KNITTING champions of Northwich have been named following a competition for the most creative Christmas jumper and hat.

Crafty Stitches, in Witton Street, ran the competition and was inundated with entries as well as requests to run the contest again in 2014.

The garments, which featured an array of snowmen, robins, Christmas trees and Father Christmas himself, were judged by Guardian chief reporter Gina Bebbington, who took more than an hour picking the winners in a close competition.

The winner of the Christmas jumper category was Middlewich woman Sandra Graham, whose design included a fluffy Rudolph with sparkling blue eyes, a padded red nose and knitted scarf and hat as well as stylised reindeer around the cuffs and hem.

Sandra said: “I only came into the shop for some double pointed needles but got persuaded to do a jumper.”

She is no stranger to the art after she was taught to knit by her mum but said the competition gave her the chance to experiment.

“I’ve knitted everything from baby shawls to toys and jumpers,” she said.

“Sometimes you pick up a Christmas jumper and think ‘I would like to do that but I’d add this to it’ but you think you’ve got to follow the pattern.”

The winner of the Christmas hat category was Joyce Thomas, whose entry was an irresistibly appealing Father Christmas, with dangly legs to keep the wearers’ ears warm, a big fluffy beard, golden spectacles and button eyes and nose.

Joyce, a primary school cook, lives in Derby but comes to Northwich to stay with her sister Sandra Stone, of Kingsway, and go to the Crafty Stitches knitting club, which meets on Tuesday evenings.

“I would never have attempted anything if it wasn’t for Joan and Louise from Crafty Stiches,” she said.

“I only started knitting again in January after years of not doing it.

“Now both Sandra and I are knitting all sorts of things and I’ve got everyone at work knitting too.

“I wore the hat all through service on the last day of school and the kids thought it was great.”

Louise Hough, who runs the shop with her mum Joan Hubbard, said: “This competition was to give people the chance to choose a pattern and then just play.

“If you choose a basic pattern you feel you have to follow it and can’t change or alter it but you can.

“Everyone who’s knitted a jumper or a hat all said that they’ve really enjoyed it.

“It’s the first time we’ve done it and we’re very pleased – we keep getting asked about next year.”