Brioche Stitch

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 02-09-2015



Where to begin with brioche stitch? When you start looking it is amazing how fancy and complex your knitting can become when using this stitch. From learning the basics you can go on to knit incredible pieces beginning to incorporate increases, decreases, moss stitch, purl and crossing over stitches, all whilst still using the brioche technique. Once conquered the world is your oyster with this knitting stitch.

Brioche stitch creates a bouncy piece of knitting that is reversible. When you are knitting with two colours you can create some really effective combinations – whether you go for tonal shades or a pop of fluorescent with a neutral it is quite exciting to see how it will turn out.  The only problem is you will want to show off both sides all of the time!


Purl Bee‘s example of brioche knitting is mesmerizing with her fluoro & white combo.

Stephen west brioche stitch scarf

Sometimes there will be just a hint of colour peeping through the springy rib like structure as seen here in the example I discovered by Stephen West.

If you fancy having a go yourself and don’t live too far away from our wonderful Craft Barn, how about coming along to one of our workshops? On September 18th Rowan tutor Carol Meldrum will be teaching a full day workshop on brioche knitting at the Craft Barn. Carol will explore the technique through samples working towards casting on a cowl design, as seen in the photo below.

brioche and tuck workshop

I just had to share some more outstanding examples of brioche stitch by designers Nancy Merchant and Stephen West. Whether it’s the swirly designs from Nancy or the neon colour contrast from Stephen you can’t help but be intrigued by the possibilities of this stitch. It really is hard to believe that they have been hand knitted.

nancy merchant brioche scarf

Carmine and Rocko by Nancy Merchant

nancy merchant brioche hat

Crossing Over by Nancy Merchant

stephen_west brioche hat

Askews Me Hat by Stephen West

stephen_west brioche

Brioche Bolero by Stephen West

A visit from Winwick Mum

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 28-08-2015



We were very excited when blogger Winwick Mum emailed to say she had something important to share; something that she wanted to tell us / show us in person. Whatever could it be? Well, Christine aka Winwick Mum has been beavering away creating her very own, self-published book all about sock knitting. We all know Christine absolutely loves knitting socks and with her recent sock-a-long, she has encouraged many new sock knitters to flourish and enjoy making not one, but two socks! Christine also joined us for Love Your Yarn Shop Day back in May offering a help in hand to sock knitting newbies on the day.

yarn shop day sock knitting

To celebrate Christine’s very first book being released ‘Super Socks’ – a step by step guide on how to knit socks, complete with very helpful photographs, Christine will be doing a book signing on Saturday 5th September from 11am – 1pm.

super socks by Christine Perry

Then on Wednesday 16th September Christine will be holding a sock clinic in the Craft Barn from 11am – 1pm. Pop along if you are struggling to get started or if you need a little advice on how to do Kitchener stitch. Christine will be here to help with all of your sock related problems. If you already love knitting socks or you have taken part in Winwick Mum’s Sock-a-long why not join Christine for a cuppa and meet fellow sock knitters.

National Dog Day – Celebrate with knitting!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 26-08-2015


Today is National Dog Day and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than knitting your favourite pooch a stylish ensemble. We have just the patterns for you…….

Woolly woofers book

Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss is a funky pattern book just for dogs. Knit a variety of outfits from practical cosy jackets to fancy dress or perhaps a hat or cape.

woolly woofers sheep outfit

Sheep outfit from Woolly Woofers.

woolly woofers bee outfit

Maybe a bee costume? Not sure how impressed this dog looks though!

knitted dog coatsThis selection of designs from Hayfield comes in one single pattern leaflet. A collection of four different designs to fit dogs of all shapes and sizes. A knitted dog coat would make a lovely gift for a friend who adores their furry friend.

crocheted dog in rico baby cotton

If you don’t have a real dog to dress up, how about crocheting this little chap by Rico? This leaflet comes with a pattern for a knitted hat and jacket too!


It may not be knitted but if we are on the theme of dogs, how cute is this cross stitch kit from Historical Sampler Company – ‘How Much Is That Doggy‘.

Kim Hargreaves Spirit – #tryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 25-08-2015

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I have a double #tryitTuesday to share today! The Black Sheep Wools “models” have had a busy trying on session. These gorgeous garments have kindly been sent to us by Kim Hargreaves for us to display in the Craft Barn. When Kim Hargreaves sends out display garments there is always a fun element of suprise when I open it. Although I know the parcel is on its way in the post, I don’t know what treats Kim will have packed in the parcel for us. Kim’s designs are always so beautiful and effortlessly stylish I am yet to be disappointed with the delights tucked up inside. Even when you know one of Kim Hargreaves’s garments isn’t really your style; the garment can still be admired for Kim’s impressive attention to detail and design.

The first garment from the book Spirit is a cardigan called ‘Stir’. Knitted in Rowan Panama - shade Tulip, a rich red shade of yarn that wouldn’t go amiss for a light layer in the winter months.

Spirit Kim HargreavesLesley tried on the waterfall cardigan with a black vest top.

Spirit Kim Hargreaves - Stir

Colette popped the cardigan on over her blue blouse.

