Thursday, 30 April 2009

Knitwits Yarns

The weather is glorious today - yes, that is typical Cornwall (4 seasons in one day) - so all my regulars are probably trying to tidy up their gardens. I've had some lovely visitors in though - who are most grateful for the weather improvement and very glad to see a nice wool shop - we love meeting people and hearing about where they live and their hols in the south-west.

As a result of all of the above, it's gone a bit quiet this afternoon so - teddy update, as promised.

As I've mentioned before, I've had no formal design training so I tend to chart/measure/fiddle until I get what I want. Inevitably, this leads to some disasters and quite a lot of tinking but, sometimes, it works out how I plan it. My first efforts were simple handbags for Cornish Organic:

and then: a fairly simple sweater and hat.
Note: I did not design the sheep!

But I did get into the sheep theme. This tea cosy was designed in the car outside a gym one cold dark winter when T was training hard! (Just try charting that out behind a steering wheel - at times the language was fruity)

The tea cosy is the most popular pattern we've every done - we've sold hundreds. The next most popular is this stole (modelled by our good friend Jules).

Then along came colours to the Cornish Organic range and things hotted up!:

and then we met Tina Barrett and she took over the "big stuff" and I took on the smaller "quirky" stuff.

So, everyone kept saying we should make a teddy bear and I started in the usual way - chart out the pieces and then start knitting, writing up each line as I go (very time consuming!). Again, some was done in the car outside the gym, the rugby pitch and the hockey pitch and gradually he came together. So I dyed the paws and hands, worked out the joints, sewed him up and then he sat and looked at me and I kept thinking "he doesn't look right, something's not looking right" and then it struck me - the tops of his legs and arms were all wrong. All completely and utterly wrong and, once I'd spotted it, it bugged me to death.

What to do? He's all stuffed and sewn up and virtually finished. Do I:

a) take his head off, unstuff him, take the joints apart, take the legs and arms off, unpick the tops of all 4, re-knit them (re-writing the patten as I go), replace the joints, re-stuff and sew the head back on or do I:

b) cheat. Unpick the tops of the legs and arms in situ, tink back the outside piece of each limb, re-knit (re-writing the pattern as I go), carefully sew back together putting the excess knitting of the inside piece of each limb inside with the stuffing.

I chose b). I know, I know - a real perfectionist would go for a) because option b) would keep them awake at night but, come on chaps, I do have another life and, honestly, you'd never know. I know and I am managing to sleep fine so please don't lose any sleep on my behalf, OK.

Currently I have one arm left to go - actually I have half an arm left as I tinked back one and then went to bed. Again, true perfectionists wouldn't have been able to sleep with a knitting needle half way up one arm with the stuffing falling out but, guys, I need to sleep, right? And a true perfectionist would have gone for option a) so I don't count now.

T has declared that "actually - he's a pretty good teddy, Mum" - which is pretty high praise in my house so I'm chuffed.

This weekend he'll get his ears attached (they're on my bedside cabinet - slovenly, I know) and a waistcoat knitted - if he's lucky - and I get the end of year accounts written up - see, I do have another life!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Knitwits Yarns

The good news is that the marvel that is Thomas has been resolving problems on the site. This means that most pictures are now showing but I've found some more missing today and emailed the links to him - he loves me, I know he does.

The bad news is we were well behind with inputting but the good news is I've been inputting like fury today because - more bad news - the weather here is still truly appalling which means - even more bad news - the shop has been really quiet (and, frankly, who can blame the customers as I wouldn't be out today if I didn't have to be). However, the really good news is there are lots of lovely things for you now to see on the site. Here goes:

more Mirasol Miski in navy and, new colour, cream - here;

new Baby Life patterns - here (scroll down and the patterns are on the left);

new Kon Tiki CROCHET patterns - here (scroll down again and the CROCHET patterns are at the bottom) - note use of capitalised CROCHET for all you CROCHET fans who bemoan the lack of CROCHET patterns;

new colours in Debbie Bliss Donegal Chunky Tweed - here - I know it's coming into summer but, let's face it the weather's been/is like winter and you can always start those winter knits now!

new beads - here - I hope you note (and, dare I suggest, "like" the Gok effort I made out of packet of these lovely beads). You could, also, of course use them to decorate your knitting or make a necklace - or whatever, in fact, you feel like;

one new book - here - Kids Learn to Crochet - (scroll down again) - fabulous illustrations and probably good for grown-ups too who, like me, find crochet completely incomprehensible (how do you get the right tension with only one implement?);

finally, latest issue of Yarn Forward magazine - here.

