For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Sorrento and switching off

Marina Grande, Sorrento

At the beginning of the month, we finally escaped and headed off on holiday for a couple of days. Sorrento was our destination. Abundant with lemons, impossibly blue waters and pretty painted tiles, it was an utter delight to visit. I enjoyed spending some proper time with Mr P, topping up on vitamin D and swimming in the sea. We'd never been to Italy before, but it did not disappoint. We seemed to meet only warm, friendly and super laidback people, the sunshine was a constant and the food positively dreamy. If you've not been, add it to your bucket list immediately. 

Tiles for days!

I kid you not - the sea around Capri was ACTUALLY this colour

Seeking shade in Pompeii

Shameless souvenir shopping - bought a lemon tea towel

Bagni della Regina Giovanna, Punto del Capo - amazing spot for a swim

Finding greenery in Pompeii

Dinner by the sea - gnocchi like no other

Yep, it was pretty magical. It's just the whole relaxing and unwinding part that alluded me a little bit. I discovered that I'm quite an anxious traveller. That paired with my new-found inability to unwind made an interesting cocktail, but not insurmountable. I would love to know if you have any wisdom on switching off and taking a break. Do you have 'unplugged' time where you swear off social media, or do you like to stay connected? How do you unwind? I think a longer, quiet break closer to home might be a good idea in the future. 

Travel blogging isn't really my thing, but if you'd like any specific recommendations about places to eat in Sorrento or the lovely airbnb we stayed in, tweet me or drop me an email - I'd be happy to have a natter about it!

Oh, and if you're a bit of a heat wuss like me, I'd recommend wearing an enormous hat if you must go in August. It was HOT. Like, really really hot. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Finding encouragement online

Who are your cheerleaders? 

I so often fall prey to blogger envy, FOMO, guilt and comparison when I'm scrolling through social media or catching up on blogs. And I'm pretty certain I'm not the only one (I've written about this kinda thing before). 

Yes, bloggers want to celebrate success and show the best bits, and the intention is never to make readers feel inferior with anything that might seem a bit fancy or exclusive. While I know this is the case, those irrational feelings still surface from time to time. 
Surely the idea ought to be 'I made/ visited/ achieved this and you totally can too!'. Like the power of testimony - we create possibility for others with our achievements, however small. 

There are a couple of fantastic encouragers out there online who, while producing beautiful content of their own, help redress the balance by keeping it real (soooo street - you gotta say it with attitude) and embodying the 'you can too' approach. These are a few of my favourites - the kinda folks who give you the warm fuzzies and seem to be cheering you on.

Pip Lincoln Meet Me At Mikes
It's no secret that author, crafter and all round super sunshiney lady Pip is one of my faves. She always seems to write with humour, integrity and a whole lotta sense. Oh, and she loves Gilmore Girls. Can we just be BFFs already? Pip's blog posts are chocka with positivity and practical hints for embracing your creativity and shutting out doubt. 

When I'm mid-scroll, stumbling on some scripture helps me recognise that there's a bigger love and purpose out there than the amount of tiny hearts next to a picture. I love the bold and totally natural way Jewell shares her faith.

Meredith is another blogging lady who knows how much a bit of honesty can impact a reader. She's got style AND substance. 

Instagram Stories/ Snapchat
@ohjoy / ohjoystudio
Delightful design maven Joy Cho shares pretty honestly on her feed. Yes, it's beautiful Oh Joy stuff, but the behind-the-scenes realness is great. And sometimes you've just gotta do an OOTD dance and take your kids to school, you know.

I've loved getting more acquainted with the sweet lady behind Tigerlilly Quinn. Nope, I can't relate to the mum stuff, but Fritha's candid way of sharing and openness about the not-so-good bits is refreshing. Oh, and check out her #dresscolourfully hashtag for rainbow fashion gorgeousness (but you already knew that). 

