Love Your Blog: Gratitude

When I dreamed of this month exploring creativity and inspiration through blogging, I don't think I was quite prepared for the response I would get. It's been a month of comments, tweets, emails, messages, Ravelry chats and so, so many wonderful blog posts. The theme today was an obvious choice after a month where I heard YOUR voice, found your online home and we shared inspiration together as a community of makers. I feel like a traveller invited into the homes of strangers to gather, tell tales and share our common loves. 

If you've loved this creativity challenge then stay tuned as I have more fun planned for An Inspired 2015 and very shortly I will be launching a monthly newsletter with a very special invitation inside to keep you creative and inspired. Remember, you can share all your creative inspiration this year by following me and tagging me @aplayfulday and using the hashtag #aninspired2015 on all social media. 

Love Your Blog: Gratitude. 

Love Your Blog: Gratitude. 

This weekend I shared an interview with Kat Molesworth of Blogtacular in which she stated that one of the many amazing things about blogging is that it has given women a voice that is entirely their own, no one can edit that. Something inside of me cried 'YES' to this powerful statement and I know it spoke to many of you who listened too. I for one would love to see more bloggers, more voices and more exploration of this creative space that we're sharing together because without blogging I would simply not be the person I am today. 

I have blogged for 5 years now, sharing stories from myself as well as people I truly admire. A Playful Day has allowed me to meet women like Kat, to get to know readers who share their lives with me on social media and in the comments (yes, I know some of you have been here for years, I smile when I see your name pop up). Blogging has created a web of connections to so many inspiring women and I for one couldn't be more grateful for that. 

I started the blog with a simple mission: to find the playful in every day. It's not always easy and it's kept me on track when perhaps life has felt too overwhelming and full of too much clutter and noise distracting me from what I want to do. This last year it has held me in a place that I needed: positive, creative and safe. Thanks to this blog and all the many people it has invited into my life I have grown as a mother, a writer, a creator and a woman. I had the courage to be my own person, to beat my own drum and invite people to gather and listen. Blogging very much gave me that and I there's not a day goes by when I don't thank my lucky stars for the day I said 'I want to blog and I want to tell tales.'


So my show of gratitude today is to promise to keep going, to keep bringing you inspiration as you so frequently inspire me. I have so many more paths to walk down and you know what? I have a feeling we're going to find some real adventures down there. 

Keep blogging, keep sharing with me and I will keep creating. Stay tuned.... there's something on the horizon xx


Thank you to everyone who took part and took the time to drop you link. Remember you can read all the previous Love Your Blog posts from me here

Love Your Blog: Ugly

Ok I'm throwing this one out with a genuine heart because it's time we talked about what happens when blogging gets ugly. 

What to do when blogging gets ugly

Have you ever found yourself ready a blog post and suddenly feeling really negative? Perhaps you're feeling like you're not keeping up, that your life doesn't look like what's presented in front of you or worse, you feel a rising tide of jealousy about what this blogger is achieving. 

Me too. 

There I said it and I'm saying it because it really is ok. I have a really specific memory of crying about a post I read explaining how to sew quiet time books for your child that led to me deciding I wasn't doing enough as a mum (I was). I've stared in hopeless dismay at my tights, with a big fat hole in the toe, as I read about yet another great stylish outfit that I could add to my wardrobe. I've also sat feeling like maybe I don't really like a particular blogger because they're too close to the kind of blogger I would so love to be. 

You want to know what I do when I come up against that?

First, I stop reading. Seriously, stop feeding that negative feeling. I am a big believer that if you are in a pattern that's making you feel negative, you have the power to stop that. The second I feel this ugly side of blogging, I hit delete and put myself on a little time out. 

Then I do what I do best, I use it for good. My golden rule in hosting a blog or podcast is do what inspires you and even if that inspiration originates from something negative, you can totally use that for some great content! There's so many ways you can turn a negative into a positive so here's what I do:

1. Acknowledge it and understand it- Is there something in that blog post that you actually really strive for? Identify it and think about how you can use it to improve your own blogging. For example, I have a real need for better photography and after years of looking longingly at others blogs, I've signed up to a photography class with super blogger Emily Quinton. I can't wait!

