Thursday, June 30, 2011

Busy Buzzy Bee

It is finished! This busy buzzy bee vest has taken me about 12 months to finish with intense tutelage from my neighbour. It is the first garment I have ever knitted (not, however, the first I have started). Now finally it is finished and I am so happy it fits. Quin said he will wear it every day. He'd better!
Now I start the mammoth task of knitting Ads a vest (with beautiful op shop yarn). I can do it. I think I can I think I can...


Last Christmas one of our Earth Carers volunteers gave a demo on how to make soap. Since then I've been hooked, so has my colleague and my neighbour. We are getting together on the weekend to try goat's milk soap.

Normal soap is a lot easier to make than you might think. Here are some of my first attempts. I pored the mix over my (home grown) luffa for extra exfoliation!

Basically you mix water with lye (caustic soda) very carefully. This causes a chemical reaction and the solution gets warm. Then you heat oil. Both the lye solution and the oil need to be between 32-43 degrees. Then you mix them together with a stick blender and you get a second chemical reaction, saponification. Pour the mixture into a mold, wait 24 hours, chop it up and Bob's your uncle, soap!

But don't try to make soap until you have read the full version on how to do it.  You do have to be really careful with the lye. Also you can't just use any oil as each type of oil reacts differently to the lye, so it must be recipe specific to the type of oil you want to use. I read the book 'Smart Soapmaking' by Anne L. Watson, which gives good and clear instructions and a few good recipes. Unfortunately she uses some palm oil recipes which I stear clear of.

Soaps make great gifts and can be sold for fund raising. Here is a load I made for my Dad's church fete.

You can use heaps of different essential oils and exfoliants, different shaped molds and colouring. Silicone molds from the op shops work really well. Here is one below with (home grown) poppy seeds and orange essential oil (I have all but given up on making sour dough bread so what else am I to do with my poppy seeds!).

Have a go, it's great fun and just another skill to bring on home. Don't be afraid of the lye. I think, these days, we have lost our nerve with home made stuff. We worry about botulism with preserving, burning our skin off with home made soap, meningitis in our potting mix, bird poo in our tank water... But what about the fun and creative satisfaction with all of the above. To me the risk is worth it. Anyway, it will never happen and if it does I'll die smiling!