You NEED his Party Tips in your life. Nosebleeds aside, this rock-star-turned-motivational-speaker always seems to know the right thing to say. (Props to Miss Page for this one, who is a legit rock chick).

The Hashtag

So this is one for the yarny folks amongst you, but I do adore this fantastically girl power hashtag. Sharing with it or searching it often feels like high fiving (or fist bumping) a whole load of like-minded creative lovelies. Go and check it out.

Be an encourager
The online world is full of inspiration, yes, but how often are you encouraged by it? It can feel as if we're blogging into the void sometimes. With the decline in blog comments and that Instagram algorithm going all squiggly (technical term, ahem), are we working harder on our content just to see less of a return in connection and interaction? We can combat this by becoming a community of encouragers ourselves. It's a simple idea. If you like something, say so. Double tap. Share the link. Tweet the creator. And as well as showing our love for our own circle and magical stuff we stumble upon, let's not be afraid to reach out to those who have ostensibly 'made it' as well. We all need a little encouragement sometimes, right?

I'd love to know where you find encouragement online.
Tell me about your favourites! Who have I missed? 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

hometown tourist: Upfest 2016

 My eyeballs are still reeling from the weekend, in the best possible way. 
Upfest, a live street art festival (apparently Europe's biggest), was right on my doorstep in Bristol so I took a wide-eyed wander round. 

Saturday afternoon, the sun was blazing, ice cream vans were out and so many artists were busy creating. There's something pretty magical about seeing beautiful things progressing right in front of you. I love gawping at people's WIPs (hello, Instagram) any day of the week, but one dedicated weekend where it all happens live? That's pretty cool. Count me in.

I'm a real sucker for illustration, so I enjoyed seeing this mind-boggling Russian doll by Liz Clayton materializing. Note: she wasn't the only one whose outfit coordinated with their work! 

Add of course I tracked down some yarn. Can I say life goals? This embroidery in the wild by Danielle Clough is the best thing ever. I'm so pleased I came across her work. She stitches seriously beautiful stuff. Makes a girl wanna pack up her own suitcase full of yarn, right?

Some of the other enchanting things I spotted included pugs, children spray painting a car, Skeletor riding a banana (a painting) and an IRL glitter beard. I mean, am I the only one who thought they just didn't exist outside of Pinterest? Sadly no pictorial evidence of said be-sparkled facial hair was obtained - we chickened out of asking for a pic!

So much colour, vibrancy and inspiration. I basically know nothing about street art, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I will say that I'll be back next year for more colour-fuelled gawpings. With bells on. Nice one, Bristol. 

Have you encountered anything awesome in your hometown lately?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

sustainable style and where to find it

You know and I know that this isn't a fashion blog, but I'm a charity shopping, clothes swapping girl at heart and I think keeping integrity in mind when buying anything is really important. Lately, I've seen a couple of fantastic bloggers putting more of an emphasis on sustainability in a really exciting way, so when ethically-minded online store Uncommon Goods (they're fab for personalised gifts, check them out here) approached me to take a look at their latest collections, it seemed like the perfect way to dig into this idea a bit more. Here are some of my new-found favourites for sustainable shopping, browsing and inspiration.

When it comes to ethical brands, a few spring to my mind immediately - People TreeTraidcraftDecorator's Notebook, but have you shopped at Uncommon Goods? As well as stocking organic, recycled and handmade products, they have a sustainable approach to all areas of their business. This includes paying fair wages, working with suppliers to ensure environmentally and socially responsible production, and customer-directed donations to non-profit organisations. They have a brilliant blog as well where you can get to know more about their makers and staff and find helpful design inspiration and tips. 

And this ethical approach isn't at the expense of style, oh no. Their selection of gifts, accessories and homeware is definitely design-led, fun and unique. If you're after birthday gifts, take a look here.
The crafty supplies and quirky treats caught my eye straight away - these are a few of my favourites. 

