Sirdar Smiley Stripes Dk Cowl

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns | Posted on 01-09-2014

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Sirdar Smiley Stripes Dk is a self striping yarn that comes in a variety of juicy shades. You would usually associate the yarn with beautiful knitted baby garments. Emma Varnam had other ideas, she just couldn’t resist the silkiness of the bamboo and wool yarn and decided it was perfect for adults too! She has designed a crocheted cowl in Sirdar Smiley Stripes, that takes just 4 balls and a 4mm crochet hook. Download the pattern for free from our free patterns page and start crocheting your own today.

Sara has crocheted the one shown in the photo below and had it made in no time at all. The colours are so vibrant in the pink / blue shade 263. What shade would you choose? Share photos with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or email them in to


Off to the Great Northern Quilt Show

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 28-08-2014


It feels like summer is almost over here at HQ. The new winter yarns are making their way into the Craft Barn to sit snug on the shelves, where they will wait patiently until they are chosen for your next project (and on the virtual shelves online too).  The new sample garments have been arriving in the post to many oooh’s and ahhh’s from us office girls. Keep an eye out for many of the sample garments in future posts of #TryitTuesday.

What’s really making me feel like winter is on its way (not just the drop in temperature) is the start of show season. As I write this the van is being stocked up with many wonderful goodies ready for the first day of the Great Northern Quilt show tomorrow. The show team will be heading off to Harrogate shortly to set up our stand. If you are visiting the show pop on over to our stand where you will find lots of yarn, books, cross stitch kits and fabric too! The show is on until Sunday 31st August.

set_up_quiltThe ‘boys’ filling the van full to the brim of crafty treats.

fabric_quiltBeautiful and bright fabric fat quarters will be making an appearance at the show.

sublime_kitsSublime Lace Jasmine wrap kits waiting to be packed up.

If you can’t make it to the show in Harrogate this weekend, take a look at our exhibitions page and find out where else we will be exhibiting this year.

The Big Move

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 27-08-2014


Well we’re in and I love it! We moved on Friday and (thanks largely to the Black Sheep warehouse lads) it all went smoothly. I love the house and it already feels like our family home. The girls love the space we now have and it was so great to hear them laughing away in their bedrooms last night. Digger loves the garden, there must have been a dog living there before as he keeps finding balls in the bushes.

Thank you for all the kind wishes you sent. The hints and tips were great, especially making up the beds first. It was great to flop into a freshly laundered bed on Friday night!

My crafts have taken a bit of back seat for the last few days, overtaken by box unpacking which is nowhere near as much fun! However I am still keeping my eye on the new yarns as they arrive at Black Sheep HQ. More about them next time.


Sara x x

Sublime Luxurious Tweed Dk – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 26-08-2014



The Black Sheep ladies were raring to go for #TryitTuesday. A new model has been added to the mix this week – Jayne, who works in the tea shop. As soon as I mentioned it Jayne was happy enough to strike a pose. Jayne always has a funny story to tell, and will enjoy having a chat whilst serving you delicious cakes and sandwiches in Tea Bags Full.

The garment of choice this week is a Sublime Luxurious Tweed Dk cardigan from the Sublime pattern book 673. Whilst autumn is creeping in I thought a slightly autumnal shade and yarn would be good to ease us all in slowly.


Here is Jayne in the tea shop with her sheep mug in hand.


On to Lesley who tried the cardigan on outside when there was a little bit of sunshine. The cardigan features a diamond lace pattern on the bottom half of the design.


Stacey also opted for a sat down pose this week on the sofa in the Craft Barn.

What do you think of the cardigan? Will this be one to add to your knitting wish list? If you have knitted it then be sure to send a photo to or share away on our social media.

Competition time!!!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 25-08-2014


Whilst it is Bank Holiday we thought it would be a nice treat to have a fabulous give away. To enter simply click here and fill out the competition entry page. The prize consists of the following items.

- 3mm Milward crochet hook
- Crocheted Keyrings and Charms by Emma Varnam
- How to Crochet by Emma Varnam
- 2 balls Rico Essential Cotton Dk
- 4 balls Sirdar Baby Bamboo Dk



There will be only one winner chosen at random on Tuesday 26th August at 4pm. Good luck!


