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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Circular needle organiser

I've had it in my mind for a long time now that I need a better way to store my knitting needles, especially now that I have commission projects on the go as well as my own knitting and can never find needles when I want them.  This is what I've made - and I'm so pleased with the result!

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Blooming garden!

Another week speeding past!  I hope you've had a good one!  No trips on trains for me this week, although I have been out and about in the car quite a bit - sadly, no knitting on the move for me this week, though, as I've been driving! 

One of my out-and-about trips was to meet up with one of my oldest friends (oldest as in I've known her a long time, not that she's ancient!) and we always end up talking gardens; we took our gardening qualifications at the same time many years ago and both set up our own businesses at a similar time so we have a close gardening connection as well as having been close friends for many years.  This particular visit saw us both be-moaning the fact that our gardens are not as beautifully kept these days as we would like and making plans to do something about it.  

I've come home full of inspiration and good intentions, and found these dahlias flowering in the textured pot that I bought specially to foil the snails.  Hooray, it looks like it's worked!  I haven't grown dahlias for years and I am so happy to see these.  It looks like there are some smaller ones coming through at the bottom so it'll be interesting to see if anything comes of those too. 

Friday, 5 July 2019

Breakfast, trains and walks in the woods

Hello!  How are you doing?  It's lovely to see you! 

I've had a busy week as per usual (well, I would be bored otherwise), which got off to a splendid start as I spent it with my best bloggy friends.  We get together a couple of times a year to chat, share ideas and generally check in to make sure that we're doing OK; it's as close to a "work's do" that we get and it suits us very well.  We met up in Manchester on Saturday and found ourselves at this smashing place for breakfast on Sunday morning, with a table big enough to spread our yarn and projects out on and still have room for poached eggs on toast.

You might recognise this bloggy friend in the picture as she's taking a photo for her own blog ...

No?  She's doing a bit of crochet in this photo ...

It's Lucy, of course, working on her lamp post wraps for Yarndale!  And Emma (who is actually knitting socks, not whizzing up some fantastically quirky crochet cacti).  We were very spoilt with the weather and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves sitting outside until it was time to say goodbye and head off for our respective trains.

You'll see in the top photo that I've been working on the grey and pink socks.  I was on a mission to get them finished.  Do you find sometimes that you just want to get a project off your needles, not because you're not enjoying it but because it's starting to feel that it's outstaying it's welcome?  These socks needed to be on their new owner's feet, not languishing on my needles, so I decided to make a concerted effort to get them done over the weekend.

I didn't quite manage it over the weekend, but I took the train on Monday morning to an appointment that I needed to go to and made the most of the knitting time.  

By the time I reached my stop, I had finished the toes and finished my tea.  Hooray!  

Back home, the socks were soon blocking on the Aga (so many uses for this oven!) ...

and finally they were finished and now they are on their way to their brand new sock drawer.

Which means, of course, that I've got a set of needles free to start something else.  Well c'mon, don't you ever cast on something new and ignore all the WIPS shouting in the background?  I'm very good at doing that!

This bright blue is Bubblegum, another West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, and I had a lovely time sitting in the sunshine with my cup of tea and listening to the bees as they buzzed in the foxglove flowers.

I've also got an update on the Something in the peas.  I mentioned before that I was going to try digging over the patch to try to discourage whatever it is and I did that.  I also put down some cat repellent granules (just in case it didn't like those) and dumped a load of grass cuttings into the hole.  

They haven't moved and it's been a week now, so whatever made the big hole underneath the grass hasn't come back (or come out) and there are some other signs of digging but nothing like the holes of before.  I suspect it might be the gardening cat that has finished re-arranging my beans and is now looking for a handy toilet - urgh.

This morning, the dog and I went for a walk around Winwick village.  There aren't too many places that I can let him off for a run here as he's got no road sense whatsoever despite my best efforts, so I tend to alternate where we go for our walks so that sometimes he can go off his lead and other times, such as this morning, he has to stay on it for longer.

