Thursday, 27 December 2018

Review: Witch Casket November box

I did a couple of reviews for the Witch Casket subscription box at the beginning of the year, but have not done any since. There are a few reasons for this: First of all I did not order all the boxes during 2018. I got the boxes for January and February, May, June and July, and then November and December. Because of a hectic summer I did not have time to review the boxes I got during Summer, but I will review the last two boxes of the year. The second reason I did not review the boxes I got during the summer is that I had some thoughts and issues I was going through in my mind. I will write a separate blog post about these thoughts at some point.

For now, however, I am back to reviewing the boxes. Also: I pay for these boxes myself, and no one has asked me to review them. All opinions expressed in these reviews are 100% my own, and I take full responsibility for them. So without further ado, here is the content's list for the November Witch Casket:
  • Witch Casket Exclusive – Altar Bell
  • Witch Casket Exclusive – Altar Cloth
  • Witch Casket Exclusive – Charm Keyring with info card
  • Witch Casket Exclusive – Magickal Spaces Parchment Scroll
  • Witch Casket Exclusive – Crystal Ball Enamel Pin 
  • Witch Casket Exclusive – Black Candle with spell card
  • Witch Casket Essentials – Bay Leaves with info card
  • Amethyst Pendant
  • Purple Banded Agate & Info Card
  • Lavender Incense Cones
  • Berry Berry Loose Leaf Tea by TeaCakes of Yorkshire
  • Square Art Print by TeaCake Art
  • A6 Art Print by Ilinca Mitchell Art
In all the box contained 13 items plus the usual list of contents/monthly letter and Witch Casket business card. The theme of the month was the witch's magical space. The wrapping paper in the box was white and the colour theme was white and pink. This is one thing I have enjoyed with the caskets: the comprehensive colour-themes. 

So on to the items. I will not discuss every item in the box. First, here are some general thoughts: I liked the art prints, the pin,  and the stone included. The incense I will be giving away to someone since I already have a lot of Lavender incense in my stash. The amethyst pendant was a nice piece that I might use for something different than a piece of jewelry, we'll see. 

The black candle spell was nice. It is a basic spell that can easily be adjusted to personal needs. A good spell to have in your arsenal. The bay leaves were also nice. I love their smell and I have been using them a lot. However, I would not recommend burning them, as the once I burned did not so much go up in flames or smoke, but in sparks that flew everywhere. So do be careful burning bay leaves.

The tea was lovely and I really enjoyed the fact that there was a description of the content of the tea. I do not know if this was the first time Witch Casket added the content but it is something I have been sorely missing in earlier teas. 

The scroll had a really pretty artwork and a nice description of the witch's altar. As with previous caskets I feel the information could be even more in depth, but I also understand that this might not be possible considering the format of this subscription box.

The altar cloth.

The altar cloth was a nice addition to the casket, even though mine had a very chemically smell when it arrived. I am also worried about how the print will last if I need to wash it. There were no washing instructions included, but I would suppose that a mild temperature or even a hand wash would be best considering the print. 

The altar bell: I laughed when I saw this because a while back I had been looking at a silver-coloured bell for my altar. In the end I decided not to buy it as it felt like it was not the right time. So receiving a bell in the Witch Casket felt like it was meant to be. The only thing I do not like about this bell it that it has the Witch Casket logo printed on one side in quite big letters. I do not like keeping branded items on my altar so this bothers me a little bit and makes me feel like not using the bell at all. I am hopeful that I might be able to somehow remove it. 

The charm key ring has proven very useful. I like the fact that the container is waterproof thanks to the rubber ring on it. I used it during December in a ritual I will describe later. The fact that it was so easy to carry this with me really helped with the spell I was working with. Also I really like the fact that this is a reusable item that also looks discreet.

