17. Bruce

black ball of Bruce yarn against black tarred shed

If you are reading this, then you have likely come from Kate’s blog. And if you read Kate’s blog, then the namesake for today’s colour needs no introduction.


Bruce was philosophical; companionable; playful; beloved; and legendary in all his doggy ways.

Bruce was the original dog in a line of characterful black Labradors that now includes Bob and Bran. His dark and glossy fur inspired the name of this specific (and very Bruce-like) shade of black.

ball of Bruce yarn on the beach with black stones

For if you look at an animal with black fur, you’ll see it’s not at all a flat colour, but one that gleams and shines; that’s full of reflections and subtle tonalities, and little bits of grey. It’s an interesting black, a vivacious black, a warm, lively and bright black.

A piece of charcoal with Bruce

Finding a lump of charcoal on the beach, I spy the same shininess; non-flatness; and interestingly rich surface qualities that characterise this shade.

old dark wet railway sleeper and ball of black Bruce yarn

These qualities are everywhere in the black things I can see beside the sea. A seawater-soaked old railway sleeper, dividing the tarmac path from the beach stones…

An old tin shed painted black and weathered, pictured with Bruce

…an old corrugated iron shed, painted black and weathered by time, is mottled and gleaming, like Bruce.

An old tin shed painted black and weathered, pictured with Bruce

An old tin shed painted black and weathered

An old tin shed painted black and weathered

Bruce pictured in a seam of dark tarmac, crumbling into pebbles

A popular path has a crumbling edge where the tarmac meets the shingle, and I spy a seam of Bruce. A fluffy gingery-coloured dog almost has off with my ball of Bruce as I am setting up the shot, just so. What was I thinking, laying down BALL so neatly, on a popular path!

Fishing ropes in black and white, pictured with a ball of Bruce

A coil of fishing ropes – one clad in jet black fibres – reveal how much greyer Bruce is, by comparison; where the outer layer of the rope is shedding and revealing its white core, the mix of black and white is closer to the colour of this yarn than in the places where the covering is intact…

Flecky pebbles and black pebbles on the shore, in shades of Bruce

…black pebbles flecked with dull grey white and not uniform in colour also speak to Bruce.

Plastic fishing gear tubs

Plastic tubs of fishing gear lingering beside the sea in the salty air have gained a marbled, streaky, rain and salt-washed patina that reminds me of Bruce, too…

Plastic fishing gear tubs

Plastic fishing gear tubs

…as does the mottled roof of a tiny shed filled with fishing gear.

grey black mottled tar roof

A tarred cabin sits on the rocks and stones, facing out to sea. It’s weathered front tips towards the waves like a warm wooden smile, and my ball of Bruce is happy playing there, sniffing round its interesting old beams.

old shiny black shed with ball of Bruce, photographed from the side on an angle to catch the light on the paintwork

ball of Bruce hanging on nail beside door of old tarred shed; photographed face on

Back at home, Bruce almost perfectly matches the colours in a woolly woven top that Mark loves to wear; it’s worked in black and grey, and its herringbone weave gives it a flecked appearance – like the yarn.

Bruce on Mark's woolly top

A Christmas card from one of my brothers’ families arrives and, in a proud-Aunty moment, I notice that my niece Scarlett has coloured the sky in her lovely festive scene in a shade that looks just like Bruce.

Bruce sky, with reindeer and trees

How luminous and friendly that sky appears – how sweetly scattered with stars – with its soft and mottled clouds.

Resting above the deer and the forest, at the darkest edge of the sky, the black that Scarlett has used looks vivacious; not-flat; warm and comforting. Just like the dog after which it was named.

This black is full of interest and life.

Bruce coloured sky on Scarlett's Christmas card design

From tar, charcoal, sheds, net boxes, rocks and roads, to the glowing twilight of a winter scene, Bruce (the yarn) leads its human buddies on wonderful and unexpected adventures – a fitting legacy for Bruce the dog, who always did the same.

Felix and Bruce ten years ago, up a hill in Edinburgh

Where will Bruce take you, today?

These posts coincide with the KDD & Co. Colour Compass advent calendars. Each day, throughout December I’ll be opening my calendar beside you, and exploring the yarn shade that is revealed for that day. Read more about these posts here, and prepare for a few weeks of polychromatic fun as we discover the shades together and revel in their suggestive associations and creative possibilities together! Even if you don’t have a calendar, I hope you’ll love exploring colours with me, and thinking about each shade as it appears, and how it is connected with the everyday colours of your life.

7 thoughts on “17. Bruce

  1. My thoughts immediately went to a small dog called George, who is (or was) black but is increasingly grey. This colour is perfect for him!

  2. When I opened my lovely parcel of yarn this morning I thought of our ‘Bruce’ (actually Sasha) – a black lab/collie cross who for 16 years led us on wonderful and unexpected journeys. Sorely missed this Advent.

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