Weather warnings

Hello, and here we are again – another weekend and another storm whatever-it’s-called has wreaked havoc across the country.  We have so many of these storms these days, don’t we?  I hope that you have been able to keep warm, dry and safe wherever you are.  We lost our phone line yesterday in the wind and our backup mobile wifi router wasn’t up to the job of uploading my blog post whilst everyone else was using it too so here I am, early in the morning whilst nobody else is up yet and hoping that it will work this time!

The sky was bright and there was no wind at all when I got up yesterday morning so I zoomed (as fast as I zoom on a half-term school holiday Friday morning!) out into the garden to take some photos.  The garden is definitely waking up now and it’s lovely to see.  I can also see how much work needs doing but everywhere is very wet and the weather really hasn’t been good this week so I am afraid I’ve been very lazy and stayed indoors as much as I could!  (Not so small daughter has taken this one step further and stayed in bed whenever she could … 🙂 )

That sky does look ominous, doesn’t it?!

An ominous-looking sky of dark clouds above a roof top

It was surprisingly mild when I got outside – well, not surprising, really, as it’s been mild all Winter and I’m just glad that we got some snow in November because it really doesn’t look like I’m going to be seeing any before the Spring is really here!  It was very still too, that “calm before the storm” that you get before the elements unleash their might against your windows and rattle the doors.

Down at the bottom of the garden, our daft ducks seemed unfazed by the impending storm.  Big daughter stopped shutting them in their house overnight during the Summer as it was warm at night and now they seem to have forgotten how to go up the little ladder to get in there so they have been outside all Winter.  If you try to put them in, they squawk and flap as if all hell is breaking loose and you really wonder if it’s worth the effort!

Three white ducks standing outside a wooden duck house

They like to go behind their house underneath the nesting box so we have put some boards against the mesh there to give them a bit of shelter from the wind and left them to it.  They’ve got food, water, somewhere to swim and somewhere to get out of the cold and wind so we’re hoping that they will go inside if they get cold.  I think our ducks might be turning feral and it’s a good job they are inside their enclosure so we know where they are … they really are daft creatures!

Elsewhere in the garden, the plants are starting to come back to life.  There are snowdrops everywhere – I really don’t think I’ve ever seen so many of them in the garden, but I think I say that every year.  They are so lovely with their delicate white flowers … I could probably do without them growing through the patio or in the middle of the grass but they’re not here for long so I am going to enjoy them while they are.

Snowdrops growing through a gap in paving stones

Snowdrops in the foreground of a garden border

Snowdrops and purple hellebores in a garden border

The Hellebores are out too.  I do like Hellebores very much and have quite a few different varieties – and a few that have cross-pollinated so I have a range of colours from white to deep purple – and these green ones on the Helleborus arguifolius or Corsican Hellebore.  I photograph these strange green flowers every year; I never get tired of seeing them!

A green flower on a Corsican hellebore

Purple hellebores in a garden border

Also in flower at this time of year is the Vibernum bodnatense “Dawn”.  I cut this back quite hard a couple of years ago and the flower heads have been much bigger ever since so it is obviously appreciating the space!

Large pink flowerhead of Viburnum bodnantense "Dawn"

I had a good look around the garden for the first time in a few weeks, seeing what treasure I could spot amongst the brown and emerging green.

These Skimmia (Skimmia japonica) flowers are just that, tiny jewelled beads amongst the green leaves!

Red Skimmia flowers against green leaves

These plants are a staple of Christmas planters because there’s not a great deal of flowery choice over the Winter; this bush probably started off as a tiny plant in a pot arrangement but it’s very happy being full size in the garden now – and I am very happy to see it in the Winter too!

It’s nearly time to cut back the papery flower heads of the Hydrangea – usually I do this before the Winter but this year I decided to leave them and they do look lovely.  There are differing schools of thought over whether cutting them early affects the blooms for the following year, but I haven’t noticed that it makes much difference to this plant.  It seems to do whatever it likes and chooses to be whatever colour it wants to be each year too!

Brown papery flower head of Hydrangea plant

Just before I headed back into the house, I spotted these new leaves appearing on the Clematis plant.  From the house, it looks as if nothing is happening and going through my gardening to-do list in my head, a big chop was planned for this plant – but look!  New leaves and new life already.  We are not always required to give helping hands to plants as they know exactly what they are doing themselves!

With a last look around before I went back indoors, I looked up and saw this birds nest.  I hoped it would be safe when the storm came – although it’s quite possible that it’s uninhabited at the moment.  Still, I don’t like to think of anything being blown away!

A birds nest in a tree against a blue and cloudy sky

Back inside, all was still calm although the light was definitely changing and something was definitely on the way.

I made myself a brew and sat with my indoor flowers for a while.  My husband bought me this rose plant for Valentine’s Day – we don’t usually buy each other gifts these days but he said that it caught his eye and he wanted to bring me some flowers that would last a bit longer than cut ones.  They’re lovely, and I’m very glad that he did!  It will be quite a while till there are roses in the garden again so I will keep these ones going for as long as I can.

We’re still in that transition time between Winter and Spring – you think that it might be more Spring than Winter and then the weather reminds you that it’s not at all.  The first drops of rain had started to rattle on the windows as I took this photo of my new Emergency Sock.  Considering that I only pick it up when I’m waiting in the car, it surprises me how quickly it grows and this is how much I’ve done already.  By the time my brew was finished, the wind had risen to an incredible speed, whistling around the house and hurling rain and hailstones against the windows.  It makes me very grateful that I have a house to be safe inside.

A partly-knitted sock in shades of blue, turquoise and cream on a short circular needle

In case you missed last week’s post and you’re wondering what the yarn is, it’s Winter Icicle from my Winwick Mum collection with West Yorkshire Spinners.  There hasn’t been much progress on it this week as not so small daughter has been on half term holiday – and I’ve realised even as I’m writing this that there hasn’t been much to share about the holiday either.  In previous years, there would be some event in the week that would merit a blog post of its own but this year, not so small daughter has been reading … and reading … and reading … and that’s pretty much it.  She’s got mock exams coming up in a week or so and whilst there perhaps should have been a bit more revision going on, holidays are for resting and reading for pleasure is a far better way to rest your brain than watching Netflix, I think.  There’s time for (yet more) room clearing or whatever we tended to do in half term holidays another day.

Whilst I’m talking about socks and before I forget, thank you for all your comments last week and your thoughts about whether I should fix the mistake in the green sock.  It appears that you know me better than I know myself and you are absolutely right – I can try to talk myself into leaving it as much as I like but we both know that’s never going to happen.  Susan suggested that I show you the process of dropping the stitches to repair the mistake and I must say that it’s something that I do so often that I hadn’t thought of doing that, but I will certainly see if I can photograph the process as I go along.  Of course, if it all goes horribly wrong then I’ll just pretend I ripped it all out to re-knit it from that point 🙂

Thank you also for your comments on my post about our cat, Mike.  I tucked the posts in about him and Toffee so that I would remember them in my own timeline but you still found them – thank you.  We’re so sad that he left us so soon after Toffee and even the dog is missing him (he insisted on going outside in middle of the night for no reason a few times when he was first on his own – we think he was looking for the cats), and we’ve also realised that our home isn’t complete without cats so we’re hoping to have a new pair of kittens come to live with us this year.  Yes, I know there are lots of older cats who need a home but although our dog loved his own cats, he isn’t good with others so we won’t put either of them through that.  I’ll keep you posted if we have new arrivals.

Finally, before I leave you – going to try to upload this whilst I can! – I can’t remember if I showed you my finished Variance Hat.  (The light was definitely going at this point, I needed candles! 🙂 )

A colourwork hat and a candle on a white background

It’s still not blocked because I am going to use a balloon to get the shape to dry my hat on, and I can’t blow balloons up.  Never have been able to.  I can get them to the very first bit when you puff the air into them but then after that, it feels like my head is going to explode but no matter how hard I blow, no more air goes into the balloon.  Clearly it’s a design fault with me because the rest of my family can manage it – I just need to remember to ask them to do it before they all go out!

Anyway, at least the hat is finished now and even if it’s only ready to wear next Winter, it’s done … although I suspect that we’ve not seen the end of this year’s Winter yet!


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38 Responses

  1. Karen says:

    I had to laugh at not being able to blow up the balloons – in my family it is I that can not do that. Your knitting and gardens are all so pretty. I always leave my hydrangea to be cut back in the spring and just cut the cane before any new growth and the plant flowers really well. I heard about the horrible winds in the UK the other day it sounded pretty bad.

    • winwickmum says:

      I’m glad it’s not just me who can’t blow up balloons! The winds were really bad over the weekend and more is forecast next week so I’m not sure whether I’ll get out to cut my hydrangea or not, but I think I will need to pretty soon as the new growth is already showing! 🙂 xx

      • Geeha says:

        I can’t blow up balloons either. Years ago I had a cardboard balloon pump, two cylinders each with an open end slotted together went one having a plastic nozzle. It needed hefty pressure towards the end. The cardboard eventually broke down but by then I had sons old enough to do the job.

        • winwickmum says:

          Oh, you’ve reminded me! We used to have a cardboard balloon pump just like that – that probably disintegrated as well. I don’t blow up enough balloons now to merit looking for a new one, I just need to remember to ask someone to do it for me .. a bit like you! 🙂 xx

  2. Mary says:

    I’m so sorry about your cat. I have two Tabby cats (twins) and I would be broken hearted if they weren’t here. My two dogs have great fin playing with them. I’m sure that your dog would take to having a new companion. Our introductions were slow but well worth it as they all share a bed and snuggle up together. Have a good mid term. Ours is over now and we await our Easter break.

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh how lovely that your dogs and cats all cosy up together! I’m hoping that will happen here if we get kittens – although the dog isn’t always keen on sharing his bed! 🙂 xx

  3. Susan Rayner says:

    The hat is lovely – I block mine on balloons too – thankfully I can blow them up as my husband can’t! Your garden is looking wonderful – so full of hope.
    I missed the post about your cat Mike and I am so sorry – when we lost the last of our cats (a long tme ago) our dog at the time was distraught and looked for her everywhere! We kept thinking we saw them out of the corner of the eye for months – if not even now sometimes!
    Thank goodness you have survived the winds – “only” tree damage locally here and the river about to overflow the banks – but so sad to see so many huge trees down – several roads blocked but chainsaws going all day long today to clear up.
    Back to socks knitting for me tomorrow – I have reached the sewing up stage of my cabled jumper which seems to have taken ages! Probably like your lovely hat for next winter now! Photo to follow on FB in due course.
    Take care and enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    • winwickmum says:

      If your dog was looking for your cats then it’s quite likely that’s what ours was doing too – we weren’t sure if we were finding reasons for him that didn’t exist! Yes, we keep seeing ours out of the corner of our eyes too; fleeting glances that seemed real at the time. I look for him at the door every time I pass too – they were only small but they took up a big space in our family! I’ll look forward to seeing your jumper, and I’m glad the storm didn’t cause you any damage. Trees are down here too but luckily don’t seem to have caused too much chaos xx

  4. Ruth Howard says:

    Thanks Christine – lovely post – lovely spring flowers coming too – I have noticed some in our minute patch and pots too!! – pleased you haven’t suffered too much during the storm – we didn’t either thankfully 😅- love the new colours of your 🧦 socks – I have haven’t done anything with my faulty sock yet !! as had a request for a dolman/batwing jumper in BLACK!! – so made a start on that – I am now in the one sock domain!! will pick it up again soon
    – wishing not so small daughter well with her GCSE’s – I have 2 x grandchildren in the same state!! – should be revising but not!
    Happy Knitting 🧶 & thanks again – I do love your posts!!
    Love Ruth x

    • winwickmum says:

      You are a better person than I to even contemplate knitting a black jumper – good luck with that! Good luck to your grandchildren too – revising isn’t fun at all, is it? 🙂 xx

  5. Maggie Boazman says:

    Your hellebores and snowdrops look glorious, they really brighten the garden at this time of year.
    Love the hat, such lovely colours 😊

