Thursday, September 23, 2021

Happy Fall - What's On...and off...My Needles

Oh my gosh! This hazy autumn weather is JUST my cup of tea! I love it! It's inspiring my creativity and I have been dyeing yarn, knitting, baking, cooking, and doing all my favorite autumn things this week!

Yesterday of course, was the autumn equinox! So officially... Happy Fall to you! 

I have finally got something off the needles! This sweet free pattern from This Handmade Life on Ravelry was really fun to knit. It's called Sweet Woodruff and was very easy to knit. I didn't use her toe pattern, I chose to use my standard favourite toe instead. I used one of my own yarns called Brooding Storm which is currently out of stock but I think this would look very pretty knit up in "Along the Tow Path".

Still on the needles is another Handmade Life pattern called Wood Nymph. For this pair I am using my "Down in the Meadow" colourway. Now I have only just realised that I have knitted this pattern before for my daughter using my "Bracken Woodland" yarn.

Now this kinda makes me want to frog my current knit and try out a new pattern. This is a very pretty pattern and easy to knit up but I quite like trying new patterns out. So in light of the fact that I haven't got very far I think I will rip back to the cuff and find something new to try.

Someting completely new that I have just cast on is the Aisling Shawl. My eldest daughter has been wanting me to knit this for her for about 4 years now. Honeslty I think it could take me a while to get through at my current knitting rate but I've made a start at least!

It's very lacy which means lots of concentration is needed. Up to now I just have not had the brain capacity - but that seems to be changing so hopefully it will be a pleasure to knit up. I'm using Drops fable in as the main colour and my own yarn, I think this was Fireside which I dyed up years ago. The closest to this that I have in my Etsy shop at the moment would be "Squirrel Nutkin Goes A Nutting".

I have been dying up some new autumnal colours which I aim to get into my Etsy Shop in the next week or so.

I'm loving the colours! They are all very much 'me' and appeal to my love of the season. I never dye huge amounts of each colour as I am and plan to remain a very small dye studio. I know some dyers dye huge amounts of each colour but I just don't have the space, time or capacity to do so. That is why you will see some colours go out of stock and come back seasonally.

Anyhoo lovelies, that's what I'm up to knitting wise. What are you up to? Creating anything lovely? Do drop me a note and let me know.

Blessings to you all.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Preparing for the New Season

Hello my lovely friends, I hope that you are all keeping well. This week I have a whole glorious week off work which means I can do exactly what I like. Today I have spent the whole morning giving my home a really deep clean - windows and all!

We seem to muddle by doing 'surface' chores whilst we are all working so it was good to get stuck in and prepare the house for the coming winter months.

I've had the gas engineer in to service the gas fireplace and the chimney sweep in to clean the wood-burning stove. The latter was a lovely chap but the bearer of bad news...the stove needs to have a lot of things fixed before it can be deemed safe to use. We were so lucky that nothing went awry last winter as we merrily used it to heat the snug and kitchen. Turns out that it is non-compliant so in the next few weeks we will get that sorted out so that we can use it this winter. It's so important to have these things seen to on an annual basis!

With the autumn equinox approaching this week, I thought that today would be the perfect time to add a few autumnal touches around my home. I'm not doing anything huge this year - just a little bit here and there. 

I've done some of my autumnal flower boxes, I still have pots of 'mums' to get for the front door and the back deck. Hopefully, I can get that sorted out this weekend...or Thursday perhaps, I'm meeting a friend for coffee at our local garden centre so that might be a good time to pick them up.

I went rummaging through the loft this morning and dug out my autumn wreath...honestly this is my favourite wreath, I just love it and look forward to getting it out each year.

In the lounge I've kept it very simple, we are having a lovely new carpet fitted in the next few weeks so I didn't want a lot of things to move out of the room and I think that less will be more once the carpet is in. It's going to make the room so lovely and cosy. I strung up my little knitted acorn garland and put this simple little candle arrangement on the coffee table. Don't you just love the little autumn gnome candle? I found him at TK Maxx a few weeks ago.

In the kitchen, I have hung up some autumnal bunting across the back doors. I made this bunting about 7 years ago and love bringing it out each year.

