Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Early Spring Days At Home

Hello Lovelies!

Is it ever blustery and rainy here today. In fact it's been rather wet all week. It certainly does not feel like spring at the moment.

Yarn Shop News

I have been reviewing my Etsy store and have noticed that the fees are just becoming ridiculous! 

So I wanted to let you know that if you are a regular (or not so regular) fan of Under An English Sky Yarns, I will be slowly phasing out selling on Etsy and moving all future stock to my WEBSITE.

All new yarn updates will only be listed on the Website from now on.

I have updated the tab called "Yarn Shop" at the top of this page to navigate to my online website rather than Etsy.

If you have visited my website at all over the past few months, you may notice that there has been a bit of a change. 

There will be quite a lot of development going on there over the next few weeks and months as I finish my studies and focus my energy on building and developing my yarn business. The only reason I mention it here is because I know that some of my regular readers are also fellow knitters - so anything related to that will now live there (as opposed to Etsy).

Yarn Special for April

If you have not signed up to my monthly newsletter you may not know that I am offering a free mini-skein  -while stocks last - with all yarn orders this  month. 

Mini-skeins are great to use as contrasting heels and cuffs on your socks or if you have a few lying about already you can knit them up into a scrappy blanket. 


You may also notice if you visit my Yarn Website that I will be re-launching my Youtube podcast this month. I've wanted to do this for so long now but honestly - my studies have kept me from doing a lot of things that I would have really liked to have done! Once the new episode is uploaded, I will let you know for those who are interested.

If there is anything you would like to hear about in particular in those podcast episodes, please do let me know.

Other than that update, this will still be the usual place where my usual ponderings on faith, life and home will be posted.

In the Kitchen

It's that time of year again when my windowsills are packed with trays of little seedlings.

Are you the same?

I really love these simple little things that keep re-occuring year after year. They are like little anchor's to a simple life in the midst of the busyness that can so easily overtake us.

I currently have all manner of sunflowers germinating - they make me so happy and this year, I want loads scattered around the garden.

I have sugar snap peas and lettuce on the go, and I've planted the first early potatoe's. I really want to plant a lot more veg this year but the problem is space! I need to find more creative ways to use the garden space we have. 

I know a lot of people advocate allotments - and I love the idea of them BUT... it's a bit like gym for me, I do like to go but having to get into my car is a real deterrent.

Nonsense News

Now, just a quick little bit of nonsense news - because it's cute, and it's the small things that add joy to our everyday happenings.

This little chap does not belong to us. He is from one of the neighbouring houses but he loves my cat. He is literally obsessed with her - she on the other hand is not so obsessed.

At best, she tolerates him. He can often be found sitting at the bottom of the garden staring hopefully at my kitchen door. If he is feeling particularly brave, he will jump onto the conservatory roof and call her. He has even come to peer into my study window looking for her. Of course, when he sees me he freezes and pretends he is invisible.

I love these little garden antics. Have you ever wondered what goes on in the garden when we are not there?

A whole little drama can unfold - lots of little lives going about their business while we are not watching. 

It's only when you quietly sit and watch that you notice these things. Like a squabble between birds. Or a hedgehog having a drink from the pond. Or a visiting cat like this little one, hoping that his friend will come out and play.

Anyhoo lovelies, I hope that you are having a lovely week and I look forward to seeing you back here very soon.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Lets Catch Up!

 Hello my lovely friends. 

How I have missed you all! 

As regular readers will know, I decided to see if I could take my legal studies further and enrolled on the Bar Practice Course last year.

It has been an immense challenge and I can see why they say it is one of the most challenging courses you can do next to medicine. 

It has been all consuming in every single way. There have been times when I thought it might never end and where I felt that I was a mere shadow of the person I once was. 

But, the end is in sight and I am slowly gaining a bit of the old me back! 

Face to face tutorials have ended and we have entered exam season which feels more managable, now that I don't have lectures to prepare for. I even have time to venture out of my study and to start playing with yarn and stitching again and I'm reading a book that is in no way related to legal studies! YAY!!

The first thing I did this week was give my home a good old spring clean and lavished some Easter love on my home by putting up my Easter wreath and decorations - a seperate post on that!

Down the Garden Path

I've also spent a bit of time getting the garden spring-ready. What a blessing!

We made a trip to the garden centre over the weekend and bought 40 primrose plants to plant up all the window boxes on the deck and the various pots around the garden. Everything is looking Easter-egg Hunt ready!

I found this ladybug mooching about in the primroses this morning. I couldn't help thinking that being the Vernal Spring Equinox today that it seemed rather fitting. Isn't it just so sweet! I am going to make this a little nature journal entry at some point.

