Me, Again

Hello blog readers, those that remain or those that have stumbled by anew. It’s been nearly a year since my last post and I have no idea how to really discuss that much time in one post, so I won’t even try, but a few stand-out things (some good, some sad) have occurred that I am compelled to share.

1) My Hatchling is now two-and-a-quarter years old! He’s so much bigger than he was in the last post, yet amazingly that sweater I knit him still fits– the magic of knitwear!

2) I’ve picked up embroidery as a new hobby (y’know, in my spare time) and I really love it. It’s like coloring with string! So much quicker and satisfying in a way that knitting is not, sometimes. There will be more on this later.

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CozyBlue stitch club pattern

3) Now for some sad news: I’ve decided to close Sweet Sheep’s doors. I’ve been taking on more responsibility at work and it was too much to grow my career while juggling a side hustle and trying to maximize family time (and maybe occasionally relaxing). It really breaks my heart to admit defeat on this, and I’m harboring a secret hope that I can open and develop new products again someday, but I’m grudgingly accepting that now is not that time. I appreciate all of the  encouragement and support over the past 4 years, it has been a really wonderful experience.

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4) Even sadder news: Just a week ago, we had to say goodbye to my sweet, sassy Calypso. She’s been featured on this blog throughout the years. She was my “heart cat”, as they say, the first cat that was all mine after college. She kept me company when I lived hours/flights away from all family and friends at my first job in Florida, moved into 8 different apartments in 5 states, was there for my first real relationships and meeting the Fiasco and getting married and having our first child. She was with me for 11 really formative years and it’s so strange and sad to be without her. She became suddenly very sick, though, and went through a ton of stuff over the past 6 months: pancreatitis, feeding tube, kidney issues, severe anemia, breathing problems, probable diabetes, possible heart disease, etc. and it was time to give up and let her go. It was not easy.

5) And now to elevate the mood a bit… last night I met the Yarn Harlot and she signed the book she wrote that taught me to make socks and now MY KNITTING LIFE IS COMPLETE. She taught a class called “Knit Smart” at the Stitchery (a great sewing/knitting workshop space in Portsmouth, RI where I learned to embroider) and she was so funny and as honest and clever as she seems on the blog and it was incredible how fast 3 hours spent talking about yarn and gauge swatches and running markers and how to count rows and needle sizes and selvedges etc. flew by. A non-knitter would never understand because I almost don’t even get it but all I know is that it’s restored my knitting mojo and I want to be more mindful of my creative life, and keeping up with this blog is part of that.

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Obsession is normal, indeed.

I post frequently on Instagram but it’s not quite the same as blogging, so here we go again! If you’re still active in knitting blogland, please comment. If you don’t blog yourself but have a favorite blog or three to recommend, please do. I’d like to rebuild the list of who I follow and cultivate a sense of community here again, as I’ve truly missed it.

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Bookending the Month

Getting my second blog post of the month in just under the wire, 30 days after the first one! Never mind that I’ve been writing blog posts in my head each week, I have to actually commit them to the page for them to mean anything. Here’s a mish-mash of Things That Are Happening Lately, including a sale, FOs, and a WIP!

Thing The First: Sale!

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Remember Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe? You haven’t heard much from me about it lately (I really need to outsource marketing) but we’re still creating lovely, lanolin-rich lotion bars and lip balms over here! I’m currently running a sale of 15% off a purchase of $15 or more through December 7th. These moisturizers make great holiday gifts and work really well on dry, chapped winter hands.

Thing(s) the Second: FOs!

GUYS OMG LOOK I FINISHED THINGS AND THEY ARE FABULOUS.

This is the Flax pattern, designed by Tin Can Knits, and it fits him perfectly. I knit the 2-4 year size on smaller needles with slightly tighter gauge and it worked out well for my son, who is in the 95th percentile for height and 91st for weight at 17 months old. I provide some measurements on my project page. I used Malabrigo Rios and this knit was totally enjoyable, I’m even considering making an adult-sized one for the Fiasco (but don’t tell him, he’s still holding his breath for more socks).

This is the Roar, A Dinosaur Hat pattern by Kate Oates and it’s already been on lots of adventures, including numerous walks around the neighborhood and on the beach with Nanny and Poppy over our Thanksgiving visit. Those spikes were a tiny pain-in-the-tuckus to sew on because I hate finishing but I’m happy with all but one of them and I’m probably the only person who will ever really notice the messed up one. Again, I used Malabrigo Rios at a slightly tighter gauge and I think I knit the child size because my kiddo has a 19.5″ head.

Both coordinating FOs together, with bonus sloth butt! 😀 I’m really happy with both of these projects and still have enough yarn leftover from the 3 dark green and 1 bright green skeins to make matching mittens and maybe even a cowl or neckwarmer of some sort. I love it when that happens! Does anyone have a suggestion for a toddler-sized neckwarmer? I feel like I’ve never really seen a little kid wear one before.

Thing the Third: WIP!

I have since begun three new projects, all intended as gifts, which I don’t appear to have listed in Ravelry yet (who am I even?!?!) so I’ll blog in more detail about them later, but this one is my current favorite:

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Those colors, though, am I right?!?!?! The yarn is Freia Handpaints Ombre Worsted in the Blue Velvet colorway and it’s ridiculously pretty stuff. The yarn is a single-ply wool, and by feel it’s likely not Merino (or definitely not 100% Merino) as it has a bit more body and bite, not quite as much fluffiness. I’d describe it as a “sturdy” yarn and I imagine it would make really excellent mittens or garments that receive a lot of wear. I’ll reveal the pattern and an FO pic after it’s been gifted. (Just building suspense for next time!) I haven’t done a ton of gift knitting over the past couple of years and it feels really good to be planning presents for people again.

Rhinebeck Reminiscing

Only slightly delayed, here’s my Rhinebeck recap! Rhinebeck was fun (obviously) but also super, duper busy. It’s different with a kid, and major props to the Fiasco for being there to care for the Hatchling while I was spending extra time at the festival. It wasn’t quite the relaxing family vacation we’d envisioned, but we’ll just have to plan for another one of those to make up for it.

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IndieUntangled acquisition.

We arrived on Friday, to an incredible AirBnB apartment in Saugerties. (Seriously, it was lovely, we didn’t ever want to go home.) We went for dinner, visited The Perfect Blend  yarn and tea shop (they had a great spread going for knit night), and then arrived for the last half hour of the IndieUntangled Trunk Show and HOLY MOSES was it crowded. The instant claustrophobia kind of crowded, and of course many of the indie maker booths I wanted to see where slammed and inaccessible. However, I did manage to fight my way through to the Spun Right Round booth and acquired a lovely skein of 4-ply SW Merino Classic sock yarn in the neon-and-speckled Caterpillar colorway. (For all pics below, click to embiggen and hover for captions.)

As a super mega epic forever fan, the first thing we did after waiting in line for tickets (where Katy offered an assist in finishing the Hatchling’s sweater in time for Rhinebeck) was rush over to The Fold’s booth to check out the Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarns. There’s nothing like seeing a wall of Tina’s colorways in person! Since I have literally every skein of BMFA yarn that I’ve ever acquired from previous years at Rhinebeck still in stash, I refrained from buying more… somehow.

The rest of Saturday was long and filled to the brim with yarn, sheep, beautiful knit samples (at the Fiber Optic Yarns booth), a ridiculously long donut line for closing time, and a cranky toddler in need of a nap. He and the Fiasco went back to the AirBnB but then Katy and I stuck it out through the end of the festival which was a HUGE MISTAKE because there was so much traffic getting back that we missed getting dinner with the fellas and I got a little cranky.

Sunday morning we resisted the call of the festival to go for a bit of a hike, which was a great idea because it was a gorgeous morning and I don’t get outside nearly as much as I need to. We did a quick and easy trail to the Saugerties lighthouse on the Hudson River. It was delightful, many sweet and silly photos were taken, and the scenery was gorgeous.

