Autumn Events at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 17-08-2018

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A few dates for your diary folks! When you see what we have planned for the autumn, you will want to cancel all of your plans and gather your crafty friends for a trip to the Craft Barn in Warrington. Without further ado…..

Rowan Yarn Tasting Day
Saturday 1st September 2018 | 9am – 5pm | Free to attend

On Saturday 1st September we will be holding a Rowan yarn tasting day in our fabulous Rowan Flagship area in store. Celebrating all of the new yarns and publications for autumn winter, come along and try the yarns, have a glass of bubbly and a natter to our Rowan Consultant Melanie about the new launches. There will be 10% off Rowan yarns on the day (in store only).

Scheepjes Day – Ubuntu Launch Party!
Saturday 8th September 2018 | 9am – 5pm | Free to attend

We are having an Ubuntu Launch Party! Come along to Black Sheep Wools on Saturday 8th September and meet two of Scheepjes most inspirational bloggers, Look At What I Have Made & Lilla Bjorn. Have a glass of bubbly and help us celebrate the launch of the new Scheepjes crochet along, the Ubuntu CAL. Make a friendship bracelet at our drop-in craft table and leave it for a new friend on our friendship tree, all to celebrate Ubuntu! The first 50 customers to spend over £25 will receive a Scheepjes goody bag!

Rowan 40th Anniversary Party + Special Guests
Saturday 6th October 2018 | 11.30am – 4pm | Free to attend

World famous Scandinavian knitting superstars Arne and Carlos will be at the Craft Barn to celebrate Rowan’s 40th anniversary on Saturday 6th October. It is set to be a fun-filled birthday party with cake, yarn and balloons galore! Join us for a fabulous fashion show celebrating the history of Rowan in its 40th anniversary year. From its very earliest beginnings all the way up to present day, there are garments from every era to delight and inspire the Rowan fans who have loyally supported the brand for the last 40 years. More details on fashion show times to follow on here soon.

Dee Hardwicke Designer Trunk Show
Friday 23rd November 2018 | 3pm – 5pm | Free to attend

Meet the artist, designer and author, Dee Hardwicke, as Dee celebrates the publication of her latest book, Colourwork Knits: 12 Hand Knit Designs Inspired by Nature. The book features Dee’s debut knitwear collection, and follows on from the success of Dee’s previous book, A Story in Yarn: How to Design and Knit an Intarsia Heirloom Quilt. Dee will be signing copies of both books, and this event will be a unique opportunity to see some of the original watercolour sketches, templates and knitted swatches behind Dee’s beautiful designs. Dee will also be on-hand to talk about her inspiration and to help you select palettes for your own quilt or knitwear projects based on the stunning collection of Rowan yarns to be found at Black Sheep Wools. You’re bound to feel completely inspired to pick up your knitting needles!

 

 

Autumn Workshops 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 09-08-2018

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This autumn we have some treats in store when it comes to our workshop calendar. Every season we try to introduce something new and we are always ready to bring back an old favourite. Workshops are all held in our fabulous workshop room at the Craft Barn in Warrington. It is such a joy to see many customers returning for a second, third or even tenth workshop! This is something we are very proud of at Black Sheep Wools, that we are able to introduce workshop goers to learn a new skill, technique or even meet a new friend. Many people attend a workshop as an individual who loves their yarny hobbies, you don’t have to come with a friend. It is a lovely way to spend a day / half day joining fellow crafters who share your passion.
All full day workshops include a delicious finger buffet lunch and a slice of homemade cake and pot of tea in the afternoon. This is served by our lovely tea shop ladies Julie and Jayne.

Whether you are looking for knitting, crochet or even dyeing, there are a great variety of workshops coming up from September to November. Take a look on our workshops page on our website for full details about each class. Below I have plucked out a selection of autumn workshops that may catch your eye. If you are wondering where our Craft Barn shop is based then take a look on our Craft Barn page for address details. Should you fancy a trip to Warrington from a little further a field then do not hesitate to get in touch and we can suggest a local hotel. Although we have lots of squishy yarn at Black Sheep Wools, it isn’t really suitable as a bed for the night!

