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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.



🕯 You've posted a cosy-looking fireplace photo ... can you only join in if you live somewhere where the winter is cold? 

No, not at all!  My experience of winter is that it's generally cold, usually wet and often a bit miserable after the Christmas holidays so this is what winter looks like to me.  I love these cosy fireplace moments!  Your winter might look completely different, and that doesn't matter at all as what's important in this KAL is the "haven" part and you can have that anywhere in the world.  The dictionary definition of a haven is somewhere that offers refuge, rest and even sanctuary and that's something that we can all be glad of, whatever the weather!


🕯 Will I like the project that you have to make to take part?

I hope so!  I've got a brand new sock pattern coming out which I'm going to share on the blog especially for the KAL.  They're called Sanctuary Socks and if you can knit a basic sock, you can manage these - there is a cable involved but there's help if you've never knitted a cable before in my Easy Cable Socks tutorial so you can take a quick look at that to see how to read a chart and knit a cable if you need to.  I'll post the pattern next Thursday to give you time to have a look at it and download it ready for Friday's KAL start, but here's a sneak peek ...


A photo showing a partial view of a pair of socks - the leg of the left leg showing a cable pattern and the heel of the right foot showing Eye of Partridge stitch is visible.  The socks are knitted in Winwick Mum Hidden Gem yarn which is shades of purple and ecru

Don't worry if this doesn't look like something that floats your boat - you can start any project that you like!  

  • If you're a beginner sock knitter, use the Sockalong tutorials and knit your very first pair of socks - you know you want to!  
  • If you're more experienced, try out the Sanctuary Socks pattern or pick another one that you think you'd like to tackle - it doesn't have to be one of mine.  
  • If you don't want to knit socks at all, choose something else: hats, shawls, mittens, jumpers ... the point of the KAL is that we create some time for ourselves so you need a project on your needles (or even your crochet hook if that's more your thing) that's going to give you some pleasure.

You can find all of my patterns here - there are socks, shawls, cowls, mittens, a hat ...  

And some other ideas - in case you missed it, there was a supplement of my sock patterns in last month's Knit Now magazine ...


A photo collage showing four pairs of socks: the first is knitted in Winwick Mum Brightside yarn (red, yellow, blue, green and navy), the second is knitted in Brightside yarn and bubblegum blue, the third pair is knitted in Seascape yarn (shades of turquoise) and the fourth pair is knitted in bubblegum blue

there was also one of my patterns using Winwick Mum yarn in Simply Knitting issue 192 which was out in November 2019 - it's called Diamond Socks ...


A photo of a pair of socks knitted in Winwick Mum wildflower yarn (blue, yellow, green, pink, purple) with a diamond textured pattern

and of course there are the patterns in the West Yorkshire Spinners Winwick Mum Collection book ...


A collage of four photos showing socks knitted in Winwick Mum Brightside yarn (blue, yellow, green, red and navy); Winwick Mum Hidden Gem yarn (shades of purple and ecru); Winwick Mum Wildflower yarn (blue, green, yellow, pink, purple) and Winwick Mum Seascape yarn (shades of turquoise)

but have a look around on Ravelry, or in your local yarn shop, or even through magazines or your own pattern collection and pick something that you think will be a lovely project to take you through January.  It doesn't matter if it takes you more or less than four weeks to finish it - you can always start something else if you finish early, or continue after the KAL has finished if you've got a bigger project.  

There is also some inspiration here from my earlier blog post.


🕯 What yarn can I use?

Well, I'd really love you to use Winwick Mum yarn, so if you've got some in your stash then you've got a week to dig it out (this is a great opportunity to use up some of your stash!).  As you've seen, there are quite a few patterns using the Winwick Mum yarns now so you can see how they knit up and there might be one (or two) that you'd fancy trying out.


A photo showing four balls of Winwick Mum yarn balanced on some Winwick Mum Collection pattern books.  There is a panelled wooden wall in the background and the books are resting on a wooden mantelpiece

Winwick Mum yarn is part of the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply range - if you haven't heard of it before you can read the story of how it came about here; it's available from many local yarn shops including City Knits*, Northern Yarn*, online retailers such as Black Sheep Wools and Wool Warehouse, and if you're overseas there's a stockist list here on the WYS website.

However, I also know that not everyone has any, or can get any for various reasons, or it might not suit the pattern you want to make - or you might just not like it (that's fine, I love it enough for both of us 😀) so rather than feel that you can't join in, use another yarn instead. 


🕯 Do I need anything else?

Yes!  You'll need a space that's going to be your Winter Haven.  A favourite armchair?  Your spot on the sofa?  A chair outside on a porch or in the garden, perhaps, if you live somewhere warm enough to sit outside?  It's up to you, but choose somewhere that can be your space for a short while, a place where you can sit and take a few moments to yourself.  

Here's mine, a rocking chair by the fireplace ...


A photo showing an open fire burning in a chrome fireplace to the left of the photo, and a brown leather rocking chair with a red and gold striped cushion on it to the right.  In the background is a panelled wooden wall with a mirror in a curved wooden frame resting against it.  In the foreground is a small table with an orange mug of tea and a plant on it.

