Some Pretty Things

My drafts folder tells me I began this post 11 days ago, which is a good indication of how much I’ve been meaning to blog lately but have not been able to. That said, some work deadlines should be calming down soon and life should be returning to a less hectic level (fingers crossed). On my last post, Audry asked me how I’ve been keeping up with things lately and I must admit, my wonderful talented dedicated selfless husband is the only thing that got me through the weekend. He set up for our Sweet Sheep show so I could sleep, he made lotions and lip balms like a madman Saturday night so we’d have more stock for the next day, and he was an ever-charming salesman when I didn’t have the energy to be on my feet. Basically, he’s the best partner I could have ever hoped for and Knitting Weekend event at Slater Mill was a success for us, largely because of him. πŸ™‚ And, if you’ve been waiting for any re-stocks, we’ve got lots of new goodies (including sheep-shaped soaps) up in the shop.

The marketplace was filled with all sorts of pretty things but I came home with just two items, from a couple of my favorite local vendors.

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Knitting weekend stash enhancement.

I am absolutely terrible at resisting any of Chrystee’s beautiful colorways (Play at Life Fiber Arts), so whenever we’re at a show together I usually have to come home with something. This time I justified my purchase as a sweater for the Hatchling. I think this rainbow set will make a fun gender-neutral striped Babycakes cardi, perhaps with a white or dark green yarn for the trim. And then, of course, I had to get the cutest buttons I’ve ever seen for the baby sweater: tiny turtles from Katy at Katrinkles. Purchase justified.

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Tanis Fiber Arts gift bundle.

While I’m sharing pretty things, here is some of the yarn I received as gifts over the holidays. Above is Raindrops gift bundle from Tanis Fiber Arts. I’ve admired Tanis’ blog and yarns for a long time, but had not yet stashed any so I’m particularly excited to work with this yarn. It’s a lovely skein of 75% Merino, 25% silk fingering weight yarn in pretty pastel purples and blues. I also really love the bag and have hung up the calendar in my office (which my coworker accurately described as ‘yarn porn’).

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts stash enhancement.

And it wouldn’t be the holiday season without a healthy dose of pretty things from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. On the left is a skein of BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight in the special Rhinebeck 2015 colorway that I wasn’t able to snag at the festival itself. The middle skeins are BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight in Golly, a rich, deep red. The skein on the right is some of the new Single Silky Targhee in Fir-Ever-Green. I have a general idea of what these skeins will become (socks for me, socks for Fiasco, hat for me or sweater for baby, shawl of some sort) but no concrete plans yet.

Has your stash been growing or shrinking since the holidays?

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. πŸ™‚ 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.

Five Things Friday – Again

I don’t know if I’m going to keep writing these random list type posts on a weekly basis, but seeing as I have so much to say and no time lately in which to organize my thoughts, you’re getting them all at once, sporadically arranged. πŸ™‚ And I began this post at 11:34 pm, so let’s see if we can publish while it’s still Friday, shall we?

1- I’ve acquired some gorgeous yarn lately. I’ve had my eye on Stray Cat Socks Etsy shop for some time now, but always talked msyelf out of placing an order due to shipping from New Zealand. However, I saw these gorgeous socks on a day when I really needed a pick-me-up, so I caved and ordered the same rainbow colorway (Are We There Yet) and another skein to keep it company on its long voyage (Monavale Rose). Could this packaging be ANY CUTER?!?!

2- I may have also picked up a skein of yarn from a Ravelry destash recently, too. Let’s ignore the fact that Rhinebeck (a.k.a. yarn mecca) is merely weeks away, ok? I couldn’t help myself! It’s a one-of-a-kind, mill end skein of of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Mediumweight inΒ  blue-green speckled colorway that I instantly fell in love with. (Also, notice that strange reversed logo? Weird!) It looks like it might have been a precursor of one of their new colorways, A Speck of Autumn. It’s destined to be a Sockhead Hat, I think.

Five Things Friday - Again | Woolen Diversions

This was clearly made for me.

3- I had a rather hellish couple of weeks at work (deadlines, no time, etc.) but I managed to escape early this afternoon and stole a couple of hours of daytime(!) weekday(!) knitting at a little bay beach nearby. (My Rhinebeck Sweater ain’t gonna knit itself, amIright?!)

Not gonna lie: it was pretty glorious.

