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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Spring has (finally) arrived ...

Gosh it's good when spring finally shows up. The skies are blue, the sun is shining and everywhere there's a riot of colour. This has got to be the very best time of the year: fresh young green leaves unfurling with the promise of wonderful balmy summer days to come. Bring it on!


Enjoy!

Bonny x





Monday, 16 April 2018

Sea gulls ...

The WonderDog and I have just been out for a wander along the cliff tops. I've been rather busy over the weekend with lots of people coming and going, so it was my first opportunity in quite a while to just be alone with my thoughts.


Friday, 13 April 2018

From indoor rain to Macbeth ...

It's been a funny old time out here on the (not-so) sunny Costa Brava. We've had the very worst weather imaginable.



On Tuesday night it rained cats and dogs. Curled up in bed I was vaguely aware that there was a storm kicking up a hullabaloo outside. But you know that nice, cosy feeling you get when it's miserable outdoors and you have the luxury of not having to go anywhere ... well, I had that in spadefuls. I very happily went back to sleep and thought no more about it.

Fast forward to the following morning when I stepped into ankle deep water in my dining room, and it was another story. A river ran down the staircase from upstairs and the rain was still falling outside ... .


Monday, 2 April 2018

Easter Monday ...



Easter has been crazy busy here in sunny Sant Feliu de Guíxols. The town has filled up with a host of people. Car parks have filled. Restaurants have been fully booked and everywhere we've gone there have been loads and loads and loads of people. The weather has behaved. It's been coolish at night, but glorious during the day: full-on, big sun, blue sky weather.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Happy Easter 🐣

I'm celebrating Easter with great big bucketfuls of compost. It's an unusual way to go I know. But here's the thing: it's the first time I've ever successfully cooked up compost in my back yard, so for me it's a really big deal.


Friday, 23 March 2018

Follow someone you disagree with ...

Last night Mr B and I went to an Intelligence Squared debate about Brexit. Stop Brexit! shouted the motion, supported by Gina Miller and Labour's Chuka Umunna. Arguing against, and in support of speeding ahead with Brexit, were Gerard Lyons, the economist and one-time advisor to Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London, and Isabel Oakeshott, author of the David Cameron biography, Call me Dave, and the inside account of the Leave Campaign, The Bad Boys of Brexit.


Needless to say, playing in front of a London crowd, the pro-Brexit speakers had a pretty rough ride, and there were points in the proceedings where I felt that the issues were being unnecessarily and unpleasantly personalised. I don't want to argue the case for or against Brexit. I have views, but this is not a political blog. That said there's nothing quite like Brexit to raise the heckles, and Isabel Oakeshott's attempt to inject a little levity into her speech was probably misjudged given the strength of feeling in the room. Whilst she argued her articulately, and I'm sure she meant no disrespect to anyone in the room, anecdotes about how, back in June 2016, she almost named her new puppy Brexit didn't go down well.

In the course of proceedings (the totally wonderful) Nick Robinson who was chairing the debate asked us, the audience, whether we followed anyone on social media who disagreed with our own views on Brexit. It was amazing. Almost no one did.

At the risk of being accused of a stealth boast: I do very much buck that trend in that I have friends who are pro and others who are against. Perhaps it's because of my non-sectarian interest in knitting, which brings me into contact with loads of wonderful people up and down the country who are economically and culturally diverse. But I was very much the exception. Sitting there in the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster the evidence of multiple Facebook bubbles was irrefutable, and just a little bit frightening.

If there's one thing I've learnt it's that life is complicated, and rarely are issues like Brexit capable of being reduced to a black and white binary analysis of what's right and what's wrong. There are valid arguments for and against, and it's healthy for those points to be debated in a polite and open-minded way. But here's the rub: we can't be open-minded if we're only listening to one side of the argument. Somewhere, lost amongst the ranks of the twitter bots and the internet trolls, we appear to have lost a little of that good-mannered inclination to listen to the other guy's point of view.  And that's dangerous in the current climate where social media plays out on emotion rather than on a dispassionate analysis of the facts.

