Winter Haven KAL 2021 – Week 1

Hello!  It’s week 1 of the Winter Haven KAL 2021!

Ooh, it’s not been a very bright start to the year so far, has it – back in lockdown in the UK, virus restrictions and unrest elsewhere in the world … it definitely feels like a time to be hunkering down in our Winter Havens, no matter where you live!

The next four weeks of this KAL are all about us, about us allowing ourselves even a few moments in the day to pick up our knitting and shut out the outside world.  I know that it won’t be easy this year, what with people working at home, schools back to remote learning and our usual freedoms curtailed, but that just makes it all the more important that we find our own eye of the storm to take a breath and get ready for what comes next.

Outside, the Earth is still resting, getting ready for the Spring when the new life will burst from the trees and the ground, and although we may have hit the ground running after New Year with new resolutions and plans, it’s still OK for us to allow ourselves the time to “warm up” to the year to come.

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.

So what is this Winter Haven, then?  Is it just a chair by the fire, or some other place that you like the look of?

Pretty much, yes!  It’s important that it’s somewhere that you feel comfortable, where you can sit and think as well as sit and knit.  It’s going to be your safe space, your command centre, your eye of the storm.  You don’t have to sit there for hours but you know that the minute you are there, it’s as if you’ve been able to step off the world for a few moments to get your breath back.  I think that certainly at the moment, we all need some place like that!

The Winter Haven KAL is about making that space and that time out a habit, at least for this month.  It’s about knitting (or crafting) a project that makes your heart sing, certainly, but it’s also about more than that.  For me, it’s about fitting my own oxygen mask before helping others, and whilst knitting is a vital part of that for me, there is more that I can do to prepare the ground for the coming seasons.

Each week, I’ll talk about what else I’m doing to recharge my batteries during the dark Winter days, and I hope there will be something useful in there that you might like to try too.  There’s no rush here, no deadlines, just ideas to consider whilst you sit in your space and let your fingers work their yarny magic.

You can look back at the Winter Haven KAL 2021 Countdown post for more information on what this KAL is all about if you’re new here (hello to you!)

🕯 My space

You may recognise my space from last year!  It’s a rocking chair by the fire and it’s a good comfy chair for sitting and knitting.  Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, one of the cats will come and stretch out along my legs as I’ve got them up on the footstool – although that does tend to make my “few minutes” last a lot longer as there’s something so very warm and comforting about a sleeping cat on your legs!  It’s a good excuse to get a few extra rounds in!

My husband brought his record player downstairs over Christmas (he’s been working in the spare room and it was up there with him – something that I was very grateful for when he felt the need for a heavy rock moment – his own version of the Winter Haven KAL!) and that’s been really nice as I’ve been playing more of my old records that haven’t really been touched much since my teenage days.

The lamp arm that you can see is a general reading lamp, not a hobby lamp of any kind, and it’s a bit temperamental which is why I’ve got it pushed out of the way!

I’m looking forward to seeing your Havens as we go along – I spotted on Instagram that Yorkshire Quilter has her Winter Haven kit all ready to go … by the looks of that yarn I think there might be a pair of knee high socks about to be cast on too!

Source: @YorkshireQuilter on Instagram

What does your space look like?  Is it somewhere that you think you can sit and have a few minutes to yourself?  Have you chosen it yet?  Part of creating a Winter Haven is making it feel as cosy as you can.  Embracing Hygge, if you like, which loosely translates as “cosy” but it is much more than that, because it’s as much about experiences and feelings as about blankets and candles.  You might not want to evoke “cosy” quite so much if you’re in 40 degree heat, but you can be comfortable and still have your own Haven space for sitting and knitting and thinking.

Well, that sounds very good but how is the KAL going to work if I’m sitting and thinking?  And how is it going to work if everybody is doing their own thing?

It will work because it’s one of those magic things where everybody is connected by the yarn and by intention, even if they’re doing their own thing.  Actually, I think it will work brilliantly well because we’re not all going to be doing the same thing.  One of the things that I love most about the internet is being able to see life in another part of the country or even the world and I hope that we’ll be able to share some of that through the KAL.  I’d really like you to be part of my blog posts – let me know what you’re up to, show me your photos and let’s make sure that we’re all connected.

To join in with the KAL you’ll be using either Winwick Mum yarn and/or a Winwick Mum pattern so that connects us even if we’re not all making the same project – and is, I think, a much more flexible way of us all being able to join in together as not everybody wants to make the same thing all the time.  The knitting itself is part of the whole experience; a way to sit and be creative even as your hands are busy, because all the best ideas come when you are relaxed and there’s some thinking to be done over the next couple of weeks – it’s not all about sitting and knitting whilst we eat treats!

And whilst we’re on the subject of knitting …

🕯 Project

Have you chosen your project yet?  Thank you so much for all your lovely comments on the Basic 4ply Knee High Socks – I’m really looking forward to seeing lots of pairs of those!

Although I designed the Knee High Socks for the KAL, I’m also looking forward to seeing what else you might have chosen to work on – remember that it doesn’t have to be these socks or even socks at all as there are other patterns to choose from on my patterns page.  I’d love to know what you have picked that’s going to make your heart sing, what yarn you have chosen – have you bought new?  Have you used stash?  You can let me know through social media on Instagram (use the hashtag #WinterHavenKAL) or Facebook, or send me an email (you can find the email link in the sidebar with the social media icons on the left).  If you have photos, I’d love to share them on Instagram and also through the weekly blog posts so do get in touch!

I’m knitting another pair of Knee High Socks – I don’t always wear the pairs that I make for patterns as I often need to photograph them again and they don’t look quite as impressive once they’ve been walked miles on my feet 😀.  I’m using stash yarn (remember it’s OK to use other yarns with your Winwick Mum pattern!) – this one is from Urth Yarns, it’s a Uneek sock pack of two 50g balls of self-striping yarn and I’m hoping to be able to use up all of the ball.  I’m starting with a good deep cuff in navy blue solid yarn and then joining in the colour – it’s not always easy to tell with a cuff down sock how far the yarn will go on a knee high sock which is why having more than 100g if you want to keep the colours the same is a good idea!

Yes, I have made a head start but that’s only so that I’ve got something to show you in the photos each week! 🙂

🕯 This week’s recipe

Last year, the idea of making our own treats went down really well and I’ve got more than a few recipes bookmarked that were suggested by you!  I thought we’d do that again this year – you don’t have to make whatever I make each week, but do find yourself something that is a treat, whether sweet or savoury, to munch whilst you’re in your Winter Haven if you are able to do that (I know that January often means cutting back!).  Your Winter Haven needs to be a space where you feel like nothing is more important than you at that particular moment – that’s how you refill your own well-being tanks! – so if a tasty treat helps you do that, so much the better!

I thought I’d go for something quick and easy this week, and Scotch pancakes always go down a storm in our house (fortunately, the batter makes more than I can eat on my own so nobody is pinching my Haven treat!).  They’re very simple to make:

4 oz self raising flour

1 oz sugar

1 egg

1/4 pint of milk

Mix the ingredients together into a batter then drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a hot frying pan.  I cook on an Aga so I use a sheet of Bake-o-Glide on the simmering plate.

When you see bubbles appearing on the surface of the pancake, turn it over for a few minutes and then transfer to a plate.

We eat ours with butter (Flora for big daughter), small daughter likes maple syrup on hers, and Scotch pancakes will forever be one of my favourite memories of visiting my Uncle Harry (he of my very first pair of socks ever) and Aunt Ella in Dundee as she always used to make them when we visited and serve home made blackberry and apple jelly to go with them.  Delicious!

If you are lactose-intolerant as big daughter is, you can use non-dairy milk and that works just as well – we often make them with soya or almond milk and they’re still lovely.  I’m afraid I don’t know about vegan non-egg options, or what the US alternative to self-raising flour is!

🕯 Something green

Did you manage to find some flowers or a plant for your Haven?  We’re still surrounded by the house plant jungle and I’ve moved this plant over from the window sill for now ….

It was on it’s last legs and I have somehow managed to coax it back to life on the kitchen window sill but really, it’s getting a bit big to be there now.  I’ll see how it gets on away from the window and it might have found a new home over with the other plants!

🕯 Light it up!

I got really into having candles burning around the house during last year’s Winter Haven KAL and I have so enjoyed keeping that up over the year.  Sometimes they’re scented candles, sometimes they’re tea lights in holders but that spark of flickering light gives off waves of calm like nothing else.

I treated myself to a new wax melt burner last year and I have so enjoyed trying out new scents – they don’t last as long as a candle which is great if you don’t like the smell and some scented candles are not my cup of tea!  So far, I’ve tried out melts from a few different places to see which sort I like best (recommendations always welcome!) and I’ve also had the bright idea of melting the last of the wax in a scented candle (I obviously don’t burn them quite right as I always end up with unmelted wax at the bottom) and pouring that out into an old yoghurt pot to make my own and enjoy the last of the candle.