I have the hardest time relaxing, sometimes. I was there for maybe an hour and a half in between errands and appointments and I felt like I should’ve been doing something (anything!) else the entire time. Relaxing during daylight hours seemed criminal, somehow. Sad, right? I’m working on it.

4- I just shrink-wrapped 80 bars of sheep-shaped goat milk soap for a special order, and I feel like some kind of heat gun kung-fu master. You’ll have to take my word on this if you’ve never tried it, but shrink-wrapping stuff is weirdly satisfying.

So many sheep soaps!

5- And last but not least, I’m vending at the Fiber Twist & Bead Bash themed weekend of the Coventry Regional Farmer’s Market in Connecticut THIS SUNDAY, Sept. 27th, from 11am – 2pm. Come say hello! The Fiasco and I used to live down the street from it and went as often as we could, it’s a great market. I heard rumors that this might be its last year, which is super sad, but I’m honored to be able to vend there one last time.

And that’s all I got! Looks like I missed Friday by about 15 minutes… oh well. πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend!

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?

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Lemon Cake

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

Lemon Cake solid lotion bar

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

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

Frosted Lemon Cake handmade soap

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

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

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?

Sweet Sheep’s First Soap!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely already had some glimpses into my recent soap-making experiment.

Sweet Sheep's First Soap! | Woolen Diversions

Whipped soap!

I had a ton of fun playing around with a few high quality melt and pour bases, and created a perfectly delightful batch of soap that I think you’ll love.

This first batch is composed of a green-tinted aloe vera gel base and topped with a soft, creamy layer of whipped goat milk soap, all finished off with a sprinkling of fine jojoba beads. The bright, herbal, Green Tea fragrance of the base mixes beautifully with the softly sweet, citrus scent of Lemongrass essential oil in the topping. Whipped goat milk soap has a light, spongy texture and creates a lovely lather. It will dissolve more quickly than the aloe vera base, allowing the Green Tea scent to emerge from the more dominant Lemongrass over time. The color and scents are perfect for spring (and incidentally, St. Patrick’s Day)! As a bonus, this first batch is offered at a discount, as I plan to make my bars a little bigger in the future, so snag them while you can!

Sweet Sheep Featured Fragrance: Basmati Rice

It’s time to highlight another of my favorite Sweet Sheep lotion bar scents in a featured fragrance post. This time, I’d like to gush about the mysterious and alluring Basmati Rice.

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice lotion bar by Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe

When I first came across this fragrance oil on Brambleberry, I didn’t know what to make of it. I believe my first thought was “Rice? Really?” but I was hooked by their description of it as “a mix of fruity florals and cedarwood” and became quite curious. I’m glad I gave it a try because it’s become one of my favorite scents.

Why I love it: This fragrance is the perfect representation of what I think of when I hear the word ‘exotic’. It somehow combines floral top notes with fruity middle notes over a wonderfully creamy, vanilla-y, woodsy base. That sounds like an impossible mix of just too many things, but I promise, it works. Subtly sweet and gently perfumed, it manages to captivate without overwhelming.

What it pairs well with: I include Basmati Rice in the Exotica gift/sample set, along with Down by the Bay (a bright, tangy, earthy scent) and Sandalwood Vanilla (another woodsy/vanilla/floral favorite). If you were interested in building your own custom mix pack, I think it would mix quite well with more complex foodie scents like Turkish Mocha (mmmmm chocolatey/coffee goodness) and Cinnamon Chai (spicy & sweet forever).

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe survey

Take a survey, get a coupon, enter to win a prize!

While we’re on the topic of Sweet Sheep, I’d like to do a little market research about other body care products (besides lotion bars and lip balms) you’d like to see in the shop. I’m working on producing a variety of things, and in truth, I have so many ideas that I’m not sure where to start! Since it would not be cost effective to make all the things at once I’d love some input into the kinds of products and scents you’d most like offered in the near future. Please follow this link to take a 10 question survey about Sweet Sheep. I’ll send a coupon code to everyone who participates, and by April 5th I’ll draw 10 names from the participants to receive a free, sample size lotion bar. Thank you in advance for your help, and please spread the word!

Finally, Some Light

Despite all the snow on the ground, I can feel the winter starting to fade. Birds are singing in the morning, the temps are forecast to be above freezing this week, and the sun is a welcome friend returned. Not only for its warmth, but for its light… because I can finally take some decent FO pictures. (Priorities!)

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Deep Dark Stellaria, click for project page.

