Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a bridal shower for my soon to be new cousin. I knew I wanted to give her something handmade and from the heart and so I began working with a new craft that would compliment hand knit face cloths, soap making! I spent most of June experimenting with various soap bases, essential oils, and add ins like poppy seeds, loofah, pumice and dried fruit peels. Once I had mastered some soap recipes I was happy with I knit up five squishy face cloths to match. I wrapped up extra bars of soap, added labels and lined the baskets with them before adding some shredded paper for the rest to sit on. My original plan to use a clear gift basket bag failed when it ripped while I was opening it, so I improvised with some kraft paper and braided left over yarn. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed my colour scheme matched that of the bridal shower and the bride-to-be's dress! I'm very, very pleased with how the final gift turned out and so was she!
Soap making was a lot of fun and I will definitely be doing it again. I stopped by a local supply shop (Voyageur Soap & Candles - they ship!) and bought an assortment of melt & pour soap bases, essential oils, add ins, some mica for colour and plastic molds. I got the basics from an instruction sheet they gave me and began experimenting. Here are the final combinations I came up with:
Be Sweet (clear red) - Natural soap base + birch sweet EO + red jojoba beads
Olive Tree (clear) - Olive oil soap base + tea tree oil
Romance (pink) - Shea butter soap base + romantic blend of floral EOs + a touch of pink mica
Citrus Celebration (golden) - Olive oil soap base + citrus blend of EOs + dried lemon peel + a touch of yellow mica
Loofah Bar (cream) - Goat's milk soap base + finely ground loofah
White Grapefruit (not pictured) - Goat's milk soap base + white grapefruit EOs + poppy seeds
Peppermint & Pumice (not pictured) - Goat's milk soap base + peppermint EOs + finely ground pumice
I found that I needed to add a lot more of the essential oils than I had originally thought, as my first few batches smelled more like the soap base and a lot less like the EOs. I also found that the soaps came out of the molds quite easily if I turned them over and popped them out about 3 hours after they had been poured - hard enough to come out but still soft enough to not break off any tiny details.
The Face Cloths
The hand knit face cloths are made using four strands of a worsted weight cotton blend held together and work up really quick on a 6mm needle. You can comfortably make one a night (or two if you're in a bit of a rush). I cast on 22 stitches and worked in garter stitch until the piece was a square, slipping the first stitch of each row purlwise with the yarn in front for a clean edge. My gauge was 3 stitches per inch and each square was about 7.5" x 7.5" when finished and I used a 12mm needle to cast off to make sure it was nice a loose. The yarn I used has a bit of elastic in it, making it perfect for the project. CaBaSi Plus is a blend of cotton, bamboo, silk, and elastic nylon and can be machine washed. The colours I used are 001 (white), 003 (natural) and 041 (Karin's Birthday Suit). After knitting one in each colour, I mixed it up a bit by holding two different colours together for a marled look.