Friday, October 15, 2010

new blog site

we have moved the Monkey & Sofia blog to

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Santa's elves are busy knitting!

Yes, even though we only have candle light at the moment my needles are working away!
I don't know why but somehow candle light seems to suit knitting, I suppose because its all so relaxing and theraputic and the wool so nice. Well, that's until I have to count rows or stitches when I'm knitting a ´Monkey´because the wool is so dark. But its still fun and definately a 'simpler life' craft.
When we knew we were moving to our place and that there would be a period of time without power I started to prepare and think of things which I could make which were totally low tech. Papier mache, hand sewing and knitting. This year's catalogue is an interesting reflection of where we find ourselves.
Do contact us when you've made your choices, the sooner the better so I can get knitting!
XXX Maureen

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Delicious and lovely chocolates!
Yes! this is the image I keep coming back to as we prepare all our goodies for the Christmas catalogue.
Handmade chocolates and really these are as good as the photo suggests.
This is all a bit different for us because this year we are branching out in a tiny way by supporting a friend with her new ´simpler life' idea.

We lived near Beatriz when we were living in Portugal, She is originally from Argentina and always wanted to be free from her 9.00-5.00 job so that she could realise her dream of making chocolate.
What a dream to have had!
Finally after lots of thinking and planning she started experimenting with high quality chocolate.
understandibly we were very happy to lend a hand with the tasting!
Now, Beatriz is ready to launch her amazing chocolates to a discerning public.
And who better to be her first international customers, than the truely discerning Monkey and Sofia supporters?

You can find out all about the chocolates, the sizes of the boxes and the costs by emailing us.

I know what treat I'll be asking santa for!


Now, having got ourselves thinking christmas-sy, chocolatey thoughts now is the time to nip across to flikr to see all the photos of this year's Monkey and Sofia Christmas Catalogue.

As everyone knows, who has been involved with Monkey and Sofia over it's short history, we make cute things as part of our aim to live a simple, sustainable life.
When we started this we were travelling around Spain and Portugal in a van, looking for the right place to settle.
We wanted to growing our own food, live in an unpolluted place, somewhere we could feel the true scale of nature.
It took some finding.

For nine years we travelled as far as Canada, hoping to find our place.
2009 turned out to be our year
I can tell you how it felt over the years, thinking we'd never get here and just how hard having that thought was.
But somehow we kept on searching, something must have driven us. Sometimes friends told us that maybe we werejust meant to have all those experiences that travelling for nine years can bring you.
But the amazing thing is, it really does seem to have some truth in it.
Now we have our little place, all the things we've learned, everything we found out by living in a different cultures already seems to be enriching what we can see will be our life here.
weird huh?
So here we are, sending out this year's collection of special gift ideas from our own place.
And of course those knitted cats will still be special to us.
They have been therapy, meditation and a comfort throughout and its wonderful to knwo there are so many of them across the world taking our special message of a simple life with them.
So check out the photos and email us soon.
Maureen and Phil
ps We really do look forward to hearing from you, and as you know we love getting letters so keep in touch and tell us your news.
Just click on the link below to take you to see all the photos.
Then as usual, email us for further information.

you can see the photos by clicking here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

home at long last

...after nine years of searching...
finally we have found our permanent home

2.5 hectares to make into a forest garden,
amd where visitors are always welcome

(especially if you want to help).

At present the facilities are minimal (basically none),
but camping is possible for hardened types,
and b&b's are available in town (a 2km forest track walk away).

So if you are a tree-monkey with own chain-saw,
or have experience of tree planting in arid areas,
please get in touch.

We´d also like any unwanted seeds and cuttings

(e-mail to request a copy of our specific plant wish-list).

