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:

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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.

 

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 #111: No Knitting

I have not knit a single stitch around here in days. But, the move went well and the cleanup of the old apartment is done and unpacking is in progress and work deadlines are becoming more manageable, so things are looking up compared to my last post.

In lieu of knitting, I’ll write about my current real-life-WIP: the new apartment we’re renting. Please excuse the crummy nighttime cell phone photos, they are all I have.

After painting the living room sage green (instead of poop brown), it was vastly improved. It’s a cozy pace that is a bit too small for the big bookshelf we have in there, so that will probably be moved in order for me to have a spinning corner again. The bathroom required no work, the benefits of moving in to an apartment that somebody owned (versus a complex) is that if they had excellent taste in fancy fixtures, you get to have nice sinks and shelves and counters and things.

The kitchen was a major attraction in this place. Lots of counter space, everything is new and pretty, and it is nice and open, in fact it’s centrally located to all of the rest of the rooms. The main drawback is that the tile floor is COLD! I am not used to tile flooring or a lack of carpets, and my poor freezing feet are suffering. I will need to invest in additional slippers this winter for sure. Not pictured is a little sun room / mud room off the kitchen that will serve as my office / Sweet Sheep headquarters. In one of the pictures, you can see into the second bedroom a bit, which is currently serving as the Fiasco’s Gaming Den.

The main bedroom is one we really like. It’s a good size and the owners had this crazy intense custom closet situation put in that takes an entire wall. That closet is great, but it is the only real closet in the place, besides a tiny coat closet that is also in the main bedroom. Thank goodness we have access to the basement or we’d never have space for all of our accumulated stuff. In fact, I’m still not quite happy that most of my yarn will have to live in the basement, I’m afraid of it getting damp/musty down there. We’ll have to see what we can manage.

And that’s the new place! There’s a backyard with a nice patio, too, that we’ll make good use of during the warmer months. Cold floors and tighter spaces and all, we’re happy to have moved. It feels much homier than our previous place and we’re hoping to settle in there for a good long while.

While I haven’t been knitting, I have been reading up a storm during my spare moments. I finished the first book in the Lord John sub-series of Outlander, but couldn’t access the rest from the library due to moving frenzy, so decided instead to re-read The Hunger Games series which I did in an alarmingly quick 5 or 6 days. Those books are still fantastic. Pickings were slim on my kindle so I read About A Boy, which was a marshmallow fluff of a story that probably makes a better movie. And now I’ve started A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens because it’s there and I’ve never read it. I have to hit up the library soon…

Hope you all are having good weeks! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

WIPWed #110: A WIP-to-Be

I was not able to take pictures of my current WIPs this week, which is really fine because they look exactly the same as last week. I did, however, snap a quick pic of some new yarn that arrived that I’m absolutely itching to cast on.

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Ancient Arts Big Squeeze, colorway Cherry Blossom

The yarn is a brand new bulky weight superwash Merino from Ancient Arts Fibres. They’ve kindly sent me the yarn to review and I’m super excited to work with it. I love chunky weight yarns, and this one manages to be both thick AND lofty. Big Squeeze is a totally appropriate name. I can’t wait to wind this sucker up this evening and bring it with me on my holiday travels.

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Photo copyright BabyCocktails. Click for pattern page.

My first thought was that I’d like to knit a bulky weight hat, like Mint Schnappes by Thea Colman. There’s something so satisfying about hat knitting, and the bright color would be a nice cheerful way to top off my ‘winter look’ (= ‘I’m cold’).

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Photo copyright Trelly Hernandez. Click for pattern page.

Another lace-involved bulky weight hat I really like is Galicia by Trelly Hernández. The lace is simple but charming in its geometric shape. I really like it.

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Photo copyright TinCanKnits. Click for pattern page.

However, a few chilly mornings in a row have reminded me that winter is coming and I freaking hate cold fingers. I have one pair of quick, bulky weight mittens that I knit three years ago, but I feel like it’s time for an update and I adored the cable on the Antler Mittens when I knit my dad’s Antler Hat, so this one might be the winner. It’s written for aran weight yarn, but it’s on the same size needles that I knit my last bulky pair, so I think I can work out some size finagling.

What would you knit with about 130 yards of super-squishy bulky weight wool?

As for reading, I’m now listening to The Shoemaker’s Wife and after a slow-ish start, I’m really enjoying it. I’m also reading the Lord John Gray sub-series from Outlander, because you can never get too much of reading about scandalous Scotsmen.

To all who are traveling for Thanksgiving, safe travels and happy holiday!

Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

 

WIPWed #109: On the Move (sort of)

SO MANY THINGS are happening at Chez Woolen Diversions and one of those things is moving. UGH. We’re only moving a few towns over (to a nicer place with lower rent… whoa!) but it’s still a gigantic, major pain. So I’ve been keeping the knitting super simple lately. I’ve even sorted through all the yarn and WIPs and separated out anything I think I might need over the next month in case the rest of the stash gets buried under moving boxes. Like these:

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Can you spot Darwin?

Onto less disheartening things, like knitting!

Berrylicious Socks:

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

These socks are chugging along. I’m near the toe on one, mid-foot on the other. Not much else to see here…

Rotted Days:

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Handspun and a singles yarn I bought at a festival. Click for project page.

A combination of a long car ride and seeing everybody working on their Stephen West MKAL projects all over instagram (#thedoodler), is what inspired me to pick up my Dotted Rays shawl again. Now that I’ve got the hang of the short rows and don’t have to refer to the written-out-line-by-line pattern much anymore, I’m enjoying this garter stitch knit. I think it’ll be lovely once it’s done, and I’m still enamored of my yarn combination. Great use for handspun! I’m really liking the look of all those Doodler shawls, too, so I’ll probably cast one on someday. I’m staunchly anti-mystery-knit-along, though, so I’ll be waiting until I see everybody else’s finished products before I commit. Also, can we take a second to boggle over the fact that there are already 2,955 projects for that pattern?! At $6 a pop, and assuming that each shawl was a separate sale, Mr. West made over $17,700 in about a week or so. I think I’d faint with joy if I ever saw that much money flooding in instantaneously. Good for him.

Sweet Sheep news:

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Sweet Sheep goat milk soap in Chamomile Bergamot

I’ve been hard at work filling some wholesale orders and re-stocking the shop. I’ve added Chamomile Bergamot sheep-shaped goat milk soap, as well as a few sold-out lotion bar scents, such as Cinnamon Chai, Winter Gardenia, Orange Rosemary, Lavender, and Lemon Cake (to name a few). I was supposed to vend this weekend at the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market, but unfortunately, I pulled a muscle in my back that is currently spasming like crazy and has had me flat-on-my-back and out of work for a couple of days, so I’m taking the weekend to recover. (Back spasms hurt like whoa guys.) But, Rhode Islanders take solace: you can now check out Sweet Sheep lotion bars and soaps in person at The Mermaid’s Purl, a great little yarn shop in Wickford! Woohoo!

As for reading, I’m working on The Long War, the second book in a series co-written by Terry Pratchett (one of my epic literary loves) and Stephen Baxter. It’s about humans developing the ability to sort of ‘step’ sideways into millions upon millions of similar-but-different Earths. It’s a super cool concept and I love the (completely fantastical, obviously) idea that there are Earths out there that haven’t been ravaged by us, or that experienced different climactic events, or were not hit by asteroids and still have dinosaurs, or for some reason are populated entirely by butterflies. As an ecologist, it’s a fascinating thought experiment.

Anyways, linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday, and now  I’m off to rest this back. Oy.

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.

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?!

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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.

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. 🙂 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.