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Sunday, 19 August 2018


This time last week, it was our last day in Stockholm.  We'd been there since late on Wednesday night, the second "instalment" of our family holidays which we decided this year to split into two city breaks.  (Our first was Granada in May.)

It's very different to Granada, as you'd expect.  We were in a capital city, after all, so in lots of ways it was much more like London with it's public transport system, banking district and shopping areas.  

In hindsight, it wasn't the best place to go for a restful week in August, especially as when there's something to be seen then we like to see it, but Stockholm has been on our list of places to visit for a long time so we knew that we wanted to go when we were planning our holidays at the beginning of the year.  We went on the sightseeing bus tour on our first morning - always our first port of call in a new city as it gives us a good overview of what's there and what we want to go back to see.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Summer things

Small daughter came back from a week at an international Scout and Guide camp on Saturday, and I seem to have been washing and ironing ever since.  She only took one rucksack but I think we must have managed to stuff enough clothes into it for a six month backpacking trip! 

I've been a bit worried that this week would seem boring after her camp full of pirate-themed activities including scuba diving, quad biking, crafting, socialising and full-on festival-ing, but to be honest, I think she's been glad of the rest.  What we have noticed is that the house is noisier, messier, the fridge is constantly empty and that the WiFi access in the house has slowed right down again, but we're still very glad to have her back :)

Popping out the greenhouse to "check" on the tomatoes has been a favourite activity ... 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Evening shadows

It's usually easier for my schedule to walk the dog earlier in the day but recently we've been heading out in the evening instead.  I'd forgotten just how nice it is to see the sun setting across the fields and through the trees, and as the days have been a little cooler it's been more pleasant for the dog as well.  

We've had the rain recently; heavy heavy showers that have filled up the water barrels to overflowing and made the grass green again.  It's still warm though, and we're appreciating not having to take extra layers out with us in the evenings.  

Slow summer days and long summer evenings.  We've been very spoilt this year.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Edge of the diving board

All year we've been working our way step by step out along the diving board until now - with the last day of school finally here - we're ready to make the leap and plunge into the summer holidays.  It seems quite incredible that a whole school year is over!

On the one hand, I am so ready (and so is small daughter) to take a break from the early mornings, the reminders to take a waterproof now that the rain has returned, the constant "have you got your homework - wait, have you done your homework?" questions and the obligation to wear school uniform every day and I'm very much looking forward to having both my girls around all the time, but on the other hand a small part of me is rather worried about whether I'm going to get anything remotely work-like done over the holidays.  I think the word "Mum" (in our house it's pronounced "Mu-u-um") is used just to break the silence in our house sometimes, but sadly it breaks my concentration as well although often I do get a get a brew out of it (big daughter has just come to talk to me whilst I'm writing this and we're laughing as I'm disturbed yet again, although she is brewing up so I'll forgive her :) )  I think the plan will be to get up early as that's something that neither of the girls tend to do - or to take myself out of the way, but more of that later!

I've been trying to pack in all of those jobs that are best done before school holidays.  Last week I went to Skipton to see Lucy and to pick up the Yarndale Sock Line socks.  

Monday, 16 July 2018

Jogging along

After another sunny weekend, it's overcast and drizzly here this morning and I am not complaining at all!  I seriously can't remember the last time we had such a continuous run of sunny weather and I'm not complaining about that either, but it's good to see the rain again.

It's Monday too, the start of a whole new week.  It stretches ahead of me, blank pages to be filled with ... work, shopping, knitting, after school clubs, dog walks, gardening, all kinds of jobs that are best done before the school holidays (you know, the sort that might just involve a brew with a friend ;) ) ... and I am blessed to be able to do it all.  However busy we are, however much we don't fancy doing something on our list, there's always a parallel universe in which we would give anything to be doing that instead of what we are currently engaged in and I never forget that.    

And on that happy note let me show you what's going on in our little patch of the world this week :)

My "office" which relocated to a shady patch underneath an umbrella in the garden during the sunny days has returned indoors to the kitchen table.  It would go back to the desk in my study if I could find it under the piles of paper and stuff that appears to have grown on it like some kind of peculiar mould, but for now I'm quite happy here because I'm closer to the kettle.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Monthly Musing - July 2018 - Good enough

Do you ever have those times when you realise that you’ve not done something that you intended to do, feeling your stomach sink in that moment of “Uh oh, how do I fix that?” panic?  Sometimes it can be something pretty big (“my MOT certificate is really out of date”) and sometimes it’s not really that big at all (“I forgot to buy bread rolls”), but still that plummeting feeling can catch you unawares.

I forgot to write the Monthly Musing last month.  Did you notice?  Did it ruin your day?  I thought not (although apologies if it did).  After a few moments of “Uh oh, how do I fix that?”; “Can I write it and backdate it and pretend nothing was wrong?” and “How on earth could I forget that?!”, I realised that there was really no point in worrying about it.  On a scale of 1 to 10, it wasn’t up there with anything life-threatening or seriously problem-causing; my Monthly Musings are something that I write because I like to.  The deadlines are my own, and if I miss a month (intentionally or not) then the world doesn’t stop.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Dried out

Wow, it's been hot hot HOT!  

We're not used to this sort of heatwave in the UK; usually we get a couple of days of sunshine, the newspapers print headlines like "Phew, what a scorcher!" and compare Britain's temperature to various places overseas where it's not as hot as here (and we all know that Britain is regularly hotter than Bahrain, right? :) ), everybody puffs and pants about, complaining about the heat despite the fact that it's rained solidly for the previous nine months, and then it rains again.  

But not this time.  

This year, we've had proper sunny sunshine for weeks with not a drop of rain to be seen, and just like when it snows heavily, we have no idea how to cope.  People are walking their dogs in ridiculous temperatures and wondering why they're dying (seriously, would you like to chase a ball in a fur coat?  Our dog has spent most of his time in his favourite shady spot - there will be more than enough time for long walks later in the year).  We've had an email already from the water company asking people not to keep refilling paddling pools or use garden sprinklers so that they can conserve precious water resources and people complain about the prospect of hosepipe bans because - heaven forbid - their grass might turn brown instead of green.  This is what our grass looks like at the moment.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Doing our bit to reduce plastic use

We've been on a bit of a mission in our house recently to try to reduce the amount of plastic that we've using.  It's no secret that the levels of plastic that are filling the oceans, the hedgerows and the landfill sites are reaching a worrying level, and it's only by us all doing our bit that we're going to make any kind of difference.  We've always tried to shop consciously and to try not to send any more rubbish to landfill than we can help, but since watching the episode of the BBC programme Blue Planet II about plastic in the ocean (it's episode 7, here's a preview of a section of it), big daughter has decided that we need to up our game.

She started off by reading this book called No More Plastic by Martin Dorey.  It's only little and it's a really quick read - I'd finished it pretty much by the time I'd finished my brew - but it's full of good ideas which don't take much effort to implement.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

No-nylon sock yarn review: Whistlebare Cuthbert's Sock

It's been far too long since I last wrote a no-nylon sock yarn review so it's time to put that right.  These socks are knitted in Whistlebare Cuthbert's Sock and I've been wearing them for quite a while now so I can give you an update on how they've got on.

Magic Mirror Socks in Whistlebare Cuthbert's Sock

The pattern is called Magic Mirror, it's a free pattern on Ravelry that I thought would be perfect for this yarn, and I'm delighted with how they turned out!  My yarn is in two shades: the turquoise is called Kirk Yelthom and the pink is called Grubbit Law.  They're both named after places along St Cuthbert's Way, which is a long distance walk between the Scottish Borders and Lindisfarne in Northumberland.  As the Whistlebare farm is based in Northumberland, it's the perfect name for their sock yarn!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Catching up

I've just been looking through my photos and I've realised that I've been busy snapping away but haven't actually shown you what I've been snapping recently!  Oh, the hardship of having to do exciting things like photo shoots and go away on holiday instead of showing you the garden :)  Anyway, this seemed like a good time for a catch up so here's what's been going on over the last six weeks or so. 

Firstly, I finally finished the IOU Christmas socks.  Here's big daughter's pair ...

Friday, 15 June 2018

Your Crochet and Knitting magazine kit review

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago I went to the Knit Now magazine photo shoot?  Whilst I was there, I met Angela who's the editor of a brand new magazine called Your Crochet & Knitting which will be on sale for the very first time in a couple of weeks.  

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2018

Well, something super-exciting has happened and I need to say thank you to you!

The nominations for the Let's Knit magazine British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2018 have been released and the voting is now open ... and I'm thrilled to tell you that I am once again nominated in the Favourite Knitting Blog category.  Thank you so much to everyone who nominated me for this Award - it's the third time that Winwick Mum has been involved and I am very grateful for your support.

It's been really interesting to see how these Awards have changed over the last three years: at first, they were dominated by yarn shops and by large commercial yarn and accessory brands, but what's been really lovely to see has been how smaller independent names - like me! - have started to appear in all of the categories.  I think it shows how our crafting industry is changing and how people are much more confident about supporting smaller enterprises - a bit like shopping at a local farm shop rather than a supermarket, I suppose!

Last year, there were almost 15,000 votes for over 60 companies or individuals - like me! - in 33 categories, and this year there is a new category of Favourite Yarn for Toys to recognise the increasing interest in knitted and crocheted toys.  It's tough competition and even a nomination is an honour. 

If you'd like to see the posts that I wrote on the last two Awards ceremonies which were held at Alexandra Palace in London, you can find them here and here.  It's quite an event, and definitely something to be in the same room with so many famous crafting people!  

It always feels a bit odd to me to ask you firstly for your nomination and then for your vote - I don't really like having to do that as it feels like an imposition on your time - but that's what this post is about.  I'd love for you to vote for me in the Favourite Knitting Blog category, so that more people can find out about Winwick Mum and I can hopefully help more people to discover sock knitting.  I'd love to go back to the Awards ceremony this year so that I can share it with you all afterwards.  I'd love to think that a chance flick through a copy of Let's Knit magazine and an article about the Awards might just be what someone needed on a day when they thought sock knitting was beyond them, and what a difference it might make.

Thank you in advance if you are able to spend a few minutes completing the voting form.  You'll see lots of interesting nominations in the categories - some familiar names and others that are not so familiar - and I think you'll be impressed by the breadth of the nominations too.

The voting is open now until 30 August 2018 and everyone who votes is eligible to win a prize - this year, there are two bundles of yarn, patterns and more worth £700.  Unfortunately, it's only open to UK residents so you're not able to vote if you're abroad, but I still very much appreciate your support through reading my blog and being in my Facebook groups - thank you! xx

Friday, 8 June 2018


Gosh, it's Friday again!  The week has passed me by in a bit of a blur; it was school holidays here (again) last week and it always takes me some time to get back into the swing of things again.

We made the decision not to go on a beach holiday this year but instead to have short city breaks and last week we went to Granada for a few days.  It's been on our list for quite a number of years but it's not been until now that we've thought it would be a good holiday for the girls as well.  (There was some muttering when they realised there was no pool and no beach on the itinerary, but we did go to the Hammam al Andalus (Arab baths) which were deemed to be a suitable alternative.)

Granada is a lovely city, and easy to get to with a direct flight from Manchester.  Then we hopped onto a bus and before long were in the city centre.  Granada is a very diverse city and over the years has been home to Jews, Muslims and Christians, all of which is evident in the architecture and, of course, in the famous Alhambra Palaces.  We stayed in the Albaicin district, originally home to the Muslim inhabitants of the city, in an apartment along the Carerra del Darro.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Yarndale Sock Line 2018

It's that time of year again ... Yarndale Sock Line time!  

If you've never heard of the Yarndale Sock Line, let me tell you a little bit about it.  Back in 2015, the year that the Sockalong started, people who had started to knit their own socks asked if it would be possible for sock bunting to be hung up at Yarndale - it would fit beautifully with Yarndale's mission to celebrate craft and creativity, and would also be an opportunity for people to show what they had learnt in the few short months since the Sockalong had started.  If you've ever been to Yarndale, you'll have seen the miles and miles of bunting that decorate the entrance hall; what could be better than socks to go with it?

My lovely friend Lucy from Attic24, a sock knitter herself nowadays, was all in favour and the Yarndale Sock Line was born!  The idea was that anyone who wanted to could send in socks to hang up in the Auction Mart - but then it struck me that it would be such a shame to put them away in storage after a weekend of being on display, not to mention where they would be stored (I could just imagine my husband's face when I told him that our house was to be insulated by sock bunting!).  I decided that instead of single socks, I would ask for pairs which could be given away after Yarndale; it was a big ask in both time and money as yarn isn't cheap and socks can be quite time-consuming to knit, but but I had reckoned without the kindness of the crafting community and before long, pairs of socks were flooding in.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Monthly Musing - May 2018 - Tea for Two

            “Did you think I’d forgotten to make the tea?”

            It was a Sunday morning and I was in a shared hotel room with one of my best friends.  It had been a gloriously indulgent weekend of chatting, eating and pleasing ourselves whilst our respective families pretended they couldn’t cope without us (just for our benefit, of course!).  We had been taking it in turns to get up to make the morning brew; this morning was my friend’s turn and as she had disappeared to clean her teeth just as the kettle boiled, I got out of bed to pour the water onto the tea bags. 
             “No, I didn’t think you’d forgotten,” I replied.  “I was just saving you having to re-boil the kettle.”
            “So it’s not that you think that I’m incapable of brewing up, then?”
            “Of course not!”
            “I could be offended by that.”
            I stared at her.  “What?”
  I’ve known my friend for longer now than I’ve not known her.  She is well-read, thoughtful, wise and considerate.  She is without question someone I turn to when life gets a little rough and I am blessed to have her as my friend.  I would never dream of doing anything that would upset her.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Knit Now photo shoot

Hello!  What are you up to today, then?  D'you fancy coming to watch a magazine photo shoot with me?  I mentioned last week that I'd been over to Stockport to see how it all went on, so grab your jacket and come on!

First, though, I must say a huge thank you for all the lovely comments on my Patchwork Socks.  I do love writing tutorials, but I also very much appreciate you telling me that you love them too!  I'm so looking forward to seeing your socks, so do tag me into photos or add your projects to Ravelry so that I can see!

So, off to Stockport we go.  I'm not very familiar with Stockport which is a town not far from Manchester, but luckily the sat nav knows where we're going and it's not long before we arrive in this rather unassuming street of old mill buildings.  

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Patchwork Socks - free pattern and tutorial

Hello hello, it's great to see you back again!  Ooh, it's an exciting day ... are you ready to make a start on your Patchwork Socks?  Before we start, I need to warn you that there are lots of photos in this tutorial, plus video links!

This post follows on from yesterday's getting started post (which you can find here if you missed it) where I talked about the socks and tried to answer some of the questions you might have.

