Saturday, 29 February 2020

The Haze Cardigan

 I am so excited for todays post as I get to share the Haze cardigan with you! If you follow me over on my instagram you might have seen over the last few months I've been working with Rowan on their Mode at Rowan collection. This is a new and exciting part of the Rowan knitting family where the pieces are perhaps more modern in style, designed with more of a catwalk/runway to feel to them and all come in a very chic neutral pallet.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the press launch event of the first collection for Autumn/Winter and was completely blown away by how beautiful the designs were. All the designs interchanged with one another meaning it was possible to knit a beautiful capsule wardrobe just from the new designs. We were treated to a catwalk show and saw just how stylish and easy to wear these pieces are.

I was also lucky enough to be gifted two projects from the A/W collection and today I am super excited to show you the beautiful Haze cardigan which I knitted up over the last few months.

This pattern was incredibly easy to follow and the Rowan Big Wool was such a dream to work with. It is mostly knitted in garter stitch so would make a very good project for a beginning wanting to make their first chunky knit garment. It also meant it was quite relaxing for a more advanced knitter, it was the perfect knit for sitting in front of the telly.

I love how it has come out. It's incredibly cosy and soft and I love the colour. I chose to knit the Haze in the shade Linen which is a nice neutral camel as I thought it would go with a lot in my wardrobe. I'm already getting quite a bit of wear out of it in this cold and wet weather but I know it will be a firm favourite in A/W for years to come.

If you haven't seen it already I'd really suggest checking out the Mode collection over on the Rowan website. They have recently brought out their second collection for Spring/Summer which is just as gorgeous. You can look out for my next project with Mode over the next few months on my instagram. Happy knitting!

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Friday, 14 February 2020

Low Waste Living Part 1: Hair Care

Hello and welcome to my new series "Low Waste Living"! One of my big goals for 2020 is to try and reduce waste, single use items and plastic in my home as much as possible. It's something I've tried to do for a long time now but just kept feeling overwhelmed by all I needed to change in my life. At the end of 2019 I sat down and wrote down all the ways I could help cut down on plastic and waste in our home and made a plan to try to work on one small area of my life each month. It can be as small as changing to a bamboo toothbrush but each month I want to make at least one change that will help improve our planet.

This month I wanted to share how I've changed my hair care to a lower waste alternative. For a long time I struggled to find a way of cutting down plastic and waste in the bathroom particularly when it came to hair. I have a very dry and sensitive scalp so it's hard to find a shampoo that works, I also have a lot of fine hair so any conditioner I use has to be fairly light but still super moisturising for my scalp.

At first I tried shampoo bars but I never felt like a got a good clean with them and they would often break and disinter-grate quite quickly. I started looking into no poo alternatives but the the thought of washing my hair in apple cider vinegar terrified me, I had visions of burning my eyes with vinegar and smelling like a cider barn all day long.

Just before Christmas I saw a post on instagram from The Conscious Beauty Co. all about their shampoo and conditioner. You can order a starter set which comes with two aluminium bottles with screw lids, two plastic pumps and two bags one of shampoo and one of conditioner. You pour the bags into the aluminium bottles and when you need a top up you only have to order the refills. The refills are made sustainably in china and you are sent a free post bag so you can send your refills back to be recycled making the whole thing zero waste.

I got super excited (as is often the way with zero waste things) and decided when I next needed shampoo and conditioner I'd order them. I've used them a couple of times now and am really happy with the result, my hair feels clean, conditioned and soft. They suggest you wait till you have 6 refill packs before sending them back to recycle so I'm storing mine along with our Nespresso capsules and Lush pots that can also be taken back to the store for recycling.

For me this is a great way of becoming low waste. I think there is much we can do as individual consumers but it is also down to capitalism and the systems we have in place in this country. We need more businesses to take responsibility for the products they are producing and also how those products will then be thrown away. It's great to see so many small businesses stepping up to help our planet when the majority of big business won't.

