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Yarn Reviews Overload 20 December, 2007

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

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

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

Selby’s yarn picks

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

Live 2 knit Ava

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

Easy to find? Yes

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Absolutely definitely yes

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

Silk alpaca yarn

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

Easy to find? Yes

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Absolutely yes

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

100% alpaca

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

Easy to find? Not so easy in Australia

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Yes

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

Luna park yarn

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

Easy to find? No

Expensive? Reasonable

Worth the cost/effort? No

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

Habu

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

Easy to find? Not really

Expensive? Yes

Worth the cost/effort? Most definitely yes!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

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

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

Sarah.

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Christmas recipes 13 December, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,Travel,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:30 am
Tags: , , ,

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.

CHRISTMAS PUNCH

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

SAGE AND ONION STUFFING

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!

MAKE YOUR OWN GIFT TAGS

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

HOLIDAYS

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

IN OTHER NEWS

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.

 

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

HARVESTING CORIANDER SEEDS

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’S YARN PICKS

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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.

IN OTHER NEWS

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.

Sarah.

 

Start thinking about gifts 1 November, 2007

Filed under: Craft,knitting,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 5:48 pm

Hi there everybody,

Now that it’s November, it’s time to start thinking about the making of Christmas gifts. Many gifts take a fair bit of preparation time, especially if you are going to try and knit everyone in the family a pair of socks. Gifts that involve drying herbs and flowers and cooking also need plenty of preparation time. Since there’s less than 2 months until gift-giving season, now is a good time to make a list of the things you’d like to make. To that end, this week I’ll give some instructions for making pot pourri and pomanders, two things that need about six weeks to complete. Real knitters know that knitting doesn’t stop when the weather warms up so there’ll be a yarn review as well. (Actually, I do more knitting in the hottest part of summer that other times of the year. It’s way too hot to go outside so I sit inside by the air conditioner, watch the Australian Open tennis and knit.)

MAKE YOUR OWN POT POURRI

Pot pourri is a fragrant mix of dried flowers and spices that is put around the house and in wardrobes to be both decorative and air perfuming. I like to make it myself with a mixture of flowers and herbs from my garden, some purchased whole spices, dried citrus rind and a little essential oil or perfumed oil.

Pot pourri

Drying the flowers and herbs

Pick a mixture of flowers and herbs from your garden. I used lavender, rosemary, santolina and rose petals. You could also use lemon balm, thyme, lemon verbena and calendula flowers. Tie the herbs up with string and hang somewhere to dry. The rose petals can be dried in a paper or string bag. I find the bags that onions come in to be best. I don’t usually have enough rose petals at one time so I let some dry and then pick some more and so on until I have enough.

To make dried citrus rind, peel strips from citrus fruit with a vegetable peeler. Using a needle, thread the strips onto a string and hang to dry.

Drying the ingredients for pot pourri will take a week to 10 days.

Herbs and flowers for pot pourri
Drying herbs and flowers

Once the herbs and flowers are nice a dry it’s time to mix everything together. Strip the leaves from the rosemary and santolina and cut the flower heads from the lavender. Put them all in a large bowl with the rose petals and citrus peel.

Other ingredients

Other ingredients you might like to add to your pot pourri are star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ground spices. The whole spices add interesting texture and the ground spices add significantly to the fragrance. The other vital ingredient is some essential oil or perfumed oil. The oil will be absorbed into the dried ingredients and keep the whole thing smelling good for a long time. You only need a few drops of your favourite. To my mixture I added 3-4 drops each of orange, lavender and rosewood essential oil.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Put the mixture into an airtight container and store it in a dark place for 4-6 weeks to allow the fragrances to develop and mingle. It is then ready to be packed up as a gift or displayed in bowls around the house.

MAKE YOUR OWN POMANDER

A pomander is usually hung in a wardrobe or cupboard and serves a very similar purpose to pot pourri in that it is both decorative and sweet smelling. The other benefit of a pomander is that the smell will keep moths away from your clothes. They are quite amazing things to make and you’d think it couldn’t work but it does.

What you need

An orange, a handful or two of whole cloves, a knitting needle or skewer, 1 tablespoon of mixed ground spices, a couple of metres of satin or velvet ribbon, a pin (dressmakers pin) .

Take your orange and start sticking the whole cloves into it. If the skin of the orange is a bit tough, poke holes for the cloves with the knitting needle or skewer first. Put the cloves fairly close to each other, not quite touching. (Have a look at the picture). When the whole orange is well covered with cloves, roll it in the ground spices. Put the orange in a paper bag and leave it in a dry dark place for 4-6 weeks. The whole thing will shrink and shrivel and dry, the clove oil preserving the orange inside. When it is good and dry, attach some ribbon as pictured. Secure the ribbon with the pin in the bottom of the pomander. You can now give it as a traditional gift or hang it in your wardrobe.

In the photo below the pomander on the left has been in my wardrobe for a few years. The one on the right is in progress.

Pomander making

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

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Live 2 Knit Claudette. 100% Mongolian Cashmere, fingering weight, 55g/375metres, $30.90.

This is the kind of yarn that you buy just so you can hold it next to your cheek and pat it. Pure luxury. I have had the pleasure to knit with and feel a scarf made from it. It is very soft and has a lovely halo when knitted. It is sold as a 4ply yarn but I think it’s closer to a 3ply when knitted up. It has a slight tendency to split so don’t use your pointiest needles. There is a very wide range of hand dyed colours available so everyone should find a colour they like. It isn’t cheap but you certainly get what you pay for with this yarn. This is special occasion luxury yarn, but don’t hide it away just for special occasions! At just over $30 it’s still cheaper then buying a readymade luxury cashmere scarf or going to Mongolia to find one! I think this yarn is best suited for lace shawls and scarves or small luxury beaded hand warmers that don’t need to stand up to hard wearing. You can find it and other beautiful yarns at Live 2 Knit.

That’ll do for this week. My trip to England looms closer (I leave on the 13th) and I’ve got Christmas knitting to do and a sock knitting class to organise. For those living in or near Adelaide, don’t forget the Craft and Quilt Fair is on 8-11 November at the Showground.

Have an excellent crafty week. Sarah.

 

Make Your Own Curtains 18 October, 2007

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

Hi everybody, I’m back.

The last two weeks have been pretty busy. My Dad came over from NSW to stay for a few days, Matthew had a whole week of Karate training and a tournament, we almost finished having the house rewired and we went camping at Burra Creek Gorge for a few days. I got very little knitting done and I’ve been missing my blog. Coming up in the next few weeks there’ll be more yarn and book reviews, I’ll give some ideas for Christmas gift making, talk about Ravelry and report on the garden. This week we have soup, curtains and Heirloom Cotton.

Let’s get started with the curtains

MAKE YOUR OWN CURTAINS

Curtains can either be very expensive to get exactly what you want or cheap for readymade ones that don’t quite fit and are produced in few colours and patterns. Sewing your own gives you the best of both; they are inexpensive and you can make them just the right size and colour to suit you. I’ve just finished some for our spare room/office and over the past few years I’ve made curtains for every room of our house in various styles. You don’t need any special equipment either. Don’t be afraid of making curtains; they are much easier to sew than clothes!

Styles of curtains A good curtain book will tell you about all the many ways of doing curtains but here are the three I’ve used in my house.

Rod and clips: these are just 2 hemmed rectangles of fabric attached to the rod with clip-on curtain rings. These rings clip onto the fabric and then slide onto the rod, which is a thin powder coated metal rod. You can buy the rods and clips at Spotlight and they are a very cheap and easy way to do curtains. I have these curtains in my kitchen. Another advantage is that they are easy to unclip for washing. Hem the sides and then the top. Hem the bottom last. Clip the rings on at regular intervals and then slide onto the rod.
Rod and pocket: again using a powder coated metal rod in my laundry but you can use any kind of rod such as wooden dowel, a strong string, whatever. A rectangle of fabric is hemmed at the sides and then sewn over at the top to form a tube. The rod slides into the tube. Hem the bottom last. For a little frill at the top, stitch along the top of the tube, about 2cm in from the top fold. The rod slides under that stitching.

Gathered: rod and clip and rod and pocket designs are gathered as they squeeze up on the rod. They are best for less formal decorating. Gathered curtains are gathered up with gathering tape to fit the rod neatly. They look stylish and neat and a good for more formal decorating. These are a little trickier than rod and pocket or rod and clip designs and use a little more equipment. I have these kind of curtains in the lounge room, the office and the bedroom.

Making gathered curtains

What you need: fabric, sewing machine, pins, scissors, gathering tape, curtain hooks, rod and rings, tape measure, sewing thread, iron and ironing board.

Work out how wide each curtain needs to be. Curtains should extend about 20cm past the side of the window. Measure how wide your window is, add 20cm for each side and then divide that by 2 if you want 2 curtains. Now you need to decide how gathered you want the curtains to be. If lightly gathered, you’ll need the fabric to be about twice as wide as the finished curtain, if heavily gathered about 3 times as wide. Add about 10cm to allow for the hems.

Now work out how long each curtain needs to be. The top of the curtain should be about 20cm above the top of the window and the length is up to you. Measure your window, starting 20cm above the top of the window and down to where you want the bottom to be. Add about 30cm for hems and gathering area.

Now you can go and buy your fabric. While you’re buying the fabric, you’ll also need to buy gathering tape and hooks. The gathering tape needs to be as long as the curtains are wide plus some extra. Tape comes in different widths and I like to use one that is about 7cm wide. The packets of hooks have information on the back saying how far apart the hooks need to be and then how many hooks you’ll need for your size curtain.

Now get to work: Cut the fabric to the correct size. Iron and then sew a hem down each side of the curtain. Your hen should be folded over twice so no raw edges are showing and be about 2cm wide. Iron over the top of the curtain. The first fold can be about 2cm and then the next fold needs to be as wide as the gathering tape plus 2cm. Pin the gathering tape onto the fold, with the bottom of the tape close to the where the hem will be sewn down. Note that there is a right side and a wrong side of the tape. The side you want showing has extra bits of tape where the hooks hook in. Sew the gathering tape and the hem at the same time, through all thicknesses. Sew the top of the gathering tape in place. Gather up the curtains by pulling the threads in the tape until the curtains are the right size for the window. Tie a knot or a bow in the threads so that they don’t come loose. Don’t cut these treads. When you need to wash the curtains, they will wash better if you can ungather them. Even out the gathers along the threads. Put the hooks into the tape at regular intervals. Once the rod and rings has been installed by a handy person, put each hook through the little ring at the bottom of each curtain ring. Do not hem the bottom yet! Allow your curtains to hang in position for a few days to allow the fabric to drop. Then you will know exactly where to put the bottom hem. Sew a deep hem, about 5cm along the bottom of the curtains and then hang them back up. Done!

This is what the top of gathered curtains look like.

Curtain top and rod

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

Curtain tape, hem and hook

Here’s the bottom hem

Curtain hem

Tips

Any leftover fabric can be used for tie backs or matching cushions. If you want to add a blackout fabric to your curtains, pin the blackout fabric to the main fabric before you begin and treat the two fabrics as one. It is especially important to let them hang for a few days before hemming as the fabrics may drop differently. If using patterned fabric, buy extra so that you can match each curtain. The people in the shop where you buy your materials usually know lots about curtains so don’t be shy about asking questions.

UNDERGROUND SOUP

No it’s not soup that you eat on a London train or illegal, black-market soup, it’s soup made from vegetables that grow underground. I make it when the vegies are in season. It’s healthy and tasty and I call it Underground Soup.

What you need: 2 tbs olive oil, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips, 2 potatoes, 1 sweet potato, 1 litre water, 2 tsp stock powder, salt and pepper.

Roughly chop all the vegetables. Heat the oil gently in a large pan and then add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion and garlic gently for a few minutes. Add all the other ingredients. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the vegetables are very tender. Allow to cool slightly and then blend using a stab mixer or a blender until the soup is nice and smooth. Taste and add as much salt and pepper as you like. Reheat the soup gently and serve with a dollop of cream or yoghurt. Mmmmm.

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

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

Heirloom 4 ply cotton

This is an excellent plain 4ply cotton, very smooth and much softer than other 4ply cottons available. There is nothing fancy about it, making it perfect for a wide variety of projects. I like to use it doubled for dishcloths and it makes excellent childrens’ cotton clothes. For adults it makes lovely cool summer clothes, either knitted or crocheted. Its softness and very slight loft mean that it never looks stringy. It comes in 16 colours but most of them are pale pastels and not very inspiring. However, the creamy off-white and the natural beigey-brown are lovely. You can expect to pay around $5 a ball, which is more expensive than other 4ply cottons but worth it for the extra softness. I found some discontinued colours at my LYS recently for $3.75, so some dishcloth knitting is in order or perhaps some facewashers.

BURRA CREEK GORGE

We hadn’t been camping for so long that when Matthew had an unexpected week off work, we decided to head off for a few days. We were planning on heading down to Newland Head, down near Victor Harbor but when we saw the weather report we changed our minds and went north instead. Strong winds, cold and rain are not at all pleasant anywhere near the Southern Ocean. Going the other direction seemed a better option. It was still windy and cold at Burra Creek Gorge but at least we could expect our tent to stay pegged in the ground. Burra Creek is about 25kms south of the town of Burra and about 2 and a half hours’ drive north of Adelaide. It is an old copper mining area and very beautiful in a bare Australian kind of way. The creek winds its way through a gorge full of ancient river red gums, tiny wild flowers and reeds. The soil is red and the water in the creek is very clear. There are all kinds of birds and sleepy lizards lazing around. Sleepy lizards are not just lizards that happen to be sleeping, they are actually called sleepy lizards. They are fat, slow sort of creatures with interesting markings and stumpy tails. They are also called stumpy-tail lizards. These two were lying on the road and crawled away so slowly that I had time to find the camera, jump out of the car, and take their picture before they found a rock to hide behind. Our few days away were exceedingly relaxing and reviving. I was glad to get home and have a shower though!

That’s it for this week. I’ll leave you with some photos of Burra Creek Gorge and some sleepy lizards.

Sleepy Lizards

Burra Creek Gorge

Burra Creek Gorge

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

Near Burra

 

Learn to knit socks! 15 October, 2007

Filed under: knitting,Sock knitting — makeityourown @ 3:42 pm

Hey everybody

just a little reminder about my sock knitting class. The details are now up on the Craft and Quilt Fair site and you can also book there. The class is on Tuesday 6th November from 10am to 1pm at the Adelaide Showground. You can learn how to knit with double pointed needles, how to turn a heel and the thing that scares everyone: grafting. The class costs $45 and the materials cost $15 and that includes yarn and needles and patterns for you to take home.  Be quick! Classes are limited to 15 people.

 

Taking a break 27 September, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 9:11 am

Just a little note to say that I’m taking a break for a couple of weeks. I might post a thought or two but there’ll be none of the usual useful stuff. When I return there’ll be more yarn reviews, book reviews, garden reports and craft projects to get you ready for Christmas gift giving!

Sarah.