Monday, May 30, 2011

Soap Artisan: Prunella Soap

Happy Memorial Day!  Let the summer begin!

Today is the last of our three soap artisan features.  Today we are featuring Janell from Prunella Soap.

Janell lives in Portland, Oregon, and makes wonderful vegan, organic cold process soap that has a natural scent.  I love all of her ingredients and scent combinations.  To me her soap smells exactly like its name.  I love that her soap is organic and vegan.  I love that many of her soaps have bits and pieces of cornmeal, or walnut, or oatmeal, or lavender in them to help exfoliate.  I have tried almost all of the 16 varieties of Prunella soap, and I was not disappointed with any of them.  I definitely have my favorites though!  The scent combinations are very creative, and not at all overwhelming.  The scents also smell very fresh and natural.

On a side note:  Janell also makes these wonderful smaller sticks of soap called Adventure Sticks.  We got a whole bunch of them, and we are taking them with us this summer on our camping trips!  They are just the right size for a shower or handwashing, and they are quite adorable in their packaging.  I would definitely recommend them for use in the great outdoors!

pink grapefruit & oatmeal, spearmint & tea tree, sweet orange & cornmeal, cinnamon & walnut, tea tree & lime

We are currently offering these five varieties of Prunella Soap:  pink grapefruit & oatmeal, spearmint & tea tree, sweet orange & cornmeal, cinnamon & walnut, and tea tree & lime.

Pink Grapefruit & Oatmeal:  This soap has a very nice light grapefruit scent that won't overwhelm you.  It leaves my skin nice and refreshed!

Spearmint & Tea Tree:  This soap has a wonderful minty scent, and it is a great soap to wake up and start your day with.

Sweet Orange & Cornmeal:  This soap contains coarsely ground cornmeal and has a great fresh citrus scent.

Cinnamon & Walnut:  The cinnamon & walnut soap reminds me of baking!  It must be the cinnamon!  This soap contains cinnamon and walnut shell powder.
Brown soap never looked so good!

Tea Tree & Lime:  This is probably my favorite scent of soap that Janell makes.  I can't exactly explain why, but I love the fresh tart lime scent.  It really invigorates me!


We may offer other varieties of Prunella Soap soap as the year goes on, but we love that we are starting out with our absoulte favorites! 

100% alpaca felted soap

The soap from Prunella Soap will be hand felted by Jen & Ole's from fiber from our own alpaca herd.  The color of the fiber is all natural undyed 100% alpaca fiber.  The felted soap is very easy to use in the shower or bath, and adds an added bit of luxury to the bath time experience. 

If you want to know more about about Janell and Prunella soap, please visit her website.

100% alpaca felted soap from Prunella Soap will be available starting this weekend on both Etsy and Artfire.



So there you go!  Three wonderful soap artisans and fifteen great soaps for you to try!  Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Soap Artisan: Lippincott Soap Company

It's Sunday!  I hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Today we are going to feature another handmade soap artisan:  Angela from Lippincott Soap Company.

The Lippincott Soap Company is a family owned business from Pennsylvania who makes old-fashioned, cold process soap.  Their soaps have a wonderful, yet not overpowering fragrance, and lots of lather and bubbles!  They have some pretty decadent sounding (and smelling!) soaps.  I can sometimes be sensitive to fragrance which is what turned me off of "fancy" scented soaps and handmade soaps for years. Since Brian and I are starting to look towards more natural and organic products and processes for our life, I started looking at handmade soaps again that were made out of the basic ingredients of oil and lye.  We've been using handmade cold process soap since the beginning of the year, and have had a great time discovering new varieties and artisans.  We think that Lippincott Soap Co. fits right in with our plan, and we couldn't resist their decadent offerings like the fruity Bottle of Wine, or the fresh, crisp Fresh Bamboo.  The colors of their soaps are very vibrant as well.  As with the other handmade soaps that we are offering, I love that I can pronounce the ingredients on the label, and my skin loves that there are no harsh chemicals.  The fragrance used by Lippincott Soap Co. won't overwhelm you, but it will leave you with a light fresh scent to start (or end) your day.

Tayberry & Teak, Bottle of Wine, Honey Love, Harvest Moon, Fresh Bamboo


We are currently featuring these five fabulous soaps:  Tayberry & Teak, Bottle of Wine, Honey Love, Harvest Moon, and Fresh Bamboo.

