Winter Haven KAL 2023 – time to get ready!

We’re counting down to this year’s Winter Haven KAL!

The KAL starts on 6 January 2023 (this Friday), so I thought that with just three days to go (and two before the new Winter  Haven KAL pattern is released!), it would be a good time to tell you a bit more about it, what’s involved and what you’ll need to gather together to join in and get cosy.  (Don’t worry, it’s not any kind of complicated scavenger hunt, you may well find everything you need around your house!)

A partly-knitted sock and an orange mug in front of an open fire.  Words on the photo read "Winter Haven KAL  6-27 January 2023"

You are quite right if you think you haven’t seen the socks in the photo before – they’re this year’s KAL socks!  I like to design a new pattern for the KAL every year and I’m really looking forward to sharing this year’s pattern with you in a couple of days!


🕯 So what’s it all about then, this Winter Haven KAL?  

Well, it’s about resting and recharging our batteries during January after all of the busy-ness of the holiday celebrations and the events of the last year.  I wrote last year that it had been a tough couple of years for everyone, some more than others, and even if we were able to celebrate with loved ones and friends this year, it was always with health concerns at the back of our minds, and this last year has been no different – with the added “bonus” of a cost of living crisis to cope with as well.  Living in this prolonged state of heightened stress is not good for anyone and the Winter Haven KAL is a reminder that we need to take some time for ourselves, even just a few minutes in the day, to make sure that we are ready to face the coming year.


🕯 You’ve posted a cosy-looking fireplace photo … can you only join in if you live somewhere where the Winter is cold? 

No, not at all!  My experience of Winter is that it’s generally cold, usually wet and often a bit miserable after the Christmas holidays so this is what Winter looks like to me.  Personally, I love the month of January with these cosy fireplace moments and with still a chance that it might snow again (I live in eternal hope), days where the whole year stretches out in front of you with possibilities and an opportunity to think about what you want to do with your time.  Oh, and to finish off all that Christmas chocolate that’s still around! – but I do know that it’s not the same for everyone.

Your Winter might look completely different, and that doesn’t matter at all as what’s important in this KAL is the “haven” part and you can have that anywhere in the world.  The dictionary definition of a haven is somewhere that offers refuge, rest and even sanctuary and that’s something that we can all be glad of, whatever the weather!


🕯 Will I like the project that you have to make to take part?

I hope so, because you’re going to choose it!

Because it’s a Winwick Mum KAL, I’d like you to use a Winwick Mum pattern and/or Winwick Mum yarn to join in.  This means that you can use stash yarn or leftovers as long as you use one of my patterns, so don’t worry if you can’t get hold of any Winwick Mum yarn, you can still be part of the KAL.  Alternatively, you can use any other pattern with Winwick Mum yarn and that would be lovely too!

The Winwick Mum pattern choices are all here and that includes hats, shawls, cowls and mittens, not just socks – the point of the KAL is that we create some time for ourselves so you need a project on your needles (or even your crochet hook if that’s more your thing) that’s going to give you some pleasure.

This is the perfect time to kick off your New Year’s resolution to become a sock knitter in 2023, so if you’re brand new to socks, feel free to join in by using the Sockalong tutorials and Basic 4ply Socks pattern.  There’s a Winwick Mum Sockalong Facebook group for real-time help if you get stuck, and you can use the videos on my YouTube channel as well (they’re different patterns but based on the same Basic 4ply Socks pattern so the processes will work in the same way).

If you’ve always knitted the Basic 4ply Socks pattern, why not try another pattern this time?  There are in-depth photo and video tutorials for my Easy Cable, Easy Lace, Patchwork and Easy Colourwork socks, and tutorials to go with some of my other patterns too.  You can find all of the patterns I’ve designed here on the Patterns and Printables page.

If you’re choosing Winwick Mum yarn, don’t forget the Winwick Mum Collection pattern books to go with the yarns – the first Winwick Mum collection and the second Seasons collection – you might not have tried one of those yet but the book is sitting on your shelf … maybe this is the time to dust it off!

There’s also a brand new pattern coming out on Thursday (5 January) which I’m going to share on the blog especially for the KAL.  There’s just a sneak peek at the socks today but I can tell you that they are for small feet!

A blue heel of a hand knitted sock The green heel of a hand knitted sock

I am often asked about knitting socks for children and the KAL seemed like a good reason to produce a version of the Basic 4ply Socks pattern especially for those people who want to knit smaller socks!  I’ll tell you more about the pattern on Thursday, but I’ve tried to make it into a one-stop-shop kind of pattern to help you work out the cast on numbers for children’s socks as I know that many people who want to knit that size don’t live with the children who are going to wear the socks, so there’s plenty of info to get your teeth into.

It doesn’t matter if it takes you more or less than four weeks to finish the project you choose – you can always start something else if you finish early, or continue after the KAL has finished if you’ve got a bigger project.


🕯 What yarn can I use?