I've lived in this village for nearly 16 years and I don't think I've ever stopped to look at this view from this angle before.  It's surprising what you can see when you're not in a car, sometimes, isn't it?

I like this view too, of all the flowers growing over the stone walls with the church spire in the background.  This is one of my favourites, and I love to see the flowers change with the seasons.

I never get tired of seeing our church.  I love the colour of the stone, the carvings, the fact that it has it's very own legend of a pig, and that it's so old it's mentioned in the Domesday book.  I like history, I like walking in the footsteps of people long gone and I like that there is so many years of continuity of life in our village.

Just next to the church is our local pub, The Swan.  It's had a re-furb recently and all of those blue umbrellas that you can see are new.  Now we just need the sunshine so that people can sit outside!

It was too early for a pint so the dog and I carried on walking and went to Winwick Park this morning.  It used to be the site of Winwick Hospital, at one point one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Europe and a military hospital in both World Wars, but is now a housing estate with a wide swathe of grass around the outside edge.  It's a reasonably safe place for a dog with no road sense to run (although he has caught me out and doubled back to dance in front of the cars before now; never a fun game), and he was very pleased to be able to explore all the smells before it was too warm for us to be out.

There's a wood at one part of the park where we can take a detour off the grass and into the lush greenery of the trees.  This morning, we saw horses being walked past to another field.  Winwick's a funny place; on the one hand you could be miles away from anywhere out in the middle of country with horses and corn fields, and yet we're only a couple of miles from both the M6 and M62 motorways and the traffic noise is a constant backdrop to our walk.  For us, it's the best of both worlds and we love living here. 

By the time we reached the wood, the sun had broken through the clouds and was filtering through the leaves.

There's something so inviting about a sun-dappled path, isn't there?  The dog was getting impatient at me admiring the patches of light so I followed him along the path and back out of the wood so that we could start for home.  It was already getting very warm so I was glad that we had set out early.  The only hot dogs should be ones cooked on a BBQ!

Back home, I've been working on the two at a time sock tutorial that I promised you in my last post about this year's Yarndale Sock Line.  It's been wonderful to know that so many of you are planning to join in - thank you very much!  Creating tutorials is slow going, especially when you're taking pictures as well as trying to record video, but I'll get it done as quickly as I can.

This is the result of a pretty much a whole day's work - it really doesn't look much, does it?  I'd love to tell you that I did all of this in about 20 minutes then spent the rest of the day lolling about with my feet up, but sadly, that wouldn't be true.  Anyway, I'll get on with as soon as I can and let you know when there's something to see 😀.

Right then, I think that's everything for now - oh no, wait, there's one more thing.  I did another video at Black Sheep Wools the other week with my friend Lynne Rowe - it's a conversation about mindful knitting and crochet and it's up on YouTube now if you'd like to take a look.

Have a lovely week, I'll see you soon!

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Yarndale Sock Line 2019

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!

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Half way through

How on earth can we be half way through the year already?  It was the Summer Solstice last Friday (nearly a week ago!) and it always makes me a little melancholy to think that the long light nights will be getting a little shorter every day.

After a busy day on Monday, I took myself outside to sit on the grass and listen to the birdsong for a short while.  It's not something I often do in the early evening; I usually feel that I need to clear off all my jobs for the day before sitting down, but small daughter was chatting to a friend on her phone and everybody else was out so I decided to break with convention for once!

Accompanying me was a bottle of Fentiman's Dandelion and Burdock (I "forgot" that nobody else liked it when I bought it for a picnic over the weekend 😀) and a bowl of oven chips and hash browns (because we'd run out of chips) as I just fancied them.  "A bit of what you fancy does you good every now and again," my Nan used to say.  I don't drink much pop these days but D&B was always my favourite when I was younger, along with the bright green American cream soda (why was it green?!) and Creamola Foam (which I seem to remember we could only buy in Scotland) - I shudder now to think of what was in those!

