Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rainy Days- Knitting and Melting Beeswax

Under our kitchen window sit six additional pepper plants waiting for a home in our garden. The past few days have been too wet and rainy to any additional planting. We still have another garden plot to prepare, but it will have to wait until the end of the week when the sun is rumored to be in town for a two-day performance.

Personally, I love rainy days. More accurately, I love rainy days when I have no obligations outside the home. Rainy days are perfect for knitting, curling up with a hot cup of herbal tea, and baking... well, anything!

Yesterday (Monday) was one of those days. I'm making a beautiful aran sweater, with cables upon cables out of chocolate brown fisherman's wool for my husband. It will most likely take until October before it is done, but it will be ready for the cold weather. I caught him, out of the corner of my eye, watching me knit. He looked so proud, or perhaps touched, that his wife was making something that takes such time and care to create, and doing so just for him.

This sweater is a great example of self-reliance. Making your own clothing allows you to control every factor- style, color, quality, and every other aspect that contributes to its uniqueness. While I did not spin this yarn myself (though spinning is a skill I'm working hard to improve), it was purchased from a small, local shop. With a little effort, a warm work of art is crafted. All it will require is a little time, effort, and moderate skill.

No money went to support a large retailer with a history of mistreating employees. No money went to a corporation that employs foreign workers at slave wages. Some money did get paid in sales tax, which is one of the reasons I'm honing my own spinning skills, but the bulk of the purchase price went to support a local, small business.


Today, (Tuesday) I had a little time after work to clean out the uncapping tank and melt the beeswax cappings that have been waiting on me to have some free time for over a week. A solar wax melter is in the works, but probably won't be finished for a few weeks. However, it will remove any need for further fossil fuels, and therefore any grid connection, to process our bees' beautiful wax.

Always be very careful melting wax. Melt wax in a double-boiler, preventing the container of wax from touching the heat source. Beeswax is highly flammable, so please take all reasonable precautions.

I pour the melted wax into old liquid egg and milk cartons that have the tops cut off. When the wax cools, the clean wax floats to the top, and the sludge sinks to the bottom. After it cools, the sludge is cut off, and the process begins again and is repeated until the wax comes perfectly clean. At that point, the melted wax is poured into pretty, one-ounce cakes with a honeycomb and queen bee design, ready for easy measuring for future use or sale. Do not refrigerate the wax to cool it. It will not make a good candle if you cool it too quickly.

Beeswax just smells absolutely delicious! It requires no toxic artificial fragrances to scent a room. Beeswax is used in candles, lotions, soaps, and furniture polish, just to name a few uses. We used our own beeswax to make the taper candles that lit our home last winter. Beeswax is more valuable pound for pound compared to honey.

When you get the chance, read up on candle making, and then locate a local beekeeper in your area. Every county has a beekeeping association, and you should be able to find their contact information (and probably web site) on line easily enough. Make an inquiry asking if any of the beekeepers have wax for sale, and you should have yourself a local source of beautiful beeswax for all your crafting needs.

Live better, a little every day.

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