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!)

whaaaaaaaaaaaaat

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!

GRYC Good Times

Despite not getting to do much shopping because I was working like a madwoman to make some last-minute lotion bars, the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl was a really good time.

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Sweet Sheep vending at Mount Hope Farm

I really, truly, puffy-heart love the fiber community in and around this little state of ours. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone is so welcoming and friendly and caring, it’s so lovely to see familiar faces at these kinds of events. And people make such beautiful things!

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Ceramic sheep bowl from Rising Sun Earthworks

This adorable sheep bowl will now be part of my show display, I simple couldn’t resist taking her home from Rising Sun Earthworks.

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Hand-embroidered sheep pouch from Dancing Threads RI

I also couldn’t resist this sweet little sheep pouch from Dancing Threads RI. Apparently, all of my must-haves were sheep-themed, and none of them were yarn. And no, I don’t know how I resisted because there were plenty of pretty skeins there. There were also baby goats.

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Baby goats!

I wish I had captured some better photos, they were the sweetest things. Now didn’t that make Monday just a bit brighter?

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My knitting focus this week

I am going to take a short break from my regular “WIP Wednesday” posts as I’ve felt a bit hemmed-in by them, and have found myself really only posting once a week due to the timing. I think I’d prefer to post once earlier and once later in the week, so the WIPWed post is getting cut for a while. We’ll see how it goes. I do, however, still want to chat about my knitting. This week’s focus is my Rotted Days shawl. I finished the previous wedge with just that tiny ball of my handspun left, so I’m now working the very exciting FINAL WEDGE in solid purple. It’s hard to tell, but I think this shawl will end up a decent size, and I’m glad I didn’t get caught short with my handspun, especially since I was totally winging the yardage. This has been on the needles since last May, but with a little luck and a few cram sessions I think I can finish it this week!

Hope your weekends were full of happiness, sheep-y things, and baby goats (or something else wonderful along those lines).

Farmfest and Follies

First, a bit of news: Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe will be vending at Mount Hope Farm’s Farmfest event TOMORROW, Saturday 10/31 from 9am – 2pm in Bristol, RI. It’s a beautiful site with lots of harvest and Halloween fun planned, come say hi! Now, onto the follies.

Farmfest and Folly| Woolen Diversions

A gradient emergency!

This morning, I very nearly ripped my Norby & Pease hat back to the brim, despite being close to done. I had 5 shades of gradient yarn to use and 5 garter ridges to knit before beginning crown decreases, except I had miscounted and thought there were only 4 garter ridges, and started the gradient in the brim. I KNOW, TOTALLY DUMB, RIGHT?! In this case, I could either: 1) do one fewer pattern repeat and have a shorter hat, 2) rip back to the brim and leave that part solid, or 3) as my friend Katy so helpfully suggested, use a bit of the yarn I just bought at Rhinebeck which very nearly matches what would be the next shade in the gradient. KATY, YOU ARE A GENIUS.

I think I’ll try the hat on later and see if I can deal with it shorter, and if not, I’ll probably use a bit of the O-wool shown to fill in the last color. Or, I might just repeat the final gradient color throughout the crown shaping. WHAT WOULD YOU GUYS DO? #overthinkingthis

Bye, bye, Babe.

In other news, there’s a very good chance we’ll be moving to a smaller apartment in the near future, so a massive destash is in order. One thing I’m letting go of is my first wheel, the Babe Double Treadle Production. I’ve had it since 2012, it’s a great starter wheel and its Irish tension makes it good for plying. It’s also very lightweight and travels well because it is made of PVC. It retails for $320, I’m asking $225 or best offer. In addition to the wheel, check out my Ravelry trade page for lots of lovely yarns. I literally exported my yarn stash to a spreadsheet and ruthlessly went through highlighting items for destash: anything without a concrete plan or an unhealthy level of emotional attachment had to go.

Farmfest and Folly | Woolen Diversions

It’s a sunbeam party.

The kitties approve of my destash plan. Less yarn in the house means more room for lounging.

Happy weekend!

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!

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 Kumquat  (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!

On Competition and Community

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! The Fiasco and I were quite busy, we vended at the wonderful Mount Hope Farmers Market, attended the culmination event of the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl, and went on our first bicycle ride of the season (pro tip: bike paths near the bay are bloody freezing in April winds). There were many, may wonderful moments but there was one unfortunate interaction that put an unpleasant cast over things.

On Competition and Community | Woolen Diversions

Rockin’ my new sweater at the Mount Hope Farmer’s Market.

There is a regular market vendor who sells cold process soap and salt scrubs, etc. As we usually do at these events, the Fiasco and I made the rounds introducing ourselves and checking out everybody’s wares. We try to buy a little something from each vendor (which gets us into trouble at the baked good stalls!) or at the very least admire their work. My love of handmade soap is well-established and I was hoping to buy a new bar from this seller. There was a band playing right near her table so I had a hard time hearing her but during the course of what I thought was polite conversation about her soap scents, the word “competition” made it through the background noise and I realized that something was wrong. I had taken one of her cards so I could add her to my Etsy favorites and promote her as a local artisan, in response to which she said something along the lines of “It’s really frustrating that you’re taking one of my cards when you clearly have no intention of buying my products, you’re the competition.” And then she stormed off to complain to the market manager.

On Competition and Community | Woolen Diversions

Photo via xoginalove.tumblr.com, snagged from Buzzfeed (click for link).

