Not just a hobby, it's a way of Life

Motivating

So, I made it back before summer.  Impressive!

What have I been up to?  Probably the biggest thing is that I have become a contributor to the Phat Fiber box.  It’s a monthly box people can snag full of yarn and fiber samples from independent dyers.  While it’s probably a bit premature, I do love dabbling in the dye, and this should be motivation for me to do that.

It’s weird that I should need motivation to do something I enjoy, but there you go.  As the list of hobbies grows, naturally some are going to get pushed to the side.  But also, regardless of how productive I can be, there’s still time that is simply wasted.  I don’t want to  be running 24/7, but I also don’t need to play Facebook games when there’s more fulfilling stuff to do.  So if there’s external pressure, I’m hoping I’ll be a little more focused on doing things that bring me joy.

And if I make a little money in the process, even better.  With my primary (“day job”) continuing to decrease adjunct financial opportunities, I realize the only person I want in control of my destiny is me.  Being at another’s whim is rife with uncertainty; I want to be in control of my destiny because I’m really the only one that cares about it.  Does my employer (not my boss – she’s awesome) care that cutting hours affects my life?  Nope.  It becomes more and more apparent that if I’m going to have to stitch together multiple jobs to make ends meet (the reality of many adjunct instructors in higher education), I want those jobs to be something I enjoy.  I don’t want to teach for half a dozen colleges with students who don’t want to learn.  I want to dye things, and spin things, and weave things.

So, each month I’ll send Crys some yarn to toss in a box, and we’ll see what happens.

Somewhere 1

Yeah, that title gets overused, but hey, it’s accurate.  Or it is until I don’t post on here for seven months, and you’re thinking, “Why in blue blazes would it be snowing in August?!”

So, what have I been up to?  Making soap like crazy.  Dyeing yarns.  Plotting.  Planning.

Also, back in October (or Socktober, in which I actually managed to knit three pairs of socks), we went to New York City.  We went on a bus trip as we knew NY wasn’t something we would take on ourselves to plan. For those trips, you just can’t beat bus travel.  Well, okay, the bus riding might get a bit old, but hey, I had knitting, and Ramblin napped.

So anyway, if I don’t see you before then, have a great summer.

The first rule of Soap Challenge Club is . . . no wait, wrong club.

I’ve been watching the monthly challenges on Great Cakes Soapworks.  Each month there is a different theme or soap-making technique, and soapmakers from around the world enter and compete to be chosen as the winner.  I thought that one of these times, just for fun, I should try the technique of the month.  Not to compete; I’m not ready for that.

Well, the September challenge rolled around, and the challenge was to make a soap using the Clyde Slide, a technique used by the awesome soapmaker Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap.  Clyde has wonderful videos on YouTube.  Go watch them.  There’s something soothing about his voice.  He’s like the Bob Ross of Soap.

Anyway, before I even watched a single video of his, I found myself registering for the challenge.  What?!

There are seriously talented people making breathtaking soaps, and while I’m proud of the soaps I make, the aesthetic is not my main focus.  I want them to make skin feel good and smell great.  I play around with color, but it’s all a happy accident.  This is Soap with Intention.

The mark of the Clyde Slide is beautiful featherings of color in the soap.  So, Amy, she of Great Cakes Soapworks, said the key was to have a very light trace (how thick the soap is) for a successful Clyde Slide.   There are several factors that contribute to this, so I decided to try all of them.

  1. I used a very slow-to-trace recipe.  This is accomplished by using ingredients, like canola oil or sunflower oil, that slow down how quickly the soap thickens when mixed.  I swapped out olive oil for canola oil in my recipe.
  2. I used a well-behaving scent – Sweet Orange essential oil.  The scent you use can have a huge effect on how quickly the soap thickens.  Some fragrance oils will make the soap ‘seize’ or set up quickly.  Others, like citrus essential oils, keep the soap thin.
  3. I soaped cooler.  When you mix lye with water, there is an incredibly powerful exothermic reaction.  I’ve never checked it right after mixing, but I know within a short time, it registered 170 degrees.  The lye water needs to cool down, as do the oils after you heat them to get them all to a liquid state.  For this recipe, I let them both cool to about 100 degrees.

To make the swirls, I used these colors, plus added a little white (titanium dioxide) to the base.

Clyde Slide colors

I divided out the four colors, mixed the white into the main batch, then poured about half of the color of yellow, orange, pink, and purple in that order along one handle side of the pot, one on top of the other, added some reserve white, then poured the remainder of rest of the colors one at a time through the same order.  I then poured, so that the color was at one side, lengthwise in the mold, with a few passes.

How did it work?  A little too well.

Clyde Slide Take 1

Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that soap.  It’s pretty cool, actually.  But there is way too much movement and definitely no feathers.

So, back to the drawing board.  Things I did different:

  1. I used my usual recipe with olive oil.
  2. In addition to the Sweet Orange, I added it some Jasmine and Sandalwood fragrance oils.  Florals are infamous for speeding up trace, and I needed a little thicker batter to behave better.
  3. I soaped at about 105-110 of lye and oils.

