Fixing Creative Block

Sometimes you just hit a wall and *nothing* happens for you creatively. I'm not making. I'm not writing and every picture I take feels a bit.... meh. 

So I went hunting for inspiration this week and thought I would share some of the goodies I have found because sometimes, we need a creative adrenaline shot. 

1. Podcasts:

I fell out of love with podcast listening as my daily routines changed a few months ago and I didn't have the same space to listen anymore. I've carved out some time lately and went hunting for something new and vibrant. The Slow Home and Blogtacular didn't disappoint.

Blogtacular's podcast is still a baby but they've launched with an interview with Marte Marie Forsberg so expect something that will make your toes tingle and your soul yearn for big adventures with a camera. 

As for The Slow Home, I jumped in with Zero Waste with Bea Johnson and have been hyper aware of my habits at home ever since. It touched me deeply and profoundly and her call to arms that involves " a life of experiences not denial" was just awe inspiring. 

2. Steller

A (new to me) story telling platform that lets you upload images, video and text. The thing I like the most about this platform is you can harvest old content in new ways so all that hard work across a year finds new life again. I'm a teensy tiny bit in love already and have drafted about a million stories that I would love to share. In the meantime, this one helped me find a story when I thought I'd never be creative again. 

3. Mamas who roar 

My lovely friend Jen of Make Do and Mend was recently interviewed by national press and film crews, eager to make a story out of her choices around a more sustainable family life. In a recent Skype call she told me she sat her children down for a chat about what this all meant and I urged her to share that story. She did (read it here) and it's pretty humbling how a mother in the public eye has to answer to the many voices asking if she's making her children weird. She's not. She's really, really not and we need to stop making this a question when women do brilliant and brave things. 

 

"I just ever seemed to quite feel that glowing period that everybody talks about"

Another mother who made my heart swell with pride is Emily at MummyLimited. Emily was brave enough to be part of a campaign in which she was featured in a video telling all about her experiences of miscarriage, anxiety and depression and is now nominated for a Tommy's Voice Award. This award celebrates a mum who has spoken out about her own experience and given hope to others so I sent my vote in immediately. Some of you might remember that Emily held my hand online a few months ago when I told the world I was a regular single mum struggling to make sense of it all. Emily's ability to make us feel better as mothers is uncanny and having her hand to hold made 2015 a much better year for me. If you are moved by Emily's video like I was, please vote. You can find details here

4. Going on a knitting adventure

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting up with Clara Parkes and she slipped an early copy of her forthcoming book 'Knitlandia' into my eager hands. I sunk happily into this ode to the fibre community this week and smiled throughout. Clara has a wonderful ability of describing people I have come to know and love in a way that is honest but also a magical version of them where our knitting is appreciated and our efforts celebrated worldwide. If the world saw people through the same eyes as Clara, we would all be better for it. Her starting point is that we are pioneers, explorers and leaders and it is, of course, as it should be. It's out in February and you can find out more here

5. Speakers who awaken my creativity

I was honoured to be a speaker at the annual winter workshop event held by Nuffnang last weekend. While my own contribution left me a little weak at the knees, hearing fellow speakers Sara (of Me an Orla) and Jess (of Love and London) made it all worthwhile. The take home lesson for me was know your platform, love it, nurture it and form a community around it. Watching these two women speak with such passion about what they have grown and love was truly incredible. They've created a world that allows them to earn a living and be creative and it made me hungry for 2016. It reminded me also that there is no greater adrenaline shot of inspiration than being in a room full of dynamic and fascinating people. 

 

What's been keeping your creative this week?

Art Inspired Knitwear {Guest Post}

On the last podcast episode I introduced Renee Callaghan's latest knitwear release, 'The Klee Collection' and promised a guest post sharing all her inspiration. Here it is and I love how much detail and form that Renee has captured from her time spent gazing at Klee's beautiful work. 

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I have always been attracted to the arts. Long before it ever occurred to me to make things myself, I studied and loved things that other people made; paintings, drawings, sculpture. When I began to study art history, it was the very uselessness of the fine arts that attracted me. These objects seemed like tangible proof that the need to create aesthetically pleasing things transcended the basic necessities of survival such as food and shelter. As long as people have existed, they have created objects and made marks above and beyond what was strictly useful. 

And yet… 

When I came to the decision that designing and making things was just too important to me to do anything else, I felt an overwhelming urge to make useful things that people would use—hopefully—every day. I felt, and continue to feel we live in a world full of stuff, much of it mass produced, and that the making of a thing with your own hands is valuable both as an act of creation and as a tiny defiance of the disposable nature of all that stuff in our world. 

This all sounds very worthy, but it is more than that. It is also about pleasure. The pleasure in making things by hand. The pleasure in seeing something beautiful. The pleasure in seeing something beautiful, and then following it into another act of creation…. 

