This episode I’m in conversation with Shannon Downey, known in her business and online as Bad Ass Cross Stitch. Shannon is an artist, craftivist, community builder, and general instigator which is a word I love and we explore pretty early on.Read More
If you caught the last Season's podcast, you'll know making a home has been a pretty big theme for me. Having just moved, I've now got a blank canvas to explore and decorate. I have a new garden and am surrounded by beautiful scenery that I'm delighting in getting to know each season.
I wanted to be able to reflect the Nature Baby in me that rejoices with the changing weather, no matter what the season. I seek out new flora and fauna and I'm almost always called out on saying "those are my absolute favourite" to each new bloom. I love the way Magnolia heralds the entrance of Spring and thick blossom promises Summer just round the corner. It wasn't until I discovered Selina Lake's book, 'Botanical Style', that I realised I could bring all this joy into my home.
'Botanical Style' is a celebration of nature, plants and florals in the home. The book explores Selina's love for botanicals and includes styling and decorating tips for your home. I love how rich in photography the book is, meaning I could leaf through, deciding options that felt more like "me" and my home when the world of interior design felt new and unfamiliar. The book is also helpfully divided into different style sections such as 'Boho Botanicals' or 'Vintage Botanicals'.
It's meant that once the furniture started going into place, the next thing I turned my mind to was fabrics, plants and little details that brought that happy feeling I get outside, into my home. Things started creeping in...
And then some more things crept in....
It seemed perfect then that this month, Katie and I will be hosting a giveaway for our #wipsandblooms monthly join in on Instagram, giving away a copy of the book. To date, this is my largest Work In Progress: an entire home, decorated to make me feel a sense of joy and security. I'm using a lot of Selina's tips and styling ideas as I turn my attention to places I can put a little texture and tone that reminds me of times spent outside, enjoying the best of the season.
For your chance to win a copy of the book, all you have to do is post an image on Instagram that shows your current making and include a favourite bloom (or plant- keep it truly botanical style!). It can be big or small, styled or natural. It really is all about the process. Add the hashtags #wipsandblooms and if you like, tag Katie (@Ceramicmagpie) and myself (@aplayfulday). You can even let people know it's for a giveaway because that's just a nice thing to do, right? At the end of the month we will pick a lucky winner!
Happy Making x
My copy of Botanical Style was kindly provided by Ryland Peters, Selina's publishers. Views expressed here are my own. To find out more please visit the following link:
"I feel like I might be on the brink of my biggest creative explosion yet and I’m so ready for it- are you?"
In this episode I’m sharing some of the projects and rabbits holes I’ve been falling down lately with baking, sewing and a little crochet.
Well I'm finally settling into our new life in a village and it's really inspiring lots of mini adventures and making. The blank canvas of a new home is as exciting as it is overwhelming! The cottage has white walls and tons of possibility so I'm taking my time to collect furniture and then add furnishings. One of the big influences on me was reading Erin Boyle's book Simple Matters recently.
I've been doing a lot of pinning on The Maker's Year pinboard for July.
I review a sewing book I absolutely loved being sent for review thanks to The GMC Group:
I've been working on the Tenbury Hats & Mittens, designed by Kat Goldin for The Crochet Project. The yarn is The Plucky Knitter Primo in Classic Rock & Bottle Blonde. I shared more about this project and the fun we had on the blog a few weeks ago. You can read Return to the Wild here.
How’s you making been going?
I’ve been seeing plenty of posts in both #themakersyear and #wipsandbloom. You can join in both of these creativity challenges over on Instagram and the #wipsandblooms hashtag is particularly fun as my cohost @ceramicmagpie is particualry good at rustling up guest judges and prizes. This month the very talented Janne who is @jannelford, a very successful photographer and stylist on Instagram, is hosting for us and she’s brought a lot of inspiration to the table. So do keep documenting your seasonal making and share whenever you feel. I am resolving to get better at doing this across Summer!
Music is 'Unclear' by Victoria Canal via Noisetrade
Podcast produced with the kind support of Chris Muldoon.
With thanks to GMC Distribution for kindly providing a copy of 'Sewing Happiness'. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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.
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?
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.
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.
