Elderflower Cordial

One of my absolute favourite things to make from the garden is elderflower cordial.

It’s so easy to make, and though you need to leave it to steep overnight, it’s actually incredibly quick in terms of weeks. You don’t technically need anything other than store cupboard ingredients – sugar and water, and the zest of some lemons. It does benefit from some citric acid, though.

Firstly, collect a bowl of flower sprays. Pack the bowl quite tightly and let it stand for a few hours – this gives any bugs time to escape.

Once you’ve done that, break the larger stalks off and decant the flower heads into a large pan. Add the peel of some lemons – I used 4 this time, ‘zested’ using a vegetable peeler.

I tried to add the zest of some limes in too, but they were a bit old and gnarly so there’s just that solitary green scrap there…

I covered all of the ingredients in my pot with boiling water, put the lid on, and let it steep for 24 hours – a bit like a giant pot of fresh elderflower tea.

Coming back to it the next day, I put a fine metal sieve – lined with a clean cotton tea towel – over a bowl and strained yesterday’s concoction.

I was just going to pour the whole lot over, but in the end, I decided to use a slotted spoon to remove the larger sprays of elderflower.

After that, I strained what was left. This made it much easier to clean the tea-towel afterwards.

Now for the important part of the instructions – measure the volume of fluid you have left. You need to add grams of sugar equivalent to the number of mililiters in order to make the cordial. So, for example – I measured 1.6l fluid, and added 1.6kg of sugar.

I really like to use Silver Spoon sugar – we used to live near the factory in Suffolk – because it’s grown in the UK so has fewer food miles than alternatives, but as ever, that’s a personal preference.

If you’re adding citric acid to the mix – and I added around a tbsp for this quantity – then stir it through the sugar here.

Once you’ve worked out how much sugar you’ll need, add both sugar and fluid to a large pan, then heat until the sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, sterilise your bottles.*

All that’s left to do at this point is to decant the finished cordial into the bottles.

Whilst – in theory – this should last well at room temperature, I like to store it in the fridge. With most things – to my shame – I’ll just skim any mould off the top, but that isn’t possible in  a bottle like this so I tend to err on the side of caution.

Dilute to taste – I like a roughly 1:5 ratio with tap water, but you can add sparkling water instead for a bit of fizz.

Have you tried making your own cordials? I’d love to hear what kinds you’ve made! Tell me about it here, or on Twitter.

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* There are all sorts of ways to do this. Some people like to use boiling water, others use the oven and microwave, but personally I like to use Milton cold-water steriliser or the non-branded equivalent. If I’ve got the oven on anyway, or if I’d planned on boiling the kettle, then I’m happy to do these things but you need such a small amount of the liquid steriliser and you’re not burning through power to heat things by using it, so it’s my favourite method. As with the sugar, though – it’s all just personal preference.

DIY Cosmetics

I’ve posted before about making soap but in truth, there are very few bathroom products that I don’t make myself. From the cotton cloths I use on my face, to a really simple bath soak (epsom salts + dried lavender = all there is to it), I like knowing what’s in the things I put on my skin.

This works for me for a number of reasons. Primarily, because I’m really not much of a wearer of make-up, which I think this next sentence will demonstrate…

The tiny little tub in the picture (filled there with my DIY attempt) was the Beauty Naturals powder I bought for my wedding in 2008. It ran out last week…

And I know – you’re not supposed to use make-up past a certain age, but honestly… it was only a little past its use-by date, then only a little past that, then it was so old I couldn’t see the date stamp, and then the tub was basically an antique…

I’ve seen loads of tutorials online about how to make your own face powder from kitchen staples. These are invariably mixed from cocoa powder and some sort of white starch – in my case, I used tapioca starch because my refillery had given me a free bag.  It was past its best-before date…

I’m sensing a pattern…

Most of the ‘recipes’ I looked at dealt with powder for pale skin, but I did manage to find this tutorial on YouTube, which gives a suggested ratio for darker complexions. In all honesty though, I think this is just a case of messing around with the ingredients until you find something you like.