Before we leave the garden, I wanted to show you these sweet little clay mushrooms that my daughter made. It was a craft she did for the Homeschool Nature Study members. They are so beautiful and make the most wonderful potplant decorations, especially in the winter when everything is dormant. I'll share a little reel on Instagram later this week. I just love them!

Yarn Update

This morning I dashed out to my yarn supplier (I'm so lucky to live in the same city where they have their warehouse) and stocked up on some more fingering weight yarn. I will be dying up some lovely spring inspired colours, including some more Miss Potters Paintbox. I've been out of stock of that one for ages now so it will be really nice to dye it up again.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you will have seen that to celebrate the official start of spring I am giving you a 15% discount on everything in my Etsy shop. Just use the code SPRING15 when you check out.

On The Needles

Like I said earlier, I have not lifted a needle, hook or yarn since September last year. But yesterday I realised that I was in a pretty good place with my revision for my first exam which is happening tomorrow (Thursday) and I have been feeling a desperate need to pick up something creative once again - oh how I have MISSED beging able to create!

I had started the Dune blanket designed by the lovely Lucy from Attic 24 about 2 years back. Unfortuntatly having left working on it for so long I couldn't work out where I was ini the pattern so I ripped it all out and started again. You can see this project on my Ravelry page and connect with me there if you use Ravelry.

I spent a couple of glorious hours yesterday hooking away while watching Miss Marple - is there anything better?

Well lovelies, the sun has just peeked out and there is some blue sky showing so I'm going to pop out into the garden and make sure the birds are all fed - I may make a cup of tea and have a little stroll around the garden to see what is new since yesterday. This is such a great time of the year isn't it?

I shall see you back here very soon. Have a wonderful Spring Equinox!

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

A Simple Summer Garden Catch-Up

Hello lovelies, I hope that you are all well. 

How is June panning out for you? We have had weeks of the most wonderful warm sunny weather. I almost feel like I'm back in Cape Town it's been so sunny!

The Summer Garden

The garden is looking incredible at the moment. I've had to stake up the roses because they are so heavily laden with flowers. 

Everything is just exploding. 

I love how summer seems to take ages to arrive and then all of a sudden it wakes up and everything happens at once, almost as if it has to make up for lost time or get as much growing and performing in during our short summers.

The vegetables are doing equally as well. I don't grow a huge amount because I do not have the space. Everything I grow is in grow bags or pots. I have 3 recycled plastic bins with holes drilled into the bottom to grow potatoes. As you can see int he photography above they have just started flowering. I think we may be about 4 to 6 weeks away from harvesting this lot and I'm hoping for a good crop.

The tomatoes are growing alongside the mangetout and both are doing well. I planted two types of tomatoes this year, large salad tomatoes and small cherry tomatoes. Both have just started to flower so I will need to start feeding them weekly to support the formation and development of the fruit.

The mangetout started flowering about two weeks ago and we have already started harvesting the pea pods. I love throwing these in salads or eating them straight from the plant. They are so sweet and crunchy. The nice thing about mangetout is that you only need a few plants to give you an abundant harvest. We often cannot keep up with the harvest!

Finally I decided to try growing broccoli in pots on the deck this year. Some of the plants are doing really well so I will be interested to see what they produce this year. 

In an ideal world I would love a bit more space to dedicate to growing fruit and veg but as you can see you can still grow veg that you enjoy in containers. They just require a bit more watering and care.

Garden Drama's

We were sitting in garden having lunch over the weekend and heard and heard lots of crying coming from the ivy-clad fence. Our kitty had gone exploring and couldn't get down. We left her for a little while to see if she could figure it out but after the pointed eye-contact and meowing that she kept up the cat-father went to her rescue.

Attracting Birds to the Garden

Our garden is alive with birds which is so lovely to see. I have to say that with this past year being so all consuming with my degree studies I have not been very vigilant in keeping my bird feeders stocked which has resulted in a drop in feathered visitors.

However, word travels fast in the avian community and since finishing my degree I have once again switched my attention to those simple things that bring me so much joy and feeding the birds is one of them. I started diligently filling up the feeders twice a day and sprinkling food on the lawn for ground feeding birds.

And wouldn't you know...after just a week of regular feeding word got out and now we have scores of feathered friends visiting us.

In both these pictures you can see a little female blackbird. She has a damaged leg but she does not let that get her down. She visits numerous times a day and isn't a bit scared of us. She hops about on her good leg and even goes to have a bath in the pond.

We also have a rather tatty crow that visits each day, mostly to shout at his reflection in the summerhouse. Sadly he is looking worse for wear. He has lost almost all of his tummy feathers, his tail looks like it got caught in a lawn mower and he has a few bare patches on his wings. I feel really sorry for him but he is still flying about, eating and generally displaying his crow-like behavior so he can't be feeling to poorly.

