It’s been seven days since we ‘soft launched’ A Life Loved, and everything, EVERYTHING that has happened in this time has surpassed all expectations. Over 200 blog comments (actual blog comments, like, who comments on blogs any more?!), thousands of site visits and site visitors later and here we are, just a week in, with thirty five beautiful new features for the world to enjoy – and hundreds lined up to share with you in the coming weeks and months.
I know it will sound cliche but this is just the start. Just you wait and see 🙂
And over the past seven days, I have been reflecting on what an equally fast paced and exciting December I’ve had – that was, all bar one afternoon on 6th when I took some time out to attend my first ever Christmas wreath making workshop. My host was Michelle of The Shepherd’s Purse – one of Whitby towns most treasured and hidden gems.
Images by Georgina Harrison
Anyone who knows anything about me will know that I utterly love where I live; Whitby is a truly magical and spiritual place. Whilst my husband was born and bred not far from Whitby, my family and I moved here in 2012 and, after moving to our forever home two years ago (literally moving at Christmas – not advised!). We now live a life we love.
I realise this might sound twee, but I genuinely pinch myself almost every day that we get to live in the middle of the North Yorkshire National Park, surrounded by trees and fields and nature and only a short drive away from the sea. It’s a huge privilege and one I shall never take for granted. It inspires me every single day. I love sharing my experience of living in rural North Yorkshire through Instagram, if you’re interested.
I’ll be sharing more about Whitby (where to stay, what to do, when to visit) on A Life Loved in future posts, but if you’re maybe considering a visit soon, I’m keen to persuade you to book a room at The Shepherd’s Purse (who you can follow on Instagram too). This most romantic of B&B’s is located just off the cobbles of Church Street on the ancient, East Side of Whitby.
The Shepherd’s Purse was once my favourite shop in the entire world – you can read about it here. Sadly, the shop is no longer in existence, but the thriving little B&B that remains and that is run by sisters Michelle and Sophie, is one of Whitby’s most beautiful hidden spaces, that provides a fabulous bolthole for a romantic seaside escape.
Michelle was my workshop host on 6th December and thanks to her excellent teaching skills, I surprised even myself in the art of wreath making. And I was pleasantly taken aback by how artfully therapeutic and relaxing the process of wreath making was too. If you’ve not tried this before, I encourage you to give it a go in the next week or so. If I can end up creating the item of beauty you see below, then trust me, you can too.
The workshop was held in a beautiful little rustic workroom off the courtyard that forms the heart of The Shepherd’s Purse. With just six to each class, it was a perfectly intimate and relaxing experience.
Michelle taught us the traditional method of wreath making, using moss and wire, and incorporating decorations from a gorgeous array of interesting wild foliage, foraged branches, seedheads, berries, dried and fresh flowers and seasonal blooms.
You will need
- A surface to spread out on (clear your kitchen table)
- An Apron
- A wire frame (these usually only come in inexpensive packs – but it’s a lovely experience making wreaths with friends). We recommend a 12″ frame
- A pair of secateurs or a pair of strong/heavy duty scissors
- Binding wire
- Stub wire
- Moss (to build the base) – either foraged (a large bucketful at least), alternatively you can purchase from your local garden centre or online. It’s important that the moss is nice and moist.
- To decorate; anything you can forage! I used the following my wreath – and the dainty Waxflower were my absolute faves. I was channeling my dress colour through the entire creation, because, why not?; Blue Spruce, Bunny Tail Grass, dried Hydrangea, Waxflower, Roses, Ivy and Ivy Berries, Hawthorne, Poppy seed heads and other bits and bobs (whatever my hands could reach).
1. Gather generous clumps/handfuls of moss and insert in the gap between the 2 wire circles, securing all the way around with binding wire (ravel the wire over the top and back underneath the wire frame – going all the way round to secure the moss into a circle shape against the frame). The finished result should look like the images below.
2. The next step will be repeated enough times until you have worked your way around the entire wreath circle. You need to create individual ‘bunches’ of foraged (or purchased) greenery and flowers. To create your bunch, use a piece of cedar or spruce as the base (you’ll need to use your secateurs to cut a piece to size) and then begin layering other elements of foraged goodness on top – berries, dried flowers, twigs – dead things (yup – dead things are pretty too!)
3. Now, we’re going to work on positioning your little bunch on to the wreath. But first, pay attention, because, positioning is important; if you imagine holding your bunch upright/vertically in front of your face at the 12 o’clock position, you actually want to ‘tilt’ the foliage back a little to more like 10 or 11 o’clock (or alternatively, the other way, say 1 or 2 o’clock), and then rest it against the wire (so that it can access the moisture from the moss). This tilt will be repeated around the wire frame to provide neatness and consistency and to ensure all the bunches are facing in the right direction (this technique will ensure the graceful ‘flow’ of foliage that you see in all the most beautiful wreaths).
4. So now your little bunch is positioned on the mossy frame, being held secure by your hand, then using your spare hand – reach for the wire and start to wrap the wire around the base of your bunch and mossy frame to secure everything in place. Don’t cut the wire – though unravel enough of it to leave approximately 10 inches distance from the wreath itself.
5. Repeat this exercise packing more bunches tightly next to each other as you make your way around the mossy wreath so that in the end there is no moss remaining exposed. Mix up the foliage and decorative pieces to get a look you love. Experiment and have fun!
It will get a little tricky as you reach the end and have little space to work with. Expect a few gentle/light scratches on your hands from the foliage as you work your wire around the last ‘bunch’ that needs to be secured to make up your beautiful, lush, complete wreath. Lashings of good quality, nourishing hand cream once you’ve finished your workshop, OK? 🙂
Images that follow by Annabel Beeforth
6. Once I’d finished applying all my bunches to my mossy frame, Michelle taught me how to add some finishing touches using stub wires and individual flower stems. Go big, or go home I say. I chose to use some lovely pink roses. Cut the stem away leaving an inch or so of stem from the flower head – then carefully pierce the stem with one of the stem wires. Once you have a handful of flowers ready to go, apply them to your wreath using the wire to secure them against the wreath frame and rest of the foliage.
7. And finally, you’re ready to add any ribbon to finish off the decoration. I chose not to add ribbon to my wreath because I thought it was beautiful enough without it.
Wreaths can be heavier than you think once all the foliage and decor is in place! Handle your wreath with care when you attempt to move it or prepare to hang it. Also, you will need to water your wreath every couple of days once you have created it – grab a spray mist bottle, fill it with water and spray away. Ensuring the moss remains moist too is key (this might require you to remove the wreath from it’s wall/door to ensure you can spray the moss around the back of the wreath).
My love and thanks to Michelle at The Shepherd’s Purse for the perfect wintery afternoon spent with lovely people making beautiful things.
I really hope these images might inspire you to have a go at making your own wreath. It’s certainly not to too late to try and you can aways invite some friends to join you over some mulled wine and Christmas cake 🙂