WYS Socks – the story so far…..! Blogtober 2021 : Day 15

Did you know that I’ve designed over 20 sock patterns for West Yorkshire Spinners?  I must admit that I hadn’t realised it was quite so many myself!

A stack of balls of Signature 4ply from the Winwick Mum Seasons range are gathered together on a mustard-coloured background.

You may well know about the Winwick Mum yarn and patterns, but more about those later … I’ve actually been working with the amazing team at WYS since 2017 and have been using and recommending their fabulous Signature 4ply yarns for socks since before then.  Wow, now that I sit down to write about this – that’s incredible!  The time and the patterns do flash past, don’t they, and it wasn’t until Lucy reminded me about remembering to look back at my patterns instead of always thinking about the next one that I stopped, took a breath and rootled about in my computer files to make sure that I had remembered them all.

This was the first one I designed back in 2017 – the Simple Rib Socks.  I can still remember the day that I was asked if I’d like to design a pattern for WYS and I couldn’t believe it!  I thought all my Christmases had come at once!  My favourite yarn and such lovely people too … I absolutely didn’t hesitate to say yes!

A pair of pink and white striped socks modelled on feet. The is a wire-framed chair in the background.

It really is a very simple pattern – the rib columns are different sizes which adds extra interest to the sock and also when you’re knitting them as 2 x 2 or 3 x 1 rib can get quite boring after a while!  All of my sock patterns are based on my Basic 4ply Socks pattern so that if someone is new to knitting them but the pattern takes their eye, they can get help through the Sockalong tutorials.  Those lovely colours are Pink Flamingo which is the pink striped ball and Candyfloss which is the contrast colour.  The pattern works just as well in a solid colour and is shown on the pattern in a version knitted entirely in Candyfloss as well.  The pattern is still available from WYS stockists (in both printed and PDF forms) and from the WYS website as a PDF download.

Now, if you’re not sure if you have a West Yorkshire Spinners stockist local to you, have a look here at the stockists page which lists stockists both in the UK and overseas.  If there’s nobody local to you, I’m pretty certain that all of the stockists will be happy to post out, plus of course there are the online stores like Black Sheep Wools and Wool Warehouse.  The new yarn shop opening tomorrow (16 October 2021) in Warrington, Stitch Station, is also a WYS stockist but isn’t up on the list yet.  (If you want to come along to the opening, the shop is at 6 Station Road, Great Sankey, Warrington, WA5 1RQ and I’ll be there to admire socks and answer any questions you might have from 10am -4pm.)

I was beyond excited to have been asked to design these socks so you can imagine that everything went completely off the scale when WYS asked me if I would create another design for their new Christmas yarn in that same year.  And no, I didn’t think twice this time either!  I’d already seen the Holly Berry yarn the year before and thought it was lovely so I was really keen to see what was coming next.

It was Candy Cane!

A pair of socks in green, red and white candy cane stripes on a white board background next to a pattern featuring the same pair of socks. Also on the board are pine greenery and two candy cane sticks.

This was another simple pattern, again based on my Basic 4ply Socks but with a difference.  I decided to try out an idea I had had for a new type of heel flap after seeing in my Facebook groups that lots of people found a regular heel flap a bit tight on their feet.  I couldn’t find any other patterns using this technique so I called it the Ribbed Heel Flap and the difference between this one and the regular slipped heel stitch flap is that you purl the stitches in between the slipped stitches and that actually makes it all much more stretchy.  I tried it out on a pair for big daughter’s boyfriend who has the largest feet I knit for and his socks fitted him extremely well so I’d recommend using this technique if you have wide heels.  You can read the blog post all about the Candy Cane socks and the new heel flap and you can still download the pattern for free from the WYS website.  Did I mention that some of the patterns come for free?  Well, let me tell you about it now!  Every Christmas, WYS very generously give away a new pattern with their latest Christmas yarn and you can get a copy whilst stocks last with the yarn, and later on by downloading it from the WYS website.

The next WYS pattern came out at Christmas 2018 and that was for Fairy Lights.  Oh, those colours!  The pattern was an updated version of Candy Cane and again, you can download a copy for free from the WYS website.

A pair of green and multi-coloured striped socks with red cuffs, heels and toes on a black background surrounded by coloured Christmas lights.

If you’re wondering what else I was doing with myself during 2018, I was actually writing my More Super Socks book and yes, I did use WYS yarn for my Zig Zag Rainbow socks which feature in the book as one of the exclusive patterns!  The blog post all about More Super Socks and the Fairy Lights yarn is here.

The other thing, of course, is that although these patterns are for Christmas socks, the process starts very much earlier than the festive season.  In 2019, the Christmas Robin yarn was the latest to join the growing stable of Christmas yarns – initially limited edition but so very popular that they have stayed in stock – and whilst this is the seasonal photo that accompanies the socks …

A pair of brown, white and red striped cable socks modelled on feet which are crossed over each other in a cosy way with Christmas baubles and a wood-burning stove in the background, and a mug of coffee next to the model.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

this was the reality of the design process!

A pair of half-knitted brown, white and red striped cable socks on a small wooden beach table. In the background are a pebbly beach and the sea.

Ah, summer holidays abroad! Remember those? 😀

Oh there are definitely worse places to be working on your Christmas socks! 🤣   The blog post that talks all about this design is here.  This pattern has been renamed Blizten and you can download your free copy from the WYS website here.

That wasn’t the only pattern that I designed using WYS yarn during 2019.  In February of that year, the first Winwick Mum collection of yarn was launched.  Oh my, even now I can still remember what it felt like to hold the first samples of those new yarns – yarn in colour stripes that no one had seen before – and it’s enough to make my eyes prickle with emotion all over again.

There’s a whole page dedicated to my Winwick Mum yarns and all of the blog posts that went with them, from choosing the colours to knitting up the samples, going to the photo shoot and to the Stitches trade show … wow, that whole process was something I never imagined I would ever experience and to have done it twice … well, that’s something I never take for granted.

The four colours in the first collection are (l-r) Hidden Gem, Brightside, Seascape and Wildflower.

Four balls of coloured yarn are lined up on a purple background.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

and they each had their own pattern which told the story of the yarn inspiration.

Hidden Gem was the very first Winwick Mum yarn and inspired by an amethyst tumblestone …

A pair of purple and white striped socks with a twisted stitch panel pattern modelled on feet. One foot is crossed over the other, the toes touching the wooden board floor.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

Brightside – always looking for the positive and just like the blog, the extraordinary in the everyday …

A pair of blue, green, yellow and red striped socks modelled on feet. One heel is lifted off the wooden board floor.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

Seascape, inspired by childhood seaside holidays …

A pair of green, turquoise and blue cabled socks modelled on feet. One foot is crossed over the other, the toes touching the floor.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

and Wildflower, a story of dog walks and Spring blooms.

A pair of pink, purple, blue, green and yellow socks with a flower lace pattern modelled on feet. The model is sitting down and both heels are raised off the floor.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

These patterns come in a book, the Winwick Mum Collection, along with an extra pattern called Mix and Match Heels which gives you a pattern for a basic sock with four different heel versions, each of which are used in the patterned socks in the book.

Copies of a pattern book sit on a wooden floor next to four balls of yarn.

The pattern book is still available – in fact, it’s just been re-printed and now has a spiral binding.  You can get it from WYS stockists as mentioned above, and WYS have recently released the patterns individually too so that you can download one or all of them if you want to.  You can see more information on the patterns in this blog post and it’s worth asking your local yarn shop if they have the patterns available to download – alternatively try Wool Warehouse (UK) or Eskdale Yarns (NZ).

The plain sock pattern from this book was published separately as Seeing Stripes.

Oh my life, this post is turning out to be a bit longer than I expected!  Can you cope with more socks?  Well, I’m going to show you anyway! 🙂

In 2020, West Yorkshire Spinners had their most fabulous Christmas sock yarn year yet.  Yes, there was a brand new yarn called Silent Night but it was a bit different and special because it was sparkly!  And because there had been such a demand for it, the limited edition yarns of Candy Cane and Fairy Lights were brought back – and Fairy Lights was sparkly as well!  It was almost too much for an over-excited sock knitter to take … especially as new patterns were needed and I was so very happy to be asked to design them.  I don’t think we’ll ever forget what a strange year 2020 was, and there’s nothing stranger than sitting in your own back garden on a ridiculously hot Spring day knitting Christmas socks – as peculiar as knitting them on a beach!  There were seven patterns released in total, and all named after Father Christmas’ reindeer which means I can never remember which is which 🙂

Comet is the free pattern for 2020, still available as a download from the WYS website.  It’s a lace panelled sock which looks really pretty in the yarn that is, for the first time, not distinct stripes.