I cannot begin to tell you who grotty the weather is here - I am about to get drenched on my velocipede again. G is playing the last game of rugby for the season - winners of the County Cup (Pirates) -v- the Cornwall team. I don't know how the match will go but I can assure you he'll come home wet and muddy - joy. T seems to spend a lot of his life at the moment in cricket whites - the whole thing is just too confusing for words.

I had a customer in today who was looking for a summer cotton yarn and pattern (she went away with the fabulous Samba - she is either:

a) massively optomistic;
b) going on a fabulous cruise; or
c) has a terrific sense of humour.

But then Samba is a truly fab yarn so who can blame her?

And how is teddy, I hear you all cry? I'll update you tomorrow - honestly, being an un-trained designer who designs as she knits is not all it's cracked up to be - poor teddy - he just looks at me balefully (and earlessly) as I unpick various bits of him - it's positivly tragic.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Knitwits Yarns

My parents have been down this weekend and it was my financial year end on Saturday so it's been pretty busy (year end involved a full stock-take, which means counting every ball of wool, pattern and set of needles in the shop!). This year, stock-take has been easier thanks to the web-site as a large proportion of our wool is now listed on the site so all we have to do is add them up. I say "all we have to do" but, you know, that's still quite a lot of wool!

The marvel that is Thomas, the web-site designer, has now returned from a few days away and all pictures should now be back on the site. If there are any missing, please email me and let me know and I'll pass your emails on to Thomas - he'll be delighted to receive them.

Tomorrow I plan to do a load more inputting of patterns so watch this space.

For today, I cannot end without briefly mentioning the tragedy which overtook our small community this weekend. By now, you've probably all seen the news of the torrential rain and floods which led to the death of 3 young people when their car was washed down a stream swollen into a torrent. The young man who miraculously survived is the son of friends of ours. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the young people who tragically lost their lives.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Knitwits Yarns

As you can see from the front page - we are still experiencing missing random pictures. I want to cry quite a lot but, as there's absolutely nothing I can do about it, there isn't much point! It's up to the computer geeks to sort it out and, in the meantime, I can only apologise.

I do rather suspect, though, that it will mean someone (me) re-inputting quite a lot of pictures over the weekend - that's the way it's looking and I'm not terrifically amused.

It also means that, for some reason which clearly I don't comprehend, I can't input any new images at the moment. When I try I get great big red alert messages pinging up. Obviously, I don't understand a word of these so all I know is that there's nothing I can do about it - frustrating is the understatement of the day - especially as we've had a Debbie Bliss delivery in and I can't share it with you!

However, orders are still being received fine and being despatched as usual so please don't let our technical problems stop you!

In my "other" life, the boys have exams and have both realised that, maybe, actually, they should have been doing some revision over the holidays! I remember those days, don't you? Not wanting to work in the hols and then getting to the exam and wishing you had - ghastly. Our chicken is still sitting on her eggs (1 week down, about 3 weeks to go), the burnt out cottage is still looking pretty black and - good news - G's rugby team won the County Championship on Sunday - yippee! Teddy doesn't yet have ears (G had shorts which needed repairing last night) and we've all agreed he needs some sort of clothing - hat, waistcoat, tie - not sure - but definitely something. So, I'll be charting that out tonight then. Mustn't grumble.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Knitwits Yarns

Some of our photos are still playing up - for which I apologise - apparently it's a "server" problem. I'm thinking tennis server, silver server (or, indeed, surfer), but, no, clearly it's computer "server". I'm none the wiser but it should be getting better and, if you don't get a pic, click on the red x and the pic will come up.

