Knitting

It’s Been a Busy Weekend!

There are times my weekends are so busy that I look forward to my work week. Right now, at about 4:30 on Monday evening, I’m almost feeling that way. I said almost, okay? I’ve had a very productive weekend, though it didn’t feel that way at times. It was relaxing but, in looking back, I managed to get a lot done.

Just today, I finished knitting the pieces for one of another pair of slippers; this time it’s The Options Slipper pattern, not a freebie but a comfy looking slipper, another one of Kris Basta’s designs. The pieces knit up quickly and I like how the finished slipper looks. I’ll knit all the pieces before I sew mine together.

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This weekend, I managed to finish two pairs of slippers, knitted one of a pair, and almost finished knitting John’s felted clogs. I was hoping to have them finished today but won’t quite make it. I have one more sole to knit then seam together before I can felt them. I could finish them tonight but I have a little bit of a headache and don’t want to push it. Besides, the weather’s turned mild again and slippers aren’t quite as important as they were last weekend, when the temperatures were well below freezing.

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In addition to all the knitting, I put together a beef stew for tonight’s dinner and for leftovers this week. Leftover stew, with dumplings, makes a great workday lunch…. tasty and filling. I also made a loaf of Sourdough Whole Wheat and Rye bread, made with some of the discard starter that’s been waiting to be used. It turned out amazingly well, considering I didn’t have some of the ingredients the recipe called for. Seriously, I KNOW I have caraway and anise seeds somewhere in this house. Do you think I could find them? Anyway, the bread turned out really well, very tasty and should make some good sandwiches this week (if John doesn’t eat it all while I’m at work). I’ll definitely make this bread again.

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The stew turned out really well this time, too, better than my usual stew. I don’t use a recipe but this time I did things a little differently than I usually do, added a few ingredients I don’t normally add. Like what, you ask? Well, I threw in a little of my homemade apple cider vinegar and some tomato sauce. I don’t normally add those but I know that vinegar can help to break down the connective tissue in beef. There isn’t enough there that you can taste it, just a tablespoon or two. I thought the tomato might boost the beef flavour (again, just a tablespoon or two) and I was right. I can taste the tomato but it isn’t overwhelming, just an accent. All that’s left is to make the dumplings.

I had planned on making some body butter to help combat dry winter skin but, when I looked at what the ingredients were going to cost, I decided to buy a ready made, locally produced body butter. Once I got home, I indulged in a lovely, hot, candle lit bath. It was so relaxing, so enjoyable, and the scent of the new body butter so relaxing (it contains jasmine and ylang ylang in addition to a few other essential oils)… I might just have to have another bath tonight.

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Categories: Baking, Blogging, bread, Cooking, Finished, Kitchen, Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slippers

With cooler weather upon us, and still some snow on the ground, slippers seem to have become the project of the month. I have two pairs on the go, John’s felted clogs and a pair of house slippers.

The Bosnian/Siberian slippers are off the needles; all that remains is the weaving in of ends. That’s so much fun…. not. It’s one of those little jobs that only, really, takes a few minutes but it’s tedious. I’m really pleased with the slippers, though. They’re colourful and they’re cute.

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Here you can see a bit more of how they’re constructed. They’re worked from the top down and once the upper foot is at the required length, the sole is worked in short rows to the back of the heel.

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The short rows continue up the back of the heel, picking up stitches along both edges. It’s a pretty ingenious method of knitting them, really. The garter stitch fabric feels cushy and I love the contrast between the multi-coloured yarn and the blue.

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If you do decide to make these, there’s one minor change I would make; instead of using  straight needles, I’d recommend using a circular needle. It has more give. As you can see, there’s quite a bend in the knitting. The center point becomes a little awkward to work on straight needles; that said, it’s definitely doable, just easier on circulars.

I’ve also started another pair of slippers for the basket. This time it’s a pattern by Kris Basta, aka KrisKrafter. This is the Better Dorm Boot slipper pattern (available free through Ravelry). The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, held double.

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These are going to be thick. I have one off the needles already and just draping it over my foot feels so cozy and warm. I might find myself wearing these rather than putting them in the basket for guests. The pattern, again, is an easy one to follow and well written. Again, these can be knit on straight needles but I found that, after a while, I was feeling the weight in my hands (I’m not a kid anymore, yanno?) so I switched to a circular needle instead. That made a big difference for me.

John’s felted clogs are coming along, too. One slipper is off the needles and just needs the second sole finishing. If all goes as planned, he could be wearing them by the end of this weekend.

And, speaking of this weekend….