So, in the interests of independent thinking and bucking the trend, perhaps we should accept Nick Robinson's advice and make a point of following someone that we do NOT agree with. Perhaps we'll still hold the same position on the issues that matter to us, but at the very least we'll do so in the knowledge that we haven't been manipulated into that view by social media.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

P.S. 
Not entirely on point, but in his incisive book WTF (also on the subject of Brexit) Robert Peston devotes a whole chapter (3) to the subject of how emotion plays out on social media. And this is what he has to say about playing to the emotions for click bait:

But social media as the empire of emotions and feelings is dangerous for journalism, and for democracy. I have spent my entire working life striving never to be a propagandist, to try to shine a bright light on power and let people make up their own minds about it. But if nobody cares unless I inject my own pain into my reporting of what is going on - well, that is a big problem, because if I faithfully followed the diktats of the new social media market, my journalism would necessarily become much more skewed and tendentious. 
I would look only for stories that make me cry or laugh, which would mean ignoring huge acres of the important news landscape.  ... I would abandon all my training to see both sides of a story and present the fairest picture. I would become more pamphleteer than journalist, but with the ability to insinuate myself into every home. This is not a notional risk. The ecosystem of digital media is driving journalism in this pernicious direction - because that is where the clicks and views are to be found, and the money can be made. 



Friday, 16 March 2018

Ginger Nuts ...

The other day in the freezing weather I developed in itch for Ginger Nuts. My grandma used to love Ginger Nuts. They were her all-time, best-of-the-best, favourite biscuits. She'd dunk them in her tea to soften them up a bit, and to flavour the brew with their wonderful gingeriness, and all the while she'd offer careful advice about not leaving them in too long; that was the way to a horrible messy sludge in the bottom of the cup. Hot, steaming tea, the colour of creosote, and carefully dunked Ginger Nuts became a little afternoon ritual of ours. And in the cold, with hostile grey skies and nowhere to go, I had to scratch the itch. And so, I made these Ginger Nuts in honour of Granny J, because the truth is I think of her every time I eat one.


Just read on for my recipe:


Friday, 9 March 2018

St. Patrick's Key Fob

Like just about every other Irish person I celebrate St. Patrick's Day with genuine gusto. It helps that it's such a big everyone's-invited kind of gig. For one day the whole world gets to be Irish, and I'm all for inclusivity. Let's build bridges instead of walls, and hold parties instead of wars. And if you can dance a jig or two, down a drop of the hard stuff and tell a few tall tales in our time-honoured national tradition, more power to you, I say.

The shamrock, symbol of my homeland, is one of my favourite motifs. So, inspired by St Patrick's Day, which is looming large on the near horizon I give you my latest creation, craftily made from left-over 4 ply from my Spidery Scarf, and, as such, another idea for using up your left-over sock wool.



Saturday, 3 March 2018

Spidery Scarf

Here's a little something I've been working on for a-g-e-s - literally since forever. It's knit from the top centre out, adding stitches as you go, and, in the natural order of things, the rows accumulate more and more stitches. In the end I think I got a bit intimidated by just how many stitches that totalled up to. I'm a tidy knitter, who likes to finish the row she's working on before putting the needles down to go and attend to whatever emergency needs to be dealt with, but when you're wrangling 300+ stitches on a row that can mean a lot of missed telephone calls, postal deliveries and other deadlines. So I'd only start a row if I was totally sure that I'd have time to finish it. And, for someone who knits on the hoof, in between doing all the other things that have to get done every day, that became a major disincentive to doing anything. Anyway, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

I've knit this using own, hand-dyed 4 ply Merino on 3.25 mm needles. If you've got lots of left-over sock wool, you could think of knitting a stripy version to use up your left-overs. The purple trim on my scarf came courtesy of some left-over wool from my New Model Socks. I was worried about how far the green wool would go, and didn't want to play yarn chicken at the end, so I introduced the second colour-way to give me a little more security. Given how (very) many stitches I ended up with on each row I opted to use circular needles, knitting back and forth on the flat.


Just read on for the pattern:


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Knitted Narcissus ...

It's sooooo cold this week in London. And spring sunshine seems a lifetime away. But the daffodils are looking good for a whole lot of lovely sunny yellow cheerfulness in the very near future. I've been knitting my own narcissi here in the cosy snugness of my study to steal a march on old Mother Nature. And here they are:



If you'd like to knit some for yourself, just read on for the pattern.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival

The other day I toddled along to Kew Gardens with Jenny, one of my besties, to see the Kew Gardens Thai Orchid Festival. It was all her idea. Having grown up in Columbia she really knows her orchids, which is more than can be said for me. I'm more of an Ikea, bargain basement orchid grower - someone who should never be trusted with anything too precious or too delicate.