2. Let it go- Time to make like a Disney girl and sing your heart out. Stop being your own worst critic and stop comparing your worst bits to someone else's best. You don't know what's going on behind the scenes. I personally create the most exciting and dynamic content I can muster when I'm feeling low and life is a little hard. I choose to embrace the ugly and walk a more positive path wherever else I can. My blog is my happy place even when behind me is chaos and destruction and I would hope that no one ever thinks that my life is perfect. Trust me dear readers, it really isn't. 

3. Collaborate- That person you're feeling ugly about, are they actually someone you secretly admire? Why not reach out and invite that inspiration into your digital home? My working motto is 'collaboration not competition' and if someone is doing something great, I will often reach out and let them know that. We all are stronger as a whole so it's time to join up!

4. Do what you love- Maybe it's time to stop looking over our shoulders and comparing ourselves. Bake that cake, switch off the laptop and do whatever makes you happy. It's just the internet after all. 

5. Look elsewhere- There's a particular kind of blogger that always triggers me and I've accepted that I need a voice that's got just the right mix of inspirational/ aspirational content with a little drop of humanity. I can remember reading posts from Kelle at Enjoying the Small Things where she admitted that she wasn't feeling good about her ability as a mother. It wasn't so raw that it felt awkward to read but it made me see that we all put our best foot forward and it's ok to let people know when you stumble. (Kelle btw is a personal content hero of mine, go read. Take popcorn. You'll be there a while)


So tell me about your ugly for this week's link drop!

Next week's theme seemed pretty obvious seeing as it's the final prompt....


Thanks so much for joining in with this #loveyourblog challenge everyone! Don't forget to share with me @aplayfulday. 

Blog Week: Thea Colman of BabyCocktails

Tomorrow I will be publishing my answer to the 'beginnings' theme for the Love Your Blog challenge so hopefully see you there for the link drop and new creativity prompt?

Before then, you can enjoy some wonderful blogging inspiration to round off blog week thanks to Thea Colman. Thea is another of those knitting bloggers I discovered pretty early on in my voyage into knitting and the fact she combines her knitting with cocktails? SOLD!

Thea Colman the blogger & designer at BabyCocktails

Thea Colman the blogger & designer at BabyCocktails

"My name is Thea Colman and my blog is BabyCocktails, which is about my world of knitting and the  drinks.   And occasionally on the things that happen outside that in my travels.  To be honest, the blog has narrowed down these days to  mostly the knitting, and has less adventures lately,  probably because I adventure less and knit more these days.  But the drinks haven’t stopped…   

cocktails and yarn

cocktails and yarn

I started blogging for a business idea that never came to be, and just kept going with it.  I lived in a neighbourhood with a great bunch of women about 15 years ago and many of us had first babies and husbands who worked fairly late. By 4 or 5pm, there was always someone on the street who was ready to get together and make a drink and play with another grownup for a bit.  We called those drinks “babycocktails". 

I was knitting back then, and my friend Gabriella loved to sew and we had this idea to make baby clothes where we’d get thrift shop items and add edgings and borders and make them adorable and crafty while having our drinks. Our plan was to name that venture BabyCocktails.  So I got the URL and began blogging to test the waters a little, with the thought that eventually this would be our business website.  

I’m still very good friends with Gabriella, but that idea never took flight.  (The drinks may have gotten in the way of any actual planning or productivity.)  In the meantime, I just kept blogging about my knitting and whatever came to mind. By the time I started designing, the blog had enough of a following to keep the name and go with it.   

As I began designing,  the blog introduced me and connected me to the greater online knitting world.  Knitty had just begun, and other designers were coming out of the woodwork and it was great fun to feel like I was part of something besides my house and home.   And it gave me something to come back to and do each day. Reading other blogs and writing my posts were tasks that had nothing to do with childrearing and that was a great bonus in my day.  Plus, it made my fledgling little design business feel a little bit more real, as I saw page views and comments and felt  in touch with other knitters through the writing. 

