Arne & Carlos at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 15-06-2017

Tags:

0

Yesterday was a fun filled day at Black Sheep Wools, we had Norweigian knitting designers Arne and Carlos in store for the day. It was such a treat to have the bright and cheery duo back at the Craft Barn. They really are so inspiring to be around. Last year they visited for the first time on a cold day in February. This time round they have experienced a hot, sunny day in Warrington. Read the blog post about Arne and Carlos’ first visit.

In the morning they taught a workshop showing people how to make knitted birds using double pointed needles. We had a large group in for the workshop, the places sold out within 24 hours! It was great to see the room full of people all enjoying knitting and chatting away to Arne and Carlos.

Arne showing Christine (Winwick Mum) how he knits with DPN’s

During the workshop they were flitting from one table to another helping the ladies and having a natter too. I don’t know how some people did it, but some of the participants managed to finish knitting their bird within the 3 hour class, one of those people being blogger Emma Varnam. Check out her ‘seagull’ knitted bird. What a whizz! I think it would have taken me a good hour or so to figure out how to keep all my stitches on the DPN’s.

Blogger Lynne Rowe‘s two shaded bird

In the afternoon they held a mini lecture talking about the inspiration behind their new book – A Field Guide to Knitted Birds. I enjoyed listening to them enthusiastically talk about the ideas behind their latest book. They shared a photo of a bird house that lives in their beautiful garden, which they built to encourage birds back into their garden. Arne enjoys sitting in the garden watching the birds at work and fish swimming in the stream. Colour plays a big part in their designs and they have been creative with ‘abstract’ birds. Some of the patterns are bright and multi coloured birds with adornments of sequin and charming embroidery. A favourite of mine from the book are the species of winter birds – the only breed of bird to wear hats and scarves, Pedro and Juanita with their Peruvian hats are so sweet. It is was interesting listening to Arne tell imaginative stories about the birds, I think he should write a book! If you couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn yesterday take a look at Arne and Carlos YouTube channel. They post a video a week sharing tips and advice on knitting and more!

Finally Arne and Carlos made their way into the shop where they did a book signing and had photos taken with many of our customers. If you would like to see more pics pop over to our Instagram where there are more behind the scenes photos. We are giving away a two signed copies of the knitted birds book, one on Facbeook and one on Instagram. Winners will be chosen on Monday 19th June 2017.

How to cast on?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 08-06-2017

Tags: ,

0

How do you cast on your knitting? Do you have a preferred method? There are many different ways to cast on knitting from the thumb method, two needle, to a cable cast on and many more. Some projects require a specific cast on, such as lace work or a design that requires a more elasticated edge.  We are beginning with the thumb method cast on. This is a great cast on method for newbie knitters and is pretty easy to do. You may find that it is the only one you choose to use once you get started.

If you are new to knitting then we have just the tools to get you started. It may also be of interest to the seasoned knitter. Having knitting tips to hand all in one place is always helpful mid project. With your knitting needle conversion chart and knitting starter kit at the ready, all you need now is to begin knitting. Gather your ball of yarn and knitting needles and follow the step by step instructions below.

How to cast on

Make a slip knot and catch through your needle.


Gently pull the slip knot taught to your needle leaving a long tail of yarn to create the number of required stitches.


Loop the yarn around your left thumb, holding the needle in your right hand (your left thumb is going to act as a needle for this part).


Insert the needle underneath the yarn on the top of your thumb. Get ready with the yarn (that is feeding from the ball) in your right hand to make a stitch.


Bring the yarn in right hand around (under and over) the needle and down in-between left thumb and needle.


Take the loop on your left thumb over the needle to create a stitch.


Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you have the desired number of stitches for your project.

Yarn used in video is Conway + Bliss Elektra

Arne & Carlos Afternoon

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 02-06-2017

Tags:

1

On Wednesday 14th June our favourite knitting duo Arne and Carlos will be back at the Craft Barn. After everyone had such a fabulously, fun day with them last year we were very, very excited when we got the call to say they were available in June. They will be teaching a workshop in the morning themed around their latest book – Field Guide to Knitted Birds. This is now fully booked, it sold out within 48 hours!


The good news is that they will be holding a mini lecture in the afternoon and doing a book signing too. The lecture will be from 2pm – 2.45pm and the book signing in store from 3pm – 4pm. Both of the afternoon events are free to attend with no need to book. The lecture will be held in our workshop room so we are restricted on numbers, it will be a first come first served basis. We look forward to seeing you there!