Well, I’d really love you to use Winwick Mum yarn, so if you’ve got some in your stash then you’ve got time to dig it out (this is a great opportunity to use up some of your stash!) or a good excuse for a shopping trip to your local yarn shop or online WYS stockist!  As you’ve seen, there are quite a few patterns using the Winwick Mum yarns now so you can see how they knit up and there might be one (or two) that you’d fancy trying out.

Eight balls of yarn in Winwick Mum colourways of purples, greens, blues, reds, browns and pinks are set out in a circle

Winwick Mum yarn is part of the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply range – if you haven’t heard of it before you can read the story of how it came about here; it’s available from many local yarn shops including Northern Yarn*, online retailers such as Black Sheep Wools and Wool Warehouse, and if you’re overseas there’s a stockist list here on the WYS website.

However, I also know that not everyone has any, or can get any for various reasons, or it might not suit the pattern you want to make – or you might just not like it (that’s fine, I love it enough for both of us 😀 ) so rather than feel that you can’t join in, use another yarn instead but do please use one of my patterns to join in with the KAL.


🕯 Do I need anything else?

Yes!  You’ll need a space that’s going to be your Winter Haven.  A favourite armchair?  Your spot on the sofa?  A chair outside on a porch or in the garden, perhaps, if you live somewhere warm enough to sit outside?  It’s up to you, but choose somewhere that can be your space for a short while, a place where you can sit and take a few moments to yourself.

Here’s mine, a rocking chair by the fireplace …

A photo showing an open fire burning in a chrome fireplace to the left of the photo, and a brown leather rocking chair with a red and gold striped cushion on it to the right. In the background is a panelled wooden wall with a mirror in a curved wooden frame resting against it. In the foreground is a small table with an orange mug of tea and a plant on it.

It’s been this same spot every year and I love it!  I’ve got some extra fairy lights to add a cosy feel to the corner, and I will be very comfortable just there with my knitting and the fire crackling away!

You’ll also need a notebook and pen.  It doesn’t have to be a fancy notebook – this is an old one that I found in a cupboard which I think was a gift at one point – but it does need to be something that you can write in and keep safe, rather than Post-It notes or little scraps of paper.  Yes, you have seen it before as it gets dusted off during each Winter Haven KAL but the good thing about writing in it for the four weeks of the KAL is that is kick-starts my gratitude habit again if it’s been on the slide and that’s no bad thing!

A photo of a pale oak wooden table with an orange mug, a fountain pen and notebook with an ornate design on it

Have you got a spare project bag?  Put your KAL work in there, along with the accessories that you know you will need so that you’re not hunting around for them when you want to use them.  You might only choose to work on your project during spare moments, or it might be your go-to for the month, but I think there’s always something lovely about putting a new project in it’s own bag.  You don’t have to have expensive designed-for-purpose bags – the one that I usually take on holiday with me once contained pillow cases (for some reason they came in a small bag that’s just the right size for a ball of sock yarn!), and when I first started knitting socks, I used a fancy wash bag that had zip pockets for storing my needles (I was more pleased with that than the smellies that came with the bag as a Christmas gift! 😀 ) –  you can be creative with what you have already.  Of course, it’s always an opportunity to buy or make yourself a lovely new project bag (using stash fabric, perhaps?!) so choose to do whatever will make you feel happy when you’re sitting in your Haven space.

My project plan for this KAL is to make good on the IOU promise that I gave to big daughter’s boyfriend for Christmas.  I knew I didn’t have enough time before Christmas (this is the lad with the size 14 feet!) and that he might like to choose his own colours, so on Boxing Day morning, I spread out all of the balls of yarn that I had spare on the kitchen table and was ready to show him more online if he didn’t like any of them.

And look what he chose!  I knew I’d always liked him 🙂

Two balls of yarn - one shades of purple and the other pink - on a wooden coffee table next to a plant and a diffuser which is glowing green and looks like a ball of yarn

Quite unprompted, he picked a ball of Hidden Gem (my very first Winwick Mum colourway) and Sarsaparilla for the contrasts (I can get a pair of matched socks out of one 100g ball as long as we use contrasts as well).  Sarsaparilla has been discontinued now and Fuchsia is available instead but there’s enough in the ball I have for his socks.  I may well need the whole month to knit a pair of size 14s with an 84st cast on (fortunately they do get smaller for the foot – big daughter’s American Footballing boyfriend has chunky calves!) – but the Winter Haven KAL is the perfect excuse to sit down and get on with them!  (I’ve cast on today to give myself a head start – with such big socks, I’m sure you can see why!)


As the purpose of our Winter Haven will be to bring some light to the dark January days, you’ll need some light – not just a reading or craft light which may well be necessary depending on where your Haven space is, but something that evokes the feeling of cosy, of being safe in your own little halo of brightness.  How about a candle and maybe some fairy lights if you have them (perhaps keep some out from the Christmas decorations box just a little bit longer?).

A photo of a mirror in curved wooden frame decorated with multi coloured fairy lights and with candles glowing next to it

A scented candle would be lovely if you’ve got one – but any candles will be fine; tea lights on a saucer or a household in-case-of-power-cuts candle in a jam jar would be perfect too.  There’s something about the glow from a candle flame that is very calming, I think, and is just the right thing for our Haven.  Battery-operated candles also have a warm glow and are safer if you’ve got children or pets around.

