December

It’s here!  The last month of the year and in just a few short weeks, it’s going to be a whole new year.  It’s really quite incredible, isn’t it?

It snowed on Sunday.  I can’t remember the last time we had snow in November, and certainly not snow that didn’t melt as soon as it landed.

Snow is starting to settle on the grass and plants in the gardenThe snow is still falling and the garden is turning more white as it starts to stickA single pink rose against a background of snowy leaves I felt very sorry for that poor rose, all mixed up and blooming in November – and getting snowed on!  I don’t think it’s what a rose would expect! 🙂

Not so small daughter was, as you can probably imagine, checking out of the window every five minutes to see if we were likely to get snowed in.  Her excitement was contagious and I’m not sure that all of it was to do with the thought of not having to do her exams!  I didn’t like to remind her that thanks to Storm Arwen, there were people without power and heating in other parts of the country who would be very glad if it didn’t turn into snowed-in kind of weather, and if you are one of those people then I hope you’ve been able to stay warm and that your power will be back on very soon xx

The snow was still on the ground on Monday when I went out with the dog.

A black dog stands out against the white of a snow-covered path and the browns and greys of the surrounding hedgerowsFrosted grass lines a snow-covered grass pathway A close up of the frost on the grass stalks Remove term: A close up of snow and ice particles on a grass stalk A close up of snow and ice particles on a grass stalk

Everything looks a bit brown in the photos which is not at all how it looked when I was outside.  It’s funny how we see things differently to what a camera can record, isn’t it?  What I also couldn’t show you in the photo was the frosty bite of the air, the sound of ice cracking under my feet as I walked over frozen puddles and the quiet – oh, the quiet – of a snowy landscape.  It was lovely, there was no one out except the dog and me and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk.

Then later that day the temperature rose (from -2 degrees to 7 degrees!) and the snow had gone as suddenly as it appeared.  The next day, we were back to wet leaves …

A colourful collection of leaves on the ground with Christine's boots for context

and very soggy footpaths.

A flooded footpath with an overflow stream zigzagging through piles of brown fallen leaves. Ahead is a stone bridge flanked by trees and the sky is blue

You might know who was very interested in the water!

The same scene of flooded footpath and leaves with a black dog investigating the water

The temperature has been up and down a bit this week with more blustery winds and heavy rain, but tonight it’s gone cold again – the weather can’t make up its mind!

With all this change in temperature, it’s a good job that I decided to knit a new hat along with Lucy as I think I’m going to be glad of it! 🙂  She’s been talking for a while about wanting to have a go at colourwork knitting and we’d been looking at the Shetland Wool Week hats – first Katie’s Kep from 2020 (I told you we’ve been talking about this for a while!) and then this year’s hat, Da Crofter’s Kep and that’s the one that Lucy has decided to go for.  Not needing much of an excuse to jump in on a colourwork project, I had fallen in love with the Variance Hat by Janette Budge as soon as I saw the colours and that’s the one that’s now on my needles.

If you think you recognise Janette’s name, you do!  I took her online Shetland knitting belt workshop in October and used the technique to knit my Changing Staircases shawl.

A photograph of a colourwork hat in pastel colours is on a wooden table next to four balls of yarn in shades of green and pink, and the rib cuff of a hat on a circular needle

As you can see, I’ve made a start on the rib cuff and I’m really enjoying knitting with the yarn – it’s Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight which has a cult following all of its own and I’m finally catching up!  It’s quite “sticky” to knit with which makes a difference to the much smoother sock yarns that I usually use, but if you’re knitting jumpers or cardigans that are going to involve “steeking” (cutting your knitted fabric – not something that I have ever been brave enough to do!) then a 100% wool yarn that “sticks” to itself instead of unravelling so that you lose your precious stitches is just what you want.

You might also notice that I’m using a circular needle and not my Shetland knitting belt to knit my Shetland hat.  I did think about it, but aside from the fact that it turns out that I haven’t got the right sized needles, I also haven’t got the technique right yet and it’s causing my elbow to hurt so I decided to stick with the method that I’m used to using.  I haven’t worked out yet whether I’m holding the needles in a peculiar way (I think I might be) or whether they’re too long (I’ve used a short circular for such a long time) or whether it’s to do with my posture (again, I think that might have something to do with it) so I need to investigate further as I did enjoy using it before it all started to go a bit wrong.  Janette has suggested sitting opposite a mirror whilst I’m using it to see if it’s more obvious what I might be doing and I’m going to give that a go because I know that it’s me and not the belt or the needles, otherwise nobody else would have been able to use them for all the years that they have!  I’ll get there! 🙂

Let me show you the yarns as they arrived in the box.  Aren’t those colours just gorgeous?  It was quite a wrench to break the balls open to use them, I can tell you, I could have stayed looking at them together for much longer!  But I have to say that I am itching to get the hat onto my head (and hoping that the yarn won’t feel too itchy once it’s on there!) so it had to be done.