I shared this picture on Instagram and along with lots of comments about how D&B was a firm favourite for other people too, I discovered that you can get an alcoholic version made by Hoopers, and there are lots of other drinks that I "need" to try out too!  That's my summer beverages sorted!

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Monthly Musing - June 2019 - Good intentions

I’ve been going to a new yoga class with big daughter.  It’s run by one of the teachers whom big daughter has got to know through her university yoga society, and having been to a few classes now, I can see why she is keen for us to keep attending.  “I want you to feel better when you leave than you did when you arrived,” she says, and we do.

One of the things that I like best about the class is that right at the beginning, the teacher asks everyone to set an intention for themselves.  Not a “when I get home I’m going to do all the ironing, cut the grass, write 15 blog posts and knit all the pairs of socks hiding in project bags” kind of intention, but more to do with balance and flow in our lives.  She encourages us to think about what might be out of balance (you’ve only got to look at that earlier sentence to see that my to-do list compared to my sit-and-rest list might be a bit out of kilter!) or what might not be flowing quite right.  It’s a moment for reflection and it’s probably just as well that we’re all sitting there with our eyes shut as it always makes me rather emotional!  The idea is that you carry the intention with you for the rest of the day; something calm to help you deal with the to-do list that you go back to.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Don't You Want Me Socks - free pattern

Have you ever heard of the online magazine called Knitty?  It's the longest-running free knitting magazine on the internet (it's been around since 2002) and each issue has some fantastic patterns by some fantastic designers, articles, knitting technique help and lots of other stuff too.  It's well worth a look!  It's funded through Patreon and I've been a supporter for several years now (you can see my Patron badges at the bottom of the right hand side bar) - I think it's amazing that we have free access to this information, and free patterns from designers that I've always admired too, and I am glad that my contribution will help it continue.

It's long been an ambition of mine to be able to write a pattern that I thought was good enough to submit to Knitty, and for Knitty to think that it was just the right sort of thing for them to publish.  I'm super-proud to tell you that a brand new free Winwick Mum pattern is available in the latest edition of Knitty - the link is here.  Called "Don't You Want Me", they are inspired by the bright colours of the 1980s (and yes, that is a song title as the sock name - you're going to be singing it for weeks as I have been!) and are intarsia socks similar to the Patchwork Socks and Flow Through Socks.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Seven days

How has it been a week already?

Diolch yn fawr (thank you very much) for all of your comments on my last post, and on my beginnings of learning Welsh.  I've found the course quite hard going this week, but apparently that's all part of the process and I just need to keep going syth umlaen (straight on).  What I have discovered is that I'm very good at remembering random words but not always so great at putting them together in a sentence, but I'm hoping that's because it's all still quite new and I have to think a lot about what I'm trying to say.  Anyway, you can look forward to random Welsh words in blog posts now! 😀

If you remember in my last post, I told you about Something that was eating my beans and a cat with aspirations to be a vegetable gardener re-arranging the plants.  There has been a Development, with a capital D.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

A Wet Wednesday in Winwick

Well hello to you!  It's a wet and miserable Wednesday here in Winwick (how's that for at attempt at some midweek alliteration?!) and I'm very glad that I took the dog for a walk earlier on.  Thank you so much for all your comments on my last post - I'm delighted you enjoyed coming to Chester with us, and thank you for all the suggestions and recipes for big daughter too - we're both very grateful to you for taking the time to write!  Today, I'm sitting here with my photos from the weekend and remembering that it didn't rain all the time ...

It did rain quite a lot on Saturday, though.  Saturday was World Wide Knit in Public Day and also West Yorkshire Spinners day at Black Sheep Wools, my lovely local yarn shop.  There were lots of samples of garments and accessories for people to see and yarn to squish. Richard, the Sales and Marketing Director from WYS, gave talks on the company and the breeds of sheep fleece they use in their yarns, with more fleece to squish (it was a very squishy kind of day!).  I was there to talk socks and so was my talented crochet toy designer friend Emma Varnam, who designed the Bo Peep Great Adventures toys (these are so lovely with their matching clothes for children).  

