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Saturday, 30 May 2020

Monthly Musing - May 2020 - Opening doors

How are you feeling?  It’s been weeks and weeks since we all started to stay at home; I don’t think any of us ever imagined this!


At first, people spoke of grief and bereavement for a way of life that we had lost.  There were thoughts of hope for our planet, and for a new way of living that would reconnect us to our world in ways that we had forgotten.  The streets were silent and people seemed afraid to even make eye contact.  It was all strange and new but for most of us, the unusual has become usual; we’re getting used to being at home, chatting to people from a distance and, believe it or not, queuing in a way that is extreme even to us British super-queuers!


What has struck me most is how resilient we are, how adaptable to our new situation when many of us might have thought ourselves too stuck in our ways to change.  There’s no question that this happening in our advanced digital age has helped us; businesses that might otherwise have gone out of business have been able to stay open online, for example.  In our house, we’ve loved watching Andrew Cotter’s dog commentaries when, as a sports commentator, his work would have been on hold but he has continued to keep us entertained.  People who thought themselves “too old” or “not tech savvy” enough have been able to get to grips with technology in a way that has opened up a whole new world for them.  Last night, we took part in a family quiz with people from all over the country – and even abroad – that we would never normally see except at occasional family events, but here we were on a Friday evening, glass of wine in hand*, comfortably ensconced on our sofa discussing quiz answers with literally distant relatives.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Another week

Our family is ever-so-slightly addicted to the TV programme Gogglebox and as we watched the latest episode on Friday evening, we were reliably informed that we had spent over 60 days in lockdown.  60 days!  That's a long time, isn't it, and some people have been indoors for even longer ... I hope that you are still keeping well and sane!

In Winwick ... (if you also watch the programme, you'll see what I did there 😀) we've had a changeable week weatherwise.  It started off as one of the hottest days of the year and then a wild wind swept in, ripping leaves and small branches off the trees, battering my poor old buddleja down to the ground and spooking one of our cats (who, to be fair, doesn't need much encouragement to be spooked) to the point that he had to be put into his bed and encouraged to stay there.

Whilst the weather was still good, though, I managed to get out into the garden for a while.  I've been intending to reclaim the borders from the Crocosmia which has been stealthily expanding into all the available space over the last couple of years for quite some time...

Garden border which is overgrown with grass-like Crocosmia plants

The friend's Mum that I acquired the Crocosmia from did warn me that this was a pretty invasive variety but at the time, I wanted the ground cover so wasn't too concerned.  Now, however, this thug has taken over my borders so the extent that drastic action was required!  I set to work ripping it out and then digging out the corms that were left in the ground.  I don't mind keeping some of it as the orange flowers are very pretty, but I don't need quite as much of it as I have!

Sunday, 17 May 2020


How is this happening?!  I blink and a whole week has gone past!  I don't know about you, but I thought I would have so much time once we were all at home, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  And no, I am not losing half of my day watching Netflix!  (Although small daughter and I are working our way through a series of Marvel films together and they go on and on and on ...)  Anyway, enough of me being bewitched by the speed of the passing days! 

Thank you SO MUCH to you all for your kind comments and your purchases of the LikeMinded Socks pattern.  I really was very nervous about putting a pattern out for sale rather than my usual free download, but you have all made it a very easy process and I am very grateful.  I've promised to donate money from the sales for the rest of this month, but already I can tell you that thanks to you, I'm going to be able to donate a very generous amount!

If you've not seen the post on these socks, you can read all about them and the story behind them here.

Thank you also to everyone who got involved in the Sockalong 5th Birthday - Ann and Pam have been in touch and their prizes from the giveaway are on their way to them.

What else?  Oh, earlier this week (last week? It depends if your week starts on Sunday or Monday!), I released a new video on YouTube.  This is the first of what's going to be a series of them to go along with the Sockalong tutorials; lots of people tell me that they would appreciate video as well as the photos in the tutorials so I am veeerrry slowly getting my act together and creating those.  They're designed to work in conjunction with the online tutorials, not instead of them, so hopefully you'll get a better picture of how it all works when you put the two together if you have questions as you go along.

The first video is here:

I chose this one to start with as the question that is asked most often in the Facebook group is "How many stitches should I cast on for a size [whatever] sock?"  The answer of course, is that it depends on the width of the foot, not the length, but for someone who is new to knitting socks, this is a big concept to get your head around!  Once you've worked out your own gauge, however, then that's you done for pretty much every sock you'll knit in that particular weight so the 10 or 20 minutes it might take you is, in the scheme of things, no time at all.  Yes, yes, I'm as impatient as the next person and want to just get stuck in without messing about with tension swatches, but I can tell you that I've knitted hundreds of pairs of socks now, and they all fit.  And it takes 20 minutes to work that out?  It's really worth the effort!

