snowballs and other mysteries

bruceinthesnow

Hiya! It is I, Bruce. Today there is SNOW. I like SNOW because when it arrives we get up early and go for fun walks in my favourite places.

One of the many mysteries of taking a walk in the SNOW with humans is how very different their priorities are from mine. Kate, for example is endlessly preoccupied with taking pictures of the SNOW. . .

flurry
holly
bridge
branches

. . . as well as photographing other humans lost property . . .

specs
mitten

. . . and muttering in vague rhapsodic fashion about how Edinburgh looks beautiful in the SNOW.

arthursseat

I on the other hand know that SNOW is best for frolicking . . .

frolicking

. . . and that if you are good in the SNOW, BISKITZ magically appear.

biskitz

However, one thing that is very odd about SNOW is the thing that is called SNOWBALL.

snawball

While other BALLS may be chased after, retrieved, and chewed, SNOWBALLS are mysterious and elusive. They smell of next to nothing, and, when thrown and chased after, they are somehow able to conceal themselves in an extremely vexing fashion!

huntthesnawball

And worst of all, on the occasions that you manage to catch a SNOWBALL in your mouth, it just makes things cold, and then it disappears! Beware! These SNOWBALLS are not at all like other balls, but are confusing and not to be trusted!

confusing

Personally, I find a STICK to be a much more steady and reliable creature, even when it is covered in SNOW.

stickleap

And one of the best things about this particular SNOWY walk is that it visits a selection of my very favourite sticks. Do you remember that I once told you about the sticks that sing? Well, here are the singing sticks, singing in the SNOW.

marimba1
marimba2
marimba3

The obvious conclusion: sticks beat SNOWBALLS paws down.

Hang on . . . she’s off again. . . . I’d better catch up . . .

offagain


See you soon, love Bruce xxx

A wolf in sheep’s clothing (Toby’s coat)

toby3

I’m really pleased to be able to release another sheepy pattern! This design is a collaboration between myself and the wonderful Sandra Manson of Jamieson and Smith. As you can see, this cute canine coat features the same charts as my Sheepheid and Rams and Yowes designs, but the pattern is all Sandra’s. It was designed for her characterful Yorkshire Terrier, Toby, who is a true Woolbroker’s icon. Here they are together at Jamieson and Smith HQ.

sandraandtoby

Toby is such a lovely old boy — he will be 17 next month — and is often to be seen around Lerwick and Bressay sporting a very impressive range of Fairisle knitwear, all of which is designed and made for him by Sandra. Without doubt, Toby is Shetland’s best-dressed canine, and it is about time that he had a pattern of his very own!

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Toby’s coat is made from the tail upwards and, in the same way as you’d create a mitten thumb, uses contrast yarn to create ‘afterthought’ front leg openings which are picked up later.

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The neck of the coat is shaped with decreases and a ribbed edging is added all around the sides, creating a button-and-buttonhole band for the coat to fasten securely around the chest. Stitches are then picked up for the front ‘sleeves’, and a pair of neat straps are knitted to fasten the back of the coat underneath the hind legs.

toby4

Toby’s coat should fit any small-breed dog, such as a Westie or Jack Russell. The pattern includes detailed schematics, enabling you to adjust the dimensions if necessary to best fit those of your dog by adjusting gauge, or the length of the fastening straps.

toby5

Charts by: me!
Pattern by: Sandra Manson
Tech-editing by: Jen Arnall-Culliford

You can now buy a kit for Toby’s coat directly from Jamieson and Smith, and the pattern is also available to download individually from Ravelry.

WOOF WOOF!

puffins!

puffinpattern

So, I suspect it won’t be hard for you to guess what provided the inspiration for the last pair of designs in the collection . . .

Puffin-Portrait
©John Moncrief Photography

These two designs really were an awful lot of fun to work on . . .

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mantle1

For what is more fun than a puffin?

puffin-in-flight
©John Moncrief Photography

Um, garments inspired by puffins, that’s what!

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mantle3

Here we have a puffin sweater . . .