I’ve got a wax melt burner and that’s usually in my Winter Haven as I love the scents of the wax melts, but for Christmas this year, I asked for an oil diffuser – to be honest, this was me being purely practical as I knew that the winter colds are probably on their way and I’ll be needing to breathe Olbas Oil overnight – but look what my husband and big daughter found for me!

A diffuser which looks like a ball of yarn. It is glowing pink because of a light inside the ball.

It’s got a colour-changing mode and looks like a ball of yarn, and I love it!  This will definitely be out in my Winter Haven this year and it’s already been in use over Christmas with festive blend oils so I may keep those on hand for just a little bit longer, but I am sure that whatever smell is in there, it’s going to get plenty of use!


You might also like to find a book that you’ve been planning to read.  I didn’t get too many new books for Christmas as I’ve not been very good at reading the ones I’ve got, but the KAL is always a good reminder for me that I do need to sit down and stick my nose into a book for a while.  The murder mystery by The Reverend Richard Coles* was on my Christmas list and I’ve been waiting forever for my husband to finish reading The Man Who Died Twice*, but How to Tell if you Cat is Plotting to Kill You* and Billy Connolly’s Tall Tales and Wee Stories* were surprises that made me laugh when I unwrapped them.  I’m looking forward to making time to sit down and read them.

A stack of books on a wooden coffee table in front of an open fire

Some treats!  Oh, I know we’ve just had Christmas and everybody is thinking about losing weight and getting healthier, but what’s a cosy sanctuary without a bit of chocolate to munch?!  Well, there’s going to be some in mine, anyway – I know not everybody eats chocolate so bring along whatever is a treat for you, and you’re going to want something to drink too, so have a think about what might be a treat in that department too.  I’ll have some suggestions as we go through the KAL, but you may want to stick to your own ideas!  And just in case you’re thinking that I’m going to look like a piece of chocolate if I keep going, I’m not eating that much of it since reaching Chocolate Saturation Point the other day and it wasn’t good (I get very grumpy and twitchy).  There was going to be a satsuma in that photo too, for a token healthy snack, but I ate it because I wanted to drink my tea and tea tastes terrible with satsuma 🙂

A selection of chocolate bars on a wooden coffee table next to an orange mug of tea. The table is in front of an open fire

Finally, a bit of greenery – something to remind you that the winter doesn’t last forever and that the plants and flowers will come back to life again.  Bring something in from your garden – some evergreen stems, or some berries, maybe even some winter flowers if you’ve got any – or see what is in store in your local greengrocer’s or supermarket.  Buy cut flowers or buy yourself a winter flowering plant; choose whatever makes your heart sing!

At this time of year, I move all my house plants into our living room as it’s warmer for them and it’s nice to have them in the house.  Not so small daughter has developed something of a house plant obsession over the last year but thankfully her extra plants have disappeared up into her bedroom (although it’s like trying to get through the jungle when you go in there).

A collection of house plants on a stone hearth

So that’s everything we’re going to need to get started.  There’s no official sign up to do and the first KAL blog post will be up on the blog on Friday to give you chance to read it over the weekend (perhaps in your cosy space!) and officially think about how you are going to spend January recharging your batteries.  Before that though, take some time this week to think about what project will make you happy in your Haven – the colours, the weight of yarn, the pattern that you’ve chosen – to gather your other items together (remember, there’s no need to buy anything new if you’ve got things around the house you can use) and then we’ll be all ready to start on Friday.

I can’t wait!


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8 Responses

  1. Lorraine says:

    I have gingerbread yarn and I’m looking forward to casting on mock cable as a dk pair of socks, these will be so cosy.

  2. Angela Morrison says:

    I’m excited to do smaller socks. I’ve CO 48 stitches with Paton Kroy Yarn. They are still too big for me. I wear a size 6 shoe.

  3. Kath says:

    Looking forward to joining in Christine. I never allow myself time to sit and knit or read during the day, this year I will. I really need to learn the art of relaxation, it is so important. I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by since your last KAL!

    Wishing you a Happy New Year.

  4. ChrisG says:

    I loved this KAL last year but never properly set my space. Having just had flu over Christmas I’m going to gather some flowers and fairy lights and all the necessary and have the ambience set ready before we start! Thankyou for being our host Christine, for some much-needed R&R 💖

  5. Charlotte says:

    Looking forward to the KAL. Has it been a year since I was knitting the dreadful gray socks for size 13 husband. My project will be your split mitten pattern.

  6. Tagati says:

    Love the diffuser; perfect for a knitter.

    Would it be possible to provide the link for purchase?


    • winwickmum says:

      I’m sorry – it was a gift so I don’t know where it came from. You could perhaps do an internet search and see if you could find something similar? xx

  7. Hoping to join in with the KAL, never joined in before, always discovered it too late on Instagram. Like Kath, I rarely sit and craft during the day. WYS yarn with Supersocks orange book.

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