On and Off the Needles

I cast on a pair of Hermoine's Everyday Socks while at the Buxton Wool Gathering. It's been a little slow going because I've been spending so much time gardening but I'm nearly there. 

One sock is complete and I'm about to turn the heel on the second sock. Once I've finished this project I think I am going to look to knit an autumnal jumper. I haven't actually knitted a big project in a long time to I'm quite looking forward to making something other than socks.

Yarn: The Magic Faraway Tree - Under An English Sky Yarns

I finished my Aestlight Shawl a few weeks ago.

I really enjoyed knitting this shawl. I last knitted it 10 years ago and gifted it to my step-mother when she was going through a really tough time after my fathers death. It's a beautiful simple pattern to knit if you have some experience in knitting. I'm really looking forward to wearing it this autumn.

I finally bought some proper blocking mats and pins to block this shawl. Previously I've used a towel and dressmakers pins which tended to yield mixed results. After seeing how well the shawl blocked I can't believe that I have waited this long to purchase them.

Having the correct tools is an interesting point to consider. One of the beautiful things about knitting is that it is a useful craft that does not require a huge amount of investment in expensive tools. 

Once you have your needles you are pretty much good to go. I am very much a make-do-and-mend person and tend to try and do things in age-old ways which is lovely but sometimes treating yourself to a tool of the trade that makes getting the job done more effectively makes all the difference. For me it halved the time of pinning the shawl out and it gave a much more satisfying shape showcasing the design to it's absolute best which is what I want after having spend so much time in knitting it up.

After getting such a great result I will definitely be knitting more shawls to wear over the autumn and winter months.

Well lovelies, I hope that you are all having a marvelous week. If you received my newsletter this month don't forget to take advantage of the discount code for any purchases made in my Etsy Shop this month. That code expires on the 30th of June so you still have a week and a bit to use that.

Blessings to you all...

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Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Weekending - Wonderful Wales and Wool

 It is finally done! I have officially finished my law degree and now I have about 6 weeks to wait until I find out how I have done.

I knew that one day I would reach this point but honestly there were days in these last few weeks where it felt like I was trying to climb a mountain with bricks attached to my feet! The feeling was not helped with all the fantastic sunny weather that we had in May for I was stuck in my study researching and writing away while my lovely family were outdoors soaking up the sunshine.

It was with great joy that I submitting my final assignment late last week. We decided to celebrate this weekend with a visit to a National Trust property.

This is one of our most favorite things to do at the weekend and we have many happy family memories of visiting wonderful places and imagining the lives and times of the people who once lived in these grand houses.

We decided to head into Wales and visit a property called Plas Newydd. The weather was absolutely gorgeous so we decided that we would slap on some sunblock, pack a picnic and enjoy an alfresco lunch in the gardens. 

The house is right on the Menai Strait which is the channel that separates
 Anglesey from the mainland of north-western wales which means that there was a lovely cool breeze cooling things down a bit.

Apparently, there are lots of red squirrels here. I have never seen a red squirrel as the grays have done a good job of relegating them to the more northern reaches of the UK. Sadly we didn't spot any but we enjoyed our picnic in the arboretum.  They have a spectacular collection of magnificent trees and we enjoyed watching a little blackbird catching insects for it's lunch as we enjoyed our own picnic.

We then took a wander through the Italian Terraced Gardens which must have been spectacular in it's day. I was a little disappointed that some of the water features were not working and the gardens looked like they could have had a bit more attention given to the planting.

Walking back to the car we walked through the the wildflower meadow which was previously the cricket oval. Imagine having your own cricket oval growing up! I always think that these places must have been incredible childhood homes. Of course, I wouldn't like to have foot the bill for such a home!

We are so lucky to live in a country that has such a rich heritage of places to visit right on your doorstep! I don't think I will every tire of exploring and discovering new places.

As most you will know, my yarns are inspired by our lives lived Under An English Sky. I draw inspiration from the childhood literature shared with my daughters while they were growing up, places we visit, the countryside, seasons and British folklore.

I recently added a few new colourways to my Etsy Shop that were inspired by Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree series. As we sat on the grass in the arboretum enjoying our picnic and being surrounded by so many magnificent towering trees I said how it reminded me of those lovely stories and the children's adventures. My husband and I recalled how magical those books were to us as children and how they fueled our imaginations. 

As I lay on my back on the rolling grass which was dotted with buttercups and gazed up into the branches of the trees into the blue sky beyond, my creative mind started making knitting plans for two of my colourways. Inspiration strikes at the most strangest of times but it is usually when I am surrounded by nature and feeling relaxed.

