Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Baby Blanket and potatoes

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

I woke early this morning (v unusual - I'm usually c**p in the morning) so sat up in bed and knitted 4 rows of the baby blanket which confused the hell out of FB and may account for why he's been tetchy all day - message to self, don't confuse the old man after he's had a late night - you'll pay for it later.

This baby blanket, I am confident, will be gorgeous but it definitely won't be done before we leave for Scotland and I have to be monogamous to the End to End Sweater from JOG to Land's End (or it definitely won't get done and there's some doubt as to whether it's going to get done already) but could knit some blanket on the way up to JOG (assuming I don't do all the driving). Can the boys cope with 2 projects in one camper van? Should I "save" myself for the End 2 End Sweater? Should I rest my hands for 2 days en route? Decisions, decisions.

G started work today - I know, poor lad's only just finished GCSE's and we've got him working - for a local farmer sorting/cleaning/picking potatoes (not quite sure which). He cycled over (good training) with his wellies and lunch in a backpack - yes, we are horribly mean parents! All good character building stuff and, just think, next time you have a pack of Walker's crisps, G may have sorted your potatoes (for that's where they are headed).

Monday, 28 June 2010

Mazey Day

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Saturday was Mazey Day in Penzance - the finale of the Golowan festival. Once again the sun shone fiercely, the streets were packed and I sat outside the shop with my knitting on the go. Penzance is lucky enough to have 2 samba bands and one of them paraded right past the shop, preceded by a rather scary man:

The band was brilliant though and got the whole street bopping along:

For some reason that I can't fathom, I'm looking particularly grumpy in this picture - I wasn't - honest:

Yesterday the boys got in a 66 mile training ride (vv hot but roads quite quiet thanks to the football - shall I mention the football - hmmmm) and I got in some training by knitting in the garden. Baby blanket swatch is finished and the "real thing" has been cast on - 199 sts of 4 ply. I'm on a role.

The bike ride/knit is coming perilously close - we leave a week on Friday - yikes!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Midsummer's Eve

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

This morning at breakfast I cut myself some very, very tiny bits off matchsticks to prop open my eyes this afternoon. T got into school from athletics at 1.30am and my head hit the pillow at precisely 1.49am. The 7.00am alarm was very, very unpleasant. I've coped so far but am now starting to flag and my body is crying, "bed, bed - please". Needless to say, when I left the house this morning, no teenage boys were to be seen or heard.

Whilst T was travelling back from Bedford in a boiling coach with no air conditioning, we enjoyed a traditional Cornish mid-summer's eve celebration. Following a bbq at our neighbours we all trooped up the hill to the beacon bonfire:

As you can see, the Cornish don't mess around with their bonfires - BIG is the key element.

Following the Celtic prayers in both Cornish and English the bunch of flowers and plants (both good and poisonous) were thrown into the fire to denote the flourishing of good and death of bad (or something like that):

The fire burnt unbelievably fiercely and was still going at 1.30am when I came home:

FB kept trying to get me to get further away from him and closer to the fire for this pic - it was absolutely roasting - do you think he's trying to tell me something?!

A very dear and good friend of ours had a baby girl a couple of weeks ago and I can feel a baby blanket design coming on. I'm beginning to realise that I'm my own worst enemy - just as I get to near the end of my list of "things which must be knitted" and start to think about that stash-busting jacket or something else from the stash, my creative juices start to flow at the merest mention of a new baby and I find myself studying pattern books at 1am (OK, I was waiting for T, I wouldn't normally stay up quite that late looking at patterns) and tonight I just know I'll be knitting a swatch. And then I'll stress myself to finish it before we start the JOG-Land's End adventure. Worst enemy? Myself

PS: Talking of JOG-Land's End - FB and G cycled 62 miles yesterday - both slightly pink now and FB slightly knackered. Training is in full swing - boys still slightly concerned about their Father!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Unrelated Observations

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

T had to be at School at 7.00 this morning as he's off playing team building soldier style at HMS Raleigh. For some reason that I can't fathom, FB set the alarm for 5.30 - an hour and a half before departure (even for T) seems a little excessive. (Turns out I got the time wrong and he didn't need to be at school until 7.30 - first time ever he's been the first!) We're all feeling a little weary already but not as weary as we'll be tomorrow when T is off to the Athletics finals in Bedford and has to leave school at 4am. Yes, you did read that right - 4am. Getting back home at c11.30pm. Bedford is a very, very long way from Penzance. Not sure how good his jumping will be after that hideous start! And not sure he'll be in school on Thursday.