More soon. x

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Little woolly creatures

Now the sun is shining it feels more like the time to experiment with new things and here are the results of a lovely session cutting up pieces of handwoven fabric.
The soft colours and the texture of the fabric seemed to be perfect for these little creatures.
I've been waiting for the right moment to make something from this lovely stuff because It's been tucked away in store while we were away in Canada.
It came my way from a Dutch weaver, Helena Loermans (click here), who lives in Odemira, Portugal where we used to live. She makes lovely lengths of fabric in beautiful colours and in yarns of wonderful quality, so these little animals are rather exclusive, especially since once the scraps have run out, I'll have to wait for Helena to make more things before more lovely bits head my way.
Meanwhile, I´ll be knitting as usual, having just indulged myself with a new cardigan I am now making up for lost time by knitting cats and mice ready for the summer festivals. It's weird, however many times I knit Monkeys or Sofias I still enjoy each one and its own special character, maybe its a Zen thing! Perhaps I should write a new book, Zen and the art of knitting cats!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

new knitting patterns

Penguins and Crocodiles!!!!!!
Hoorah! I love it when I finally get round to doing something I've been planning for a while!(although I am convinced that it all happens when its supposed to anyway) and on this occasion, its getting pdf's made of more of my patterns so that I can get them out to people who have been asking for them. The crocs and penguins were part of one of our Christmas catalogues and I spent many a happy hour (very many actually!) making little sets of these babies to send out to people. They aren't difficult to make at all, a bit fiddle perhaps and it's definately be worth investing in a set of those sock needles before starting. For the uninitiated, sock needles are short so much easier to use when making little things. So if you fancy having a go, just email and I'll send you a money involved, though obviously trades would be fab! XXX

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year

Well, Christmas is over and another chapter in our life in Cortegana has ended. It seems like it was only yesterday that we arrived here fresh off the plane from Vancouver, having hitched across country with all our luggage.
We stopped here because it was too difficult to go any further in the heat and because we had arrived in the Picos de Aracena, our chosen area.
It's been good, living in a little town like this, getting to know people and about life here.
Initially we felt six months would be long enough to either find our place or to decide if it was worth staying even if we hadn't found it because sometimes these things take time.
We have decided that Cortegana is a bit too big and town-like for us.
We need to feel the soil and even though its a small rural town, its still a town.
Now we are hatching our plan.
If reading this it sounds as if we love to travel and move house,
nothing could be further from the truth,
we hate it!
When we do find our place, that will be IT!
The rucksacks will be put into permenant storage and our passports will be tossed away.
Will 2009 be our year?
We really hope so.
if the collective will is to be believed,
we have enough positive thoughts coming our way from all our wonderful friends
we should arrive in our meant-to-be place on a big fluffy cushion!
We really do have a good feeling that this year it could happen.
So with everything crossed we hope that it will.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Christmas Presents

Christmas Catalogue (click here to see photos)
Every year, since 2004 when we invented Monkey and Sofia, we have produced a catalogue of gifts for Christmas.
We love to make things and our simple life allows us the time to spend on designing and inventing things then turning our ideas in to real knitted, sewn or constructed things.
It's great.
Each year we send out our catalogue, then everyone looks at the photos of all the lovely things.
Then the fun starts!
Emails fly back and forth as everyone contacts us to tell us what they want and then packages wing their way across the sea.

We love to hear from all our Monkey and Sofia friends, to catch up with news, find out how things have gone this last year.
The very best thing though, is to know we are all still thinking of each other.

So, here's this year's selection of specially made goodies which we hope you'll like.
As ever the prices are kept as low as possible so that everyone can be part of Monkey and Sofia.

If you would like to know more about any of the things or make an order, talk to us.
Email and ask anything and we'll let you know all the details.

The world can be a difficult and lonely place to live, especially if you are trying to live a life which has meaning, so it's great to hear from fellow travellers, those who are making choices about their lives.

Christmas is a time for joining together and although we are miles away, we will definately be spending time thinking of all our friends.

Visit our site on flicker, by clicking above and see all the lovely things.
Then send us a message!

Tell us how you're doing, we love to hear from you!
Then, we can then easily send you the price list and all the info on ordering things.

