Wednesday, 23 February 2011

More New Loveliness

Knitwits Yarns

Not content with bringing out her fabulous "Angel" this year, Debbie Bliss has also brought out a new DK cotton with a little bit of silk and cashmere blended in to give it extra softness and sheen - what a simply fantastically luxurious combination! Bella comes in a range of colours (sadly not all delivered to us yet but enough to seriously tempt, nay, force us into spending) and a pattern book to accompany it. It's also a pretty near standard DK so can be knitted to any of your favourite DK patterns.

I particularly like this bolero (with or without flower):

and there are some pretty classy cables going on in this little number:

You can't really see them in that picture as the model is sitting down but the cables in the rib twist up to merge seamlessly into the cables of the body - I like that kind of detail. (I actually chose this picture as it's the only one in which the model is smiling - why, oh why, do they make the models look so glum/enigmatic - do they really think we won't buy the yarn if she's looking happy?! - this could be a good dissertation topic if one was so inclined).

Finally I bring you a little pic from Tracey's daughter - who knew exactly what to do with the ends from the f*****g fairisle. I think the one on the left is looking particularly sad - perhaps he wanted to remain part of the finished item and not be snipped off into oblivion:

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Knitwits Yarns

Today I've spent most of my time putting Debbie Bliss's new, gorgeous yarn on the site. It's called Angel and is a kid mohair/silk blend (very, very similar to Rowan Kidsilk haze - but cheaper - [not sure I'm supposed to say that but, there you go, I've said it]).

It comes in a massive range of colours:

and - as with all of these types of yarns - it goes one heck of a long way (200m in 25g) so your average requirement is about 3 balls - £7.95 per ball - £24.00 for a top - that's not bad at all. And some of the patterns are just gorgeous. Here's a brief selection:

and the ones that makes everyone go "oooooooooooooh":

For the first time ever I've put Debbie's latest magazine on the site as a book as well as a magazine as it has 8 Angel patterns in it - the same number as are in her book so I am, therefore, doubling the number of patterns available to you for this yarn. [Please feel free to thank me for this act of kindness - it doubled my workload but, you know, nothing is too much work for you knitters out there.]

As I've mentioned before, I was generously given some of this yarn free to knit a sample but I'm being good and still "finishing things". I'm onto the blanket now and making steady progress - there must be something in the water as it's been in my basket waiting to be finished for about 4 months now and I've got the finishitis bug good and proper. Even free balls of Angel aren't detracting me from my course (well, actually, they did detract me for quite a bit of Sunday but I'm now back on the straight and narrow).

Going on long car journeys this weekend - can feel a sock coming on ....

G had his stitches out today. Still very sore. Some gory pictures available if anyone wants to see them ..........................??!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Damn That Rugby

Knitwits Yarns

So - on Wednesday night I was all set to finish the waistcoat that's been driving me insane when we had "one of those phone calls". G (at rugby training) - "Dad (FB had answered the phone, I haven't got a really deep voice) - I've bashed my knee on a rock and got a huge hole in it".

FB was cooking (we share roles in this house - except for washing which is entirely my domain, apparently) so I went to get G. You may remember from the epic cycle ride that G has a slightly strange reaction to adrenaline (basically - he passes out) so we were immediately concerned he might pass out outside the rugby club. I got him in the car OK, got him home OK, got his (holey) tracksuit off OK, started cleaning some of the blood OK and then he turned deathly white and passed out.

At that point we thought A&E might be a good idea (the very A&E department I'd driven right past when bringing him home) so - after he'd regained consciousness and eaten a Mars bar (high in glucose) we got him back in the car, poor lad, and back to A&E.

They were brilliant and G had done a pretty impressive job of slicing his entire knee open - it wouldn't have looked much different if he's done it with a knife - except he'd done it at rugby so it was full of mud and grit and filth.

