White rabbits!

It’s the first of May today – May Day or Beltane – and it’s tradition in our house to say “white rabbits” on the first day of the month for good luck.  There are lots of versions of this, some involving pinching and punching, but I prefer soft and furry bunnies 🙂  It’s also another Bank Holiday weekend which means no work or school tomorrow (Monday) and we are very happy about that!

I can’t believe that it’s a week since I was up in the Lake District helping big daughter with her yoga retreat.  It went brilliantly well, she’s so good at what she does, and I loved seeing everybody become softer and their Friday night edges smooth out as the weekend went on.  She’s already got people asking about her next retreat which is a big compliment, isn’t it?  I’m very proud!

Back to it all this week, though, and it’s taken me a few days to get back up to speed after a busy weekend which was also somehow very relaxing.  How does that work?!  There was hardly any time for knitting as big daughter’s boyfriend and I were kept busy looking after everyone, but I still felt as if I’d had a good break over the weekend.  There was magic in that retreat house, I’m sure of it 🙂

Today’s photos are from last month, but as that was only yesterday then I’m sure you’ll forgive me!  I wanted to post again today (yesterday’s post was March’s Monthly Musing) because I’ve got something super-exciting to tell you about but of course, I’m going to make you wait until the bottom of the post to read it 🙂

The sky has been such a beautiful shade of blue this week.  The blossom is out and it’s been a joy to be outside.

I don’t know what it is about it, but I love this bridge.  I think it must be the arches (I’ve got a thing about square things – blocks of wood, stone, metal – turning corners and becoming curved or round; if you think this is bad, you should see me in ancient history sculpture sections of museums!) or perhaps it’s the light as I’m usually walking the dog there when the sun is low in the sky.

The fishermen have started to come back to the canal banks (I say fishermen as I’ve yet to meet a fishing woman there although I know women do fish!) and it means I have to be careful with the dog as he’s very good at “helping” fishermen with their bait and they don’t like it.  I can’t think why!

It was so still the morning that I took this, and the air was warm and the birds were singing at full volume.  It was lovely!  I do like to look at the reflections in the water – I probably stood there for longer than I imagined as the dog was getting impatient to move on!

The brook was very low as well; we’ve not had any heavy rain for a few weeks now and you can see the bottom quite easily.  It’s hard to imagine when it’s as low as this that sometimes it is so full that it bursts its banks and I would be standing in running water.

Spring flowers are appearing in abundance now.  These are forget-me-nots – they were along the towpath but I’ve got these in the garden as well.  They spread like mad so once you have them, you’re unlikely ever to forget them as they pop up every year, but I don’t mind.  Those pretty blue flowers don’t last for long and it’s lovely to see them.

The bluebells are appearing as well.  These were the first that I saw but now they’re popping up everywhere – definitely a sign that Spring has arrived!

I mentioned the other week that I’ve been cutting down on the amount of sugar that I’m eating.  I was very strict with myself up until Easter Sunday and then I helped myself to quite a lot of Easter egg chocolate – and was surprised to find that I wasn’t missing it as much as I thought I might be.  The other thing that’s been interesting is that the family are all eating less sugar as well, not because I have persuaded them and we still have chocolate and biscuits in the house, but perhaps because I’m eating less of those things … I can’t really tell you; they might not be conscious that they are even doing it!  It doesn’t hurt anyone, though, and I’m not making a big deal of it one way or another as I think that’s a surefire way to make someone do the opposite! 🙂

What not so small daughter and I have been doing is making our own biscuits and a sweet treat for her to take to school with her packed lunch.  It means that we know what’s going into them and it’s been a nice thing for us to do together.  I love the Jane’s Patisserie website, everything seems to work out really well whether it’s made with eggs, butter and cow’s milk or it’s dairy-free or even vegan.  It’s such a relief to use recipes that you know are going to be OK after the time you’ve spent preparing them, and we are happily working our way through the cookies and traybakes sections at the moment.

Yes, there’s plenty of sugar in these but I am making the cookies much smaller than the recipe suggests (although big enough so that one or two is enough) and cutting the traybakes into more portions so that firstly they’re lasting longer, but secondly there’s less sugar being consumed.  I found over Easter that if I wanted a sweet chocolate hit, it didn’t seem to matter how big the piece of chocolate was as it was the first sugary taste that seemed to make the difference.  Interesting, eh?

These are our smaller versions of the NYC Chocolate Chip Cookies but we’ve discovered that we like the vegan version better so we’ll be making those from now on.

This week’s traybake was Mini Egg Rice Krispie Squares made with melted marshmallows which was a joyously gooey concoction in the pan and no doubt sticks to your teeth when you eat it – I’ve not tried this one but not so small daughter assured me that it had turned out very well and there’s none left now so I’ve believed her.  I’m not sure what this week’s recipe is going to be yet but I’ll let you know! 🙂

I’ve also been baking my sourdough loaves again.  Oh, there’s nothing quite like a fresh-out-of-the-oven sourdough loaf and if it’s a type of bread that you like, I’d encourage you to give baking your own a go.  It seems very complicated at first as you need a starter but all that is is the yeast which, instead of being dried in a packet, lives in a jar, and once you’ve put your ingredients together, the loaf needs very little attention before you bake it.  If you’re a serious sourdough baker then it’s a source of pride how old your starter is – I’ve just looked back through my blog archives and I started mine in September 2018 so it’s older than I would have guessed – and my pride is simply because it’s still alive! 🙂  I used this recipe for mine and after previously having a on and off success with other recipes, I signed up for the Gartur Stitch Farm online sourdough course and I have never looked back.

I changed my mixing bowl a few weeks ago from a glass one to a ceramic one like this one and I don’t know why this is the case, but my loaves have been turning out much nicer than before.  I can’t think why there would be a difference but perhaps you know more about baking bread than I do and you can tell me!

Finally, I promised to tell you about something exciting and it’s this!

The Winwick Mum Sockalong is 7 years old on Tuesday 3 May!!  I think that’s amazing – 7 years of helping people to knit pairs of socks – I am bursting with pride, excitement, joy … all of those emotions and more, to think that people all over the world have been able to knit socks for themselves, friends and family, they’ve supported yarn shops, become dyers and designers themselves and all because of sock knitting tutorials on my blog.

As always, there’s going to be a giveaway post on the blog and that will be coming out next Tuesday.  To join in, I just ask you to tell me how many pairs of the Basic 4ply Socks you’ve knitted this year so now is the time to count all the pairs in your sock drawer or that you’ve given away (hand knitted socks make the BEST gifts!) so you’re ready to leave that number for me in the comments – don’t do it now, wait till Tuesday!  It doesn’t matter if you’ve made half a sock, one pair or a hundred pairs, they all add to our fun sock total – so far we’re up to 15,000 pairs so it will be good to see how many more we add this year!

If you’re worried that you’ll miss the post, you can join the Winwick Mum mailing list (you can unsubscribe at any time) so that you’ll get the post notification – you can do that by clicking here – and you get a free download Kitchener Stitch guide too!

I’ll be back on Tuesday with more details on how to join in, so if you’re in the UK, enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday weekend and if you’re elsewhere, enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll chat to you again soon xx



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28 Responses

  1. Delores says:

    Sunday morning reading, thank you for the beautiful written article
    Very calming
    You are so interesting

  2. Cheryl says:

    Thank you! I so enjoyed reading your blog and seeing all the lovely pictures.

  3. Cheryl says:

    Thank you for the lovely Sunday morning post, you always make me feel like I am on your rambles with you! It’s very relaxing,and they refresh my soul,reminding me to be grateful for all the good things in my life. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

  4. Jools A says:

    I do like a sea of bluebells but, it has to be said, the forget-me-nots are very pretty as well – they may me think of a rather chic (to my younger self, anyway!) boutique in Stratford-on -Avon back in the 1970s called Myosotis.

  5. Susan Rayner says:

    Happy, Happy 7th Birthday for Tuesday – I cannot believe it – such a wonderful and comforting group and blog too – reigniting my love of sock knitting that had been completely dormant for many years! I now have two drawers full of Winwick Mum socks and countless pairs have winged their way to friends and family near and far!
    And what gorgeous spring photographs! I am trying to ignore the traybakes etc – and wish I could be better at cutting out excess sugar!
    Thank you for another lovely and cheering blog!

    • winwickmum says:

      Thank you! Yes, it seems quite unbelievable that the Sockalong has been around for so long now, but I am so pleased that it has and I can have conversations with you about how many pairs of socks you have! 🙂 xx

  6. Mary says:

    Happy 7th sockalong!! how time flies…I have knitted more socks than I can count and I ALWAYS think of you when I knit them! I am sure I would never have mastered the art, and I do think it’s an art, without you. On to the sourdough now, started off really successfully and then a run of rubbery loaves which made me abandon it for a while. Must try again and try harder!! Thank you for your lovely blogs and for your wisdom Christine.xxxx

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, that’s a shame. It’s always a disappointment when your loaves start off well but then start to go wrong. I’m not enough of an expert to be able to offer any suggestions, I’m afraid, but I do hope you sort it out xx

  7. Sandra Dain says:

    So far I’ve knitted 8 pairs this year. Last year I knitted 29. In the last 20 years I’ve knitted 379. I sell them in as cooperative, as well as wearing them.

    • winwickmum says:

      Wow, that’s an incredible number of socks! Just think of all those people you’ve helped, that’s amazing, I hope you’re super-proud of what you’ve achieved! xx

  8. Eleanor Roome (El) says:

    Just love your blog and I hope to join the knit along this year but need to finish the ones I am doing first!! I also need to get the exact circular you use – I just cannot find one that I can use – have bought some and the needle is so short my arthritic hands cannot cope and others I have just sent back as there is just no point keeping needles I cannot work with – at the moment back on 4 double point ones! Would be grateful for your help! Will definitely be looking at the baking websites for new cookies too. Have a great holiday tomorrow and will be watching for the next episode. Fond wishes El x

    • Mary says:

      Eleonor, do try magic loop. I find it so much easier with my arthritic hands.

      • Eleanor Roome (El) says:

        Thanks so much Mary – I have got some of those special novel needles from Addi that have those bumps on which I find good but they don’t come in the 2.5. Also tried the craSy trio but that wasn’t great either so have just gone back to 4dpn’s but have yet to try magic loop – I will try anything! It does seem so easy watching people just going round and round in the small circular though!! Thanks for your help so appreciated and have a good bank holiday!
        Fond wishes El x

    • winwickmum says:

      The largest size of short circular needle that you can get is 30cm with 7cm tips so they may still be too short for you. It might be worth trying magic loop, or you could have a look for KnitPro Cubic needles which are designed to help people with arthritis and see if they would be any good for you. Good luck! xx

  9. Sally says:

    Happy 7th Birthday! I do so enjoy your blog & the snippets of your life, from the other side of the world- Australia.

  10. Dianne says:

    Happy 7th Sockalong Birthday Christine! I would like to send you a very big thank you for teaching me how to knit socks all those years ago. I have had a sock on my small circular needle ever since (not the same one!). I wish I could tell you how good knitting socks has been for me, I would go on for hours! I still keep your first book close by as a “security blanket” just in case I forget how to do the next part of the sock 🙂 ! Best wishes to you. I live in Australia too.

    • winwickmum says:

      Thank you! I’m so pleased that I could help you all those years ago and you’re still knitting socks. I think it’s a magical thing to be able to do, it helps in so many situations 🙂 xx

  11. Ruthie says:

    I always enjoy reading your blog posts, thank you for writing them.
    Congratulations! 7 years, it doesn’t seem possible. I always have a pair of your socks on the go, I have not progressed to anything fancier yet though!
    You are absolutely right about the chocolate hit, it is the first bite you really enjoy, after that it is not so good. Ive invented a new diet..Just One Bite! Lol

  12. Laura says:

    Love reading your posts and seen your beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing and for your wonderful groups on FB .

  13. Maribeth Clark says:

    Your accomplishments are attestation to your work of helping all of us knit socks. So glad I found you! Congratulations on 7 years!!!

  14. Karen says:

    Happy Sock Birthday!
    I’ve made a further 14 pairs this year. My absolute favourites have been the Seasons collection. Such wonderful colours. I have enough of each ball left for my tiny feet to get a second pair from each if I use contrasts so the enjoyment can continue a little longer!

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