Monday, February 27, 2017

It Was Nice While It Lasted

 Up until about 3 pm on Saturday we had another lovely day. So lovely that I took the wool out on the deck for another go at making rolags. I was determined.




 Oh, yeah. Now I get it. Outside I could really tear into that fiber and make it do my bidding. I was being too nice.



 Look at that. Not bad. Better, right?



 And the pile kept getting bigger. This was just a drop in the bucket of what I still have to do though. A little fiber goes a very long way.



It all came to a halt when winter decided to make another appearance. It started with a thunderstorm, turned into a scary tornado warning and then it just got darn cold. Boooo. Oh, well. It is only February. The fleece will wait.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Soap Secrets Part One

 I got a nice card from Judy the other day. In it she wrote that her husband was interested in how the soap I sent her got made so since I was making soap today, I thought I would show you all once again how it's done. That's the oil and butters up there. There's a lot of different ones for different reasons. Some are for moisture, some for bubbles, some for hardness.  I weigh them all out carefully and then melt them together in the microwave.


 To a portion of the water the recipe calls for, I add the milks, oatmeal and clay and warm it up. I make up the recipes using an online calculator that does all the figuring for me. I tell it what I want to put in the soap. It tells me how much of everything I need.



 Then it's time to figure out a color scheme. You don't have to add color. It's a pain as you probably already have read here but it does make the whole thing more fun. You mix a little of the cosmetic mica with some sweet almond oil so you can mix it with the batter later.




Now it's time to get serious. I suit up and move outside with the lye.



 It's a food grade lye but it will still burn you.



 After weighing the lye out, you add it very slowly to the precise amount of distilled water that I have had waiting in the freezer. The colder the better. This mixture heats up fast.



 To cool it down, I take it back in the house and dunk the container in cold water.


 The oils and butters are melted and ready to go but......



 ....now the trick is to get them to within 10 degrees of each other. That is not an easy task.



 After fussing with the two mixtures and getting them to temperature, it's time to stick blend them together just until they look creamy.



 Time for the additives. I put it through a strainer to catch any lumps.



Time for some scent. I look up the FDA recommendations for percentage and then use about a quarter of that. Too much makes me itch and it can make your batter go wonky. Today I'm making some Tuscan Herb with Honey and also some Green Clover with Aloe. They both smell clean and fresh. They will be perfect for spring.



 I pour the batter into the cups of mica colorant and give it a quick stir. Things start moving very quickly now.



You've got to pour before it gets too thick. I've given up on being fussy with fancy swirls. I just pour the cups of color back into the main batter. One color after the other.




 The whole mess gets poured into the mold. It will make its own willy nilly design.




 What ever is left in the color cups gets scraped onto the top.




 I take a stick to it for a messy design. I am really not fussy about appearance anymore. Soap is soap. It's how it works that matters.



Having said that I have to have my glitter. It's cosmetic grade and I love the sparkle.




 There they are ready to go to bed for a few days until I can cut them.




I have to put them way up high, out of sight or I will be tempted to cut them too soon. It's so hard to wait.




Back in the kitchen I have a mess to clean up. It's not too terrible. Dawn does the trick. Dawn does it all. Fleece, soap batter, dog baths. I love it.




The soap I made today was cold process soap. I'm out of the stuff I need for the glycerin soap but I should be getting a shipment of supplies this week. Next Sunday I'll show you how this is made. It's so easy anyone can do it. Even you!



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Even More Fluff

It still looks like winter but it sure doesn't feel like winter. We are in day two of temps in the high 70's.


 As I hoped, Wednesdays's big wash was dry and ready for carding.


 First I have to make a pile of fluff from that giant tangled wad of fiber. I just pull it apart with my hands.




 Only little wisps can go through on the first pass. On the second pass I get to use the torn up batt from the first pass.


Less is more when it comes to carding. Getting it off the drum is really hard if you fill it too full. Don't ask me how I know this.



 In about an hour Nora became three pretty batts. There is still plenty more of her to wash in the shed if these work out.



It was such a beautiful day I drug out a wheel and had a happy afternoon on the deck spinning. I love to spin outside and rarely get to in this mosquito infested swamp I live in.



This is some mystery fiber I found last fall that I've been working on.



There were three batts of randomly dyed colors that I suspect may be from some egg dye. Speaking of egg dye, it's already in the stores. Time to stock up.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Clear and Sunny


 The nice weather everyone has been having finally made it over here. It was almost 80 today. I jumped out of bed at 7 and started washing and dyeing more Merino. We call him Dan now, as in the Dolphin quarterback. The Mister is a fan.



 I had places to go yesterday so I wanted it to dry while I was out and about.



It's always nice to have several bags of fleece to prepare. The trick is keeping the cats out of them. It cost me $300 once when one of them got a lung full after having a rampage with a bag full a few years ago.



 I was too lazy to set up the drum carder last night so I grabbed the hand cards and started watching some Youtube carding tutorials. I am terrible at this. I need all the help I can get.



 Hmmm.....


I swear I looked at your tutorial Linda. I think I am hopeless but I'll keep trying.





They may not be pretty but I think they will work. I will have a free wheel tomorrow so we shall see.




Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pre-Season Fleece

 The weather people promised us nice weather this week and since I was itching to get into the fleece shed I went ahead and started digging the bags out. This is Nora. She's a Shetland and I don't think I've played with her yet.




 This is Finley. I spun him for last year's TdF.



 This is Winston. I made a nice vest out of him. I'm thinking he needs a little color this time around.



 This is an unnamed Merino. I like it better when they include the sheep's names on the info sheets.



 Nora got bagged up for washing.


 Finley got picked over. I think I may have seen the best of him.



 No Name Merino got washed in jars.


 Then got doused with colors.



Not bad for a morning's work. Now I just need some sun. It never did get warm here. It was damp and chilly. I guess I got all excited for nothing.