Friday 31 August 2018

As summer draws to a close ...

I always come on-line round about now to complain about how I want summer to go on for ever. And I don't want it to end. But even I know that everything has its season, and this year we've had a pretty good run of summer. It's been fabulous: long and hot and sunny.

In these final days I've been busy with my needles, enjoying the cool of the evening breeze on my terrace as the children played in the garden below. I've finished the Fair Isle cowl that I'd been working on with my home-dyed yarn. Without any prompting from me, Emi (age 12) admired the colours, which made me feel good. He's not given to much comment where my knitting is concerned, so it's significant that he volunteered something positive.

Friday 24 August 2018

High Summer Makes

It's a strange experience knitting with wool on the Costa Brava in hot, steamy August, and then trying on your knitted whatsit, in the bright sunshine, all kitted out in your bathers. I'd say it's a bit surreal, but autumn is coming, and I know I'll be very grateful for my woolly whatsits in the fullness of time and in the depths of the autumn chills. That said my fingerless gloves with bikini combo was downright weird.

My neighbours think I'm a bit strange. Everyone else is lounging by the pool, or soaking up the rays on the beach or fingering their way through a dog-eared paperback whilst wallowing in the shallows. I'm reclining in the cool of the shade having a party all of my own, knitting and sewing with headphones on listening to "The Prisoners of Geography", an interesting take on geopolitics, and how everything is the shape it is because of geography. This is the life!

I've been working on a design for my guests in October. Our project is going to be all about colour-work. This autumn I've got big ambitions to design a Fair Isle jumper that will channel my inner land girl from the 1940s. I'm thinking of lots of autumn golds and russets and browns; fiery earth colours.

Here's my project palate, which is all 4 ply merino that I've dyed myself from natural dyes.

I've found a great pattern book by Mary Jane Mucklestone, which is full of colourful inspiration. I've also found a great programme on the internet called StitchFiddle, which is fabulous for designing your own cross stitch and Fair Isle patterns. I had been using another quite expensive design software (which I won't name in case they sue me), but I think StitchFiddle is much better. The other (nameless) software kept needing upgrades, for which you needed to remember a lot of abstract details from when you subscribed, which made the whole process feel like it was just too much trouble to be bothered with.

I've stitched together a little cushion from the last cactus design that I stitched, and its been trimmed  with a really joyful turquoise trim. If the WonderDog were a better behaved animal I would use it as a scatter cushion on the sofa, but, despite being five years of age, the WonderDog still likes to chew things with the result that much of what I possess has frayed edges and comes emblazoned with teeth marks.

I found a lovely suedette/ faux suede upholstery-weight fabric on-line in the Yorkshire Fabric Shop, which I've used as a backing. They send out samples before you commit to purchase a serious length of anything. In fact I used the sample that they sent to back a couple of the little key-rings (also photographed above). It's a really opulent, chic fabric and I've got big plans for a whole set of cactus-inspired cross stitch cushions all backed in this marvelous faux suede.

I'm tempted to swap cacti for boats as my go-to design fetish. Down in the town they've decorated the streets for summer. One street is shaded by the most colourful parasols ever, all suspended in the air. Another has an armada of little boat kites, which bob up and down with the wind.

Anyway, Happy Friday, and all the best for the weekend,

Bonny x

Friday 10 August 2018

What the Dickens ?

The other day we trooped along to the Espai Carmen Thyssen in the Monastery here in (very) sunny Sant Feliu. We love our monastery, and support all the events that they host there. Every year the lovely Baroness Thyssen brings a selection of paintings out of the Thyssen vaults for a specially curated exhibition - just for us. These exhibitions take a theme and use the art from their extensive collection to narrate and explore it. One year they chose the exploration of the West (think USA), and told that story from a Spanish perspective, which was really interesting for someone brought up with an English-speaker's bias, who had always thought in terms of her cousins across the pond. This year the theme is the evolution of landscape painting, which is also interesting in its own right, and includes a healthy amount of local art.

Having looked around the landscape exhibition one of the attendants told us to pop upstairs to the Pepa Poch exhibition. I'll be honest: I'd never heard of Pepa Poch before.

Thursday 9 August 2018

Knitting on the Bias - a short guide to everything you need to know ...

What could be nicer for late summer or early autumn than a swishy scarf, knit on the bias for extra swing? - Something just perfect for wrapping up a little in the evenings when the sun sinks, and things start to cool down just a little.

Read on for our all-you-need-to-know guide and pattern for creating a great patchwork scarf knit in triangles to devour left-over yarn from your stash.

Friday 3 August 2018

Woolly All Sorts

Gosh it feels like it's been a very l-o-n-g hot summer, and we're only just into August. My garden has taken on a sub-Saharan vibe. Parched would just about sum things up right now, and with the mercury pushing up into the 30s here in London it's been hard to muster huge enthusiasm for all things woolly.

But I have been playing with some neutral dye baths to make contrasts so that my brighter colours will pop. I'd saved up a huge consignment of dried onion skins, avocado skins and stones and pomegranate skins that went into the pot last week. I added a little turmeric for golden sunshine, and came up with a very pleasing Hermes mustard yellow. And just as the bath was beginning to weaken I brewed up some walnut shells and threw them into the mix,  turning my mustard yellow into a warm, unctuous chocolate meets golden treacle colour. Would you believe me if I said I was on a strict no-sugar/ no starch diet? 😶

Anyway, banishing all thoughts of forbidden delights like sticky toffee pudding, chocolate ganache and the like ... here's what I came up with: