From Dorset With Love

Can we take a moment to celebrate the power of female friendship please?

Flowers and friendship.jpg

Excellent.

I spent last weekend running workshops with a group of women so creative and amazing, I felt like I moonwalked right out of the teaching space. I jumped in a cab and checked my phone. I saw the happiest of news: my good friend is totally having her moment and causing a big buzz around her new collection launch. It felt so good to see women just owning their ambitions and working with clarity and focus to achieve them. 

I had the pleasure of shooting this special collection a few months ago. It was my first full shoot with models and I was more than a little nervous about getting my friend, Clare Devine,  what she needed. When the samples arrived, I was instantly inspired and moved them around in my hands, examining seams, hems, details..... the feel and look of each piece. The colour choices reminded me so much of the nature tones that inspire me here everyday and I felt a new confidence. 

' Lulworth Cove ', available on Ravelry. 

'Lulworth Cove', available on Ravelry. 

I contacted friends to help and put together a day full of pictures, laughter and happiness. I really think you can tell how much fun we had. 

' Corfe Castle ', available on Ravelry

'Corfe Castle', available on Ravelry

The collection is called, 'From Dorset with Love' and includes Clare's first sweater design (and it's a goodie). Each piece is a wardrobe staple, thoughtfully designed to make it a pleasure to knit and sit *just* right when worn. Clare is releasing these over the coming week and I have a special code for you today if you wish to knit your new favourite project. 

To enjoy 20% off at checkout when shopping on Ravelry, you can use the code '"APD20"

'Swyres Head' available on Ravelry

'Swyres Head' available on Ravelry

I'd like to shout out a few lovelies who also helped make this shoot special:

Model extraordinaire- Sarah Knight

White Striped Dress- STALF 

Beautiful Bouquet- Beards and Daisies (my go to florist, every shoot)

And my dear friend Elaine who doesn't have an online presence for me to link to for you to go and high five her, sadly. She's quiet and gentle and finds the big wide world of the internet a bit intimidating. Let's not tell her we're all pouring over her photos and finding her cute as a button shall we?

Happy knitting! x

 

The Quiet Network

Do you have a Quiet Network?

Do you have a quiet network?

This a network that exists in texts, quick smiles on a busy school run and 'likes' on those status updates that revealed more than we realised when we hit post. The Network is one that closes ranks when a comment strikes too close to the bone. It has a habit of checking in when you've not been able to say much for a little while now. This is a Network that helps you hold together pieces that you can't quite figure out how to piece together yet. It has a way of raising you up by saying "I know" with very little contact. It's just there when it matters. 

If, like me, you have a pretty solitary kind of job and lifestyle, it can be easy to think that there's no one who knows what your week has meant to you. Sometimes, it can feel like you're very alone. Life moves fast for many of us and there just doesn't seem to be the time we need to really connect. 

However, I can assure you that those small moments online can be the most nourishing of quick connections when life is too much to bear. For me, these are the reminders needed in order to reassure me that there is love and we all struggle to find the time that we'd ideally invest in one another if we could. Our busy lives often just don't afford that time and rather than resent it, I try to gather those little notifications on my phone around me like armour against some pretty tough moments in any given day. I know that when I've found myself quietly crumbling and feeling like I have more than I can bear, those clicks have sustained me enough to keep the forward momentum that I needed to move me past the dark. 

I've grown tired of reading and hearing the constant denouncement of online life; how it is fake, cold or without depth. Without this Quiet Network that exists in my phone and devices, I know I would be a much sadder and less confident person. So many online connections have blossomed into friendships that have felt right for this stage of my life. By laying the foundations digitally, I felt like I could have the room that I needed to breathe, to be an individual and yet also the gentle feeling of being observed, acknowledged and enjoyed. It can be as simple as a friend clicking a like on a picture. I know they make the connection to what it meant for me to share that moment. I know they are letting me see that someone in that Network is rooting for me just as I am for them. 

The Quiet Network of women
Clare

This post is dedicated to the women who knew, who saw and who always raised me up these past few years. The power of that love is enormous and I wish I had more photos of every single one to share today so they are celebrated right back. In our back to school, new season weeks, we've all tangled and untangled, no matter how fleeting and I am so grateful. I know there's others out there who are nourished by the warmth and joy you bring and I want to say openly and with sincere heart, I love how women use The Quiet Network to keep one another afloat. 