I hope you enjoyed a little peak into how I'm reducing waste this month. I would love to hear any tips for low waste living in the comments below! 
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Friday, 7 February 2020

Dreaming of The Good Life

As a child and teenager I was relatively normal. I come from a privileged background and was extremely lucky to be given lots of wonderful things but in terms of who I was and what I wanted I think I was fairly normal. We all have our little quirks, the things that make us us but day to day I was like any other young girl of our generation. I loved fashion and clothes and as soon as I was 14 and allowed out to Liverpool on my own I would spend nearly every weekend at Primark, H&M and other cheap fast fashion stores. I bought make up and beauty products in huge quantities and spent hours in front of the mirror after school perfecting hairstyles, eyeliner flicks and red lipstick. I consumed at the rate I was told was normal. I enjoyed everything our culture told me I was entitled to enjoy.

As I grew older I started to dream about living in a big city like New York or London. Having a job that allowed me to buy designer shoes, handbags, clothes and luxury make up. I wanted to live the high life with cosmos at the bar like the Sex and the City girls.

Around this time me and my friends started partying. We would have house parties, we would drink, we would go into Liverpool to go to night clubs and we'd do it all clad in bought that day cheap and sparkly fashion. It was a fast world of bright lights, hazy drunken dancing, too tight dresses that you couldn't go to the loo in, boys that wouldn't leave you alone and the inevitable holding onto your drunk friend and trying to safely deposit her in a taxi home. 

After my gap year I moved to Birmingham and carried on exactly the same. I partied, I shopped, I consumed and thought little of any of it. But I'd been unhappy on my gap year. Things had happened that made me question what life was really about and what would truly make me happy. I pushed them to the back of my mind, carried on living as I was living convinced that once I had a job, money, more stuff it would all fall into place. 

But Birmingham was unhappy too. I found I didn't want to party anymore, I didn't want to drink and the clothes and make up I kept buying didn't make me feel any better. I didn't enjoy studying or working in events management. I didn't enjoy the stressful work place, the long hours into the night or the ridiculous amounts of money that were being spent on things that would last one night. I was confused, I felt alone and I didn't know what I wanted anymore.

I was lucky in Birmingham. My Auntie lived a few stops away on the train and her flat was a safe and quiet haven. A place full of home made food, cosy sofas and quiet nights in. I retreated there a lot during that year and it was one of those evenings that she introduced me to The Good Life, an old 1970s comedy TV show following the lives of a couple called the Goods. On his 40th birthday Mr Good starts to wonder if this is all there is. Is life just about a mediocre job, paying the bills, going to dinner at the neighbours and wearing the right clothes. In one evening they decide to turn their life upside down and become self-sufficient. They turn their suburban home into a homestead with chickens, vegetable patch, pigs and goats. It's a hilarious TV show and if you haven't seen it please go and watch it. 

I remember being completely enthralled. Amazed that people could decide they weren't going to follow the standard way of living and instead would step out on their own to do something spectacular. It ignited a passion in me for something more, something different. As the years went on and the jobs, university and standard life started to feel more and more wrong and my passion for something different grew. I met my husband and he shared my loved for all things nature, quiet, slow and green. He encouraged me to seek the unconventional, to follow my dreams and believe they could happen. 

And so here I am a few years later. Working from home, pursuing a slow life as a writer, blogger and running a small craft business. This year I am starting to grow my own fruit and veg, only a small amount but it's  a start. My big dream is a farm house in the countryside, a few acres of land and becoming as self-sufficient as we can. I want big vegetable patches, fruit trees, chickens, horses, dogs and a gaggle of foster and biological children that know the importance of taking care of our planet, appreciate spending time in nature and are connected to their food and where it comes from. 

I dream about opening our doors to anyone and everyone who might need it. To use nature, animals, growing food and creativity as therapy for those who are hurting. I know we are a long way off but we plant the seeds now. My chronic illness was a total curveball but it's forced us to remember what is important in life, to re-evaluate the things we want and to start to work towards the big dreams. 

A few years ago I never would have believed I'd be working from home, writing, studying, running a small business, growing veggies in my garden and cuddling a retired greyhound. This is the beginnings of the good life I always dreamed of. It will take a lot of hard work to get to where I want to be but the journey is just as important as the destination. These years have taught me so much and have given me an inner strength to fight for what I want in this life and to keep dreaming of the good life. 

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