I was floored, to say the least. Stunned, upset, and somehow embarassed, like I imagine most people would feel when treated with unexpected hostility. The Fiasco and I just kept making wounded-sad-puppy-dog-eyes at each other and we were outright bummed in the slow-burning-rage kind of way. I found out later that this particular seller is “sensitive” about competition because she apparently had a bad experience with someone swiping her ideas, her logo, etc. But still, I don’t think that excuses her behavior and it was completely jarring in a creative community where (in my experience) people are usually overwhelmingly supportive of one another. And we weren’t even selling the same items! Even if I had brought soap with me, we make entirely different kinds of soap (hers from raw oils that undergo the saponification process, mine from pre-made soap bases to which I add color, scent, and fun shapes/structure). Did I freak out about another vendor selling lip balms? No, hers were highlighting beeswax from a local honey farm, mine featured lanolin. There is room in the world for multiple types of body care products. Thankfully, the rest of the vendors were wonderfully warm and inviting and we were mostly able to shake off that ugly nastiness by the end of the day.

On Competition and Community | Woolen Diversions

Great Rhody Yarn Crawl haul.

The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl celebration the next day went a great way towards restoring my faith in the creative community. I met up with my friends in the Rhode Island Spinner’s Guild and spent a pleasant afternoon spinning and shopping in good company. I’ve spent many years as something of a nomad, living in different states for just 1 – 3 years at a time. We’re on our third year here in Rhode Island and the fiber community is one of the reasons why I could envision calling this place home in the long term. Most people are so kind and generous with their knowledge, and I love walking into a marketplace and knowing half the vendors by name. The delectable yarn above is from Dirty Water DyeWorks (Lillian superwash Merino fingering base in March Sky, Pumice, and Topaz) and Play at Life Fiber Arts (Skinny Scrumpet MCN fingering base in Cinnamon Jelly) and they helped brighten the weekend considerably. Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Tammy of Life and Yarn and Yarn and Life in person! She came by to say hello and it was so lovely to put a face to her blog. She has a great run-down of info on Connecticut yarn shops (and elsewhere), too.

A Playful Day

I appear to have inadvertently blogged along this week’s Love Your Blog challenge theme of “Ugly”, so I’m linking up with everyone over at A Playful Day. While not directly blog-related, I think the idea of jealousy in the handmade marketplace is equally relevant and something that doesn’t get acknowledged very often. Perhaps I’m just being naive to not have expected encountering such hostility myself. What are your thoughts on competition in creative communities? Have your experiences leaned one way or another?

IS #85: Knitting Weekend at Slater Mill

Just a quick post today as I was up quite late last night and ungodly early this morning, but I can’t wait to spread the word. There’s only one thing that can get me out of the house prior to 7am on a Saturday morning and that’s the prospect of sitting in a historic mill, surrounded by enthusiastic knitters, learning from talented teachers, with copious yarn fondling to follow.

IS #85: Knitting Weekend at Slater Mill | Woolen Diversions

Trad Arts Studio at Slater Mill!

Last night was the opening reception for the 2015 Knitting Weekend hosted at Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The reception involved wine and snacks, a combined trunk show featuring designs by Thea Colman, Amy Christoffers, Ellen Mason, and Gudrun Johnston, and a wonderfully inspiring talk about Elizabeth Zimmerman and how feminism and domestic arts intertwine in Adrienne Martini‘s life (the author of Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously). Adrienne was a really entertaining and engaging speaker, if you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you should! You should also, obviously, check out the book. I read it some time ago but remember really enjoying it.

There were samples galore to admire. I fell particularly hard for a gorgeous grey lace cowl with a unique yellow garter stripe. As you know, I’m working on a cowl design myself, and I spent lots of time trying to work out how best to hide the join. In Thea Colman’s Tonic Water cowl, she simultaneously hides and highlights the join with a pop of colorful garter stitch. Genius! I suspect that cowl will hit my needles sooner than later.

IS #85: Knitting Weekend at Slater Mill | Woolen Diversions

Weekend Knitting e-book samples.

Best of all, some of the designers teaching this weekend paired up with some local New England yarn vendors to create a collection of really gorgeous patterns that are being sold as an e-book, the sales of which will go to support the restoration and preservation of the mill. Weekend Knitting from Knitting Weekend at Slater Mill features five accessory patterns: a cabled beanie (Sylvanus Brown Hat by Thea Colman), a rustic shawl (Wilkinson Scarf by Amy Christoffers), some cabled mitts (Bridgetruss Mitts by Alicia Plummer), a nifty hooded cowl (Blackstone River Cowl by Ellen Mason), and a simple-yet-stylish infinity scarf (Slater Mill Cowl by Bristol Ivy). The photo above doesn’t do these knits justice, be sure to check out the pattern pages, and if you like them, know that your purchase will go to support the place that is responsible for housing very active knitting and spinning guilds, as well as a variety of traditional arts programming. If I move away from Rhode Island, I think I’ll miss the mill (and the guilds) most of all.

If you live nearby, you should head on down to the mill to check out the free vendor market. The classes are full, but the market is open Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm and will feature lots of local artisans. It’s also a good time to take a tour of the mill, its history is quite fascinating. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cool stuff to go learn.Yay, knitting weekend!

Have you taken any good classes recently? Are you involved with your local arts community somehow? What’s been inspiring you lately? Let us know in the comments!

Inspiration Saturday at Woolen Diversions