I bought some extra fairy lights to add a cosy feel to the corner, and I will be very comfortable just there with my knitting and the fire crackling away!

You'll also need a notebook and pen.  It doesn't have to be a fancy notebook - this is an old one that I found in a cupboard which I think was a gift at one point - but it does need to be something that you can write in and keep safe, rather than Post-It notes or little scraps of paper.


A photo of a pale oak wooden table with an orange mug, a fountain pen and notebook with an ornate design on it

Have you got a spare project bag?  Put your KAL work in there, along with the accessories that you know you will need so that you're not hunting around for them when you want to use them.  You might only choose to work on your project during spare moments, or it might be your go-to for the month, but I think there's always something lovely about putting a new project in it's own bag.  You don't have to have expensive designed-for-purpose bags - the one that I usually take on holiday with me once contained pillow cases (for some reason they came in a small bag that's just the right size for a ball of sock yarn!), and when I first started knitting socks, I used a fancy wash bag that had zip pockets for storing my needles (I was more pleased with that than the smellies that came with the bag as a Christmas gift! 😀) -  you can be creative with what you have already.  Of course, it's always an opportunity to buy or make yourself a lovely new project bag (using stash fabric, perhaps?!) so choose to do whatever will make you feel happy when you're sitting in your Haven space.

I'm going to be using this one - it's a replacement for the one that I used for years until it disintegrated and I like that it stands up squarely and I can pack a fair bit into it.  And there is the fact that all my other project bags are full of WIPs 😀


A photo of a small jute sandwich bag used as a knitting project bag.

As the purpose of our Winter Haven will be to bring some light to the dark January days, you'll need some light - not just a reading or craft light which may well be necessary depending on where your Haven space is, but something that evokes the feeling of cosy, of being safe in your own little halo of brightness.  How about a candle and maybe some fairy lights if you have them (perhaps keep some out from the Christmas decorations box just a little bit longer?).  


A photo of a mirror in curved wooden frame decorated with multi coloured fairy lights and with candles glowing next to it

A scented candle would be lovely if you've got one - but any candles will be fine; tea lights on a saucer or a household in-case-of-power-cuts candle in a jam jar would be perfect too.  There's something about the glow from a candle flame that is very calming, I think, and is just the right thing for our Haven.  Battery-operated candles also have a warm glow and are safer if you've got children or pets around.  Big daughter gave me a moon for Christmas that gives off a lovely calming light so I think that will be coming into my Haven with me 😀


A photo with a glowing moon replica lamp in the foreground, and fairy lights and unlit candles in the background with a mirror in a wooden frame

I was also given this lovely Festive Spice candle which I've been saving just for this KAL.  I shall be keeping it on my table next to me - it may not be Christmas any more, but I just love the smell and that's a perfect reason to have it in my Haven!

A photo of a NEXT Festive Spice Candle in a box

You might also like to find a book that you've been planning to read.  I've got plenty on my bookshelves that I've got part-way through and then never quite finished because something else came along, so a quiet moment in my Winter Haven should give me the opportunity to read at least a few pages - and before I know it, I'll have finished!

Some treats!  Oh, I know we've just had Christmas and everybody is thinking about losing weight and getting healthier, but what's a cosy sanctuary without a bit of chocolate to munch?!  Well, there's going to be some in mine, anyway - I know not everybody eats chocolate so bring along whatever is a treat for you, and you're going to want something to drink too, so have a think about what might be a treat in that department too.  I'll have some suggestions as we go through the KAL, but you may want to stick to your own ideas!


A photo of a small table with an orange mug with a Herdy log, a Terry's Chocolate Orange, a Toblerone, a mince pie on a black and white spotted saucer and two Ferrero Rocher chocolates on it.  In the background is a brown leather rocking chair and an open fire in a chrome fireplace
Don't worry - I'm not planning to eat all this in one go!

Finally, a bit of greenery - something to remind you that the winter doesn't last forever and that the plants and flowers will come back to life again.  Bring something in from your garden - some evergreen stems, or some berries, maybe even some winter flowers if you've got any - or see what is in store in your local greengrocer's or supermarket.  Buy cut flowers or buy yourself a winter flowering plant; choose whatever makes your heart sing!  My plant was a Christmas gift and I'm hoping that it will keep flowering for the next four weeks.  I might find a bit of outdoor greenery as well though!


A photo of a non-stop flowering Begonia plant

So that's everything we're going to need to get started.  There's no official sign up to do, just join in when the KAL starts next week.  Take some time this week to think about what project will make you happy in your Haven - the colours, the weight of yarn, the pattern that you've chosen - to gather your other items together (remember, there's no need to buy anything new if you've got things around the house you can use) and then we'll be all ready to start next Friday.  

I can't wait!



