Sunday, 4 March 2018

Soap today!

Report card writing time usually takes control of 3 consecutive weekends so when they are done, I look forward to a few things.  This time I looked forward to yoga so I made it to 3 consecutive 6 am yoga classes! 

I also made plans to make soap with JayKay.  It had been a while since we had made any together, likely not since July 2017.  So it was grand time to make more.

For today's soap I used:  
  • olive oil 
  • cocoa butter
  • shea butter
  • mango butter
  • Orange Valencia and Litsea essential oils
  • powdered cocoa

The hearts were made by mixing powdered cocoa with a small amount of soap base.  I love how these soaps have turned out so far.  I blended the oils & lye around 115F.  The base colour was quite yellow/orange due to the olive oil and the citrus EOs.  It's only been a few hours but the soaps have already lightened-up a fair amount.  

The 2000g of oils made 12 oval soaps, and 12 square soaps.  I poured the leftovers in what I call my "square guy" mold.  JayKay is calling this leftover mishmash soap "Poppy Seed Explosion".  Oddly, I'm even more excited about this soap than the planned soap.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's ready!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Tunic Fade

2017 was the summer of forest fires in BC, and in the knitting world it was the summer of faded knits:  shawls, sweaters, ...  I had wanted to knit a faded tunic for a few years after seeing a few different versions on Pinterest but was not confident enough to do it on my own without a pattern.

Then came a Tanis Fiber Arts Etsy update featuring these beauties:

Knowing that they would disappear within minutes of the sale opening, armed with my phone, at the given time I made a quick purchase and was lucky enough to get them.  Having purchased the yarn, there was no turning back and it was time to find a pattern.

I liked the shape of Amy Miller's Seamus, a fun, light tunic in fingering weight yarn.  Using the total length of the tunic, I divided the tunic into 5 sections, reserving the ribbing for the last colour.  When it was time to switch colours I would usually knit 1 row of the new colour, 3 rows of the current colour, then 1 row of the new, followed by 2 rows of the current, then 1 row new, 1 row current, 2 rows new, 1 current, 3 rows new, 1 current, and continue with the new colour.

When adding the sleeves I tried my best to match the colours with those in the main body.  The original pattern has pockets but I decided not to add these.  They look great on a plain tunic though.

The final product is amazingly soft with beautiful drape.

To think that I almost didn't finish it.  I thought that the teal might be too bright and would have preferred to switch the last 2 colours.  The project lay dormant for a few months while I completed Christmas presents and a few other knits.  I'm glad to have returned to it and toughed it out because the result is a spectacular sweater that feels amazingly soft and light to wear.

I have fallen in love with the tubular bind-off.  It adds bulk to the ribbing and gives a nice, clean edge.

Colours:  Tanis Fiber Arts Purewash Fingering in:  Poolside, Atlas, Hummingbird, Luna, and Silent Movie

Monday, 23 May 2016

May is Purple

May always seems like the beginning of the Year in Colours to me because of the way nature's palette comes alive.  It starts with irises:

Then moves onto many other variations of purple and green.  
2 kinds of lavender 

California Lilac alive with bees
Everything put together
Lastly, sometimes nature also produces these colours in unexpected places:

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Eucalyptus Soap

This past weekend my soapy friends & I gathered once again to make soap.  It had been a while since we had gotten together for such an occasion.  Since our soap teacher is no longer taking groups, we had not met to make soap as it's difficult to get 4 cooks in a kitchen.

So this past weekend, we were all in the same kitchen at the same time.  2 friends used the mighty attractive Good Planet cold-processed soap kits, while another made her lovelies from scratch.   As for me, with jet-lag and all, I watched the excitement from the dining room as I couldn't get my oils together in time.

It was so exciting to watch all the soaps come together that when I returned home, I measured and melted all the oils, then let them rest while the family had a nice Easter Monday dinner at Mom's.  When we returned, I mustered the courage to get the lye+water going.  This was my first time making soap without a mentor with me.  Although I have made soap for 5 years now, I had never made it on my very own.