I’m really enjoying these lights around the mirror too.  I bought them for the KAL last January but everybody loved the so much that I left them up.   They run on batteries and have a timer so they come on themselves and often I’ll walk into the room and the mirror is lit up with sparkles of coloured lights and that always makes me smile.

I’m still burning a lot of tea lights as well, but I love the soft glow of the tea lights and even in the daytime they add to my sense of well-being.

🕯 Listen up!

What do you like best in your Haven space – peace and quiet or something to listen to?

Usually, I like it to be quiet, and more recently now that everyone’s been working at home, it’s been harder to be quiet as there’s usually the muffled beat of music playing somewhere in the house.  I’m not quite sure when I changed from someone who needed the music on all the time to someone who likes the sound of silence, but interestingly, now that the record player is downstairs and it’s being used more, I am enjoying less silence and more music again!

Big daughter and I discovered that independently, we’d both been listening to more country music and it’s been really nice to discover that our tastes coincide.  I always used to think that country songs were a very particular genre and often involved sad songs about dying dogs, but it turns out that in the way of the world, country music has evolved to more genres, some of which suit me very well, and this week I have been listening to Ingrid Andress and Luke Combs.

Next week, it may be quite different but doing the KAL definitely makes me think more about what makes me feel calm and happy and this is doing the trick for me this week!

So what about you?  What do you like to listen to in your Haven?  Music?  Talking?  You might even play an instrument yourself and take that into your Haven.  I play the piano but don’t spend nearly enough time practising so that might well be one of the things I want to think about over the coming weeks – I enjoy playing and I know it’s good for my hands to move in a different way to how I hold them to knit so I should play more.

🕯 Self-care

Self-care comes in different forms.  For some people, it’s a bit of personal pampering, for others it’s taking time out in the fresh air, and for others it’s writing things down on a huge list so that you don’t worry that that you’re going to forget everything that’s in your head.

At this time of year, there are so many options to get us into good self-care habits, from calendar sheets to habit trackers in planners to meditations … the list goes on and whatever your view of self-care is, there will be something for you.

Sitting and working on your knitting project is self-care time (I never EVER call it “selfish” knitting because knitting for yourself is important!) and that might be enough for you, especially if you’re one of those people who is very good at looking after those around you and forgetting to look after yourself in the process – because many of us are – and as appealing as the idea of taking time out to pamper yourself might be, it’s not always practical.

Self-care is also about looking after your best interests and being a friend to yourself.  We’re often harder on ourselves than we would ever be to someone else and I’m hoping that we can all take time in our Winter Havens to think about that, and perhaps be a little kinder to ourselves.  This year, being kind to myself means that I am going to try really hard not to write myself huge daily to-do lists, under-estimating how long everything takes and over-estimating how much I can actually get done.  I had been complaining to my friend Lucy (yet again) about not getting everything I wanted to do finished and she sent me this link – oh my life, a lightbulb went on and THIS is what I am going to do this year!  One thing at a time!

I’m also going to be getting back into menu-planning – I wrote about this last year and I’ve been pretty good at keeping the menu going – it felt especially important during the first lockdown last March when I needed some kind of routine to help make the world feel normal.

I’m going to add my book recommendations into this Winter Haven category as well, because I know that knitting and reading go very well together!  I’m not someone who can actually read and knit (although if I read an e-book on my laptop and knit a plain sock it’s not too bad) so I do have to take time out to read – no bad thing!

I’ve started on my Christmas pile and am about half way through My One True North by Milly Johnson.  I love Milly Johnson’s books; they’re easy to read but the plots aren’t too simple.  They’re written with humour and kindness (the Daily Trumpet newspaper columns make me hoot with laughter) and even the “baddies” are dealt with in a way that leaves the reader feeling good about their fate.  I know that fiction books are very subjective and this won’t be to everyone’s taste – just as the book you’re reading might not be to mine – but isn’t it wonderful how we are transported out of ourselves with words?

🕯 Thank you

Did you remember the book from last year?  It’s all about saying “thank you!”  Thank you for being here!  But more than that this is also an important part of our Winter Haven.  We can get so busy living life from day to day that we forget to be grateful for what we have, and that’s where your notebook and pen come in.

Keeping a “gratitude journals” might sound a bit wishy washy but it’s actually very powerful and thinking about what you’ve appreciated during the day or the week is a good way to remind yourself that life isn’t all bad.  And more than that, the more that you focus on what’s good in your life, the more of that you’ll attract and notice – and we could all do with a bit of that at the moment, couldn’t we?!

