Friday, April 8, 2011

Easy Melt and Pour Soap Tutorial

I really enjoy making melt and pour soap. It's easy, there are no caustic chemicals involved and the soap is ready to use as soon as it's cooled off. I like going through my kitchen cabinets to see what kinds of natural ingredients I can use to color and lightly fragrance my soaps as the possibilities are endless. I have sensitive skin, and it gets really dry in the winter months. This soap is wonderful for all skin types.

Melt and pour soaps are readily available at your local craft store. They usually have everything you need to get started in soap making like molds, fragrances, exfoliating additives and soap safe colors. Regular food coloring is not recommended as it can stain. I like to use a mixture of a suspension soap along with clear glycerin soap so my additives stay suspended and don't sink to the bottom.

Some basic items you will need for making soap are:

Melt and pour soap base
A measuring cup
Kitchen scale
Microwave or double boiler
Soap molds
Additives (optional)
Soap safe coloring (optional)
Fragrances or extract oils (optional)
Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle

Measure out how much soap you want to make. For this recipe I am going to be making four bars of soap...Two rectangle bars and two round bars which equals approximately 12 oz of liquefied soap. For the recipe shown, I am using 5 oz of goats milk suspension soap base and 7 oz of clear glycerin soap base.

I like to use the microwave to melt my soap. You can also use a double boiler, but never place soap directly on heat as the soap will burn and it will smell bad. Melt the soap in the microwave for one to two minutes. Take out and stir. If the mixture is not completely melted, place it back into the microwave for ten to fifteen second intervals until it is completely melted.

Let the mixture cool for a minute or two until a thin skin appears on the surface of the soap. stir the soap base and add in the coloring, fragrance, and any other additives you prefer. For this recipe I used two tablespoons of maple syrup and one teaspoon of vanilla. Some ingredients involve a lot of vigorous stirring so I will spritz the soap base with rubbing alcohol before I pour it into my mold to remove any frothy air bubbles.

Pour the soap mixture into your molds evenly and quickly spritz them with rubbing alcohol to remove any air bubbles. Allow the soap to set up for a few hours before removing from the molds. A quick tip to remove soap from the mold easily is to place them into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. They should then pop out with ease. Never place your soap into the freezer to cool, it will "sweat" profusely when it is cooled down and you will be left with a dewy, moist soap that doesn't look very pretty.

Below is a list of natural ingredients you can find right in your kitchen to color and lightly fragrance your soaps:

Activated Charcoal
Blueberry or Strawberry Seeds
Pure Maple Syrup
Wheat Germ
Sea Salt

Have fun!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crochet Star Stitch Tutorial

I love how pretty this stitch is! It makes great blankets, scarves and washcloths! You should know basic crocheting before attempting this stitch. It can be difficult to see the eyes of the star from the wrong side.

The completed star is done in 2 rows.

Make a foundation chain.

Row 1: Draw up a loop in 2nd ch from hook and in each of the next 3 ch. You should have 5 loops on your ch now. Yarn over and draw through all 5 loops. Ch 1 for eye of star, then draw a loop in eye just made, then in same ch last worked, then in each of next 2 ch. Yarn over and draw through 5 loops on hook. Ch 1 for eye of star, draw a loop through the eye just made, then in same ch last worked , then in next 2 ch. Repeat this for the entire row, ch 2, turn.

Row 2: The ch 2 counts as 1 hdc, hdc in first eye, 2 hdc in next eye and in each eye of star. Repeat across, ch 3, turn.

Row 3: Draw up a loop in 2nd and 3rd ch from hook, sk first hdc, draw up a loop in each of next 2 hdc, yarn over and pull through all 5 loops. Ch 1 for eye, then draw up a loop in eye just made, in last ch worked and next 2 ch. Repeat this across, ch 2 and repeat row 2 instructions.