Lastly a few more general notes: I am happy with my box. It arrived during the second week of December, which is the latest I have received any Witch Casket. I think the large amount of mail and parcels arriving for the Holiday season is to blame for this. As I write I am also still waiting for my December box. I am expecting it to arrive next week, but I know that my friends in Vasa have already received theirs, so it might just be that the mail service in Kokkola is a bit on the slow side.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

DIY: Bead embroidered pillowcase - Part 1: constructing the pillowcase

Many blessings!

Darkness has settled over Finland and in this darkness I find that a little bit of creativity brightens up my day. So I will share my latest project: A tutorial for creating beautiful pillowcases with simple embroidery and beads.

This tutorial is in two parts: Part 1 discusses how to construct a pillowcase using three different methods - easy, intermediate and advanced. Part 2 is all about the embroidery and also contains two methods. You do not need a sewing machine to create these but it does help.

So lets jump into this pillow-creation tutorial.

First off, you will need the following:

  • A pillow 
  • Fabric: enough to cover the pillow plus seam allowances
  • Thread
  • Needle or sewing machine
Optional (intermediate level):
  • Zipper
A note on measurements and seam allowance before we continue: I usually make my pillowcases slightly smaller than the actual pillow to make the pillow seem more plump. I do this especially if I have very soft pillows and I want them to appear a bit firmer. To do that I simply measure the pillow and use these measurements without adding seam allowance. When I sew I use a seam allowance of 1 cm (1,5 cm if the material is prone to fray). If you already have a very firm pillow you will want to add seam allowance to your measurements. I will not mention adding seam allowances separately after this so you will need to observe them yourself if you need them.

METHOD 1 (easy)

This is the easy method of constructing a pillowcase. It requires a little bit of hand sewing at the end and results in a pillowcase that is "permanent" unless you rip out the hand sewn stitches to remove the pillowcase. I would use this for a pillowcase that I do not intend to change, or for one that I can cover with other pillowcases if need be. Thus the inner case would protect the pillow inside further. You could also use this to create tiny decorative pillows or pincushions.

  1. Measure your pillow. Mine is 40x40 cm, so I will use that as an example. To cover the entire pillow I will need two pieces of the same size, but instead of cutting two and have more sewing I will cut one piece 40x80 cm in size. 
  2. I will fold this in half, right sides together and sew from the folded edge on both sides. Sew up along the open edges and around the top corners for a few cm then stop and secure your stitches.
  3. Turn right sides out and insert the pillow, then hand stitch the opening shut. 
Construction of pillowcase in method 1. 

METHOD 2 (intermediate)

This uses the same method of construction as the first one, but inserts a zipper in the opening. The order of construction is slightly different.

  1. Measure your pillow. Mine is 40x40 cm, so I will use that as an example. To cover the entire pillow I will need two pieces of the same size, but instead of cutting two and have more sewing I will cut one piece 40x80 cm in size. 
  2. Place the zipper to the right side of the short edge of the pillowcase and sew together. Repeat for the other side. 
  3. Now that the pillowcase looks like a tube as the zipper is attached, keep it right sides together and open the zipper slightly. Otherwise you will not be able to turn the pillowcase once done. Sew the side seams from the zipper to the folded edge. Then turn right sides out, insert the pillow and close the zipper.

METHOD 3 (advanced)

This method creates a professional looking pillowcase but requires a bit more cutting and planning. It uses zipper hidden under a placket on the back side of the pillowcase and is constructed from three pieces of fabric: the front and a split back.

The pieces for method 3 construction, and diagram of the joining of back pieces, zipper and overlapping knife pleat.
  1. Measure your pillow: Mine is 40x40 cm. That is the size of your front piece. For the back piece I want to place my zipper about 5-10 cm down from the top edge - let us for arguments sake say that I place it 8 cm down from the top edge. For the larger, bottom piece I will simply remove the topmost 8 centimeters and ass 1 cm seam allowance. My bottom back piece will thus measure 33x40 cm. I want the top piece to overlap the zipper with a couple of centimeters. So for the tops piece, which is 8 cm I will add 5 cm for the overlap (which will be folded double) and add 1 cam for seam allowance. In total: 14,5x40 cm.
  2. Sew the zipper to the top edge of the back bottom piece, right sides together. 
  3. Sew the zipper to the bottom of the back top piece, right sides together.
  4. Fold the top back piece over the zipper, creating a knife pleat that covers it. Sew down this pleat to keep it in place.
  5. Open the zipper slightly, and sew the front and back pieces together, right sides together. 
  6. Clip the corners and turn right side out. Insert pillow and close the zipper.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Autumn shopping: books and thrift stores

