And then the custard exploded …

Happy New Year!

I hope that whatever you were doing over the Christmas and New Year period, and whether you celebrated or not, you were safe, warm and loved, and I hope that 2024 will be an amazing year for you.

Thank you very much for all your messages over the holiday period, I’ve really appreciated them – it’s lovely to be in touch!


Our Christmas and New Year were generally pretty low-key, as that’s how we like it.  Close family days, a couple of parties with extended family and time to sit and read new books, watch TV and catch up with some knitting – although now that we’re in January, it seems as if the time has gone very quickly indeed!  We had a full house yesterday (New Year’s Day) with big daughter, her boyfriend and not so small daughter’s boyfriend here and everybody joining in to make the dinner with peeling, chopping, setting the table, making the trifle … and that’s when the custard exploded.  I’m not sure what big daughter did to it, but I came back into the kitchen to find cleaning in full flow and our trifle was a bit shorter on the custard than was intended – but it was fine!  We had a jelly-less trifle this year as we had forgotten to buy veggie jelly powder, but it tasted just as good and nobody had to miss out as they would have done if we’d used non-veggie jelly.  I stopped getting myself in a tizz about things having to be perfect at Christmas and New Year years ago and it makes for a far nicer experience!

We did manage to get out of the house one day – well, when I say “manage”, we didn’t have to try that hard as we were ready for some fresh air by then, and we took ourselves and the dog out to Llangollen in North Wales for the day.  Not so small daughter is getting ready for her driving test and has been practicing in my car …

A young woman with brown hair and wearing a white jumper is driving a car

It’s very strange being driven by your child – I remember the same feeling when big daughter was learning to drive!  My car is an automatic so it’s not the same as the one that not so small daughter is learning in but it’s good practice for her to be out on the road.  It’s also quite an eye-opener how badly some drivers behave around learners – they have obviously forgotten that they were learners once too!  Despite that, she drove a good distance of the journey to Llangollen and it’s all good practice.

Once we arrived and parked up, we headed for the town centre.  As we crossed the bridge over the River Dee, it was obvious that they’d had plenty of rain here too – goodness, look at that water!

A raging river with a view across to a hotel and hills in the distance A raging river with a view across to a train station and houses

It’s not usually like that – this video shows you the riverside walk (at 9.02) and it’s possible to walk on the flat rocks in the middle of the river when the water is low.  You would absolutely not be getting in that water – or if you did, you’d not be getting out again!

Across the river in the bottom photo is the train station.  Llangollen Railway is a heritage railway now, with steam trains that run between five stations.  There are three steam trains, and one of them was waiting at the station ready to leave when we crossed back over the bridge so we went to have a look.  We got to the platform to see a number of old-fashioned carriages full of passengers (not so small daughter was incredulous when I told her that the commuter train I used to get on for my very first job in Manchester had those same carriages – she thinks I must have come from the Dark Ages but it was just very old rolling stock!) and we had arrived in time to wave to the Mince Pie Special locomotive as it pulled out of the station.  You can see the carriages in the photo but the locomotive is hidden behind the buildings.

We took ourselves back over to the bridge to a dog-friendly cafe for lunch and as we walked back to the car, the light was starting to fade and the lights from station were shining across the raging water …

A view across a raging river to where a railway station is lit up as the daylight fades

Once we were back home again, I just managed to finish off a pair of socks in time for the end of the year …

A pair of hand knitted socks in grey and rainbow yarn with yellow heels and green toes, modelled on feet against a tiled floor

These are the ones that were going to be my new Emergency Socks – the yarn is hand-dyed from Australia and it’s a gorgeously soft blend of alpaca, merino and nylon and I knew that I’d put my toes through the yarn very quickly unless I did something about it, so I decided to use up leftovers for the heels and toes (WYS Signature 4ply in Butterscotch for the heels and Chocolate Lime for the toes).  I also decided to knit from both ends of the yarn cake at the same time using the helical knitting method so that the rainbows would be more evenly distributed around the socks and it worked very well, but I didn’t think it would be such a good idea to keep them as Emergency Socks as the potential for tangled yarn is much higher.  I’ve got a new Emergency Sock on the go but I’ve left it in the car – I’ll show you another day.

I so much enjoyed knitting from my stash yarn that I decided to have another rootle through to find something else to cast on, and I chose this one …

A skein of pink speckled yarn and a small fir tree in a pot are lying next to each other on a grey background

It’s Truly Hooked standard sock yarn in the colourway “Pickled Cabbage”, and it’s been in my stash since March 2021 when I bought it with another yarn called “Thank You NHS” (after the Covid pandemic) so it’s definitely time that it saw the light of day!  I’ve cast on and am part-way down the leg … I’ve got an urge to knit contrast heels and toes again but haven’t found the yarn I wanted to use yet – it’ll be in my leftovers selection somewhere, but I’m not always very good about keeping them in the same place so I’ll need to have a search for it!

It made me smile that the skein was the same size as my tiny Christmas tree.  A lovely friend sent me one complete with decorations a couple of years ago but I lost it during the dry spell of last summer, so I thought I would replace it and bought this one from Skipton before Christmas when I went to see Lucy.  Isn’t it cute?  It’s got a bit of growing to do but I’ve got just the pot for it to live in and I’ll make sure it doesn’t dry out if the sun ever shines again.

I’m nearly done for today but I do need to let you know that the Winter Haven KAL (knitalong) will be running again this year and will be starting on Friday 5 January 2024.  If you’ve never heard of the Winter Haven KAL before, it’s very relaxed – it’s all about resting and recharging your batteries in a cosy space surrounded by lovely things like candles, a good book to read and maybe some Christmas chocolate – and to join in you just need to knit a Winwick Mum pattern and/or use Winwick Mum yarn.  You don’t need to sign up and there will be a KAL blog post every Friday until the end of January.  Every year, I design a new sock pattern for the KAL and this year’s pattern will be out on Thursday 4 January.

Would you like a sneak peek?

A partial view of a pair of hand knitted socks in cream and blue colourwork

I’m going to save the big reveal for the day, but I can tell you that this year’s pattern is called Treasure Socks and they are colourwork using two colours – I’ve used West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Milk Bottle and Seascape – and if you’ve not tried colourwork before, this pattern is not complicated and would be a great place to start.  You don’t have to use a striped yarn; a variegated or fade yarn would also look lovely, as would two solid shades, and because you’ll be using a Winwick Mum pattern to knit the socks, you can choose from your stash if you want to and still be joining in with the KAL!

And that’s me for today, so I’ll love you and leave you with this photo of my Christmas rose hellebore which I didn’t think was going to flower in time but it did!

White hellebore flowers nestled in green leaves

See you soon! xx



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10 Responses

  1. Carrie says:

    I love reading your posts and need to make sure I do so more often this year. You always make it so cosy and welcoming! Colorwork is on my “to learn” list, so I’ll check out the KAL!

  2. Gretchen Patrick says:

    Happy New Year, Christine! My husband and I were fortunate to be able to visit England and Wales last summer, and your pictures take me back. It was very wet! I have wanted to do colorwork for some time, and the peek of your socks definitely has me ready to give it a try. Thanks for your wonderful posts and pictures, and wishing many blessings to you and your family in 2024.

  3. Steffi says:

    The socks for 2024 Winter Haven KAL Look fantastic! I have to check my stash for suitable yarn immediately. 🙂

  4. Laura Miller says:

    Loved the exploding custard! Sounds like our over-whipped whipped cream that you could have cemented a brick wall with! Still, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without these perfectly imperfect moments. Can’t wait for the new pattern. Happy New Year. xx

  5. Linda says:

    I’m going say something really wrong ……I want to knit some socks for my granddaughter but can’t do that on DPK or magic loop.
    Can you please help many thanks Linda

    • winwickmum says:

      There’s nothing wrong with needing to use different needles! You’re going to need a small number to cast on for your granddaughter’s socks so the obvious first suggestions would be DPNs or magic loop, but if they won’t work for you, could you try two short circulars? It’s not a technique that I’ve used but lots of people get on very well with it and you’ll find help online if you search. You could also use a short circular needle – probably 25cm is the biggest size you could use depending on how many stitches you want to cast on, and of course I’m assuming a granddaughter with small feet! If she’s a bigger granddaughter then you could perhaps try a 30cm short circular but not for less than 60 sts. I hope that helps! xx

  6. Jean Sharp says:

    Did you ever find out why the custard exploded?

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