We're looking forward to hearing from you.
With love,
Maureen and Phil

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cortegana, Andalucia

We're settling into our new town now and beginning the next stage in our search for a permanent home. Never easy searching in rural areas and more difficult when you're looking for the exact spot as we are. BUT, at least this area has lots of the important things like height and relatively cool temperatures because of the hills. Cortegana is one of the small towns in the Picos de Arancena area of Huelva. There are chestnut, olive and oak trees lots of big areas of cork trees and lots of little 'huertas' where local people grow vegetables.

Not long after we arrived here the annual fiesta Jornadas Medievales took place; a four day extravaganza celebrating the cultural past of the town. Everyone dressed in costume, streets closed to traffic, stalls selling exotic eastern cakes and coffee and masses of crafts.
Live music, fire eaters, dancers, jousting, archery and fireworks. What better opportunity to introduce our Monkey and Sofia goodies to our new neighbours and friends?
The stall looked fab and provided us with a marvellous opportunity to chat with people we had started to recognise in the little streets.

Added to this four day, or should I say mostly night time experience, our life in Cortegana has already been enhanced by the arrival of our first Spanish kitten! Plush, as we have called her because her sparse black fur is as short and soft as velvet, is wonderful. She was tiny, starving and howling to be rescued. Born, according to neighbours on the first of June, the very day we boarded our flight from Vancouver, so was obviously meant to be ours!

So, life is coming together. Looking after Plush, trying to find a real home and making things for our next catalogue is keeping us busy.

More news soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Far away!!!!!!!!

We are now far away from Powell River and far away from British Columbia
We are in Andalucia, Spain and will be posting more information on our latest journey very soon.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

creative recycling

This is River City Coffee in Powell River, British Columbia. A fine coffee shop with a great selection of cakes.
And below is what can be made from an ex-coffee sack.
A useful big shopping bag.
The coffee beans come to river City in huge hessian sacks and when the beans have been used the sacks are finished with.
but they are wonderful things, full of potential.
The owners of river City realised this and decided to sell them cheaply and raise funds for the breakfast club at the local school.
A wonderful circle of recycling, creativity and a good cause.

Monkey and Sofia crafts are made using recycled, thrift shop and found materials wherever possible.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

have a cup of tea

Yerba Buena - Micromeria chamissonis

Evergreen Huckleberry - Vaccinium ovatum

Shallon - Gaultheria shallon

... being able to drink fresh spring water each day is probably more important to our healthiness than what we eat. And that's why it's taken us seven years of searching to find the right kind of land, one with its own source, to create our edible forest and build the house of our dreams.

Meantime, on Texada Island, British Columbia, we have been able to enjoy real spring water, albeit from a spring shared with our neighbours, and this is when we discovered also the joys of making our own tea from the herbs growing nearby. Followed by planting a whole range of others, found on the Plants for a Future database site. By the time we left there were: yarrow/ nasturium/ blackberry/ strawberry/ lemon grass/ mints/ rosemary/ comfrey/ marigold/ nettles/ lemon balm/ mexican tea/ cleavers/ self-heal/ and pennyroyal. And a few leaves of each, harvested first thing each morning, mixed together, beat any kind of dried or shop-bought tea. Now we are in Canada it's got even better, we are fortunate enough to be living with a garden that doesn't need any planting, it's got hundreds of years of self-seeding to do the job for us, and even though it is the middle of winter right now we are enjoying another wonderful selection, starting with the three pictured above. Try it for yourself and discover the difference.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the flying yellow bread bowl diner

Settling in. Being part of somewhere. Difficult to imagine when you just arrive somewhere, thatÅ› why finding Carol
at The Flying Yellow Bread Bowl,
was really great.
Not only is it the finest diner in Powell River.
it's probably one of the best vegetarian restaurants
in the whole of British Columbia.
The food is great, Carol cooks like its part of her personality and everyday is different, she make delicious bread, like bagels and big soft granary loaves and the menu for each day has stuff like thick spicy pumpkin soup, garlicky hummus on bread, stuffed vine leaves, spicy falafel burgers, mmmmmmmmmm, can't you just taste it? The diner is tiny, and packed with people, the music is perfect, like Natasha Atlas, things with an eastern vibe that goes with the food, the atmosphere is wonderful, everyone eating, chatting with friends and and really enjoying it.
This is what eating is all about.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Two cats got lovely presents this Christmas, handknitted, Monkey and Sofia blankets. This is one of them for the special cats at Katz castle rescue centre and cat hotel, warm and cosy.
visit Katz castle

This is one of Kay's three lovely kittens, enjoying their first Christmas, just look at all their Christmas goodies!

