Monday, 19 June 2017

Lavender Wands

If you have bought a shawl from me you will know that if you're based in the UK you will find a small organza bag of dried organic Lavender in with the packaging of your item.  If you're outside the USA you fill find a small organza bag of scented gel beads in with your item.  I don't send these packaging extras with baubles, that just doesn't make sense.  Lavender is disliked by moths that like to eat wool so it protects the shawl and makes it smell nice, although that depends on whether you like Lavender I guess.

The reason that I only include Lavender in with the UK parcels and not the worldwide parcels is purely an ecological one as we are not allowed to send organic matter to other countries as it will be seized and destroyed when it arrives through Customs and undergoes biosecurity checks to ensure that no pests or diseases are imported.

I'm trying something new this year.  Instead of just harvesting the Lavender, tying it in bunches and hanging it upside down in a cool dark place to dry and then collecting the dried flower parts this year I am going to try weaving them with ribbon into Lavender Wands.  You can buy these online but they are seasonal items, hard to find and quite pricey!  I have a ready source of organically grown Lavender, a reel of narrow ribbon and pockets of spare time, and hopefully a lot of patience.

These are my main two English Lavender plants that are in the back garden but I do have a few small ones dotted around the front garden and another one planted by the back door but these are mostly young plants and won't necessarily produce a whole load of flowers this year.  I even have a few  young White English Lavender plants to see how they differ from the traditional blue/purple. Our garden is quite small but we have a lot in it and do a lot with it, we like it to be pretty but make it work for us too.

The above photos are of the same small piece of garden with the two Lavender plants, just taken from different angles.   The Lavender stems need to be long and they need to be dry when you harvest them else the flowers will more than likely rot rather than dry out and the flowers need to be ready to open but not actually open, its a difficult one to judge and don't get upset if you say "tomorrow it will be ready" only for tomorrow to come and the flowers are open.  You need an odd number of stems too and depending on the size of the flowers you can use 13, 15 or 17 stems for a decent sized Lavender wand and you need to make these as soon as you harvest the Lavender so its best to only harvest enough Lavender for one or two wands at a time as they do take a while to make.

I use 3mm ribbon and 15 stems, tied tightly at the base of the flowers with the ribbon with a decent length of ribbon hanging down with the flowers so once its woven it will meet with the working end of the ribbon and can be tied in a bow.  The working end of the ribbon is still attached to the reel as I don't know how much each one will take.  Very carefully and gently fold the stems back on themselves to form a "cage", as can be seen in the first photo.  You then have to start weaving the ribbon over, under, over, under, all the way round.  It is very tricky and the first few rows are probably the hardest as those loose stems that you have gone under can get mixed up very easily but after the second row and the stems are secured in their "place" it does get a bit better.

Taking it slow and easy is the way to go, these cannot be rushed else you will break the stems and will have to undo and start again.  You have to weave all the way down past the last flowers, making sure the ribbon is not only good and tight, not death grip tight though, but also butted up to the row above.  These are fiddly to make but once done you hang them to dry upside down to dry like you would if you were drying bunches of Lavender and then after a few weeks, once the flowers have dried and shrunk, you can tighten up the ribbon, tie a proper bow and trim off the ends of the stems and excess ribbon.

They look really nice, smell great and store well for many years and if they loose their scent, in the first instance you can just give them a gentle squeeze and when that no longer works you can always add few drops of Lavender Oil to refresh them.

Over the course of a ten day period, as the stems became ready to harvest I made a total of 25 Lavender Wands with more to make in the next few weeks and as I became more experienced they became better looking too.

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