It has been a while sine I last posted anything. I have been a bit stressed out since august as school started again. And a lot has had time to happen. I post on Instagram as often as I can but finding the time and energy to write blog posts has felt impossible. However, this is not going to be a "what have I been up to"-post, but rather a autumn thrifty and book haul.

I have felt a bit reluctant to post hauls as I feel they perpetuate consumerism. Therefor I will try to think more carefully about what I post haul-wise in the future. When I shop, I shop for things I need and things I feel resonate strongly with me. I seldom get things just because they look cool or are in fashion. When I shop I usually have a clear view of what I need, and I look for things I have been thinking about for a long time. If there is something I need or want but cannot find it immediately, I will wait until I find it. With that said, let's jump into this autumn haul.

There are a lot of good thrift stores where I live. Besides them I have also been browsing through some local gothic thrifting pages on FB. So here are some of the things I got:

  • A lovely knitted cardigan in black to grey ombré. This one is very thin and has a very nice patterning on the upper part and the sleeves. (thrift store)
  • A crystal ball. A small one, but one indeed. I remember as a teen and young student in Turku I used to gawk at these and bite my lip because they were so expensive. I said to myself that I would one day own one, but I have always put it off the list as I have not seen them as necessities in my magic and divinatory workings. So when this one caught my eye on a shelf, and  when it cost about the same amount as a bag of candy, I did not hesitate. Not for a moment. (Thrift store)
  • A stack of velvet fabric in black, deep dark green and brown. This is something I can rarely resist if I find it. Velvet and good quality wool are two materials I will almost always buy if they are the colours I would use. These are five smaller pieces and they will most probably become pillow covers for winter. (Thrift store)
  • Coffin shaped cake tin. I recently started thinking it would be nice to have one of these. So when I ran across this one it felt like the right time to get it. (FB thrift page)
  • Black box with bronze skull detailing. This was a bit of an unexpected purchase. I love these kinds of wooden boxes, to the point where I could almost say I am collecting them. But with this purchase I might actually be retiring one of my older ones. (FB thrift page) 
  • A rosary with the seal of Lucifer and Lilith. I have been gravitating toward these two for a while now, and this popped up. With a lot of these things and some other things that are happening right now in my life, I feel like things I need are coming into my reach. So it is with this rosary and thus I took the chance and got it.  (FB thrift page)
  • A bracelet by Alchemy Gothic. I love Alchemy Gothic jewellery, and if I could spend money as easily as the trees shed their leaves in autumn, I would buy a lot of their jewellery. Alas I do not (and that is probably for the best). But I thrift Alchemy Gothic whenever I can, and thus this bracelet came to be mine.  (FB thrift page)
  • I also bought a pair of cat-earrings from a mall. Not thrifted, but super cute and I fell for the temptation.
My thrifting has also included some warm and cozy shawls for winter, tablecloths, and other items that I did not include in the list above. I wanted to share these items as inspiration to how many different things you can find, and how sometimes you are struck by luck. As I browse thrift stores I usually find a lot of wonderful clothing, some that could easily also be DIY:d. The problem is that most of these wonderful pieces are available only in too small sizes. That is why the cardigan came home with me: It fits snugly without looking too small on me.

