Blogger of the month – September 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Blogger of the Month | Posted on 21-10-2014



Congratulations to September’s blogger of the month Barbara aka ‘Noddfacrafts‘ blogger. After finding out that she had been nominated as our Blogger of the month for September Barbara decided to pay a visit to the Craft Barn. It was lovely to meet Barbara and for her to get the chance to have a browse of the Craft Barn. Whilst she was here she kindly allowed us to take her photo for this very blog post. As you can see in the pic below, Barbara was wearing a beautiful hand knitted cardigan.

As usual we sent over the questions to Barbara and she has answered them with photos too…………


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

I have been blogging for just over two years. I started a travel log when we travelled from Lands End to the Orkney Isles in 2013 in my Camper Van AKA Damnvan1. This log quickly became a blog in which I talked about my crafting,vintage hunts, and travels.

80s sweater

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? 

My latest WIP is a shawl for my 88 year old Mum for Christmas. I do have multiple UFOs (unfinished objects) but I am trying to focus and complete this gift in good time, and not allow it to become another UFO! But life would be boring without UFOs!


Who taught you to crochet?

My Nanna taught me to crochet when I was a teenager. She could only do edging around embroidered cloths but in order to crochet you can start with very basic knowledge. If you can pull wool through a loop using a hook you can crochet!

What was your first ever knitting or sewing project?

As a very young child I was brought up to sew and knit. As a 7 year old my Mum taught me to use her hand sewing machine with which I made curtains for my dolls house. My Mum also taught me to knit. As an 11 year old I knit squares to sew into the sleeves of my hand knitted school jumper. These were to stop the elbows wearing out as I was always leaning on them! Thrifty days!


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

I do watch tv whilst knitting. I enjoy Great British Bake Off and the British Sewing Bee. I always think that I could win but of course that’s rubbish!

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

One of my greatest treasures is a tapestry covered chair that my lovely late father recovered in hand made and designed wool tapestry. This is what I would save if my house was on fire. (After the dog)

Do you have a crochet or knitting tip you would like to share?

The very best tip is when sewing,wool fabric etc,thread your needle with the two ends of yarn through the eye of the needle. This will leave a loop at the other end. Pass needle through material and up through the loop. This secures the thread without a knot or multiple stitches and is a tidy way of starting to stitch.

Where do you find inspiration for a new project?

I use the internet mainly for inspiration. I am a great Ravelry fan. I also collect vintage patterns and books which are a great sources of ideas. I browse yarn and fabric emporiums constantly especially when travelling in the van. I love the Black Sheep Craft Barn which is perfect as the staff are wonderful and I can have a tea and scone in their coffee shop. I am a pattern first girl. I rarely buy yarn without first finding a pattern.

Do you have a favourite knitting snack?

See 8 above. I drink far to much tea and love scone with jam and butter. Yum!!

What is your favourite yarn to work with? Is there a particular brand?

I don’t have a favourite yarn as it is always the last one that I bought! But I am currently using 100% Alpaca and a fabulous Rowan Yarn called Mohair Haze.

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

I love colours that are vibrant, clear and lush. I have a tendency to choose from the pink/red end of the spectrum, but it depends how I feel on the day.

Do you have a favourite project?

One of my favourite projects is my Bee Keepers Quilt. This is being made in Alpaca and Sock Yarn and seems to be becoming a labour of love.

bee keeper

Do you follow other blogs?

I follow lots of blogs. Mainly crafty ones.

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

Currently I’ve six or seven projects on the go. Many are put away in my stash chest but surface every now and again and I do a bit more work on them! Every blue moon I actually finish one! Unfortunately I’m not disciplined enough to complete one before I start another.

What other past times do you enjoy?

Other favourite pastimes include baking, travelling and looking after my Grandchildren of which I have three!

What is your favourite item to crochet?

My favourite item that I crocheted is a multicoloured, bright, Granny Square blanket which I made for my Daughter when she moved into her new home.

granny square blanket

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

My advice to anyone wanting to try blogging is give it a go. Enjoy the words, don’t worry about followers etc and blog away to your hearts content.

Do you have a preference when it comes to choosing your crochet hooks and knitting needles?

I have no preference for hooks and needles. I have one complete set of needles and hooks from my Nanna. I have another complete set from my Mum. I have collected a complete metric set for myself and I still don’t have what I want! I’m just starting to buy circular needles but even they come in different lengths and I have to buy another one!

Do you read any craft magazines? If so do you have a favourite?