I created this pattern to show off mini-skeins of yarn, although you could just as easily use leftovers.  I like the idea that multi-coloured socks don't have to be striped or variegated and that we can create the blocks of colour for ourselves which works perfectly with the intarsia method of knitting. 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Patchwork Socks - getting started

This tutorial has been a long time coming, but you'll be pleased to know that the latest in my series of "next step" patterns is finally here!  So far in the series have been the Easy Cable and Easy Lace socks, patterns written to help you feel more confident using these techniques and about moving on to try out other patterns.  It's been lovely to see how many people have been inspired to try cables and lace after I posted my tutorials - and to hear how many people haven't found them nearly as hard as they expected!

So, continuing with the theme of showing you techniques to give the basic Sockalong 4ply sock a bit of pizazz (don't you just love that word?!), this tutorial is all about using intarsia to incorporate different colours - it's perfect for leftovers and, as sock knitters, we know all about those, don't we? :)

Intarsia is a method of knitting where you use blocks of colour, wrapping the yarns around each other as you change them so that you don't get a hole.  You'll perhaps be more familiar with the idea of intarsia through projects like this ...

which is my Geometric Star jacket designed by Kaffe Fassett which I wore to a lecture given by him last year.  Or how about this? 

Friday, 18 May 2018

And there it was ...

Friday, just like that!  It seems like only minutes that it was Monday but then again, it has been a busy week!

Monday ... I went out for lunch with my husband.  This is a rare occurrence as he's always super-busy so you can forgive me for announcing it as an event of the week.  We sat outside a small cafe in the next village to ours eating the biggest ploughman's lunch I've ever seen and we caught up on all kinds of stuff that we don't often get chance to talk about at home.  It was so lovely - sunshine, good company, good food ...  it's not often that you can feel that time stops but every now and again with moments like these you feel that it just might be possible.

Tuesday ... I went to see my friend Lucy in Skipton - we walked in the woods at Bolton Abbey, relishing the last of the bluebells and noticing that the wild garlic is so close to blooming.  Every now and again we got a waft of garlicky air, along with that gorgeous woodlands-in-the-sunshine scent that makes you feel as if you never want to leave the place.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Yarn Shop Day 2018

Did you get out to your local yarn shop last Saturday?  Lots of people made it to Black Sheep Wools where I spent my day - it was fab!  It never feels like any kind of work to pass the time in a yarn shop talking about socks, and I had such a lovely time.  I met beginners and experienced knitters, admired socks on feet and on needles and hope that I've encouraged a few more people to give sock knitting a go.

There are still signed copies of Super Socks at the craft barn if you want a copy but didn't get chance to get there on Saturday.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Walking with alpacas

It was May Day bank holiday weekend here in the UK last weekend, a holiday weekend that always coincides with the first Monday in May.  For the first time in a long time on a bank holiday, the sun shone and it was wonderful to be outside and feel the sun on our faces.

Early on Saturday morning, the girls and I were up and out to Walton Hall Gardens, a hall and gardens (as you'd expect from the name!) on the other side of Warrington.  They've got huge gardens to wander around, a crazy golf course, children's play area and a children's zoo.  The zoo has been there for years; it's not very big but has quite a range of animals there including red squirrels, donkeys, goats, Herdwick sheep, a whole flock of peacocks and alpacas.  Big daughter spotted an advertisement on social media for their alpaca walks and I didn't take much persuading for us to go - and, of course, I wore my New Leaf alpaca socks! :) 

There are three alpacas at the zoo who all go out to walk together and as one of them, Jim, can be a bit temperamental he walks with the zoo ranger, there were just two spaces to book - one space had already been taken so we were lucky to get the other one.  They were waiting for us at the zoo ...

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

GDPR compliance

If you're living in the EU (and this includes the UK for now, despite our Brexit negotiations), you have probably heard about GDPR.

These are new regulations which come into force on 25 May and improve protection of our personal data - it means that amongst other things, companies can't pass on our email addresses to "selected third parties" without saying who those third parties are, they can't ask for information that doesn't relate to what you are signing up for (eg, asking for your ethnic origin or religious persuasion when entering a competition to win a coffee maker unless it's relevant) and that we have the right to ask for our data to be deleted from a company's files if we don't want them to be in contact with us any more.

These regulations also affect people like me who have a subscriber email list and so I have to ask you to update your information to confirm that you want to stay on the list to receive blog post updates, or to unsubscribe if you don't.  That actually makes a lot of sense to me with or without GDPR as I never want to send anybody anything that that will just clutter up their inbox :)  

I've sent out an email to everyone on my mailing list to ask you to update your profile and I'm obliged to delete anybody off my list who's not responded by 25 May - sometimes this email goes into spam folders so if you think you've not received it, please could you check your spam/junk folder just to make sure that it's not in there.  

Not your usual kind of blog post from me, but an important one.  Normal service will be resumed very shortly :) 

Update - 10.05.18 : Don't worry if you didn't get an email, it could be that your update email comes from Feedburner which is a different mailing list so you won't have got one as the email I sent came from Mailchimp.  Wherever your email comes from, you can still update your preferences by clicking either the "update preferences" or "unsubscribe" links at the bottom of the emails so you can still be up to date :)

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Winwick Mum 3rd birthday giveaway results

Wow wow wow!

