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

Archive for the ‘soap-making’ Category

I’m back – again

Well, let’s see what I said last time and what needs updates.  I feel like I have been on a constant run since, um, April?  March?

The new spring craft show I tried was a bust. They have a very well attended fall show, but this was the first spring show. I heard varying reports of other things going on in the town, so that may have contributed to the low turnout. Then we didn’t have a great location, with many people not realizing there were booths at our end of the hallway. So, I’ll stick with smaller shows in smaller towns and the ever-popular Etsy.

I actually had a small show at a new location and did really well there.  I had found out about it late, and they were already full, but took my contact information.  Five days before the show, they called to say they had a cancellation, and I was in if I wanted.  I had prepped for a show at Ramblin’s work a couple of weeks after that, so I jumped on it. Did really well.  Got a call from the local health food store needing a restock on things. Then we had our annual spinning/knitting/sock-cranking/weaving/do-whatever-makes-you-happy retreat in May, and I sold yarn and soapy things there.  The next week was the show at Ramblin’s work, and it went phenomenally well.  All the while, I worked late into the evenings to make more lotions, scrubs, and bath bombs for the next event.  Soap has to cure for 4-6 weeks, so I just hoped I didn’t run out.  It was close.

The rest of May was spent winding up my new-to-me Literature class.  So much relief to post the grades.  Then, the first weekend in June, we did something fun!  Ragged and Cynical had invited us to go along with them to the Walker Stalker Con in Nashville.  We’re casual fans of the show.  This means none of us spent $100 for photos or $50 for autographs and selfies.  It was cool to see the stars of the show, albeit from varying distances.

In vacationing news, we went on a bus tour to New Orleans in mid-June and brought Ramblin’s parents along. I had been to New Orleans before and really enjoyed it more than I thought I would, so I was eager for them to see what an interesting city it was. I’m not sure if it was just the bus-tour aspect, but it wasn’t as fantastic as the first time I went. I think we would have enjoyed it more on our own schedule, and Ramblin is game to go back one day.

The local yarn crawl just wrapped up, and I was very pleased with the result. My LYS (local yarn shop for the non-yarny folks reading) had my yarns and soap+soap-related products during the crawl, and I only brought home a tiny bitof yarn, and a little over half of the soap products.  Considering I took a lot of stuff, that’s pretty good.

Yarn and soap at the 2017 Illiana Yarn Crawl at Atkinson Farm Yarns

Guessing what colors will be popular is really like playing a game of whack-a-mole.  Things I thought would sell – didn’t; things I thought might not go – did.  My LYS owner said she has quit trying to guess and just gets a wide selection of colors.  A fun thing I did both last year and this year was make a soap to match the special yarn crawl yarn.

Yarn Crawl shawl designed by Jane Campbell and matching soap made by yours truly

I hit my reading challenge for the year.  It was a modest 24 books, since I hadn’t read anything close to that in years.  Last year I read nine (sheesh!) and in 2015 I read 13, 14 in 2014 (appropriate!), 13 in 2013 (appropriate again!), and 23 in 2012.  In 2012, I was finishing my master’s degree and starting the graduate certificate, so I’m sure none of those were fun.  But, thanks to the Goodreads stats (oh how I do love numbers!), I know that the best year for pages read had been 2014 with 10133 pages (thanks, A Song of Ice and Fire series) compared to only one less book in 2013 for a total of 5,486 pages.  This year, I’m at 10,333 pages read so far.  I’m currently actively reading two books (you can keep up with that in the right hand column, should you so desire – yeah, I know it says four, but one was just opened on the Kindle and the other may never get finished)  and would love to hit 50 books by year’s end.  I mostly read on devices, but I do have the analog Dark Tower series.  Maybe after I finish with Odd Thomas.

I have a new smartphone, thanks to Amazon Prime Phones, Prime Day, and Tracfone BYOP.  Yes, I love technology, but I’m cheap.  The phone I had before was smart-ish, but had so little memory it couldn’t do – well, anything.  So now, I should be able to accomplish all kinds of things.  Or so I tell myself.

It’s been a slow summer, student-wise.  I had eight, but that’s dropped to five, and really only three are dedicated.  That should change this fall when I’m theoretically going to be teaching Comp I online to 75 high school students.  So, I’m enjoying the downtime right now.  I have big dyeing plans for the LYS as the owner and I have cooked up some really fun things.  Things like a shop colorway – you heard it hear first.