Yes, Emma is knitting a sock - she's using WYS Winwick Mum Wildflower!

We had a lovely time chatting to customers and to each other, eating the cake from the Black Sheep Wools cafe (mmm ... lemon and blueberry, my new favourite!) and generally having a very nice time.  

Thursday, 6 June 2019

After the holidays ...

Small daughter went back to school after a week off on holiday last week and oh boy, there's so much to catch up on!  I was looking through photos and realised that there are so many - the time goes so fast!  I've not uploaded everything that I photographed, but do be warned there are a LOT of pictures in this post!

Over the holidays, we managed a rare family day out in Chester with a walk along the walls with the dog and Sunday lunch in a lovely dog-friendly pub.

I love walking the Chester walls; it's such a fascinating timeline - the original walls are Roman, overlooking what was once a port ...

Chester walls

Monday, 3 June 2019

WYS Winwick Mum yarn giveaway update

I'm still looking for the last winner of the Winwick Mum yarn giveaway prize - this is the last call for Bevk!

If Bevk hasn't been in touch by Friday 7 June, then I'll re-draw from the entries to the original giveaway so that the yarn and pattern book can find a home! 😀

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Calcite Socks - free pattern and tutorial

It's a long Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and what better time to cast on a new pair of socks?

Calcite socks, free pattern at Winwick Mum blog

This pair was designed for the new leaf yarns Alpaca/Bluefaced Leicester/Teeswater 4ply no-nylon blend that I reviewed in my last post - I didn't want to knit plain socks and was feeling the need for some simple cables.  Oh, I do love a cable!  

They're called Calcite, named after the mineral that is found abundantly all over the world.  Although colourless when pure, Calcite can be found in many hues and it also possesses the unusual feature of always breaking into the same shape when the stone is cut.  These rose-grey socks are certainly not colourless and when you look closely, are subtle shades of the undyed fleece of Nicky the alpaca and the sheep which were blended into this yarn.  The cable shapes aren't quite the same rhomboid shape that is a feature of cut Calcite, but they are regular in shape and surely a bit of artistic license is allowed? 😀

Sunday, 19 May 2019

No-nylon sock yarn review - New Leaf Yarns Alpaca blend 4ply

It's been a long time since I wrote a no-nylon sock yarn review and I am VERY late in reviewing this yarn from new leaf yarns (I bought and knitted it back in 2017 but fortunately it's still available!).  

I decided that I wanted to create my own pattern for this yarn, and these are my Calcite socks - I'll be sharing the pattern another day for these easily-knitted cabled socks.

Calcite Socks, free pattern at Winwick Mum blog

Before I start the review, there are a couple of things that you need to know:
  • I used to be really tough on my no-nylon socks because I felt that they should be able to stand up to the rigours of being worn as well as socks containing nylon.  My view on this has changed now - my belief now is that no-nylon yarns have their own qualities which make them different from commercially-produced yarns and to try to compare them as the same thing doesn't work.  I have learnt that no-nylon socks just don't last as long as ones with nylon in (on my feet anyway - I have pokey toes, see below) but the pleasure of knitting and wearing them is different to other yarns and they should be appreciated for that.  
  • I still expect no-nylon sock yarns to be good value for money - after all, it's no good saying a yarn is suitable for socks if it wears through after one outing! 
  • Being tough with my socks means that they'll get worn for a few days at a time; there's less need to wash natural fibre socks anyway even though we're in the habit of wearing our socks once and then washing them - you don't see sheep showering all the time, do you? 😀It also means they'll be worn in boots on long dog walks whatever the weather and will probably go into the washing machine because that's how most people choose to wash their socks - although painful experience has taught me that the dial goes no higher than a 30 degree hand wash!  (No point in experimenting unless you learn something, eh? 😀 )
  • I've got pokey toes so unless I reinforce the toes of my socks, there's a good chance that I'm going to go through them faster than many other people - this isn't always helpful in a yarn trial but on the plus side, I can test that aspect out more quickly! 😀 

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Monthly Musing - May 2019 - Words

“This is how I have heard what you’ve just said, did you mean it to sound like that?”

