Hi everybody, I’m back.
The last two weeks have been pretty busy. My Dad came over from NSW to stay for a few days, Matthew had a whole week of Karate training and a tournament, we almost finished having the house rewired and we went camping at Burra Creek Gorge for a few days. I got very little knitting done and I’ve been missing my blog. Coming up in the next few weeks there’ll be more yarn and book reviews, I’ll give some ideas for Christmas gift making, talk about Ravelry and report on the garden. This week we have soup, curtains and Heirloom Cotton.
Let’s get started with the curtains
MAKE YOUR OWN CURTAINS
Curtains can either be very expensive to get exactly what you want or cheap for readymade ones that don’t quite fit and are produced in few colours and patterns. Sewing your own gives you the best of both; they are inexpensive and you can make them just the right size and colour to suit you. I’ve just finished some for our spare room/office and over the past few years I’ve made curtains for every room of our house in various styles. You don’t need any special equipment either. Don’t be afraid of making curtains; they are much easier to sew than clothes!
Styles of curtains A good curtain book will tell you about all the many ways of doing curtains but here are the three I’ve used in my house.
Rod and clips: these are just 2 hemmed rectangles of fabric attached to the rod with clip-on curtain rings. These rings clip onto the fabric and then slide onto the rod, which is a thin powder coated metal rod. You can buy the rods and clips at Spotlight and they are a very cheap and easy way to do curtains. I have these curtains in my kitchen. Another advantage is that they are easy to unclip for washing. Hem the sides and then the top. Hem the bottom last. Clip the rings on at regular intervals and then slide onto the rod.
Rod and pocket: again using a powder coated metal rod in my laundry but you can use any kind of rod such as wooden dowel, a strong string, whatever. A rectangle of fabric is hemmed at the sides and then sewn over at the top to form a tube. The rod slides into the tube. Hem the bottom last. For a little frill at the top, stitch along the top of the tube, about 2cm in from the top fold. The rod slides under that stitching.
Gathered: rod and clip and rod and pocket designs are gathered as they squeeze up on the rod. They are best for less formal decorating. Gathered curtains are gathered up with gathering tape to fit the rod neatly. They look stylish and neat and a good for more formal decorating. These are a little trickier than rod and pocket or rod and clip designs and use a little more equipment. I have these kind of curtains in the lounge room, the office and the bedroom.
Making gathered curtains
What you need: fabric, sewing machine, pins, scissors, gathering tape, curtain hooks, rod and rings, tape measure, sewing thread, iron and ironing board.
Work out how wide each curtain needs to be. Curtains should extend about 20cm past the side of the window. Measure how wide your window is, add 20cm for each side and then divide that by 2 if you want 2 curtains. Now you need to decide how gathered you want the curtains to be. If lightly gathered, you’ll need the fabric to be about twice as wide as the finished curtain, if heavily gathered about 3 times as wide. Add about 10cm to allow for the hems.
Now work out how long each curtain needs to be. The top of the curtain should be about 20cm above the top of the window and the length is up to you. Measure your window, starting 20cm above the top of the window and down to where you want the bottom to be. Add about 30cm for hems and gathering area.
Now you can go and buy your fabric. While you’re buying the fabric, you’ll also need to buy gathering tape and hooks. The gathering tape needs to be as long as the curtains are wide plus some extra. Tape comes in different widths and I like to use one that is about 7cm wide. The packets of hooks have information on the back saying how far apart the hooks need to be and then how many hooks you’ll need for your size curtain.
Now get to work: Cut the fabric to the correct size. Iron and then sew a hem down each side of the curtain. Your hen should be folded over twice so no raw edges are showing and be about 2cm wide. Iron over the top of the curtain. The first fold can be about 2cm and then the next fold needs to be as wide as the gathering tape plus 2cm. Pin the gathering tape onto the fold, with the bottom of the tape close to the where the hem will be sewn down. Note that there is a right side and a wrong side of the tape. The side you want showing has extra bits of tape where the hooks hook in. Sew the gathering tape and the hem at the same time, through all thicknesses. Sew the top of the gathering tape in place. Gather up the curtains by pulling the threads in the tape until the curtains are the right size for the window. Tie a knot or a bow in the threads so that they don’t come loose. Don’t cut these treads. When you need to wash the curtains, they will wash better if you can ungather them. Even out the gathers along the threads. Put the hooks into the tape at regular intervals. Once the rod and rings has been installed by a handy person, put each hook through the little ring at the bottom of each curtain ring. Do not hem the bottom yet! Allow your curtains to hang in position for a few days to allow the fabric to drop. Then you will know exactly where to put the bottom hem. Sew a deep hem, about 5cm along the bottom of the curtains and then hang them back up. Done!
This is what the top of gathered curtains look like.
Here’s what the top hem, gathering tape and hooks look like.
Here’s the bottom hem
Any leftover fabric can be used for tie backs or matching cushions. If you want to add a blackout fabric to your curtains, pin the blackout fabric to the main fabric before you begin and treat the two fabrics as one. It is especially important to let them hang for a few days before hemming as the fabrics may drop differently. If using patterned fabric, buy extra so that you can match each curtain. The people in the shop where you buy your materials usually know lots about curtains so don’t be shy about asking questions.
No it’s not soup that you eat on a London train or illegal, black-market soup, it’s soup made from vegetables that grow underground. I make it when the vegies are in season. It’s healthy and tasty and I call it Underground Soup.
What you need: 2 tbs olive oil, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips, 2 potatoes, 1 sweet potato, 1 litre water, 2 tsp stock powder, salt and pepper.
Roughly chop all the vegetables. Heat the oil gently in a large pan and then add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion and garlic gently for a few minutes. Add all the other ingredients. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the vegetables are very tender. Allow to cool slightly and then blend using a stab mixer or a blender until the soup is nice and smooth. Taste and add as much salt and pepper as you like. Reheat the soup gently and serve with a dollop of cream or yoghurt. Mmmmm.
SELBY’S YARN PICKS
Heirloom 4ply cotton (50g, 165 metres), made in Australia
This is an excellent plain 4ply cotton, very smooth and much softer than other 4ply cottons available. There is nothing fancy about it, making it perfect for a wide variety of projects. I like to use it doubled for dishcloths and it makes excellent childrens’ cotton clothes. For adults it makes lovely cool summer clothes, either knitted or crocheted. Its softness and very slight loft mean that it never looks stringy. It comes in 16 colours but most of them are pale pastels and not very inspiring. However, the creamy off-white and the natural beigey-brown are lovely. You can expect to pay around $5 a ball, which is more expensive than other 4ply cottons but worth it for the extra softness. I found some discontinued colours at my LYS recently for $3.75, so some dishcloth knitting is in order or perhaps some facewashers.
BURRA CREEK GORGE
We hadn’t been camping for so long that when Matthew had an unexpected week off work, we decided to head off for a few days. We were planning on heading down to Newland Head, down near Victor Harbor but when we saw the weather report we changed our minds and went north instead. Strong winds, cold and rain are not at all pleasant anywhere near the Southern Ocean. Going the other direction seemed a better option. It was still windy and cold at Burra Creek Gorge but at least we could expect our tent to stay pegged in the ground. Burra Creek is about 25kms south of the town of Burra and about 2 and a half hours’ drive north of Adelaide. It is an old copper mining area and very beautiful in a bare Australian kind of way. The creek winds its way through a gorge full of ancient river red gums, tiny wild flowers and reeds. The soil is red and the water in the creek is very clear. There are all kinds of birds and sleepy lizards lazing around. Sleepy lizards are not just lizards that happen to be sleeping, they are actually called sleepy lizards. They are fat, slow sort of creatures with interesting markings and stumpy tails. They are also called stumpy-tail lizards. These two were lying on the road and crawled away so slowly that I had time to find the camera, jump out of the car, and take their picture before they found a rock to hide behind. Our few days away were exceedingly relaxing and reviving. I was glad to get home and have a shower though!
That’s it for this week. I’ll leave you with some photos of Burra Creek Gorge and some sleepy lizards.
This is what Burra looks like when you’re not in the gorge.