Digger Dogs Chunky Blanket

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 19-09-2014


It has been a very busy and crafty week for me. Our new house is now liveable which means I am not spending every waking moment unpacking boxes. The girls have their mum back and I am able to craft again! I have even  managed a few cups of tea sat in our new garden.

The girls took full advantage of our free time on Sunday by declaring the day ‘Monopoly Day’, we played for three hours! They are both new to the game and they love it. It is funny to see how they both are in the way they play it. Madeleine barely buys  anything, she doesn’t want to waste her money. She  bought two train stations which she then sold to Matt for two Lindor chocolates.


However she wouldn’t sell me a get out of jail free card – I was so cross!  Scarlett buys everything she lands on and can’t understand why she has no money in the bank. I seem to spend most of my time in jail and Matt has hotels on Park Lane. I get the feeling he may be the winner.

Unusually for me I have only been indulging in one project over the last few weeks. A very easy, but very lovely crocheted zig zag blanket for our gorgeous dog Digger.


Now I know crocheting a blanket for my dog may seem a little indulgent but he really does deserve it. He is 11 years old (which I think makes him 77 in dog years) and has now taken to sleeping on our navy sofa. Golden Retriever hairs on a  navy sofa are not good, so my solution was to crochet him a blanket. The pattern is from Crochet Design book by Lucinda Guy and was so lovely to do. I used the pattern as a guide but changed the number of stitches and crocheted it in James C Brett Merino Chunky. I’ve never used this yarn before and what a treat it is. I can’t believe you can get this quality for this price. It’s so soft and squidgy. The colour palette is quite muted but this was perfect for my lounge. I am so happy with it and, as you can see, Digger is too!


That’s all for now. I’ll be back in a couple of days to tell you all about my very first quilting project.

Take care



Designer Q & A’s – Carol Meldrum

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 18-09-2014


Carol Meldrum is not only one of our fabulous Rowan workshop tutors she is also a published author. If you have been on one of Carol’s workshops you will know what a fun, bubbly character she is along with being a talented lady. We thought that it would be nice for those who live a little further a field to get to know Carol too. I sent Carol a selection of questions so we could get an insight into the life of a designer. We also have two special treats – FREE patterns from two of Carol Meldrum’s book 30 minute Knits - string of birds and 30 Minute Crochet - stacking pots.

30 Min Crochet_stacking_pots

30 Min Knits_birds-2

Who taught you to knit / crochet? How old were you?

I was taught to knit by my Mum and Grandma when I was about 4 or 5year old, we were also taught to knit, sew and embroider at school. My Grandma taught me to crochet when I was a bit older but I didn’t really get into crochet until I was at Art School, I could remember the stitches but not their names!

What was your first ever knitting / crochet project?

I don’t know whether this was my first knit project but I do remember making a stripy Doctor Who scarf for my doll and not sewing in all the ends just cutting them off and it all fell apart. My first proper crochet project was a huge sculptural instillation piece inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings for the end of 1st year show at Art School.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

It really depends on the type of project I’m working on as to where my inspiration comes from. Often with books and magazines the publisher will have a theme you will work to. I do have a thing for plants and trees though, the way the shapes, textures and colours work together.



What is your favourite yarn to knit with?

I’m a huge fan of Rowan yarns and always gravitate back to Felted Tweed DK, Kid Silk Haze and Cotton Glace.


Where is your favourite place to knit?

I’m usually sat at my desk when knitting or crocheting with everything spread out on the table, I do tend to expand the creative chaos out over the living room though!

Do you ever watch TV or listen to music when doing your knitting / crochet?

I like to listen to radio 4 or 6 music depending on my mood, but am partial to a cheesy movie in the afternoon!

Do you have a favourite knitting / crochet snack?

I don’t really have a favourite snack but I do have to have a coffee on the go.

What other knitwear designer do you admire?

There are so many talented designers we are spoilt for choice, but I really admire Kim Hargreaves work. She has a definite style that is simple and elegant, the small details with texture, pattern and finishing touches makes her work for me anyway stand the test of time.

What / who inspired you to become a knitwear designer?