One of the conversations that we have had more than once with both our girls as they have been (and still are) negotiating teenage social conversations is to think about how their words are heard by someone else.  This might sound like an odd conversation to have with your teenage daughter, but it’s one that we’ve felt has been important over the years; a variation of “think before you speak”.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Looking back

Well hello to you!  It feels like an inordinately long time since I wrote a post about everyday stuff instead of about yarn or giveaways, so I thought that today I'd do a quick catch up post.

When I came to upload all the photos that I've been storing on my phone from the last couple of weeks, there were tons of them - but you'll be pleased to know that I'm not going to make you look at them all!   I was quite surprised by just how many there were, but it's been a nice reminder for me that there have been moments worth photographing instead of just having my head down and getting on with stuff!

💚 In the garden

Marigolds (Calendula officinalis) have been in bud for a long time and they're all opening now that we've got a bit of sunshine.  Oh, I do love their sunny faces!  I usually have orange ones in the garden but for some reason these ones are yellow - quite probably a different variety as I will grow any marigold seeds I can get my hands on!

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Winwick Mum Sockalong 4th birthday giveaway results

Well, here I am with the results of another birthday giveaway!  Thank you so much for all your lovely comments and for letting me know how many pairs of socks you've knitted.  It's fantastic to see so many new sock knitters as well as those of you who are still using the Sockalong pattern for your socks.  I love that the pattern works so well for you!

So, onto the important part - who has won?  Firstly, let me remind you of this year's prizes.  There are two of them:

They both comprise of a signed copy of Super Socks, a large mug decorated with rabbits with tea, coffee and hot chocolate so that we can have a brew together whilst we're knitting, a bag of Cadbury's Nibbly Fingers (mmm, soooo good with a cup of tea!), a ball of your choice of the new Winwick Mum yarn colourways (I've shown Hidden Gem and Seascape here but it was up to you to choose) and a specially-made stitch marker by Indi of Front Pocket Studio to match the yarn that you chose.  Oh, and a Winwick Mum Sockalong badge too!  

Before I tell you the winners, though, I'm going to give you an update on the numbers of pairs of socks that have been knitted with the Sockalong basic sock pattern.  This is never going to be an accurate figure as not everybody who has used the pattern will be looking at the blog to add their numbers to the total, but it's a bit of fun for this birthday time of year.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Winwick Mum Sockalong 4th birthday

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

If you're new to the blog, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about and the fact is that four years ago today, I published the first of the Winwick Mum Sockalong tutorials to help beginners knit their own pair of socks, never once imagining what pressing that "publish" button on my blog would start.  

Nope, never ever did I imagine that I would be writing this post and that the Sockalong would have taken on the life that it has.  I never expected that tens of thousands of people would be in the Winwick Mum Sockalong Facebook group, learning and helping each other on a daily basis, or that they would still be chatting in the Knit n Natter Facebook group I certainly never expected that I would have written and published two books (Super Socks is the paperback version of the online tutorials and More Super Socks builds on those skills) or winning awards or that four years later, I would be seeing the Winwick Mum name on the ball bands of my favourite West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply yarn.  

Most of all, I never imagined that those Sockalong tutorials would still be helping so many people in so many countries to knit their first pair of socks four years on.  But oh my life, am I glad that they are!  It's truly amazing to be part of the sock revolution that seems to be sweeping the world now, to be cheering sock-knitting beginners on from the sidelines and to know that the words that were written in my little corner of the world here in Winwick have played such a part.  I love knowing that people are knitting socks for themselves, for others, to support their own health and because it's just a lovely thing to do.  

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Monthly Musing - April 2019 - Date morning

It’s not always easy when you’re rushing around at breakneck speed, but I do try my best to remember that life isn’t always about being in the fast lane but is also about taking the side roads.  I’ve noticed – and perhaps you have too – that there’s a tendency to think “I’ll sit down when I’ve done this” or “I’ll go and see so and so when I’ve got more time” but there’s always one more job to do and never enough time.  Sometimes it takes something big to jolt us out of our complacency that there’s always tomorrow – in my case, I went back to playing the piano after my Mum died having spent years thinking “I’ll have lessons again when I’ve got more time and spare cash”; there was never any more time or spare cash but there’s nothing like a death in the family to remind you that life really is very short and it’s OK to do things just for you from time to time. 

Over this last year, my husband and I have been trying to make sure that we spend more time together.  Being self-employed is wonderful on the one hand but on the other, it can be very hard to switch off and take time out.  Our working days are long and although we loved the idea of going out for date nights to spend time just being us again, the reality was that for a variety of reasons - late meetings, terrible traffic, babysitting issues, general exhaustion at the end of the day, didn’t fancy a meal out, too wet and windy to walk the dog, nothing on at the pictures we wanted to see – none of them insurmountable but all of them sufficient to make it feel more of a chore than we wanted and we just didn’t manage it.  Time ticked by.

Friday, 26 April 2019

WYS Winwick Mum Collection yarn giveaway - results

Hello!  If you read the giveaway post last Friday then it will have felt like a long time to wait until tonight when the draw was made!  Thank you so much to everyone who entered - there were 560 entries which is quite amazing!  I loved reading all of your comments and your lovely words (more tears - there have been so many in this yarn adventure, I'm such a softy!) and which colourway you liked the best - and I always love to know who you're knitting for so thank you too for telling me all about that too!

I really wish that I could have sent you all a prize, but there are just four of them.  Each winner has won a ball of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in the Winwick Mum colourway of their choice, plus a pattern book.   

Friday, 19 April 2019

WYS Winwick Mum Collection yarn - giveaway!

Wow, what a week it's been!  

The Winwick Mum Collection yarn has been arriving in yarn shops all over the world (the world!!) and it's been truly amazing to see the wonderful reactions on social media this week.  💕THANK YOU SO MUCH 💕to you if you're a yarn shop and you're stocking it, or if you're a sock knitter and you've bought it.  I can't wait to see your projects as you knit it up, so do keep tagging me into social media posts or sending me your pictures so that I can see!

Today, I have something super-exciting to share with you ... a giveaway!  Yes!  The lovely peeps at West Yorkshire Spinners have sent me yarn and pattern books for me to give away through the blog which is always a fun thing to be able to do.

Rather than have just one winner, there are going to be FOUR, and I've got a pattern book and a ball of brand new, hot from the mill, Winwick Mum yarn to go with each of them.

The pattern book is beautiful.  It's got the gorgeous photos from the photo shoot and the clever graphics team at WYS have matched up the photos with the inspiration for the yarns that I talked about in this post.  They've even found photos of where I used to go for my childhood holidays, the inspiration for the Seascape yarn!  This makes it feel like a very special book indeed, and one that I know that I would love to look through even if I wasn't a sock knitter.

The book has five patterns in it - one for each of the colours.  There's Wildflower ...

Brightside ...

Hidden Gem ...

and Seascape ...

and a basic sock pattern using each of the four heel flap types from the patterned socks so that you can mix and match the heels.  I love the idea of there being a basic sock pattern in here as well - it makes it a proper go-to book for a knitter's bookshelf, whatever your skill level.  

I've designed all of these patterns for "adventurous beginners".  What's an adventurous beginner?  It's someone who's ready to give it a go, to get their needles out and cast on even if they think that their skills are up to it just yet.  I'd say that you might surprise yourself!  I'm all for creating fearless knitters - after all, what's the worst that can happen?  It's just yarn and pointy sticks and the type of stitches that you may well have knitted many, many times before.  The prize is a pair of socks that you might never have believed you can knit ... well worth the effort, I'd say! 

So, enough of my ramblings, I'm sure you want to know how to get your hands on the book and the yarn!


