the taste of chocolate soap

Now, just hold yer horses, there. I am not so crunchy-granola as to believe that everything that says “natural ingredients” ought to be safe enough for a baby on a paleoveganGF diet to eat, uh, ingest via IV, and to do so without any consequences.

Thus, when I say, “the taste of chocolate soap”, I am not approaching the matter in the role of a food critic, nor as a “foodie”; I am simply going to comment on The Taste of Chocolate Soap.

Therefore, if any of you decide that my comments are an inspiration to Go Forth And Eat Soap, you are on your own.

Let us begin with the soap in question:


The above image was shamelessly ganked from, the website of the The Queen of Soap, AubreyK. (Sorry to steal from you Aubrey, but hang on a moment, ‘kay?)

In the original version of this post, I called her “The One True Soapmaker.” That was fine…until I went into my soap supply and discovered wonderful things from all my other beloved One True Soapmakers.

So, in the interests of Fairness, later I shall tell you about some of the other Master Soapmakers to the Wiseheart Family. I’m thrilled to find new potential Master SoapMakers to the WF, especially unique and interesting Makers…one can never, ever have enough Master Amazing SoapMakers.

After all, we know from the movies that having a single Lord of the Soaps is a bad idea.

Back to Aubrey’s Goodies!

Anyway. This morning, in the shower, I was happily washing my kindly, youthful visage (an imagination is a beautiful thing) with a hand-crocheted washie thing and a bar of Chocolate Butter Crème Soap. The scent is light, not perfume-y, basically the same as if you are waving a bar of baking chocolate in front of your nose. Wreathed in steamy chocolate smells, I go to rinse my face–and for some dumb reason, I open my mouth. Not just a little, mind you, but the OPEN WIDE FOR DENTIST PLIERHEART sort of open.

A flood of bubbles (naturally) rushes onto my tongue, and tries to go down my throat. Coughing ensues. Amidst the coughing and hacking, I notice that THERE IS YUMMY CHOCOLATE IN MY MOUTH. I don’t know about you, but yummy-chocolate-in-my-mouth is one of my favourite sensations.


This chocolate sensation was accompanied with a lavish dollop of  Flavour-of-Soapy Ingredients. The effect was not quite as much fun as I had thought it might be at the very first taste of Bubbly Chocolate.

In fact, it tasted like…well, it tasted like soap. With a glissando of chocolate butter crème, sure; but still: SOAP.

There really is no point to this story other than to share with you the results of my unusual foray into the culinary side of cleanliness.


So here’s the deal: I have to order some things from Aubrey today (lotion bars, laundry soap, probably more soap and lip balm because I want to smell good and have soft lips for the Zombie Apocalypse). Along with the three E-Tomic bars, three Everything Balms, and three Lavender Lip Balms already in my possession, I mean.

I don’t actually NEED any more soap. My current stock ought to last at least until the snow melts up here:

  • Silken Lilac (with real silk!) ~ 2 bars
  • Creme Rose (with real dairy cream!)~ 2 bars
  • Lavender Lemon ~ 2 bars
  • Lady’s Clay ~ 1 bar (looking kind of scraggly because shampoo leaked onto it in the closet)
  • Rosemary Lemon Silk (more real silk!) ~ 1 bar

However….the Giveaway Llama made a big fuss this morning about how I never buy soaps for her stock, and that she never gets to give away soaply wonders to her readers. (Get that. HER readers. Sure thing.) Rather than listen to Llama Winges all week long, I am giving in and ordering a few for giveaways to y’all nice folks.

Trouble is: I don’t know what you like.

How about this? Go on over to Aubrey’s Goodies Unlimited  shop, and have a stroll through her wares. While you’re there, pick one or two or three things you think would make nice giveaways. Pick the scents that make you drool (they don’t last long after the shower, they are VERY LIGHT, not perfumey, and they don’t even bother me, just so you know).

Pick them out, BUT DON’T BUY THEM, unless of course, you want All The Things, and you want to have them NOW, and are worried your name will never be drawn for the giveaway.

Make a list; send it to me or leave it in the comments below.

Isn’t it fun to “shop” for Her Llamaness? :)

Another Finished Object

January’s FO was my Hiro, of which I am a wee bit proud.

February’s FO is lucky to exist at all, given the month we’ve had around here: In The Woods Cuffletts, reconstructed out of my Denmark-in-the-Woods Socks that finally became too holey and had to go to Sock Heaven. (My tutorial for how to resurrect holey socks is on my tutorials page.)