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41 comments:

  1. Gorgeous idea to create a Hygge feel around a creative project, it sounds very appealing for January xx

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    1. I hope so - it's always such a long dark month, isn't it? xx

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  2. I will do it. I have tons of WYS yarn, thanks to your inspiration. I just have to decide which I love most and use it for the KAL. Peace

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    1. Brilliant! Choosing the yarn you love the most is a great idea! Here's wishing you peace as well xx

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    2. I love the purple that you designed but I am also loving the chili pepper color. I used it for cuffs, heels and toes with the winter robin pattern. Loved that too.

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  3. Hi Christine,,super idea! Im curious! Is that a hobby lamp in your photo of your chair? It's just out of view,,regards Helen x

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    1. No, it's just an old reading lamp on a stand - it's not always very well-behaved and sometimes droops without warning which is why I moved it out of the way! :) xx

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  4. Looking forward to it! You are making winter knitting and nesting sound very inviting!

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    1. Oh, I'm all for winter knitting and nesting! :) xx

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  5. after knitting 6 plain socks over the past month I am going to try your cable pattern. Looking forward to the KAL, January is not a month I like.

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    1. That'll be great - and hopefully you'll have a pair of cable socks to celebrate at the end of the month! :) xx

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  6. What size needles do I need

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    1. It depends on what project you want to work on, Ruth. The new sock pattern uses 2.5mm needles with 4ply yarn, but you can choose any project you like :) xx

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  7. What a joy! I’m really looking forward to this - I’ve never knitted socks before but bought some lovely wool at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show - I’ve printed off your basic sock pattern and sent off for the needles I don’t have, downloaded an audiobook and will have everything to hand and ready to go on time! What a super evocative post!

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    1. That sounds fantastic! You're going to have a lovely time in your Winter Haven, I am sure! :) xx

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  8. With a new (first) grandchild on the way, I'll be knitting/hooking some baby toys. I've got the yarn and needles/hooks and will join you by the fireside for a bit of winter haven yarny pampering! xx

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    1. Oh, that sounds lovely, and congratulations on the impending new arrival too! xx

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  9. thank you your new pattern looks awesome cant wait to start, no chocolate though trying to lose weight...AGAIN hehe

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    1. You'll need to choose a different treat then - I don't want to be putting you off your diet! :) xx

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  10. All sounds very cosy and exciting. Looking forward to the KAL in my space - the rocking chair beside the wood heater under the airconditioner 😁😁👏👏.

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    1. Ha ha, I think you definitely need to stay cool - and safe - in your part of the world! xx

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  11. I love the idea of creating a physical cosy haven for the CAL. Will there be a ravelry thread where we can show off our cosy corner?

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    1. I haven't thought about a Ravelry thread to be honest, although there is a Winwick Mum Sockalong group so it could go in there. Alternatively, if you're on Facebook you could post in the groups there xx

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  12. Well after reading this how can I resist? Looking forward to my comfy haven knitting, already picked a ball of your WYS yarn, bring it on! �� Di Watson x

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    1. That sounds fantastic, looking forward to having you join in, Di! :) xx

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  13. Hi
    I am in! It will be my first ever KAL and am back to school teaching tomorrow after a lovely Christmas break so this will ease me in gently to the new term...I hope! Very excited to be taking part and so have felt the need to yarn shop....decisions decisions 🤔😁

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    1. Fantastic, it'll be great to have you taking part! :) xx

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  14. Time to learn to knit socks!! Have been admiring your work for ages and have finally decided to take the plunge ...
    One question though, when you say that the pattern is for a medium size pair of socks, what shoe size would they be exactly? Thank you

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    1. It's my UK size 5, but hand knit socks are actually more accurately measured by foot width so I'd recommend that you have a look at the Sock Stitch Calculation which is in the Sockalong tension tutorial and see if the 60 sts of that sock are going to suit your feet. It's worth taking the time to measure your feet and get the cast on number right so that you can use that for any other socks that you make xx

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  15. I have my yarn ready, and am really looking forward to joining in x

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  16. I think this is a wonderful idea - and as it happens, I ordered some wool last week which arrived just before I read this post and which includes a ball of Seascape. I don't really believe in coincidence so I'm going to set up my Haven this week. x

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  17. Sounds delicious! Going to dig out the sock yarn that has been waiting a whole year...and join right in!

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  18. Hello! I'm looking forward to making my first pair of socks ever and having been reading all the information provided ... very useful. Naturally I'll be doing the beginner's sock but I'd like to know what size shoe, the Medium size sock you describe is for. Thank you

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    1. It's my UK size 5, but hand knit socks are actually more accurately measured by foot width so I'd recommend that you have a look at the Sock Stitch Calculation which is in the Sockalong tension tutorial and see if the 60 sts of that sock are going to suit your feet. It's worth taking the time to measure your feet and get the cast on number right so that you can use that for any other socks that you make xx

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  19. I cant wait to start...I have done a few of your patterns so this is very exciting. How does the KAL work? Do we do a bit each week guided by your blog each Friday?

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    1. Yes, that's kind of the idea but I'll tell you more about it tomorrow :) There won't be any set rules on how much you should have knitted or anything like that, though, so don't worry! xx

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