All posts by mountaingmom

Wife, mother, grandmother, spinner, knitter, new weaver, soap and salve maker, non certified organic gardener, chicken raiser, chief cook and bottle washer for the household. Love to read and craft and dote on my family.

Week on the Farm – 1/13/2019

With winter, not much goes on outdoors here on the farm.  The pullets have a usual routine of venturing out into the pen each day and back at night, they still won’t come when I shake the treat cup, so they can’t free range yet.  They have to be able to follow me back to the pen when the dogs are out.   There have been five days in the past couple of weeks where they remained cooped due to the very cold temperatures and for the past three days due to the winter storm and its coating of ice that has us encased.  We were in a winter storm watch awaiting several inches of snow.  It began as snow Saturday, getting a few inches then turned to a messy wintry mix overnight that melted most of the snow and left us with about a half inch of ice.

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With the cold hanging on, the ice is still here.  An attempt to check on the chicks on Sunday was a hazardous walk.  Monday, I chipped the ice off the car and carefully made my way to the cleared paved roads to get to daughter’s house so she could go to work and I stayed with the “snow vacationing” kids.  I left at dawn and returned near dark, so the chicks were left alone in the coop.  This morning it was time to go deal with them, though it was a very cold mid 20’s.  First order of business was to break up some of the spoiled hay bale outside their fence and get enough of it on the ice for them to venture out.  Ice chipped off their ramp so they didn’t slide out into the cold.

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They are busy exploring what seed or bugs they can find in the rotting hay while I tackled the inside of the coop to undo several days of confinement.  Their food was low, the water dispenser nearly empty, and the straw a fouled matted mess.  It is too cold to do a complete coop clean, but the old straw was forked out, new straw piled in, feed filled, and the water dispenser brought to the utility sink for a scrub down and refilling with warm water.  If it gets above freezing, I will go out and fill the black tub seen in the above photo with warm water also.  They went straight to it when I let them out, but I had dumped the ice disc out of it and not refilled it.

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They have clean dry quarters and a few warmer days ahead.

We did drive to the Edith Bolling Wilson Museum in Wytheville on Friday to see the exhibit and the living quarters that they plan on restoring, and to look at a great wheel that I am trying to restore as she kept sheep on the White House Lawn during the war and the museum promotes sheep and wool in the display.

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It is an intact, including spindle, old wheel that doesn’t line up quite right.  I have reached out to restoration experts and to an Antique wheel group to try to resolve that situation.  Later this week, I will return to put leathers and a drive band on it and see if I can make it spin wool.  Prior to that though, I am going to Wilderness Road Regional Museum to give spinning lessons to a couple of adults who are interested.

Today though, I am working on kettle dying some Merino top using Wilton Icing Color, a food safe dye that with a vinegar bath will dye animal fiber.  If I am successful with this batch, I will try more.  If not, daughter will get several little pots of the concentrated color for her cake decorating.

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This batch is cooling and I think the colors are softer than I wanted, so maybe more dye needs to be used in the next pot once this one has cooled.

The featured photo today is the ridge to the south, ice encrusted trees, the clouds lifting, and the sun trying to peek through.  That was short living, it is again thick and gray, but nothing wet or frozen expected for a couple more days.  Sunshine would be welcomed.

Olio – January 5, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Wow, that is the first time I have had to write 2019!  The days whiz by and suddenly it is the next year.  As a child, the years went by so slowly, and now they fly by before I have adjusted to it being a new one.

For the first time in what seems forever, we have sunshine.  The morning began bleak, rainy, and very windy.  We braved mixed winter precipitation to go to town and get breakfast and see what vendors came out for the winter Farmers’ Market.  The January to April markets are informal, the vendors being allowed to park their trucks and vans in parking spaces that are closed off and occupied by other vendors during the high season markets.  The morning goal was some pork, eggs, and breads and all were obtained before heading to the grocer for the non local needs.