A pair of lace socks in shades of sparkly blue yarn lying across a knitting pattern showing the same socks, and with a tiny paper chain and a small Christmas gnome ornament.

The rest of the patterns came as a book, again spiral bound as West Yorkshire Spinners have made the inspired move to publish all of their pattern books like this now.

There are actually three versions of this sock in the book – this short sock version, a longer version which has calf shaping so that it can be worn as a knee high sock and a slouch version without shaping.  This photo is of Vixen, the knee high version.

A pair of long lace socks in shades of sparkly blue yarn lying across a knitting pattern showing the same socks, and with a tiny paper chain and a ball of the sparkly blue yarn.

The other patterns are Blitzen, which you saw above …

A pair of brown, white and red cabled socks lying on a pattern photo of the same socks next to a miniature paper chain and a ball of the yarn

Dancer, which is a new cable pattern for the sparkly Fairy Lights yarn …

A pair of sparkly blue, green, red and pink striped cabled socks lying on a pattern photo of the same socks next to a miniature paper chain and a ball of the yarn.

Dasher, which is a new pattern for the Holly Berry yarn …

A pair of green and red ribbed socks lying on a pattern photo of the same socks next to a miniature paper chain, a small ceramic reindeer and a ball of the yarn

and Prancer, which is the new mock cable pattern for the Candy Cane yarn.  (I did warn you that I could never remember which reindeer was which, I don’t think these are in the right order according to the famous poem at all! 🙂 )

A pair of green, white and red mock cable socks lying on a pattern photo of the same socks next to a miniature paper chain and a ball of the yarn

There’s a whole blog post dedicated to these socks and the Christmas yarns here.

2020 turned out to be pretty busy as a sock designing year because in April of 2021, this happened!

Balls of coloured yarn lined up together against a red background.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

Yes!  Another Winwick Mum collection, this time called Seasons as all the yarn colourways were inspired by the seasons, and once again there was a pattern that told the story behind the inspiration.

Fresh Shoots in the Spring Green colourway, cables which were inspired by a local farmer …

A pair of green cabled socks modelled on feet. The model is standing on tiptoe. Against the green background are balls of the Winwick Mum Seasons yarn.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

 

Sizzling Rays in the Summer Sunset colourway, lace socks inspired by summer evenings and the setting sun …

A pair of lace socks in shades of pink and orange modelled on feet. The model is standing on tiptoe. Against the red background are balls of the Winwick Mum Seasons yarn.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

 

Falling Hues, lacy leaves in the Autumn Leaves colourway …

A pair of lace socks in shades of brown, green and yellow modelled on feet. The model is standing on tiptoe. Against the mustard background are balls of the Winwick Mum Seasons yarn.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

 

and Frosted Ice, another lacy design, this time in the colourway Winter Icicle, inspired by the Ice Hotel in Sweden and delicate swirly frost patterns.

A pair of lace socks in shades of blue and turquoise modelled on feet. The model has one heel raised. Against the blue background are balls of the Winwick Mum Seasons yarn.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

Oh, I so enjoyed designing these socks!  All the while they were on my needles, I could see the memories as clearly as if I were standing in them again, and because we all experience the seasons, I know that the colourways will bring up all kinds of memories for everyone who knits them as well.  My post on designing them is here.

The Seasons patterns are available both in a spiral bound book and also as individual patterns – stockists are as above for the first Winwick Mum collection.

A spiral bound pattern book with a picture of brown, green and yellow stripy socks on the cover entitled "Seasons" is surrounded on one side by four balls of yarn.

This year’s Christmas sock yarn is Vintage Tinsel and there was another new pattern (oh, how I love those “Now, about the Christmas socks for this year …” conversations with WYS!) which arrived in the shops a couple of months ago – Twinkle Toes.  You might guess from the name that the yarn is another sparkly one and you’d be absolutely right!

A pair of red, blue, purple, green and pink striped sparkly socks modelled on feet. The feet are crossed at the ankle and surrounded by Christmas tinsel, baubles and gift ribbon.

Once again, the paper pattern is free with the yarn whilst stocks last and there’s a free download from the WYS website here.

