Exploring

Gosh, Sunday’s are coming round rather quickly these days. Is it really time to shut myself away from the rowdy football again? I don’t mind though, it’s been a good Sunday. The weather has been a steady and mild eleven degrees with only a slight breeze, just perfect for dog walking.

The mood at home this week, on my part anyway, has been a bit ‘cheesed off’ and irrationally blaming the entire county. It kind of sums it up if I tell you that I put into google ‘what the f*** is there to do in Lincolnshire?’ Google cheerfully replied with the top ten attractions but in well behaved language. It has taken a while but the penny has finally dropped with M and he now understands that I cannot cope with doing the same things week in and week out and part of my childhood is to blame because we went on big long hikes with our black cocker spaniel, somewhere different every weekend. His suggestions for places to take the dogs, bearing in mind he has lived here all his life and has had a dog for a lot of those years, have been uninspiring to say the least but today he totally made up for it with a new location and I was amazed that we didn’t even have to travel far.

This new to us place has been created along an old railway route, it is absolutely miles long in both directions from the free car park and you can even hire a bike for a fiver a day because the route is also a cycle path. It was ideal for M who struggles on uneven ground due to his back injury and pretty good for me with my recovering knee. The dogs soon went off course into ditches, fields and woodland so they were impressed too. Everyone seemed cheerful and friendly except for two grumpy Lycra clad cyclists who didn’t ring a bell (according to M who would have heard one) and yet expected us to know they were behind us. Presumably we were also required to immediately jump into the hedge for them too. Don’t you just hate grumpy people? The path isn’t marked into two lanes either, just in case you were thinking we had strayed!

Isn’t that mini log cabin awesome? I really wanted to have a closer look but it was down a steep six foot bank and I didn’t trust my dodgy knee to get me back up again! The dogs went and had a sniff round on my behalf.

I managed to get a brief video clip of just one of the muddy streams that the dogs jumped into and surprised myself by being able to get it onto my instagram feed (simplenaturalhandmade72). Woah, there’s no stopping me now!. Harvey is an expert at the bellyflop. I must try and get one his more dramatic launches from the lakeside into the lake, he gets a good run up for that one! He’s not a ‘look before you leap’ type guy.

Naturally we needed coffee at the end of our ‘hike’ and M needed his daily fix of crosswords. I always say that I prefer to read the newspapers but without fail I end up finishing off the clues he’s left, it’s the competitive side of me! This place is one of our local cafe nero’s. We always gravitate towards cafes with urban rustic decor. Love those stools!

So, I’m avoiding the football once more and I’ve been sitting at my bureau with this rubber stamp set. I recently bought two of these along with two ready to paint wooden boxes and made up two kits for making tags and labels. I sent one to a very good friend who also knits and crochets and makes things and I’ve kept one. I decided not to stamp as I go with mine but rather just stamp a batch of random designs from the selection ready to use at a moments notice. I made the actual tags with my Sissix Big Shot die cutter which I’ve had for years and has been a really useful thing to own. I used parcel string but of course ribbon or yarn would also be nice.

I’ve written pattern and yarn details on a couple of the larger tags and attached them to two projects I’ve been working on so that I don’t forget what hook size I’ve been using or where the pattern is. This has become a bit more important since my iPad doesn’t seem to want me to use bookmarks anymore and a lot of the patterns are online. I’ll be choosing a tag and replacing the string with leftover yarn for posting the Ermeline cardigan soon too. I feel incredibly organised on that score but my actual yarn stash and wips are all over the place while M still has a yarn storage solution to build for me. We are thinking wooden crates at the moment since he’s made several that we use around the house and for camping and it’s easy to make them look old and battered. All the lovely old metal or wooden pigeon hole pieces of furniture I’ve seen lately cost the absolute earth!

It’s telling that Harvey, although technically mine, has decided to hang out with the men whilst Riley very rarely leaves my side. Harvey is a man’s man whereas Riley seems to know that loyalty is due to the chief dog walker in the family and the one who warms their towels after a cold, wet walk!

