Interview: Kate from A Playful Day and her journey in the online sphere

It’s an exciting time to be part of the independent, creative world. There has been a worldwide resurgence in the appreciation of craft and we’re seeing a growing recognition of the power of collaboration and support within the creative industries. This sense of community and collective momentum was evident in spades at the recent Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where Kate from A Playful Day took a few minutes out to tell us more about her own journey in the online sphere.

Blogging planning in progress. A still life with coffee, iPad, Journal, Yarn and Camera. Image by Kate from A Playful Day.
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

When and why did you start the “A Playful Day” podcast and blog?

A Playful Day began as a blog in 2010 when I was struggling with my job. I felt suffocated and was ill a lot of the time. I used to commute for hours a day and while I did, I listened to knitting podcasts. At the weekends I devoured blogs and I felt like I wanted to be a part of that world. I began A Playful Day as a reminder to find a playful moment in everyday and it kind of grew from there. People responded to my photography and writing as I documented simple pleasures like curling up with a knitting project or my new favourite soup recipe. The idea of dwelling on life’s little moments is something we all need to remember from time to time I think.

What doors have been opened for you as a result of the “A Playful Day”?

My whole life changed because of A Playful Day! At first, the blog and podcast were something I did alongside a job I desperately wanted to escape from but soon it began to lead me to new spaces. Magazines, designers and yarn companies began to take notice of my writing and the community I was creating. I started freelancing, helping these businesses put their best foot forward online by managing their social media accounts, developing campaign plans or helping with press releases. I didn’t really know what I was doing at first but realised I was developing skills every day that online businesses desperately needed to excel at to stand out. I’m a curious person so I stuck with it to see where it would lead me.

Over the years, the blog and podcast became a place brands wanted to collaborate meaning it began to support my daughter and I financially. APD was a portfolio and I began taking bookings as a photographer, writer and content creator. One day, I travelled to Dorset for an interview and fell head over heels in love with the landscape. When I stumbled across a sweet little thatched cottage, I jumped. Packing my daughter, myself and what possessions I could move in a van, we switched city life for the country. Now I am a regular contributor at Project Calm magazine and am the Brand Marketing Manager for The Fibre Co. All this happened because of a blog that began with a cookie recipe for friends; I am constantly grateful!

Knitting and an iPhone on a distressed wood table. Still life by Kate from A Playful Day.
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

Have there been any key milestones along the way – when you felt you were taking your online presence to the “next level”? What led to these developments?

Having been doing this online thing for 7 years, I often say that when you start building an online presence, there are milestones in growth. At first, you just share and are amazed people find you. Just putting it out there feels like a big step. Soon you start to realise you might need to find a more strategic way of sharing if you want to grow an audience or community, especially if you’re doing it for business. This is the stage that often leads a lot of people to do more: more tweets, more blog posts, launching a new challenge….. it can get a bit much and burn out isn’t uncommon.

I think for me, the moment I realised I was ‘doing it’ was when I did less, more strategically. I slowed down and looked at what my audience consistently responded to and then I used that to shape what I did. Increasingly, press requests came without any effort on my part- my content was out there and being shared in ways I wasn’t controlling anymore. I looked at my website and thought about what it said to a new visitor. Could people find what they needed? I shared from the heart and I spoke directly to people and then I carefully went about putting myself out there in such an unguarded way. This is a tricky balance and defining my boundaries so I could be myself was a big personal milestone.

Simple coffee and knitting plans by Kate from A Playful Day
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

2016 was the year everything came together. I was flying to international events, speaking in front of rooms full of creative people and collaborating with some of the most inspiring businesses I know. My work was been shared on so many prestigious platforms that I sometimes have to hide a bit or I get overwhelmed! At the core though, I was a single parent who worked freelance and those things were what I needed for my daughter and I to have the beautiful life we now have here in Dorset. You know you’re doing it right when you’re living your life and your heart sings. If you’re too tired and strung out to enjoy it? It’s time to regroup. I

What can your workshops offer to people who are sharing their creativity online for purely personal reasons?

I’ve called myself a story teller for years. When I write, photograph or shoot a video I start with a simple question, “What is the story here?” For me, chasing a story has led to a complete life change- the possibilities are endless! You can escape into a creative life, or you can heal. You can find yourself or you can explore the idea of a business you didn’t imagine months before. Unleashing that creativity will wrap you in a community that responds to what you are creating. Even if you’re doing it just for fun- how good does owning your identity feel?

A knitter holding an iPad with Ravelry home page on the screen with a cup of tea in the background. Image by Kate from A Playful Day
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

You have written recently about the importance of slowing down and taking a step back sometimes. How do you think people can approach their online presence more thoughtfully?

