Make It Your Own

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

Unseasonably warm 30 August, 2007

Filed under: Home cooking,Travel,Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 10:48 am

Hi there everyone,

I was chatting to my sister in England and, as we often do this time of year, we were discussing how the summer daytime temperature there is the same as the winter daytime temperature here. Well today takes the cake. At 28 degrees in August (the last month of winter in Australia), today is the hottest August day since 1911. Instead of making warming soups and sitting by the fire with some knitting, I’ll be getting all the washing dry on the same day that it gets washed and making sure all the vegies don’t dry out. Oh well, it’ll get cold again soon enough. Tomorrow in fact.

I have decided that Thursday is a better day for my weekly post. I’ve been babysitting my nephew on Mondays and Tuesdays will soon be filled up with spinning again. How can I do a crafty blog if I haven’t had any time to do crafty things? So Thursday it is. That being said, I haven’t done much this week that’s worth writing about. Anyway, I’ll give you my recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds, tell you about our weekend in Clare, give you a yarn review and give you an update on the garden.


Further to my post last week about not throwing useful things away…there is something you can do with pumpkin seeds. I made soup a couple of days ago and used two small pumpkins that both had lots of seeds in them. I’ve already saved some seeds from a butternut to plant again this summer so I didn’t need any more. Being reluctant to give them to the chooks where they would probably start growing and give us more pumpkins than we’d ever need in a spot we don’t want them, I decided to roast them. I did a little searching on the internet and cobbled together a few different recipes. It worked and they taste good, especially warm from the oven. They weren’t so good cold the next day so I’d suggest eating them quickly or giving them another quick spell in the oven.

What you need: pumpkin seeds, olive oil, paprika, salt flakes. I used seeds from a butternut and a red kuri, South Australian olive oil and Murray River salt flakes.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (375 degrees F). Separate the seeds from the fibrous stuff by running them under warm water over a colander. Dry the seeds with a tea towel or paper towel. Put the seeds in a bowl and add just enough olive oil to coat them lightly. Add plenty of salt flakes and a shake or two of paprika. Mix well. Spread the seeds on a tray and put in the oven for about half an hour, stirring a couple of times so they cook evenly. They are ready when they are crunchy. Eat while they are warm , adding extra salt if you like.

Roasted pumpkin seeds


For those not in the know, Clare is a town in South Australia about 2 hours’ drive north of Adelaide. It is in a beautiful valley, called the Clare Valley and is wine producing area. There are lots and lots of wineries and olive oil farms where you can try the wines, eat gorgeous food and enjoy the scenery. We went up for the weekend and stayed 2 nights in a little old cottage in the middle of a vineyard. The weather was good and we even rode our bikes on some of the Riesling Trail, a bike track that runs 25km along an old railway through green hills, olive trees and grape vines. We were pleased to note as we drove up that the crops are looking good this year. The wheat, barley, broadbeans and lucerne are all looking tall and green. The canola was flowering and was blinding yellow. There were plenty of sheep with lambs, grazing happily. I’m fond of Clare. It’s a great place and I can highly recommend it to anyone travelling in SA.

Part of the Riesling Trail

Near Clare

Canola crop



Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed 85% wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere, 50g, 137m. Made in Italy.

Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed

My Mum recently knitted a cardigan from this yarn and I knitted the button bands for her. Since being knitted it’s been washed a couple of times. This is a fantastic yarn. It feels lovely in the ball and knitted up. The cardigan is wearing well and still looks good, exactly what you’d expect from a Jo Sharp yarn. While it’s expensive to buy at around $9 per ball, each ball has 137 metres, it lasts well, looks great, is nice to knit with and has added silk and cashmere for a bit of luxury. There are 24 colours in the range; greens, blues, browns, warm pinks and neutrals. The colours are made up of many colours but it’s not what you’d call heathered. The light brown pictured is brown and cream with tiny blobs of dark brown, pink, maroon and the occasional green. The texture is very slightly slubby and makes an almost smooth but still interesting fabric. It knits to a tension of 20sts to 10cm which is a little unusual but it’s not hard to find patterns for this weight of yarn. Great stuff if you are after a little luxury.


