Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Knitting north to south

As you can tell from my blog posts, I love to travel. This is why I feel lucky to live in Europe, where countries are small and easily accessible, thanks to the European Union's free movement policy, and workers are given enough annual leave to be able to take plenty of holidays.

Although we are more likely to travel to destinations outside the UK, I've also seen a fair amount of Great Britain on various holidays and visits. This summer I was able to attain a British travel distinction - I have now been to John O'Groats and Land's End, the most northwesterly and southeasterly parts of the island of Great Britain. I'm going to claim this travel record, even though one is traditionally supposed to bike or walk the 874 miles between these points.

John O'Groats (Scotland) - 2006

Land's End (Cornwall) - 2014

To add to this record, I have also been as close as reasonably possible to the most northerly part of the British Isles, Out Stack off the Isle of Unst in the Shetlands.

View of Out Stack and Muckle Flugga Lighthouse
from Hermaness National Nature Reserve
Naturally, I stopped in yarn stores in each of these far flung places, taking the opportunity to buy local wools. During last year's Wool Week I bought Shetland wool at both Jamieson's of Shetland and Jamieson & Smith. And stopping in Penzance on the way to Land's End offered the opportunity to buy Cornish wool.

I've always wanted to visit Penzance, ever since my mother participated in a production of the Pirates of Penzance when I was a small child. This is no doubt a silly reason to want to visit a place, but I usually need very little excuse to travel.

Penzance was not quite the quaint seaside village that I expected - the economy, like in many parts of Cornwall, has not recovered from the decline of the traditional industries of fishing, mining and agriculture, and the town suffers from high unemployment and low wages. Nevertheless, there were some picturesque buildings and nice shops, including the yarn shop Knit Wits of Penzance.

Not only was I able to purchase 10 balls of Cornish Organic Wool on sale for the very affordable price of £39, we also got to see the largest set of knitting needles in the world, used to knit a very large wall hanging. I guessed the needles were fashioned from oars, a nice nautical touch in this traditional fishing town.

Wall hanging and Guinness world record

Our summer is rapidly on the wane, and I'm just about ready to start my autumn knitting. The Cornish wool is nice and sturdy, and will be perfect for an outer garment like Amy Christoffers' Catboat Cardigan.

© Savory Knitting