Friday, October 11, 2013

Messing around with some yarn

My Husband's Aunt was shopping at an Estate Sale when she spotted a large box of vintage wool.  She bought it for me which is so kind and sweet of her.  In it contained enough yarn to knit multiple fact I've already knit two and haven't even put a dent in it.  I thought I'd experiment with dyeing some of the wool with some food coloring since I didn't want six of the same color sweaters.  I have no experience in this and sort of just jumped right in.  I watched one 7 minute video on youtube which was helpful.  Here are a few shots of what I did and how the wool color turned out.  I only did a little bit to try on a hat or mittens, but I think it turned out great!

This is the before shot...I used Wilton Icing paste in the brown color.  I previously soaked my wool in a vinegar bath for about an hour and squeezed out as much water as I could.  I set it aside and then I added the dye to a pot of vinegar water.  I didn't measure, but if I had to guess I probably used 4 cups of water and 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar.  I then put the wool into the pot and turned the heat to simmer.  I let it sit in the warm bath until the water was clear.  This took about an hour.  I slowly pulled it out so I didn't burn myself or agitate the wool and really didn't like to color.  It was still pink just a bit darker, like a dusty rose shade.  So I pulled out more of my food colors.

Here's the wool in the brown Wilton bath.

These are the additional colors I used.  After pulling the wool out and setting it aside I added about 12 drops of blue and about 4 of yellow.  I swirled it to mix and returned the wool to the pot.  It remained on simmer for about another hour until the water was clear(ish).  I gently pulled it out and rinsed it in cool water.

And here is my new dyed wool.  I put a piece of the 'before' color on it as a comparison.  It is a brownish rust color...very earthy.  It was super easy and fun to over-dye wool so I'll probably do it again.  It was just time consuming.

and a what I knit

Friday, October 4, 2013

the makings of some 'Winter Salve'

I've been making salve for personal use for a while now.  I don't ever plan to sell it...I adore it to much to ever give up an ounce.  I'm planning a new batch and thought I'd share.  This will be perfect in the Winter for dry, stressed and irritated skin.

Here is what I put in....the dried 'stuff' is from my garden (except for the Eucalyptus, which comes from my parent's)  + Comfrey Root and Slippery Elm from Mountain Rose herbs.

I don't usually measure anything...I can't really be that scientific with my salve, but I simply added (eyeballed) equal amounts of Lemon Balm, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Calendula, Comfrey Root and Slippery Elm (both from Mountain Rose herbs) + previously infused Rosemary infused Olive oil.

Here it is before adding the oil

and with the Olive Oil

I'll let it sit on the counter for weeks, strain and add some melted beeswax  + some ground Nettle Powder and some Essential Oils (probably Lavender & Tea Tree) to finish off the salve.  Put into sterile jars and enjoy all winter long!  I can't wait....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New SoApS and some yarny goodness fun!

Here are the latest soaps from my previous post.  I always get such a different look on my Chocolate Mint even though I always make it the same.  Each one is different and unique...I guess that is what I like about making soap.  The thrill, the excitement when you cut into a batch.

AND now for the yarny goodness........

I've been experimenting with natural dyeing even after my last posting where I messed up and heated the black bean juice.  I still have to repeat that one and try for a blue!  But this time I used some dried herbs from my garden.  I had Lady's Mantle and Chamomile.  Here are the pics from my adventure.....

I got these huge cones from my local thrift store for $1.00 (not each, but total!)  I have no idea what type of wool it is or where it came from or even how old it is, but I thought it was perfect to use for learning how to natural dye.  I've been measuring off about 1.5oz of wool for each batch.

I wash it with my lanolin soap

Let the wool soak by itself, resist the urge to push it into the water.  Let it soak for at least 30 minutes (I soak much longer)

I used alum to mordant.  I found this in my grocery store.  Add fresh water and your mordant (this case alum) to a pot you no longer care to use for cooking and add your wet freshly washed wool.  I read somewhere online that for 4oz of wool use 1 tbls of figure out your amount.  Bring gently to a simmer..never will felt your wool.  Some people use a thermometer, I just simply place my hand on the side of the pot to feel if it is too hot (please don't burn hands are my best thermometer...that is how I tell if my lye is too hot too when soaping..the feel test isn't accurate by any means, but do whatever works for you).  This picture shows my mordant wool that has the excess water squeezed from it.

Here are my dried herbs (I never did weigh them or the water so I'm not sure of my ratio)  Dried Chamomile and Lady's Mantle that I chopped roughly with a pair of scissors.  I placed the herbs into the pot and then filled with fresh water until they were covered and simmer like you would tea...the house smelled so good!  This would have probably been a delicious tea to drink.  I simmered for about 40 minutes, turned the heat off and allowed to cool.  