And here is Mooshina, in Argentina. enjoying a New Years nap in her favourite spot in the kitchen, thank you Beatriz!

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Simpler Life

Over the last six months in Portugal Phil was working on his latest publication
A Simpler Life
It's packed full of practical ideas for living more simply, with examples from our own life in Portugal , while considering the impact modern living has on the planet.
Through living more simply, we discovered we actually got far more out of life.
If you'd like to read about what we discovered,
and make your New Year's resolution to live more simply,
you can get a copy by emailing us.
As ever, cost are kept to a minimum
because life changing information should be available to everyone.
If you are part of a forum or group and would like a copy to review we can send you a copy for postage only, just let us know.

Monday, December 31, 2007

On the road again

This is the Monkey and Sofia site, dedicated to creating a new way of life. Sounds a bit idealistic? Like all that commercial stuff about green consumerism and new age lifestyles, buying opportunities which get us nowhere? This is very different. We are two people who stopped living a conventional life seven years ago, left England, and have been making our purpose to invent a simple way of life ever since. Until 3 weeks ago we were living in a tumbledown house in Portugal, with just the basics - no hot water, no phone, no tv, no fridge - concentrating instead on making beautiful things and publishing our ideas.

Now, in the interest of feeding our souls, we have travelled to British Columbia, a place of such amazing natural beauty our eyes couldn’t believe it! We are living temporarily on Texada Island, with a window full of ocean and cedar forest - seals, birds, black squirrels, eagles - and the snowy peaks of Vancouver Island across the Strait.

It’s a really awesome experience being surrounded by nature so much bigger and more powerful than us, it certainly puts us humans in perspective.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Monkey and Sofia is part of our idea to live a more simple life, one which is closer to nature. Since we left the UK, in 2000, we have been developing out ideas, working out what really are the important things in life.
Like growing our own food, using as little energy as possible, living in a basic way and having time for friends and family.
Making beautiful things is also a part of it.
Each year we produce a catalogue of lovely things, which people can order and give to their friends.
We use our skills and locally available materials to develop new ideas and make things which carry our message.
We are artists and make everything ourselves, using simple materials and traditional skills. All our things are individual and made with care because they have an important job to do.
We want them to carry our message about living simply. Our hope is to encourage others to change their lives, by sharing our ideas and experiences.
This might sound a bit weird, but it's simple.
It's like those fabulous patchwork quilts people made in the past. Each piece of fabric, each little square or hexagon was a little piece of memory, a special scrap from someone's dress, a piece of someone else's apron.
When the quilt was finished, all those memories were stitched into it and were really what made each it so special.
Monkey and Sofia toys, bags, socks etc. carry our ideas about living in simple way. Growing our own food, living in a basic way while enjoying a much richer life.
What we have found is that less really is more.
So, we hope you'll enjoy looking at all the things we've made and matching them to all your friends and family.
We're certain that everyone would enjoy being a part of Monkey and Sofia!
See what you think....
Tell us what you're interested in, and we'll email you and give you all the details.
Prices? We'll tell you those to, but don't worry, we want everyone to be able to be part of Monkey and Sofia so prices are kept to affordable.

These are some photos of this year's things.
The extremely cute knitted cats....
Monkey and Sofia, our original two knitted cats are now joined by the little twins, Gingy and Pandy..

little Gingy and is twin, Pandy.

This is a little detail from Monkey's cool jeans, he is a very stylish cat, obviously. Only Monkey and Sofia and their friends have such a stylish wardrobe for knitted toys.

Penguins and Crocodiles
These little knitted toys, three penguins or two crocodiles, make a really special little present all wrapped up in their own cellophane bags.

This is what each penguin looks like, in his own little ski cap and scarf.

