Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

The mad, crazy party weekend is finished and our eldest boy is 18 and we are all still in recovery mode. Saturday dawned misty, mizzly and with strong gusts of wind so getting the party tents up (and staying up) was challenging. I understand that G had a great time - parents don't get the full details, obviously, but T was there to spy for us and we got some of the gory details (which I'll spare you!). Suffice to say, by the time all the rubbish had been cleared up and everything put away again he had a hot bath and went straight to bed - after all, he had to be ready for his actual birthday night.

I chauffeured them all to the rugby club then came home and had a couple of hours knitting on my own - bliss! Having said he wasn't up to partying long and hard again G came home at 3.30am - oh, to be 18 again!

So yesterday was, as predicted, quiet and hungover but I got no accounts done as I was, frankly, too knackered!

Sadly, on Sunday night when the boys were at the rugby club I put the chickens away and discovered that our favourite girly was missing. Went down to check every 15 minutes but no joy and everyone assumed the worst. Unless you own chickens you probably think the concept of having a "favourite" one is absurd but this one is a real character - called Ginger (but pronounced the French way jeangee) she discovered an exit route from the hen run, is the first at our back door every day for scraps, will take pasta from your hand and will now come into the kitchen to eat from the cats' bowl. She is very intelligent and very sweet and we just couldn't believe that she'd been "got" by Mr Fox - she's just too bright.

So, yesterday evening G went to have a good hunt for her and, amazingly, in the biggest bank of brambles you've ever seen:

Ginger had gone broody and was sitting on no less than 17 eggs! She had babies once before and was a fearsome and brilliant mother so we'd always said we'd let her sit again. It was clear, though, that - as she'd only been missing for one night - she'd abandoned all bar one of those eggs every night so there was no way they were going to hatch. We needed to rescue her and try and encourage her to sit on a batch of everyone else's eggs which might actually hatch. The rescue mission was planned. First, the boys trotted down to the farm to get an old rabbit hutch:

Eric the three-legged cat was intrigued. Then we had to grab Ginger:

(This gives you an idea of where she'd got herself [very good spot - very hard to get at her!]). Then we had to put her plus some eggs in the hutch:

and hope that she'd settle and then this morning we'd put some other warm, fresh eggs under her and remove these ones.

A good plan. Sadly didn't work quite as we'd hoped as she proved nigh on impossible to catch and did a runner back to the main hen house where she was finally caught by T. All a bit stressful. She's now in the hutch and is half-heartedly sitting but coming out every time another chicken comes near and, of course, the boys are getting very fretful at not being able to get at her!

We put black plastic over the front to make it nice and dark for her. Deidre is intrigued:

In the meantime it appears that one of the black hens has gone broody so, if Ginger, doesn't get a grip she'll find herself back in the big house with the others and little black hen (who will no doubt, originally, be called "Blacky") will be in the hutch. You have been warned, Ginger!

After that exciting end to the weekend, I had an early night!

PS: I knitted G a pair of socks for his birthday. He was grateful though they may have been slightly overshadowed by the new mountain bike. He's promised to model them for me. I'll take pics.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

1 Party Down, 2 To Go

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

So - the super crazy party weekend has begun. Speech Day went well (Jenny Agutter presented prizes) and T won Sport Effort and his Rugby colours. I took him out to lunch afterwards and we debated the strange lack of academic effort prizes ever received in the Hopson household. From memory I think we've won sporting achievement and effort for most years (and T has been there for 12 years) but not one, single, solitary academic subject effort (or attainment) prize. Strange. Very strange. One boy in T's class got 11 prizes so we're blaming him.

Yesterday evening was the Leavers' Ball and T looked very smart:

In particular you must note his shoes, which are his great-grandfather's hand made shoes from some very posh shop in London (By Appointment) which has, sadly, now closed. FB spent all of yesterday afternoon polishing them to an acceptable military shine. The rose is also home grown.

T has come home this morning having had a great time and went straight up for a bath and then crashed into bed. Nuff said.

Tonight is G's 18th. Interestingly, FB and I have noted that throughout this mad, crazy party weekend we have no parties to go to at all but the other parties seem to be costing us a fortune. Funny that. Anything good on the telly tonight?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

New Patterns!

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

We've been unusually quiet over the past couple of days (probably due to end of the month plus another bank holiday weekend looming) but - as ever - there's been plenty for me to do. So, today I entered a whack of new patterns onto the site.

Not everyone loves knitting with 3 or 4ply but there are a few new patterns, for babies, in both these weights. (Search by "Pattern" and then specify your yarn weight in the boxes on the left.)

There are 4 new patterns for children (girls specifically) in Brushstrokes Chunky. Here is one of them:

There are two patterns in Twirl and, bizarrely, I realised when inputting them that these are the first patterns ever in Twirl. We've stocked Twirl for a while and it's popular and very reasonably priced so why there aren't more patterns is a mystery - maybe these two will be the start of something new and good:

There are four great new patterns in Life Aran - all shown in traditional cream (which does look great but will, of course show up all the dirt!) so do think of other colours as well! Here's a sample of two:

We then had four new patterns in Extra Special DK. Again, this is an acrylic yarn which has been selling amazingly well so they've introduced four new colours and four new patterns featuring the new colours. Here are two:

We've been fortunate enough to have a delivery of King Cole's Bamboo Cotton, which - for a while - was rarer than hens' teeth. There had been grave concerns about King Cole's ability to continue with this yarn due to the worldwide shortage of cotton but I'm delighted to say they've fixed it and, at the moment, we have pretty much every colour in stock. Bamboo Cotton is a 50/50 blend (of - as the name suggests - bamboo and cotton) and it's a fantastic yarn and incredibly popular. I knitted this with it:

from Debbie Bliss's summer magazine last year. It was great to knit with and lovely to wear - just waiting for some more summer weather as it's absolutely freezing here in Cornwall at the moment (must be the Bank Holiday weekend!). I'm currently wearing Cornish Organic wool sweater plus scarf and boots. I refuse to put the heating on in May!

Tomorrow is Speech Day (T's last) followed by his Leavers' Ball (black tie and posh frocks) and then Saturday night is G's 18th birthday party (30+kids in a field a mile from our house [we're not daft]) then Sunday is G's birthday and Annual Presentation Night at the rugby club and, yes, they've all discovered it's G's birthday so my guess is we won't see him again until about mid-day on Monday. And I must start the year end accounts on Monday - one thing that's guaranteed is the house will be quiet with hungover men!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

eco Family

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Having had a very busy weekend (for which we thank you all) the last couple of days have been quieter but, as ever, there's always something to do so I've finally inputted the Debbie Bliss eco Family book onto the site. Inputting books is one of those jobs I have to be "in the mood" to do and today was the day!

eco Family is a lovely book with patterns for babies (up to 3 years) and one pattern for Mum and Dad too. Here are some examples:

All the patterns are done in eco baby but, remember, this is exactly the same tension and meterage as Baby Cashmerino so the two yarns are totally interchangeable.

I had a lovely weekend with my parents so actually took Saturday off - yipee! We walked and talked and ate and drank - perfect! This coming weekend is gearing up to be totally insane so watch this space - before that, though, there's the small matter of Chemistry, IT and Physics GCSE's - yes, they're progressing but - ooh - is it painful.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

HUGE delivery of Stylecraft late yesterday. It's taken all day to sort - 9 sacks in total! Check out all the Stylecraft yarns and patterns for updated stock levels. Also some new things once we've got round to photographing them.

Deliveries are actually the one part of this job I loathe! I had one customer in this morning who saw the mountain of wool and said, "ooh, how exciting". I'm afraid I have to disagree. By the time we've checked it all off, checked dye batches and then found homes for all the balls we're exhausted and tetchy! And then we start on the patterns!

However - it's done now. Shelves are full. Customers with pre-orders are happy. I'm going home for a G & T!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Triana Lux

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

We don't get many new yarns at this time of year but Katia has produced it's new scarf yarn - Triana Lux. This is a slightly glittery, sparkly version of the very popular Triana. If I'm honest, I didn't think it was coming out until the autumn but it's here and it's selling well already so it may be a good idea to buy some now if you want it. There's bound to be a mad rush come the autumn! It comes in 6 lovely colours, so far:

There's 3 to tempt you!

I've been crocheting the edge around this:

(the tie front bolero on the model - not the curtains) and I'm not really a crocheter and the edge has gone on for miles and miles and could well, in fact, have been the curtains. Got the main bit done last night and have the sleeves to do tonight. It'll then be in the window for a week and I'll then do some close up shots - unless I get it done so quickly I have time tonight - ha! It's going to look fabulous but for a non-crocheter I gave myself a bit of a challenge. Secretly quite chuffed with myself and even - briefly - contemplated a crochet blanket from my stash. Tracey gave me "a look" which, roughly translated, confirmed the insanity of this idea. But - never say never!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Weekend Report

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

So - the weekend is done and we're going to need several more weekends to recover.

The English GCSE is done but I have no idea how it went - English isn't T's strong suit and is definitely not his favourite subject so, no doubt, he'll say it went dreadfully. Time will tell.

The Ten Tors is done and, sadly, ended in the team withdrawing at tor 7 when they realised there was no way they could make the last miles in the required time. Never has the phrase "a team is as strong as its weakest member" been more apt but I'm proud to say that G was not the weakest member and acted with great compassion and understanding to those that were struggling. They were not helped by the fact that they had by far the hardest route (confirmed by one very kind soldier) and four teams on their route retired whilst all the teams on the other routes completed the course.

For us it was a hideously nerve-wracking weekend as the v sophisticated computer system went completely doo-lally so we were never sure if the numbers on the screen were correct and then we calculated - fairly early on Sunday morning - that there weren't enough hours left for them to complete - a sad moment at home and on the Tor.

However, it was a brave shout and they actually walked well over 40 miles which, in itself, is amazing and they calculated that their so-called "as the crow flies" 55 mile route was, in reality, nearer 65 - a very tough ask.

The website still isn't launched as poor Thomas plays detective to work out how to make the site do what we want it to do. We now have the wonder that is "Skype" so the boys are on constant Skype calls whilst fiddling at both ends to try and make things work (and stick). Very fortunately, I can keep well out of this!

Had a minor heart attack this morning when printing out some accounts stuff and it printed out a page of gobblydegook. Thought we'd been hit by a virus but all appears to be working OK now - a nasty moment.

On the plus side, knitting is going well! Have finished the knitting part of a Debbie Bliss "Angel" cardigan and have to crochet the edging tonight. I'm not really a crocheter so any crocheting involves total concentration and silence. Tonight I'm banning everyone from the kitchen so I can lay it out on the kitchen table and do battle. Think of me!

I've also started a sock for an upcoming birthday and managed a whole load whilst staring at the computer screen this weekend and willing the boys on plus a whole load in the car en route to Oakhampton and back!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Another crazy week

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

As the dreaded GCSE's loom ever closer (we start with English on Monday morning), we have also found ourselves catapulted into the Ten Tors weekend again - which seems to have arrived suddenly and unexpectedly, despite the training weekends which have been going on since before Christmas.

For those of you who aren't au fait with the West Country tradition of Ten Tors, the brief synopsis is a horde of young adults yomping their way around and across Dartmoor doing either 35, 45 or 55 mile routes in a set time (start is 0700 on Saturday and teams must complete their course by 1700 on Sunday), in teams of 6. There are a myriad of different routes and different sub-rules for each length of route but the really amazing thing is that you have to carry all your own kit (including tents, cookers, food, spare clothes and food etc, etc) and the oldest entrants are just 19.

G did the 35 mile route 3 years ago during the hottest weekend they've ever had for the Event. They were so seriously concerned about dehydration and sunstroke that water was helicoptered to the top of each Tor (did I mention that - as the name suggests - each route takes in 10 Tors, where the teams have to check in to prove they've completed the full route?).

T did the 35 mile route last year and never took his waterproofs off! This is his team coming in:

T (who was also team leader) is on the right.

So - this year G is attempting the 55 mile route. I say "attempting" as - to be honest - trying to walk the 55 mile route makes the 35 miler look like a walk in the park. I'm not taking anything away from the 14 and 15 year olds doing it as it's a heck of a challenge in anyone's book but 55 miles is crazy, crazy people.

There is absolutely no foregone conclusion that they're going to make this one. We are going to be more anxious than they are and will be sitting glued to the computer all day Saturday (as the teams check in at the top of each Tor their times are automatically, electronically updated on the website - v sophisticated!) and will shoot up in the car on Sunday as they approach the end. We aren't aiming for any records here - it's going to be a long, hard slog - but the anxious parents will be with them every step of the way (in mind, if not body!).

Simultaneously, we are trying to launch the new Cornish Organic Wool website this weekend! This has also been one long, hard slog from the time the server was hit by a hacker nearly 12 months ago. I'm not even going to begin to list the catalogue of disasters which has hit this new website but it culminated in the geeky, nerdy, designer dude throwing all his toys out of the cot last week and refusing to work with us any more. Poor Thomas - who does all the "look and feel" and makes the whole thing easy for us to navigate and who made the Knit Wits site - is now trying to haul it all together and FB is trying to help! It's looking really good and, when Thomas has worked his magic, it will work but - boy, oh boy - it's been a sweat.

They say these things come in threes so we have - GCSE's, Ten Tors and new website.

What a weekend!!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

New Year

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

As well as being the day for a fantastic Royal Wedding, last Friday also marked our financial year end, which means I've been the proud owner of Knit Wits for 6 years now (which seems impossible!).

Financial year ends are a great time for reflection and for looking forward. I'm pleased to say that, despite the economic situation and endless doom and gloom in our press (which, personally, I think has a lot to answer for) our turnover is up on last year. Not massively but significantly and I am mightily relieved! Recessions tend to hit earlier in Cornwall and last longer and this one is no exception. We started for feel the bite as early as 2007 and took the brave (and - dare I say it - expensive) option to build a website. The decision seems to be working but it's also opened us up to the knitting community in ways I could never have imagined.

It's easy to think of websites as just online/worldwide shops and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that was our first priority when designing the site. What has also happened, though, is it's brought us right up into the online knitting community and in touch with, literally, hundreds of knitters we'd have never met otherwise. We have knitters who've seen the site and then come down on holiday and visit us (always fun!), knitters who are on holiday and then start to become customers as they feel they know us and can visualise where we are (very gratifying) and knitters who read the blog and email me and order wool and some who even become friends.

Sadly the internet is so often used for bad and dodgy things but it's also a great tool and, used properly it can bring unexpected rewards.

For all of who who have bought from us in the past 12 months, we say thank you! Please pass the word on to each of your knitting friends! Word of mouth is, undoubtedly, the best selling tool and, whilst we can't always supply everyone with exactly what they want exactly when they want it - we do try! The more wool we sell, the more new and lovely wools we can buy and the happier our customers are - and, thus, are the wheels of industry kept turning!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Long Weekend

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Well ..... what a weekend it's been! We've had friends to stay who have spent the last 10 years or so living variously in Chile, Dubai and, most recently, Panama. We managed to get to see them in Chile - which was A M Azing and they've managed to get down here a couple of times so it was great to catch up, see how hugely our offspring have grown and down one or two sherbets to celebrate - and we managed to see the whole of THE wedding - which we all thought was lovely - and wasn't she gorgeous and both our boys now fancy her sister! (along with most of the young, virile youth of the country, judging by comments on the 'net and Facebook).

The farm where we live offers "glamping" (that's glamorous camping for the uninitiated) so Sev and Mel and their children stayed in a Featherdown tent so as not to interfere with T's GCSE revision (ha!). This is what a Featherdown tent looks like:

so, as you can see, they didn't "rough" it and we had a lovely barbecue with them on Saturday night in the tent.

I understand that the rest of the UK is currently bathed in glorious sunshine and would just like you all to know that we are in thick cloud, squally showers and strong northerly winds. On Sunday night we had the most terrific thunderstorm and lightening (we think) actually hit our house and blew all the phone lines. Thankfully we'd disconnected all the computers at the first crash of thunder but nothing was re-connected until today. On the one hand it was really nice not to be tied to the computer, the boys couldn't waste hours on Facebook and there were no emails. On the other hand, we had no phone calls and felt completely cut off. It's amazing how often you say "Oh, we'll just look that up on the 'net" and then you realise that you can't!

Then to top it all we went into the shop today and discovered that the torrential rain which accompanied the thunderstorm had flooded the back. Fortunately, it's most superficial and no wool was ruined (just a few magazines) and the dehumidifier is beavering away frantically to suck it all up.

That's two minor disasters - rather dreading what the third might be ............!