Make It Your Own

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It’s Freezing 23 October, 2008

Filed under: Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 4:08 pm

After at least two complaints from family members and some of my own feelings of guilt, I have decided to get back into blogging.

What was the reason for the long break? There are a few reasons. I have been working on some new paid work projects namely starting work for Bendigo Woollen Mills as a freelance pattern designer/writer and also getting my Yarn Collective store and my Ravelry store up and running. I have also been doing lots of resting and house re-arranging occasioned by the impending birth (in February) of our baby. The work, the resting and the nesting have meant that very little craft has been going on so I haven’t had much to write about! So no blog for a while. I have been doing some knitting, gardening and cooking lately so I’ll chat about those today and see what happens in the future…


Since becoming pregnant I’ve been stocking up the freezer with all sort of things to save cooking too much when the baby arrives. Matthew has been on a bit of health kick lately and has been requesting healthy soups and such things for lunch. I’ve been getting to the market a bit less often and so I’ll buy lots of meat in one go and freeze it. We bought a bigger fridge with a bigger freezer recently (again in preparation for a growing family) All these things got me thinking about the freezer and the many things you can freeze for later.


All sorts of dinners can be cooked and then frozen. My favourites are: chicken casserole, beef casserole, meat or chicken curries, sausage and bean casserole, bolognese sauce, risotto. All these can be cooked and then put into plastic containers. I usually cook a meal for four or six, have two serves for the two of us for dinner then put the rest in the freezer.

I have found that a certain brand of container fits perfectly stacked side by side in my freezer draws making the most of the space. Another good way to make the most of the space is to not bother freezing cooked pasta or rice. Just freeze the curry or the bolognese since pasta and rice are easy to store and cook. It’s a good idea to wait until the food has cooled before you put it in the freezer so that is freezes more quickly and doesn’t start the thaw the food it’s put next to. Don’t think that you’ll remember what is in a container! Label it! (Don’t ask me how I know)

To thaw your frozen dinner either take it out early in the day and then heat it in a saucepan or zap it in the microwave. Perfect for the times when you want some wholesome food but don’t have the energy to prepare it or the cash to go out. I’ve always got something in the freezer for such occasions even when I’m not stocking up in preparation for a baby.


While lots of people make sandwiches in advance and freeze them I haven’t found that to be necessary yet so I’ve never tried it. Since Matthew decided that giant ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch every day wasn’t doing his health any good, we’ve been trying to come up with other ideas for his lunch that involve vegetables of some kind but are still satisfying.The answer has been soup, soup and more soup as well as chicken legs.

These soups all freeze well and are an easy and healthy lunch option for those that leave the house in a hurry each morning: corn chowder, bacon and lentil, pumpkin, cauliflower, minestrone, chicken and vegetable. I make a big pot of soup and then pour it into lunch-sized containers, label them and stack them in the freezer.

Another idea I tried was roasting some chicken legs and freezing them. It was a bit of an experiment but it has worked reasonably well. Buy 8-10 chicken legs (drumsticks), season them well with some kind of chicken seasoning or salt and pepper, spray a tray with oil and bake the legs until they are cooked (about 45 mins) at 200 degrees. When they are cool put two each into small ziploc sandwich bags, squeeze out the air and freeze. The worker can grab one of the bags with a bit of salad or fruit in the morning and zap the legs in microwave at lunch time for a quick healthy protein lunch.

Another idea that I haven’t tried but which I’m sure would work would be to make a cake or slice, cut it up and wrap in individual pieces. All you’d need to do each morning would be put a piece in the lunch box, ready wrapped. This obviously works for muffins too. Homemade cakes are always going to be healthier that anything you can buy since they have no preservatives or additives or processed oils and fats and usually less sugar and salt.

Home grown vegetable gluts

If you have grown your own vegetables you may have found at some stage that you have too much broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas than you can eat fresh. Over winter I grew some fantastic caulis but found I had three great big ones ready at the same time. One we ate fresh, one I made into cauli soup and one I froze. The technique for freezing vegetables is similar for most kinds and I have had good success with the ones I mentioned above. Cut the vegetable into bite sized pieces. Boil plenty of salted water. Put the vegetables into the boiling water and then let the water come back to boil which should take a minute or two. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water and drain them well. Lay the vegetable pieces in a single layer on a tray and put it in the freezer. When the pieces are frozen put them into a plastic bag and seal. You now have a bag of vegetable pieces, each separate from each other so you take out just as many as you need at a time. As convenient as frozen veg from the supermarket but homegrown by you.

Some vegetable don’t freeze well at all. Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber and celery are all too watery to be frozen as they are. Cooked into something is a different matter though. Tomato puree freezes very well for instance.

Since I mentioned celery I do actually freeze celery in stalks but I have a particular reason for this. I don’t like celery much but it is an essential ingredient in many soups, stocks and Italian dishes and you miss it if it isn’t there. Thawed frozen celery is just mush with some strings but that doesn’t matter if it’s about to go into osso bucco. Since I only use a stalk or two occasionally and only for cooking I keep a bag of stalks in the freezer so I don’t have to buy a whole or a half one every time I need a little.


I raved on about stock in my last post so you read about it there. Suffice to say that stock is best cooked in a large amount and freezes beautifully so you can always have some home made stock in stock.


When you make a cake or muffins or scones or whatever it’s very little extra work to make a double batch so you might as well put some in the freezer and save yourself some effort later. Cakes, muffins, scones, bread, rolls, fruit loaf, date loaf and so on all freeze well in my experience. Muffins and scones are very convenient because you can thaw just one at a time if you want to.


I like to buy lots of meat all in one go since I don’t get to my favourite butcher as often as I’d like. I find the best way to freeze meat is in meal sized portions and as flat as possible so it thaws faster. So two lamb chops or two steaks or a few sausages in one freezer bag. Mince is frozen in 500g packs squished nice and flat. Meat that is is open to the freezer gets dry and tough so seal the freezer bags well. My tip for the nicest frozen meat is to thaw it naturally either in the fridge for the day or out on the bench for a few hours (not recommended on a hot day!). The microwave always seems to cook one bit while it’s defrosting giving you a tough bit of meat so I only use the microwave to defrost meat in emergencies.

That’s probably enough about freezers. Didn’t realise I had so much to say about them! Here’s a yarn review to take your mind off freezers…


Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton 50g, 100 metres, 100% cotton

I’ve recently finished a project in this yarn for the December issue of Yarn Magazine. After knitting through 5 balls in stocking stitch I can tell you that this is lovely yarn to work with and gives very smooth even results. Even with very pointy needles, this cotton doesn’t split and is so soft that it never feels stringy like some 100% cotton can. End results are nice and light, though a very large project may drop a little. At around $7.60 a ball, a large project would add up to a large amount. The cost would be worth it though for the lightness and softness and coolness of a finished garment. At a standard 22 sts to 10cm and 100m to 50g Soho Summer cotton could easily be substituted into other 8ply/DK weight patterns ball for ball but be aware that in a large project some dropping may occur. In a smaller project such a child’s garment I think you could substitute into a wool pattern with no problems at all.


Now is a good time to plant all the summer vegies. We have planted tomatoes, capsicum, basil, zucchini and butternuts. As soon as I’ve pulled out the spinach and coriander which are going to seed I’ll plant some dwarf beans and climbing beans. Adelaide still has some serious water restrictions so watering is going to involve a mixture of the hand held hose (Sunday only), watering cans and grey water.

That’ll do for now. Have a good week everybody. My sincere apologies to anyone who has been checking my blog regularly and finding no new posts! Sarah.


Happy New Year 3 January, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized,Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 11:39 am

Hi everybody and happy new year to you all. Thankyou to those who wished me a happy new year and Christmas too.

We had a lovely day on the 25th. We went to church at 11pm on Christmas Eve and saw Christmas Day arrive. We slept in and then went to my Aunt’s house for lunch with 12 others and had turkey, ham, baked vegetables, pudding, custard, champagne, Christmas crackers and gifts! It was nice to see a couple of Sydney relatives that I hadn’t seen for a while too. Later in the day we went to Matthew’s brother’s house and had a small Golder family dinner with roast lamb, salad and Christmas icecream. The weather was a perfect 28 degrees and as far as I could tell, everyone was happy with the gifts we gave them.

We spent New Year’s Eve at a friends’ place with lots of other friends. They very sensibly had a wading pool with a few inches of water in it in the yard and after a 43 degree day it was quite refreshing to stand in it with a drink and have a chat.  Thanks David and Tiff! I think I haven’t recovered yet from staying up until 3am.

I’ve been far too busy to do any craft projects or interesting cooking to tell you about this week. When I say busy I mean when I haven’t been writing a column and preparing patterns for YARN and working on a couple of patterns for Live 2 Knit I’ve been reading, watching the tennis and playing Super Mario Galaxy on Matthew’s Nintendo Wii.  It’s a hard life! When Matthew goes back to work on the 14th of Jan I’ll have to start working a bit harder!


We’ve made the bold decision to stop vegetable gardening for the rest of the summer.  It’s just too hard to keep plants alive when the weather is over 38 degrees several days in a row and we’re only allowed to use the drippers for 3 hours a week and have to use a watering can the rest of the time. We’ll probably keep the pumpkin patch going though. They seem to be managing okay so far and watering one patch is much more manageable than five! We will not give up on our fruit trees. They can manage with the 3 hours once a week and can be supplemented with grey water. I’m very glad I decided to plant the rest of the garden with drought tolerant perennials when we established it a few years ago.

Here are some drought tolerant plants you might like to try in your garden. (Remember that they are only drought tolerant when they are established. For the first 6 months to a year, you’ll need to keep an eye on them and water them reasonably regularly.)

Lavenders, salvia, santolina, curry plant, rosemary, roses, pandorea, bulbs, plumbago, buddleija, agapanthus, erigeron. There are so many varieties and colours of lavenders, salvias and roses that your garden need not be boring. I’ve got about 8 different colours and sizes of salvia and they stay looking good in the hottest of weather.


Early January is an excellent time to buy Christmas cards and wrapping paper for next Christmas. I always buy them this time of year because they are almost always half price. They don’t take up too much space in the cupboard and you can get the expensive good quality ones pretty cheap.

That’ll probably do for today… the tennis has started for the day and I want to watch Australia play the USA in the Hopman Cup. I get quite a lot of tv knitting done in January…

Have a good week and a happy new year. Sarah.


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


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 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.


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.



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.