Posts Tagged With: Knitting

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.

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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

September Already

It seems that summer has taken its leave. The weather has suddenly turned cooler and wetter. That’s very good news for the British Columbia/Washington State fire situation; if I’m not mistaken, all of the fires burning around here are now under control and a campfire ban has been lifted. Our skies are clear of smoke; they’re not clear, though. It’s still overcast but it’s regular clouds, rain clouds, not smoke. This doesn’t mean winter’s on its way yet; September and October can still be very warm around here; it does mean that autumn crops are coming on strong! Apparently, the farmers growing pumpkins have them ripening far ahead of their usual season.

Around here, life is interesting. There have been a few changes around the yard, nothing I need to share but it is definitely more quiet (a welcome change, to be sure) around here.

Trinity and Ethan were here last night while Mom had a much needed night off. They’ve been (and are) outside with their roller blades, trying not to fall, and avoiding the rough patches on the road (we live on a fairly quiet street so I’m not worried). So far, there have been a few tears but no major injuries, thankfully.

One of my co-workers let me know this week that I’ve become obsessed with soap making; you know what? She’s right. I made another batch before I left for work yesterday, in addition to the batch I’d already made this week.

This is a soap from Anne L. Watson’s lovely little book “Milk Soapmaking”, which was available on Amazon at no charge. As the name of the soap suggests, it’s made with yogurt! I’m surprised at the array of ingredients that can be used in making soap.

Yogurt Parfait sliced

I wanted to be able to tell, at a glance, which soap is which, so I coloured this one with some blue colorant that I still had from my lotions and potions making days. I didn’t want a solid colour so I mixed some of the colorant with a bit of the oil and coloured half the soap batter, which I then swirled back into the uncoloured mixture before pouring into the mold. I love the result.

This one has also been scented. In this case, I used a blend that I’ve used in the past as part of a muscle rub – equal parts of ginger, juniper, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils. Now that it’s curing, the scent is amazing; the peppermint is definitely there and the remainder blend very nicely with the mint, making it an almost masculine scent.

The one I made yesterday is also from one of Anne L. Watson’s books, “Smart Soapmaking” (also free on Amazon). This one is the Almond Facial soap, made only with liquid oils (just how many people do you know who just happen to have fractionated coconut oil lying around?). I wasn’t sure what colour to make it because, again, I want to be able to tell at a glance which is which, and decided on pink and purple, simply because those are the other two colorants I have on hand.

Mermaid soap 1

This soap took a lot longer to solidify than any of the soaps I’ve made so far; I think it’s because of the fact that there are no solid oils (fats or butters) in it. The colours are amazing and it makes me think of a mermaid’s tail, with the swirling pinks and purples that Trinity loves so much. Because the soap is still a touch sticky on the top, I decided to take it a step further.

Another item I have left from my lotion making days is some opalescent cosmetic grade glitter, very fine, very sparkly, and very Trinity! Before I let her cut it, I sprinkled some of the glitter on the soap and we now call it Mermaid Soap. The wavy cutter only adds to the mermaid feel, don’t you think?

Mermaid soap

As for my knitting, the face cloth is about two inches from being finished. I’m hoping to have it finished this weekend but we’ll be taking Kristen and the kids to the I.P.E. That stands for Interior Provincial Exhibition, the longest running exhibition in British Columbia. That will take care of tomorrow. Monday is Labour Day, though, and I’m off; perhaps I’ll have time to finish it then… and immediately cast on for another one.

Now, I’m rambling so I’d best go finish up the breakfast dishes and get this day going. Happy Labo(u)r Day to all!

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Categories: Blogging, Finished, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gift Knitting

As I mentioned yesterday, giving soap as a gift is nice but, really, there should be something to go along with the soap. Wouldn’t you agree?

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To that end, I found a ball of fingering weight cotton that I’d purchased at the thrift store a few years ago and decided to cast on for a face cloth. Now, this isn’t going to be your regular Cream ‘n Sugar cotton dish/face cloth. Oh no, this is, after all, fingering weight. And I’m working this face cloth on 2.25 mm circular needles. This is a work of love!

The stitch pattern is one I came up with years ago. As a matter of fact, I posted about it on my earlier blog, in 2007. You can see that post here.

How long will it take to knit this one face cloth? I have no idea but over the course of Saturday afternoon, I managed to knit approximately two inches (I figure it will need 8″ for sure), and that was with numerous breaks because of wrist pain. Let’s just put it this way – the person lucky enough to receive this face cloth had better appreciate it! 😉

If you’re interested, you can download the pattern by clicking the link: Waffle Face Cloth. I’ll also post a link to it on my new page…. Patterns. You’ll see it at the top right hand corner of this page.

Yesterday, I decided to do a little bit of experimenting seeing as I still had half a tub of tallow. I found a small batch recipe for experimenting with. There were three options on the page – 100% tallow soap, 100% lard soap, or 50/50 tallow and lard. I chose the latter option. Then, I started playing.

Instead of a water/lye mix, I chose to use some of the goat’s milk that I still have in the freezer. I also decided to colour one half of the soap with some FD & C yellow that I still have on hand from lotion making years ago and scented the yellow with lemon essential oil. To help with exfoliation, I also threw in a teaspoon or so of poppy seeds.

In the other half, I added about half a tablespoon of bentonite clay, which is supposed to help with creating later and helps to detoxify the skin (if you believe in all that).

LemonPoppyseed Soap

This was how it looked after pouring it all into the mold (it only filled half the mold, which is just what I wanted). Looks almost good enough to eat, doesn’t it? (Except for the fact that I can’t stand custard.)

I unmolded it this morning and cut it into slices a little later. The colour is darker than I had anticipated and will, I know, lighten up a bit but it still isn’t a pretty shade of yellow. The scent, however, is very nice, fresh and lemony.

