To continue in the alchemical 2019, I finally got around to trying soap making. It’s one of those things that I’ve mused on for years and years and years. I then got as far as ‘have everything in the house’ for weeks at least. Finally, a quiet afternoon over the holiday break and I dug in.

I made no attempts towards period anything on the first attempt. I hunted up a basic soap recipe on the internet that used nothing I didn’t already have in the house, and off I went. Working by weight seems normal to me, I didn’t have that mindset hurdle to overcome, I bake by weight as well. I decided on hot process, because well.. I’m impatient. Brewing already challenges my patience, two things hanging out forever to cure.. let’s just go with one thing I have to wait to try.


Fresh soap in snowflake molds

Non-food crockpot at the ready, and all of my fats. Basic soap.. lard, shortening, coconut oil and olive oil. Everything that lives in my house normally. No dye (other than what came off the crockpot) and no scents. I learned that lye solution will get most of the dyepot stains out of a white crockpot. I also got soap! I think I overcooked it, it got rather lumpy, and I should have been more forceful about shoving it in the snowflake molds, there’s bits that aren’t filled in. It’s not pretty, but it washes hands just /fine/. Not the gentlest soap either, but it’s also January, I’m not sure there’s any help for the dry of my hands anymore. Next up.. different combinations of fats!

2018 in review

Yes yes, I’m supposed to write these on Jan 1, but I didn’t get that far. So I’m now sitting down while feeling hard done by that I can’t knit (it’s not that bad, but the scarf unfinished is irritating), and thinking on what did get accomplished in 2018. There was a lot of mundane A&S (oxymoron much?), but it’s part of my world, so you get that too. I used to keep better track, I tried to again in 2018, and did not /bad/ at doing so. Let’s see what I have in the notes and the eternally faulty memory.


  • Strawberry Lemon Jam
  • Ginger Rhubarb Marmalade
  • Smoked Strawberry Balsamic Jam
  • Apple pie jam
  • Peach jam
  • Peach Chutney
  • Peach butter with wine
  • pickled onions
  • Sliced peaches
  • Onion relish
  • Dill relish
  • Mustard pickles
  • Curry pickles
  • Dill pickles
  • Fermented sour pickles
  • Maple whiskey mustard
  • Applesauce
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Coffee Stout (Good Morning Stout)
  • Spiced Christmas Ale (Mulled Barley Ale)
  • Wilma, the Pennsic yeast sourdough starter

String things (and not string too!)

  • Sheepy garters (tablet woven)
  • 2 basic coifs
  • Embroidered coif w. handspun silk
  • Maroon tunic
  • 16th century court outfit (corset, smock, petticoat, overgown, 2 sets of sleeves)
  • basic wooden feast box
  • silk hairnet (including fingerloop braid edge)
  • underdress with silk trim
  • Celestarium
  • 14 tiny sweater ornaments
  • 8 snowflake ornaments
  • 11/12 of the temperature scarf
  • giant woven wool shawl
  • one knit bunny
  • one wee knit doily
  • one dragon mystery sock (out of yarn for the second, whoops)

I’ve probably forgotten stuff, my canning notes are especially sketch. There’s also plenty of baking and general cooking that happens in all of this, but somehow that doesn’t seem to bother counting. Not a bad year, I’d say. 2019 is going to look a whole heck of a lot different!

Plot Twist!


When something goes wrong in your life, just yell ‘Plot Twist!’ and move on.

It’s a ubiquitous meme all over the internet, and it’s trite and vaguely irritating, but I’m willing to run with it. This isn’t the New Year’s post I’d planned on writing. Instead of a post all excited about some of the knitting I’ve been doing, and showing off my temperature scarf and plotting for silk knit gloves, I’m on the rehab list.

A repetitive strain injury (tennis elbow, no racquet required!) in my dominant arm means no knitting, embroidery, drop spinning, crochet, hand sewing, needle lace, bread kneading.. basically everything in my world. Physio and my RMT are working on it, and we’re making progress, but the main thing is resting it, and reality is that I heal Very Slowly. I am looking at easily months away from my primary hobbies, and 2019 might be a write off for the knitting needles (and all of their needlely, hookey and spindlely friends.)

There was some probably unsurprising moping, with accompanied whining (and cookies. Disappointing news around holiday goodies is not ideal for one’s eating habits.), but finally I’ve accepted that we’re not at ‘omg, I can’t do ANYTHING!’, but at ‘Plot twist!’

Things I CAN still do. Brewing. Bread making (with the kitchen aid taking on the kneading for me), big loom weaving, soap making, dye work. Jury is still out on wheel spinning (it’s hard on the leg joints), or tablet weaving (not optimistic).

Which basically reads like 2019 is going to be full of alchemy!