The chicks are 9 weeks old tomorrow, so we have at least 14 or 15 more weeks before we will start seeing eggs from them.  Their adult plumage is developing and though not a heritage flock, they will be pretty and there will be a variety of egg colors from green, dark brown, medium brown, and light tan.  They have figured out the big girl feeder and the big girl water dispenser and are not afraid of the pop door to the outside anymore.  The first day they stayed inside, the next day most were escorted out by me and that night 5 of them were found huddled in an empty feed bucket under the coop.  Now, all of them can find their way out and back inside at night, though they wait until it is nearly dead dark to go in.

The Christmas week brought much family time.  We had an Italian style meal on Christmas eve with daughter’s family at her home, awoke to the empty house on Christmas day.  We celebrated quietly, having Huevos Rancheros and sausages for hubby and exchanging our gifts.  Christmas Day, daughter’s family came here for a mid afternoon turkey and ham dinner.  The next day, eldest son and eldest grandson came to celebrate and work on the deck.

Wanting to expand my fiber tools, I had asked for a 5 foot tri-loom and easel which I gladly received.

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Once I figured out how to assemble it, You Tube was visited to watch weavers using one.  There are several methods.  The first one I tried was called continuous loop weaving. You never cut your yarn weaving across and up and down by weaving the strand with a hook.

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The first triangle is a generous shawl  made with two skeins of my hand spun yarn, a very smooth Corriedale and a very textured blend of Merino, Tencel, and Mohair locks plyed with Wooly Nylon, a stretchy thin thread.  It was challenging as the textured yarn wanted to grab the other yarn and itself.  Once it was off the loom, I decided to make one to wear when I am doing the living history events on cool days.   It is being done with cut strand method and weaves on the diagonal.

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While trying to get it done for an event tomorrow, I was also trying to get a pair of fingerless mitts finished as well as I will be selling knitted and woven goods at Old Christmas at Wilderness Road Regional Museum and demonstrating spinning tomorrow.

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They were finished except for weaving in the ends while being passenger to breakfast, Farmers’ Market, and the grocery.  There are less than 20 rows to go on the shawl, so hopefully it will be woven though not washed and blocked for tomorrow.  It is my hand spun Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm.

I must admit, that weaving up my hand spun uses it much more quickly than knitting up the same amount of yarn.

As for the week after Christmas, eldest son and grand worked together to put the Trex surface boards on the deck.

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We are excited to be able to safely go out the French Doors of the dining room and not have a one story fall.  The deck surface and stairs are done.  The surface is maintenance free.  Unfortunately, the rails did not arrive in time for installation then, but they have now arrived and are due to be delivered this week.  When he has time, eldest will return and put up the railings, balusters, and post caps.  When the pressure treated posts have dried, they will be painted to match the railing and will be the only part of the deck that will require maintenance of repainting periodically.

While we were sorting tools, putting away cords, he and I tackled phase one of a major garage cleaning and reorganization, labeling boxes that contain power tools, making a pile of tile and metal fittings, Trex scraps, and other items to keep.  Most of that was moved to the barn today.  More will be moved another day and once the deck is done, the garage sorted out the rest of the way, a barn organization is in order.  It has become a repository of building materials, building equipment, and miscellaneous other stuff.  Some of it needs to go home with it’s owner, some can be sold or given away, some just needs to be straightened up so we can find it when a job needs it.  Some of the tile that was moved can be used to replace the water damaged bamboo floor in front of the walkout basement door.  That is another task for another time.

Back to weaving or the shawl won’t be done.  I hope you had a great holiday season and have faced the new year with hope and strength.

A Month on the Farm – 12/20/2018

Tomorrow marks the first official day of winter and the shortest day of the year here on the farm, though the meteorologic winter began weeks ago.  I’m ready for the days to lengthen.  Being much a creature of natural light cycles, I awake each day around 5 or 5:15 a.m., but don’t want to get up and disturb the household until the sky starts to lighten in the east.  By sundown and full on dark, I am ready to snuggle in for the night, trying to stay up and awake with night owl hubby at least until 10 or 10:30 p.m., often to fall asleep in my chair before drifting off to bed.

The month has been a whirlwind with 5 craft markets in 5 weeks that require loading and unloading the set up and product from the car.

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This Saturday is the last one for the year with no more until spring.