In terms of cost, this is just about the cheapest thing you’re going to find anywhere. You may already have the items you need in your store cupboard and at around £8 for 4g of finishing powder, I would venture that you can buy the ingredients for less, and have enough of them to make powder aplenty for years to come.

Being totally honest, I wouldn’t say this powder is a perfect substitute. It lacks a degree of warmth and the colour I mixed has a slightly grey quality to it when sat in the pot. I think that next time I dry some beetroot peel for stock, I’ll add the tiniest pinch of the resulting powder to try and add more of a ‘blush’. That said, it’s perfectly servicable as it is, so I’ll probably forget for another … ahem … 12 years.

Eep.

Other bathroom cabinet staples which I’ve made include:

Moisturiser: This is really simple. Simply melt around 0.5cm of a block of beeswax (or around 2-3g) with a heaped tablespoon of coconut oil, a teaspoon of olive oil and a tsp of glycerine (available in the baking section at most supermarkets, or online).

Lipbalm: I make this in ‘bulk’, filling up old Vaseline tins, or old liquorice pastile tins. Really, though – any small, portable container will work.

This I make by melting half a bar of beeswax, and the same weight of coconut oil together. Sometimes, if I have any for making my knitting more water-resistant, I add a teaspoon of lanolin. You can buy this in metal tubs online – I bought mine from a seller called ‘Elijah Blue’ but i can’t find links to their shop anymore – or in the baby section at the supermarket labelled as Lansinoh Lanolin cream. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way and it’s a great alternative to the likes of Savlon cream or Germoline.

If you’re trying to avoid animal products, simply substituting the beeswax for extra coconut oil is absolutely an option but do keep in mind that the melting point for your products might be a little lower. This being the case, you may want to consider using a screw-top jar – tiny hotel jam jars are ideal, as are old contact lens cases – as you’re less likely to suffer leaks this way, if your balm does melt into liquid.

Obviously, this means that the lip balm basically becomes pure coconut oil. There’s nothing wrong with that – and it’s definitely an affordable way to do it – but if you wanted to add some other, slightly solid oils there’s no reason you couldn’t do that. I’ve heard good things about cocoa butter.

Dry Shampoo: When I go camping, I tend to use a lot of dry shampoo. I had been using Batiste spray and then the bottled Lush equivalent, but when I read the ingredients on the Lush bottle, I thought I’d have a go myself. The main components are – again – some kind of starch. I add cocoa powder to mine as my hair is really dark, but as above, adjust the ratios according to your own requirements.

In terms of things that I use and I’ve tried making, that’s about it at the present time. If I’m still writing this in another 12 years, I’ll tell you how I got on with DIY eyeshadow (I’ve heard good things about turmeric and cocoa powder), but as I said to begin with, I’m not really much of a make-up wearer.

Have you tried any of the above? Do you have any suggestions as to what I should try next? I would love to hear your comments – either below, or on Twitter.

Nettle Soup

Nettle soup is one of those ‘literary’ dishes. It sounds like something lifted straight from Beatrix Potter, or something that Merry Men would ‘sustain’ themselves on whilst hiding out in the forest. I think that’s why I loved it, to begin with – because I could pretend to be romantic and windswept and Tess-of-the-D’Urbervilles-y frugal.

Except that now, it’s just a thing that I eat, because we have nettles and I’m too lazy to go shopping.

To make a hearty bowl of nettle soup you need: 
– some nettles (obviously). I find around two big, fat handfuls works. Try to take the leafs from the top of the plant. You want the small tender ones.
– some kind of oniony taste (slightly-sprouting back-of-the-cupboard onions are fine, as are spring onions, leeks, garlic, and chives)
– some stock (I use a chicken OXO cube or some veg stock I made)
– possibly some diary – I like stinky cheese rinds, but these aren’t essential

I fry off the oniony-component in a little oil. As I’m doing that, I put a seive over a bowl, pop the nettles in the seive, and then pour boiling water over them to rid them of all stingy parts and any muck from outside. Once that’s done, I add the nettles to the onions. (I let the water in the bowl cool – it’s going on my house plants.) To the soup-pan, I add my stock and enough water to cover the nettles. When these have cooked through and gone tender, I blend them and add any dairy leftovers – a teaspoon of soured cream, some creme fraiche about to turn, some grated stilton rinds…

If I want something thicker, I like to add potato to the mix. Leftover mash is ideal, but tiny cubes cook quickly and really help to thicken things.

The taste is earthy – a bit like spinach – and wholesome. And if you grow your own chives and otherwise use up your leftovers as you make it, nettle soup can be one of those oh-so-rare free meals.

If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think. As ever, you can get in touch here or on Twitter.

Dandelion Cake

We have an abundance of dandelions in our garden. I love that they bring some much-needed colour after winter bleaches the Scottish landscape, and that they feed the bees which seem to happily inhabit our garden… but they really do take over huge swathes of ground.

I play a game of chicken with them every year – how long dare I let them flower? Too long and they release clouds of seed across the ground, but no long enough and my polinators go hungry.

And I really don’t like just (compost) binning them. The dandelion is a versatile food source – roots and leafs and flower are all edible. What a waste of food to simply pull it up and throw it away.

Lots of people make salads, dandelion wine, vegan ‘honey’*,  root ‘coffee’, or Greek radikia, from various parts of the plant, but I wanted something quick and child-friendly so I settled on a 2-egg Victoria sponge with petals in it, baked in a loaf tin.

Some notes: I don’t actually use a recipe when I’m making Victoria sponge. I weigh my eggs, add the same weight of self-raising flour, the same again of sugar, then half that weight of vegetable oil and half of milk. I use the veg oil/milk combination  because it’s cheaper than the equivalent quantity of butter, and because I don’t need to buy an extra ingredient i.e. margarine. If you go down this route, vegetable oil and sunflower oil work beautifully. Extra virgin rapeseed oil is awesome for nutty cakes like carrot, or coffee and walnut, but not so much for fluffy sweet things. Whatever you do, don’t use olive oil or sesame oil – trust me. Just don’t.

In case you’re not an egg-weighing person, I roughly used 120g sf flour, 120g sugar, 60mls milk, 60mls oil and 2 eggs for this cake – plus the 2 eggs and the dandelion petals.

To get your petals, all you need to do is pick some flowers – or have small, helping hands do that for you – and chop the green bits off.

It doesn’t matter if you leave a few stray greens in – it’s all edible – but too many will leave a bitter taste.

In total, you need around a cup of dandelion petals, but you can add more or less depending on your personal preference. I’m not a precise cook so I would absolutely encourage experimentation.

Bake the cake for around 40 minutes at 160C, or until a skewer comes out clean. Once you’ve done that, leave it to cool and slice when ready. If you can bring yourself to, though, I would recommend leaving it for 24 hours for the flavours to mature a little. You’ll get more of the sweet, honey undertones that way. The texture is also much more stable, and therefore willing to carry more butter. Just saying.

And there you have it. A tasty way to reduce the spread of weeds in your garden.

Have you tried eating dandelions? What are you favourite recipes? I would love to try them out! Contact me here, or on Twitter.

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*Which I’m sure my 90+ yr old friend said was what most people would have used during WW2 if honey wasn’t available, though I could be wrong.

Recovering my ironing board…

Some of you might have seen my recent post about beeswax wraps, and that I wrecked my ironing board cover while making them.

I’ve made covers for this baby ironing board before, but they’ve all been more than a little rubbish until now. I just couldn’t quite figure out how I should add the elastic/string to the main fabric. Then my friend posted a really clever method of doing so, and I’ve been waiting to try it ever since.

But I’m lazy, and the other cover was… mostly fine?

Maybe not.

Anyway – after I clarted everything in wax, I decided that now was the time to fix things. I grabbed an offcut of cotton from the kids’ curtains and set to work….

First off, I chose cotton because I know it’s not going to melt, and because I know I can machine wash it, if I get grease on it from making cheese toasties.

… Irons can do many things…

Anyway, first of all, I took the string out of the channel and set it to one side. Then I ripped off the horrible, amalgamated Franken-channel, formed from the deceased ironing board covers that came before it…

Which left me with a shape I could cut around.

After I’d done that, I went stash-raiding for some bias binding. This I found amongst my mother-in-laws things, in the ideal shade of turqoise.

And all I did after that, was open the binding out, fold it in half, and sew it around the edge of the old curtain, using the machine.

If you’ve got a more recent machine than mine – and being quite honest, as my machine is from 1895, chances are  you will have a more recent one – you should probably do a zig-zag stitch around the raw edge. Or use an overlocker if you have one. If you’re using an overlocker, you could do as Amelia suggests, over at Sewing Machinations, and overlock the wadding to the cover, but again – I’m lazy. And I didn’t.

After I’d finished, I tied the original string to a safety pin and passed it through the new bias binding channel.

An important point to note, at this stage. As soon as you have both ends of the string in your hands, tie a knot at the very tip. Then, as you try and even out the distribution of the string through the channel, you won’t lose one end and have to rethread the entire thing. After you’ve placed the cover on the board and tightened the string, then you can untie it and retie it in a tight bow. This will save you a lot of work if it gets lost.

All that’s left to do then is to put the cover on the board. As you can see, my ironing board is a tiny, table-top one – largely used for ironing sewing projects and toasted sandwiches (because who has space for a dedicated sandwich toaster?!) – but the principal is the same no matter what size of ironing board you have.

I really hope you’ve found this useful – I’d love to see your before/after pictures if you’ve had a go, either here or on Twitter.

Beeswax wraps

A little while ago, my friend and I had a go at making beeswax wraps and – quite honestly – it was a total disaster that resulted in a lot of wasted wax and a huge amount of mess.

Having then bought some wraps from a lovely lady at a craft stall just before Christmas, I discovered that instead of using the internet’s favourite ‘brush the melted wax on with a pastry brush’ method, that I could have just sprinkled some grated wax on some cloth and ironed it between two sheets of baking paper.

Well, now I’ve had a go at that and I can absolutely say – it’s so much easier and it actually works!

First, I grabbed some scraps of cotton, some pinking shears and some beeswax blocks, then I trimmed the scraps into regular shapes.

After I’d done that, I had a good pile of lovely squares.

Next step, was to grate the wax. I just used my regular cheese grater, but I think going forward – if the charity shops reopen any time soon – I’ll get one specifically for wax. It just makes cleaning it perfectly far less important.

I would like to state at this point that each of those nubs of wax made one wrap. So, if you want to do more than around 3, you’ll need several bars of the beeswax that you find at hardware stores. I buy this because it’s package free – unlike the stuff you get off eBay. But if you’re making these during lockdown, and you decide to order beeswax online, I would absolutely opt for the pre-made pellets, rather than grating a block.

Anyway, this is one of those nubs, grated…

And this is that grate nub spread out onto the cloth it’s about to cover.

And now, for the ironing. I put one sheet of greaseproof paper under the fabric and one on top, then brought out Old Faithful.

This is my Nan’s Rowenta iron. It was made in West Germany, which should give you some idea as to its longevity. Unfortunately, the temperature dial no longer works, so now I use it to iron toasted sandwiches and various craft projects. My ‘fancy’ iron – a sale buy from John Lewis costing a whole £10 – ends up staying clean this way…

Anyway, after you’ve run the iron over once, you’ll notice some parts of the cloth aren’t saturated – like the edges here. They’re a much paler colour to the rest. All you do is sprinkle a bit more wax on and repeat the ironing process.

And then you’re done – two lovely beeswax wraps, from scrap cloth and some package-free wax, ready to replace freezer bags and clingfilm. As these are for my mum, I made some packaging for her…

I just got some brown paper that had been used for padding in an online order, and cut it down. Then I drew on it with the kids’ felt pens.

As you can see – hopefully – from my scrappy handwriting, these wraps are really easy to care for. And if you’re a heavy cling-film user, they could end up saving you lots of plastic over the course of those 6 months.

I feel that I should add at this point that I wrecked my ironing board cover whilst doing this. I didn’t mean to, but actually, it was a good thing because it was dropping to bits anyway. It gave me the impetus to replace the manky, ancient thing I made when I was learning to sew. This could have absolutely been avoided, however, by making the fabric significantly smaller than the baking paper. As I wanted to ‘use up’ some baking paper that we’d used for bread, however, I cut my fabric to the same size and so spilled wax onto the ironing board. And the iron. It’s all a big mess…

Click ‘follow’ for ‘how to recover your ironing board’! 😉

Have you tried making beeswax wraps? Which method did you use?

I’d love to hear about your experiences – why not get in touch in the comments section, or on Twitter?

Broccoli soup

As I said in a previous post, this was written before the COVID19 outbreak but it seems even more pogniant now…
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One of the best things we can do to reduce our environmental impact is to be careful with the food we eat. One of the most wasted items of food – that I see, in any case – is the broccoli stem.

I’m not really sure why this is, to be honest. I mean, sure – if you boil it with the florettes, it ends up stringy, but there are loads of different ways to cook it.

Rather than throw it out, I collect mine in the freezer. When I have 4-5 stalks chopped up and in a bag, I buy a brand new florette and make broccoli soup. Admittedly, you can absolutely make it without the whole, new broccoli head, but it can look a little bit pale and anaemic.

Anyway, here’s what I usually do.

Ingredients:
3-4 broccoli stalks
1 whole head of broccoli
1 onion
1 stock cube (I use OXO chicken/beef as it’s plastic & palm oil free, but if you want vegetable stock, you can make your own too)
Water
A dairy product – optional (this is ideal for using up the ends of soured cream, for example, or cheese rinds).

Method:

  • Chop your onions and fry them off in a little oil. I tend to use the oil from sun-dried tomatoes for frying things off in as it adds a little flavour and uses up something you’d otherwise throw out.
  • After your onions have softened a little, add the chopped, frozen stalks to your pan, along with your stock and enough water to cover. (Some astute readers might note the asparagus ends and celery in the frozen veg below – I just tend to freeze odd scraps that are about to go off, so I can use them in soup . This lot ended up in with the broccoli.)
  • After these have softened a little, add your fresh broccoli.
  • When it’s soft enough, use the stick blender to mush the lot. Or, if your family likes to actually chew their food (unlike my youngest), blend until there are chunks of your preferred size in there. Afterwards, add any dairy that you’re going to add.
  • Serve, and enjoy.

In the interests of total disclosure, my kids like this more than my husband and I do. I feel like there’s a depth of flavour that’s lacking (which may or may not be improved by the use of ham stock…). That said, in terms of affordability and uses of food waste, this is definitely a winner. And it doesn’t taste bad. Not by any stretch of the imagination – it’s a warming, hearty soup. I’m just used to being thoroughly spoiled with what I get to eat. I married a wonderful cook.

Do you make use of your broccoli stems? I would love to hear what you do! As ever, contact me here, or on Twitter.

Drawstring bag tutorial

Following a Tweet from Nikki at Thrifty Green Blogger, I thought I might make a tutorial for drawstring bags.

You can find instructions on how to make these all over the internet, from Pinterest to YouTube, but I want to throw my own hat into the ring. It’s not that I don’t think these others are any good, but I want to showcase really easy, really lazy, really quick methods. What’s wrong with doing a proper neat job, I hear you cry? Absolutely nothing at all. But honestly I’m too lazy to do one, and I think it’s better to have a go at making something quick and simple from recycled material, then using it at the supermarket, than it is having the intention to Make A Proper Job Out of It and then never getting round to doing it.

Things to consider: You’re going to want to wash these. They come into direct contact with food. In the interests of keeping microfibres at bay, you’re best to select a natural material. If you plan to use them for loose grocery items (carrots, onions etc.) or dried goods from a refillery then you want to make them as light as possible so as not to needlessly increase your shopping bill. I made mine from the cotton lining of an old dress, but old sheets are fine and if you can’t find anything else then cotton quiling fabric will do. If you want to use them for the likes of loose breads then the weight doesn’t matter – most of these things are chargd by the item. This is where you can make use of old denim, old tea-towels, and heavier weaves. For these, it’s often best to put the string along the long edge as it allows the cashier to open the bag with greater ease in order to count how many croissants etc you have.

What you will need:
Natural fibre fabric (as discussed above)
Thread
Some kind of string
Scissors
A needle/sewing machine

For ease of writing, I’m going to relate the super-easy ‘made from old jeans’ method first….

From an old trouser leg

First of all, cut away a section of trouser leg. I usually cut off the bottom hem when I do this because my hems are always manky, but if you’re a clean person, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t leave it on.

Next, turn your section of leg inside out and sew along the bottom – either with the machine or by hand. If you’re doing it by hand, you might want to try backstitch as this is slightly stronger, but the choice is totally yours.

Fold the top of the bag over to create the chanel for the draw string. I like to fold twice so that the raw edge is tucked away, but each to their own. Once that’s done, sew along the bottom of the fold as illustrated (above). This is essentially your drawstring chanel made.

Snip a tin hole through the first layer of fabric on your chanel. This is the hole through which the string will pass. Thread your string through by attaching it to a safety pin and pushing this through the chanel. Turn the bag inside out and you’re finished!

If you’ve been working with a sewing machine, this is a stupidly quick project – two lines of sewing and you’ve got a completed article. And a trouser leg will make 3-4 bags, depending on the size you need. These bags – if made from cotton such as denim – can be washed at high temperature, ironed, frozen, and reused until they rot. Perfect. Plus, you’ve managed to divert some old trousers from landfill. Winning.

You can, of course, make these from sweater sleeves, t-shirt bodies, old pillow-cases… basically any tubular fabric (though I can’t imagine socks being appealling!) . If you don’t have a pre-made tube, or if you want to use the feather-light fabric needed for items sold based on weight, you can add in the following steps at the beginning. Excuse the difference in pen – my black ink ran out…

Cut your fabric twice the width you’d like your bag to be.

Instead of just sewing across the bottom like you would with a length of trouser leg, sew up the side too in order to make an L-shape.

And that’s all there is to it, really.

Do you have any tips for make super-simple drawstring bags? Or for other ways to carry your groceries home? I would love to hear about them – here, or on Twitter.

 

Experiments with Aquafaba

A while ago, a friend of mine told me that you could make Scotch pancakes/Bannocks/Drop Scones with aquafaba instead of all the other wet ingredients.

 

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So I thought I would try it. It didn’t go perfectly, but did go better than it might have done.

Ingredients;
225g self raising flour
2 cans worth of aquafaba – in this case, half from kidney beans and half from chickpeas.
Optional – rose water and poppy seeds.

Method:
Mix everything together. Fry in a pan on a low heat.

It’s the cooking where this method begins to fall apart – in short, the outside cooks far quicker than the inside, even with the pan on the lowest possible temperature. What I think I need to do is use less liquid and whip it into fluffy peaks.