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It will, I think, be a good wake up soap. Even though I’m tempted to try more soaps right now, it’s time to stop… at least for this week. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, a lot of researching and for someone who failed chemistry in high school, I’m finding it all very fascinating and there’s so much more I want to try.

Incidentally, I do intend to repost a bunch of my patterns in time. I’ve removed all of them from Ravelry because I simply don’t have the time or energy to make sure they’re 100% correct and/or answer all of the questions I get about them. However, I know that most of the patterns were fine but need reformatting… just to make them prettier. Eventually. 

Categories: Blogging, Cooking, Finished, Knitting, Making Soap | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Just A Little Bit Addicted

Ok, you could make the case that I’m just a little bit addicted to this whole soap making thing. In the past three weeks, I’ve made seven (yes, seven… what of it?) batches of handcrafted soap.

Let’s see… there’s Coconut Milk Soap, Castile Soap, Honey and Oat Soap, Lavender Goat’s Milk Soap, Shaving Soap, Java Jump Start, and, as of last night, Borax Soap. Just what is Borax Soap, you might ask?

Well, for one, it’s a pure white soap that contains borax (no surprise there) and beef tallow. Yes, you read that correctly… beef tallow. For those of you who might be scratching your heads wondering what beef tallow is, it’s just like lard (rendered… or melted… pork fat) except that it’s rendered beef fat. Just do a Google search for “beef tallow” and you’ll come up with all sorts of reasons it should be part of your life, whether ingesting it or putting it on your skin. It really is a healthy fat, especially if you’re getting grass fed beef fat.

Tallow soap is one of the hardest soaps you can make, not difficult… hard. It’s a beautiful snowy white and, apparently, lasts and lasts. I know it sure set up quickly. Trinity and I put the soap together after dinner last night and at about 1:30 a.m. (why, yes, I WAS still awake!), I took it out of the mold. When I got up this morning (at 6:30 a.m… that was a good night’s sleep…. not!), I cut it into bars and put it away to cure.

Tallow soap

My first impression when I unmolded it was that it looked like a giant block of lard. At this point, I could have already cut it and it had only been in the mold for about 5 hours.

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Borax Soap, in the cabinet for curing

I can’t tell you how good it feels when I peek into my spare room and, now, into this cabinet and see all this lovely soap just waiting to be used and shared.

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I’ve already started using (and sharing) some of the Coconut Milk Soap and I can report that I love it. It has a smooth creamy lather and feels really nice on the skin. Obviously, after only a couple of weeks, it’s still a bit soft and will benefit from sitting longer but I’m thrilled with it.

Part of the fun of making these soaps, too, is the learning process. In doing some reading, I’ve discovered that my Honey Oatmeal soap “gelled” too fast, almost “volcano-ing” (that’s when the saponification process goes too quickly, basically cooking the soap… from what I understand). That’s not a bad thing as it helps deplete the lye more quickly. I’ve already sampled a bit of this soap and can report that it’s very nice, too.

Of these, two are my soaps: the white one (see how white it is??) and the brown one (Honey and Oatmeal) to the left of it. The rest are soaps I've purchased.

Of these, two are my soaps: the white one (see how white it is??) and the brown one (Honey and Oatmeal) to the left of it. The rest are soaps I’ve purchased.

This morning John commented, “You’re making Christmas presents, right?” Um…. yes, I suppose so. I can’t just hand out bars of soap, though (can I?). So…. I decided that I should knit some face cloths. That would accomplish two things: one, I’ll have something to give with the bars of soap and two, I’ll be working down some of my cotton stash.

Stay tuned… I should have enough knitting done by tomorrow to have something to blog about.

 

Categories: Blogging, Finished, Just stuff, Making Soap | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Frogged

Well, the Little Arrowhead Cardi has been frogged. I did stop in at both yarn shops here in Kelowna on Saturday. Art of Yarn carries the Butterfly Super 10 cotton but the colour I need has, it seems, been discontinued and, therefore, no longer available. Kelowna Yarn and Needlecraft doesn’t carry it at all.

Considering I would need approximately three skeins, I decided I would be better off to frog it and use the yarn for something else. (Frogging, incidentally, for those of you who don’t knit, simply means taking your knitting apart, unravelling it; it comes from rip it, rip it, rip it, similar to the sound a frog makes.) Ethan and I had great fun ripping and rewinding the yarn. That was Saturday afternoon.

In the meantime, I cast on for a little hat, one I designed years ago, while working at Art of Yarn. The Lacy Cantata Hat is a lacy, close-fitting cap designed to be knit in a DK weight cotton and will fit most. At the time, I used a yarn called Cantata (the cap used exactly one ball of the Cantata); the Butterfly Super 10 is the same weight. A lot of people mistake the stitch for crochet but it IS knitted. It’s a quick knit and it’s a cute little hat, perfect for spring, summer, and fall… and it looks very “hippy”!

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I’ll try to get pictures of Trinity wearing it this coming weekend. I think it’s something she might like. It would be fun to dress it up a little, too.. perhaps a fun pin, a crochet flower? I might even make up a few and put them up for sale on my soon-to-be-up-and-running Etsy page.

I may also rewrite the pattern, update it a little. Maybe. If there are enough hours in the day.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Crochet, Finished | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uh Oh!

uhoh

This is the back of my cardigan. I still have about 4″ to go on the back of that cardigan. I’m well into the second cake of yarn. I still have the two front panels and two sleeves to knit.

Anyone seeing an issue here?

Yeah, uh oh!

My LYS hasn’t responded to my email so I may have to drop in tomorrow (didn’t want to make an unnecessary trip).

What would YOU do?

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Knitting | 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

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