Monday, 19 February 2018

Leek 'n' tattie soup ... the ultimate comfort food

Poor Emi has just gone Full Metal Jacket with the orthodontist, who has started to encase his teeth in metal braces. The poor lamb is still getting used to the sensation of having his pearly whites pulled into place to straighten his smile. I'm sure he'll thank us in the future, but right now he's got mixed feelings about the whole business.

So, to cheer him up, and give him some easy-to-chew chow whilst he's getting used to how his mouth has been re-configured, we're eating a lot of ... soup. One of my favourite go-to dishes in times of crisis and stress is Leek 'n' Tattie soup. It's comfort food on a spoon, and it's helped me to cope with many a black dog day. And, let's face it, with all this cold, grim weather, we could use a bit of comfort.


Just read on for the recipe.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Drifts of 'drops

Last weekend we went to visit our besties, P, A, S & A, down in lovely Dorset. Whilst the welcome was warm, the weather was cold. Really, really cold. But we didn't let that knock us off our stride. Bravely coated and firmly booted against the elements we went out on Snowdrop Patrol

Now I know that there are lots of superstition about snowdrops, and how it's unlucky to pick them and bring them indoors, but for me they're irresistible at this time of the year. Frankly I'm grateful for anything that's prepared to bloom outside, and turn muddy borders into drifts of elegant white. And that's exactly what they do down Dorset-way. As you drive along there are banks of wild snowdrops blossoming all over the shop. 

I have a sense that we're culturally prejudiced against them by dent of still being a bit too close to those soppy Victorians. They had a penchant for planting snowdrops on the graves of their loved ones, creating an association between the shroud-like blossoms and the grim reaper. I know we're in the 21st century, and all that, but we're not that many generations removed from those tender souls who now lie in the churchyards that they once tended. Think about it: lots of grandmas and grandpas alive today can boast of having had a grandma and/ or a grandpa who was a Victorian. And, as a result of that generational proximity, there's probably still a residue of Snowdrop prejudice in our contemporary folklore. I mean, how many people do you know, who will not, under any circumstances, bring snowdrops indoors as cut flowers?


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Pink hearts and lavender sachets ...

Are you in the mood for lurve, or do you just like to self-indulge in pink hearts and lavender. I don't need much encouragement to doodle in yarn. And with St Valentine's Day just around the corner I'm having a little play to keep myself entertained. How do you like my lavender sachet?




Just read on for the instructions. 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Candlemas Day ... so how did it work out for you?

Friday was Candlemas Day, the day on which the faithful traditionally celebrated the churching of the Virgin after the Holy Birth. It seems a strange thing to celebrate these days, but it was the occasion for a special mass preceded by a candlelit procession, which would have been a pretty spectacle back in the day. And, of course, snow drops were taken as Candlemas Bells, their whiteness resonating with the theme of the festival. And anything that focuses on a beautiful bloom in the grey of winter is an attractive proposition in my book.


There was also an old tradition that if the weather on Candlemas Day be bright and fair, it meant (perhaps counter-intuitively) that winter's grip had not yet weakened. If on, the other hand it was grey and cloudy, it signified that half o' winter's gone at Yule. That was to say, that the better part of the winter was spent, and spring was just around the corner.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Blue Moon ... Super Moon


Last time we had a super moon - a few weeks' ago - I bemoaned the cloud cover. It was supposed to be a totally spectacular thing, but, here in London, we had one hundred per cent cloud cover, so it was an epic fail. We saw nothing - a big fat nada.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Crocus love ...

On Sunday morning the weather was mild and grey. Not a totally inspiring combo I admit, but we felt a collective urge to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, so we headed over to Ham House in Richmond. And there, in the gardens, I came upon a lovely chorus of crocus (if that's not the proper collective noun, it really ought to be). They stood cheerfully beneath the bare limbs of the trees spreading colour and the promise of spring through the flower beds.


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Comfy Cardie ... circa 1600

When I'm feeling a bit shivery and off-colour I like to climb into a certain cosy grey cardigan with huge pockets and a roomy bagginess that perfectly hides the contours of my body. It's not going to win me any points for elegance, but it's so comfortable that it feels like I'm wearing a hug. And the other day I discovered that comfy cardigans have been a thing for several centuries.

