Add the wonderful fragrance of lavender in a nostalgic, inspirational form to the linen closet, in drawers or on the wall of your favorite room.
To begin, choose straight, long-stemmed flower stalks from the garden, selecting only enough to make the number of wands or baskets you plan to make immediately. It’s best to harvest lavender in late morning after the dew has dried and before it gets too hot. Here are two great options for making these pretty, fragrant crafts to preserve your garden’s legacy.
Although practice and wand making will improve the product to some extent, all wands bear the mark of the maker’s personality. I suggest beginners learn the skill by watching someone who has made wands before.
Because the wand is made by weaving a ribbon over and under adjacent stalks, you must use an odd number of stalks. (I usually use 13, but the number varies depending on the cultivar and how fat I want the head to be.) Harvest only the most robust and straight flower stalks. Cut them just above the first set of leaves and avoid any stalks with side flower stalks, which weaken the stalk and could break off during weaving.
• 6 feet 1/4-inch satin ribbon
• 13 stalks fresh, straight, long-stemmed lavender, such as ‘Grosso’, ‘Provence’, ‘Abrialis’, ‘Super’ or ‘Hidcote Giant’
• Heavy thread
1. Align the flower heads and wrap the thread tightly below the flowers, including one end of the ribbon. Knot the thread and trim the ends; leave 1/4 inch tail of the ribbon.
2. Turn the wand so the flowers point downward. One at a time, bend the stalks over the thread. (Pressing your thumbnail into the stalk above the thread as you bend it prevents breakage if the stalks have dried out a little.) Space stalks evenly like the spines of an umbrella (Figure 1).
3. Bring the ribbon to the outside of the umbrella and begin to weave over and under adjacent stalks. As you weave, pull on the ribbon fairly hard and make sure the flowers inside are covered (Figure 2). As the pulling causes the stalks to twist, realign them after weaving three rounds so they are once again straight and evenly spaced. Repeat this step if necessary after the sixth round.
4. After weaving beyond the flower heads, form a handle by weaving the ribbon tightly for 4 to 5 inches. Tie it off in a bow. After the wand dries, reweave the ribbon on the now shrunken handle and retie the bow.
Basket weave. Using an odd number of pairs of stalks (for example, 11 pairs or 22 stalks), weave the ribbon over and under alternate pairs. This shows off more of the ribbon in the finished wand.
Tie in two ribbons in coordinating colors. Weave the first round with one ribbon, then use the second to weave the next round. Continue to alternate rounds.
The late Adgie Hulse showed me this variation of the classic lavender wand during one of the annual lavender potluck meetings of the Willamette Valley Herb Society. Hang the little baskets in the bathroom, from a car’s rearview mirror or on the Christmas tree. They also make grand floral bouquets in dollhouse entranceways.
• 7 or 9 fresh straight flower stalks of ‘Grosso’, ‘Abrialis’, ‘Super’ or ‘Hidcote Giant’ lavender
• 4 feet of 1/8-inch satin ribbon
• Heavyweight thread
1. Wrap and tie the lavender stalks and one end of the ribbon with the thread 1 inch below the flower heads (the lower down the stalks you tie, the larger the finished basket).
2. Turn the wand upside down and bend the stalks over one at a time, spacing them evenly (Figure 3).
3. Weave the ribbon around the “umbrella” until the ribbon is nearly level with the second lowest whorl of flowers.
4. Select two long, strong stalks opposite each other to form the handle. Stop weaving the ribbon at one of the stalks chosen for the handle. Cut off the remaining stalks about 1/4 inch above the ribbon so the ribbon won’t fall off (Figure 4).
5. Cut the ribbon, leaving 12 to 18 inches. Guide the end of the shorter of the two remaining stalks into the opposite side of the basket next to another stalk. Loosely twist the remaining stalk around the short stalk handle and bury the end as you did for the first one (Figure 5).
6. Wrap the ribbon in a spiral around the handle and shape it into an arc. Tie the ribbon in a small bow at the base of the handle.
7. Allow the basket to dry completely.
8. Tuck in some dark-flowered sprigs of dried lavender for contrast or use sprigs of baby’s breath or colored statice to make a tiny floral bouquet.