Sometimes Pretty is an Awesome Shield....

Yesterday was an enormously overwhelming day and I am so grateful to the many people who reached out and encouraged me to hit publish on this post. 

Here we go....


I never really explained why I ran with the theme ‘Women as Makers’ across the blog and podcast this month. I let others fill in that answer with their smooth, strong voices. I’ve interviewed lots of women and in fact, have quite a backlog to share with you. I found it easier to let others say what I wish to express. It’s a habit I have. I like to celebrate beautiful projects, successful businesses and voices that truly resonate within our creative community. I am not always very good at pushing forward a voice of my own.

When I attended Blogtacular a while ago I was really struck by something Marte Marie Forsberg said:

“promote what you have rather than bashing what you hate”

I wanted to cheer. I turned to a new friend, whose blog was so different from my own and said, “We should write together”. We planned words together and then left each other to write out what we needed the other person to see. The results have been surprising and given me back an identity that I’ve removed from this blog for so long. Collaboration is a powerful thing and when we join forces as women and talk, I am minded that there is no greater power on earth.

Sometimes pretty is an awesome shield

I have hinted several times that I have been struggling to write as personally as I used to here in my playful home. Over the past year I have gently erased a side of me that was once able to use the blog for more cathartic means. I created A Playful Day with the intention of always finding a playful moment in every day. Recently, I have stuck dogmatically to that idea here on the blog, on the podcast and across social media. No one was going to catch me being unplayful. No one.

In doing so I removed the stories about motherhood, about what it meant to be me and about the unplayful elements of my life. I didn’t have words for them and in many ways, I still don’t. However, other women have been there in the background of this blog, encouraging me to stay strong and use those playful moments to feed me till a time when I can be more open and more frank.  

sometimes pretty is an awesome shield

It’s felt good to define what A Playful Day is. I’ve used its theme and have pushed hard to find a playful moment in every day. I play mostly on here and instagram, sharing pictures and silly stories that make me feel good. For the rest of the time, I interview people whose voices I admire while I work out my own. I write about other people’s lives and hope no one notices that the looking glass never points at me.

I am grateful to my friend Emily who finally let me say something so incredibly hard. I know that she’s holding my hand as I hit publish on this post today too. I know she’s one of a handful of people I’ve trusted to share my struggles as a single parent and I adore each and every one of them.

Single parent. It’s not a very playful phrase.

There’s no magic formula to finding your voice as a woman. There’s no magic solution to being a confident mother. I do know though that thanks to this month’s theme and the incredibly powerful women in my life, I’m now fully present and clear about what I’m doing here on A Playful Day.

Sometimes pretty is an awesome shield

Thank you for bearing with me while I figured it out. 

If you’d like to read my first foray into parent blogging, you can find it here on Emily’s blog. Emily will be guest posting here very soon too.

Stay playful! x

For the Love of Writing

A few nights ago I was melancholy. There were various events over the last week that left me listless, dissatisfied and a little emotionally raw. In the past I kept a journal which I poured my soul into but having stopped the habit years ago, picking up a pen now feels overwhelming.  I felt like that was what I needed though and while the blog helps my urge to write and tell tales, I don't have that same release any more.  

I started at an empty page wondering where to start. I needed to work through, cataloguing things to find a pattern, a catalyst and hopefully reach a resolution. I didn't know how to any more though. I was overwhelmed by the words I suddenly didn't have and still, there was this noise in the background, making it hard to focus. I wanted it out so I could move on. Nothing BIG was wrong. I was just blue and struggling to move on. 

So I put out a plea via Twitter, Instagram and Ravelry and found others who kept journals. A few different systems were suggested:

- Bullet Journalling (I NEED this in my life too, also I need something reflective too though..... how to incorporate?)
- One thousand Gifts. (while not religious myself, I found the idea of finding joy in each day interesting.... this could easily be included in the Bullet Journal format)
- Every few days, writing highlights and notes, collecting pages, adding details through tickets or photographs (note: I would love a polaroid for just this reason)
- 5 year diaries. A small note each day that you return to year after year. My grandfather has done this for decades. I hope to inherit these as I understand the preciousness of the daily act. 
- A journal with additional clips and sticky notes, colour coded for different types of note such as knitting, anxiety and shopping lists. I liked this idea a lot. 
- Doodles, yarn swatches and a visual index of things that have provoked a reaction. 
- Journals with prompts such as quotes or images already on the pages.
- Describing your immediate setting as a way to launch a meditative entry. 

