Make It Your Own

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

Spring has sprung 7 November, 2007

Hello everybody,

It’s feeling very much like spring now. The weather has warmed up and we have had plenty of rain over the last week. Consequently, the garden is going mad. There is new growth on lots of the plants and our fruit trees are putting out the first tiny fruits-to-be. The roses are flowering beautifully, including my favourite rose, Bonica, of which I have two. I’ve repotted lots of pot plants and moved most of them into the shadehouse or under the porch. The vegetables are also growing like mad. The salvias are just starting to flower and in a month or so they will be amazing. I’m a big fan of salvias for a dry garden. They stay looking great even at 35 degrees and come in a wide variety of sizes and colours. The chickens are giving us way too many eggs. I’ll have to make a few sponge cakes to use them up! Thought you might like some photos…

Freckles lettuce

Growing apricots

Apple blossoms and apples

Dry garden

HARVESTING CORIANDER SEEDS

If you’ve ever grown coriander in your vegie garden for the fresh leaves, you’ll know that it goes to seed fairly quickly, especially if it gets stressed from a lack of water or a slight increase in temperature. All is not lost however. Allow the flowering and seeding to take its course and you’ll be able to harvest the seeds and use them as a spice.

When your coriander plants start flowering, keep watering them and taking care of them. The seeds will start swelling and soon you’ll have some bright green berries.

Unripe coriander seeds

After the berries have developed the plant will begin to brown and die and you can stop watering it. When the plant is nice and dry pull it up and then pick off the seeds. Let the seeds dry a little more and then store them in an airtight container. Use them whole in curries and rice or grind them in a mortar and pestle to use anywhere you’d normally use ground coriander. I use it in lots of things including fried rice, stir fried vegetables, vegetable soups and curries. It is a very popular spice in Indian, Moroccan and Mexican cuisines.

Dry coriander seeds

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

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Selby has been busy this week trying out Knit Picks double pointed needles and Suzie Horne yarn.

Suzie Horne Hand dyed 8ply Finnish Landrace Cross Wool

Suzie Horne wool

Not the easiest stuff to get your hands on if you live outside of South Australia but definitely worth finding. Suzie grows Finnish Landrace Cross sheep at her farm in Meadows in the Adelaide Hills. The wool from her sheep is commercially spun and the then she hand dyes it. Being an artist, she has an excellent eye for colour and so her colourways are deep, clear and never flat; warm pinks, vibrant reds and cool blues with a few fresh greens and yellows too. I’d happily buy them all and at around $10 for 100g they are very affordable. The yarn itself is smooth but still woolly and has a high twist. It knits and crochets well, showing stitch definition but still springy. I’ve seen and felt plenty of garments made with this yarn and they all feel and look great. Suzie and her yarns can be found at small fibre fairs such as the Mt Pleasant Fibre Fair or the Hills Spinners and Weavers open days. You can also find it at All Seasons Wool shop in Hahndorf. If you see some, buy it; you might not see that exact colourway again!

Knit Picks Double Pointed Needles (steel)

Knit picks needles

In short, these are the best fine double pointed needles I have ever used. I love them and I think I might buy some in every size I regularly use. They are smooth, very pointy, light, not too long and come in sets of five.  The steel is very smooth and slippery for fast knitting. The points are long and sharp, making them excellent for tiny stitches and doing tricky stitches like a k3tog or a p2togtbl. Their short length (15cm) and lightness are good for socks and glove fingers and won’t weigh your hands down. Lots of sock patterns require a set of five needles rather than four. Instead of substituting a needle that’s not quite the same (doing this still works but it feels a bit odd) or buying 2 sets of four needles, having a set of five the same is better. The whole range of Knit Picks products are not available in Australia but the double pointeds and circulars are now being imported. You can find them at many of the online yarn stores in Australia, at Tapestry Craft in Sydney and, if you are in Adelaide, you can get them at the Button Bar in the Adelaide Arcade where they cost $10.60 (say hi to my friend Helena while you are there). These needles make me happy! I highly recommend them for socks and gloves.

IN OTHER NEWS

My sock knitting class went well. I had five students and we had a good time yesterday morning. I’ll be heading to the Craft and Quilt Fair on Thursday afternoon. The fair goes from Thursday to Sunday. I’d avoid it on Saturday morning, unless you like driving through the Christmas Pageant traffic. (I’ll never understand why the Adelaide Christmas Pageant is held in early November. I don’t start to feel Christmassy until December.)

I’m off to England on Tuesday to visit my sister for a couple of weeks. I probably won’t be posting in that time but when I return I’ll have rundown on what’s happening in the English knitting world and show off some yarn purchases.

If you want to see some of my hand dyed yarn and some of my tea cosies in the flesh, there is a market at the Goodwood Primary School on the 24th (yes that’s election day). My friend Sue is having a stall with hand made items from various people, including me. Thanks Sue!

If any of you are beta testers at Ravelry, you can find me there as Sarah Golder. You can see my stash, my library, my projects and my original designs. For the uninitiated, Ravelry is a social networking site for people into knitting, crocheting and spinning. It’s still in the testing stage and should be open to the public sometime soon. I’m waiting, not very patiently, for my “I swatched Ravelry” t-shirt to arrive in the mail.

That’s all for today. Have a lovely week. Please leave me your comments so that I know who my readers are. Tell us all what you like to make or grow or cook.

Sarah.

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Start thinking about gifts 1 November, 2007

Filed under: Craft,knitting,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 5:48 pm

Hi there everybody,

Now that it’s November, it’s time to start thinking about the making of Christmas gifts. Many gifts take a fair bit of preparation time, especially if you are going to try and knit everyone in the family a pair of socks. Gifts that involve drying herbs and flowers and cooking also need plenty of preparation time. Since there’s less than 2 months until gift-giving season, now is a good time to make a list of the things you’d like to make. To that end, this week I’ll give some instructions for making pot pourri and pomanders, two things that need about six weeks to complete. Real knitters know that knitting doesn’t stop when the weather warms up so there’ll be a yarn review as well. (Actually, I do more knitting in the hottest part of summer that other times of the year. It’s way too hot to go outside so I sit inside by the air conditioner, watch the Australian Open tennis and knit.)

MAKE YOUR OWN POT POURRI

Pot pourri is a fragrant mix of dried flowers and spices that is put around the house and in wardrobes to be both decorative and air perfuming. I like to make it myself with a mixture of flowers and herbs from my garden, some purchased whole spices, dried citrus rind and a little essential oil or perfumed oil.

Pot pourri

Drying the flowers and herbs

Pick a mixture of flowers and herbs from your garden. I used lavender, rosemary, santolina and rose petals. You could also use lemon balm, thyme, lemon verbena and calendula flowers. Tie the herbs up with string and hang somewhere to dry. The rose petals can be dried in a paper or string bag. I find the bags that onions come in to be best. I don’t usually have enough rose petals at one time so I let some dry and then pick some more and so on until I have enough.

To make dried citrus rind, peel strips from citrus fruit with a vegetable peeler. Using a needle, thread the strips onto a string and hang to dry.

Drying the ingredients for pot pourri will take a week to 10 days.

Herbs and flowers for pot pourri
Drying herbs and flowers

Once the herbs and flowers are nice a dry it’s time to mix everything together. Strip the leaves from the rosemary and santolina and cut the flower heads from the lavender. Put them all in a large bowl with the rose petals and citrus peel.

Other ingredients

Other ingredients you might like to add to your pot pourri are star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ground spices. The whole spices add interesting texture and the ground spices add significantly to the fragrance. The other vital ingredient is some essential oil or perfumed oil. The oil will be absorbed into the dried ingredients and keep the whole thing smelling good for a long time. You only need a few drops of your favourite. To my mixture I added 3-4 drops each of orange, lavender and rosewood essential oil.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Put the mixture into an airtight container and store it in a dark place for 4-6 weeks to allow the fragrances to develop and mingle. It is then ready to be packed up as a gift or displayed in bowls around the house.

MAKE YOUR OWN POMANDER

A pomander is usually hung in a wardrobe or cupboard and serves a very similar purpose to pot pourri in that it is both decorative and sweet smelling. The other benefit of a pomander is that the smell will keep moths away from your clothes. They are quite amazing things to make and you’d think it couldn’t work but it does.

What you need

An orange, a handful or two of whole cloves, a knitting needle or skewer, 1 tablespoon of mixed ground spices, a couple of metres of satin or velvet ribbon, a pin (dressmakers pin) .

Take your orange and start sticking the whole cloves into it. If the skin of the orange is a bit tough, poke holes for the cloves with the knitting needle or skewer first. Put the cloves fairly close to each other, not quite touching. (Have a look at the picture). When the whole orange is well covered with cloves, roll it in the ground spices. Put the orange in a paper bag and leave it in a dry dark place for 4-6 weeks. The whole thing will shrink and shrivel and dry, the clove oil preserving the orange inside. When it is good and dry, attach some ribbon as pictured. Secure the ribbon with the pin in the bottom of the pomander. You can now give it as a traditional gift or hang it in your wardrobe.

In the photo below the pomander on the left has been in my wardrobe for a few years. The one on the right is in progress.

Pomander making

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

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Live 2 Knit Claudette. 100% Mongolian Cashmere, fingering weight, 55g/375metres, $30.90.

This is the kind of yarn that you buy just so you can hold it next to your cheek and pat it. Pure luxury. I have had the pleasure to knit with and feel a scarf made from it. It is very soft and has a lovely halo when knitted. It is sold as a 4ply yarn but I think it’s closer to a 3ply when knitted up. It has a slight tendency to split so don’t use your pointiest needles. There is a very wide range of hand dyed colours available so everyone should find a colour they like. It isn’t cheap but you certainly get what you pay for with this yarn. This is special occasion luxury yarn, but don’t hide it away just for special occasions! At just over $30 it’s still cheaper then buying a readymade luxury cashmere scarf or going to Mongolia to find one! I think this yarn is best suited for lace shawls and scarves or small luxury beaded hand warmers that don’t need to stand up to hard wearing. You can find it and other beautiful yarns at Live 2 Knit.

That’ll do for this week. My trip to England looms closer (I leave on the 13th) and I’ve got Christmas knitting to do and a sock knitting class to organise. For those living in or near Adelaide, don’t forget the Craft and Quilt Fair is on 8-11 November at the Showground.

Have an excellent crafty week. Sarah.