The Edinburgh Yarn Festival

The knitting internet has been abuzz with reports from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival these past two weeks. You may well already have read about the amazing atmosphere, the inspiring classes and the wonderful products on offer.  But we just had to add our own voices to the chiming chorus of praise for a truly spectacular event and, of course, to let you all know a little bit about some exciting new things that will be coming to TIK as a result of our research trip!

Jenny overwhelmed by pretty yarn at EYF

While we took lots of photos of the stands and pretty knits, this one of Jenny seems to sum up the weekend the best… Walking in to the marketplace on Friday was literally a jaw dropping experience. It’s difficult to describe in words the impact of so many beautiful yarns in one place, alongside the buzz of the (massive) crowds of knitters and the energy of the many enthusiastic stallholders.

Self Striping Sock Yarn at EYF

We dove right in to the melee and spent a wonderful afternoon immersed in colour, texture and creativity.  Frequently our eyes were caught by a stunning garment or accessory passing by. Many hardy knitters disregarded the rising heat levels among the crowds and continued to proudly display their wares. My own Cameo was packed away after the first hour, but those wonderful knitters have placed “Breathing Space“, “Enchanted Mesa“, “Epistrophy” firmly at the top of my queue. This gorgeous Carpino also made me delighted about my choice of project for our Spring KAL!

Carol Feller at EYF

Speaking of Carpino, Carol Feller was just one of the many familiar faces we spotted. She was at EYF to exhibit her own exclusive yarn line, called “Nua“.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet then pop on in to the shop for a peek when you can!  We also got the chance to catch up with some of our previous guest tutors, including Woolly Wormhead and Justnya Lorkowska. Justnya will be back at TIK this coming July (details very soon) and we’re hoping to nab Woolly for a return trip to Dublin later in the year too.

Lisa wearing Tsumuzikaze at The Fibre Co stand at EYF

So back to the pretties then. If you’ve been following our social media these last few days you will know we have already had a delivery of yarns from The Fibre Co. Their stand was really special, filled with truly stunning yarns, fresh flowers and fabulous samples. Among them was Tsumuzikaze, which I had been eyeing since it’s release and just had to try on. It is wrong to order a whole line of yarn based on a love for one project? If so, I don’t want to be right… 😉

Tilly Flop cards at EYF

Keep an eye out for more fabulous new lines coming to our shelves in the coming months, and not just yarns either. How about these quirky cards from Tilly Flop? Top picks from her range for me were: “Casting on Means You Believe in Tomorrow” and “Congratulations on your new yarn storage facility home”.   These will be in stock very soon, so you’ll be sorted the next time there’s a special occasion for the other knitters in your life.

Spin City Drop Spindles displayed in tea pots at EYF

Beyond the research and the networking, EYF was also a really fun weekend away. Edinburgh is a stunning city, and somewhere I’d very much like to go back and explore further some day.  There was knitting, prosecco, dancing, selfies, silliness and lots and lots of wonderful people under one roof.

Thanks to Jo and Mica for making it all possible, and congratulations to you both on an absolutely stellar event.

Postcard style collage of snap shots from Edinburgh Yarn Festival

EYF Photobooth with Yvonne of Dublin Dye Company, Kersti of Knitmastery and Lisa and Jenny from This is Knit

 

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!