Winter Haven KAL 2023 – Week 1

Hello, hello, it’s lovely to see you!  Welcome to Week 1 of the Winter Haven KAL 2023!

A partly-knitted sock and an orange mug in front of an open fire. Words on the photo read "Winter Haven KAL Week 1"

It’s been a bit damp and overcast here in Winwick and I think there’s probably no better day to light the fire and start the Winter Haven KAL!  Luckily, it’s been quite bright but sometimes these days turn very gloomy – that’s how it is for us in the cold, dark, Northern hemisphere, at least.  Elsewhere I know you’re sweltering and turning on the air conditioning but that won’t stop us being able to join together virtually through the magical power of the internet!   Hooray!  I love this knitalong time of year!

If you’ve never taken part in the Winter Haven KAL before, you might be wondering what it’s all about, especially if you’re used to a knitalong being for a particular pattern or using a particular yarn.  This one is a bit different as I want it to be more than just about the knitting; I believe so strongly that knitting is something that makes us feel safe and calm, that it brings us joy and allows us to pass that on to others through our woolly gifts and through being nicer because the knitting has made us calm … 🙂 … that I wanted to find a way to focus on and incorporate that into the KAL and make sure that we give something back to ourselves.  Finding a cosy Haven space, making time to sit and knit, finding ourselves treats, books, focussing on our own self-care is so important and never more so than at the start of the year when we have just spent weeks or months thinking about what we can give to others.

This is your gift to you.


So what is this Winter Haven, then?  Is it just a chair by the fire, or some other place that you like the look of?

On the face of it, yes!  Over the last couple of years that I’ve run it, though, I have to come to think of it as a bit more than that.  For me, it’s permission to sit down for even a few minutes instead of rushing through from the minute I wake up to the minute I collapse into bed.  For quite some time now, I’ve been taking some time for myself early in the morning when everyone is still asleep so that I can get my head together ready to face the day, but this is an opportunity to build on that and to remember that it is actually OK to sit down during the day!  I hope you will give yourself permission to do that as well if it’s not something that you do already – and if you find it hard to give yourself permission, then I will give you the permission to have a moment to rest!

It’s important that it’s somewhere that you feel comfortable, where you can sit and think as well as sit and knit.  It’s going to be your safe space, your command centre, your eye of the storm.  You don’t have to sit there for hours but you know that the minute you are there, it’s as if you’ve been able to step off the world for a few moments to get your breath back.  I think that wherever we live and whether it’s winter or summer, we all need some place like that!

The Winter Haven KAL is about making that space and that time out a habit, at least for this month.  It’s about knitting (or crafting) a project that makes your heart sing, certainly, but it’s also about more than that.  For me, it’s about fitting my own oxygen mask before helping others, and whilst knitting is a vital part of that for me, there is more that I can do to prepare the ground for the coming seasons.

Each week, I’ll talk about what else I’m doing to recharge my batteries during the dark winter days, and I hope there will be something useful in there that you might like to try too.  There’s no rush here, no deadlines, just ideas to consider whilst you sit in your space and let your fingers work their yarny magic.

You can look back at the Winter Haven KAL 2023 getting ready post for more information on what this KAL is all about if you’re new here (hello to you!)


🕯 My space

My space hasn’t really changed over the last couple of years!  It’s a rocking chair by the fire and it’s a good comfy chair for sitting and knitting.  My husband started stretching himself out on the chair and footstool to read last year and I am delighted that he still does – he is also someone who needs to be better at taking a few moments for himself.  He’s so at home there that this chair has become “his” chair but I’m not going to complain if he’s found his own Winter Haven (or all-year-round) space – as long as I don’t want to sit there at the same time! 🙂

A brown leather rocking chair with footstool in front of an open fire. There is a coffee table next to the chair with two books, an orange mug and a small plant on it.

What does your space look like?  Is it somewhere that you think you can sit and have a few minutes to yourself?  Have you chosen it yet?  It might be your usual seat in the house but if you sit down at a time when you don’t usually (because you’re always rushing!) then it will actually feel different at different times of the day.  Some people like to have a basket or box containing their project, books and treats nearby and getting things out of a container that you don’t usually keep next to you can also make a familiar place feel different if you felt the need for a change from the usual.