The month also has included 3 Christmas celebrations, two in costume at Wilderness Road Regional Museum for their music, Christmas treats, and evening lighted tours as I spun on a beautiful old Walking Wheel that with a tiny bit of TLC by me, now works.

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I love this photo with the shadow of the wheel on the wall.  This one is credited to April the organizer of the events.  There will be one more on Old Christmas that I will also attend in costume.  The third celebration was with the spinning group to which I belong.  I have not been a very good participant of late with everything else going on, but made a point of joining them for that as many folks that don’t get to come regularly come for this event and I enjoy seeing my friends.  I hope to get back to the weekly spin days after the holidays.

The month provided another challenge as I bought a dozen winter chicks about 4 1/2 weeks ago.  They were fortunately already 2 weeks old and beginning to feather out.  The “brooder” I use is a huge 110 gallon flexible plastic stock tank with a heat table for warmth.  Not a fan of having the birds in the house, the stock tank is in the garage on a carpet covered platform about 4 inches off the ground.  It was cold when we brought them home and ended up adding a 250W red heat lamp and covering half of the top with a mylar sheet to help retain the heat.  This was functioning okay until we were threatened with and received more than a foot of snow.  Wet snow this time of year often results in loss of power, so the brooder was dragged around the back of the house and into the walk out finished basement where there is a wood stove, before the snow began.  The stove was kept going until we were sure the power was not going out, about 3 days.

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The snow was beautiful and before it was totally gone, the brooder was loaded onto a sled and dragged back to the garage.  By Monday, the littles were 6 weeks old, fully feathered and too big for the stock tank, so the thoroughly cleaned coop was layered with about a foot of straw and they were moved to tough it out without the benefit of supplemental heat.  We have had several very cold nights and all is well in the coop.  The basement then received a deep cleaning to remove the dust from having the chicks indoors for a week.

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I am working on teaching them to use the adult no waste feeder and no waste waterer, while providing the hanging feeder as well.  They are beginning to get their adult colorations.  By mid week next week they should know that food and water are in the coop and that is where to return when hungry and at night and they will be let out into the run.  I fear they are still small enough to get through the holes in the fence though and I don’t like to panic them by trying to catch them but until they will follow me back to the run for treats, they can’t free range.

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This view if you have followed the blog for long, often appears.  The end of that ridge in the distance drops to a gap to the New River.  That view is one of my favorites from the farm and it was just over 13 years ago that we saw this property for the first time in early December.  By January, it was ours to plan and build on.  If you can love a property in the bleak of winter, you can really love it anytime.

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The deck progressed in the past month as well, with a Thanksgiving weekend being spent by son and daughter in law preparing it for the decking, rails, and balusters.  Those materials are to be delivered tomorrow and by the first of the year, hopefully, we will be able to safely step out of the French doors of the dining room onto a solid surface, not a one story drop.  It is deceptive as the stairs come down on a flat created and held in place by a gorgeous stone retaining wall.  The deck itself is one story up from the grade below.

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With the prep for Christmas, the various events, cooking for family for Thanksgiving and preparing to cook for Christmas, little knitting or spinning have been done except for two pair of wool socks for a tiny farmer, the toddler son of one of the regular vendors at the market.  They have been knit this week after she asked last Saturday.  I hope they fit the little guy and can be passed down to his baby brother in another couple of years.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas or other seasonal holiday of this time of year and a Happy New Year.

The Crazy Cat Lady – 12/14/18

But not cats, spinning equipment.  A while back, I posted that I finally had all the spinning equipment that I needed and it was all comfortable to me.  Well, an opportunity presented itself this past summer to purchase an antique sitting quill spinning wheel from Pennsylvania.  It couldn’t be shipped, but a friend was an acquaintance of the seller and was going to be in her area a few weeks after and she said she would pick it up and take it to her home until we could connect.  We live about 3-4 hours apart.  She and her husband were going to be setting up at the Shenandoah Fiber Festival in September and though that is also 3+ hours from home, we can visit our eldest son and his family in that region, a plan was hatched.

