West Yorkshire Spinners Country Birds – new birds in the flock!

Did you know there are brand new colours in the West Yorkshire Spinners Country Birds range of Signature 4ply?  They were launched and flew the nest last Monday so you may have seen them around on social media or if you’ve been into your local yarn shop, but if not then today’s the day I get to tell you all about the new birds in the flock!

A pattern book with a pair of red, orange, white and black striped socks on the front. To the right, four pairs of socks are lined up against the edge of the book, only their cuffs showing

What’s more, there’s a brand new pattern book to go with them, too!

Oh, did I mention that I’d had secret knitting going on this year?  Well, phew, I can tell you about it at last!  This has been a long time coming and it’s been so hard to keep the secret!

Let me show you the yarns first.  There are four new shades representing four British birds: (l-r) Jay, Swallow, Starling and Green Woodpecker

Four balls of yarn lined up against the branches of a tree

Source: West Yorkshire Spinners

They match the existing Country Birds yarns with colours that represent the birds alternating with black and white or blue and white sections.  You can see how the yarns knit up into their stripes here …

Four pairs of striped socks lie together in a pile on a white tissue paper background

Aren’t they lovely?  You’ll have noticed that each of the socks has a pattern to it and I’ll show you those in a minute, but first let me show you the yarns themselves.

Each one takes the colours of the birds they represent and as always, the WYS Dye House genies have made an amazing job of matching the colours of the birds.  You can see here what the birds look like and how well the yarn matches them …

A pink, grey, blue, black and white bird on a tree truck next to a ball of yarn in the same colours

Source: Bird: https://www.wythamwoods.ox.ac.uk/ Yarn: wyspinners.com

A peach, blue, black and white bird on a tree truck next to a ball of yarn in the same colours

Source: Bird: https://www.birdspot.co.uk/ Yarn: wyspinners.com

A blue, purple, teal and gold bird on a tree truck next to a ball of yarn in the same colours

Source: Bird: https://naturalengland.blog.gov.uk/ Yarn: wyspinners.com

A green, red, black and white bird on a tree truck next to a ball of yarn in the same colours

Source: Bird: Gary Thornton/http://cambsbirdclub.blogspot.com/ Yarn: wyspinners.com

They were a joy to knit, as always – I do love Signature 4ply!  All of these yarns would be great for any sock knitter from beginner to experienced, and if you’re looking for a simple pattern to show off those lovely stripes then look no further than my Basic 4ply Socks pattern, along with the Sockalong tutorials if you need help getting started.

If you’re looking for something more adventurous, however, then let me introduce you to some new patterns!

First up is Jay.

Now, as you should know by now if you’ve knitted any of my patterns, there’s always a story behind the pattern and of course it’s the same here!  I wanted to think about what the bird was like, what its characteristics were and how that could help me to choose the right type of pattern to work into the sock.

Jays are shy birds, despite being part of the crow family (think also of jackdaws and magpies) – you certainly wouldn’t consider any of those to be shy!  Jays, however, don’t like to stay long in one place and flit from branch to branch.  We have one that visits our garden and it’s always gone in a flash of pink feathers, reappearing from a different tree to where you saw it disappear.

I wanted a pattern that represented the flitting nature of the bird and I found it in this lace pattern that doesn’t quite end but simply starts again – it flits, just like the jay!

A pair of pink, grey, blue, black and white socks modelled on feet. The wearer is standing on a mossy log.

(The professional-looking photos here all belong to West Yorkshire Spinners; there are some pattern close-ups taken by me but you’ll know which they are 🙂 )

The pattern runs down the outside of each foot so you only have to work in the lace pattern for half of the stitches – and then there’s a narrower version on the back …

A pair of pink, grey, blue, black and white socks modelled on feet. The pattern panel down the ack of the sock is visible. The wearer is standing on a mossy log.

The back pattern panels are also mirrored so you can either wear them together at the back or you could wear your socks the other way around so that the front outside panels were together and the back panels to the outside.  Either way, not only does the lace pattern flit, but so do the panels! 🙂

Here’s my close-up photo of the pattern panels so that you can see them … on the left is the front and on the right is the back.

Two close up photos showing the lace pattern panel on the front and the back of a grey, pink, beige, black and white sock

Next is Swallow.

Oh, I did enjoy designing and knitting Swallow!  For years, I thought that the birds that swooped and chattered on the wires near to our house were house martins, but earlier this year at big daughter’s yoga retreat, I learnt that they might actually be swallows instead.

I wanted a pattern that swooped just like the birds do and I created one using twisted stitches.  Twisted stitches are brilliant for making a pattern stand out and they don’t require a cable needle so they’re very easy to create too.  Swallow’s pattern is the same on the front and the back of the socks which gives that lovely swirling pattern all over the socks.

A pair of orange, navy, blue, black and white socks modelled on feet. The wearer is standing on a mossy log. A pair of orange, navy, blue, black and white socks modelled on feet. The wearer is standing on a mossy log.

Here’s my pattern close- up for Swallow …

A close up of a twisted stitch hourglass pattern on a striped sock

Doesn’t it stand out beautifully?  I’m very happy with this pattern!


The third bird pattern is Starling.

Starlings are familiar birds in the UK and when they start to roost together in the autumn, they create huge aerial displays or murmurations in the evening.  They’re an amazing sight to see – thousands of birds swirling in carefully choreographed patterns in the sky, swirling and twirling and always chattering to each other.  That’s what I wanted to try to capture in my Starling pattern and I’ve done it by creating a pattern that runs down the inside of both socks and is mirrored so that you get the swirling movement across both socks.

A pair of navy, teal, purple, gold and white socks modelled on feet. The wearer is standing on a mossy log.A pair of navy, teal, purple, gold and white socks modelled on feet. The wearer is standing on a mossy log.

Ooh, aren’t those stripes gorgeous?  I love them!

I’m not sure if you can see the murmuration pattern any more easily in my close up photo but here it is anyway!

A close-up of the pattern on a pair of navy, teal, purple, gold and white socks.

And now, it’s the turn of Green Woodpecker.

I didn’t know until I started to research this bird that they don’t spend much time in the trees at all as they’re ground feeders although they do sleep in bore holes in the trees, so the tapping sounds you hear in the spring could be green woodpeckers but could just as likely be their more-often-spotted cousins, the Greater Spotted Woodpecker.  I’ve learnt plenty working on these socks!

For this pattern, I wanted something that would represent the woodpecker and, of course, we all associate them with the holes the trees, so that’s what I’ve gone for.  It’s lucky that the green woodpecker does spend some time in the trees as trying to design grass or the woodland floor onto socks would have been far more difficult! 🙂

For this pattern, I’ve gone for a mock cable which creates “bore holes” down the “trunk” (leg) of the sock and you’ll be pleased to know that it’s all done with increases and decreases with not a cable needle in sight!

A pair of green, light green, red, black and white socks modelled on feet. The wearer is sitting on a mossy log. A pair of green, light green, red, black and white socks modelled on feet. The wearer is standing on a mossy log.

Here’s my close-up …

A close-up of the pattern on a pair of green, light green, red, black and white socks.

Ooh, that might be just a bit too close but I hope you can see!


All four yarns and the pattern book Along the River are available now from your local WYS stockist and also online retailers – they should be winging their way abroad too so if you live overseas then do check your local yarn shops too (you can see a map of WYS retailers here).  You can also buy a copy from my online shop here.


So what do you think?  It’s been so nice to revisit the patterns again to show them to you, and I hope you’ll agree that whether you knit the patterns from the book or just knit plain socks, these lovely yarns will a fabulous addition to your sock drawer!



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29 Responses

  1. Joan Lewis says:

    Love them 👏. Definitely next on my list 😃

  2. Susan Miller says:

    Your socks are absolutely gorgeous .I still haven’t plucked up the courage to knit socks but who knows with this lovely new yarn I just might.

  3. Helen says:

    They’re beautiful. I have the book and starling- decided I couldn’t wait till Christmas, haha. Told mum yo get me the original pattern book instead. Win!
    The colours of starling are so pretty.

  4. Ruth Howard says:

    Love the colours and back story – a must for the bird spotted – love Ruth x

  5. Lisa G. says:

    Oh my gosh, two of my passions, birding and knitting, put together so beautifully and creatively! I absolutely love this. ❤️

  6. Sandy Gilmore says:

    The yarns and socks are beautiful! You are so talented!
    A question: What are the names of the 4 solid colors which coordinate with each new yarn for contrasting heels?

    • winwickmum says:

      Thank you! I asked WYS about the contrasting colours and they said that there aren’t any in their range at the moment that match exactly (sometimes, one of the stripes is an existing colour so you can buy the solid shade which is the same). The closest one is Cardamom which goes with Green Woodpecker, but other than that you’d have to take a view of what you’d like. Off the top of my head, I’d hazard a guess that Pennyroyal might go with Jay, Pacific with Starling and maybe Milk Bottle with Swallow, but if you’re close to a yarn shop where you could line the colours up together to see what you might like best, that would be better 🙂 xx

  7. Lucy@Attic24 says:

    It’s so interesting to read about your design process and I love the thought you put into each pattern to tie it in with each bird….you’re very good at this, aren’t you?! Lovely blog post xxx

  8. Tineke says:

    All stunning socks. I wonder how they look in less stripy yarn. But then again, you designed them for this yarn. ;>D

    • winwickmum says:

      Actually, whenever I design socks I always think about how they would be knitted up in different yarns too because I know that not everyone wants to knit with the colours in the pattern book, and that’s OK. I do see my patterns knitted up in other yarns from time to time and I love how they look, so I would always encourage anybody to have a go at them with a yarn that sings to them if the yarn the pattern was designed for doesn’t sing loudly enough 🙂 xx

  9. Patricia slater says:

    Thank you the new bird yarns are gorgeous. I’m knitting some plain socks at the moment but I’ll definitely be trying the ones you’ve shared today

  10. Susan Rayner says:

    They are all lovely colours and easy to see the birds they represent. I have Jay and Starling – and your new WYS collaboration book of patterns – so looking forward to getting to knit them – probably in the autumn now as I am a one project at a time person and have three lined up. The patterns are just beautiful – so glad that no cable needles are involved.
    Happy weekend everyone.

  11. Ruthie says:

    love these colourways and designs,and thank you for your lovely blog post as usual! I love Starling and Jay particularly. Where I live, we have a flock of starlings which has increased in size from 20 or so birds 40 years ago, to about 130 now, I so love to see their journeys around the houses and trees; early in the morning they gather along the ridge tiles of a block of flats – the first ones to arrive sit on the chimney then the next ones gradually spread out. and although this may sound mad, they have a different way of communicating than the ones in a nearby town who were sitting in a bush on a clifftop as I passed …ours whistle and theirs chatter..strange but true! enough starling talk! x

  12. Annette Edwards says:

    The yarn and pattern look so lovely Can’t wait to get my hands on them and started on some lovely sock. Thank you, you have done a great job of designing the patterns, they really suit the yarns

  13. Jules says:

    These look fantastic Christine, thank you so much!

  14. Steph Bassett says:

    Love them all, particularly swallow. Enjoyed reading your blog too, thank you😊

  15. SARAH MURRAY says:

    Your socks are so lovely. I love that they are inspired by nature. Sarah xxx

  16. Liz says:

    More lovely sock yarn and patterns, I shall resist temptation – for now, I should really catch up on a whole queue of knitting and crochet, though bit hampered right now as I managed to slice my L middle finger this morning whilst gardening – we have the first fine day for ages, everywhere is wet in North Lincs, the fields are ready to harvest but the weather has stopped all activity. Looking forward to hearing about your daughter’s Japan trip, what opportunities there are for our young folk, mind- you my grand-daughter is quite relieved she wasn’t accepted for the scout jamboree in South Korea!

  17. Elaine Hargreaves says:

    Hello Christine, Thank you again for such lovely and interesting patterns. Also West Yorkshire Spinners for producing such beautiful yarn. I’m going to hold off at present, and I’ll not be rushing to see Cath at Twist and Purl in Cleckheaton, since I’ve just done a yarn count and I have 10 balls of Signature 4ply in my stash, including two of the bird designs. I need to get my needles clicking. I will see how long I hold out before I resist the temptation of new yarn!!! Thanks again and kind regards, Elaine xx

  18. Caz Abbinett says:

    Beautiful yarn and patterns! As you already know, I wasn’t fussed on Starling because the photo I saw made it look quite dark but I saw a better photo so had to order it…and, of course, I had to make the order worth the postage charge so I have Wood Pigeon, Pheasant and Goldfinch as well as the 4 new ones to knit up! Don’t know why I didn’t get them before 🙄
    This time I’ve challenged myself to knit them all with a pattern rather than plain too!

  19. Madeleine says:

    Hope daughter is well, considering the weather situation and the Scout Jamboree has been headline news

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