A calming activity
We ate early tonight because Mark had an appointment, so after supper I took a walk in the garden and spotted the lavender looking lovely in the breeze. Can there be any more perfect inspiration for a spontaneous craft session - time to make a couple of lavender rattles. With my Mum in mind and also David, the fellow who helps us keep our garden together who's in hospital right now and also in need of a cheering up, I set to and gathered my things together.
All that's needed is 26 stems of lavender (that's 13 pairs) and about 5yards of lavender coloured ribbon. I only had the really narrow stuff, but anything up to a quarter inch wide works well and the wider it is, the easier it is to use. I was working on a tray to catch all the stray bits which will find their way into lavender bags later, out on the patio.
First thing to do is to strip the leaves and any stray flowerheads from the stems. All of these bits smell so sweet and can be used in the bags so no need to waste them.
Use one end of the whole length of ribbon to tie the bunch together as close to the flowerheads as you can - slide the wrapping up the stems as far as it will go.
Bend the stems over the flowerheads as above - don't worry, such fresh green stems won't break but will bend quite easily. Having bent them over, retrieve the long end of the ribbon and begin to weave around - under two stems, over two stems, keeping the stems in pairs.
The first few rows are quite challenging but it soon gets easier, I promise!
Tuck the flowerheads into the cage of stems as you go but don't worry if the odd one pokes out, because you can deal with it later. Keep the ribbon weaving quite tight and try to create a pleasing shape as you go.
By the time you get half way down, those pairs of stems almost jump up by themselves so you can weave the ribbon over and under them. It really does get easier - or maybe the calming effect of the lavender oil scent means that you relax and get into the swing of it.
When you get to the empty stems and all the flowerheads are covered in the ribbon weaving, wrap the ribbon end around the stems a few times and tie tightly.
Finish by adding a bow, a hanging loop if you want and trim the ends straight. Cut the stems to the length you like and you're done.
The rattle gets its name from the sound it makes once the lavender flowerheads begin to dry and shrink. They become trapped inside the ribbon weave and when shaken, they rattle. If hung in a cool dry place, it will last until next year, when you can unravel it all and reuse the same ribbon again to make next year's lavender rattle!