 It took a little over 60 minutes for the lye & oils to cool to the right temperatures.  I had to place the oils in the fridge for a while to get them to cool quicker but when everything reached 114 - 117F, I mixed lye & oils together.  I still love seeing the oils develop a new personality when they thicken as they reach the trace stage.  I always feel like greeting them with a "Why hello!  That's who you are!"

This batch was a mixture of:  olive/coconut/palm oils, cocoa butter, water, lye, and eucalyptus/lavender essential oils.  Some bars also have spirulina (for a bit of green contrast), and Deep Bay fennel seeds.  I upped the palm oil % to make the bars harder this time.  They were ready to cut today and I couldn't be happier with the results!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


In the knitting world, to be struck with "startitis" is to be enamoured with the thrill of starting more projects than being able to complete.  I seem to be currently afflicted with quite the opposite because I  can't decide what to start next.  Am I so intimidated by my yarn's beauty that I'm afraid to crack it open?

Back in December I purchased this:

It's Cosmic Label - Cosmic Night, from Tanis Fiber Arts' now annual Boxing Day Etsy Sale.  The now discontinued Cosmic Label has sparkles and I was lucky to be able to snag a few skeins before they disappeared.  

I'm thinking of making a Sunrise Cardi by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.  A few weeks ago I purchased "Swoon Maine", a pattern collection of knits by Carrie Bostick & friends inspired by the Atlantic Coast.  Every pattern is unique and has a modern understated style to it.  Most of the sweaters are worsted weight, but luckily I found this one in fingering weight on which I could use my prized Cosmic Label.  

I"m looking forward to knitting with this yarn again because the sparkles in the last project made with this yarn had me giggling all the way.  That alone should motivate me to start swatching, shouldn't it?

Friday, 24 July 2015

Scrappy Socks Rain Dance

Here on the Westcoast, 20 is a good number.  20 degrees C, warm enough for shorts, pleasant.  20 km/hr winds, not enough to cause damages.  So when the thermometer climbs to 30, 35+ as it has for the past few weeks, we're just not  equipped physically or emotionally.  Honestly, we're not whimps, we can survive months without seeing sunlight.  That takes some kind of courage too, doesn't it?

So we have been without rain since June.  Lawns have turned into yellow hay.  Jurisdictions around us have been implementing water restrictions.  Wells are running dry.  Around the province, fires are igniting spontaneously.  Fear not West Coast Aquarians lovers of water, I have found the equivalent to an old-fashioned "rain dance".  This is what I did yesterday:

First, I bathed a newly finished pair of scrappy-socks.  Next, I blocked them outside on a chair so they would dry in the breeze.  Then they were promptly forgotten, as they lay basking in the sunshine.  In the middle of the night the unfamiliar sound of raindrops on the deck should have triggered the memory of these poor beauties in distress.  Around 10am, the now soggy socks returned inside where they are still trying to dry-out in the 20 degrees kitchen.  Here they are in their soggy splendor:

So it rained and you're welcome.  We had a bit of rain today, perhaps thanks to the socks so bravely overnighting on the deck?  I hope we're finally back to our normal temperatures because it feels good!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Aubade Shawl

Last summer involved many trips back and forth between Victoria and Vancouver.   For the unitiated, this involved a 1.5 hr ferry ride, with an hour commute at each end (using transit).  While it was a stressful period, the ferry ride was made easier by keeping busy with a project.  Knitting atop the Sundeck on a beautiful sunny afternoon is a perfect antidote to a stressful situation.

I filled this project with so much dedication and love that it seemed fitting to gift it to an acquaintance recently diagnosed with cancer.  The pattern and colour were so beautiful together that it felt really good to gift it to someone who needed a lift.

But truth be known, I really missed this shawl and kept thinking about how nice it would feel to wear it.  So with the colour only available for a few more weeks, I decided to order more of it and make one for myself.   

I don't often make the same project twice and come to think of it, have never re-knitted the same pattern in the same colour.  I'm glad I did because I have learned that each project really has its own personality.  While the first Aubade was perfect in every way, this 2nd one is slightly flawed and a bit more loosy-goosy, which of course, makes it more endearing!  

I love this new shawl and can see wearing it all year round because it is so light, perfect for cool Westcoast summer nights, or as a winter scarf.