Saturday, October 17, 2015

Great Cakes Alternative Liquid Challenge

As usual, I'm trying to beat the deadline, and I'm running out of time as I'm writing!  This month it took three tries to get something worthy of the challenge.

My alternative liquid is coconut water.  I'd been wanting to try it, but hadn't gotten around to it, so now was the time!  I wasn't able to find much out other than it is hydrating and contains lots of potassium when you drink it, so I'm hoping it can do the same for our skin!

For my first soap, I decided to also try calendula petals in the lye water, as it imparts a slight fragrance and is skin loving.  The other colorings are madder powder and spirulina powder and I decided to use Bergamot Essential Oil for the fragrance.  It soaped like a dream, maybe a bit too liquid, and I tried a swirl.  Although it did come out way better than I thought it would, it didn't have the contrast and bold coloring I was looking for.

Second try:  Same oils and coconut water, but this time I decided to use Karma Essential Oil blend from Bramble Berry, even though it  discolors the finished soap to brown.  Since I knew that, I decided to color it with darker colorant, alkanet powder, in a large enough amount to hopefully be dark purple.  For a lighter contrast color, I used a combiation of Kaolin clay and annatto seed powder.  Since I wanted to use my column mold again and had seen others make a yinyang with plastic, I thought I'd try that, putting alkanet on one side and the other would be kaolin colored and annatto colored in a faux funnel pour.  With so much planned, I forgot the essential oil, so this one is unscented, but I like the design!

Third time's the charm!  I repeated the same recipe, including the Karma Essential Oil for fragrance this time, although I didn't have another cylinder mold, so used a loaf mold and did a swirl like I did the first time.  The difference was that this time the soap batter was a bit thicker from the fragrance (and a little more stick blending) and the top was sprinkled with cranberry seeds and strawberry seeds for a little additional color.  This is my favorite!  I never thought I would be able to get such a beautiful soap with all natural ingredients!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pink Applesauce and more!

Yep, my applesauce really did come out pink!  It's a blend of pink fleshed and white fleshed apples from our trees, and we ended up with 18 jars!!!.

Now we don't just have apple trees, we have a variety of different fruits, but they're really just baby trees that are starting to produce more than we can eat fresh, so I have to find more ways to use and preserve them. Before making the applesauce above,  The pears were getting way too ripe, so I made spiced pear butter and spiced pear sauce, and before that it was the pickles, so the cupboard is getting filled up!

Today was the day to make something with Asian pears, so I tried the recipe - Asian Pears in Honey Syrup from The Joy of Jams, Jellies and other Sweet Preserves.  A couple ginger slices are at the bottom of each jar and the syrup has not just honey in it, but also lemon, so it's not too sweet and there's plenty of lemon flavor in there.  We'll let these sit a little while to soak up some of the ginger flavor and then they'll be ready (of course, they're ready now, but time will blend the flavors better).  After two batches, there are now eight quart jars cooling on the counter!

Have a bit of cast-on-itis, since this month is Plucktober, celebrating Plucky yarns in their Ravelry group.  Of course I had already picked out about four projects to work on, but then some people started making cute sheep hats and I had to make one too!  It's called the Baa-ble Hat.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Knitting projects finished up!

For some reason, little finishing details tend to bog me down.  Projects get almost done, but need things like ends woven in, stitches picked up so an edging can be knit, hems, blocking... the list goes on.  In an effort to have less UFOs hanging around (I have sooooo many projects), I've been actively trying to get some finished and making progress!

Capall Dubh finally got it's buttons sewn on:

Bartender's Choice Mitts, to keep hands warm:

Ring of Kerry cowl:

Dessigne-moi un Mouton pullover is so cozy:

Trying to finish Beach Walk (a shrug with lacy details down the center back and just above the ribbed cuffs), Am over halfway finished and if I keep at it, maybe I can finish it soon!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Summer Moon Shawl is finished!

It's all pinned out - and it's quite a large shawl!  This time, I'm going to spritz it with a mixture of water with a bit of  Eucalan wool wash (this is usually what I use to soak my finished knits in).   It will be an experiment, but I've been reading that many knitters do this and thought it was worth a try.  The reason it isn't spritzed yet, is lack of a large spray bottle to put the mix in, so I'll pick one up when I'm at the store (the little ones I have available would take forever and probably make my finger sore).  At least it's ready to go, and all spread out so I could take these pictures!

Here's another picture:

In my last post, I was trying to get the post finished and entered in the soap challenge, but I missed the deadline by seconds!!!  The reason I know it's seconds, is that I saw the entry button, with directions, but wanted to open another window so I'd have the instructions ready if needed, and in that short time, the entry window closed.  So I'm going with the motto "try, try again" and planning to try again next month!

Clyde Slide Challenge

Over the last few months, I've been trying to participate in Amy Warden's Soap Challenge Club, but this is the first time I've managed to actually get the soap made in time to enter the challenge!

In order to concentrate on the technique, I started with Bramble Berry's Quick Mix Oils and chose Crisp Anjou Pear fragrance oil for the scent.  Once the oils and lye were emulsified, I split off some of the batter into four smaller containers, leaving a larger amount in my batter bowl and colored as follows:

Yellow:  Fizzy Lemonade Pigment (Bramble Berry) + Khaki Yellow Mica (Nurture Soaps)
Green:  Apple Green Mica (Nurture Soaps) + Khai Yellow (Nurture Soaps)
Pink:  Pink Vibrance Mica (Nurture Soaps) + Titanium Dioxide (Bramble Berry)
Black: Black Oxide (Bramble Berry)
Background: Titanium Dioxide + some of my pear yellow mix  (Originally I wanted a white background, but changed my mind as I was coloring the batter.)