On the Kitchen windowsill, I have a little arrangement of autumn leaves, candles, and knitted apples and pumpkins.

I have dotted a few pine cones through the leaf garland. The longer evenings are always lit up with lots of candles and fairy lights so this little display will catch the flickering candlelight and reflect all the autumnal colours beautifully I think.

In the snug, I have hung up some autumn flower fairy bunting and created a little display of autumn cross stitch cushions and a hanging - all done by me over the years. Again - another autumn candle. I have loads of them this year, I love my house smelling like pumpkin spice and caramel apples at this time of the year.

Outside I have last year's potted 'mums' flourishing in the garden. They have done so well that I have decided that once each season's 'mums' come to the end of their flowering season, they will be cut back and planted in the garden for us to enjoy the following autumn.

My lone pumpkin is turning yellow at quite a pace now which I am thrilled about. Once it is completely ripe I will harvest it and make some lovely roast pumpkin and pepper soup. We do enjoy soup lunches with crusty home-baked bread during autumn and winter, it's so comforting.

The Virginia Creeper is just starting to turn. Tendrils of red are beginning to weave their way through the thick green carpet covering the garage wall and roof.

I'm trying not to wish it along too quickly for once it has all changed red it does not last long at all. Within two weeks we go from a spectacular display of vibrant red to bare branches twisting and tangled until spring arrives.

The huge deciduous trees overhanging the garden have not started turning yet but I feel we are on the brink. October will bring autumnal changes quickly...and before you know it we will be sliding into advent. I'm always amazed at how long it takes for summer to arrive and then when it does time seems to freeze and summer hangs in the air for what feels like ages before dipping into the roller coaster of autumn, advent and Christmas. Then winter arrives and it seems to last for ages, spring being slow to arrive but at the same time exciting to see little flower heads popping up whilst it is still so cold outside.

I really love the seasons - each is so beautiful and has its unique characteristics and celebrations.

Not only are we entering a new natural season but in our home, we are once again shifting seasons. Both our daughters moved out about 2 weeks ago into their university residences. It hasn't quite sunk in yet as after 2 days of being in her flat my youngest who had caught a horrible cold came down with what we thought was meningitis. After a full day spent in A & E and lots of tests, it was determined that it was actually an awful throat infection. So she was back home to be looked after until she felt well enough.

Our eldest lasted 3 nights in her flat before she got bored and decided to come home for a week until her friends started to return to the city. Then we went off to London for a weekend as a family so hasn't felt very different at all!

This week they are both back in their flats and I'm at home all week so I suspect that it will feel much quieter around here. But I am enjoying having time to knit, blog and potter about. Although I miss having a house full of busyness at the same time it is nice to sit quietly and indulge in my own interests. It's been so many years since I have done so that I must admit it feels slightly strange. But like many who have had their children fly the nest, I'm sure that I will adjust to my newfound time!

Now I'm off to make a coconut latte - there is nip in the air today and I think that a yummy latte may be just the thing I need right now.

Blessings to you all...

Friday, August 20, 2021

A few Simple Things...

 Hello my lovelies. Don't you think it is kind of sad that IG has taken the place of some great blogs? I remember the days when I would happily spend an hour or two reading my favorite blogs. Now it's all IG and I feel that something has been lost and it's kinda sad.

I also don't like how most of the blogs that are around have all become these 'super blogs trying to make money following a formula that ends up squishing the natural voice of the author behind the blog and cluttering up the place with adverts. If I'm honest I just leave those blogs straight away. I can't stand reading something and then having to scroll past adverts or closing a popup to get to the next paragraph.

It may just be me, I prefer things to remain simple and uncluttered and the same is true of life in general. With all the mayhem happening in the world I'm once again yearning for wide-open spaces in the middle of nowhere.

I guess that's why I love traditional crafts and homemaking so much. It slows you right down to a state of calm and mindfulness. You have to think about the task at hand whether it's following a knitting chart, baking a new recipe, or piecing together a quilt. Whatever it is it brings you right back into the moment.