The reason for the blog now is more about having a home for my business online.  I have so many Other Things to do, and the writing itself isn’t the a priority it once was, but it’s still fun and I do try to keep at it as best I can. I always use my blog when launching a pattern – it’s the between-pattern times that I need to get back to. 

Bailey's Irish Cream  by Thea Colman

Bailey's Irish Cream by Thea Colman

I focus mostly on my knitting, but I’m a bit chatty in real life – and on paper - so bits about my world always seem to seep in to the posts.  I don’t  walk around now thinking about what I’ll blog about, but usually I get the urge to share when I’ve just begun/finished a project – or when something great arrives in the mail, or I find a great drink.   

The non-knitting things I find bloggable are usually amusing moments  in my day that were vaguely knitting related - like the time  I found out there was a porn star with my name because another mother googled one of my hat patterns and informed me she’d  “found out” .  (The porn star is lovely but she spells Colman with an E, and I don’t think she knits, and she’s NOT me.)  Or the time I burnt an iron mark into the dining room table while blocking a sweater.  This week, I’ve been thinking about it as I’ve added something new to the bad art collection on my office wall. 


The cocktails were not as important in the beginning, but once I started publishing patterns and naming them, I began to include lots of drinks.  So any time I have a new or unusual drink it makes me want to blog – especially if I can get a photo. My family and friends are conditioned not to take a sip of anything until I’ve had the chance to snap a pic. They roll their eyes and sigh sometimes, but they place the glass just so on the table for me and sometimes offer snippets for the post. 

Dark and Stormy  by Thea Colman

Dark and Stormy by Thea Colman

I think blogging showed me that I could put things out there. I’m not exactly shy in person, but I’m not overly confident.  Online, people can be much more black and white about what they want to hear or not, and comments and page views make you face the hard facts that show if people do or don’t care about what you’ve got to say.  It was intimidating.  

The fact that people actually came to my blog and that they were interested in what I was saying and what I was putting out there in terms of design was very empowering and I do think it gave me confidence to put more things out there.  It showed me that I could create something and that people would come for it.  Which was amazing – especially when you spend your days home with a toddler, saying inane things for hours, right?  So for years, I could write stories about my kids and my life and the drinks and the knitting and it made a thing that I was into and people liked.  I found I liked having that little stage, so to speak. 

I find inspiration all over the place – I think that once you get deep into any craft, you see it everywhere.  From sidewalk bricks to tree branches to museum exhibits to shop windows.  Sometimes I take sneaky photos of people on the street because I love That Cable or Her Neckline.   I just deleted 1,200 photos off my phone because I’d used up 8 GB of my storage taking photos of things I was absolutely, positively sure would lead me straight to my next design.   (About 1,100 of them were never glanced at again) but in the moment, I see something and that detail is IT, absolutely IT.   

Mostly, I’m constantly inspired by the industry I’m in – a beautiful yarn can take me down a rabbit hole, or a sweater collection that Brooklyn Tweed puts out can get me thinking about tweedy cables. Every time that Gudrun Johnston publishes a design, I am inspired to do something steeped in history, and every time Joji Locatelli publishes a flowy cardigan, I want to make something drapey with lots of stockinette.  

But I think that answer kind of gets into  my design inspiration – for blogging, my world is focused on the knitting,  and I so wish I could take those perfect photos of folded knits on weathered chairs, and steaming teacups next to skeins of cashmere on a marble countertops.  I’m inspired to work my craft more beautifully when I see those blogs, but I know that in real life, I’m sitting on an exercise ball in my living room or working with a thousand papers piled near the burn mark on my wooden table, and the light is never perfect and that ends up being so much more ME that I guess it’s what I end up talking about instead.  Because, let’s be honest – that’s my actual world, inspiring or not and it’s what I know best."

