Five Things Friday

I am determined not to let another week go by with just a single, lonely blog post. However, I have not had time to take many photos this week; thus, today will be a list of random things with photos ganked from my Instagram.

1 – I have reached the waist decreases on my Rhinebeck sweater, and I have no idea what to do about them! I am modifying the pattern because I wanted more room in the hips but less room in the bust, so I thought decreasing about 3 inches for the waist and then increasing back out one inch for the bust might work for my measurements… BUT the fabric is an all-over ribbing/cable texture, so I am having trouble figuring out decrease placement that will allow for increasing back to a smaller stitch count than I began with, but still keep the pattern intact. WHY MUST I GET FANCY WITH THESE THINGS, HMMM?

ALL THE LIP BALMZ.

2 – My house has been an absolute mess for the last week or so as I’ve been nonstop making lotion bars and lip balms for a wholesale order and the fast-approaching Squam Art Fair. (September 19th in New Hampshire, will I see you?!) The Fiasco and I will be stickering and shrink-wrapping 150 lip balms tonight while watching The Cider House Rules on Netflix. Is that an exciting Friday night, or what?

3 – I have a very full head of fairly fine texture, wavy-curly hair that can be quite difficult to manage. I’ve been using Deva Curl products for a while now because their more natural, moisturizing, sulfate-free ingredients are supposed to be much better for curly hair and I really do like the shampoo and conditioner. Their styling products are nice, too, but I find they make my hair too ‘gunky’ the next day, and I only shampoo every other day so that’s not ideal. Anyway, they have a training program for stylists that teaches them to cut curly hair while dry so it flatters curly hair’s natural texture. I found one such stylist at a fancy city salon in Providence and I’m going to get a haircut tomorrow. I’ve been so bored with my hair and just generally unhappy with recent haircuts, so this is quite exciting for me. (It’s my blog, and I can naval-gaze if I want to!) Have any curly-headed ladies had luck with such haircuts?

HELP! FROZEN! AH!

4 – This morning, my Kindle screen tragically and strangely froze… just in the bottom left hand quadrant of screen. WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT THIS? HOW WILL I LIVE?!?!?! I am quite distressed. How am I supposed to get my John Irving on with a screen like that?! What is happening? What should I do????

5 – This Sunday, my spinner’s guild is hosting a sock-yarn-spinning class taught by Amy King of Spunky Eclectic, who also teaches a Foundations of Spinning class on Craftsy and will be teaching lots of spinning-related classes at Rhinebeck. I am beyond excited about this. I haven’t had a proper spinning session since Tour de Fleece in July, and it’s high time I get back into it. I will be sure to report back with details on the class.

That’s all I have for you this Friday. Happy weekend, everyone!

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The Week of Unfinished Business

As predicted, work has been increasingly crazy this month and this week in particular was a killer. It was also my dear Fiasco’s birthday, and while he sadly did not receive his birthday socks finished on time, he did receive a pretty good-looking surprise birthday pie, instead.

Birthday pie!

That pie was something of a comedy of errors. The night I planned to make it, the Fiasco was staying over his brother’s house, so I figured I’d have plenty of time to surprise him… until I was stuck finishing something at work until 9 pm. By the time I ran to the grocery store and got home, it was after 10. Then I couldn’t find the pie pan that I knew we owned (I did, eventually). Then I had to go digging through our camp box in the shed for the French press because I don’t know how to use the coffee pot we keep on the counter (whatever, I’m technology averse) and coffee is the main flavoring. And then, when I went to blend everything together, the fancy smoothie maker I own broke, so I had to transfer the sticky concoction over to a normal blender instead. Suffice it to say, I must really love that guy, because the pie wasn’t finished until the wee hours of the morning and I even cleaned up after myself in the kitchen, which is a rare enough occurrence as it is. (All of that, and the pie wasn’t that great! I thought it was too sweet and the crust stuck to the pan. Oh well, he loved it, and it was the surprise that mattered.) Now, onto the WIPWed post I never quite got to write this week…

Stealth Socks:

The Week of Unfinished Business | Woolen Diversions

BMFA STR HW, colorway Grimm. Click for project page.

These socks are a tad further along than shown here, I plan to buckle down on them this weekend and get them on the Fiasco’s feet ASAP. It should be a little easier to finish them now that I’m not trying to be sneaky about it.

My Favorite Socks Ever:

The Week of Unfinished Business | Woolen Diversions

BMFA STR LW, colorway Gran’s Kitchen. Click for project page.