I was invited to a really interesting talk at the V&A. It ended in the Stuart section of the British Gallery, where I spotted this amazing knitted cardigan. It wasn't featured on the talk, but, being a knitter, I had to stop and admire it.

The museum sign said that it dated from approximately 1600, and certainly no later than 1620 - so, quite possibly, someone was pottering around in this very cardigan, feeling cosy and snug whilst they chewed the fat with Guy Fawkes and dreamt up the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 ... .

Knitted jacket 1600 - 1620 (back view)


Friday, 26 January 2018

Good-bye January blues ...

I'm cruising. All that angst and the January blues are fast receding in my rear view mirror. My tax return is out of the way, paid and filed for another year, and today I'm set for a nice day out with my bestie, P, and we're looking forward to helping her celebrate a BIG birthday this weekend. I won't say how BIG it is, but it's going to be epic.

Out in the garden I can see little pools of white snowdrops emerging from the muddy brown earth, and the hellebores are starting to do their thing. Thank heavens for the hellebores. They really are the stars of the January garden.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

A Very Big Thank You ...



... to all my wonderful customers at the Waltham Abbey Wool Show last Sunday. A big thank you to Kate and Diana, the totally brilliant organisers. You girls rock! It was great! I had a super day meeting lots of charming yarnie folk. I had a ball chatting and joking with Marcia from Yarnsulike, my lovely neighbour, on the next-door stand. We had fun, we had snow and we had the Sockmatician. What more could a yarnaholic want on a cold, dark Sunday in the middle of January?


All the best for now my lovelies,

Bonny x

Friday, 19 January 2018

A knitted auricula ... a platypus-billed duck ... and WAWS!

Gosh it's cold up here in the Big Smoke. This morning was another window-scraper start before we could fire up the engine for the school run. And pity a thought for the WonderDog, who's had a badly-timed hair cut and gone from curly and cosy to svelte and freezing in the course of a single afternoon.

And, best of all, we're looking forward to the very wonderful Waltham Abbey Wool Show (WAWS to the initiated) on Sunday - only 2 more sleeps to go!


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

First proper make of 2018

Well to be fair I did most of the work on it over the Christmas holidays. I wanted something that I could work on whilst watching the usual marathon of festive television. It had to be a pattern that didn't require too much stitch counting or demand a huge amount of attention. What I was after was something dead easy that I could do after a few glasses of wine with half my brain following a box set.

And this is what I came up with:

Ta-dah!



Friday, 12 January 2018

Dreich!

There's a word that I'm sure my Scottish ancestors used a lot at this time of the year: dreich, meaning grey and gloomy and dreary and bleurgh! Note: for proper effect it should always be pronounced with a strong, back-of-the-throat guttural that sounds as though you're clearing phlegm!

Dreich! Dreich! Dreich!

They said it. A lot. In January.

Fast forward to the present time, and every January, carrying on an old tradition, I have a serious moan about how much I hate January. And, at the risk of being repetitive, I'm at it again! Can I just get this off my chest? I HATE January. It's such a dreich month: cold and grey and dreary, with nothing to look forward to for ages.

The other morning the WonderDog and I went for a walk around the Common. All over the Christmas holidays we've had the Moscow State Circus camped out there. It was really exciting when they came back in the heady days of early December. Have I mentioned that I love the Circus? I never actually go, but I love the (here today, and gone tomorrow) idea of the Circus.



But now, even the Moscow State Circus is packing up and moving on. And you should see the mess they're leaving behind: dead grass and mud all over the shop. It's just the sort of thing you'd expect jaded January to serve up! Let's hope the Council can get it sorted out in time for the daffodils.

And then on the other side of the Common we came upon a mountain of discarded Christmas trees. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there's nothing like a mountain of discarded Christmas trees to let you know the party's over.


But it's not all bad: we've got the totally marvellous Waltham Abbey Wool Show to look forward to on Sunday 21st January. How inspired of the clever organisers to hold such a happy event in the dreich depths of January! Hooray!

In anticipation I've been busy with my needles doing bright, cheerful knits to lighten my seasonal blues ...


... and boiling up my dye pot to bring a host of colours to life.

During the last days of the holidays Emi helped me with some cochineal. He especially enjoyed grinding up the ladybugs in a pestle and mortar, testing the ph of the brew and adding acetic acid to bring it down to where it needed to be.