I rather surprisingly don’t have many pictures of the second day besides the animal-themed ones above. I managed to meet up with a few Ravelry friends (although I missed most of the official meetups) and I think we were all a little wiped out by that point so we mostly just got lunch and speed-shopped that barns that we hadn’t visited yet. Which brings me to…

Besides the Spun Right Round skein from IndieUntangled, other pretties that came home with me included:

  • Six mini skeins from Primrose Yarn Co. to make a Tool Box Cowl (theoretically);
  • a skein of Into The Whirled Shokan Singles in The Cat’s Pyjamas;
  • a Jenkins Kuchulu Turkish spindle (the tiniest one I own!) in tulipwood;
  • an ounce of cashmere fluff; and
  • a little wooly sheep coin purse (courtesy of Katy).

I’m happy that I aimed to fill a niche in my stash that is underrepresented: speckles. These were also all new-to-me dyers, and I didn’t have any cashmere in the fiber stash before now. The only purely gratuitous purchase was the spindle, but I couldn’t help myself! Jenkins spindles are really hard to come by and I’ve been curious about their tiny model for some time. And so far, it’s a pleasure to spin short-stapled fluffy cashmere on because it’s so tiny and lightweight.

Do you shop with a purpose at festivals, or just tend to go with your impulses? I held myself back from many impulse purchases but it actually felt pretty good.

 

Two more sleeps!

Rhinebeck is so soon, and I am so excited to go! I don’t think I’ve ever needed a vacation more, and even though it’s just a long weekend it’s going to be a great way to escape everyday life. And the Fiasco is coming this time! He’ll finally understand what I mean when I talk about it like the holy-friggin’-grail of the knitting world (maybe). And of course, my Hatchling will be there, too.

I’ve abandoned all plans to finish spinning that pink yarn and knitting a pussyhat with it. For one, I’m out of time. But also, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous! At 70 degrees and sunny, I’m not going to need to wear a bulky weight hat. So instead, I’m hoping to finish the projects I’m currently knitting for my little boy.

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Flax Sweater in Malabrigo Rios, colorway Hojas

I’m nearly done with this great little Flax sweater designed by tincanknits. The pattern is easy peasy and a pleasure to knit. My progress was slightly delayed when I couldn’t find my size 6 DPNs for the cuffs. I realized that I probably hadn’t used those needles in over 2 years and had no earthly idea where they might be. Rather than face the pile of WIPs to try to figure out where they were hiding, I just bought another set. These bamboo needles are ridiculously cheap ($14 for 12 sets of needles!) on amazon and have decently sharp points and last forever (as long as you don’t lose them). I don’t knit with DPNs often enough to care if they’re fancy, I just need them to be there when I want them.

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Dino-Roar! hat with Malabrigo Rios, colorways Hojas and Apple Green

The knitting for this dinosaur hat (designed by Kate Oates) has been done for a while but as with my last project, I’ve been procrastinating the finishing. I finally got around to blocking it and now need to work up the nerve to sew the wee spikes onto the top of the hat *shudder*. I really have no idea how to approach this. The top of the hat swirls around as you decrease, so I can’t even follow a column of stitches to make sure they’re attached in a straight line and that’s as far as I’ve gotten in trying to sort this out. I don’t want them to be wonky! How do I attach these to best guarantee non-wonkiness?

With a little luck, in a few days you’ll see me wandering the fairgrounds with an overheating toddler in his brand new hat and sweater, made by Mama.

Less Blogging, More Knitting

While I might be blogging less than I’d like, I am managing to knit more than I have been! And thus I am rewarded with a finished thing.

This cowl is the Skye Boat Cowl pattern by Judy Marples (I love basically everything she designs) and the ridiculously pretty yarn is some long-gone Verdant Gryphon Zaftig (worsted weight merino/cashmere/nylon) in the Burying Beetle equivalent colorway. I used two skeins and the cowl is a comfortable length to wear draped around the neck, it won’t work doubled up, but the fabric is tall/wide enough that it’s still cozy and warm. The yarn is so squishy and delicious, and the variegated colorway works great with the the stitch pattern.

I also really like that the stitch pattern looks great on the wrong side, as well. The slipped stitch ribbing makes a nice edge, and the three-needle bindoff is a simple finish. Basically, I loved everything about this knit. I actually finished knitting it months and months ago but took a long time to get up the motivation to block it, bind off, and weave in ends. Turns out it’s a lot harder to find time, energy, and floor space for finishing projects when you have a toddler.

Oliver is 15.5 months old now and is a ridiculous amount of fun. He’s a big fan of walking everywhere himself now, exploring outside, and scooping things up with spatulas and spoons. Being his parent is getting more and more fun as he’s getting older. I looooooooved the tiny helpless newborn stage but I don’t think anybody would call it fun. But now there are regular tickle fights and games and goofy gestures and so much dancing and many, many books. He even says “mum mum” in this sweet little voice and I’m reasonably sure he’s referring to me and not the cats. It’s amazing.

Work has been insane since about July, when a coworker left and I took over his projects and it’s been deadline after deadline after deadline. There have been many late nights and weekends working. So many that the Fiasco and a good friend of mine and Oliver and I are escaping for a weekend trip to go to Rhinebeck in < 2 weeks. This knitter needs a vacation and Rhinebeck is the perfect little escape to remind me that I am a creative person who might someday have time for hobbies again. I have an modest yet ambitious goal of finishing spinning that pink yarn that’s been on my wheel/spindles since (hold onto your hats) $%@#ing 2014 and knitting myself a pussyhat with it, since I’ve knit many for others but none for myself. We’ll see if I actually manage it in time…

Are you going to Rhinebeck, or another fiber festival? Do you have any project goals?

Flax and a Finish

I’m happy to report that I’ve held true to my word to put down the phone and pick up the knitting more often, and lo and behold, we have progress!

First, I finished Pussyhat #3 that I’ve had basically done for quite a long time. It was languishing because winter was over, but I recently participated in a swap on Ravelry and I realized my swap receiver would be the perfect recipient so I stuck a Nasty Woman button on there (from Katrinkles), took a quick pic in bad lighting, and off it went to my swap receiver.

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It is the 8th month of the year, and that is my 5th finished object of 2017, and the 3rd Pussyhat. That should tell you something about the rate of knitting around here!

From my swap giver, I received many amazing project bags and gifts that are right up my marine-bio-loving alley, along with some lovely maroon-ish BFL fiber to spin. It was Hatchling-approved.

And finally, I have actually been knitting (even swatching)! This is my Summer Flax sweater for my little guy in a new-to-me colorway of Malabrigo Rios: Hojas. It’s such a great green! I was indecisive about the size, he wears 24 month clothes right now at 14 months old, and the pattern had either 1-2 years or 2-4 years for size choices. When I swatched, I liked the fabric I got with one needle size down and slightly tighter gauge, so I decided to go with the larger size, hoping that my firmer gauge will help snug it up a bit, and if it doesn’t, he’ll grow into it eventually. Length probably matters more than width at this point, so I’ll have to do some trying on when the time comes to make decisions.

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!

Vanishing Weeks

Time, time, time. Gone, gone, gone. I suppose I should resign myself to once-a-month posts and not expect anything different for a while. My apologies, friends, I do miss sharing in this space and reading all your blogs. I will have to work on a different system now that my leisure/computer time is more limited due to this sweet 8.5 month old.

Despite the presence of a distractingly cute young fella, I have managed to finish a couple of things since the last time we spoke (6 weeks ago!). First, my fabulously simple Wine Toasts:

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The Verdent Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage.

