Monday, April 13, 2015

Quick Update

Just a quick little update.

The remainder of the KAL for the Mystery Mitts can be found on Ravelry.

Here is a link to the Mitts!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Mystery Mitt!

I am hosting the April Mystery Mitt Knit A Long (KAL) in the Ravelry Fingerless Gloves Fanatics group.

I don't have a name for it yet, but need to get the first clue released!  Sooooo. . . I'm going to try something a little different.  I'll release the first clue here on my blog!  That gives me a week to get a name figured out, so that I can load it properly into the Ravelry database before releasing the second clue. I'll put a link to that here, once I get it uploaded, so you can find the rest of the pattern.

The original is written for a 6.5 inch hand circumference, but fits my (7.5 inch) hand just fine as well.  I plan to KAL with the group, making adjustments for a 7.5 inch hand circumference (60 stitches cast on), which should easily stretch to fit up to 8.5 inches (21.5 cm)

 April 2015 Mystery Mitt, Clue #1:

These mitts are knit from the fingers to the cuff.  They begin with the thumb, which will be added to the hand later. They work great with a Self-Striping or Variegated yarn.  Of course, they’ll still be pretty in a solid or tonal as well.

Yarn:  Fingering Weight Yarn. Sample used Biscotte & Cie Felix Self-Striping.
Needles:  Circular or double pointed needles required for your preferred method of small-circumference knitting in the round, US2 (2.75 mm) or size needed to obtain gauge.
Gauge:  8 stitches per inch, 10 rows per inch in stockinette stitch.
Other materials needed:  Waste yarn or stitch holders, darning needle, stitch markers

Finished size will fit hands from 6.5-7.5 inches (16.5 - 19 cm) in circumference.

Thumb (make 2):
Cast on 20* stitches. Join to work in the round.
Knit 4 rounds.
(YO, K2tog) around.
Knit 4 rounds.
Knit 1 round, knitting each stitch together with stitch from the cast on.**

This can also be done using a provisional cast on.  Then you would carefully knit one live stitch together with one provisional cast on stitch.

Knit until the thumb is 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) or desired length.

Place all thumb stitches on waste yarn or spare needles until needed later. Break yarn, leaving enough of a tail to graft 4 stitches and weave in ends.

* If you need your thumb to be larger than 2.5 inches (about 6 cm), add stitches in increments of 2. This ensures continuity of the picot edging.

** Click here for a good photo tutorial of this process

Hand (make 2):
Cast on 52 stitches*. Place beginning of round marker if desired,  and join to work in the round. (Again, this can be done using a provisional cast on)
Knit 5 rounds.
(YO, K2tog) around.
Knit 5 rounds.
Knit 1 round, knitting each stitch together with one stitch from the cast on. **
Knit 2 rounds. 


*If you need your hand circumference to be larger than 6.5-7 inches (16.5-17.8 cm), then add stitches in increments of 2.  This ensures continuity of the picot edging.  Then, these stitches will become additional stockinette stitches in the hand.  For example, if you need an 8 inch (20 cm circumference mitt, cast on 64 stitches. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

March Landscape Challenge

This month's challenge (over at www.greatcakessoapworks.com) was to find a photo and create a soap inspired by that photo.  The challenge, for me, is to create a "picture" in a log of soap, so that the picture is seen once the soap has been sliced.

For those who just want to see the two - soap and picture, here you go:
 



The rest of the story is below.

I wanted this soap to fulfill multiple goals.
1. Compete in the challenge. This is my first attempt at this kind of "painting in soap" approach.
2. Try out my new 5 lb soap mold.
3. Complete the soaps for my soap swap (Make 10 bars using a fragrance sold by www.brambleberry.com - My fragrance is Ginger Patchouli.)

For the Ginger Patchouli fragrance, I decided on a color theme of brown/red/orange.  I landed on a few desert scenes. Keeping my skill level in mind, I chose the above photo (from http://wallpaper.mob.org/image/landscape-sand-desert-9018.html), because it is simple enough for me to do, but still interesting, yet complex enough to make it a fun challenge.

Having learned from the last few challenges that a practice batch is a good idea, I decided to use this batch to figure out the right technique to build a sand dune in my soap. While the color proportions were not quite there, I learned that I can, in fact, make a "hill" in soap, as well as build differently-shaped layers. 

There were some issues with how quickly that soap "set up" and as a result, the colorant was not properly mixed into the top layer.  So, I went with a different recipe for my actual challenge soap.  A recipe I have made several times, and like for the working time as well as the finished product. I don't have a mixing vessel large enough to do an entire 5 pound batch of soap, but since I have two distinct color sections in the soap, that was not an issue for this one.  I just made two smaller batches.  That also alleviated the potential for the blue to set up while I was still working with the brown and yellow. That turned out to not be an issue - I ended up waiting on the brown and yellow quite a while before I could add the blue! I didn't take any in-progress pictures - messing with the shape of the soap in the mold can be messy, and I didn't want to mess up my camera in the process!  But I do have a few photos of the soap once completed in the mold, and then as a log, just out of the mold.




Here, you can see it as it's gelling.  Gel doesn't always happen, but I think this mold encourages it, which is fine with me because the colors tend to be brighter when gelled.  You can see a bit of the remaining batter in the pink mold, not gelling.  It is a pretty color, but much more pastel.