And that’s been my spring/summer so far.  Maybe I’ll download the WP app and make updating more convenient to do.

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Not really all that random

So, as I was going to be waiting a while for my new equipment, a rainy Monday morning seemed like a great time to get a clearer picture of the fiber stash.  Mostly it was an attempt spread out the spinning so that I would have my lazy kate by the time I was ready to ply again.  The Sweet-n-Low box served me well, but I really didn’t want to have to use it again.

Ravelry has been slowly but steadily improving the spinning portion of the database.  When people first started stashing fiber, it was mostly just a text entry and a picture.  Currently, there are all sorts of specific fields for information including fiber composition and percentage, fiber prep options, colorway, company name, date purchased, price, etc.  I hauled out box after box of my spinning fibers and made sure they were all listed and that the details were filled in.  I had been pretty good about listing the fiber stash, but at the end of the day, I was up 20 entries.  Most of those were 4 oz. braids, but their were some larger lots.  As it stands right now, I have 92 fiber stash entries on Ravelry, and that’s probably 95% of my overall fiber stash.  Of course, the yet unlisted is a lot of fleece, so maybe more like 50% by weight.

Then, once I had my clearer picture, I needed to choose the next thing to spin.  Since the bobbins wouldn’t be coming any time soon, I needed to keep it to fibers I knew I wanted to spin 2-ply or chain-ply.  Have I mentioned I have 92 options?  Granted, not all of those fit the plying criteria, but I just didn’t know where to begin.  Enter the Random Number Generator!  I plugged in my numbers, and it returned 60.  I counted down to the 60th entry on my Rav stash page – nah.  I mean, it was a really great fiber, but it was mostly white and blue, and I was hoping for a bit more color.  So, undermining the whole concept of randomly generating a number, I clicked it again and got 89.  This time I went with it.  It was a lovely blend from Winterhaven Farms of 60% merino and 40% bamboo in a colorway of greens and orangey-yellows named Mallard.  It was a well-marinated stash purchase at Greencastle, so its time had more than come.

Spinning 7-19-16

I finished up the first bobbin in about three hours.  I’m trying to time my spinning to see just how many hours I have in a skein.

That was Tuesday.  Wednesday I was out visiting my friend and dropping by my LYS for the area yarn crawl.  Since I bought this beauty, I’m not doing any stash enhancements this year, but I do have several of my dyed yarns at the shop, and I’ll do a blog post about that later this week (spoiler alert: it went really well).  Wednesday was also the day my lazy kate arrived! So Thursday was spent finishing up the second bobbin.  I divided the fiber in half vertically, then I split each half into thinner strips horizontally.  I’m hoping for a really good color distribution.

New jumbo lazy kate

I haven’t yet plied them, as I spent yesterday at a local town’s 175th anniversary, or dodransbicentennial.  (Dodrans is the latin contraction of de-quadrans meaning ‘a whole unit less a quarter’. Thanks Wikipedia!)  I had my soaps there and was supposed to demonstrate weaving on a rigid heddle loom, but maybe wove 2″ or so.  And yes, we’re in the middle of the heatwave from Hades.  It was miserable, but there were still diehard souls that came out, and several of them went home with brand new wonderful soap for their evening showers.  I know that’s exactly what I did after unloading the car.  I was set up next to my friend who demonstrated spinning, and her sweetie brought us a huge shop fan.  Without that, we would have melted.  Speaking of melting, I took fresh made soap still in loaf form to show part of the homemade process, and that was fine until the sun shifted.  Once the fresh soap was in the sun, it liquified like a candle.  It held shape okay, but touching it revealed just the outer shell was holding it together.  That got carefully transported back home.

So, the bobbins are scheduled to be created and shipped by July 28.  I may be calling on the Random Number Generator again.

Soap Challenge Club – Clyde Slide Challenge

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.

Really, I haven’t posted since February?!

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.

 

 

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.

 

The final pair from Socktoberfest

And may I present to you – the socks that started it all.

Ziggity Zag socks done

I am so glad I posted here about losing the sock mojo, as clearly that was the oomph I needed to get back on the sock train.

Now, if I could just get the rest of my motivation going.

But I have made just a little bit of soap.

Soap racks 10-27-14

So there is that.  I wish blogs came with smell-o-vision. (optional, of course, for the readers sensitive to smell – though I have made a batch of unscented as well)