My Instagram Challenge Part 1

Hello there, how are you doing?  I’m just popping in quickly to wish you a wonderful weekend whatever you’re up to, and share some photos from something that I’ve been up to recently.

Well, I’ve been up to lots of things recently – one of them is a certain collection of Christmas socks which officially launched on Wednesday – but so many things that I do are either too boring or too secret to share so it’s good to have something that I can show for a change!

I’ve been taking part in a hashtag challenge over on Instagram during September.  It’s been co-hosted by four crocheters (Unicorn Puffs and Rainbows, Attic24, Sewing The Seeds of Love and Hook One Purl One) and has consisted of a photo prompt for every day.  My Instagram account until now has been an extension of my blog photos – an explosion of everyday photos from blog posts, of fruit and veg, socks, dog walks and random things that have made me smile – but I’ve taken the opportunity to change it to something slightly different and focus it on my socks and sock knitting for beginners so that I can keep my other everyday conversations here with you.  My husband often tells me (and sometimes a bit grumpily!) that I can turn any conversation round to socks and I’ve had great fun turning the photo prompts round to socks over the last couple of weeks.

I know that not all of you are or want to be on Instagram so I thought I would like to share the photos with you as I have enjoyed writing the story captions to go with them and I thought you might like to see.  I don’t want to bore you with 18 days’ worth of photos in one go, so I’ll just show you the first week of photos today, and then show you the others another time.  There’s still time if you want to get involved in the hashtag challenge yourself, and I’ve posted the list of prompts at the end of my photos.

Day 1 : This is Me

A photo showing an orange copy of Super Socks sock knitting tutorial book next to an orange mug containing tea. On the book is a navy blue sock cuff on a circular knitting needle. The background is cream.

I’m joining in with the #YarnFriendsRock hashtag challenge for September and I thought that as I posted the more usual type of selfie the other day, I wouldn’t inflict another on you!

Instead, here is Super Socks, the paperback version of my online Winwick Mum Sockalong beginner sock knitting tutorials because Super Socks and the Sockalong very much IS me.  I’m never happier than when I’m able to help someone get to grips with a heel turn or a gusset decrease, and every time someone celebrates wearing their first pair, I’m cheering along too.

I’m a trainer by background and it seemed quite natural in 2015, after yet another person told me that it was too hard for them to knit socks, that I should create some tutorials which might help.  I believe that we learn very much better when we’re comfortable and not stressed, so I chose to write them as if I was sitting next to you and we could knit them together.

My online tutorials are free and always will be – it has always been important to me that as many people as possible should be able to knit socks for all of the well-being benefits that sock knitting brings as well as the joy of hand knits in your sock drawer – and if the choice is between buying yarn and needles or buying a book or a course, then I want you to get started!

So this is me.  I’m Christine, I’m a sock knitter, and I help others to become sock knitters too.  It’s lovely to meet you!

Super Socks book available at Amazon, the Winwick Mum blog and some yarn shops

Yarn: Opal Uni 4ply Uni in shade navy blue
Needles:  Addi 30cm (12″) circular needle

Day 2 : Nature Inspired

A ball of multi-coloured Winwick Mum Wildflower yarn on a cream background with purple flowers, knitting needles and some green flower-shaped stitch markers

Imagine a wildflower meadow … in a yarn!

That’s exactly what I was able to do with the Wildflower yarn that I created with West Yorkshire Spinners as part of the Winwick Mum Collection of their Signature 4ply.  (I still get such a thrill to be able to say that I have my very own yarn collection!)

Wildflower is based on the flowers that I pass on my walks with the dog through a local nature park; the colours are most vibrant in the Spring but change throughout the year – and the blue is the shade of the sky on the clearest of warm, Spring days.  Ah, I can hear the birds singing and the bees buzzing just to look at it!

What I didn’t expect when the yarn was launched was to hear how many other people recognise exactly those same colours from their local areas wherever they are in the world – although really I should know better by now!  We might have flora and fauna that is native to our country or even in some cases, our specific local area, but Nature uses the same colour palette to connect and inspire us wherever we live.  I love that!

There’s a special section on my blog all about the Winwick Mum yarn (there’s a link in my profile) and how it came about, from initial design ideas to the trade show launch if you’re interested, and if you want to knit with it, it’s available from WYS stockists worldwide.

Day 3 : How I Became Yarny

A ball of green and blue yarn with a selection of old straight knitting needles to the left and a small stack of books to the right. The books are The Complete Guide to Needlework, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook and Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Stitches Vol 2

Is yarn love something you’re born with or something you develop?