One of my favourite things about being a maker is the powerful resources that I have available to me to show people in my life or community that I care deeply about them. There's a real joy that comes from selecting just the right small gift that communicates to someone "I remembered you got cold hands when you cycled to work to teach my daughter last week" or "You Little One is your most precious thing, they deserve to be wrapped in the rich natural fibres that I sourced just for them".
Thanks to the ability to make, I can craft unique gifts that layer meaning so that not only is it just right for a problem the recipient might have been trying to solve but also has a little detail like the motif of a much loved flower. Rough gardeners hands and cold feet find perfect solutions and allow me to gift something that fits into the everyday fabric of their lives. It makes me smile to think of them reaching for those cycle gloves on cold mornings and remembering my gratitude expressed in knitted warmth. I love it best when I create a useful gifts but one with no less beauty for all its practicability and careful consideration.
When I launched The Maker's Year, I pledged to consume less which meant that gift times have prompted me to look around my home for resources that are ready to become something special. Two little friends birthdays this month meant that my eye fell on some newly acquired balls of Classic Elite Big Liberty Wool. Chunky and machine washable, this did everything I needed on the fast and practical front so that I could whip up two quick gifts for these tiny bundles of joy that I've watched grow over the past few years.
To me though, the gift of making goes further than producing beautiful hand mades. Appreciating other makers need to create means that the gift of new resources can be just as vital. When I visited someone's family recently, I remembered that The Grandma (yes capitals, she's awesome) was an avid knitter. It's rare to see this matriarchal figure without knitting in her hands as she holds court amongst the huge volume of friends and family members who visit her throughout the day. Showing my appreciation for her need to make felt right for my visit this weekend.
So before I set off to join the crowd gathered in her front room, I picked out some wool that I knew to be soft and durable. I wanted her knitting to be a pleasure as she worked and a welcome break from the squeaky acrylic that she so often chooses for its convenience. Having worked with Milla Mia before, I reached for a selection of colours I knew would soon bedeck tiny baby feet and heads as this wonderful knitter whipped up gift after gift of her own to bestow on friends and family.
Gifting resources and hand mades is one of the easy ways I'm managing the tendency to acquire yarn that I want to knit with "soon". Too many skeins have disappeared into plastic tubs as I wait for this magical time when I will knit faster and have more time to choose just the right pattern. Crafting with intention is something I've been enjoying reflecting on thanks to Felicia's Stashless Challenge at The Craft Sessions. If you've not discovered Felicia yet, I thoroughly recommend you spend some time getting to know her philosophy on craft and using your stash to enhance your making not weight it down. She inspired this post and I'm extremely grateful.
With thanks to Love Knitting for providing yarns that feature in this blog post for review purposes. Opinions here are my own.
I feel like I start each new year by stating "I'm not really that sold on resolutions" and then wondering if I should be more committed to the idea. I prefer to shift things in new directions when I feel an urge to change regardless of the time of year. However, I came out of 2015 feeling like I'd run a marathon and decided that what I needed was some sort of challenge to give me back a feeling of time well spent. When I wrote down my plan in the form of The Maker's Year, I wondered how many others would want to participate. So the challenge became an open invitation for anyone who wished to join me and I don't think I was quite prepared for the reaction.
The Maker's Year is a creativity and sustainable living challenge with a seasonal focus. The seasonal part is where I want to really focus my efforts by looking to my local surroundings and existing resources and habits to help me create in an achievable way. I want this to work like a creative habit that builds momentum across a year as I reflect on my process, everyday making and look to nurture my craft skills. The aim is to encourage every person to think about little differences in their lives that can have a massive impact in our day to day and documenting that in a way that is useful and inspiring for others.
I thought it might be helpful to collect together some really inspiring initiatives and ideas out there that appeal to me as a Creative. The Maker's Year falls companionably with most of these and I wanted to share them for you to discover too.
#MakeDoandMend Hour- Hosted by Jen Gale @makeandmendyear, this happens every Thursday 8-9pm GMT on Twitter. Mending and reusing is one of my learning goals for 2016 and I know I could do with some ideas. Sometimes it's the little suggestions that set off a light bulb moment and have you reaching for your sewing scissors with relish.
