Make It Your Own

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Christmas recipes 13 December, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,Travel,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:30 am
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Hi there everybody, it’s been a while since I posted but for a very good reason. I’ve been in England for 2 and a half weeks and then at Moonta Bay for 3 days. For your reading pleasure this week I have a couple of Christmas recipes, a little report on my trip to England and some ideas for making your own gift tags. Enjoy.


Here’s a recipe for making your own Christmassy punch. In our family, whenever we make punch for a party, it must include pineapple juice, ginger beer and cold black tea. These are the essentials and any other drinks such as orange juice or lemonade may be added. Just add whatever you like and see how it tastes! We had 6 people over for dinner last night and what follows is what I put in the punch. It was pretty popular. I also make it when the weather is stinking hot and plenty of cold drinks are wanted.

Ingredients: 750ml ginger beer, 1 litre pineapple juice, 1 litre cranberry drink, 500ml strong black tea, 750ml lemonade, large handful of mint leaves, ice cubes.

Make up the tea in a jug and allow to cool then refrigerate. Have all the other drinks nice and cold. Not long before you want to drink the punch, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or very clean bucket. Since you probably can’t fit a bucket in your fridge, it’s a good idea to make sure all the ingredients are nicely chilled before you make it. Fill a large jug with punch and add some ice cubes and serve.

The cranberry drink added a Christmassy flavour and a lovely red colour to the punch.

Christmas punch


Stuffing for your Christmas chicken or turkey is easy to make yourself so there is no excuse for buying packet stuffing that is stuffed with artificial flavours and dehydrated mystery. This is the way I always make stuffing but usually without the sage and some extra dried herbs.

Ingredients: for one chicken (double everything for a turkey): 2 slices good quality bread, a large handful of fresh sage, 1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, olive oil, large pinch salt.

Cut the bread into 1cm cubes, finely chop the onion and sage and crush the garlic. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Add enough olive oil to moisten the mixture. You may need up to a quarter cup. Mix well. Before you stuff the bird, wipe the cavity with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. Pack the stuffing firmly into the bird and cook as you normally would.

I don’t have a picture of the stuffing because all the stuffing from 2 chickens got eaten!


I like to make my own gift tags each Christmas from various scraps of cardboard and last year’s cards. I always keep the cards that have suitable pictures to be reused. In an hour or so you can make as many cards as you’ll need. This is a good activity for the kids to get involved with.

What you need: scraps of thin cardboard, old Christmas cards, scissors, glue, a hole punch, stick on stars

Card scraps

Here are some ideas of tags you can make from scraps like the ones above:

Just cut out a pretty picture from a card and punch a hole in one corner

gift tags

Cut the pretty borders from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard. Add some stars.

gift tags

Cut small pictures from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard

gift tags


From 13th November to 2nd December I was in England visiting my sister, her husband and their 10 month old baby. This was the first time I had seen my niece. She is the sweetest little thing and is even cute when she is crying because of the way she sticks her bottom lip out.  They live just out of Oxford and we spent most of our time in the Oxford area and we went to London for a few days. I did plenty of wandering around Oxford. Even if you don’t go any touristy places, Oxford is lovely just to walk around. My sister and I went to St Edmunds Hall which is one of the oldest colleges. The chapel was decorated by William Morris and the wood carvings are especially lovely. We had a brief wander in the Bodleian Library and we went to see the graves of Tolkein and CS Lewis, two of my favourite authors. Aside from that we went for a few drives, visited some family and lazed around watching tv.

I only went to 2 yarn shops while I was there. The yarn shop in Witney (a small town near Oxford) has pretty run-of-the-mill yarns such as Sirdar and Debbie Bliss but it also has all the Noro yarns. While in London we went to Loop in Islington. It is very up-market and has a good range of high-end silk, alpaca, merino, cashmere and loads of books. I bought some Blue Sky Alpacas pure alpaca and silk/alpaca blend yarns, some sock yarns and two tiny balls of Habu kid mohair/nylon. Yes I was feeling rich and reckless that day! If you are in the Islington area of London Loop is definitely worth a visit. I’ll no doubt do a review of some of these yarns at some stage.