Sarah in the network
Carina

Here's to women and The Quiet Network we create online. We do what we do. We love. xx

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. 

Slow Burning

A discussion picked up on Twitter the other day about the pleasure in a slow and steady knit. It was quite apt given the garment I just finished and FINALLY took pictures of but I'll talk about that a bit more in a minute.

What we agreed was that while wearing knits was wonderful, it's always with slight sorrow that we bind off. I find myself eager to get to that finishing point, to have my hat, to wear my shawl, to share it with other knitters who will 'ooohhhh' and 'ahhhhhhh' along with me at the clever pattern features and gorgeous yarn. However, I always feel slightly bereft at the point of cast off. I wish I was at the beginning again with all that fresh promise. I love the first few sessions of knitting on a new project. It's like making a new friend.

It's often when you're at the end that you've really hit your stride and can do the pattern repeat instinctively and of course, that's when it all speeds up and you're suddenly almost at the Bind Off. To be fair, there's also been projects that I've cast off and thought 'Oh thank God, I'm never knitting that again!' As a general rule though, slow meditative steps in our knitting should be celebrated as much as the 'quick knit' and the instant gratification that it promises. There's lots of workshops out there for you to speed up your knitting. I know I'm slow but I love every piece just as much.

If hats are fast and dirty, sweaters and socks are slow burners for me. I just don't knit that fast. It irked me when I first learned to knit as I wanted all my sweaters to be handmade and never to have to buy socks again. This is absolutely ridiculous at the rate I knit and even this far into knitting, with a back catalogue under my belt, I'd not make such a silly pledge.

It was rather lovely though to photograph these two slow burning projects at long last because I took them at a very steady pace which means I adore wearing them all the more.

Julissa in Miss Babs Yowza!

The first is my Girl Crush Sweater. I settled for photographing it on my sister (oh she had a lot of modelling to do that weekend) so this doesn't quite show it's full glory, but still, a special sweater all the same.This sweater saw me through the discovery that I was pregnant, the big move from North to South London, settling into a home full of some pretty enormous DIY projects, the arrival of my daughter and then finally settling into Motherhood and feeling I had run a marathon! Each stitch has a story and I smile each time I reach for this sweater. I will always think of the many moments I retreated into its' comforting lace and cables when there was some huge changes going on in my life.

Pyrite Socks in JFA Buffy Toughie

Then, finally, there is the Pyrite Socks and I adore them. I bought the yarn after a visit to Asti's farm and each time I look at the beautiful colours I think of that magical countryside holiday with close friends and our family. Meeting Asti was the icing on the cake and we've formed a friendship that I treasure.

So I am now slightly lost and a little perturbed about my next knitting plans. The Ravellenics always unsettles me, making me feel that I should run to keep up and then, as is so often the case, I shrug and retreat into my slow, plodding knitting and remember that I'm just not that way inclined. I prefer to be the person coaching the team; I'm better suited to enjoying other people's glory than my own. I won't even model my own sweater for goodness sake!

x

A Song For Boo

Christmas is about coming together and thinking of friends and family and something happened several weeks ago that made me realise how important it is to nurture our relationships. We lost a beautiful person and I've not really found the words yet to express the way this saddened me. Somebody did and they've created a song, with all proceeds going to Diabetes UK, a charity very important to Boo and her family as she struggled to come to terms with her condition.

If you can find it in your hearts to buy the song, I for one would be very grateful as would her family who I know will find this particular holiday a very raw and painful one. The song was written by her former guitar teacher and his songwriting partner in her memory. 

It is a very beautiful song and I will always think of that Autumn day, staring at the stained-glass in Guildford Cathedral while surrounded by the many friends and family that came to show Boo how much we loved her. It hurt to listen to but it also gladdened my heart that her spirit lives on in all the many, many, many people she inspired. You can purchase the song through iTunes and download it

here

. If you make one holiday donation this year, I would be so grateful if it were this one. 

I wish everyone reading this the most warm wishes this holiday season and I hope 2014 brings many wonderful things into your life. 

Thank you