You will notice the lack of photos in this post. My beloved camera has bit the dust, and it is almost as much to repair it as it is to buy a new one. I haz a Sad.

So, once again, I ask you to draw upon your powers of Imagination. (Carpity iPhone photos to come.)

Soaply Sidebar

I am completely aware that there exists a metric passle of awesome soapmakers whose work I have not yet been privileged to try. This post is not a diss on any of you Fine Makers; it is simply that you and I have not been introduced yet.

Amongst the Master Makers whose work I have been introduced to,  there is another Stand-Out-Star-in-the-Field: West Elm Farm. Pat and John make a line of lanolin and goat’s milk soaps (using lanolin from their own Icelandic flock) in several light scents, plus unscented. One thing that Sappy Me likes best about Pat-and-John’s soaps is that they are cast with a beautiful custom raised imprint featuring elm trees and Icelandic sheep. (Awwwww…)

They also make Truly Wonderful candles: pure beeswax, cast in charming molds of their own design (house with tree, sheep, and hearts–I am such a sucker), with natural scents like amber rose and orange clove (plus unscented), not one of them perfumey or strong.

And last but not least is Betty’s Balm For Working Hands. Betty is a sheep, and she contributes personally to each tin of the lovely soothing stuff. Betty Is Awesome. (Also on offer: roving and fleeces from their Icelandic flock; plus lamb and rabbit meat in all sorts of nifty-to-meat-eaters sorts of cuts.)

I’m starting to sound like a Natural Products Commercial. Yikes.

I am not being paid to do this; nor do I work for these folks. I’m doing it because, well, “the taste of chocolate soap” was just too good a blog post title to pass up.

The Chispas are in the Meditation Pond and will show up next time.

(I wanted to see if I could write a post in under 90 minutes…and I did it! Whoo!)


Love and Llama kisses,
Sandi and Her Llamaness

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Goals and Finished Objects

Goals, Sort of

I dislike making New Year’s goals with a fiery dislike. I don’t like making them, because here comes March, and my goal-efforts stopped back somewhere around GroundHog Day.

This year, I’m trying something a wee bit more attainable:

I’m going to finish some of the knitting WIPs scattered around my house. I’ve gotten out about ten or so WIPs, organized them in bags with instructions, notions, and whatever else I will need to finish them. Each bag is labelled with a little hang-tag. I can do the projects in any order; however, I can only work on one project at a time. One exception: If the knitting project I am focussing on is a Must Concentrate Don’t Bother Me project, and I need mindless knitting for waiting or being in a car, I can then work on a mindless project. However, only one mindless project.

Focus, focus, focus. I hope this will help me get some things DONE!!

Another sub-rule: I can work on One Spinning Project, One Sewing Project, One Must Concentrate Knitting Project and one Mindless Project, all in the same timeframe. But ONLY ONE project per area. Focus on one at a time.

Hopefully when Mr. Groundhog Shows Up, I’ve have a wee stack of Finally Finished Objects waiting to show him.

Speaking of which……..ta – DA!!

Behold: A Finished Hiro

Zoe and Hiro 1

Pattern: Hiro, by Julia Farwell-Clay.

Modifications: Semi-shawl collar; opposite-colour cuffs, body shaping.

Yarn: Knitted Wit.

Oh, you want to see it on me, do you?

hiro on me shari 1B

I had superb mentors and consultants from beginning to end. Here, Tim tries to decide if the buttons meet with his satisfaction. (These buttons are by Melissa Jean.)

Tim has Button Opinions

As it happens, all of us liked the single button at the top; Tim wanted to use other buttons all the way down.

single green leaf button

Zoe and Tim take a moment to calculate the snuggle-factor of the sweater.

Inspector Team

Another button collection. All three of these are  by Denny McMillan. (Yes, THAT Denny.)

Denny buttons batch 2 close up

Or how about this?

Denny buttons closeup batch 1


throurough inspection

Then the design team met to make the final decisions. (You can see which buttons we chose in the first picture, the one of me wearing the sweater!)

the team confers

I absolutely loved knitting this sweater. Someday I want to do it again using a gradient of natural coloured wools.

Mostly, however: I’m so proud to be done with this!

We shall completely ignore the fact that this was supposed to be my Rhinebeck 2013 sweater. Thank you.


