Welcome to my Blog!

Hi there, nice to have you visiting! I'm Heidi and this is the blog for Heidi Bears. Here is where I post all the happenings in my work and daily life. Here and there you'll find info on things that have caught my attention as well as the odd tutorial. I hope you enjoy your visits. I love to have feedback, so leave me a comment!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Heidi's Liquid Handsoap...easy as pie!

I spent yesterday morning experimenting with making liquid handsoap...yes, I was distracted by the allure of mixing and whipping and pouring and generally making a mess of things, and didn't complete the editing for my Happy Hexagon Crochet tutorial...so I am sorry dear readers, and will get on that asap in the new week...BUT, I think I have unvented (don't you just LOVE that word? Thank you EZ!), a very easy, all natural method of making liquid handsoap, without having to use lye and long cooking times... As you all know, I am totally smitten by the cold processed soap that I had learned to make from Rhonda's lovely blog, and since that, I have only made soap, never bought commercially available soaps again. My kids and husband love it, and Gerry even uses the soap to wash his hair...so all-round a big hit!

I really like liquid soap next to the basin in the kitchen, because it's so easy to just squeeze out some from a pump dispenser when you want to wash hands, and it stays clean and contained...however, the daunting prospect of making liquid soap in the traditional way with cooking in a crockpot, and watching it, and having to use KOH lye etc led me to trying to make the liquid soap using just my cold processed natural soap that had been "curing" for around 3 months.

I have seen many references on the web to using commercially available soap, grating it up and melting it in water and adding some glycerine to thicken...I went through the whole process of trying this method, but using my cold processed soap instead, and it failed completely! I even tried whipping the liquid with a a hand-held blender and it didn't thicken at all...
This made me wonder what they put in commercially sold soaps that makes it thicken with just water and a bit of glycerine? I guess it may be the same basic process as making the liquid laundry soap...if anyone knows, let me know what the "thickening " ingredient is :)

After much experimenting and some messed up batches, I have come up with the following process, and it really made the most beautiful, moisturizing liquid soap I have used :)

Heidi's Liquid Handsoap Recipe


240g of grated cold processed soap (made with olive oil and coconut oil)
2 Liters of water
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of beeswax

Handheld blender
Large stainless steel pot
Glass bowls
Double boiler

Start by grating your cured cold processed soap. I arbitrarily used 240g of soap as my starting amount.
Pour 2L of water into a large stainless steel pot and place on low to medium heat. Add the grated soap flakes and stir until all the flakes have melted.

The mixture will make some foam, so try not to whisk it, just stir gently ...above you can see the clear golden liquid that results.

In a double boiler (or in my case, a Pyrex glass bowl suspended on a steel pot with some boiling water in it), melt the coconut oil and the beeswax pellets. Use low heat...you don't want it to get super-hot...just hot enough to start melting the beeswax.

Above you can see the melted mix...when I see the beeswax pellets beginning to melt, I turn off the heat. The rest will melt in with some gentle stirring.

Let both mixtures (the soapy water and the beeswax/coconut mix) reach around 60 degrees Centigrade (I am not sure if this is critical...I usually make sure that any mixes are at the same temperature...).

Pour your beeswax/coconut mix into your soapy water, slowing adding all of it while blending with a handheld blender (I used the high speed setting on my stick blender). It won't thicken, just mix all of the ingredients very well...

You will now have a milky coloured watery liquid. I poured it into a large glass bowl and put it in the fridge to cool. Over the next couple of hours, I checked in on it and found that the mixture separated out into a clear golden liquid at the bottom, and a white layer on the top.

I gently mixed it back into an all milky colored liquid using a hand whisk. Next time I checked, there was less of a separation, and I again gently swirled the lot with a whisk. I mixed twice in about two hours then left it in the fridge.

When I got up this morning, I found that it had gelled into the most wonderful, thick milky liquid! It is really lovely stuff...it didn't leave my hands dry as I think the coconut oil is probably adding a moisturizing element...

I decanted the liquid soap into a pump dispenser and it works well...no clogging or blocking up...

Please try this out and let me know if it works out well for you?

Next week, the promised Happy Hexagon Tutorial!
Have a lovely Sunday folks :)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Overheard in a French Restaurant....

I read something hilarious today...I wanted to share it with you...go take a look :)


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bearmaking 101...any interest?