I am a “Magaholic” I buy loads of magazines. I particularly like “Mollie Makes” due to its young, vibrant content and it’s links to the internet. I also buy “Simply Knitting” and “Knitting”.

Who do you crochet / knit for?

I knit and sew for myself and for my Grandchildren. After all knitting and crochet is very ” on trend” these days.

The Knitting & Stitching Show 2015 – Ally Pally

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 15-10-2014


‘Write a blog post about Ally Pally’ Lesley our Web Manager said. It sounds so easy doesn’t it? However how do I condense the last week of madness into one page? There was so much to do and I met so many lovely people. Well I’ll try so here goes…





The show this year was bigger than ever and was on for a whole five days rather than the usual four. This meant it is was a little less crowded than previous years. It also meant it was easier for me to wander around and catch up with some familiar faces. I saw so many of the ‘Knitterati’, Jane Crowfoot, Debbie Abrahams, Sarah Hatton, Jem Weston, Stuart Hillard and of course Debbie Bliss. Debbie makes an annual trip to our ‘yarn dive’ and it’s always a pleasure to catch up with her. This year she was accompanied by new design duo ‘Conway & Bliss’, this comprises of Debbie’s daughter Nell and her best friend Theresa Conway. They have set up their own design house producing free downloads in Debbie Bliss yarns for the young at heart. I love their ‘Bliss’ sweater.



Stuart Hillard is always a pleasure to chat too. He is one of the most enthusiastic sewers I have ever met. He gave me loads of tips on my new patchwork addiction; I just need the time to put them all into practise now!


One of the best parts of the exhibition is always the ‘Textile Awards’. The designs are amazing and I am always fascinated by where the entrants get their inspiration from. In particular this red sweater caught my eye – how amazing is it?


The evenings at Ally Pally are fun too. We went to the ‘Let’s Knit’ awards on Thursday night and were absolutely delighted to be the recipients of three awards. I was also delighted to have a glass or two of bubbly, it had been a long day so I felt I deserved it. We also had a night out with the Sirdar & Designer Yarns teams. The pub we ended up in had a table tennis table and it’s official, my brother Stephen is the Knitting Industries best Ping Pong player – he was so good.

The worst part of the whole show is Sunday evening from 5pm – breakdown time. Eurghhh! I hate it. You know that amazing selection f yarn we have in the big pile on the floor? Well it all needs picking up and it’s up to us to do it. It kills my back and you’d be amazed by how dirty we get. The best part of breakdown is definitely KFC at the services on the way home. It isn’t something I’d normally eat but it tastes so good. It gave me enough energy to sing along to the eighties hits on the way home. Farewell Ally Pally – until next year!



Rico Creative Melange Chunky – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 14-10-2014



Last week we received a special delivery from Rico. It was a parcel containing lots and lots of be-A-utiful garments. There were jumpers, cardigans, shawls and even a poncho, a knitters dressing up box. Well, that is what more or less happened when the girls were trying to put the garments out on display in the shop. I took the opportunity to take a photo or two of willing volunteers trying on for #tryitTuesday. Keep an eye out for many more Rico patterns over the coming weeks.

Lesley was quick to join in with the trying on. She liked the snuggly style of the boyfriend cardigan and commented on how it would be an easy piece to wear with many outfits.


The pattern also features a shorter length style.


Stacey is one of the taller members of staff and the cardigan is still a longer length on her.


And finally Barbara who is nearly camouflaged amongst all of the fabric!


The pattern is Rico 267 and is knitted in Rico Creative Melange Chunky. If you do choose to knit the cardigan share your photos and email them to

Sara interviews Betsan Corkhill

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 13-10-2014


Betsan Corkhill came to the Craft Barn for Therapeutic knitting day on 4th October. Whilst here sharing her findings with customers in the Craft Barn we took the opportunity to film an interview too. It is a great opportunity for those who couldn’t make it to the event, to watch and gain an insight into Betsan’s work whilst discovering how she came across the idea of therapeutic knitting, researching for her book and setting up Stitchlinks.

If you have enjoyed watching the interview with Betsan Corkhill and want to find out more her book, ‘Knit for Health and Wellness‘ is available to purchase now on our website. If you are interested in setting up your own therapeutic knitting group and would like a starter pack please contact Betsan via Stitchlinks or email

Here are a few photographs taken throughout the day.

group with Betsan

Catherine from Spa Beautiful was offering a complimentary hand massage on the day.


On entering and exiting the Craft Barn we had a mood scarf. We asked customers to knit a row or two to express their feelings on entering and exiting the Craft Barn.


Wool Week Competition!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 09-10-2014



As you may know already this week it is ‘wool week’ in association with Campaign for Wool UK. To celebrate the wonder of wool we are giving you the chance to win a magnificent woolly prize – 35 balls of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted yarn! That’s all of the yarn required to complete the Kaffe Fassett mystery knit-a-long in the pastel colour way. Up to now only week 1 pattern has been released, so you should be able to catch up in no time at all. A spot of speed knitting may well be essential. If you would like to be in with the chance of winning this incredible yarn bundle then click on this link to enter. If you are reading this blog post on your mobile device and are struggling to get through to the competition page click here for an alternative link.

Here is a sneaky peek at a selection of the yarns included in the prize……


The winner will be contacted on Wednesday 15th October. Good luck!

English Paper Piecing

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 08-10-2014



I wrote a blog post about a couple of weeks ago about the new love in my life – patchwork. I had done a little bit of machine patchwork and I loved it. Well I am now even more addicted.

My machine patchwork hit a bit of a blip last week. I just didn’t get the time to get the sewing machine out. By the time the girls are in bed and I’m ready to have a little bit of me time it’s 9 o’clock. I’m far too tired to get my machine out and set it up. Alas my house isn’t big enough to leave it out all the time, and I’m certainly not moving house for a while! So I would get out the knitting needles and crack on with my Afghan. But you know what it’s like when you are itching to do something. The naughty crafters voice in my head kept taunting me. ‘You don’t want to knit, you want to do some patchwork!’ The upshot was I didn’t enjoy my knitting at all. What on earth was I going to do!

The answer was something that took my straight back to my school days, English paper piecing. A traditional method of hand patchwork that I last did under the tutorage of Mrs Green (my favourite teacher ever!) when I was about 8 years old and I made a pin cushion. I had a quick look on Google to refresh my mind and away I went.



It is so simple and you need very few materials. I downloaded a hexagon template onto some paper, got three different bits of material, a sewing needle and a reel of cotton. I couldn’t get the girls in bed quick enough on Saturday night I was that desperate to start. I spent ages cutting out hexagons, then even longer cutting out the fabric. I tacked the fabric onto the paper, leaving a small seam allowance and then for the really fun bit. I started stitching the hexagons together.

In true Sara style I winged it a bit to be honest. As this is a trial piece I didn’t really plan how my fabrics were going to work together or what I would make, I simply sewed, it was so relaxing. Now I am certainly no expert but I have learnt a few things on my first attempt. So I thought I would share them with you.

1. Three different types of fabric is not enough. I don’t feel that it has given me enough choice on placing the hexagons.
2. The smaller the needle the easier it is to sew without touching the paper.
3. It’s going to take ages to make a single quilt!

I am so in love with this craft already. If you fancy trying something new then this is the one for you.


Hayfield Ripple Super Chunky – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 07-10-2014



We are back indoors for #TryitTuesday. The rain has been falling steadily all day here at HQ, so it was into the Craft Barn for a quick photo shoot. The ladies have been trying on a jacket knitted in Hayfield Ripple Super Chunky. This is a new yarn that only arrived in stock a couple of weeks ago. It is an ultra soft acrylic and polyester blend that feels silky soft to the touch. Knitted up the garment has quite a relaxed quality and easy to wear feel. It is the kind of jacket you could throw on with any outfit, perfect with jeans and a t-shirt for simple autumn layering. The pattern can also comes with a waistcoat option, which you could knit up on no time at all.


Both Collette and Jayne have been trying on the jacket with their Black Sheep blouses.



Autumn / Winter Workshops

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 06-10-2014


There are lots of exciting workshops taking place this autumn / winter at the Craft Barn. We have everything from sewing to needle felting. Along with the Rowan workshops we are introducing a new series of workshops taught by our fantastic Craft Barn staff, including Barbara, Yvonne and Stacey. All of whom are extremely talented and ready to share their expertise. We also have Juliet Bernard teaching continental knitting, which could change your knittng style forever!