~ Brooklyn’s Botanic Gardens have some rare and beautiful plants on display.

~ One doesn’t normally expect a TV show to construct costumes with expensive fabrics, and an eye for detail that would make a museum curator cry. These, however, are exquisite.

~ Short, but adorable: Black Faced Lambie

Need a laugh or five?

~ Powerful. Who are you, and who are you not?

~ And last but not least: Finding Nemo, starring kittens instead of fish.

I’ll have more of everything next time, including a Quilt Update, and more wacky stuff as usual.

STAY WARM, you folks who live in cold/snowy places. The rest of you: APPRECIATE BEING WARM, ‘kay? :)

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oh that wacky stitch blogger

(the girl doesn’t write for WEEKS, and suddenly you get two posts in one day. What can I say? Life’s weird, so get on board and let’s go!)

Let’s start with my earlier post

I didn’t actually mean to post that as a regular, mail-out-to everyone, post. I was making a page for some friends so they could vote on a quilt design I’m working on. I just clicked the wrong box, and voilá, now y’all can get it right in your own email inbox!

So, clearly, the circle has widened, and all of you now get to have a peek into my quilty life.

It was a little cryptic, I admit. What were you supposed to do, guess what I was trying to blog about? I am sorry for sending out a pretty, but inexplicable, post.

So, here’s some explicable for you:

7 x 7 grid, 2" sashing, border

7 x 7 grid, 2″ sashing, border

This is a computer mock-up of one of the layouts for the Quilt of a Hundred-Plus Fabrics. This quilt been my winter give-me-colour-or-give-me-chocolate project, and I’m at the point where I have 50+ nine-patches sewn together out of various batik fabrics; I have also set each square into a “Window Frame” so that when the quilt is done, each square will look like it is being displayed in a little window.

rose orange 5 greenblue 4

As far as I know, no two squares are exactly alike.

blue 5 purple 4

There are however, about twenty pairs that mirror each other in reverse:

5 green 4 pink

4 of the pink, 5 of the green…

mirror of green pink

…and 4 of the green, 5 of the pink!

I knew I wanted to put these lovely colourful gems into the Attic Windows framesets, so they would look like little works of art. But I thought that laying them all out together, with only a narrow sashing in-between the columns and rows, would be a rather interesting LSD experience. (I was very, very careful to type those three letters in the correct order. I am sure there are plenty of interesting experiences to be had in the Church of Latter Day Saints, but it’s not quite the same thing, now, is it?)

However, my mind started to boggle the more I looked at Google Images’ results for Attic Window Quilts, and I realized I needed to sit down with my trusty Excel and spend a few zillion hours I didn’t have making mockups so I could more easily see what was what.

After that, I got even more boggled, and asked for help. Hence the Seven Layouts post, and hence the fun little poll.

5 red 4 bluepink


Till then, a few goodies to help pass those tiresome winter ice storms….


❤  So, you’re a bored cook, wondering what’s for dinner…but your stove is broken, the oven has exploded tuna surprise all over the inside, and you don’t own a microwave due to the risk of alien rays getting into your food. What’s a gourmand to do?

❤  In the spirit of the upcoming Olympics, I offer you this insight into the dating habits of some of Russia’s more creative blogger folk.

❤  What a good dog!

kitten bed

❤  What a naughty kitty!

iput a dead mouse in moms mouth

❤  Is this really the most relaxing tune ever recorded? Some scientists think so.

❤  Finally, the obligatory baby animal Chispa: Baby Alpacas in Sweaters, Story, Photos and a Slideshow

Take care everyone…and remember, the next post is about KNITTING I PROMISE. And maybe spinning. And possibly quilting. And probably any other nugget of non-boring information that I can pull out of the internet’s hat.

♡ Sandi

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Possible “Nine Patch Windows” Layouts

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Gallery | Leave a comment

christmas day 2013

Here in this place, new light is streaming,

our real christmas tree Now is the darkness vanished away;

Steve surveying his domain

Stevie (photo by Diane Palme)

Goldie getting pancakesSee in this space our fears and our dreamings,

Brought out of night to the light of this day.

painted tiger painted sunset

photo by Painted Tiger

Gather us in, the lost and forsaken,Renowyth Dobin Wed 27018

Gather us in, the blind and the lame;

feet in the air

photo by Gwen

Call to us now, and we shall awaken,

cover up

We shall arise at the sound of our name.

what Morty thinks of Ancient Greek

Morty (photo by Rebecca G.)

Not in the dark of buildings confining,

house through trees
Not in some heaven, light years away;

isle of skye from habetrot

But here in this place, new light is shining–

christmas eve day
Now is the kingdom, now is the day!

Charlene winter angel

Gather us in and hold us forever,

stevie snuggling

Gather us in, and make us your own;

Dobin current location Gather us in, all peoples together,

teen queen at string thing
Fire of love in our flesh and our bone….


fire of love

Friday Mouse finally growing into his eyebrows

in our flesh


and our bone

mike and cow pic

words from Gather Us In by Marty Haugen (with slight adaptations by yours truly)

merry christmaspoinsettias spotted

blessed solstice

may light always be

Friday Mouse finally growing into his eyebrows

one step ahead of your

what have you done with the weekend Fri 27621

Mouse (photo by Painted Tiger)

with love and gratitude for all you people have given to me,


monkey business and Actual Knitting Content

Note: A week or so back, I published two rather cryptic posts. Basically, Flickr had changed its interface to the point where I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get photos from There to Here. My experiment photo was a photo of my Monkey Socks, hence the titles and the monkeys and so on.

I have now figured out how to make Flickr and WordPress play more or less nicely, so I can now proceed with what I was trying to blog about before the monkeys invaded. Thank you. You’re welcome. 

Darn those whole-y socks!

Every year, I face the same dilemma: It takes me X hours to knit a sock, usually out of yarn that was special to me for some reason, three Rhinebecks ago or two LYS visits back in days of yore.

This entire sock yarn stash

This is…almost…my entire sock yarn stash

I adore my handknit socks. However, they don’t always like me, mostly because I seem to have razors attached to heel and sole of foot. I get these jagged, ginourmous, instant holes in my socks and poof! Sock is no longer useful.

Sad Face.

Earlier this fall, as I was going through the sock bin seeing how many had holes in them and how many didn’t, I realized something: if I was going to wait until I actually darned the dratted feet covers, then I would have a huge pile of to-be-darned socks waiting to entertain me when I am 97 and in the nursing home.

And Realization #2: I know how to darn socks, sure I do. I might even have written a tutorial on darning socks at some point in time, I can’t quite remember. But my new sock heels and soles come out thick and clunky as though they’d spent the weekend wandering the wrong end of Narnia.

Anyway, #3: I don’t like darning socks.

However, #4: I really love my socks, and I hate throwing them away.

This past month, I came up with (“unvented”) a little idea, and so many folks have raved about it that I thought I’d share the love. (I’m sure this has occurred to other knitters out there, I’m just putting this out there for those who may not have come up with it yet.)

Socks to Wristlets, Socks to Anklets

I knit a pair of Monkey socks, back when everyone was knitting a Monkey sock.

my monekys

(See? Here are where the Monkeys come in.)

The yarn was from one of my first wool shows, and I had bought new bamboo needles to try out instead of the metal ones I’d been using. (I felt so adventurous! Bamboo needles! Knitting on the wild side…)

However, I loved the finished socks to death. The soles and heel sported holes big enough so that my foot would often go through the holes, rather than into the toe.

I LOVED those socks, and couldn’t bear to take the YarnHarlot‘s brave approach to darning, loss and grief. (Walk over to the nearest trash bin, throw the socks into it whilst wailing DARN IT at the top of your lungs.)

Resurrecting Your Socks

I have been working on a step-by-step photo Cufflet Tutorial (to be linked on the Tutorials index page at a future date) so that if I don’t explain it quite clearly enough here, you will be able to see the whole process unfold before you.

However, the process is quite easy, and the tutorial isn’t finished yet, so I’m going to give a brief overview here, enough so that most knitters will Get The Idea and go off and do it any way they please.

By the way, if you have a really smashing way of doing any of this, would you mind sharing, either via emailing me or via the comments? If y’all are amenable, I can incorporate these smashing techniques into the Cufflets Tutorial, giving folks full credit, with maybe even a photo of each of you with your finished Cufflet. Shared community knowledge!

denmark cuffs

The above are my beloved Denmark socks, or more accurately, the cuffs and leg section of my beloved Denmarks. They were the first socks I dared knit out of “luxury yarn”. The yarn was the first Merino/Cashmere/Nylon yarn I’d ever bought, and that “cashmere” bit on the label had me trembling when I cast on. Cashmere! For socks! Surely this was madness.

I took loving photos of my progress, cleverly stretching the cuffs-in-progress over just the right shape of drinking glass so that the wonderful stitches and subtle dappling of the colours could be viewed.

One morning I woke up and reached for my Denmarks, only to find that they now looked like this.

A rather blurry photo. Perhaps the camera was too embarrassed on my behalf to focus properly.

A rather blurry photo. Perhaps the camera was too embarrassed on my behalf to focus properly.

Clearer close-up of The Heel Hole

Clearer close-up of The Heel Hole

Boo Hoo.

I realized that what I really liked about them was the pattern and the yarn. Sooooo…

I decided to engage the Clever Knitter part of my brain.

cut above comb

In the photo above, I had previously cut the foot off just above the hole in the heel. However, I wanted to get to the place in the sock where the rounds are continuous. The rounds stop being continuous in the back-and-forth of the heel flap (or the cup of a short-row heel), so I trimmed the sock back to the point at the base of the heel flap and gusset (to the left of the comb).

Then, I ravelled back until I found a continuous round and a single end of yarn.

the one yarn end

Note that the process of picking out all the stray bits and pieces of yarn is messy. Note that you’ll want to do the ravelling over a towel or a large piece of paper. Note that you do not want to do the ravelling over your white pashmina stole, even if you aren’t certain that there are actual pashminas out in the world somewhere.

The yarn end will be curly. That’s OK, unless it drives you crazy. If it drives you crazy, steam or wet the yarn and let it dry laid flat.

I ravelled back about an inch, inch and a half from the base of the heel, so that I could (a) add a bit more patterning; (b) do just a little ribbing; and (c) have enough yarn left to bind off. Yes, the patterning may be in the opposite direction depending on how you knit the cuff in the first place. If this is the case and it bothers you, ravel back an inch and just do a bit of ribbing before you bind off.

After you ravel, carefully put the stitches back on the needles, paying attention to stitch mount and whatever else needs attention. Knit the cufflet back up until you have enough yarn to reach around the cuff opening 2-3 times (depends on your gauge and so on). Then, bind off LOOSELY, preferably with a needle one size larger so you are forced to do it LOOSELY.

Weave in the end, steam into shape, repeat for the other sock, and voila! Cufflets.

I wear my cufflets either on my wrists as wristwarmers, or on my ankles as mini legwarmers. I find the having my ankles covered really helps keep my feet warm in the winter.

Plus, if I don’t have socks that match what I am wearing, chances are that I might have a pair of cufflets that do match and can cover up whatever else I am wearing.

Denmark Cufflet worn as Wristwarmer

Denmark Cufflet worn as Wristwarmer/Fingerless Glove

Monkey Cufflets (I wear these as anklets a lot)

Monkey Cufflets (I wear these as anklets quite often)

Also: I can save my beloved socks in a way worthy of all the work I initially put into them.


This is amazing: A gifted pianist was studying Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous sketchbook, and realized that Da Vinci had drawn up plans for an instrument, an instrument that had never been made. Gift Pianist Dude helped make the instrument a reality–a fully playable reality. It’s called the Viola Organista, and you really need to see its unusual insides (about 9:10 in the video linked above, or close thereafter) and hear its haunting sound.

Heartwarming story about a joyous reunion in the wake of a tornado.

Bouncing Lambs. You’re quite welcome.


cat belt

Finally: The World’s Oldest String, AKA Why The Neanderthals Were Cool.

Next post: Project Updates! And Misbehaving Quilt Squares.

Good stuff, gooood stuff.

See you then. May compassion and peace light your way.


the monkey in the machine

A Message from our Blogger…

I must apologise for the funky solo Monkey picture post. Apparently, Flickr made changes to their interface, and those changes buried the button that says “Down load this photo, which is mine because it’s in my Flickr stash and has my name on it, to my very own laptop, please. I need it for a blog post, and your URL insert thingie doesn’t hack it.”

So I spent about fifteen minutes (OK, maybe longer) trying to bend Flickr to my will.

That’s why those of you who subscribe via email got an extra mini-post just a few minutes ago.

How about we just call it “bonus content” and move along?



And of course, I have now created TWO mini-posts with pointless content. The next post will be the REAL one, I promise.

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