Friday 27 September 2013


I went to bed last night in a really good mood and felt like all was right with the world. I'd had the kind of week that had quite a few wins, good surprises and just felt a lot of satisfaction from interactions I'd had. I'm plodding through some nice work with some fabulous designers and yarnies, I'm writing, I'm knitting a little, and all is right in the world. 

Let me show you. 

Firstly, I had an article that I wrote about The Ricefield Collective published. I adore this project and think it's a really good model for future fashion initiatives. I happen to know Anna Maltz, one of the designers and key players in the development of RC so I feel like I've watched this grow for quite some time. If you want to check out the article, it's in Issue 63, out now. 

Then I finished some magical socks. Yup

These are Afterthought Heel Socks in  Trailing Clouds 'Mind The Gap' colourway. I'm a sucker for self striping yarn and this was one of the few skeins I've bought and just cast straight on. I generally save skeins in some kind of Gollum fashion but I'm trying to get better about releasing their potential into the wild. 

These are wild aren't they? As a London girl, I found myself trying to name all the stations on each tube line as I knit! I also won the gamble of going down to 2mms to see if I can get a really firm, stretchy fabric as my gauge has changed. So far, I'm winning in that they fit. Let's see if these wear a little better as a result. 

So then I was sad as I had no socks on the needle right?


As if Asti sensed I was ending a WIP, a magical skein of Juno Fibre Art's Buffy Toughie arrived just in time for me to cast on a special sock that I will be blogging about next month. I can't get over how much I love the variegation in this skein. 

You'd think this would be enough right? No! There's more! I then saw that an article I wrote, possibly my most favourite ever, published in this issue of Knit Edge magazine. It's about knitting and gender stereotypes and politics. I mean, you can't get more me than that right? I tried to work in gin, I swear but I think we can all agree that nothing should be THAT perfect. 

Thursday 26 September 2013

On the Buses

I just had the following conversation. I'll truncate it for brevity's sake but I think you'll get the gist pretty quickly anyway. Here we go:

Lovely random lady (we'll call her Dot for this exercise): Oh how old is he?
Me: (smiles) She's 10 months.
Dot: Oh I'm SO sorry....
Me: Don't worry, we're not. 
Dot: (leans in very close) Oh you have some red on. I should have guessed. 
Playful Baby looks up, beams and starts chattering and waving at Dot. 
Dot: Oh but of course, now I see! You're so pretty aren't you?
Me: Yes, she's quite a character. 
Dot: Oh but look at you. Aren't you beautiful!
Me: (smiles) Thank you. She's really enjoying chatting to you. 
Dot: Well, you are a princess!
Me: Mostly she's an explorer. She just wants to crawl all the time. Do you have children?
Dot: Yes. A boy. He's not beautiful but girls are beautiful and you are SO pretty. 

....... you get the idea, yes?

Having a 10 month old invites lots of interaction which is great because Playful Baby is very nosy and likes to ransack other people's bags, pull at newspapers and sing her favourite song to the whole bus. I don't wince when someone calls her a boy because I honestly don't care. I do wince when everything that is commented upon is ornamental. I do my best to move the conversation away from it  but it's hard sometimes. 

Playful Baby likes to hang upside down. She likes to crawl as fast as she can then stop abruptly and cheer her progress. She adores books. She likes ducks quite a lot too. She's not massively keen on sleep because hey, things to DO! She rough and tumbles with her baby friends and likes a gentle cuddle to get to sleep at the end of the day. 

Now I know no one is going to know that when she meets but I do my best to try and help you see her character. I can tell you about her favourite game at the moment (stuff her food in mummy's mouth) and what book she is currently obsessed with (My Little Baby has a mirror at the book that she anticipates and gleefully kisses each time). I cannot see where princess is coming from though. She currently is wearing trousers with monsters on the butt. 

When we define small infants in gender stereotypes, we are not just limiting our expectations of their character but also our interactions. If you expect Playful Baby to sit prettily, you will rapidly find yourself very lonesome indeed because she'll be in the next room, chewing on a shoe she has found. I won't chastise you for noticing she's awesome and yes, I want her esteem about her self image to be healthy. She has killer smile with wicked deep dimples and curls that just make me melt. I tell her she's beautiful every day when I scoop her up as she wakes. It goes like this:

'Hey beautiful girl. What are we going to DO today'. 