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. . . and a puffin mantle . . .

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Both of which feature the same six-shade garter stitch chevron pattern. . .

puffin6

. . . which echoes the colours and texture of the beaks of Shetland’s most beloved summer visitor.

puffinthrift
©John Moncrief Photography

In Colours of Shetland you’ll find several puffin-related treats . . .

puffin7
©John Moncrief Photography

Including talented Shetland photographer, John Moncrieff’s, fabulous puffin portraits . . .

puffin-sandeels
©John Moncrief Photography

. . . and an intriguing, puffin-related MAP that has been specifically designed to accompany my essay in the book. All will be revealed as you turn the pages . . .

puffin5

These designs are simple and fun and I love, love, love both of them. Pardon my hubris, but I have to mention that when I’ve worn the Puffin Sweater in Shetland, it is the design that has drawn most comment, from airport security staff who complemented me on my ‘blendin’, to local knitters and designers whose positive remarks really mean the world to me.

puffin4

The mantle incorporates further decreases into the pattern to create a neatly-fitting and dramatic-looking wrap.

mantle4

We shot the mantle photographs around Lerwick’s lodberries on a quiet, grey sort of day.

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But I love the way the bright colours of the chevron pattern stand out against the stone.

mantle2

Yarn and sizing information for the Puffin Sweater and Puffin Mantle can now be found on Ravelry.

puffpatt3

snawheid is here

Good morning! It is I, Bruce. I am here to tell you about the release of Kate’s latest hat design. This hat, which is called “Snawheid” features a large fluffy ball that I’m unfortunately not allowed to savage.

Did you know that I play a crucial role in all of Kate’s photoshoots? Well I do. That’s right — I am the indispensable styling assistant.

The first part of my job as styling assistant is to find a Nice Big Stick and present Kate with it.

Then I fly by with Big Stick just as Tom has set up his photograph.

Finally, I relax and chew Stick while Tom shouts “get out of the shot, Bruce.”

And if you’re really lucky, I’ll even conjure up a rainbow.

Happy Knitting, love Bruce x

Kate adds: with massive pompom-sized thanks to Jen Arnall Culliford, the snawheid pattern is now available here.

Shetland Wool Week in pictures: part 1

Sheep on the hill . . .

. . . and at the marts.

Some fine boys . . .

. . . and my secret favourite.


Oliver Henry, Shetland Woolmeister . . .

. . . judging fine wool on the hoof . . .

. . . and off.


straight from the sheep . . .

. . . to the wool store

. . ready for sorting and grading.

surfacing

Whoa. I didn’t mean to just disappear on you there! Don’t worry — I’ve not, like the indomitable Betty Mouat, been cast adrift on the North Sea with half a bottle of milk and a biscuit — but I have just been really, really, really busy — working on my book, and a few other projects, as well as spending more time in Shetland photographing my new designs. I’m actually enjoying being so, um, occupied (it is genuinely lovely to feel able to work at a reasonable pace again) but it does mean that I have got stupidly behind with many other things — so if you have been waiting to hear from me, my apologies!!

Anyway, here are today’s announcements:

As the pic at the top of the post suggests, an edited version of my Betty Mouat feature article appears in this months edition of 60 North Magazine. Even if you’ve already read the article, or have no interest in the trials of Betty M, I would encourage you to pop right over to 60 North and download your (free) copy immediately.


There’s a great feature about the new Shetland Textile Museum, its unparalleled resources, and the expertise of the amazing women behind it, and I really enjoyed reading Jordan Ogg’s lively guide to spending the day in Lerwick (which includes some great tips about the best local charity shops for knitwear). There’s also a a piece about the restoration of Unst’s beautiful Belmont House (an idyllic knitting retreat if ever there was one) and a fascinating interview with Ann Cleeves (whose Shetland Quartet has recently been adapted for the BBC and whose adaptation will feature . . . some of my stuff!!)


(Peerie Flooers hat, coming soon to a TV screen near you)

Also, I just released a pattern.

These wee fingerless gloves have been in the pipeline since Spring, and I’ve written up the design for my friends at Studio Donegal. If you visit their lovely shop in Kilcar, you can actually buy a pair of these gloves hand-made by local knitters in beautiful Donegal tweed . . . but if you fancy making your own, you can now find the pattern here or here)

And while we are on the subject of patterns . . .

Did you see that Cloudy Apples has been released?

Cloudy Apples is a collection of accessories that my lovely friend, Jen Arnall-Culliford has created with the equally lovely Kyoko Nakayoshi. The patterns are being released in stages, and first up are these terrifically elegant socks, designed by Jen.


(Dunkerton Sweet socks, designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford. Photograph ©Jesse Wild)

Each design in the collection has been named after an apple — and just like apples, these accessories are sweet, seasonal, and very tasty.

ALSO — Tom’s news is that he’s just accepted a great new job at Glasgow University. He starts in-post next March, and will commute for the time being . . . but in the long term this may herald a Westward move for the Davies / Barr homestead. . . exciting!

AND FINALLY, for those who have missed Bruce, here he is, sitting nicely in the exact location of the discovery of the St Ninian’s Isle treasure 58 years ago. . .

. . . negotiating a stile in customarily elegant fashion . . .

. . . and being intrepid on the cliffs of St Ninian’s Isle.

What a grand walk we had that day.

There is much more to tell you. I’ll be back very soon xx

humans and other creatures

Hiya! It is I, Bruce. I have just returned from a F-U-N time on the island of Islay. This time was particularly fun as I have spent the past few weeks having no fun at all (going back and forth to the place where they put you on a table and poke at you, and are forced to don the humiliating cone.)

Islay is fun because there is a big beach . . .

. . . new walks with interesting smells . . .

. . . and I get to live in the box with the humans, which I really enjoy.

Still, there are things about being in the box that can be very confusing. Such as why it is OK to be wet some times. . .

. . . and not others.

To my mind, the most annoying characteristic of the human-creature is its inconsistency. For example, why is it that these buddies are good to play with . . .

. . . while these are not?

In fact, it is in relation to other creatures that the human-creature is most unpredictable. For example, one evening on Islay we visited this place. . .

I was told that there were otters about, and that I had to be very good. We sat in the box while Kate and Tom stared out of the window, occasionally muttering. After what seemed like an aeon, there was some excitement and animation, and Kate started reaching for her camera. All that had happened was that this had appeared in the water.

. . . which was, of course, not an otter, but a seal.

Now, if they’d have let me out, and into the water, I could have told them right away that there were seals in that place, and not otters. But as well as being inconsistent, human creatures like to think they know best.

But we dogs know better.

See you soon, love Bruce x

lost weekend

Early on Saturday morning, we set off to explore a bit of National Cycle Route 7, between Kilmahog and Strathyre. All was well – the weather was fine, the scenery was glorious, there was a tasty picnic in the basket, Tom was bicycling, and I was tricycling along merrily, with Bruce happily in tow. Then, after a few miles, and just a minute or two after I stopped to take the photograph above, Bruce decided to leap into a barbed wire fence, and wounded himself really badly between his hind-leg and groin. A mad dash to the emergency vets ensued.

Bruce is well-trained, and very good off the lead. He always stays close to us when we are walking or cycling, and this is the first time he has sustained any kind of serious injury while we’ve been out and about. Fence-leaping is not typical Bruce behaviour, but I would not want to run the risk of him acting on an unaccountable dog-whim on another occasion. Does he know what hurt him? Would he know not to try jumping such an obstacle again? My feeling is probably not. In any case, we were lucky that his injuries weren’t much worse, that Tom was there to manhandle him back over the fence to safety, and that we were able to get his injuries attended to relatively quickly.

The worst thing about having an injured animal is that you cannot explain to them what is wrong; why their leg is bothering them, why they can’t run up and down the stairs, why they have to sleep wearing a giant plastic cone on their swede. It is fair to say that Bruce is feeling a wee bit sorry for himself, but really, he is absolutely fine.

National Cycle Route 7 can wait a while.

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