Blog Week: Sarah Knight of Crafts From The Cwtch

Next up in Blog Week is  blogger who has been more of a recent discovery for me but I've had a soft spot for ever since stumbling over her chatty blog a couple of years ago. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah recently and was thrilled- such a sweet and genuine person. She was just how I imagined her from reading her blog! 

Tomorrow, I have some #loveyourblog inspiration in the form of a podcast interview then a last blog post on Sunday to round this week off with a bang. Phew! Let me know what you've been enjoying ok? This has been a really inspiring week. 

Sarah Knight aka Craft from the Cwtch

Sarah Knight aka Craft from the Cwtch

"Hi, I’m Sarah Knight and my blog is Craft from the Cwtch. I’m a 40 year old mum of two and I write about all sorts of things related to knitting including tips, tutorials, patterns and reviews. I hope to encourage novice and experienced knitters to try different things and to have fun with their craft, but this isn’t how it began.

I started my blog in 2011. It was a difficult time for our family - within a short period we had experienced my father-in-law’s sudden death, the birth of our second child and relocation to a more rural area. I’d already traded an interesting and varied job, which included travel, for long days at home with leaky boobs and nappies. Then, following his dad’s death, my husband threw himself into his career. I loved being at home with my beautiful baby and toddler, but I felt isolated and quite lonely. My life had become about taking care of everyone else’s needs and there was nothing in it which was just for me.

One day I spotted yarn and needles in the village Post Office. I already knew the basics, but learning to make more complicated things and to follow a knitting pattern seemed like a good idea for a ‘personal project’. While searching the internet for tutorials, I found lots of knitting and crochet blogs I enjoyed, and I quickly decided to start Crafts from the Cwtch.

knitting on the needles

Back then, my blog had a dual purpose - documenting my knitting journey and recording the best moments from our days at home. It became a good reason to take photographs of interesting things - these were the days before Instagram - and to note what I was doing with the children. It helped me to focus on positive things. Through various link parties, I became part of a virtual community of knitters and crocheters. I could relate to these women and I got a great deal of practical help, as well as laughter and inspiration from their blogs and comments - several have become friends in ‘real’ life.

Looking back at my early posts, there are occasional signs that we were dealing with more challenging aspects of life - some of my most personal posts include reflections on the loss of loved ones - but I didn’t want my blog to become a sad or negative place. This remains one of my rules - if I have nothing good to write, I won’t write at all. Thankfully, our lives are much more settled these days and I usually have plenty to write about!

Inspired by nature.jpg

I’m often asked about my goals for the blog. There has never been any ‘plan’ for CftC. As in the beginning, I’m still writing about the things that interest me. I’ve never been a slave to statistics and the blog is not a stepping-stone towards some other goal - it is what it is. I only hope that visitors leave feeling time spent on my blog has been worthwhile. I post various things I have found inspiring, but it’s not always about knitting.

When deciding what to write, I think about the things that are happening and try to present them in a way that might be useful to someone else - if I’m going to an event, I tend to post about preparing for that type of event, or what it means to me, rather than just saying that I’m going. If I try a new technique which I like, there’ll be a tutorial / discussion of when it might come in handy. As a reader, I’d find this more engaging, so I assume that the readers I  attract will feel the same.

Journal keeping and other tricks bloggers use to create blog content

Journal keeping and other tricks bloggers use to create blog content

As an avid journal-keeper, I write down any ideas I have (when knitting, listening to podcasts, drawing, reading, or doing just about anything else), however small or insignificant they may seem. My journals are full of partially formed blog posts (and designs) so I need never ‘look’ for inspiration - it’s already there... provided I noted it down (I have a terrible memory).

It is a cliche but the last few  years of blogging have changed my life. As well as helping me through a tricky time (in the beginning) and giving me a relaxing child-friendly hobby (essential during the ‘toddler years’), I’ve learned so much. On a personal level, blogging has made me more reflective - if I didn’t write about knitting, I wouldn’t think about it so much, and probably wouldn’t have realised just how much I missed having a creative outlet in my twenties and early-thirties. While I was busy earning a living, I didn’t make time for the things that fulfil me the most. I have learned that my well-being is directly related to the amount of creativity in my life, and it doesn’t really matter whether it comes in the form of knitting, doodling, writing my blog or colouring with the kids. Creating - anything - is really important to me.