The world is too exciting to be ornamental Playful Girl and so are you. Go get 'em. 

Saturday 21 September 2013

Settling an Urge to Cast On

Good morning all

This week, aside from craving more baking, I've been craving some knitting time. Largely because I've had very little and did a 3 day stint with nothing. NOTHING. It was horrific. 

I've realised I need to cast on more projects. Hear me out on this one. I need to cast on more projects as I'm getting to the point with 3 WIPs that I can't just pick them up and GO. My Afterthought Heel Socks are almost complete so the heels will need sorting and I need a few unbroken minutes to do that. My Baby Stockings are needing some decreases that I'm obsessing about being straight so I need good light for those which rules out bedtime knitting. They're my own design so I also want to make notes as I go. Then there's my Girl Crush Sweater which I've already noticed has a whopping great 3 cable mistakes already. I'm trying hard not to add a 4th on the final throes of the second sleeve. 

So what am I planning to cast on?

One asymmetrical garter stitch shawl, a sideways shawl and a baby hat. The baby hat is a toss up between The Woodcutter's Baby and another Aviatrix hat (seriously, they're like knitting crack. I HAVE to make another for Playful Baby. Plus they use up odd buttons which means an indulgent dive into my button box). This will possibly be the most WIPs I have ever had on the needles at once. I think I might even need more needles at this rate!

I have the yarn mostly sorted. The baby hat will be from some stash leftovers, the sideways shawl will be in some delicious new yarn that Fyberspates just released and the asymmetical shawl is almost there from stash too. I have purple for the main body but can't decide on the contrast colour. 

WM 'Cassis' (purple) with TUT 'Breathe'

What do you think?

WM 'Cassis' (purple) with TUT 'Manuscript'

Sunday 15 September 2013

Bottle a Day

Lately I've written a lot about the tough times we've been having and it's dull quite frankly. Last Thursday we had the kind of day that, if I could, I would bottle and store as a reserve. I would lovingly mark the date on the label and tuck it away for those 'oh God I am so bad at being a mum' days. 

Yesterday was a good day. 

It started with little promise: rain, crossing London in rush hour, a failed nap. I suspected doom before I opted for my go to solution on such days and decided to walk it out. I grabbed our trusty sling and popped the Playful One in and took off in the hope that movement would divert us from an irritable tangle that I could see coming. 

I realised as we started moving that we were about to cross part of my favourite London walk. In my pre baby, pre London living days I would commute daily to East London and on Friday I'd pop in my headphones and jump off the train at the Tower of London. From here I'd cross the river via Tower Bridge, move down to the riverside, past City Hall, along past Southwark Cathedral, The Globe, Tate Modern, The Oxo Tower and finally into Southbank where I'd get home via Waterloo. I'd vary this journey by popping to Borough Market or watching some free music at the Royal Festival Hall for example but I loved this ritual. I never wanted to get home, just keep discovering, because every time I did it, I'd find something new. 

So I took the Playful Baby along a variation of it, opting for as many experiences for her as I could think of off the cuff. Here's how it went:

There's currently a herd of painted giraffe sculptures to celebrate Colchester Zoo's 50th anniversary in More London, right by City Hall. Between this and the water features, we were off to a great start with Playful Baby whooping and giggling in delight. Giraffes are very funny apparently. 

We then walked along the river, past HMS Belfast and ducked under a few bridges that I remembered had light installations. Much whooping and leg kicking from the mini one at this too. 

We waved at the knight who guards Southwark Cathedral....

.... Then we were in the midst of the noise, sounds and smells if Borough market. 


I finally tired her out with a train journey home (she loves trains) and we shared lunch and chatted about our morning. She was so tired that she napped like a champion that afternoon and I got in some baking! 

(More to come about these flapjacks- they're baby friendly and I have ideas for how to make them even yummier. Standby for epic deliciousness).

We had lots of fun that afternoon, bombing around the house, getting chores done....

.... And then redone....

We finished the day happily, singing to the radio and sharing flapjack for pudding. While little one dreamt of painted giraffes, I even got some knitting in. 

Sometimes, days like this happen. 

Saturday 14 September 2013


I took a picture a few days ago that I promptly deleted 5 minutes later from my Instagram feed. It felt like too personal a picture in some ways, too full of meaning and yet, it also doesn't mean a thing to anyone else but me. 