FB is in full John O'Groats to Land's End route planning mode. We have maps, atlases and Google maps all over the office. Route is looking good so far - averaging 81 miles per day - yikes! Tina is hoping to get the jumper pattern to me tomorrow so I can start panicking then.

In the meantime I am in training with the second Cornish Organic sock nearly finished and a Samba summer top on the go in the shop - really pretty - am really liking it and hoping it'll be finished in time for our trip although, as we leave in just over 2 weeks, can't help thinking that's unlikely.

I'm also doing a little bit of work for a new knitting magazine coming out in September - very exciting and a little bit hush hush - watch this space.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

End of Exam Parties

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

G finished his final GCSE on Thursday - to the entire family's huge relief - what a stressful time they are for all. In order to celebrate that and his 17th birthday three weeks ago, we allowed a party. Actually, we didn't have much choice - he'd had one for his 16th that was such a success that everyone totally assumed we'd have another this year. Maybe we should hold disastrous parties and then the pressure would be off.

So - last night he and 16 of his closest friends gathered in a field half a mile away from our house (I can recommend this as the minimum distance parents should be from their offspring's parties once they reach the age of 16+). We put a tent up, built a bonfire, set up a barbecue, tables, chairs etc and left them too it. (Actually, that's not strictly true - we fed them all 2 burgers before we left them to it which we felt would, at least, soak up some of the alcohol which had mysteriously appeared in the field.)

On the whole they're a sensible bunch and had a great time and very little sleep. I, too, had very little sleep as I lay there waiting for either the front door to open or the phone to ring. Neither event happened so I should have just gone to sleep but, you know, neurotic mothers and all that.

This evening, we have a friend's joint 50th/18th party to go to (Mother and son). I am exhausted and grumpy. My sons have spent most of the day sleeping so are ready and raring to go. I've been in the shop and just want to go to bed - somehow, I've got this whole thing wrong!

I may have just shouted at G who got his new white trainers covered in cow poo and wants them clean and dry for tonight. I put them in the washing machine and, apparently, they are cleaner but won't dry in time and can they go in the tumble dryer? I said "No". He argued the point. I may have shouted at him a little bit about wearing some other d**m pair of shoes and it being his fault for getting cow s**t over them in the first place. Sorry G - Mum's a little weary - when you've stayed awake for your eldest's 17th birthday party, you'll understand.

But I still don't think you should put them in the tumble dryer.

PS: WD40 would be my first recommendation if you get tar on your clothes. Odd but it worked.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Lard vs WD40

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Not totally convinced that the lard worked - smeared it all over and then rubbed it a bit and then soaked the shorts in some all-singing, all-dancing stain removal stuff and then bunged them in the washing machine. Am waiting for the results on dry shorts when I get home this evening.

The other recommended solution was, bizarrely, WD40 - so I sprayed another area with that and that does appear (in the damp state this morning) to have worked better than lard. Slightly concerned it might have changed the colour of the material as well though. In which case I may have to spray the entire garment with WD40 so the it all ends up the same colour, minus the tar.

This saga could run and run.

Cycled down the farmer's lane this morning in order to avoid all road re-surfacing machinery. Very pretty, very quiet and very, very bumpy - but no tar to be seen - hoorah.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

RIP Jack

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Sad news - Jack the baby jackdaw passed away in the night. We have no idea why - he was quite cheery yesterday evening and sat happily on T's arm and then, this morning, he had - quite literally - fallen off his perch. Such are the mysteries of nature.

Also during the night, Deidre deposited a dead rat in the back porch.

So we had an interesting start to the day.

G and I then cycled into town together (G's going to join the "I'm going to ride my bike during the world cup" group on Facebook, by the way - he thought that was pretty cool) and, where they're re-surfacing the road in our village, I thought we'd passed a truck spraying a gentle stream of water onto the road. Looks like it was a gentle stream of water with tar in it though as I have specks of black, immovable stuff on my shorts and legs. Have googled "how to remove tar from clothing" and, apparently, covering it with lard is the answer.

Bizarre phone call of the day, "FB - am I right in thinking we have a pack of lard in the back of the fridge". You can imagine the stunned silence.

I'll let you know if it works.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

FB and Boating

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

When I got home yesterday, FB had read the Blog and was surprised I hadn't made more of the boating trip on Saturday. I'd assumed he wanted to save his embarrassment but, apparently, not. So - I now have carte blance to give you the full breakdown of my husband's and youngest son's marine ineptitude on Saturday:

They got down to the water early so the little sailing boats weren't around. (FB nearly mowed down a girl on a laser last week when he got his throttle and forward/backward levers confused, but that's another story.)

Launched the boat. Tied it up and T waited in it whilst FB moved the car and trailer, clamped the trailer (morons knick trailers, apparently) and wandered back to the boat.

T (in the boat): "Dad, the boat seems to be getting lower in the water. Did you put the bung in?"

FB (now running) - back to the car, get the clamp off the trailer, reverse the trailer back to the boat (never easy!), boat out of water, wait 20 minutes for the water to drain out, put the bung in.

Re-launched the boat, re-parked the car, re-clamped the trailer.

Went fishing. Slightly lumpy and bumpy water. Big wave crashed in and dislodged the front window. Water in the cabin.

Decided to call it a day. Returned to harbour to discover that the tide had gone out (funny thing that, it happens every day but caught them completely unawares). Couldn't get the boat back to the launch ramp or the pontoon as the engine doesn't work unless upright (remember that saga).

Very nice diver in full dry suit walked them round to the pontoon. (I would probably have paid money to watch that.)

FB & T sat in the boat on the pontoon for 2.5 hours until the tide came up and they could get the boat out of the water.

Came home. Spent 2 hours at home repairing the front window.

Another successful boating day and, yes, more sunburn.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Busy Weekend

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

The fishing expedition was not a huge success but the weather was amazing:

The Scillonian went out on her daily trip to the Scillies:

and I was very pleased to see the personal service provided by HM Coastguard, which hung around all morning to rescue my boys in case they got into trouble:

The net result of all of this was one mackerel - possibly the most expensive mackerel in the world?

Saturday afternoon saw the arrival of Jack into our lives. This is Jack:

Jack is an almost fledged jackdaw who fell out of his nest on Saturday afternoon and was recovered by G & T. He now thinks that T is his Mum and will sit on his hand quite happily. This morning we cleaned him out so I held him:

I am actually holding him looser than it may look! He is very sweet and now squawks when he wants food but, if I'm brutally honest, he does pong quite a bit. All being well, he'll be with us for a couple of weeks and will then fly off. When we put his cage outside, his Mum still comes to find him so we're hopeful it'll all work out OK.

Yesterday afternoon I knitted the Scottish flag (or Saltire as it's properly called - actually, if you want to be technical the white cross is called the Saltire but the name has now come to mean the entire flag). The flag is, obviously, part of the End to End Sweater so I was pleased to see the charting worked out fine:

and it actually goes rather well with my t-shirt! I have now started the "wool box" for the End to End trip - so far it contains 1 x skein COW in St Ives (blue), 1 x skein COW in Cream, 1 x pair 4mm needles (bamboo) and a Saltire chart. Not sure that's enough to make a sweater but, hey, it's a start.

PS: I guess I have to mention the football. I succeeded in not seeing a single ball kicked but I have seen "that" goal repeated ad nauseam all yesterday. To be honest, if I was getting paid c£75,000 per week to get a very small ball into really quite a large net and I played that badly, I'd expect to be sacked.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Knitting in Bed

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

FB and T went off fishing at the crack of dawn this morning. Having been woken by them both (firstly by the radio at 6am and then the [loud] debate on the landing about fishing tackle, what to put in the waterproof bag and whether or not sun cream was required [it was, but wasn't used - 3rd lot of peeling this year on its way I feel]) I lay there debating a) whether to get up, b) try to go back to sleep, c) finish that sock.

Clearly c) won. I have previously extolled the pleasure to be had from knitting in bed and to knit in bed on a Saturday morning when the house is quiet and you really should be getting up gives extra joy. If you drink coffee or tea (which I don't - migraines) and have a willing partner who is prepared to make said drink and bring it to you in bed (and there's no danger of you spilling it) then your Saturday (or, indeed, Sunday) morning will be off to a joyous start. If they bring a warm croissant as well - deep joy. Chocolate filled croissant - double deep joy.

I finished the first Cornish Organic 4ply sock. I am very happy with it. It now needs a partner.

I am particularly fussy about checking and double checking Cornish Organic patterns so I was very, very good today and typed the pattern up. This means that sock number 2 will be knitted from the typed copy (which in turn will become the printed version) and I can, therefore, double check the pattern as I knit. Never let it be said that I don't go to great lengths to ensure the exactitude of Cornish Organic's patterns.

Tonight I start sock 2. Apparently, on TV there are to be a number of highly over-paid men running around in shorts kicking a ball of hot air between them. My plan is to avoid this spectacle at all costs.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Today was the French listening GCSE so we awoke to French radio emanating from T's computer to get him "in ze mood". I should have laid on croissants for breakfast but hadn't so he had oeufs instead (from our own poulets, of course).

This afternoon I've been charting out the Scottish flag - for the End to End Sweater, of course. I am glad it's not a complicated flag, like the American one or something - imagine - all those stars.

Late this afternoon I've been looking at rather lovely Swiss wool.

I'm feeling very multi-cultural and may need to go home and consume a glass of South African or Australian wine. Australia would bring in the southern hemisphere, wouldn't it?

I am slightly dreading the World Cup as I loathe football, but loved Come Dine With Me with the WAGS last night. An absolute classic - do try and catch it if you missed it. One of the WAGS was supposed to be serving a papaya salad but couldn't find a papaya so used cucumber instead and convinced the others that it was papaya. Comment of the night, "well, if anyone asks me what papaya tastes like, I'll say it tastes just like cucumber". Classic!!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Thank You!

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

We've now received our first donations for our cycling/knitting escapade and it's made me incredibly emotional. Our first donation on justgiving.com/TheHopsons was from someone we didn't even know but, we should have known, she turned out to be a knitter! FB said it just proves his, long held, view that knitters are some of the most generous people you can ever find - all that charity knitting, knitting for friends and for presents - just sums knitters up really.

As part of my training I'll be knitting a sock in the car at the Cornwall Athletics club tonight. T will be doing triple jump training, which is far more energetic but no more important!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Busy Busy

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

Internet/email access was miraculously restored at home about 5 hours ago. Whether or not this was anything to do with FB having a fairly major rant on the phone this morning, we don't know. We like to think that it was.

Whilst we've been off air a vast number of companies (c 83) seem to have decided that one or other of us needs huge discounts off Viagra. FB would like it to be known that he has no need for this particular medication, thank you very much.

The weekend consisted mainly of cycling (boys) and finishing things (me). We took a promotional pic of the boys in their gear:

FB and G (on left) went for a blast on Saturday and averaged 14.75 mph - FB was very happy, G thought it was OK!

Last week I finished my pink Bamboo Cotton top:

I was having a bit of a bad hair/no make-up day but I love the top (and the foxgloves in the background!). Pattern can be found here - from Debbie Bliss's spring/summer 2010 magazine. I did the smallest size (and was glad I did) and wasn't sure if it was going to go into the third ball of Bamboo Cotton or not. It didn't - but by, literally, about 3 metres. (I actually sewed it up with a different yarn and then had to shorten the straps by about 8 cables so would have had plenty left.)