Thank you so much for all of your comments and birthday wishes on the Sockalong's birthday on Thursday!  Thank you, too, for taking the time to tell me more than just the number of pairs of socks you've knitted - I absolutely loved reading all the comments and it gave me a real feel for how knitting socks is just part of life for so many people - I think we have to feel sorry for those who haven't cottoned (or yarned) on yet! :)

Well now, on to the reason that we're all here - the giveaway results!  Let me remind you of the two prizes that were in the birthday giveaway this year:

Both have a signed copy of Super Socks and an enamel Winwick Mum Sockalong badge.  There's a ball of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in each too, a set of stitch markers and either a spinning yarn holder or an 80cm circular needle.  Whether you're a beginner or an experienced knitter, you should be able to make good use of all of this!

Before I tell you who's won, I'm going to tell you about the pairs of socks that were knitted this year ...

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Winwick Mum Sockalong 3rd birthday

Happy birthday to you, 
Happy birthday to you, 
Happy birthday dear Sockalong, 
Happy birthday to you!

I'm absolutely thrilled to be writing this on the Sockalong's 3rd birthday.  Three whole years of the sock tutorials helping beginners to get that first pair of socks on their feet - that's definitely something to be celebrated, I would say!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Monthly Musing - April 2018 - Living your best life

Big daughter’s mantra at the moment is “Live your best life”. It’s a good mantra and one that I am happy to adopt for myself, although I am less pleased when she whispers it into the dog’s ears and he thinks that means it’s OK for him to commandeer the sofa when he knows perfectly well that he’s not allowed on it. 

What is it, then, your best life?  Is it the same for everyone? Is your best life the same as my best life?Do we all want the same things at the end of the day? Probably not, and it probably doesn’t matter either, as long as we all feel that we are able to live a true and fulfilling version of our lives. I think “living your best life” is about taking the time to look around and see if what you have really is what you want, and if it isn’t then why not? 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Plotting and planning

After years of working in offices, I never forget to be grateful for the way that my life has changed to allow me to firstly work as a gardener and be outside in the fresh air, and now to be based at home working with my husband in his business and writing and knitting as Winwick Mum.

Today, the sun is shining and I have moved my office outside.  I'm trying to remember to drink more water (which is great, except that I keep needing to go to the loo!) and out of the corner of my eye I can see the washing gently waving on the washing line and the bees buzzing around the flowers.  One of the cats is sunning herself on the bench whilst the other has taken up residence in an empty planter.  He thinks that if he shuts his eyes and he can't see you, then you can't see him despite the fact that he's the oddest-looking furry plant in the garden.

Sunday, 15 April 2018


Hellooo!  How are you doing on this Sunday afternoon?  I've been out in the garden but the rain has started so I've come in for a while to see if it goes off and thought this would be a good moment for us to catch up.  I hope you've had a lovely week!  

It's back to school for us tomorrow; I've stopped asking small daughter if she's finished her homework yet as I just get a wave of the hand and some vague muttering whenever I do, so I've decided to let her get on with it and face the music if she's not done it.  I don't miss having to do homework at all so I can understand why she'd put it off - but I also remember leaving it till the last minute and that's not fun at all!

Anyway, let me show you what I've been up to this morning.  I've been cutting the grass (gardening is all about illusion - people will only focus on what you show them, so if you ever need to impress quickly, cut the grass first!) and ripping out more miles of ivy.  I've got nettles growing up in between it now so they've been coming out too.  Don't let anyone tell you that spring nettles don't have much of a sting because that's not true!  I also found some treasures ...

The Magnolia stellata (star magnolia) is finally in flower - it's a few weeks later than usual but is making up for it with masses of beautiful fragrant blooms ...

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Easter holidays

We're half way through small daughter's school Easter holidays, and we've got plenty done.  There has been bedroom tidying (long-overdue), Easter egg eating (there has to be some reward for the bedroom tidying!), and plenty of outdoors-ing, thanks to the weather not being as bad as it could be.

I've been able to persuade small daughter to come on some longer walks with the dog and me (mostly, I suspect, because if she's out with me she's not having to tidy her room), and Thursday was a great day for it.  We saw blue skies and even some sunshine - oh, doesn't it feel wonderful to feel it on your face? - and everywhere there were signs of spring.

Saturday, 31 March 2018


According to the Greek philosopher, "Nature abhors a vacuum"; in other words, an empty space will always be filled.  I'm not so impressed with this in my garden when a recently cleared border is suddenly full of weeds, apparently overnight, but it does work very well in other situations.  Situations such as the Lyme and Wood Pits Country Park in Haydock, for example, where the dog and I walk every now and again.  It's been created on an old landfill site and now, instead of lorries and rubbish, there are paths, woods and fishing ponds.

