Thursday 30 August 2012

I Do as I'm Asked

It was recently observed that the blog has been low on George pics of late. Well, far be it for me to disappoint his adoring fans. 

Here's a few snaps of what happens when you share the back seat of the car with a George creature. First he becomes uncontrollably wild with excitement to be that close to his humans. 

Then he flakes out, exhausted.

It's hard being a loved pup.

Monday 27 August 2012

Episode 35: Just Keep Swimming

A Playful Day is kindly sponsored by Superknits, now with a super new website. Please show your support for our playful friend by clicking on the link above- go on, spoil yourself!!!.

A Playful Day is also kindly sponsored by NorthboundKnitting, uniquely hand dyed yarn, spinning fibre and modern knitting designs. Please show your support for our playful friend by clicking on the link above.

A Playful Day is proudly sponsored by Candy Skein, hand dyed yarns sweet enough to eat! Please support our playful friend by supporting the banner above.

Show notes:

There will be podcast over the next 2 weeks but check the playul group thread for whether or not it'll be on time as I have no internet!

The Gifted Athletes along is happening and there's great prizes to be won from Gynx Yarns, Brenda Castiel, Circes, Super Knits, Melanie Gall and pom pom Magazine.
There is a special offer on patterns currently in Brenda Castiel’s pattern store. To honor her sister, who is battling ovarian cancer, she is donating all proceeds from pattern sales for the month of Aug 2012 to the Cancer Society. In addition you can get 20% off with coupon code AUG20.

Off the Needles 
Double Bump Dishcloth by Missy Anguswith Rico Design Creative Cotton.

On the Needles
Round Head in a Square Hat by Elstetto using sock scraps and Super Knits Mary, Queen of Socks in the Bob Marley colourway.
Annular by Woolly Wormhead using Artist's Palette Merino Cashmere DK.

Munch, Burp Schlurp
I review Laura Gesin's ebook 'The Market Vegan'. To win a copy, please leave a comment here in the shownotes or pop me a message on Ravelry by 5th September 2012. Good Luck!

Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Music Alley
Devil May Care by Deanna Rueben available on Music Alley.
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Sunday 26 August 2012


.... the podcast episode 35. We are currently at a friend's wedding but it has been prerecorded so it will be posted up tommorrow along with the shownotes. 

In the meantime, here is a rather lovely video to make you smile.

Friday 24 August 2012

I Heart Knitters

I swear I have gushed about knitters and those I work with so many times on Twitter, my podcast and this blog that I am becoming a broken record but I mean it: knitters and crafters are amazing. 

It's not really that big a secret that the last month has been hell on toast between buying a house, the last minute negotiations (and the tantrums of those we're buying from), the packing, the organising and the ENDLESS, endless hospital trips for me. I am not known for crying unless I'm angry but I was at that point where I'd hit my limit and was gulping big sobs on the phone to my sister who was alarmed to say the least. She knows that if I'm crying and not fighting anymore, things are bad indeed. 

I have flinched everytime someone has asked 'Are you excited about your new house?' or I bet you're nesting right?' Each time it was a heavy reminder that I should be excitedly preparing a family home for the soon to arrive Playful Baby and yet I wasn't. I felt so worn down. 

But then knitters happened. 

I work with designers, yarnies, tech editors and other such wonderful people. My podcast and blog have connected me to a community I respect, admire and adore and they brought me back into a happy space through their love and contact. Over the last few weeks I've been fortunate enough to have a trickle of mother and baby presents that brought a tear to my eye for all the right reasons. 

Knitters and crafty types understand the love and care that goes into creating a finished object and that's why each item I'm about to share means the world to the giant and I. They were created by wonderful friends who I am connected to simply through knitting. I understand the thoughts that poured into them as they were worked and when my little one is wrapped in them, I will know that they are the luckiest baby in the world because they are wrapped in the love of knitters and crafters. That beats all the crap of the last few months hands down and I wanted to share the power of handmade gifts with you too. 

I won't name gift givers as it feels that I then remove the personal touch with which they were gifted but I will say that as knitting aunties go, Playful Baby is one blessed child and I for one hope to keep these ladies in my life for years to come. Thank you xxx

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Time Travel

Did I wake up in the correct century this morning?

I yawned, found caffiene, injected it and sat reading the headlines and Twitter to see what was happening in the world. It's lucky I was doing this on my smartphone or I'd have convinced myself I was travelling back in time to an entirely different century. 

Firstly, I follow very few celebrities on Twitter but there is an actor I've always found interesting in both his talent and his interest in public debate and opinion. This morning he retweeted something to the effect that  re-examining women's rights was brave. I always hear alarm bells at this point. It is a right wing tendency to mock the 'soft left' for not being brave enough to make cuts, doom mongerish to not value austerity or too liberal to enter into tough talks about families/ women's rights. 

I beg to differ. It is not brave to say a woman does not have the right to choose her sexual partner or take reproductive control over her body. It is outdated and dangerous to not only women but to families, the economy and society. I can argue all 3 but I don't need to smack 'I'm being brave' in front of a statement because I'm about to say something controversial. I simply standby my opinion and reason it out. 

So please think about why you need to put brave in front of a statement. It's the equivalent of saying 'I'm sorry but...' no you're not sorry, so don't say it.

Then I picked up on a headline that George Galloway, MP, has offered the sage opinion that Assange is not guilty of rape because 'not every insertion needs permission'. By that logic, all my exes have access to my body George as once upon a time I made a decision to have sex with them. I would ask you to search your soul George but we already know you don't have one. 

Then I saw the 'legitimised rape' quote from Todd Akin and I just sat down, hard, in shock. 

Did someone set the clock to neanderthal this morning? I simply cannot believe these debates are even considered let alone offered in a public domain.

Normal playful service will resume over here in the next few days but I couldn't get over what I read this morning within 15 minutes of each other so I wrote a blog post as I also noted that it seems to be men discussing women's rights bravely. I applaud any man entering debate and taking interest in issues that affect over 50% of the world's population directly (and the rest indirectly). I just don't think these are brave so much as moronic. 


ETA: in response to this 'throwing-up-hands-in-the-air' style post, a very lovely man brought this marvellous article to my attention.  Rebecca Solnit has summarised my feelings entirely on why such offhand comments in the media should be concerning to men and women alike. I am entirely glad the man who pinged this to me is in my life because the more of those I have, the more reassured I am that silence is not expected nor accepted where women are concerned.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Experiments in Sugar

I was pootling round the supermarket the other day which is a very rare activity for me and because of this I got distracted. I tend to shop local, buy local and use markets and farms etc wherever possible so a trip to the supermarket usual ends in me returning with something weird and completely non essential. 

I found a non essential that looked fun. 

As a child I loved Angel Delight. It's kind of like mousse for those of you who have never had it and comes in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Butterscotch flavours. There are others but those are the ones that stick in my mind. I haven't had any in years so the packaging caught my eye as I pootled along humming to myself in that way that packaging is designed to do when I'm not willfully ignoring it. 

This time, there was something different: ice cream versions? I remember making Freezy Pops from Angel Delight as a child which were something like Mini Milks. If you've never had a Mini Milk I am sad for you and offer you this virtual hug (((((hug)))))

So I brought it home with plans to add almonds and bananas for a grown up version. I had neither so I added more sugary goodness. So to recap, that's powdered dessert into milk, whipped, with biscuits and Nutella. 

Results? Well I went nuts on sugar then had the most horrific of sugar crashes. I was so excitable I clean forgot to take a picture of how the Angel Delight looked after 4 hours of freezing. 

Verdict? If you like your kids or adults twitchy and on the ceiling, give in to this guilty pleasure. If not, probably best to leave it in the realm of nostalgia and possibly get the low sugar version if you want to just see what I'm talking about.

In the interests of full disclosure I may have still been slightly buzzing when I wrote this post.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Starting Somethin'

Ok that title was meant to be about an obsession I've started but now I have the song in my head and I love it. I love the old Michael Jackson stuff, it's my favourite stuff to dance round the kitchen and sing into wooden spoons to while I'm cooking.

Yeah yeah! 

Anyway. I talked in the last podcast about my current love of simple gift knitting, stashing down and productivity. Well, it's becoming out of control. As I packed up my stash ready to move house (there were tears, I won't lie), I decided to keep a basket full of knitting so see me through the next month. I pulled out odd skeins, remnants, scraps and a few treats. 

Here's what it all looked like when I'm done. All are destined for gift knitting of some description, I just don't know what yet.

Let's delve in

A bag full of sock/ 4ply remnants. I have no idea what these want to be but they will be something of this I can be certain.

A small selection of sportweight that I'm hoping to combine into a design of... something....

