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

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. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Authenticity and Instagram bingo

"An Instagram feed does not a person make."

Can I be really honest? All those 'Authentic'-type, hashtags make me bristle a little (@socalitybarbie, anyone?). Glorious as the images are, I can't relate to that charmed, Insta-friendly version of authentic that floods my feed. Nope, I don't live in a rustic setting with a conveniently photogenic doorstep/ drink coffee/ have assorted adorable offspring/ go on jaunts that involve bluebell-strewn woodlands/ own a Mac/ bake my own bread/ sew my own frocks/ instinctively know where the nearest patch of wild garlic is growing. That could be a pretty good game of Instagram bingo, right?

A feeling of inadequacy can creep in. When I see those kind of posts, on blogs and social media, I think, 'beautiful, but my life doesn't look like that. Is that okay?' And of course that's totally okay. I can only be me. You can only be you. I have my own unique perspective and so do you. And if your own feed is scoring high in Instagram bingo, great! That's your life and those are your treasures to share. If I have an issue with it, that's down to me. But, it's hard to go against the tide. I want my pictures to look pretty, just like everyone else does! I'll admit I wish I could score higher on Instagram bingo sometimes, and the things that I post can reflect that. This picture above, for instance – I spent time arranging the bits and bobs just so and then edited it and played with filters before posting it. But you wanna know what my kitchen actually looked like when I did it? This:

Yep, of course the things we post are curated. It would be weird if they weren't. 
Even I don't want to see this! 

I'm still feeling a lot of the feels I chatted about in my post about comparison, but lately I've been considering authenticity in particular. I read this great Wattlebird post and this on A Playful Day and started thinking why do I share the things I share? Is it for me or other people? How do I find a balance between truthful reality and what I'm comfortable with or proud of sharing?

Perhaps we've got to try to bury comparison once and for all and focus on finding joy and beauty in the small things that are particular to us, capturing what makes our own hearts sing. The chances are they'll look different to everyone else's and that's the best bit. Our little slices of the Internet are where we share our victories, joys, and find community. And how much we choose to share is entirely up to us.

Phew! Well, that was a long one! And I feel I might have come up with more questions than answers. I'd love to know your thoughts on any of this stuff. What motivates you to share? How honest are you online? Are there any Instagram bingo items I've missed?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

my secret crochet project!

Yep, it's one of those 'I made a thing!' kinda posts. But this is actually really exciting. You know that secret project I alluded to last week? Well, it's this! 

Image from Simply Crochet

Have you seen the latest issue of Simply Crochet? I designed a trio of pretty beaded wedding accessories for issue 44 and it hits the shops today! 

I used Debbie Abrahams beads (SO good) and scrummy BC Garn Silkbloom Fino yarn for these projects. It's a lovely silk merino blend that feels luxurious. There's a beaded bracelet, garter and a flowery hair comb. Now I'm just wishing I'd had the foresight and skills back in 2013 to hook these for our big day! And now I know how easy it is to stitch with beads, well, let's just say there'll be more where that came from! 

Have you ever used beads in your knitting crochet? 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

taking stock: April

I always find these Taking Stock posts super-helpful for catching up with myself and with you! I have been busy busy and feel like I haven't given myself a lot of time to properly collect my thoughts lately, let alone try to write them down here with pretty pictures. Also, haven't finished anything I'm able to share here just yet (hint hint: exciting project reveal to come!).

So, here's what I'm up to at the moment. How are things with you?

Making: This top which is so nearly finished! 
Cooking: As little as possible. 
Drinking: Mint green tea – it's the best of both. Leave the teabag in if you're feeling particularly wild! 
Reading: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Sooooo 2012. I'm really late to the party.
Wanting: everyone I know to just live in one place - would make life so much easier! 
Looking: forward to the #CraftyBlissChallenge starting on Friday – my first Insta challenge!
Deciding: gym twice a week may be necessary.
Wishing: I'd gone for shorter hair years ago! 
Enjoying: the #crochetgirlgang hashtag on Instagram – encouragement and vibrant stitchery. 
Waiting: for Saltwater sandal season to begin - come on sunshine! 
Liking: swatching. Never thought I'd say that. 
Wondering: how long I can put off big, scary grown up decisions. Ugh.
Loving: blossom everywhere.
Pondering: a big adventure.
Considering: investing in a decent yoga mat - mine's become both slippery and crumbly.
Buying: all the teabags.
Watching: my sister ace her career goals with so much honesty and love. She's magical.
Hoping: a big project I have in mind will come together. Watch this space.
Needing: to book a proper holiday this year. Any recommendations?
Questioning: my priorities. This one needs some more thought! 
Following: @tasteofstreep on Instagram – makes me hoot without fail. 
Thinking: cheap weekend breaks would be easier if we had some wheels! Camping without a car? I don't think so.
Disliking: the big city pollution we live in. Yuck. 
Snacking: on banana with a way-too-generous slathering of Nutella. Mr P's genius idea. 
Hearing: the Relevant podcast on my walk to work, then a crafty one on my way home.

As always, this Taking Stock post was inspired by Pip. Visit her blog to find a full list you can copy.  

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