Category Archives: Soap

What a night!

Chris, Pam and Kelley as we wait for the talk to begin
Chris, Pam and Kelley as we wait for the talk to begin

Four of us Treadlers have had a plan on for the past month or so.  We were lucky enough to score tickets to hear the Yarn Harlot talk at an old elementary school in Rockland on Saturday night.  So our whole afternoon and evening was set up on a pretty tight timetable and it was more fun than we even expected!

The Yarn Harlot in action
The Yarn Harlot in action

A lot of us follow Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s blog, Yarn Harlot, and most of us have read all her books to date as well.  She is a very hard-working knitter and knit designer who also happens to write amazingly wonderful essays on life in general, life with her family, and knitting, knitting and more knitting.  It sounds lame to say that she is a knitting humorist, but I guess that’s really what she does.  Her visit in Rockland was a talk about “Your Brain on Knitting.”  A lot of research and good things about knitting, how it engages your brain, how can help put you into the Theta brain wave center (which is the brain wave zone that helps your brain be more creative, and doesn’t happen unless you are in a more relaxed but focused state, like when you are knitting!).  But all of the talk was punctuated with seriously hysterical anecdotes from her life.  We laughed for hours, but I almost felt bad because I knew from her blog that she has been doing a lot of traveling, and she did look pretty bone-tired.

Auditorium at the Lincoln Street School
Auditorium at the Lincoln Street School

Part of our Saturday plan involved getting up to Rockland early and invading the Over the Rainbow yarn shop there.  This is the shop that set up the talk, and they also sponsored two classes with Stephanie at the shop the next day.  (I did not sign up for either of those).  So the four of us toodled over, fondled a lot of beautiful yarn, and then walked back to Cafe Miranda and had an amazing dinner.  Just in time to get us over to the Lincoln Street School (and did that school conjure up memories of one of my elementary schools!).  It’s lovely fun to be in the company of a hundred or so knitters, most of us knitting during the talk as well. Stephanie was also extremely gracious about signing books and having photos taken with her fans as well.

Chris helped feed the hungry hordes on Sunday morning
Chris helped feed the hungry hordes on Sunday morning

And then our friend Chris stayed over at our house so as not to have to drive back to Brunswick that late, and we had a blast doing morning chores together and then we made soap from some of the lard that I rendered last weekend.  That story is for another post!  The rest of the day I spent fixing up fencing as our pigs left on Friday for the butcher.  That is another post as well!  It really was one of the most fun weekends I have spent in a very long time.

Soapy weekend

Curing goat's milk soap

Our friend Chris came over on Saturday and we had some soapy fun!  I have definitely not been keeping up with my soap-making and my inventory is seriously depleted.  I am freezing some goat’s milk in exact amounts for the recipe I use on a regular basis, so I am prepared in case I really do dry off the two does.

It was a fun day, and we enjoyed a nice lunch and some soapy goodness.  I cut them on Monday morning before I went to work and they are now to the curing stage.  The spearminty aroma when we come into the house is amazing!

Maine Fiber Arts Tour Weekend 2011

Inside setup, pretty much the same as it was outside!

We have been in real need of some serious rain for awhile, but I am sorry it had to take out the final day of the tour weekend.  Not really take it out, but it was so drippy and full of mosquitoes up in the tent near the top of the driveway, that I moved everything back to the house and set it up in the living room late this morning.  Much nicer in this kind of weather!

While everything was set up so nicely in the tent I forgot to photograph the setup, but the one table looked very similar to this one with the yarn, and then I had my roving and soaps displayed on another.  I got quite a bit of spinning done on Friday, which was a quiet day for me, and then yesterday turned out to be quite busy, which was nice.  Visiting with some old friends and meeting a number of new fiber enthusiasts was a pleasure.  It began to really get quite humid by 5 PM, but mostly the day was pretty perfect.

Lye added to goat's milk turns an orangey color

Right now I am in the middle of a batch of soap, waiting for the lye/goat milk solution to cool down enough that I can combine it with the oils and get blending.  I always underestimate the time it needs to get cool enough.  Ah well.  This too shall happen.  Just 5 more degrees to go :*)

Found it!

It's back! And it's all together :*)

Well, I didn’t find it, John did.  I can’t believe it!  The mixing arm from the stick blender :*)

He was waiting for a call-back on parts for the John Deere tractor (I can’t even go there right now; things like this always happen when we don’t have much money!) and was getting cardboard and newspaper organized in the mudroom.  The box the mixer came in wasn’t empty, et voila!  I don’t know how the stem got into that and not into it’s nice little white case, but it did.  Yay!  Now I can forge ahead and make more lovely goat milk soap.

Soap part 2

Today we helped out at another shearing in the area and when I got home at noontime I decided it was time to cut the soap.  After 48 hours it was looking and smelling very lovely in the molds out in the mudroom.  It had done its thing with the cooling and felt smooth and firm, but not brittle and hard as rock.

Loaf of 2 day old soap

The parchment paper had crinkled a bit in the corners, but it wasn’t too bad when I unmolded the logs. I think next time I will go back to using butcher paper to line the molds instead, it doesn’t get so mushy. Then I got out my nifty, handy-dandy log cutter.  I love this implement!  The molds are made specifically to fit with the

Using the cutter

cutter and you can choose how thick to make the bars.  It all worked out very nicely.  (I have a fondness for the crinkly-cutter, as you can see).  So now we cure it for at least 3 weeks.  It smells wonderful, and I know that you shouldn’t use it at this stage, but when I washed up after handling the bars, my hands felt wonderful!

I ordered these lovely molds from Creekside Soaps.  It is definitely not the only place you can find the wood molds online, but these are handmade and just beautiful.  I love them!

Bars ready for curing

Soapy Thursday

Lavender oatmeal goat milk bars

Yesterday was soap day.  I have not made any in quite awhile and our friend Chris wanted to come by and help out.   I keep about 10 half gallons of goat milk in the freezer for the winter and projects like this.  I had intended to be making soap at least once a month during this time, but things conspired to keep that from happening.

Everything was laid out and ready to go.  All the ingredients and implements.  Chris came over and we got to work (although not before we had some coffee and some treats that Chris brought along with her!).  While the lye/goat milk solution was cooling and the oils were warming, I got out the trusty stick blender in its white case.  Hmm.  Everything is in the box except the part we desperately need to blend the mix.    John, Chris and I began to go through the cabinets and the drawers like crazy people!  It was definitely not coming to light.  In the dim recesses of my memory I can picture the stick part of the blender on the drain board and the rest of the unit in its box.

The elusive stick end of the stick blender... still can't find ours!

I can also recall thinking that this part of it needed to dry thoroughly before popping it into its case.  Sigh.  Another implement separated.  I hate it when that happens :*(

Well, Chris and I talked about doing this by hand and agreed that maybe we would call our friend Pam and see if we could borrow her blender.  So Pam came to our rescue and Chris drove over to get it.  The lye solution was still not quite cool enough when Chris returned so we had some more coffee and then got to blending!  I am always amazed at how magically the oils and the lye/milk mixture come together.  We did have a little debate on whether or not we had reached “trace;”  but in the end we decided to go for it.   I usually add oatmeal to our soaps and this time was no different.  I let Chris choose the essential oil, so we have a nice batch of Rosemary oatmeal goodness!

Soap in its molds lined with parchment paper

It is looking lovely in the wooden molds and I can hardly wait to cut it!

Soaping up!

I seem to be falling off the blog wagon this past week or two.  It’s been a very busy time.  Butcher dates, and all sorts of farm things like moving sheep fencing in 98% humidity… not my favorite thing to do on a fairly steep hill!  But it got done.  The really exciting thing that happened this past week is that Pam of Hatchtown Farm and I were invited to Bridge Farm in Dresden to learn how to make soap.  Having access to goat’s milk on  a regular basis means that there is always a surplus, so I have been wanting to learn to do our own soap.  The learning curve that revolves around the handling of lye has always stopped me in the past from just playing around with the process.  So Pam and I went over for a lovely lesson, and came away with almost 7 lbs of gorgeous oatmeal lavender goat milk bars.

Bars of handmade soap, curing

Well, the bars didn’t happen until 2 days later, but the smell is heavenly and I can hardly wait to start using it!  It needs to cure for 3 more weeks, so in the meantime I admire it as I pass through our mudroom, where it sits in state on one of the big freezers :*)