And then we had a go at over-dyeing some of the yellow from last week with a little indigo to make green - just like in Emi's art classes when he gets to muck around with big tubes of paint. 





























And, as always, I've got a good book on the go. I'm reading my first Celeste Ng novel: Tiny Fires Everywhere, which, so far, has proved to be a ripping good read. At the heart of the book is a custody fight over an abandoned baby, and I'm amazed by how sympathetically the author has drawn all the protagonists. She never lets you forget that everyone has their backstory and their reasons for doing what they do. Let me just say that it's one of those unputdownable books that will keep you up all night ...


Happy Friday, and all the best for the weekend,

Bonny x

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

🍒 Cherries ...



It's becoming a bit of a habit: first carrots, now cherries! I'm (health) food obsessed at the moment. With cold, grey weather outside it's a relief to have something colourful to play with inside.

As with the carrots I'm using our own label Costa Brava Organic Cotton in 4 ply. My colour-ways are Pillarbox (red) for the cherries, and Green Bean for the stems.

If you'd like to get started on a fruit bowl of your own, just carry on for the pattern.


Monday, 8 January 2018

🥕 A perfect orange carrot: one of your 5-a-day 🥕


Long story short: I was staring idly at my stock of 4 ply wool thinking that I should make up a few unusual pieces to bring along to the wonderful WAWS Wool Show. The Tangerine Orange colour-way whispered carrot to me rather than tangerine. And a fun 40 minutes later a funky carrot was born.

Mr B,  who is at heart a very practical sort, wondered vaguely what anyone would do with a knitted carrot; he didn't reckon it would work in a casserole. Emi thought it looked prettier than a flower, which was nice, but still didn't quite answer the question.

I made another carrot, and thought about why anyone would need a knitted carrot ...

I'm using these ones to embellish some wire baskets that will hold balls of wool at the fair. So continuing with that decorative theme, I reckon that, if you slipped a tiny fridge magnet inside the back seam as you sew it up, the force of the magnet would work through the 4 ply fabric and you'd have a pretty nifty fridge magnet. I'm not an Amazon seller, but if you log on you can buy packs of 25 mini-magnets for about a fiver. Or, if you've got a plain tote bag for going to the market, a bunch of carrots would make a lovely embellishment. Heck, you could fix it with a safety pin to your lapel and call it jewellery! Mr B especially liked that explanation as it would cost a great deal less than what I normally call jewellery ...

So now that we've got that all cleared up, just read on for the pattern ...


Friday, 5 January 2018

Golden yellow and honey saffron to dispel January grey

I've just boiled up my first dye pot of 2018. In the cold grey of January I find myself craving fire colours: warm reds, golden yellows and glowing oranges. You can keep all those cold blues for a warmer season. Maybe I'll be in the mood for them come the mellow days May.

To satisfy my immediate craving, I've just cooked up a spectrum of golden saffrons that's making me feel sunnier already.


I started off with an unpromising collection of dried avocado skins and stones, the outer leaves of a whole pile of brown onions that I'd been hoarding and some turmeric for good measure.



I boiled up the ingredients and then strained them through a sieve and some muslin to get a clear dye solution in which I treated my wool. Given that I'd got loads of avocado pits in the recipe I relied upon the tannin in the avocado to mordant the wool, and make the dye adhere.


My favourite part of the dyeing process comes at the very end when I soak the fibres in fresh water to rinse away any surplus dye that hasn't adhered to the wool. Watching your colours emerge as the wool unfurls like some exotic seaweed in a coral sea is a very sweet moment.


That's not a bad spectrum of sunshine colours on a cold, grey morning!


All the best for the weekend,

Bonny x



Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Waltham Abbey Wool Show

I'm really excited to have been accepted as an exhibitor at the fabulous Waltham Abbey Wool Show. It's a show that I've wanted to do for ages. Happily we're on board for this year's Waltham Abbey Wool Show, which will take place at the Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey, EN9 3LX (junction 26 of the M25) on Sunday 21st January from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!


Gosh it's hard to believe that Christmas and New Year's Eve have been and gone. It all sped by so quickly.

We're just back from a lovely New Year's Eve celebration with our dear friends P & A down in Poole. We had a really chilled time with good food and best friends. I can think of no better way to welcome in a new year.