Celebrating My 30th

So folks, this weekend is the big Three-Oh for me. Thirty years old! Gosh, I remember when that sounded so old. By 30 I thought I’d have everything figured out, I’d have a settled career path, I’d maybe even have kids and a house! Thirty just seemed so far away and intangible. Now that it’s here, I’m realizing that 1) I don’t feel ready for half of those things anyway and 2) I’m totally ok with that. I’ve got fuzzy goals and even fuzzier plans, and I’m feeling pretty relaxed and flexible about if and when they come to fruition.

Celebrating My 30th | Woolen Diversions

Darwin, demonstrating the way in which I should approach life.

As much as I’ve loved the past 30 years, I’m expecting the next 30 to be even better. My 20s were full of more than their fair share of upheaval and angst, and I’ve recently been making strides towards living a healthier, less anxious, more joyful life. I’ve also realized that many of the people whose work I admire didn’t do their great [whatever it is I admire them for] until they were middle-aged or older. When I start to feel the pressure of time on my back I stop and remember that I really have no idea what I’ll be accomplishing or experiencing over the next few decades, and that there is still plenty of time.

Celebrating My 30th | Woolen Diversions

… for yarn. Always time for yarn.

You know how I really know that I’m 30, though? I’ve caught myself, on more than one occasion, making small talk with the poor, bored high school cashiers at the grocery store. Those kids don’t care what an old lady like me has to say, and I know that, I can remember that feeling, yet I still find myself doing it as if it can’t be helped. (When did I start small talking with strangers anyway?) To those kids, I’m just another old-ass adult with old-ass adult stories, and that just blows my mind.

Celebrating My 30th | Woolen Diversions

Use code ’30BDAY’ at checkout.

In celebration of my birthday weekend, all purchases of lotion bars or lip balms at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe are 30% off with use of the coupon code ’30BDAY’ at checkout through January 27th. Be sure to tell your friends, and thanks so much for your support! Here’s to 30!

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Back in the Saddle

It feels like it has been quite some time since I’ve made any lotion bars, what with June and July being consumed by the wedding and honeymoon. However, it’s about to be All Sweet Sheep, All The Time around here and I got the ball rolling this past weekend whipping up a few batches of scents that had sold out.

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe Coconut Lime Lotion Bar

Coconut Lime – get it while it’s hot!

I spent much of Sunday brainstorming new scents to develop for a fall lineup. I’ve decided to split the year up into three scent seasons: January – April (late winter and spring), May – August (spring and summer), and September – December (fall and winter). This means that I’ll soon be phasing out some of my more summery scents (keep an eye out for sale info soon). And I’m starting to get super excited about cooking up batches of lotion bars with names like Apple Butter, Autumn Fig, and Gingersnap (to name a few).

Vending on August 17th in Swansea, MA.

Vending on August 17th in Swansea, MA.

We have not one, but TWO vending opportunities this month. The first is this Sunday, August 17th, from 10 am – 4 pm at Venus de Milo in Swansea, MA. This craft fair is a fundraising benefit to help a young woman go on a mission trip. (If you wish, you can donate directly to her cause here.) I hear that kiddos will also have a chance to get their photos taken with Queen Elsa from Frozen, so that’s pretty awesome.

Coventry Regional Farmer's Market

Logo snipped from their webpage.

Our second vending opportunity will be the following week during the Honeybee Hullaballoo at the famous Coventry Farmer’s Market. This event runs from 11 am – 2 pm on Sunday, August 24th in Coventry, CT. The Fiasco and I used to live right down the road from this market and we dearly miss it, so we’re super excited to be vending there! Please do come by and visit Sweet Sheep in the wild, we’d love the chance to meet you and help you find just the right lotion bar fragrance.

What’s your favorite autumn or winter fragrance? What scent gives you that cozy, cooler weather, holidays-on-the-horizon feeling?