The Danish translation of the African Flower hexagon Tutorial is now up...initially I had lots of trouble editing the original post , with "Error 400" popping up frequently...not sure what that was all about, and I couldn't get much help from the Blogger Forums, so if anyone out there knows what this error is supposed to mean, please let me know ! Suffice to say, the tutorial is up and once again, Thank you, Irene :)

Today's post is about something completely different...
During my varied travels through the world of crafting, I came across a lovely book on how to make miniature Teddy Bears. I love Bears, collect them as well and wondered when I saw this book, if it would be very difficult. I bought it, read it and made my first bear in just a day.
Of course, being miniatures, the bear was completely hand sewn, and if I recall, was about 3cm tall! It was a round bottomed Roly-Poly Bear that was weighted , so when you pushed him, he bounced back and forth...very cute!

This led to eventually designing miniature bears, and at one stage I was selling them to a local Bear Shop (yes, believe it or not...a whole shop dedicated just to bears!). Sadly, the South African bear market for really well crafted, unique OOAK bears is pretty poor. It may be that (as in knitting and other handmade items), people don't realize just how much work went into creating them....
There is certainly a thriving and incredibly talented bear making community in South Africa, but unless you sell your bears internationally, you are being underpaid.

It was inevitable that I should graduate to designing and making larger bears, which from a purely practical point of view, are sewn my machine, but handmade the rest of the way. The biggest challenge was to develop a style of bear, which showed unique features that made the bear instantly identifiable as a certain Artist's. My biggest influences came from the early Steiff Bears, which are of course, now incredibly scarce and unbelievably expensive! Steiff is a German company (still operating today), that produced their first Teddy Bears in the early 1900's. The were a huge success (as you can well imagine...I mean, on consideration, what did kids take to bed for comfort and company when they were little, before the advent of the teddy bear?...sheep?...somehow not quite the same, Watson my dear...), and since those early years, Steiff bears (especially antique bears) have become coveted by collectors all over the world.

The history of Teddy Bears was one of my favourite reading past-times...if you are interested in such thing s, there are some excellent teddy Bear Encyclopaedias available on Amazon.

I used mohair fabric almost exclusively, although expensive, it is certainly the best "fur" imitation you can find. You can also find some wonderful long pile Alpaca fabric (unfortunately even more expensive than mohair), which makes the softest, fluffiest bears imaginable!
Don't be put off by the cost...you can make a small bear for a very reasonable cost, and once you have been bitten by this bug (again, just as with knitting and crocheting...), you will think of buying mohair, as you think of buying Kidsilk haze :)

I have been thinking about expanding the kinds of tutorials I post on my blog, and would like to ask my dear readers if Bear making would be something you would want to learn how to do?
My blog is mostly dedicated to knitting and crocheting, but perhaps it would be good to have some different stuff as well...please leave a comment if you are interested in this :)

Some other news...I am repainting the inside of the house, and will post some photos when it's all done!

Sweet dreams, folks!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

African Flower Hexagon Tutorial Translated into Danish...and a new pattern!

I want to say a big ♥heart thank you today to Irene Larsen , author of the Danish Blog Min Verden Af ILD http://www.ildverden.blogspot.com/ for the wonderful Danish translation of the African Flower Hexagon Tutorial.

Irene has very kindly translated each step into Danish and I will be updating the original post with the translation during this evening. I am pretty "chuffed" (a very South African colloquial expression indicating happiness and satisfaction :) ) with the idea of having different translations for people across the world...if everyone on earth crocheted we would all be at peace, see...so all of us crochet fanatics are actually spreading world peace :D

Please would all of you who have used and learned (or will use and learn) from this translation, go over to Irene's blog and give her a big "Thank you" crochet Love!

Some news...remember my tutorial on how to do a Magic Ring start for crocheting a round-like motif? Well, I am pleased to present a new pattern for a flower hexagon...I am calling it a "The Happy Hexagon" Pattern and will post a tutorial next week some time...keep a watch out for it folks, if you love hexagons like I do and love flowers (like I do :) )!

It's Sunday night, so tomorrow a new week starts...you all deserve some energy for the coming tasks, so go and have a big slab of chocolate right now...it's good for you ;)


Saturday, January 14, 2012

I love, love, love pretty tableware...

I have many "must-have" weaknesses, I will admit....but one of the biggest is pretty tableware. My path down this collecting road, started with me inheriting a Royal Albert Old Country Roses dinner and tea service from my grandfather . This particular set is very special to me, as it has been used and appreciated since my dear grandfather bought it in 1962, when Royal Albert released this beautiful pattern for the first time. Over the (many) years since, I have added to this set and when my beautiful eldest daughter has settled into her family life, I will pass it along to her...it appeals to be that something so lovely will become an heirloom over many generations.

The problem with having a love of tableware is that one set is, of course, not enough... and eventually housing all of the stuff becomes a problem... I have now also collected 24 place set dinner services for the Lady Carlyle Pattern (which being a pink colourway, will go to my youngest , who is such a "pink" girl :) ), Lady Hamilton, Celebration and Heirloom, in addition to several smaller sets, mostly Royal Albert. I have decided that I need to call it now, and instead of adding different patterns, I just add odd pieces as they become available....

A lot of the sets are no longer produced, so you have to find pieces on ebay and other sites, which in itself can be fun...currently I am looking for the Old Country Roses ramekins...wow, are they hard to find! When we moved to our town , many years ago, I came across an antique shop that had the lovely antique mahogany apothecary cabinet seen in the photos above and below, and knew that this is what I would love to keep my grandfather's set in. It is such a wonderful cabinet, and has the original makers' stamp on the back, with "London, 1905" underneath...it is one of my favorite pieces :)

Perhaps the only time I really enjoy cooking, is when we are having a dinner party. I always try to set a beautiful table, adding crystal (another weakness...) and silverware, and flowers. We don't often have dinner parties , but when we do, we make it as enjoyable for our guests as possible :) (Yes, Judith :) , perhaps we will have a big birthday party in March ...and yes, of course you will be first on the list of invitees!)

My girls have been around all of this breakable stuff since they were born and have never broken even one item...we use all of the crockery often and somehow, they have a healthy respect and appreciation for everything, being careful not to wreck anything. As I said in a previous post, the only craving I still have to give into, is having a real Christmassy, red, gold and green dinner service....something Victorian and very ornate...any suggestions for a pattern?

I spent the day cleaning up and sorting out all the non dining room stuff that has managed to accumulate on my dining room table...not there yet, but making good progress! I had gone into work really early because I woke up when the power went out at 04h30. Not sure if this is part of the much hated load-shedding by Eskom (our power supplier) or if there was another problem...Eskom is extremely unpopular here is SA at the moment, as we have had enormous increases in the cost of power, and still have outages frequently :( ...anyway, I digress...

My favorite silverware pattern has to be Kings, which you can see above. Oooohhh....yummy stuff, and if you can find an old (but well kept) set, it's just lovely...the silver is often a buttery soft color....Can you tell? I really love old stuff...something with a history that has endured...

What do you love that has been in your family for ages?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Magic Ring Crochet Tutorial

We had a heck of a thunderstorm last night, which made it's re-appearance this afternoon.
Everything in the garden is soaked and sludgy. I shudder to think about what is brewing in all this water as of course , it being summer, is is MOZZIE season! The little blighters are everywhere, and with my garden being organic, I can't exactly chuck down a half ton of mozzie chemicals! And if I have to smell one more Citronella candle, I may be forced to take up alcohol as a hobby....
Yesterday was a busy day, filled with admin, kids stuff from school, and the ever present issues with trying to get a builder to come and fix the leaking spot on the patio for the gazillionth time!!!!!!!! I must say, I am sick and tired , sorry...let me re-phrase that...SICK AND TIRED of builders doing a bad job! This area on the patio roof has been fixed by FIVE different builders (each several times) and the darn thing still leaks! I am beginning to feel like the evildoer of the End Times will come from some kind of building background :( What does a girl have to do to get an honest, skilled builder ???? Negotiating Middle East Peace feels like it could be easier :(

Anyway...rant aside...

I was again messing around with a crochet hook and some yarn before going to bed last night, and came up with a pretty little pattern. I have started to photograph it and make the motifs...maybe next week will have a little surprise popping up :)

Happily, I spent a couple of hours at our knitting group yesterday, and it was just divine to be sitting in the sun, crocheting hexagons (remember, I have to finish Nani's blanket, so I am focusing folks!), drinking good capuccino and eating cake. We have decided to come along to my place next week, when we will make some soap (not everyone in our group has made their own soap yet, so we are doing a teaching morning :) ...yes, I believe there will be cake! )

Right , onto the Tutorial...I really like this Magic Ring start to a round motif as you can pull the circle very tightly closed....and it's really easy to do!

Magic Ring Crochet Tutorial

Start by placing the tail yarn across your palm and holding it in place with your thumb. Now wind the working end of the yarn around your palm twice (wind away from you in direction).
Slip the two loops carefully off your palm (see above). The working yarn is on the right hand side...

Carefully pinch the top of the set of loops between your forefinger and thumb (of your right hand), and loop the working yarn around your left little finger (* this is how I hold my yarn and control the tension...if you do it differently, please don't become confused...basically prepare your working yarn/ hand set up as if you were about to start crocheting...)
Be VERY careful not to "undo" the two loops of the circle...

Move the two loops circle across to your left hand, again making sure that you haven't let them slip apart/out of your hand...

Insert your hook under the two loops circle, as shown above, and pull the working yarn through the circle and up in front of the loops...