These socks are inspired by tinsel and the twisted stitch panel in the centre actually looks like a length of the sparkly tinsel that you would wrap around a Christmas tree!  The blog post all about these socks is here.

And that’s the story nearly done for now … but not quite!

There’s a brand new collection available from West Yorkshire Spinners which has just been launched, a collection with an iconic British designer which features socks …

Zandra Rhodes stands in one of her knitted designs against a pink background. Her hair matches the backdrop.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

You might just recognise the design style of Lottie

A model wearing wide-legged yellow trousers is sitting on a wooden ladder in a brick barn. On her feet are a pair of socks in stripes of blue, pink, red, green and yellow with red cuffs and toes.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

Kelly

A model wearing a red skirt is sitting on a wooden box. On her feet are a knee-length pair of socks in stripes of blue, green, pink and red.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

and Tiia (complete with flowers!)

A pair of knee-high socks with a seam up the back are modelled on slim legs. One foot is raised with the toes touching the floor. The socks are wide stripes of red, pink and marled pink yarn.

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

It’s quite an experience to create a pattern from someone else’s drawings – it’s quite different to asking someone what they would like and then thinking the design up for yourself.  I’ll write more about it in another blog post so do look out for that one.

You know, I think it really is a good thing that we don’t know what’s ahead of us – both good and bad – because although it’s unbelievably amazing to think that I have created the patterns to Dame Zandra’s designs for this stunning collection, if you’d told me that I’d be doing this way back in 2017, I think the thought of it would have frightened the life out of me!   Now, though, it feels like the most natural thing in the world and wouldn’t change it for anything.  I am truly blessed.

So that’s it … the story so far … and is there more to come?  Let’s just say we’re not ready to close the book just yet!

 

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24 Responses

  1. Charlotte says:

    All the patterns are beautiful and socks are my favorite thing to knit. Maybe because they are small and knit up so fast. Thank you for the comment about Becky Excell as I have been gluten free with a struggle for a long time. Ordered and have received her first book.

    • winwickmum says:

      Thank you, that’s wonderful to hear – and I’m so glad that the Becky Excell website has been useful to you as well. My coeliac friend told me that Becky’s book is one of her most used in the kitchen now so hopefully it will be the same for you! xx

  2. Joann Felker says:

    What a lovely walk down memory lane. I’ve enjoyed so many of your patterns and yarn.

  3. Miriah Greenwood says:

    Hi
    I am knitting Twiddle Muffs for dementia patients, so the have something to do with the fidgety hands. They are fun to make.

  4. michelle wise says:

    in 2019 i knitted the first sock of the design using robin and got 2nd sock syndrome as i didn’t like making the little cables one day i hope to finish the mate

  5. Donna Stupfel-Smith says:

    Congratulations! I have enjoyed all the yarn and patterns!

  6. Ruthie says:

    Wow, what a story! Well deserved success, your designs and colours are fabulous.

  7. Sarah Murray says:

    What a fabulous selection of socks! Makes me want to but more yarn and patterns 🙂

  8. Bridget says:

    Thank You for all you do for us in the sock world. I have been knitting for 45 years plus at it was only when we went into lockdown last year I taught myself to knit socks. Then I found you and my world has exploded into sockland ha ha. I cant stop knitting them. I wish I lived closer to Warrington as I would be on the door step. I wish you every success with the opening of your new shop.

    • winwickmum says:

      Thank you – it’s not my shop, I was just visiting but it’s lovely and I know it’s going to be a huge asset to the area. I think once you discover socks there’s no going back 🙂 xx

  9. Juliana Ellington says:

    I’m stunned! I haven’t been following your blog very long, so I did not know your story. What beautiful socks/patterns you have created!

  10. Michele says:

    Well that’s me hooked, wool and needles ordered, pattern downloaded I hope I can understand the instructions on the sock along.
    I need really easy instructions that’s why I love Lucy from Attic 24 so much, which is where I wondered over from.

  11. debbie hotchkiss says:

    Have you a patterned sock in DK please

  12. Kathryn says:

    I am way behind with reading thanks to a long weekend away, but coincidentally caught up with this post while wearing a pair of your Christmas socks – not exactly as written as they are the Dancer pattern in Holly Berry, but still a good combination of yarn and pattern. I definitely need to get Twinkle Toes!

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