I've been left with lots of ideas that I like so I wanted to share them with you. I might try and develop a 'system' and share it again, inviting you to join me. 

Do you write? And if so, how? Come tell us over in the group. There's more than just me who'd appreciate the inspiration I can assure you!

Unravel and everything after

Sleepily I'm typing in a sun spot of the house, pondering a gorgeous weekend. This weekend was a big one to say the least. I might be over tired as a result but Unravel was completely worth it this year. What a rush!

Highlights for me:

- The Sweet Georgia girls completely fangirling Victoria from EdenCottage

Susan Crawford's stylish booth and winning smile

- Fyberspates new yarn, Cumulus, sitting like little tribbles at the stand

Plume by Lisa Mutch in The Uncommon Thread yarn

- The way my shawl was an instant point of conversation each time I made a new acquaintance. 

Coopknits just next door with her explosion of pompoms

- Eliza Conway gleefully telling me stories of vintage knitting finds and the wonderful reactions they cause. 

- Emily from Tincanknits campaigning for me to attend Edinburgh Yarn Festival (haha)

Knitted Stuffed Heads!

- The knitting decorations

- So much banter, good will and fun from all the vendors. It was truly a brilliant event.

I'm going to be blogging about a few things I brought home and editing 2 podcasts worth of audio this week because sometimes you just don't want something to be over. 

Although my fourth cup of tea begs to differ. 

Scrappy Challenge For a Fabulous Cause

We'd all like to do more to help out others whether it's fundraising, donating hours of our time or making something that helps to make someone else's life that little bit better. I received an invite to a group recently that I thought was so thoughtful and ideal for time poor knitters that I wanted to share it here. 

The ever so talented Dani from Lioness Arts is leading the charge on creating a Handdyed Beekeepers Quilt to raise money for Great Ormond Street and MSF. Some of you will recognise MSF as the charity supported strongly by the knitting community for years thanks to strong advocate, the Yarn Harlot. Meanwhile, over 150,000 children are treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital every year and it does fantastic research into groundbreaking medical treatment that transforms lives of children around the world who present with complicated medical needs. I've seen the support they give families first hand and believe me, they are everyday heroes each and every person who works there (and attends). 

The plan is to create a double bed sized Hand-dyed Beekeepers quilt. The entire quilt will measure approximately 7ft x 6ft and will be made up of about 750 hexipuffs! Once enough hexipuffs have been collected Dani will join them all together and there will be a Live Prize Draw (at a venue to be confirmed). In the meantime you can donate to the challenge and at the same time enter the raffle for the quilt by donating to the dedicated Virgin Giving page!

For more information and to lend your support, please visit the group page here and get involved! Blog and tweet about it too- let's get this fundraiser heard about because knitters are amazing and have achieved wonderful things to help people in the past. I know we can do it again. 

It's the Little Things

Things I have loved over the last week: 

Watching a spider knit its' beautiful web. It was a good spider and a good web. Both were fantastic shapes and colours in the morning sun. I could have watched for hours. 

Autumn came while I was tucked away, recuperating inside.I ventured out for a little walk around the garden and there were colours and smells in the air that I adore. I love Autumn and I was sad I wasn't outside when she truly arrived but I liked the presents she left like leaves scattered on the green grass and the waning rays of the sun on my skin as I inspected them.  

Testing my ability to truly get every last bit out of a skein that I can. Emergency knitting needs to be cast on to ensure that I don't have the dread of running out of knits ever again. However, lingering on the details of those last few scrap of skeins was quite decadent and I feel very virtuous now. 

The giant. He's perfect and kept watch over me and little one so well that we stayed safe. I couldn't do this without him. 

My knit best friend. She understood I needed time and some chatter and she was there, as she always is. 

Friends and family. You really do find out how lucky you are when you put the call out for help and so many respond. I am overwhelmed and eternally grateful. Even in the global community of Twitter, people sent messages and well wishes and they were so important to keeping my mood bright. I came out of my shell where I'd hidden out of fear and just embraced each contact. I forget to do that sometimes. 

A new book that fills you with wonder. The words on each page, the characters, the hours lost as you come round and remember you're own setting. 

Safety. A feeling of safety. Nearly there...

I Heart Knitters

I swear I have gushed about knitters and those I work with so many times on Twitter, my podcast and this blog that I am becoming a broken record but I mean it: knitters and crafters are amazing. 

It's not really that big a secret that the last month has been hell on toast between buying a house, the last minute negotiations (and the tantrums of those we're buying from), the packing, the organising and the ENDLESS, endless hospital trips for me. I am not known for crying unless I'm angry but I was at that point where I'd hit my limit and was gulping big sobs on the phone to my sister who was alarmed to say the least. She knows that if I'm crying and not fighting anymore, things are bad indeed. 

I have flinched everytime someone has asked 'Are you excited about your new house?' or I bet you're nesting right?' Each time it was a heavy reminder that I should be excitedly preparing a family home for the soon to arrive Playful Baby and yet I wasn't. I felt so worn down. 

But then knitters happened. 

I work with designers, yarnies, tech editors and other such wonderful people. My podcast and blog have connected me to a community I respect, admire and adore and they brought me back into a happy space through their love and contact. Over the last few weeks I've been fortunate enough to have a trickle of mother and baby presents that brought a tear to my eye for all the right reasons. 

Knitters and crafty types understand the love and care that goes into creating a finished object and that's why each item I'm about to share means the world to the giant and I. They were created by wonderful friends who I am connected to simply through knitting. I understand the thoughts that poured into them as they were worked and when my little one is wrapped in them, I will know that they are the luckiest baby in the world because they are wrapped in the love of knitters and crafters. That beats all the crap of the last few months hands down and I wanted to share the power of handmade gifts with you too. 

I won't name gift givers as it feels that I then remove the personal touch with which they were gifted but I will say that as knitting aunties go, Playful Baby is one blessed child and I for one hope to keep these ladies in my life for years to come. Thank you xxx

I Remember

I was chatting away to an online friend after listening to her fab new podcast and we soon got into a chat about travelling. Jo is the host of the newly released ShinyBees podcast and currently lives in South Africa. On her podcast she shared some Afrikaans words which immediately made me smile and I excitedly got chatting about wart hogs, braais and Tusker Beer. I grew up with SA friends and have since travelled a far bit of Kenya and North Africa so we had lots to chat about as it seems Jo has also travelled some of Kenya. 

It reminded me I have beautiful images that are so playful and make me smile on rainy days that I should share them here. 

Thanks for reminding me Jo!

Tweet Tweet

I don't think I've hidden my disdain for oversharing particularly well. I often throw my hands up in the air in frustration at 140 characters summarising a person's entire feelings, character or political opinion. I avoid facebook photo sharing of children and I don't particularly like airing my laundry in public. I just feel there's something to be said for more thought and physical interaction.

However, last summer I took part in efforts to clean up a city after a troubled summer thanks to Twitter. 

Last Christmas, thanks to social media, I collected a car full of goodies for the local Women's Aid Centre and they were able to have a pamper day that made them feel that somewhere out there, people cared how they felt and what had happened to them. 

And the last week, I realised I have some pretty great people that I've met and become friends with purely based on an internet personna. Yes, I could have met an axe murderer or whatever our fears tell us is on the other side of a computer screen. But then, it's not like I'm not replying to offers to reinstall my lost millions on a spam email, I'm chatting to other knitters. 

We share information, new ideas and inspiration and if I'm honest? They've saved this week.

Between the anxiety that comes with being a first time mum, a house sale (and ALL the pitfalls and legal wranglings we've had to deal with this week), health issues and endless, endless health check ups, I've felt terribly scared. I've not been wanting to engage with friends in case they ask 'How are things going?' or 'Are you ok?' These questions would have floored me because the answer would have have been 

not. so. great. (and much wailing)

But at 4am at the start of the week, insomnia kicked my butt and I found smiles in twitter friends who also couldn't sleep. We've giggled over so many more things this week from crocheted cocoons to yarn porn. They made me SMILE and lifted me out of the walled defence I put up when I'm gritting my teeth just to get through. I can honestly say, I know some great knitters out there.

Social media makes news spread so fast that sometimes we can barely keep up. This week, it brought back smiles. I must remember that when I'm having a 'shut it down' moment over my twitter or facebook accounts. Sometimes they can just be there to share a smile and a new article you enjoyed. 

Here's one I liked this week: