Sunday 31 March 2013

Magic Toe

So I've been doing a little knitting. Things have progressed a teeny bit and just as you would expect, if there is a hope of knitting in my day, I grab it and go!

The problem however, has been that I haven't been enjoying my WIPs. I've got to those loooooong rows in the shawl I'm making that just make me feel as if I'm stuck in a black hole. It's pretty but I want progress.

My socks are boring me to tears quite frankly. I'm working up Charade Socks by Sandra Park in Nerd Girl Yarns 'Shimma' in the 'sexy' colourway.  and I'm not in love to be perfectly honest. I'm finding the herringbone rib tedious and a little tight on my hands and the yarn base is not ideal. I've had two breaks already.

I'm on the first sock and was about to place them in time out for a while until I checked and..... Oh! I'm ready for the toe. Suddenly I'm knitting a whole new section and that's like a new project.

Kind of.....

Stay tuned for a giveaway coming very soon!

Thursday 21 March 2013

Many Moments


Can I just extend my most heartfelt thanks to every person who reached out after I published my last post? I have had a steady stream of cheer leading, mummy solidarity, personal stories and beautiful words. I'm so lucky to have you all as readers.

The thing that seemed to capture most people was the honesty. I want to be very clear: publishing this was so scary! I felt disloyal not publishing it though. A lack of podcast, recipes, crafting news all felt like a burden I had to confess to but to say it out loud? When other bloggers just seem to be perfection itself?

I hit publish anyway.

I hit it because I would have appreciated this level of honesty. I've been given advice ('oh she's totally aware of what she's doing'), cool indifference ('babies get sick') to unhelpful over optimism ('but being a mum is AMAZING' after 3 days of her screaming in pain in my arms). What I actually wanted was to be listened to and not judged.

I'm glad I wasn't judged here.

For now let's move away from my dark cloud and look at my little ray of sunshine. Its nice to be honest but I need a little distance from the dark too sometimes. So, some sunshine- Isn't she growing so big????

A Moment

Over the last few weeks a number of blog posts have been getting my attention. I've noticed a theme and I wanted to blog about it. It started off with a series of posts from Jasmin of Knitmore Girls fame over at Better than Yarn. Her return to herself has been lovingly documented after her first year as a mother. I nodded along, relieved at the honesty in her words.

I also love this post from Creative Mama. Why? Not because she turned chaos into creativity (although that is cool). It's because she said what I have increasingly started to feel as someone who used to blog and podcast regularly: it's all smoke and mirrors and when you're a mum, it's exhausting to keep that up.

When I found out I was expecting I had A PLAN of how to carry on. It went a bit squiffy when Playful Babe decided to try her best to come early. It was ok, I revised the plan with a NEW PLAN. I then exhausted myself upon her arrival trying to keep up with THE PLAN. I would be the all singing all dancing blogger and podcaster and a wonderful mother, fabulous partner and reliable friend. I had seen it on the interwebs, represented in perfectly shot pictures and beautifully written prose. Everyone else was apparently doing it so why couldn't I?

Around Christmas I stopped coping. I just about existed as it became increasingly clear that all was not well with Playful Baby. She didn't settle, she screamed when nursing, she never (ever, ever) wanted to be anywhere other than my arms. In moments of calm she giggled and explored but there was always a wariness as if something was about to spoil her moment.

In January she began nursing strike. For those who don't know this is when a baby refuses to feed. Not only can this have immediate dire effects for the baby but it also means the body stops producing as much milk as it no longer has the feedback to do so.

My life became a ticking clock: how long can we go on? Can I get her to feed? For how many minutes? And seconds? How long before my body just stops providing the milk she needs?

I knew a bottle wasn't the answer. She clung to me for comfort and in the small hours of morning would wake to nurse beautifully, calmly and returned to sleep with a contented snore. I'd lie with her in my arms, stroking her hair and be thankful that I didn't give up.

We have now confirmed silent reflux, a venomous product of an immature digestive system burning stomach acid back up the throat. We've done everything: positioning, careful nursing, medicines, osteo, massage. I worked hard to keep my milk supply up, myself sane and hoped against hope I wouldn't lose those beautiful calm feeds. Slowly her weight has picked up and she's feeding better about half of the time. The reason I was reluctant to switch her feeds to a bottle were confirmed: the gush of milk was hurting her which was why at night when she suckled sleepily, it hurt less. A bottle would hurt her tummy.

We have a long way to go and reading these two honest bloggers has encouraged me to say that my life is not always playful. I will dance and sing whenever I can but life is damn hard when you have a teeny baby and the seeming perfection being floated around on the inter ether is not helping women like me cut themselves some slack when things are far from perfect.

It's ok to look at tough times as well as perfect photo opportunities. It's ok to admit that while you want desperately to do it all, you can't. It is ok to say life will see me getting me back to the all singing all dancing podcaster.

Just not yet. I'm staying right in this moment with her.

Monday 18 March 2013

Episode 41: Add Title Later

A Playful Day is kindly sponsored by Superknits. 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:

Thanks to Hoxton from The Electric Sheep Podcast Maria from Subway Knits,and Deborah from the SavvyGirls podcast for guest appearances.

Off the Needles
Dashing by Cheryl Niamath, in Artesano Aran in the Oak colourway. 

On The Needles
Plume by Lisa Mutch in The Uncommon Thread in The Uncommon Thread Posh Fingering in the 'Nimbostratus' Colourway and Silky Merino Fingering in 'Cerulean' Colourway.
Charade Socks by Sandra Park in Nerd Girl Yarns 'Shimma' in the 'sexy' colourway. 

From The KnitmoreGirls Podcast, a report from Unravel
Goodies from Fyberspates,John Arbon and Wendy Fowler Pottery.

Mini Knits
Magic Coffee Baby Hat by Tracey Kay 
Linnie by Justyna Lorwowska
Sock Yarn Sweater by Hannah Fettig
Bella by Dani Sunshine
Aviatrix baby hat by Justine Turner 
Quynn by Woolly Wormhead

Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Music Alley
Yesterday's Gone by Kim Jarrett, available on Music Alley .
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Sunday 17 March 2013

The Random Number Generator Speaks Once More....

.... And decreed that post number 41 has won. Congratulations to Kendra, you have won an ecopy of BotanicalKnits by Alana Dakos! Please send me an email with your details at the usual address to claim your prize.

If you want to get your hands on a copy, don't forget you can visit Alana's website to order directly or for stockists.

Stay tuned for more features and giveaways, I've got some great ones lined up!

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Mothering Sunday

We had our first family commercial holiday. We are not particularly into 'card' holidays but this felt like a pretty important milestone somehow. I wanted to set the tone for what mothering meant to me. I want Playful Baby to grow up with a strong sense of womanhood and if I get a handmade card at some point that's also good!

So I gathered my mum and the giant's mum and we went out to lunch. Perhaps this will become a meal PB and I cook together in years to come but this year cooking was just not an option. I wanted to have a day with all mum's together, celebrating caring for each other in a family. It was lovely.

I also got some rather lovely goodies: sugared almonds and this gorgeous hand thrown yarn bowl from Wendy Fowler Pottery. My favourite though was a little handprint on a special card. Isn't she clever?

Friday 8 March 2013

Botanical Knits Blog Tour and Giveaway.

Wow there have been some amazing publications over the last few months and I'm thrilled to be part of the Botanical Knits tour, which for me, has been a real highlight. There's been some lovely features of this book so far so I will do my best to give you a fresh twist on Alana's latest release. To read or hear more about the book, check the other contributors to the tour out here

(c) NNK

I read through, ogled and drooled over the eBook and straight away was impressed. The attention to detail here is amazing. It's not just the designs that have interesting flair and detail but also the ebook itself. The charts are crisp and clear, the medium of an eBook fully used to make it incredibly easy to navigate and knit from and the way the pages are laid out are just so beautiful.  

Nuts and Bolts: 12 original knitwear designs; 4 garments, 3 hats, 2 sets of gloves, one pair of socks and 2 scarves. Over 110 pages devoted to this collection and available digitally as well as in print.

(c) NNK

Designer: Alana Dakos, the designer behind the Never Not Knitting Collection, podcast and blog. Alana has grown a collection of beautiful women's garments and accessories, teamed up with Hannah Fettig to produce 'Coastal Knits' and produced a children's collection as well as a children's fiction book. All self published by her family run business. 

Aesthetic: It's all about beauty in nature, from the designs and the way that they are captured in photography, to the way they are laid out on the page. Leaves adorn the knits and the pages are filled with some wonderful graphic design of falling leaves. As always, Alana's patterns reflect her eye for detail in design and continue the theme throughout every element of this book. 

Extras I liked: A dedicated website, direct links in the book to Ravelry so you can compare notes of others projects, direct links to resources used in the book. Fantastic navigation from pattern to pattern via hyperlinking. Extremely user friendly. I also love the insight to the designer we get from the introduction by Alana. Her swatches and process pieces are documented in photograph form throughout and I don't know about you but I love to see someone's design process. Someone else's swatches are very interesting to me. 

What impressed me most: The eBook is not a straight PDF, it's alive with easy links to navigate around the carefully laid out sections. The extras I mentioned above means that the knitting experience is complete for those knitters who use Ravelry as a tool and resource to aid their knitting. 

Oak Trail, (c) NNK

Patterns that caught my eye: I adore Oak Trail cloche (pictured above). It is a very distinctive and unique design which has an appealing method too. The brim is knit flat, then stitches are picked up to create the rest of the hat. My fingers are itching to recreate that embossed leaf, I bet it is extremely pleasing to knit!

Autumn's End, the cover sweater is really something. Dripping with lace leaf detail it is very typical of Alana's work: beautiful, elegant and feminine. What I have always enjoyed about Alana's design style is the femininity she puts into her careful construction. I trust her patterns implicitly. I want to knit this sweater. 

Pressed Leaves also caught my eye, not just for its' beauty but it's knitting appeal. I find leaves extraordinarily pleasing to knit and this DK beret looks amazing to knit- so much motivating texture! The chart itself is pleasing to the eye. I know I'll be making this beret at some point, it's too pretty not to. 

Pressed Leaves (c) NNK

Want your own copy? Well here are the details:

- Order the printed copy for $22 + shipping and As a special thank you for preordering the printed copy, you will get the ebook for free immediately. The printed book will ship mid-May. You will also receive an exclusive extra botanically inspired garment pattern with the copy of your printed book as a thank you from Alana for preordering.

- Order the ebook by itself for $18. (A great option for those knitters who live internationally and do not want to pay the high cost of shipping). 

- Both options will be available on site very soon.

(After the pre-order period ends in May, the book will be available EITHER in print for $22 or ebook for $18).

Can't wait till then? Leave a comment below by 16th March 2013, telling me which of the designs you would want to knit to be in with a chance to win an ecopy of the book. Good luck!

Sunday 3 March 2013

The Random Number Generator Has Spoken....

.... And decreed that post number 15 has won. Congratulations to Hannah Mahler, you have won a signed copy of The Island by Jane Richmond! Please send me an email with your details at the usual address to claim your prize.

If you want to get your hands on a copy, don't forget you can visit Jane's website to order directly or for stockists.

Stay tuned for more features and giveaways, I've got some great ones lined up!