Our Newcastle Early apricot is flowering and is very pretty right now. We usually get apricots in late November. I’ve planted some corn seedlings and this weekend I’ll put in some more seed. The lettuces are growing nicely and so are the carrots. The broad beans are still flowering. I’m anxious for them to produce and then finish because the tomatoes will be going into that patch and some of them will be ready to plant in a couple of weeks. The potatoes are mostly finished, just a few more to dig up. Our chickens are very happy and healthy. We are getting 5 or 6 eggs a day and running out of cartons. Anyone in Adelaide who wants to buy some eggs from me are very welcome to. Only $3 a dozen for the best eggs you’ll get. They are fresh, creamy and have bright yellow yolks. They taste fantastic.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Richard, my stepdad, Joseph and my dad-in-law, George. My Godfather Bill died a few years ago and he was like a dad to me too. I’m fond of all my dads and I’m lucky to have so many! Happy Father’s day for the first time to my brothers-in-law Andrew and Travis.

Have a good week everybody. Sarah.


Knit a Coathanger Cover 21 August, 2007

Filed under: knitting,Travel,Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 9:52 am

Hi there folks, sorry I didn’t do a post last week. I had the dreaded lurgy and was a bit snowed under with work for next Yarn magazine which will be out in October. I’ve been working on a pattern, writing my usual column and doing a book review. This week I have some work for someone else and I’m writing a pattern out of the goodness of my heart for a good friend whose favourite cardigan needs a replacement. Sigh…


Why knit coathanger covers? Aren’t they totally daggy and something that only your grandma makes? Actually I treasure the only one my Grandma made for me, just because she made it, even though it’s made from red and white nylon with a purple bow. I have a couple of very frilly eyelet lace ones too that other people have given me. I don’t like the look of them but I still use them. Why? Because they are soft and keep my clothes looking nice. I’ll always use a covered hanger over a plain one to hang my clothes on, even if it’s pastel orange and purple eyelet lace. In the December 2006 issue of Yarn I had some Christmas gift patterns, among them three coathanger covers, that were not frilly or made from hard nylon. They were knitted with Sirdar Denim Ultra, a very thick, squishy yarn that comes in some stylish colours.

When making a coathanger cover you want the result to be soft and a little padded and take the hard edges from the wooden hanger. Textured stitches are best and, so that you don’t need to add any padding, a thick yarn. I whipped up a few yesterday in standard 8ply or DK weight wool. By using 3 strands of wool together, you get a good thick cover, mottled colour effects and they knit up fast.

The patterns are on the Free Patterns page. Here’s a picture of them with dear Selby sound asleep.

Coathangers and Selby


The heated propagating tray works a treat. We germinated seeds in August in just a week. If you are a keen gardener who likes to get the summer vegies started early or you want better germination results, then a heated tray is worth the money ($60). We have already removed one try of seeds (see the photo) and we’ve started another one with tomatoes, cucumber and capsicum. Amazing! We are very impressed with it.

Seeds in August


Here’s some exciting news: I’ll be teaching a Learn to Knit Socks workshop as part of the Quilt and Craft Fair in November. They have accepted my proposal to lead a 3 hour class and teach people the basics of knitting socks. The class will be on Tuesday 6th November at 2pm at the Adelaide Showground. I’ll have more information soon. I’m a little nervous but I’ve knitted lots of socks in lots of different ways so I guess I know what I’m talking about.

The Mt Pleasant Fibre Fair was pretty good. Matthew and I had our picnic in the car because there was a freezing wind blowing in the hills. We drove along a dirt road just outside of Mt Pleasant and pulled up near some cows and a wonderful gum tree. Matthew ended up spending more then me. He bought some wine and I bought a gorgeous dark grey corriedale fleece.


Near Mt Pleasant

The sun is shining here this week so I’m going to do my best to enjoy it. Spinning in the sun sounds nice doesn’t it? Have a good week. Sarah.


What do you throw away? 8 August, 2007

Filed under: Home cooking,Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 3:30 pm

Hi there

This week I have a book review and a yarn review for you and I’ll give you some ideas on using things in your kitchen that you’d usually throw away.

What sort of things do you put in the rubbish? Our council area has an excellent recycling program. We can recycle tins, plastic bottles, yoghurt tubs, milk and juice cartons, glass jars and bottles and paper and cardboard just by putting them into a bin. The council collects it and sorts it for us. Some things just need to go in the rubbish and there is not much you can do about it. What about food scraps and left overs? I’d strongly recommend that you get some chickens to feed it to or start a compost pile. Other than that I urge you to reconsider the food you throw away and how it could still be used for food. (Within reason please, I’m not suggesting you eat banana skins and green bacon!) There are lots of tasty edibles you can make with things such as a roast chicken carcass, watermelon rind or a Christmas ham bone.

The remains of a roast chicken – chicken stock. Put the carcass in a saucepan with some salt and pepper and maybe some vegetable such as carrot, celery, onion or garlic. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for an hour. Strain and freeze.

The bone left from the Christmas ham – pea and ham soup. Put the bone and a few handfuls of split green peas into a saucepan. Cover with water and cook until the peas are soft. Remove the bone and cut off any meat that is still attached. Put the meat back into the soup. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Watermelon rind – pickled watermelon rind, a popular American relish that uses the white part of the watermelon.

Citrus peel – candied peel

Beetroot tops – use them like spinach if they are nice and fresh

Green tomatoes that don’t get ripe before winter comes – green tomato relish

Hard, unripe or soft overripe fruit – relish or chutney

Rosehips and crabapples – rosehip or crabapple jellly

Left over roast vegetables – blend them with some stock to make soup

Zucchini (courgette) flowers (if you grow your own) – stuff them and deep fry them

Dandelions – salad greens. If you find a dandelion growing as a weed in your garden, blanch it by covering it with a flowerpot for a week. This makes it more tender and less strong in taste. Pick the leaves and use in a salad with other greens.

Well there’s eleven ideas for you. Perhaps you have other ideas. Leave a comment and share your ideas with us.

THIS WEEK’S BOOK REVIEW IS “Hip to Knit” by Judith L Swartz. Go to the book review’s page to read it.



Jo Sharp Luxury 8ply DK Pure Wool

Jo Sharp 8ply

I recently knitted a jumper for Yarn Magazine with this yarn. (It was the burgundy jumper on page 34 in Issue 6). I loved knitting with it and I loved the end result. The high twist gives a garment that will wear well, keeping its shape even after many washes. It’s smoothness gives a beautiful even fabric when knitted in stocking stitch and also will show any textured stitches well. Despite its smoothness, it still retains it “woolliness”, something that I like in a classic wool yarn. It is a perfectly standard 8ply or DK weight yarn that knits up at 22sts to 10cm, so you can easily find patterns to use with it. Although it is more expensive than other 8ply wools at $6.35 for 50g, it is worth the cost. I think it is reasonable to pay extra for top quality wool if that is what you are wanting. The best thing about this yarn, aside from all its other excellent qualities, is the colour range. There are 42 colours to choose from which is significantly more than other Australian yarn manufacturers (except maybe Bendigo). Some are heathered and some are solid colours. Be warned – once you knit with this stuff, it’s hard to back to other 8ply wools! I recommend it for classic garments that will last and last.


Well, not really in the garden at the moment. Our new heated propagating tray arrived today along with our seeds for the summer. The white part of the tray heats up to 10 degrees higher than the ambient temperature. You put your tray of seed raising mix with your seeds in on top and the heat of the propagator heats the soil and your seeds germinate more reliably. We bought it so that we can start our summer vegetables early and have them growing and producing happily before the really hot dry weather kicks in.

Propagating tray

We are planning to grow all the usual summer vegies such as corn, climbing and dwarf beans, pumpkins, capsicum and tomatoes. The tomato varieties I have seeds for are Amish Paste and Principe Borghese, both of which are good for eating fresh and preserving.

I’ll keep you posted on the seed germination results.


I’m off to Oxford for 2 weeks in November to visit my sister, her husband and their new baby Isabella. I’m pretty excited. I’ve been there a few times but this is my first trip on my own. Aside from visiting Katie I’m hoping to see some wool shops, maybe a castle or two, maybe a little drive in the Cotswolds, maybe a college…

Don’t forget the Mt Pleasant Fibre Fair is on this Saturday.

I’ve added a few more yarns to the Hand Dyed Yarns for Sale page. You’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Have a pleasant week. Sarah.


Make Your Own Peg Bag 2 August, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Hand dyed Yarn,Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 3:46 pm

Hi there everyone,

It’s Tuesday again… no, wait… it’s Thursday. Sigh, it’s been a busy week.

This week I’ll show you how to make a very useful peg bag out of some fabric and a wooden coat hanger and I’ll give you a yarn review. Hope you like it.

You may have noticed a new page called “Hand Dyed Yarn For Sale”. Please have a little look. People who see my yarn in person say that it is lovely and that the colours are beautiful so rest assured that even if my photos aren’t great, the yarn is. Since my sources of yarn are cheap, I can offer you original, hand painted yarn at low prices.


