Essence + Alchemy

For me, candles are a rare and special treat. In the whirlwind of my home life, I use them cautiously, worried an excitable moment from my daughter will lead to disaster. I like a lit candle to help me concentrate while I create, which often means candles are tucked into the hours of the day that are just mine. During these darker months, I'm finding that candles begin and end my work days even more than the rest of the year. I seem to work best if I wake a little ahead of my family, slipping downstairs for uninterrupted tea and a catch up on my emails. I will often light a candle to wake my senses and bring me out of my sleep time fog. Then, at the end of a day full of screens and chaos, I like to wind down for 15 minutes or so with knitting on my lap and a sleep inducing scented candle nearby. The gentle flicker and glow really helps me reframe my busy thoughts till I'm finally ready to let go and sleep. 


Recently, I've taken to using Essence + Alchemy to signpost my daily rituals. I had the pleasure of featuring this small batch producer a few months ago when I wrote about them for Project Calm magazine. Impressed by what I read, I reached out to Lesley, the founder, who sent two candles along for me to try. 

At the start of each day I've been enjoying the WINTER BERGAMOT Candle. This is a hand poured candle with a wooden wick that means it crackles a little as it burns, adding to the atmosphere as I sleepily sip my tea and see what I need to get done for the day. All Essence + Alchemy Candles are 100% natural, blending the finest rapeseed wax and pure organic essential oils with no added chemical fragrances or additives. The part I like almost as much as the comforting smell is the fact the vessel is hand blown by a British producer and can be reused after the candle has finished. Although, I'm trying not to dwell on the idea of it being gone. 

WINTER BERGAMOT by Essence+Alchemy

WINTER BERGAMOT by Essence+Alchemy

At night, I use the 'SLEEP' Utility Candles designed with travellers in mind. The candle is poured in a large amber glass jar (also with a woodwick), and comes in a fair-trade sustainable cotton drawstring bag, which can be used to carry your travelling bits in. My favourite moment is unscrewing the lid each day and getting a heady waft of lavender, sage, bergamot and howood. Delicious. 

I'm so thrilled to share a discount code for you here as I think these will make perfect Christmas gifts and totally work with my Shop Small Christmas goals this year. To qualify for 15% off your purchase, please enter code APD15 at checkout. You'll need to move fast thought as Lesley's last orders before Christmas are 12th December 2016. Direct link to the shop here:


Post created in collaboration with Essence+Alchemy who provided both candles. Opinions and words are all my own. All photography Kate O'Sullivan


Make a Little, Every Day

My creativity is such a barometer to my mood. When I make, I feel good. There was once a time when you would never see me without a pair of knitting needles in my hand. I started learning to sew clothes for my daughter and a few months ago, got a loom. I have hand embroidery half finished, shoved on a shelf somewhere and there's a book about screen printing I keep meaning to find time to read. The fact these projects have been pushed aside to gather dust over the last month or two is a little troubling.

#MakegoodFeelGood - something I return to whenever I can

#MakegoodFeelGood- something I return to whenever I can

The news over the past few days has left me feeling lost and confused. Normally, withdrawing into a little making would be the best way to help me find my feet again. A little time reflecting, thinking about how I can greet hate with love and what this means for me and my community seems much easier when my hands are busy. My hands have not been busy though. In fact, they've been worryingly empty of tools for making and creating. 

It's safe to say I've been busy. A quick check in my dairy confirmed that I have stumbled my way through 19 deadlines in the last 3 weeks alone. I've been preparing to move (t minus 10 days) and there's boxes everywhere. None of them are filled yet. 

So I just did a little stock check. Have I really created nothing?

The APD Seasonal Monthly Recipe- part of the  Patreon  rewards for the podcast. 

The APD Seasonal Monthly Recipe- part of the Patreon rewards for the podcast. 

Well it's not technically true. I've developed a few new recipes thanks to the monthly recipe I share with Patreon subscribers. I've always maintained that in order to cook, you need to be pretty creative and prepared to experiment. I'm enjoying this monthly challenge for myself. It's good to be creating recipes again. 

Project Calm Magazine, for Mindful Living

Project Calm Magazine, for Mindful Living

Then there's some of the work I've been completing for those deadlines. One project was a little story chasing and photography for a new magazine launch. Project Calm is the new sister magazine to Mollie Makes and I was lucky enough to curate some of their pages. I spoke to some amazing people and spent a couple of weeks balancing stories and images of mindful travel, craft projects and a slower living focus each day. You can find out more about the magazine on the Mollie Makes site, here

I also spent a few days creating video and studio images for a beautiful new knitwear collection designed by Renée Callahan for The Fibre Co. The collection is called The Zen Variations and features beautiful sweaters that really showcase Renee's trademark attention to detail. I love Renée's work and had the pleasure of working with items from The Future Kept too when creating supporting images for this inspiring collection. I spent a day shooting, humming happily to myself and thinking about light, mood and tone. I patted skeins happily and indulged in some imaginary knitting in my head as I worked. 

So perhaps the making has been a little on the periphery but it's there if I let myself look at little closer. Sometimes life just doesn't let you indulge it in quite the way you're used to. I'll get right on that. After I move.....

Renée has very kindly offered readers of A Playful Day a discount code if you need to indulge in some knitting time. You can purchase The Zen Variations at 20% off through her Ravelry store by using the code, playfulELK. Offer ends 27th June 2016. 

Announcing a Collaboration with Chroma Stationery

I have a journal problem. 

I'm fairly sure a lot of you can relate to this addiction. There's something intensely satisfying about a favourite pen, a journal and all your creative ideas, travel notes or garden plans being jotted inside. I must own about 15 journals and 6 are actively in use at any given time. To me, there's nothing better than a stack of magazines, a pen, a journal, my knitting and a long train ride. 

You can imagine my excitement then when a parcel arrived with the tell tale sticker on the front from Chroma Stationery. After the success of the 'Journal along' last year and the theme of travel and Treasured Memories creating lots of journal chatter this year, I just had to see if Chroma Stationery could create the perfect journal. 

You know what?

'An Inspired 2015 journal' with silver embossing

'An Inspired 2015 journal' with silver embossing

They did. 

Gabi, Chroma's founder, created her company after years of trying to find a good quality notebook that won't break the bank and came in the exact colour she wanted. Chroma is all about colour and has 20 different options for your journal, each with its own name and personality. Let me tell you now that choosing just the right one nearly broke me (in the end I opted for 'Meredith' because of my grey love). 

My journal's back cover has a little motto for me 'playful days' to remember while journalling

My journal's back cover has a little motto for me 'playful days' to remember while journalling

Chroma offer a free embossing service where you can choose exactly what to put on your notebook, in your chosen font and size. You can opt for plain, lined or square paper (hello knit designers!) and there's an option for bound or spiral bound. 

Chroma journal, wrapped.jpg

Your order comes beautifully wrapped with the Chroma story and mission tucked inside for you to read once you've torn off the paper and delved gleefully into your bespoke notebook. Cookie while opening is optional of course. 

Hart and Honey magazines, Rooibos and my journal. Perfect. 

Hart and Honey magazines, Rooibos and my journal. Perfect. 

So here it is, my perfect journal, ready to capture all my hopes, dreams, ideas, travels and journeys this year for An Inspired 2015. It gets better though because I've collaborated with Chroma Stationery to create this journal and you can get one too!

Chroma are offering a 20% discount code when you order a Chroma notebook with the A Playful Day embossing design shown above (front: 'An Inspired 2015', back: 'playful days'). To order please visit the Chroma website, choosing your colour notebook and the colour of embossing - your notebook will then feature the A Playful Day design! Remember you can choose whether your book is spiral bound or not and dictate what the paper will be inside. The discount code is - PLYFLDY1. Code will expire 31st March 2015 so grab yours now! 

I hope you join me in this creative mission and grab your journal too. Be sure to let us know on social media by tagging me (@aplayfulday) or Chroma (@chromasationery) and #aninspired2015. I can't wait to see what you choose!

ps I'll be featuring an interview with Chroma Stationery founder Gabi next week so stay tuned for some amazing creative business inspiration!




- this is a non sponsored post. Chroma love is entirely authentic. Get the addiction too ~x

Constant Craving

There is something about the cold snap in the air, twinkle lights and new pattern releases that's got me craving some high quality knitting sessions. It always happens- the leaves turn, they fall, the cold wind cuts through my winter coat and I'm craving chunky knits and the snuggliest of sweaters. 