Toffee For Moonface is a lovely soft,speckled yarn full of yellow and toffee coloured tones. I thought that it might make a lovely autumnal sweater. I have the Tourist Sweater saved to my Ravelry list. I think that it would look so pretty knitted up in this yarn. I think I will cast that on at the weekend (loving all this free time I now have!).

The other yarn that I want to cast on is View From the Hayloft which was inspired by Robert Louise Stevenson's poem of the same name.

When I read the poem, I pictured exactly this sort of wildflower, grassy meadow that we walked through. I pictured it being hand-mown by scythe in Robert Louise Stevenson's day. It would all left to dry in the summer sun before being packed into the hayloft ready for the winter.

I think this would make a lovely lace shawl or perhaps these stronger colours would look nicer for the sweater pattern and use Toffee for Moonface for the shawl. That's the problem now, I have too many things I want to knit! But it's a nice problem to have. I like to knit all year round, I'm not a seasonal knitter. I want to have new knitwear ready for autumn which will come around soon enough!

Anyhoo, we had a lovely time weekending this weekend. If the weather holds through this next weekend I think we will be finding a new place to explore! We have a lot of exploring to catch up on after this year of sacrifice!

Wishing you all a fabulous week!

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Saturday, May 20, 2023

A Wonderful Weekend at the Buxton Wool Gathering

 Its been 10 days since the Buxton Wool Gathering. I haven't managed to update my website or even get here to have a chat about it as I have some pretty intense deadlines to meet for my degree but...I thought that I would treat myself to an hour to a cup of tea with you here today before I get back to the law books!

Setting Up at the Buxton Wool Gathering

Buxton Wool Gathering was, as you might know, Under An English Sky Yarns very first show. I really had no idea what to expect other than I would probably come away from the weekend having learned a lot for the next show!

Fortunatly my husband has done quite a few trade shows in his time so at least I had his experience and advice to hand. The weeks prior to the  show were frantic with dyeing up hundreds of skeins of yarn and sourcing all my props and gridwalls. Thankfully everything arrived in good time and soon it was time to pack up the car and make the hour and a half journey from Chester to Buxton.

The drive is just exquisite and I have to say that our daily journey over the course of the weekend was an absolute joy. We love to spend time together driving through Britains beautiful countryside, chatting about our dreams and hopes for the future. The peak district is just gorgeous. Having lived on the edge of the peak district at one point, the drive was a lovely trip down memory lane!

The venue for the wool gathering is just lovely. We had been allocated a lovely stand with the large glass windows looking out over the park as our backdrop - perfect for our nature loving souls!

The setup was so much fun! It was an opportunity to get our creative juices going and overall I was very happy with our stand.

We had taken the smallest possible stand as we were really just dipping our toes into the world of yarn shows but I think next time we will go for a bigger stand and have a lot more yarn for people to squish and choose from. 

There were definitly times when we could have had more space for people. As is usual, there were times that were quiet and then times when our stall was so packed it was difficult for people to get to the yarn! A nice problem to have.

I have to say that the thing we loved the most about the whole experience was meeting so many wonderful people! There is somethign about yarny folk, we all share a love of yarn, are all creative and by nature I think we are a nuturing community of people. And that makes for a lot of loveliness!

We came away from this lovely weekend having learned quite a few things:

  • We really love doing shows and will certainly be attending more
  • We loved meeting and speaking with people who appreciate not only our yarns but the craft. So many talented people out there!
  • We need more yarn and a bigger stand next time!
  • I want to knit more!

Collecting Sea Glass Yarn from Under An English Sky Yarns

On that last point, the last few years have been so busy with my studies that I have often neglected to take time to do some of the things that bring me joy. It's so easy to just do what you have to do and not take time to do things that you want to do.

Knitting helps to slow you down. It's very theraputic, I don't have to tell you that,  I'm sure you already know. But when I looked around the venue and saw how many vendors were displaying their beautiful yarns all knit up I was really struck with how I have neglected to make time for my hobbies. 

I'm pleased to say that so far I am sticking to my resolution and have finished a shawl, started another pair of Hermoine's Everyday Socks (my fav sock pattern) and later today, after a couple of hours of necessary research for one of my final assignements, will treat myself to picking out a new pattern and yarn!

To those lovely ladies who came and said hi...it was so lovely to meet you in person. I think my highlight has to be finally being able to meet and hug the lovely Michelle (@handknittedwoolies on IG) in person after many years of us being 'bloggy' friends. 

I have a few FO's and WIP's to share with you but that will have to wait for another post!