Part of creating a Winter Haven is making it feel as cosy as you can.  The word hygge might feel a bit over-used at times these days, but loosely translating as “cosy”, it’s definitely what you want to be evoking here.  It’s more than that, though – it’s as much about experiences and feelings as about blankets and candles.  You might not want to embrace “cosy” quite so much if you’re in 40 degree heat, but you can be comfortable and still have your own Haven space for sitting and knitting and thinking.


Well, that sounds very good but how is the KAL going to work if I’m sitting and thinking or reading a book?  And how is it going to work if everybody is doing their own thing and not knitting the same project?  

You know, it’s like magic!  It does work because everybody is connected by the yarn and by intention, even if they’re doing their own thing.  It actually works brilliantly well because we’re not all going to be doing the same thing.  One of the things that I love most about the internet is being able to see life in another part of the country or even the world and I hope that we’ll be able to share some of that through the KAL.  I’d really like you to be part of my blog posts – do let me know what you’re up to, show me your photos and let’s make sure that we’re all connected.

To join in with the KAL you’ll be using either Winwick Mum yarn and/or a Winwick Mum pattern so that connects us even if we’re not all making the same project – and is, I think, a much more flexible way of us all being able to join in together as not everybody wants to make the same thing all the time.  It also means that you don’t have to miss out if you aren’t using Winwick Mum yarn because as long as you’ve got one of my patterns, you can use stash yarn or support your local yarn shop or indie dyer and everybody wins!

The knitting itself is part of the whole experience; a way to sit and be creative even as your hands are busy, because all the best ideas come when you are relaxed and there’s some thinking to be done over the next couple of weeks – it’s not all about sitting and knitting whilst we eat treats!

And whilst we’re on the subject of knitting …


🕯 Project

Have you chosen your project yet?  Thank you so much for all your lovely comments on the Basic 4ply Children’s Socks – I did wonder if it would be a good pattern to offer for the KAL, but I’ve ready so many messages from people saying it was exactly the pattern they needed right now that I’m absolutely sure now that it is!

Having knitted two pairs of small socks for the pattern, I’m turning my attention to Ginormous Socks for the KAL – big daughter’s American Footballing boyfriend who is very knit-worthy and most certainly appreciates socks that are knitted especially for his feet.  I cast on the other day so that I could get started and have something to show you today.  There might have been a bit more knitted if I hadn’t kept finding my yarn chewed by the kitcat apparently snoozing on my knee, and each time I only realised when I got to the soggy end that was no longer attached to the ball.  Ugh!

A leather project bag with a ball of purple striped yarn poking out of the top is on a stone hearth next to an open fire, an orange mug of tea and a partly-knitted sock cuff in pink yarnA close up of a partly knitted sock with a pink cuff

Although I designed the Basic 4ply Children’s Socks for the KAL this year, I’m also looking forward to seeing what else you might have chosen to work on – remember that it doesn’t have to be those socks or even socks at all.  I’d love to know what you have picked that’s going to make your heart sing, what yarn you have chosen – have you bought new?  Have you used stash?  You can let me know through social media on Instagram (use the hashtag #WinterHavenKAL) or Facebook, or send me an email (you can find the email link in the sidebar on the left).  If you have photos, I’d love to share them on Instagram and also through the weekly blog posts so do get in touch!


🕯 This week’s recipe

Each year, I’ve posted about a recipe I’ve made over the week and I’ve got more than a few recipes bookmarked that have been suggested by you!  I thought we’d do that again this year – you don’t have to make whatever I make each week, but do find yourself something that is a treat, whether sweet or savoury, to munch whilst you’re in your Winter Haven if you are able to do that (I know that January often means cutting back!).  Your Winter Haven needs to be a space where you feel like nothing is more important than you at that particular moment – that’s how you refill your own well-being tanks! – so if a tasty treat helps you do that, so much the better!

This week, I’m eating the last of a batch of vegan biscuits which I made with this recipe, swapping ginger for mixed spice.  Big daughter is lactose intolerant and it’s been easy enough to find recipes for biscuits that she can eat, and I particularly wanted biscuit mix that I could cut shapes from so that I could use my new Tonttu cutter.  The website I bought it from calls it a “gonk” and when I’ve Googled it, “gonk” seems to refer to gnome-like beings from Scandinavia; I remember gonks from my childhood which were fake fur blobs with googly eyes and nothing at all like the stylish ornaments that are called that name now.  I prefer to use “Tonttu” which is the Finnish name for Santa’s helper – you may have heard “Tomte” which is the Swedish name for the same thing.

My icing skills leave quite a lot to be desired but they tasted just fine! 🙂

Two small shaped biscuits with icing on a coffee table next to an orange mug and a partly-knitted sock

Do let me know what you’re having in your Havens this week, and if you’ve got recipes to share as well, that would be lovely!


🕯 Something green

This year’s plant is a small succulent – I really like these but can’t seem to keep them alive so I’ll do my best to keep this one going for the month!  I probably wouldn’t have bought it given my track record with these particular plants, but the Houseplant Queen (aka not so small daughter) really liked the pot so it ended up in the shopping trolley 🙂

A small green succulent plant in a pot shaped like a reindeer

🕯 Light it up!

I showed you my new diffuser with the colour-changing lights in the getting ready post and it really is one of my favourite things at the moment!  My husband has had a stinking cold for the last few days so it’s been useful to have on at night with Olbas Oil in it (my reason for wanting it – and it’s been used for that already!) although today I’ve had it back downstairs with a different oil in it.  Olbas Oil has a very distinct “healthy” smell so I can see that I will have to make sure that I always wash the container out really well before changing the oil! 🙂

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

🕯 Listen up!

One of the things that I enjoy most about the Winter Haven KAL is making sure that I sit down and listen to something that isn’t my usual radio station.  I often don’t have any music on in the house when I’m working (either Winwick Mum writing or my other day job) apart from piano music sometimes as I find that I can’t concentrate on my own words when I’m singing along to someone else’s!  Last year, I started listening to podcasts more and it was through the Winter Haven KAL that the Fortunately … with Fi and Jane podcast was recommended to me (you can find it through BBC Sounds).  I have loved listening to that throughout the year, and I was sad when the podcast ended as Fi and Jane have new jobs as presenters on Times Radio – my husband listens to that on a regular basis and has recommended that as something new to listen to so I’ll have to give it a go!


🕯 Self-care

Self-care comes in different forms.  For some people, it’s a bit of personal pampering, for others it’s taking time out in the fresh air, and for others it’s writing things down on a huge list so that you don’t worry that that you’re going to forget everything that’s in your head.

At this time of year, there are so many options to get us into good self-care habits and whatever your view of self-care is, there will be something for you.

Sitting and working on your knitting project is self-care time (I never EVER call it “selfish” knitting because knitting for yourself is important!) and that might be enough for you, especially if you’re one of those people who is very good at looking after those around you and forgetting to look after yourself in the process – because many of us are – and as appealing as the idea of taking time out to pamper yourself might be, it’s not always practical.

Self-care is also about looking after your best interests and being a friend to yourself.  We’re often harder on ourselves than we would ever be to someone else and I’m hoping that we can all take time in our Winter Havens to think about that, and perhaps be a little kinder to ourselves.  This year, being kind to myself means that I am going to make sure that I continue to get up to spend time just sitting before the family starts their day – it’s not always so easy on these dark Winter mornings but as long as I’m well wrapped-up, it’s not so bad!  It’s not too long either – an hour at the most – but it does make me feel so much better.

I’m going to add my book recommendations into this Winter Haven category as well, because I know that knitting and reading go very well together!  I’m not someone who can actually read and knit (although if I read an e-book on my laptop and knit a plain sock it’s not too bad) so I do have to take time out to read – no bad thing!

I showed you the books that I’ve got lined up to read in the getting ready post, but in a change to the advertised schedule, I’ve started a different one!