I wanted to show you the garden. If you have a look at this post from June I showed you what we had been up to. Well, it's kind of unbelievable the transformation in just 2 months! The garden is brimming with abundance. The sunflowers are now towering above the deck, everything is in full bloom (perhaps even about to go over) and the summerhouse is nearly complete! 

We will need to finish painting it this weekend and then we have the joy of digging out beds around it and planting it up. It's almost bulb planting season so I will be sure to plant up with spring in mind!

My courgettes have done well this year and have given us lots of yummy yellow fruit which have been transformed into lots of lovely Mediterranean veggie roast mixes for our suppers. 

I have one pumpkin. We tried growing them vertically this year as we just don't have the space for it to roam free. Old tights make a handy hammock to support the weight. I had hoped to grow enough pumpkins to supply our autumn decor needs but perhaps that was a little optimistic! I guess we will be going to a pick-your-own farm for our pumpkins this year.

I've been propagating these lovely colourful leafy Coleus plants over the past few weeks (all three of the ones pictured were little twigs 3 weeks ago!). We bought 4 different ones as fillers in the garden and to provide a bit of texture and interest. It turns out they are really easy to propagate so I have been doing so and will use them in my autumn pot displays this year. 

I've simply taken a cutting below a leave node, stripped the lower leaves off and cut the remaining leaves in half so as to prevent too much transpiration, and then popped them in water. Within a week roots begin to sprout and after the second week once there are ample roots I pot them up. So easy!

Anyhoo lovelies, I had hoped to be blogging a lot more by now but annoyingly my 3 day work week only starts at the beginning of September! It was a bit of a blow finding out that my replacement at work actually had leave booked prior to starting which meant I have had to cover in her absence. But hey, not long now and then I will be able to spend more time dying yarn and doing all the things I love. I'm still planning on growing my yarn and craft business over the rest of this year, in fact...I am participating in my very first virtual yarn show in October.

I'm so excited and a little nervous. I need to get a lot of yarn-dyed before then. I'm looking forward to that extra time from September! And...double know what September means don't you...the arrival of AUTUMN, my most favourite season!!! 

Are you looking forward to the arrival of autumn or is it just a little too early for you?

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Bible Study Chocolate Cake

 How has your week been treating you? Well, I hope! So far my week has been really nice. I've taken those lieu days that my firm owed me and have been loving indulging in a little knitting, baking, podcasting, and blogging.

I dug out my favorite old recipe book and made a cake that I used to make all the time in South Africa, but I have rarely made it here and I'm wondering why! Isn't it funny how something that used to be such a regular thing in your home can then virtually disappear from your routine?

Baking is one of those things but I suspect that working outside of the home has had a significant impact on that and other routines that were a part of my life for so long. This is one of the reasons I am so happy to be cutting my outside work hours right down and eventually bring my entire working endeavors home! You see home really is where my heart is.

Let me tell you about my bible study chocolate cake. The recipe is actually called 'American Chocolate Cake' and it was a recipe shared by our pasters wife in the church recipe book one year. This was our church in South Africa btw not here although what a great idea! I may bring that up with our own paster at some point as a fundraiser for the church.

Anyhoo, we used to call it 'Bible Study Cake' because it's essentially a lovely big traybake and perfect for church gatherings. We would take it in turns to bring something tasty along to Bible Study and inevitably one of us would bring Bible Study Cake. I have fond memories of Bible Study Cake, the Daniel bible study by Beth Moore, and lots of lovely fellowship with a fantastic group of women. I miss that because I have not found that here in the UK.

It is the easiest cake to make in the world! PLUS you mix everything together in the large roasting pan or baking dish that you are going to bake it in so no extra dishes to wash. I mean what more could you ask for!

The recipe produces a lovely rich moist cake. It does take about an hour to cook because it is so big but that does not bother me.

What I've done with this bake is cut it into squares and frozen half of them keeping the other half out for family and friends to enjoy. You can freeze fully iced cakes then thaw and enjoy them, they are just as moist and delicious. If you decide to have a baking day this is a great way to stock up the freezer so you will always have a treat should an unexpected guest pop in for coffee.

Before I go... the stars and sprinkles on my cake have reminded me of one of my new colourways of yarn that I dyed and is up in the shop...

Isn't it just gorgeous! Red with navy speckles. This one is called 'Make do and Mend' a nod to Britain and our thrifty and creative heritage born out of the war years. This skein would make a great pair of Christmas socks don't you think? 😊

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Weekending in July

 Hello my lovely friends! Gosh, it's been a while! June was just ridiculously busy. I work in residential property and with the end of the stamp duty holiday on the 30th of June, work-life has been relentless. I usually work a 4 day week and had to work those days to try to keep up with what was going on. 

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to put in my resignation, well when I did I was offered a move to a different area of law (YAY) and able to cut my hours down to a 3 day week! It's perfect as it gives me time to build up my yarn business with no financial pressure. My replacement was appointed on Friday so I hoping to be in my new 3-day position from mid-July-ish.

With the relentless work situation, I have not had much time to dye up yarn although I did manage one dye day and I was very pleased with the results, the new colourways will definitely be staying for a while.

This is "Village Fete", it's so pretty and I have to confess to keeping a skein for myself. I've been furiously knitting away on 2 sock projects so that I can cast on with village fete as soon as possible.

In the garden... well it's mid-summer and everything is exploding as it does in countries that have short summers. Summer seems to take an age to arrive and then all of a sudden you are living in a jungle. It never fails to amaze me.

The Jasmine has just about swamped the little garden tool shed. DH wanted to take the hedge trimmer to it but there is no way I'm allowing that until it's finished flowering. Don't you think that the fallen jasmine flowers look gorgeous...even DH who likes his lawn looking pristine felt that they should be left as they are for now.

I have to show you the latest project that DH has just completed! I'm so happy with the job he has done and of course, I think he is very clever!

You see the deck which is straight off our kitchen and dining room was just awful, to say the least. It must have been about 20 years old and was tatty, bouncy, and very slippery not to mention completely uneven. The previous owner had installed it himself and let's just say I don't think he is blessed with the best DIY talents!

DH has to prepare a base for the studio which is arriving at the end of July so we decided that the wood from the deck should be recycled for this purpose which meant that we had to install a fresh new deck. DH has re-done the entire frame making sure it is level and stable. Below is a picture of the deck halfway through, can you see how unlevel the last deck was as compared to the new one?

Crazy isn't it! You literally did feel as though you were tipping forward on the old deck. The new deck is a thing of beauty! I love it and it makes such a difference to the overall feel of the garden.

I know the colours look a bit different here but that's because he had only just finished that last little part after a rainstorm. The difference between wet and dry decking!

We also decided not to put a railing up, instead, DH is building these window boxes which will run along the outside of the deck interspersed with other pots. This allows us to have year-round seasonal planting and colour.

For the summer I have decided to use these boxes for vegetables. I have beetroot, mangetout, spring onions, and salad leaves growing on the deck. I love that I can just step out of the kitchen door and pick my homegrown produce. I've made a few salads already and have used the herbs from the herb pot on numerous occasions.

Autumn will see the deck full of Chrysanthemums, Cyclamens, and Solanum's and hopefully a pumpkin or two from the pumpkin vine we are growing in the garden. If that fails then we will go picking pumpkins at the nearby pick-your-own farm. 

For winter I'm thinking of a few conifer trees which I have from last year that are doing exceptionally well at the moment. I may have to put twinkly lights on those, ornamental cabbages, heathers, and maybe some gaultheria procumbens for their red berries. 

Spring of course is all about spring bulbs so daffodils, tulips, etc. By the way, when my pots reach the end of their lives I usually plant the plants straight into the garden and hope for the best. Last year's Chrysanthemums survived the winter and are now in the garden. I will dig them up after they have flowered this year and pop them back into pots so that I can place them under the branches of a big shrub I have in the garden as it protects them against the winter frosts.

The point is that nothing goes to waste. Everything is given another chance to thrive in out in the garden after their pot life has passed and most do. It's an economical way to fill up your garden beds too!

Anyhoo my lovely friends, thank you for dropping by. I hope that you have a great start to your week and I'll see you back here very soon!