I also knitted up a Paper Bag:

The pattern is now written up and is available free when you buy a ball of Paper. The bag knits from just one ball and we also sell the buttons to decorate it with! Remember - this yarn is washable - the perfect, washable paper bag! (OK - last time I make the paper bag joke, honest.)

FB was also busy dyeing a new colour in Cornish Organic. Called "Portheras" after our favourite beach, it was supposed to be a bright, zingy turquoise and fuchsia pink combo but came out more muted but equally lovely:

As Tracey said, suitable for both baby boys and girls! He's going to try the bright combo again, after he's finished a big order which came in this morning (and, of course, it's now raining so no drying in the warm sun).

Tonight I'm back to the Cornish Organic 4ply socks so hope that'll ensure the sun is out tomorrow but, judging by the forecast, don't bank on it and it's not my fault, OK?!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Computer Technology - yuk

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

We have been without internet/email access at home since last Sunday - that's 6 days - and the situation is now beyond a joke and testing all our patience almost as much as the boat engine tested FB's.

The whole sequence has gone a bit like this:

Sunday - intermittent access - hope for the best.

Monday - no access - bank holiday - cycle to nearest pub and back - knit - keep fingers crossed.

Tuesday - FB spends an inordinate amount of time on phone to Bombay/Mumbai/Calcutta to be told, after extensive testing, that the problem is our router. Our router was not supplied by our internet provider (a kind of fruit/bright colour - just for the record) so the men in Bombay/Mumbai/Calcutta can't help us. Book computer into our local computer repair shop.

Wednesday - computer still at local shop.

Thursday - computer returns, needs a new screen (we knew this, but didn't know new screens cost almost as much as new computers). Still no internet access.

Friday - techy guy (Barry) from local shop comes to the house and speaks, on our behalf, to Bombay/Mumbai/Calcutta. I can recommend this course of action. Because Barry knows what he's talking about (unlike us) techy guy in India can't fob him off (as he does with us). After about 2 hours, conclusion is that it's the phone line that's the problem, not the router. India will phone BT.

Saturday - BT man appears in our neighbour's garden up a ladder, up a pole. FB shoots round to talk to him. He's there to mend our neighbour's phone/internet, not ours. It's more than his life/job's worth to talk to FB.

Will someone please give me the number of Oftel/Ofcom or whoever it is I can send a monumental complaint to.

Sunday (tomorrow) - will keep knitting, keep calm and carry on.

PS: Forgot to add - boys are both revising for Geography GCSE. GCSE revision notes contain a lot of comments along the lines of "look this up on the BBC's excellent revision guides online at www............". This is not helping the stress levels in our house. Do Often/Ofcom give compensation for GCSE stress?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Knitting a Paper Bag

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

The boys have finally, finally, finally got the new engine of the new boat working. This has been an epic (and I may say, expensive) struggle but they finally worked out that there's an anti-tilt device so, unless the engine is totally upright, it won't start. This may sound like pointing out the flaming obvious (trust me, I did) but, actually, with the boat on the trailer the engine won't go absolutely upright unless you dig a small hole in the drive into which the engine will sit. Yes, you've got it - we now have a small hole in our drive (fortunately only gravel in the first place and not tarmac - that might have caused some hysteria on my part) and, guess what, the *@£$% thing now works!!

So, last night they went our for "half an hour" with the boat mechanic - left at 6pm - returned home at 9pm. I'm guessing that's the boating equivalent of "I've only got one more row to knit and this sweater's done".

During their "half hour" I did actually finish my little summer strappy top so every cloud has a silver lining. It's on a mannequin in the shop at the moment (downside of owning a wool shop - garments have to go out for public display before they are worn) but photos will follow this weekend.

Today I have been mostly knitting a paper bag. Tracey and I have been playing with ideas and needle sizes and it's now progressing. If it works, the pattern will be available free with every ball of "Paper" yarn so you can all knit your very own paper bag - no, I still haven't tired of that line - sorry.

