My Etsy Shop

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Not all who wander are lost

You've probably guessed that someone who names their business The Hawthorn Tree likes trees quite a lot. When I'm not working, my favourite thing is to wander through the beautiful Derbyshire countryside that I love so much and although I love the whole landscape, my favourite places are woods. There is something about standing amongst trees that grew tall before your grandparents were born and which will continue to be around long after you're gone that I find fascinating. They also provide a fantastic habitat for wildlife and every minute I spend there is a pleasure.
This week I was in Shining Cliff Wood, Ambergate. This is an ancient wood that was once part of the royal hunting forest of Duffield Frith and it takes its name from the gritstone rocks that it stands upon. There are acres of tall pines and larches as well as oak, yew, alder and others. This place has added meaning for me as my Grandma moved  with her family to Ambergate in 1930 from Heage. Her father worked on the nearby railway for over forty years and they lived at Midland Terrace, near the station.
St. Anne's church, Ambergate
As I write this, it is the fifth anniversary of Grandma's death and she was very much in my thoughts as we passed St. Anne's church where she married Grandad in 1948. As you walk up the lane past the church you come to Ha'penny Bridge. This is where the Amber meets the Derwent and there used to be a little toll cottage here but unfortunately it was demolished in 1964.
The River Amber (right) joins the River Derwent
A little further on, on the edge of the wood is what remains of Johnson's Wire Works. Now derelict and silent, it was once a big employer of local men and the sheds hummed with the sound of the machinery. Grandma's brother worked there before and after his time in the army during the war. I'd be very surprised if owls didn't roost in these empty buildings. A handsome grey wagtail was walking around there looking for insects.
The old wire works, R Johnson and Nephew
Grey Wagtail
A buzzard called overhead as we entered the wood and a male bullfinch perched on a tree at the edge of the path, like a little rosy beacon to welcome us. His mate was a little further along.
I love the earthy smell of a woodland; the damp leaf litter is the heart of this habitat, providing the perfect home for  many different insects. This in turn provides food for many different species of birds. Great tits, blue tits, long-tailed tits and coal tits could all be heard but high up in the tree tops there came the unmistakeable calls of goldcrests. These tiny birds are sometimes called kinglets, as they have little golden crowns. I quite like the idea of the smallest birds in the kingdom being royal as it's an honour usually reserved for much larger birds like eagles.
Squirrels bounded about in the fallen leaves and pine needles. As we climbed up to Betty Kenny's Tree, the ground was so thick with pine needles that in places it was like walking on a soft blanket. Betty Kenny's Tree is now in ruins but it was once a mighty yew tree that was reputedly up to 2000 years old. Betty and her husband Luke were charcoal burners who lived there in the late eighteenth century and they built their hut around the tree. There is an old legend that Betty used the old branches to rock her young children to sleep and this is said to be the origins of the nursery rhyme Rock-a-bye Baby. The family were definitely real but their story has been embellished over the centuries, which I think is no bad thing.
Betty Kenny's Tree
If a walk through the woods doesn't spark your imagination then what will? When there was an occasional gust of wind, the tall pines seemed to sigh and whisper as they swayed, making a sound like water rushing over a weir. It's no wonder that Tolkien imagined the tallest and wisest trees to be creatures with minds of their own, Shepherds of the Forest. It is certainly true that trees become more interesting as they age, and I like to think it's the same with people.
We collected some small larch branches with little cones to keep for midwinter decorations. When they're on display they will be a reminder of this beautiful and wonderous place.
Photos (c) Eley family 2015
You can find out more about Betty Kenny's tree and her family here.
More information about Johnson's Wire Works.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Celtic Knot Tutorial and Free Pattern

If you're a regular reader of this blog and you've seen my designs then you will know how much I love Celtic knots. I love them so much that my designs can grow to be quite big and this may make them look a bit daunting. This tutorial is going to show you how knots are formed and how even big designs are easier to tackle than you might think.
You will need:
  • about 4 metres of stranded cotton in a colour of your choice and a needle
  • a piece of 14-count Aida or 28-count evenweave which is about 4 inches (10cm) square
  • this free pattern which you can download instantly from my shop. (Even though it's in my shop, you will not be charged a penny for this pattern.)
Celtic knotwork is made up of different 'strands' which are woven together to create an intricate pattern. Some of them are created using just one strand which has been cleverly turned into a beautiful knot. To find out how many strands there are in a knot, pick a starting point and trace the path of the strand with your finger. Sometimes you end up back where you started and sometimes you will find there are several different journeys to take. The knot in this tutorial is made up of three strands.
My Celtic designs often have a stencilled look and so they are made up of little sections that look like this:

According to the famous Chinese proverb, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So for now, let's not worry about the size of the whole knot and instead let's work it one little section at a time. Mark off each part of the pattern as you work it so you don't lose your place.
Note: if you are working a knot which has more then one colour, I recommend threading each different colour into a separate needle; this will save a lot of time and also make working the design much easier.
So, by taking the design one tiny section at a time you will soon see the knot start to grow before your eyes:

It will take several hours but in a couple of evenings or a weekend, you will soon find yourself with this beautiful knot:

This design is perfect for greetings cards or how about making yourself a set of coasters? You'll soon feel ready to tackle one of my bigger Celtic designs which you can find here. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook if you have any questions or you can comment below. Happy stitching!

Photos and design (c) Karen Eley/The Hawthorn Tree 2015.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Instant downloads are back!

As you know I had to temporarily close my Etsy shop after they disappointingly decided to make individual sellers responsible for EU VAT. This is the opposite to what HMRC state but until they sort it out between themselves my patterns will be delivered from my Etsy shop by e-mail.
However - I am very pleased to announce that I have opened a brand new shop on Payhip which you can find here. Not only do they take care of all the EU VAT hassle for me, you can purchase all of the patterns as instant downloads so everybody wins! Hurrah!
I will eventually be adding more patterns - I can now carry on with the plans to release new patterns throughout the year and I am really excited about them. Here's a sneaky peak at the one I'm currently working on.
(c) Karen Eley/The Hawthorn Tree 2015

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Esty shop open again

The good news is I have reopened my Etsy shop but the not so good news is that due to Etsy's disappointing stance on EU VAT I can now only offer the patterns via e-mail, rather than instant downloads. I know that this is a pain in the rear end for you and me but until Etsy offer workable solutions I'm afraid it has to be this way. Very soon I will be opening a new shop on a platform that deals with all the VAT and allows instant downloads. It will take me a while to sort the files out but as soon as it's up and running I'll tell you all about it.
I suspect that platforms such as Etsy will eventually have to change their business models as EU VAT will eventually apply to anything sold within the EU, digital or physical and this will effect anyone who trades within the EU. If third party platforms fail to comply with EU VAT then people will simply stop using them. It would be nice though if they showed more of a sense of urgency.
That's all for now but this whole issue is an ongoing situation so this will not be the last you'll be hearing about it.
In the meantime, happy stitching!