Là où l’air est doux

After Louis Catorze’s biopsy confirmed that his skin problems are due to an external allergen, I decided that beeswax candles should become a permanent fixture here at Le Château. Have a look at this link if you fancy finding out more about their air-purifying qualities: https://candles.lovetoknow.com/Beeswax_Candle_Health_Benefits

We usually get our beeswax candles from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma, but her beeswax is a very precious, seasonal, small-batch product. So, because her candles aren’t available all year round, we tend to save them for special days. And, after a number of hits and misses with other ready-made beeswax candles, I decided to have a go at making my own for everyday use.

Now, I had some reservations about doing this, for the following reasons: firstly, and most significantly, I don’t have a great record of handmade things turning out well. Secondly, many years ago, I had a horrible work colleague who made candles, and this was a hobby that the 25-year-old me regarded as deeply uncool. Whenever she was mean to me, my friend Jamie would attempt to cheer me up by saying, “Don’t be upset. She’s an idiot. Plus she makes candles for fun. FOR FUN.”

(Incidentally, karma gave her a hefty slap around the chops during one summer heatwave. All her carefully-crafted candles, stored away in her hot attic, melted together into one massive, waxy lump, resulting in inconvenience and mess for her, and the biggest laugh imaginable for me and Jamie. Revenge isn’t always a dish best served cold; sometimes searing heat will do just fine.)

Never before did I imagine I would now be doing that very same deeply uncool hobby. But here we are. And it’s all Catorze’s fault.

Cat Daddy: “You’re making candles? You used to ridicule your friend for doing that.”

Me: “SHE WAS NOT MY FRIEND.”

Cat Daddy: “And you laughed at her when she put her candles in the attic and they all melted.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets, then giggles from me]

Oh, come on. Anyone who claims not to find that funny is either a liar or dead inside.

Anyway, pictured below is my first attempt at a rolled candle using a Lammasy harvest-coloured natural beeswax sheet. Also pictured are the ten wicks that I ordered, which I imagined would be, erm, approximately as long as an average candle, but each one turned out to be 5 METRES LONG. So everyone I know will be receiving handmade beeswax candles for birthdays and Christmas for the next 734 years. Whether they want them or not.

It’s hard to know whether Catorze approves, as his “I approve” face is the same as his “Just go away and die” face, but I shall assume the former even though it’s most likely the latter.

So far I have used about 20cm of wicking. Only another 49m 80cm to go.
Beeswax sheets. Weirdest things ever.
Quality control test, part 1.
Quality control test, part 2.

I know that you don’t need to be told about not leaving pets unsupervised with burning candles, but it’s worth repeating. Especially if you have a pet who is known for doing exactly the opposite of what you want.

Le Spécial

It’s rather ironic that, after panicking that Louis Catorze’s skin flare-up might be an allergic reaction to The Special One (my merino wool scarf), and after shutting myself away and panic-speed-knitting like an absolute demon to finish the darned thing quickly, there is now no football due to the Covid 19 virus.

I finished the scarf quite some time ago, but it’s now sitting in the under-stairs cupboard, out of reach of curious pitter-pattering paws. The plan was to take it out on match days only, handling it very gently both to keep it from unravelling – because I accidentally cut off two stray ends of wool before I had knotted them, and now they are too short to knot – and to stop too many stray fibres from being dislodged and transferred onto La Personne Royale. But now, of course, with no football and with the weather turning unscarfworthy, it lives permanently in its dark prison, having barely seen the light of day.

After researching merino wool, I have discovered that it’s actually LESS likely to trigger a reaction than many other fabrics. But, since we will probably never know the cause of Sa Maj’s irritation, we intend to keep treating the scarf in the way one would handle an unexploded World War II bomb. And, knowing Catorze, it would be typical of him to be allergic to a hypoallergenic substance just to be difficult.

They say that the football is only on hold until 3rd April, but this seems like an eternity. And the thought of having to fill in the time by making actual conversation, with actual people, about things that aren’t football, makes me shudder.

What a good thing there are still cats.

“Où est le football?”

Dieu doit penser que je suis un chat génial

A further addendum to Little Sods’ Law is now in place: a black cat’s attraction to a ball of wool is directly proportional to the cost of the wool.

Louis Catorze showed moderate interest when I was knitting cotton scarves at £2.50 per ball but, now that I have made a start on The Special One (my scarf made of merino wool at £783.99 per ball), his “Urge To Kill” switch has been well and truly activated.

I have learned the hard way that knitting with merino wool is complicated if you are a novice and not following a pattern. It takes several goes with different sizes of needle and various numbers of stitches to get it right. And drink-knitting is an absolute no-no: just a couple of glasses of Crémant give me the dangerous false confidence that I can fix anything that goes wrong, which invariably leads to making everything worse. And there are only so many times that I can message Wife of That Neighbour with Knitting SOS distress signals before she and her husband become even angrier with us than they already are because of Catorze’s disturbances.

In short, my task is arduous enough and I could really do without him attacking both the wool and the needles every few seconds and generally being a shite.

I have to wind the wool around the table leg as I work to stop it from twisting and, as you can see, this is like an injured seal to Catorze’s great white shark. In the last picture he decided to actually SIT ON MY WORK to take a break from his tomfoolery, and I am very unhappy indeed with the position of that needle.

L’écharpe à trous

I am not pleased.

Cat Daddy and I have a present box in the attic and, every time we see something that reminds us of one of our friends or family members, we buy it, put it in the box and save it until Christmas or their birthday.

I spent November and December working flat-out to knit a scarf for someone in time for their late January birthday and, after completing it, I put it in our present box. However, a certain little sod has somehow managed to bypass my cleverly-constructed barricade, climb into the box, roll all over the scarf and make holes in it. So not only is it covered in cat hair, but it looks as if I drink-knitted it when I didn’t.

Cat Daddy: “I thought it was a little strange when I saw that massive cushion in the middle of the floor.” The cushion, which was the barricade, is about 78 times the size of Louis Catorze and there’s no way he could move it on his own. Or so I thought.

Anyway, I don’t have time to knit another one, so I have no option but to hand over a holey, hairy scarf. Thank goodness the recipient likes Catorze. Because I’m not sure I do at the moment.

Chacun tire la couverture à soi

The members of our knitting class are now busily working on new individual assignments, having submitted our group one a few weeks ago. And we have welcomed Wife of That Neighbour as our newest recruit. Well, after making Freddie Mercury’s “I Want To Break Free” jumper she is knitting royalty, so how could she NOT join us?

Puppy Mamma is going to make a jacket for Nala the dog and I have started making a scarf for Cat Daddy in Brentford FC’s colours, but we might tell Cat Daddy and Puppy Daddy that our next assignments will be matching Freddie Mercury-style pink sleeveless jumpers for them, just to see their faces.

Anyway, I am sure you’re desperate to know what our group project was. (Cat Daddy: “NO. BODY. CARES.”) The multi-coloured, spirally squares that we made have all been coordinated and sewn together by our instructor to make a throw, and we have decided to donate it to a local charity shop to be sold or raffled. So, if you live in or around TW7 (which is where the shop is located) and you happen to purchase or win this item, you may wish to pay extra attention to the areas circled as they contain cat and dog spit: