Make It Your Own

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

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.

 

Sock wool with Lycra 20 March, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 1:59 pm

Hey everybody,

Just wanted to let you know that I have added some more yarns to my list of Hand Dyed Sock Yarns for Sale. There are now some very bouncy, sproingy 4ply sock wools with lycra for $16 for 100g. There are only 5 hanks available so get in quick!

 

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

imgp1142.jpg

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.

 

A lucky winner 25 February, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 12:10 pm

It’s time to announce the winner of the “tell us your favourite books” competition. In a process as random as one person can make it…

Kozmic is our winner. She (he/it?) said that Morehouse Farm Merino Knits is her favourite knitting book. I’ve seen it and I can see why it is a favourite. Kozmic has won a choice of any of my hand dyed yarn up to a value of $15. Congratulations. I’ll send you an email to discuss getting it to you.

Other books you guys love are:

Yarn Magazine (three votes)

Interweave Knits (three votes)

Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (two votes)

Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

Sensational Knitted Socks

Big Girl Knits

Knitting Without Tears

My favourite knitting books are Knitting Without Tears and Folk Knitting in Estonia.

ONE MORE THING…

A nice person called Joy left me a comment asking about postage costs to Virginia USA and what dyes I use for my sock yarn. I’ve tried to send you an email but it bounced so I’ll answer you here…

The blue, pink/purple and light turquoise sock yarns have been dyed with Rit. The other sock yarns are dyed with food colouring. Both are colourfast in the wash but not in the sun. Postage of up to 250g to USA is $10. Hope that helps.

Have a nice day everybody.

Sarah.

Visit me at Ravelry as SarahGolder.

 

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.

 

The humble jar 19 January, 2008

Filed under: Thoughts,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:18 am

I love January. It’s the time of the year when too much tennis is never enough. No, you won’t catch me out on the court slicing and aceing and chasing a little bright green ball. I’ll be on the couch spectating my way through the Australian Open. In the less exciting matches I might do some knitting. If it’s exciting though, I’ll have my eyes glued to the telly. Tennis is the only sport that I really love watching aside from the Winter Olympics but that’s only once every four years. Consequently, not much gets done around the place during the Australian Open…

That said, I’ve got plenty of work to do at the moment. I’ve recently finished a pattern and a column for the next Yarn and I’ll start some tech editing for it next week. I’m working on designs and columns for the next 3 Yarns after that too. I’m particularly excited about the pattern I’ll have in the winter issue which is a men’s garment in some wonderful yarn. I’ve got a boy’s jumper design and a men’s sock design just about done that are Yarn potentials or maybe another magazine. I’m also in the middle of doing three patterns for Live 2 Knit. Goodness me. I’d like to try and get a pattern or to into Interweave Knits or Crochet but we’ll see what happens. My notebook seems to be overflowing with potential pattern ideas too…Good thing I love my job hey?

Knitting is not really my hobby any more. If I’ve been knitting for five hours during the day, the last thing I want to do to relax is more knitting so I’ve been engaging in some other activities lately. Since Matthew suggested that maybe we should get rid of the piano to make more space in the house (what a horrifying thought!), I’ve started playing the piano again. After four or five years of barely playing it, I feel like I’m back at the beginning again. Lots of scales and Hanon exercises are in order. The same goes for learning French. I learnt it in high school, spoke it a little in Morocco twelve years ago and barely used it since. The Coffee Break French podcast took me right back to bonjour again which is just what I needed. We were on holiday last week and I didn’t knit a stitch for almost a week!

The garden is still dry as a bone. My drought tolerant perennials are coping well and still looking fairly green though. Dad, if you are reading this: I’m pleased your vegetables are going “gangbusters” but you’ve had tonnes of rain over there on the east coast! We are jealous! I hope all that rain is falling in the catchment areas.

THE HUMBLE JAR

A couple of weeks ago my cousin and her husband came over for dinner. She brought salad and some home made dressing mixed in a jar. It was a great salad and lovely company and it got me thinking about jars…

I’m fond of jars. I used to keep and collect just about every jar I could lay my hands on; jam jars, pasta sauce jars, coffee jars, mustard jars, honey jars, round square, flat or tall. I thought that every jar could be re-used in some way, particularly as I’m fond of home made jam, marmalade and chutney. After a while I decided that some jars are better than others and I put lots of glass jars in the recycling bin now. Here’s what I do with empty glass jars and what I think are the best ones to keep and what to throw away.

What can you do with an empty glass jar?

Fill them with home made jam, marmalade, chutney and sauce

Fill airtight ones with dry pantry items such as nuts, spices, dried herbs, rice, seeds, tea or dried fruit

Mix up salad dressing ingredients in the jar, put on the lid and shake

Keep pens, knitting needles, crochet hooks, cooking utensils in them

Grow alfalfa sprouts in one

Use as a vase

Fill a nice jar with lollies for a gift

Keep craft or stationary items in them, such as paper clips, tacks, rubber bands, beads, stitch markers, bobbins, pins

Keep hardware items in them such as nails, screws, staples, washers

Use for planting seeds: part fill a jar with sand and some seeds, poke a large hole in the lid of the jar, pour the sand mixed with the seeds along a furrow in the ground. This helps space the seeds and the sand provides a growing medium

When doing colour work in your knitting or crochet put each ball of yarn into a jar to keep them from tangling.

Let me know any other brilliant jar ideas you have

The best jars to keep

Lots of food at the supermarket comes in glass jars with coated metal screw on lids. The inside of the lid usually has a extra rubbery bit of coating to make the jar airtight. Most jam jars are like this. These are the best jars to keep because they are airtight, strong and can be sterilised in boiling water or in the oven. They come in standard sizes so the lid of one jar will often fit another jar. I have a Kraft Lite Cheese Spread fetish so I end up with loads of 250ml glass jars with blue lids. They don’t make the Lite version in a big jar for some reason.

Jars to recycle

Here is a list of jars that I don’t keep and the reason why:

Vegemite jars: plastic lids are not as airtight as coated metal ones

Moccona jars: they might look nice but they don’t close tightly and don’t stack in the pantry. The rubbery bits make them difficult to sterilise. I do keep the tiny ones though for spices

Salsa jars: no matter what you do, you can’t get rid of the salsa smell. You don’t want your strawberry jam having a vague salsa flavour.

Pasta sauce and Kan Tong jars (not that I EVER eat the stuff anyway): these jars are way too big to do much with and will smell odd, especially the lids.

Oddly shaped jars: tall skinny jars are too hard to get a spoon into. Unusual jars may be hard to find a lid for if you lose the original. A pretty jar that might have a use is an exception to this rule.

ANOTHER FREE PATTERN

Thought you guys might like another free pattern. I’ve added a pattern for 8ply ladies socks to the Free Patterns page.

HOLIDAYS

Here are a few pics of our holiday with friends at Blanchetown on the Murray River last week. We had a blast!

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

While I’m here I mustn’t forget to send a great big thankyou to everyone who has a link to me on their blog. You guys bring me more traffic. Also thanks to the people who have made me their friend at Ravelry. You can find me there as SarahGolder.

Have a great week everyone.

 

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!

IN THE GARDEN

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.

CHEAP CARDS AND WRAP FOR NEXT CHRISTMAS

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.