Onto the books and some thoughts for times to come:

  • Living Wicca - A further guide for the solitary practitioner (Scott Cunningham): This is actually the second ever book on Wicca that I read. I remember back in ninth grade when I went to the library and asked for books on Wicca. They did not have any, but ordered one from the Library of Oulu. I waited a few weeks before it arrived and I had one month time to delve through it. But I had to do it in secret because my mother did not want me to read it. So I read it under the covers at night with a flashlight. I have been wanting to read it again for a while. Now I will. 
  • Llewellyn's 2019 Witches' Spell-a-Day Almanac: Back in the day I received one of these as a gift and even though I did not use it that much (with one new spell or ritual for each day of the year), I did find it useful. I thought I would get this to inspire myself in 2019.
  • Llewellyn's 2019 Witches' Companion - A guide to Contemporary Living: I have a couple of these already, and I really wanted to get the one for 2019. Many of the articles included (I quickly browsed the topics) also resonate a lot with things that have become recently present in my life. I look forward to enjoying the articles within. 
  • Magical Power for Beginners - How to Raise & Send Energy for Spells That Work (Deborah Lipp): I was browsing for some kind of new book to add to my collection and looked into Deborah Lipp. I really enjoyed reading her Elements of Ritual and as I noticed this book had come out last year I decided to get it. If feels like a solid book in my hand and while flipping through it it feels like this will offer a lot of insights. 
  • Drawing Down the Moon - Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshipers and other Pagans in America (Margot Adler): This one is actually not for me but for Fenris who is a good friend of mine. We ordered books together. During my first years as a practitioner of the Craft, I flipped through this at a friend's place, but I never read it. We made a deal with Fenris to swap books after we have read them. So I am looking forward to reading this one as well sometime next year.

Phew. This has become a lengthy post but before I stop writing I am just going to say a few things about what I looks forward to in the year to come:

I want to read more, hence the books. Reading has always inspired me, and I have not really read any new books on magic and witchcraft in ages. So for the year to come I will try to read more, and also to write some reviews.

Blogging: My day to day life is available on Instagram (@StellaGreymoore) for anyone interested, and I will try to blog more frequently as well. I decided that I would revive my old blog, Hexagram, again. I used to blog about Wicca in Swedish before and for the sake of the Swedish speaking witch community I will do so again. That means there will probably be some change in content: Hexagram will be strictly in Swedish and strictly about Wicca and Witchcraft. This blog might include some translations of what I write there (ore vice versa), but will not be limited in the same way. Here I will write in English, and while I do post about religion and magic, this will remain more of a lifestyle blog. There is still a lot of content that I wish to make for this blog that has not come to be yet, but I will get there eventually. This includes DIY tutorials, and more in depth talks of philosophy and ethics of a goth and Wiccan lifestyle.

If you managed to stay with me until the end, I hope you enjoyed the read.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

12-14.10.2018 Save the date: Fenno-Swedish heathen retreat in Ostrabothnia

Hello my witchy friends!

I am happy to announce that there will be a heathen/wiccan retreat in Ostrabothnia this Autumn. During the 12th to the 14th of October there will be a meeting of witches and heathens alike. The retreat will be held in Swedish.

The idea for the retreat was born from a need to get together and share experiences. Being a witch in Finland can be a very lonely experience. So me, and my friends Holly and Fenris got our heads together and set about planning this event. More information will be made available during July. So until then: Save the date and mark it down in your calendars!

Blessed be!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Recipe: Fresh summery salad

Here is a nice recipe for a salad that is bound to brighten any day.

1 bag of mixed salad (or make your own)
Pickled red onions
Some salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil

I simply opened the salad bag and poured it onto a serving plate, removing any leaved that had gone bad. I then halved the strawberries and scattered them over the salad. I was going to use ready made small mozzarella balls, but I couldn't find any in the store so I got a large mozzarella ball and pulled pieces off of it and tossed them with the salad. I decorated with the basil leaves, mixing some into the salad as well. Lastly I scattered the blueberries and pistachios on the salad and decorated with the pickled red onions.

