Tuesday, May 14, 2024

A New Bible Study and a Walk Back In Time

A week ago today I wrote my final exam and it feels so SO good to be done. I've been spending this past week getting stuck into the things I've put aside for so long. 

My husband and I also took took two days to visit the Yorkshire Dales which was wonderful. I am feeling refreshed!

I have also started a new Bible Study which I am loving so I thought I would share it with you because when you find a great, biblicaly sound resource, it's too good not to share!

Years ago, I came across Melanie Newton of Joyful Walk Ministries. She writes the most wonderful Bible studies which are Christ-focused, grace-based and scripture rich rather than just commentary filled.

Instead of her studies really depending on a flashy speaker, her studies really encourage the reader to dig deep into the Word for yourself and to depend on Jesus to help you apply what you learn.

The other thing I love about her studies is that she offers them for free. Oh yes, you can buy them printed etc but she offers them free because it's the Word of God! 

Currently I am working through the God-Dependent Woman: Life Choices from Second Corinthians. In my last podcast I spoke a little bit on empty next and seasonal life changes and how, to my deep regret, I forged on ahead with my own plans. I really want to get back to being a God-dependant woman and not to just rush headlong into things. 

This study is inspiring me to better understand God's character and inspiring me to trust in Him, to let go of my need to control everything and let Him work in and through me.

So I'll leave that there - if you are looking for a solid Christ-focused bible study, check out her website and pick a study that is relevant to your own life circumstances right now. Let me know which one you choose!

 Now that I am no longer chained to my desk and computer, my daughter and I have decided to take a day each week or at least every few weeks and visit some of our favourite National Trust properties.

I have to say that it is rather nice going out during the week - the weekend's can often be very busy. We also like to re-visit properties and I think my husband finds that a bit boring, so I have the perfect companion when we set out on our adventures because she is just like me and loves to re-visit places we love.

This property is the industrial revolution property Quarry Bank Mill. We have visited this property at least 3 times prior to this visit and honestly, I'm going again when summer is in full swing! I love the gardens, the trees, the space. 

My favourite part of this property has to be the Apprentice House built to house the child workers who were given food and board in exchange for their labour. 

Up to 90 children stayed in this house so things would have been very cramped and certainly not as idyllic as it looks like now.

There is an orchard just along the path and to the left. It's not a large orchard but it has at least a dozen fruit trees. Off to the side of the orchard is a little pond where ducks can take a dip.

I love the veggie patch in front of the house. Being an enthusiastic gardener myself, I have to say that I am envious of the space to have such a lovely kitchen garden. I particularly liked this sign - it reminded me that wanted to make a little Peter Rabbit blue coat for my garden for the summer months. I think it would add a bit of whimsy to my English cottage inspired garden.

Across the way from the Apprentice House is this lovely field which was full of wild grasses, dandelions and clover. We just stood admiring the field and trees in their early spring splendour resting under a pretty impressive skyscape!

Isn't it just beautiful, peaceful and soothing to the soul! I do love being out in nature.

As usual, I found the most interesting and best room in the house to be the kitchen. I just love a good kitchen! I find them to be quite simply, comforting and inspirational. I'm sure I say this everytime I share a National Trust visit with you - but it really is the heart of the home. 

From this room people are nourished, loved, cared for. 

Conversations happen, caring happens, loving happens, living happens.

And of course, I could not leave Quarry Bank without some of their very own woven cotton woven on their heritage looms. 

I think that I'm going to use this fabric in a little wall-hanging quilt. I will combine it with some of my own little stitchery designs which speak of hearth and home. If it works with any degree of success, I will share the little stitchery designs with you.

Well, that's the end of our little trip to Quarry Bank Mill. I hope you enjoyed coming along. Until next time... may you have a peaceful and blessed week.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Spring Beginnings - Under An English Sky Podcast Relaunched!

 I am so excited to finally bring you the relaunch of the Under An English Sky Podcast.