Brief input today - new patterns in Life 4ply:


8337 - I really like this one - very "me"

and 8338.

One new pattern in the new Baby Life:

here for cardigans and here for jumper

which has both cardigan and jumper patterns - very useful. The rest of the Baby Life patterns are being formatted by the FB and will be with us shortly.

FB has also been very busy in the dye house so we have a new range of colours in Cornish Organic 4ply. All absolutely gorgeous and, for some reason I can't get the Baby Blanket pattern picture to show up so I'll get FB on to that one too!

My day has been a mad rush of appointments and banks and essential shopping (like ink cartridges for teenage son who has exams and realises he's run out the night before the first exam!). Tomorrow should be calmer - ha, ha!

Do you know, I've just checked that blog and I think my skills are improving.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Knitwits Yarns

OK chaps - we had a big delivery in from Stylecraft yesterday and my parents were down today (don't get to see them very often) so we went to lunch near St Michael's Mount which was lovely before they flew out to the Scillies for a few days - lucky them! Then I came in to the shop and tried to upload some things on to the site.

Some of you have noted (and emailed me) that some of the photos are playing up. Now, by now you probably know that computers and I don't really understand each other so why perfectly good photos which have been happily sitting here for months should suddenly disappear is totally and utterly beyond me! Several phone calls to poor Thomas later and, apparently, it's something to do with bandwidth and we've run out of it and, therefore, photos aren't showing up. We've now bought more bandwidth (I knew the solution would involve parting with filthy lucre) so things should be resolved now/soon. Thanks to all who've emailed and thanks for all your patience.

In my ever-optimistic way, I've continued up-loading so am praying that it's all working properly. We have: lots of stock in of Stylecraft Life DK, more stock in Life Aran, new colours in Life 4ply, loads more colours in the 400g Aran balls, and a new yarn - Baby Life - which comes in a range of baby colours (some of which would also be good for us big people). Patterns are being formatted by FB so should be with us by Thursday (all being well). You can, of course, select another pattern and use our yarn convertor to tell you how many balls of any of these you need.
There are also 4 new CROCHET patterns in Kon-Tiki which FB is formatting. Crochet patterns are, I know, hard to come by so I'll let you know when they're uploaded.

FB has also been busy in the dye house and has been dyeing Cornish Organic Wool in 4ply so I'll get the images for that tomorrow and upload them then.

Just to give you an insight into my life outside the shop: last night (after late afternoon emails to the USA which tend to start coming in at about 4.30) I cycled up the hill and then started on my evening entertainment. For technical reasons which I won't bore you with, we had our Cornish Organic Wool Peruk yarn spun into 200g hanks. FB then dyes these (in the 200g hanks) and they then have to be balled into the 100g balls you see and buy. Last night he had 10 200g hanks dyed in the gorgeous "Cornflower" as we'd run out of stock so muggins here has to set to and wind them off. It may sound easy but you have to guesstimate when you get to the first 100g then weigh the ball (on the winder) to check the weight, fiddle until it's right and then cut the yarn and start on the second ball. I finished at 9pm! He has promised me that he will never get it spun into 200g hanks ever again!! Every single ball that you buy has been hand-wound by me - such is the life of a wool shop/brand owner - never a dull moment!

Tonight I attach ears to a teddy bear - oh, yes.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Bad (techy) stuff and good (animal) stuff

Knitwits Yarns

Frustrating is the only way to put it. Yesterday evening (just before bed) FB got on the computer (bad time of day to do this - I cannot stress strongly enough how this is very definitely not to be recommended). We hadn't had any orders on the Cornish Organic Wool website for a couple of days - odd, he thought. So he did a "test" order and a message came up which, basically, said that the site was unsafe and it was recommended that customers don't proceed any further. So - that'll explain why no orders then! I think it's now been fixed but I'm confused - where do these messages come from? Are they automatically raised or does some computer nerdy type (aka "a man") manually put them on and, if so, why doesn't the site owner/operator - "us" - get told? Who decides one day, out of the blue, that this particular site is unsafe when - clearly - if anyone had the courtesy to ask us (the owners) we would know it isn't. What's the score here then? Anyone have any insight?

