Return to the Wild

When you're tired out from moving house and feeling creatively low, driving 4 hours might not seem that appealing at first glance. This was me on Friday morning, breaking down the last of the cardboard boxes and journey planning for a getaway with friends. As I typed the postcode into Google, I let out a small groan and started to reconsider the icebox of local sausages, cheese and gin already stowed in my boot. 

What if I told you though, that at the end of that long drive would be a long track......

farm track to The Damson Cabin.jpg

.... that led you through an orchard where sheep left their wool on their favourite scratching post....

Wool on the scratching post

... and tucked into a meadow was the most beautiful cabin?

The Damson Cabin

I've just returned from a magical time away with friends this weekend at The Damson Cabin, a beautiful cabin located in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. When a group of us wished for a weekend away to celebrate a birthday, we all agreed it needed to be inspiring, soothing and if at all possible, remote. The answer came courtesy of Canopy and Stars, a company who specialise in properties with a little more.... character

What I love about Canopy and Stars is their commitment to helping travelers reconnect with nature and experience a holiday that's a little wilder than your average hotel stay. The choices of accommodation are pretty varied, meaning you can find a slice of adventure that suits you or your family's needs pretty easily. The cabin was typical of the sort of thing you might expect to find from a Canopy and Stars property, with a wood burning stove, fairylights to accompany evenings on the porch and eco features such as solar power. 

We spent our time treating one another to delicious meals, using lanterns to light our suppers and blankets to warm our legs as we sipped morning coffees on the porch. When we fancied stretching our legs we found easy walks through woods, orchards and meadows that gave way to stunning views across the Worcestershire hills. 

meadow walks
Worcestershire hills

Ambling back through the farm on which the cabin is located, we stopped to make friends with some of the local characters and all sighed happily at the roses in full bloom, the textures and above all, the quiet. 

farm friends

Sometimes the best thing you can do is step away from the world and let in just a few brilliant, bright and warm women who make your heart sing. When I recall moments from this weekend I think of smiles, time to indulge our crafts and the endless supply of favourite bakes we shared, gladly. Gatherings in which every participant wishes for the greatest of happiness for their fellow travelers are extremely nourishing for the soul. 

As are the oatmeal cookies and cream teas. 

Oatmeal cookies and scones

What's more, somewhere, in the midst of all this celebration of our friendship, creativity and the beautiful surroundings, I even found time to learn something new....

Learning to crochet


//// ~ Notes from a blog post:

Pattern- Tenbury Hats & Mittens, Kat Goldin for The Crochet Project

Yarn- The Plucky Knitter Primo in Classic Rock & Bottle Blonde

Damson Cabin via Canopy and Stars, booked and paid for by all guests. Loved and adored by all. 

Photography For Knitting & Crochet

Just a quick blog post to let you know that we have a few spaces left on our popular photography workshop next weekend and we would love to see you there.  You can join myself and Emily Quinton for photography, practical sessions and inspiration at her beautiful Makelight studio. 

Whether you have always wanted to take better pictures of your finished objects or are a designer thinking about getting the best images for your patterns and social media, this is a morning dedicated to celebrating stitches and your craft.

Photography for Knitters & crocheters2.jpg

The morning will include:

  • Finding inspiration and developing your style
  • Learning to use and find the best light to really show your stitches and accurate colour
  • Composition and styling- how to take pictures of whole pieces vs small details such as lace or colourwork
  • Getting the best from your camera phone
  • Shooting in Aperture Priority mode on your dSLR (if you have one)
  • Basic editing on your phones and computers
  • A goodie bag for each attendee 
Photography for Knitting & Crochet

After the workshop, there will be a couple of hours to share food, knit, crochet and practice what you’ve learned. During this time you will have plenty of time to get hands on with props and share ideas. Emily and I will be on hand to answer questions about:

  • Tips and tricks for visual social media and using photography on your blog
  • Story telling through visual social media, so that people want to connect with you and if you’re a designer, buy from you!
  • Tips for building your social media following.
  • How to create a visual social media presence that really represents your brand or tells the story you’ve always wanted to tell.

After the workshop you will be able to join the private Makelight Facebook group for continued support, inspiration and networking.

Photography for Knitting & Crochet

Essential Details:

Date: 16th January 2016

Cost: £85 (includes lunch, drinks and cake)

Workshop running time: 10am-2pm

Coffee & settle in: 9.30am

Lunch, practical sessions with props & making time: 2-4pm

Tickets here

Please bring your camera(s) - whatever that is and remember to charge it up and clear your memory cards. We will have plenty of props and inspiring things to photograph but if you want to bring some of your own things then please do.

We can’t wait to spend the day with you all! x

Creative Identity... Devon Sun Yarns

Earlier this week I shared a piece from Sarah- Louise of Lapinblu and her feelings about her own Creative Identity. Today I would like you to meet Daisy of Devon Sun Yarns. You can find Daisy's blog over at inspirecreatedo

Yarns dyed at the retreats

"Creative identity is complex. Who am I, what do I create,– it’s hard to answer that when the knitted shawl I’ve been working on for more than a year lies taunting me from my project shelf and the crochet one I just started is next to it ( don’t worry, they are  in good company – one glove, half a scarf,  the yarn wound for some slippers… I could go on). I questioned whether starting projects could be my creative identity? Maybe I am a serial starter. But then I looked at the things I have made this year – a hat for each of my boys and my partner, socks for my sisters and mum, a vest for my youngest, and its only June. So I know I love to make, and I love useful wearable items – and I realised that most of all I love making for others. But it also makes the process a bit more painful – will it turn out ok, will it fit, am I going to finish in time? Opening myself up to this pressure doesn’t detract from what I am making; seeing the joy that they feel when they receive a handmade gift drives me on.

Feature: Devon Sun Yarns & Creative Identity

Feature: Devon Sun Yarns & Creative Identity

I know the same applies to dyeing yarn – I rarely dye for myself anymore, but I dye hundreds of skeins a month for others, and still love it. Yarn Club opening day is always a breath holding moment – will my yarn clubbers love the yarn, is it the right colour, the right yarn base?  Trying to please 100 people all with the same yarn can be challenging but I love it every month, finding the right yarn for the season, the perfect colours to match the yarn and choosing patterns to compliment it – it’s always a joy. There is something about creating something lovely that you know brings happiness to others that just lights up my heart. 

But it’s not easy being creative, I know that – I see it every month in the faces of the lovely ladies who come to spend a weekend with me at the Yarn Retreat. Standing in front of a blank skein of yarn and a tray of colours is overwhelming, and the fear of getting it right can be crippling. We talk a lot about enjoying the process, not fixating on the end result, and being led by what the colours are doing on the yarn. The results are always stunning, and the confidence of the women is evident as they stand back and admire the beautiful yarn they have made, by allowing themselves to be immersed in the process. It’s humbling for me to be part of that journey. 

Feature: Devon Sun Yarns & Creative Identity

Feature: Devon Sun Yarns & Creative Identity

I know that that is where my creative identity lies – Opening myself up to the process of creativity and guiding others through it to, in choosing patterns, or colours and dyeing techniques, or in their creative business. Creativity does not need to be defined by a finished product, just as my creative identity cannot be defined by what I have made - just as much joy and inspiration can be found in the process too. So I think my beautiful shawl may be destined to stay on the shelf a little while longer, I have workshops to plan and yarn to dye and little feet that need socks – and I am ok with that, because that is where my creative identity is right now and I am loving every minute of it."

This week, I will be sharing ideas, thoughts and insights from some of these wonderful people across Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (@aplayfulday) and of course, here on my creative home.  I'd love you to join in #Creative_Identity

Big Love

So how are you feeling today? Are you feeling the love? 

Over in the Playful Group, we've been sharing some gorgeous stories about selfish knitting, unselfish knitting, knitting memories, crochet dreams and spinning to die for. Why? Because we're all about the Big Love Along I'm currently hosting. There's even prizes just for entering!

Rules are simple:

  1. Kick off when the Ravellenics end
  2. WIPS and double dipping allowed.
  3. You have to be a group member
  4. You have to tell us your BIG LOVE story.

So what will it be? A skein you’ve loved for a long time? A technique you adore? Fibre you’ve lovingly spun for a friend? Something loving for YOURSELF?

Tell us!

We have some gorgeous skeins donated from Whimzy yarns who collaborated with our sponsor this month, Inspiration Knits, to bring fabulous kits to Unravel. You can read all about the patterns Louise recommends Whimzy for here

On the left is Sokkusu O, (O for Original), a 100% Superwash Merino base in the 'Summer Storm' colourway. On the right is 'Johanna' on Silkie Merino, another 

fingering weight yarn but this time 50% Superwash Merino, 50% Silk. To lucky winners will get a skein each, drawn at random from the FO thread. 

Another Way (c) Inspiration Knits

Then whether you have a hankering for 'Another Way' or a different design of Louise's, you can choose a pattern if you're the 3rd lucky winner in this solidarity along! 

The along has already started and I think I'll close the FO thread at the end of March so come on over and join in the chatter!