Metric Conversion

Monday, January 16, 2012

Inkle Belt

Every week aP1160034t the market I take one of my many hobbies with me to demonstrate. This past Wednesday I took my Inkle loom with me. I figured I would demonstrate how to use the loom and make my self a belt as well. i finished the belt last night and as you can see I have already started to where it. (I do have a better picture below.)

I went with the more neutral colors except for the borders which are in the purple family. This design is a pick up design of a Celtic knot, the back ground of the design is a gradation of beige, ecru and white. I have it going from dark to light back to dark.P1160035 I did an experiment on which side I like better, positive or negative. After I did the first section I looked at the back and thought the negative was pretty cool. So I decided to do the next section in negative to see which one I liked the best. The positive side one out, when I saw the reverse I liked how the gradation worked. But when I really looked at it, it’s hard to see the design. The positive side is more pronounce just like it’s supposed to be. After I finished it I did wash it to  shrink and strengthen it.  It also hides any mistakes, not that there where any. So here is my first official project of the year completed. Cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Soap

A few blog posts before I had a teaser about soap. This is something that Ed and I have P1150033talked about for nearly a year. Our concept is to make our own soap and sell it; continuing with the sustainable concept. Well today we made our first batch of soap, Ed made a comment that its like being in chemistry class. I would agree except I thing this is more fun.

The soap we made is called Homesteader’s Soap. The original homesteaders or farmers would save all the fat though out the year from there cooking, to make their soap. The different fats where bacon, chicken, beef, pork and so on. They would render this and use it for their  soap. The soap we are making is not animal, only vegetable, and is used fryer oil. Our concept for this soap is not a bath soap, but a laundry soap. As the original homesteader soap was a bit harsh for bathing, I’m sure this would be also.

The first step is to measure out your lye and water. For safety sake you should wear rubber gloves, goggles and old clothes. P1150023This is for your protection from splashing lye. The lye has the potential of burning you severely. Once you have both the lye and the water measured out you need to add the one to the other. The reason I’m saying it this way is because the way I did it was adding the lye to the water. After I did that Ed said to me that, that is a big no no. You are supposed to pour the water into the lye. I have another soap book that says to do it the way I did. So I don’t think there is a difference. Once the two are mixed together and you are stirring to dissolve  the lye. The water heats to between 150 degrees and 250 degrees. Ours was about 200 degrees. After that you let it cool to 100 degrees.

Once the lye is nearing 100 mark, you need to warm your oils and fats to the same temperature. P1150026Once that is achieved then you add your lye to the fats and oils. (Both books agree that you should add the lye to the fats, just saying.) As you are adding the lye to the fats you must stir and not stop until you are ready to pour the soap into the mould. This step can be as quick as 15 minutes or as long as an hour. It all depends on the types of fats and oils used, the lye absorbs each fat differently. The really cool think when you do add the lye to the fat, the reaction is instantaneously happening. You can feel the soap getting thicker, it took this batch about 45 minutes to be able to pour into the mould.

You know the soap is ready to be poured into the mould when you have what is called “trailing”. The best way to describe P1150030 this is by thinking of pudding when you pick up the spoon a trail of pudding is left on the surface from the spoon. The same thing happens with soap. Once you have achieved that you can pour it into its mould.

You will notice that the mould is sitting on top of a wool blanket and a quilt. This is so you can cover the mould so the soap can cure slowly. As a matter of fact the mould is going to stay covered for 48 hours. Once that time P1150033 period has passed you can un-mould it. Now when we do unwrap it and un-mould it. It should still be warm to the touch, I of course can’t say yes or no to this yet. But in a couple of days I will be able to.

So later in the week I will post so everyone knows how we did and what we will be doing with it from this point on.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Farm Show 2012

I got to th2012-01-13 13.50.46e farm show this year. Just not on Wednesday like I usually do, this year we went on Friday and I must say the vendors are tired and just want it to be over. But the Butter Sculpture still looked good. I think its a law that they must have a cow in the sculpture, which makes total sense of course, since that is where the butter comes from. But you would think that they would switch it up a bit. Never the less it is an amazing  site to be hold indeed. This year the sculpture is of a boy and his cow wining a ribbon at the country fair. The ribbon giver is the Dairy Princesses. The sculpture is kept in a temperature controlled cooler and you have a 360 degree view, just by walking around the display.

Since the Sheep to Shawl and the fleece auction where both on Wednesday, I wasn’t coming home with fleece or pictures of the competition.694392098_2483017445_0 So instead I got to spend more time with the animals them selves. Yes I wanted to take some home with me I just wasn’t sure I could get them on the bus. Some years when you are looking at the animals they are shy, and stay away from humans. not this year they where trying to eat my jacket. I had one ram that wanted to come home with me, he just went nuts. So yea i have to work on getting some animals. Below you will see some more picks of the animals that wanted me for lunch or my jacket.

All in all the show was an excellent show we had a good time. Of course we are looking forward to next year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I must apologizenewyear2012 for not getting out my New Years Eve post. One of the big themes for last year was not enough time. I realize that everyone has this problem and every time I had a little extra time I was so tired I feel asleep. So obviously this is something I need to work on this year. 

Very quickly the biggest hump we had to get over last year. The most prominent is all of the rain, we need water just not as much as Mother Nature as been giving us. The water is still laying all over the farm, when it dry’s up a bit then we can continue butting in raised beds.

The only other major thing is not having enough money. I know that is everyone's problem and I’m not going to delve into it any further.

Now lets look at this New Year and some of the positives from last year. We where able to make some connections last year that brings us into a better situation this year. First we did a first time festival called Vegfest, that was phenomenal for us. From that came the opportunity to sell over the winter at The Market at Westgate (which is a year long farmers market). This also is helping us to sell in more places, when we get back into local season produce. We have expanded are line to offer herbs and dry good. Some other things we are looking to add are home made soap (again time problem). I would like to sell some of my fiber items (woven to be specific and others). If I can get a fire under him I’m going to get Ed weaving baskets (we’ll see how that one go’s). For the spring we would like to offer Heirloom seeds, so this is what we have setup for this year we will see how it go’s.

I of course would like to weave more and I am going to try. I have many ideas I just need to organize my time to get them all done. Another goal for this year is more animals on the farm (this is more the money and time issue then anything else). So this year has a lot of potential and we will do everything we can to achieve these goals. All we can do is try.