Then - I come into the shop. If you go onto Knit Wits site - go to "Brand" and select any wool and then click on one of the patterns down the left hand side you get this message:

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ')' in /home/knitwits/public_html/this_pattern.php on line 269

What on earth is this all about? Why does a site trundle along happily for several weeks/months and then this happens? It's as frustrating as getting half way through a knitting pattern and knitting a few rows and, all of a sudden, the pattern doesn't work. Why? What happens to the web-site mechanics that they suddently go bananas. Sometimes I could weep - honesty. Anyhoo, if you're trying to find a pattern you can still find them by searching through "Patterns" and using the filters on the left hand side to narrow your search - fortunately, this system is still working.

So, that's the bad (techy) stuff.

Let's move on to the good (animal) stuff. We are lucky enough to have a fairly big garden and, at the bottom, we have a hen house and run with 5 girls and a boy. We got them as small chicks and, needless to say, they were supposed to be 6 girls but, presumably, small chicks are quite hard to sex so one of them turned into this:

By anyone's standards, that is a fine looking chap so he stayed! He's called Bernard and, clearly, as he grew up and realised he was the only chap with 5 girlies to himself he realised that he'd been born in heaven.

Here he is with some of his girls:

The alert amongst (and, rememer, your country needs lerts) you will notice that there are only 4 girls there and I mentioned that we have 5. We have - and number 5 has gone all "clucky" and is sitting on a clutch of eggs. So - we now have a problem - hen houses have 2 nesting boxes for a very good reason - when one girl goes "clucky" they sit in one and the other girls can still lay in the other. Some time ago we had a rat infestation (goes with chickens, I'm afraid) and they ate through the second nesting box to such an extent that, despite the best efforts of the men in my household, the box was close to collapse and had to be closed off and shored up. So, now we have Number 5 sitting and no-where for the others to lay.

FB & G spent this morning re-cycling an old rabbit hutch and turning it into a nesting box for Number 5. She was, eventually, moved (much pecking, apparently) and is now happily sitting in her rabbit hutch - another crisis averted. The next question is this - if all the eggs are boys ..... ?? ...... coq au vin (if you get my gist).

On the subject of animals - Deidre:
is doing incredibly well. (For those of you who missed an earlier entry - Deidre is nearly 2 and had a stroke about 2 months ago). His head is permanently at that angle since the stroke and you can just see that his right eye is a bit "iffy" but, other than that, he's extraordinary. Oh, yes - in case you missed that - Deidre is a boy - the opposite of Bernard who was supposed to be a girl. Deidre came to us at 5 weeks old when he was abandoned by his mother in the farmyard - you could, literally, fit him in a pint pot. He was, also, difficult to sex and - being so beautiful - we assumed he was a girl - ha, ha!! By the time we discovered our error (when he went in to be neutered!) he knew his name so Deidre stuck - it causes some confusion at the vet's I can tell you. Mind you, when we took him in after his stroke he met a Phoebe who was in for castration so he's in good company!

Whilst out with the camera, FB got a bit carried away - here is Cottontail:
and, yes, for those of you (Beatrix Potter fans) wondering - we have owned Flopsy and Mopsy in the past (they are buried in the rose bed along with "Flubber" - who, interestingly, was a short-lived albino guinea pig and, for reasons that escape missed out on the BP theme) -

and - here are Peter and Benjamin (back to BP) - by now it will surprise none of you to learn that one of them is, in fact, a girl
because one day we came down to a tank full of eggs which
they then ate (gross): and now, despite the fact that I think that's really quite a good photograph, we should perhaps take the camera off FB and return him to his padded cell.