I played a game of yarn chicken with these suckers, and I actually won! Yay for using up leftovers. I linked them to the Toast pattern but these are literally just a stockinette tube with rolled edges. I lengthened and gradually tapered them to accommodate my larger forearms so they’d be the perfect thing to wear with elbow-length sleeve sweaters that are flattering on me but not ideal for my chilly office.

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Stripey goodness.

I love their size, and they are knit with one of my all-time favorite yarns (VG Zaftig = worsted weight superwash Merino / chashmere / nylon). Next time, I’d skip the rolled hem and just do some ribbing. This project confirmed that rolled hems annoy the crap out of me when worn, even though they look fun.

The second thing I’ve finished lately was knit for a friend’s bridal shower: Jola Smittens.

Her sister was organizing a “seasons of love” gift basket idea so I chose the winter basket specifically so I would have an excuse to make these ridiculous and adorable conjoined mittens. (Plus, I got to fill the basket with lots of fun coffe/tea/cookies/mugs/blankets/etc. which was oh-so-cozy.) I knit this using KnitPicks Brava bulky (an acrylic yarn) held double. The yarn is quite soft and was surprisingly pleasant to knit with, except for the fact that it tangled like crazy as I worked with it. Apparently, acrylic really likes to stick to itself, especially when it’s wound too loosely. Nevertheless, they came out well and were fairly simple. The Fiasco has declared he wants a pair for us.

Now that those are finished, I don’t have much on the needles that I’m actively working on. I’ve started another Pussyhat because rage, rage forever but otherwise… I’m in project limbo. I took a Webs trip recently (details of recent yarn acquisitions forthcoming) so I have lots of ideas, and just need to pick one to commit to. (Hahahaha, one.)

I hope you’ve all had lovely Februaries and Marches thus far!

 

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.

Sweet Sheep O’Clock

We’ve been working ’round the clock over here to prepare for a big event this weekend where Sweet Sheep will be vending. We did this marketplace last year, and it was pretty amazing. And the year before, I attended the classes, which were really great. I’m talking about Knitting Weekend, part of the Trad Arts Studio programming at Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.

knitting-weekend-2017-palm-card-front-96dpi-web-e1477511253609And we really have been going out of our minds making enough lotions, lip balms, and sheep-shaped soaps to sell at the two-day event. Last year we underestimated what we needed, hopefully this year we’ve overestimated! Major props to the Fiasco, who has been doing much of the production while I’ve been working crazy deadlines and wrangling the resident Hatchling. (Turns out, kids really suck up all your usual side-business time!)

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Who, meeeeeeeeeeee?

Bonus: if you come to the marketplace on Sunday, you’ll get to meet the little guy! It’s crazy to think that at the last show, I was pregnant. 0_O I’m much happier with my buddy on the outside, even if he is teething at the moment and preventing me from sleeping more than 2 hours in a row at night. (#teetharetheworst)

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Pussyhats, finished.

In other news, my pussyhats have left the building. It turned out that one of my coworkers was heading to the march in D.C. with her daughter, which is pretty awesome. I was happy to donate hats to the cause but I’m even happier that I know the awesome ladies who will be wearing them. I used the KitKat pattern by Andre Sue for mine (I much prefer to work in the round). The hot pink hat is in Malabrigo Chunky (colorway Cactus Flower) on size 10 needles with a 68 st cast on, my old standard for a quick chunky hat. The pale pink version is in a new-to-me yarn: Blue Sky Fibres Woolstok in Quartz Crystal, that I picked up at The Mermaid’s Purl in Wickford (#shoplocal). For this second hat, I held the yarn double and used size 9 needles and a 72 st cast on. I really liked the yarn, it’s a thin worsted weight 2-ply wool that has a bit of a rustic feel, and lots of energy when knit held double. Both hats fit really well. I recommend doing the little stitch in the middle of the ‘ears’ to make them look more ear-like, as this pattern suggests. I did so after I took the photo of me wearing it and I liked it much better.

March on, sisters, and I hope I see some of you this weekend!