Just leave me a comment telling me which colour you would like to win.  It's that easy!  If you'd like to tell me who you're going to knit your socks for as well, I'd love to know because I'm nosey, but it's not compulsory 😀.  Just one entry per person, please!  **Don't worry if you don't see your comment come up straight away as there's always a delay whilst comments get checked to make sure they're not spam.  Also, you should be able to post without logging in but don't forget to add your name so that I can contact you if you win!**

I'll make the draw on Friday 29 April 2019 at around 8pm BST so that there's plenty of time for people to see this post, even with the Easter weekend break, and I'll let you know who's won on the blog so the winners can get in touch with me for their prize.  The prize is one ball of yarn and one book per winner, and I'll make the draw using the wizard. 

I'll post anywhere in the world so everybody gets a chance to enter.

Good luck! xx

The giveaway is now closed, thank you so much to everyone who took part, and for your lovely comments!  You can find the results of the draw here.

Monday, 15 April 2019

WYS Winwick Mum Collection yarn - Matching stripes

Hello!  I've written a quick tutorial today on matching the stripes in the Winwick Mum Collection yarn for those of you who - like me - like the stripes on your socks to match.

You can see that the stripes are quite distinctive and also quite different from the other striped yarns that West Yorkshire Spinners have created in their Cocktail and Country Birds collections.  At first glance that might make it look as if this yarn is hard to match but you'll be pleased to know that it's not!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

WYS Winwick Mum Collection yarn - CHSI Stitches trade show

Well hello there!  What are you up to today?  Would you like to come to a trade show with me for a day of yarn giddiness?

It's Sunday 17 February 2019 and the start of the Stitches trade show at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham ... and the official launch day of the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply Winwick Mum Collection!  Is my excitement off the scale?  Oh yes, I think we can safely say that it is! 

The WYS team had been at the NEC for a couple of days setting up and their stand shone like a rainbow amongst all the others ...

The colours hit you as you walked up to the stand, and you couldn't fail to smile when you saw all that rainbow yarniness!

The thing that I love about shows is the effort that exhibitors make to show off their products to the best advantage, and trade shows are no different as companies want to attract stockists and future stockists in to see what they have to offer.  Even if I hadn't been heading in this direction anyway, I'd have been a moth to this colourful flame and there's no way I would have resisted going to look at everything there was to see.

There was one particular section that stopped me in my tracks ...


This was the moment that it hit me that all of this was really real.  Everything that I've told you about before, from the choosing of the colours to knitting the socks to writing the patterns, that was all real too in a different kind of way but seeing my yarns and my socks on that wall - well, it properly took my breath away.  Now the yarn was out of the mill and off the blog page and we were waiting for the stockists to come and look at it in real life to see if they thought their customers would want to buy it.  It's quite a moment, I can tell you!

There were leaflets about the yarn ...

and mini-skeins of it wound up so that people could squish it (are there many other trade shows where it's compulsory to squish the products?) ...

and there it was in the yarn catalogue right alongside the Cocktail colours ...

It was at this point that I realised that folding my arms behind me like a jet plane and zooming round the stand making over-excited "Wheeeeee!" noises might be inappropriate so instead I stood there and tried to take it all in and not show myself up by bursting into tears in the middle of the stand.

Besides, a jet plane might have knocked over the display of socks!

The show doors opened and the hall began to fill up.  Because no products are physically bought and sold at trade shows, it's quite different to somewhere like, say, Yarndale or the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in that it's all much calmer.  There's no rushing to get to a particular stand in case they sell out of something that you want, no elbowing anybody out of the way and the stands are those of companies like WYS rather than smaller independent exhibitors who sell directly to their customers rather than through a stockist.

The WYS stand got busier as the day progressed, and all the sales team were kept occupied.  It was lovely to see so many people who were clearly regular customers of theirs come back to say hello and place new orders - and say hello to me too!  It didn't feel like people were doing business at all, although that was clearly the point of being there!