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Categories: Blogging, In Memoriam, Knitting, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Knitting Kind of Day

It really is a knitting kind of day. Winter has decided to come early to our area. This week, we received a few inches of the white stuff. Pretty but, in the words of a much younger Ethan, I no like it. Night time temperatures have been hovering around -10ºC, with daytime temperatures around -1ºC.

When the temperatures are like that, it’s good to get your hands into wool. John desperately needs a new pair of slippers… again. I’ve been making him slippers almost yearly for a few years now. As long as he likes them, I’ll keep making them. This year, we’re going with a heathery brown with burgundy trim. I bought the yarn, then asked his opinion. Thankfully, he likes the combo.

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The pattern I’m using, as usual, is the Fibretrends Felted Clog pattern by Bev Galeskas, AC-33. I had to purchase the pattern because I can’t find the one I originally bought. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere but, I must say, the new version of the pattern, printed on white rather than the turquoise they used to print on, is much easier to read and follow.

At this point, I have the first sole worked, ready to start on the upper part of the slipper. It does take some concentration to knit these, which is why I only completed the sole last night. After all, drinking a glass or two of wine while knitting isn’t terribly conducive to concentration. Better safe than sorry. As the lottery corporation ads say, “Know your limit. Play within it.”

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The last pair I made… now in tatters.

I’ve also decided that we should have some house slippers handy for when Kristen and the kids (and/or whoever else) come to visit. The floors here can be chilly and, obviously, we really don’t want people leaving wet, snowy boots on in the house. A basket of slippers near the door would be a good thing. I do have a few pairs here but they’re old and they’re wearing out.

I set out to find a pattern. I didn’t want anything difficult; no felting because those are made to fit specific feet; as little sewing as possible; something appealing because no one wants to wear ugly slippers. I mean, seriously, would you wear ugly slippers?

In my Ravelry search, I came across a few patterns based on a Russian/Bosnian slipper. I downloaded three versions of the pattern and drove across town to Michaels to buy some inexpensive acrylic yarn (I want to be able to throw these slippers into the washing machine as needed without worrying about shrinkage). I came home with three skeins, one variegated and two solid colours, navy blue and dark green.

Then, last night, while John was napping, I cast on for the first slipper, in the small size for testing purposes. By the time bedtime came around, I had one slipper finished.

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Ends still need to be woven in

I’m impressed with the pattern. The whole slipper is knit in one piece on straight needles, although I did switch to a circular about half way through because the increase area at the top of the foot creates a 90º angle that bunches up a bit on straight needles. There’s no sewing up at all, only weaving in a few ends. And they’re cute. I’d wear these if my feet were cold (I like my Crocs with woolen socks) and someone offered me a pair to warm my toes.

The pattern I used is Slip Stitch Slippers by Nailya Plaskey. It’s well written, easy to follow, and turned out very well. The only small change I made was in the heel area. The sole is worked on 11 stitches from the toe to the heel; for the heel area, I decreased gradually from 11 stitches to 7 stitches, only because ankles are narrower than heels and I think it may help the slippers hug better. We’ll see.

Now, breakfast and tidying up. Then…… Knit on!

Categories: Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Flying Time

No, I won’t be flying anywhere any time soon. It’s time that’s flying. Far too quickly. Do you realize it’s almost February?? How the heck did that happen? That endless spiral of hour following hour, day following day, week following week just seems to suck us all in, doesn’t it? Before we even realize it, another month has gone by. And what do I have to show for this past month? Not much.

Knitting has been sporadic at best. To be honest, I’m not even missing the needles. Yes, I pick up the Loop shawl occasionally, finish a row or two but, honestly, the satisfaction level I usually feel while knitting just isn’t there right now. I know the urge will return. It always does. Right now just doesn’t seem to be the time for knitting.

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I’ve started doing a little sketching again; and when I say a little, I really do mean that. Doodles have been popping up on my desk calendar at work. Little scribbles have been showing up on my desk at home. Apparently, my pencils have been calling and I’ve been hearing the siren call, picking up a pencil. It’s a start. And it’s about time.

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I’ve also been a little obsessed with macarons for the last couple of weeks. These little French delicacies are so yummy and so finicky, especially when you have an oven that’s way hotter than the dial shows and bakes unevenly.

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Lemon Macarons – These look pretty good but they’re hollow inside.

I’ve been trying to bake THE perfect batch and, after three or four batches, I haven’t done it yet. Maybe today, right? It’s definitely been an enjoyable, and tasty, learning experience. Even a “failed” batch tastes amazing. If you’d like to read more about my “experiments”, check out my cooking/baking blog here.