Wow, real life holly (this is a novelty for an Australian at Christmas)

Real holly

A church in a tiny Oxfordshire village, Shelsbury

Shelsbury church

Tolkein’s grave at Wolvercote Cemetary, just outside of Oxford

Tolkein’s grave

Last weekend we went to Moonta Bay on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia for a few days with Matthew’s family. We fished off the jetty, ate the fish and generally lazed about. It’s beautiful there. I can definitely recommend it for a few days of fishing and relaxing. We caught squid, garfish, tommies and some mackerel-type things that we didn’t know the name of. We also caught trumpet fish but they don’t taste good so we threw them back. If you catch a trumpet fish and hold it up to your ear you can hear it honking quietly. Amazing!

Moonta Bay Jetty


Good news Australian yarn lovers! YARN magazine has found a buyer and will be continuing. The next issue will be out in March 2008. I’ll be continuing to write the Yarn on a Shoestring column and will be having more of my patterns published.

Well that’s it for this week. Coming up next week: yarn reviews galore (well maybe 2 or 3).

Have a great week. Sarah.


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.


Beanies!!! and another felt project 10 July, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,Travel,Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 11:35 am

Hey everybody, it’s Tuesday again. Sorry for not posting last week. We were in Alice Springs enjoying the exceedingly warm weather and the exceedingly good Alice Springs Beanie Festival.

This week I’ll report on the Beanie festivities, review The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook and give you another project to make with the felted wool jumper. At the risk of indulging in self-congratulation, I’ll show off my cupcakes too.


For the uninitiated, the ASBF is a celebration of the outbacks’ favourite garment, the beanie. You may not think that you’d need a warm hat in the middle of Australia where it is nearly always sunny, but believe me, it gets very cold at night. Artists and crafters from around Australia and the world, including indigenous artists, send in their handmade beanies and hand spun wool to be sold. Over four days the beanies are sold to whoever comes to buy them. This year over 4700 beanies were submitted and over 3000 were sold. Aside from the mayhem of the beanie selling, there is also a competition for the most artistic head gear, with a different theme each year. There is also a tea shop selling soup, toasted sandwiches and divine cakes, all made by locals. All the workers are volunteers.

Matthew and I had a great time. We travelled up on the train in a sleeper cabin and I found a fellow knitter and festival volunteer to knit with. We volunteered, ate too much cake at the tea shop, I did two classes, tried on numerous beanies and generally imbibed the good vibes and bright colours. I came fifth in the world’s fastest beanie maker competition. Maybe next year I’ll do better.

Here are some photos to whet your appetite for next year…

Possum beanie


Above are some of the beanies just before the hoards came to buy them. Within 15 minutes of opening, you could bare move in there.


Here’s another project for using a felted jumper. If you’ve just joined us, put an old woollen jumper in the washing machine, set it to hot, put some detergent in and turn the machine on. When it is finished you’ll have some felt in the shape of a jumper that you can cut up and use for various projects. A few weeks ago I gave instructions for making a tea cosy. This week’s project is coasters. They are good for using up the smaller pieces of felt such as the sleeves or other leftovers and they are very easy. So easy in fact that I barely need to write instructions.

1. Cut a piece of felt about 8cm square. Round off the corners.

2. With some pretty yarn or thread and a needle, work a row of blanket stitch around the edge.

3. Sew some beads on to the corners.

4. Make as many as you want. If they are for a gift, tie up a group of them with more of the yarn used for the edging.

Easy peasy, hey?



My dear cousin gave me a wonderful cupcake book for my birthday along with some sugar flowers and cashous. I had a few hours of fun on Saturday afternoon and the family dropped in to enjoy the results. Making your own food to share is a brilliant way to reinforce family and friend relationships. Putting some love into the preparations shows how much you care and anyway, decorating cupcakes is excellent fun. Even if you don’t have a dedicated cupcake recipe book, most general cook books will have a cake recipe and an icing recipe. Then you can go crazy with food colouring, a piping bag and decorations.


THIS WEEK’S BOOK REVIEW IS The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. Go to the book reviews page to read it.


On the 21st July the Hand Knitters Guild of SA will be having a Trash and Treasure Sale at the Unley RSL, Arthur St Unley (behind the Unley Shopping Centre), from 10-4pm. I’ll be having a stall selling hand dyed yarn, tea cosies and maybe even some cupcakes. Others will be selling knitting and bric a brac.

I’m off to the Central Market now. It’s far too cold to go on my electric bike so I think I’ll go on the tram. Our car is sick which is a big pain since I have places to go.

Bye for now. Sarah.


Make your own t-shirt 29 May, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Travel,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 2:02 pm

Hi there and happy Tuesday

This week there have been happenings in the Adelaide yarnosphere and I’ll give you some tips on designing your own t-shirt.

On the weekend I did some woolly things with a woolly friend. My friend objected to being called woolly but we still had a nice time. First there was the Adelaide Hill Spinners and Weavers open day at the Littlehampton Hall. Represented were all the stages of wool to see and buy: fleeces, tops, sliver, yarn, dyes, wheels, and finished objects of the knitted, felted and woven kind. No actual sheep though. Oh well. Spinners and Weavers are very friendly people. I bought some grey English Leicester tops for spinning and some hand dyed wool. For the uninitiated, tops and sliver are wool that is washed and brushed and ready to spin. Too much wool is never enough.

Next on to Lobethal to see the Gumeracha spinners compete in the Back to Back Wool Challenge. All those years of living in the Adelaide Hills mean that I can drive from Littlehampton to Lobethal without really thinking and I know at least 5 different ways to do it. The Back to Back Wool Challenge is a competition where teams from around the world try to take the least time to get wool from a sheep’s back on to a person’s back in the form of a knitted jumper. The sheep must be hand shorn (no electric clippers), hand spun and hand knitted. Sheep are very patient creatures. Here is one being hand shorn the old fashioned way and some sweet-faced sheep.

Hand shearing



Well not quite make it but find a plain one and make it your own with your own design.

You will need a t-shirt of any colour, a colour photocopier, opaque iron on transfer paper (the kind that will transfer on to a dark coloured t-shirt), an iron, a picture or design of A4 size or smaller. Your design can be made with paint, pencil, pen, collage or any other medium as long as it is flat and can be copied. Iron on transfer paper can be bought at the larger stationary and office supply stores. It costs about $20 for 5 A4 sheets. If your designs are small, you can fit 2 on one sheet and save a little money.

First make your picture or design. Paint a picture, draw a logo, or write your business slogan in large letters. Make a design that is unique and sums you up or just something that the recipient of the t-shirt will like. Make sure the design fits on to an A4 sheet of paper.

Colour copy your design on to a sheet of plain white paper. How does it look? Will it fit on the t-shirt? When you are happy with the design, copy it on to the iron on transfer paper, following the instructions on the packet.

Transfer the design on to your t-shirt, following the packet instructions.

You now have your a personalised t-shirt. It doesn’t say anything you don’t want it to. In fact it says something about you and your t-shirt is unique. If you want to make more than one t-shirt the same, just copy the design on to another sheet of transfer paper. This is a very easy way to make a small number of t-shirts all the same and an easy way to advertise your business, promote your hobby or create a uniform for your team. I think it is an excellent way to create individual clothing on a budget.

On a white or pastel t-shirt you can also use clear transfers which are cheaper. The main drawback is that you must have a scanner to scan your design. Clear transfers are a little different and the design must be printed on in mirror image form. By using the opaque transfers, all you need is a copier (though you could still scan and then print your design on to the transfer paper) and they can be used on any colour background.

This could be a great activity for the kids in the holidays and if their designs are cute, the family could all receive a t-shirt for Christmas designed by the kids.

Here are a couple that I have been wearing.



We have been picking beans, lettuce, carrots and coriander. That’s about it at the moment. All the beans came out on the weekend and they are going to be replaced with spinach, baby broccoli and peas. The chickens continue to lay happily and their mobile house has been move on to a nice grassy patch. They are becoming more tame and actually let me pat them.


This week’s book review is The Backyard Permaculture Garden by Linda Woodrow. Go to the book reviews page to read it.

That’s it for this week. Next week: grow and make your own herbal tea. Remember to live your life and make it your own.