Make It Your Own

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

Knitting in Summer 7 January, 2009

Filed under: knitting,Thoughts — makeityourown @ 3:00 pm

In my opinion summer is the best time to knit. I get more knitting done in summer than any other time. The nicest place to be on a hot day is on the couch with the air conditioner on watching tennis and doing a little light knitting. Tennis is my most favourite, and really the only, sport I like to watch, though I have been developing a taste for test cricket lately. January has the perfect combination of hot weather and tennis on TV. I look forward to January all year. A whole month of nearly-all-day sport watching means lots of knitting time! This year it means lots of knitting for the growing bump.

Here are my tips for summer knitting:

First of all develop your “hot weather princess” personality. Complain to the world how your blood pressure drops/feet swell up/get heat rash/generally can’t cope in the hot weather and absolutely MUST lie down with a cold drink or you’ll faint. Practise swooning. Being 8 months pregnant or recovering from surgery (hi Dad!) are very convenient at this time.

Acquire an air conditioner and a comfy couch if you don’t already have them.

Keep the phone and the TV controls within reach on the coffee table so you can easily flick between the tennis and the cricket if you are following both.

Knit garter stitch or stocking stitch so that you can concentrate on the sport rather than the knitting. Test cricket may let you do a more complex stitch. It seems to me that you don’t really need to watch it that carefully. Just watch your knitting until you hear some cheering then look up and watch the replay of someone getting someone else out. Last week one of the cricket commentators said enthusiastically, “what a great day’s play…there’s been something exciting happen every hour.” Well that’s test cricket for you.

Don’t try to knit while watching doubles. Doubles tennis goes so fast and is so exciting that it needs your full attention.

Knit smaller items like baby clothes, accessories or pieces of a jumper. An almost-finished magic square blanket or bulky seamless jumper for your 100 inch chested relative are NOT a good idea in hot weather.

Gotta go. The Hopman Cup is on. Aussie Open very soon. Have a lovely summer everyone!

PS: with the regard to the baby: everything is going according to plan. You wouldn’t recognise my ankles though. They are like balloons. (Matthew’s comment when I mention my swollen ankles is “what ankles?” He is cruising for a bruising but has been very good at bringing me cups of tea in bed in the morning.)

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Making Stock 5 May, 2008

Filed under: Home cooking,knitting — makeityourown @ 6:02 pm

My poor dear neglected blog…how I have missed you…I’ve been a little busy…don’t look at me like that…I’m sorry.

It’s been weeks since I wrote anything here. Let me tell you what I’ve been up to.

Yarn Magazine: working on a large garment, a small garment and a column for the June issue. Also pondering patterns and columns for future issues

South West Trading Company: asked me to redesign my Plaited Wrap for them in one of their yarns. Since I own the copyright to that design now I’m free to sell it again if I want, which I have done. They are getting the pattern and the finished knitted garment in their Therapi yarn. It’s finished and I’ll post it tomorrow. (I’ll also review the yarn at some stage.)

Ravelry: I’ve started a pattern store on Ravelry (a social networking site for knitters). So far there is one item for sale, the End of the Rainbow Jumper. Like the Plaited Wrap, I own the copyright again and can sell it. You can download the pattern for $5 US. At this stage I think you need to be a Ravelry user to use this feature. I have been getting other patterns ready for sale as well. That involves knitting, photographing, preparing a pdf and proofreading each pattern. Huge thankyous must go to Barb for helping me photograph and proof read (in return for eggs and babysitting).

Knitty: I’m going to take the plunge and submit a pattern to Knitty (an on line knitting magazine). I have spent hours and hours searching for the perfect yarn for the project. All I wanted was an 8ply wool yarn with a bit of nylon in it, or a sock wool in nice solid colours that is available internationally, that doesn’t cost a fortune. Sigh. St Ives was my first choice, since it is internationally recognized and available in Australia, but that has been discontinued. Wildfoote was an option but very hard to find a store in the US that will ship to Australia. Araucania is the perfect weight and composition and available in Australia but I’m not prepared to pay $26 a skein, especially when I’ll need two. After hours of trawling the internet I finally decided to go with a yarn that is virtually unknown in Australia but well known OS, beautiful, affordable (except for postage which I am assuming will be hideous) and just right I think. The yarn in question is Nancy Bush’s Footpath sock yarn. I spoke to her in her shop (The Wooly West) in Utah and we arranged the sale. At last! I will keep you posted on how things progress with Knitty.