With the colors ready, I poured the colors into the background a little at a time, between the handle and spout, repeating them until all soap was back in the bowl, and then poured it into my 5 pound soap mold.  Pouring was done from end to end with spout parallel to the ends of the mold.  Since the batter was still quite thin, it created a fine feathered edge.  (I'll have to try this again sometime with a thicker batter!)

The feathered edge can be quite different, depending where you pour the colors into the base color and how thick the soap is when poured in the mold.  Since we can only enter the picture of one soap, I narrowed it down to the four at the top of the post, and finally made my choice based on the one I think fit the challenge the best.  This is the one I"m entering:

Friday, September 11, 2015

12 Color Swirl

I'm really happy with the way this soap turned out!!!!! I love the way the swirls worked and the Yuzu fragrance is one I'll definitely use again, because I love it!  The leftover soap also came out nice:

On another note, my shawl is finished, but needs to be blocked and photographed, but I'm really happy with it as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Challenging soap day!

Finally got up my courage and a large enough time block to try the 12 Color Linear Swirl from the Soap Crafting book.   Instead of measuring the oils separately, I was working with already mixed and measured oils from a Soap Crafting class at Bramble Berry, which was greatly appreciated because the time I would have spent measuring oils was spent preparing 12 colors!  There is so much to do when making this soap that the fragrance oil is added to the oils before adding the lye. Once the oils and lye were mixed it was divided into 12 containers and colors were added, then the fun began of pouring stripes into the mold until it was as full as I wanted it.  A skewer was used to swirl the colors all the way to the bottom of the mold and create the pretty endpaper design.  It's resting now and in a few days I'll be able to take it out and get a better look.

Here's a close-up:

The leftover soap went into this 4" mold with all the colors just scraped from the individual containers, ending with pink on the top and then it was swirled just like in the large soap mold. The difference here is that I have no idea how this one will look when it is cut, because the soap was thickening and was just blobbed into the mold.  Can't wait to cut this one!

I decided to count my soap batches and this one is soap 32!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Since my last post

a lot has been going on around here.  There have been house guests, soaping, canning, knitting and a little sewing and basket weaving!

This is the first try with my very own soap recipe.  I wanted to try using all tropical oils, and should have used a fragrance that I'd used before, but I couldn't resist trying out Baby Rose fragrance oil from Bramble Berry.  My friend Cathy helped, and even though it thickened much quicker than any of my previous soaps, we were still able to do a simple swirl and get it into my new cylinder mold.  It smells great and I can't wait to use it!

Cathy and I also made Linear Swirl with Oxides together.  I'm so glad she was there to help, because there were so many colors to pour into the mold!  We chose White Tea and Ginger Fragrance Oil and it smells so good!

We have a really large garden harvest in progress and in wanting to save some pears for the future, I had my first adventure making a fruit butter. Although it too way longer than the recipe said, and wasn't finished until after midnight, it smells and tastes great!

Another canning project was pickles, which are resting and soaking up the vinegar to be ready for eating soon.

Finished up the Jeremiah Basket, which was a kit I purchased a while ago.  I did swap out some of the reed, because some of it was scruffier that I like to work with.

 On the knitting front, I usually have many things on the needles, but am currently working on Summer Moon.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Trying to Blog Again

Sorry I've been away so long!  Our life has been kind of crazy and it got turned upside down when we got a couple puppies and less than a year later one of our sons got one, and I became it's sitter during the week.  When all three were together, felt like I was running a puppy daycare.  Things have settled down quite a bit since then, but have had to change up some of my hobbies, setting some on the back burner for a while, and of course, I picked up a new one this spring.

The newest hobby is soap making.  Ages ago I bought a book and chickened out when it came to making the lye solution that is needed to mix with oils to make soap.  The book was filed away, and probably donated, because I haven't found it yet.   I made some melt and pour soap, but melting, adding some color and scent and then pouring in a plain mold didn't wow me, so I never kept it up.  Stick blenders were invented and soap making became a much faster way to make soap and now we have blogs and videos that promote handmade soaps and help others learn.  I was oblivious to this new way of soap making until one day when I was reading a blog I followed,called Delighted Hands, and she started making soap along with her other hobbies, such as quilting,  knitting and spinning.  Over time, I began to think about it again and finally looked into one of the suppliers she had mentioned and I was on my way to becoming a soap maker too.

Back in March, I started out by making some hand lotion bars, then lip balm, melt & pour soap, and finally cold process soap - the traditional oil and lye variety that is mixed with the stick blender instead of stirring for hours.  Many of my projects have been recipes from the Soap Queen Blog and Soap Crafting book, using Bramble Berry supplies, although I've tried a few from other websites and online videos as well.

My first cold process soap was made from a beginner kit and it used the box as a mold. It was a basic soap, scented with Cranberry Fig fragrance, which is still my favorite scent so far!

As soon as it was poured in the box mold I wanted  to make another, so made the Calendula Cleansing Bar with Calendula petals in it from the Soap Crafting book. Since I didn't have the fragrance it called for, I used the closest I had - Coconut Lemongrass fragrance oil!

After a few days,  the soap was removed from the molds and sliced into bars.  It takes several weeks to cure and dry before it's ready to use, and I have to say it was well worth the wait.  Making soap is fun and so far, the ones I've made have been so much better for my skin!

My first soaps: