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Wednesday, 26 February 2020

CHSI Stitches 2020

Hi!  How are you doing?

It's a blustery Wednesday here in Winwick - not so different, really, from two weekends ago when I drove down to Birmingham to meet up with the West Yorkshire Spinners team for the CHSI Stitches trade show.  I can't believe that it's been a year since I was last there - that was the official launch of the Winwick Mum Collection of Signature 4ply yarn which means that it's been nearly a year since it's been out in the world!  Wow, that year has gone quickly - and it's been an amazing one too as I've seen my yarn knitted up into so many projects.

Image shows the CHSI Stitches logo on a large banner saying "Welcome to ..."

This year's trade show was a good opportunity for me to see what's coming up from West Yorkshire Spinners (oh, I'm so nosey!) and now you can have a sneak peek too!  Do you want to come and have a look around?  

Friday, 21 February 2020

Finding your way around

I've been doing some updating on the blog recently and today seems like as good a time as any to tell you about what I've been doing - and hopefully it will help you to find things a bit more easily.

Here's the blog as you'll see it when you first visit the page (although because it's a blog, that central section with the blog post will look different depending on when you visit) ...



All of the main reference pages in the blog are quickly accessible from the pictures down the right hand side.

If you are here to knit socks, you'll need to click on this picture here which you'll see at the top on the right hand side of the page ...


This takes you to all the Sockalong tutorials and the download page for the basic 4ply Sockalong sock pattern.  If you want to learn to knit socks, this is the main page that you're going to need!

Thursday, 20 February 2020

February half term

It's the school holidays again.  Seriously, it only feels like five minutes since the last school holidays and that was when?  Christmas?  How can we be in mid-February already?!

Well, the start of our week was heralded by Storm Dennis which came hot on the heels of Storm Ciara and there's been terrible flooding all over the country - my heart goes out to everyone whose lives have been turned upside down by the flood waters.  I can't begin to imagine the despair of seeing the water creep (and sometimes race) closer to your home and knowing there's nothing you can do to stop it.

Today is calm and mild.  There's even a hint of sunshine - a bit pale and watery, but sunshine nonetheless.  Small daughter, who has now joined the ranks of teenagers who could quite easily turn sleeping into an Olympic sport (although not at bedtime, strangely enough ...), is snuggled in with one of our cats who's a bit under the weather at the moment.  I don't like it when our pets aren't well - it's as bad as having poorly babies as they can't tell you what's wrong.  The vet is looking after him, though, and we've got a round of blood tests to come later this week to see if we can get to the bottom of it.  In the meantime, he's feeling safe and warm somewhere in small daughter's duvet and once you're curled up with a cat, the incentive to get out of bed is even less so I may not see her before lunch time!


A grey cloudy sky with dark trees silhouetted against it

She's got a sleepover organised with friends this week so I've got a so-far undecided number of girls descending to camp out in our living room.  I suggested that we might all load up into the car and take the dog for a walk at the beach and was greeted with "nah, it's boring", "it's pointless just walking on a beach", "it's too cold", "it's too sandy" so I've taken that as we're not going.  Small daughter must have felt sorry for me as she has promised to come with me another day (I'm grateful, I think?!) but I'm just going to leave them to it.  They see each other every day at school but that's not the same as having hours out of school to spend together and they don't really get to do that very often.  I think as long as I remember to feed them every now and again it'll all work out very well 😀.


Friday, 14 February 2020

Seaside yarn - visit to Ewe Felty Thing

With the school half term holidays fast approaching, you might be thinking of a day out to the seaside, and North Wales is as good a place as any to dip your toes into the water ... or perhaps not, as it's February and the sea will be more than a bit cold!

In that case, you'll be looking for alternatives to beach-time and I can suggest just the place if you're heading to Llandudno - Ewe Felty Thing, a veritable TARDIS of yarn tucked away from the main promenade.  Llandudno is the largest seaside resort in Wales, built on a peninsula which gives the resort two beaches.  The North Shore is the busier side with the promenade, the pier and long row of Victorian villas overlooking the sea, and the West Shore is quieter and wilder, stretching along the estuary of the River Conwy back past Deganwy to Conwy itself.  Ewe Felty Thing is on the North Shore side, close enough to the bustle of the main streets but in a quieter street of it's own, and definitely worth seeking out!

Friday, 7 February 2020

Winter Haven KAL round up

Well, here we are in February!  How are you doing?  The Winter Haven KAL is over for this year now, but it's been such a lovely thing to do that I wanted to write a round up post and show you some of the photos that I've seen, and share some of your thoughts about the KAL too.



Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Wintery skies

After all the rain and grey skies that we've had recently, it has been an absolute joy to see something other than clouds!

I went over to see my friend Lucy in Skipton yesterday and was very glad to be leaving gale force winds and driving rain behind in Winwick - by the time I got to Colne in Lancashire, the skies had cleared and made driving over the moors a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  I even saw sunshine!

A view of the Yorkshire Dales with blue skies and sun shining over the fields.

Coming home, the sky looked like it was on fire, such a beautiful sunset - that you would be able to appreciate far more if that tree hadn't decided to photobomb my picture ...