Part of it is still a landfill site, although apparently it will be brought into the country park in the future when the works have stopped.  Those big hills in the background are topsoil, part of the current landfill, and presumably will disappear over time as the soil is removed by the big lorries that still come in and out of the site.

Lyme and Wood Pits Country Park

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Monthly Musing - March 2018 - Spoiler alert

I spend a lot of time on social media, in my own Winwick Mum Facebook groups (here and here) and in others, and also on Instagram where I love to see the stream of photos of socks (what else?) and other crafty creations.  It’s definitely a time-stealer, but also an educator, a communicator and an inspiration.

What I have noticed recently, in all the social media groups I follow, is a lot of “spoiler alert” postings.  This is where someone talks about or shows photos of something that will potentially spoil the surprise for someone else if they look at them.  Sometimes the photos are in the comments so that you can only find them if you go looking, but sometimes they are part of the post and you can’t avoid them.  I have mixed feelings about these: on the one hand, I absolutely understand the excitement of someone who wants to share something and has no one else around them who will appreciate it, but on the other, by sharing their photos or comments they are taking away that moment of excitement from somebody else.  Of course, by writing “spoiler alert” in the post title then it means that people don’t have to read if they don’t want to, but not everybody remembers to do that when they are posting or to hide their photos in the comments, so that option is not always available.  It’s a tough one and I can appreciate both sides of this argument – and sometimes it does cause an argument as people can become upset by seeing something that they didn’t want to see.

Saturday, 24 March 2018


Phew, what a busy week it's been!  I was away for a few days last weekend and as much as I loved and appreciated the rest, it does take a few more days to get back into the swing of things, doesn't it?  This week seems to have passed by in a blur of laundry (why does it seem to be a rule that however long you go away for, there's always six weeks' worth of washing to do when you come back?), dog walking (he was sulking when I came home so I've needed to make it up to him), knitting (because four days away with nothing else to do other than knit just isn't enough time) and planning (there's nothing like a bit of distance to give you perspective!).  

This morning, small daughter was out at an event so I decided not to waste my time driving home and back and instead sat with my knitting in a cafe and watched the world go by.  I had a lot of practice at doing that last weekend but it's one of those skills that unless we work on them, it's easy to lose and we get fooled into thinking that we should be rushing about instead.  I'm doing quite well at not rushing so much this year, although it is only March (nearly April) so I'm going to reserve judgement on whether I've really got the hang of it or not.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Yarn Shop Day and British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2018

I've got a couple of exciting things to tell you about today ... firstly Yarn Shop Day is going to be on Saturday 12 May this year and it's not far off!  Things are really starting to get into gear now for the shops themselves and also for Let's Knit magazine who organise Yarn Shop Day.

Yarn Shop Day is an annual event which celebrates our bricks and mortar yarn shops.  There is nothing wrong at all in online stores - indeed, where would we be sometimes without them - but this is a day to celebrate all those who get up in the morning, battle to work in all weathers and open up their shops so that these little havens of wooliness are available for us to squish all kinds of yarny goodness, learn new skills, meet up with friends (some of whom we haven't met yet) and generally fill up our well-being tanks without the obligation of emptying our purses - although you and I both know that it's an unspoken rule that you never leave a yarn shop empty-handed :) 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


The snow came out of nowhere last Thursday; we opened the curtains and there it was.  It may have been on the weather forecast but we hadn't listened to it so it was quite a surprise to see the snow falling heavily and what's more, sticking to the ground.  Small daughter kept checking the school website but much to her disgust, the school was open.  I think it will take a lot more snow before she gets the day off!

The dog and I headed out for a walk at a different park - Lyme and Wood Pits Country Park at Haydock which is a short drive away.  It's been created on a landfill site which in turn was created following the closure of Wood Pit, the last colliery in Haydock, and although it's not a huge site, it's a good place to take the dog for a change.  I discovered quite early on that it's good to vary the time and place of our walk each day otherwise he gets a bit over-confident and tends to make up his own route - often without checking that I'm following!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Mother's Day 2018

"Mothering Sunday is about love, so today is a day when we give thanks for those who have loved us, who love us still and care for us, whoever they are.  It can be a day of happiness and sadness, but always it is about love."

Canon June, St Oswald's Church, Winwick

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


It snowed last Tuesday.  After waiting all winter, the white stuff finally arrived in Winwick and I was a very happy Mum.  We didn't get as much as other parts of the country (I'm starting to become convinced that Winwick is situated over a hitherto-unknown volcanic hotspot and not, as was suggested, that it is anything at all to do with the fumes from our poorly Aga) and my heart goes out to those who are still recovering from days of being snowed in, water stand pipes and lack of heating.  However, we did get enough to properly walk in rather than just admire from the window so I was straight outdoors with the dog.  

Friday, 2 March 2018

Magazine knitting patterns

Have you ever wondered about the knitting patterns that you see in magazines?  About who the designers are, how they get their patterns into the magazines, who actually chooses which patterns are published?