The online community of a knitting blogger

The online community of a knitting blogger

On a practical level, blogging has developed my writing skills and helped me to remain disciplined and organised, despite being home alone a lot of the time. It has taught me to remain curious and not get stuck in a rut with my craft. It has brought some lovely opportunities my way too - I didn’t plan to design or write knitting patterns, but that has been a natural progression and something I enjoy very much. Nowadays I’m invited to take part in all sorts of interesting things (like #LoveYourBlog!) and to contribute to blogs and publications alongside some of the people I have been following since 2011. It feels quite strange as I’m just sitting in my Cwtch, writing about the things I’m interested in. I’m constantly amazed that something which really started out of loneliness has had such a positive impact on my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


Sarah’s Top Tips for loving your blog:

  • Read other blogs to figure out what you like and don’t like, but don’t compare yourself to other bloggers or try to imitate them. Doing your own thing, in a way that feels right to you, will help you to find your voice and to attract the ‘right’ readers for your blog.
  • Make use of the ‘Draft’ and ‘Schedule’ functions. There will be days when you have LOTS to say - write lots of posts that day but publish only one. Save the others for the days when you have absolutely no inspiration, for there will be plenty of those too.
  • It’s ok to say no. You may be offered all sorts of “opportunities” and freebies - some might sound too good to be true (they probably are). Having integrity and trusting your instincts will be worth it in the long run - stay true to yourself and to your readers.
  • It’s also ok to say yes. Advertising and sponsorship can work really well for everyone involved when the brands/products are relevant and well matched. I love getting recommendations from my favorite bloggers because I feel I can trust the brands they are affiliated with.  
  • Keep a journal - note down your ideas and reflections, even if you don’t know what to do with them yet. You’ll be amazed at how useful they are in learning about yourself, and how much more productive you become when you do start to use them. (This tip isn’t limited to bloggers!)"


Blog Week: Blogging for Creatives

When planning for a month long focus on blogging, I looked for resources that would help people think about how they blog, why they blog and what they could blog about. In doing so, I stumbled across Robin Houghton's series of support books for bloggers. Robin very kindly sent me 'Blogging for Creatives' and Robin has just published 'Blogging for Writers' too. 

Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton (image courtesy of Ilex Press Ltd)

Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton (image courtesy of Ilex Press Ltd)

Who is the book for?

This book carries the subtitle: 'How designers, artists, crafters and writers who blog to make contacts, win business and build success'.  In other words this is a book aimed to helped creative businesses develop a place online that they use to share what they make and do. However, when you dive into the book you will quickly find that there's useful information in here for every blogger such as choosing great images and formatting a blog template to look clean and stylish. The big emphasis here is on presenting a professional looking blog but most of the rules still apply for you and I. 

What's inside?

Inside you'll find a walk through of key elements of blogging. Chapters include 'Step-by-Step Setup' and 'Creating Great Content'. There's an in depth look at popular blog sites such as Blogger and Wordpress and plenty of jargon busting that means you can access this book even as a non blogger who is ready to publish something. If you're looking to crank it up a notch, you can jump ahead to 'Monitoring Your Blogs Performance' or 'Promoting Your Blog'. 

Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton (image courtesy of Ilex Press Ltd)

Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton (image courtesy of Ilex Press Ltd)


I really liked the visual layout. Seeing real blog pages broken down with useful captions, pointers and explanations really appealed to me as a blogger. It was a familiar layout except this time I had the stabilisers on and Robin was walking me through what I should be paying attention to when I'm looking at my own blog. It meant I could grab the information I needed no matter what my entry level is. 

Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton (image courtesy of Ilex Press Ltd)

Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton (image courtesy of Ilex Press Ltd)

I particularly liked the insights and advice Robin collected from bloggers I respect and admire. She brought a great cross section of some of the most exciting bloggers out there and introduced me to some I had yet to discovered. Reading Grace Bonney (DesignSponge) talking about her need to release all the energy and excitement that she had about design was really uplifting. So many of us start blogs in excitement and burn out. It's fascinating to see how many bloggers use their blogs creatively with entirely different purposes and approaches and develop it to suit their needs at the time. 


This is a book that I would recommend dipping into if you want to start or a blog or improve how you present it. For creative business owners this would be really helpful. However, it's worth noting that the blogging world moves fast and even in the short time period since publication, things have changed again. I do think that there's enough basic rules here that you aren't running the risk of being left behind. A handy resource to complement others or a starting point for getting serious about the way your blog looks and how you go about creating and presenting content.  


Interested to know more and get some tips from Robin? I've interviewed her for the podcast and will be pushing it live this Saturday. She offers some great insights and thought provoking nuggets about the way blogging has changed so I hope you'll tune in!



Sending Out Some Cardboard Hugs!

Wow when you guys reach out, you reach out!

I'm in awe, thank you to every single person who took the time to let me know they were there after reading Monday's post. I haven't felt so empowered in a while. I'm so grateful for this amazing community. THANK YOU. 

It's been such an unexpected year in so many ways. When I started An Inspired 2015, I was so excited about what I would learn on the way and I hoped people would want to get involved too. Seeing handwritten letters pop up from our Love Letter Swap and so many bloggers rising to the challenge of Falling (back) in Love with their blog has been incredible. 

For the love of snail mail #aninspired2015

So today I'm celebrating by sending out my 'cardboard hugs'. I have new pen pals that need replies, some friends I just want to drop in and say hi to and some goodies to send because yarn in the mail is awesome right? Knowing that someone will find a little piece of happiness on their doorstep this week is great motivation. It feels a little like 'giving back' after the positive messages of support I received this week.  

Our exclusive Volume 1 card designed by  Tilly Flop  in response to the 'Just a Card' campaign

Our exclusive Volume 1 card designed by Tilly Flop in response to the 'Just a Card' campaign

If you're sending out mail this week will you do me a favour? Will you tag me on social media with a picture? I'd love to see some real mail and happy intentions. If you've tucked your Volume 1 cards somewhere for safe keeping, let's make this week the week we send a smile in the post! Oh and you can let me know if you've received anything too- I want to see those smiles because it makes me so genuinely happy that we're knitting this community together. 

Just a Card campaign

Also, don't forget that if you bought your card locally and supported a maker, tag it with #justacard too because that is a message I want to see loud and proud everywhere. If you missed the details of this global campaign with very local implications, please click here

Stay playful!


The Love Your Blog Challenge

I've had one of those weeks where I keep finding a theme and it's keeping me awake at night. The theme? How we connect as an online community and support each other's creativity. 

Big thoughts. 

When I created An Inspired 2015, I did so as a way to kickstart my own creativity and to rediscover my blogging voice. What took me big surprise was the number of you that have joined me on that voyage of discovery. Whether it's sending letters, memory keeping or indulging some serious wanderlust, you've all been reaching out and I LOVE it. It's keeping me awake at night for all the good reasons- I'm so inspired!

I wanted to keep that momentum going and share the love a little. In order to do that, I'm throwing down a challenge for you all. Are you ready?

I'm going to challenge you to fall back in love with your blog over the next month. You know all those great ideas you never actually wrote about? You know that blog you felt guilty about over the last few months (years?) because you never really write it anymore? I want you to stop feeling negative about it and join me and all the other creative bloggers I'm sure feel the same and FALL BACK IN LOVE WITH YOU BLOG.

Go on, click that link. You know you want to!

Have a great weekend and see you on Monday 6th April 2015 to kick things off. Our first creative challenge with explore the theme:

'Interactions and community'

I can't wait to see what you come up with!