Autumn Workshop - Anatomy of a Shawl

Anatomy of Knitted Shawls with Heike Gittens – Friday 28th September 2018Fair Isle Knitting Afternoon

Fair Isle Knitting Afternoon with Graeme Knowles-Miller – Saturday 15th September 

Hand Dyeing with Natural Dyes

Hand Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts – Friday 21st September

Mindful Knitting Afternoon Workshop

Mindful Knitting Afternoon with Lynne Rowe – Friday 14th September

Professional Finishing

Professional Finishing with Sarah Hatton – Saturday 22nd September

Tapestry Crochet

Tapestry Crochet with Carol Meldrum Friday 19th October

Brioche Knitting

Brioche Knitting with Juliet Bernard – Saturday 3rd November 

 

Ubuntu – Scheepjes CAL 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 02-08-2018

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We had all been waiting excitedly for the announcement of the Scheepjes Crochet Along 2018. It was wonderful news to hear that Dedri Uys – Look at what I made blogger would be this years designer. If you are an avid crocheter you may have made / heard of her spectacular crochet along, Sophie’s Universe. Dedri creates designs that showcase crochet at its best. You will not be disappointed when you cast your eye at the images below of Dedri’s design ‘Ubuntu’ the Scheepjes CAL 2018. There are 3 different sizes of the blanket, each made in a different Scheepjes yarn. Small – Cotton 8, Medium – Stone Washed and Large – Stone Washed XL & River Washed XL.
Meet Dedri Uys at our shop, the Craft Barn on Saturday 8th September when we will be celebrating all things Scheepjes. We are hoping that she will bring along the Ubuntu blanket, so we can all have look and gaze in awe at the wonder that is this years Scheepjes CAL.

Scheepjes Ubuntu Large Blanket

Scheepjes Ubuntu – Large

The name Ubuntu means “humanity towards others” or “I am because we are”. Read Dedri’s blog post to find more information behind the decision on the name and theme.
It is interesting to see where the inspiration came from for this hexagonal design. Dedri talks in more detail in her reveal blog post.

Scheepjes Ubuntu Blanket - Medium

Scheepjes Ubuntu – Medium

The first pattern will be released on 12th September and if you can’t wait until then to get involved, we have good news. We now have all three colour packs available on pre-sale. The kits will be desptached on 22nd August, so you will be ready to get started once the first pattern is released!

Scheepjes Ubuntu Blanket - Small

Scheepjes Ubuntu – Small

If you do decide to join in with this super CAL, not only will you be able to download the pattern weekly from the Scheepjes website; you will also find helpful video tutorials being posted by It’s all in a Nutshell blog to guide you along the way.

 

Scheepjes Sweet Treat – Yarn Review

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 26-07-2018

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Scheepjes Sweet Treat is a lace weight, mercerised, cotton yarn that is ideal for fine lace crochet. The colour range is phenomenal with over 80 shades available and all of the shades are the same as Scheepjes Catona. This is useful to know if you want to mix and match the yarns together. The Scheepjes Sweet Treat would make a pretty, delicate border around the edge of a mandala or blanket.

Watch the video below to see how I got on crocheting with this yarn.

The lovely ladies in the Craft Barn have displayed the Sweet Treat in groups of colour.

Scheepjes Sweet Treat

Soft pastel shades on display in the shop

Scheepjes Sweet Treat

Blues and greens

Scheepjes Sweet Treat

So many shades of Scheepjes Sweet Treat! Oranges and purples.

It’s time to VOTE!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 19-07-2018

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It’s time to vote folks! You lovely lot have kindly nominated Black Sheep Wools in four categories in the Let’s Knit British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2018 –

• Best Online Shop
• Best Crochet Store
• Favourite Knitting Blog
• Best Local Independent Yarn Shop – North of England

In previous years we have been thrilled to win and come second or third in the various categories. Let’s hope we can do it again this year!

We are super duper happy that you took the time to nominate and get us this far. If you would like to see us win (please say you do) and be in with the chance of winning some pretty fab crafty goodies yourself, then head to Let’s Knit website to vote. Click the link here. Voting closes on 30th August 2018.

P.S. Don’t forget that you can also choose the Best Yarn Shop Day experience. We had such a blast this year with lots of your favourite bloggers and designers in store. Read the blog post to find out more about the day.

How to pick up a dropped stitch

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 05-07-2018

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Happily knitting away to your heart’s content……..and there it goes, a dropped stitch. Dun, dun, duuuunn! What to do now, you ask yourself? Do I just hide it away in a cupboard and never knit again? Do not worry, we have just the trick (skillful technique) to help you solve the problem, so that you can continue on your merry way with your knitting. Just grab a stitch marker or small safety pin and catch the dropped stitch to prevent it slipping any further down.