Embracing the Seasons- This has been a constant drip feed of seasonal goodness since I discovered it about 8 months ago. Embracing the Seasons forms one part of Seeds and Stitches blog which is co hosted by two women whose work I very much admire. Davina and Hannah share little glimpses into a family life that works very much in tune with the seasonal calendar. I always remember to slow down and make room for my making whenever I linger on this blog or hashtag (#embracingtheseasons). You will find plentiful ideas and recipes here.
#makingwinter Twitter Chat - Hosted by Emma Mitchell (@silverpebble) every Tuesday at 8pm (GMT), this is an hour rich with so much creative diversity it's mind boggling. I have sworn several times that I will immediately bubble up chutney or take up tatting thanks to this sharing session. Turn up at 8pm GMT, share whatever wintry wonder you've been making and drink in all the creativity people contribute.
A Year of Creative Habits- A blogger and artist, Crystal moody challenged herself to do one little, creative thing every day in 2014 and then again in 2015. A daily photo of her artwork is a soothing reminder of what just 15 minutes can grant you. Food for thought when I feel as if there's just enough time in my day to be creative.
The Year in Books- Hosted by Laura who blogs and shares under the name Circle of Pines, this is a monthly reminder to read more. Reading both fiction and non fiction in a published format always gets my creative juices flowing and my heart rate lowered enough to playfully explore but I rarely find time. I've been enjoying the Twitter chat immensely for new book ideas (@circleofpines)
A Year of Making- Originally created by Miriam Felton, this hashtag (#yearofmaking) was her way of sharing something she had made each day for a year. Kim Werker was so inspired by the idea she has given the hashtag further momentum and developed lots of ideas for how to inject creativity into your daily rituals. A lovely place to browse for new and creative inspiration.
#makenewlight- This month's instagram challenge from Emily Quinton of Makelight that aks us to think about new beginnings or hopes for the New Year ahead. What I like about Emily's monthly prompts is that she offers a way to create a collaborative gallery on her website which is such a lovely act of sharing by Emily. There are some beautiful projects on there already.
#myhandsmaking- A new join up that really hones in on the process of making on Instagram. Hosted by Fran of FallforDIY, the idea is show the production and the physical act of your hands shaping, moulding, building, threading, stitching, cutting, drawing and anything else they could possibly do to be creative.
There's just a few that caught my eye recently but I would love to know some of yours. What's been catching your eye lately?
This week I had the opportunity to write about an event for a charity I've supported for over a decade. Mind are a charity that provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Mind campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding and I have used their services many times in my professional and personal life. (You can read the article I wrote for Mollie Makes here).
In a year in which I said goodbye to another beautiful friend battling depression I found my thoughts once again returned to supporting Mind. This time of year can all too often leave me with the 'snowball-gathering-momentum' feeling and I know I am not alone in that. This year, Mind have created a fundraising event based on bringing people together, to craft with their Crafternoons. When interviewing Rachel Boyd, Information Manager at Mind, I was struck by the power of the online craft community.
“Relationships with others help you to feel supported, positive and connected to the world around you, and are one of the most important things in staying mentally healthy. When it isn’t possible to see family and friends at Christmas you can stay in contact over the phone, by email, text or Skype, which can help to keep the relationships going.”
With the relocation and working out life as a single parent, a real life gathering kind of got away from me this year so I'd like to throw something out into the Internet to give a little support for those who perhaps aren't having a good time right now.
Let's focus on a Cyber hug rather than a Cyber Sale for the Holidays.
On Monday 7th December I would love it if you would join me and lots of others to share a positive message about our crafting. Using the hashtag #makegoodfeelgood, share an image of anything you are either currently making or something you’ve already made and love. You can share any craft from baking a cake to repairing a pair of much loved socks. When you post, it would be great if you could explain why it makes you feel good to have made it. I hope that we can remind everyone to take a little space in their busy lives to gather with friends, craft and feel good at a time that can be particularly challenging for those who suffer from mental health problems.
If you want to link back to me @aplayfulday that would be lovely but is not essential. If you want to shout out support for Mind’s Crafternoons, that would be even better. Any sharing and spreading of the plan beforehand is always helpful to make the ripple go a little further. Just remember to include the hashtag #makegoodfeelgood so all of us can join together online in one big crafty hug.
If you or any of your loved ones are feeling in need of help, you can find Mind online @Mindcharity, call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463.
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.
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.
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!