Contest

And The Winner Is….

Heather!

Email me your relevant information, Heather, and six samples of my hand crafted soaps will be making their way to your doorstep, along with an extra surprise or two. Congratulations!

Yesterday, Beth asked how she might be able to subscribe to my new soaping blog by email. This morning, I figured out how to add that to the blog and there is now a spot to subscribe by email… for anyone who would like to.

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This is how the soap turned out, by the way. It’s a nice hard soap that was hard to cut. It did gel but not completely; that won’t affect the final product, just the aesthetics. Considering that it’s soap and will all be going down the drain eventually, I’m not overly concerned about it.

I did do a little more knitting on John’s sweater yesterday; I have about 6″ done so far. Right now, it’s straight up the back for 17.5″ before starting the armhole shaping. I don’t think much knitting will happen around here today; there is lasagna to be put together (I made the meat sauce yesterday) and a dinner to prepare for.

John’s planning on making a cheesecake for dessert, using a recipe his mother received years ago from a NYC native. I’m looking forward to it; he’s never made it for me. This is a traditional, basic, baked cheesecake with the cherry pie filling on it. Yum! It will be a lovely finish to our dinner, I think.

Now, it’s an absolutely gorgeous fall day around here. We had a bit of a wind storm last night; it was an amazingly warm wind that scattered chairs and leaves around the yard. Today, it’s bright and sunny out.. beautiful! It’s time to get motivated and out there!

Enjoy your weekend, all, and to my Canadian family and friends… Happy Thanksgiving.

grapes

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Cooking, Making Soap, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Ends Now

Well, it sort of ends now. Today is the last day to get your comments in (on the blog, not on Facebook); I’ll be making the draw for 6 soap samples tomorrow.

soapsamples

Test pieces for some of my soaps… don’t they almost look good enough to eat?

It’s a long weekend here in Canada; we celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday. We will not be doing the “turkey thing”; I’d rather have a nice quiet weekend without the hectic busyness of cooking a full turkey dinner. That’s not relaxing at all, thankyouverymuch! I was thinking of putting together a big pan of lasagna, to be honest. Not very Thanksgiving-ish, is it? Certainly decadent, though!

I have every intention of filling the weekend with knitting related stuff. I have a book on the iPod (The Confessor by Daniel Silva) and a couple of projects on the needles; I am ready to relax!

First though, John’s slippers are finished… the knitting and the felting, although I will have to throw them back into the washer to felt a little more. For some reason, one slipper felted more than the other.

Johnslippers

My washer isn’t the best one out there, that’s for sure. I get lint on everything, and I do mean everything! I’m leery of washing anything white because I’ll end up with dark lint streaks on it; I’m afraid of washing anything dark because I end up with light lint streaks all over it. It’s rather frustrating, to be honest. In the case of the slippers, though, at least we can brush the lint off.

Because John’s slippers are finished, I’ve allowed myself to start his sweater. I’ve gone through one ball of yarn so far and that’s just knitting a few rows each evening while watching a show or two on the computer (we don’t have a tv… by choice).

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The stitch pattern is an easy one to memorize and read and, as you can see, knits up fairly quickly. The yarn feels really nice in the hand and makes a cozy fabric. I don’t think he’ll be at all disappointed with this cardigan. I’m already a little jealous.

I also have another small project on the needles. I’ve decided I like having a face cloth on the go; they’re the perfect small project – they knit up fairly quickly, even with fine yarn, and they’re a usable little item. I don’t especially like using them in the kitchen but I do like using them on my face.

whitefacecloth

This time, I’m using Paton’s BumbleBee baby cotton, a 100% cotton, DK weight, that I do believe has been discontinued (yup… just checked; it was discontinued in 2005… and, yes, I’ve had it that long!). It’s a very soft cotton, nice to work with and knits up beautifully. I have about a half dozen or so balls of it so there will be a few of these face cloths in my linen closet before too long, or they’ll be given as gifts, accompanied by a bar or two of handcrafted soap.

Speaking of soap, I don’t think there will be any soap making this weekend; I’m out of coconut oil and I’m waiting for an order of a couple of items to arrive from Voyageur Soap & Candle in Vancouver. I could just run out and pick up some more coconut oil but soaping isn’t high on my priority list this weekend.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Finished, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ugly Soap = Learning Experience

One of the things I’ve learned in my foray into soap making is that you WILL make ugly soaps – not intentionally, mind you, but you will make them. I have one soap that I wouldn’t even consider sharing with anyone, ever.

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This is a peppermint/rosemary soap I made at the end of August. That batch was cursed from the beginning. The recipe called for way too much of the peppermint leaves, it never got hard and there’s so much peppermint oil in it I could use it as a substitute for Vick’s VapoRub. Seriously, a fail all around.