Eight balls of Jamieson & Smith yarn in a box lined with white tissue paper. The top four balls are shades of pink and the bottom four balls are white, two shades of green and a green/blue shade. The same eight balls of yarn in the tissue paper-lined box next to a smaller photograph of the completed colourwork hat

Jamieson & Smith yarn is 100% Shetland wool, produced on Shetland from Shetland sheep and the profits of the company go back into the Shetland economy.  It’s hugely popular for colourwork and there are 97 colours to choose from so there is a colourway for every project for everyone!

I bought the original colourway of the hat (there’s a version in shades of blue) from Arnall-Culliford Techniques (and if you think you’ve heard the name on the blog before too, you have!  I used Jen Arnall-Culliford’s helical knitting technique for these socks) – and the pattern is in their Confident Knitting book along with 11 other lovely patterns as the book follows the same style as the other Year of  Techniques books.

If you’re telling me that I have other projects on my needles that I should be finishing off, I’m afraid I can’t hear you as I’ve got my fingers in my ears and I’m singing “la-la-la” very loudly 🙂

I’m hoping this won’t be a project that takes too long, although it seems to be knitting up pretty quickly so far.  I have had to change my needles already – I was using magic loop and I wasn’t really enjoying it so I’ve bought some shorter tips for the 40cm cable that I had in my needle box so that I don’t have to contend with the extra cable.  If nothing else, it makes me feel better about using a 40cm cable that had sat in my box for years because the other tips I have are too long for it!

There’s progress on my Emergency Sock too (more sitting about in the car!) but I’ll show you that next time.

Right, I think that’s me for now – I hope you have a lovely weekend and you are warm, dry and safe wherever you and whoever you’re with.  I’ll catch up with you again next week! xx

 

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38 Responses

  1. Lisa Cooley says:

    Lovely pink rose Christine. Roses are my favourite and I still have a few in my garden braving the cold weather at the moment. I also love the hat you are knitting. I have recently learnt Fair Isle and have recently knitted a Fair Isle hat, and have just picked the colours for a Da Crofters Kep. I love the Shetland wool and all the lovely colours. I’m finding Fair Isle hats are as addictive to knit as socks. I look forward to seeing your finished hat 🌷

  2. Sharon Beauclerc says:

    A lovely blog post. I love the hat. The story of the Shetland wool. 😍

  3. Mary says:

    Great post! I have found over the years that good posture is essential no matter what technique is used to knit. Poor posture once resulted in really painful results and now I try to be aware of posture at all times. Maybe we need some Alexander technique?! Love the hat, I have never tried colour work before, it’s very tempting!

    • winwickmum says:

      You are absolutely right and I think it gets more important as we get older – something that I am in denial about but should really take note of! Colourwork is good fun, there’s an Easy Colourwork Socks pattern here if you fancy trying it out on a pair of socks, but otherwise I can highly recommend the Year of Techniques/Confident Knitting books as Jen has some fabulous tutorials to go with the patterns 🙂 xx

  4. Valarie Garlick says:

    Hi…love the hat.is that brioche or just a different rib…I can’t seem to get brioche for some reason..what is the helical you are talking about please.i love doing socks especially as travelling knitting..
    Loved your pics.. we’re going into summer in NZ.. have a wonderful xmas

    • winwickmum says:

      No, it’s not brioche, it’s K1, P1 rib in two colours but it looks very effective, doesn’t it?! Helical knitting is where you work stripes with two (or more) colours but they work in a spiral – they’re very easy to do and a great way to use up leftovers! This link will take you to the post I wrote about my helical socks. Happy Christmas to you too! 🙂 xx

  5. Fiona says:

    Oh, such gorgeous colours! If the hat does turn out to feel itchy, then perhaps line it with soft cotton?

  6. Catriona Murray says:

    Thank you for a lovely read, and super photographs! I haven’t tried the knitting belt style, I’m glued to my cherished mini circular and carbon DPs, but I know my Grandmother did. I inherited her knitting pins and I always know which were hers because they are all bent to the shape of her body, belt or not she clamped them to her sides.

    • winwickmum says:

      Those are proper heirloom needles! How lovely that they are yours now – even if you don’t use them, it’s nice to know you’ve got something that continues your family knitting tradition, isn’t it? 🙂 xx

  7. Lenore says:

    Fabulous photos; a winter wonderland.
    I love J&S yarn, it’s lovely to knit with. The hat is going to be beautiful. X❤️🌺

  8. Rebecca says:

    I’ve also just started knitting a Shetland wool week hat on 40cm cable with short tips. It’s a bit curly & annoying at the moment! I haven’t done fairilse before so I’m getting in a bit of a tangle 😬 but will persevere as the photo of the finished hat looks beautiful. Good luck with yours.

