Dove Knits

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lather, rinse, repeat

For some reason, I'm just not getting much done lately. I think I'm a bit tired of knitting, see, because I have so many knitting deadlines right now. And what's the fun in deadlines?

Anyway, just wanted to post the things I have done:

First off, the Robin Hood hoodie is almost finished. I have to sew the pieces together, knit the hood, sew on the buttons, and weave in the ends. A few more evenings' worth of work here.

Secondly, I'm frantically knitting L's baby's sweater, because I may see her next week. It's the cabled sweater from Adorable Knits for Tots, and it would have gone alot faster had the author PROOFREAD the pattern. The cabling pattern instructions are completely messed up. I had to rip everything out and rework them several times. I'll have to post the corrections I made later. I'm also modifying the pattern so that it has buttons at the shoulder, to make it easier to put on.

Thirdly, the soaping:

The bar on the left is the newest batch of CP soap, made with ye olde standby oils: olive, coconut, and palm, with olive predominating. Having learned from my experience with the previous batch, which had too much lye despite my following someone's recipe, I ran this batch through a lye calculator first and used enough lye to give me a 5-7% superfat (5-7% depending on which calculator I used).

It, erm, was an interesting soap-making experience. First, everything went well, except I think I mixed while everything was still a bit too hot. It traced quickly, but not overly so. In a word, it was going well.

Then I added the essential oils (sweet orange, close, cinnamon leaf, and a touch of rosemary...I really wish I had a scratch'n'sniff blog so you could smell it! It's divine.), mixed them in, and dumped the soap in my mold. While smoothing it, though, I discovered that the soap had a layer of soap on top, and oozy orange filling in the middle. That's great for cookies, but not for soap. So I dumped it back into my mixing bowl and mixed the crap out of it with my hand blender. Then it got all thick and lumpy, like cold mashed potatoes. So I glopped it into the mold.

The next morning, it was still very soft and pliable, and had a thin film of oil on all exposed sides. It was also ugly, because rather than being poured into the mold, it was glopped, so it had all kinds of air pockets and creases. Now, about 4 days afterwards, it's hardening and is no longer oily since I wiped it down. It's still soft, but I think that's just because it's more highly superfatted than the other soaps I've made. On the bright side, it has no unreacted lye, and hadn't since day 1. I'm pretty sure that it will come out ok and just be a bit fatty. I'm intending this as shaving soap, though, so fatty is not too bad a thing.

And it smells SO GOOD.

Moving right along. The middle bar, the greenish one, is the result of my rebatching a failed CP batch, the one I posted a couple entries ago, with peppermint and tea tree. Anyway, it had lots of unreacted lye, because I blindly followed a recipe rather than calculating. Thankfully, Twig suggested that I can rebatch it, if I want, adding more oil to superfat it. So even though I hadn't had much luck with rebatching (I exploded a Pyrex cup, remember?), I decided to give it a shot. I calculated how much oil I would need (1.5 oz olive oil), grated the soap, and added the oil and about 3 oz of water (to almost 2 lb of soap). I mixed in the oil and water, which was juuuuust enough to dampen the soap shavings. I covered the bowl up with foil and let it sit until the next day.

The following day, I preheated my oven to 200F and put the covered bowl of soap in. I checked it every 30 minutes or so. For an hour, nothing at all happened. Then, some of the shavings started turning deep brown and translucent, like caramelized onions. I upped the heat to 225F. An hour after that, almost all the shavings had melted. They weren't watery or liquidy, just brown and translucent, and the consistency of store-bought frosting. A few shavings never melted, but I just stirred them in with the rest of the glop and gave the soap about 15 more minutes. Then I glopped it into my mold (a cardboard box lined with a grocery bag). It immediately formed a skin as it cooled, and it really doesn't look too pretty because it has creases and stuff on the top, but I banged the air pockets out of it.

Also, because the soap originally had crushed mint in it, it turned a dirty green while cooking. I added just a few drops of peppermint EO and a few of lemon, but that was it. This morning, the bars are definitely solid, though still a bit pliable. They look ugly, but smell nice, and no longer zap me with lye -- yay!

I really need to figure out how to make my soap pretty. For now, I'll cut off the uneven, ugly sirfaces.

Finally, there are two soap balls from my previous rebatching attempt. I added alot of water, so they're just now hardening. But it looks like they may work out.

Also, I remember someone told me once that s/he adds EOs to soaps by stacking soap between layers of mueslin wetted with some of the EOs, and stores them that way for a few weeks in an airtight container. I'm trying to add EOs to my soap by saturating a paper towel with EOs and stacking my first, unescented but very very nice batch of soap, on those. We'll see.

Oh, I also made more lipbalm, beccause it's the easiest thing to make, ever. I made it in tubes this time, and it's just chocolate scented from cocoa butter, like last time. I also made another batch in tubs, with alot less beeswax to make it more spreadable, and added raspberry flavor oil to it -- yum.

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At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rebatched soap, in my experience is never really pretty.

Keep at it, though, your cp will improve every time you do it.

I don't see how adding EO like that would work. It would only be a superficial scent and once the soap was used and the scented part used up, there wouldn't be any scent left. Of course, I've never tried it, but that's my impression. I use about 1 oz of EO per pound of oils.

Clove will make it move fast to trace so be careful with that (but I do love the scent). Sometimes it will even make soap on a stick (that's NEVER good *laugh*).

Unfortunately any botanical you put in CP or HP soap will turn brown. It's the nature of the beast.

At 10:05 AM, Blogger Sourire11 said...

hmmm I don't really know anything about soap making or how to make it pretty but your lipbalm sounds delicious! your cabled sweaters are really beautiful, too.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

Your sweaters are great! You will have some lucky recipients. Good luck with the soap making adventures, it sounds like making your house smell yummy makes it all worth it.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

The sweaters are coming along beautifully. I love the looks of cables but not on this body I have, hehe. Say, what fun you seem to be having with soap. I've never tried it. My sideline right now is "needle felting" ... Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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