Sprit Kim Hargeaves

Stacey tried on the cardigan with the second #tryitTuesday garment too. A fitted top knitted in two shades of Rowan Creative Linen, called ‘Cool’. These two pieces look good worn as one outfit.

Spirit Kim Hargreaves

Colette tried it on in the sunshine with a skirt.

Spirit Kim HargreavesAnd finally Lesley!



A Patchwork Summer Shawl

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns, Patchwork & Quilting | Posted on 24-08-2015



Back in June we held our very first ‘Sewing Bee‘ at the Craft Barn. A group of bloggers and Black Sheep Barbara took part. The brief was to make an item in the day based around the theme of patchwork. The results were fabulous and so varied too. Each and every project was so different – there were bags, boxes, a cushion and Barbara’s elegant shawl. Barbara has now written the pattern out so that it is available as a free pattern to download from our website. Many of the other designs, including Jozart’s winning windmill bag are also there for you to download.

Sewing bee projects

Here is Barbara’s gorgeous shawl made using a combination of juicy fabrics – Philip Jacobs Pansies, Kaffe Fassett Millefore and Valori Wells Voile.

patchwork summer shawl

Favourite autumn / winter yarn 2015

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in New Products | Posted on 21-08-2015

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Sometimes a new yarn instantly catches your eye and that’s it, you can’t think of anything else, it’s love at first sight. Before you have even considered what you could make with it, you know it has to be yours. Whether it’s the colour that caught your eye, the texture or the fibre, there is definitely a place for it in your stash.

As you can imagine this happens on a regular basis here at Black Sheep Wools. We all tend to flitter and flutter from one yarn to the next. The arrival of new autumn / winter yarns is a particularly chaotic time for all of our wish lists. On a daily basis our new ‘yarn love’ can arrive. To share our excitement and give you a glimpse at what’s I asked some of the Black Sheep ladies what their favourite autumn / winter yarn was for 2015. For some it was extremely difficult to choose just one. No decisions have been made on projects, just purely the instant attraction to the yarn. Read below the reason why we have each selected our favourite yarn.


Sublime Extra Fine Merino Worsted
‘The shade selection is fresh, bright and juicy and the yarn feels so cosy and soft to touch.’

Sublime Extra Fine Merino Worsted


Conway + Bliss for Debbie Bliss Elektra
The yarn is soft and as light as air! The colours are just delicious, add a splash of colour to brighten up in autumn. Ideal for quick, easy projects and one ball will go a long way.’

Conway + Bliss for Debbie Bliss Elektra


Lotus Yarns Tibetan Cloud Fingering
‘It’s an amazing and fascinating yarn, something so cattle like, yet so soft!’

Lotus Yarns Tibetan Cloud Fingering


Araucania Huasco Dk
‘It feels gorgeous and I love the colour blends. I am thinking a cosy jumper to snuggle in for the autumn…..’

Araucania Huasco


Louisa Harding Amitola Grande
‘Not as bulky as some winter yarns, with a good meterage of 250m on the one ball. Made from silk and wool, no acrylic! The touch of silk gives a slight sheen and shows off the fantastic colour blends, from autumnal shades to brighter pinks and purple.’

Louisa Harding Amitola Grande


Anchor Artiste Metallic
‘Gorgeous selection of colours, in fact I am spoilt for choice. My initial favourite was the copper colour, but then that vivid purple is lovely too!’

Anchor Artiste Metallic


Sirdar Bouffle
‘The texture and colour of the maroon shade jumped out me. It looks so cosy for the winter.’

Sirdar Bouffle


Rowan Super Fine Merino Dk
‘My favourite yarn usually is Rowan Wool Cotton; I think this could quite possibly take over. A great range of colours dark, pastel and bright, looks like it will give good stitch definition too. I want to knit something with the bright lime green shade ‘Zing’.’

Rowan Super Fine Merino Dk

Yvonne’s Fringed Scarf – Free Pattern

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns | Posted on 18-08-2015



Yvonne has designed a pretty scarf pattern in Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton Dk. This is a versatile little piece that you can wear in a variety of different ways. We thought of three different ways and took a photograph, can you think of anymore?

Fringed scarf 3 ways

It’s the type of scarf that’s small enough to pop in your bag on an autumn day, ready to bring out to keep away a chill. The design is slightly curved as you can see in the diagram below, finished off with a delicate short fringe. How about purchasing an extra ball and making your fringe extra-long?


Without further ado, here is the pattern just for you!

Yvonne’s Fringed Scarf Pattern


  • 2 balls Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton Dk
  • x1 10mm knitting needle
  • 1 pair of 4.5mm knitting needles
  • Stitch holder


K – Knit
P – Purl
Twist – Purl 1, *miss next stitch, p into 2nd stitch, then p into 1st missed stitch*. Rep from*to* along the row, ending with p1.
RS – Right side


Pattern consists of 4 rows as follows -
Row 1: On 10mm needles knit.
Row 2: On 4.5mm needles. P1, *twist 1* repeat * to * to the last st, p1.
Row 3&4: On 4.5mm needles knit.
NOTE Only row 1 uses 10mm needle.

