I’ve had my umbrella for a long time. I think I got it in middle school. So the canopy is getting a little worn, especially where the skeleton folds. My first thought was to patch it, but the fabric is unusual. Fortunately, those nylon umbrella sleeves are perfect for cannibalizing. I often find them abandoned on the ground. We also have a ton at home that are never going to be used.
I intend to keep this umbrella forever, and I have many more, variously colored umbrella sleeves to use (: Hopefully my umbrella looks more purposeful in a few years, once I get a few more patches on.
tallow + coconut oil for more cleansing lather: 6 oz water, 2.3 oz NaOH, 13.1 oz tallow, 2.9 oz coconut oil
tallow + coconut + a mix of oils left over from another project: 6 oz water, 2.3 oz NaOH, 12 oz tallow, 2 oz coconut oil, 2 oz oil mix (coconut and almond oils, beeswax)
shaving soap (one batch with NaOH and one batch with KOH): 12 oz water, 3.4 oz KOH, 2.3 oz NaOH, 4 oz glycerin, 9.6 oz stearic acid, 20.8 oz tallow, 1.6 oz oil mix (coconut and almond oils, beeswax)
To create the shaving soap, I mixed the NaOH and KOH batches together to get a good texture. Stearic acid is too hard to use NaOH only, but not hard enough to use only KOH, which is meant for creating liquid soap. This is called a dual-lye soap.
One batch of attempted soap boiled over and was lost ): I pre-melted the oils and they got too hot, so that when I added the lye-water, it boiled immediately, forming a lye volcano. Fortunately, no one was injured (except the crock pot, whose paint is a little corroded…).
Hot-process soap is a little gloopy when it’s done, so it can be hard to put into molds. You can mix in additional water to improve pourability, but the soap will have to cure longer to reach the desired hardness.
I made a raglan shawl-collar cardigan out of Manos del Uruguay Maxima yarn, in the color “Reindeer”. The yarn is very pleasant to work with, but being made out of single-ply merino wool it wears very poorly and gets very pilly.
I was gifted a whole bunch of skeins of the yarn a few years ago for Christmas with the express purpose of making a sweater. But sweaters need to be durable. Also…
Since fit and material were major problems with the sweater, I decided to take it apart and make new items that would better suit the merino wool.
Future projects will include a night cap for sibling C and felted slippers for myself (:
There are some good foraging opportunities near my apartment. The best is a pear tree – I believe it is ornamental since the pears are small. It wasn’t clear to me if the owners were interested in the pears, so I just collected ones that had fallen onto the sidewalk, and made pear-sauce! I strained the cooked pears through a mesh strainer, and used the remaining fibrous matter to make alcohol.
There are also a ton of sugar maples. If I had tapping equipment, I could make maple syrup.
And lastly, there are a ton of chestnut trees. Unfortunately, they are horse chestnuts, not true or sweet chestnuts, which were largely killed off in the early 1900s by chestnut blight. The only trees that survived were those far enough (about 10 km) away from other chestnut trees.
Horse chestnuts contain high levels of naturally-occurring saponins, which make them taste really bitter. Apparently, they are also poisonous. Before realizing this, I collected a bunch. I was super excited to find chestnuts since they’re pretty expensive to buy.
As far as I’m aware, horse chestnuts only have one use: making liquid soap! You can soak the nutmeats in water to dissolve the saponins, and use the soaking liquid as liquid soap or detergent.
I’ve been cutting my hair for a while now, since it’s so hard to get a good and not-expensive professional haircut. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to do with just scissors and no helpers! I’ve tried to train J to cut my hair, but he has no experience and isn’t confident enough to learn. I would be willing to have a few months of bad haircuts in return for years of free grooming services (:
Soooooo, I decided to invest in an electric hair trimmer, the type with guards. Only $25 used on eBay, about the same cost as a single mid-tier professional haircut!
Unfortunately, in the first attempt, I received an alarm clock.
It took some finagling, but I eventually got the hair trimmer, and the alarm clock buyer got the alarm clock. (The boxes were almost exactly the same size and shape; I can see how they got mixed up.)
The trimmer works well! I’m not sure if my haircut is good, but at least it’s even.
Apparently, Motorola is partnering with iFixit, a DIY electronics repair website and forum, to sell repair kits for all of it’s recently-released phones! Here’s the article I saw. (I’m still eyeing the Fairphone for when mine eventually dies, hopefully not in the near future.)