I went to the Soap Making Forum and started reading about rebatching and confetti soaps and anything else I could find about turning ugly soaps into a usable and, possibly, even pretty soap. Or, at the very least, better looking. Here’s the result of my reading… and learning.

The new, and very much improved, Peppermint Soap.

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I grated up three bars of the ugly peppermint soap, made a batch of coconut milk soap, poured about half the batter into the soap shavings, mixed it well and poured that mixture into the mold. Then, carefully, I poured the rest of the soap batter over the base and made the top pretty. It gelled completely within a couple of hours and, by this morning, was hard enough to unmold and cut.

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That is a much prettier soap than the original soap, wouldn’t you agree? Just for the sake of comparison, here’s a picture with both bars.

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I’m looking forward to trying it in about a month. It still smells very minty but not as strong as the original. I think this will be a great “wake me up in the morning” kind of soap. I just need to practice some patience.

Speaking of patience, I also need to learn patience when it comes to unmolding my soaps from the silicone molds. They do take a little longer to firm up, I find. I’m not sure why, really.

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These are the soaps from the daisy mold. I love them but I did damage two of them by trying to take them out too soon. I should have waited the full 24 hours or longer. Ah well… a couple of uses and you won’t see the flower anyway. And it’s not as if they’re for sale. They sure are pretty, though, and I think the recipe is a good one. We’ll see how it hardens within the next couple of days.

Today, I’ll be trying a new (to me) technique, a feather swirl. John’s out right now, trying to make a tool for that purpose. It uses a hanger (yes, a wire coat hanger) or something a little thicker. I found something that will, hopefully, work but it needs shaping; John’s taken it to his work shop to bend it in the vise they have there. The technique creates a feather inside the soap using 3-4 colours. It’s the October challenge over on the Soap Making Forum and I’ve decided to enter; I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.

Ok, time to stop procrastinating; there are dishes to be done, slippers to felt (yes, I’ve finished the knitting; I just need to stitch them up and felt them), soap to design, a letter to write. Today’s going to be a full day!

Categories: Contest, Just stuff, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t Forget – Soap Giveaway

You have one week left to enter to win a 6 pack soap sampler. Leave a comment and you’re entered!

Last week, I left you with a teaser about an upcoming work in progress – a cardigan for John. When the newest KnitPicks catalog arrived, I showed John one of the pictures of a man’s cardigan that I thought he might like. He wanted to see more so I brought up the KP web site and showed him the rest of the pictures there. He liked it. He liked it a lot. When I asked him if I should purchase the yarn and pattern, he said yes! I didn’t wait!

The yarn was ordered and has already arrived. I have been told, though, that I am not allowed to start the sweater until his slippers are finished. Yeah, they’re still not done.

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The pattern is the Hidden Light Cardigan; to see more pictures, click here. When I showed John the colour choices in the yarn, he pointed to the picture and said, “That one.” Apparently, he really likes that cardigan in that colour. I like it, too, so we’re going with it. I’ve already done a test swatch (just a swatch, that’s all!) and my gauge is right on so I’m good to go… as soon as his slippers are done.

This weekend is a weekend without grandchildren around so I’m getting a few things done. Once I’m finished with this post, I’ll be knitting. Care to guess what I’ll be working on?

Already today, I’ve been out – had my hair cut this morning, wandered around the farmer’s market, did some shopping, picked up a new mold for my soaps, stuff like that. Just before I sat down to write this post, I made a small batch of soap to fill my new mold… and a few more molds.

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I love the Fat Daddio’s silicone molds; the flower molds are so pretty. This one is the daisy; I have my eye on the sunflower, the narcissus, and the rose molds as well but those are a special order. I made a small batch of soap with sunflower oil, superfatted with 1 teaspoon of argan oil and scented with the last of my neroli essential oil. It’s setting now and I can barely wait to see how it comes out. The recipe this time is one of my own devising.

Now, I’m done here for today… I’m off to get comfy and finish those %*$(&^# slippers.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, John's Sweater, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ah, the Weekend!

And I’m feeling like it’s already getting away from me. There are so many things I want to do but, so far, not much is getting done. Well, I shouldn’t really say that. After all, I did make a small test batch of soap for myself (using 12 ounces of oils) and I did get some shopping done, including the purchase of a cake for a certain someone’s 60th birthday on Monday (but you didn’t hear it from me).

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When I say a small batch, I do mean a small batch. I bought a small carton of milk so I could have milk with my tea at work. Once it was empty, I washed out the carton and brought it home for this very reason. That makes about four bars worth of soap. The soap inside…

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…is a recipe I designed as a face soap, with lots of moisturizing, pampering oils (like cocoa butter, rice bran oil, coconut oil, and olive oil). The colorant is spirulina, which turns the soap a lovely shade of green. Right now, it’s still too soft to remove from the carton but I’m itching to get it out and see how the swirling worked out. To create the swirl, I used about one quarter of the soap batter, incorporated the spirulina into it, and poured it back into the soap pot before pouring the whole batch into the carton. I’ve scented the soap with the last of my sandalwood essential oil (there wasn’t much left).

I’ve also blind baked a pastry shell for the quiche we’re having for a birthday lunch tomorrow. And I’ve cleaned out the fridge.

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Lunch tomorrow will be Quiche Lorraine. I decided to blind bake (bake ahead of time) the pastry so it’s one thing I won’t have to do tomorrow. I did have a nice fluted edge on the pastry but that kind of melted. Oh well, it’s all in the flavour, right?

Still on the slate for today or tomorrow… finish John’s slippers. I got absolutely nothing done on them this past week. Two soles… that’s all I have left to do. In my defence, we did have company this week and the slippers take a good deal of concentration. I did do some knitting, though.

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The checkerboard face cloth is off the needles and I’ve started one of the ubiquitous garter stitch face cloths. I much prefer it in the finer yarn, to be honest. The chunkier ones are fine for dish cloths and such but for a face cloth, I do like the texture and feel of the finer yarn. Plus, it’s mindless knitting… never a bad thing.

Well, this post is taking a lot longer to write than I’d anticipated. It’s now Sunday morning and I’m already thinking about what needs to get done before Kristen and the kids get here for brunch.

While they were out rollerblading yesterday, I made another batch of soap. This one is a hemp soap.

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I love the colour! This morning, I’ve unmolded and cut it and I’m really happy with it. I’ve tried lathering up a small end cut and it lathers beautifully. I really think I have a winner with this one. I wasn’t sure what to scent it with so I’ve left it unscented; I don’t mind unscented soaps, especially if it’s something I’ll be using on my face.

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And the Spirulina soap, out of the milk carton and cut?

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I’m really pleased with the way the swirl came out. I haven’t tried lathering this one yet but I am definitely looking forward to trying it.

Now…. time to do some prep on our brunch. Quiche Lorraine coming up. I’ll tell you about John’s new (upcoming) cardigan another time.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Contest, Cooking, Finished, Just stuff, Making Soap | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

One Down, Another On The Needles

The Waffle Stitch face/spa cloth is finished! It only took a little over a week to finish one cloth – that actually surprised me; it felt like it took forever! I do have to say, though, that I’m really happy with it. It has a very nice feel to it, not thick but still cushy, with enough texture to help exfoliate and stimulate the skin without being rough. Now, we’ll have to see how it stands up to use. Looking nice is one thing, performance is another.

I’ve also cast on for another face cloth; I figure that if I have the yarn and needles out, I may as well keep going. I think I know a few people who will appreciate these. This time, I using a checkerboard stitch, 5 knit stitches, 5 purl stitches, 6 rows, then alternating the knit and purl stitches. I’m really liking how this one’s working up, too.

faceclothsx2

The soap in the picture, incidentally, is the Java Jumpstart soap, one of my favourites (who am I kidding? They’re all my faves!). This one has the most amazing scent and so far, everyone who smells it, wants it.

And speaking of soap, I did a bit of experimenting last night. I’ve been seeing some amazing pictures and videos of something called a Taiwan Swirl (google it and you’ll see why I’ve been blown away). I used two colours (does uncoloured count as a colour?), natural and ultramarine blue and poured alternating sections of each. Then, with a chopstick, the colours are swirled together to form a pattern. Here’s how it looked after I’d finished the swirling…

Taiwan swirl

I chose not to add any scent to this one because I wanted to see how it turned out. If/when I make another swirled soap, I will definitely add some scent to it. To be honest, it takes almost as much time and thought to decide what scent to use as it does to plan and make the soap. It’s one of the reasons most of my soaps aren’t scented. That, and the fact that I don’t care for perfumed things on or near my face.

This morning, I took the soap from the mold; it’s still too soft to cut but I anticipate that I’ll be able to cut it tomorrow. I am really eager to see how the swirls look inside the soap.

Taiwan swirl2

Normally, I cut my soaps in about nine bars, straight down. In this case, the recommendation is that you first cut about four bars across the mold, then cut each of those bars horizontally. That way, the swirls you see on the top become the sides of the bar. If that sounded confusing, just wait for the pictures.

Back to where we started… knitting. The weather here definitely has autumn overtones. Mornings and evenings have that unmistakable coolness that comes with the changing of the season. Another sign that autumn is on its way is the fact that John’s been whining about not having slippers to wear.