FOFri #30: The Things We Do For Friends

I had the hardest time figuring out what to make for gifts for my bridesmaids. My initial thought was shawls, but, well, there were 6 of them and even though I got engaged waaaaaay back in 2011 and therefore theoretically could have knit 6 shawls in that timeframe, I didn’t know how long our engagement was going to be but I did know that my fortitude for non-selfish gift knitting tends to be limited, so it was not likely to happen.

Copyright Eskimimi. Click for pattern page.

Then I saw this cute little coin purse and thought oooh! I could make this bigger, get a fancier purse frame, and make little clutches! The thought of all that linen stitch was a little daunting, so I figured I could perhaps make squares on my Zoom Loom and make patchwork bags. Then I hurt my wrist back in March and using the loom was a little too painful.

Copyright kateclysm. Click for pattern page.

So then, I was thinking I’d maybe make these cute little bangle bags, which would still require sewing a lining onto the back of knitted fabric (which worried me) but at least wouldn’t involve sewing into a purse frame. But still, I wasn’t totally thrilled by the idea and didn’t really know where to get the bangles.

Copyright Lion Brand Yarn. Click for pattern page.

I finally stumbled across this quilted lattice jewlery frame, and knew this would be perfect! Since I had already ordered purse frames I went back and forth debating for a while. It was a difficult debate since most of the people I usually consult for knitting advice were in the bridal party! I had to rely on my friend Jeremie, who was not particularly interested in either purses or jewelry frames. I kept coming back to the frames, though, and decided to go for them.

IMG_6701I finally started knitting them at the end of May, and finished them up in the first week of July. So, I had to knit one of these each week. I used my swatch to determine how many to cast on to fit in an 8×10 frame. It’s a good idea to underestimate how many stitches you need as your yarn will likely stretch and you want the fabric to be taught. I used a totally luscious yarn for this: BMFA Marine Silk Sport, colorway Oceana.

IMG_6702The frame requires a little work before you attach the knitting. We (I say we, since the FiascoHubs helped) used the matting from the frame as a base, then cut out quilt batting to the same size and plain fabric about an inch larger. Then you make a little batting sandwich and use double-sided tape to fold the fabric over and secure it to the back of the matting.

IMG_6703Finally, you do the utterly unthinkable and take a stapler to your silky, luxurious knitted fabric. You carefully staple all around the edges of the piece to secure the knitted fabric to the fabric backing. Not gonna lie, this part was painful.

IMG_6709But the results were so worth it! I love how these little frames turned out and I know at least one of my friends is already using hers. I didn’t want to just give these frames, however, so I also made some earrings to go with it (no, I don’t know what came over me).

IMG_6694These things came out better than I had expected and were surprisingly easy to make! Here is the super helpful tutorial I followed. I was so encouraged by my success with these earrings that I decided to make my own wedding jewelry.

I looked at a few wire jewelry photos for inspiration but basically just winged these designs and am really thrilled with how they came out. I love the little pop of color they added to my wedding ensemble, too. That’s the last of my crazy wedding crafting! I’m making one more frame for myself right now but then it’s back to knitting whatever-the-heck I want! Have you ever surprised yourself with your own crafting abilities or been suddenly struck by the desire to make something that you couldn’t quite explain?

Check out more FOs at Tamis Amis.

Wedding Whirlwind

Thank you so much for all of your well wishes! Our wedding weekend was absolutely fantastic. It was certainly busy and a little bit stressful at times (so much to keep track of!) but we had a ton of help from our incredible families and friends and everything worked out even more wonderfully than I had hoped.