The online world gets a lot of stick for being fake, too fast, too critical, too much. I am a strong believer that you can find your place online and use it to nurture your sense of self and your creativity. You can try on an identity that you might not be brave enough to in your everyday life. Women aren’t restricted by childcare or glass ceilings online. Yes, these issues exist but there are so many women forging paths online and they’re doing it as they hold hands with others around them. You can choose the path you want online because the possibilities really are endless. I’ve made friends for life thanks to our worlds colliding online. Without this creative world, I’d be a much less developed person, I’m sure of it.

Would you like to know more? You can catch Kate here at This is Knit over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of May, as she teaches a series of workshops on writing, smart phone photography & social media skills.  Pop on over to those links and book now – this creative community is going great places, and we’re going there together!

It’s KAL Cast On Day!

Today at 3pm we’ll be hosting the official TIK Spring KAL Cast On Party! We’ve a lovely afternoon of tea, cake and knitting planned. We’re looking forward to welcoming our KAL knitters in to the shop for a few tips and tricks on their chosen pattern and for a bit of a general natter too.

A welcoming image of the exterior of This is Knit on a sunny morning.

If you’re just learning about the KAL today, or if you’ve been following our posts and are still undecided about joining, then rest assured you don’t have to be casting on today.  We’ll be delighted to welcome new members over the course of the Knitalong and everyone who completes their project in TIK yarn before Saturday 13th of May will be in the running for our fabulous prizes.

We posted a fun graphic during the week, showing the relative popularity of the four sweater designs. Here’s the very latest update:

A pie chart showing the relative popularity of the four KAL sweater designs.

As you can see “Ravello” is proving the most popular so far, and we’ve been putting together some lovely colour combinations for this design over the past while.  We thought we’d share a few suggestions today, just in case there are a few of you still seeking inspiration…

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Clarendon Sock
L-R: Clarendon Sock in Velvet, Toffee Pop and Mustard Seeds

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Malabrigo Sock
L-R: Malabrigo Sock in Alcuacil, Natural and Tiziano Red

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Teal Feather, Pearl and Light of Love

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Frank Ochre, Water Green and Polar Morn

Can you tell that we got a lovely delivery of Malabrigo Yarns during the week??? Don’t forget that you’ll receive 10% off your KAL yarn, using the code SKAL17 …

So, have we tempted you to join us?

Playful Workshops for the Creative Community

You may have already heard that Kate O’Sullivan from “A Playful Day” is coming to This is Knit in May. Her workshops are now open for booking and, in today’s blog, we’re sharing a little background as to why that makes us very excited indeed!

Kate O'Sullivan of A Playful Day will teach 3 workshops at This is Knit on the 13th and 14th of May 2017

We were very lucky to celebrate our 10th year in business last year. Back in early 2006 “This is Knit” was but a twinkle in our eye: a vision of a vibrant space, filled with like-minded crafters, all squishing and coo-ing over a delicious ranges of top quality yarns. We are so fortunate to have made that dream a reality and we are keen to carry on building our business and to continue fostering the great sense of community that exists around the knitting and crochet scene in Ireland.

We’ve always been keen too, to support fellow creative businesses along the way. It’s an ethos that Kate O’Sullivan shares. She is a strong believer in the power of collaboration and community support and, by partnering with Kate this May, we hope to help bring all of *your* creative plans to life.

Would you like to launch a blog, a podcast, or grow your existing online audience? Do you own a creative business and would you like help telling your brand’s story online? Are you a budding knitwear designer or Etsy store owner?  Kate’s experience in journalism, blogging, copy-writing, product branding and social media and will help you stand out from the crowd.

Over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of May we have a trio of tempting workshops to choose from. Click on the images below to reserve your place, and remember that a 10% discount will automatically apply if you book to attend 2 or more of the sessions.

Promo for Discover Your Writing Style a Workshop by Kate O'Sullivan of A Playful Day at This is Knit in May 2017

Promo for Telling Your Story Online a Workshop by Kate O'Sullivan of A Playful Day at This is Knit in May 2017

Promo for Visual Story Telling - a Workshop by Kate O'Sullivan of A Playful Day at This is Knit in May 2017

Are you already a fan of Kate’s “Playful Day” podcast? Are you counting the days until May?

2017: A Year for Yarn

Nadia brings us some of the unmissable events of 2017…

January is always a time of plotting and planning here at TIK, as we’re sure it is for many of you.  We’ve been busy finalising details and setting other wheels in motion and it’s safe to say that we’re very excited about what 2017 is going to bring! Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s have a look at just some of what’s coming up this year:

Flat lay with notebook, pen, needles and malabrigo yarn. Notebook features the text "2017 - Knit All The Things". Plans for This is Knit 2017. Featured events.