It has been a long time coming and as I explain in the video, the timing has not been right until now.

This episode is especially long (just over an hour) because there was a lot to catch up on since my last episode 3 years ago. Wow! I cannot believet hat it has been that long already.

Future episodes will not be as long. I will aim to keep them at around 45 minutes and I plan to have some much shorter chat videos of around 10 minutes each.

If you are wondering what sort of things I chat about, this episode covers the following topics:

  • Empty Nest Syndrom and dealing with the question of "What is Next" as you move into a new life season.
  • Two projects off the needles
  • Projects I am working on right now
  • Quilting and and what I am working on
  • I am sharing two books from my crafty book shelf, one on knitting and one on quilting.
  • Spring Yarn Inspiration - two spring inspired yarns from my collection and the stories behind them.

The podcast will focus on things I'm passionate about like being a homemaker, traditional home crafts, knitting and dying yarn, quilting, stitching, nature journaling and seasonal living. 

I do hope that you enjoy it. If you do, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and hitting the little bell icon to recieve notifications when new videos are published.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

April Reflections

Hello my lovely friends!

I hope that you are all well. Apart from being exceptionally wet, how has April been for you? I hope that you have managed to find plenty of opportunities to appreciate the beauty in the small moments that present themselves to us each day.

Now that the bulk of my exams are over (only one more left!) I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and I have relished just resting in the moment when these simply, small moments present themselves. 

Like standing for a few minutes to take in the carpet of bluebells at the foot of a tree before we headed into church one Sunday morning.

I absolutly LOVE bluebell season, don't you? 

Coming from South Africa we didn't have bluebells. As a child my favourite author was Enid Blyton and she had a gift for describing the English countryside so I held vivid pictures in my mind of what carpets of bluebells might look like.

When we moved to the UK, I made sure that we visited our local woodland that very first spring to see this purple spectacular. I was not disappointed. 

13 years later and I still uphold the tradition of taking a woodland walk during bluebell season and they still bring delight to my soul!

On my needles, I am knitting a sweet little lacy baby dress using a skein of Miss Potters Paintbox. I think the colours are very springlike and I am loving working with this yarn. Don't you just love the sweet little forget-me-not flowers? I think they compliment the yarn quite nicely.

I've just dyed up some more Miss Potters Paintbox so if you are looking for a pretty spring yarn to knit with you can grab a skein in my shop now. 

I have spoken about this in my podcast but if you are not a podcasty type person I'll mention it here. I am moving away from Etsy. Their fees have become ridiculous. They charge a commission on everything from the listing fees, sale fees, and they even charge a fee on the postage and packaging - which is ridiculous because that does not come to me at all.

I still have my Etsy shop open but I am no longer updating it with new stock. I am now selling all my yarns from my Website. So that is where you will see anything new that comes along and any shop updates.

I wanted to show you my favourtie farm shop. It's called The Hollies and is rather pricey so we don't go often, but every now and again we head out into the countryside and enjoy a little wander through the shop and pick up a few of our favourite treats. It even looks lovely on a grey dreary day.

April has been a month of getting back to doing things that bring us joy, and one of those things is visiting National Trust properties. We love heading out after church on a Sunday and taking a walk through a bit of English history.

This past weekend we paid a visit to Attingham Park in Shropshire. Pictured above is the groundsmans cottage - which I could TOTALLY live in! The manor house is significantly bigger but I like cozy.

In fact, as we walked through the manor house, which is lovely, the bit that drew me most, as it always does, was the 'downstairs' areas.

For some reason the kitchen and servants quarters are just so much more interesting for me.

Perhaps its the connection I have with the kitchen being a hive of industry, a place where traditional homekeeping skills are cherished.

I can picture women wearing aprons gathering around and chatting as they cook up delicious meals. Or sitting by the hearth with a basket of mending.

I am absolutly romanticising it - I know - but for me the kitchen symbolises the heart of the home, as it has been through time.