Our (amazing!) photographer won’t get most of our photos back until next month but she sent a little preview to tide us over and I thought you all would appreciate this one, especially:

alicia+rich_preview_07Oh yeah, that’s a bride knitting a sock. I just couldn’t resist. Even though nothing very ‘big’ was DIY (we didn’t cater the thing ourselves, for example) crafting still played an important role in the day.

alicia+rich_preview_12Here’s where we sealed the deal with a kiss! Note, if you will, the crocheted doily under the unity candle (thanks, Mom!) and the presence of the previously-featured, handmade, hula hoop ribbon thing.

alicia+rich_preview_16Here you can kinda see the jewelry I made for myself: necklace, earrings, and bracelet. I decided to make jewelry for myself since I made a bunch of earrings as part of my bridesmaids’ gifts, but I’ll talk more about those later this week on FO Friday since they also involved some knitting!

IMG_6764We kept our table decorations simple with basic table runners, some color-coordinated votive candles, and beribboned mason jars full of glass gems and flowers. The Fiasco (or should I say, my new husband!) wrote, printed, and hand-cut Mad Libs for each table, as well!

IMG_6753 I did not actually make anything on this table, but other people did! One of my best and oldest friends crocheted amazing bride and groom horseshoe crabs as a shower gift, which obviously had to make a wedding appearance. (The Fiasco and I met when I hired him as an assistant for my horseshoe crab research.) Our adorable little horseshoe crab cake toppers and the polka-dot paper garland were handmade and came from shops on Etsy.

IMG_6735Our biggest DIY project was putting together all of the flowers for the bouquets and centerpieces. I ordered wholesale flowers from Blooms By The Box and then we trimmed, hydrated, and arranged them under the guidance of my aunt (who fortuitously had taken a flower-arranging class at some point in her past), and with the help of my cousin (both pictured above) and the rest of my bridesmaids. Even though the arrangements were fairly straightforward (blue hydrangeas, mini green hydrangeas, white roses, green carnations, ferns, baby’s breath) it was no small task to put everything together. However, the flowers came out absolutely beautifully and I loved them a stupid amount.

I’m sure you’ll hear lots more about the wedding than you will ever want to know, but I think for now I’ll leave off with one of my absolute favorite preview shots that makes the entire day feel like a fairy tale (and makes us look like we can actually dance):

alicia+rich_preview_14Squeeeeeee!

 

 

WIPWed #59: Wedding In Progress

The wedding itself is not in progress at this moment, but the preparation for it certainly is! The Fiasco and I have been busy busy bees lately. Thank goodness he’s a teacher and has free time to run errands all over town while I’ve been working. Our evenings, late nights, and weekends have been overflowing with tasks but many of them have been creative so it’s been a good time.

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ALL THE RIBBONS!

I essentially bought out the entire blue/green ribbon section of Michael’s to turn this mess:

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White duct tape around a hula hoop + ribbons =

Into this gorgeous thing:

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AWESOME!

The aptly-named “hula hoop ribbon thing” is going to serve as a backdrop during our ceremony and will reside behind the sweetheart table at the reception. It’s the one and only Pinterest-inspired wedding craft that I actually accomplished. That shawl I dreamt about? Never happened. I totally gave up on my Something Blue purse. But I was bound and determined to make this ribbon thing and I’m really glad I did!

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Also, jewelry?

I also decided, in a fit of randomness, that I’d really like to make my own wedding jewelry. (I think we made one too many trips to Michael’s and I became infected with some sort of craft all the things bug.) The bracelet was a breeze, I’m going to tackle the earrings and necklace tonight. We’ll see how it goes!

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Cotton tahkli from hipstrings. Click for Etsy shop.

As is my wont, stressful busy days with no time to knit or spin lead directly to some stash and tool enhancement. I am excited to try this little cotton tahkli from hipstrings. It’s made of acrylic and carbon fiber and is very lightweight and supposed to spin very quickly. Since I enjoy my Tibetan and Russian supported spindles so much, I figured it was time to branch out into cotton spinning and see how it goes. I’ll give this baby a whirl next week.

I hope you all are having wonderful weeks! Check out some actual knitting WIPs at Tamis Amis.

First Show Success!

