WIPWed #108: Socks Again

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve really worked on socks. I was on a roll for a bit there, then got sidetracked by Rhinebeck-related knitting and a couple of hats (that I’ll show you on Friday, finished, woot!). But the holidays are approaching, and while I’m not making any concrete gift knitting plans, there are a few things I could picture knitting for a few people, so I’m going to work on them as time allows. Thus, I have only one WIP to show this week.

Berrylicious Socks:

WIPWed #108: Socks Again | Woolen Diversions

Blue Moon Fiber Arts STR Lightweight, colorway Berrylicious. Click for project page.

These very simple socks are knit with one of the Rockin’ Sock Club colorways, and their simplicity is just what I need right now. I turned both heels last night. I still can’t believe that it took me about 6 years of really serious knitting before I realized that knitting socks “simultaneously” on different sets of DPNs is most productive and satisfying for me. No more second sock syndrome, no more languishing at the heel turn, no more forgetting what I did for the first sock and making silly mistakes on the second. This process of knitting bit-by-bit has turned the whole sock thing into an entirely stress-free enterprise because I don’t have to keep track of notes or try to remember whatever little tricky thing I did later on for the second sock. YAY STRESS-FREE KNITTING!

As for reading, I recently listened to Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth on audiobook, but the third wasn’t available from the library so now I’m reading Allegiant on my kindle. If you’ll remember a few months ago my kindle suddenly imploded, and when I called customer service, their response was “Well, it’s an old model, and our cheapest one, it’s basically dead. Here’s a $20 credit for your trouble!” Thanks a lot. I didn’t want $20, I wanted my kindle to work! But, since I’m super lucky and have an aunt who is an avid reader, she took pity on me and just gave me one of her old kindles to use, which is super nice. Take that, Amazon! You can’t make me buy a newfangled contraption!

I think I should stop my babbling there. I’ve been working like crazy filling a few wholesale orders for Sweet Sheep so unfortunately haven’t been able to update the shop as much as I’d like. I did, however, get to make some Cranberry Orange Embed soap recently, which smells yummy and tart:

The soap is a cranberry-scented honey soap base, with pieces of Orange Cream whipped soap embedded within. And don’t forget, you still have a few days to receive 20% off your order with the code INDIELUV20. Use it before 11/15!

Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Advertisements

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!

WIPWed #106: Cheater Post

I have been trying since Rhinebeck to get caught up on life and I just… haven’t, yet. We had family visiting last weekend and we’re working on looking for a new apartment to move into so time has been short. Therefore, this post will be full of snapshots I’ve already posted to Instagram, rather than proper FO or WIP photos. My apologies for the lack of content, I hope to catch up soon!

Kelp-y Kelpie:

WIPWed 106: Cheate Post | Woolen Diversions

Finished shawl! Click for project page.

I finished my Kelpie shawl (designed by Jared Flood) about 3 days after Rhinebeck. So much for Rhinebeck knitting goals! I should’ve known that a Brooklyn Tweed pattern would have fussy finishing instructions that I couldn’t rush through. Hopefully I’ll get some modeled shots soon and be able to give a few more thoughts on the finished item then.

Norby & Pease:

WIPWed #106: Cheater Post | Woolen Diversions

Matching hat! Click for project page.

Using the same yarn as in the Kelpie shawl, BT Loft and Black Trillium Fibres gradient Pebble Sock, I began a coordinating hat. The pattern is Norby by Gudrun Johnston and I’m actually nearly to the crown decreases already. When I’m done I should still have lots of yarn left over, so I’m contemplating some matching mitts, as well.

That’s really all I’ve been working on lately… not a yard has been spun, and not a stitch worked on anything but the hat, although I have plenty of ideas racing through my brain. It’s handknit season, and I truly want to be wearing all the thingz. I better get moving!

WIPWed #106: Cheater Post | Woolen Diversions

COUPON TIME!

I was finally able to update the shop with the Sweet Sheep stock that came back from the IndieUntangled #rhinebecktrunkshow2015, so if you were waiting for some lotion bar scents, they might be back up now. However, every single one of my sheep-shaped soaps sold out, which was a bit of a surprise! Good to know how much knitters love them, I’ll work on stocking more soon. ๐Ÿ™‚ And due to some kind of mixup, the coupon codes I sent up for the goodie bags never got distributed, which is a bummer for the first 100 trunk show customers but a benefit to you, since I decided to offer the 20% off discount to everyone! Just enter the code INDIELUV20 at checkout on any order through November 15th to receive the discount.

Happy Wednesday! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Rhinebeck is Imminent!

It’s here, it’s here! Rhinebeck weekend is here! If you’re in the Kingston area tonight (Friday 10/16), be sure to check out the IndieUntangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show occurring in the Best Western Plus, 503 Washington Ave. from 5pm – 9pm. I created a limited edition Rhinebeck! scent available in both sheep-shaped goat milk soap and lotion bars just for this event.

Rhinebeck is Imminent! | Woolen Diversions

Rhinebeck! soap by Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe

I tried to capture the essence of a great fall festival in this scent. It’s autumnal and fruity, with notes of fig, apple, cinnamon, fallen leaves, and mahogany. There are less than a dozen of each, so grab them at the show while you can (any leftover from the festival will be listed in the shop next week).

Rhinebeck is Imminent! | Woolen Diversions

Kelp-y Kelpie shawl

My new Rhinebeck goal is progressing at a steady pace. Thank you for all your kind words on my last post, I appreciate the solidarity and encouragement! I’m one stripe further along than the photo shows, which means I have one final stripe, a garter stitch border, and a top edging to finish before tonight so that it can block and have it ready to hit the road with me tomorrow. We have a lot of driving to do today for Nana’s funeral, so I’m still hopeful that I will finish in time, but it is certainly down to the wire.

If you’re heading up to the festival this weekend, I hope I get a chance to see you there, and if not, I promise to take pictures!

Rhinebeck Sweater: Admitting Defeat

With the wool festival occurring this weekend and the crazy stressful time we’ve been having over at the Morandi house, I’m finally admitting defeat: I will not finish my Rhinebeck sweater in time.

Rhinebeck Sweater: Admitting Defeat | Woolen Diversions

Progress to date.

If I were someone without a full time job, it might have been possible to finish, as there are just the right and left fronts, right and left sleeves, giant ribbed collar, and seaming left to do (hah!) but that’s just not going to happen in the next 5 days and I’m not even tempted to try. I will, however, aim to finish it shortly after the festival, as it will be wonderful to wear in the coming months.

I’m admitting defeat with Spinzilla this year, too. Between my Polwarth sock yarn and Louet merino/silk, I didn’t even fill one whole bobbin! Based on my yards per pound calculations, I spun a paltry 3.2 oz and 380 yards, but it’s not nothing, and the spinning was soothing.

Check out my interview with Subway Knits!

I’ve also had to give up on my plan to vend at the pre-Rhinebeck IndieUntangled Trunk Show this Friday as Nana’s funeral is scheduled for sometime on Friday, and I need to stay home and be with my family. However, Cheryl and Jenn of June Pryce Fiber Artsย  have generously and graciously agreed to bring some of my items up with them and man my booth for me. So if you were hoping to sniff some Sweet Sheep scents in person, it will still be possible thanks to those two wonderful ladies (and you should check out their lovely fiber, yarn and notions while you’re at it)! I’m sad that I won’t be there in person myself, but you can hear me chat about my business with Maria over at Subway Knits in her Road to Rhinebeck podcast series. (I haven’t even had the chance to listen to it yet, fingers crossed that I don’t sound like a weirdo!)

Rhinebeck Sweater: Admitting Defeat | Woolen Diversions

My new Rhinebeck goal.

In more uplifting news, I am still going to attend Rhinebeck, as my dear Fiasco reminded me that after all of the stress lately, I could really use a vacation. So I will be heading up sometime Saturday and since it wouldn’t be Rhinebeck without a lofty knitting goal, my new challenge will be to attempt to finish my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl in time to wear to the festival. This shawl has been hibernating since May of 2014 because I used the wrong color yarn to pick up the border stitches and then I just abandoned it. I resurrected it last night, fixed my mistake, and have gotten into the rhythm of the border now. I have 43 more border rows to complete, in addition to the bind-off, and some fiddly bind-off business along the top. All this needs to be completed in 4 evenings, if I want time to block the thing. Challenge accepted!

Rhinebeck Sweater: The Great Divide

That is admittedly a really dramatic title for a post that is a straightforward progress update: I’ve reached the part of my Rhinebeck sweater where I divide the back of the cardigan from the fronts for the armholes!

Rhinebeck Sweater: The Great Divide | Woolen Diversions

Divided!

