Making Felted Bars of Soap

Besides function, the greatness of having a washcloth and soap in one, or the sheer joy seeing a cute little decorated bar of soap might bring every time you wash your hands, I have felted my soap to save it. Save it you might ask? From what? My beasties. Every single one of them have turned out to be soap destroyers at a young age. They are good for the most part in taking care of their things and do not seek to destruct on a usual basis. But soap? When you are two years old, in our home, it stands no chance. Little hands soak it and squeeze it and pull it until it is nothing but a pile of bits. This irks me immensely! It clogs the drain. It just drives me nuts collecting little scraps to lather with too. I’ve done the soap in a nylon thing, crocheted a cute little bag. It’s helped but each still had annoying issues.

So I have turned to this in attempt to not only beautify the sink side, but also for sanity. And it’s fun to make! 🙂

You will need,

-wool roving or batt

-a bar of soap

-nylon stocking

-a dish of boiling water

-bubble wrap and tape to secure it to your work surface, I used some duct tape.

-rubber gloves if you wish

-if you happen to have a washboard or some other corrugated something to use in place of bubble wrap, that may even be better!

First step is to set up. You’ll want to tape your bubble wrap to your work surface. Put on a kettle of water and have a dish for the boiling water ready.

The fun part now is to wrap your soap. I have put together a very simple batt, mostly white Finn sheep wool with a few flecks of colour. This is where you can insert your imagination and the possibilities go on and on. I am excited for the next time I get a chance to do this, I plan on bright colours and neat designs.

Take your wool and wrap your soap! You will want to be sure your soap is completely covered. Also that it is on evenly and not thin in one place, bulky in another. Be sure your edges are covered nicely. It may felt better if wrapped across the bar and then perpendicularly.

Once you are satisfied with your wrapping, place bar into the toe of the nylon sock.

Pour your boiling water into your dish, and carefully dip the bar of soap a few times, jostle it a bit then remove it from the water. Shake it off a tad, then start rubbing it on your bubble wrap. Continue to do so, all sides, for about five to ten minutes in total. I dipped the soap back into the hot water a few times during the process.

After all that time felting, you can remove your bar from the nylon. Sometimes it will stick a bit but just pull and it will let go of the nylon no problem.

Take a clean towel and dry off your felted bar. If it looks like it needs some extra felting anywhere, just continue to rub on the bubble wrap. Your wool should be tight on the bar, it should not be able to be pinched up or slide around at all. To give it an extra bit of security, you can give it a few thwacks, wrapped in the towel on a counter top or table. You want to take care that it hits the surface flat sided so you don’t make any dents in your bar.

When you finished with the felting, dry the bar off by squeezing gently in a towel and set them in the sun to dry, or on a drying rack.

Ta-da!

Beautiful, functional bars of soap!

Alpacalypse!

We had a wonderful surprise last week when my daughter ran home to say, “Mom! A baby alpaca outside!” Finally the moment we have all been waiting for, and weren’t entirely sure would come.

When we bought our little herd of alpacas 13 months ago, we were told that they wouldn’t likely get pregnant as they had been bred in the past numerous times and never have any had a cria. Alpacas being the oddball creatures they are have various unique features and traits, one of which is not showing their pregnancy. Our alpaca mother, Cocoa Puff near the end finally looked a wee bit wider but really nothing that provided certainty of her condition. It was mostly noticing she looked uncomfortable which gave us a shining hope she was indeed going to have a cria.

She had this handsome little boy, no problems at all. Soon enough he was up on his gangly, adorable legs, nursing and taking in his surroundings.

He is sooooooo soft! Like really, unlike anything I’ve touched before.

The funny thing about Alpacalypse, Al for short, is his mother is all brown and his father also. Yet for some reason, he too was born with a white hat, like five out of six of our newest born lambs. The white had club has many members this summer.

We are not sure if any of our other alpacas are pregnant, but I sure hope at least one more may be. We may train this little guy as a pack alpaca and bring him on our hikes in the woods some day.

Welcome Finn Lambs!

Well, our Elyse has looked ready to lamb any time for the past three weeks. With the heat wave we had I felt concerned for her. Panting away, uncomfortable, humid air, her udder huge with milk supply. When it felt impossible for her to get any bigger, she continued to do just that.

Today though she was acting different. She went off alone and wasn’t interested in much of anything. I hung out with her all afternoon. Moved her inside to her stall and continued to wait.

Hours later it was clear she was trying to lamb, problem was though she wasn’t doing anything but straining. I tried reaching in for baby, but things just didn’t feel right. Thankfully Adam has experience in his department so when he realized baby was coming out backwards he knew what to do.

Elyse cleaned off her lamb and had another just minutes later. This little guy needed help getting out as he was jumbled up as well – and big! He is solid and longer and taller than his sister

Elyse got him cleaned up as well and we spent a good hour out with her and the lambs. The kids finally made their way out to excitedly greet them too.

Finally we made our way into the house. Gave the youngest kids baths, had showers ourselves, made snacks for everyone and put the kids to bed.

I decided to go check on the sheep, when I did was it ever a surprise! There were three! Thank goodness the last one must have presented properly. There was a large chunk of time in between the birth of the first two and the last, which I found very surprising.

Yay! Our lambs are here, healthy and well and finally I feel so much relief for Elyse. With this being our first lambing I really didn’t know completely what to expect. Can’t wait for tomorrow, fuzzy little lamb hugs!

Microwave Dyeing Hand Painted Locks of Wool or Mohair

This is a great method for relatively controlled results. No need for big batches and dye pots here, so this is favourable for small bits of fibre.

You can also dye batts, roving and spun yarn this way as well. It’s perfect!

You will need:

Clean locks (wool, roving or yarn)

Acid dyes

A number of small containers, one for each colour

Foam brushes, one for each colour, though it is possible to wash out the brush between colours if you’re short on brushes

Citric acid or vinegar

Synthropol or shampoo

Plastic wrap

Small towel

First step is to soak your locks, or whatever it is you are choosing to dye in water along with some synthropol. You could also use a drop of shampoo, jet dry or dawn. I let mine soak for about thirty minutes. Lots of time to gather up dyeing supplies.

I used my usual acid dyes for this project, Majic Carpet Dyes, they always give me vibrant results. Whatever it is you use, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing.

After the locks had a good soak, I removed them and rolled them in a small towel and gave them a squeeze to get most of the water out.

Next I laid out a large double layer of plastic wrap and set my locks down in the middle. Note that you might not want to start with a thick mass if you want consistent colour. If your pile of locks is too thick the top locks might be very bright and the ones on the bottom not so much. That said, it would be a nice effect if that’s what you want.

This is the time to add either vinegar or citric acid to your mixed colours.

Here comes the fun part, get creative!

Dip the foam brush into the colour you want to start with, go easy, you don’t want your brush dripping everywhere. Start with just a bit of colour and it is very easy to add more, but you cannot take it off once it’s on. Press the brush to the locks and you’ll see them soaking up the colour.

I left a small space between my colours so they wouldn’t bleed together. If you worked with colours that mix nicely, red next to yellow etc, it could turn out really nice.

Again, for this part there are really no rules, just a guideline how to method.

So once your locks are finished being painted, wrap them up in the plastic wrap. I wrapped two sides in, then the last two sides together and it created a handle to carry the packet by.

Place the little package in the microwave, either in a dish if you would like or right onto the turning plate which is what I chose to do.

Two to three minutes in the microwave is all it takes for a good steam to build up in the package and set the dye.

All microwaves are different. This is a hot project! Use extreme care when using your microwave and moving your hot lock package! Steam burns! Use oven mitts or other kitchen tools to safely move the hot package!

I began with two minutes set on my microwave. It seemed to look good and be going well. I heard some popping inside so I stopped the microwave to have a peek, all looked good so I let it continue. At the end of the two minutes, I set the microwave for an additional thirty seconds to be certain enough steam was in there to set the colour. You will see your package swell up while in the microwave.

Now to remove your package, it will be hot! Be careful! I used oven mitts, and carefully put my package on a towel on the counter. I let it sit for a few moments, then while still wearing my oven mitts I opened it up.

Once the locks were at a temperature safe to handle, put them into warm clean water to be certain the colour had set. Place them back into a towel, give them a good squeeze and ta-dah! Gorgeous painted locks!

I tried a few colour combinations, the possibilities are endless!

I am very happy with the results!

With my left over colours I dripped them onto a small pile of wool.

I went a bit over board, and the wool in the bottom of the package ended up quite muddy, but still interesting. This is how we learn!

Here is the nice top, it really didn’t turn out too bad!

This is a fun quick method for dyeing. Perfect for felters who need a little of this colour, a little of that. A wonderful way to get controlled results.

I would like to note I was able to use the same plastic wrap to dye all the locks above, reuse too if you can!

Happy dyeing!

A Tragedy, and a Hopeful Alternate Ending

Just this past Saturday we were shearing our goats. Got ready to take a break for lunch when we discovered our last doe to kid, was in fact having her kid – but with difficulty. Baby needed a hand being delivered, he was a big baby!

He did well though, his airway cleared out and he found his feet and nursed.

We had lunch and continued to shear. Penelope got to skip out on shearing that day.

On Monday after taking the big kids to school I took the smallest of the short ones to a nearby park, the sun was shining, we played with buckets in the water and had lots of fun.

Once we arrived home I went immediately to see the goats. I was not prepared for the horror that I found.

Poor Penelope’s baby in the water bucket, he was dead.

How horribly ironic. Devastating.

I immediately removed him and seen if there was any possible chance to save him.

It’s days like this I make a really sucky farmer. Penelope bleated and bawled, frantically searching for her kid and I cried along with her most of the day.

My heart crushed with hers. I turned to other angora loving group members and shared my grief. Turns out babies in buckets are too often a tragedy. I learned pans are the way to go in kidding season. Shallow water, things that tip. In hindsight it seems such a foolish error. But that’s the thing about hindsight, the 20/20.

I share this story also in hopes of making others aware. We had no idea. Now we do. Maybe this can help someone else.

Today, we’ve taken a chance, and acquired two orphan lambs. Well what really happened is we’d briefly discussed finding an orphan lamb to have live with Penelope. Then today when Adam returned home, I was playing in the living room with our children when I heard the door close and a short little baaaaah! Surprise!

Suddenly two little lambs. One who had just been born today and one who is one week old. The children were ecstatic – myself, a bit of a shock, but like with most creatures, my heart was theirs just moments later.

Penelope has no kid, the lambs no mother. It’s a leap but a hopeful one. It can work. It has in the past. Our cow was an orphan. At that time we found a sannan goat to mother her. They were a wonderful pair. She was our first goat, her name was Penelope. She was amazing!

Penelope in this story is named after her, she is actually Penelope II.

Hopefully with some time she will accept the lambs. If not, it was an attempt and we will raise them ourselves. Penelope has provided them though, especially the brand new baby, with colostrum. A solid start. We tied her to a gate with some grain for a treat while letting the lambs eat. She doesn’t love them, yet. I have my fingers crossed though. Orphans don’t always make it either. So this story could end in a double dose of hurt. It’s worth a shot though. Their bellies are currently full and they are enjoying time in their Hawaii hut, warm and happy.

Things don’t always turn out as you figured they might. But things do sort. Rainbows after the storm.

Lessons learned, never forgotten.

Rest In Peace our handsome Norbert.