Dyeing: I’m still doing bits and pieces of dyeing. This week I’m going to be dyeing in some nice autumn colours and some pinks and blues. I’m planning to have a table at the Hills Spinners and Weavers open day on 31st May at Littlehampton Hall in the Adelaide Hills.

The Guild: the Handknitters Guild of SA, of which I am secretary, recently had their exhibition. I’ll post a few photos below.

MAKE YOUR OWN STOCK

Stock is wonderfully useful stuff in the kitchen. I like to keep a stock of stock in my freezer and this week I’ve been stocking up and making some.

Why make stock? Bought chicken stock and beef stock powders have their place but they are very salty. Ready made stock that comes in cartons I find bitter and salty. Some dishes such a French Onion Soup or risotto have stock as a main ingredient and the bought stuff just won’t do. I’ve tried making French Onion Soup with ready made beef stock and with homemade beef stock. The difference in the flavour is astounding. Ditto for a good risotto. The thought a beautiful risotto being ruined by bought stock almost makes me cry. For real depth of flavour with no bitterness or artificial stuff and the right amount of salt in your cooking, home made stock is fantastic. It’s cheap to make and is a good use for leftover bones and carcasses. What follows is how I make stock.

Chicken Stock

What you need: 2kgs chicken bones or carcasses, 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 stalks celery, garlic, a small handful of bay leaves and/or other dried or fresh herbs, a few peppercorns, oil, water

Cut the vegetable into pieces and sweat (cook gently, covered) them in a large pot in a little oil for about 15mins. Add all the other ingredients and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 hours. When cool, strain and put it in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the top and become solid. Take off the fat and discard. For more concentrated stock, boil hard until it has halved in volume. Freeze in containers. To make stock using a leftover roast chicken carcass: put the carcass in a saucepan with a carrot, an onion, a piece of celery, some herbs, garlic and pepper. Cover with water, bring to boil, simmer for an hour or two.

Beef Stock

What you need: 2kgs of beef bones, 2 carrots, 2 onions, 2 stalks celery, a dollop of tomato paste, a few peppercorns, a small handful of fresh or dried herbs, oil, water.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (celsius). Brush the bones with oil and cook in the oven for an hour. Put the bones in a large pot. Pour some boiling water on to the pan they were cooked in and scrape up the brown bits from the pan. Add the water with the bits to the pot with the bones. Add the other ingredients and cover it all with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 hours. When cool, strain and put it in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the top and become solid. Take off the fat and discard. For more concentrated stock, boil hard until it has halved in volume. Freeze in containers.

I like to freeze stock in 500ml containers since that is quite a convenient size for the two of us.

Stock cubes

I like to make “stock cubes”. When your stock has been strained, boil it hard to concentrate it. You want it to be at least half the volume it was, if not a third. When cool, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Loosen the cubes and keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer. If you want a little bit of stock for a stir fry or something like that you can add a “cube” very easily. This way you can add depth of flavour to your cooking without the “fake” taste you get with powder.

I prefer not to add salt to the stock so that I can add the right amount to the finished dish. You can also make vegetable stock and fish stock. Vegetable stock involves sweating or roasting vegetables until they are brown and then adding water and boiling like other stock. Fish stock uses fish bones but you should never simmer the stock for more than 20 minutes.

Happy stock making everybody.

Coming soon…Lots of laceweight yarn for sale, and a couple of yarn reviews

Please visit me at Ravelry. My user name is SarahGolder. Please also note that you can now pay for my yarns using Paypal. All you need to do is let me know that is how you’d like to pay and I’ll send you a Paypal generated email with a button to pay.

A few photos of the Handknitters Guild of SA’s exhibition follow.

 

Ramblings 6 March, 2008

Filed under: Craft,Hand dyed Yarn,knitting,Sock knitting,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 10:52 am

Hmmmm….don’t really know what title to give to my ramblings today. I haven’t been blogging much lately but that doesn’t mean I have been idle. Life just gets complicated sometimes and making stuff gets put on the back burner or the stuff I’ve been working on I can’t show you because it’s for my top secret Yarn work or something like that. Anyway…in this post I have a yarn review for you and some pictures of a few projects I’ve been working on. Happy reading.

MORE HAND DYED YARN FOR SALE

If you love affordable hand dyed yarn you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve dyed a stack more yarn for you to admire and buy. Click on the “Hand dyed yarn for sale” and “Hand dyed sock yarn for sale” tabs at the top of the page. Pleeeeeease tell your knitting friends about my yarns and watch out for my ad in the next YARN mag (due out in March sometime). Coming soon: wool/nylon/lycra bouncy hand dyed sock yarn. You’ll love it.

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

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Live 2 Knit Lauren 100% Superwash Merino 12ply/aran weight. $21.60 for 100g.

Live 2 Knit Lauren

I’m working on a large project for YARN mag in this yarn at the moment and I am loving every minute of it. Lauren is a beautifully smooth, top quality wool yarn with a high twist and plenty of bounce. It runs pleasantly between your fingers as you knit and produces a very even, smooth and soft fabric. While the specs on the Live 2 Knit website say it produces a tension of 17sts to 10cm, I have found that 17sts is a little loose. I prefer to make it 18 or even 19 sts to 10cm for a slightly firmer fabric that still drapes. For a top quality, beautiful knitted garment that is also machine washable and will last a good long time, the cost is probably worth it. To see the full colour range go to the Live 2 Knit website. I recommend this yarn for soft and cosy winter garments and accessories in stocking stitch to show off the beautiful colours.

FELT HATS AND MORE TEA COSIES

In my post of June 18 2007 I gave instructions for making a felt tea cosy using an old jumper that had been felted in the washing machine. By following the basics of those instructions you can also make hats. You might need to use two pieces of fabric to get a piece long enough to go around a head but the basics are the same. (Don’t cut the holes for the handle and spout unless you have very big ears or want to pull your pigtails through!). Add blanket stitch, chain stitch, a fold up cuff, beads or tassles. Here are some hats and tea cosies I made this week to give you some inspiration.

Felt hats

Felt tea cosies

Here are some socks I finished last week. They are the Breeze socks from Issue 3 of YARN.

Breeze socks

PATONYLE LOVERS UNITE

Do you love Patonyle? Do you care that ACS have discontinued it? If you are on Ravelry, join the Patonyle Lovers group or the ACS group and voice your displeasure! If you aren’t on Ravelry contact ACS and tell them what you think. Go to your yarn store and buy up before it’s too late. In my opinion, discontinuing such a fantastic yarn is criminal. I’ve been stockpiling it lately so that I have enough Patonyle to last the rest of my life. Sorry to anyone I have e-sniped recently…

IN OTHER NEWS

The Handknitters Guild of SA are having their biannual exhibition on 12th and 13th of April at the St Peters Hall on Payneham Rd, St Peters. There is no entry fee except for a gold coin donation and the exhibition will be way way better than it has been in the past. There will be lots of knitting and crochet on display and stalls, including Colonial Lake books so you can stock up on knitting books. There will also be lots of knitted and crocheted items for sale and even some of my hand dyed yarn if you want to see it in the flesh. There will be a raffle and refreshments for sale. I’ll be there from 10 till 2 at least on Sunday.

Goodwood Autumn Sidewalk market will be on the 15th March along Goodwood Rd between the primary school and the tramline. A couple of friends and I will be having a stall selling a variety of handmade items, including my yarns, tea cosies and hats. The market runs between 9 and 3pm. Keep a look out for Barb, Sue and me by the physiotherapists, next to the lane and across the road from the Waste Not Want Not shop.

Happy birthday to my dear cousin Mia and my Dad. Also welcome to my new cousin Ben.

Visit me at Ravelry. My user name is SarahGolder. Have a happy day. Sarah.

 

No Pattern Required Tiered Skirt 7 February, 2008

Filed under: Craft,knitting,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 12:43 pm

It feels like a hundred years since I posted here. Sorry to all my loyal fans who have been checking regularly…(actually I don’t know how many loyal fans I have; probably just my Auntie and my Dad).

Today I’m going to give you instructions on how to sew a tiered skirt without a pattern. All you need is fabric and a sewing machine! Since I reached 25000 visitors recently, I’ve got a little competition and to keep all the knitters happy, I’ve got a yarn review. Lets start with the yarn review…

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

Selby’s yarn picks

Biggan Design DK Merino First Cross. 50g/105 metres. Made in Australia. $8.95 each.

Biggan Wool

Biggan Design colour chart

Merino wool is renowned for its softness and Border Leicester wool for its durability. A Merino sheep crossed with a Border Leicester sheep will theoretically give a very soft but durable yarn. The people at Biggan Design have done just that and indeed created a yarn that is incredibly fine and smooth but will last a very long time. This yarn is smooth enough to wear next to your skin and smooth enough for babies’ garments but it also has plenty of bounce and elasticity. I’ve knitted a few swatches with this yarn lately and it feels lovely through my fingers and creates a very smooth fabric because of its high twist. At $8.95 a ball it seems more expensive than other solid colour DK weight (8ply) wool yarns but the quality of the yarn makes the cost worth it. You’ll have a garment that will last a very long time and will feel great. The machine washability (gentle cycle) is also worth paying a little extra for. Aside from the fineness and quality of this yarn, my favourite thing about it is the colour range. It is available in 64 colours that harmonise with each other, making it perfect for picture knitting, stripes and Fair Isle knitting. Biggan Design also claim that the same colour range will still be available well into the future. I hate it when companies change their colour ranges (especially when I’ve just designed something in a particular colour that gets discontinued; I have to then change my colour scheme and usually have to change yarns). If what they say is true, I’ll be a very satisfied customer. The Biggan Design website is easy to navigate and you can buy their yarn and patterns there. I recommend this yarn for all kinds of garments and comfy socks. I’m about to start knitting a design I’ve been working on in the Denim colour and I’m looking forward to the experience. Visit Biggan Design at www.biggandesign.com.au.

NO PATTERN REQUIRED TIERED SKIRT

Tiered skirt

Here’s a “recipe” for a skirt you can sew without a pattern. I made this one for myself from some fabric I bought in Penang, that’s been sitting in my fabric stash for the last 9 years (gulp, is it really 9 years since we went to Penang? Matthew and I got engaged not long after that). All it is is four strips of fabric, each one longer than the last and gathered together to fit the one above. It’s pretty easy but you’ll probably need a little bit of sewing experience.

What you need: fabric, a sewing machine and thread, scissors, pins, calculator, tape measure, 3mm wide elastic for waist, iron.

Here’s what to do…

First measure yourself (or the person who the skirt is for) at your widest point, the part that is euphemistically called the hips. Add 15cm to that measurement and write that number on a piece of paper. Your first piece of fabric at the top of the skirt needs to be that long and about 25cm wide. (My top piece was 120 x 25cm). Sew the ends of the piece together with a 1cm seam allowance. Sew a wide hem at the top of the piece, wide enough to just fit the elastic through, leaving a hole big enough to thread the elastic through. I like to iron down the hem and then sew it.I also like to press all my seams before continuing on the next step.

The next strip of fabric needs to be 1.3 times longer than the first so multiply the number you wrote down by 1.3. Cut you next piece of fabric that long and 17cm wide. Sew the ends together. Run two rows of gathering stitches 8mm apart around the top of the second piece and then pull up the threads so that the second piece is the same size as the first, making sure the gathers are evenly spread over the fabric strip. Pin the second piece to the first and sew together between the gathering threads.

Do the same thing with the 3rd and 4th pieces but make the 4th piece 20cm wide. Each strip should be 1.3 times longer than the previous. You’ll probably need to join pieces together to make the strips long enough. Sew a wide hem on the bottom of the skirt. Remove the visible gathering threads. Run elastic through the casing and pull up so that it fits your waist but is long enough to stretch over your hips. Iron the whole thing and trim any loose threads. My mum always said that your sewing project is not finished until it’s been ironed.

TIME FOR ANOTHER COMPETITION

Just the other day I noticed that I’ve had 25, 000 visitors to my blog since I started in April 2007. Amazing huh? I can thank Knitting Pattern Central for a huge chunk of them, people searching for instructions on how to make felt, make curtains, make tea cosies, people searching for yarn reviews, and friends and family who keep coming back regularly. Thanks to everyone who leaves comments. I appreciate them greatly.

The prize this time is your choice of yarn from my Hand Dyed yarns up to a value of $15. You can see them all by clicking on the Hand Dyed Yarn For Sale tab at the top of the page.

All you need to do is leave a comment telling us about your favourite knitting or craft book or mag and why it’s your favourite. I’ll publish the list of the books and mags you like in a future post so that we can all find out what the best publications are. This competition is open to anyone anywhere in the world (except my extended family, sorry guys). I’ll pick a commenter at random to win. My usual method of choosing a winner is to write down all the names on pieces of paper, put them all in a bowl and let Matthew choose one. Last day for entries is 21st Feb.

Looking forward to hearing from you…

Have a good week, Sarah.

 

Yarn Reviews Overload 20 December, 2007

Filed under: knitting,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 8:43 pm

This week: more yarn reviews that you can poke a knitting needle at. Well…five anyway. But that’s a lot more than usual and they are all luxury or hard to find yarns. Is it worth the cost and/or the effort to buy and/or find these yarns? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I hope you find these helpful…

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

Selby’s yarn picks

Ava by Live 2 Knit. 100% silk. DK weight. Hand dyed. $37.60 for 100g.

Live 2 knit Ava

I’m working on a design in this yarn at the moment so I’ve had a good play around with it in its natural and dyed form, both in knitting and crochet. This is a truly fantastic silk yarn. It is silky but not slithery and a pleasure to knit with. As a DK weight yarn it can be substituted in other DK weight yarn patterns but only in small amounts. At a cost of $37.60 for 100g you wouldn’t make a jumper out of it anyway. I’d recommend it for a stole, a scarf, an open lace pattern shawl or a little clutch bag or any design that will use just one skein. I advise using steel needles with this yarn. Any slight imperfections on wood or bamboo needles will likely catch the fine silk fibres. Plastic or casein will probably not be slippery enough. Also, be sure that your needles are not too sharp as they might pierce and split the yarn. This is an easy to find yarn. All you need to do is go to the Live 2 Knit website and order on line. At the site you can see all 27 hand dyed colours.

Easy to find? Yes

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Absolutely definitely yes

Alpaca Silk by Blue Sky Alpacas. 50% alpaca, 50% silk, sportweight, 50g, 133 metres. $16.50.

Silk alpaca yarn

Mmmmmmmmmm. This is gorgeous stuff. I’ve just done a design in this for the next YARN magazine, so again, I’ve had a good play with this yarn, including soaking and blocking it. The alpaca gives the yarn softness and spring and the silk gives the yarn a beautiful lustre, just what you want in a luxury yarn. The finished garment (sorry I can’t tell you what it is) is not too heavy, not too light. Blocking greatly improved the look of this yarn so if you are swatching it, make sure you block it before you make any decisions. It feels strong and has a high twist, so your garment will probably last a good long time. As with the 100% silk I recommend using steel needles or at least extremely smooth and slippery bamboo needles. I recommend it for scarves of all kinds and evening wear. It comes in 28 colours and you can find it at the Wool Shack in Australia, at Loop in London and at heaps of stores in the US.

Easy to find? Yes

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Absolutely yes

100% Alpaca Sportweight by Blue Sky Alpacas. 50g, 100 metres

100% alpaca

Woolly, cosy and comfy, this alpaca yarn is just what alpaca yarn should be. It’s not scratchy either. The ballband says it’s sportweight but it’s closer to a DK weight yarn and at 100 metres to 50g, I reckon they should call it DK weight. It doesn’t have a high twist but it doesn’t seem to split so you can use pointy needles if that’s what you like. If you knit it at a medium to tight tension you should get a very long lasting garment out of this excellent quality yarn. I recommend it for hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, cardigans and jumpers. 35 colours are available so there is plenty to choose from and plenty of scope for colour work. I bought mine at Loop in London but I’ve been unable to find it here in Australia. The Wool Shack stocks some Blue Sky Alpacas yarns but not this one, strangely enough. To get your hands on some you’ll probably have to get it from a US online store for $8.50US or from Loop for 6.20GBP.

Easy to find? Not so easy in Australia

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Yes

Luna Park by Ornaghi Filati. 100% merino, fingering weight, 50g, 200 metres, made in Italy.

Luna park yarn

For a 100% merino yarn, designed for socks and baby garments this isn’t a very soft yarn. It feels a little hard in the ball and feels scratchy when knitted up. Luna Park comes in six colourways, all of which are self striping and form fairly wide stripes if knitted into socks. Of the six colourways, 4 are pretty and the other two are less inspiring, but you may like them. You can go to the Ornaghi Filati website to look at the colours. I trawled the internet this morning trying to find a store in Australia that sells this yarn to no avail. At a US online yarn store you can find it for $7.50US.

Easy to find? No

Expensive? Reasonable

Worth the cost/effort? No

N-52 by Habu Textiles. 68% kid mohair, 32% nylon, 14 grams, 278 metres.

Habu

No, I didn’t make a typing error…it really is sold in 14 gram balls and there really is 278 metres in a ball. That’s how fine this yarn is. The best word to describe this yarn is EXQUISITE!! You’ll need your strongest reading glasses and loads of patience as you work with it but do persevere; your end result will last a lifetime. Owing to the nylon, this is a surprisingly strong yarn. It might be cobweb-fine but it’s hard to break. I would recommend a very simple lace pattern, perhaps just some basic eyelet patterns in garter stitch so that it doesn’t drive you crazy and so that the fuzziness of the mohair doesn’t detract from the pattern. With 278 metres in this tiny ball, I doubt you’d need more than one ball for a scarf and no more than two for a shawl. Can you imagine a shawl weighing only 28 grams? It would be like wearing a cloud. This is the finest, softest, most beautiful mohair you’ll find. AND the most knitting you’ll ever get out of 14 grams. As far as I know, you can’t get it in Australia so you’ll have to go online. I suggest Loop, based in London or a US based online store. It might cost $18US a ball but why not spend that on a truly exquisite yarn that will surely become an heirloom.

Easy to find? Not really

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Most definitely yes!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

I hope all my readers have a very happy Christmas. The weather in Adelaide will likely be 28 degrees so not too hot for a roast but perfect for Christmas lunch outside.  Hope you all get what you wished for and have lovely day doing whatever it is you’re planning to do.

Happy  Christmas everyone. (If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I wish you a fun and happy whatever you celebrate!)

Sarah.

 

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.

 

Make Your Own Curtains 18 October, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,knitting,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 9:19 am

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.

Curtain top and rod

Here’s what the top hem, gathering tape and hooks look like.

Curtain tape, hem and hook

Here’s the bottom hem

Curtain hem

Tips

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.

UNDERGROUND SOUP

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

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Heirloom 4ply cotton (50g, 165 metres), made in Australia

Heirloom 4 ply cotton

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.

Sleepy Lizards

Burra Creek Gorge

Burra Creek Gorge

This is what Burra looks like when you’re not in the gorge.

Near Burra