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This beautiful little wheel joined the huge walking wheel in our loft.  She has been taken to a couple of living history events as she travels in the back of my car nicely.  But this meant that the Ashford Traveller that I had been taking wouldn’t go anymore, and though a pretty little wheel, wasn’t what I wanted for everyday spinning, her bobbins were too small and I didn’t want to spend more money to get the larger flyer, so she was offered for sale and sold quickly.  The Ashford came apart enough to box it in a medium moving box and it could be shipped.  That left me with no everyday wheel and I wanted something with huge bobbins and yet small enough to travel, so Miss Polly came home with me, a Spinolution Pollywog, a tiny little 8 pounder.

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So now, I had the 49″ diameter great wheel, the sitting quill wheel, Miss Poly, and a gorgeous Golding drop spindle.  Then I found another Golding spindle that called to me and I purchased it.

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The Celtic sheep spindle is a joy and spindles are so portable to take spinning anywhere, anytime.

Yesterday was our spinning group’s annual Christmas Party with Dirty Santa exchange, potluck snacks, and camaraderie.  It is always a fun afternoon with the opportunity to give away fibery items you no longer want, sell those that you don’t want but don’t want to give away, and of course the Dirty Santa fun.  One of our group members has turned her interest to quilting in the past few years and has dropped out of coming to the weekly gatherings and the parties and she decided that since she was no longer using her wheel, that it should find a new home.  The hostess picked it up from her home and brought it to her own home.  The original owner did not want to sell it, she just wanted it to go to a new loving home.  The wheel is a 40 year old Jensen, hand made wheel and it is beautiful.  That wheel came home with me yesterday.

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She is larger than my sitting quill, but smaller than the great wheel, a large sturdy Saxony style wheel of Cherry wood and she glows.  With the leather fittings and old style hooks, she also can go to living history events with or instead of the sitting quill wheel.  The loft now houses 4 wheels, I’m running out of space, but not out of love for the art and the beautiful equipment.

Perhaps an intervention is in order.  At least an organization so that I can use them and get to the fiber to spin on them.

Tis the Season – Dec. 6, 2018

The tradition in our household since daughter was old enough to notice, was that no Christmas decorations could be put up until after her late November birthday.  She no longer lives with us, nor was she even in town on her birthday this year, but no decorations went up.  Nearly a week passed and I still wasn’t in the mood.

December is a bitter sweet month.  Both of my parents passed away in December, my mother in 1987 at only 63 years young, and my Dad just a couple of years ago.  Christmas was always a fun time for me when our children were young, as we could get them special gifts of items they desired but wouldn’t spend the money on at other times of the year.  We always had extended family for the special holiday meals, and an Open House for hubby’s staff and all the neighbors.  When our kids were grown and gone, beginning families of their own, one or more of them would come home, or we would travel to be with one of them for Christmas.  This year we will awaken on Christmas morning with no kids or grandkids in the house.  We will go to daughter’s on Christmas Eve, she will bring her kids over for Christmas dinner later on Christmas Day, and eldest son and eldest grandson will be here on the 26th.

Two days ago, I put on some Christmas music and began hauling the boxes of Santa’s and the Snow village up.  A good thorough cleaning always precedes setting it up as dusting for the next couple of weeks is onerous with dozens of Santa and Christmas gnomes adorning the book shelves, mantle, and window sills.  The Christmas towels, table cloth, throw pillows, and wall hangings were put in place.  The tiny tree of Hallmark mini’s that used to grace my office was put on the jelly cupboard and lit and I quit.

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Santas

Today, before we get snow this weekend, we drove to the local tree farm to get a tree.  Normally we walk the hills and choose one, some have been as much as 12 feet tall as our living room in our log home can accommodate it.  There were no other cars in the lot in the early afternoon on a work and school day and we walked up to get the tag to hang on the tree we wanted, and there by the building was a beautifully shaped little 6.5 foot precut tree.  We took it, had a fresh cut on the trunk and drilled for the stand that we bought from them several years ago.  The tree was small enough to fit inside the SUV with one rear seat down.

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One of the taller ones from years past.

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Today’s small addition.