This is just out of the mold.  It looks so pretty here, but I can't wait to slice into it!

Here they all are, looking picturesque after slicing. (on their sides)
I learned a lot on this one.  I sure am excited that the soap did exactly what I told it to do!  

Now I need to finish up that knitted mitt design, and get it ready to go out for the mystery knit a long in April!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Soaping for this months landscape challenge!  I made a practice soap, and today made the contest soap.  Here's hoping everything works out like planned, because I have a few days to let it saponify, cut and take pics.  No time to re-do it if it doesn't work out!

Monday, February 23, 2015

New Soaps!!

Wow!  January came and went, along with most of February!!  We had two deaths in the family in January, and it's amazing how time vanishes.  Things are starting to feel like normal again.

The January Challenge Soap didn't work out.  Well, the soap is fine, it smells great and lathers perfectly. You just can't really see the swirl.  I didn't enter that one. I scented it with a combination of French Vanilla fragrance oil and Lavender essential oil.

February challenge came, and I was happy with my soap for this one.  I was all ready to upload my photo for the contest, and thought I'd get it done.  Then I got the email saying the voting had started.  Oops!  At least it's pretty!  I used one of the scents remaining from my candle days (I knew there was a reason I made sure those fragrance oils were also skin safe!!) called Casaba Mist.  It's kind of a light floral with a hint of melon in the background.  It must have a little vanilla in it too, because it discolored to a light tan (I didn't put any fragrance in the swirl part, so that I could work with the soap and not worry about color issues)

I joined a soap swap.  It's the kind where I make a batch of soap and send 10 bars to Bramble Berry.  They will then pack up a box of 10 soaps that aren't mine and return it to me!  I have some new fragrance oils on the way from their Soap Club, and will be using one of those (Ginger Patchouli) for the swap.  Now to decide what to do with color to make it pop!

Speaking of Bramble Berry, they just put out a call for the Spring S.O.A.P Panel.  The panel gets to test new fragrances and give feedback that helps BB decide what new fragrance oils to carry.  I think it sounds like a ton of fun, and would love to be chosen to participate.  They ask what your favorite product is from BB.  That's a toughie!  I love their selection of molds (and just ordered one from them), but I think my very favorite so far has been trying new fragrances.  It seems like every order I add a fragrance oil "because I might as well, if I'm already paying for shipping" 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Still working!

I'm still here, making soap, knitting, designing, wishing I could spin. . . The holidays crashed in on me, and then we had some family stuff to manage.  I'm working on a new soap challenge, so I'll probably post on that soon.  Hoping to cut it tomorrow.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Soap Challenge!

Hi!  I'm back, after a long break from blogging.  Guess what?  I have a new hobby!  You're shocked, I can hear the collective gasp from here.



I have made quite a few batches of soap so far, and was inspired to join in on the Soap Challenge Club fun over at Great Cakes Soapworks.  This month's challenge was combed soap.  As I said, I'm new to soaping, and I'm especially new to colorants in my soap.  I've had a few, *ahem* learning experiments, shall we say.  My first try at coloring soap ended with a soap with three variations on the same tan.  My second attempt was OK. But the third, oh, the third was supposed to be a nice Christmasy Red and Green. It ended up orange and purple!! Lessons learned, research completed, new colorants ordered for the challenge!

J (and S) so nicely documented the process for me.  Excuse the ridiculously messy counters in the background.  I decided soaping was more important than cleaning (which I did do after the soaping fun was completed!)  Plus, I ended up using the end of a couple of bottles of oils, so those somehow ended up in the pics too. Also, excuse the messy hair.  (That's a story for a different blog, that has nothing to do with crafting and everything to do with the fact that I was not allowed to get my head wet for 12 days!) J seems to think every pic of something I'm doing needs to include the actual person doing said thing.


I started with a basic, slow moving soap batter.  I used the recipe provided by the Amy Warden, the club hostess.  It was my first soap with lard, but I'm glad I finally tried one!  Then I divided out a few small portions for colorants (but no fragrance.) In her example, Amy used five colors.  But I hate pink, so I just went with a little more red and called it good.





I scented and colored the majority of the batter, then poured it into my makeshift mold (I chopped up a box that some supplies came in! Feeling pretty thrifty about that one) as a base for the pretty swirls. 







Then the fun began!  I just layered the colors on, in squiggly lines, until I was out of colored soap batter.








Next comes the combing.  With my "fancy" comb.




More lessons learned:  Moving the soap to a safe place where it could sit for the chemical reaction to complete, some of the prettily swirled lines got less pretty. Next time (and there will be a next time, this soap is seriously fun, and just "wow"!) I'll plan to leave it in place for a few hours before moving it.


Then the soap had to sit for a day.  Once the soap had set up a bit, I could pull it out of the mold and cut it.  Here's the result:

The top of the soap has a different texture than I expected.  I'm not entirely sure whether this is due to the recipe, or if it's due to the measures I took to avoid soda ash (a white coating on the top of the soap, which I thought would take away from the effect of the combing) I guess more experimentation is in order!  I am quickly going to be overrun with soap at this rate!