Inspiration is a nebulous thing. A couple of years ago, the Tate Modern put on a wonderful exhibition of Paul Klee’s work and after going to see it, I was inspired to be more creatively ambitious and pursue my hand-knitting design with a collection. I choose a few of Klee’s paintings and started to extract little bits of beauty from them and try to make them my own. 

It was not a smooth or direct path. Sometimes it was a single colour, as the shocking red of Angel in the Making.

Angel in the Making

Sometimes it is a more subtle thing, such as the title of the painting. I took this concept into knit with the idea of an evolving lace stitch, a lace in the making beginning with a single eyelet, evolving as the eyelets multiply and resolve themselves into pretty lace patterns. The Angel in the Making shawl and Angel in the Making sweater were the results.

Angel in the Making Shawl & Sweater

Sometimes a metaphor morphs into another shape in the mind, as did the idea of graphic arm/wings in Angelus Novus.

Angelus Novus

Isn’t she a beauty? I imagined the arms wrapping around the body and turned into a wing-like pattern that envelops the body. There is joy in the simplicity of the shapes, something both childlike and elegant. My interpretation produced the Angelus Novus cardigan

Angelus Novus Cardigan
Angelus Novus Shawl

Twilight Flowers was painted just a few months before Klee’s death in 1940. I love the flat, patterned aspect of the simple geometric shapes and the pops of colour among the muted palette.

Twilight Flowers

Each design features unique geometric lace knitting inspired by the strange and wonderful shapes that run like a language through Klee’s work, and the Twilight Flowers Mitts…

Twilight Flower Mitts

…and Twilight Flowers pullover designs in particular focus on the beauty of simple repeats, and incorporating my inspiration and love of Klee into wearable garments that knitters will make and wear for years to come.

Twilight Flowers Sweater

The Klee Collection is available here.

Wips & Blooms: October

Oh Autumn!

Autumn making

This is the month that makes my heart soar every year. The minute I feel September getting into its stride, I'm daydreaming about the leaves turning, the snuggly feel of wool and planning all the baking I possibly can. By the time we trundle into October, I'm bursting with excitement at all the best of the season. 

Wips and Blooms October

In my own making, I've been on something of a swatching journey. I spent a lot of the last month working on article commissions and material for the podcast, exploring local-to-me yarns. The journey has been soothing and fascinating. It has also been the perfect preparation for what I refer to as Knitting Season (yes, capitalised). 

To celebrate a little, Katie and I decide that this month's #wipsandblooms entries on Instagram should have the chance to win a seasonal treat. We would love to see the best of what October has to offer both in terms of sharing your process of making and the 'blooms' you've foraged and found. It's becoming sparse out there in the Northern Hemisphere; Winter is creeping in. However, there's still much to be found from rosehips to rosemary. We can't wait to see. 

All entries tagged with #wipsandblooms between now and October 31st will have the chance to win a special package kindly donated by Mimosa Street. I first discovered this independent store a few months ago and created a virtual wishlist for the new home when we eventually move. Most of Mimosa Street's products are handmade and they work closely with designer-makers to create beautiful items that can only be found in their store. 

When I asked for something to reflect October's foraged and found emphasis, I received the perfect items:

A Floella Vase: A fairtrade hanging vase made from recycled glass that would be perfect for little sprigs and blooms to brighten up indoors and outdoors. (I would love a little string of them on an outdoor snug!)

A poppy Seedball tin: Autumn is the perfect time to scatter poppy seedballs which were created by conservation scientist to offer a new twist on seed propagation. The wildflower seeds are rolled into little balls with clay, compost and chilli powder (to deter predators) and are a perfect way to grow native wildflowers that encourage bees and butterflies. 

Retro floral pocket notebook: Designed and printed in England and made from recycled paper, this pretty notebook is just the right size for musings on the move. 

wips and blooms October

So what will you be making this Autumn? You might even be preparing for warmer weather if you're in the Southern hemisphere of course! I'd love to see your making and crafting progress and hope to see your #wipsandblooms on Instagram soon!

 

 

The Muse Connection Volume 2: Beginnings

When Helen and I dreamed of an event where we brought like minded people together for some quality knitting time, treats and inspiration, I don't think either of us could really have known the amazing reaction and love that was shown towards it. The Muse Connection has flourished thanks to so many people wishing to attend, sharing their joy at meetings and joining in the knitalongs. 

Volume 2 goodie bags in all their glory

Volume 2 goodie bags in all their glory

Today I'm sat looking through the photos that our talented friend Tom Legge shot on the day of Volume 2. I couldn't be happier to be reliving the smiles, the excitement and general togetherness that I felt that afternoon. 

Making friends
Making friends

On the day we explored the theme of beginnings- new friendships and yarns, taste testing Signature Needles, new opportunities and projects. I would like to share some of the inspiration that I took away with me from our speakers Rachel Coopey and Lydia Gluck too. It's been resonating ever since and this is just the impact that I hoped these two talented women would bring to the event. They didn't disappoint. 