Sock Knitting

Posted by Juliet Bernard | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 22-08-2014


Socks are a bit of a marmite subject among knitters.  Those that love them wax lyrical about how much fun they are to knit, how portable, how quick.  I am always so impressed with the many pairs of intricate and incredibly beautiful socks these knitters can produce.  If they were part of Queen Mary’s drive for socks during World War I they would have made Lord Kitchener dance a jig without raising a sweat – heroic!

Me?  Not so much.  I have knitted, or rather completed, just two pairs of socks but have started many, many more.  I don’t really know where it all goes wrong for me.  I love casting on and DPNs are my favourite needles, so what’s not to like?  Maybe it’s just the interminable length of the leg followed by an equally long foot (none of us has small feet in my family). I must admit socks do make very good TV knitting, though.

A sock is actually a fascinating piece of engineering. Take the heel. There are so many different ones that you can use – it feels like there’s a different style for every country’s knitting tradition.  And toes – wow!  You can graft a toe, give it a swirl or cast off with 3 needles. You can knit your sock toe up or top-down; put the heel in as you go or as an afterthought; there are about a million ways to do the cuff and cast off (or on depending on where you started).  I love the free spirited way you can create socks. There is no right or wrong, sock knitting is truly a matter of  your taste to suit your knitting.

And what about the yarns? There are so many amazing sock yarns from the wonderful colours in Noro, which make me go weak at the knees, to self striping effects such as Regia and Rico.  You may absolutely insist on natural fibres when it comes to garments but trust me, it is always better to have a bit of man made fibre in a sock yarn because handmade socks do take a pounding.

If you have never knitted socks before I would recommend you try a design by Rachel Coopey.  She really is a sock aficionado and her patterns are very easy to understand.  She has just produced a book for Rowan called Knitted Sock Society – you’re sure to find a design you will want to try.

All the socks in this book are knitted in Rowan Fine Art but if you are knitting your first ever pair of socks or aren’t sure of your techniques I would choose a good all round yarn such as Regia  Snowflake Color in a colourway that you are going to like to knit and wear.

And finally don’t give up.  Sometimes it feels like you will never reach the end of the leg or you don’t have the heart to cast on the second one.  Keep going, it will be worth it. Socks are fun to knit and can become addictive.  Look at me, At the beginning of this article I wasn’t feeling the sock vibe but since I started looking at patterns and books again I’ve already nearly finished a sock for my husband!

sock knitting

sock knitting close up

Positive Vibes This Way Please

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 20-08-2014


Ok I need you all to say a little prayer or send some positive thoughts my way please. The last email from my solicitor says that they are all hoping to request funds and complete our sale on Friday. Fingers crossed this happens. I’m not sure I can cope with the stress much longer. We were sitting eating dinner last Sunday and Matt said ‘This could be our last Sunday dinner in this house’. Madeleine pointed out he had said this the week before!

I am finding it impossible to settle at anything whilst all this is going on. I only had one project that hadn’t been packed away last week, well now I have three. How on earth does that happen! If I don’t move soon I will be drowning in WIPS!


I am still knitting my Rowan Martin Storey Afghan Knitalong. The longer I spend on it the more difficult it is to embrace it. I only have ten squares to go and was hoping to have it all finished by the time I go to the Harrogate Quilt Show next week. I am away for three nights and this is the perfect time to block it and sew it all up. I have just worked out that if I knit every night that is only 1.1 squares a night – that has to be do-able right?

I am also crocheting a cowl in Sirdar Smiley Stripes. This isn’t a yarn I would usually go for, I thought it was just for babies. However one of the ladies in ‘Yarn in the Barn’ was using it and it was so gorgeous I fell in love instantly. The pattern is an exclusive free download that one of my favourite crocheters, Emma Varnam has done for us. Emma is the author of the ‘How to Crochet’ book and always has lots of designs in the crochet magazines. She is also a delight to work with, so expect to see more of her work from us in the future. I fell in love with the cowl so much that I finished one last week, put that on display in the Craft Barn and started another straight away.


My third is a cuddly blanket for Digger Dog. My boisterous puppy has become an old man. He was 11 at the beginning of August and it’s beginning to show. He has a totally white nose and is slowing down a bit. He has taken to sleeping on my navy blue sofa and I don’t have the heart to move him. (It takes him ages to get off anyway) so a crocheting I will go.


