Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cats and Cows

Knitwits Yarns

Young Deidre (our tabby cat who is, in fact a boy):

has developed a proclivity for walking through/lying in cow shit (apologies, but what else do you call it?) to the point that he is banned from most rooms in the house and can be tracked by filthy paw prints and general greenish mess. This morning the situation had got beyond a joke so I declared that, before I went to work, it was bath time.

Most of you will probably know that cats don't like water and definitely don't like baths.

Cats also have 4 limbs which can be used as anchors to avoid getting into water and these anchors have damn sharp claws on the end of them.

I prepared myself by putting on a plastic apron and rubber gloves. FB thought he'd be OK in shorts and t-shirt. I offered him an apron and gloves. He declined both.

After lulling Deidre into a false sense of security by allowing him to eat his breakfast in peace, I grabbed him by the scruff and hauled him into the kitchen sink (by now full of warm soapy water). The 4 anchors immediately went out to all places except in the water but, even so I managed to get his rear end and tail (the most disgusting bit) into the water. FB shoved a couple of the anchors into the water as well.

Have you ever heard a cat growl? FB and I have.

He was not pleased. We kept him in there for - ooh - a good 15-20 seconds before he gathered all his supercat strength, lashed out at both of us and shot out of the kitchen, leaving a wet, muddy trail after him.

FB and I then mopped up the mess, stemmed the bleeding, applied plasters to ourselves and (I) attempted to stop laughing. A wet, cross cat is very, very funny, especially when one's other half has a sense of humour failure due to the lacerations on his hands having refused my offer of rubber gloves.

Deidre has yet to come home. We hope he's now washed himself and will come home slightly cleaner than he was this morning. If not - he has been warned.

So, following on from that I headed off to work on my trusty bike. It was very, very foggy and half way down the second field I met a cow. This is fine, you would think, on a dairy farm, but this cow was definitely not where she was supposed to be (eating grass with her friends). This cow was on a mission. This cow was going exploring.

I phoned the farmer but had forgotten he was away. He phoned his men. By this time the cow had gone to the bottom of the lane and was heading for the road. (Cows can move fast when they want to.) I followed her at a distance but couldn't phone anyone to tell them as we have very poor/non existent mobile reception down our lane.

Mrs Cow kept on going and, before too long, was on the main road. When I say "main road", clearly we're not talking about the M25 here but, even so, too much of a main road to have a lonesome cow going walkabout. By now FB had joined me and he dumped the car and legged it after her but she was trotting happily towards the local village and the farm workers had arrived so I got back on my bike. Unbeknownst to us, she had detoured into a welcoming field so, whilst the men trawled the village, I met her again on the road.

Frantic phone calls later and we all merged into the same point - FB and I driving her back towards the farm and the farm lads hurtling on behind. I think she'd enjoyed her little break out but the sight of a load of houses had unnerved her (thank goodness).

I have no idea what the people waiting at the bus stop thought when FB stopped and asked them if a cow had come past!!

She is now back with her girlfriends and, after all that, I went to work.

Never a dull moment in the country!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Funny Old Day

Knitwits Yarns

Some days just don't turn out how you think they're going to.

I was happily showering this morning and washing my hair when FB came in looking grey, ashen and a little sweaty - he was also walking in rather an odd way - turns out he'd slipped a disc.

He was still in his dressing gown so I took a while to register how this calamity happened.

Clearly he hadn't been lifting weights or rowing on the machine (as he often does first thing) and he hadn't been for a run as he hasn't been for a run since he nearly killed his right knee from running ..........

So - what had he done?

He'd made the bed.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

When Mail Order Goes Wrong - and Then Right

Knitwits Yarns

Sending out wool to the 4 corners of the globe is always fun and it gives us all a certain "frisson" if it's going somewhere exotic and exciting. But sometimes it's the most innocuous of locations which cause all the trouble ...........

Back at the end of August we received a big order from Southern Ireland - County Tipperary to be precise. It was for over £100 of wool, which is a big order in anyone's books and turned into quite a big parcel. Off it went, via Parcelforce, and we thought no more of it.

About a week later the customer emailed to say she hadn't received her parcel. We advised her to wait a little more and let us know if it still didn't come. A week later she phoned - to add to her woe she had ordered a small package from Cornwall and it had arrived within 24 hours - her parcel from us was nowhere to be seen. At this point I went to our local Post Office and was advised that they don't start to trace parcels until they're 20 working days late, which would take us to somewhere near the end of the month (what with the Bank Holiday and all).

Just before we went to France - on the 19th, so within the 20 day rule, I dug out the postal receipt from my files (sometimes there are advantages to being anal about filing accounts) and emailed Parcelforce with the bar code of the parcel. The 19th was a Friday and on the Monday morning I received a reply to say that the parcel was being returned to us due to "wrong address".

I then contacted the customer who confirmed the address was 100% correct and we even looked it up on Google Earth and confirmed its existence!

The very helpful people at Parcelforce International then explained that the delivery men/women/people have tick boxes and "wrong address" could mean that they weren't able to find the house. Southern Ireland doesn't have street names of postcodes so this is, evidently, a very, very common problem. She recommended that we put the recipient's telephone number of the outside of the package when it was re-sent so the delivery person could phone our customer and find out where the heck she was/is.

I then went to France and left it all with Tracey.

Came back from France 10 days later and still no sign of the parcel. Tracey had been frantically ringing the sorting office in Plymouth (as recommended by Penzance Post Office) but had no joy.

I then get back on to Parcelforce International (Ellie) and Parcelforce Plymouth (Brian) and it was then discovered that the parcel - and this is the bit that no-one can fathom - was returned to the Post Office it had been sent from, not to us. Dear Myran and Jackie at the Post Office (we know them well) knew all about the parcel arriving on their doorstep with Mr Parcelforce delivery man and immediately sent it right back as they knew the address was 100% correct.