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This is the point at which you would flip ‘normal’ pancakes, however with these, the underside wasn’t even solid.

I waited until it was, but even then, the centre was doughy and moist. In the end I baked them in the oven for a time. They were edible, but still not the fluffy pancake that I was hoping for.

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As I say, next time, I’m going to try a few things differently. What I am absolutely going keep about this recipe, however, is the floral flavour combination.

Oh my goodness, the rose water and the poppy seeds are absolutely glorious together – sweet and aromatic, perfumed and light. These pancakes taste like the height of summer, and when eaten with sticky bramble jam, they’re so evocative of balmy days foraging in the hedgerows Down South.

So, watch this space – I am definitely going to experiment some more with this!

Do you have any other use for Aquafaba? I’ve already used it in chocolate mousse and meringues  but I’m keen to find other ways to make use of it! As ever, contact me here or on Twitter. 🙂

Slivers of soap

Bar soap is often one of the first things people do when transitioning to a lower-waste lifestyle. Swapping out plastic hand-pumps can save you money – a bar of soap generally lasting longer than a bottle – and as many are available in paper, this simple action can save space in the recycling bin too.

That said, there is a significant downside…

You end up with loads of little slivers of soap that are too slippery and small to properly handle. These often end up as a source of frustration and – in our house, certainly – are prone to ending up in the bin, even though they’re still technically capable of doing thier job.

The other night, though, @TinyAcorns posted a photo of a clever little cloth bag which holds all your scraps of soap together and makes then usable again.

As I already had my knitting stuff out from making the dish cloths, I thought I would have a go at replicating this.

Again, as with the dish cloths, I used a vintage cotton from my late mother-in-law’s stash, but if I were to be purchasing something specifically for this project, I might choose something a little… rougher? I feel like there is great potential for the cotton to get slimy over time, whereas something like linen, or even the rougher, heavier jute might just soften. I may experiment in future to see, but for now… cotton it is. Any natural fibre will do, though wool might shrink. synthetics will last longer, but they also shed micro-plastics so that’s a drawback.

Anyway, this is what I came up with. You might want to adjust this pattern to make it wider (add more stitches, in multiples of 3), or longer (do more rows). I think, though, that for cotton, 15cm is definitely long enough – the cloth seems to stretch quite a bit in the water.

Cast on 30 st with 4mm needles.
Rows 1 & 2 – knit.
Row 3 – (k1, yo, k2tog) all the way along
Row 4 – (k1, yo, k2tog) all the way along
Repeat these four rows until your fabric measures around 15cm. End on row 2 and cast off.

Sew up the bottom and the side to make a little bag, then either pass some string or a long crocheted chain through a row of holey bits to make a draw string

And that’s it, really.

Pros: This is a super quick, easy project that you can finish in an hour or so. It uses scrap quantities of yarn, so you don’t need to buy anything specific for it. It definitely keeps all the little slithery bits of soap together.

Cons: This particular yarn bleeds colour… which is less good if you’re washing hands. It stretches quite a bit when wet. I’m not sure how cleaning it is going to work, and what it’s going to look like over time.

You can’t really see it in the picture above, but when you squeeze the bag as if to let some of the water out, you get more bubbles. Which isn’t bad, exactly, it just means that you need to scrub, then squeeze, then rinse in that exact order, or get more blue on you than is strictly necessary.

So, would I make this again? Absolutely – like I said, it’s quick and fun and does what I want it to. Have I worked out all the potential faults yet ? Nope. Not by a long way. And that’s ok. We’re all learning what works and what doesn’t. If this doesn’t pan out in the long term, I can always have another go at making a Frankenstein’s Monster soap from the grated remains of all the other soaps. It didn’t end well last time, but that’s not to say it won’t on another occassion…

I’ve posted this project on Ravelry, in case anyone is interested. It’s just a project page with the pattern in my comments. I would love to see yours if you have a go, though. As ever, you can get in touch here, or on Twitter.