 

Irish Yarn Club

Starting in February you will be seeing the first instalment of the Irish Yarn Club 2017 hitting the hands of the lucky knitters who managed to nab a coveted membership. There will be stunning, never to be repeated, colourways from Hedgehog Fibres, Townhouse Yarns and The Dublin Dye Company and designs by the lovely Carol Feller. If you’d like to be a part of it all then you can still join the pattern-only collection here.  

Special Workshops

Along with our usual class schedule and tutorials, we have 3 very special workshops with the wonderful Melanie Berg coming up in April. Starting on Saturday the 8th of April, Shawl Design with Melanie Berg is *the* workshop to attend if you want to bring the shawl of your dreams to life.  You’d want to be pretty quick clicking that link because there are only 2 places left as I type!

Saturday afternoon Melanie takes it one step further with Design Your Own Mosaic Shawl.  Here you will create an original mosaic pattern and Melanie will walk you through all the necessary steps, from casting on, over fitting your pattern into a triangular shape, to finally binding off.

Melanie Berg's Eifelgold Shawl - a mosaic shawl. Learn more about Mosaic Knitting and design your own shawl at Melanie's workshop in This is Knit on Saturday 8th April 2017

As if that wasn’t enough, on Sunday the 9th of April some lucky knitters are joining Melaine in her workshop on Colourwork Shawls.  This class is fully booked but do add your name to the waiting list in case some places become available.

We have a number of other special guests planned, some return visitors and some first-timers! In fact we just revealed yesterday that Kate from the stunning craft and lifestyle blog A Playful Day will be joining us for a weekend of talks and workshops on the 13th and 14th of May. More details shortly, we promise!

Headshot of Kate from A Playful Day who will be visiting This is Knit for a weekend of workshops and talks on the 13th and 14th of May 2017

It might be worth keeping Saturday the 15th of July free too, as we welcome back a friendly face. You know it’s always good to indulge in some mid-summer technique enhancement…

Ok so that’s enough hint-dropping for now! Make sure you don’t miss any upcoming announcements by signing up to our newsletter here.

The Spring KAL Returns

We’ve been running the TIK Spring Knit-along for several years now and it’s always great fun and leads to lots of stunning FOs. We’ll be mixing things up a little this year, with several projects on offer across a common theme. Have we piqued your interest? Stay tuned for more details of yarn discounts, in-store events, prizes and frolics!

Are you making any exciting plans for 2017? Let us know in the comments we love hearing from you.

And if you need some instant gratification right this second, you can catch our SALE which includes the fabulous Lhasa. Find out more here.

Debbie Bliss Lhasa on SALE now at This is Knit. Buy 4 for the price of 3. Mix and match across all sale ranges.

 

 

 

A Weekend of Shawls with Melanie Berg

We love a good shawl around these parts, and we know you all do too. So what’s an LYS to do? Well, how about scheduling an entire weekend of Shawl Workshops in April next year?

Title Image for Melanie Berg's Shawl Construction Workshop at This is Knit in Dublin on Sat 8th April 2017

We’ve invited the wonderfully talented Melanie Berg to Dublin, and she’ll be teaching three topics with us: Shawl Construction, Mosaic Shawls and Colourwork Shawls. It’s all happening over the weekend of the 8th and 9th of April and the spaces are filling up fast.

Melanie combines texture and colour into wearable modern designs that are both playful and beautiful. She enjoys matching cheeky stripes with elegant lace, and choosing unexpected colour combinations.  We love absolutely Melanie’s designs, so much so that it’s hard to choose just one favourite. So instead we’ll let the Ravelry ratings give you the run down!

Ravelry Screenshot of Melanie Berg's most popular patterns

You will automatically receive a 10% discount if your sign up for more than one of the weekend’s workshops, so you can really immerse yourself in all-things-shawl!  And if you happen upon this post and discover some of the sessions have been booked out, then we’d encourage you to add your name to the waiting list.  There’s always a chance of cancellations between now and April.

Have you ever knit any of Melanie’s designs? Or which ones are on your “wishlist”?

Finally we just have a small reminder that we will be closed for the Christmas Break from 5.30pm this Friday. We wish you all a lovely Christmas, full of cosy knitting time, gorgeous yarns and good company too.

This is Knit Details of Christmas Holidays 2016

Crafty Client Entertainment

We thought our readers might like a peek at something a little different that we did last week – a Client Entertainment “Mini Workshop” over at the stunning Radisson Blu Hotel.  It was an really fun event, with a wonderfully festive atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and we were delighted at their enthusiasm for the tasks too.

A yarn and bauble wreath photographed at the This is Knit Client Entertainment Workshop at the Radisson Blu Hotel

We had been challenged with coming up with a Christmas-themed craft activity.  The catch? It had to be completed in under 20 minutes, and we had to presume no previous experience of knitting or crochet.  It took a few trials, and we “cheated” a small bit with the advance preparation of materials, but our winner was these little woolly hat decorations.  Aren’t they the sweetest?

Woolly Hat Tree Decorations photographed at the This is Knit Client Entertainment Workshop at the Radisson Blu Hotel

We used Rico Melange Glitz yarn in a range of seasonal shades – the dash of glittery fibre really added that festive flair.  We then hot-glued on some sparkling embellishments and strung a little jingle bell on to each hanging loop as a fun finishing touch.  All told there were at least 40 of these made (some people came back to make a second, or even third) and we love the idea of these little decorations being spread among the trees of Dublin and beyond!

Thank you to everyone who came along and particularly to the lovely ladies at the Radisson Blu for planning such a wonderful event and for making us feel so welcome.

Yarn and craft materials ready at the This is Knit Client Entertainment Workshop at the Radisson Blu Hotel

Are you planning a corporate event or staff entertainment in 2017? We’d be delighted to work with you! Contact Lisa today for a proposal and quotation.

An Interview with Debbie Bliss

We were so thrilled to have Debbie Bliss join us recently for our 10 year anniversary party at This Is Knit. We got to hear about her creative process, her most recent yarns and patterns, and what we can expect in the coming new year. She was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions in this interview, for all of those who weren’t at the event, and want to know a bit more about this icon in the craft community!

Debbie Bliss and Louisa Harding Special Guests at the This is Knit 10th Anniversary Party

Firstly, we’d like to thank you so much for taking a few moments for an interview with us, it was such a pleasure hearing you speak at the This Is Knit Anniversary party!

It was an absolute pleasure to be invited to be part of your celebrations!

Q: What would you say is your main source of inspiration when designing a new yarn?

A: Normally I will see a yarn at Pitti Filatti, the trade show in Florence that I go to twice a year . If it is already perfect as with Lhasa, it will go into the ranges as it is but I may feel after swatching that a yarn can be improved by altering the blend. Or sometimes I will be approached by a company such as Laxtons, who introduced me to Falkland Aran, a beautiful pure wool from the Falkland Islands which is spun in Yorkshire.

Debbie Bliss holding her Falkland Aran Mood Board at the This is Knit 10th Anniversary Party

Q: Does your creative process often start with colourway or fibre choices?

A: When it is a book of designs rather single leaflets I will be looking at a collection that includes a variety of styles, different skill levels and a harmonizing colour palette.

Q: How much does modern fashion trends influence your design choices? Do you look more to current trends, or to the past for inspiration?

A: I love to research trends and keep up to date with current and future looks. This doesn’t mean that I will follow slavishly what is appearing on the catwalks but it interests me to see what shapes or textures are coming through and how I may want to interpret this in my own collections.

Q: Currently, what is your favourite trend in knitwear?

A: I love the way that ready to wear knits have adopted a very strong hand knit look, with textures traveling in different directions, vertical and horizontal cables for example, or a patchwork of texture.

Q: Your favourite fibre to work with?

A: At the moment I am really enjoying working with Lhasa, a cashmere/yak blend which is part of my Pure Bliss Collection. It is incredibly soft but still has great stitch definition.

Mixed Shades of Debbie Bliss Lhasa Yarn

Q: What would you say is the biggest challenge you face when designing a new pattern?

A: I think it is trying to balance and incorporate all the elements that I think are important, style combined with wearability, creating silhouettes that are flattering to women, thinking about how the yarn behaves. All of this and then making sure that the design/pattern still works in all the sizes!

Q: What is your creative process for choosing colourways for a new yarn?

A: When it is a new yarn I am always lead by the “story” it tells me, a silk blend may call for bright vivid colours, or a soft cotton ice cream pastels.

Q: Which pattern would you say is an essential knit for babies/children?

A: A simple, classic cardigan.

Q: What is your earliest memory of knitting, and did you feel in that moment that you had found your calling?

A: My mother knitting me a school cardigan in a virulent bright blue. It came out before the start of every Autumn term and went straight back in the bag again after a few knitting sessions.

Q: If you were stranded on an island and you could only choose one yarn to take with you, which would it be? (If weather weren’t a factor)

A: My new Spring 2017 yarn Sita.

Q: If your dogs could speak, what would they divulge about your yarn stash and/or knitting habits?

A: They wouldn’t, they are very loyal!

Q: Currently, what is your favourite TV show to knit to?

A: The Vikings ( Netflix)

Q: And finally: do you have any hints as to what we can expect from Debbie Bliss in the coming year?

A: New downloadable toy patterns are launched this week in time for Xmas! A beautiful mako cotton/silk Spring yarn will arrive in shops in January and if knitters follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter I will keep them up to date on all our news!

Many thanks again to the lovely Debbie!