Two books and a plant on a coffee table next to a pink diffuser that looks like a ball of yarn

It’s called Life Time by Russell Foster (Amazon link) and it’s about body clocks or circadian rhythms.  I have found that I’m much more inclined to read non-fiction these days and I’m thoroughly enjoying this one already.  It’s about how we should live to fit the way our internal clocks are built rather than forcing ourselves into a different time-system – a good example is someone who is naturally an early-to-bed, early-to-rise person taking on night shift work and how they should avoid it if possible so that they don’t become ill; not always possible, of course, because sometimes the job or the situation is what it is, but it’s really interesting to read about how we are all different whilst living within the same 24 hour frame.

I’m reading Murder Before Evensong (Amazon link) as well – books are like WIPs for me – never just one! 🙂  I’m finding this one a bit harder to get into but I’m hoping that’s just because I’ve been reading it at night when I’m tired and making time for it during the day will improve the experience.


🕯 Thank you

Did you remember to find a book to write in?  It’s all about saying “thank you!”  Thank you for being here!  But more than that this is also an important part of our Winter Haven.  We can get so busy living life from day to day that we forget to be grateful for what we have, and that’s where your notebook and pen come in. 😀

I’ve got to say that I used to think that keeping a “gratitude journal” sounded a bit wishy washy but it’s actually very powerful and thinking about what you’ve appreciated during the day or the week is a good way to remind yourself that life isn’t all bad.  I am totally converted!  And more than that, the more that you focus on what’s good in your life, the more of that you’ll attract and notice – and we could all do with a bit of that at the moment, couldn’t we?!

So go ahead and open up your notebook and think about what you want to write.  You can call it “gratitude”, or “blessings”, or “positive thoughts”, or whatever you’d like to, but write something that you are grateful for.  And there’s always something to be grateful for – even down to the air that you breathe, the clothes that you wear and having food on the table.  You can write as much or as little as you want, either as bullet points or you can expand into paragraphs.  You might find this an easy thing to do from the beginning and that’s wonderful, but don’t feel pressured into writing every day if you’re not inspired to.  If you’re stuck as to where to start, having air to breathe, food to eat and someone to love (or to love you) is a good place to start 🙂

You might also choose to write down something good that’s happened to you, or a compliment that someone paid you – these are also something to be grateful for, but again it’s that thing that the more you tune into the good things, the more of them you’ll have, and noticing positive experiences is definitely something to cultivate!

An open journal with a purple pen lying across it. The journal is on a wooden coffee table next to a plant and pink diffuser that looks like a ball of yarn

I did enjoy reading last year’s gratitude points – although I do wonder what had inspired me to write about the vet!  I absolutely can’t remember but assume it was something that involved some kind of bodily fluid … 🙂


Finally, before I leave you in peace for the weekend – I’ll be sending emails on Fridays with the KAL weekly updates but not if I post in between (although the links will be on the emails) as I don’t want to over-email anybody!  If you’re not signed up to my mailing list and want to join, you can do that by clicking here and you get a free Kitchener Stitch guide to download when you do! 🙂  Do remember to check your spam filter if you don’t get a confirmation email – GDPR means that I need to send you double opt-in emails before I can send your download to you!

Also, if you feel the need for a Winwick Mum Sockalong pin badge to attach to your project bag (or yourself) as you’re sitting and knitting, you can find those here.  You can imagine that it’s a reminder from me to sit down and have a brew every time you see it! 🤣

And there we are … Week 1.  I hope this has given you some ideas for your time in your Winter Havens!  Next week, I hope to have more of your projects and ideas to share, so do tell me about your Winter Havens and your projects because I can’t wait to hear all about them!

Until next week xx


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26 Responses

  1. Jacinta says:

    Hi Winwick Mum,
    I have loved learning how to knit socks using your basic 4ply sock pattern.
    I have also used the split mitten pattern- knitting several pairs, including a pair for myself when I hope to visit Europe soon.
    As you say, it is therapeutic to knit and the joy obtained in giving gifts is lovely. I recently knitted two pairs of split mittens for a couple of friends, using wool that they obtained from the husband’s aunt when clearing out her house after she passed away. She was a much beloved aunt so I thought I could knit them some mittens from the wool. Unfortunately the husband’s mittens were too small (despite me using my husband as a model, whose hands are slightly bigger) but my friend loved hers. She is going to look through the considerable stash of wool to see if she can find more wool for me to try and knit up another pair for her husband). She thinks the pair I knitted will fit their son – hard to knit for someone two thousand kilometres away when you can’t try the mittens on!
    Anyway, I appreciate your blogs and the patterns. It is lovely to have some positivity in the world.
    I don’t have Facebook, hence this comment.