Bags Bags Bags
The Moroccan shoulder bag, ecological shopping bags and sweet little draw-string bags.

These are little details from the shopping bags, so you can see how stylish they are.....

The lovely tassley front pocket of the Moroccan bag

These are two different fabrics used for the Moroccan Bags. Both are red and gold, the one with the thin stripes is chenile and the other is broader, bolder stripe in red and gold.
for those people who love to give or recieve practical presents. The Moroccan bag is wonderfully textural, soft and strong. In reds and gold with a useful zip pocket inside and a pocket with a flap on the outside
The front flap has a jingly morrocan bell and fluffy wool tassle.

Now, these are perfect presents in every way.
Practical, environmentally friendly and very stylish too.
Denim and Calico shopping bags
fold up easily to fit in a pocket, ready to bring out to use.

Get Organised.....Storage in the shape of little drawstring bags perfect for all sorts of things and all sorts of folks: Hanging on door knobs with all you mail inside, in the bathroom to round up all those bits and bobs, in the kitchen, anywhere. And for children, great for little toys, jigsaw puzzle pieces, finger puppets, bits of lego. Lovely soft cotton fabric, pretty prints and coloured lining.


This year we have been experimenting with different types of beautiful fabic, inventing some animals full of character who will definately want to become friends with whoever has them for Christmas.
Senhora Kangaroo
a cool mum with a strong sense of fashion! She is made from soft, bright pink flannel fabric and her little pink baby is sitting in her apron pocket.

Joaquim Giraffe made from the most soft and sumptuous, crimson cord fabic. His giraffe patterns are all cut from felt in a totally vivid range of colours and hand stitiched on.
Eduardo Elephant
A totally oriental character with lots of rich colours, gold and glitter.

made from very beautiful fabric with hand stitched felt ears and a gentle face

Hand knitted socks

I know, it seems crazy and too obvious but.... Socks at Christmas? Too obvious? I don't think so, these are socks with an important twist. Fabulously warm and cosy, knitted by hand, a really thoughtful and cosy gift.
If you're stuck for a present idea, who wouldn't like warm feet this winter?

Ragdoll Cats

These are the lovely ragdoll versions of our cats, Monkey and Sofia. They are the perfect size for toddlers to hold, they will feel as if they've got a big friend to carry around! Both are made from soft coloured cotton fabric, with little felt shoes and a nice line in stylish clothes. Obviously they have stylish jumpers!

The Mice
This is a close up of Girl Mouse's bag

This is the back view of the little Mouse Boy's trousers
Real cutesters! These two little mice with their impressive fashion sense! He has a very stylish pair of dungarees and woolly scarf and she, a soft cotton dress, a neckerchief and a very nice bag for her to keep all her secrets.

If you are still wondering what to get a particlar person, searching for that elusive, original gift then our bookshelf could be the answer.
We publish books about our ideas and the results are beautiful and unusual. We have four titles:

A Simpler Life
'A little beauty! '

Newly published, this is book tells of our journey to Spain and Portugal, our odyssy to find how to live in a more simple life, closer to nature. This is the book to read if you're ever wondered about changing your life. Lots of thoughts and ideas and how nice is it to know there is another way to live?

The knitting Book

Yes! Changing the speed of your life will definately make more room for the important things, like knitting! This is a lovely gift because it is part travel journal and part collection of patterns,especially for people who like to knit small things. Perfect for people involved in fund raising or knitting groups.
It's very pretty too, with lots of coloured photos and illustrations.

My Kind of Life

A thoughtful book, which begins in our garden in Yorkshire, where we first got interested in self sufficiency. Lots of ideas, thoughts and descriptions of our garden and information on growing food, recycling and making things.
The Cook Book

A collection of vegetarian recipes using food from the garden. A popular publication full of simple recipes which always succeed.
Fully illustrated and easy to follow
You see, in the Monkey and Sofia Catalogue, there really is something for everyone!
Your gifts will not only be unique, but you and everyone you give to, will be part of this usual and very exciting project. If you'd like to know more about any aspect of Monkey and Sofia, do contact us: