Guest Post: Tilly Flop

Ever since pom pom released their Winter '14 preview, I've craving afternoons in the pub, reading the food supplements from all of the newspapers and knitting, knitting, knitting. You might be surprised to hear that making this happen with a newly two year old is next to impossible so I hooked up with a fellow knitter and local girl, Julie from TillyFlop and asked her to tell us about her favourite South London spots to knit and indulge.

There's also a fab offer-  FREE P&P in her Etsy shop of craft related wonder until the end of November 2014. Just keep reading down to find the code- Thanks Julie!

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Thank you A Playful Day for asking me to share a few of my favourite places around my ‘hood. 

I am lucky enough to live and work around London Bridge and have done so for 20 years now. It really is a fascinating area to live in and so much of it’s earlier history [Bermondsey was London’s main leather working centre] is still apparent in street and building names today: we have The Leather and Wool Exchange, The Leathermarket [sadly now all offices], Morocco Street and Tanner Street … the list goes on and on … though today’s Bermondsey is a far cry from the slum it once was. We now have The Shard on our doorstep, the White Cube has recently opened, but Manze’s Pie and Mash still does a great trade on Tower Bridge Road and every Friday at dawn the antiques market sets up for trading with its history of march overt and though the Design Museum is about to leave, we still have the glorious stretch of river from there to the Royal Festival Hall. 

Just moments from all this wonderful hustle and bustle you will find our spot - and one of my favourite places: appropriately named Simon the Tanner - you’ll find this pub on Long Lane, at the Bermondsey Street end. It’s a proper local boozer and part of a chain of, well, just three. They have a great selection of local draught and bottled beers including the delicious Kernel [a Bermondsey brew]. The food there is simple and tasty … and they also have the bonus attraction of being the location of our Stitch and Bitch nights. And they collect all our remnants at the end of every session and save them … we’re not sure why … 

Another favourite spot I like to hang out [and bearing in mind my knit and textile obsession] is the Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street. Now you’d be hard pushed to miss this pink and orange building nestled amongst the council blocks and renovated office spaces. Currently showing a Knitwear exhibition in its gallery space, it also is home to a Tea pod which serves [not unsurprisingly a super range of teas] and lovely food. It also has a small but very well curated shop so it’s an extra bonus to your visit here. And the current exhibition is all about Knitwear … in case you missed that. That’s knitting …

Another favourite place is one I visit almost every day as my studio is right over it and it belongs to a dear friend, Baker & Maker if you like to bake anything from cupcakes and biscuits to show-stopping cakes, I can guarantee you could lose an hour or so here browsing … and maybe leave with rather a large bag. With hundreds and hundreds of different gifts and foodie items, it’s hard not to. And this is another true independent shop which also stocks Tilly Flop cards - well worth a visit [and you don’t have to buy any cards … this time].

And talking of Tilly Flop cards [didn’t you notice how I slipped that one in there?] how do you fancy completely and utterly FREE P&P in my etsy shop until the end of November … and that’s on everything, all over the world … just put in code: APDNOV14. Lots of cards and prints for all you knitterly folk and crafty types, including the new ‘crafty cube’ card .. the first in a series, so watch this space! And everyone who takes up this offer will have their names placed in a woolly hat and the winner will get some extra TillyFlop goodies sent to them in early December ...

So I’m looking forward to bumping into you around the ‘hood … do say hello … and mine’s a pint of Kernel! To keep up with TillyFlop shenanigans, knitterly news, offers and new stuff, wherever you are - pop over to https://www.facebook.com/tillyflopdesigns … 

Refuge and Why We're Yarn Crawling

On the eve of the Yarn Crawl, there's been a lot of excited chatter as you might expect. I've checked what needles I need to pick up, planned my knitting to take and topped up my Oyster Card. However, it seemed right to remind myself why we're Yarn Crawling in the first place after this video from Patrick Stewart blew me away earlier in the week as it appeared in my timeline. 

Refuge supports 3,000 women and children on any given day through a range of services, including refuges, independent advocacy, community outreach and culturally specific services. Refuge is committed to a world where domestic violence is not tolerated and where women and children can live in safety. I have directly seen their outstanding commitment to women and families and the fact that the Great London Yarn Crawl supports that makes me very happy indeed. 

I'll be sharing pictures and tweets tomorrow and I do hope that in some way, we help move towards a future where women and families can live without violence in their lives. 

 

If Domestic Violence is something that concerns you or a loved one, you can find information here

 

 

Cushions and Sew Over It

Around about the time of the lull the falls just after Christmas, I took a long walk with a sleeping Tot across South London. I walked across rather than around an area I hadn't yet explored and walked past Sew Over It. Intrigued, I peered in the window, instantly noted the amazing sewing kits they do and remembered my much maligned sewing machine. Hearing the Tot stir, I plodded on and wondered if I'd ever find my way back. 

Today I did and what a treat! I took a beginner's sewing class with about 10 other women, all looking to get crafting and learn from the Sew Over It team. Our task was to learn to thread the machine, hem and sew together an Envelope Cushion Cover that we'd cut from our patterns. Seemed pretty simple. I was ready!

A view I am rapidly learning to love: sewing machine; tea. 

A view I am rapidly learning to love: sewing machine; tea. 

I loved the work space and the fact that it's downstairs with a good supply of cake, teas and refreshments. I approve of the massive cross over between baking addiction and craft. It's something I feel I can get behind. The Oreo brownies were delicious!

