It’s that time of year …

⭐️   It’s that time of year …. to break out in to break out into cheesy musical songs about chimney sweeps …

A traditional chimney sweep brush sticks out of a chimney pot against a blue and cloudy sky

Our sweep doesn’t sing or dance, though.  I did ask him and he said he no.  He doesn’t do weddings either.  Instead, we guessed how far out of the chimney the brush would be (it’s always bit of a guess as to how many poles to push up there), had a really good discussion about renewable energy and decided that burning the chimney cleaning logs (paid link) about two months before the chimney was swept made a really big difference to the amount of soot that came down.

 

⭐️   It’s that time of year …. to remember that Winter isn’t over …

Frost on foxglove leavesFrost on forget-me-not leavesA single miniature daffodil with frosty droplet leaves in a planter outside a greenhouseFrost on poppy leaves

It was a peculiar frost that we had the other morning.  Some plants were covered in what I think of as “proper” frost, but others had frosty droplets clinging to their leaves – and the plants were right next to each other so it’s not like they were in different parts of the garden so more sheltered.  Just one frosty morning out of a wet and windy week.  Strange, eh?

 

⭐️   It’s that time of year …. to appreciate clear skies!

A black dog is in the distance along a canal tow path. The sky is blue with wispy clouds.A bench seat surrounded by frosty grass with tree silhouettes in the background. The Winter sun is still low in the sky.

Oh, it was so lovely to see blue skies and wispy clouds when the dog and I went out!  We’re back to mostly grey skies and mizzly, drizzly weather at the moment so any sunshine at all is gloriously welcomed!

 

⭐️   It’s that time of year …. to drink in all the reflections …

Trees reflected in a canal. There is one tree in the centre of the photo which has kept it's bronze leaves. The water is steaming gently in the cold air Trees reflected in a canal Trees reflected in a canal. The sky and an aeroplane vapour trail is also reflected A bright blue sky above a canal. The sky and an aeroplane vapour trail are reflected in the water as well as the trees along the canal bank

I love the reflection of the trees in the water.  The photo at the top with the single bronze-leaved tree reminds me of one of those black and white photos with a red telephone box in it (paid link – but it’s just so you can see!).  Can you see the water steaming in that photo?  It’s quite hard to capture with my phone but it always looks eerie, especially if there’s nothing but the sound of birds around.

Even the dog was taken by the reflections – he was teetering on the edge more than once as if he thought the water was solid enough to walk on, but luckily he didn’t try it out.

I think the last photo is my favourite.  All those colours, the vapour trail reflected in the water and even the reflections in the puddle.  There’s something to see everywhere.

 

⭐️   It’s that time of year …. to try something new!

A white cardboard box on a wooden table with the word "Slipkit" printed on it

Can you guess what this is?  It was a gift from Sheepers who contacted me through Instagram (thank you very much, Sheepers!).  I must admit that I had never heard of them before but I’m always interested in something new, especially with sheep in the name!

A tissue paper-wrapped kit inside a cardboard box. On the wooden table next to it are two leaflets about the kit

This is what’s called a Slipkit and is a do-it-yourself mule slipper kit.  I do wear slippers (I call them baffies 🙂 ) around the house to protect my lovely hand knit socks – well, Crocs these days as I wear them in and out of the house and you don’t wear your baffies outside – but there’s a story to the Sheepers slippers and I couldn’t resist!

The Sheepers company was started by Nicola Skowronek in 2015 after she decided to design her own pair of Polish Moccasin slippers based on a traditional pair that her Dad had bought for her.  Nicola wanted to continue the tradition of slippers made by the Gorale who are a community who live in the mountains in Poland.  By working with the Gorale, Sheepers has provided an opportunity for a traditional craft to be continued whilst making sure that the people making the slippers are paid a fair wage and that there is minimal waste as the slippers are made from offcuts from other farming methods.  You can read more about the Sheepers story here.

I am all in favour of companies that support work in a local area (look no further than my favourite yarn company!) and I didn’t have to think very hard about whether I wanted to have a go at making my own pair of slippers and telling you about it!