I especially loved the copper pots in this kitchen and how all the ingrediants were laid out in brown paper bags. What is it about brown paper bags that harkens back to a simpler time I wonder.

I loved how the National Trust had used sprigs of lilac from the garden througout the house. We are lucky enough to have a lilac tree at the bottom of our garden and I too have got vases of lilac in my kitchen right now.

I wonder if, 100 years ago, the staff were picking vases of lilacs for the house. Although time and space may seperate us from bygone eras, we are still the same aren't we?

We love, laugh, cry, experience hard times and good times, and we pick flowers to adorn our homes.

 This property is a good hour away from our home but often think that the drive is half of the joy really. The weather was really quite nice on Sunday and it was lovely just to drive through the countryside. England is truly specatular in Spring!

Very happily, April saw me move into my very own sewing/craft room. I don't know why I didn't do it before now to be honest. It wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind until about a month ago, while working in the garden with my husband, the thought suddenly struck me out of the blue.

Our youngest daughter moved into her own flat two years ago and she has a huge room which is completley unused. The only ones to use it are the cats and I tend to fight a losing battle to keep them out and off the bed!

Meanwhile, right next door in a much smaller room, which I have utilised as my study, all my fabric, yarn, sewing machine etc sits packed away as there was no space for it to be easily accessible.

Still a lot of decorating to do - you can see we have started patching up the walls

"Why are we not utilising the space in our house in a way that suites us"? I wondered.

There is no good reason. Our eldest daughter commandeered the summer house which was earmarked to be the sewing room - funny how that happens - and for as long as I can remember, I have wanted a dedicated sewing room. Where I can have my sewing maching out at all times and my yarn and fabric around me.

So that is what we did. The office has become the guest room (it still fits my daughters double bed with space to spare) and I have a lovely large sewing room.

Don't you just love the bright rug? I loved how it looked like a quilt and thos colours! It's the boldest colour choice I think I have ever made.

I plan on making this a very cozy and creative space. I have so many things I want to make for it and so many ideas floating about in my head. I must actually sketch them out otherwise I will just get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything!

Just to let you know, I have relaunched my podcast. The first episode is very long - just over an hour - as there is so much to catch up on. It's not out yet as it is taking an absolute age to upload to YouTube. I seem to be having a real issue with it uploading. I'm on my third attempt over two days! Grrrr!

I will probably let you know on Facebook and Instagram once it has finally published.

In this episode I am talking about:

  • Empty Nest Syndrome and thoughts on navigating this change of season and thinking about the "what's next" question.
  • Sharing some of my finished knitting projects
  • showing you what I have on the needles right now.
  • Sharing two lovely crafty books that I have on my bookshelf
  • Spring yarn inspiration
  • and a little chat about quilting.

I'm going to end this post with a lovely view of the little art shed which sits behind our pond and and the apple tree, which is blossoming beautifully! Last year we harvested 5 apples - I'm hoping this year it will be more.

That's it from me today. I hope that you are all having a lovely week and I look forward to seeing you back here very soon.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Perfect Day...

Have you ever watched the intro to Beatrix Potters Peter Rabbit series? Oh it's just lovely! One of my favorite things. It opens with 'Beatrix Potter' painting in the Cumbrian countryside... it's all just so perfectly English and shows exactly what our lovely countryside is all about. Here, I'll show you...

I love how the rain washes the countryside clean - you can almost smell the rain hitting the earth. Well today is one of those days here in my bit of England. The scent's and scenes instantly conjured up memories of the clip shown above and of the song 'Perfect Day' by Miriam Stockley - which is just heavenly to listen too.

Wanna hear it?...

I love how puddles form and great big clouds dress the expanse of sky...

I love how the rain sits on the spring flowers, delicately balancing and dressing each leaf and petal with little 'diamonds'.

I love how it feels when I am inside looking out of the rain-speckled windows with a hot cup of tea cupped in  my hands, the steam gently drifting up and touching my face.


what a perfect day...

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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.