Getting Your Knit Fix When You Can't Knit

Last Monday I wrote about the sometimes painful side effects I get from knitting.  Occasionally,  the best way to deal with the pain and discomfort is to not pick up my needles for a few days.  Sounds extreme, I know - crazy talk!  But it helps and sadly, I need my hands to be healthy so I can (once in a while) use them for things other than knitting.

When I am forced to take a short knitting hiatus I still get my knit fix by indulging in non-knitting knitting activities.  I am still immersed in my knitting, I am still productive and my hands get a rest; this is a win-win situation. Some things that I might do if I can't knit include:

  • cleaning up my Ravelry queue - I try to keep it below 300 projects.  It needs to be culled and re-prioritized regularly
  • organize my stash - a huge ongoing project which will never be done.  Also, Ravelry has a great stash feature that allows you to upload your stash to Ravelry and keep track of what you have, where you keep it, how much you have and will even match your stash with patterns in your queue.  It is an amazing resource and I suck at making use of it
  • organize and tidy my notions and needles
  • organize my physical patterns and books.  I have a lot of books, and written resources that need to be organized and tidied up regularly
  • catch up on knitting blogs and YouTube videos
  • spend some time on Craftsy and Loveknitting soaking up the knitting and yarn porn
  • cruise Pinterest, Ravelry, Instagram and Facebook admiring other people's knitting and looking for inspiration 
  • mend any knitted items that have been waiting to be mended
  • weave in ends (sometimes I procrastinate)
  • block whatever has been waiting to be blocked
How do you cope when you can't knit?

Homemade Laundry Soap

I get lots of requests for my laundry soap recipe, so here it is:

I have been making my own laundry soap for a few years now.  Actually I have been making all my own cleaning products for years now.  Our family's shift from commercial to homemade cleaning products was born out of necessity. My youngest was having physical reactions to commercial brands.  He has had issues with cleaning products, laundry products and some paints.  Weirdly he has no food or pet allergies and can use commercially made hygiene products with no reaction at all. 

I also use this soap to wash my hand knit garments and it works great.  In a pinch I have used it for pre-block washing when I am out of Soak or Eucalan. 

Friends and family who have used our laundry soap give it rave reviews.  I made laundry soap as small gifts for Christmas this year.  I have had lots of requests for the recipe since then. 

Laundry soap is really easy to make and has the added benefit of being really inexpensive.  What I now pay for one year's worth of ingredients is far less than the cost of one large size tub of the commercial brand. 

There are laundry soap recipes all over the Internet and on Pinterest.  The recipe we use is a result of trial and error and figuring out what works best for us. 

Most recipes are for LARGE batches of laundry soap (5 gallons and up). This does not work for me.  We have neither the space nor container to store that much laundry soap.  It is easy enough that I don't mind making a small batch
(about 2 gallons) every 6 - 8 weeks or so. 

What you will need:

1/2 cup finely grated castille soap
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
6 cups warm water
5 cups warm water
Container(s) large enough to hold the soap and water with room left to add more water (2 gallon)
Essential oil (optional)

A note to my fellow Canadians:  I had a hard time finding washing soda here.  The 'No Frills' in our town finally started carrying it last year.  Before that I had to make my own.  It is possible to turn baking soda into washing soda by cooking it in the oven. I cannot recall the temperature or time, but there are good tutorials for this on the Internet. 


In a large saucepan, heat 6cups water and grated castille soap over low heat, stirring until soap has completely dissolved. This only takes a few minutes

Then add 1/2 cup Borax and 1/2 cup washing soda to melted soap mixture.  Stir constantly until powders dissolve and solution thickens.

 Once thickened, add remaining warm water to your container (I use 2 containers so I divide my water evenly between them) then add the soap mixture (again, I divide evenly between the two containers). Tighten the lid(s) and shake vigorously.  Put aside for 24 hours. 

After 24 hours, your soap will be very thick, maybe even solid.  This is normal.  You did not do anything wrong.  You now have a very concentrated laundry soap. 

Fill the container(s) to about 3/4 full with warm water.  If you want a scented laundry soap, this is where you would add about 30-50 drops of essential oil.  I prefer my laundry soap unscented.  If I want to add scent to a specific load I either add a few drops of essential oil to the soap dispenser in my machine or I add essential oil drops to my dryer balls. (Yes, I use dryer balls, too).  Shake and/or stir vigorously.  You may need to break up the solid mass with a wooden spoon.  You now have laundry soap.  

Shake before each use. Use approximately 1/2 cup per load adjusting depending on the size of your load.  This soap works in both top loaders and high efficiency washers.  In lieu of commercial fabric softener, I use white vinegar, which also happens to be good for my machine.  

If you want me to post any other cleaning recipes, let me know.  

A Non-Knitting Post

Sometimes I do things other than knit.  Shocking, I know. 

I make my own laundry soap.  I make all my own cleaning potions.  One of my kids has some sensitivities to the chemicals in the store-bought brands so I have been making my own for years. I actually prefer my own now and am not as satisfied the odd time I use a brand name cleaner.  

Lots of friends and family have asked me to make them laundry soap.  Much like with knitting requests, I decline and offer to give them the recipe and help them make their own.  So for Christmas this year I made laundry soap samples:
I even printed labels with ingredients, instructions and a Season's Greeting:
What kind of homemade Christmas goodies do you make?