Thursday, December 31, 2015

bye, ByE 2015....

as we wind down on 2015
it is always good to stop
and reflect on the challenges,
mistakes or unmissed opportunities 
and realize that

will be the 

view challenges as a way to learn -
change the method -
or bring about a different approach.

Cheers to new beginnings!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Merry Christmas

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ligonier Country Christmas 2015

See you there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

HOT process

What do you do when you planned meticulously weeks in advance for 3 (three!) Holiday Craft Shows, but feel you need more soap (at the last minute)

I sat and calculated how many varieties and quantity of each weeks ago and made batch after batch weeks ago only to look at my soap stash and wonder if it is enough?  I have to admit I've never had my shelves so full!  

I'm not one who usually makes soap in the hot processed method - 
(I've actually never done it!) but I'm always up for an adventure. 
It isn't a whole lot different than when I melt all of my scraps down in the 
crock pot so I got to cooking.   I think it turned out nicely.  

Most people say you can use it right after cutting, but I have a week and a half
 before my first market so it has some time to sit.  I am using a bar in the kitchen 
today though and I really like it
.....smooth, creamy and a great lather - just like my cold processed.  

Holiday Cheer

I'm sold that I actually made another batch today - so now I have 14 varieties (had to make another couldn't be 13!) and close to 400 bars of soap.  

I'm set - seriously all done! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Indie Knit & Spin - Featured Vendor

Dusty Tree Soap (click on this link to read more)
 is a featured vendor for the 
Indie Knit & Spin 
event that is quickly approaching

November 14th 
10am - 4pm

Wilkins School Community Center
Regent Square - Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday, October 8, 2015

herbs from 
Summer's harvest 
fresh from the garden
mint + lemon balm

reap the rewards

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

new design in the works....

Something new I'm working on -
aptly named Summer's End Mitts
as today marks the First day of Autumn 2015
what a favorite of mine -
the mitts and the season! 

these are knit using some reclaimed wool -
which is absolutely wonderful stuff -
I wish I knew what it was - it is the real deal
a bit scratchy + love the feel of the lanolin!
They may just be dunked in the 
dye bath once complete.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Silvia Shawl - Cast On TUTORIAL

I thought I'd put together a little tutorial on how to
get started on this shawl.  It is by no means difficult,
just something a bit different.  
What this cast on does is create an I-cord 
border.  I like the look of a finished
edge since most of the shawl is done in garter stitch.

You will need the pattern to follow along - 
which is available on Ravelry

or here

Let's get started:

don't stress about your work looking very loose - 
the tension evens out when you have more
of the pattern completed.

hard to see my live stitches - but I have 3 there!

yes, I did not use any stitch markers!

Silvia Shawl Fingering weight
sample knit using 
Quince & Co, Finch 2 skeins - Aleutian colorway

Tutorial completed with 
Brown Sheep, Nature Spun Worsted - Eucalyptus colorway 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Now that's a different way to recycle!

I've been known to purchase (ok, hoard) wool and wool blend sweaters from my local thrift store to take them apart and reclaim the yarn.  Yes, it is time consuming, but the more I do it - the better + faster I am at ripping them out.  

I'm in the process of ripping this Express turtleneck cabled beauty out, when it hit me - I should totally make a hat out of that turtleneck part.  I even surprise myself sometimes with ingenious ideas.  It is a bit tight on my head, but fits my son (who is 4) perfectly.  So, I'll ripped it out to the ribbing length that I like, pick up the live stitches to knit on wards to make a really quick hat - no cast on, no ribbing, but hand-knit (well partially).

The yarn is a bit Green (with a capital G) so I may tone it down a bit by throwing it into the dye pot for an experiment.  But it is worth rescuing this yarn for it's fiber content - 40% Merino Wool, 30% Viscose, 20% Angora + 10% Cashmere - good stuff!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


what can I say....
this may just be the perfect soap!
I do not add any scent but smells especially
cinammony + minty
Bubbly fantastic - 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


A favorite
richness of pumpkin
cleansing power of bamboo activated charcoal
+ the fighting properties of tea tree oil
a perfect trio!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SoApy goodness

a new favorite of mine
with Fall in the air, this is just what my skin needs - 
Shea Butter rich creamy + dreamy

Monday, September 14, 2015

But poison ivy, Lord'll make you itch!!

As the song goes, yes it does indeed make you itch, but you do not need an ocean of Calamine lotion if you've got Jewelweed around.  
Man, this stuff really works!  I have no idea how in the world I got poison ivy - maybe from camping during Labor Day.  Why am I the only lucky one to get it?

I'm using my Jewelweed Salve about twice a day and it has stopped it from spreading, stopped the itch and seems to be calming the inflammation so it can heal.  I'm on day 2-3 and (knock on wood) it seems to be almost clear.  Now I know to always have this stuff handy!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Indie Knit & Spin 2015

Fall is in the air and it is time to start planning for the Indie Knit & Spin - A Pittsburgh Yarn & Fiber Artists' Marketplace.  This is always such an amazing event that keeps growing every year.  This year there are plenty of exciting classes.  I thought I'd highlight the class list.......