G was given his new best friend - gas and air - lots of local anaesthetic and then - get this (and pass over this bit if you're even the tiniest bit squeamish) they scrubbed his open gaping wound with a toothbrush (a red toothbrush for those of you who want the full details). G giggled throughout - damn, that gas and air is good.

He now has 4 sutures in his knee (no nonsy butterfly stitches for this wound), antibiotics for a week (due to the filth) and lots of pain killers.

I love rugby but sometimes stamp collecting is very attractive!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Finishing Things Part 2

Knitwits Yarns

Following on from yesterday's blog about my finished things, I thought I definitely needed you to see what Tracey has been working on for the past 2 months. This has been a commission for a customer and rapidly turned into the commission from hell. It came from this magazine:

and is the fairisle jacket, similar to the sweater on the cover. Now Tracey loves doing fairisle (mad fool) [and let's not forget this is the knitter who can't do socks on 4 needles!] so it was the perfect commission for her - ha, ha!

It started to go wrong fairly quickly after checking the pattern and realising that this fairisle didn't follow the normal "rules" of fairisle, in that there were virtually no places where the alternate colour could be run up the side of the knitting. Ergo there were going to be millions and millions of ends. Tracey was very clever and worked out the stitches for knitting in the round up to the armholes (thereby removing at least a few hundred ends and the bulkiness in the body that would, inevitably, be the result of all those ends).

So, that solved that problem - except the pattern is such that the side pieces don't match (as in conventional fairisle) and also wouldn't match with Tracey's "in the round" version. We (when I say, "we" throughout, please take it as the royal "we") fiddled and charted and, eventually, sorted it in such a way that the patterns don't match along what would be the side seams but, we figured, no-one would notice. And so she set sail - beautifully:

And then we discovered that, either as a result of the way she'd changed the pattern to knit it in the round (unlikely, in my opinion) or as the result of a pattern error (much more likely, in my opinion) the sleeves didn't fit! Tracey spent one Sunday putting the sleeve in and taking it out 9 times. By Monday morning she was almost in tears (perhaps I should point out here that she had spent, by this point, about 170 hours in this project, which was - by now - referred to as the f*****g fairisle). We looked at it logically, pinned it, fiddled with it, swore and fiddled some more and, in the end, she took the top of the sleeve back and added in an extra 4 rows - it then fitted the sleeve opening perfectly. (Despite the pleasure this brought it was also accompanied by more swearing.)

And then there were the ends. This, my friends, is one pocket:

And this - because I know you want to see it - is the back of said pocket:

This is the inside of one sleeve:

and this is the sleeve plus upper body (can you imagine what it would have been like is she hadn't knitted the body in the round - lie down and breath gently for a few minutes at the very thought):

At about the point of the sleeve fiasco we emailed Debbie Bliss for advice and we also mentioned the ends. She said that ends are all part of fairisle knitting and she puts aside half a day to do them. HALF A DAY. HALF A DAY? Try 4 days and you'd be about there.

In the end, of course, it was incredibly beautiful:

Pockets fitted to perfection (off kilter as per the pattern [ off kilter gives Tracey a nervous twitch]):

and with impeccable tension:

So - if you're having a glass of something nice in the next few days, raise a toast to Tracey - she deserves it!

(She, incidentally, is still lying down in a darkened room cuddling her bottle of vodka - where she's been since she finished it on Sunday. We think she should be emerging on about Thursday - I hope so, anyway, as she's supposed to be here in the shop.)

PS: Forgot to mention - at around the sleeves-not-fitting part of the whole thing, we checked out Designer Yarns website for guidance. Turned out there was an ERROR in the chart. Tracey turned very pale. Too late to go back.

PPS: Did I mention that, in one part of the chart, you read the knit rows from L to R and the purl rows from R to L - total opposite of normal - just to f**k you up completely!

PPPS: If you do knit this, be warned, the yarn quantities are somewhat adrift. Too much of some colours (yellow), not enough of others (teal and beige).

PPPPS: Customer collected it today. Didn't even stop to select buttons. Has absolutely no idea of the nervous breakdowns this has (almost) caused.

PPPPS: If you want one knitting, the answer's "No".

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine's Day

Knitwits Yarns

Apparently today is Valentine's Day.

As I was emerging from the arms of Morpheus this morning and the radio was playing suitable Valentine's Day tunes, FB turned to me and said:

"Jules .............. we don't do Valentine's Day, do we?"

It's OK - we've only been married for 23 years.

Finishing Things

Knitwits Yarns

I know it's now mid-Feb but this year seems to have brought in me an urge to finish things. This has to be a good thing as I'm slightly alarmed by how many things to finish I had.

Firstly, I finished some socks - the first one had been knitted for some time (like about 5 years) and I rattled off the second one in double-quick time when I used it to demonstrate for my sock knitting class. Sent the pair off to my Mum for her birthday and, stupidly, didn't take pics first (I was late for her birthday - plus ca change).

Secondly, I finished the tea cosy which had been in the planning stages for about a year. I'd knitted the hot water bottle cover:

and had enough wool left over for a tea cosy and, after many requests, decided to knit a traditional (granny) tea cosy. So I'd done a lot of research and worked out how to knit it but just never quite got round to doing it. Then I was asked to produce a pattern for a book and that, finally, kicked me into action and, as with so many things, it was so quick and easy in the end it was ridiculous! Here it - finally - is:

So - for two skeins of wool you get the pair:

Some people may think it's a tad extravagant to knit a tea cosy and hottie cover from pure wool/wool and alpaca blend (as Peruk is) but, in fact, if you want them to be practical and actually keep you/your hot water bottle cover/your tea warm then, actually, pure wool/wool and alpaca blend is the best thing to use!

Then I knitted a teddy which had been on the "to do" list for a while:

He's made from King Cole "Cuddles" (identical to Sirdar Snowflake Chunky) and, again, took a total of 3 evenings once I'd got my a**e into gear.

Now I'm finishing a waistcoat which has been on the needles for about 6 months. Foolishly, I thought I'd knit it in the "quiet" periods in the shop - ha, ha! The two fronts have taken me 6 months and the back has taken me 1 day. (That sounds mightily impressive until I reveal that it's knitted in Superchunky on 10mm needles) Last night I tackled the collar, which has a ridiculous and, to my mind, unnecessary stitch detail which nearly drove me mad. Then I looked up the borders and they have the same (and to my mind unnecessary) stitch detail and my heart sank. However, I will persist. Borders tonight - onward and upward. (Don't you just hate that, though, when the designer seems to add totally unwarranted details which are put in there purely to annoy and infuriate you and, at the end, you're really not sure they were worth all the effort?)

After that I have a baby blanket to finish (before the baby starts walking, hopefully), one more (long) sock and then a lovely (freebie) sample from Debbie Bliss (which shall be my well-earned reward).

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sock and More Socks

Knitwits Yarns

We've had a delivery of the most lovely merino/bamboo sock wool in for spring/summer socks. The bamboo makes it incredibly soft and gives it a slight sheen as well - I can feel a pair for FB coming on (he always complains I never knit socks for him!). Colours are great too:

It's from the same company that makes Can Can (Rico) so is good quality and a good price too (£7.09).

Talking of Can Can, we've had one new colour in (I told you it was coming in dribs and drabs) and it's going out fast (so fast we nearly didn't get it on the site in time!). Grab this one quick if you want a ball:

We've also had one more colour in of the Poems:

This is the colour that this jacket is done in:

so I'm thinking it's going to be incredibly popular.

This weekend we had some dear friends down so I've come back to work for a rest! I had to be up at the crack on Saturday to take G to Truro so he could spend a happy day yomping on Dartmoor. When I got home the house was silent as hangovers were being slept off so I managed to catch up on some work (there are some advantages to not being much of a drinker!) before large breakfasts were supplied. We then set off for a head-clearing walk to our favourite pub over the moor and left rather later than planned for the route-march home. Last time we did this walk it looked like this:

On Saturday it looked like this:

and this: (that's a mine head looming in the background through the mist)

Incredibly atmospheric but very wet and dark!

