Away and Back again, 10/15/2019

Almost another week away helping family. Eldest son and his wife purchased their first home and it required some serious upgrades some of which needed to be done before they put anything in the house. The first two trips by me were to help out by getting their young teen to and/or from his new High School as the bus transportation for this school did not go to where they had been living for several years, and to help pack boxes of books, extra linens, and items they could do without for a few weeks. By the second trip, some items could be moved, but had to be secured in the largest bedroom with the door closed.

This trip was to help finish moving the last of the household goods and items from the shed, get the move out house cleaned up, help start unpacking the books and kitchen items, and help them get floor leveling applied to two of the 4 rooms that needed it done in order to lay laminate flooring and ceramic tile. A couple of the days, I worked on house stuff while they were at work and school, over the weekend, I was working with them.

Soon they will have their house in order. Now they can walk to local restaurants, the library, the parks, instead of a 15-20 minute drive, and they have plenty of space to have a separate library, music room, guest room and home office. On the flip side, they no longer are in the woods with a creek in their front yard.

I took knitting and drop spindles with me and they never left my bag. I did read some, but was so tired by bedtime, that I didn’t even do much of that.

My garden is a mess, idle beds are weedy, beds that had stuff still growing are dead or dying and the pumpkins are taking over. I can see a few in the bed, but still don’t know how many. I pulled a few weeds when I got home this morning, picked a few remaining peppers and beans. After a day or two of resting up, I will tackle the dead and dying plants, remove more weeds, continue my fight with Creeping Charlie and Mint, put more cardboard down and cover it and the idle beds with a thick layer of hay, and get the bed ready for garlic and potato onions to be planted in about a month. The forecast is for rain tomorrow. There is still no frost in the forecast for the next 2 weeks.

For the rest of this day, I am going to sit, maybe nap, and fix dinner.

Crafty week – 10/8/2019

The past few days have been busy with craftiness. Eleven batches of soap have been made, Woodlands, Peppermint/Cocoa, Lavender, Tea Tree, Vanilla, Pumice, and Calendula.

Unless that guest room is needed in the next month, the soap will sit there and cure for hardness. It only takes 24 hours for it to go from caustic solution to saponify to soap. Once it is hard, another day or so will be used to package it for the various markets. The holiday shapes, you can’t see all of them because of the picture angle, but there are snowmen heads, trees, snowflakes, flowers, and sheep, will be bagged in glassine bags with tags for the holiday markets. Plain round, square, or rectangular ones for the Harvest Market at Booker T. Washington Park will be banded with craft paper bands.

After long afternoons of 2 or 3 batches of soap being made, I have continued to knit on my Free your Fade shawl, a pattern by Andrea Mowry using Only the Finest yarn by Louise Nuttle. I really pushed the limits with some of the yarns.

I am on the last color and there is plenty of it. I will decide how many color repeats of it I want as I finish each section. The picot bind off can be done after any 10 row garter section. It is warm, soft, and very generous in size.

I continue knitting on the Hitchhiker scarf and have slightly more than half of the points done in it. It is small enough to carry around in my purse to knit on when a passenger or sitting in a waiting room.

Kitchen Magic – 10-6-2019

Several years ago, maybe 5, I wanted to learn to make soap. I have a friend that I met through knitting, Cat, and she made soap and had for years. One day while I was in Michael’s Arts and Crafts, I saw soap base, molds, and fragrances and I bought some. The soap base was a melt and pour variety, the fragrances were strong and artificial, not what I wanted as soap.

I guess I mentioned this at knitting, I don’t really remember, but Cat invited me over for a cup of tea and a soap making lesson. I was excited, but didn’t know what I was in for. When I arrived, her kitchen counters were covered with thick layers of newpaper, a big pot was out, more different oils than I knew existed, essential oils, molds of various kinds (though we stuck to silicone cake pans and loaf style molds that day), an immersion blender, and printed out copies of several of her favorite recipes and books to borrow. I had a total immersion lesson, making two different batches of soap with her standing at my side, guiding me, but letting me do the hands on part. She taught me that when a recipe says x ounces or grams, it is weighed measure, not liquid measure even with liquids. I came home with two pans of soap curing, part of each recipe made with safety tips, recipes, a thrift store pot and immersion blender, and books to borrow. I was hooked. She had previously given me a bar of her soap and it was so much nicer than anything I could buy in the store and certainly nicer than the melt and pour stuff I had tried.

Only once, after that lesson, but after a bit since I had plenty of soap to use, I goofed and measured by volume, not weight. That batch was a failure, but a lesson learned. As I got better, I experimented with essential oils for scents and soon was making way more soap than hubby and I could use up. Fortunately, one of our children and his family like my homemade soap as much as I and some could go to their home. But still I had too much.

Along the path, a couple friends asked me to teach them and believing in the each one teach one ideal, I had a similar lesson session in my kitchen with each of the ladies making a batch to take home along with a mold, instructions, and some supplies.

I was already environmentally aware, recycling, reusing, making food from scratch, shopping at the Farmers Market, but I wanted more. I wanted to not have unpronounceables in my body products and cleaning supplies and I started making lotion bars and salves, then beard oils, my own cleaning supplies, and laundry soap (after another failed batch that was too caustic due to forgetting an oil). I learned that you could use bar soap as shampoo, with the right lather it can be used as shaving soap as well, and then there was too much of all of it, and Cabin Crafted was born.

I opened an Etsy shop, there is a link at the top of the blog and started doing some smaller local craft shows. This December will mark the 4th year I have set up at the Farmers Market that I frequent on Saturday mornings, for three weekends of Holiday Markets. I have some soaps and salves at a local museum. I will be at Booker T. Washington Park in early November in costume demonstrating fiber prep and spinning and vending my yarn, soap, and salves there. There is one other craft event that I am awaiting a decision on whether I will be allowed to participate. A few others have been tried and not repeated as they were not worth my time and effort. To guarantee that there will be enough supplies for the potentially 5 markets, I embarked on a holiday soap making a couple days ago. Friend, Cat, loaned me some of her holiday shaped molds, I had purchased a couple of my own, and for the past two days, the kitchen has been dominated by soap making.

Once cured, it will be packaged, crated, and ready for the events. There are a couple more days of soap making to be done, I still need to make Lavender scented and a few batches of non holiday shapes.

It is magic to watch the warm oils and butters, the caustic sodium hydroxide (Lye) dissolved in water, tea, milk, or coffee, transform into a solid that was molded or cut into bars from a loaf. Once cured and hard, a rich lathering bar of soap with many purposes.