All Classes IKS 2015

9-12     Worsted? Woolen? What? – Exploring the two main spinning styles
2-5       Taste the Rainbow – Exploring the Many Splendors of Multicolor Spinning
Quick Classes – 30 minutes to an hour
10:00-11:00       Exploring Fiber Arts (ages 6-12)
11:15-11:45       Basic Chart Reading (lace)
12:00-1:00         Altering Patterns
1:15-1:45           Beaded Knitting
2:00-2:30           Conservation Wool Breeds (lecture)
2:45-3:45           Crochet for Knitters
4:00-5:00           Dyeing Wool with Plants (lecture)
2 Hour Classes
1:30-3:30      Design It, Write It
3:45-5:45      Anatomy of a Sock Heel
1:15-3:15      Eastern European Knitting
3:30-5:30      Yoga and Yarn
1-5 Dyeing
10-12:30 Button Making
Visit here - Indie Knit & Spin to learn more!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Throwback Interview

Here is an interview from 2014 for the Indie Knit & spin

Dusty Tree Soap

Name: Rebecca Shepler
Business name: Dusty Tree Soap
Website(s): and on Facebook as Dusty Tree Soap
What kind of items do you make?
I make handcrafted cold processed vegan soap. All are Palm and Soybean Oil free! (yeah…Viva Orangutans!) Most soaps are unscented, but I do use therapeutic grade Essential Oils in a few. I NEVER use GMO oils, Sodium Lauryl Sulfates, Aluminum, chemicals, parabens or other weird stuff….just all natural goodness.
My wonderful and creative parents make Handcrafted ceramic soap dishes and buttons. Both were a hit last year and they are kind enough to make me more for this year.
How long have you been in indie artist?
I’ve been a knitter for about 17 years and have been making soap for the past few years. I also sew so this year I will be bringing some small drawstring project bags with me.
What got you interested in your art of choice?
I like, no I LOVE to make things. I’d much rather learn how to make something from scratch with my own hands than to buy it in some store. Once I had kids, I knew I had to make all natural soap. Their new perfect skin just needs it!
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
I make soap..a product that we use everyday. I love that I can take a basic necessity and make it into something creative and unique. More often than not, most batches are an experiment to see what I can add to help nourish the skin in a different way.
What most inspires you?
My kids and their endless questions of why and how things work. I’m fascinated by their curious minds.
What makes your creations unique?
I make all of my soaps with no dyes, scents or colors. If a bar is scented then I use a therapeutic grade Essential Oil never a fragrance. I use herbs, spices, food and clays for colors..most things you can eat so it is naturally good for your skin. I use a combination of vegetable oils (Olive, Coconut, Sunflower, Grapeseed and Shea Butter) that are exceptional at moisturizing and cleansing your skin.
Do you have a favorite item or colorway?
Usually the current one I’m using, but I recently have a fondness for my Drunken Hippie soap. It is made with Straub Beer (local and they use no preservatives) and Patchouli Essential Oil. Great lather and scent!
What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
To make them extra squeaky clean with some honest to goodness soap!
Does being an indie fiber artist affect other aspects of your life?
I have a hard time surprising people with gifts…they usually know they are about to unwrap either something hand knit or a bar of soap. If they are extra special they may even get both.
How is the fiber arts world different for you today than it was five years ago?
Fiber is everywhere and in everything. I love being a part of a great community!

Friday, July 31, 2015


My most requested item is finally back in stock!!
Come visit me at the Ligonier Country Market this Saturday
but you better hurry - they sell out QUICKLY!
I'll be there from 8am - noon

Made with nature in mind - NO palm or GMO's here!

Crafted by hand not a robot using: Organic Arrowroot powder, Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, Organic Unrefined Raw Shea Butter, Beeswax, Zinc Oxide + Essential Oils (Sweet Orange + Cedarwood)

Makes me happy to make your pits happy with skin loving bacteria kicking all natural goodness! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

for those of you who are knitterly inclined....

I have a new design in the pipeline and am looking for testers.  You can find my posting on Ravelry here if you are interested.  It knits up pretty quickly and is quite mindless and easy for a good Summer knit.

Here are the details:

Knit sideways & slightly asymmetrical in shape incorporating I-cord, a cable motif running along one edge and simple yarn over lace.
Deadline: August 24, 2015
Level: This is a good pattern for an adventurous beginner and experienced knitters alike, since it is simple enough but contains some basic cables to keep things interesting.
Samples knit with: 
Fingering Weight Version: 
Quince & Co Finch (100% American Wool; 
221 yards/50g): Aleutian 148 colorway 2 skeins. 
442 yards total 
Finished Dimensions: 56” x 22”
Sport Weight Version: 
Cosymakes Snapdragon (100% Wool; 415 yards/ 
113g): Pink colorway 1 skein. 415 yards total 
Finished Dimensins: approx 59” x 30”
YARN: Fingering Weight Version: 
approx 450 yards, exact yardage may vary depending on final size
Sport Weight Version: 
approx 420 yards, exact yardage may vary depending on final size
Fingering Weight Version: 
US#7 (4.5mm) 24” circular and double pointed needles (dpn)
Sport Weight Version: 
US#9 (5.5mm) 24” circular and double pointed needles (dpn)
NOTIONS: waste yarn; stitch markers; cable needle; darning needle
GAUGE: fingering weight: 20 sts and 32 rows = 4 inches 
in garter st 
sport weight: 22 sts and 33 rows = 4 inches
Create a project page (list yarn and needle size), add at least one WIP photo, provide detailed feedback to me and report any errors, request help if needed, finish by deadline and post completed pictures and dimensions to your project page.
Interested?: Please get me your email address and let me know a bit about yourself. Let me know which yarn weight version you are interested in knitting (fingering or sport). 
I appreciate your help with my newest design.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday soaping