Once cool, I squeezed all of the water out of the herbs and added them to my compost bin.

Here is the tea.

and the yarn in it...again return to a simmer and let it go for about 30-40 minutes, turn off heat and allow to cool.  Rinse until your water runs clear....this took me awhile and I was nervous that I was rinsing all my color out of the yarn.

Here are my latest small skeins...only 1.5 oz each

Up next MARIGOLDS!  I plucked every flower off of my remaining plants and placed in the freezer for a later use.  I put them on cookie sheets until they were frozen and then put them into freezer bags.  I got two bags around 12 oz each.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What I did yesterday

Another four batch soap session!
from top to bottom I made:
Nettle & Red Moroccan Clay
Green Tea with Lemon Balm (from my garden)
Tomato & Sea Kelp
Chocolate Spearmint (also from my garden)
Can't wait to cut into these and see those colors!!  Totally natural, no dyes.

Then a bit of an error.  Lesson learned do your research before you turn on the heat.  So, I made a batch of black bean soup from scratch (meaning I soaked the beans overnight).  In the AM I looked at the water and thought what a cool color, I want to do something with that.  I thought about making soap with it, but figured it would turn nasty grey with the lye so I decided to dye some yarn.  I got everything ready and put it on the stove to simmer and THEN started reading about black beans and the natural dye process online.  There is a ton of info on it, just google it.  OOPS....everything states NOT TO HEAT IT!  Mine was simmering away by the time I read that bit of important info.  I guess if it gets hot, you get a murky grey/brownish color (see mine!).  If you let it be in a sealed glass jar for a few days you get BLUE!!  Seriously blue.  I can't wait to try it again.  I decided to let mine sit around for a few days longer and actually dumped in a strong brew of Chamomile tea to help with some sort of better color.  I think it will be fine in the long run and I'll still use it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Farmer's Market Mid September

Look at how dark it was @ 6:30am

My booth

Lavender Chamomile

Cucumber Banana

Some soap

A Market row with me in it..I'm about half way up

The middle row

A vendor with her cute birdhouses

The Kids Garden

And the beginning row

Another vendor with pretty flowers and produce

Check out those Mums

Another vendor with handcrafted pottery

All of these photos were taken before Opening Bell so that is why there are no people milling around.

Monday, September 9, 2013

and now the SNAPS

In my previous post I mentioned that I would post the pictures of the soap I recently here are the snaps.  Enjoy!

In the molds....

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The makings of some SoAp

I was having such a blast last night making some new soap I thought I'd write up a blog post about it AND I actually remembered to grab my camera.  I thought I'd try something a bit different and do a master batch of oils with each batch having their own lye solution made.  I have four wooden molds.  Three of my molds I like to use a 44oz oil recipe and the other I use a 40oz oil recipe, but I was going to superfat that one soap with some Calendula (from my garden) infused oil so I only calculated 35oz for that one.  I had a huge pot of oils all mixed and ready to go and then I separately measured out on the scale enough for each batch.  I thought it would save me some time and happy to report it did!  I just had to spend a bit of time figuring out each batch beforehand and prepping the other additions.  I grabbed my camera to document my evening adventure.  The four batches I made are...Calendula, Chocolate Mint & Cinnamon, Almond Milk & Oatmeal, and a scented batch of Ombre Charcoal.  Here are some pics.... 

The molds all wrapped and ready to go

Chocolate Mint herb from my garden which I dried and then put in my spice grinder 

Here it is ground to a fine powder

The Sunflower Calendula infused oil which was infusing for weeks in the Mason jar

The lovely orange color of the infused oil

Some dried flowers to decorate the top of the batch

I tend to use my washer and dryer as additional space while soaping.  Here are the other additions I needed.... to make the Ombre Charcoal I used Bamboo Activated Charcoal Powder & Lavender & Tea Tree Essential Oils.  The Almond Milk & Oatmeal ready for soaping ( I always use the 50/50 lye/milk method for my milk soaps) and some cinnamon and cocoa powder for the Mint & Cinnamon soap.  I ended up not using any cocoa powder.

And an in process shot of the Ombre Charcoal.  If you look closely you can see the tape I used as my 'precise' measurement for the gradient layers.  I started with the darkest layer of soap on the bottom, used half of the container, filled it with uncolored plain soap to lightened it a bit, filled half of this into the mold then repeated the process for the additional layers with each getting slightly lighter in color until I ran out of soap.  I think I got 5 or 6 layers.  It was a SLOW tracing mix so it was a bit time consuming since each layer had to harden slightly so I wouldn't lose the effect.  I ended up shaving other soaps and doing lots of clean up while waiting between each layer.  This one took a while!

That is it!  I'll post soon with some snaps of the cut bars.   Happy soaping!!