Lydia Gluck, co editor of Pom Pom Quarterly giving her talk at The Muse Connection

Lydia Gluck, co editor of Pom Pom Quarterly giving her talk at The Muse Connection

Lydia is the co editor of Pom Pom Quarterly and someone I've had the pleasure of watching her change the dream an idea of a magazine and grow it into a highly successful business with her friend Meghan. Their friendship has only become stronger and now they have a growing team around them of equally inspiring women. Lydia shared an insight into that journey and one clear message was that there are lots of different kinds of beginnings. Many beginnings are like a plaster we rip off and start whereas some, the kind Lydia described, are more slow burning. The change evolves, momentum builds and pieces fall into place. We learn so much during these kinds of beginnings and often new mini journeys cascade from them as we find new obstacles and skills we need to learn. Lydia admitted that while she still feels that she is at the beginning, she is now comfortable in that position. It really shows. 

Rachel Coopey giving her talk at The Muse Connection

Rachel Coopey giving her talk at The Muse Connection

The talk Rachel Coopey shared truly resonated for me. She talked about her love of a blank notebook but the fear of putting your mark on that very first, clean page. I too suffer from blank page paralysis where the fear of committing to the whole thing can be daunting. Rachel encouraged us to think of beginnings in multiples: cast on more projects, mark more pages and try things out. In making many beginnings a reality, it might be that we find the journey that we were meant to be on. I think I might have been the loudest applause in the room at this point. It really did speak to me!

Yarn squishing!
Needle tasting

It was bitter sweet. Both Helen and I are moving on to new projects and collaborations. Helen has collections to design and release and I have an Autumn that quite frankly excites and terrifies me in equal measure. Picking a date for Volume 3 has been hard so we've held off for now while things come together. 

If you want to see more photos from Volume 2 you can find them here

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!

Postcard Bloggers with Curious Handmade

Here it is, the final post for #postcardbloggers2015! 

I've really enjoyed hosting this wanderlust filled blog hop and I hope you have enjoyed travelling with us too?

You can find all the previous postcard blog posters on A Playful Day here. Alternatively, come find the 'Wanderlust' board that I have created on Pinterest where you'll find all the postcards we sent as well as travel journal and photography inspiration, travel tips and advice and just a little more wanderlust enabling too. Check us out on social media with the hastags #aninspired2015 #postcardbloggers2015

Here's Helen from Curious Handmade:

Dear Kate

I’m writing to you from the most perfect place at this time of year – Paris in the Springtime!

For the love of Paris- design inspiration for textile artists

Paris is one of those special cities where you can go, wander around and be thoroughly entertained without planning a single thing. Everywhere you look you will see exciting architecture, tempting shops and of course beautiful people. It really is true that the Parisienne women have a flair for accessories! I always come away brimming with design inspiration after a trip to Paris.

Inspirational Paris markets and haberdasheries

The city is bursting with flea markets, fabric and yarn shops and all kinds of haberdashery and passementerie (which is a fancy French word for trimmings and tassels –I just love how it rolls off the tongue).

Parisienne patisserie

And then there is the food! Did someone say patisserie?! Gotta go!

Love Helen

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
 

An Inspired 2015: Location and Journey

In case you missed the announcement on the podcast this weekend, this month's theme for An Inspired 2015 will be...

...Location and Journey

travel and location inspiration collage

I'll be exploring the different ways in which travel, locations and the personal journeys we take help bring us inspiration for the whole month of March. To help me, I've enlisted the help of some bloggers who understand my wanderlust. We'll be sharing a postcard on each other's blogs talking about the inspiration we've found. Here's who is making me want to pack a bag and explore this month:

Helen blogs at Curious Handmade and is an Australian who has settled in London with her family. She describes herself as a Global Nomad and I've loved her travel segments on her podcast for quite a while. 

Maria blogs at Subway Knits and is a native New Yorker who embraces her Greek heritage. I first fell for Maria's fellow wanderlust when she shared tales from her travels in Japan where she lived for a while. 

Clare blogs at Yarn and Pointy Sticks and has some serious travelling under her belt. She's a South African chick with a great ability to connect with knitters all over the world. She  somehow manages to capture it all in  her design and blogging life. I love it!

To keep up to date with each blog post, follow the hashtag #postcardbloggers2015 on social media. Want to share you travel inspirations? Just tag me or any of the bloggers and include the hashtag #aninspired2015. We'd love to hear about your creativity!

It's a big world beyond that window.... go play!

It's a big world beyond that window.... go play!

I'm so excited to share the first postcard next week from Clare. See you then?

(Oh and if you love travel journals, I have a really special announcement coming up Wednesday that I can't wait to share so check back for something pretty special indeed.)