Friday, 31 January 2020

Winter Haven KAL - Week 4

And here we are, just like that - it's Week 4 of the Winter Haven KAL which means that it's the very last day of January.


I definitely feel that January has passed differently for me this year.  I've been more thoughtful about what I'm making, what I'm eating and how I'm spending my time during the day.  I've made more time to sit in my chair by the fire, to light the candle whenever I'm going to be in the room for a while, and I've loved having the fairy lights around the mirror!

Thank you for sharing your photos with me again this week - I've really felt that being able to see your photos has made me feel very connected to you in your Winter Havens, and it's been lovely to know that we're all crafting and making time for ourselves together!  Even though this is week 4, if you're on social media you can still post photos and find other people's using the hashtag #WinterHavenKAL.

If you're brand new to the blog or the idea of the Winter Haven KAL and you're wondering what it's all about, you've come in just at the end as the KAL is finishing now, but the ideas that I've suggested through the KAL are valid all year round, so do feel free to take a look at the other posts: Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3.

As with other weeks, it's time to have a look at what we've all been doing, so for the last time this month, are you ready?


Thursday, 30 January 2020

Monthly Musing - January 2020 - Gratitude

“I’m very grateful …” 

They’re words that are used a lot in everyday life and it wasn’t until I started the Winter Haven Knit-along (KAL) that has been running on the blog this month that I really started to think about how much - and how - they are used.

My first job was for a bank and lots of formal letter writing was involved.  “I would be grateful if … you could complete this form, you could let me know if you would be  available, if you could reply by return …” It was a standard form of asking for something and I don’t think the dictionary definition of being “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits” particularly applied in this case.  However, remembering those letters has made me think about how the use of gratitude as both a word and as a behaviour has changed over the years.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

January round up

As we're fast approaching the end of month, I wanted to write a quick post to document some socks that I finished off last year and at the very beginning of this year.  I often find myself going back over old blog posts and it's a joy to read the record of what I've been doing that I would never have if I'd tried to simply keep a diary.  There's something about the knowledge that even one person might read what you've written in a blog post that keeps you posting - and keeping that online diary!

First up, my Soul Circus socks started at the Soul Circus yoga festival that I went to with big daughter way back in August last year and finished off over Christmas.  The yarn is 4ply sock yarn hand-dyed by Hey Jay Yarn which I bought a couple of years ago.  


I'm standing on a stone paving flag wearing a pair of hand knitted socks in purple and pink stripy yarn

It won't take much to see that they there's a difference in the way the yarn has pooled across the instep; this happens because of the longer rounds when you work the gusset and not that long ago, I would have messed about with the yarn so that the pooling was exactly the same on both socks (oh yes, it is possible to do this and yes, it does take a bit of faffing!) but I decided that these socks needed to be off the needles and it was close enough.  Close enough!  Does that mean I'm getting over my need for matching socks?  No, it really doesn't, but I can live with these as they are 😀

Friday, 24 January 2020

Winter Haven KAL Week 3

Hello!  It's lovely to see you - it's Week 3 of the Winter Haven KAL!
 

I'm getting quite used to this Winter Haven way of living now!  I find that sitting down on a regular basis, being more thoughtful about how I'm spending my time and what makes me feel happy is having a positive effect on everything that I'm doing.  I actually like January as a month and am usually a little sad when February arrives, but I'm not a fan of the cold, dank, foggy days we've been having recently and I've thoroughly enjoyed having an extra excuse to light the fire early and take a few moments out!

It's been wonderful to see your posts on social media again this week, and I'm really grateful to you for taking the time to share your photos so that I can see them.  If you want to have a look through other people's photos yourself, you can find them using the hashtag #WinterHavenKAL.

If you're brand new to the blog or the idea of the Winter Haven KAL and you're wondering what it's all about, it's very simple:  it's a very flexible KAL where you pick your own pattern, pick your own yarn (and another big thank you to everyone who's been using Winwick Mum yarn!), and join in by taking a few moments for yourself.  It started two Fridays ago and the last post will be on Friday 31 January so there's still time to find yourself a cosy space, pick up a WIP or start a new project, and join in.  The first post which tells you all about the KAL and how it works is here.

This week, I'll show you what I've been up to, and I've got more photos from other people's Winter Havens to show you as well.  Are you ready?


Friday, 17 January 2020

Winter Haven KAL Week 2

It's Week 2 of the Winter Haven KAL - and how has your week been?


I've thoroughly enjoyed seeing so many posts on Facebook and Instagram (you can find them using the hashtag #WinterHavenKAL - don't forget to add yours!) and what's been really lovely is that so many people are joining in who thought they didn't have time to take part in a KAL.

I'll be honest with you - I've often thought the same myself, which is why this KAL is very flexible: pick your own pattern, pick your own yarn (although thank you to everyone who's been using Winwick Mum yarn, it's made me very happy to see it!), and join in by taking a few moments for yourself.  If you're new to the KAL, it started last Friday and the last post will be on Friday 31 January so there's still time to find yourself a cosy space, pick up a WIP or start a new project, and join in.  The first post which tells you all about the KAL and how it works is here.