Yesterday was Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe’s first time vending at a festival, and it went really well! It started off less-than-promising… with a scant 4 hours of sleep, the Fiasco and I were up at the crack-o’-dawn, loading the car in a torential downpour. But then! The skies cleared, the booth set up smoothly, and the customers were lovely.

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I felt like a ‘TA – DAAA!!!’ was in order.

I took a ridiculous amount of pleasure in arranging our table. Everything was in its place, each with its own little sign (that kept flopping over in the wind), everything was color-coordinated… so fun. We received a lot of great feedback on the booth, as well, which was so nice to hear what with being newbies and all.

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My awesome Fiasco.

The Fiasco and I made a really great team. Even though he’s generally had an aversion to lotion his entire life, he was demonstrating how to use a lotion bar like a pro. (And, it turns out, these bars are ‘not that bad’ as far as lotion goes. Ha!) I don’t know how people run a booth on their own, we definitely needed both of us there, and this wasn’t even a very big festival.

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My view for much of the day.

I couldn’t believe how quickly the day flew by. One minute we were setting up, the next we were kind of sitting-around-waiting for people to arrive, and then all of a sudden it was 5pm and we were packing up. It was kind of incredible. I barely had a chance to walk around and see the festival for myself.

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Shearing happened.

I missed all the shearing, only saw the evidence that it had happened, and heard the claps and cheers whenever a sheep was finished.

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Stinky cows.

I didn’t see this pair much since they were directly behind our booth but OH BOY did I smell them. Depending on which way the wind was blowing, it was sometimes difficult to sell the delicate floral fragrance of Sea Moss (for example) when all one could smell was Eau de Manure.

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Festival loot!

I did manage to scurry out and quickly snag a little festival loot. I would’ve liked to shop around some more and visit other booths, but there’s always next time and I love the the items I came home with. The bag is a lovely cotton/linen creation by Honey Bee Handmade. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any sort of website for the maker. That gorgeous skein of purple yarn was dyed by Elizabeth Brown of Bay Ridge Dye Works. It’s a pretty, superwash Merino fingering-weight that will make a great scarf or shawl. It’s also really cool that a portion of each sale gets donated to a charity. For this skein, it was the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. And finally, that lovely braid of Merino/silk is Faerie Circle from June Pryce Fiber Arts. June Pryce is a team of sisters, Cheryl and Jenn, who dye gorgeous yarn and fibers and make lovely bags and stitch markers. They’re also super sweet and partially responsible for us doing this show to begin with! (Thanks for all your encouragement!)

All told, it was such a fun and exciting day, that I was in bed asleep by 8pm. Today the Fiasco and I will do a little relaxing and gallivanting before returning home to clean up the house, which looks like it’s been hit with a vengeful, crafty tornado. Later…

Carrying On

Oh boy. I can’t even describe the kinds of busy things have been over here. Suffice it to say: SO BUSY. Busy enough that fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night has been the norm. Busy enough that I haven’t seen the floor of my office or the surface of my kitchen table (things everywhere!) in days. Busy enough that I’ve become a well-oiled (mwahahaha, see what I did there?!) lotion-making machine.

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Preliminary booth setup.

There have been 15 batches of lotion made this week, and 150 lip balms last week. There has been a brief-yet-wonderous appearance on the Yarn Harlot’s blog. There have been last-minute, rush orders of cardboard cupcake stands placed. There have been emergency trips to Michael’s and JoAnn’s. There maaaaaay have been some tears and a little tantrum due to exhaustion and frustration (but we’ll move right on past all that). There will yet be extremely-last-minute crafting of signs and display information… but I’m still hoping for an early bedtime.

This show will happen, and it will be wonderful, rain be damned. If you’re in New England, take a little trip over to Bristol to check out the Rhode Island Sheep & Fiber Festival at Coggeshall Historic Farm tomorrow (Saturday, May 17th). The rain should clear up around noon and I promise it will be awesome. Plus, you’ll get to smell all my lotion scents in person! (Which would be worth the drive, I swear.)