Casa de Dusty Tree was super soapy this Sunday

in the line up....Eucalyptus, Mint Scrubbie, Ocean Salt Bar & Jewelweed

Always a nice way to send an afternoon.
 (unless of course you are me and realize you are short on one of your oils half way through the soaping process and you need to make a run to the store....but still fun!)

As a side note, a customer told me she took a Master Gardener's Herb class at our local extension office and the teacher used MY Jewelweed soap as an example during her presentation of how herbs are used in a therapeutic method.  This girl is uber- excited!  So cool to hear.  I wish I knew who the teacher is to thank them!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thrifty vs practical

I got a free sample of a fragrance oil when I ordered from a  large supplier of soap making products.

The thrifty part of my brain got to thinking..."yeah maybe some people might like this scent, maybe I'll make a small batch, some people don't really care about the whole all natural thing, blah, blah....."
And the practical side got to thinking..."well what is this stuff, let's read more about it, and I don't really feel comfortable even cracking open the bottle to take a sniff."

So I got actually has a Materials Safety Data Sheet!  Um, ok....  Here is what I found out:
-it contains diethyl phthalate...what the heck is that?  A quick Google search and I found this article about it.  Read here for your reference, but anything that is listed on the Toxic Substance & Disease Registry website sure isn't something I really want in my soaps.  Basically, this is nasty stuff!  It affects your liver and reproductive health (especially in kids)  Great!  Not only is it a main component in this fragrance oil, but it is also found in plastics....toothbrushes & food packaging are the ones that I took notice of.

Also on the Materials Safety Data Sheet you will find that.....
-it can cause a reddening and burning sensation when applied to your skin --WHAT! people add this to many soaps to add scent.
-it shouldn't be inhaled -- WHAT!  it is a fragrance oil.
-if applied to skin, wash with soap and water.  Ok, now this just doesn't make sense to me.  People are to buy and add this fragrance oil to soaps, lotions, etc, but are told on the Materials Safety Data Sheet to wash with soap and water if applied to skin
-avoid exposure to vapors -- this just gets me laughing...isn't that the whole point behind these fragrance smell, but technically you shouldn't inhale or be expose to the vapors
-avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing -- well, I'm just about done here seriously how is this stuff even being sold let alone added to personal care products that we lather and slather all over our bodies.  This is down right scary!
-and the last two that I won't even comment on are.... wear an approved MESA (whatever that is) respirator when working with this product and wash hands after use.

Holy smokes people!  This stuff is in a lot of things too.  Sometimes I feel ignorance is bliss, like the less you know the better, but in this case maybe not.  I started making soap after I had children since I didn't want to use Sodium Laurel Sulfates on their skin.  I never even thought about these other things...scents, colors, etc.  I always knew in the back of my mind they weren't good, but I never would have guessed all this!

Now, I'm so glad I didn't crack the seal on the bottle....basically it is toxic stuff.  What in the world do I do with it now?

Dusty Tree Soap is, will and always will be free of this stuff -  thrifty or not!  I never use scents/dyes/colors so my soaps are people & earth friendly.

Thanks for stopping by for a read and I hope I educated you a bit and not freaked you out too much.  People laugh at me all the time since I'm a 'label reader', but it seems like you have to be these days.
*steps off soapbox*  (no pun intended)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015

oh, my....

The title of the post sums it up!  Oh,my........ do I need to soap!  I've been having such a great time each Saturday at Ligonier Country Market with having so many faithful visitors that stock is um, embarrassingly low!  That is a very bad thing + good thing all rolled up into one little happy ME!  Thank you so much to everyone who supports local artisans and produce/nursery/food vendors each Saturday at Market.  You are what keeps us going.......  and speaking of going....I'm off  to make some soap!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ligonier Country Market - Opening Day!

Fun times were had by all....glad the weather held out.  So nice to see familiar faces and to meet new friends.  Thank you to everyone who came out for a visit! 

Vendors still setting up, before opening of the rows in Market

Before opening bell...the view from my booth

People coming out to shop and find their favorite vendors at the first market of the season.

 Nice to see so many people coming to Opening Day to support the Ligonier Country Market and it's vendors.  

 My booth!

Dimitri in the 'Viking Hat'

 Dusty Tree Soap booth, space 53
 pretty much every Saturday during Market season...see you there!