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

Archive for the ‘soap-making’ Category

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)

It’s about to get rather bubbly around here

When I took the soap-making class, I never planned to start a soap business.  However, that seems to be unfolding nicely, and I’m going with the flow.

The day for Bras Across the Wabash started off gray and misty.  We arrived early that morning for Ramblin to help his coworkers set up other parts of the event.  About half an hour before it was scheduled to begin, the sky finally began to show traces of blue.  By the time it began, you needed sunglasses.

The crowds on our side of the bridge were small, but the people that were there loved the soap.  A bit of humidity is good for a soap booth, but too much can get messy.  Fortunately, there was just enough to get the scents activated and draw people in.  One woman who works with Ramblin mentioned a shop I should contact about carrying the soap, and I said that I would.

Three days later, before I even got a chance to call, Ramblin said that his colleague had contacted the shop, and I should call to set things up.  The next weekend, I was getting my first wholesale opportunity squared away.  From that meeting, I was invited to bring my wares to an open house for the gallery.  The next day I was reading a newspaper down at the farm, and there was a show a mere 10 miles from us looking for vendors for their fall craft show.  That got me to thinking about the craft show about three miles from us, and a phone call later gave me yet another opportunity.

So, in the next 10 weeks, I have four shows.

I’m loving it.