    • winwickmum says:

      It is hard to knit for people when they’re a long way away but it sounds like your mittens will be going to a good home. I hope you have a lovely visit to Europe! 🙂 xx

  2. Irene McIntosh says:

    Reading this has given me a real boost for the long winter days ahead. I started my first super sock yesterday and I’m about to start the toe, but that’s for tomorrow as I’m mentally exhausted 😂 in a good way. I’ve been knitting for over fifty years but never mastered knitting on the round! I will master this. Thank you kind lady,

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh well done, you’ve nearly finished your first sock – and may well have done now! It is exhausting at first as it’s a new skill, even when you’ve been knitting for a long time, so celebrate your success! I do hope you enjoy joining in with the KAL 🙂 xx

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Christine
    I just wanted to drop a line in the comments to say thank you for getting me started on knitting. I found your blog through Lucy at Attic24 as I am a huge fan of her crochet blankets and have done quite a few. I have never knitted before but was intrigued by the socks she had knitted from your patterns, so two Christmases ago I asked for the wherewithal to get started. Long story short, but my Dad sadly died very shortly afterwards and I ended up passing the kit on to my Mum to try and get into a gentle project in the months that followed. As it turned out, she didn’t get on with the small needles and DPNs so passed it on to an accomplished knitted who created two pairs for me very quickly. They firmly became my favourite socks and fast forward two years and I was determined to pick it up and try again. I started again at the start of December and by NYE I had finally cracked my first sock and was straight on to the next. I have just today finished helping my Mum move house which has been a hugely emotional and exhausting undertaking and quite frankly feel absolutely frazzled tonight. I have just read about your KAL and it has absolutely made my heart sing as this is just what I need this January after a really busy Christmas period and helping with a house move that has rumbled on for the last six months. As soon as I am home on Sunday I shall be setting up my cosy area and indulging in some gentle sock knitting to restore my frazzled self!! I think I may put my second sock on hold and start the small person sock using some WYS Robin yarn I received for Christmas. Thank you again for all the information you so freely give away and I look forward to joining in with this lovely group!

    • winwickmum says:

      Hello Sarah, thank you for your lovely message! I’m sorry to hear about your Dad and I hope that Christmas wasn’t too sad for you as you remembered him. It takes a while to get used to a new family shape, doesn’t it? I am delighted that you have knitted your first socks – we only ever come to things when we’re ready for them and you must be ready now 🙂 – and I hope that you enjoy joining in with the KAL. It sounds like you deserve some R&R, and I hope that your Mum will be very happy in her new home xx

  4. Heather says:

    I started knitting socks during lockdown and was instantly hooked. Ive been a knitter for years but had drifted away from it when the children were small and I was working full time. My sister recommends following you and using your site …..brilliant!! My question is do your socks get baggy after wearing and washing a few times? I often use West Yorkshire spinners yarn and they socks fit well but then they go really baggy all over. Should I knit a smaller size, use smaller needles?? Any thoughts please. Thanks, love your blogs too x

    • winwickmum says:

      Hand knit socks are different to bought socks which often have a higher elastic content so will fit more tightly to your foot and leg, but your socks shouldn’t get baggier over time. Have you checked your current tension with the Sock Stitch Calculation? It’s not uncommon for our tension to change over our first few pairs of socks as we get more comfortable with knitting a smaller circumference project so it’s worth starting there to see if that helps 🙂 xx