The house is decorated, we listened to Christmas music as we decorated it, topping it yet again with the huge Starfish that came from a cruise with youngest son  about 5 years ago.  It makes a good tree topper, a reminder of a good week with them.

And ended our day with a comfort food meal of turkey pot pie, using some of the remaining Thanksgiving turkey.

Wind down, wind up – 11/24/2018

The first craft show is done.  It wasn’t a bust, but not a great success either.  There were many vendors with holiday decorations made with artificial flowers and purchased craft store doodads, a few nice country furniture makers, and too many vendors of body products.  My spot, though on an inside aisle corner was toward the end of the path though, so many other soap makers had already tempted the buyers.  My hand spun, hand knit wearables were out of the price market for most of the buyers.  It was an experiment and probably won’t be repeated.

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Additional hats and mitts are being knit to further supply the upcoming three weekend holiday markets.

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Two new 3 step displays have been purchased for the soaps, lotion bars, and salves.  They need to be stained and poly finished before next weekend.

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Their footprint is about the same as the crates, but raises the product to a more visible position.  As most of my soaps are vegan, I have purchased some organic soy wax and will make vegan lotion bars and salves as well and will have a vegan display and a soy free display.  They will be raised above the table height enough that men’s grooming boxes and beard/body oils can be displayed below.

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Each of my children were given a crewel work Christmas stocking that I made when they were infants and which they still use.  Each grandchild has been given one, either quilted or knitted intarsia.  Our 7th grandchild was born this past summer and she will get her stocking this year.  It still needs to be lined and some add on ornamentation sewn on and each stocking has a tag sewn inside that is a cross stitched message that says “Made with love, Mom or Grandmom, year” that needs to be stitched and added.

The afternoon of the craft show, our eldest son arrived on a bus to continue working on rebuilding our deck and reinstalling the Direct TV dish.  Toward the end of summer, he and his wife set in concrete, a metal post off the corner of the house for it to be mounted on, but it needed to set.  In the meantime, they had a medical emergency now ok which delayed further work, but he came to get more done.  His wife and son came Wednesday after work to celebrate Thanksgiving.

On one of our excursions out to get supplies for the deck and dish, we went to Rural King and they had chicks.  We came home with the lumber and hardware, set up the big rubber brooder tub and heat table with plans to go back the next day to get the chicks.  Instead, we had to go back out that afternoon as we realized that something had been left at one of the shops, so bedding, feed, and a new water base were purchased and a dozen two week old chicks were brought home for spring laying.

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The Buff Orpington and Welsummers that are almost two have not resumed laying since they molted and we have not gotten a single egg in a month.  Eggs had to be purchased for the family staying here and for Thanksgiving cooking.  We got 3 each Welsummers, Mottled Javas, New Hampshires, and Olive Eggers.  Being almost three weeks old now, they are feathering out and will soon try to fly out of the brooder.  A screen is over the top and the heat lamp that had to be added with the heat table because of the cold in the garage will hopefully thwart that attempt.  The hens will be moved to the cull coop as soon as the fence is fixed there and the coop will be scrubbed and sanitized so the chicks can be relocated out there when they are 6 or 7 weeks old.

Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated with two of our children and their families.  The almost 17 pound local turkey was spatchcocked by eldest son, the sides assembled and a delicious, hearty, mostly local meal was group prepared and enjoyed by all.  The left over turkey enjoyed again for lunch yesterday, and gallons of turkey broth made and frozen for cooking over the next few weeks.  Eldest son went home with some.

Today is our local granddaughter’s 7th birthday and we will be celebrating her birthday and her Mom’s tonight as her Mom will be away for hers.  That will end the November birthday’s for our family. Jim took me to my favorite local restaurant for my birthday last week and I had an awesome risotto with pumpkin, mushrooms, cranberries, and pecans.

During evening hours after a day’s work and knitting have worn me out, caused joint pain, or just stress from the day, I have turned to the calming, meditative art of Zentangle.  The two tiles below are the efforts of the past week, never spending more than about 20 minutes a day of refocus and calming.

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Olio- Nov. 16, 2018

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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The ice storm came, half an inch of glassy coating on every surface, but we didn’t lose power.