So go ahead and open up your notebook and think about what you want to write.  You can call it “gratitude”, or “blessings”, or “positive thoughts”, or whatever you’d like to, but write something that you are grateful for.  And there’s always something to be grateful for – even down to the air that you breathe, the clothes that you wear and having food on the table.  See if you can find three things over the week to write down.  You might think of more and that’s wonderful, but don’t feel pressured into writing every day if you’re not inspired to.

You might also choose to write down something good that’s happened to you, or a compliment that someone paid you – these are also something to be grateful for, but again it’s that thing that the more you tune into the good things, the more of them you’ll have, and noticing positive experiences is definitely something to cultivate!

And there we are … Week 1.  I hope this has given you some ideas for your time in your Winter Havens!  Next week, I hope to have more of your projects and ideas to share, so do tell me about your Winter Havens and your projects because I can’t wait to hear all about them!

Until next week xx

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22 Responses

  1. Geeha says:

    Thank you for KAL and to passing on Lucy's suggestion of "one thing at a time". However I am already breaking it by crocheting her Meadow CAL blanket at the same time as your KAL. I am not skilled at crochet so am allowing myself to relax with your Hidden Gem yarn and ABC cowl pattern. Hoping you have been able to enjoy walks in the snow, it's still lingering here in North Worcestershire. Wishing you and all the family all the best for 2021

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh, I have no intention of applying the "one thing at a time" rule to my knitting! 🙂 It is working really well for everyday things, though, so for example if I'm replying to emails then I finish that before jumping into looking at Facebook or remembering that I need to empty the washing machine and going to do that straight away. Wishing you all the best for 2021 too! xx

  2. Unknown says:

    Thank you so much for this Christine. It is great to set in place a haven in the middle of this cold, dark, lonely, winter January. Looking forward to seeing folk's projects and havens.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I always love to see what people are up to, and I think it helps to remind us that it's OK to have a space to be cosy and recharge our batteries by seeing others do the same 🙂 xx

  3. linda says:

    I'm joining in with this Christine, I have already started some ankle socks using your pattern and then I intend trying the knee high socks using some lovely yarn I have on a cone, I'm so pleased I have found a use for it. It's ages since I had scotch pancakes I'll definitely be making some of those, the book looks good too. Happy Knitting. xx

  4. Yorkshire Quilter says:

    Thanks for sharing my preparation picture!!
    I work in a school and can get away with knitting during zoom meetings, so have managed to make a start on my socks this week!
    I've also tried to make myself take a break at lunchtime. Instead of eating my sandwich whilst answering emails, I've taken to watching YouTube videos and getting in a bit more knitting. I watched your appearance on Yarn Lane the other day and have rewatched some of your knitting tutorials! I find switching off really helps and Pepe are much less likely to interrupt me because it's obvious I'm not working!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh that's a good idea, I'm not great at stopping for lunch but a proper knitting break – well, that sounds like a brilliant idea! 🙂 I've also worked out that keeping my hands low means I can knit during Zoom meetings without anyone noticing – or if they do, nobody has said anything! 🙂 xx

  5. Unknown says:

    On a day when everything is grey dull and cold with depressing news all around, this blog has lifted me and made me see tomorrow can be a better day. Heres to the positive. Thank you for your inspiration.
    Maybe pankakes for breakfast tomorrow.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Ah, that's lovely to hear, thank you, and I really hope that your mood has lifted now. Pancakes are perfect for breakfast! xx

  6. Unknown says:

    Lovely blog.

  7. Leah B says:

    I guess I need to start on another pair of socks so I can join along. I think its just what my mental health needs. I am working on a blanket but its more of a to do with t.v. knit along.

  8. Susan Rayner says:

    Just reading your blog about the KAL has made me feel less stressed and much happier! Thank you!

  9. Lisa says:

    I've started on a third pair of socks using your basic sock pattern for this KAL. Previously I used DPNs but this time followed your instructions for short circulars. 40cm so not as short as yours so I added a small magic loop. Once I got the hang of it, it was a game changer. Thankyou

  10. selina says:

    well my cosy place was in my craft room but now it will have to be the loungeroom as i can't get into the craft room atm
    i was planning on doing wave stripes but discovered i don't have anymore stripey yarn, only gradient & not sure the ripple/waves would work in it; mmm, will have to think on it
    enjoying this KaL so far
    thanx for sharing

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You could probably work the ripples in gradient but they might not be as obvious as stripes. Let me know what you decide to do as I'll be really interested in how they turn out if you use the gradient yarn! xx

  11. Heidijo says:

    If you want self raising flour in America it is all purpose flour with a tea spoon of baking powder.

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