Abstract

Along with crochet I can highly recommend weaving as a therapeutic activity. I view this first piece as something of a novice sampler because I’ve thrown everything at it in terms of techniques and methods, at least everything that I could find in my book and online. I’m sure there is plenty more to discover.

In the final half I added rya knots, tried the soumak technique (the charcoal grey seams that look like stocking stitch) and unworked loops. I wasn’t that taken with the unworked loops but perhaps there are other ways to do this. I knew my bottom tassels would reveal a bit of warp and I haven’t rectified this yet. I could just weave a couple of extra rows of the yarn I started with or I could pull each warp through the back of the tassel, but that would be tricky because there isn’t enough to tie it off or knot it. Next time I will attach those differently. For now though I shall just leave it and enjoy having the thing on the wall for a while.

The photo’s are the best I could do in the poor light we had available today. Storm Doris made coastal or woodland walks out of the question yesterday and in fact Sherwood Forest which was high on my list of options was closed to visitors on that extremely windy day. Even night lights and fairy lights haven’t improved the lighting.

I must have enjoyed the process of weaving because M asked if I was finished with weaving now that I’d made a piece for the wall. I told him certainly not! I already feel like rigging up the warps again (tighter this time) and maybe having a vague plan of what to do this time. It feels like just the beginning of something and it’s such a good way of using up all those random yarns I was attracted to for their unique and interesting textures but which are an absolute devil to crochet with. Not to mention the perfect excuse to rummage through the wool baskets in charity shops without worrying whether anything I like the colour or texture of is actually a useful amount to make anything with.

At the moment it is quite hard to imagine spring like weather let alone summer. Our slightly wild garden is a black soggy decaying mess for the most part. At the end of every summer I never quite manage to ‘winterise’ the garden and so we tend to look out on dead stuff all winter. Now that I’ve committed those words to print it might be something I will remember to do this year. Somehow it all bounces back, especially with a little bit of effort and a big bonfire. I’m looking forward to setting up my loom outside with the dogs by my feet. Harvey’s frequent offerings of sticks and branches may just end up getting woven into a piece!

Random

A random selection of photographs today. One uber cool t shirt for my little niece. Bunny was one of the buzz words over Christmas and although she’s probably moved on linguistically since then who can resist a bunny with a red nose and heart shades? Not me. In aid of Red Nose Day too so it’s a win win.

Secondly, the state of my favourite Birkenstocks. Aarggghh! I knew it was a mistake to gift the dogs an old slipper each, now they think that all footwear is up for grabs. I’ve had these for years and I think they would have lasted quite a bit longer had they not been helped along by the adorable, but mischievous Riley. E said just recently, ‘I’ve never known a dog with so much personality’. Just a little bit too much personality for my liking! M, ever helpful, told Riley he’d be docking £50 from his pocket money. So helpful.

Love my little camping pan even more now that I realise it’s a left or right handed pourer. Pretty darn handy since M is left handed and I am right handed. If it wasn’t gale force wind here today we could have brewed hot coffee using our Kelly kettle in a little tucked away woodland walk spot we found last year. We drove around for quite a while (I made M drive around for quite a while) before we found a quiet spot with a space for the car, a woodland walk for the dogs and even a big old fallen tree trunk to sit on. All for the sake of trying out the new gadget. Coffee definitely tastes better when you’re sitting on a rotten log in the middle of a forest in my opinion!

Finally, an update on my weaving progress. I’m still making it up as I go along and it’s supposed to be abstract despite each family member in turn asking if it’s a mountain, or a temple or a pyramid. No, I say patiently, it’s abstract. I’m annoyed that the sides are gathering inwards. It’s not because I’m weaving too tightly, it’s because I didn’t set the warps taut enough. Lesson learnt for next time. There are two joining methods on this piece, the ‘mountain’ uses the interlocking method I believe, where the two colours are wrapped on the same warp thread. Forgive my lack of technical jargon. The other random shape uses a front and back warp where the colours meet, I have no idea what that’s called. I must look these things up! I actually prefer the fuzzy look of the interlocking method even though my counting was a bit off. I need to be brave next and dig out some roving or add some more tassels or something. I’m better at symmetry so this is a little outside my comfort zone!

Weaving/2

The weaving book is only two days away but I can’t help but sit down for a brief session today. It’s a little bit addictive. It has occurred to me today whilst sitting at a seventies bureau, sipping coffee from a seventies mug and weaving a wall hanging in neutral tones (not to mention a few seventies tracks on in the background) that I have stepped back in time! Remind me to buy a cheese plant as a finishing touch for our bedroom!

I was born in 69 so I can remember having cheese plants. I also have fond memories of a very cuddly superchunky long belted cardigan my Mum wore. I thought she was far more stylish and glamorous than most other Mums and looking back I was right. She would have definitely been called a yummy mummy in these times. There was a lot of texture in household furnishings too. When we were very small we had a sofa in off white which was somewhere between cordrouy and boucle, next to a large deep pile off white rug which we spent some considerable time lying on, just because. A bit later we had a hessian textured wallpaper. It was obviously a very tactile era.

I can’t tell you how much faff that little grey wedge shape was! I’ve since discovered that I could have butted shapes up like this with the need for front and back warps but with closer warps instead. That way the wool kind of bridges the gap. That might be applicable when I set up the vintage loom. For now though I am really pleased with the way the colours meet without any gaps. It was a relief to get back to doing a full width stripe after that. With the small amount of flecked grey yarn I had I decided to make it up as I went along and wrapped it round every other warp to create a sort of lump. I also used the yarn doubled up so it’s turned out a little bit uneven which I quite like. I have no idea what colour or shape or texture I am going to do next. I am kicking myself for throwing out a selection of superchunky yarn leftovers which I thought would have no use whatsoever. Doh!

The temperature has improved enormously today. There was even sunshine! The dogs swam very gracefully, Riley reaching the island in the middle of the lake where the duck nests are located. He has a quick sniff round and plunges back in. It’s a bit strange. I had a Springer when I was in my twenties, called Bertie and he would have brought a dead duck back for me. Not a gift I would have wanted, believe me. He once escaped from my parent’s back garden, trotted into the neighbouring field, gently tapped a cockerel round the head with his paw, which unfortunately broke its neck and then came casually trotting back, without the bird thank goodness! Come to think of it there were quite a few neighbours who were glad not to have the five a.m. wake up call after that. Bertie eventually showed promise as a proper working dog and my partner at the time trained him, I’ve never seen a dog so happy, he was simply doing what the breed was designed to do. It broke my heart but it was kinder to let him stay working on that estate in the New Forest than have him living with me in Oxford.

Sitting on the lakeside bench it did occur to me (daydreaming about weaving!) that I could use the colours of the lake and countryside for a future wall hanging. It’s definitely a favourite spot and I’ve photographed it quite a lot, mostly with the dogs in the water at the time. It changes colour dramatically according to season, and one side has a huge area of bullrushes so there’s plenty of colour and texture inspiration.

It’s the first day of half term here. J is suffering from the nastiest hacking cough. I’ve dosed him up with everything imaginable. He’s drinking oj for vitamins and iced water and ice cream to soothe his throat, as well as the usual cough mixture and paracetamol for his temperature. He might be sixteen now but as his Mother I am feeling just the same as if he were four years old again and had some kind of cold or injury and wishing I could take it on instead. He’s a trooper though, he isn’t complaining, he just looks and sounds awful. Roll on Spring!

Weaving


I’m just ignoring the fact that the whole house is in a high level of disorder due to the revamping of one bedroom. I’m ignoring the fact that I’ve got two sleeves to crochet to complete a jumper. I’ve got this nagging little voice that is telling me to finish the last baby leg warmer and get the whole thing wrapped and off to the post office. However, I just had to give this new loom a quick try. Phhhtt! There’s nothing quick about weaving, especially when you spend large chunks of time unravelling sections!

I recently tagged along when M had a police job to do. When he checked the location on google maps he noticed there was a Hobbycraft within walking distance and very thoughtfully asked if I’d like to spend an hour there. Does the pope pray? I went along with rug backing in mind and came home with a weaving loom! It’s only a child’s loom, the Melissa & Doug brand but it’s a good size and pretty reasonable at £15. It seems to be double that price elsewhere. It caught my eye because it’s about the size of weaving I’d like for the wall above my bureau. The weaving area is about 15 x 18 inches and it comes with two dowels that can be used to partition areas off.

I’ve had to look up the basics online and in a tatty old book from the seventies. I started off with total disregard for sheds and soon ran into shape meeting problems. Let’s just say I’ve undone more than I’ve redone at this stage! I’ve also rejigged the set up with a wood offcut to offset the front and back warps. I have no idea what these are called but I’m sure they have a special name. Indeed I have a flashy complicated looking one in the vintage German one I picked up yesterday in a junk/antique place.

M hates this antique centre with a passion but can sometimes be persuaded to browse if I name a specific item that we need. So I said that I’d like a pair of battered old metal pendant shades for the bedroom and he was happy to go. I spotted some lovely old wooden stepladders, examined the tags and commented that they were usually much more expensive. This nearly ruined the whole trip. He was simply confused as to why I even looked at them. I looked because we could do with a proper stepladder but he was ‘thrown’ because he thought we were there for light shades. It must be a man thing.

We didn’t find light shades but I did manage to purchase the vintage loom and a large deep aluminium bowl which is just what I had in mind for when M has finished building the teardrop trailer. We don’t want to overload the weight of it with heavy camping equipment and I want to keep a vintage look, so the bowl will be ideal for washing dishes or faces. Since the summer and any thoughts of camping are some way off yet I’m putting the bowl to good use and filling it with random yarn leftovers which are suitable for weaving. The loom was £8 and the bowl was £6. I’m sure I would have found some more bargains if I’d been browsing on my own!

The German loom looks slightly more suitable for finer weaving. I think I’ll stick to the m&d one until I’m a bit more knowledgeable. Th vintage one came with three shuttles which are very handy and better than the chunky wooden sewing needle that came with the children’s loom. After I’d unravelled yet another attempt M decided to take me down to Waterstones and buy a more up to date book. It’s now on order and will arrive in two days but we had a lovely chat with the woman there who was also interested in having a go at ‘modern weaving’. I was glad to know it wasn’t just me that does these mad and random crafts!

Slow

It’s tricky coming from a family that never sits still, is always on the go, never puts off until tomorrow what can be done today…it means that I feel guilty when I finally slump into a chair at 3 or 4pm (much later if it’s summer with more daylight hours). Today I am consciously trying to take it slowly. In fact I could start a slow Saturday or slow Sunday trend in this household, except it’ll be me that struggles with that concept.

M is more of a ‘let’s do it tomorrow’ type and frustratingly tomorrow never comes. Though lately I’ve been amazed at his sudden burst of energetic decorating and to be fair, he has done the lion’s share of the painting. It’s taken ten long years but I think he’s finally coming round to my taste in home decor! Less is more.

I’ve been rummaging through my yarn supplies again and came across these Jacobs skeins that I bought last time we spent a few days in a shepherds hut, somewhere in the Dales. The smell is divine. I’ve no idea what to make with them but I’m determined to find something. Browsing for inspiration is almost as enjoyable as actually crocheting and ideal for slow weekend activity.

I purchased the first issue of Koel magazine recently. The second has since been published. It’s definitely my kind of magazine; crochet, interiors, macrame, embroidery, weaving, travel. I’ve written before about macrame and how grateful I am to the home economics teacher who kicked me out of sewing classes and gave me a large cone of string and a ‘how to’ book. I’d rather macrame than sew any day of the week. 

There’s also rug making inspiration. I have all the tools and some supplies, it’s just finding time to squeeze it in between crochet sessions. A big sort out of my craft cupboard resulted in pulling together all relevant supplies and storing them in a separate box. I’m now much more likely to get started with a small rug project. The frog latch hook cushion front belongs to E, purchased when she was about nine (ten years ago!) It’s so close to being finished and it’ll be a nice easy reminder of how to work the latch hook. I really don’t fancy turning it into a cushion after that but I know someone who might 😉. I can’t be sure whether Riley just liked the soft furry surface or whether he was casually eyeing up the wooden tool handle as a potential chewing item!

J is alternating between homework and Xbox today. Nothing new there. M opened his bedroom door this morning and said, in a raised voice, ‘I’m totally done with you now boy! How dare you!’ J looked a bit bewildered. M went on, ‘How dare you grow up. Now that you’re sixteen I can’t get free coffee at IKEA with a family card, so you can jolly well leave home and we’ll adopt a new child!’ J just shrugged in true J style and said, ‘yep, fair enough!’

E emailed me the ‘homework’ that one of her class gave her on Friday. On the front it says My Homework because she wanted to give E something but was too embarrrassed for it to just be a picture. Apparently E is ‘the best teecher in the hole wild world!‘ Clearly not if their spelling and grammar is that atrocious! It did bring a lump to E’s throat though. She’ll be very emotional when her year there is up. Lately I think she’s been quite thankful she has a creative Mum and therefore has all sorts of valuable craft knowledge. She’s finding it helps enormously with the age group she is teaching, which is key stage one. It also helps divert a major crisis when a six year old comes to you with a broken off plastic gem from a hair slide that she only made the night before. E knew that it was a glue gun or nothing solution so she did a swift repair in her lunch break and was told, ‘you’ve just totally saved my life Miss’.

Noses


My little noses finally arrived! I must admit I was quite pleased, excited even, when they arrived and waved them in the air triumphantly! E, J and M just momentarily looked up and then all three carried on with what they were doing. They are completely used to me being excited about a little bag of plastic toy parts, it’s entirely normal in their world to have a house full of art and craft supplies. Let’s face it, when J comes to me and says he needs an A4 piece of silver card, blue corrugated card, double sided tape and green sticky backed felt on a roll for an environmental planning project he knows I won’t have to go shopping first. In fact that was a real request just recently and I had everything to hand and more. Once he’s finished GCSEs and A levels I’m going to pass this kind of thing on in the form of regular craft packs for my niece!

So the woolly bear now has a little nose and looks a lot more like a bear than he did at first. The yarn is DROPS Karisma which is 100% wool. I’d have chosen a lighter shade normally but I’m using up what I have. I originally bought this yarn for Toft Menagerie crochet animals but after making five of them I’m all Tofted out! At least it will contrast nicely with the cream Aran sweater which I’m avoiding sewing up by the way because it requires crab stitch and I’ve never actually done that before. I need to have peace and quiet to tackle something new!

There’s not a lot of peace and quiet here right now. M and I braved the crowds for New Year’s Day dinner food shopping. We blitzed the freezer and fridge contents when we got home (yes, should have done this first but oh well). M is now recovering with the various gold channels for company. We are polar opposites when it comes to repetition. He likes the comfort of familiar programmes like Storage Hunters and How it’s Made and I get restless if they are on more than once a week. I prefer variety. The battle for the remote control is not one I bother fighting for. Thank goodness for books and crochet!

As per tradition tomorrow M will be cooking a roast dinner and we will have his sister over for the day. Its a busman’s holiday for M as he will also spend the day translating for me. A’s speech is beyond my comprehension. To save him some work I usually just waffle on without waiting for too much in the way of a reply even though I do feel a tad guilty. Last year we made tissue paper flowers because she likes to make things too and there really wasn’t much need for chat. I’m thinking Pom Pom garlands this year but I know the clover Pom Pom makers will be too complicated for her so we will do a simpler type, she will enjoy combining colours, pink always being a firm favourite. Stash busting, a repetitive craft activity I can cope with, a pom pom garland for A to take home, its a win win.

Happy New Year! 🎉🍷

Crafting


It’s another overcast but mild day today. Our little electric stove heater really wasn’t up to the job of warming just one room while we wait for our new boiler. A borrowed oil filled radiator is doing a much better job and I can at least feel my hands once more. Only one more sleep until the two day boiler installation, phew! There have been less than patient residents here and I don’t mean the dogs.

Sometimes events make you suddenly realise just how much every day effort goes into trying to please all of the people all of the time. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a thankless and impossible task and I often put my own welfare and happiness way down the list of priorities. I’m pretty sure that this is a Mother and Wife thing that I’m not alone with. So, moving on, here’s to only pleasing some of the people some of the time and having an extra gin and tonic to cope with the fall out!

Today I thought I’d finally have a go at some of the craft bits and bobs that have been gathering. I probably haven’t made a cardboard star since primary school age! This one looked like it would take forever but it’s going fairly quickly. I’ve got another, more ambitious paper cut scene to tackle from a magazine earlier this year if I manage to get through this one without cutting myself!

There’s quite a lot of cutting involved in these mini crackers too. The free kit came with Mollie Makes and I’ve dug out some cracker snaps from my craft supplies and trimmed them down a little. I can’t add the tissue paper confetti or tie them up with the red and white yarn yet because I want to add jokes and a little something. A little crochet something would be fun but I’d need eight, half suitable for men and half suitable for women. I may have to go for sweets. I really should have thought about these weeks ago because Christmas is now only eleven days away! Yikes. So much wrapping to do yet.

If time allows I’m going to go with the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve. I wish I’d known about that years ago. I distinctly remember allowing the children to open a book each on several Christmas Eves when they were very small and the excitement was just too much, and then naturally bribing them with Santa threats (he won’t come if you’re awake!) to get them to go to sleep after ten bedtime stories, each. This year we have the magic of small children at Christmas again, well one small child, my niece. At one and a half I think she will still be wondering what it’s all about!

Tutorial


I do forget that some activities I do are not obvious to others. E and I had to devise a five minute teaching exercise recently, for one of her university interviews. It had to be suitable for five to seven year olds but be taught to other interviewees. We settled upon the tissue paper and pipe cleaner poppies that we have made at various times over the years. Firstly when E was about six or seven and most recently for M’s sister who has a learning disability. It requires folding a square piece of tissue paper into a quarter of its size and then cutting an arc so that when it is unfolded it’s a circle shape. The exercise for the interview went well but one girl of eighteen could not get her head round the cutting despite five others showing her. We had both taken for granted that it was obvious how to cut a circle from a square.

It didn’t spoil the five minute lesson for E. The most important part of the exercise was to self analyse afterwards which E was more than capable of doing. If she needs another five minute lesson she plans to do a non creative exercise!

So, candles. I thought I’d just do a post to show a bit more of what you might need if you want to have a go at recycling old bits of leftover candles. There are a couple of things I use now that make life so much easier…

I used to use candle wick that comes like plaited string. In my local craft store it’s a fiver for a quantity of this and it works best if you dip it in wax and leave to cool, you can then anchor it to the bottom of the container with blue or white tac. However, you can now buy pre cut, anchored and waxed wicks. This packet contains ten and cost £1.15.

Underneath these wicks in the top photo is a packet of sticky dots; these are so useful to have around. They are not always sold as photographic sticky dots, any sticky dots will do. Choose a packet with a dot size of roughly 5mm diameter. One sticky dot on the bottom of the small metal disk on the cut wicks will stick it nicely to the bottom of a glass container. You can see how I’ve done this in the photo. I’ve kept it upright with coffee stirring sticks. If it slumps at all just bend over the top few millimetres of wick and rest it on top of one of the sticks.

Glass containers; I use the small glass containers that came with bought candles or small jam jars. It’s good to recycle but you can buy them new too. With the old ones I put them through the dishwasher and they come up sparkling clean. I scrape out old wax with a knife but even so it’s probably not that good for my dishwasher! You need to make sure that the wicks are long enough for the containers, ideally about a centimetre of spare wick above the height of glass is good.

The actual melting of the wax and pouring is the tricky part, but it’s still fairly simple. Use a double pan system so that the wax isn’t directly on the heat. I tend to group similar colours together from my discarded candles. I never worry about mixing the scented ones. They all smell good however they are mixed up! It’s guess work with quantities but you can sometimes judge by the size of the pile of wax bits you have. Once the water has reached the gently bubbling stage turn it down to simmer. It helps if your wax pan has a pouring spout, mine didn’t and it was a little messy. When you make the first pour do not fill it up to the top! In fact leave a good inch or two for further pourings. This is where the patience comes in. It’s best to leave it to cool as much as possible in between pourings. You’ll notice that the middle, where the wick is, dips as it cools. This is why it needs to be topped up a few times. I tend to pour just a small layer of half a centimetre or so every time I top up, don’t just top up the dip, top up a whole layer.

You can turn off the heat while you are waiting for candles to cool between layers. If the wax goes solid in your pan it can be reheated to liquid just as you did the first time. If you’ve got bits of old wick floating around in your mixture just fish them out with a wooden spoon, bearing in mind that melted wax is very hot!

Once the candles have set overnight in a cool place you can trim the wick if necessary. If you aren’t sure how much to leave, try lighting it. If the flame is high it needs trimming.

One other thing to note. All of my recycled candles are wax. I haven’t tried it but I don’t think it would be wise to mix wax with soy wax candle leftovers. They are quite different substances.

I didn’t have any rustic raffia in my box of leftover ribbons and string so I’ve chosen a length of ribbon which is held in place with a sticky dot or two. Likewise the wooden Christmas shapes are held on by a sticky dot too and can easily be re-used.

I store the wicks, wax, sticks, dots and small jars in an old ikea tin about the size of a shoe box. It lives at the back of a kitchen cupboard so that I can easily add bits of wax throughout the year. The double pan lives on top. It takes up so little space and even though it’s a bit of a stop start activity it doesn’t take up too much time to produce a batch of candles. Somehow this always comes to mind in December. You could just as easily buy new supplies and make them as gifts. You can buy white wax beads, wax colouring, essential oils, small tins, even soy wax. I made some candles in tea cups once, small espresso cups are quite abundant in charity shops and would be ideal containers!

Candles


What to do when your boiler finally gives up at seven o’ clock in the evening? Got to bed wrapped up in warm layers, extra blankets and bed socks, yes, tick. The next morning when everyone has departed to warmer climes? Start the day with porridge, drink plenty of hot coffee and make candles…

I figured this would be a nice warm activity which involved the oven but did not involve cooking (ugh, god forbid!). The house smells absolutely wonderful despite the two soggy dogs drying off on towels! Don’t you just hate it when a scented candle fails to burn evenly and to the bottom? I’ve come to the conclusion that the larger ones do this more often. I know all about the ‘candle memory’, I try and make sure the surface is a level one, I burn them for a good chunk of time but still the odd one fails so I throw them in an old tin and eventually I get round to making new candles.

Luckily this morning there was a good length of pre waxed wick in the tin. It’s most probably from a taper candle that broke and I melted down. It’s enough to make three jam jar candles. Coffee stirrers are ideal for keeping the wick straight while the hot wax melts. I use a small blob of white tac (like blu-tac but stickier) to anchor the wick to the bottom of the glass. The double burner was £3 from a charity shop, I was saving it for melted chocolate occasions but I’m more likely to make candles than I am to cook anything requiring melted chocolate.

I’m being ultra patient with this batch today. When the ‘woodland’ candle is almost set it will have a dip in the centre so I’ve saved a small amount of this same colour to top it up with. Only having one pan means I can’t get on with the other colours for now but I have all day. It’s so cold here without heating I don’t think it will take long to set.

We already had a booked date for the new boiler to be installed so M is trying to bring that forward by five days. Fingers crossed. At the moment the warm and cosy caravan on the drive is looking rather inviting! I have a whole stash of paperbacks in there, tea and coffee, thick blankets, a very good sound system for playing Christmas music…