This week, I'm going to talk a bit about what I've been doing, but I'm also going to show you what others have been doing as well - I love that we are all being part of this KAL together!

Friday, 10 January 2020

Winter Haven KAL - Week 1

Hello!  And welcome to week 1 of the Winter Haven KAL!



In the northern hemisphere, we're in the throes of mid-Winter.  We've recently had the Winter Solstice and the shortest day, and although the nights are very gradually getting lighter, it's going to be a long time before those bright nights of high Summer are here.  Over on the other side of the world, you're the opposite way around and it must seem as strange to you thinking about Winter when you're in the middle of a heatwave as it does for me thinking about the sunshine on a grey and dismal Friday in Winwick!  In the words of a character from a famous TV show, though - "Winter is coming" - so I hope that the ideas that I'm going to share will be useful to you both now and in the coming months.

I've been thinking a lot recently about Winter and what it means to me.  It means celebrations with Christmas and New Year, spending time with friends and family - which can be both fun and exhausting, no matter how much you love them.  It means the weather will be cold and wet (I still can't bring myself to give up hope of snow, though!) which is a good excuse to wear lots of woolly layers.  It means that the garden will look neglected and bare, although there is life beneath the soil just waiting for the warmth to return.  It's a time to make new plans for the coming year which is both exciting and sometimes overwhelming - and that's OK.

It's a time of rest and renewal.


It's a time to prepare the ground for the seasons to come.

It's a time when you need a Winter Haven.


Thursday, 9 January 2020

Sanctuary Socks - free pattern and tutorial

The beginning of the year is a strange time, I always think: on the one hand the new year spreads out before us like a blank canvas, inviting us to fill it with plans and goals, adventures and achievements.  On the other, those same plans and goals can so quickly overwhelm us before the year has even properly started.  Where to begin?  How to fit it all in?  How to decide what is truly important as we really can't do everything?  

On top of this, we are encouraged to review last year, to pick out our strengths and weaknesses to see what we can build upon this year.  What can we do better, faster, more successfully?  It's no wonder that January can seem like an endlessly long month straight after all the fun of Christmas - and it's no wonder that the thought of hunkering down is more than a little appealing!

With this in mind, I give you ... the Sanctuary Socks.  Knitting that takes enough thought to keep those goal-setting worries at bay, but which grows quickly enough thanks to the winding cables that you won't be knitting them forever.  Take some time out to hunker down in your own sanctuary or haven to enjoy some knitting time!


These socks have been designed for the Winwick Mum Winter Haven KAL (knit-a-long) in 2020, although they are an anytime pair of socks, not just for winter.  Having said that, the cable stitch which winds its way down the socks is one which I have called the Slalom Cable as the combination of twisted knit stitch and purl reminds me of ski tracks winding down a snowy mountainside.  You might even think that they are a metaphor (very apt at this time of year!) for how life twists and turns but keeps on moving - and you could be right!

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Winter Haven KAL ... two days to go!

There are just two days to go until the Winter Haven KAL starts!  



I'm super-excited and a little nervous too, if I'm honest, as I haven't done anything quite like this before, but it's going to be fun!  I hope you're looking forward to it too!


Here's a quick re-cap of what's going on if you've missed it so far (you can read the "getting ready" post here), and also some answers to the questions people have asked me since Friday's post.


🧶  The Winter Haven KAL (knit-a-long) is all about getting us through the dark days of January, thinking about how best we can be kind to ourselves and others and, yes, getting a bit of knitting done too! 

🧶 If you don't live in the part of the world where it's dark and cold at this time of year, you can still join in as although my fireside photos won't be relevant to your season, hopefully the things that I'm going to be talking about during the KAL will be.  

Friday, 3 January 2020

Winter Haven KAL - one week to go!

Helloo!  Happy New Year to you!  

Thank you for your comments on my last (literally!) post of 2019 - it was a bit of fun intended to round off the year as it started, but it's lovely to be able to continue the "journey" by starting a new KAL (Knit-a-long) that everyone can get involved with if you'd like to.


A photo showing a cosy winter scene.  To the bottom left is some winter greenery with fairy lights resting on it; in the centre is a pair of crossed legs and feet soaking up the warmth of the log fire which you can see in the background.  The person is wearing a pair of socks knitted in purple Winwick Mum Hidden Gem yarn.  To the right is an orange mug with the Herdy logo on it which has tea in it., and behind that is a coal bucket and some fire irons

The KAL starts on 10 January 2020 (next Friday), so I thought that with a week to go, it would be a good time to tell you a bit more about it, what's involved and what you'll need to gather together to join in.  (Don't worry, it's not any kind of complicated scavenger hunt, you may well find everything you need around your house!)


🕯 So what's it all about then, this Winter Haven KAL?  

Well, it's about spending the weeks of January working on projects that we love or something that we want to learn about, it's about thinking how best we can look after ourselves and others over the coming year, and about using the darker days and nights to recharge our batteries after all the excitement of Christmas and New Year.