The APD Podcast: In Conversation with Alexandra Cameron

Today, I’m sharing a conversation with Alexandra Cameron, a photographer based here in the UK whose work I discovered in 2017 and instantly fell in love with. She shares beautiful images but also powerful captions that explore issues really central to the experience of feeling like a woman and being a woman. I was hooked.

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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

 

New Workshops (& a confession)

So it turns out I'm headed to Ireland in May to teach A WHOLE WEEKEND OF WORKSHOPS. 

*breathes into a paper bag*

First up, let me share those details before I clean pass out and then I'm going to reassure you all why it's going to be ok. There will be 3 workshops for anyone looking to improve their writing, photography and social media skills. The dates are 13th-14th May and tickets are selling, now. This is a weekend focusing on making the best of what you put out there in the world whether you're a blogger who really wants to take better photos or a business owner determined that you're going to nail online marketing. I'll be hosted by the good folks at This Is Knit, based in Dublin. I hear there will also be some sort of partying and such. This pleases me enormously. 

Feeling vulnerable online

So now you know the details, let's get back to that paper bag moment. Putting yourself out there, whether it's online or in real life, can be pretty scary. You tell yourself all kinds of lies that one day, it will be easier. You tell yourself a magic number of Instagram followers that will mean you've made it. You tell yourself that when that blogger snaps herself clutching your product, you'll find marketing a complete breeze. Landing a feature article in that magazine you love so much? Oh it will all be so, so much easier to be out there because by then, you will be A Thing. 

I hate to break it to you but that's not a thing really. Some of the most insecure people I've worked with are some of the most prolific, talented, well known and respected people. We are all still working at it and trying to make it through the day without digitally falling flat on our face. Heck, I'd settle for just not spilling coffee down my front most days. 

Coffee

So you know what? I'm saying I'm going to be in a room full of people who feel just like me and my paper bag and that's going to be great for all of us. I'm going to be listening to what really makes people tick and what makes them feel they can't ramp up. In return for that, I'm going to be sharing all my experiences as a blogger but also as a brand manager and freelance journalist. It is hard. We can make it easier to feel less vulnerable when we share online and I'd even say, feel good when we do.  

Just know I'm right there, still working at it too. 

(Then come book those tickets because that helps immensely in getting this feel good out there. Here's those workshops again: Discover Your Writing Style; Telling Your Story Online & Getting to Grips with Visual Storytelling). 

 

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. 

A Slow Moment

A few month's ago I was lucky enough to be invited to curate a knitwear collection for Knit Now Magazine. Given a blank canvas, I suggested the concept of 'A Slow Moment'. The collection began from the words "Nest. Be still. Be creative & soak up some mid afternoon sun in sleek, comfortable knits". I gleefully filled a Pinterest board with beautiful blankets, this season's pastels and then a good slathering of rustic/ grey love for the designers to ponder. We then turned it over to the designers to see what they made of it. 

As the pitches started to roll in, Kate, editor in chief at Knit Now, sent me an email "Do you think we should include a cookie recipe?" 

The reply was simple. 

"The answer is always yes to cookie recipes" 
Baking cookies

So I set about reworking my first ever recipe on this blog, Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies. In the interests of thoroughness, Little One and I made quite a few batches. Dutifully, my little girl taste tested each meticulously and I wondered if oatmeal cookies could replace an entire meal. When they're a little chewy and filled with Chocolate Orange, I think cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the only way to go. 

Little One Taste testing cookie recipe

When the time came to generate some suitable images for the publication, my mind drifted to cosy Sunday afternoons with legs curled beneath you and a stack of recipes books and knitting to plod through. I decided to shoot a little tin of the cookies at Deans Court as their recently renovated holiday cottages are the perfect backdrop for slow afternoons like these. I made tea. I nibbled cookies between shots. I pondered whether adding chocolate orange to everything was acceptable. (These are the places your mind goes when you spend time shooting knitwear and cookies.)

The cookies were such a hit that if you're in Wimborne over the next few weeks, you'll find the cookies featured in Squash Court, the wonderful kitchen garden cafe at Deans Court. They've even shared the recipe for these delicious treats on their blog. 

Orange Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies

Orange Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies

If you're too weighed down by your knitting to bookmark them via Deans Court or pick up Issue 59 of Knit Now, you can pin this mini version included below. For the full method and all my tips for chewy oaty goodness please do check out Deans Court or Knit Now. If you want to see the amazing job the designers did with the design brief, drop over to the pattern pages on the Pinterest Board, A Slow Moment and pick up the latest issue of the magazine. It's a pretty special feature. 

Ingredients

175g/ 6oz butter
275g/ 9 ½ oz Demerara sugar
1 medium egg
4 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla essence
350g/ 13 oz rolled oats (the less processed the better)
140 g/ 5 oz plain flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g Terry’s Chocolate Orange, chopped
55g Hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180®c/ gas mark 4 and grease large baking sheet.
2. Cream butter and sugar together before beating in the egg, water, and vanilla essence.
3. In a separate bowl, mix oats, flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda before gradually stirring this into the butter mixture.
4. Once fully combined, fold in the chocolate chunks and hazelnuts.
5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until cookies are golden brown.
 

And here's a handy pin for you to save for your next baking session:

Chocolate Orange & Hazelnut Cookie recipe Via A Playful Day

Chocolate Orange & Hazelnut Cookie recipe Via A Playful Day