Bright blue sheepskin strips lie across the contents of a slipper kit in a cardboard box An undyed fabric bag, two small skeins of coloured wool, black slipper front shapes, two pre-made slipper bases and two blue sheepskin strips on a wooden table

In the kit box are two pre-made slipper bases (you choose your own size), two upper pieces (they are the black shapes at the bottom of the photo) which have been pre-punched so that I can embroider them with the coloured yarn.  There are two blue fluffy pieces which will go around the top of the slippers, and thread and tape for sewing them together.

A cardboard flower with black thread wrapped around it lies on a fabric bag I love the cardboard flowers with the thread wrapped around them!

An instruction book for a slipper kit is open on top of the contents of the kit

There are step-by-step instructions and apparently I’ll have my own pair of Sheepers slippers in 2-3 hours.  I will let you know how I get on!

 

⭐️   It’s that time of year …. to not give up your hat just yet!

A knitted colourwork hat lies on a wooden table A knitted colourwork hat is drying on a red balloon balance in a glass jug. The jug is standing on a wooden table

It’s take a while but my Variance Hat is finally blocking!  Not so small daughter blew up a balloon for me and was rather too gleeful about how a balloon was the same size as my head (“but it’s so small!”).  I told her that it was still full of brains and not to be so disrespectful to her mother 🙂

I’ve still got to line it once it’s dry and I think that’s really the reason why I’ve been putting it off – not the actual lining but the thought of cutting into the fabric to do it.  I’ve got a horror of doing it wrong and wasting material, but I should just get on with it because I’m sure it won’t be as bad as I think.

 

⭐️   It’s that time of year …. to buy yarn for socks that you don’t need but can’t walk past in the yarn shop! 🙂

Four balls of yarn - two shades of pink, two shades of green - lie on a wooden tableA close up of a pink ball of yarnFour balls of yarn - two shades of pink and two shades of green - on a wooden table next to a knitting pattern of a short-sleeved lacy top

This is a brand new yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners called Elements.  I had spotted it on WYS social media and when I met my friend Lindsay from Making Stitches podcast at Black Sheep Wools for a brew yesterday, I wanted to see if they had it in stock.  And they do!

It’s a double knit yarn and what caught my eye about it is that it’s a wool and Lyocell blend.  That may not sound like anything familiar, but it set off my no-nylon sock yarn radar as Lyocell is made from wood pulp – usually eucalyptus but sometimes oak, birch or bamboo … and my longest-lasting pair of no-nylon socks was made from a wool/bamboo blend that I bought from The Yarn Badger.  The Elements yarn is the same make-up as the Heartspun 4ply yarn that I used for my Changing Staircases shawl during Blogtober – and I originally bought that to try out for socks so I thought that I would give this a go.  It’s got the most beautiful shine to it and it’s lovely and soft to touch.  It’s made with Falklands Island wool which dyes incredibly well, and meant that I had quite a job choosing which of the soft pastel shades that are available were coming home with me.  In the end, I chose four colours as I like the idea of contrast heels and toes, and the yarn comes with a free pattern by designer Sarah Hatton too.  There is another pattern book to go with the yarn with more designs by Sarah Hatton and also Chloe Elizabeth Birch – they’re all very lovely – but my mind is set on socks!

I don’t expect that the socks will last as long as my sock yarn ones with nylon in them, but I am going to enjoy knitting them and wearing them for as long as I can 🙂

 

⭐️   It’s that time of year … in fact, any time of year is a good time for this really … to say thank you to you for being here and for your comments on my posts – I do love that we can chat in this way! 🙂

 

Oh – I almost forgot to tell you!  That video I was making last week?  Well, I finally finished it and it’s up on YouTube now.  It’s an introduction to the Sockalong tutorials as I thought that might be helpful for people who had only recently discovered my blog and the tutorials and might have wondered why they are a bit different to other sock knitting tutorials that you can find online.  You can see it on YouTube here if you’d like to 🙂 :

 

I hope you have a lovely weekend! xx

 

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22 Responses

  1. Gretchen Hrusovsky says:

    Your nature photos are always such a day brightener! Much appreciated – thanks!

  2. Canadasue says:

    Well it will be a qhile before we see liquid water here in Ontario

  3. Dawn says:

    I love the colors of your hat! I honestly think its the prettiest hat I’ve ever seen!