Tayberry & Teak:  This soap has a unique blend of berries, teakwood, and red clover.  It smells lovely and the color is great! 
Although yours will probably be the brown color of our alpaca fiber!


Bottle of Wine:  This soap has the wonderful light scent of White Zinfandel.

Honey Love:  This unique soap smells like a blend of honey and chocolate.  Yum!

Harvest Moon:  I think that this soap has a bit more of a "manly" scent with its notes of fruit, pine, and musk.

Fresh Bamboo:  This is one of my favorites!  I love the fresh crisp scent of the bamboo, the color is great, and there is ground up loofa in it as well!


We have many favorites, and hope to offer more scents later this year including Lime Margarita which is Brian's favorite!  We think you'll enjoy the current scents that are offered, and we hope that they will keep you coming back for more!

To find out more about Angela and Lippincott Soap Company, please visit their website.

100% alpaca felted soap

The soap from Lippincott Soap Co. will be hand felted by Jen & Ole's from fiber from our own alpaca herd.  The color of the fiber is all natural undyed 100% alpaca fiber.  The felted soap is very easy to use in the shower or bath, and adds an added bit of luxury to the bath time experience. 

100% alpaca felted soap from Lippincott Soap Company will be available starting this weekend in both our Etsy and Artfire shops.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Soap Artisan: Rocky Top Soap Shop

Happy Saturday Everyone!

Today we are going to be featuring one of our handmade soap artisans:  Tony from Rocky Top Soap Shop.

Tony lives in Maine, and makes wonderful, all natural, unscented, cold process soap.  There are many different varieties, even shampoo bars and a shaving bar.  I have tried almost all of the different soaps that Tony makes (including the shampoo and shaving bars), and they are all quite wonderful.  They leave your skin squeeky clean, and they don't dry your skin out either.  What I like best about Tony's soap is that they are unscented.  I can be sensitive to fragrance at times, and I love that there is a soap that I can use everyday on my face and body that isn't harsh in either its ingredients or smell.  I love that the soap is all natural, and I can actually read and pronounce all of the ingredients on the wrapper!
Hemp, Carrot, French Red, Green Tea, Chamomile Oat Straw

We are currently featuring five varieties of soap from Rocky Top Soap Shop:  Hemp, Carrot, French Red, Green Tea, and Chamomile Oat Straw.

Here is a tidbit about each soap.

Hemp:  The Hemp bar has, what else . . . hemp oil in it!  How much fun is it to say that you have a bar of Hemp soap wrapped in alpaca fiber!

Carrot:  Tony adds real organic carrots to his Carrot soap bar.  The Carrot soap bar is part of his mature skin collection.  As someone who's skin is not considered mature yet, I love using this bar on my face.
See you can see the bits of carrot!

French Red:  The French Red bar is made with french red clay.  It is a great soap for normal to oily skin, and I love the terra cotta like color! 
Of course your bar will probably be brown like the top one!

Green Tea:  This bar is made with organic green tea, and contains tons of antioxidants to make your skin feel fresh and new!

Chamomile Oat Straw:  This is one of Tony's most recent offerings.  It contains chamomile infused olive oil and oat straw tea.  This soap makes my skin feel super soft!


We plan on offering other varieties of Rocky Top Soap Shop soap as the year goes on, but we really enjoy the well rounded selection that we are currently offering.

The soap from Rocky Top Soap Shop will be hand felted by Jen & Ole's from fiber from our own alpaca herd.  The color of the fiber is all natural undyed 100% alpaca fiber.  The felted soap is very easy to use in the shower or bath, and adds an added bit of luxury to the bath time experience. 
100% Alpaca Felted Soap

If you want to know more about about Tony and Rocky Top Soap Shop, please read his featured seller article on Etsy.

100% alpaca felted soap from Rocky Top Soap Shop will be available starting this weekend on both Etsy and Artfire.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finally the felted soap is here!

Finally!

We are finally ready to present our alpaca felted soap to the world!

This wonderful Memorial Day Weekend we are going to feature each handmade soap artisan in our blog.  By the end of the weekend all of our felted soap will be available on Etsy and Artfire.

This post is going to let you know more about felted soap, why we wanted to offer it, and why we picked handmade soap.

