It’s That Time of the Month

No, not that time, but the apparently once-a-month occurrence of my carving out a minute or two to blog. Honestly, it’s not even a lack of time, but a sheer lack of energy. If I do get time when I’m not working or chasing my little speed-demon crawler or doing things around the house, I just want to collapse and veg out. I don’t always have enough spoons to be organized and creative and interesting. But enough apologizing! Lack of spoons has not meant a lack of yarn in my life, so let me tell you about it.

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Verdant Gryphon goodies

A couple of blog posts ago, I yammered on about Verdant Gryphon closing down. While it’s true that Gryphon herself has left VG, it appears that VG is in fact actually still producing yarn, despite word-on-the-street (a.k.a. Ravelry) being that they were not going to be doing so. Before I knew that, I made one last-ditch acquisition of my two favorite bases: Zaftig (grey, worsted weight MCN) in November Moonlight and Codex (black/green/blue, light worsted BFL/silk) in Verdant Love. For the sake of my wallet, I’m going to just go ahead and pretend like they really did shut down because I could spend entire paychecks on this stuff…

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VG Zaftig in Burying Beetle, click for project page

Guess how many years I’ve been hoarding that lovely little number in my stash? FIVE. FIVE FLIPPIN’ YEARS. I acquired it in 2012, so excited to use it, but it was too pretty, I was too indecisive, and there it sat. I finally found the perfect pattern for it, though: Sky Boat Cowl designed by Judy Marples. The cowl has so much wonderful texture, plays really well with the variegated colorway, and should be just long enough with the two skeins that I have. This I know because another cowl I knit from two skeins of Zaftig is one of my all-time favorites to wear. I’ve been monogamous to this cowl and haven’t knit anything else since I started it about 3 weeks ago. (The photo above is misleading, as I’m over halfway done now.) I’ve been working on it while I’ve thrown myself into the second season of Outlander on DVD, so it’s really felt like the perfect thing to knit lately  (the cowl was inspired by the poem adapted in the theme song to the show, as Judy blogs about here). I could watch that show and dream about a completely romanticized historical Scotland forever. Except I’d miss spending time with this toothy guy:

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❤  ❤  ❤

In some Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe news, a happy customer and fellow knit-blogger has featured my products in the ‘Monday Makers’ post on her blog, as one of a few excellent gift ideas for Mother’s Day. Check it out if you can. Thanks for the love, Jeannie!

WIPWed #125: Back to Socks

I’m starting to feel more like my old crafty self again: I have an active pair of socks on the needles!

Waiting for Hatchling

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering, colorway Royals. Click for project page.

I have been trying to turn the above yarn into socks since before my wedding and honeymoon in 2014. (Yikes!) I knit an entire plain stockinette sock that I then had to frog because it was too small. I did not account for the fact that BFL has less stretch than Merino wool and I should’ve increased my cast on more. This time, I’m using a pattern with texture and ribbing (Aramis by Caoua Coffee) and cast on more stitches which should loosen things up. I started these while I was pregnant but my hands and joints were always tired and sore then and I hated fiddling with the small needles. Things feel back to normal now, though, so here’s hoping I get to actually wear these socks someday soon!

Wine Toasts

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The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage. Click for project page.

These are super simple armwarmers that I’m making extra big and toasty to wear with  3/4 length sleeve sweaters in my chilly office. I am currently in a game of yarn chicken with the deep wine colorway. A friend of mine has a backup skein if this one is not enough, which is a good thing because it appears that The Verdant Gryphon is no more. Gryphon herself is now living and working on a commune with her daughter, and the people she left the business to were not able to keep it going. I feel like a chapter of my knitterly life is ending! I’ve been deeply in love with VG yarns since I discovered them in 2010, when they were still teamed up with Cephalopod Yarns as The Sanguine Gryphon. My first skein was Bugga in the Cowkiller colorway that I knit up into one of my favorite shawls.

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This was 5 apartments ago… ha!

