Tuesday, 31 January 2012

New Yarns!

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

At about 10 o'clock last night I realised that finishing another new design was somewhat over-ambitious so - instead - I have new yarns to show you (and more knitting to do tonight!). And not just any old new yarn - no, indeed - NORO new yarn!

We have 2 new colours in Kureyon and 2 new colour in Silk Garden:

How any of us are supposed to choose our favourite Noro yarn is beyond me - they are all GORGEOUS!!

In view of the fact that I don't have a new pattern, I'll give you an update on my first ever crochet project - remember the double-bed sized bedspread? (always good to start a new skill with a small project, I'm sure you'll agree). Well, it started like this:

and then, by the end of the summer, it had reached this (note size of Deidre for idea of scale):

and now - after a massive "push" over Christmas and New Year - it looks like this (being shown on our bed for the first time!):

I am very, very chuffed with it but it's now, sadly, been returned to the wool stash cupboard whilst I try and rattle off a couple of garments for the shop.

Perhaps it'll be ready for next winter ...................

Monday, 30 January 2012

Cooking On Gas!

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Wow - well we're really cooking on gas here in Penzance at the moment - a new yarn and patterns on the site plus a new garment to show you and a whack of online orders today - thank you all - it's the orders and customers which keep us here, after all!

So - firstly our new yarn - the luscious Rialto Lace from Debbie Bliss. We've been stocking Debbie's Rialto 4ply for some time and it's one of her most popular yarns - a wonderfully soft and squishy pure merino wool. To add to the stable she's now added her Rialto Lace weight yarn and 8 gorgeous patterns (and I'm pretty sure there'll be more patterns coming along pretty quick too). The patterns are in her book, Rialto Lace:

and I'm about to start knitting the cardigan shown on the front cover (which is knitted sideways). The great thing about these designs and this yarn is that you only use about 3 balls for most garments, which is £16.50 - a bargain to boot!

Talking of knitting (which is, after all, what we do) you may have noticed the sweater I was wearing with the Riot Scarf in the last post:

The pattern came from the Christmas edition of "Knitting" magazine:

and, in the magazine, it was done in 2 colours:

but I decided to do it in one:

I really like it and it was a doddle to knit and the neck shaping was integral to the design so NO PICKING UP OF STITCHES - yay and yippee and do a little dance. I wore it a lot over Christmas and one person actually asked me if I'd sewn in all the sequins by hand?!! As much as I love sequins and a bit of sparkle that would - clearly - be totally insane.

Tonight I may finish another exclusive Knit Wits design - I told you - cooking on gas!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Two New Designs

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Despite having gone out last night (to Truro to see Brendon Cole {of "Strictly" fame} - v entertaining!) I've finally managed to get TWO of my latest designs onto the site today.

The first is for all you Valentine's out there and is just in time for THE BIG DAY - a Valentine's Day Heart made from Can Can -aaagh! Made in the same way as our Christmas Wreaths, this is quick and easy to make and will get you in the mood(!):

The pattern itself is free but the £3.00 charge covers the cost of the wire frame the Can Can is sewn to. As it states, the wire frame is only available if you buy a ball of Can Can at the same time (and, let's face it, you can't make the heart without the frame ...).

My second design isn't a new design at all but is taken from the many variations of this theme on Ravelry. The original designs for this pattern were made in Noro but, as you'll appreciate, that made it quite an expensive item. As there are so many Noro lookalikes now, I thought I'd have a go with 2 balls of Riot DK and the result is spectacular:

and - at less than £10 for 2 balls of Riot DK - it makes it more realistic in these somewhat straightened times. The pattern is free when you buy 2 balls of Riot DK and - as Riot has a terrific meterage - if you use up both of the 2 balls (as I did) the resulting scarf is very, very long (2.5m):

(For those of you interested, the jumper I'm wearing in this pic is in King Cole Galaxy - pattern from the Christmas Special "Knitting" magazine - more on that on Monday.)

So - that leaves me with just one more pattern to write up and a whole load of stuff to add to the site - I can feel some late nights coming on - plus ca change!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Stylecraft Delivery!

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Writing this in haste as it's 7.15pm and I'm still in the shop!

Went to a Burn's Night Supper last night so, although I didn't drink (was driving) I didn't get enough sleep and then we had a HUGE delivery in from Stylecraft (8 big sacks - yikes!) so am feeling weary.

Site is all updated so there are stocks of Life 4ply, DK, Aran, Chunky and Super Chunky as well as Life DK Prints. Also full stocks of lovely baby yarn, Merry-Go-Round and loads more 400g Aran balls, which seem to be v v popular at the moment. Also Wondersoft 4ply for babies and Extra Special DK. Check them all out!

All of which meant I haven't written up the new pattern I've been working on today, haven't finished next new project today and haven't eaten today - the latter of which will be remedied shortly.

New pattern - perhaps - by the weekend?!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Teenagers - again

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

I don't suppose I'm the only mother of teenagers who despairs at their permanently untidy bedrooms, their inability to hang a (wet) towel up or {in our house} their inability to pull out the bath plug (is that so hard?).

So - like most parents in our position - we have the occasional blitz when the situation gets beyond a joke. This week has been one of those blitzes - mostly at T, who is going through a stage where even getting a sock into the wash basket is a struggle - on the landing easy, on his bedroom floor easy, on the bathroom floor easy - in the wash basket (which is on the landing next to the bathroom) impossible.

So we blitzed and - as part of the blitz - I remonstrated with him about a pile of used {slightly sweaty} gym clothes which were dumped on the kitchen floor and insisted he take them upstairs and into said wash basket.

His reply was priceless:

"The thing is, Mum, I've found that this house has magical powers. If I leave my dirty gym kit on the kitchen floor it usually re-appears several days later upstairs and clean. It's really clever this house".

Teenagers - you've got to love them!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ravelry and Azzurra

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Some of you may have noticed that one of my New Year's resolutions is slowly coming to fruition in that I've {finally} got myself sorted on Ravelry. (Really that should read, "I'm getting myself sorted on Ravelry - which would be more accurate.) For those of you who aren't on Ravelry it's a great online knitting resource for knitters and crafters around the world. The problem for me has been that it's a great time waster and - as one who has precious little time to waste - wasn't something I wanted to get stuck into before.

However, it is a great resource and, for that reason, I decided to get my act together. I guess it's something that - once you get used to it - it gets quicker and quicker but it took me all morning on Monday to get the Knit Wits group set up and all morning on Tuesday to input 3 finished projects! I have - as you can imagine - many more finished projects and wip's (works in progress) to upload, not to mention the books and magazines I own etc, etc.

Not sure how mad I'm going to go but - from a purely marketing exercise - it does link all my finished projects back to here s0 - if you're finding us for the first time - HELLO!!

My personal page is: juliaknitwits
and the shop group is: Knit Wits Penzance

I believe that - somehow by the magic of RSS - this blog post will automatically be listed on Ravelry - don't ask me how - as those of you who've been reading this for a while will know - I don't do technology. Knitting - yes, technology - no.

The other news is that new yarns are starting to arrive! Hooray!! First past the New Year post is Azzurra from Adriafil. This is a 70% wool, 30% acrylic 4ply yarn - perfect for socks, garments and wonderful fairisles! It's also at the amazing price of just £2.75 - which makes it a winner every way you look. Lovely colours too:

More new yarns coming soon - watch this space!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Giant Needles

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Well - I've had an interesting week .........! Remember these beauties?:

Well ..... a customer came in to say she'd seen them (and me) referred to in a book about knitting. In essence the quote said, "some old dear in Cornwall" had 3.5m long, 6.5cm diameter needles made and got into the Guinness Book of Records and then "some knitters need to get a life". I stewed on this for a couple of days and then emailed the author.

I should add at this point that the needles (and this iconic photograph) have appeared in numerous publications and books and we are always happy to provide a quote or this image if people request it. The problem with this [new] book was that I hadn't been asked and I don't quite see myself in the "old dear" category ..... yet. My customer was incensed and planned to write to the publisher (Penguin).

So I emailed the author and explained that, whilst I do have a sense of humour (I did, after all, have these giant needles made) I thought she should have got her facts right and/or asked permission first.

I had a quick, profuse and heartfelt apology and - for the 2nd print run - coming soon - we have agreed that I shall be referred to as "a wonderful lady from Cornwall"!!!!!! Thank you, Jenny - your honesty and apology was much appreciated. So - if you would like to buy a copy of Jenny's book - Purls of Wisdom - please make sure you get the 2nd edition!!

Not having blogged about the needles before, I thought it might be interesting to chart their lives. It all started in 2005 (the year I bought Knit Wits) when we organised a knitting event at Land's End and I knitted with the oars from a Cornish Pilot Gig:

The Guinness World Record people wouldn't give us the record for that attempt as the needles have to be exactly sized up from real needles. So - with the help of an oar maker in Eton on the River Thames, these were made for us:

and, in 2006, at a knitting event in St Ives we did, finally, get into the Record Books (even appearing in The Times the following day!):

Since then they've appeared at numerous charity events around the country (and, indeed, the world - although getting airlines to carry them has proved "interesting").

Here they are on "Pirate Day" outside the shop (with the old shop front!):

and here is our local MP "having a go":

Here I am one Christmas with T - again outside the shop - raising money for our street Christmas lights - I well remember that evening as I was FREEZING!!:

I knitted in Truro for World Wide Knit in Public Day:

and even got a couple of hunky rugby players to have a go:

At a Soil Association festival in Bristol I knitted the whole of 50 strands of wool to make a giant wall hanging, which many of you will have seen hanging in the shop:

And our piece de resistance was a trip to Hong Kong where we knitted to raise money for a homeless charity. This has to go down in history as one of the most bizarre moments of my life:

Tavia (who I'm with) is a well-known TV personality in Hong Kong with a nightly show - she sang (in Chinese) whilst I knitted - it was hysterically surreal and an amazing experience - the only place in the world where I've walked into a wool shop and they've said, "aagh - it's Julia"!! We even had to do a photocall at the airport(!):

If you want to see the needles and/or the wall hanging - do come and see us soon!