1. Double Bluebird Yarn Bowl
2. Blooming Spoons Necklace
3. Library Card Socks
4. Literary Candles

There are loads of super-cute gifts for baby, too – have a nose here. Eyes peeled for the knitted sloth mobile!

For sustainable style inspiration, where better place to start than with a hashtag? #slowfashion (or any of its many variations) is pretty broad, but will help you track down fab handmade stuff, plus bloggers and brands you may not have come across before.

#ethicalfashioncollective is a brilliant hashtag to search on Instagram or Twitter to find like-minded, planet-loving folks blogging and posting about (you guessed it) ethical fashion. I've found this really handy in terms of discovering which high street brands are the most ethically sound. Take a look! 

Images from The Owl and the Accordion

Said hashtag was dreamt up by bloggers Mel Wiggins and Vicky Haynes. I've long been a fan of Vicky's The Owl and the Accordion blog and love her pattern-tastic, wearable style and her dedication to affordable, sustainable fashion. There are also some super pin-able craft tutorials on her blog, too (I'm bookmarking the wreaths for winter)! Definitely a place to go for inspiration.

Image from Chic Ethique

Chic Ethique by Lauren is another blog you need to check out for beauty and fashion. She shares my love of knitting and Jane Austen, and I really admire her feminine, less-is-more ethical style. Oh, and she has SUCH dreamy Insta feed! I mean…

And a shoutout to Vikki of Susty Girl is a must (we totally went to the same uni, she's a sweetheart) - stop by for the latest sustainability news (including fashion), blogger and indie business motivation and fantastic practical tips for sustainable living. It's pretty empowering stuff. I always learn something new when I have a read. 

Image from Susty Girl

I'd love to know if ethical style is your thing. Where do you shop and find inspiration?

Disclaimer: While I was compensated by Uncommon Goods for this blog post, all opinions are my own and based on my personal experience.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

yarn along: Keep Your Love On and Miette

Hello! I thought I'd pop by to share what I'm reading and what's (still) on my needles at the mo. 

I've not been a busy blogger, but I have been a busy bee. Craft-wise, I've got my hands full with a couple of secret projects that, God willing, I'll be able to share with you in a few month's time. But, that hasn't left a whole lot of time for reading and non-project making. They're good for the soul, though, aren't they? It's so important to make time for those kind of things, especially when you feel in a bit of a whirl. 

So, my current bedside book is Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. It's about love, communication and boundaries. I'm not far in yet and it's already pretty challenging! Will keep you posted. Have you read it?

On my needles is Miette. Yep, that cardi I started at Christmas – still going! I pressed pause on it a few times, but now I'm determined to get it finished. It's my knit night project as once I'm out at the pub and everyone else is stitching, I have no choice but to get on with it! The second sleeve needs finishing, then it's just button bands and neckband to go - phew! 

Hope all's well with you. I'd love to know what you're reading and making. 

I'm joining in again with Ginny's Yarn Along

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

learning to look

Photography isn't my thing. 
I mean, I LOVE Instagram with all my double-tapping heart, but light, lenses and fancy cameras? It's like a foreign language to me. So when I attended Kate of A Playful Day's blogging and photography sessions at A Yarn Story in Bath last month, it was pretty eye-opening stuff. 

I donned my most Instagrammable sock and shoe combo (naturally), met some lovely blogger ladies, learnt heaps and got all nostalgic about Bath (we don't live there anymore - sob!).

The day started off in a yarn store (as the best days do), where Kate lead us through a session on Telling Your Story Online. It was refreshing and challenging. The focus was really on inspiration and creating connection, rather than getting bogged down in the numbers side of things. I came away with a lot to think about. I'm still letting it all percolate and figuring out what I want to put in place or try. My view on blogging is a little different to some as I don't make money from this space and don't have a business tied to it. That doesn't mean I don't want this space to flourish, though. Food for thought. 