As one might surmise by observing the kinky yarn, a wee bit of frogging has occurred. I undershot the toes by a few rows so rather than live with slightly-too-small socks, I decided to rip ’em back and have another go. If these are going to be my favorite, I want them to really be my favorite! I promise, though, in the near future I should have something to show other than this same sock pattern over and over again…

TdF BME Mind Bullets:

The Week of Unfinished Business | Woolen Diversions

Bee Mice Elf Merino top, colorway Mind Bullets

Despite a lack of photographic evidence, I am still slowly working on my Tour de Fleece spindle spin. This is the second half of the first ounce, but it’s going!

TdF TWF Wensleydale:

The Week of Unfinished Business | Woolen Diversions

Three Waters Farm undyed Wensleydale

I haven’t had much time to spin since my triumphant finished skeins earlier in the week, but I did take a second to get my next (and likely last) TdF spin started. This is some undyed Wensleydale, which is a gorgeously silky longwool. I’ve spun Wensleydale before in a pretty gradient, and am aiming to make a coordinating 2-ply yarn to use in a stripey project of some kind. Check out the length of those fibers! Luscious.

And as for reading:

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Natural beauty indulgences.

I was super duper excited when my pre-ordered copy of The Natural Beauty Solution by Mary Helen Leonard arrived in the mail. Mary writes the blog for From Nature With Love, a Connecticut-based soap-making and skin care ingredient supply store that I purchase some of my Sweet Sheep raw materials from. Her recipes are interesting and informative, and the book focuses on making your own skin care products from fresh ingredients. The book is beautifully photographed, too. I likely won’t be able to adapt many of the recipes for sale since they are designed to be kept refrigerated and used within a week, but I am looking forward to experimenting with my own routine! Next, I was inspired to pick up the copy of No More Dirty Looks that’s been in the queue for a while, to learn more about exactly which components of commercial beauty products are so bad for your skin. Turns out, the answer is most of them. Guys, this book is like a ‘scared straight’ program. It’s making me want to chuck out everything I own that isn’t already all-natural, which at this point isn’t much since I buy a good proportion of whatever beauty products I don’t make myself from Lush. The number of carcinogenic and downright damaging ingredients that are in most products, along with the completely bogus industry regulation (9 ingredients are banned from use in US cosmetics… while there are over 1,000 banned in the UK) are pretty intense. It’s a really great read so far and I look forward to going into more detail as I experiment with some replacement products.

Blackberry Sage lotion bar

Blackberry Sage lotion bar

Speaking of natural body care, Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe will be vending at the Meiklem Kiln Works Arts & Wellness Fair TOMORROW, Saturday 7/25 from 10 am – 4 pm in Bozrah, CT. Come say hi, and check out our new summer fragrances, like Blackberry Sage!

Phew! When I don’t write for a while, looks like it all comes out at once. Hope you’re all having good weeks. Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday, despite being a few days delayed.

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Lavender EO

This week’s featured lotion bar fragrance is a very love it or hate it type of scent: Lavender EO. The ‘EO’ in the name indicates that the bar is scented with the botanically-derived essential oil (rather than a man-made fragrance oil). My mom is allergic to lavender, so I was never really exposed to the scent while growing up and didn’t particularly care for it. My favorite aunt, on the other hand, is a lavender junkie who hits me up for more lotion bars and lip balms every time I go back home. Now that I am constantly making lavender-scented products, it’s really grown on me. I even keep bar by my bed to put on before I go to sleep as the essential oil is known to have a soothing, calming, and restful effect (and I’ll take all the help I can get shutting off my brain at night).

Lavender EO lotion bars

Lavender EO lotion bars

Why I love it: As far as florals go, Lavender is not cloying at all. It’s more herbal and earthy than it is flowery and sweet. Its herbaceous nature is what I think turns some people off of it, but it’s also exactly what I love about it. For the record, lavender buds are edible and add a delicious spicy/floral note to tea, mixed drinks (try a lavender-infused simple syrup mixed with lemon juice and gin!), and even chocolate cookies (which I’m dying to make).

What it pairs well with: I’ve included Lavender EO in the All Natural gift set alongside Spearmint EO and Unscented Cocoa, all of which are scented with essential oils or the natural chocolate fragrance of cocoa butter. It pairs well with citrus scents (like Kumquat) or the gently floral/citrus tea scent of Chamomile Bergamot.

Summer Fields handmade soap

Summer Fields handmade soap

I’ve also embedded bits of Lavender and Vanille soap in an aloe vera gel base that I call Summer Fields. The earthy Lavender pairs well with the sweetness of the Vanilla and the freshly-mown grass scent used in the base. I’ve been showering with this soap daily and it’s like a little burst of summertime happiness every morning.