It’s all Kaffe Fassett’s fault that I ended up studying knitwear design. I had originally planned to do Fine Art Print Making but after a spell in the Textile Department and being introduced to Kaffe Fassett’s work and how he almost paints with yarn, I knew textiles were for me.

Do you have a knitted / crocheted treasure? A piece that you could never part with, a gift or maybe something you have made yourself?

I inherited my Grandmas crochet hooks and there is one in particular that I love to use and would be heartbroken if I lost it.

Do you enjoy knitting / crocheting for yourself? If so what do you make?

I do enjoy making garments for myself but the time I have to knit/ crochet for myself is very limited. I have a notebook full of swatches, sketches and scribbles ready to be transformed into garments.


If you could give us just one knit or crochet tip, what would it be?

My top tip would be to check your tension before starting a project, especially if it’s a new stitch or yarn that you’ve not worked with before.

Carol will be teaching a cable knitting workshop here at the Craft Barn on Wednesday 24th September 2014. The workshop is suitable for those new to cable knitting or those who wish to perfect their technique. There are still places available should you like to book a place. Take a look on our workshops page for more information.




British Knitting Awards – Winners!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 17-09-2014


We like to share good news with you here at Black Sheep Wools and today we have two pieces of good news! We are very pleased to announce that we have won Best Yarn Shop Day Experience 2014 and Best Local Independent Store in the North of England in the Let’s Knit British Knitting Awards 2014. Woohooo!! Thank you so much to everyone who kindly voted for us, we are very grateful for your support.

Knitting Logo Winner

Therapeutic Knitting

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 15-09-2014


Come along to our Therapeutic Knitting Day on Saturday 4th October 10am – 4pm!

Therapeutic Knitting is an excellent tool for improving your health and wellbeing and can be used to manage stress, rediscover balance in life or improve your feelings of wellness.

World Expert in therapeutic knitting, Betsan Corkhill will be joining us from 10am to answer your questions on how you can benefit as many others have done.

Betsan, the founder of Stitchlinks, has been researching the meditative, creative and social benefits of knitting since 2005 and has many years’ experience as a clinician. Her book ‘Knit for Health and Wellness. How to knit a flexible mind and more…’ has received acclaimed reviews from leading clinicians, academics, researchers and, importantly, knitters across the world. There will be copies of this amazing book available to purchase on the day.

She has been running a Therapeutic Knitting group at an NHS pain clinic in Bath since 2006 and regularly gives talks to doctors and other healthcare workers. Other clinicians and carers across the world are following her lead and using therapeutic knitting to help their clients manage a range of medical conditions including mental and physical illnesses.

Betsan will be signing copies of her book and chatting to anyone who wants to know more about how therapeutic knitting can help them or the people around them.

Please help by spreading the word about this fantastic event! If you have any queries or questions, please email events@blacksheepwools.com.


Testing, testing 123

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 12-09-2014



Last week myself and three other ladies from our knitting group spent the day as guinea pigs. Obviously not the cute furry kind, we were willing volunteers for the lovely Jem Weston. She is embarking on a new journey as a Rowan workshop tutor. For many years she was our wonderful Coats rep, sharing the new products from Rowan, Patons, SMC and Anchor, plus our latest addition Coats fabric. Always full of enthusiasm and knowledge taking the step to become a Rowan tutor seems like the perfect job for Jem. She also designs for Rowan and last year brought out a book showcasing her talents – ‘Cute Little Knits’.

Before the start of her workshop calendar next month Jem asked if she could do a test run of her professional finishing workshop here at the Craft Barn. I was quite excited to do a professional finishing workshop as this is a workshop I have not done before. Finishing is not high up there on my list of fun things to do, so I was eager to learn and hopefully in time learn to enjoy completing any future garments I make.


The day went by so quickly with lots of different techniques covered including 2 different cast on methods, button holes, three needle cast off, increasing, decreasing, short row shaping and mattress stitch – which I now absolutely love! Mattress stitch should be called ‘magic’ stitch. I find it incredibly fascinating how the pieces marry up so perfectly creating the illusion of no seam at all. Of all the things I learnt, this has got to be my favourite and so useful too.



