Tag Archives: craft shows

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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A New Day, A New Direction

Now that the spinning team competition is done, my yardage reported, I can put that behind me for another year.  Today, for the first time in over a week, I picked up my knitting needles and resumed work on another hat; finished weaving in the ends on a hat that I finished more than a week ago; finished putting tags and labels on my knitted shawls, scarves, hats, and mitts; designed a new label for my yarn, printed the labels and applied them to the skeins.  This work is in preparation for the beginning of the craft shows.  I will be demonstrating spinning and vending my wares at the Harvest Festival at the Smithfield House Plantation in Blacksburg on Sunday.  As we were headed in to our weekly Farmers’ Market and breakfast venture on Saturday morning, I received an email that I had been accepted for both Holiday Markets at the Farmers’ Market, one in November and the other in December, so more soap needs to be made.  More yarn spun.  More hats and mitts knitted.

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Handspun hat on the needles

I still haven’t come up with the best way to display the yarn, hats, scarves, shawls, and mitts that doesn’t just have them flat on a table.  Whatever my solution, it must be able to withstand some wind without tipping over, and I don’t want to spend much more on my display.  I am thinking of using some of the scrap wood in the garage, hinging it at the top like an easel, putting dowel rungs down both sides and using clips or clothespins to hold the items in place.   Perhaps a couple of T shaped stands to hold the shawls. The yarn will probably be stacked by color in two baskets, the soaps, lotion bars, and salves in their crates with the little chalkboard labels.

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Freshly labelled yarn in the storage bin.
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New label.

Tomorrow may be a day to make a couple of batches of soap, or to work on displays for this weekend.