Felted soap is a wonderful invention!  It is a washcloth and bar soap all in one!  We use our felted soap in the shower instead of a body wash & shower poof or a washcloth & bar soap.  Why would we do that?  Well, using felted soap . . .  it feels like you are on vacation every day in the shower.  It is that extra special luxury feeling . . . like adding bubbles or bath salts to the bath water.

You could also use felted soap as hand soap, however we find that it is best used in the shower or bath.

When using felted soap, you must make sure the bar gets thoroughly wet, and then lather the bar up.  It is best to let the bar dry completely between uses, and to have it drain on a slotted soap tray (which we will also be offering in our shops).

If the bar is able to dry completely between uses, the alpaca fiber shrinks around the soap as the bar goes down.  This way you are able to use every bit of soap!  If you don't dry the bar completely between uses, the soap eventually gets kind of mushy and deformed, and the fiber doesn't shrink as much.  You can still use the bar this way (we do!), and once you let it dry completely, the fiber shrinks back around whatever soap is left.

Once you are out of soap, you can do a variety of things with your leftover alpaca fiber.  For example,


You can:
  • use it as a scrubby in the shower or for cleaning
  • use it as a small change purse
  • fill it with lavender to make a sachet
  • fill it with catnip to make a cat toy
  • fill it with another sliver of leftover soap

The possibilities are endless!

We wanted to offer 100% alpaca felted soap to our customers as another way to promote alpaca fiber.  Felted soap makes great stocking stuffers, and a great gift all year round!  Pair felted soap with some bubble bath or bath salts in a spa gift basket.  Have a loved one that is hard to buy for?  Get them the gift of bath time luxury . . . alpaca felted handmade natural soap.

There are many people who offer felted soap.  Some offer handmade soap, some offer store bought soap.  We have chosen to offer handmade cold process soap.  Cold process soap is made the old-fashioned way using oils and lye.  We have personally used each soap from the three artisans, and we like them all for different reasons.  The soap artisans we chose use natural, organic, and vegan ingredients in their soap making, and offer a natural, well-crafted, long lasting product.  We believe that offering handmade natural soap lives up to our farm philosophy of sustainability.   Handmade soap is a movement back to nature without all the harsh chemicals that commercially made store bought soap offers.  Offering handmade soap also supports fellow artisans and local businesses.

We are pleased to offer three distinct varieties of cold process handmade soap from fellow Etsy artisans:

Rocky Top Soap Shop

Lippincott Soap Co.

Prunella Soap

Stay tuned this weekend for features on each soap artisan!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shearing

 It's shearing time!!

Last Thursday our alpacas got a haircut!

Thursday was a very nice day in our neck of the woods, and Brian used his brand new clipper and sheared our three alpacas.  He did a very nice job.  We use a shearing table with ropes to help immobilize the alpacas to keep them safe.  The ropes go around the legs and the alpaca gets stretched out.  One person also holds the alpaca's head.  This way the alpaca can be sheared in a safe manner for both the alpaca and the shearer.  Some people just stretch the alpaca out on the ground, but that is hard on our knees.  We much prefer the table to the ground.

 Brian shearing Lars

Brian shearing Bella


We also clipped toenails and gave the alpacas their annual CD&T shot.

It took about 2 hours to shear the three.  Not too shabby!

Here are the three post haircut.
Lars
 Bella
Bosox


Here is Brian in action!  I was only able to capture a small bit while he was working on Lars' front legs and neck.

video

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Midwest Select Alpaca Auction

Yesterday Brian & I attended the first annual Midwest Select Alpaca Auction.  It took place in Watertown, WI.  We have never been to an alpaca (or livestock) auction before, although we've both been to estate auctions.  We enjoyed ourselves very much!  The auction was hosted by three Wisconsin alpaca farms:  Kinney Valley Alpacas, LondonDairy Alpacas, and LongView Grange Alpacas, with the auction held on the beautiful estate of LongView Grange Alpacas.  There was even an actual auctioneer!  The fellow and his son normally did cattle auctions.

The alpacas offered were some of the top young alpacas in the midwest.  We had the opportunity to look at many of them and they were stunning!