I was super excited about reaching this point since it meant the waist decreases were over and it felt like something exciting would happen… but after decreasing at each edge for a few rows, this part is basically just going to involve 10 more inches of the same fabric I was already knitting.

Rhinebeck Sweater: The Great Divide | Woolen Diversions

Armhole decreases.

I modified the pattern slightly so that there are 98 sts in the back and 56 sts in each front (instead of 100 and 55) because I liked the way the decreases lined up with the patterning better. What I’m finding really interesting about sweater knitting is that yes, it can be complicated to choose a size and make alterations, but once you do that it’s no more complicated (or less repetitive) than a basic scarf for much of the knitting time. There are certainly fiddly bits but they are few and far between and for the most part, sweater fabric is pretty mindless to produce. Who knew? Andi of Untangling Knots has a couple of great posts about knitting sweaters here and here that I think are helpful for newbies.

In other news, I made some more soap! This is a slightly different variation on the aloe vera and goat milk Ocean Mist soap that I had my shop previously, as I tried a new pouring/swirling technique (read: the temperatures didn’t work out as I had expected so I improvised) and I rather like how the soap came out. The fragrance is a great blend of Sea Moss (floral, clean, gentle) and Down by the Bay (bright, astringent, salty) that I think is really refreshing in the shower and is apparently unisex, as the Fiasco has already claimed one as his own. I also restocked several bars of Lavender-scented sheep-shaped goat milk soap, if you were waiting on those.

I’m working on my prep plan for the Indie Untangled trunk show in less than 3 weeks (THREE WEEKS OMG) and I’m trying to decide which lotion bar or sheep-shaped soaps scents I need to have in stock. Are any of my lovely readers planning to go to the show? Any special requests of scents you’d like me to be sure to bring? I hope I get to meet some of you in person! Here’s a link to the event page on Facebook, if you want to share with your friends.

And man, less than three weeks? I better keep knitting!

Five Things Friday – Again

I don’t know if I’m going to keep writing these random list type posts on a weekly basis, but seeing as I have so much to say and no time lately in which to organize my thoughts, you’re getting them all at once, sporadically arranged. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I began this post at 11:34 pm, so let’s see if we can publish while it’s still Friday, shall we?

1- I’ve acquired some gorgeous yarn lately. I’ve had my eye on Stray Cat Socks Etsy shop for some time now, but always talked msyelf out of placing an order due to shipping from New Zealand. However, I saw these gorgeous socks on a day when I really needed a pick-me-up, so I caved and ordered the same rainbow colorway (Are We There Yet) and another skein to keep it company on its long voyage (Monavale Rose). Could this packaging be ANY CUTER?!?!

2- I may have also picked up a skein of yarn from a Ravelry destash recently, too. Let’s ignore the fact that Rhinebeck (a.k.a. yarn mecca) is merely weeks away, ok? I couldn’t help myself! It’s a one-of-a-kind, mill end skein of of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Mediumweight inย  blue-green speckled colorway that I instantly fell in love with. (Also, notice that strange reversed logo? Weird!) It looks like it might have been a precursor of one of their new colorways, A Speck of Autumn. It’s destined to be a Sockhead Hat, I think.

Five Things Friday - Again | Woolen Diversions

This was clearly made for me.

3- I had a rather hellish couple of weeks at work (deadlines, no time, etc.) but I managed to escape early this afternoon and stole a couple of hours of daytime(!) weekday(!) knitting at a little bay beach nearby. (My Rhinebeck Sweater ain’t gonna knit itself, amIright?!)

Not gonna lie: it was pretty glorious.

I have the hardest time relaxing, sometimes. I was there for maybe an hour and a half in between errands and appointments and I felt like I should’ve been doing something (anything!) else the entire time. Relaxing during daylight hours seemed criminal, somehow. Sad, right? I’m working on it.

4- I just shrink-wrapped 80 bars of sheep-shaped goat milk soap for a special order, and I feel like some kind of heat gun kung-fu master. You’ll have to take my word on this if you’ve never tried it, but shrink-wrapping stuff is weirdly satisfying.

So many sheep soaps!

5- And last but not least, I’m vending at the Fiber Twist & Bead Bash themed weekend of the Coventry Regional Farmer’s Market in Connecticut THIS SUNDAY, Sept. 27th, from 11am – 2pm. Come say hello! The Fiasco and I used to live down the street from it and went as often as we could, it’s a great market. I heard rumors that this might be its last year, which is super sad, but I’m honored to be able to vend there one last time.

And that’s all I got! Looks like I missed Friday by about 15 minutes… oh well. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great weekend!

Surrounded by Soap and Squam Love

The Squam Art Fair was lots of fun last weekend, although it went by way too quickly! Look how cute our sheep soaps were in their display:

Surrounded by Soap and Squam Love | Woolen Diversions

The sweetest, soapiest flock.

I wasn’t totally sure it would make financial sense for Sweet Sheep to go to Squam since it was a short show that involved a 6 hour round-trip drive, a pricey vendor fee, and paying for accommodations. But the Fiasco and I figured ‘what the hell!’ and we made a little weekend of it. Right after we set up our booth, a very nice woman came up to us and said something along the lines of “I’m not sure where you came from but it was probably a long trip. Take a moment, go down by the lake, catch your breath, find your center” and my immediate thought was OMG CAN I PLEASE LIVE HERE FOREVER?

Surrounded by Soap and Squam Love | Woolen Diversions

Sereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeene.

That moment by the lake was lovely, and I wish I had more of it. Things were pretty lovely inside the vending space, as well. Funnily enough, there were not one but two other vendors there from Rhode Island, both members of the Rhode Island Spinners Guild: Katy, who makes great buttons, gauges, and other knitterly accessories for Katrinkles, and Allison, who owns Shetland sheep and sells fiber and knitting kits for Frogmore Farm.

All the vendors present were selling unique and beautiful things. There were some great upcycled fabric items, fun twisted pottery, beautiful photography, and incredibly gorgeous bags by Lisa of Red Staggerwing (I couldn’t resist taking home a wristlet).

But the best part of the weekend, for me, was getting our tired-and-achey selves up the side of a small mountain for a gorgeous view across the Squam lake region.

I wish there had been ever-so-much-more of that, but alas, we had to return home. Now I am up to my elbows in work deadlines (oh joy) as well as soap deadlines, as I’m in the midst of filling a few large orders. I am looking forward to someday being able to sleep again. Maybe this weekend?

Finally, I’m happy to announce that if you live near Santa Clarita, CA you can shop for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe products IN PERSON at Creative Ewe yarn shop! Christian, the new owner of the shop, is super enthusiastic and was wonderful to work with, I’m willing to bet that great things are in store for the shop! If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check it out.

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Pumpkin Spice

It’s that time of year again, folks! I think autumn must be one of a knitter’s favorite seasons, the renewed crisp in the air and the need for woollen goodness can really inspire yarn-y creativity. I’m not ashamed to say that I look forward to fall and all of its spice-filled goodness, and while I’ll surely miss the sun-drenched days of summer, I’m thrilled to bring my Pumpkin Spice lotion bar back for the season.

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Pumpkin Spice | Woolen Diversions

Pumpkin Spice lotion bar

Why I love it: The Pumpkin Spice fragrance is warm and comforting, with layers of cinnamon and nutmeg spices over a sweet, fresh, pumpkin base. Confession time: I used my Pumpkin Spice sample size bar year-round. It lived at my desk in my office and I just finished the final bits of it last month. This fragrance brings me joy at any time of the year!

What it pairs well with: It’s the first of the autumn scents that I’ve reintroduced so the others aren’t out yet, but typically I include Pumpkin Spice in a sample set with Frosted Cranberry (tart, sweet, juicy) and Apple Butter (sweet, spicy, autumnal). If you wanted to maximize cinnamon goodness, I’d recommend Cinnamon Chai, and if you wanted to pair it with another baked sweet scent, I’d recommend Lemon Cake. Keep an eye out for some Pumpkin Spice-scented soap in the future, too!

Don’t forget, Sweet Sheep will be vending at the Squam Art Fair tomorrow, Sat. Sept. 19th, 7:30 – 10 pm in Holderness, NH. Hope to see you there!

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn

Since the Rhinebeck Sweater is still in the same state it was on Monday, I’ll chat a bit about the other crafty thing occupying my attention right now: handspun sock yarn.

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

My view at Slater Mill.

Over the weekend, I took a sock yarn spinning class at Slater Mill with the Rhode Island Spinners Guild. The focus of the class was to experiment with different amounts of twist and plying structures to discover your personal ideal sock yarn. Amy King (of Spunky Eclectic) gave us lots of fibers to play with in class (green = Polwarth wool, gold = Falkland wool, handpainted autumn tones = Corriedale wool) as well as some samples to experiment with on our own (red = Wensleydale wool, white = generic wool roving, purple = Panda blend (superwash Merino, bamboo, nylon)).

