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.  πŸ’•THANK YOU SO MUCH πŸ’•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 πŸ˜€.  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 random.org 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! πŸ˜€

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! πŸ˜€

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!  

Friday, 12 April 2019

WYS Winwick Mum Collection yarn - Photo shoot

Are you ready for another instalment of the Winwick Mum yarn adventure?  We're on countdown now to the yarn being in the shops so I'd better get on with telling you the story!

Are you sitting comfortably?

It was a remarkably Spring-like Thursday afternoon in January when I drove up to Clitheroe in Lancashire to meet up with the West Yorkshire Spinners team.  They were at Bashall Barn, a rather rural lovely venue for weddings with a farm shop and restaurant attached, for the second day of a photo shoot for the WYS upcoming new yarn releases including Colour Lab and ... Winwick Mum Collection Signature 4ply!  

WYS Winwick Mum Collection yarn photo shoot

Saturday, 6 April 2019

A socky kind of week

Last Sunday, I posted a picture on Instagram of three of socks that I'd just cast on.  Whilst not unheard of for me to have more than one (or two, or three) pairs of socks on the go, it is quite unusual for me to cast on for three socks all at the time same.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Little and often

Every year, there comes that point in the year when the garden starts to wake up and I think "uh-oh, I didn't get as much done in the winter as I intended to".  Our garden is very definitely a spring garden at the moment, with all of the bursts of colour happening as the garden comes back to life.  

It wasn't always like that - when we first moved here, I very carefully planned it so that there would be colour throughout the year, but plants have died and others have outgrown their space and not been moved and now the focus is in the early part of the year.  I've been intending to change that for quite a few years but somehow, each year has slipped past and I've not done as much as I thought it would.
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