The alpacas that sold, sold for very reasonable prices, definitely less than they are worth.  We weren't looking to buy any, but are somewhat kicking ourselves for the good deals that we passed up.  Next year we plan on going with a plan and a trailer, and maybe we'll bring home a new alpaca or two!

The hosts were very good, providing drinks and food throughout the event.  We had ample opportunity to look at and get our hands on any alpaca that we wanted to see.  They also had a fun spin-to-win drawing where you could win one of various prizes, including free seminars or $250 off an alpaca purchase that you would make at the auction.  The more alpacas you looked at, the more chances you had to win.  At the end of the auction, the person who spend the most money won two tickets to the Packers/Bears football game.  They also drew three more tickets and those people each won one free breeding to any stud owned by the three host farms.

Guess who won a free breeding?   WE DID!!!!!

We are planning on using our free breeding to breed Bella to Kinney Valley's amazingly dense stud, Vincent Suave.

If you have never been to any auction, I'd highly recommend attending one even if you don't plan on purchasing anything.  They are quite fun!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Artfire

Hi everyone!

We wanted to give you all an update and let you know that our wonderful handmade items and alpaca fiber are now going to be available on another handmade marketplace site!  We have just joined Artfire as a Pro Member!

Now why would we do that?

Well, we want to grow our business and grow our shop.  One way to do that is to be members of various marketplaces that let us do that.  Don't get me wrong.  I love Etsy.  In fact, I have made quite a few purchases from Etsy myself -- and I mean A LOT of purchases!  I also know that some people like Etsy, some like Artfire.  Just like some people use Facebook & Twitter, and some do not.

For now, all of our items will be available on Etsy, and only our made to order items and items we have multiple stock in will be available on Artfire.  This is because some of our items are one of a kind, and I would hate to sell that item twice!

Please check us out on either or both sites.  Our Artfire site will take a bit to start getting items on it, but please bear with us and check back often!

Thank you so much everyone for all of your continuing support!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Shepherd's Harvest

So we attended the Shepherd's Harvest Festival today in Lake Elmo, MN.  It is always neat to go there and see all the different types of fiber and fiber products they have.  We entered Bella's fleece in UMA's (Upper Midwest Alpacas) fleece show, and her fleece took 3rd place.  Not too shabby!

While at Shepherd's Harvest you can see sheep, goats, llamas, and angora rabbits.  Once we have our own farm, we plan on raising goats (for meat versus cashmere or mohair), and we will probably have a guard llama.  We are kind of now hooked on the angora rabbit!  Angora is very soft and warm, and would also blend lovely with alpaca fiber.

The coolest part . . . you can spin right off the rabbit!

Here's a YouTube video that we found that was taken at Shepherd's Harvest in 2009.  We also saw a gal spin from her rabbit today when we were there.

The only thing is . . . we have two cats . . . not sure how much they'd like the rabbits!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Better Weather!

Hi Everyone!

The weather has gotten warmer!  Spring is actually here!  It has been intermittent rain showers today .  . .  you know those types of rain showers where it is raining on one side of the house and sunny on the other.

We have more tulips and daffodils up!  Yay!




I told ya we planted a lot of bulbs!

Brian got his clipper earlier this week.  It is really nice!  We also bought him the shear head and combs and cutters.  The clipper we got him has a shear head attachment so it is basically a clipper and shearer all in one!  I can't wait to see it in action in a couple weeks!

I am slowly progressing with the soap.  Only 108 more bars to go!  I can't wait to start telling y'all about it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cloudy weekend

Well it has been a cloudy, gloomy, and chilly weekend here, so that means that it is a good weekend to work inside with alpaca fiber!

I've been busy washing fiber and felting soap this weekend.  Yesterday I ran out of carded fiber, so this morning Brian carded up some more fiber batts for me.

I'm on my 12th bar of the weekend.  I have less than 120 bars to go before they are all felted.

We bought Brian's clipper this weekend, and hopefully we'll buy the shear head attachment later this coming week.  We aren't planning on shearing until later this month, so we'll have the new clipper in time for that.

It is almost time to start featuring soapmakers!  I want to get a bit more soap felted, so it can be posted in our Etsy shop around the same time as the features.

I will also be posting about washing, carding, shearing, and felting . . . but there are only so many hours in a day!  Watch for those posts coming in the next couple months.

Have a great rest of the weekend!