Incidentally, if anyone's coming down to Penzance in the next few days, we've bagged up some yarn and patterns and they're on offer at 25% off - mostly summer tops, wraps, shrugs etc. Come and grab a bargain! Sorry we can't offer these kits online but the technology won't allow it!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Knitting and Cycling (not at the same time)

Knitwits Yarns knitwitspenzance.co.uk

After the excitement of G's Prom and - yes - there was a massive 3 layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate bits all over it - we spent most of the weekend cycling and knitting. Which brings me neatly to our summer holiday this year, details of which will be hitting the knitting press over the coming weeks so I thought the time had come to bring the blogosphere up to date with our plans.

(Obviously not everyone's summer holiday plans are announced in the knitting press but, hey, as ever we like to be different)

Over the past few years we've spent two very happy holidays on canal boats cruising the Canal du Midi in southern France. The vineyards, literally, come down to the water's edge, we pick up crusty bread and croissants from local bakeries and it's all very idyllic. There are always loads of people cycling the tow-path and, indeed, we've always hired bikes as well so we can go off on little excusions and from this we've always planned a holiday cycling the tow-paths which, of course, are virtually flat, camping in village camp sites and seeing the canals from a different angle.

So this year we were putting some plans in place and then the boys (G & T) threw into the mix the thought that they'd like to do something to raise money for Help For Heroes. What many of you won't know is that FB used to be in the Army and the plight of the injured soldiers returning from Afghanistan is something we all care deeply about. So - in short - the gentle cycling tour of the French canals has now turned into a charity ride from John O'Groats back home to Land's End!

We leave Penzance on July 9th and then leave John O'Groats on July 11th because, of course, it takes 2 days for us to get to the north of Scotland in order to be able to start cycling back.

So, what on earth has this got to do with knitting and why is it to be featured in all the knitting magazines? Well - I'm driving the back-up vehicle (a 6 berth campervan) and the boys were all concerned as to what I'd be doing all day when I'm not driving, shopping, cooking and cleaning. The answer was obvious - I'll be knitting, of course. And thus was born - The End to End Sweater. The basic premise is that I have to cast it on at John O'Groats and be wearing it at Land's End 13 days later!! Our very own Tina Barrett has kindly agreed to donate the sweater design to us and it will, obviously, be knitted in Cornish Organic Wool. (I did stipulate no 4ply and we've now agreed on Aran weight to give me a fighting chance! We also agreed that the pattern will be unisex but I'll be knitting it in my size, not FB's!) Last week we met up with Tina to discuss plans:

(I might be looking a tiny bit anxious in that picture - can't think why)

I am not the fastest knitter in the world and this may well be the only time in my life that I attempt to knit a sweater in less than 2 weeks. I have visions of the exhaused cyclists snoring around me and me knitting like fury into the night.

All the knitting magazines have been incredibly supportive - this may be the only true "End to End Sweater" ever attempted and we're pretty sure it's definitely the first. So, we're now asking the knitters of the world to support our challenge and our heroes through Help For Heroes. Irrespective of your views on the war that our men and women are currently fighting in, the fact remains that they are coming home with horrendous injuries and charities like Help For Heroes are doing marvellous work in helping them to recover and rehabilitate.

The boys' school (GEMS Bolitho in Penzance) are kindly lending us a laptop for the trip so there'll be nightly updates on our geographical and knitting progress on this blog. (Fortunately we have a 15 and 17 year old to iron out the technical glitches - you know what I'm like with technology)

It's all very exciting and our house is now being taken over by bits of bikes and shorts with padding in strategic areas and maps and training schedules. On Sunday they did a 45 mile ride in the rain and yesterday we did a shorter 12 mile round trip to the pub and back:

That's the view looking over our glorious north coast en route to Zennor.

If you want to see more details of the trip, more photos and details of where you can sponsor us you can see our page at www.justgiving.com/TheHopsons.

We're really hoping that friends and family will meet the victorious cyclists at Land's End on July 24th (all being well) and I'm praying that I'll be wearing the sweater (even if it only has one sleeve!). In the meantime there is training to be done, GCSE's to be completed and a large chocolate cake to be finished.