I feel like it’ll be these kinds of personal stories that will prove more useful and comforting than trying to follow a specific school of thought on parenting styles. Do you have any favorite books on motherhood or parenting that you found particularly enlightening?

Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Farmfest and Follies

First, a bit of news: Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe will be vending at Mount Hope Farm’s Farmfest event TOMORROW, Saturday 10/31 from 9am – 2pm in Bristol, RI. It’s a beautiful site with lots of harvest and Halloween fun planned, come say hi! Now, onto the follies.

Farmfest and Folly| Woolen Diversions

A gradient emergency!

This morning, I very nearly ripped my Norby & Pease hat back to the brim, despite being close to done. I had 5 shades of gradient yarn to use and 5 garter ridges to knit before beginning crown decreases, except I had miscounted and thought there were only 4 garter ridges, and started the gradient in the brim. I KNOW, TOTALLY DUMB, RIGHT?! In this case, I could either: 1) do one fewer pattern repeat and have a shorter hat, 2) rip back to the brim and leave that part solid, or 3) as my friend Katy so helpfully suggested, use a bit of the yarn I just bought at Rhinebeck which very nearly matches what would be the next shade in the gradient. KATY, YOU ARE A GENIUS.

I think I’ll try the hat on later and see if I can deal with it shorter, and if not, I’ll probably use a bit of the O-wool shown to fill in the last color. Or, I might just repeat the final gradient color throughout the crown shaping. WHAT WOULD YOU GUYS DO? #overthinkingthis

Bye, bye, Babe.

In other news, there’s a very good chance we’ll be moving to a smaller apartment in the near future, so a massive destash is in order. One thing I’m letting go of is my first wheel, the Babe Double Treadle Production. I’ve had it since 2012, it’s a great starter wheel and its Irish tension makes it good for plying. It’s also very lightweight and travels well because it is made of PVC. It retails for $320, I’m asking $225 or best offer. In addition to the wheel, check out my Ravelry trade page for lots of lovely yarns. I literally exported my yarn stash to a spreadsheet and ruthlessly went through highlighting items for destash: anything without a concrete plan or an unhealthy level of emotional attachment had to go.

Farmfest and Folly | Woolen Diversions

It’s a sunbeam party.

The kitties approve of my destash plan. Less yarn in the house means more room for lounging.

Happy weekend!