A clutch of DK and Worsted weights destined to grow up into hats/ mitts etc for holiday knits. Actually, there's already some missing from that bag as I wound it so it's looking quite sparse here. Honestly, I can't keep my hands of yarn for two seconds....

A skein of awesome from Candy Skein that will be MY gift: dancing socks. 

4 skeins of an aran weight that will be my first hand knit gift for playful baby. I'm looking forward to this moment. 

Oh and let's not forget an old friend who is beginning for another arm. 

I have no idea how long this will last or whether I will stashdown everything but for now I'm pretty committed to some productivity and getting ahead for the holidays. You might be too after Ravellenics or just because. If you are, we decided to have a join in along over on the Ravelry group and there's prizes! Come play!

Sunday 12 August 2012

Episode 34: Say it Quietly

A Playful Day is kindly sponsored by Superknits, now with a super new website. Please show your support for our playful friend by clicking on the link above- go on, spoil yourself!!!.

A Playful Day is also kindly sponsored by NorthboundKnitting, uniquely hand dyed yarn, spinning fibre and modern knitting designs. Please show your support for our playful friend by clicking on the link above.

A Playful Day is proudly sponsored by Candy Skein, hand dyed yarns sweet enough to eat! Please support our playful friend by supporting the banner above.

Show notes:

The readalong continues for 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' by Patrick Ness, the playful group on Ravelry

I caught up with lovely Louise from Caithness Craft Collective and Nic from Yarns from the Plain podcasts and friends.

I have been loving some of the inspirational athletes competing in this year's Olympics.

Off the Needles
Double- Knot Stocking Cap from Natalie B in the leftover sock yarn.
Spa Day Faceloth by Anne Manaire with Rico Design Creative Cotton. 
Garter Discloth with Pointy Edges by Marlene Woods with more Rico Cotton

On the Needles

Playful Pursuits/ Much, Burp Schlurp
I talk about getting creative in the kitchen in a new way and making home made toiletries thanks to this thread, inspiration from A Sonoma Garden blog and KnitCents podcast.

Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Music Alley
We are Golden by Mika.
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Friday 10 August 2012

I Remember

I was chatting away to an online friend after listening to her fab new podcast and we soon got into a chat about travelling. Jo is the host of the newly released ShinyBees podcast and currently lives in South Africa. On her podcast she shared some Afrikaans words which immediately made me smile and I excitedly got chatting about wart hogs, braais and Tusker Beer. I grew up with SA friends and have since travelled a far bit of Kenya and North Africa so we had lots to chat about as it seems Jo has also travelled some of Kenya. 

It reminded me I have beautiful images that are so playful and make me smile on rainy days that I should share them here. 

Thanks for reminding me Jo!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Why the Olympics Stole My Heart

Politically I've always opposed the Olympics. Actually, that's not fair; I've always opposed the comittee and its disregard for communities, tradition and constant corporate drive. I first realised the power of the committee years ago on a trip to Barcelona when I saw what had happened there. Time and time again the negative impact has been documented but the spectacle was presented as something covetable and worth the sacrifice.

I'm an ex athelete, and sports addict. I adored training and was one of those mad types who went to the gym for 2 hours and happily went to play tennis with a friend an hour later when they invited me. I lived and breathed sports so I greatly admire those who compete. I have competed in the past in tennis, running events, long jump, karate, and thai boxing at a national level. I packed all of this around dance training for 12 hours- I was never home! So I grew up watching and enjoying sports. As you can imagine, the Olympics has always caused conflicted emotions because I love sports but I can't get behind an organisation that represented everything I hate. 

So I have kept quiet as I've watched the Olympics roll into London. I was sad to see protesters mistreated on the opening ceremony night and I flinched at the amount of security and libel that flew into the city with the committee. I love London, I was sad at watching its diversity being trampled on in favour of new shiny buildings. 

But then...

Opening night and Danny Boyle DELIVERED. My goodness, I've never whooped and cheered so much. It was so socially focussed,and so clear in its message of a diverse Britain that needs to pull together to continue its achievements. We hollered as Red Arrows streaked overhead and I felt that on a large world platform, Boyle said 'We are the people of Britain and this is what we really think'. The people giving that message were presented as ethnically diverse, working class, vocational and did you spot as many disabled performers as I did? It was SO different to the uncomfortable empire feel of the Jubilee celebrations just a few months before and I was so pleased. 

Then the events started. Where do we start?

Oscar Pistorius allowed to compete in a level appropriate for his ability and a woman registered as legally blind taking a medal? Hell yes! Let's hear more stories like these please. 