Your work should look like the photo above...

Next, do a Yarn around Hook....

...and pull through the the stitch on your hook... Keep a tight hold of the loopy circle :)
Cool! you have made a chain stitch :)

Insert your hook into the circle again.

Yarn around hook again...

...pull up to the front of the loopy circle...

Yarn around hook again, and pull through the stitch on your hook...well done! You have made a single crochet stitch :)

Your work should look like the photo above...

Continue in this manner, making the required number of single crochet stitches your pattern indicates. In my photos, I have made 12 sc's for a new Hexagon pattern I am working on :)

Right! Your required number of sc's are made , and now you need to close the ring.

In order to see which of the two loops is the one closest to the Tail Yarn, you need to gently pull on the Tail Yarn, and notice which of the two loops shortens. In the photo above, you can see which of the two has become shorter as the Tail Yarn lengthens...
Remember which one it is :)

OK, now pull the yarn that became shorter , at the other end of where the Tail Yarn emerges, and pull it carefully in the opposite direction (shown by the small red arrow), thus making the Tail Yarn become shorter and shorter...

Above you see the pulling in progress...

Above, we are nearly there...you will pull until the Tail Yarn is pulled out of the Loopy Twosome completely!

You will be left with just one loop yarn, and a Tail.

Now pull the Tail Yarn until you see the circle loop begin to become smaller...and smaller, until is is almost closed and a ring of sc's has formed :)

Above you see how things should look...your crocheted ring is almost closed, and the first chain stitch you made is lying next to the last sc you made...all that is left to do is join the circle in the round.

Insert your hook into the chain stitch you made right at the beginning of the whole process...
Yarn around Hook, and make a slip stitch (by pulling through both stitches on your hook).

Whoo!Hoo! Ring closed! There is still a biggish hole in the middle of the crocheted circle. If you would like it to close completely, just pull hard on the Tail Yarn until it closes completely :)
You can start to crochet Round 2 now...

This is such a great start to a motif in which you want a closed round crocheted centre, it looks especially good on flowers! Please let me know if there are any errors...I am little tired and the 'ol noggin is nodding...

Happy crocheting folks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Children and their doings...

First off today , I want to thank everyone for the kind comments and thoughts (and messages left for the bad blogger!) after yesterday's post. I am happy to report that the tutorial was taken down and I am hopeful that the same person will perhaps re-consider before posting another tutorial. I am grateful to all of you who sent comments and emails, and who visit here and want to say a big, huggy, heart-burtsing, eye-popping *Thank You*...I appreciate you all very much! ♥♥♥♥♥

Today was the last holiday day before school starts. I sewed on school badges, scrolls, covered a trillion textbooks and exercise books, nagged about getting uniforms set out and pencil cases packed. I demanded an earlier bath time and (Ha, Ha...) set the law about getting to bed early!
(We leave for school at 06H45, so the little critters need to get some sleep after pulling all-nighters during the holidays...) The girls were quite obliging and with any luck, tomorrow at a quarter to seven will not hear a plaintiff, "Mom...can you quickly just bake 24 muffins...just quickly...I forgot about it and I must have them today..." (Ok, just for the record...this has actually happened and real children were very nearly harmed during the making of this production....)
So, a new year starts and I am expectant that it will be a good year full of new things and experiences!

Nani has a penchant for grilled eggs, and she just ups and makes herself one when she feels like a snack. When I wanted to come and blog, I realized that I didn't have my phone with me. So, off I went searching... this is what I found...produced courtesy of an 11 year old... :D
It's pretty dark, but (IMHO) pretty funny :)
Children will do the darndest things...Aliki once cracked and "hid" a dozen eggs under her bed, because she wanted (I presume) to find one with a chicken inside. Of course, I had to wrack my brain to work out where the unbelievably bad smell was coming from a few days later...
we had to remove the carpet completely from the room and quarantine it before disposal...

The very same child, at the age of 3 years, spent a Sunday afternoon, smearing her bedroom with a kilogram of peanut butter. I was pregnant with the second one, and suffering from 9 months worth of hellacious, ride-with-a-bucket-in-the-car-at-all-times morning sickness, which had left me with little by way of a sense of humour. I had gone to lie down for an afternoon nap and awoke, violently nauseous with the swirling odours of peanut butter around me.
The child had literally covered every possible spot (including herself) with smooth peanut butter...I blame the DH for those genetic traits emerging : l ......

My favourite image comes from M•I•L•K .... I really love their stuff and have collected all the pictures I like over the years. The one above is like a personal mantra...if you have kids, you will know exactly what this means!

Go now, and check what your kids are doing...you never know ;)