  4. Beverly Vinson says:

    I can’t wait to see those slippers come together. Let us know how they feel on after a days wear. Please do a blog update with pics of the process.

    • winwickmum says:

      I certainly will! Apparently they get better with wear and it’s been a while since I’ve had a pair of “proper” slippers so I’m looking forward to making and wearing these 🙂 xx

  5. Mary says:

    Slippers look interesting!! a was going to contact you Christine and your readers…should we knit some socks for refugees/ Ukraine? Like your Yarndale sock line? Lots of work for you, I am happy to have socks delivered here where I would send on in bulk to a charity. We could send them out with a note attached. Feeling so helpless about those poor people, giving money is ok, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to send out some warm socks? What do your dedicated followers think?

    • winwickmum says:

      It’s a lovely idea, Mary, and if you would like to organise that then I am certainly happy to pass on your details, but it’s not something that I have capacity to take on at the moment. If people do want to donate socks immediately, I think that most places have collection points for clothes – I know that there are several in Warrington – and adding an extra note as for the Yarndale socks is a nice touch. Let me know what you decide to do as I can certainly post on the blog about it for you xx

      • Mary says:

        Completely understand from your point of view Christine. If you could maybe flag it up on the blog and let anyone who might like to do this have my email address that would be great. I don’t do Facebook etc so the only way to reach out would be via your blog. I will let you know if I get any interest! Otherwise, as you say, we can all donate at clothing centres. As long as we do something!

  6. Those slippers look really interesting .It will be nice to see the finished result .It’s a shame the Element yarn won’t last long on socks as the are beautiful colours .You always put lovely pics on here too .Love reading your blog

    • winwickmum says:

      The Elements colours are beautiful and you are right about it being a shame, although the yarn is designed for clothes and I think it will look stunning. If it’s anything like the yarn I used for my Changing Staircases shawl, it’s got beautiful drape and the shine is gorgeous – so you might almost say it’s a shame to “waste” it on socks! 🙂 xx

  7. Hannah says:

    I’ve not tried the slipkit but after discovering sheepers in 2020 I’ve been living in mine, so comfortable! Look forward to seeing your finished slippers

  8. Jools A says:

    So many lovely things in your blog post today – thank you for all of them. I look forward to future reports on the slippers and socks. The repetition of “it’s that time of year…” made me think of a Ken Dodd performance (in the nicest possible way!). Best wishes for an enjoyable weekend, whatever you get up to.

  9. Chris says:

    Love your blog. The slippers sound interesting. Can’t wait to see the results.

  10. Susan Rayner says:

    What a fabulous blog – the photos beautifully cheering as it has been unremittingly dank and dreary in Surrey – so no sunshine but some hard frosts here too.
    The slippers look fabulous as does the hat. I have neveer lined mine as I find they get softer with washing and wearing. But it is a good idea.
    I must try the Elements wool – lovely colours and Lycocell is such a good thing too.
    Thank you for a lovely uplifting blog!

    • winwickmum says:

      We only had that one day of frost and now we’re back to milder weather again. It’s very strange! The Elements yarn is lovely, I could definitely see me knitting something other than socks in this! 🙂 xx

  11. Look forward to every blog. I love your socks. I am knitting my first 9” needle sock. It’s great way to knit legs straight through so quickly. I used double pointed needles for heel flap and heel turn. I’m picking up gussets with the 9” needle. That is hard because there are so many stitches on the needle. Hard to keep them on the needle. Do you have any advice? I have your first sock book, my bible for socks. I do love the 9” needles, but I’m struggling a little now. Thank you for teaching me to knit socks. I’m anxious to try two color knitting and hats. I’m still a beginner. But I feel so accomplished making socks. My confidence is soaring. A million thanks. Jacque

    • winwickmum says:

      Thank you for your lovely words! There are a lot of stitches on that tiny needle when you first start the gusset – I’ve got another 3 inches on my 12″ needle which definitely helps! You could try leaving some of the stitches on the DPN until you get to a smaller number and they are less likely to fall off, or alternatively work more of the gusset on the DPNs as you have those to hand. Lots of people do work their whole sock on 9″ needles so it is possible, it might just take a bit of practice. Good luck! 🙂 xx

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