How to pick up a dropped stitch | Black Sheep Wools

In this video Carol Meldrum is demonstrating how to pick up a dropped stitch with a crochet hook.
A crochet hook may seem like a bizzare item to carry in your knitting bag, but we would always recommend having one to hand for instances like this. In our Knitting Starter Kit post, a crochet hook was listed in our list of essential items.

This method of picking up a dropped stitch is for a stocking stitch piece of knitting. If you are knitting a lace or cable pattern then please be aware that using a crochet hook in this way will not work.

Use a crochet hook that is slightly smaller than the needle size you are working with to pull the working loop back through the horizontal strands left after the unravelling.

1) With the right-side facing, slip the live loop onto the crochet hook.
2) Insert the hook from front to back under the next horizontal loop directly above the dropped stitch, than pull the horizontal loop through to the front under the loop on the hook.
3) Repeat step 2 until all the horizontal loop have been worked.
4) 
Then slip the live loop from the crochet hook onto the left-hand needle, and continue to knit as given in the pattern.

How do you tackle a dropped stitch? Do you use a different technique? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Knitter of the Year – Local Superstar

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 29-06-2018

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I know being a member of the Black Sheep team does make me slightly biased, but there really are some talented knitters and crocheters who work at Black Sheep Wools. Carmen, who works in the Craft Barn recently won an award with Knit Now magazine. She was nominated anonymously by a customer visiting in store. Carmen still has no idea who the customer was. All we know is that they took the time to enter details and nominate Carmen for ‘Local Superstar’ in the Knit Now magazine Knitter of the Year awards. Here is the nomination –

“I have only been to the shop a few times when visiting family, but each time this lady has gone out of her way to help me with my knitting queries. She’s very clever and very kind”

Carmen was so pleased to have won. The prize was a day out at Sirdar, taking a look behind the scenes, squishing lots of yarn and a sneak preview of the autumn / winter collection. Sounds like quite a jolly day out.
The date was arranged for June, Carmen went along to Sirdar HQ to meet magazine Editor, Kate Heppell and the rest of the winners. I had a chat with Carmen to get the gossip from the day.

The day started with a meet and greet in what Carmen described as the Sirdar yarn room, showcasing all of the different yarns within the Sirdar brand. Lots of samples to look at and colour to behold.

It was then onto a tour of the warehouse, seeing where all of the yarn is stored before it makes its way to yarn shops up and down the country.

From HUGE crates

To all yarns and shades organised to be picked

Then to the pattern design room, ‘where the magic happens’, as Carmen put it. This is where the whole design process takes place. Patterns are designed, written, swatched and sometimes actual garments are knitted. Carmen learnt that everyone has to knit in the same style with a one needle held under their arm, in the hope to achieve a similar tension. Carmen also had the opportunity to peruse the pattern archive room. There were patterns from as far back as the 30’s and 40’s!

It was then time for a lovely buffet lunch before going into the show room for a sneak peek at the autumn winter yarns and garments. Carmen already has her eye on one of the yarns! Kate Heppell then presented everyone with their awards and a fabulous goody bag including Sirdar yarns.

Carmen enjoyed a lovely day out seeing behind the scenes, meeting fellow knitters and chatting to the staff at Sirdar.

Bohemian Blooms Along at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 21-06-2018

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Following on from the success of Jane’s recent workshops at the Craft Barn we wanted to celebrate her fabulous Bohemian Blooms blanket. It is an absolute dream of a blanket. Jane is a master at beading in crochet, just a subtle bead here and there that adds an opulence to her designs. If you have looked at this blanket and think, no way I can’t crochet that! Do not worry, you can and we are here to help.

Join our Rowan Consultant, Melanie Boocock in store for a free weekly drop-in session to guide you through Jane’s Bohemian Blooms crochet blanket pattern. Melanie’s session will be an hour and a half morning 10-11.30am, every Saturday for 5 weeks from 23rd June until 21st July. A helping hand for those who can crochet but are after a little advice on stitches and techniques within this design. Whether you have just bought the pattern book or have completed most of the blanket already, Melanie can guide you through without any mishaps. Enjoy a relaxed morning nestled in our Rowan flagship area in store as you crochet along with fellow Bohemian Blooms crocheters.
You must own a copy of the pattern to attend and bring along your own yarn and hook. Find the pattern on our website or in the Craft Barn.

If you live much further afield than the Craft Barn or can’t make it to the sessions, Jane has filmed a series of videos to help with tricky aspects of the blanket. Find them on Jane Crowfoot’s YouTube channel. We would still love to see how you are getting on so be sure to share snaps with #blacksheepwools

Bohemian Blooms Along

Steeking Fair Isle

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 15-06-2018

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Let’s talk about steeking! Steeking Fair Isle to be precise. Black Sheep Barbara has been working away on an amazing Fair Isle tank top for her husband in Baa Ram Ewe Titus 4ply. For those who haven’t heard of steeking before Barbara described it beautifully, “It’s like knitting a tube and cutting it to make it into a useable fabric”. The cutting is required to form armholes and the neckline. It is a very clever technique that creates a professional durable finish to a garment, plus no seams, amazing!

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Barbara is a team leader in the Craft Barn and an incredibly talented knitter. Well, knitting isn’t her only craft, she loves to do patchwork, embroidery and crochet too. If you visit the Craft Barn do chat to our staff about what they are making too, you will find that we all love having a few projects on the go just like you!

The Fair Isle tank top pattern is a design Barbara found on Ravelry – ‘Machrihanish‘, designed by Fair Isle designer extraordinaire Kate Davies. This Ravelry pattern is available to purchase from the Craft Barn via Ravelry. For her yarn choice Barbara couldn’t resist one of her favourite 4ply yarns, Baa Ram Ewe Titus. Having only ever done a steeked sample previously on a Fair Isle & Steeking workshop with Melanie Boocock (now our in store Rowan Consultant) a couple of years ago, Barbara decided to utilise her skills for a garment. As it is all knitted in the round she found the two handed Fair Isle technique really helpful to use. The beauty of knitting in the round is that there is no purl row when knitting stocking stitch. Barbara brought the tank top in at various stages of the knitting and steeking journey.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Here you can see the reinforced stitches, ready to be cut.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

This is the front of the tank top. You can just about see that the armholes are still joined and you can see the reinforced V-neckline.

In this little video snippet you can see the reinforced crocheted edge that won’t be unravel. You can see how Barbara has picked up stitches to knit the ribbed edging. It’s crazy to think you can cut your knitting with scissors and it will stay intact, that is the magic of steeking!

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

I just had to share a photo of the reverse side, it is so neat and visually pleasing.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Here is Barbara’s husband modelling his new tank top. Isn’t it fabulous!

 

 

How to do Kitchener Stitch

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 07-06-2018

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Kitchener stitch is a simple grafting method used to invisibly join two pieces of knitting together. It is a very clever technique, as you are actually duplicating a row of knitted stitches with a sewing needle and yarn, rather than knitting needles. Now that’s something to get your head around! It is mainly used when sewing together the toe end of socks or where a seamless finish is required on shoulder seams of garments. It isn’t to be confused with mattress stitch, that is for a cast-off piece of knitting. Kitchener stitch is when the stitches are still fresh on your needles, ready to be joined with fellow stitches also on needles across the way to create a seam.

Kitchener Stitch Grafting Knitting | Black Sheep Wools

Carol Meldrum has kindly helped out with this video for our Knitting Essentials series. Carol is a knitting and crochet designer, who has been teaching workshops at the Craft Barn for many years. Carol will be back this autumn for two days of classes.

Hold both of your knitting needles in your left hand with the points facing in the same direction. Next, thread a sewing up needle with a separate piece of yarn and follow the instructions below. In this example Carol has used a contrasting shade of Rico Baby Classic DK so that it is easier to see what she is doing.

1) Front needle: Insert sewing up needle knit wise into 1st stitch and slip off
2) Front needle: Insert sewing up needle purl wise into next stitch and keep on
3) Back needle: Insert sewing up needle purl wise into next stitch and slip off
4) Back needle: Insert sewing up needle knit wise into next stitch and keep on

Repeat steps 1-4 until all stitches have been worked.
Be careful not to pull the piece of yarn you are sewing up with too tightly as you are going along. You don’t want to spoil your knitting at the final hurdle!

Are there any other knitting techniques or handy tips you would like to see in a video? Email social@blacksheepwools.com with your suggestions.