Ellie then tracked the parcel to Ireland and, lo, it was revealed that - once again - the parcel had been returned as "wrong address". At this point I may have sworn, yelled and even cried a little.

Ellie (what a star) immediately contacted Ireland as the parcel hadn't yet made it's way across the Irish Sea (there was a debate going on about who was going to pay for its onward journey this time) - and stopped it leaving Ireland. She gave them the customer's phone number and, finally, finally, finally, it was delivered on September 12th!!!

There are two things I've learnt from this saga:

1) Always put the recipient's phone number on the outside of parcels being sent to Southern Ireland and,

2) Even in huge, faceless organisations like Parcelforce there are individuals who are helpful and willing and friendly and kind who will (and do) go the extra mile to ensure the job is done. Thank you to Ellie and Brian and all the others who ensured this saga had a happy ending.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Knitwits Yarns

Snoods seem to be all the rage at the moment and, as I alluded, last week we've responded to a constant stream of people asking for non-existent patterns by designing our own!

Ours is knitted in chunky yarn on quite big needles (7.5mm) so it's stretchy enough to be worn no less than 5 different ways. As the sun was out on Sunday we went into the garden and photographed it in all its different guises. I give you:

round the neck, collar down:

round the neck, collar up:

over the shoulders, collar down:

over the shoulders, collar up:

and, finally (for extra cold weather), round the neck and over the head:

We knitted this in Stylecraft's Signature yarn and, to make life really easy for you, we've put the whole thing - yarn and pattern - into kits. All you have to do is knit the simple rectangle and, hey presto, very useful (and fashionable) snood!

Signature kits can be found here. At just £12.45 + P&P.

Volata Tweed kits (pure wool) can be found here. At just £13.50 + P&P.

Time to start knitting these for under a certain tree at the end of December, methinks! (I can't bear to use the "C" word in September)

Saturday, 10 September 2011


Knitwits Yarns

Phew - Wow! End of my first week back and my feet have hardly touched the ground. We've been super, super busy - for which we thank you all most gratefully. There's nothing like a touch of cold, damp yukky weather to get us all turning to knitting - and that combined with the edge of a hurricane coming in gives us all a great excuse to do nothing tomorrow but knit and watch rugby!

We (when I say "we", I mean mostly Tracey with minor input from me) have designed and knitted (Tracey did all the knitting) a snood/neck warmer "thing" which seems to be all the rage at the moment (and damn practical they are too). If the hurricane allows us we'll be photographing it tomorrow and putting together the (very tiny) pattern for you all. We'll then pack it up in kits of pattern plus chunky yarn so keep watching! It's a dead simple easy knit, perfect for us and for Christmas presents because, yes, people are knitting for Christmas already.

Tomorrow - after photographs - I plan to mostly knit my Kureyon sock post holiday disaster - so far the second attempt is looking pretty good!

Later this week, new yarns (and patterns) which arrived when I was away - including pure wool from Iceland with traditional patterns.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Short Break Number 2

Knitwits Yarns

FB and I agreed that it was totally unfair that the boys were living it up in Europe (hot and sunny Europe to boot) so we hopped on a plane and flew down to the south of France where we hired a cottage and met up with our boys. By this time G & T were in Southern Spain so they hopped on a train north and met us in Sete. Whilst we waited for them we stayed in rather a nice hotel for a treat - this was the view:

Sete is France's biggest fishing port so not really exotic but we liked it (perhaps because we live so close to Newlyn?) and, of course, the fresh fish was fantastic! On the second day the boys turned up, looking like true backpackers:

From there we moved east to Aigues Mortes (literally 'dead water') which is an amazing walled city we'd visited about six or seven years ago and really liked. It's right on the edge of The Camargue so we hired bikes to explore:

The Camargue is definitely best seen on a bike - we saw the bulls:


and flamingos:

from a distance - though they are quite noisy so we heard them grunting to each other.

We also visited the famous Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard which is pretty damn spectacular:

and, on the way back, the Roman Amphitheatre in Nimes which, in my ignorance, I didn't even know existed:

Not knowing that this amphitheatre existed meant that I also didn't know that they hold concerts there in the summer. This year they have had, amongst others, Santana and Sting! Going to a concert there has now been added to the list of "things to do before we die".

My holiday knitting was a total disaster. I planned to knit this:

in this colour:

which, when knitted up, looks like this:

so I planned to knit the rib in the car going up to Bristol Airport because the rib is knitted on 2.75mm needles therefore requiring metal needles as 2.75mm is too small in bamboo because 2.75mm bamboo needles tend to break. I would then swap to bamboo needles (3.00mm) which I could then get through security and, therefore, knit during the inevitable interminable wait at the airport. All went well and I duly swapped needles and knitted in the airport and knitted in France and got to the armhole shaping (having knitted it slightly longer than the pattern as was my desire). It was then that I realised I'd cast on the wrong size. In my haste I'd cast on the smallest size (which is normally my size for most patterns) but this smallest size is only a 30" bust and, with the best will in the world, that ain't going to fit over even my tiny protuberances. The language was bad. Very bad. And then I pulled the whole damned thing out. The only saving grace was that I'd started with the back as I didn't want to cable at the airport so at least I hadn't done all that as well. Having said that, if I had done the front, I'd have probably realised earlier. And do you know the really galling thing about it
I'd actually circled the right size to cast on on the pattern as (when my brain was functioning properly) I'd realised that it would be very easy for me to cast on the wrong size.

Sometimes I despair at my own ineptitude ............