Firstly, a crochet snood, "Starburst Snood" by Maddalena Casci, available on ravelry. This was made for a friend in exchange for a new feasting plate she'd given me.
Secondly, with summer finally here, that means driving without collars. And driving without collars means the seatbelt goes back to attemting to saw off my neck by slow friction.
Cue the first chunky stash yarn to hand (which nicely matches the colour of my little red polo), a large crochet hook and job’s a good ‘un.
And then, a breakthrough!
I was monstering a charity larp on saturday, which took place in the very beautiful Indian Sculpture Park in the Wicklow Mountains. The site contains a mini maze, a pathway through woodland which guides you to contemplation of Buddist principales and carved statues. And during the wandering, I had a curious. A quick trip to the interwebs confirmed it. I was surrounded by a birch wood and birch is indeed a hardwood! A quick side trip to ask permission of the site owner, and my car boot was rapidly filled with a selection of fallen branches.
Still with me? Here's the deal. I want to make soap. It is very easy to get hold of the ingredients I need to make soap according to the modern method, but since rejoining the SCA, I think making soap where I start by making my own lye, would make a fabulous project. But to do that, I first need the ashes from a hardwood. I had been trying to get my hands on applewood, which is supposed to produce a very white soap, but alas, that plan has fallen through for the moment.
Ashes from hardwoods, such as birch, apple, oak or cherry to name a few, contain a substance commonly known as potash, which is also know as potassium hydroxide, an alkali that can be mixed with fats or oils to produce soap. Typically, potassium hydroxide produces a softer soap, so to make a hard bar, animal fat or a combination of olive oil and salt will need to be used.
The birch I brought away with me has already been burned down and will remain sitting in the grate for the next two days to ensure it's cold. Soft water I already have access to thank to the rain barrel outside, so I'm almost ready to begin!