Sometimes you open the magazine and you want to knit everything that's inside.  Sometimes you don't, but more often than not there are a few things that will catch your eye from a wide variety of projects that make it worth the trip to the shops to buy the magazine.  I've heard people muttering about the price of magazines but when you think that you'll pay anything from £3 for an individual pattern (and considerably more, sometimes, if you have a look around the Ravelry store) then a magazine is very good value.  You might not like every pattern every time - but then you might not win with every lottery ticket that you buy and it doesn't stop you buying more, does it? ;)

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Monthly Musing - February 2018 - Making the best of it

Our Aga turned itself off very suddenly last week.  It has been known to do this (although thankfully not often) and usually the only indication is a bad smell in the kitchen before a flurry of activity shutting down the fuel supply and opening the windows.  Aga owners will nod their heads wisely and agree that Agas can be temperamental and this kind of thing can happen, whilst those who don’t have them will shake their heads in disbelief and wonder how I can have given my heart to a lump of blue metal that causes chaos in our kitchen when something goes wrong.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Half Term London weekend

It seems almost incredible that a whole week has gone by since it was small daughter's half term holiday and we spent the last few days of it in London.  She'd been quite poorly at the start of the week, then made a miraculous recovery and it was if the days spent in bed had never happened as we set off on the train for the capital.

It's such an easy journey to London for us here from Warrington; two hours and we're there - it takes less time than to get there than to some places that are closer in distance!  My husband is often there for work but I don't go that often (the last time was in October with Lucy) so it always feels like quite an adventure.  Another adventure was finding the apartment that we were staying in; big daughter came with us and it's not really practical to try to squish us all into the one room these days.  It's also considerably cheaper to rent one apartment for a couple of nights than two hotel rooms, and we had more space so it worked out very well.  

The girls and I had the day to ourselves on Friday as my husband was working, so I had them up and out early.  The first place on their wish list was Camden Lock.  It was funny that they wanted to go there as it was the place where Lucy and I chose to spend our few hours in London in October.  This time, instead of walking, we took the Tube and felt very cosmopolitan as we zoomed our way around London far beneath the streets, hopping from one train to the next as if we did this all the time. 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Socks ... for a change!

It's always exciting when a new sock yarn is launched and this week saw the arrival of the new Florist collection from West Yorkshire Spinners.  It's part of their Signature 4ply range and not specifically a sock yarn at all but is perfect for all kinds of projects - it's just that I am ever-so-slightly obsessed with socks and tend to look at yarns with my sock-obsession spectacles on and never consider knitting anything else!

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the yarn earlier in the year - but of course I left it until the last possible moment before casting on and have spent the last two days with sparks flying off my needles so that I would have something to show you today.  If nothing else, I'm impressed with how fast I can knit sometimes! :)

These are the colours that WYS sent me.  Aren't they pretty?  They're called Violet (on the left) and Foxglove (on the right) but I think you could probably have guessed that! 

Monday, 12 February 2018


February's a funny month, isn't it?  Unless you've got a birthday or you're waiting for a Valentine's card, nothing much seems to happen; the most exciting thing for us at the moment is that small daughter is on her school half-term holiday but she's poorly so we're keeping our fingers crossed that anything we had planned is still going to be able to go ahead.

Outside, there has finally been a sprinkling of snow but not enough on the grass to make a snowball, never mind build a snowman - and anyway, small daughter is wrapped up in bed and hasn't even noticed.  She's snuggled up in my bed with me and one of the cats (the magic purr is always essential when you're under the weather); I'm catching up on blog-reading and drinking tea, being grateful for school holidays which mean that you don't have to get up and rush about (even though it's miserable to be poorly in the holidays).

Wednesday, 7 February 2018


Brr, it's cold!  The temperature has suddenly dropped this week and I've been eagerly watching the weather reports in case there's any chance of the white stuff landing in Winwick.  Google is still being very polite and telling me "No, there is no chance of snow in Winwick" without adding "you stupid woman, stop asking me!" although I am sure that it's robot-y mind is thinking that.

It was a Skipton Day yesterday and I headed up the motorway to Yorkshire to see my friend Lucy, well wrapped up against the freezing weather.  Turning out of our driveway, I had to stop for a moment because there, landing very gently on the windscreen, were snowflakes.  Snow!!  I resisted the temptation to shout "You know nothing, Google, do you hear me, nothing!" and instead grinned my way all the way up through Lancashire to Yorkshire whilst around the car the snowflakes danced and swirled.  I watched the snowflakes dancing and swirling all day out of Lucy's Studio window, but they didn't stick - perhaps just as well, but you can imagine that there might have been a little secret part of me that wouldn't have minded being snowed in up there in Skipton.

If you've ever read Lucy's blog then you'll be familiar with the hill that she can see from her Attic window - this is what it looked like yesterday as I went to get back into my car ... carefully disguised as a snowy cloud!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Visit to Woolaballoo, Durham

Saturday morning, 6.49am, and I was at Newton-le-Willows station, just a few minutes' drive from Winwick.  It was raining (for a change) and you may be wondering what I was doing here at this unearthly hour.  I must confess that I did ask myself the same question when the alarm went off at 5.30am, but once I was up the excitement kicked in and I was glad to be there.