When I first finished knitting the Stellaria shawl, designed by Susanna IC, I was a little bit dismayed. I had modified the shawl to be deeper/taller (by leaving fewer stitches between short row wraps) but I had not fully appreciated how long this sucker was. It’s a really big shawl, and I was concerned about its wearability.

At first I thought the shawl would only look ‘appropriate’ worn with a fancy dress to a winter wedding or gothic gala of some sort. But after a few weeks of wearing it as depicted in the second photo above, I’ve decided it works. It’s a bit larger than other shawls I wear kerchief-style, but the layers of garter and lace wrapped the neck around make for a nice cascading effect (plus, they’re super warm). I won’t be wearing this shawl much into the spring, but for the winter, its coziness is much appreciated.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Garnet Tonic cowl. Click for project page.

After my quick blocking of this Tonic Water cowl, designed by Thea Coleman, I decided that it definitely needed another repeat. I was tempted to leave it be, but the extra repeat was totally necessary.

With 8 repeats, the cowl falls to a nice length worn open, and just barely fits comfortably doubled up since it’s such a wide piece of knitting. I love that contrasting stripe (and the way it coordinates with my Lucy hat!) more than I can say, but it gave me the devil of a time. When I first saw the design, I thought Thea had done something really clever with beginning and ending the cowl in the contrast color and invisibly joining in garter stitch somehow. Instead, the directions were much simpler, and just involved adding the contrast color at the end and seaming the edges together using the main color. Since I dislike seaming and was feeling lazy, I decided to finagle a different way to close the cowl. I spent an entire hour messing around with it, trying and abandoning ideas like knitting the edges together or doing a three needle bind-off. Eventually, I settled on doing a garter-based kitchener stitch using the contrast color. You can see the contrast color poking through a little on one side of the join, but trust me, it’s much better than it was. And truthfully, I’m so in love with this cowl that it doesn’t even matter.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorway Winter Slant of Light

While I’m thrilled about spring, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this winter colorway from The Verdant Gryphon. Blues! Greens! Greys! All of my favorite things! And since I love my newly finished cowl in the same worsted weight MCN base so much, I think these skeins are destined to become a cowl, as well. Now to find the perfect pattern…

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe on Etsy

New lip balm flavor: French Macaron!

Spring scents are popping up over at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe, too! I’ve just added a brand new lip balm flavor, French Macaron. It’s delightfully sweet, sophisticated, and indulgent. I’ve also restocked a good number of my other lip balm flavors that had sold out (Toasted Coconut, Lavender, Lemon Lime, Winter Clementine, and Vanilla Mint) and added Spring Meadow and Sea Moss lotion bars back into the rotation.

What would you knit with just under 400 yards of dense and colorful worsted weight yarn? Is spring popping up in your part of the world?

Checking In

Happy Monday, folks! I hope your weeks are off to a good start. In a surprise twist (that should surprise exactly no one), not only did I fail to resist the call of the Malabrigo March KALs, but I ended up choosing a completely different pattern than the ones I discussed in my last Inspiration Saturday post.

Beginnings of a Sundry shawl. Click for project page.

This is the beginning of a Sundry shawl, designed by Jennifer Dassau. I’ve admired the simple shawl/scarf hybrid for some time, and I think the two-color houndstooth section will be smashing in the Turquesa and Indigo colorways. I decided against the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl because I do believe I would like to knit that out of a lightweight cashmere yarn someday (vs. my sport weight Merino) and I wanted something a little more mindless than the Katana shawl (which some knitters said was difficult to track). Plus, the designer of the Sundry shawl is a Malabrigo Junkie herself, so it felt extra appropriate.

I think 2-year-olds are always blurry, am I right?

I visited my little niece-by-association over the weekend and attempted to snap a picture of her wearing the Troll hat that I made. This was the best I could do. I made the toddler size, but am thinking I should have made the child size as this one just fits (I knit at the pattern gauge and the unstretched circumference was around 16″). Since the hat was super quick and adorable, I have no doubt another will hit my needles eventually.

I was a busy bee this weekend re-stocking sold out items for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. Sandalwood Vanilla, Green Tea, Winter Gardenia, and Fresh Snow (hands-down my most relevant scent right now, am I right? #nomoresnow) lotion bars have been re-stocked, as well as my popular Winter Clementine lip balms. I’ve got a new lip balm flavor coming as soon as I can take some decent product photos (French Macaron, swoon!) and hope to spend much of March developing whole new lines of products, so keep an eye out for those, as well!

Are you participating in Malabrigo March this year, or any other fun KALs at the moment?