Here is a little taster of the different subjects you will find on our workshop page -

Hand appliqué & embroidery stitches with Rowan tutor, Melanie Boocock
Wednesday 22nd October 2014 | Full day

hand applique workshop

Intro to sewing with Yvonne from Black Sheep Wools
4 week course  | Thursday 23rd October – Thursday 13th November| 9.30am – 11.30am


Learn to sew with Rowan tutor, Rona Stean
Wednesday 5th November 2014 | Full day


Next step crochet Christmas with Rowan tutor, Erica Pask
Friday 14th November 2014 | Full day

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Advanced crochet with Rowan tutor, Erica Pask
Saturday 15th November 2014 | Full day



Continental & Fair Isle knitting with Juliet Bernard
Thursday 20th November 2014 | Full day


Sew a flower brooch & suffolk puff with Barbara from Black Sheep Wools
Friday 21st November 2014 | 9.30am – 12pm


Basics of patchwork with Barbara from Black Sheep Wools
Thursday 27th November 2014 | 9.30am – 12pm


Sew a messenger bag with Stuart Hillard from ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’
Friday 5th December 2014 | Full day


Kirstie’s Handmade Show Guest Blog – Jem Weston

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Guest Blog | Posted on 02-10-2014


We couldn’t make it for a nosey around Kirstie’s Handmade show at Hampton Court, so the lovely Jem Weston has kindly written a guest blog post to share her experience of the show for us. Take a look below…….

Last weekend was the first ever Handmade Fair, with Kirstie Allsopp, and I hope it’s the first of many!


The setting was really lovely. It was a pleasure to walk to work everyday past Hampton Court Palace and into crafters heaven. The show consisted of a number of Great British Bake Off style marquees where you could learn new skills ranging from origami to our much loved knitting and crochet.

It’s always a risk to host an outdoor event in the UK, but we were pretty lucky with the weather… and you could always take shelter in one of the shopping tents!


Crafting royalty were out on mass, with designers such as Kaffe Fasset, Martin Storey and Suzie Johnson signing books in the Rowan library.
Sarah Hatton, Jane Crowfoot and Stuart Hillard were teaching some fantastic workshops in the Coats tent as well as signing their books. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mr X stitch… and almost met Kirstie Allsopp and Tilly from The Great British Sewing Bee (I stood near them for a bit!).

I would definately recomend going along to the show next year… start saving up now for the shopping tent and prosseco bar! See more pics from the show over on my blog

Jem x

Sirdar Showcase Day

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 01-10-2014

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Firstly my apologies for not writing this blog post sooner. I’m afraid I don’t even have a great excuse; I’m just not quite sure what has happened to the last few weeks!
So let me cast my mind back and tell you all about our Sirdar Showcase event that we hosted in our Craft Barn on Saturday 13th September.

The idea for the showcase event came from Sirdar’s Sales Director, Emma Mychajlowskyj. Twice a year retailers are invited to Sirdar’s Showroom at their offices in Wakefield. The room always looks amazing, the mannequins are dressed beautifully and it is a great way to show off their new yarns. Emma wanted to take this out on the road and show their customers their new collections in the best possible way, and I’m pleased to say her idea worked.



The display arrived by van on the Friday afternoon, we cleared out lots of space in the shop and set up the mannequins. The same yarns were put side by side, showcasing the colours and designs perfectly. The new Autumn Winter collection is one of the strongest collections I’ve seen and their was a huge amount of inspiration for any knitter or crocheter. By the time we all went home on Friday night the shop looked fantastic. We had a quick curry (it’s always a curry when Sirdar come over to Warrington) and then an early night in preparation for a busy day.


Saturday dawned and it was a bright & sunny day, not the best weather to sell yarn in it must be said. However the customers mustn’t have taken any notice of this and were queuing outside at 9am. They weren’t disappointed they had super service from Russell, Sirdar’s Managing Director, Emma & Jan our Sales Rep. These guys really know their yarns. The new Sirdar ‘Wool Rich Aran’ was the hit of the day. It comes in the most beautiful jewel colours and has a gorgeous shine to it. My favourite though is the Sublime Superfine Alpaca Dk, there is a blue jumper on the front of the book that has my name all over it!




To ensure everyone had a super day we had a raffle for every customer to take part in with three prizes. The first was enough Sublime Alpaca, & Sirdar Wool Rich Aran to knit two garments. Second & third prize was their new hat yarn, ‘Heads Up’ and sock yarn ‘Heart & Sole’. That’s Sirdar from your head to your toes! We also gave away goody bags to every customer who spent over £25, and with yarn & needles in every bag they were certainly well received.




All in all it was super day. The customers loved the new yarns and designs and more than that they loved meeting the Sirdar team. Now come on Emma what event are we doing next year!