Craft Barn Sale 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 23-05-2017

Tags:

0

The annual Craft Barn sale starts on Friday 26th May for 10 days. There will be fantastic branded yarns at amazing prices, including Sirdar, Debbie Bliss, Rowan and many, many more. There will be special discounts on needlecraft, fabric and accessories too! Plus, let’s not forget our super-duper yarn dive, piled extra high full of incredible bargains. The sale starts over the Bank Holiday weekend so why not plan a trip to Black Sheep Wools. All offers are in store only. There are as always lots of amazing bargains for you to browse in our clearance section online.

What can I make with Caron Cakes?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Guest Blog | Posted on 17-05-2017

Tags: ,

0

Guest Blog post written by Black Sheep Lucy

 

If you’ve not heard of Caron Cakes, it’s a yarn that caused a huge sensation in America when it launched last Autumn. Knitters and Crocheters love the look, feel, colour blends and the fantastic 350 metres per cake! We’ve all been wanting to get our hands on some since we heard about it!
Now that Caron Cakes have made it to the UK they’ve been an instant hit both in the shop and on our website. People can’t help but pick them up and each one has a free pattern on the ballband, plus lots of supporting free patterns online makes them very tempting.

Always one to jump on a new trend, I grabbed a ball of Rainbow Sprinkles and immediately wondered – what can I do with this thing?  It’s easy to just want to keep a Caron Cake as they’re so pretty and possible daunting as they’re so large (and it would make a lovely ornament) but I applied myself and picked one of the free crochet patterns and I was off.

Because the yarn is an aran weight, it works up very quickly and is very satisfying to use. I chose the Crocheted Kerchief Scarf because it looked like a great versatile piece, that would go well with weekend jeans.

I’m a loose crocheter so although a 5mm hook is recommended, I switched down to a 4mm hook. It’s worth making a quick swatch to check this and it worked out fine in the the finished garment.  The yarn is lovely to use, it’s 20% wool, 80% acrylic which means it’s soft but also substantial and not scary to work with. There is a centre pull which is very easy to use and means no tugging or pulling, it also means that the cake goes down slowly like a balloon while you knit or crochet. The patterns are all in American terms so I had to make a quick mental adjustment to remember that their doubles are our trebles but the pattern was so simple that after a couple of rows you don’t have to refer back. I love a pattern like this, great for sitting in front of easy telly and churning out lots of speedy crochet.

As always with self striping yarn, the transitions are the exciting bit. The first one came up pretty quickly moving from green to yellow. The transitions are now gradual like most wool I’ve used, rather one stitch and you’ve switched! This makes for lovely crisp stripes. Despite this though, there is a slight fleck of red throughout all of the colours in Rainbow Sprinkles which ties everything together.
I made good progress and then my more expert crocheting sister came round for a chat. She’d not seen a Caron Cake in person before and wrestled it off me. She stopped for a cup of tea and did the next colour for me. I finally got the scarf back and got half of if done that first evening as I was enjoying this simple pattern so much.
The decrease section took a little longer, maybe two days. As soon as I was finished I opened the scarf up, took a good look and realised that I’d decreased one stitch to early on each alternate row. I took the project to my local craft club the next night and had to frog it back to before I’d made any mistakes. Clever crocheting sis pointed out where I’d gone wrong, showed me how to do it right and then decided that she’d be better finishing it off for me after all – I think she was just enjoying playing with the new yarn.
Anyway, whoever did the work, the finished result is lovely and is very wearable. Now I just need to choose my next colour and project and keep this one to myself. Think I’m going to go with Faerie Cake this time – it’s so pretty!

Hand – Dyeing Workshops with Debbie Tomkies

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 11-05-2017

Tags: ,

0

Have you ever dreamed about creating your own yarn? What colours would it be? What weight would you go for? All of your wishes can come true at one of Debbie Tomkies Hand – Dyeing Workshops at the Craft Barn.
Debbie is a textile designer with over 25 years experience. She runs workshops at various locations working with both yarn and fabric. Debbie also runs a social enterprise called ‘Making Futures’, working with colleges and community groups, doing creative activities to help build confidence and self-esteem. Not only that, Debbie is also an author of three books.

This summer Debbie Tomkies will be teaching two different hand – dyeing workshops, one using natural dye extracts and the other using synthetic dyes. A great excuse to have a day of fun playing with colour. Each participant will be given a 100g hank of yarn to dye. Debbie will bring a selection of Merino, Bluefaced Leicester and wool blends in either sock (4ply), laceweight or DK. As part of the workshop Debbie will also give everyone one of her pattern designs, so that you can get started knitting or crocheting your hank of beautifully dyed yarn as soon as you get home.

I asked Debbie for a run down of the difference between the two workshops –

“In terms of the differences between the synthetic and natural dyes, I would say that the synthetics are more repeatable and give more reliable repeatability between batches. It is also easier to predict the final colour as the dyes look on a test paper much the same as they will look on the final yarn. The synthetic dyes give the full range of colours from very bright to soft, muted tones and pastels (they needn’t all be eye-popping brights!). Synthetic dyes are very consistent in terms of strength and it is relatively easy to predict how much dye to use to give a desired depth of colour. Synthetic dyes are ideally suited to a wide range of techniques, including immersion, handpaints, rainbow dyeing, gradient dyeing, speckling and all kinds of fun projects. They are also suitable for fibres, fabrics and other natural materials.

The natural dyes, on the other hand, have more tonal qualities as they often contain numerous different colour components within the plant itself. This gives a subtle toning to natural dyes that is harder to achieve with synthetics. The natural dyes can certainly be rich in shade and give deep colours but tend not to be on the ‘neon-bright’ end of the spectrum! Natural dyes are a little harder to predict as the powders tend to look quite different and often the colour only really blossoms once the dyeing is in progress. Of course that is part of the magic! Natural dyes are also sensitive to other factors. Colours can be changed by adjusting water pH or by adding ‘colour modifiers’ (for example, citric acid, iron sulphate or sodium carbonate). This really extends the colour palette and makes for interesting combinations. Natural dyes can be used for handpainting and other techniques but this does take a little more mastering than with synthetics. Like synthetics they can be used on virtually any natural fibre, yarn, fabric or other material.”

Hand-Dyeing wih Synthetic Dyes

Introduction to Hand – Dyeing with Synthetic Dyes is taking place on Saturday 20th May. This is a full day workshop that costs £65, which includes all materials, a delicious finger buffet lunch and a tea break in the afternoon with homemade cake. You will have a gorgeous hank of yarn to take home and one of Debbie Tomkies’ patterns.

Hand – Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts

The Introduction to Hand – Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts workshop is taking place on Friday 2nd June and cost £65 for the full day.. Natural dye extracts are so versatile and easy to use. There are so many beautiful colours that can be created mixing the powders. The same applies for the natural dye extract workshop to the synthetic, all materials are provided (including a pinny) and your choice of 100g hank of yarn to dye.

We are always updating our workshops listings online. If hand-dyeing doesn’t take your fancy, then take a look at the many other workshops that we offer.

 

Joji Locatelli Mystery Wrap – Colour Ideas

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Knitting, Sara's Blog | Posted on 04-05-2017

Tags: , , ,

0

I love a good CAL or Knitalong and I’m just about to do another one. This is by one of my favourite designers, Joji Locatelli. She is an Argentinian designer and if you haven’t looked at her work you really must. She has lots of patterns on Ravelry including the ‘Boxy’sweater, one of my favourite designs. Joji is also a master at shawl designing and this is where the mystery Knitalong comes in. Now I have never down a mystery project before so I’m really excited.

The project runs over 5 weeks and starts on the 12th May. As it is a mystery the designer does give you advice on colours, the size of the finished shawl and what type of knitting it involves. This shawl will contain a lot of garter stitch, some TV knitting and some more complicated stuff.

I love the community feel you get from a KAL and this one will be no exception. I’m a member of the group on Ravelry and it’s already got a lovely feel to it.

It’s done in a 4 ply yarn and I have picked five shades of the beautiful Titus from Baa Ram Ewe. I will be using Crucible, Goathland, Bramley Baths, Rose Window  & Chevin. I do hope they look as good together as I think they will.



If you are joining in this KAL then why don’t you post some photos to our facebook page of the colours and yarns you will be using. I’d love to see them!

We all love choosing colours at Black Sheep Wools, so between us we have come up with some more eye-catching combinations.

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Brights
– Blackcurrant Bomb
– Poppy Seed
– Blue Raspberry
– Butterscotch
– Sarsaparilla

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Pastels
– Milk Bottle
– Sherbet Fizz
– Candyfloss
– Pennyroyal
– Cinnamon Stick

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Summer
– Kingfisher
– Blueberry Bonbon
– Spearmint
– Tumeric
– Milk Bottle

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Fire
– Coal
– Viking
– Filey
– Parkin
– Wesley Bob

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Heathery
– White Rose
– Yorkstone
– Heathcliff
– Goathland
– Bantam

 

Baa ram ewe Show & Tell

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 02-05-2017

Tags:

0

In February we held an afternoon Show & Tell with two of the lovely ladies from baa ram ewe – Verity and Rachel. Rachel is the Business Development Coordinator and Verity is the founder of baa ram ewe, originally setting up the baa ram ewe yarn shop in Leeds many years ago. From here Verity went on to create her own yarn brand – baa ram ewe, sharing the delights of British sheep breeds. The shop is still there today and continues to stock many brands alongside their own ever growing collection.

Verity packing all sorts of goodies to bring to the Craft Barn

Moggy and the sheep preparing to leave Yorkshire with vital supplies!

All of the baa ram ewe yarns are made in Yorkshire, using Yorkshire sheep breeds, British sheep breeds and fibres. Which are spun in local mills before being wound into scrumptious hanks of irresistible yarn. The range includes three different yarns – Titus 4ply, Dovestone Dk and Dovestone Natural Aran.

New shades of baa ram ewe Titus & Dovestone DK

It was exciting to celebrate the launch of their spring collection with team in store. For spring baa ram ewe have launched new shades, a new pattern book and their Titus mini balls tubes.

I found it really interesting to hear Verity talk so passionately about yarn, talking about using British fibres, in particular Yorkshire sheep breeds, such as Wensleydale and Masham. All of their yarns contain a percentage of Wensleydale. See below a pic of this long haired sheep.

One of the snippets of information she shared that sent my creative mind into overdrive, was her staff ‘new shade idea’ meeting. What an exciting meeting that would be to be involved in! Verity said that all members of the team bring forward their suggestions and they discuss shade ideas and come up with names once decided too.

The latest book Titus Vintage Collection features one of their baa ram ewe customers, Alison, as the model. This reflects the inclusive welcoming nature of the brand. Their photographer also works in the shop and they use local Yorkshire hotspots for photoshoots. The brand is very much a Yorkshire brand. You will notice pattern names in Yorkshire Shores such as Robin Hood’s bay and Filey.
The Titus Vintage Collection is made up of vintage Sirdar patterns from the archives that have been re-worked in a modern format. This book introduces the gorgeous new palette of colours too, perfect shades for spring.

Sara couldn’t resist trying on one of the sweaters from the Vintage book.

Watch the video below of Sara chatting to Verity and you will see her warm, friendly nature shine through along with her passion for yarn. Thank you so much to both Verity and Rachel for a fun, relaxed afternoon at the Craft Barn. We really did enjoy having your energy and enthusiasm fill the shop on a Wednesday afternoon.

Debbie Bliss Weekend in Harrogate

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 25-04-2017

Tags: ,

0

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend before Easter with the design guru that is Debbie Bliss on a knitting weekend at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time with Debbie over the last few years and I hope I can say that we are friends as well as business acquaintances, so I relished the chance to go away with her. She is so talented, a huge inspiration and lots of fun too. The weekend was arranged by Arena travel in conjunction with the editorial teams from Simply Knitting & the Knitter. 35 ladies joined us and Black Sheep Wools provided the pop up shop.

My first big thing of the weekend was driving the van to Harrogate. Now I have driven a van but I don’t do it very often. In real life I drive a VW Polo, a van is so much bigger. I hate being thought of as a wuss but I was very nervous. My driving can be a bit hit and miss! However I got there in one piece and not a mark on the van!

Set up was my next mammoth task. If anyone talks to you about a pop up shop can you please point out that they don’t really pop up and they certainly don’t pop down again. It took ages. However it did look pretty gorgeous when we’d finished it, if I do say so myself! Huge thanks to Graeme from Designer Yarns for all of his help.

Once the shop was set up we headed to the bar for a Knit & Natter session. It was a great way to meet everyone and start to put faces to names. I was amazed as one lady had come over from Canada and another from Germany. It put one and a half hour drive from Warrington into perspective.