Monday, 11 May 2020

Winwick Mum Sockalong 5th birthday giveaway results

Hello to you, I hope you had a lovely weekend!

I'm here at last with the Sockalong 5th birthday giveaway results - wow, it was so lovely to hear from so many of you!  I'm sorry to those of you who weren't able to leave a comment - the comments are moderated anyway because of spam, but apparently my blog platform has eaten a few of them before I could even get to read them.    

What I love most about reading your comments every is that they give me an insight into how knitting socks is as much as part of your lives as it is mine.  It's that thing that I talked about in the Winter Haven KAL about us being connected by yarn and intention - our socks keep our feet warm, give us joy to knit, give us pleasure to give away, give us pride to wear ourselves, keep us calm, keep yarn shops in business ... and reading all your comments about how you have done all of that, and how your socks have created special memories, means more to me than any download figures or statistics that we bloggers are supposed to be interested in.  Knowing that you are knitting socks for whatever reason, and that I might have been able to help you do that, fills my heart to bursting, and I hope that I will be able to continue to help people to knit socks for many years to come!

Please do me a favour, though - I read so many comments that said "I've only ..." and there should never be an "I've only ..." about anything!  It's like those people who tell me "I've knitted this pair but they're not perfect".  It's absolutely OK to be proud of whatever you have done and we are all far too good at putting our achievements down (and I can say this to you because I do exactly the same thing until I realise what I'm doing and pull myself out of it!).  So this next year, whatever you are making, embrace your knitting imperfections as "design features" that make your knitting unique, and if you have to say "if only", then it should be "I've only gone and knitted [whatever it is]!"  We should all be more Mike from Monsters Inc! 😀

Anyway, you don't want to read me rambling on, you want to know if you've won!

Friday, 8 May 2020

LikeMinded Socks

Design inspiration comes in all sorts of different forms for me.  

Sometimes, the idea pops into my head like a lightbulb going on and it's so bright that I have to do something about it straight away.  At other times, I might see or hear something and think, "Ooh, that would be a good idea for ... whatever" and I will turn it over and over in mind until it forms into the shape that I want.

At other times, the idea is like a ghost at the back of my mind, slipping in and out of my thoughts, always just out of reach until the moment when it is ready to step forward into my consciousness and say "Now ... now I am ready".  And that is what happened with this pattern.  

It's inspired by social media, which might on the face of it seem to be an odd thing to base a sock design on.  It's not based on the technical wizardry and computer coding that makes it all possible, however, and it's definitely not based on the downsides of scrolling and trolling and media overwhelm - but on the good, positive, human side of it.  The side that outweighs all the nonsense, that connects us, uplifts us, teaches and inspires us.  That side of social media.

I spend a lot of time on social media; in fact, my whole Winwick Mum existence is based on it.  My blog, my Facebook page and groups, my Instagram account, my YouTube channel - it's how I connect with the world and it's how you connect with me.  It never ceases to amaze me that somebody, somewhere, is awake at any given moment.  Or that they are looking at weather that is completely different to mine - heck, they might even be in a different season.  There are birds in the trees and animals that I have never heard of but I can see pictures of them, and not just pictures from nature programmes but pictures from somebody's back garden.  It makes the world smaller, it brings us closer, and we are truly never alone.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Winwick Mum Sockalong 5th birthday

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

Wow wow WOW!  It's five years since the Winwick Mum Sockalong started and I couldn't be happier to know that the tutorials and the pattern are still so useful to people who are just starting out on their sock knitting adventures.

When you create something like the Sockalong, then of course you hope that it will be more than a short firework fizzle in the endless sky of the internet universe, but I can honestly tell you that apart from wanting to make sure that I tried to make it as easy as possible for someone to knit a pair of socks, there was never any grand plan - certainly never any 5 year plan! - and it has been wonderful to see how everything has evolved.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Another Sunday

Well hello, I hope this finds you well on a Sunday evening!  I do know that it's Sunday because the calendar tells me so, but other than that it's all a bit vague 😀  

There's talk of change to the current lockdown situation but it's still going to be a long road ahead to our new way of living.  I don't know that I'm all that keen to go back to our world how it was - traffic congestion, understaffed hospitals with overworked NHS staff, climate chaos, homelessness, poverty ... it would be wonderful if this experience really did give us a new way to live, but let's get through this bit first.  

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