I am using a pattern from the ‘Crochet Designs’ book by Lucinda Guy. It’s a lovely wave blanket and I’m using the James C Brett Chunky Merino. The muted colour palette makes it a perfect choice.

So these are my three projects for this week, can you see why I really do need more hours in the day!

Catch up soon


Louisa Harding Noema Cardigan – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 19-08-2014



#TryitTuesday has come whirling around again. The autumn season is slowly but surely creeping up on us. Talking of autumn, it sure has felt like it the past few days. The wind and rain have certainly been a change from the glorious summer weather we were treated to a couple of weeks back. Whilst it is still technically summer I thought it would be nice to squeeze just a few more summer garments out before the wintery ones take a hold. There will be some lovely winter warmers coming your way!

This week we have a cardigan knitted in Louisa Harding Noema. The cardigan can be found in the book Noema and is called Azurine.


I tried on the cardigan over a white t-shirt.


Barbara opted for a black vest top.


And Lesley tried on Azurine with a white vest top.

Create Your Own Unique Colour Workshop

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News, Sewing | Posted on 18-08-2014


Barbara is taking over today’s blog post. She has written a lovely piece about her day on the Amy Butler Create your own unique colour workshop at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. Barbara is a team leader in the Craft Barn and can offer expert advice on all things crochet, knitting and her favourite passion – patchwork and quilting.

“I jumped at the chance to spend the day with Amy Butler on her Create your own unique colour workshop at the NEC in Birmingham on 6th August. Amidst the chaos of the eve of the Festival of Quilts, with all the noise, hustle and bustle of busy crews setting up for the show was a small classroom of absolute contrast. Our classroom was one of perfect tranquillity as we got swept away in a sea of colour and pattern to create our own colour collages. We began with Amy’s wonderful, inspirational talk and slideshow of her own journey, capturing images from all over the world of people, places, textures, patterns and colour that have inspired her to create her lovely designs. It was a real treat to listen to Amy talk about getting inspiration from all around and inspiring others to do the same.

amy_designsAmy Butler’s new designs and fabrics

We were asked to bring a selection of fabric, ribbons, colour charts, images and any bits and bobs of interesting ephemera to use in our collages. There was also a table packed with the same, for us to choose from, this was a real treat on the eye with all the amazing colours and patterns.



moodboard_bits2Once we had made our choices we began to assemble our collages, which involved a lot of cutting out and sticking down, as you can imagine this was fun!

barbaraAmy was on hand to give guidance for anyone who needed it and chatted at length with all the members of the group. It was amazing to see everyone’s collages evolving throughout the day and I think everyone went away very happy with what they achieved, I know I did. I definitely recommend that everybody should spend a bit of time exploring different colours and patterns to create their own unique colour story it is a lovely way to ignite your creative fire. It really was a great day and I met some lovely ladies, so thank you to Amy for sharing.”

barbara_mood_board2Barbara’s finished mood boards

barbara_mood_board1Everyone who attended the day with their completed colour stories

groupEveryone came away with a beautiful jelly roll of fabric, a note pad, pen and Amy Butler pattern.


The shows are coming!

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 15-08-2014


Ok let’s get the really boring bit out of the way first. I still haven’t moved house and don’t know when it will be. Once again it’s fingers crossed for next week.

Now on to more fun stuff. Mike & I have spent this morning going through the display garments for the shows. That can only mean one thing, summer is nearly over. Our first show, the Harrogate Quilt Show is in two weeks which is kind of scary. As a company we always approach the summer with a huge to do list. The shows stop for four months and it gives us all a bit of breathing space. However as we move through August we now realise that we haven’t really crossed much off it.

My big task for the summer was to learn to sew, it started off well but I haven’t really progressed as I’d hope. It’s so frustrating to as we have so much beautiful fabric in stock and gorgeous patterns. There needs to be more hours in the day.

I chose a gorgeous new cowl project on Tuesday. Hopefully I will finish it off tonight and be able to show it to you this week. It’s in the gorgeous ‘Smiley Stripes’ from Sirdar. You will love it, so keep your eyes peeled.


Sara x