Around the yard, the kids have been skating more and getting much more comfortable. Ethan no longer needs, or wants, something to hold on to. He’s even been practicing with a hockey stick and puck! Trinity has finally gotten over her disgust of the figure skates (and the “pickers”) and was trying some “moves” last weekend (until she fell hard on her hip). Temperatures right now are hovering around the freezing mark and the ice is still great. It would be nice to see it used a little more often but, in the meantime, we’re having fun. And, no, I have not gotten back on to the ice.

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Apparently, John DID get on the ice this past week, with Ethan and his friend, but there’s no photographic evidence to support his claim. I’ll have to verify it with Ethan.

To be honest, I’m making it sound like January’s been a downer. It really hasn’t been. It’s just been a quiet month and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a time for quiet, a time for rest, a time for restoration. It’s just going by far too quickly!

Categories: Baking, Just stuff, Kitchen, Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still Knitting… and More

Yesterday, I ended by writing that, yes, there has been knitting. I wish I could say that John’s cardigan is finished but that just wouldn’t be true. I’ll be picking it up again soon, though, now that sweater weather is really here; it just isn’t the kind of project I can work on in the summer (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself).

However, I did come across an interesting shawl pattern that I just couldn’t resist. The pattern is called “Loop” by Casapinka. It’s a simple shawl with an interesting stitch, almost mindless knitting. It is constructed mainly of stocking stitch with a textured stitch row every 8 rows.

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I’m using KnitPicks’ Chroma Fingering weight yarn in two colourways; the main yarn is Fogbank, shades of grey and a little bit of brown and the coloured one is Carnival. I’m loving the yarn (70% superwash wool, 30% nylon); it’s soft and squishy and will, I’m sure, make a shawl that will be an instant favourite.

Right now, I’m just over half way and I’ve only been working on it for about a week and a half. As I said, the body of the shawl is almost mindless knitting. I can work on it while watching tv. The coloured rows take a little more concentration, especially on the wrong side but, if you’re looking for a relatively simple knitting project, this would definitely fit the bill. One bonus about the pattern? The designer has included a row and stitch chart to help you keep your place, including a column to check off completed rows.

Knitting isn’t all I’ve been doing, obviously. A few months ago, I decided that it’s time to start replacing some of my aging baking and cooking supplies…. baking tins, kitchen implements…. that kind of thing. As you may remember, I now have new muffin tins, cake pans and a few other things. There are still a few things I’ll be replacing (as I come across things that have passed their best before date… so to speak).

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been two things that I’ve wanted to have back in my kitchen or have in my kitchen… period. One thing I’ve never had but have wanted is a cookie press. As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I love to bake. A cookie press has never been in my kitchen but my mother had one years and years ago; I’ve been looking for one but I’m being picky. Yesterday, I went to my favourite kitchen store and looked at their (very meagre) selection. They had two; both looked and felt rather flimsy. If I’m going to get one, I want a good one. I’m keeping my eyes open.

Years ago, I had a krumkake iron, a Nordicware product that would be heated over an element on the stove. Krumkake is a Norwegian waffle cookie, very delicate but very tasty cookie. They can be served flat, rolled into a cigar shape, or formed into a cone and filled with cream. In Holland, they’re called “kniepertjes” (translated? Clothes pegs) (pronounced knee-pert-yes) and were a favourite of everyone in my family. When I left, I didn’t take it with me for some reason. I’ve always wanted another one.

I now have one.

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This is a Chef’s Choice Krumkake Express iron and I love it! It’s so much easier to use than the old, manual iron I had before.

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These are, believe it or not, gluten free. I tried two recipes and decided my first try would be gluten free because, of course, Kristen is gluten intolerant. It worked very well and, honestly, you cannot tell that there’s anything different about these.

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The kids loved these, especially when filled with vanilla whipped cream! For that matter, so did the adults. I also made a batch with white flour, following a Sons of Norway recipe; I was told to bring them to work because there are enough baked goods in this house already and we don’t need the added weight. The people at work thank you, John.

Categories: Baking, Cooking, John's Sweater, Kitchen, Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Odds & Ends

It’s Saturday again. Why does it feel that the weekdays crawl by but the weekends fly? It isn’t just me, is it? Anyway, today is a day of odds and ends.

First, over the course of the last two weeks, John’s had cataract surgery on both eyes. His eyesight had been diminishing rapidly and his ophthalmologist decided it was time. The first eye was done October 25 and seemed to go well but, with only his regular glasses, his eyes had to work pretty hard and he was often uncomfortable – tired and headachy. Not unexpected. This past Thursday, the second eye was done. Now, he has to get used to seeing the world in a whole new way and it’s shaken him up a bit. He will still need glasses for distance but he can see very well (perhaps too well) close up. He’s suddenly seeing all the dust and grime that, unfortunately, has built up around here.  Hmmm… with his time at work (gardening) coming to an end for this season, perhaps that’s not a bad thing??

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Last weekend, we decided to have roast beef for Sunday dinner. Normally, when we have a roast beef dinner, one of our staple sides is, of course, Yorkshire puddings. However, recognizing that Kristen is gluten intolerant, I wanted to try something different. I’d also picked up a beautiful head of cauliflower on my trip to the market. I went hunting on Pinterest and found what looked like an interesting recipe… for cauliflower cake. The recipe incorporated one whole head of cauliflower and three eggs.

The recipe is one from Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli born British chef and I can heartily recommend it. John has been talking about that cake all week! Leftovers warm up beautifully and, with a bit of gravy, you’ll never miss the Yorkshire puddings.

It does call for one cup of flour but I substituted a cup of gf flour and it worked just fine.

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The photo is not mine; it comes from the blog I found through Pinterest. Mine looked very similar though (I thought I had taken a picture of it; I didn’t). The recipe can be found on Ciao Chow Bambina‘s lovely blog.

This past week was also a week of surprises in the mail. I came home from work Tuesday to find two small packages on my computer desk. It isn’t that I wasn’t expecting anything, I was. I was involved in a soap swap on Ravelry so I knew there would be a couple of packets coming. My son had also let me know that a couple of bottles of essential oils were coming my way by mail so I knew there were parcels on the way. It’s still a nice little surprise to walk in the back door and see parcels waiting for me. Another parcel was waiting for me when I got home on Thursday!

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This one was the first to arrive, from a Ravelry friend in Pennsylvania. The white flower bar of soap is a brine soap; the bar is a citrus soap; both have been aged for more than a year and, so, should be really good soaps. I’ll put them into rotation once the current bars in use are finished.

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The second parcel came to me from Michigan and included some Peeps chocolates. John had never heard of Peeps before; I had but I wasn’t aware that Peeps also made chocolates. I’ve had to hide the chocolates as there’s a chocoholic in our house… and it isn’t me. The bar at the left is scented with Honey & Leather and the bar on the right is made with powdered peanut butter and Peanut Stout scented.

It’s always nice to try someone else’s hand made soaps and I’m very much looking forward to trying all of these.

There, I’ve rambled on long enough. I could go on and tell you what’s on my needles (yes, there has been knitting) but I’ll leave that for another day.

Categories: Baking, Health, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last Day of 2015

I suppose the last day of the year is a time for reflection on what has passed and looking forward to a new start but I’m not going to do that. It’s been a year I’m happy to put behind us. Yes, there’s been plenty of good but there has also been heartache. I would rather concentrate on the now.

It will likely be a quiet New Year’s Eve for us. Kristen and the kids will probably not be here as she’s come down with some kind of bug. I’ll try to stay up until midnight to help ring in the new year but, realistically, I rarely stay up that late. Part of today will be spent making olie bollen (fritters) and I may make some soap but I’m not even sure about that yet.

I do know I will be doing some knitting… have already, in fact. John’s cardigan is coming along, if slowly. The back is finished and I’m working on the fronts simultaneously, sort of. I started with the right side and have it almost to the armhole shaping. Then I decided it would be a good idea to work on the left side as well, and get it to the same point, then work the shaping at the same time. That way, the shaping will be the same, at the same time.

Incidentally, the soap making thing? It’s really coming along. I’ve been making, and selling, quite a bit of soap. Christmas, it seems, is a good time for soap sales. This week, I even made shaving soap… real, use a brush, soft, creamy, shaving soap. It’s awesome!

Anyway, I need to get this day going. To all of you, from all of us, we wish you a very happy 2016. I’ll borrow an image, posted by an online friend, that perfectly describes what I wish for all of you.

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Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Review | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sun Still Rises

I’ve been spending some time working on John’s cardigan this week. I think I’m making pretty good progress.

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I still need to work about two inches until the shoulder shaping. I’ve also been making more soap. This week’s batch is another batch of the BNA Blackstrap Ale soap. I’m really pleased with how my soaps are turning out. They look good (in my very humble opinion); they are not strongly scented (I don’t like overwhelmingly scented soaps); they lather (that’s the important part!).

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The colourant in this one is, once again, cocoa for the bottom part and titanium dioxide to make the foam, along with a hanger swirl to make the “foam” swirl.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post. What does it have to do with knitting and soap? Nothing, really. It is, however, relevant to my family’s experiences this past week. It’s a reminder not to focus on the difficult times, a reminder that there is another day coming, a day that will bring new beginnings, new experiences, even, perhaps, joy. Right now, joy is difficult to imagine.

My family is hurting this week with a pain that will never fully go away. On Tuesday afternoon, my eldest grandson, Zachary, was found dead in his apartment. I will not go into details other than to say he and his roommate were both found deceased. Until the cause of his death is known, we’ll have to wait for a funeral. Please, if you pray, keep us in your prayers. Both his parents are, justifiably, devastated. We all have a hole in our hearts that will never completely heal but we do know that sun will rise tomorrow and our lives will go on.

Zach

Categories: Blogging, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

So… Colour Me an Idiot

John’s cardigan is coming along. I worked on it for a bit last night and came to a realization.

Let me back up a bit. Before I cast on any project, I choose the size I’ll knit and circle or highlight the numbers for that size I’m knitting, usually as I go along. I did the same with this cardigan. Except….. sigh…

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I’m up to the arm scye shaping and my stitch count was out. Apparently, after 17.5″, I cast on for the wrong size, one size larger than the size I had intended to knit. It’s only a few stitches difference and I don’t think it will really matter a lot but, really??

I’ve been knitting how long?? (Since I was seven, thank you very much.)

Did I mention I’d already knit seventeen and one half inches? I am NOT frogging it. John may have room to grow but from what I’ve already checked, it will fit him just fine.

What was I thinking?? Or maybe I did intend to cast on for that size and I circled the wrong numbers.

I think I’ll go make some soap.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Just Another Weekend

It’s been… hmm… I was going to say that it’s been a quiet weekend so far but it hasn’t, really. On Friday, our kitchen baseboard heater decided to stop working… again. It does this every year – works for a week or two, then stops working for the rest of the year. We’ve been lucky enough to have an extra space heater that we’ve been using but it has decided it’s usefulness had expired this year and has now become nothing but garbage.

We let the landlord know about the heat situation and, on Friday night, K showed up to check the heater, the wiring, and whatever else he could determine. Yesterday, he and the landlord came by with a new heater to install but there seems to be some kind of an issue with wiring so, for the moment, we have no heat in the kitchen. Thankfully, it’s not yet cold enough that it’s an issue but it has made for a busy kitchen. By the time I returned from my shopping trip, there were three men and two dogs in my kitchen, with furniture all over the room, making it something of an obstacle course.

Later, Kristen and the kids came by for a fire and some roasted marshmallows. They even brought “coloured fire”, some packets of chemicals that you throw into the fire to make some fun and funky colours. I think it would have been more effective if we’d waited until dark but it was fun anyway. After a few marshmallows each, Kristen suggested we all go out for dinner and she managed to talk John into it. After a bit of discussion, we ended up at the Mission Tap House; if you’re in Kelowna and looking for a decent place to go for a meal, try it; everyone enjoyed their meals. I was the only one with leftovers, only because I really wasn’t all that hungry, not because it wasn’t good.

I even managed to get a batch of soap made. I’ve been watching a video channel (Soaping 101) and she’s made a couple of videos in which she takes a popular brand of soap (in this case, Dove) and breaks down their ingredients, creates a formula and makes a copy. I decided to try her recipe, now that I have all the supplies on hand. I added a scent (ylang ylang – just a little bit) and a little bit of silk protein, just because I still have some.

NoDoveBefore we even left for dinner, I was able to remove the soap from the mold; it was still a bit warm but already quite hard. By the time we got home, I cut it. Had I waited until this morning, I think it might have been too hard to cut! Do you see the white flecks in the soap? That’s from the titanium dioxide I used to colour half the batter. It’s nothing but cosmetic, just a little bit of interest in an otherwise pure white bar.

It needs to cure for at least 3-4 weeks but I’m looking forward to trying this soap.

And, in case you’re wondering, yes, there has been knitting. I have about 12″ done on the back of John’s sweater and I’ve started the third ball of yarn. At this point, apart from 12″ of straight on knitting, there’s not much to see. Imagine the last picture, doubled, and you get the idea.

Today, the plan is to make another batch of the first soap I made, the Coconut Milk soap, my personal favourite so far. After that, it’s all up in the air but I do anticipate some progress on John’s sweater.

 

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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