You can imagine my joy and dismay when I saw the news that one of my beloved dye friends and sponsor!) is updating THIS friday and there's going to be some new bulky weight yarn. I asked for a sneak peek. I shouldn't have....



100 yards of Superwash Merino in a bulky weight dyed by Lisa of NorthBound Knitting. It screams fast knit accessories on Christmas Eve right? It's like Lisa felt my yearning, took one look at my current green phase (seriously, it's out of control, I'm casting on MORE green) and decided to call a siren song from her snowy Canadian abode. I'm there, clicking refresh. Catch me if you can. 



(Want the full update details? Friday December the 19th at 11:00am EST. Preview in Lisa's group)

I have also been dreamily watching Veera Valimaki's advent unfold. Have you caught it yet? An inspiring series of patterns from children's accessories and garments through to adult with plenty of free options sprinkled in for good measure. My queue is in overdrive right now. Here's some of my highlights:

' Bear ' by Veera Valimaki

'Bear' by Veera Valimaki

Rag Rug Mitts  by Veera Valimaki

Rag Rug Mitts by Veera Valimaki

'Coal' By Veera Valimaki

'Coal' By Veera Valimaki

Talking of queues, the Secret Santa Pattern Palooza is on and I'm having so much fun reading everyone's reasons for queueing vs favouriting and how they use their queue to inspire their knitting. Totally fascinating and even if you're not participating I think you'll enjoy the chat

It also means all those pattern codes are now live for juicy discounts from some of my favourite designers- anything from £5 off to a 25% off running across publications and Ravelry downloads. I feel so lucky to have so many supportive designers on board. Go check it out and buy yourself a little festive treat!

Episode 70: A Story of Two Houses

handspun yarn for sssalong
A Playful Day is proud to be sponsored by NorthBound Knitting, Sensuous Yarn: Modern designs. On Friday November 28th, there will be a Black Friday Fiber Update, with FREE SHIPPING!! Spoiler pics will be posted very soon. Click on the banner above for more information. 

A Playful Day is proud to be sponsored by NorthBound Knitting, Sensuous Yarn: Modern designs. On Friday November 28th, there will be a Black Friday Fiber Update, with FREE SHIPPING!! Spoiler pics will be posted very soon. Click on the banner above for more information. 

A Playful Day is proud to be sponsored by pom pom,   a quarterly publication based in London, UK for smart, creative types. The Winter 2014 issue is almost here and conjures   up a dream winter wardrobe, perfect for afternoons at the pub. For more information please click on the banner above. 

A Playful Day is proud to be sponsored by pom pom, a quarterly publication based in London, UK for smart, creative types. The Winter 2014 issue is almost here and conjures up a dream winter wardrobe, perfect for afternoons at the pub. For more information please click on the banner above. 


Show notes:

I recently reviewed Kate Atherley's forthcoming book 'Pattern Writing for Knit Designers' and will be hosting Kate in a special episode next week. 

I will attending the pom pom christmas party on the 6th December 2014. 


I encourage you to get a little selfish (or a whole lot!) in our Selfish Single Skein KALCast on will be 21st November 2014 and we'll announce some prizes and fun on Christmas Eve. Hashtags? #SSSalong #apdpodcast. 

I will casting on Jane by Jane Richmond with some delicious handspun. Back up option is Pasha, also by Jane Richmond. 

I give a few suggestions on working with handspun and have added a few useful tutorials to my spin spin sugar pinterest board. 


To show we're not always selfish, Cinnamingirl and I will be inviting you to sign up for a Secret Santa Pattern Palooza. You'll be assigned a giftee to secretly gift a pattern to then in January, we're going to knit up those patterns in a casual KAL. Watch out from 1st December 2014 for sign ups. 


I host Helen from Curious Handmade to chat about her holiday knitting. 

Knitvent 2014 includes the Candlelit Shawl

Pebble Beach Shawlette

Red Robin Shawl

Holiday Planner

Eden Fells hat for Helen's husband

Helen's beading tutorial

To win a copy of Knitvent 2014, please leave a comment below telling me which of Helen's patterns you would most like to knit by 3rd December 2014. Good luck!

Get 25% discount off Knitvent 2014 at checkout with the code APD25 until 12th December 2014. 



Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Noise Trade

Song in My Head by The Banner Daysavailable on Noise Trade

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!


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 …