Slippers

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).

HL1

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

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

Knit Happens

Sorry.. bad pun, I know. It’s true, though. Knit happens when you least expect it. I haven’t been doing much knitting lately at all. John’s slippers still aren’t done.

However, while perusing through patterns on Ravelry, I came across one that I thought I had the perfect yarn for. Turns out I was right.

001The yarn is King Cole Soft as Silk, 100% acrylic. The pattern is Baby’s Car Seat Blanket. Whether this remains car seat blanket sized or wrap sized remains to be seen. As written, I’m already one quarter of the way through the knitting. The lace pattern is an easy one to read and to remember. The yarn is a joy to work with. I don’t usually like acrylic but this one lives up to the name, soft as silk. It’s also knitting up very quickly as it’s worked on 4.5 mm needles.

Unfortunately, there won’t be much knitting time today. I’ll be picking up the grandkids and a few tomato plants (not necessarily in that order) today. The plan is to do a bit of gardening, tidy up some of the beds, plant a couple of tomato plants along the driveway, plant some garlic in pots, and then to roll out, roll up, and bake the croissants that have been resting in the fridge since yesterday. It will be a busy but productive day.

 

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Garden, Knitting, Slippers | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Nice Quiet Family Kind of Day

It’s a nice, quiet day around here. Trinity, Ethan, and one of the neighbour’s girls are here, all of them on their individual tablets (mine’s safely out of reach); John’s reading on his Kobo and here I am, blogging. It’s Family Day here in BC, a statutory holiday for almost everyone; because a lot of their clients are in the U.S., Kristen’s new job celebrates American holidays. She’s working today, which is why the kids are here.

Even though we’re all on our individual pieces of the electronic world, I have done a few real world things today. I went shopping before picking the kids up from Kristen’s. Once here, while they were all (actually) playing, I baked a cake for tonight’s dessert. We’ll be having a roasted chicken with potatoes and vegetables, a favourite around here.

Persian love cake

Persian Love Cake (not quite like the picture in the recipe)… that’s rose scented, saffron coloured, whipped cream, by the way. The cake is cardamon and lemon flavoured.

It’s been a lovely long weekend and I’m loathe to see it end, to be honest. I still have a lot of stuff I’d like to do this weekend and I know it won’t happen. I’ve started another couple of knitting projects (big surprise, right?). I need more time to work on them. What are they? Well, I’m glad you asked… not much in the way of pictures, I’m afraid.

I’ve started another pair of knitted clogs for John; I know HE’LL wear them………. out. This time, they’re navy with charcoal gray soles. I think that, this time, I may add some leather to the soles; hopefully, they’ll last a little longer than they usually do.

In addition to his slippers, I’ve also, finally, started a tea cozy. I’ve been meaning to make one for years and now that I have a four-cup Brown Betty, it’s time. For the cozy, I’m using some of yarn I had in my stash… forest green and purple.

Tea Cozy

Now, it’s time to relax for a while before dinner needs preparing. If the weather was nicer (it’s gray and damp here today but at least the snow has pretty much melted away), I’d shoo the kids outside to play and claim my comfy chair.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cooking, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

THOSE Days

Ever have those days where you seriously want to knit but absolutely just can’t? There’s no real reason you can’t but every time you sit in your favourite comfy chair and pick up something you’ve been working on for a while and seriously look at it, the question forms in your mind… why am I doing this? Yeah, THOSE days!

Well, I’m having way too many of those right now.

Square

I’ve been working on Ethan’s slippers; then, while the kids were here last week (for the week), I noticed that he hasn’t been at all bothered by the coolness of the floors, even first thing in the morning. There was only one morning that he asked me to help him put his socks on. Trinity? Well, her feet were chilly but she found a pair of knitted slippers in a basket, put those on and was quite comfortable. Why am I bothering to make felted slippers for them?

barn_medium

Click for the pattern

 

Then, when Ethan came inside after playing in the snow, I realized how painfully pathetic his Dollar Store gloves were for playing in the white stuff, I started a pair of woolen mittens for him. After a day or two, I discovered his ski-type mittens in his back pack. Why didn’t I know they were there? He really doesn’t need another pair of mittens.

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Click fort the pattern

 

I found a really cute pattern for a reading rest for my new tablet (did I tell you I’d bought myself a tablet??), started it, then found a pin on Pinterest for a fantastically simple tablet stand. It involves a metal book end (I just happened to have an extra one) and two binder clips, which I also just happened to have (well, I have one but it still works). Why bother knitting one when this one works just as well, put together in a fraction of the time?

It’s become a little frustrating, truth be told. I want to knit. I really do. Unfortunately, this week I’ve spent more time frogging than knitting.

I think I’ll go cook something instead.

Categories: Blogging, Knitting, No Knitting, Slippers, Socks | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

December

And suddenly, it’s December! We’ve had snow, we’ve had freezing rain. We’ve had cold temperatures (down to about -15ºC); it’s warming up a bit now (at about 3ºC right now). Both John and I have been hit with our first colds of the season; mine kept me home for two days. We’re on the mend now, thankfully.

snow bikes

With winter weather comes the urge for knitting. I’ve really been bitten by the knitting bug this winter, more than I have all year. I suppose the break from knitting was a necessary one. Coming back to it now, I’m finding myself enjoying it more than I have in what feels like a very long time.

This past week, I’ve kept my needles busy. One of Ethan’s slippers is finished… well, the knitting of one slipper is finished. The second is almost half finished. They won’t be completely finished, of course, until the felting process is complete.

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The little piece of purple yarn is there as a marker for joining the cuff to the foot. Once felted, these slippers will look like high top running shoes, complete with laces. Once Ethan’s are finished, I’ll make Trinity’s and won’t felt them until the kids are around to watch the process.

I also started, and finished a small project for a friend with a baby. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that scarves on little ones can be a hazard and the use of scarves is no longer encouraged for infants. When the weather’s cold, though, little necks need to stay warm, too. I’ve always been of the belief that if it’s cold enough for you, as a parent, to pull on a sweater or wear a jacket, hat, scarf, and mittens, you should be dressing your child accordingly as well.

To that end, I went hunting on the Drops (Garnstudio) web site and found a cute little pattern for a neck scarf that ties at the back.

The pattern is Henrik VIII (click the title to see the pattern). It uses less than one ball of yarn and would have been finished in one evening if my cold-clouded brain had comprehended the increase row near the end. If you check out the pattern pictures, you’ll see that it covers the neck nicely and looks almost like a dickey. It should definitely keep any cold winds or gusts off of the recipient’s neck.

The yarn I used was some leftover Sandnes Garn Lanett Baby Ull, 100% superwash wool on 2.25 mm straight needles.

I also decided this week that I’m going to knit another pair of socks for myself… maybe. I’m not sure I have any more of the yarn I started with so this may end up just being an experiment that will be frogged once I see how it fits after turning the heel.

red socks

We shall see. For now, it’s simply mindless knitting. I’ve been toying with a few ideas. I may knit this one up to the heel, work the heel in a different colour, then work the cuff in a third colour. Hopefully, working it like that might leave me with enough yarn to work the foot of the second sock in the same way. I only have one 50 gm. ball of the red yarn, unfortunately. I bought it quite some time ago so I doubt I’ll be able to find another ball of it; even if I did, I don’t remember what brand it is as there’s no tag or label with it. I do know that it’s a superwash DK wool and is very soft and cushy. If I do manage to make a matching sock, they will definitely be nice and warm. I like nice and warm!

Before I end this post, I have to do a bit of bragging. It’s not bragging about myself; I have to brag about my daughter. She’s been crocheting for some time now but has never quite picked up on how to read a pattern; well, she sure can now!

owl hats

Ethan doesn’t look very happy, does he? He wasn’t feeling well when Kristen picked the kids up from school and, shortly after this picture was taken, he threw up. He does love his hat… really! Kristen has been keeping her crochet hooks flying and I have convinced her to join Ravelry. Once she saw how easy it is to look up all kinds of crochet patterns, she was hooked (yes, bad pun, I know… couldn’t resist).

There’s more I could write about but this post is, I think, long enough. I’ll save the rest for another post. For now, I’d best get going. I made a big pot of pea soup last night and I’m planning on baking a couple kinds of bread today – Raisin bread and another couple loaves of white bread for the freezer. As well, there’s laundry to do and Christmas decorating to be put up, and…… well, you get the picture.

Categories: Knitting, Slippers, Socks, The Weather, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ever Onward

In spite of having a cold and feeling rather yuck, yesterday was a productive day. Trinity’s socks are finished and have gone home to live with her; she’s happy. Ethan’s slippers have been worked on and, if I do say so myself, are looking pretty good.

slippers1

The colours work well together and, being a Bev Galeskas pattern, the knitting is going well. Bev’s patterns are well-written and, as long as you can read, are easy to follow. I’ll probably have one slipper done today and the second will be started.

I don’t know how well you can see the needles in the picture but they’re square. I’ve never worked with square needles before. Here’s a close-up.

Square

 

They are (blast it, lost the packaging already!), if I remember correctly, Knit Pro needles, size 6.5 mm. I’m still not sure whether I like them or not. The price was right and I needed them so I bought them and will use them for the slippers. Will I use them again? Time will tell.

We’ve had company this week and Zelda brought me a gift… professional bread pans. She knows I like to bake bread. And when I say “professional”, I mean bakery bread pans professional… old.

Bread pans

This is one half of a 4-loaf set and I absolutely love them! I had the time and desire to put them to use.

rising

That’s one batch of Halifax County White Bread. That’s the title in the book… why it’s Halifax County White, I don’t know; it’s nothing more than a basic white bread, really.

baked

I am more than happy with the results. The consensus around here, from Ethan on up, was that the bread is delicious and tastes like more! As soon as Ethan walked in the door, with the scent of freshly baked bread permeating everything, he complained about being hungry. I think he had four slices!

As a thank you, I gave Zelda & Ian one of the loaves; there’s about a quarter of the other loaf left. I’ll be baking another batch later today… for the freezer.

texture

 

In case you’re interested, the recipe is from a little book I picked up years ago, “Great Bread Every Time” by Marilyn Barbe. As I recall, every recipe I’ve made from that book has been a success. I am finding, though, that I don’t need nearly the amount of flour that the recipes call for. That probably has to do with our elevation. I’ve made enough bread in my life, though, to know when the texture is just right. For example, the above recipe called for 9-10 cups of flour; if I had used all of that, the bread would have come out as hard as a brick. I only needed 6-7 cups of flour to get the right consistency and elasticity required.

After yesterday’s success on the bread-making front, I think it may be time to start a batch of sourdough bread again.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Finished, Knitting, Slippers, Socks | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fish Lips and Felted Slippers

Well, the knitting bug is back. I’m not going crazy but I certainly am back to enjoying the process. I’ve just cast on a pair of slippers for Ethan, my 5 year old grandson. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that our suite has ceramic tile floors. In the summer, that is a definite bonus as the floors are always nice and cool. In the winter, however, the floors are always freaking cold!

The kids are very good about taking their shoes off when they come in but with the floors as cold as they are sometimes, I don’t like the thought of little feet getting frosty. Hence, slippers must be had.

A few weeks ago, I took Trinity and Ethan to our local yarn store, the Art of Yarn, and went through a book of slipper patterns. Both agreed that the Fiber Trends felt boot slipper pattern (CH-7) would be perfect. We looked at the appropriate yarns and they each chose their colours. Last weekend, I picked up the yarn and needles and last night, I cast on for Ethan’s slippers. This morning, I realized I had started on the wrong size so I’ve frogged the little bit I’d knit and started over.

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I’m really looking forward to the felting process, which I intend to do when the kids are here. I think they’ll enjoy the process.

Now, in the matter of John’s socks. I’ll be going stash diving in a little while. I know I have other grey yarn that’s similar to the yarn I used.

Sandie left an interesting comment on yesterday’s post and I’ve followed up on  it. She referred me to the Fish Lips Kiss  Heel… try saying that three times real fast!… and I looked it up on Ravelry. It looked interesting so I splurged. I spent a whole $1.17 cdn and have downloaded the pattern, all 16 pages of it! Wow! That’s a lot of description.

I will definitely be trying that pattern/method. I think I’ll start with a pair of socks for Ethan before going big and making another pair for John. I’d rather knit a pair of socks for 7″ feet than for 12″ feet, especially since it’s a new-to-me pattern. When they arrive later today, I’ll start following the directions for measuring Ethan’s feet; we may even go stash diving together to see if any of the sock yarn I have meets his exacting standards.

If you’d like to check it out, you can find it on Ravelry. Just click and you should be taken directly there.

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

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