    • winwickmum says:

      If you soak your cable in hot (but not too hot!) water it should release the kinks in your cable if you have any, but do perserve with the knitting as it straightens itself up as you get further up your hat and the weight of it pulls everything down. Good luck with yours too! 🙂 xx

  9. Absolutely beautiful colors they have come up with for that cap. And your knitting looks so beautiful. Also love the outdoors pictures. Stay warm.

    • winwickmum says:

      The hat colours are amazing, and the colour range in the J&S yarn is incredible so I would definitely recommend looking at them if you ever fancied a colourwork project 🙂 xx

  10. Bernie McDowell says:

    Very nice photos of your garden and frost. What part of the UK am I admiring?

    I live at almost 8000 feet in the mountains West of Denver, Colorado. We had a bit of snow the other day but we are woefully behind in snowpack in our mountains. That could be a big problem with wildfires next summer.

    Happy Holidays to all…

    • winwickmum says:

      I’m in the North West of England – Winwick is half way between Liverpool and Manchester if you have heard of those cities. We don’t get as much snow as some places (we often miss out completely, much to my annoyance!) so it was a real treat for me to see it last weekend! I hope you do get some snow to avoid wildfires, it’s quite scary how many of those are starting over the summer now xx

  11. Barbara says:

    So much to love in this post. Snow of course and those wonderful frosty pictures. The pattern of that hat and most importantly the colour combination of your new wool. If I didn’t have socks to finish I might be joining you hat knitting. Maybe in January. I look forward to seeing how you get on. B x

    • winwickmum says:

      The hat colours are just gorgeous, aren’t they? I knew as soon as I saw the photo that I was going to knit it and they’re just as glorious in real life, if not more so! 🙂 xx

  12. Chickie says:

    Such a lovely read and the photo’s are glorious… I felt like I was walking right alongside you with the dog… definitely needed the wellies when the snow melted! Snow is only for the high country mountain areas here in Australia and it’s a rare event when we have had an inch or so snow lower down… an event much talked about on the news and over the back fence lol! I love your colour choices for your hat. Colourwork is not something I’ve attempted yet, but next year… I might just take the plunge with something simple 😉 Thanks for such a lovely blog post! See you in group!

    • winwickmum says:

      I bet you’d find colourwork easier than you might think – if you already knit socks then you could have a look at my Easy Colourwork Socks as they’re a small project to get started with, but the hat that I’m making isn’t hard so if that felt more up your street then I’d say to give one a go! 🙂 xx

  13. Sherin says:

    What a lovely post to read, your lone rose, the beautiful hat pattern and those colours, oh my goodness, so nice🙂🙂 looks like I’ll have to get some Shetland wool! I bought Lett Loppi from Iceland recently in raspberry for my daughter and purple for me and we are both knitting the same cardi as a mum-daughter project. Is coluourway knitting the same as Faire Isle? I never felt confident to give Faire Isle a go in the past but you have now inspired me to consider it 💖💕love from Sydney, Aus

    • winwickmum says:

      Yes, I think that colourwork and Fair Isle are used as interchangeable terms although I think that strictly speaking, Fair Isle only uses two colours at once whereas colourwork can use more than one. The technique of carrying floats across the back of your work is the same. I love the idea of a mum-daughter project and I hope you’re really enjoying it! 🙂 xx

  14. Lorna White says:

    Your colours are gorgeous and such a lovely design.

  15. Anne says:

    Oh that snow looks so beautiful, magical, wet sodden paths later on not so much. 🙂 At least the dog was happy with all that water. :0

  16. Helen says:

    Such a lovely post. Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Gretchen Hrusovsky says:

    Oh I can sympathize with pain while crafting. A friend suggested we try tatting; after the 4 hour session I came home with stabbing pain in my left hand thumb, and a nagging ache under my left shoulder . . . . perhaps because my English style of knitting doesn’t have my left hand doing much it went into shock with having to be held stiffly, keeping tension, etc. This was last Saturday and I am still recovering and sadly having to go slowly with my “urgent” Christmas knitting! Tatting is so pretty and I had great hopes of edgings for pillowcases and little girls pinafores . . . . guess I’ll leave it to friend Jean!

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, that doesn’t sound good at all! I don’t think that it occurs to us sometimes that we can do ourselves damage with apparently innocuous activities! Ice packs are good if your muscles are sore and my osteopath has told me to regularly massage the tendons that run up my forearms as that will help with shoulder and elbow pains (I needed her advice last week!) so that might be worth a try for you too. I hope you feel better soon! xx

      • Gretchen Hrusovsky says:

        Oh always appreciate suggestions – heating pad and massage have been helping and we have a heating/massaging recliner, too. Hadn’t thought of massaging the forearm tendons but that makes sense and something I can do myself!

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