Using 4.5mm needle cast on 1st.
Work 4 rows, k, inc in each st (8sts)
Commence pattern increasing 1st at each end of every 3rd & 4th row, until 72st, ending with row 4 of pattern.
(With RS facing pattern row 1) k 36sts, place the remainder of stitches on a stitch holder, turn.
These 36sts will create the right side of scarf.
Continue in pattern, dec 2sts at the centre edge by k2tog twice, whilst inc 1st at the outer edge on row 3 & 4, until 3st remain, cast off.
Left side – place remaining 36sts on a 4.5mm needle.
Starting from centre RS facing, commence row 1 of pattern (10mm needle).
Follow pattern for right side, dec 2st at centre edge whilst inc 1st at outer edge on pattern row 3 & 4.
Add fringe to outside edge, approx 2” in length.

Twiddle Muffs for Dementia Patients

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 14-08-2015



When you search on Google for twiddle muffs a whole host of interesting, textured creations come up. These wonderful items are a fantastic aid for those with dementia.

Twiddle Muffs

Image source – AnnNursingTimes on Twitter

“People with dementia often find it calming to have something to keep their hands busy and so the hospital wants local people to help by making some “twiddle muffs”. These items can be knitted, crotched or sewn and are a traditional muff shape, but include ribbons, zips, buttons and so forth, both inside and out, that can be “twiddled”.” – Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Since sharing a post on our Facebook page about Bolton Hospital collecting twiddle muffs for their Donate £1 for their dementia campaign, we have had quite a lot interest from our followers. People have been asking if they can drop the twiddle muffs off here at the Craft Barn. The answer is yes, we have got a box ready and waiting for your twiddle muffs. We will be collecting them until 30th September 2015, after which we will take them all to Bolton Hospital.

If you would like a pattern to make a twiddle muff take a look on the Bolton NHS website where there is a link to a free download.

If you do not live local to the Craft Barn or Bolton Hospital and wish to donate, be sure to check a hospital in your local area to see if they are collecting twiddle muffs too.




Sirdar Beachcomber Top – #tryittuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 11-08-2015



Dreaming of the beach on a dreary ‘summer’s’ day here in Warrington – a top in Sirdar Beachcomber seemed like the most appropriate choice for our #tryittuesday garment.
The undulating texture of the yarn is reminiscent of a beach, with the colour palette echoing shades you may encounter down by the sea side. Shades of strong turquoise and blue like the sea and pebble like tones in ‘Lavender Sky’ (as seen in the photo). What colour would you choose?

The pattern can be knitted for a child too, starting from a 24″/26″ chest.

Have you knitted this pattern? If you would like to share your pic we would love to see, don’t forget #tryittuesday.

Colette popped on the knitted top with her charcoal skirt.

Tops in Sirdar Beachcomber

Lesley tried it on with a black vest top underneath. She chose to add her own slant with a slight off the shoulder look.

Sirdar Beachcomber top #tryittuesday

Finally we have Stacey, one of our fabulous Craft Barn team leaders.

Sirdar beachcomber top - #tryittuesday

Kaffe Fassett at 50

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 10-08-2015

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A lady came into the Craft Barn last week with the most beautiful quilt. She had made it entirely in Kaffe Fassett fabrics and it looked incredible. It was very inspiring and also a huge reminder that I haven’t yet shared with you my fabulous day at the ‘Kaffe – Celebrating 50 years in Textiles’ event.

Linda's Kaffe Fassett Quilt - Quilt Grandeur book

Linda’s Kaffe Fassett Quilt – Quilt Grandeur book

The event had been organised by Coats and was held at the ‘Gardens of the Rose’ in Hertfordshire. It was a beautiful setting and perfect for a celebration of colour.

Wisteria - Kaffe Fassett

Pretty floral - Kaffe Fassett at 50

We were also incredible lucky with the weather. The sun shone all day.

There was an exhibition, in the gardens, of some of Kaffe’s most famous designs. The use of colour is so incredible they really make you feel good when you look at them (does that make sense?)

Kaffe Fassett at 50

Knitted blanket - Kaffe Fassett at 50

Quilt & cushion - Kaffe Fassett at 50

And whoever organised the flowers made sure they complimented the designs perfectly.

Kaffe Fassett at 50 table display

Kaffe Fassett at 50 - beautiful colour

My own personal highlight of the day was meeting Kaffe himself. He was very charming and tall! I’m only 5ft 3inches so most people are to me!

Kaffe Fassett at 50 - Sara & Kaffe

However the main focal point was and interview with the man himself. Interviewed by Sharon Brant of Coats, he was truly fascinating.

Kaffe Fassett at 50 interview

He talked about his life & his obsession with colour. He certainly made me question why I wear so much black!

He really brings his fabric to life and gains inspiration from so many different aspects of the world. He spoke about India and the initial trip with Oxfam that inspired his first range of fabrics.

After the interview we enjoyed a gorgeous cream tea. You couldn’t have had a more perfect English summer’s day. The only downside to the whole day was the traffic. It took me six hours to get home!

journey home