Make It Your Own

Make it unique. Make it yourself. Make it your own

Mrs Mendalot 26 June, 2007

Filed under: knitting,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 9:47 pm

Hello, hello

This week, I’ll show you how to lengthen and repair a handknit and I’ll review Peace Fleece needles. I’ve only got time for a short post this week. We’re off to Alice Springs for the Beanie Festival tomorrow. We are travelling up by train in a sleeper. It takes 25 hours so I’ve packed socks to knit on the way. My poor husband, who is the only male in our immediate family who hasn’t got a pair of hand knitted socks, will finally be having a pair knitted for him.

Look out for the new issue of YARN magazine in your newsagent this week. My usual “Yarn on a Shoestring” column is there as well as a men’s jumper, a crocheted skirt and a scarf, all designed by your truly. To find out more click on the link in the sidebar.


Several weeks ago I posted a photo of a jumper belonging to a friend of mine. The edges of this handknitted jumper had become tatty and torn and Hoi wanted a little extra length in the body and the arms. Since we are going to be seeing him in a few days, I thought I’d better get stuck into getting it finished.

Hand knitted items last a long time if they have been well made with good quality yarn. By learning to repair damaged edges you can add even more years to them. While you are reknitting edges is a good opportunity to add or subtract length. Choose a yarn of similar weight and fibre in either a contrasting or complementary colour. If you are really lucky you might have the same yarn as the original but that’s pretty unlikely.

Here’s what you need to do: unpick any seams at the area that needs replacing and a little higher as well. Cut a strand of yarn in the middle of a row above the ribbing and unravel that row, carefully pulling out the strand of yarn in each stitch. When you reach the end of the row the section of ribbing should fall off and you should have a row of live stitches on the main part of the garment. Pop these stitches on a needle, join your new yarn and start knitting in ribbing until you think it’s long enough. Cast off loosely in rib and sew up the seams. To add length, knit plain for as long as you need then work the ribbing. To reduce length, detach the bottom of the garment at a higher point in the knitting and then knit the ribbing.

Hints: it’s better if you don’t try to do fair isle patterns when you are knitting in the other direction because your pattern will be half a stitch out and it could look a little strange. Don’t try at all to match cables or stitch patterns for the same reason. Change to a smaller needle when working the ribbing.

Here is the jumper before I attacked it

Hoi’s jumper

In this photo you can see one sleeve being unravelled and one completed sleeve

Hoi’s jumper in progress



This week, instead of a yarn review, we’re having a needle review since I am also fond of needles.

Peace fleece needles

Peace Fleece Joint Venture Needles are light, pretty, smooth and great to knit with. The pieces are made in Maine from local birch and then they’re sent to Russia to be assembled and hand painted. Since each little end is hand painted, no two are the same, which in my belief is what makes a hand made item beautiful. I have knitted many things with my Peace Fleece needles from dishcloths to a wool jacket for my nephew and I have not been disappointed. In fact, I look for excuses to use them and I’m glad I chose two sizes that I use often. The sizes do not seem to be very precise when measured in my needle gauge so I recommend thorough swatching before use in a project that needs correct gauge. I bought mine from the Wool Shack but that was a long time ago and they don’t have them any more. You can buy them from for less that $10US for most pairs. Go an have a look at the site even if you don’t want needles; the Peace Fleece story is very interesting and they have plenty of other products that will help bring peace to the world.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll have a report on and photos of the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. Think warm thoughts everyone; we’ll be freezing there at night! Have a creative week. Sarah.

PS: thanks to my family and friends for giving me an excellent birthday last week.


Make your own felt tea cosy 18 June, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 9:35 pm

Hello again. Hope you’re all having a good week and not feeling the cold too much. Our heater is running almost constantly. When it’s 4 overnight and 13 during the day, you know that winter has come. Of course, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is probably nice and warm and enjoying summer.
Remember a few weeks back when I gave instructions for making felt from old jumpers? Well it’s time to use some of the felt to make a tea cosy.

Felt tea cosy

What you need: A tea pot, a piece of felt, sewing thread and needle, embroidery thread or fine wool for decorating, a bead (optional), scissors, paper, pencil.

First measure you teapot. Measure the circumference and add 1cm. Measure the height and add 1cm.

