Sweet Sheep O’Clock

We’ve been working ’round the clock over here to prepare for a big event this weekend where Sweet Sheep will be vending. We did this marketplace last year, and it was pretty amazing. And the year before, I attended the classes, which were really great. I’m talking about Knitting Weekend, part of the Trad Arts Studio programming at Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.

knitting-weekend-2017-palm-card-front-96dpi-web-e1477511253609And we really have been going out of our minds making enough lotions, lip balms, and sheep-shaped soaps to sell at the two-day event. Last year we underestimated what we needed, hopefully this year we’ve overestimated! Major props to the Fiasco, who has been doing much of the production while I’ve been working crazy deadlines and wrangling the resident Hatchling. (Turns out, kids really suck up all your usual side-business time!)

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Who, meeeeeeeeeeee?

Bonus: if you come to the marketplace on Sunday, you’ll get to meet the little guy! It’s crazy to think that at the last show, I was pregnant. 0_O I’m much happier with my buddy on the outside, even if he is teething at the moment and preventing me from sleeping more than 2 hours in a row at night. (#teetharetheworst)

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Pussyhats, finished.

In other news, my pussyhats have left the building. It turned out that one of my coworkers was heading to the march in D.C. with her daughter, which is pretty awesome. I was happy to donate hats to the cause but I’m even happier that I know the awesome ladies who will be wearing them. I used the KitKat pattern by Andre Sue for mine (I much prefer to work in the round). The hot pink hat is in Malabrigo Chunky (colorway Cactus Flower) on size 10 needles with a 68 st cast on, my old standard for a quick chunky hat. The pale pink version is in a new-to-me yarn: Blue Sky Fibres Woolstok in Quartz Crystal, that I picked up at The Mermaid’s Purl in Wickford (#shoplocal). For this second hat, I held the yarn double and used size 9 needles and a 72 st cast on. I really liked the yarn, it’s a thin worsted weight 2-ply wool that has a bit of a rustic feel, and lots of energy when knit held double. Both hats fit really well. I recommend doing the little stitch in the middle of the ‘ears’ to make them look more ear-like, as this pattern suggests. I did so after I took the photo of me wearing it and I liked it much better.

March on, sisters, and I hope I see some of you this weekend!

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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!

GRYC Good Times

Despite not getting to do much shopping because I was working like a madwoman to make some last-minute lotion bars, the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl was a really good time.

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Sweet Sheep vending at Mount Hope Farm

I really, truly, puffy-heart love the fiber community in and around this little state of ours. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone is so welcoming and friendly and caring, it’s so lovely to see familiar faces at these kinds of events. And people make such beautiful things!

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Ceramic sheep bowl from Rising Sun Earthworks

This adorable sheep bowl will now be part of my show display, I simple couldn’t resist taking her home from Rising Sun Earthworks.

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Hand-embroidered sheep pouch from Dancing Threads RI

I also couldn’t resist this sweet little sheep pouch from Dancing Threads RI. Apparently, all of my must-haves were sheep-themed, and none of them were yarn. And no, I don’t know how I resisted because there were plenty of pretty skeins there. There were also baby goats.

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Baby goats!

I wish I had captured some better photos, they were the sweetest things. Now didn’t that make Monday just a bit brighter?

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My knitting focus this week

I am going to take a short break from my regular “WIP Wednesday” posts as I’ve felt a bit hemmed-in by them, and have found myself really only posting once a week due to the timing. I think I’d prefer to post once earlier and once later in the week, so the WIPWed post is getting cut for a while. We’ll see how it goes. I do, however, still want to chat about my knitting. This week’s focus is my Rotted Days shawl. I finished the previous wedge with just that tiny ball of my handspun left, so I’m now working the very exciting FINAL WEDGE in solid purple. It’s hard to tell, but I think this shawl will end up a decent size, and I’m glad I didn’t get caught short with my handspun, especially since I was totally winging the yardage. This has been on the needles since last May, but with a little luck and a few cram sessions I think I can finish it this week!

Hope your weekends were full of happiness, sheep-y things, and baby goats (or something else wonderful along those lines).

Yarn Crawl This Weekend!

I am so susceptible to yarn-y suggestions. Just knowing that it’s the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl this weekend is making me want to visit every store in Rhode Island and buy yarn. Do I need yarn? Absolutely not. Do I have money for yarn? Haha no. Do I have time to shop? HAHAHAHAHAHA no. And yet, the desire is still there.Oh, yarn, you tempting thing.