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Followed last night by the first accumulation of snow, only a trace.  And wind, freeze your nose off cold.  The chickens think it must be my fault.  After not letting them out in the ice storm yesterday, the coop was opened this morning and the coop cleaned of “fowled” straw, new straw added.  They panicked around me as I did that and then hunkered down in the new straw rather than go out in the cold and snow.

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Last night’s break from craft show prep to work on finishing the Christmas stocking for our 7th grand child, born last summer.  Each grandchild has a personalized stocking made with love by me.  Most given for their first Christmas, but all having one.  Now they are all knitted, but our children’s are crewel work and one grandson’s is quilted, but all handmade by me.

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Canning was supposed to be done except for enchilada sauce once the peppers are all dried, but the bag of cranberries at the grocer was huge.  I guess I could have used part and frozen part, but instead, 4 1/2 pints of cranberry orange relish were made and three of them canned this morning.  One left unsealed for Thanksgiving, the small one to be used for oatmeal.

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Eldest grandson likes Cranberry sauces and relishes, especially when I make them.  Perhaps he can take a jar home after Thanksgiving.

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My 200 pound goofy helper sunning his belly in his favorite spot, right behind where I was working.

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One of the 4 pumpkins spoiled, so the remaining three will be cooked this afternoon and the pulp frozen in 2 cup amounts for pies and breads for the upcoming holidays.  There is a tiny one in the fall table display, it may be cooked and replaced with one of the slightly larger ones so that a stuffed pumpkin can be enjoyed in the near future.  The chooks will get the spoiled one with the bad spots removed once they come out of hiding.

The header picture though several years old looks like it did yesterday after the ice and was coated white this morning.

Experiments, successes, failures – November 13, 2018

The first craft event is creeping up quickly.  The preparation is plugging along.  Last night, the hand spun, hand knit Assymetrical Scarf was finished.  I played chicken trying to use every inch of the hand spun Merino and Bamboo and failed, resulting in having to tink back 3/4 of the width of bind off stitches and an entire purled row in order to have enough yarn to bind off successfully.  There certainly wasn’t much waste, only about 18″ of the skein remained.  It is currently spread out on a beach towel on a guest bed drying from being blocked.

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It will add one more scarf to the inventory for the upcoming events.  The other one I am working on is a 5″ wide rectangle and have decided once it is 20″ long, bind off, stitch up the ends and pick up stitches along the edge, knitting upward to make a hat.  I don’t really like it as a scarf and it is hand spun superwash merino, so it will make a good reversible hat to add to the inventory.

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Other experiments have been in the soaping.  The use of cosmetic clays has been part of the chemistry as natural colorants of the soap and as the clays have very beneficial properties, but the clays have always been blended in thoroughly, giving the soap an even color.  A few days ago, I decided to play around and divided the batch in half, mixing the clay with half and dark cocoa with the other half.  Cocoa is a good antioxidant and a natural colorant.  The clay layer was poured into the mold, the cocoa layer on top and lightly swirled with a plastic spatula.  I am very pleased with the resulting product that is curing for the December events. The green tea with European clay is a success and a nice green color.  It was fairly highly super-fatted so it is soft and will require a long cure.

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The favored Goat milk, oatmeal, and honey soap did not fare so well, there is a very soft tunnel through the top quarter that even if it firms up will leave a miscolored, misshapen bar.  That one fails about a third of the time.  The resulting product are bars that get used here at home.  It is most successful if I let the sodium hydroxide solution and the oil mixture cool to room temperature before mixing and by adding the goat milk, honey, and oatmeal before adding the solution.  It takes forever to get to trace, a thick pudding like consistency, necessary before pouring it into the molds.  So that one was a failure.

The 4th batch is saponifying now.  It is a Himalayan Pink Salt and Moroccan Red Clay scented with Lavender.  It will be interesting tomorrow to see how red it turns.  The poured color is never true.

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Kitchen Chemistry – Nov. 11, 2018

The day dawned very, very cold for this time of year.  According to our local weather blogger, the last time it was this cold this early was 1995 and a couple of weeks later they had a record snowfall.  I hope we aren’t headed for a repeat of that.

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More work has been put into the Asymmetrical Scarf of hand spun Merino and bamboo, the ball of yarn is getting thinner and the scarf is getting longer.  Hopefully it will be done by Saturday for the first craft show.

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I love the colors and realized that it blends with the project bag that is containing it.

The afternoon was spent with more kitchen chemistry.  The lotion bars that were molded yesterday weren’t firm enough and there was no more beeswax in the house.  A quick trip out to resupply it and get two essential oils.  Since the metal measure that was the top of the double boiler had another batch to be poured, beeswax was added to it and remelted, the soft bars that I froze overnight so they could be removed from the silicon molds were dumped on a labelled sheet so I wouldn’t mix the scents, the molds washed and refilled with a Man bar scent and some unscented ones and while they were setting up, one of the scents from yesterday was remelted and more wax added.  This process was repeated until all had been remade with a more solid mixture.

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While they were setting up, one of yesterday’s soap molds was sliced into bars to cure.  The other mold wasn’t quite ready yet.  A third batch was measured out and made, Moroccan Red Clay and Cocoa soap.  I am anxious to see how this one unmolds as it was divided in half.  One half getting the red clay, the other half getting the dark cocoa, they were then poured in two layers and swirled.  This was a new technique for me.

Once the soap was wrapped in a towel to set up overnight, the lotion bars were tinned up, labelled, and sealed with shrink bands.

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The big crate has 8 sections and seven of them have different scents of lotion bars leaving a jumble of salves in the front and a need for a way to display them.  There was a smaller deeper box that looked promising if altered.  The top part was sawed off and the slats broken apart, the two long ones cut to the length of the two shorter ones and the parts painted with the Melted Chocolate color paint that has been used on the other crates and frames.

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It is about half the size and once all the parts are dry, the slats will be glued in to provide spacers for the smaller tins of salves.  A bit of table arranging will be necessary to make it all fit, but it will work.

The kitchen chemistry for the day ended with the magic of making pizza dough and a homemade pizza with the fresh mozzarella purchased at the Farmers Market yesterday.  A jar of the pizza sauce I canned, a Farmers Market red onion and Italian Sausage, some mushrooms, and pepperoni from the grocer and again we enjoyed great pizza.  The chickens will enjoy the crust bits and the whey from the cheese tomorrow.

Back to knitting while the paint dried.

Craft season – Nov. 10, 2018

Craft season is upon us.  Today we wandered about the big show that may be in my future next year to see who had what, prices, and may have bought gifts for upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  One of my products is soap and there were at least three vendors with soap.  One had felted soap for $12/bar, one had beautifully packaged bars that you couldn’t see or smell for $4.50 each.  Another had melt and pour bars in gaudy colors and scents for $6 each.  Knitwear was scarce.  If my friend and I share a booth, we would have enough inventory of items to make a go of it, I think.

This upcoming weekend is my first show of the season, followed by the first three Saturdays in December at the Holiday Markets held by the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market.  Those are always fun, often cold and windy, but among friends.  Thermos of hot coffee or tea or soup and Hot Hands packets to go in gloves are in order.  I hope my shop apron fits over my parka.

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With it’s big pockets, it is good for cash, a pen, and the Square reader on my phone.

Once the notification came in today that those were a go, more soap needed to be made.

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Two batches were made this afternoon, the Goatmilk, Oatmeal, Honey soap which is my favorite, but has about a 33% fail rate, and a Green Tea European Clay batch.  Those need to sit wrapped in a towel tonight and labels need to be made so I don’t forget what went into them.  Tomorrow I will make a Moroccan Red Clay and Cocoa batch, and a Lavender batch.  Once the soaps are curing more lotion bars need to be molded and labelled.  The weather will be cool enough that I won’t have the melt problem I had last spring.

In order to have my sales come out even dollar amounts after collecting state sales tax, I have played with numbers to figure out how much to charge.

I have another half pound of alpaca/merino to spin and a two scarves to finish knitting.  Guess I had better get busy.