The trade shows are the places where new products are launched so along with my Signature 4ply yarns, there were other soon-to-be-launched yarns for people to see.  You'll have seen them out in the shops now, but in February at the show, this was the first time that they had been shown in public, and I think it's right that the stockists got to see them first.  WYS have a very good relationship with their stockists and so it's quite natural that they should get the first look - it's why my yarn blog posts have been posted as they have (and also so that I didn't write everything down in one long excited sentence with no breaths or punctuation!) although as my blog readers you've seen a more in-depth version of the story so I don't feel that you've missed out! 😀

There were the new Bo Peep colours and the gorgeous toys designed by my clever friend Emma Varnam with a matching child-sized outfit for every teddy outfit ...

Emma is so talented at giving toys lovely kind faces, I think.  I would have been (and still would be!) very happy to snuggle this bear in her cosy poncho and tell her my secrets.  Oh, and the pattern book that goes along with this collection is absolutely gorgeous ...

Look!  I would have wanted that poncho when I was little - and if only my girls weren't too big now!  

The pattern book is written a little like a story with beautiful illustrations which remind me of the Teddy Robinson story books from when I was little.  If you've never read Teddy Robinson, I highly recommend that you go and have a look (you can read a little of the stories on the Amazon page).  They're perfect for reading aloud to little ones and were favourites of my girls, along with the Milly-Molly-Mandy stories too.  The Teddy Robinson stories were originally written in the 1950s and Milly-Molly-Mandy even earlier in the 1920s so they might seem old-fashioned but the stories give the feel of a gentler age and there's something about them that - I think - appeals even to modern children.

As well as the Bo Peep yarn there was the brand new Colour Lab DK.  More mini skeins ...

Oh, those colours!  They're like sweeties!  I spent a lot of time stroking those mini skeins! 😀

This new yarn is 100% British wool and replaces the Aire Valley DK which contained nylon.  It's a good, sustainable alternative for those who want to knit with pure wool (and, whether consciously or not, reduce their plastic consumption) and I am sure it will be a very successful addition to the range.

I'm in the process of trying it out as a pair of no-nylon socks and I have to say that they've very comfortable to wear - I'll keep you posted with how they cope with my pokey toes!

Here's the Liquorice Rose blanket that I showed you in my last post about the photo shoot in the bottom right hand corner of this photo - but you might not have noticed that because I bet your eye was taken by the fabulous Summer's Dawn Corner to Corner blanket that's hanging up.  Isn't it fabulous?  I saw that at the photo shoot too and loved it the moment I laid eyes on it.

It uses 10 of the 18 new solid colours and is certainly very eye-catching!  It also feels lovely to touch (not itchy at all as you might expect with 100% wool) and - best of all - is very reasonably priced (the yarn for this blanket uses 12 balls of yarn and works out at about £78) so I think that WYS have a hit on their hands!

Now then, did I mention that there was a new range of Signature 4ply launching at the show as well?  I think I might have done ...

What I loved about the display of Winwick Mum Collection yarns is that each colourway sat with four contrast colours.  I hadn't seen them with contrasts before but I think they look great!

This is Brightside ...

with contrasts of Butterscotch, Cayenne Pepper, Juniper and Chocolate Lime.

Here's Seascape ...

with contrasts of Spearmint, Bubblegum, Blueberry Bon Bon and Blue Raspberry.

Wildflower ...

with contrasts of Sweet Pea, Candy Floss, Blackcurrant Bomb and Sarsaparilla.

and finally Hidden Gem ...

with contrasts of Violet, Dusty Miller, Poppy Seed and Milk Bottle.  

I wouldn't have thought of putting grey with the purple but it looks good, doesn't it?

The yarn is expected to be in the shops by Easter weekend (although do phone your LYS first to make sure if you've got a long journey) along with the pattern book containing the five new patterns to go with the yarn.  There is one patterned sock each for the four colours and one basic sock with mix 'n' match heels, and having been involved in the proofing process for the book, I couldn't be prouder of how it's turned out - and I hope you'll like it too!

And that's it - the story of how the Signature 4ply Winwick Mum Collection came about.  It's been enormous fun to do and it's been lovely to have you along for the adventure.  

I'll see you soon!