Thursday, 5 January 2012


Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Teenagers - on the whole - get a pretty hard rap, I think. En masse they can be a pretty intimidating site but individually you'll usually find they're kind and decent and, at times, very, very funny. At the time of life when their hormones are raging and, ideally, all they'd like to do is sleep (preferably with a member of the opposite sex) they are expected to do the most critical exams of their short lives and learn some quite bizarre and, seemingly, irrelevant stuff.

Our boys have a double whammy as they are both doing the International Baccalaureate, which is a testing course by anyone's standard. Even if they don't intend to study English, Maths or a foreign language at Uni they have to do it for IB, plus 3 other subjects. In addition they have to write a 4,000 word essay on any subject of their choice (which must include independent research) {this element alone has recently been compared to an undergraduate dissertation} and they have to give a talk on a subject of their choice which includes some controversy and includes "ways of knowing" (G is doing his on fox hunting) and - oh yes - they have to fit in hours of community, service and activity as well.

G is nearing the end of this very testing process with final exams looming in May and over the holidays he was asked to, ideally, read The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and something else by Chekov (and, I'm sorry, I can't remember what!). Being realistic about the probability of G reading The Glass Menagerie I turned to our good friend Amazon and managed to find a DVD of it - starring Katherine Hepburn - which will give you an idea of how old the film was.

It was in colour (just) and - being the good Mother that I am - I offered to watch it with G last night so at least he had someone to bat ideas around with and wasn't all on his own.

The brief overview on the box described the mother (Katherine Hepburn) "suffocating" her children and G was mightily disappointed when I broke the news that this wasn't literal - this wasn't going to be a murder mystery or gore movie.

"Oh" - he said.

So we watched it and occasionally - at some particularly salient point - pointed at each other and shouted "Ha"! - that's bound to be relevant - lots of symbolism and metaphorical images and other things that exam boards love.

Given that the entire play takes place in one room it wasn't ideal fare for a testosterone-fulled 18 year old.

At the end we sat in silence for a few moments and then G simply said,

"Well, that's two hours of my life I'll never get back" !!

Teenagers - you've got to love them!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year!!

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Happy New Year to one and all and I hope you all had a good one. We had a quiet time (which was nice) and all seem to have slept A LOT which is, clearly, what we all needed.

I had some wonderful gifts, including a fantastic book of cabled knits from Tracey, books (which I need to find time to read) and some rather nice alcohol courtesy of (now) 18 year old son (there are advantages!).

We also managed a couple of lovely walks and, on the 28th, walked one of our favourites from Mousehole to Lamorna and back. It's supposed to be 2.5 miles each way but the coastal bit (out) always feels one heck of a lot longer than the field bit (back). But it's beautiful and the path was deserted and it blew away a lot of cobwebs (not to mention mince pies):

(note new walking trousers c/o (sadly) closing down sale at Milletts. These were one of a pair of presents that I bought and then gave to FB to wrap for me - which he duly did - bless!)

When we got to Lamorna we found this sign in the car park:

FB got a teensy bit irate about this sign which is less than welcoming for our very welcome and much needed visitors. Who has the right to say how long or short a dog's lead can, or should be??!! What, exactly, constitutes threatening, abusive or insulting conduct - FB thinks some of the things on this sign are pretty insulting!! For anyone coming to Cornwall or visiting Lamorna we can only apologise - we're not all like this!

I managed a fair bit of knitting (and crochet) - remember my crocheted bedspread?

well, it's bigger (quite a lot bigger actually) and it's great as it keeps me warm as I work! I even managed one very small knitted present. I know from bitter experience that owning a wool shop and trying to knit Christmas presents for all is a bad idea unless I start the knitting in January. From September to January business just gets busier and busier and throwing in the stress of knitted pressies just isn't worth it. So I knitted one small thing for FB - a tie:

(pattern from Debbie Bliss's current magazine, knitted in Baby Cashmerino, 2 balls.) The neck should have been lined with grosgrain ribbon but the colours were all too drab so I doubled up some glitzy Christmas ribbon and glammed it up a bit. FB didn't realise - until the M-in-L and I were discussing said ribbon on Boxing Day (she had pre-approved the main colour) that I'd made it!!! Amid the bluff and bluster of me asking if he thought I'd go out and BUY him a knitted tie he said it was because it was SOOOOO perfect and he couldn't believe I'd made it. Ha!! He did concede that as I own a wool shop and knit for a living it was entirely feasible that I could knit a perfect tie! Have yet to see him wear it though ..............

Happy 2012!