  5. Steffi says:

    Hello and good morning, unfortunately, the children socks pattern is too late for me… The smallest feet here are EU size 36 and they belong to my mother, not to my son. So I think, I will participate either with the last year’s Easy Mosaic Socks ( this would be the 3rd pair) or the Neat Ripple Socks. Never mind which pattern, I’m really looking forward to 4 weeks of mindfull knitting and breathing. 🙂

    • winwickmum says:

      The children’s socks pattern is a smaller version of the Basic 4ply Socks – I often got asked about adapting the adult pattern for smaller feet, so this is a response to that. I hope you enjoy knitting whichever pattern you choose! 🙂 xx

  6. Susan Rayner says:

    The Winter Have KAL always sounds so wonderful – I never knit during the day and only in the evenings – so do find it hard to sit and knit at times I am not used to – and in the evenings my husband is there wanting to watch TV. However I am there in spirit and have taken very good note of all the other things to do – I even have a new houseplant to cherish – a gratitude Journal might very well be the first as I am determined that 2023 will be a better and happier year! Wishing you all a lovely Winter Haven with all my love!

    • winwickmum says:

      I usually knit in the evenings too, and there’s no reason why your KAL space can’t be your usual chair in front of the TV as long as you are doing something that makes you feel good 🙂 xx

  7. Helen says:


    I’m knitting Frosted Ice in Winter Icicle and a basic sock in some hand-dyed called Robin.

    The fire is on, I’ve started reading Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont and I’m eating After Eights.

    Have a great weekend

  8. Ann Bonner says:

    Hi and Happy New year Christine. it is lovely to read your words of wisdom. I had found it difficult to sit and knit during the day but,off to my spinning shed, music and knitting and crafting during the morning has become part of my new year resolution. Ready for children’s socks now, but would love a pattern for 1yr olds please. x

  9. Selina Baihn says:

    ohhh my, I started my Easy Cable socks last KaL & still haven’t finished them; i am up to the 2nd sock though & just finished the heel; am having a bit of problem getting the gusset picked up (for some reason the sides went extremely tight)
    i have a 2 seater lounge that i sit on, in front of a fan to try & keep cool

  10. Hello, Thanks for running this Winter KAL. I am waiting for yarn now to take part. I am torn between several patterns. Would the Rudy pattern that was a Christmas pattern count as part of your patterns since it was designed by you?
    I am really after a sock pattern that is for babies and I am after knitting socks for a 3 month baby. If this is no good then I could either do the Easy Mosaic socks or the Easy lace sock patterns.

  11. Sorry not Rudy but I meant Buddy ( see previous comment) the baby sock pattern that came out at Christmas 2022. Would this pattern be OK for this year’s Winter KAL?
    Yarn may be WYS or Winwick Mum or Lang because I have some bits of left overs I would like to use. Please let me know if this will count as a Winwick Mum pattern for the KAL.

  12. Caroline Darrah-Morgan says:

    Dear Christine, I am keen to try the children’s sock pattern for the KAL (as soon as I’ve finished all my WIPs!). Could you possibly tell us how much weight of wool is in the smallest size in the pattern? I’d hate to end up with 1.5 socks if I use leftovers! Thanks, Caro

    • winwickmum says:

      Hi Caro, you can decide which size you want to knit for yourself – the pattern doesn’t have specific sizes written into it because it’s one that you can adapt to any size. If it helps, the blue pair in my photo weighed 35g including contrasts, were knitted on 48sts and are 15cm long (about UK 5/6) and the green pair weighed 40g, were knitted on 52sts and are 18cm long (about UK 13). You can always add stripes or extra long contrasts if you need to! 🙂 xx

  13. Karen Goshen says:

    Got a late start (just yesterday) on my Couthie Shaw. Your comment about a “special yarn” rang a bell, so I pulled out a lovely soft skein called Pink Ash. Shades of pale pink and pale greys. This will go beautifully with my heavy winter sweaters/sweatshirts.
    Been listening to favorite recordings of The Ohio Light Opera, and started a new J. D. Robb mystery. My plant 🪴 isn’t new, but it’s the only one I’ve been able to keep alive (so not pushing my luck!)
    What a calm, serene time I’m having, instead of the usual sad, depressing January. Thank you for this Winter Haven KAL, Christine!!

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