If you are lucky enough to participate, make sure you print out this passport and get it stamped at every store you visit for chances to win prizes at the culmination ceremony happening on Sunday, April 10th (11 am – 4 pm) at Mount Hope Farm in Bristol. And be sure to stop by and say hello, as Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe will be vending there!

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Sweet Sheep goat milk soaps

In addition to the culmination ceremony, there should be some Sweet Sheep goodies stocked at  The Mermaid’s Purl in Wickford, RI for this yarn crawl. Also, a big batch of sheep-shaped soaps is currently winging its way out to California just in tame for a different yarn crawl in a few weeks involving the Creative Ewe, another one of Sweet Sheep’s retailers. These sheep are getting around!

I hope you all have a yarn-filled weekend! I’m sure I’ll report back next week with things I couldn’t stop myself from buying…

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.

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!

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Lemon Cake

Man, am I glad this work week is nearly over. I need the weekend, STAT! Luckily, this Saturday (May 16) is the RI Wool and Fiber Festival at Coggeshall Farm in Bristol, RI. Not only does this mean that I’ll get to see my spinning friends and pet some sheep, but I’ll also be vending my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe products from 9am – 4pm, so if you’re in the RI/CT/MA area, you should come on over and say hi! Let’s feature a different fragrance this week, shall we? Lemon Cake!

Lemon Cake solid lotion bar

Why I love it: Lemon Cake is by far one of my favorite lotion bar fragrances. It’s delectably sweet, almost buttery in its cake-yness, with a bright, refreshing lemon note on top. It’s pleasing to just about everyone and I love seeing the look of greedy delight in customer’s eyes when they smell it for the first time. The Fiasco even keeps a tin of Lemon Cake on his desk at school, just to sniff from time to time because it makes him happy (he doesn’t really use lotion). It’s that good.

What it pairs well with: I include Lemon Cake in my Coffeehouse Specials gift set, which also includes Cinnamon Chai (warm and spicy) and Turkish Mocha (coffeehouse delight), two other deliciously dessert-like scents. If you wanted to create your own mix pack, I’d suggest pairing it with Kumquat  (tangy and bright) or Honey Beeswax (rich and warm) to play off the summery, citrus notes.

Frosted Lemon Cake handmade soap

And of course, now you can get the same Lemon Cake fragrance mixed with Cream Cheese Frosting in my new, handmade Frosted Lemon Cake honey base soap!

Hope to see you all at the fiber festival tomorrow. If you do come, let me know that you follow this blog and I’ll give you 10% off your order! Happy Friday!

On Competition and Community

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! The Fiasco and I were quite busy, we vended at the wonderful Mount Hope Farmers Market, attended the culmination event of the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl, and went on our first bicycle ride of the season (pro tip: bike paths near the bay are bloody freezing in April winds). There were many, may wonderful moments but there was one unfortunate interaction that put an unpleasant cast over things.

On Competition and Community | Woolen Diversions

Rockin’ my new sweater at the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market.

There is a regular market vendor who sells cold process soap and salt scrubs, etc. As we usually do at these events, the Fiasco and I made the rounds introducing ourselves and checking out everybody’s wares. We try to buy a little something from each vendor (which gets us into trouble at the baked good stalls!) or at the very least admire their work. My love of handmade soap is well-established and I was hoping to buy a new bar from this seller. There was a band playing right near her table so I had a hard time hearing her but during the course of what I thought was polite conversation about her soap scents, the word “competition” made it through the background noise and I realized that something was wrong. I had taken one of her cards so I could add her to my Etsy favorites and promote her as a local artisan, in response to which she said something along the lines of “It’s really frustrating that you’re taking one of my cards when you clearly have no intention of buying my products, you’re the competition.” And then she stormed off to complain to the market manager.

On Competition and Community | Woolen Diversions

Photo via xoginalove.tumblr.com, snagged from Buzzfeed (click for link).