What about you, do you like Lavender? Are you in the love it or hate it camp? Do you use the essential oil for any of its therapeutic properties?

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!

Soap for Sale!

I was super surprised (and excited!) to see all the love for handmade soap that my Sweet Sheep product survey results reported. I thought I was one of the odd ones who got excited over soap-y goodness, but I’m thrilled that I’m not alone. I’ve had lots of fun experimenting with a variety of soap bases and have created three new soaps for sale. I was inspired by the recent cheery spring weather we’re having here in RI (finally!) and I think these beauties reflect that!

Lavender Vanilla Shea Butter Soap:

The first soap is comprised of Lavender Essential Oil-scented soap (purple) layered with Vanilla Bean-scented shea butter soap (white). The top layer is shea butter and castille (natural, olive oil-based) soap whipped into frothy goodness. Whipped soap has a great spongy texture and makes a luxurious lather. The whole thing is topped off with a sprinkling of jojoba beads and culinary-grade lavender buds.

Frosted Lemon Cake Honey Soap:

This second soap looks (and smells!) good enough to eat! It’s comprised of a Lemon Cake-scented honey soap base (yellow) layered with Cream Cheese Frosting-scented white soap. Like the lavender soap above, the top layer is a whipped soap mixture sprinkled with colorful jojoba beads.

Citrus Surprise Hemp Seed Oil Soap:

Last but not least, this soap is a fun mix of soap bases and fragrances. It contains slivers of the Frosted Lemon Cake soap engulfed in orange-tinted, Kumquat-scented hemp seed oil soap. The orange has a bit of a shimmer to it, and the combination of bright citrus and sweet frosting scents is delectable. And I must admit, I love the way the embedded soap peaks out from the surrounding base!

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll give handmade soap a try. Are you a fan of unique soap? What does your favorite bar of soap look/smell/feel like?

Workin’ On The Weekend

I spent this weekend as a busy, busy little bee and it felt amazing. I haven’t had 2 days to myself in so long and I got quite a few things accomplished that have been on my list for a while.

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Sweet Sheep Solid Lotion Bars, in progress!

I finally finally finally had some serious time to devote to the lotion bars that so many of you volunteered to test several weeks ago. I tweaked the formula a bit more and came up with something that I now really, really love — your input was invaluable, THANK YOU! I (mostly) set up my (forthcoming) Etsy shop, made lots of business-related decisions, ordered a few more things I need before I can open things up, and made a few dozen full- and sample-sized bars to start off with. Things are getting exciting! I also set up a little info page on the blog as well as a Facebook page for the shop, if you’re interested in following and finding out exactly when I open my virtual doors! (I’m getting super psyched, can you tell?! Overuse of reclamation points!!! YES!!!!!)

Now my big question: what’s your favorite type of fragrance? What would you like to smell on your hands/body if you used the lotions? There are literally hundreds of fragrances available from my supplier of pretty much anything you can imagine. I have an undeniable bias towards sweet, fruity, vanilla-y scents and I have a sneaking a suspicion that perhaps not everyone will want to go around smelling like cake. Any suggestions of scents you like would be much appreciated!

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This is basically just for proof of making the deadline.

I finished the handspun I was making for the CTA Pigeonroof Fibers spin-along, just in the nick of time because the deadline was today! I finished plying at 1 a.m. and was too tired to wind the second bobbin off into a skein (that’s tonight’s job). I’ll post more info and better glamor photos when both skeins are fully washed and dried because let me tell you, the first skein is so fluffy and delightful after drying, it deserves a better photoshoot. Scroll through all the other beautiful skeins produced in the group here.

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Squoosh Fiber Arts Rapture, colorway Raven. Click for project page.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand finally, I also finished my Loch hat, designed by tin can knits. I am not sure if this hat is entirely flattering on me, it’s essentially a slightly slouchy beanie… like it’s not sure if it wants to be all-the-way-slouchy or not. It’s just sort of an odd shape on my head, though I believe it’s so slouchy because the Merino/cashmere/silk blend yarn relaxed a lot with blocking (so not due to the pattern). Or perhaps I just have a small head. Either way, I do like the FO because I needed a black hat and the sport-weight fabric is really great for spring. It’s making me want to knit more lightweight hats, now!

Phew, that was a lot! See, didn’t I tell you I’ve been busy? Hope you all had great weekends, too!