For the first time, a woman represented in every nation sending a team? WHOOP WHOOP!

And then the role models..... strong, hungry athletes that I would feel proud to cheer. Not just Team GB who seem to have surpassed all expectations but from so many nations. It's so refreshing to have a group of interesting people on TV this summer instead of the insipid reality/ talent show folks we're normally faced with. I've not owned a tv for years for this reason but if we had people like this on it, I'd be more interested. How nice for a young generation to see aspirational figures that don't think that 'kicking off' on tv is a talent to win you fame and money. 

Loving it. Absolutely loving it.

Friday 3 August 2012

Tweet Tweet

I don't think I've hidden my disdain for oversharing particularly well. I often throw my hands up in the air in frustration at 140 characters summarising a person's entire feelings, character or political opinion. I avoid facebook photo sharing of children and I don't particularly like airing my laundry in public. I just feel there's something to be said for more thought and physical interaction.

However, last summer I took part in efforts to clean up a city after a troubled summer thanks to Twitter. 

Last Christmas, thanks to social media, I collected a car full of goodies for the local Women's Aid Centre and they were able to have a pamper day that made them feel that somewhere out there, people cared how they felt and what had happened to them. 

And the last week, I realised I have some pretty great people that I've met and become friends with purely based on an internet personna. Yes, I could have met an axe murderer or whatever our fears tell us is on the other side of a computer screen. But then, it's not like I'm not replying to offers to reinstall my lost millions on a spam email, I'm chatting to other knitters. 

We share information, new ideas and inspiration and if I'm honest? They've saved this week.

Between the anxiety that comes with being a first time mum, a house sale (and ALL the pitfalls and legal wranglings we've had to deal with this week), health issues and endless, endless health check ups, I've felt terribly scared. I've not been wanting to engage with friends in case they ask 'How are things going?' or 'Are you ok?' These questions would have floored me because the answer would have have been 

not. so. great. (and much wailing)

But at 4am at the start of the week, insomnia kicked my butt and I found smiles in twitter friends who also couldn't sleep. We've giggled over so many more things this week from crocheted cocoons to yarn porn. They made me SMILE and lifted me out of the walled defence I put up when I'm gritting my teeth just to get through. I can honestly say, I know some great knitters out there.

Social media makes news spread so fast that sometimes we can barely keep up. This week, it brought back smiles. I must remember that when I'm having a 'shut it down' moment over my twitter or facebook accounts. Sometimes they can just be there to share a smile and a new article you enjoyed. 

Here's one I liked this week:

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Ethical Cookies

Last Friday I decided to invent another cookie recipe as I hadn't experimented for a while. I like to invent new soups, stews or cookies as I feel a quick win from these kind of things. They are not particularly hard, yield a lot of food (I'm greedy, you may have noticed), and are usually delicious.

I was all set, I was ready to go. I had my ingredients all set out and then I realised to my horror I'd made a major boob. My gooey filling was from Nestle. I've not eaten or bought Nestle products for years. For those of you who don't know why Nestle are best left alone, there's some good information here and here.

So what to do? Deny all knowledge? Bury the evidence? Nope. I decided to blog about it and share alternatives. So we will not be naming the offending product for the rest of the blog post. Alternatives that would be good include: Chocos, Reeses buttercups and anything with a nice gooey centre wrapped in chocolate. Feel free to experiment in finding them by eating your way around the chocolates you know of. Call it research.

So here's the recipe and how these cookies are made. For the gooey bit, I've said 'ingredient X'. I will remember to READ labels better in the future. I had a moment, I blame the heat.

Nom Nom Cookies
Makes approx 24 cookies

2 packs of ingredient X
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
125g Unsalted butter (at room temp and cubed)
100g Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Grease and line 2 baking sheet and preheat your oven to 180c/ Gas Mark 4. 
2. Sieve together and combine flour, baking powder and salt. 
3. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar before beating in the egg and vanilla. 
4. Mix all of these together. 
5. Using your hands, scoop out a ball of about 1 tbsp's worth of dough, press ingredient X into the centre as pictured and roll into a ball. 

 6. Space out the dough balls on the trays, squashing them ever so slightly flat as you do so. 

7. Bake for 16 minutes and try to allow to cool before devouring. 

 I realised these could be improved further still be adding some chocolate or cinnamin chips because what else could be better to add to a sugary treat than more sugar?