That should be remedied by the end of the weekend. I started his slippers last February; they’re almost done. I think I only need to work one more sole, then put them together and felt them. I’m making a point of getting them done and off my plate.

slippers to finish

Then, I can start on a pair for me!

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

And The Winner Is…

First… to keep everything completely open… a screen shot of the names of all those who commented on this blog to date.

shawl draw

As you can see, there are twenty-three names. Then, I went to the website Random.org in order to choose the winner of the Metalouse Shawl.

random1

I input the numbers and asked John to hit the “Generate” button.

And the winner is…

the winner

Joyce, the Metalouse Shawl is yours!

All I need from you is your address so I can send it off to you.

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Knitting | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Happy Valentine’s Day

pink, white and red candied heart sprinkles

Wishing all my old friends (from the original Strings ‘n Things blog) and new friends (from this blog) a very happy Valentine’s Day. May your day be filled with love and good things.

I just wanted to let you know that today is the final day for posting a comment that would get your name included in the draw for the Metalouse (aka Hamburger) shawl.

metalouse4 Tomorrow (Friday), we will draw a name using a random number generator. I haven’t quite decided how to to it in such a way as to make it totally and completely impartial. I’m thinking of asking one of my co-workers (or John) to go to a random number generator website and have her (or him) fill in the numbers without her (or him) seeing my database of names. To keep everything open and above board, I think I’ll take a screen shot of the database so that nothing can change. Sound fair?

Remember, if you’d like in on a chance to win this shawl, just leave a comment anywhere on this blog. You’re automatically entered. But you only have today to enter!

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Knitting | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Stitched!

Yesterday turned out to be quite a productive day! I made a tote bag, and a clutch purse, painted my nails, and then got bored and went to bed early. Oh, and I went for a short walk, something I do intend to do more of once my poor old knee gets better (smacked it on the corner of my desk at work… twice… same knee… hurt like…. well, you know!)

The tote bag was made over two days, actually. On Saturday, I put together the base of the bag and sewed the outer bag to the base. Yesterday, I made the inner liner and put it all together.

I don’t know if it was me (probably was) or the pattern instructions but it didn’t come together easily. The outer bag did but the inner bag certainly gave me some challenges. Even though it was cut to the same size as the outer bag, it was smaller than the outer bag and I had to fiddle with it to get it to fit. Next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll cut the inner and outer bags at the same time. That should guarantee they’ll fit. I’ll also be putting it together in a slightly different order than the author did in the tutorial. All in all, though, I love this bag and it will be living in my purse (which needs cleaning out…. or replacing).

In case you want to make your own pocket tote, you can find the tutorial over at Sew Mama Sew!

Once that was out of the way, I decided to try my hand at another little sewing project I found on Pinterest. This one is a gathered clutch purse. Again, though I like the finished product, it didn’t come out exactly like the pictures on the blog. Was it me or the pattern? Probably me.  I did catch one mistake I made; the lining pieces were to be 5.5 x 9″. When I started piecing everything together, I realized I’d cut the lining pieces 5 x 9″. When you have two pieces of lining that need to be the same size as the outside, two pieces that are 1/2″ short makes your lining 1″ too small. That’s huge! There was also one part of the tutorial that I didn’t quite understand; that resulted in the zipper looking a little different than in the original post.

clutch

 

clutch2

I really like it, though, and I can see myself making a few more of these as gifts. Again, I would probably change the method of making this just a little next time.

With my ever-growing stash of fun fabrics, I can see myself having a lot of fun with fabric choices. Want to make one for yourself? You can find the tutorial over at Noodle-head.com.

Incidentally, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that there are only 3 days left until the contest for the shawl closes. Comment on any post on this blog to be entered for your chance to win the Metalouse shawl.

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Finished, Sewing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sneak Peek

Well, the Hamburger…. um… Metalouse Shawl is off the needles. I finished it around 11:00 p.m. last night so I’ve decided to give you a sneak peek.

Metalouse_Feb

It has not been blocked yet (that will happen this weekend) and I must tell you that I’m liking it a whole lot more now that it’s off the needles and draped over my favourite chair. Once it’s all blocked and looking pretty (and had it’s official portrait taken), I’ll post all the details. For now, though…

The contest closes in exactly one week. February 14 is the last day to enter the giveaway. And, to refresh your memory, all you need to do for your chance to win this shawl is to leave a comment on the blog. Your comment can be on any post, but it must be a comment. That’s it.

I will choose the winner on Friday, Feb. 15; all names are being entered into an Excel spreadsheet and I will use an online number generator to choose the winning entry.

Care to share your opinion?

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Finished, Knitting | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

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