Jem was a fabulous tutor taking the time to explain each technique carefully and demonstrating as she worked her way around everyone. She was also on hand to help resurrect any minor mistakes. Which there weren’t many of I must add, well, apart from when I managed to create a hole somehow?! Throughout the day we were making a little cardigan covering the techniques as we went along. I am ashamed to say I haven’t completed my cardigan yet. Cathy and Sally from knitting group brought there’s in to show on Tuesday. Sally has even found a teddy bear to wear hers!



Sirdar Autumn Winter Showcase

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 11-09-2014



This Saturday we are hosting Sirdar’s Autumn Winter Showcase at the Craft Barn. The Sirdar team will be here for the full day from 9am – 5pm showing off the new season yarns along with many of the new garments from the latest patterns and books. Garments will be on display for you to touch and get a feel for the knitted yarn. Also there will be garments available for you to try on, see if you like the style before you start knitting! It’s not just Sirdar though, the whole Sirdar family of yarns are included – that’s Hayfield and Sublime too.


We will have nibbles and a fantastic prize give away where you could be in with the chance of winning a selection of treats. Plus spend £25 or over and receive a FREE Sirdar goodie bag*. We look forward to seeing you there!

*For the first 50 customers!

Blogger of the month – August 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Blogger of the Month | Posted on 10-09-2014




Congratulations to our August Blogger of the month - Cherry Heart. For a while now we have been coveting many projects Sandra aka Cherry Heart shares on her blog. Head over to Cherry Heart blog and you will be greeted by an abundance of colour and beautiful photography to tempt and inspire; two things that all crafters love to see. Sandra has kindly answered a selection of questions to delve a little deeper into her world of blogging. Be warned there are some gorgeous projects that will have you reaching for the crochet hook before you even finish reading!

sandra_chery heart

How long have you been blogging? What made you decide to write a blog?

Well, my very first post was way back in May 2009, but back then it was just a place where I put my very first patterns as you couldn’t upload PDF files to Ravelry back in those days. Things were very sporadic at first so I’d date the real beginning of the blog as 2011. I’d been reading and enjoying crafty blogs for a while by then and thought ‘I wonder if I could do that too?’ I just wanted to be involved in that world, it looked like fun!


What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)?

I’m supposed to be making a nice and simple granny square blanket at the moment but I started it about 3 weeks ago and have only made 6 squares so far. I think it’s going to be a bit of a slow burner.

Current WIP blogger of the month

Who taught you to crochet?

I’m pretty much self taught. My sister and I sat down together one night with hooks in hand and some basic instructions in a crochet book and that’s how it began. She is probably responsible for the fact I’m crocheting today though, it she hadn’t of encouraged me to keep going after the first 5 minutes when I was about ready to give up forever, who knows what would of happened?

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you knit / crochet?

I almost always have something to listen to or watch while I crochet or knit, except maybe if I’m figuring out a tricky bit in a pattern. In the evening I’m most likely to put on a film or watch the TV, but during the day I like to listen to audiobooks. I love Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett and P G Wodehouse, the Jeeves and Wooster ones are my favourites, I can hear them again and again. Lately I’ve been laughing out loud at ‘Cabin Pressure’ which is a radio sitcom I’ve become addicted to.


Is there a crocheted project that you treasure? Made by yourself or a handmade gift from a loved one?

A huge white filet crochet tablecloth given to me by my Nan. She made it early in her married life from white crochet thread. She told me she would buy one ball at a time to make it with as she would have to save up in between to buy each new ball of thread. It must have taken her an awfully long time to finish it and it’s rather special to me.

Do you have a favourite knitting snack?

Maltesers are my weakness!

When yarn shopping are you always drawn to a certain colour?

Lately it’s blues.Particularly duck egg blue, I seen to be drawn to that like a magnet. And mustard, it’s hard to find a good mustard colour yarn and it’s one I love to use so I always have my eye out for a nice shade.

Who do you crochet for?

Me! Well, I do let other people get a look in sometimes, my daughter, my nieces, my mum or my nan maybe, even the hubs got something once. Mostly though I make things I’ve seen and coveted for myself. Or, more often lately, I make things because I’ve had an idea for something and I want to see if I can make it work.


Do you follow other blogs? 

Yes, many many blogs!  Too many probably but a few of my favourite yarny ones would be: Crejjtion, My Rose Valley, Coco Rose Diaries, Betsy Makes, Pink Milk, Cozy Things and Little Cotton Rabbits.

