Friday 28 April 2017

Queen of Hearts Summer Stole

I'm an optimist at heart. I believe that summer will finally come, although looking out at the hail showers today you'd be forgiven for not keeping the faith. Still, even when it does show up, it's got this habit of not always staying constant to its billing here in the UK. Without too much notice it can turn on a sixpence and go all chilly and grey-skied.

So a wrap of some sort or other is a pretty useful addition to any girl's summer wardrobe, and ta-dah! - I give you mine:

 It's knit in our own-label Costa Brava merino double knitting yarn in Buttered Caramel. For a scarf (including tassels) with a finished length of 194 cm/ 76" and a width of 40 cm/ 16" I used 620 g/ 1240 metres of yarn. This gave me a tension, working in pattern over the length and width of the stole, of 30 stitches x 28 rows for a 10 cm x 10 cm square.

 Just read on for the pattern:

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Aphid Invasion ...

πŸ’• I really, really πŸ’– my roses. πŸ’•

As a result I get seriously annoyed by pesky little sap-sucking aphids, who blow into town with an overblown sense of entitlement to munch whatever they land on. A dark cloud descends, my blood boils and I go into a full-blown psychotic rage. It's not pleasant. It's not pretty. It's all-out war! No way, Jose, are those gormless little green bugs going to munch their way through my patch... .

Whilst I may be hopping mad, and ready to decimate the entire West London aphid population, I still don't like to stray too far from my normal, natural, organic approach to gardening. Can't think why that sentence made me think of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde! πŸ€”  I've got children and pets to worry about. They play in my garden, chase footballs and roll around on the grass. I've also got an abundance of wildlife that I positively want to nurture and encourage, so I don't want to nuke the rose bushes. Honestly, I'm a reasonable person ... all the way up the moment when you start eating my roses ... ☠️.

So here's my solution: I cook up a bug-blasting concoction using readily-available household ingredients that won't turn the back garden into a toxic wasteland or trigger a nuclear winter. Just read on for my recipe ...

Saturday 22 April 2017

🌎 Happy Earth Day 2017! 🌍

Happy Earth Day, fellow Earthlings!

Every year since 1970, on the 22nd day of April, a group of like-minded folk, who love this wonderful planet that we all call home, have been celebrating its biodiversity and trying to draw attention to environmental issues.  It all kicked off back in the USofA, but the movement has grown so much that Earth Day is now the largest non-religious festival in the World with over a billion of us getting involved.

Thursday 13 April 2017

Oh Bluebell ... what's in a name ...

Now I have to 'fess up to feeling a tad proprietary about the bluebell. You see I was born at the end of April, when, as my mother still likes to tell me, the bluebells were in flower. And every year I have enjoyed my birthday with a side order of beautiful, fragrant bluebells. For me birthdays and bluebells have gone together like fish and chips or Fred and Ginger. As I've watched the bluebells sprout out of their winter hibernation, unfurl their long slender leaves and swell into bud I've felt the cycle of the year come around another turn, adding another year to my own personal tally in the process. In the old days I used to get quite excited. Do you remember how we used to lie to make ourselves older? Crazy times! Nowadays I'd really rather not dwell too much on all that cycle of the year mathematics, thanks all the same.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Bias Binding ... it would be wrong not to ...

It's so easy to make ... it would be wrong not to give it a go.

Everyone who sews has bits left over when they cut out their patterns, and everyone who sews can put some pretty bias binding to really good use. Think of all the things you could trim with a little injection of colour in a fabric that you love ... . If, like me you, enjoy clashing colours and patterns, then this bias binding gig is totally for you.

Jazz up the neckline of a plain white T-shirt, or the edging of a pillow. Use it in your dress-making to add interest to your creations. The possibilities are endless, and it's always an especial delight when you get to use something that might otherwise be thrown away.

The thing about bias binding is that it has to be cut at  45ΒΊ to the selvedge of the fabric. Woven fabric has threads that run lengthwise, parallel to the selvedge, the warp threads, and threads that run across the fabric at right angles to the selvage, the weft threads. If you pull it lengthwise or widthwise it's pretty sturdy; the warp and the weft are woven to work against one another, holding each other in place, and it doesn't stretch very much. If, however, you pull it at a 45ΒΊ angle to the selvedge, the warp and the weft scissor up and down, and it stretches beautifully, which makes it perfect for edging curves or corners, around which it can be mitred.

Monday 10 April 2017

It's all about the Agapanthus ...

I have to confess to having a soft spot for a good Agapanthus.  I bought my first one over 20 years ago (yes, I am that old). At the time I was enjoying a hipster lifestyle in trendy Notting Hill. I had a little apartment on the top floor of an old town house, which had a huge roof terrace. And that roof terrace used to make my heart sing. I'd given it a country house feel by covering it with gravel and planting up some sturdy perennials in a mismatched assortment of enormous planters that I'd bought at auction. I had a bust of Mozart on a plinth, and a little wrought iron table and chairs out there. It faced away from the traffic, and I used to go out every morning with my first cup of coffee to enjoy the relative calm of my tiny oasis.

Sunday 2 April 2017

Makey Makey March ...

Happy April! I hope you got through April Fool's Day yesterday without falling for any pranks.

I've been looking back over everything that we've got up to in March. It's been a very makey makey month, packed full of baking, sewing, knitting and gardening. There's been the odd afternoon when I've managed to escape for some dog-walking, but it's been pretty full on with projects galore.

Some old pins and a broken necklace got recycled into a swanky set of stitch markers. Barcelona Bears were given smart tweed waistcoats for spring, my never ending spring stole complete with chains of hearts has got longer and longer - it seems to grow like Rapunzel's hair, and I've been sewing up a whole new wardrobe of spring dresses in the prettiest lawn cottons.

Do you ever wonder what to do with all those bits of fabric that get left over when you've finished making whatever it was you set out to make? They always call out to me, and, terrible hoarder that I am, I can never manage to throw them in the bin. This week I was working on a little gingham number. Someone told me gingham is very in this spring, which is lucky as I just happened to have some in my stash! I've got big gingham paired with smaller gingham in a nice, clashing sort of summer dress combo. I decided to not bother with the elaborate flappy facings that the pattern thought I should make. I'm not a big fan of facings; I much prefer to use some bias binding for finishing off.  I'd bought some bias binding for the job earlier, but when I looked at it ... well it just looked a bit work-a-day dull ... plain red binding ... snore ... zzzz.

So I got to thinking about how much nicer my (fairly plain) dress would look if I made some contrasting bias binding out of a lovely floral print that I'd got left over. To be honest it's the second round of left-overs for this particular print. I'd bought the material to make a dress, and then managed to s-q-u-e-e-z-e a sleeveless top out of what was left over from the first time around. So now, second time around, I've cut it on the bias at a 45ΒΊ angle to the selvage and made the loveliest binding to finish off my neckline and armholes. It's not difficult to make. I cut mine at 2"/ 5 cm wide, so it was easy to turn in the sides with the iron to get it into the proper bias binding configuration without one of those binder-making gadgets.

It's been a real light-bulb moment for me, as I can now think of a hundred other things that would look so much better with some of my home-made binding. And the lovely cherry on the top of my cake is that it's costing me nothing - nada - not a centimo! Happy days!

Anyway, whatever you're up to, have a ball!

All the best for now,

Bonny x