Later, we headed out on a photowalk. Yep. Armed with only our phones, it was an exercise in learning to look and getting the best of the light. When we headed out, the daylight was really fierce overhead and kinda yucky – and I totally wouldn't have known that before this session! Honestly, I had heard of golden hour (when IS it again?) and knew that natural light is best, but that was about it. 

We made our way to Owl in the Ivy, otherwise known as Bath's most Instagrammable shop, to snap away to our heart's content. I took all of these pics on my phone during the walk. While I'm not crazy about the quality of them and none of these things are my usual subject matter (I couldn't bring myself to photograph any succulents), it was good to give myself the freedom to just play with it.  

Things I learnt 
1. The phone on my camera takes pics that are fab for Instagram, but not a lot else! It doesn't have that all-important square view setting in the camera. BUT, having said that, it's not too bad. It's best for daytime, indoor images. I tend to use the iPad or digi camera for bigger blog pics anyway. 

2. Fantastic, thoughtful images are everywhere, you've just gotta capture them. This is best done by engaging your eyes and mind, looking out for lovely moments as you go about your business. A bit of lichen, flaky paint or fallen leaf, captured with your unique eye, can be beautiful. I mean, I'm still all about the yarn (let's be real), but if I see something that looks interesting, I will snap a pic now. 

3. Light. It can make or break a picture. Don't all the naturally lit, indoor pics here look much better than the glare-tastic outdoor ones? 

That moment when your sandals match the local flora.

Thanks to Kate for her wisdom and refreshing approach to blogging. I really did learn a lot. 

I'd love to know if you have any novice-appropriate photography tips, for phones or otherwise? Do snap away when you're out and about? How big a deal is light for you? 

Monday, 23 May 2016

off the hook: Orange You Glad crochet top

Ta-dah! There's no other word for it really. 
When you FINALLY complete a project you started almost a year ago, and it fits, and it's your first ever finished garment, I think it's totally acceptable, if not logical, to frolick about in your local park with the remaining ball of yarn. Wearing said project, of course. Right? Right. 

My crochet Orange You Glad top actually started life as a knitting project, but was frogged in favour of this Just Peachy design from Simply Crochet issue 30. I had knitted the entire back of a jumper, put it away and promptly forgotten which size I'd made and what needles I'd used. I really hadn't enjoyed knitting it either, and had my beady eye on this pattern, so frogged it was. 

Best decision ever. I found my stride right away and sailed through the entire back rather quickly, fuelled by good, honest new project excitement. But I'm not monogamous with my WIPs, I'm afraid. I put it aside to make Christmas gifts and cast on a cardigan. In spring I picked it up again and whizzed through the front, relishing the simple granny treble clusters. 

It was soooo close to being finished about a month ago, but I came a cropper with the sleeve and neck edgings. First, I forgot to change the hook size down so the sleeves were all baggy and sticky-outy (technical term). At this point I also noticed that one arm hole way way bigger than the other. Uh-oh. Then I took my project to stitch night at the pub and was so chuffed I'd managed to re-do the edgings so quickly, then twigged I'd done them inside out. Red wine does not an accurate crocheter make. Ah, so many rookie errors. But making mistakes is how we learn. 

Finally all the stitching and sewing up was done – just blocking to do. And oh how this little top grew! It went from standard hip length to full bum-covering tunic. Crikey. I used Cygnet superwash Merino DK, and I thought blocking wool would just make it a bit roomier, not turn it into a mini dress! Still, it is pretty fab and works ruffled up with a belt here, or worn long with jeans etc. 

Lessons learnt? Always read the pattern (don't get cocky because it's a simple project – check and double check) and always block your tension square. If I'd spent a bit more time getting to know how the yarn would behave, I'd have had a clearer picture of the finished garment. 

The very best thing about the Orange You Glad top, though, is that it's almost the exact colour of Heinz Cream of Tomato soup. Timeless and comforting. 
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