Clyde Slide Take 2

Much better!  See those feathers?  Now, it was probably still a little too thin, even with the adjustments.  But this is a technique I will definitely play around with more in the future.

Latest Soapy Creation

Psychedelic Pswirl

I had been watching YouTube videos on soapmaking and saw yet another spin swirl.  I showed the pictures of the cuts to Ramblin, and he was itchin’ to try it.  So we did.  The above picture is our first effort, and it looks to be a success.  So much so that I went to Lowe’s today to pick up materials for Ramblin to make me three slab molds for more spin swirling.  And soap dishes.  And soap displays.  And soap drying racks.

Have I mentioned that I love this man?

Tune in for the soap cut pictures later this week.  We should really wait a couple of days, but I’m not sure we can take the suspense.

Um, hi!

Yarnmama10’s new post reminded me that I hadn’t posted on this blog in a while, but I certainly didn’t realize it hadn’t been since February.

There’s a vacation, soapy things, and yarny things to talk about.

First of all, I am soaping away, though the heat has slowed me down a bit.  Our itty-bitty town started having a farmer’s market, and we set up at the inaugural sale.  It was great weather, though Ramblin and I did get a bit of sun after being shaded for most of the morning.  So, when we got home, Ramblin ordered an EZ-UP booth tent.  Now I feel like a selling professional.  :) (Actually, I need a banner to really be a selling professional.)

Sumner Farmer's Market booth under tent

I’ve been participating in Loopy Academy and now this summer Camp Loopy with The Loopy Ewe.  Other than that, I’ve been trying to use stash yarn and fiber.  However, then I learned about the Discworld MegaSAL and read-a-long.  It was six indie dyers creating colorways inspired by persons and things in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.  Sadly Sir Pterry passed away shortly before the spinalong began, so we spun in his memory.  I can’t believe I had never read any of his books.  They are fantastic, part Harry Potter, part Douglas Adams, and altogether too much fun.  I had bought from two of the dyers before: Fat Cat Knits and Spunky Eclectic.  But the other four were entirely new, and some are pretty tough to get in updates, so I felt particularly glad to experience their wares: Nest, Into the Whirled, Southern Cross Fibre, and Hello Yarn.

And then, I finally went to a local-ish yarn shop.  In this area, anything under two hours away is local.  I didn’t really know what to expect from The Yarn Studio, but whoa nelly.

The Yarn Studio 2 The Yarn Studio 3

The ol’ fiber diet took a decided hit.  And there’s a few more stores, one a mere 23 miles away, that have cropped up.  And did you see all the purple Yarnmama posted?!  Oh dear.

I’ll save the vacation for its own post.  Hint of where we went – there was entirely too much fudge consumed.

 

 

And now it’s snowing here!

After the snow left the blog, it took its own sweet time and arrived here.  Probably 5-6″, maybe more.  What’s one of the only good things about snow?  Snow cream.

Snow cream

It has been all soap, all the time around here. There’s currently a fundraiser going at the local high school, there may be another one coming down the pipe shortly, Ramblin’s work wants to hold one for the employee committee, and I’m doing a craft show at the end of March. Why aren’t I making soap right now?!

And there’s been a bit of knitting. I started a shawl, almost finished it, and started having second thoughts about the color arrangement. So that got put aside, and I started in on the Loopy Academy second semester project.

Full Spectrum beginning

Much better.

And there’s even been spinning!

Merlot Holocene

I didn’t get great pictures of this, but it hasn’t had its bath yet anyway, so maybe the sun will shine by the time I get around to doing that.  It is two plies of Knittyandcolor‘s Not Drinking Merlot and one ply Holocene, all on merino-silk.  That little skein on the left was the leftovers of the Not Drinking Merlot chain-plied.

I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  I’ll try to come back before spring.  Whenever that will be.

It’s snowing on the blog!

I always feel the need to announce that, like you can’t tell as soon as you open the page.

I haven’t knit any more socks since Socktoberfest, but I have been knitting other things. That’s not true since I started a pair of socks while this post has been marinating. (pictures were giving me fits, so I had to leave it for a few days)

First, I knitted a hat I thought was going to be for me, but then when I finished, I knew that it wasn’t.  I didn’t know who it was for, but the hat wasn’t saying, “Mine”.  Then when I learned my friend didn’t have a hat for winter, I realized she was who the hat belonged to.

Stark finished

Then, another Loopy Academy project, I knitted a cowl.

That Nice Stitch in Those Nice Colors done

And there’s been a sweater partially knitted as well, just needing the button bands and collar. Since I’m so close, I’ll just wait until it’s done for a picture.

And of course, there’s been soap.

Swirls

Well, not just soap, but other products.  Things like lotion bars.

Festive lotion bars

 

And Meringue, a lovely whipped body butter.

Meringue

And I’m already thinking about scents for Valentine’s Day.

 

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