Looks like I’ve always had a thing for Gryphon’s reds. Sigh. As with CY, VG yarns will be missed, but man am I glad I have a nice stash to sustain me for a while. #justified

Tropical Merino

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Wooldancer 19.5 Micron Merino. Click for handspun project page.

I started spinning this fiber way back in 2014 as well (wow, have I completed anything in the last 3 years!?) on a tiny Turkish spindle. Even though the Women’s March on Washington is over, I’d still like a Pussyhat of my own (I donated the others) and since I am out of pink yarn, I figured I’d make some. To speed up the process, I’ve also started spinning this fiber on my wheel and on my new Bosworth Mini spindle. The singles are very thin so I’m thinking I’ll 2-ply and then chain ply that 2-ply yarn to get a bulkier 6-ply. We’ll see how that works out!

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Current reading.

I haven’t tracked my reading in a while but since I’m finally starting to read things OTHER than parenting-related, get-my-kid-to-sleep, what-should-his-poop-look-like type books, I figured I’d share. And since the March for Science has got me all fired up, I’m doing some science-y reading for fun. (Because #scienceisreal! It’s not made up! Experts know what they’re talking about! The world around us can be understood!) This book is all about the different forms that sexual reproduction takes within the animal kingdom, so that should be fascinating. It’s refreshing to read a work written just because the author was curious about something, so they went and researched and figured it out.

What have you been reading these days? Linking up for the first time in a LONG time with Yarnalong.

WIPWed #71: Instant Gratification

As a knitter, you wouldn’t think that I’d have a deep love of instant gratification, since knitting is probably one of the slowest ways to create something. Yet, I do. I can only stay project-monogamous for so long before my fingers get itchy for something new and quick. Especially when lovelies like these arrive:

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The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Russian Sage and Kiss of Cabernet

As I mentioned on Saturday, The Verdant Gryphon brought back my beloved Zaftig yarn (worsted weight MCN blend) and I just could not resist. Skeins were acquired, and swatches were  nearly immediately made.

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Swatches!

The top swatch was made with size 7 needles because I could not find the size 6 needles the pattern called for and of course, my gauge was too large. I finally did find my size 6 needles and made a second (slightly less enthusiastic) swatch, which was close enough! (Pattern called for 5 sts/inch, I achieved 5.25 sts/inch.)

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The beginnings of a Lucy Hat. Click for project page.

Hats are my absolute favorite instant gratification project, and normally around this time of the year I’m knitting hats like crazy for gifts. However, this one’s for me, and it’s going to be awesome.

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SG Codex, colorway Lioness of Brittany. Click for project page.

The project I’ve been (mostly) monogamous with is my Sweet November shawl knit with luscious, silky Codex. I know I’m going to love this thing like crazy when I’m done, it’s just not particularly engaging to knit anymore since it’s quite simple and repetitive. But that ball is shrinking quickly, so an FO should be in my future soon enough!

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Inglenook Batts. Click for handspun project page.

I took a little spinning break after Spinzilla, but have since picked up my supported spindle project here and there. I’m still enjoying this spin. The singles are so colorful and such a crazy mix of fibers that I’m really looking forward to seeing what it will look like plied!

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Spindle storage.

Over in the Spindlemania group there has been some discussion about how people store their spindles. The above photo illustrates my little spindle corner in the living room. If you look closely, you’ll spot two Turkish spindles on top of the tallest bookcase (one of the few spots in the house that Darwin can’t terrorize). Hanging on the wall are two colorful bags that each contain a top whorl spindle (my Golding and my Kundert) with their fiber. The small hanging bag holds fiber for one of my support spindling projects. Below the bags are my two support spindles and one additional top whorl stuck in a vase with glass beads to hold them upright. For traveling, my Jenkins Aegean and my larger Capar Turkish spindles each fit well within my Dakine school supply case (with shafts removed and with plenty of fiber).

How do you store or travel with your spindles? What do you do when the urge for instant gratification strikes?

IS #79: Worsted Weight Wonders

It has been quite a while since my last Inspiration Saturday post, but it’s also been some time since I’ve had a chance to really sink my teeth into a pattern search. Many of these posts are born of a burning need to find just the right pattern for just the right yarn and lately I haven’t had any pattern-matching conundrums. However, I’ve just discovered that The Verdant Gryphon has brought back one of my favorite yarn bases (Zaftig Bugga, a worsted weight MCN blend) and well, I had to know how many skeins to buy for my next project, didn’t I? Let the luxurious, worsted-weight-accessory-pattern curating commence!

The Millwater cowl by Beth Kling is one I’ve had queued for Zaftig for quite some time.

Copyright Beth Kling. Click for pattern page.

I knit this pattern out of Malabrigo Twist a while back and really enjoyed it. The knitting is simple and soothing, just garter stitch with a ribbed cable that is knit flat and then seamed. I think the finished piece is striking and versatile and looks lovely in semi-solids and variegated yarns.

Another simple-but-striking cabled pattern is the Tidal Flats hat by Melissa Thomson.

Copyright Alexa Ludeman. Click for pattern page.

This hat is part of the Cascadia collection, which contains many lovely accessory and sweater patterns. This hat would work best in a semi-solid, so as not to obscure all that smooth reverse stockinette.

I’ve been enamored with this Bosc scarf by Robin Ulrich for ages:

Copyright Robin Ulrich. Click for pattern page.

It’s just so dang elegant, and knit in worsted weight it would be cozy, beautiful, and fairly quick to knit.

This Fission mitts by Annika Barranti would be quite cushy in Zaftig.

Copyright Vivian Aubrey. Click for pattern page.

I love the laced-up i-cord details, the cables, and the twisted stitches. You need a yarn with good stitch definition to really make these pop. The style is a little bit similar to my Berriboned Wrists pattern (lacing-wise, anyway):

Copyright Alicia Morandi. Click for pattern page.

The wristwarmers were initially designed with Zaftig, and are quite cozy as all get-out in the heavier weight yarn. (I’m wearing them as I type, in fact!)

To up the elegance ante, we have the Juneberry Shawl designed by Jared Flood.

Copyright Brooklyn Tweed. Click for pattern page.

I’ve adored this shawl for quite some time, but have been having internal debates over whether I want to knit it out of Zaftig or something a bit drapier with some silk content, like Codex or Mondegreen.

Lastly, and the pattern I will most likely knit first, is the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer.

Copyright Knitscene. Click for pattern page.

I think the plump, tightly-twisted texture of Zaftig will lend great stability to this striking, structured cloche. I love the stitch definition in the photo, the possibility of amazing color combination, and that jaunty flipped brim. This hat needs to be rocked so hard, and I plan to rock it well.

Have you been inspired by anything in particular lately? What’s your favorite use for worsted weight yarn? Let us know in the comments below!

IS

FOFri #31: In The Bag

While my active WIPs are exactly the same as they were a month ago (as stated in my last post), a tiny finished object did make its way on and off my needles before ever appearing on the blog:

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Baby Bugga Set, click for project page.

A coworker of mine (the same one who designed my logos!) is having a baby in September and she requested a little hat for him. I used a bunch of Bugga leftovers (Common Emerald Moth, Yellow Fringe Doris, Blue Lobster, and Dog Days Cicada) in a somewhat randomly-striped slipped stitch pattern. I then made a couple of mismatched, color-blocked booties. I wasn’t sure how the color-blocking would work out but I admit that I’m charmed by their mismatched-ness! The whole shebang used up 46 g of leftover bits, which is pretty awesome.

I also wanted to blab about a few new project bags that have come my way recently.

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From Lizard’s Bazaar.

This pretty bag was made by Amanda of Lizard’s Bazaar. This is the large size. I originally bought a small size bag thinking it would work well for sock projects, but the unique triangular shape of the bag actually did not fit my large-ish ball of sock yarn (let alone the project to go with it). When I wrote to Amanda about this she was very gracious and let me exchange my bag for a larger size. I’m still not sure I’m in love with the triangular shape (it makes the bag appear much larger than it actually is on the inside) but the fabric is pretty, it seems well-made, and Amanda provided great customer service so I’ll certainly give it a shot!

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Made by Clever Clementine, via Indie Untangled.

A while back, Lisa from Indie Untangled teamed up with That Clever Clementine to offer a special Indie Untangled project bag for sale. Since Sweet Sheep is part of the Indie Untangled Marketplace I had to snag one, and I’m so glad I did! The bag is really well-made and a lovely size. It has a couple of slip pockets on the inside, a cloth string cinch, a nice cloth handle, and even a little string inside with a clip attached. I often clip my knitting bag to things so I think this will be a handy feature. (P.S. There’s a great giveaway happening on the Indie Untangled blog right now for a skein of yarn from Pigeonroof Studios! Just your basic enabler’s alert…)

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Dry sack from L.L. Bean.

Finally, I discovered something awesome on my honeymoon: these dry sacks from L.L. Bean make really great sock project bags! They’re made of rugged but lightweight nylon, and when they’re rolled up and clipped closed they are waterproof.

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Closed.

I admit I love the clip most of all. It was super handy while flying to just clip this bag around the strap of my carry-on so my knitting was secure and easy to reach at all times. I would recommend using some sort of needle protector, though, you don’t want the tips poking through the fabric if you want your bag to remain waterproof. I’m using a fabric DPN holder by pokdej that is doing the trick.

What’s your favorite project bag? Do you tend to use one type or different types for different projects? Is there a particular feature you requre?

Check out more FOs at Tamis Amis!

WIPWed #55: Experimental Swatches

My main knitting work-in-progress goal this week was swatching up four little skeins of experimental handspun. (Don’t forget to enter by Thursday night to win 8 oz of Louet Perendale fiber of your very own! Check this blog post for details.)

Twist Experiment Swatches:

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knitting + science = awesome

They haven’t yet been blocked, but they will be A.S.A.P. so I can report back on my results by Friday. Each swatch was knit on the same size needles with the same patterns (7 ridges garter stitch, 10 rows stockinette, and a little lace-y rib pattern). I immediately noticed that the two opposing ply yarns (bottom row) were much plumper and knit up into larger swatches than the normal 2-ply yarns (top row). I’ll discuss more about why I think this is after I see how they block out.

Scummy Cedar Grove:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts De-Vine, colorway Pond Scum. Click for project page.

I picked up this shawl again this morning and literally just knit half a row so I could call it a WIP in good conscious and share it here. Perhaps that’s cheating, but I felt like so little knitting has been happening lately. Possibly because I almost forgot…

Boxed Wind:

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Sanguine Gryphon Zaftig Bugga, colorway Box Jellyfish. Click for project page.

I knit a super quick Windschief hat for a good friend’s birthday last weekend. So quick, it didn’t even see the blog until it was gifted and gone. It lasted just long enough to make me super sad that the Zaftig yarn is discontinued, though. It’s scrumptious.

Speaking of good friends, that same friend went to Iceland with his knitterly husband recently. I pleaded that they bring me back some handknit mittens and boy, did they deliver:

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Pretty, pretty mittens.

Could I knit myself lovely, fingering-weight, colorwork snowflake mittens? Sure, probably. Am I likely to do so anytime soon? NOPE. I have a terrible track record with finishing mittens and have no pressing desire to knit that much colorworkso I’m super happy to have this pair. They feel great and will be just the thing when it gets cold around here again. Plus, they came from Iceland, so they are extra awesome.

In a final bit of news, I added a new lotion bar fragrance to my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe:

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Are you drooling yet?

Lemon Cake! It smells exactly as you’d think it would: citrus-y, sweet, butter-y, cake-y, yummy. I also re-stocked a couple scents I had sold out of: Crisp Pear and Sandalwood Vanilla. I’m so happy that my bars have been receiving great feedback! A couple of  customers have been kind enough to write wonderful, 5-star reviews and a few others have sent me direct messages telling me how happy they are with their purchases. It’s thrilling! I’ve also created a Facebook page for the shop if you’d like to ‘like’ it and stay up-to-date with news and sales there.

Phew! Turns out I had more to chat about than I thought… Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis and enjoy your Wednesday! (And don’t forget the Louet giveaway!)

WIPWed #48: Pshhhh, What Commitment Issues?

I am having serious commitment issues — though not about knitting. I’m planning a honeymoon to Costa Rica and I am having the absolute hardest time choosing where to go, where to stay, what to see. I’ve read no less than 790 pages of travel guides in the last 3 weeks and have spent countless hours browsing hotel websites and I think I know where I want to go, but two things are stopping me: 1) thinking about all the lovely things that I’m NOT going to get to see in different parts of the country since I can’t be everywhere in one week and, 2) the cost. Oooooooh, the cost. Pulling the trigger and committing to spending that much money on one trip all at once — oooh boy, is that hard. (Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful to have this “problem”, but this will be the first big trip I’ve ever planned/taken so it’s kind of scary! I want to get it right! Costa Rica-related travel tips appreciated, if you have them!) Anyway, when it comes to my knitting, I’ve actually been extraordinarily committed. Remember my recent failures? Well, I resolved one of them.

Festooned Joy:

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BMFA Socks that Rock Lightweight, colorway Comfort & Joy. Click for project page.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that my two previously not-matching socks, now match. I frogged back the heel and shifted it over three stitches in order to get the purl columns to occur at the edges of the instep next to the gusset, like they did on the first sock. It wasn’t a big fix, just time-consuming and a little bit face-palmy, but thanks to three hours of Monday meetings the fix hardly set me back time-wise at all. Onwards!

Kelp-y Kelpie:

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Brooklyn Tweed Loft, colorway Sweatshirt. Click for project page.

My Kelpie shawl is progressing nicely, as well. The Loft yarn is probably not for everybody, it’s not “scratchy” but since it’s woolen-spun, it has an unusual “spongy” texture while knitting and the finished fabric is very matte. It feels a bit like pebbly velvet… sort of. Hard to describe, but very interesting!

Stitch Block Blues:

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Quince & Co. Osprey in Glacier, Peacock, and Belize. Click for project page.

To reward myself for so much committed knitting, I started a new project: Purl Soho’s Stitch Block Cowl. What you see above is my swatch, to test out how my lovely new yarn from Maine would look in the pattern, and the very beginnings of the cowl. This project is a great example of why you should always swatch, even for a simple garment. [Cue mini swatch lesson!]

The pattern is written to produce a cowl that is 12.75″ wide with a 51 stitch cast on and a gauge of 4 sts/inch using worsted weight yarn on size US 7 needles. I know that I personally like knitting worsted weight yarn on size US 8 needles, especially a thicker, nearly-aran weight yarn like Osprey (which I am now madly in love with,by the way. Delightful stuff!). So I swatched, measured, washed, let dry, and measured again. My gauge was 3.24 sts/inch before blocking (5.25″ wide swatch divided by 17 sts that I cast on for the swatch) but it stretched a bit width-wise after blocking (to 5.5″) giving me a blocked gauge of 3.01 sts/inch. Now, if I had cast on the ‘required’ 51 sts at my gauge, my cowl would have turned out to be nearly 17″ wide! Since this is a simple pattern that just requires an odd number of stitches, it is easily customizable. Therefore, I cast on only 35 stitches so my final cowl should be about 11.6″ wide (35 sts / 3.01 sts per inch = 11.6 — plenty wide enough for me). In summation: always swatch, if you care about the look/feel/proportions/size of your final project!

StB #1: Alpaca for Mom:

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Long Island Livestock Alpaca Firestar. Click for handspun project page.

And finally, here’s some solid progress on my first Spin the Bin challenge for 2014. Those bobbins hold 6 oz of lovely alpaca fiber, waiting for plying (my favorite part). My goal is to do finish by Friday so I can gift the skein to my mom when I go visit this weekend. (We are going wedding dress shopping. I’ve been dreading this experience for a long time solely because I hate dresses and I hate shopping, so if I never blog again, you will know I did not survive. [Cut dramatics.])

Well, I’d say that’s more than enough out of me this week! Hope you’ve been making good progress on all of your projects this week, as well. Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis!