Winter Haven KAL 2024 – Week 1
Hello, hello and welcome to this year’s Winter Haven KAL!
In previous years, I’ve written a “get ready” post but this year, I thought we’d dive straight into the KAL and I’ll talk you through it all as we go along so here we are – Week 1!
This year, the KAL (knitalong) starts on Friday 5 January and it will run for the whole of January with four weekly blog posts sharing not only my project progress but yours as well – I love it when you tell me about what you’re up to too! There will be a final round-up post on Friday 2 February, and by then hopefully we’ll be through the darkest days of the year (in the northern hemisphere) and for those find those weeks difficult, I hope this KAL will help!
Does this mean that you can’t join in if you don’t live in the northern hemisphere? Absolutely not! These January days are about resting and recharging after the end of year holiday madness and whether or not you celebrate any of those, and whether you’re heading off to the beach to cool down or you’re wrapping yourself up in a blanket to keep warm, you are more than welcome to be part of the Winter Haven KAL.
The socks in the photo are this year’s free KAL sock pattern – the Treasure Socks, and the pattern for these was released yesterday. You can find it here if you’d like to knit them – but don’t feel that you have to make these to join in … more on that in a minute!
🕯 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. We’ve got so many stresses and strains to live with these days, from the ongoing cost of living crisis to social and health care sector strikes, to worries about health (we may be past the pandemic days of 2020 and 2021, but Covid hasn’t gone away) and the people that we care for, and it’s no wonder that we are all living with elevated stress levels and that anxiety is something that is now part of everyday life for so many people.
The Winter Haven KAL – wherever you live – is a reminder that it’s OK to stop and take a breather, even for just a few minutes a day, and look after yourself. I’m even going to go as far as saying that it’s a non-negotiable! Yes, there’s knitting involved and you don’t need me to remind you of the health and well-being benefits of those regular, rhythmic stitches, but there’s also permission from me for you (and me!) to take a look at how we are living and how we want to live for the rest of the year. I’m not talking about gym memberships or setting ourselves up to fail with impossible New Year resolutions, I’m talking about being kind to ourselves in the way that we are to others as so often, we forget.
🕯 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 2024, 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 this year’s brand new pattern, the Treasure Socks. I absolutely LOVED knitting these and another pair for my sock drawer is going to be my project for the KAL!
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.
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 Wool Warehouse, and Black Sheep Wools and if you’re not sure if there’s a yarn shop close by or 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, although these are all things that you will probably already have around your house and you don’t need to go out and buy anything new.
I focus on a few things during the Winter Haven KAL and I’ll talk about them every week as a reminder (to myself as much as you!) that make sure that I’m not sliding back into top-speed mode when I should be taking this time to be resting. There are 365 days in the year, it’s absolutely fine to go slower than usual for the first 30 of them!
🕯 My space
🕯 My project
🕯 Something green
🕯 Light it up!
🕯 Listen up!
Let’s have a look at how this works for the weeks of the knitalong.
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 …
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!
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 finish the Summer Sunset version of the Treasure Socks that I knitted to show off as a pattern sample. It’s such a lovely pattern, it knits up very quickly and I really want a pair of these for myself as I keep my sample socks out of my sock drawer in case I need to photograph them in the future (it’s really not the same if they’ve got holes in the toes!).
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).
I was delighted when a lovely friend sent me some letterbox flowers and they’ve opened up beautifully, so I will be sure to enjoy those this week!
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?).
I have this thing that may sound ridiculous to some but is perfectly reasonable to me that if a candle is too nice, I can’t burn it. I just can’t bring myself to watch whatever lovely shape it was dissolve into a puddle of wax, so now friends and family who gift me candles buy me very basic-looking candles that smell wonderful or wax melts, or something like this …
The stars at the top spin round when the candle is lit as the heat from the flame pushes the wheel sitting above it – I love it! It was a Christmas gift from a thoughtful friend who knows all about my weird thing with candles, and even though it has a winter scene on it, it’s not going away with the Christmas decorations!
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.
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. It’ll be great to share suggestions as we go through the KAL. Previously, I’ve tried out a new recipe each week but I thought it might be nicer to share what you’re up to this year so do let me know what you’ve got as a treat, whether sweet or savoury! 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 too much of it since I’ve discovered that reaching Chocolate Saturation Point makes me anxious and grumpy and nobody likes me when I’m like that, me included! I do have a fabulous amount of shortbread to work my way through as well, and as I LOVE shortbread, I am not objecting to that at all!
And finally, the self-care part of the KAL. 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. Last year, I realised that my self-care was all about making myself feel safe (perimenopausal anxiety was not fun) and I’ll write a bit more about that over the month; this year, I’m going to try to give myself a bit of space rather than rushing from one thing to the next which, despite our best intentions, can seem to happen without us noticing!
You might like to find a book that you’ve been planning to read as part of your self-care. I’ve got a stack of them that I’m planning to dip in and out of during the month. No novels this year; I’ve not been reading fiction recently but I am looking forward to working my way through these.
If you’d like to have a look at what I’m reading, I’ll list them for you – the links are Amazon links* so that you can see, but if you’ve got a local bookshop, please do support them!
Working up from the bottom … at the bottom is my yearly treat from my brother, The Broons annual. Then Billy Connolly Rambling Man (oh, he really makes me laugh!) and after that, I’m onto my pile of text books. Firstly, Breaking the Age Code by Dr Becca Levy. As much as I’d like to think differently, I am getting older so I have decided to embrace it and make sure that I can be as fit and healthy as I can be as I head towards my telegram from the King (and why not? If I think I’m going to live till 100, I won’t be worrying about being all the ages in between 🙂 ). Big daughter bought me The Book of Lymph by Lisa Levitt Gainsley which I’ve started already and am finding fascinating. I’m sure you’re much better informed about human biology than I am, but I hadn’t realised just how vital our lymphatic systems our and how we are able to look after them ourselves. Next, This Book May Save Your Life by Dr Karan Rajan, which not so small daughter found for me (there’s a bit of a theme going on with my girls here! 🙂 ) and to finish off with, some lighter reading in the form of Lagom by Linnea Dunne which fits very well with the Winter Haven KAL them and the idea of hygge, and finally, Clean and Green by Nancy Birtwhistle because I fancied reading it 🙂
Finally, I’m going to recommend that you find a notebook and pen to keep in your Haven Space. In previous years, I’ve suggested using this as a gratitude journal – whether you choose to write paragraphs or bullet points, it’s always good to remember to say thank you 🙂 – but I’ve found that whilst it’s good to kick-start my gratitude habit again after Christmas, I don’t tend to remember to write things down. Instead, I find other cues in the day to say thank you (if I see double numbers on the clock, for example, such as 10:10 or 17:17 – I see these all the time!) and I always say thank you for what I have before I get out of bed and before I go to sleep. You may be the same and not feel the need to write anything down, but the good thing about having time for a few minutes’ rest is that you give yourself the space for ideas and answers to questions to come to you and writing them down at the time means you won’t forget them if you get distracted, so you may choose to use your notebook for that.
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 I’ll have filled it one day! 🙂
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.
So that’s everything we’re going to need to get started. There’s no official sign up and all you have to do this week is think about how you are going to spend January recharging your batteries and make a start on your project. Make sure that whatever you choose will make you happy in your Haven Space – the colours, the weight of yarn, the pattern that you’ve chosen – and I hope you have a lovely week. Do keep in touch – there’s an email contact in the sidebar, and also by social media. We use the hashtag #WinterHavenKAL, and you can use #WinwickMumSockalong or #WinwickMumSocks as well as tagging me into photos so that I can see. I’d love to know how you’re getting on!
See you next week! xx
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