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Spunky Eclectic fiber samples

We discussed three key things to think about when spinning your own sock yarn:

  1. what kinds of fibers make a good sock yarn, considering aspects like elasticity (different high-crimp wools), warmth (silk, camelids, luxury fibers), and strength (silk, nylon, bamboo, longwools),
  2. what types of prep are best for sock yarns (combed prep, worsted spinning), and
  3. most importantly, the amount of twist needed in the the singles and in the ply to make a yarn that is springy and strong while still feeling soft and comfortable.
Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Plyback samples.

We did a whole lot of spinning. I am not accustomed to spinning for 6 hours straight, so that was definitely an endurance run for me! We practiced making low twist singles that barely held together and very energized singles, and measured the twist per inch for each. For the first ‘typical’ 2-ply sock yarn, we spun our singles with an amount of twist somewhere between the low and energized samples we made. Then, during the plying step, we plied the singles as if we had spun them with the energized amount of twists per inch. So if our energized sample was 20 tpi, then our plied yarn measured 10 tpi (tpi in singles / # of plies). We also navajo-plied those same singles, and since that yarn had 3 plies, the plying tpi was proportionally lower (20 tpi / 3 plies = approx. 7 tpi).

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Polwarth sock yarn samples, 2-ply and n-ply.

If you’re confused about all of this, don’t feel bad, I think many people in class were lost. It was advertised as an intermediate class but you could be spinning for years and never get so technical about your yarns as to actually the measure the twists per inch. I think some of these concepts could have been explained a little more thoroughly, the only reason I understood the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ behind a lot of the instructions is because I’ve read up on all of this stuff before. That said, it was really beneficial to go through the steps of the exercise with some guidance.

The second half of the class focused on making opposing ply yarns, which are basically yarns where one or more of the singles is spun in the same direction as the plying twist, instead of the opposite direction as usual. Opposing ply yarns have a lot of extra energy that contributes to strength and elasticity, which can be really beneficial in sock yarns. I admit, however, that I am not a fan of these samples. It could perhaps be the fiber (I don’t love Corriedale) but even while swatching, I didn’t enjoy these yarns. They are crazy strong, though, I tried breaking the thread with my hands and nearly cut myself! For opposing ply yarns we plied everything in the S direction and made a 2-ply (gold = low twist S single, multi = high twist Z single) and a couple of 3-plies (2 gold + 1 multi, and 1 gold + 2 multi). I liked the 3-ply with two high twist Z singles and one low twist S single the best, likely because the amount of opposing ply in this yarn is quite low since the S single was low twist to begin with, so it feels the most ‘normal’.

Exploring Handspun Sock Yarn | Woolen Diversions

Opposing ply 2-ply, 3-ply, and ‘normal’ 2-ply.

I’ve swatched the n-ply Polwarth (not pictured, I forgot it!), 2-ply opposing ply yarn, and the 3-ply opposing ply yarn that I liked best (I didn’t bother with the other one) and then began to actually knit a little baby sock out of the 2-ply Polwarth that we first made. I really like the way this yarn came out. Polwarth is such aย  springy, fluffy fiber to begin with, and with the extra ply twist the final yarn plumps up in such a satisfying way while still remaining soft. My 2-ply is a thicker sport-weight yarn, but it’s making a nice little sock and I’ve already got the rest of the sample fiber on the bobbin to spin more.

In conclusion, I’m really glad that my spinner’s guild arranged for Amy to teach us. The guidance for experimentation was really valuable and I am looking forward to spinning some more sock yarn! Now I just need to get my singles a bit thinner so I can spin a 3-ply yarn that comes out near fingering weight, as all my 3-ply samples were closer to worsted weight. Have you tried spinning your own sock yarn before? Do you have any favorite tips or tricks?

Orange Rosemary lotion bar

In preparation for Squam this weekend (squeeeeee!) I’ve been busily re-stocking the shop with some sold out lotion bar scents, including: Orange Rosemary, Lavender, Smoky Patchouli and have brought back a seasonal favorite, Pumpkin Spice. Check them out!

As for reading this week, my kindle is still dead (the horror!) but I picked up the largest John Irving book I could find and am slowly working my way through it: Last Night in Twisted River. Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.