There will be no Inspiration Saturday post this week as I’ll be working my tail off vending. Wish me luck! 🙂

 

Waiting, Waiting

This blog post comes to you courtesy of a doctor’s waiting room where I need to distract myself from the inane ‘morning talk show’ drivel broadcasting from a semi-functional television. (Kill me now, seriously.)
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In other news, check out my Sweet Sheep lip balms! (Coming soon to the shop.) There are currently 7 flavors: passionfruit rose, lavender, spearmint, chocolate cupcake, toasted coconut, strawberry vanilla, and lemon lime. I played around with some display ideas for the RI Sheep and Fiber festival this Saturday. I think I like the way they look nestled in with a bit of Romney roving.

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Thanks is due to my awesome Fiasco. He stuck labels on all 150 or so lip balms AND has spent a considerable amount of time applying shrink wrap to each tube. He’s a huge help, and does it all with a smile (usually)!

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Now, if we could just get the weather to cooperate. I am not a fan of the forecast right now. Heavy rainfall will suck for my first vending experience. Anyone know an anti-raindance?

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!

IS #51: Holiday Pom-Poms

Happy 10-more-days-til-Christmas! I’m moving right along with my holiday gift knitting list, mostly by doing things like crossing out “handknit socks” and replacing them with “purchased alpaca socks” instead. (I am actually getting a ton of knitting done, too, more on that later in the week.) Another time-saving stroke of brilliance was when I crossed out “handknit tree ornaments” and replaced it with “pom-pom ornaments”!

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Seriously, how cute are these?!

I saw this photo (I have no recollection of where I found it originally) and was totally inspired to try my hand at pom-pom ornaments, myself. I ran out to JoAnn’s, grabbed a jumbo Clover pom-pom maker and some red, green, white/sparkly, and silver/sparkly yarns, and got to work. I was initially really confused by the little contraption so here’s a short mini-tutorial.

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Steps 1, 2, & 3.

Step 1: The pom-pom maker has 4 arms (blue parts) that swing out, 2 on each side. Wrap your yarn around 2 of the arms on each side. Wrap a lot more yarn than you think you need to get a nice, full pom-pom. (My first one was so sad and skimpy.)

Step 2: Keeping the arms folded in, snip along the groove between the arms to cut the yarn for your pom-pom.

Step 3: Admire how nice the neat little pom-pom sandwich looks against the fabric of your pajama pants (classy).

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Steps 4, 5, & 6.

Step 4: Loop a fairly strong piece of string or yarn through the groove that runs between the arms and tie a knot to secure the pom-pom. I worked out a little method I like: tie once tightly, wrap the yarn back around the other side, tie another tight knot, then wrap back around the other side and tie a double knot to finish (kind of like when you secure a package with twine). Then tie a knot in the ends of your dangling yarn so the pom-pom can be hung.

Step 5: Open the arms of the little contraption.

Step 6: Pop the front and back pieces of the contraption apart, releasing the pom-pom. Fluff it up and trim any stray bits of yarn to neaten it up.

DONE! The 6 of those took me maybe 45 minutes to make. Experiment with different color combinations, wrapping 2 or 3 different yarns at once, or different colors on each side. Go pom-pom crazy!

Lee Meredith recently posted about a pom-pom book and a pom-pom wreath she made on her blog. After making these little ornaments, I could totally see making more pom-pom projects. If you want to be not lazy and actually knit something for your tree, check out the lovely tree-topper that Audry of the Bear Ears blog knit for her tree. And if you want to be super awesome, take a look at the hand-sewn felt ornaments and handmade chocolate holiday cards (yup!) by Joanna at the Knitlit Twit blog. Have you seen any neat holiday projects? Please share and/or link along to your own Inspiration Saturday post in the comments!

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