  6. Karen Climpson says:

    Hi Christine. It is lovely to see your garden in bloom. Something I must add to out borders for winter colour. I don’t get near the borders come spring when darling OH starts prepping for his veggies in any space he can! Borders, baskets and containers are all taken up with whatever he can grow. Already the 4 types of chilli seeds are propagating on the kitchen window sill.
    I’ve been busy with work socks for my B-i-L, a crocheted bed throw for a friends birthday and sewing a dress for myself. This awful weather has kept me tucked up inside and I’ve only got the dress to finish. It’s about time I made socks for myself so that’s next on my project list- mosaic pattern is calling out to me.
    After sleet and rain all day it is now blue skies here in Eccles. Don’t expect it to last long. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I look forward to your next blog. Karen x

    • winwickmum says:

      Wow, you’ve got on really well with your projects, well done you! And at least you get to eat what comes out of your borders which has to be a good thing! Hope the blue skies stayed for a while 🙂 xx

  7. Sandra Dain says:

    Lovely. see the beginnings of. spring in your garden, Christine. In New Zealand we’re coming into autumn.the garden is beginning to look tired but the birds are loving the sunflower seeds.

  8. Lindsay says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Mike, we lost our two very close together too, they were both very elderly but it’s still very sad.
    I wish my knitting was more productive, I lack concentration I think! Really must do better 😊
    We escaped the storm somehow, it was rather gusty but despite being in the red zone we’ve had worse!
    Your garden is doing well, mine needs a good tidy but my get up and go has definitely gone!

  9. Donna Stupfel-Smith says:

    That hat is beautiful. And thank you for the early spring blooms. I live in the high desert of Nevada, east of Lake Tahoe in the Carson Valley, 1200 below lake level. We have short spring blooms which have not yet begun.

  10. Your winter garden looks so lovely, so much colour at a time of year that can be so grey at times. It has been a no snow winter hasn’t it, I think it has been cold enough here it has just been very dry we only had three days of rain in January according to our local weather station records online. Your hat is gorgeous, the colour combination is wonderful. Hope you have survived the storms and your phone line is back up and running.

  11. Rosemarie Carriere says:

    Christine, I enjoy your posts so much . I live in Manitoba Canada and we are in the midst of yet another winter blizzard that will last until tomorrow. We currently have a lot of snow ( we need the moisture ) but it’s hard to find a place for it now. We have 5 foot snow banks along the driveway!!
    I am attempting your basic 4 ply socks- first pair I have attempted to knit. I’ve pulled it out twice and now starting the 3rd time – will not give up. Here’s wishing me luck !

    • winwickmum says:

      That is a lot of snow! I do love to see it but I don’t know how it would be to live in those conditions – I hope you are keeping warm, safe and dry! Good luck with your socks, I am sure that you will crack it! If it helps, there are videos on my YouTube channel which are for other patterns but they’re all based on my Basic 4ply Socks shape so you can use any of them if you get stuck 🙂 xx

  12. Eleanor MacLean says:

    So lovely to see your garden coming to life! We are a bit behind, here in B.C. (Canada) as it is still very cold at night. Lots of opportunity to knit by the fire. I am a slow knitter, but am so inspired by your blogs; I just plug along until I’m done. Knitting is such a peaceful activity.

  13. love love love your snowdrops, they look wild and happy! xxx

  14. Betsy Grizzard says:

    Living in Central Florida our winter is so different from yours in the UK. During the worse of the lock-down my husband discovered Monty Don’s garden shows with plants much like the ones you are showing. In the spring we hope to be in Brighton for our grandson’s next half term. Thanks for your posts, I always enjoy reading them.

  15. Theresa says:

    Love the garden (hellebores!), your hat and the socks. I started knitting some socks recently using the West Yorkshire Spinners yarn in ‘Pheasant’ and am enjoying picking it up again. I also sew and do rug hooking, but the knitting is much more portable as I believe you noted in one of your posts. We are still surrounded by fields of deep snow here in Ontario, Canada, so I will hopefully have finished the socks by the time I get back out into the garden. Honestly, most of my planting only gets done end of May, beginning of June, so knitting and sewing it is until I start my seeds indoors in April. Nice to read your posts. Enjoy your long and lovely English spring!

    • winwickmum says:

      I do hope you enjoy knitting your socks! We have family in your part of the world so I get regular snow updates from them (I have to get my snow fix vicariously as we get so little!) and they used to say the same thing about their growing season (my aunt and uncle are getting older and have given up their veg garden now). I hope you are keeping warm and dry! 🙂 xx

  16. Geraldine says:

    Hi Christine, I would be very interested to see how you fix the mistake in your green socks too. That’s what puts me off trying new patterns, although I am getting better – as I do learn from the mistakes. Love your garden.

  17. Sarah Murray says:

    So sorry to hear about your cat. I had to laugh at you not being able to blow balloons up, I always thought that was just me. If I manage to get as far as blowing one up I always have to ask somebody else to tie a knot in it 🙂 A good idea to use them for blocking hats. I wouldn’t have thought of that. Thank you for a lovely post, stay safe. X

  18. Lin Richardson says:

    Hi Christine, I love Hellebores too. My Dad always called them Christmas Roses and the beautiful dark purple ones that I have we knew as Lenten Roses. They were split from his original plants nearly 30 years ago and are just about to come into flower.

    • winwickmum says:

      Yes, there are different varieties of Hellebores and I know them by your Dad’s names as well. I love that you still have his original plants in your garden! 🙂 xx

  19. Barbara says:

    So much to enjoy in this post. Your garden is definitely heading the right way and I agree with you about the snowdrops; we have seen lots too. Absolutely love your hat and I’m certain you will be wearing it for a few weeks yet:) B x

  20. Margaret says:

    Hi Christine, I’m new to your blog and took up sock knitting just recently whilst recovering from a heart operation. I have knitted over 60 years but socks always were my nemesis. So as I couldn’t knit in the usual way(needles tucked under my arms) I thought shirt magic loop would work. So glad I took up the challenge as I now have knitted 4 pairs of socks for family, I started with your Christmas ‘Fairy Lights’ for myself and then the 3 men in my daughters life. I’m amazed at the pleasure I now get from quietly knitting socks and tackling ‘Heel Turns’. I’ve learned another knitting skill and I’m chuffed to bits. Thank you for your blog, it was lovely to read all about your garden as I’m a keen gardener too. I live in Cumbria so weather has been pretty torrential her too, stay safe, warm and dry, look forward to your next post.
    All the best Margaret W

    • winwickmum says:

      Hello Margaret, it’s lovely to meet you and I hope that you are recovering well – you certainly seem to have got the hang of the socks and I expect you are not short of feet to knit for now! I hope you weren’t too badly hit by the recent storms and that your garden is starting to wake up too … you’ll be a week or so behind us, I expect, but Spring should still be on it’s way! 🙂 xx

      • Margaret says:

        Hi Christine, yes my garden is slowly waking up, the Daffodil bulbs are showing promise and tulips in pots are on their way too. What a lovely sight, can’t wait for spring and some warm weather.
        Looking at the lovely photo of your Winter Icicles yarn, I went online and bought two lots, can’t wait to start them.

        Thank you for such a brilliant blog, and your efforts in replying to each comment.

        Stay warm, happy knitting xx

  21. Gerri says:

    I would be interested in what you think of the method of knitting 2 socks in one in the book Knit 2 socks in 1 by Saffiyyah Talley and Jeanette Sloan. It’s different than anything I have ever seen. It’s not the 2 circular needle thing. I’d be interested in knowing if it is time saving, fun or more trouble than just knitting socks one at a time. Thanks!

    • winwickmum says:

      It’s not something that I’ve tried but I know that the designers Vikki Bird and Louise Tilbrook both knit their socks in this way from time to time. I think you use an afterthought heel which is different to the heel flap and gusset type heel that I use, but it works well if you want to keep striped yarns in their pattern, or use a contrast yarn for heels. You can find both the designers on Instagram and I’m pretty sure they have both shared photos about working their socks in this way if you want to take a look. Good luck if you try it! 🙂 xx

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