I think the answer is “both”.  I’ve always loved crafts, right from being very tiny, but found myself drawn to the ones involving yarn from about the age of 5 or 6 when my Nan taught me how to knit.  Being given “The Complete Guide to Needlework” one Christmas was fabulous as it contains so many different craft projects – and I wanted to try them all!  You can see my collection of inherited needles and that ball of yarn in the picture – I found that waaaay down in my stash and that’s actually one of the yarns I learnt to knit with (it was all called “wool” back then although I’m not sure this yarn has ever seen a sheep!) unravelled from an unwanted cardigan and full of knots, but it was still yarn!  I have a memory of tiny knitting needles like toothpicks which were also used for the knitting bobbin that my Dad made for me – four nails driven into a wooden cotton reel – and although it wasn’t until years later that I actually made my first wearable projects, there was always yarn in my craft box.

Over the last few years, thanks to the internet and the wonderful online craft community, I’ve been able to learn much more about yarn and the animals that provide the fleece and fibre that make it.  In real life,  I’ve been able to stand next to huge machines which spin yarn at hundreds of metres per second and I’ve been able to help sort fleeces ready to go the spinning mill to make yarn that I will later knit into socks.

My yarn love, which started so many years ago, has grown deeper along with my knowledge, and I do my best to share what I have learnt through my blog posts.  It doesn’t matter when you discover that you love yarn because when that moment hits you, you know that it is a love that’s going to stay with you forever.

Day 4 : Flatlay

Flatlay of a pair of socks in Wildflower and pink yarn. The socks are on wooden blockers. There is a vase of flowers to the top of the picture and a ball of Wildflower yarn to the right

I do love a photo of socks on blockers! 🙂

Today’s prompt in the #YarnFriendsRock challenge is Flatlay and I must admit that I am always drawn to the flatlay photos when I’m scrolling through Instagram.  There’s something about the layout, the way your eye is drawn to the various elements, that is so subtly clever and I am constantly looking for ways to improve my own flatlay photography.

The socks that you can see in this photo are knitted in the Wildflower yarn that I shared the other day.  I always like to know how yarns are going to knit up so I thought it was a good opportunity to put the photos quite close together so you could see.  The pattern was published in Simply Knitting magazine issue 192 – it is possible to buy back issues of the magazine but I am also intending to get my act together to make it available as a single download pattern.  It’s on my list!

Yarns:   West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Wildflower and Sarsaparilla
Pattern:   Diamond Socks in Simply Knitting issue 192, will be available as a separate download in the not too distant future!

Day 5 : Saturday Share

A pair of purple socks on sock blockers. The blockers have Winwick Mum etched onto them. There are 2 wooden stitch markers to the left - a frogs and a duck

A view of the sock blockers without the socks. They have adjustable feet

A close up of the pattern and foot of the sock blockers. There are 3 stitch markers to the left - two frogs and a duck

A Doulton Border Leicester ewe and her lamb

Source: Doulton Border Leicesters

Border Leicester sheep

Source: Doulton Border Leicesters

Did I mention how much I like to see socks on blockers? 🙂

Today is Saturday Share in the #YarnFriendsRock challenge and I am delighted to show you these fabulous blockers with my Winwick Mum logo on them which were made for me by Vicky of @d19_ecofriendlylife.  She’s very clever – she can put any name onto her wooden blockers which are also adjustable to fit different sizes of socks so they make a fantastic gift for yourself or another sock knitter.  She also makes super-cute wooden stitch markers too!

I don’t tend to block the socks that are going to end up on my feet, but if they are a gift or to be photographed then I always do because washing and drying the socks gently stretched over the blockers evens up the stitches and, especially in the case of lace socks, shows the pattern off to its full advantage.  If you’d like a pair of personalised blockers for yourself, Vicky has generously offered 10% off with the code WINWICK until Saturday 19 September 2020 – you can find them in her Etsy shop.

The socks on the blockers are my Easy Lace Socks – it’s a free pattern on my blog with an in-depth tutorial and videos to help lace-knitting beginners get started with charts and lace knitting.   You can find it through the link in my profile to the patterns page.  It looks fabulous in so many yarns, whether a solid colour or variegated, and is a very easy pattern to memorise so don’t worry that it will be too much to think about if lace knitting is new to you!

The gorgeous purple yarn is from @doultonborderleicesters; it’s their 4ply in shade Cringle Moor and is a no-nylon yarn which I wanted to try out for socks.  There’s a review on the yarn and how it wore on the blog (find the link in my profile for the no-nylon sock reviews), and there’s a discount on the Doulton Border Leicester website for anyone who might want to try it out for themselves.  What do you think of the photos of the Border Leicester sheep (I always like to know what the sheep look like) – those ears!! Aren’t they just some of the cutest you’ve ever seen?!

Day 6 : Colour Makes Me Happy

A basket of multi-coloured hand knitted socks

Do you match your socks to your mood?

One of the things I love best about hand knitted socks is that bright display of colour every morning when I open my sock drawer to decide which pair to put on.  All of my socks are colourful ones – only my husband has the black pairs for work, but even those have coloured heels and toes which he chooses from my sock leftovers.

I am sure that there are more variations of coloured sock yarn than you could ever choose from a shop – and once you start to get into scrappy socks or helical knitting where you blend coloured stripes, the possibilities are endless.

If you’re new to sock knitting or you want to add contrasts or stripes to your socks, I have a tutorial to help you!  You can find the basic Sockalong beginner tutorials for free on my blog and links to other tutorials on my patterns page, both of which you can get to through the link in my profile.

Now tell me – which colour lifts your mood the most? 🙂

Day 7 : Yarny Home

What do you mean, fruit bowls are for fruit? 🙂

I am quite sure that I am not the only one to look at household objects and wonder how they would work as yarn bowls!  We found this carved wooden fruit bowl which belonged to my late mother-in-law over the weekend when we were doing some clearing out in the attic, and I thought it would be just perfect for holding my on-the-go windowsill sock.

A windowsill sock, you ask?  Well, in our house we have a radiator underneath the window which overlooks the garden and I like to lean against it (especially when it’s on in the colder months) and do a couple of rounds of my latest sock in between other jobs.  It makes me get up (most of my work is at the computer) and also means that I squeeze in extra rounds of knitting during the day – and we all like to squeeze in an extra few minutes of crafting time!

So I was delighted to be able to give this beautifully carved bowl a new lease of life rather than it sitting in a box, and I am sure  my mother in law would be pleased to see it back in use again – even if the contents are not contributing to my 5 a day!

– – –

You might well have been familiar with a lot of what I’ve written because you read my blog, but I realised that I don’t really share that much information on Instagram so it was good to be able to go back to the stories behind the photos.

I promised that I’d show you the prompts in case you want to join in – here they are:

Prompt list from Yarn Friends Rock challenge 2020

There are 12 days to go and I am going to need to get my thinking cap on with some of these prompts, I can tell you – but it’s all good for the little grey cells!  If you’re taking part in the challenge yourself, do let me know your Instagram name so that I can find you and admire your photos!

Have a lovely weekend!

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6 Responses

  1. Unknown says:

    Your collection of knitting needles made me smile, it's almost identical to mine! Some from my Mum when I first started knitting and others I've bought myself over the years, lots of different makes.
    I don't have any windowsill knitting, but I do have my emergency knitting kit, which is a small make-up bag containing dpns, yarn and a battered photocopy of my Mum's hand written sock pattern. This joins me on my drive to work in case I'm stuck in traffic, after being stuck on the motorway for 4 hours once and so bored I read the instructions for my car radio!
    I enjoy reading your musings and your patterns, thanks for sharing,

  2. Celia's Summerhouse says:

    I’ve always knitted and had even knitted a few socks but it was you and your Winwick sock pattern that started my serious sock addiction. I do hold you responsible, although my friends and family will forever be grateful to you. The heroine in my books is of course a sock knitter, Celia Ladygarden and she does have an Instagram account. I wish I could take photographs as well as yours. You make your socks look fab.. love the blog ❤️

  3. Susan Rayner says:

    I have loved the photos and the captions which are quite different from your blog and very enjoyable! I hope you will share the remaining 12 days with us in due course.

  4. selina says:

    i don't have an Instagram account, keeping up with Facebook is challenging enough lol
    i enjoyed this, i do love reading your blog & always look forward to a new post, especially when there's more socks!
    lovely post
    it's just started raining here, it was a very dry winter…

    thanx for sharing

  5. Gretchen Hrusovsky says:

    I'm happy to see this latest post is about socks because I have a question – I "always" do my socks toe up, mainly because I can do a nice stretchy bind off and the cuff will be comfortable BUT my cast ons (and I'm a very loose knitter) are so tight that often I will pick out my cast on and redo it as a bind off after finishing the sock – this is a pain! I'm wondering if perhaps a picot cast on would help with this? Thanks!

  6. Debz says:

    I've never knitted socks b4 I've knitted everything else think I might give it a go xx

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