I was floored, to say the least. Stunned, upset, and somehow embarassed, like I imagine most people would feel when treated with unexpected hostility. The Fiasco and I just kept making wounded-sad-puppy-dog-eyes at each other and we were outright bummed in the slow-burning-rage kind of way. I found out later that this particular seller is “sensitive” about competition because she apparently had a bad experience with someone swiping her ideas, her logo, etc. But still, I don’t think that excuses her behavior and it was completely jarring in a creative community where (in my experience) people are usually overwhelmingly supportive of one another. And we weren’t even selling the same items! Even if I had brought soap with me, we make entirely different kinds of soap (hers from raw oils that undergo the saponification process, mine from pre-made soap bases to which I add color, scent, and fun shapes/structure). Did I freak out about another vendor selling lip balms? No, hers were highlighting beeswax from a local honey farm, mine featured lanolin. There is room in the world for multiple types of body care products. Thankfully, the rest of the vendors were wonderfully warm and inviting and we were mostly able to shake off that ugly nastiness by the end of the day.

On Competition and Community | Woolen Diversions

Great Rhody Yarn Crawl haul.

The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl celebration the next day went a great way towards restoring my faith in the creative community. I met up with my friends in the Rhode Island Spinner’s Guild and spent a pleasant afternoon spinning and shopping in good company. I’ve spent many years as something of a nomad, living in different states for just 1 – 3 years at a time. We’re on our third year here in Rhode Island and the fiber community is one of the reasons why I could envision calling this place home in the long term. Most people are so kind and generous with their knowledge, and I love walking into a marketplace and knowing half the vendors by name. The delectable yarn above is from Dirty Water DyeWorks (Lillian superwash Merino fingering base in March Sky, Pumice, and Topaz) and Play at Life Fiber Arts (Skinny Scrumpet MCN fingering base in Cinnamon Jelly) and they helped brighten the weekend considerably. Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Tammy of Life and Yarn and Yarn and Life in person! She came by to say hello and it was so lovely to put a face to her blog. She has a great run-down of info on Connecticut yarn shops (and elsewhere), too.

A Playful Day

I appear to have inadvertently blogged along this week’s Love Your Blog challenge theme of “Ugly”, so I’m linking up with everyone over at A Playful Day. While not directly blog-related, I think the idea of jealousy in the handmade marketplace is equally relevant and something that doesn’t get acknowledged very often. Perhaps I’m just being naive to not have expected encountering such hostility myself. What are your thoughts on competition in creative communities? Have your experiences leaned one way or another?

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Honey Beeswax

Before I jump straight into the featured lotion bar fragrance, I wanted to let you know that the Fiasco and I will be vending Sweet Sheep products TOMORROW (Saturday 4/18) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market in Bristol, RI. Stop by and say hi! And sorry for the late notice, between deadlines and a conference I’ve worked 10+ hours every day this week and have not had a moment to breathe, let alone blog (and we’ll all be lucky if I’m not slumped face-first in the lip balms by noon tomorrow). Altough now that I check, I don’t see our name on the vendor list… so, err, hopefully we’ll be at the market and if not, we’ll be selling out of the back of our car, because we’re not waking up at the crack of dawn for nothing! #spaz #indiebizfail

Onwards and upwards, this week I’m featuring our Honey Beeswax scent!

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Honey Beeswax | Woolen Diversions

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Honey Beeswax

Why I love it: This fragrance is the one I recommend when people ask advice for gift-giving but have no idea what the recipient might like. It’s an all-around appealing scent that not a single person has ever said “Ugh!” to when they smell it (I’m endlessly fascinated by the reactions people have to different scents). Most people respond with “oh, that’s nice!” in a slightly surprised tone. It’s a subtle scent, not overpowering, a little bit sweet, and a little bit sultry. It smells… warm. Like a summer day.

What it pairs well with: I include Honey Beeswax in a Sweet Treats gift set along with Sweet Almond and Chipotle Caramel. However, it’s not particularly candy-like and would work equally well with floral scents. If you were interested in building your own custom mix pack, I think it would mix nicely with Spring Meadow (a light floral) or Chamomile Bergamot (a fresh new tea fragrance that I have not yet added to the shop due to lack of photos).

So that’s Honey Beeswax in a nutshell: a rich, warm scent that plays well with others.

I’ll be at Mount Hope again on Sunday (just as a spectator) to celebrate the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl and buy stuff from awesome vendors, so if you don’t make it Saturday, perhaps I’ll see you Sunday! I’ll be the one spinning (haha that’s a joke because there will be so many spinners). #sotired #lamejokes #delirium #fortheloveofallthatisholystophashtagging