Peg bag

The idea of using a coat hanger in this design is not quite my own. I saw a picture of one in an interior decorating book. It didn’t come with instructions and the design was quite different. I liked the idea and so I made one for myself that matches the red and white decor in our laundry. Mine has been in use for a couple of years and has faded a little. The coat hanger gives it sturdiness and means you can hang it on the clothesline or the laundry trolley while you hang out the washing and then hang it on a hook in the laundry when you are done.


A piece of fabric about 65cm long and 25cm wide. Use a heavy cotton fabric.

A sewing machine and thread

A wooden coat hanger

A small saw like a hack saw or pruning saw (yes really!)

A small length of ribbon


An iron


Cut your piece of fabric into a rectangle measuring about 65 x 25cm.

At a point in the centre of the width and 11cm from one end, make a 1cm long buttonhole using the sewing machine. This is where the metal part of the hanger goes through the fabric into the wooden part of the hanger. If you don’t know how to do a buttonhole, the instruction manual of your sewing machine should explain it.

Now you join the ends of the fabric and make the opening at the same time. Make all seams 1.5cm from the edge. Pin the ends of the length of fabric together. Sew a seam at either side of the ends for about 5cm so that the ends of the fabric are joined only at the sides and there is a large gap in the middle. To make the opening more secure at the edges, sew backwards for 1cm at the opening edges. Press the seam open and continue pressing the top and bottom of the opening to make a hem around the opening. Sew down the raw edges of the join and the opening about 5mm from the fold line. You now have a long piece of fabric, joined at the ends, with a neat and secure opening in the seam. It’s a bit hard to explain so have a close look at the picture.

With wrong side facing out, lay the bag flat so that the button hole is at the top fold line. Pin sides together and sew a seam down each side of the bag. Turn it right side out. You now have a bag with a small hole at the top and an opening about 10cm down from the top.

Put the bag up against the hanger with the buttonhole and the metal hook lined up. Mark on the hanger where the bag edges are. Using a small saw, cut off the ends of the hanger so that it fits into the top of the bag. Remove the metal hook and put the hanger inside at the top of the bag. Poke the metal hook through the buttonhole and screw into the hanger.

Tie a piece of ribbon around the bottom of the metal hook. Fill it up with pegs and make doing the washing a little easier.



Heirloom Alpaca 8ply, 100% Alpaca, 50g, 95 metres, made in Australia.

Heirloom alpaca

This is the best commercially produced alpaca that I have come across. It is soft, smooth and lofty and has just the slightest amount of halo. Some alpaca can make you itch and some can be a little rough. This one, however is almost as soft as angora and not at all itchy. It knits up like any other 8ply or DK weight at 22sts to 10cm, perfect for substituting into 8ply wool patterns. It is pleasant to knit with, doesn’t split and glides easily through your fingers and on to the needles.

What I like best about Heirloom Alpaca is the colours. Although there is not a huge range of colours, each one is heathered and made up of many colours to achieve the main colour. The light blue, for instance, if you look carefully, contains light green, pink, lilac, mid blue and light blue. The pink contains light pink, mid pink, lilac and light purple. The heathering is just visible in the finished knitting, making for beautiful, dynamic colours. Aside from the heathered colours, there is a light brown and white twist which is also lovely.

For huggable, comfortable and warm garments, this yarn is an excellent choice. It retails for around $7 a ball which is not a bad price for 100% alpaca. I highly recommend it.


After a couple of sunny days the weather has turned cold and wet and, once again, our lounge room has turned into a drying room. If I go for a walk in the garden my shoes get very wet. Our broccoli is finished. We have eaten some and frozen some and the remainder of the plants go to the chickens where they get devoured. We have had some caulis already and there are more to come. I never really liked cauli until I tried homegrown ones. We have had some baby carrots but I’ll let most of them grow larger before we eat them. Our broad beans are flowering so beans aren’t too far away. The potatoes are grand and the chickens are giving us about 5 eggs a day. I think when the weather warms up our peas will be happier. We have ordered various seeds for spring and summer vegies and also a heated propagating tray. This should help us get the summer veg growing early.

I’ll be spraying the stone fruit trees shortly for leaf curl. This needs to be done in late winter and again as the buds begin to swell. Leaf curl spray is basically copper and prevents the tree succumbing to the fungus that causes the disease. Spraying is particularly important if you have pruned the tree because the fungus can enter more easily where the cuts were made.

Many thanks to those who read my blog regularly. Please leave comments and questions so that I know who you all are.