Serve with a little bit of ground black pepper and salt and add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This is a very summery salad and is perfect with light meals like fish or chicken. I served mine with some honey-marinated grilled chicken, grilled halloumi cheese and couscous.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Review: Witch Casket February box

I finally have time to review the February box from Witch Casket. For those who do not know Witch Casket is a "vegan friendly, magickal witchy subscription box," according to their homepage. They are a mother-daughter company and make themed monthly subscription boxes. The February box is the second one I ordered, and this post will be my review of the box. So to start off, here is the list of contents:

The list of contents included in the box.

The theme of the February box is self love. This shows throughout most of the content, packaged in black and purple. In all I really like how nicely everything is packaged and how the color theme runs throughout the whole box. This creates a feeling that everything is well thought through. I will not comment on every product, but here are my thoughts on some of them. I will start with my least favorite things and move up from there.

Both boxes I have received so far have contained what I would describe as lifestyle, fashion or statement products, that do not directly have a magical application. Last time there was a badge and a hat. This time we get a keyring with the text "good witch", a badge with "mirror mirror" on it and a relaxation/meditation eye mask. These are the products I have spent most time pondering on what their function is in the box.

Don't get me wrong, these are really nice products, and things I can make use of. I love badges, for example, but I fail to see what this "mirror mirror" badge has to do with the box itself. Maybe I just feel that it could have said something relating more to the theme of the box, like "love yourself". The keyring has come in handy since I have been needing a new one.

The meditation mask with the text "Let me be, I'm meditating" is nice and edgy and it fits nicely. My biggest problem with it is that it is made out of cheap polyester (plastic), with no information about the material or how to care for it. I would appreciate it a hundred times more if it were made from natural fibers which would have made it more environmentally friendly. The thought behind the eye mask is nice and I will be using it on long trips.

Here are the contents of the February box.

The self-love bath/shower potion has been really nice. It is scented with a lavender perfume. The pentacle necklace from Curiology has to be one of the most unique pentacles I have ever seen. It is made from this holographic acrylic which makes it look pink, purple, green and some other colors at the same time. Not maybe what I would wear normally, but I am sure I will have a chance to include it with some outfit. To me it feels more like a fashion statement than religious jewelry.

The Blue Lady loose leaf tea was an interesting blend of black tea and maybe citrus? I don't normally like teas with lemon in them, so this is not my favourite tea. However, that is not my problem with it. My problem is that I would like to see the list on ingredients, which is something I could not find anywhere in the box. Especially for people with allergies or people on certain medication it is vital to know the ingredients of the tea they drink. Some herbs can counteract certain medicines and some ingredients might cause allergic reactions. I also like to know what is in the tea I am drinking.

Now moving on to the items I loved:

The self-love ritual kit, the art by TeaCakeArt, the candle snuffer and the affirmation card deck. Sorry for the glare that blurred out the text on the cards.
The candle snuffer is a practical tool I have been missing for a long time. I have been wanting to thrift one for ages but just have not found one. So when I found this black candle snuffer in the box I was thrilled. What is more, it is small and compact which is good if I need to travel with it.

The affirmation card deck has come in handy many times. I like that the cards are printed on sturdy cardstock and that they come in their own little pouch.

The self-love ritual kit was also very nice. The smell of rose and lavender that I was met with as I opened the bag was very pleasant. I am not a huge fan of tea candles so I have used some pink tapered candles dressed in lavender essential oil for the ritual included in the kit. It is a handy little ritual for learning to meditate and become mindful of the positive aspects of ones life.

In all I am very happy with the February box. Here is a compilation of the best parts and some thing I am missing or feeling thoughtful about:

+ I absolutely love the color theme and how it goes hand in hand with the content of the box. Most content seems to have a connection with the theme and the "side" products tie in with the themed products. The theme works and is well built.

- I would like to see some more background information for some products (and some ingredient lists for the tea). For beginning witches, especially, getting more instructions and information on how to use products and the symbology behind items, colors and herbs would be really helpful.

+ On that note I will continue by saying that the small information cards that do come along with some of the items are really nice and useful. They are a good introduction and I wish they came with more of the items. I have started collecting mine in the book that came with the January box.

