Tuesday, 30 October 2012

More Bonkers Conkers


I've had a few queries from the States, about conkers. So if you don't know what I'm on about, this is just to clarify. I just had a long walk around one of my local parks, where although there are plenty of horse chestnut trees, I could not find a single conker. I think I am a bit late, or maybe the kids had got there first. Lots of very pretty horse chestnut leaves though. So you will have to make do with my knitted conkers.

Conkers are the fruit of the horse chestnut tree. Finding a spikey green case,  slightly split open, and removing a shiny conker from its white cushion, is one of the pleasures of autumn. 


(Conkers are very similar, but not the same, as the fruit of the sweet chestnut tree, which is a bit flatter in shape, and can be eaten. Hence we sing "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire ....". Conkers aren't edible by humans, although I think horses enjoy them.)

In Britain the conker is the fruit, and the game played with them is conkers.


The game conkers is played between two people. A hole is made in the conkers, and they are threaded on a piece of string. They take turns hitting each others conker with their own. Each player holds their conker out in front of themselves, and the other player takes a swing at it with their conker. The conker that breaks the other one is the victor. The dangers are that you can be hit by swinging conkers, which are quite hard, or being hit by flying shards of conkers when the hit is successful. Hard conkers usually win, but it is considered cheating to harden your conker artificially.  Apparently Michael Palin of Monty Python was disqualified from a conkers competition for baking his conker and soaking it in vinegar.


Then there is the whole business of scoring. A conker that defeats another is a oner, etc. But if a conker beats another conker, it also takes on that conker's score. So if a twoer beats a threer, it would become a fiver. It is that conker that takes the title, not the human swinging it!


So here are my knitted horse chestnut leaves. I've posted the conker and leaf pattern on ravelry separately, (there are links in my sidebar) with a discount if you buy both together. As I said I am planning to incorporate mine in some little bags for my conker collectors to use, with the conkers on the end of a drawstring.






Avenue with Horse Chestnut Trees on Left in Bushy Park








36 comments:

  1. Oh, how I loved hearing the conker story! I didn't realise a conker takes on the score of the one it's beaten so I have learned something today. Love your knitted leaves and conkers. I recently discovered on twitter that having conkers in the house discourages spiders so I'm upset to discover I'm too late to collect them!!

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  2. Gosh another one who didn't know about the score passing on. Like the knitted conkers they would be a bit softer than the real ones if you miss!

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  3. oooh those leaves are so pretty! and the conkers too, what a fun idea :)

    i haven't seen any yet either... maybe they're late this year?! x

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  4. Beautiful pictures and the conkers and leaves are very good, we have loads round here atm and can be leathful when walking under the trees.

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  5. Thankyou for the explanation of conkers-that fruit(nut) sounds very similar to the black walnut here in the midwest of the U.S. The inside of the nut is edible-but hard to get at-mostly we leave them for the squirrels. But the big bonus is gathering these up and boiling a potful and you get a beautiful dye for fiber that is colorfast all on its own. It will stain anything-hands included-the nicest dark brown. I've never heard of any games associated with them, though. Unless the squirrels have something going on.

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  6. I use to love the conker game when I was a kid. There is a village near Peterborough that holds (or held) an annual conker game. Fun, village gets together. Then health and safety can along and banned it. Crazy isn't it.

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  7. Lovely to see the inspiration behind your makes

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  8. Your leaves and conkers are wonderful. I think it's great how you create your own patterns. Thanks for sharing.
    Ali x

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  9. Sounds like fun! Love the knitted leaves and conkers. Great story, thank you for posting it. :)

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  10. Really love the leaves - the colours are amazing. We have found that some trees have masses of conkers but many have very few if any! Not at all sure why though.

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  11. Do you ever wonder who first thought up the conkers game?!! "What if we put a bit of string through here and then try and smash each others conker, and then if I hit yours ..." Innocent and fun and outdoorsy without the need for technology - love it! Love your woolly version : -)

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  12. Such a cool set of knitting. I love the idea of playing conkers. Probably a little safer than the "acorn wars" we had when I was a kid.

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  13. Very interesting. I love the way you have recreated nature in your projects! Wonderful!
    x

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  14. ha ha... we used to try things like soaking in vinegar to harden the conker. Can't say it ever worked. But it was a fun game.

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  15. Thank you for the explanation. My son and I enjoyed it.

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  16. I grew up in Germany and every fall the race was on to see who could collect the most "Kastanien". We'd craft with them, collect them, store them...

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  17. what a beautiful project! it's a long time since i've had a game of conkers but i do remember that much more time was spent in finding the biggest hardest conker and carefully stringing it than actually playing with it. you got a lot of kudos at my school from having an undefeated conker!!!

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  18. Now you've got me hankering for Autumn instead of Spring! x

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  19. Really LOVE your knitted leaves, they are very stylish!

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  20. Your Autumnal knits are great!

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  21. They are super beautiful. What a great way to decorate for autumn

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  22. Those are so cool! Chestnut leaves and conkers always remind me of my childhood walking to school. There must have been a bunch of trees on my street.

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  23. I am enjoying the saga of the conkers, especially since before you began sharing about them, I had no awareness of them! Clueless, you say?

    Love your knitted ones...and if I ever see a Horse Chestnut tree, I'll keep an eye out....

    Here's MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST

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  24. I love your last photo - so lovely. Your knitted leaves are amazing!

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  25. That sounds like such a fun game - one I certainly would have enjoyed heartily in younger years. :)

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  26. Such an informative post! The whole conkers thing is completely alien to those of us from Australia. I cannnot think of any of our childhood games that resembles your conkers game - such destructive fun!

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  27. I love the last photo also...makes me want to just fall into those leaves :)

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  28. I LOVE your leaves. And I knew about conkers - even though I'm a Yank. My son spent two years around Middlesburough and Ponte Fract - and he sent us all conkers with holes drilled through, strung up with string to put on our Christmas trees - and explained the game, which he won quite often.

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  29. Thanks for the conkers information. I know horse chestnuts, but had no idea about a game played with them. Your needlework is lovely!

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  30. Love your knitted conkers! And we'd also love to see you over at Waldorf Wednesday.
    http://ourseasonsofjoy.com/seasons-of-joy/waldorf-wednesday-10/

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  31. I love your photos... the trees are gorgeous.

    I think the conkers games sounds like a whole lot of fun. Thank you for explaining it. :-)

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  32. Oh, how fun!! Thank you for explaining it!! Thank you so much for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

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  33. Love this post, and the last one you did - they brought back memories of my father taking my brother and I up to Windsor Great Park each autumn, and my brother hunted for conkers while I gathered chestnuts, which we roasted when we got home.

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