Details!

Details!

I loved the decor and the graphic design work on the labels, signs and stickers everywhere. I particularly loved the print in the kitchen and vintage pattern wallpaper. It was these touches that made me feel I was in for a treat before I'd even learned the thrill of sewing an entire project in one sitting. 

Georgie, our teacher was friendly and supportive, keeping the pace just right while still making sure everyone had the time they needed to learn the steps and ask questions. She was also wearing a gorgeous dress she'd sewn so was more than a good advert for what we could achieve if we stuck with it!

I quickly learned that sewing involves a lot of ironing..... this is not altogether welcome news...

However, the cushion making was fun and I just loved the thrill of 'I DID THIS!' that I walked out with. We asked if we could make our own versions at home and Georgie helpfully explained how to adjust the pattern, giving us each a sheet of pattern paper to take home and work with. I grab a few supplies to have a go with in the hope that repeating a project that I already know will be easier than learning a whole new project on a whole new machine. 

Complete cushion cover and supplies to make more!

Complete cushion cover and supplies to make more!

A brilliant way to spend a few hours. Thanks for the inspiration Sew Over It!

The Art of Play

Well I had to write a post dedicated to Play eventually right?

It's no secret I am devoted to Play (capital intentional) both as an adult and for children. For me, play is about learning, being free and giving yourself permission to explore. Having a small toddler has reinforced any thoughts I had that Play is really so much more than 'free time'. Watching my little scientist actively learn concepts, acquire language and develop her understanding of the world has been mesmerising. 

The confusing thing for me is a constant barrage of suggested activities that come up on my various social media feeds. On one hand I'm delighted by ideas of what I can do to occupy a little girl always hungry for fresh experiences but on the other I'm left wondering if constantly finding activities makes it hard to just be free and Play?

There are very few times in a toddler's life (or indeed any age) when free time is just that. No chores, no routines, no need to be somewhere, no instructions, rules or boundaries. My Tot is a strong willed little person which will shock many of you I'm sure. While taking her to swim classes tires her out and gives her a vital skill there's always an exhaustion on both our parts at the bag packing, changing, wrestling into the buggy, navigating transport and 'please for the love of god, let's not be late AGAIN'-ness to it all. 

Last week I had two fun experiences that left both of us refreshed and content all day. I wanted to share them with you as I think sometimes simple, self directed Play is overlooked in value. I'm not here to preach, by all means work those pipe cleaners into an Easter scene and bake a million cookies (share them with me though, ok?). I just wanted to show what fun you can have by letting your child lead the way. 

We visited the V&A Museum last week as we had visitors from overseas. As soon as we got there, the Tot was keen and ready to point, discuss and explore. We initially tried to keep up with our friends who were having that kind of 'check things off a list' whirlwind visit that left me exhausted. However, the Playful Tot has a way of making things clear that she has her own agenda....

Yep. This is a zoomed in picture of my Tot, point blank refusing to keep up. She tottered to a doorway and stood for a long time enjoying the different lights between the rooms, the shadows that fell and of course, lots of people watching. I waved our friends on and instead crouched at her eye level and asked 'where shall we go next?' What followed was 2 glorious hours of a toddler tour of the museum. I honestly had no idea that there were so many plugs, or how wonderous those low fences are to a child of diminutive stature. She slept like a log and woke to babble away about the sculptures we saw and the magic truck we discovered. 

Pleased, I applied the same rules again but this time omitted the epic journey across London. Suited and booted with pockets ful of snacks and drinks, I took us just outside the house and plonked her down. With a little trolley to steady her or collect treasure with, we spent a good hour or so mooching along the path near our house. The thing that struck me most was the language that developed. Given the complete freedom to stop and comment or ask questions about things at her eye level, we talked about all sorts of new things. In the buggy or sling, we talk about things I can see or I deem interesting enough but from her position as leader, the Tot was able to open up a whole new world that I might otherwise have overlooked. 

It's a scary thing to just do nothing. We're programmed to feel we need to do MORE. The Tot however, is showing me and everyone else that if we trust her, she'll develop her own understanding just fine. 

Here's my top tips for self directed play:

- Take your time- This isn't something you allow 15 minutes for before you move on to the park. You might not make it to the park but that's ok. 

- Don't interrupt- This is key. We feel a need to narrate, explain or intervene at the tiniest frustration. It's ok. Learning doesn't need to be in a straight line. When we interrupt to add our explanation, we're changing the experience from theirs to ours. 

- Make safe- Toddler freedom comes with its risks. A busy roadside is not the best place to let your toddler be completely in control. Make sure things start off on the right foot by carefully choosing where you start your toddler led journey. 

- Permission- The Tot constantly looked up for reassurance, permission and guidance. I tried very hard to communicate to her that it was her choice. As time went on, she got bolder, stronger and more accomplished with her decision making. 

- Food and water- No toddler (or tired parent) functions well on low rations. Make sure you're well stocked so you don't have to pause when fully immersed to hunt out rice cakes. 

- weatherproofing- rain or shine, we go out and I take a splash suit and a jumper just in case. There's no reason a little rain should get in the way. Quite the opposite, the Tot is fascinated by raindrops on things. 

- Change your point of view- Ever sat in the floor at your gallery? Do it. See what your toddler sees. You'll honestly be amazed how different things look (or how many plug sockets there are). 

It's a weird skill to learn: the art of doing nothing. It's a vital one. Go forth and Play!