How many projects do you have on the go at one time?

I’m quite a monogamous crafter by nature so I normally only have one or two on the go. Sometimes a sewing one by day and a yarny one by night.Or maybe I’ll have a pattern idea I’ll be working on and then something else a little more relaxing as a little light relief.


What other past times do you enjoy?

I love to sew. It’s so quick and instant compared to knitting and crochet, although I’ve been too busy to indulge in it much lately. I’ve done a few pieces of weaving and have my own little loom, and sometimes I manage a little embroidery but I’m not very neat yet.

What is your favourite item to crochet?

That’s a hard one to pin down as it varies so much with my mood at the time. Usually it’s whatever I have a pattern idea for at that moment, so I suppose just playing with different ideas, seeing what works and what doesn’t is one of my favourite things to do at the moment. But next to that I think it would have to be a blanket. You can do so much with a blanket, make it as simple or as complicated as you would like, as big or as small as you like and the sense of achievement once it is complete is fantastic. Plus of course you can cuddle in it while you work. It’s win – win really!


crochet cherry heart

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

My top tips would be:
- Be a consistent poster. You don’t have to post lots and lots but you do want to be regular. That way people will come back to check for new posts.
- Make sure your pictures are a good size. If you are sharing a crafty make people will want a good look at it.
- Read and comment on the blogs you love. If you get involved with other bloggers out there then you’ll start to become part of the community.


Rowan Big Wool Cable Sweater – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 09-09-2014



The sun is shining at HQ today so we thought why not #tryitTuesday a super chunky, pure wool, cable sweater? A woolly knit is maybe not the most suitable attire for a warm and hazy September day, but definitely a must for your winter wish list. In the office we are all enthusiastically planning our chunky knits from snoods and hats to jumpers and cardigans. If only we could knit as fast as the ideas come in our heads.

I was very excited when this sample garment arrived, as I had my eye on this sweater in the Pioneer book last year. I had visions of it knitted in the gorgeous red shade of Rowan Big Wool – ‘lipstick’. The sample garment is knitted in ‘reseda’ a zingy green, as seen in the Rowan book Pioneer.

Lesley started of proceedings with a slightly less conventional pose for #Tryittuesday – the aeroplane!


I am not entirely sure what my pose could be called, teapot maybe? I was going with the unconventional idea too.


Finally Colette who chose a more regular pose for her photograph.


What do you think? Could you see yourself wearing / knitting a chunky knit like this one? There are many more lovely patterns tucked away in the Pioneer book too. Including designs for men too all knitted in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted and more in Rowan Big Wool.


A Show & A Showcase

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 09-09-2014


I am back after a week at home and feel so much better for it. I am (sort of) organised, my washing basket is empty and most boxes are unpacked. I can now concentrate on my day job, and what a job it will be this week.

It is busy, busy, busy at Black Sheep HQ. We are getting ready for two big events. The first is the ‘Stitch, Sew & Hobbycrafts Show’ at Event City in Manchester. The show opens to the public on Thursday and is a real treat. Not only can you stock up on crafting goodies but you can also learn new skills. Why don’t you let one of the Black Sheep Wools team teach you to crochet?

We also have an incredible in store event this Saturday. The Sirdar team are hot footing it over from Wakefield and helping us host a showcase for all of Sirdar’s new Autumn Winter yarns. It promises to be a great day surrounded by gorgeous yarn and their latest winter styles. You can meet the Sirdar team, try on their latest garments and get a free goody bag if you spend over £25*.  If you are lucky enough to live near our Craft Barn why don’t you pop in and be inspired.

I am not totally sure how we are going to fit everything in this week but we always do in the end.

Catch up next week.

Sara x


Shows & Exhibitions 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 08-09-2014


The autumn winter shows have begun and we are all looking forward to meeting you (our lovely customers) up and down the country. If you are wondering where we will be exhibiting this year, then look no further than the list below. The Black Sheep van will be filled full to bursting with yarn, patterns, books, needlecraft kits and fabric. A taste of everything that we sell here at the Craft Barn and online on tour. If you are visiting any of the shows below please pop over to our stand and say hello to the show team.