-/+ I feel there is too much plastic in the box. I would feel better about the contents if they were packaged in paper as I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use. However, the box itself, as well as the small plastic bags can be reused. The bag for the tea and ritual kit are resealable, and what is even better is that they can be opened without tearing the top section off. So a big plus for that.

+ Even though I am not a fan of polyester, I do like the small organza bags that come with the badge and the keyring. These can easily be used to hold charms, gems or other things. I wish that the gemstone and the items from Curiology would also come packaged in small fabric bags instead of in plastic.

So that is it for the February box. All of the items have seen some use and will continue to do so. And I will continue ordering the box for as long as I can. It is not a hugely expensive subscription box, but I do not make a lot, so I had a break in ordering this item during March and April. The next box I review will be the May box, which just arrived.

If you have any questions or thoughts you can leave them in a comment below. I am not sponsored by Witch Casket. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. I pay for the box with my own hard-earned money, and the only contact I have had with the company is when I e-mailed them to change my address.

Have a blessed magical day!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

DIY: Cute ragdoll-dress for summer

A few years back I used to work at a fabric store. As a result I still have boxes upon boxes filled with fabric. Last Autumn I went through my whole stash and reorganized everything into neat piles and put them in clear boxes so I could see everything. Since then my fabric stash has been a bit more manageable.

I have vowed to not by new fabric until my stash is greatly diminished, so in order to do that I try to sew every now and again. Since I am also slowly creating a new wardrobe this goes hand in hand with the sewing. Problem is I usually need a lot of time and very good inspiration in order to sew. Pattern creation and new garments take a lot of time.

So last Monday inspiration hit and I happened to have extra time on my hands. Thus I went through my stash in search of fabrics that might match. I wanted to make a lace dress, but I did not have enough lace to make both the top and bottom parts of a full circle skirt dress. So I chose a black chiffon with a floral pattern for the skirt part and a lace for the top and sleeves. For lining I found a viscose with a very nice feel to it and a good weight. So I started cutting out pattern pieces, playing tetris with the pattern to get all the pieces out of my half meter lace fabric.

Top pieces cut.

Once I had everything cut I started with the lining of the skirt. I serged the hem and added a 25cm wide lace to it, ruffling it slightly. I then hemmed the edge of the chiffon but ran into some trouble with my serger. Frustrated and a bit tired already, I decided to cover the hem of the chiffon up with a red velvet ribbon. Some years ago I bought 15 meters of this ribbon and I thought I could finally put at least some of it to good use.

Once the skirt part was done I got started with the top. With both the lace and the lining I started by joining the shoulder seams together. I then attached the unlined sleeves and sandwiched them between the lining and the lace. I had to undo the seams and put them back together again because I was tired and wasn't paying attention to which way I was fastening them, but a frustrating 45 minutes later I was back on track.

Once the sleeves were attached I started thinking about how to hem them. I looked through my lace ribbon stash and found some stretchy, not so wide lace and decided to hem the sleeves with that to give them a neater look. I finished the head opening of the dress in the same fashion.

Hemming the sleeves.
The last thing that remained was to attach the top to the skirt layers. I serged them together and put in a line of strengthening straight stitches. I then zig-zagged an elastic band to this waistline to make the skirt fit nicely and not just hang like a sack from my shoulders. And here is the finished dress:

In all these are the materials I used:

1,2 m chiffon
1,5 m viscose (lining)
0,5 m lace fabric
6 m of 25 cm wide lace (lining hem)
5 m red velvet ribbon
1,7 m stretch lace (sleeves, head opening)
1 m of 0,7 mm wide elastic
black and red sewing thread.

Time: I think it took me about 8 hours from start to finish, including pattern drafting, meal breaks, chatting with friends and going for a walk in between. Had I worked non-stop I could probably have halved the time.

The dress fits nicely and the viscose works really well as a lining fro this dress. In all it feels light to wear, it is super cute and the uneven hem hives it a slightly rag-doll feel. Hmm. I wonder what I should make next.