The workshop started at 10am prompt. The theme was confidence with colour. You often hear people lament ‘I’m no good with colour’. Debbie was here to prove that is a load of rubbish! We can all put colours together, we just need to play with them a bit. Graeme, who is a knitting god, gave mini workshops on Continental Knitting and Norwegian Cast On, he really is incredible.

This was not a project based workshop so everyone worked on different things which was great to see where people draw their inspiration from. Attendees had brought postcards with them, pencils, books and items of clothing. You really can get your inspiration from anywhere.

Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner. We were treated to a talk from David Watt from Designer Yarns. David is one of the best technical yarn people I have ever met. He has worked in the yarn industry all over the world and is so passionate. His pet project is the Falkland Aran yarn from the Debbie Bliss range. It is one of the finest Aran’s I have ever worked with and David was happy to share the reasons why. After dinner we all retired to the bar to continue the yarn talk, I possibly had one glass of wine too many and quickly went to bed.

Sunday was a more relaxed day. We had our final workshop in the morning where Debbie tied everything together. The Fair Isle that had been completed was beautiful and there were so many different colour combinations.

I started to pack away at 2pm. The stand may well have looked amazing but it took me ages to take it down. I was still at it at 7pm! I had a fabulous weekend and promised myself that one weekend I will go as an attendee the pop up shop can pop off!

Yarn Shop Day 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 19-04-2017

Tags: , ,

4

This will be our fourth year celebrating Yarn Shop Day in association with Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington. Time certainly does fly by, it has hard to believe it was 2014 when Lousia Harding kicked off the first ever day of Yarn Shop Day celebrations at the Craft Barn. For those who haven’t heard of Yarn Shop Day, it is basically a day to celebrate and support your local bricks and mortar yarn store. Local yarn shops are not so common on the high street these days. If you are lucky enough to live local to one, whether it is the Black Sheep Craft Barn or further afield, wherever you live in the UK be sure to visit on 6th May 2017.

Over the years we have had so many well-known faces of the yarn world at the Craft Barn – Emma Varnam (crochet), Cathy Wright (spinning & dyeing), Sue Pinner (crochet), Beryl Weir (weaving), Winwick Mum (sock knitting) and Crafternoon Treats (crochet). Plus, demonstrations from our talented Craft Barn team too. We always like to mix it up with a variety of interesting folk who do various crafts with yarn. This year is set to be just as fun as ever with yet another fantastic line-up……knit and crochet designer, Sarah Hatton and crochet designer and blogger, Emma Varnam.

Not only do we have all of this planned, we will also have a glass of fizz for everyone on arrival! There will be fab raffle prizes (including the Stylecraft Treasure Hunt bundle) and 50 goody bags to give away to the first 50 people to spend £20 or more in store. All procceds from the raffle will be donated to Alder Hey Hospital.

Yarn Shop Day – Sarah Hatton

Sarah Hatton is a super talented (and super lovely with it) knitwear designer. You will recognise her name from being featured in many Rowan publications over the years and in her own books, most recently Modern Mini Knits. Garments from this book will be on display for you to discover Sarah’s designs. Sarah also teaches workshops too, having taught many here at the Craft Barn in Warrington.

Knitting Tips & Tricks | 10.30am – 11.30am | 1pm – 2pm
Sarah will be holding drop-in sessions where she will be showing knitting tips and tricks that will improve the overall finish of your knits, sharing her most favoured methods of sewing up and finishing. She will be happy to answer your knitting questions and help to advise on your next project too.

Knitting SOS with Sarah Hatton | 2pm – 3pm
Bring in your latest project for a quick once over. Sarah will be on hand to help with any knitting mishaps that you might have encountered recently.

Yarn Shop Day – Emma Varnam

Emma Varnam is a crochet designer and blogger who was part of our Yarn Shop Day celebrations back in 2015 (we won Best Yarn Shop Day Experience’ in 2015). Emma is back for 2017 with even more crochet delights. She has been busy designing gorgeous crocheted characters for Debbie Bliss and having her latest book published – Cute Crocheted Animals. Enjoy taking a peek at her designs and having a chat to the lovely Emma on the day. If you have already made one of her animals bring in store, Emma would love to see!

Amigurumi Crochet How to | 10am – 11.30am | 1.30pm – 3pm

Emma will be sharing her top tips on how to create cute features for the faces of your adorable animals. A slight slip of the stitch here or another stitch there can really change the face from being happy to angry. She will also be demonstrating working in the round and how to attach limbs.