Cut a rectangle of paper to the measurements of your teapot. Next, cut out tapered triangles from the top and the side of the paper. These triangles need to be about 6cm deep and need to curve gently as first and become very pointy at the bottom. Place this template on your felt and cut out the felt. Your felt should look something like this:

Felt for tea cosy

Using a needle and cotton thread and using an overcast stitch, sew the seam from the bottom to the top of the points with wrong sides facing. Sew each point to the next point. This is a little easier of you join opposite points and then join the others in one long seam.

You should now have a small hat-shaped thing that tapers at the top. On opposite sides, cut two slits each about 10cm (or smaller for a small tea cosy), starting about 2cm from the bottom edge. Try the cosy on the pot and cut the slits longer if necessary.

Work blanket stitch around all the raw edges. Make a tassle with a bead and attach to the top of the cosy. Go and make a cup of tea.


Not a lot is happening in the garden at the moment. It’s too cold to spend much time in it and there are not many vegies to pick. The large amount of rain we had last month made all the weeds grow and our garden has been swamped by dandelions, marshmallow, nettles and soursobs. Fortunately, the chooks like all these so we give them a handful or two of weeds every day. The winter vegies are coming along nicely. I’ve sprayed the brassicas regularly with some home made pepper spray and this seems to be keeping the cabbage white caterpillars away. The carrots need thinning but I haven’t got around to it yet. All the nettles have prompted me to write a little about them.


These weeds do have some uses, though they are very difficult to pick without getting at least one prick on the arm. Even the tiniest prick of a nettle leaf can be quite painful. In England they have a nettle eating contest. Horrors.

You can eat nettles without putting yourself through immense pain. All you need to do is pick them young and cook them. They are extremely high in nutrients. You can prepare and cook them as you would spinach and they have a similar, but stronger taste. I have put them in a spinach pie, along with the spinach and also put some in a mixed vegetable soup that is blended before serving. I have seen a tv chef cook a greek style spinach pastry with just nettles and feta in it. You probably wouldn’t want a pile of boiled nettles on your dinner plate, but they are tasty mixed in with other things.

Nettles make an excellent tonic for your garden too. Pick a heap of them and put them in a large bucket or garbage bin and cover with water. Leave for a few weeks. You can pour this nettle cordial on any plants that need a bit of a boost. Another plant you could add that is growing like mad at the moment is nasturtiums which are also high in nutrients that other plants love. If you make compost, add nettle leaves to your pile when you build it to add extra nutrients to your compost.

Sorry, no book or yarn review this week. Selby has been asleep 20 hours a day because of the cold and couldn’t stay awake long enough to try out some yarn. I’ve been too busy with Yarn Magazine deadline to read anything except Les Miserables which I am now half way through.

Have a wonderful week. Sarah.


We have a winner

Filed under: Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 8:08 pm

The winner of the hank of undyed English Leicester Wool is Vellan. My husband Matthew drew her name out of a group of pieces of paper with your names on them. Congratulations Vellan. I’ve sent her an email personally and will be sending the wool off to her shortly.

Thanks for all your comments. It was interesting to hear that people don’t only knit but also write, spin, dye, do paper crafts and cook. Good on you peeps. Keep up the makin’ and creatin’.


I’ve been hard to get along with 13 June, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 10:20 am

My sincere and humble apologies. I’ve been slow, difficult and hard to get along with. I had too much baggage (in the form of too-large photographs). I’ve been to the therapist and had my baggage lightened. I feel much better now. You should find me faster and easier. I aim to be much more user friendly in future.

From makeityourown (Sarah’s blog)

PS Don’t forget about the giveaway yarn in the last post.


Yarn Giveaway 11 June, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 12:03 pm

Hey everybody

In a few days time, I will have been visited at my blog 1000 times. To celebrate I’m giving away this beautiful hank of undyed, 5 ply equivalent (sportweight), 140g, Australian grown and spun, English Leicester wool, so that someone can have some fun doing a little dyeing.

giveaway yarn

Post a comment over the next week(last day 18/6/07), telling me what you like to make or create and why, and at the end of the week I’ll randomly draw from the list of people who commented. When the winner has been decided, I’ll post who it is and then we’ll work out the best way to get the yarn to you. Sorry immediate family, I think you had better be ineligible.

Coming up in a day or two: making a tea cosy from the old jumpers you felted.


Make your own Herbal Tea 5 June, 2007

Filed under: Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 4:46 pm

Language pedants will insist that it should be called a herbal infusion, since herbal stuff isn’t part of the tea family of plants. Herbal tea is much easier to say and if we start calling it an infusion we’ll have to start calling peanut butter peanut paste, which is daggy in the extreme. Since herbal tea is hot, made with dry bits of plant and boiling water and it is comforting (just like camellia sinensis kind of tea), I’m going to call it tea. Just try and stop me.

Anyway after that little aside, here is Make It Your Own for another week. Hello.

Herbal tea is great stuff. It warms you up, has no caffeine, is not dehydrating, is thirst quenching, has about 10 kilojoules per cup and tastes nice too. Some of the very health-inducing kinds don’t taste very nice but they are good for what ails you. If you have room in your garden I can highly recommend growing some herbs to make into your own tea. Herbal tea that you make yourself has a greater depth of flavour than purchased herbal tea and you can be sure that no chemicals have been used in the processing of the tea or the bags.


Mint, peppermint, catmint, lemon verbena, lemonbalm, lemon grass, chamomile, thyme, rosemary, californian poppy flowers. All these herbs are easy to grow and you should be able to find seedlings or small plants at garden centres.

Catmint, californian poppy flowers and chamomile are good if you need to relax. Thyme is an excellent expectorant if you have a chest cold. Rosemary will also help a cold. Lemonbalm is said to be good for depression. The mints and the lemony herbs taste good and improve the flavour of the less tasty ones.

Any of these herbs can be used fresh or dry. If fresh, put some sprigs of the herbs in a teapot or plunger and pour on boiling water. Allow to infuse for a few minutes. If you use the dry herbs, use about 1 teaspoon of herbs per cup of boiling water. Again, use a teapot or plunger and allow to infuse for a few minutes


Mint, peppermint, catmint, lemonbalm, lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary can all be dried in bunches. Pick a bunch of the herbs and tie together with string. Hang up side down in a dry, airy place until they are crunchy. Strip the leaves off the stalks and store.

To dry lemongrass for tea, cut the stalks above the bulb section so you just have the flat green part. Tie them in a bunch and hang in a dry, airy place. When they are crunchy, cut the leaves into pieces with scissors and store.

To dry chamomile and californian poppy flowers, pick the flowers off the stems and put them in a paper bag. Cut a few holes in the bag. Tie the top with string and hang the bag in a dry, airy place.


Keep your dried herbs in an air tight container in a cupboard. You can blend up the herbs in a jar and keep the jar conveniently in the cupboard with your tea and coffee. Alternatively, keep each herb in a separate jar and mix up or use singly as you like at the time.



Knit Picks Bare, natural undyed 100% merino, fingering weight/4ply, 100g hank.

To lay your hands on Knit Picks yarn, you need to have a friend who lives in the US who will be happy to receive your order and then post it to you. Fortunately I have a friend whose mother lives there so getting hold of Knit Picks products isn’t too difficult. The 4ply Bare is worth the effort.

It is a natural undyed yarn, sold in 100g hanks so that you can dye it yourself. It’s squishy, cuddly Peruvian merino that takes dye like a dream and knits well too. The weight is perfect for socks. Some Knit Picks yarns are not the best quality but the undyed seems to be very good, but then you can’t really go wrong with merino. I have dyed mine with both food colouring and Rit. Both methods produced clear results and the yarn seemed to suck the dye up like it was born to. I am very happy with my Knit Picks Bare. For a picture, go to but be prepared to be disappointed that they won’t ship to Australia. (You can get the sets of interchangeable needles at Tapestry Craft in Sydney but none of the other products.) If you can find (or make) a friend in the US, get some Bare and have a go at dyeing.


I joined the Adelaide Spinners and Weavers Guild on the weekend and went along to the spinning group this morning. They were very friendly and helpful. I have hired an Ashford wheel and I started spinning some grey English Leicester tops. If you are driving along South Rd in Mile End on a Wednesday or Saturday, I encourage you to have a look in the gallery. You’ll recognise the building because it has a yellow spinning wheel parked out the front. You can buy all sorts of hand spun and hand knitted garments and hand spun yarn for your own knitting projects.

It’s cold and wet. I’m off to make some tea (black, normal tea this time), turn the heater on and do some knitting. Maybe I’ll read a little too. I’m ploughing through Les Miserables for the second time (1200 pages, very small type, need my extra strong reading glasses). What a fantastic book. Love it.

Wishing all my readers a good week. Please leave a comment and thanks to those who have commented. Tell your friends about my blog. I’m rather proud of it.