I was on my way to Langley Park, near Durham in the North East of England, to visit Woolaballoo yarn shop and - hopefully - lots of sock knitters!  Lucy, who owns the shop, had asked if I'd be able to make a trip up to the North East as she runs regular learn-to-knit-socks classes at her shop and knew there were more than a few knitters in the local area who would be glad to meet up and talk socks.  It's not always easy to fit yarn shop visits in around everything else that I do but knowing that I'm going to spend the day in good yarny company always makes them worthwhile!

It takes about 3 hours on the train to get from Newton to Durham, so there was plenty of time to knit, listen to podcasts and watch the landscape change from the industrial North West to Yorkshire towns with steep streets and mills to the flat fields of Wearside.  I don't think you can beat a train journey for the constantly changing view!

Once in Durham, Lucy picked me up from the station and we drove the short distance to Langley Park.  It's only about 4 miles from the city centre which makes it ideal for people who don't want to go into the city and also for Lucy as it means that the money she makes in the shop funds more stock rather than high city rents.  It's not easy being a shop owner these days, so anything that can help is very welcome!  I was very excited that we were going to Langley Park as it is mentioned in the album name of one of my favourite teenage bands, Prefab Sprout - I love going to places that are mentioned in songs!

Woolaballoo is situated in a small courtyard of shops named, appropriately ...

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

Once through the huge wrought iron gates, you turn the corner and there it is!

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham
Can you tell it was a windy day? :)

It truly feels as if you've discovered something secret, "a hidden gem" more than a few people called it during the day.  And it really is!  Once inside the doorway, you realise that there's more to this shop than you'd think on first impressions; it's much bigger on the inside than you'd expect.  High vaulted ceilings add to the sense of space and light ... 

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

It's not so over-crowded with stock that you can't see what you're looking for, but there's plenty of choice - and lots and lots of sock yarn!  (And Herdy things - did you notice that I'd spotted them? :) )

There's a lovely big workshop area too - this photo was taken earlier in the day when you could still see the table, but as the day went on the seats around it filled up and the table was piled high with yarns, projects bags and cake - but more about that later!

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

Here's Lucy.  She's super-friendly and chatty, just the kind of person you want to meet in a yarn shop.  She's also passionate about her yarns and selling the products that her customers want to buy, and also about providing ways for them to learn new skills or improve existing ones.  It's what you want from a yarn shop and what sets it apart from an online store - definitely something to be treasured in our current economic climate with so many yarn shops closing down.

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

The day was planned as a "sock clinic" plus book signing (I really must practice my handwriting, I'm sure it gets worse the more I do, not better!) and it fabulous to meet so many people and their socks!  I even saw some crocheted socks which were very pretty and didn't look bulky as many of them can do (the pattern was in Simply Crochet issue 67 for anyone who'd like to know) and I absolutely loved spending the day indulging my sock obsession - and possibly encouraging a few more people to start their own :)  

It's always hard to take photos when you're in the thick of a busy day, but at one point it was pretty much standing room only which just goes to show what a sociable lot we knitters are; the shop was filled with the chatting of not one but two knit n natter groups, first-time visitors, people meeting each other from the Winwick Mum Facebook groups and shop regulars.  It was fab!

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

Do you want to see something else that was fab?  As well as me taking along my Sockalong badges, Lucy had made some especially for my visit.  Well, how posh did that make me feel?!  I was very proud to wear both of my badges (and a couple more that she had made too!) and they'll be going onto my project bag so that I can remember the day.  Lucy makes her own badges and you're definitely spoilt for choice

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

There were more than a few clues that sock knitters were visiting for the day - sock yarns a-plenty, needles, and these ...

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

Woolaballoo, Langley Park, Durham

and if you look closely, you'll notice that there are a lot of West Yorkshire Spinners yarns included in the sock display - Janice, the regional sales rep from WYS was also there and it was great to be able to chat to her, and for shop customers to be able to ask someone really in the know about the yarns and the mill.

Oh, and you must see this!  Remember that I mentioned cake?  Look at this!  Woolly icing (cake pop) sheep and tiny icing flowers ...

and more sheep ... and socks!

Cake made for Woolaballoo by Sugar and Sponge Cake Company

Isn't that a fabulous cake?!  It was made especially for my visit by the very talented Jane of the Sponge and Sugar Cake Company and underneath all that icing was a lemon poppyseed cake - oh, I love lemon cake!  So, it appeared, did everyone else because by the time I was ready to go home, there really wasn't very much of it left at all!  

Badges, cake, lots of people to say hello too ... I was very spoilt, and my thanks go out to Lucy (and Nichola and Victoria) for looking after me and also to everyone who made the long journey worthwhile by coming to say hello.

I'm going to leave you with a video made by Mara which is a great overview of the day we had (and you can see just how much cake was left!) and which might encourage you to pop along to Woolaballoo if you're in the area!


Oh, and this picture too ...  I love this :) 

Woolaballoo, The Dartmoor Suite, The Courtyard, Front Street, Langley Park, Durham, DH7 9XE,