On the knitting front (I guess we need to discuss knitting at some point) teddy has ears (not yet attached) and all other limbs are now attached - hoorah. I made a very Gok Wan adornment out of some kits we have in the shop - photos to follow - and the bolero featured on the front of Let's Knit has been returned to us. I've taken off the ribbon and added a button and will be photographed in it later for our pattern - will be on the site next week. FB has also been dyeing new stuff - watch this space!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

I hope you have all, by now, recovered from the excesses of Easter - I wish it to be known that I was a very, very good girl and ate no chocolate eggs at all. I did consume rather a lot of sparkling wine and some very delicious chocolate cake but it was FB's birthday and we all know calories don't count on loved ones birthdays.

We had a lovely BBQ on Sunday when the weather down here was glorious and summer was well and truly with us. By Monday we were back to autumn and we are now back in mid-winter - lashing rain and very cold - such is the way when you live in the very far west - of most countries I think you'll find.

I have been beavering away on the site today and have some new and lovely things for you. Firstly, sock wool. Not any old sock wool - would I provide you with that? No, glorious sock wool designed by none other than .... drumroll ... Kaffe Fassett himself. Yes, it's glorious and, if you love knitting socks (which is a whole other discussion for another day) then you'll love knitting socks with Kaffe's latest colours - see here. And here:

for an idea of how they look - yummy! (I'm willing to bet quite a lot of money that this colour sells out first!) It takes two balls to knit a pair of socks and each purchase of two balls comes with a free sock pattern. I think they'd also make rather nice gloves ...

I've also added to new books - a Learn to Knit and Learn to Crochet - always essential reading and good for a pressie for new knitters. For some reason which I have yet to fathom - and Thomas seems to be ignoring - when I enter books the description comes up twice. Don't bother to read the second one - it's exactly the same as the first (how many of you read it twice just to check?). Thomas - if you're reading this, could you sort the problem please - thanks!

I've also uploaded (at last, I hear you cry) patterns for Rowan Classic Alpaca Soft. This yarn is, sadly, discontinued but we do have some left - not much, so buy now to avoid disappointment. The patterns came in two books - Am to Pm and Classic Landscape. As you will probably have noticed by now - and will do if you click on those links - we give you the detail of every pattern in every book and the number of balls each pattern requires. I think it's true to say that not many sites do that but it's all part of our aim to make shopping here on-line as much like the in-shop experience as possible. It's no use just seeing the front cover, you want - rightly - to see what's inside - so that's what we give you.

I regret to say that not much knitting got done this weekend so teddy is still, pathetically in pieces in a bag although he now has eyes so he looks at me in a tragic manner as I go past. I really will put him out of his mysery soon. Somehow the sewing up of all the limbs scares me so I'm just finding excuses really - I know I am. I'll put him together, honest.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Technical Stuff

FB has pointed out that my (technical) links to the new "Life" colours 2 days ago didn't work and did, in fact, take you to a completely different yarn! Now - as you all know, I'm better at knitting than technical webby computery stuff so, I confess, I uttered a few choice oaths and set to to sort it. I think - and hope - it all now works - why it wasn't working is, obviously, a total mystery and, frankly, something I'm not going to spend too many more seconds thinking about.

However, I am now going to be brave and try and insert new links to the patterns which accompany the new yarns .. deep breaths - here we go ....

8324 - Jacket

8325 - Sleevless Top

8325 Top with Short Sleeves

8326 Tunic Sweater

8327 Waistcoat/Jacket

I am desperately hoping that those links have worked. I really hope you appreciate that my skills are improving - as with all computery thingy stuff, it takes time and many expletives but I am getting there. I can knit complicated cabley things so I can jolly well crack this blogging lark.

For those of you who are concerned about my health - my mantra worked last night, I was a good girl and I had a great time. We went to The Navy Inn in Penzance - can absolutely, totally recommend it - fantastic food for a bit of a splurge.

I hope everyone has a wonderfully relaxed and knitterly weekend - I am doing absolutely nothing tomorrow except aiming to finish teddy who is looking increasingly sad and pathetic in a plastic bag in bits with bits of joints sticking out of him - it's positively cruel so he needs to be constructed - then he needs a name - any thoughts?

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Apologies for radio silence, we have (as I mentioned) friends staying which is lovely but a teensy weensy bit busy. I did get my year-end accounts done (yay!) but my desk is a heap of paper - where does it all come from and what on earth happened to the much-vaunted "paperless society"?

G&T have had some wild nights (due to high winds and lashing rain rather than high jinks) in the tent and, to T's dismay, once it started raining the telly refused to work and just fused the entire house every time he turned it on. I know - any electricians out there - it's ludicrously dangerous to have a telly in a tent but it was a good idea and our fuse box is obviously doing its job!

Sunny day today so friends went to Sennen Beach and FB has been formatting patterns so, all being well, I should have some new patterns on the site tomorrow.

Going out for pub meal tonight (G & T babysitting - yikes) - repeat the mantra: I must not drink too much, I must not drink too much ...........

Saturday, 4 April 2009

I was supposed to be working half a day today but it's now 5pm so I guess that didn't work out. I've only entered 5 new Life DK colours on the site today:


Duck Egg


Silver Grey


They've been very popular in the shop (we've had them here for a while but I've been waiting for Stylecraft to upload the images on to their site so I can copy them on to mine).

Hope you like the new Easter header for the home page - personally, I think FB excelled himself - he's a creative blighter when he puts his mind to it. He's just phoned as he's cooking a curry (we have friends arriving tomorrow so he's getting organised) and he's told me not to rush home - my guess is the kitchen is a hell hole - I'll cycle slowly. FB is an excellent cook but his timing leaves a little to be desired and he tends to use every pot, pan and utensil to get the desired effect.

Tomorrow I have a large tent to erect for G&T (they're moving into the garden so our visitors can have their rooms) - T has worked out that, as we have an electric plug in the garden, he can plug the telly in there and have a TV in the tent. So long as it doesn't rain! Lord alone knows what the neighbours will make of it.

I'm still finishing organic teddy - battling with joints and body parts - photos coming soon. Have a great weekend one and all.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

I seem to have had a fairly stresful and manic few days what with one thing and another but I've managed to put some new things on the site today:

new patterns in Cornish Organic from Tina Barrett's books - one book is knitting and one is crochet (starting to fill the huge hole that is the crochet pattern market).

I've also uploaded some fabulous new colours in Katia's cotton "Samba". This knits to DK and just look at those amazing colours - you can tell the yarn's from Spain, can't you?

Check out all the colours under "Katia", "Samba" .....

Have also entered Karaoke from South West Trading Company (SWTC). This is a 50% soy silk/50% wool blend and felts fantastically - so fantastically, in fact, that you need to hand wash it with care! There's a pattern for a sweater and hat in Tina's knitting book and, post production, Lily (Tina's daughter) was wearing the sweater. Tina, unthinkingly, bunged it in the washing machine with everything else and it now fits Lily's doll.Add Image
Finally, have entered "Chakra" from Mango Moon. This is the most extraordinary yarn and I love it and FB thinks I've lost the plot! Not only is it supporting women's refuges in Nepal and Indonesia, it's also simply gorgeous and positively edible. Chakra is hand spun and then beads and stones are hand-tied into it - you'll just stroke it, like I did. After much diddling around with huge needles and bits of paper, I designed a wrap/scarf which you can get out of one skein (so you see, I have been doing some knitting on the quiet but I just hadn't told you yet). The pattern is free when you buy a skein. You can also wrap it around your hips over a skirt or summery trousers but I can't, for the life of me, think of the proper name for something you can do that with - help, please - my brain is mush.

Photo of wrap around shoulders here:

and here:

You can just about see the beads/stones hanging off - oh, so yummy.

Tomorrow I go back to year-end accounts (no, I haven't finished them yet, thank you) and fire damaged house (don't ask). Oh, yes - and please don't ask how the rugby final went last weekend - no, really, don't ask.