Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sticky challenges

Not a bowl of glossy orange compote but a candle.  A little wobbly (I think the proper term is organic) perhaps but I made it myself and it pleases me.

A little while ago Laura from Homecrafts  e mailed me to ask if I would like to take part in a competition.  The website would send me and several other bloggers a mystery parcel, I would make something with the contents, blog about it and the winner receive a voucher to spend on the site.

Now, I’m a suspicious lawyer, trained to look gift horses right in the teeth so I needed to ask some questions.  Was the mystery parcel free?  Would I be signing up to receive more parcels which weren’t free?  You know, questions like this.  Well no it wasn’t a trick, but my caution meant that I missed the ‘mystery parcel’ that Karen thought would be ideal for me – a packet of miscellaneous woolly fibres and some sari yarn.  But she signed me up for the next competition

The parcel arrived while I was away – candle making materials, wax, wicks, colouring and candle crayons,  a small example of the many things that can be found on the website

I've done simple candle stuff in the past, melting and pouring into cups and dishes but never anything complicated, a BIG challenge then.  After thinking about it for a couple of days I decided to make three sorts of candles.  Beginning with a variation on what I had made before, candles in some of my pressed glass dishes, then some with simple straight sides and some with texture, decorated with the ‘candle crayons’.  Apart from the pressed glass the other containers came from plastic drinks bottles.

To make it easier to get the moulded candles out of the bottle moulds I split them and stuck them back together with masking tape.  Neat eh?

I bought a cheap jug to melt the wax in over a pan of simmering water

And now I shall draw a veil over proceedings.  This is the last tidy picture, you see...  

The jug was a messy pourer
I needed several jugs to mix colours – all available pyrex drafted into action
The tidily stuck together seams in the moulds leaked
I didn’t notice the leaks till orange wax cascaded off the edge of the kitchen work top and onto the floor
My carefully placed flowers, stuck to the side of the moulds with a little wax, floated off and sunk to the bottom

I eventually achieved wax stability by chilling the moulds and adding wax in layers (although this gave me a new opportunity to spill wax all over the place as I tried the run the hot wax up the sides of wobbly plastic bottles with sticky masking tape hanging off in all directions!)

I made 7 candles in all with varying levels of success.  I love the dishes of fruity flowery prettiness. 

The flowers pressed into the sides of the cylindrical candles don’t look as they did in my imagination but I like the effect.  

The candle wax if poured in one go sets to glossy perfection.  Unfortunately I can’t show you that, as the most perfect glossiness was stuck to the kitchen floor and it is lost a little when poured in layers as I did here but if you use one of the proper moulds that Homecrafts sell you would get exactly that

Lastly there is the textured candle with extra embellishment.  Least said about this the better really except perhaps ‘don’t run before you can walk’ and ‘less is more’.  I cannot blame the fact that the instructions on the crayons were only in French, they are short and clear and I understood them perfectly well

I could write a long list of how to make perfect candles, lessons learned and all that but I suspect you can work that out from where I went wrong, but it was all good fun.  Thank you Laura and Homecrafts



Thursday, 16 August 2012

Take-away knitting

I'm packing for 7 blissful days away and have one more item to consider for my carry on bag.

I realise the choice of knitting to take to a Greek island is not everyone's priority.  Most people will decide on how much factor 8 to take and whether factor 30 should be used for the face, how many pairs of flip-flops and which bathing costumes (is this the year I finally ditch the bikini?) But for a holiday with a dear friend that you just do not see nearly enough of, knitting is perfect.  As long as I choose something without a complicated pattern, knitting and chatting (as every knitter knows) is the perfect combination.

So, its going to be hot, fine cotton is far better than wool, a simple sleeveless top could be finished in the week and short wooden needles do not upset the security system.

I chose to make Gretel by Julie Weisenberger  in charcoal Habu Cotton Gima - perfect!  The pattern is readily available on line, I found the yarn in exactly the colour I wanted and I have the right size Knit Pro interchangeables

But I don't have the yarn.  I ordered it last week, Thursday to be precise and paid extra to have it posted first class but it has not turned up and I am off to the airport long before the next post arrives.  I haven't received a reply to my two  polite e mails either.  Well the first was very polite, the second a little more complainey - I suggested they should refund the cost of postage at least (first class was £3, whereas second class was free)

I wonder if anyone else has had problems with on line orders?  I order quite a lot of yarn on line and this is the longest I have ever had to wait.

Of course I could (and probably should) have gone to my local yarn shop but they don't have Habu, few places do.  But they do have Noro and yesterday I fished these six balls of Sekku out of a bargain bin at half price.  But I don't want to knit Gretel with this, I want a cardigan and I have no time to trawl ravelry again, (this time for the perfect cardigan)

So I have swatched and cast on enough stitches for fronts and back in one will knit 3 inches of rib and stocking stitch up to the armholes.  I will find a pattern for all the shaping when I get home

I reckon what with all those other Greek island things to do apart from knitting and chatting (like swimming a bit, dozing a lot and eating at the beach pizzeria) this will be quite enough to do.



Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Knit-along rewards

Although yesterday was my birthday and  nearly all the post that arrived at our house was for me, today was a very exciting post day too

(Do you see the customs label)

Its my prize from the BlightKAL (Organised by Karen of Ridiculous Knits) all the way from the USA.  Beautiful hand painted yarn from Punita Yarns

I already have the other half of my prize, the pattern for Pine Barrens from Deborah Frank, I'm longing to get teh skeins would and begin.

When I last blogged about my Blight it was in the embryonic stage (I would have said tadpole but there is a knitting problem with that as it only ends in frogging).   I was so thrilled to finish very late the following Saturday night having knitted like a demon for 7 days!

Unblocked, fuzzy and a little blurred (it was late).  

But after a long soak in Eucalan (the colour of the yarnscape yarn did run a little) and lots of pulling into shape with blocking wires and holding with pins it had grown into  perfectly flat, multiple pointy, leafy, lacy, loveliness

Something like this needed a perfectly plain frock to wear with it - pale green silk twill, with just a touch of frivol, shell buttons in all the colours of the shawl and one more...