What I hadn't realised was that they (FB + friends) had all agreed (when I'd gone to the loo) to have another drink and get a taxi home. I bounded out and got them all going (thinking they were joking) but I'm not sure now that they were. Not sure, also, if they've forgiven me yet!

Yesterday, I sat and finished a tea cosy which I've been meaning to knit for ages and ages but was finally pushed into when I was asked to produce a pattern for a forthcoming book and, specifically, something "homeware" if I could manage it. I could. And it's done apart from the finishing touches. Photos forthwith.

Tonight I feel a teddy coming on ...........

Friday, 4 February 2011

Socks in The People's Friend Magazine

Knitwits Yarns

The People's Friend is an extraordinary magazine - it's produced in Scotland and has been running since 1869 and it's current weekly circulation is somewhere in region of 306,000 copies. That means it's way ahead of other well known magazines such as Prima (288,000), Bella (253,000) and Grazia (229,000). The extraordinary thing is that it's such a nice magazine - designed for ladies of a certain age with nice stories with happy endings, recipes, letters and, critically for us, a knitting or sewing pattern every week. If you've never looked at it then do check it out as they have some really lovely knitting patterns - some not so lovely but, as with everything, every now and then you get a gem.

A couple of years ago we had the pattern for this in The People's Friend:

the, now, infamous Loopy Sheep tea cosy (still available if you're interested!) and we sold over 100 skeins of wool to enthusiastic knitters.

This week, we're in again! And this time it's with my first ever sock pattern!:

and, yes, those are my legs and feet (pleased to say they chopped off most of my legs in the magazine) and, yes, this is the actual picture that appears in the magazine!

The wool is Cornish Organic 4ply, colour Sennen, hand dyed by FB himself. After six weeks the pattern is available for general release but, until then, it's available exclusively in The People's Friend, issue no 7353 which, at only 85p per issue, is jolly good value for a knitting pattern!!

I'm thinking, possibly, a good old fashioned tea cosy next ................

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Rather Random

Knitwits Yarns

Yesterday I had to take some pictures of a project Tracey is knitting for a customer - about which I'll blog another day - it's been the nightmare commission of all time and a letter is being constructed to the designer (with accompanying photographs) - she'll be truly thrilled when she gets it!

On the camera FB found other pics which he thought might entertain. Firstly, whilst in Liverpool 10 days ago (feels like a lifetime ago) we found our hotel room overlooked this:

a slightly smaller version of the London one. We swore (on Friday night whilst full of enthusiasm) that we'd go up on it on Sunday morning before we left. By Sunday morning we were exhausted and the fog/sea mist had arrived so we abandoned the idea and this is all we have of the Liverpool Eye.

Then FB found this rather fetching pic of me:

taken by him as it amused him that our office is so cold I do paperwork in full Cornish gansey (there was, in fact, a Debbie Bliss Cashmerino sweater on underneath as well) plus scarf and hat. I'm rather disappointed to see that I'd taken my fingerless mittens off at this point.

And thirdly there is this little ball of cuteness:

This is Deidre (who is a boy) who must have some dreadful insecurity complex (possibly as a result of being abandoned by his mother when he was just 6 weeks old or possibly because he's called Deidre and turned out to be boy) as he will always try and sleep on something belonging to one of us - coat, hat, abandoned t-shirt - you'll always find him sleeping on something. In sheer desperation this morning he tucked himself into the back of T's guitar case and wedged himself behind the carrying strap. Just next to him you can see T's rugby tie. I looked around the sitting room and, most unusually, there were no abandoned pieces of clothing to be seen so he'd settled on the only other thing he could find.

All together now - aaaaaaaaaaagh!