Want to see the picture? 

See? Nothing too worrying there other than some clutter in the middle if our living room. They say a picture can say a thousand words and this one has plenty. It's the meaning behind it that caused a friction inside of me about how much I wanted to share and what I think I want to write about now that I've started documenting moments like this in my life. 

Firstly there was a sideboard in the middle of my living room. It's a lovely white side board that a fab friend rescued from being dumped and other friends brought to live with us. It sparked a cascade effect....

When we moved in just over a year ago, I had visions of lovingly creating a home for the Playful Baby to be welcomed into. I would sand down and paint this shabby dresser also captured in the photo. I would knit cardigans for her for each season (note the cluttered knitting baskets). Our house would be a calm and creative place. 

A year later the dresser is fine as it is, thank you. The cardigans? No. The sideboard? Helping to rehome various things that means we can finally get the last boxes unpacked. Yes, a year on we are still unpacking. Mind you I should explain a little more. We have packed and unpacked a grand total of EIGHT TIMES. 

Yes really. 

Our lovely house sprang leaks and we needed some pretty major bathroom sorting before little one even arrived so we unpacked and repacked as builders came and tore down and plastered and tweaked. In the meantime I went in to hospital and held tight- this was one impatient baby! Our little home was suddenly a cause for huge anxiety and we began to panic that we might bring our baby home to rubble!

With the support of wonderful friends and family we were ready just in time for the Playful Baby's early arrival and we hoped to restart on other work once we got the hang of things a bit. In the meantime we set about learning how to best care for a rather active and curious little one. It wasn't calmer but it wasn't rubble that's for sure.

Leaks have an annoying habit of causing damage and worse still, returning. Then there's the neglected hardwood floors that suddenly I decided were a 'death trap' the minute little one got remotely mobile. Suddenly we were back into this urgent state again and what's more with a baby. As combinations go, I can assure you, this is not a great one.

So the end result has been 8 sessions of packing and shifting of furniture and please let's not forget the clean up operation every time. It's been quite a year. 

So we stand at a point where I have declared my sanity can only be saved by unpacking every last box and finishing house projects for 2013. This sideboard meant we now have a functional living room and in turn the loft room can now be sorted till a time when we have the time/ energy/ funds to address it fully. In the mean time, functional will suffice. Cardboard mazes won't. 

That magazine on top of the sideboard? That's me planning for playful times: baking and cooking. Food remains a tricksy issue with PB still struggling with a poor digestion when it comes to dairy. We're getting there and now I'm testing the waters for us both. (Not rewarding myself with super ice creams has been tough, let me tell you).

So this picture tells a tale of a playful woman pushed very hard this year. That's why it felt raw and weird and not really blog worthy. I'm sharing it anyway because you know what? It IS personal........ it's either me or those flipping boxes. Today, I'm going to unpack another. I AM!

Monday 2 September 2013

Betty Blue

Today I moved Betty Blue, my much loved snowball microphone, to a higher shelf and away from curious little fingers. I sighed as I did so and thought about the thing on my To Do list that just keeps finding itself back at the bottom. I've tried several times to set aside the time, rewritten show notes countless times and stated 'I am going to record' in various tweets and blog posts in the hope that sheer determinism alone will get it done. It's not happening.

Today as I sit exhausted and praying my fiesty daughter sleeps as much as possible, I feel sad at my lost podcast. I miss sharing news and the interaction that came from it. I can't believe I really haven't recorded since March.

It's becoming another thing with which to torture myself with though. As a self employed mum of a more than slightly lively 10 month old I should realise time just evaporates. It's hard enough to find time to buy bread some days and yet I'm filling Pinterest with all the sewing projects I want to make and will get to write after I learn to actually see, obviously. My grasp on how gentle to be to myself has never been that good you see. 

I'm grinding myself into a dead end. Today I'm so tired I had to narrate making a cup of tea as I couldn't follow the steps correctly. I asked the lady at the green grocers for the 'that.... Thing..... Green.... No..... Yes..... Apple' (it was an avocado). Months of sorting our family home, learning to work with very little child care and heck, just being a mum, has taken its toll. I need to stop killing myself to cram more in to every last second of free time that I have. 

So I polished Betty to cheer me up and show her that I still loved her but took an entry off my To Do list. I added 'just breathe' instead.