Sublime Natural Aran Sweater – #tryittuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 27-01-2015

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Tuesday is here again, which can only mean one thing it’s time for #tryittuesday! Trying on this week we have Jayne, Colette and Stacey. I can always rely on the lovely shop ladies to be ready at any moment for a quick trying on session. For today’s garment I went to our rails of sample garments and went with the first garment that caught my eye. This gorgeous sweater was hanging on the rail just crying out to be tried on. I was instantly drawn in by the teal shade, a simple shaped sweater with a decorative cable around the boat neck. I imagine the Sublime Natural Aran would be a real treat to knit. The stitch definition is so uniform and it feels divine.

Jayne was happy to shed a couple of layers for a photo in the soft Sublime sweater.

sublime natural aran sweater

Up next we have Colette.

Sublime Natural Aran sweater

Stacey tried the sweater on with a black long sleev top, this helps to show off the pretty cable neck line.

Sublime Natural Aran sweater

The pattern can be found in Sublime book 682. This sample garment is a size 34″ and can be knitted up with 8 balls of Sublime Natural Aran yarn. You can currently save a further 15% off all Sublime yarns and books until midnight on Friday 30th January.

Free crochet pattern – Cherry Heart

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns | Posted on 26-01-2015

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Back in August we featured Cherry Heart as our blogger of the month. Ever since then we have been ooohing and ahhhing at all of her blog posts. Her designs are beautiful and she always chooses colours that go together so harmoniously. After reading her blog you will instantly feel inspired and raring to go. When we asked if she would like to create a pattern just for us we knew it would instantly be added to our crochet to do list. With Rico Creative Twist Super Chunky yarn as the chosen yarn, the lovely Sandra (Cherry Heart) went off and got her crochet hook whizzing away on our exclusive project.

Inspired by the snuggly and bouncy nature of the yarn, Sandra decided on designing a hot water bottle cover. Take a look – what do you think?

free crochet pattern hot water bottle cover

Sandra used oddments of Dk yarn to add a Cherry Heart finishing touch. The border stitch gives a nice defined edge to the shape.

free crochet pattern hot water bottle cover

A bold cross stitched heart adds a quirky detail that personalises the design. Why not choose to add more or less hearts? Making your hot water bottle cover unique to you. Download our exclusive free crochet pattern here on our free patterns page.

Sandra came down to the Craft Barn for a visit and to show us her hot water bottle cover in the flesh. Whilst she was here we took the opportunity for a quick video and interview with Sara. Make sure you watch the video to the end where you will find a rather helpful tutorial on how to do the cross stitch onto your crocheted fabric.

Designer Q & A’s – Nel Whatmore

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 21-01-2015

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Nel Whatmore is a fine artist who also designs fantastic fabric ranges for Coats. As we are all still getting used to the various names within the world of Coats fabric, we thought it would be nice to find out what life’s like as a designer. We sent Nel a selection of questions which she has kindly answered, with the addition of lots of bright and colourful photos of fabric too. Nel’s current collection is ‘Merry Go Round‘. The quilt and cushion show below are both made from this new range. You can find the free patterns for both of these on the Make It Coats website.

Have you made anything with the Nel Whatmore fabric range? We would love to showcase your sewing skills here on the blog. Please email photos to


Without further ado let’s discover more about Nel and have a nosey into her life………..

Where do you find inspiration?
My fabric designs evolve out of elements of my fine art paintings. I find inspiration for my paintings from so many places, as I’m motivated by colour which of course is all around us! It can be a garden, flowers,tiles, colours of clothes on a rack allsorts of things. Having said that I do get lots of inspiration from Chelsea Flower Show where I exhibit my paintings each year.


Who taught you to sew? How old were you?
I learnt to sew from my grandparents, my Mum and at school. I remember doing those little samplers at school when I was about 6 I think. My Grandad taught me to knit, as he used to knit when he was a merchant seaman and spent long night shifts in the boiler room.

What was the first project you ever made? Was it a success?
I think the first skirt I attempted was a disaster it was when I was in my early teens and I was very impatient and wouldn’t let my Mum show me how to use a pattern as I wanted to do it all by myself. It was rather a car crash! The next time I used a pattern it turned out fine and I started making clothes but also spent a lot of time trying many different things, from batik to marbling, crochet etc etc.

What is your favourite fabric in the Coats range?
I suppose I’m meant to say my latest range Merry Go Round! Within the range I particularly like the Blue Colourway. From other designers I like Anna Marie Horner’s Echinacea and I love Amy’s latest range too.

Are you always drawn to a particular colour palette?
I think every designer actually finds they gravitate towards certain colour palettes. I love teal and red together. But also like to mix it up a bit and have collections that steer away from that too. To me it’s always about creating a whole like visual segments that must create a pleasing circle.

nel whatmore

If you could spend the whole day sewing what fabulous item would you have completed by the end of the day?
I’d love to have more time to produce a really fabulous dress that mixed and matched patterns within one dress as I love that eclectic look.

Do you enjoy listening to music or the radio when sewing? If so what?
Music is absolutely essential to my creative process it seems to block out everything that is maybe whizzing around in my head and allows me to focus on being creative. I like loads of different types of music from Paloma Faith to Eminem and Soul! I of course also loovvveeee Radio 4 too like of lot of people who are self employed.

Memory Lane Pic 1

Which other designers do you admire?
I admire most designers actually as I know that it’s not an easy job and it involves spending many dedicated hours trying to make a collection work. I think Tula is amazing and very generous with her advise and she makes truly beautiful quilts. Kaffe and Brandon have the energy of ten and are an inspiration to everyone I think.

When you get chance to make something for yourself what do you enjoy making?
Actually I rarely do but recently I made a large hand sewn paperpieced quilt out of my Secret Garden fabric which I am very proud of as it was a labour of love!




Nel’s cat cushion pattern is available to purchase from her website.

merry go round cushion

Nel has various designs in the Anchor cross stitch and tapestry range too. Here is her Merry Go Round cushion tapestry kit.


Rowan Thick ‘n’ Thin Cape – #tryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 20-01-2015



A #tryitTuesday of a different kind this week, in the form of a cape knitted in Rowan Thick ‘n’ Thin and Rowan Fur. These two yarns work well together and create lots of tactile texture. On a cold winters’ day this cape could easily be layered with other knits to keep you warm and snug. I’ll let you into a little secret; this yarn has just been reduced to only £2.99 a ball. Although we don’t stock the brown shade shown in the garment there are plenty of other colour combinations you could try. How about the berry shade of ‘Soapstone‘ with the cream Fur, or black Rowan Fur with the denim blue shade of Thick ‘n’ Thin – Flint.

rowan thick 'n' thin

The pattern can be found in Rowan Big Accessories, along with lots more accessory patterns. Sara was the first to try on the cape, her tan boots made the outfit complete.

#tryittuesday thick n thin

Barbara went for seated position for her #tryittuesday photo.


Jayne showed the cape looks good with a skirt and thick woolly tights.


Have you made this cape? Do you have a photo of you wearing it? If so, please send in your pics to How would you wear your cape?

New Year Projects Completed

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 19-01-2015

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We are now well into January and most members of staff have got the usual thoughts of completing those pesky WIP’s (Works In Progress). We all have at least one, or maybe five, ones we can think of at least. That’s before you have opened every cupboard, drawer or shelf in the house, where you are greeted with the forgotten knits. A little bit like some sort of pre-historic fossil, you know the projects! Many of these weren’t actually WIP’s, so if we all do have at least one WIP then watch space for more projects to follow soon.

I was very pleased to finish knitting a pair of snuggly bow slippers from Cute Little Knits by Jem Weston. They weren’t a WIP as such; they were actually an in between project so to speak. I am knitting a big cable jumper, which is quite fiddly and also leaves my arms aching. I try to knit only a few rows at a time and make sure I have a break for a stretch. This is what got me onto the idea of a smaller project that I could knit up quickly. Well, not so quickly in the end, but I was determined to finish them in time for Christmas. Which I managed with a day to spare!

cute little knits slippers

Yvonne has knitted a hooded jacket for her grandson in Noro Janome. The toggled buttons tone in nicely with the multi shaded Janome.

noro janome

Sara has knitted a Jeweled Cowl from Ravelry in Araucania Botany Lace, complete with Debbie Abrahams beads.


Barbara has made this huge bag in Nel Whatmore Merry Go Round fabrics. The bag is called a ‘storage patchwork basket’ on the Coats Make It website, we think it would make a fabulous beach bag or even a good place to house your stash and those many WIP’s ;)

storage basket make it

Have you completed any projects recently? We would love to see them and share with everyone here on the blog. Email any photos in to

New Year Super Sale!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in New Products | Posted on 16-01-2015

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We are all always on the hunt for the latest bargain and that is no exception when it comes to yarn. Here at Black Sheep Wools all of our yarns are at least 10% below RRP and that is just standard stock. Have you ever delved into our clearance section? Well, well, well, you will find some yarns with a ridiculous 59% off RRP, plus they are all of the brands you know and love. There is often the added bonus of discovering that long lost yarn, or shade, that you thought you could no longer find. It could well be sitting, waiting for you in our clearance yarns. We have everything from baby yarns such as Sirdar Baby Snowball to the textured Debbie Bliss Milano. New lines are added regularly so be sure to take a look over there when you fancy snapping up a bargain. It is our way of sharing a virtual yarn dive*, be it in individual balls. However, we do have a packets section, where you will find a limited number of various clearance yarns being sold by the packet.

*A huge pile of packets and packets of yarn. You can find this when we are retailing at the shows up and down the country.

Today we have selected 5 our favourite sale yarns. There could quite possibly be more shades in some of the yarns shown. Once they are gone, they are gone!



Sirdar Baby Speckle Dk is cotton rich baby yarn. These shades tone in so beautifully.

RRP £4.12 NOW £1.69

katia fiesta

Katia Fiesta is a fashion yarn with extra glitz.

RRP £3.30 NOW £1.49

araucania ranco

Araucania Ranco is a delightful lace weight yarn with a wool content of 25%, ideal for lightweight winter shawls. Nearly forgot to mention it comes in 100g hanks!

RRP £7.99 NOW £4.99

debbie bliss paloma

Debbie Bliss Paloma has got to be one of the most soft and squishy super chunky yarns. It is made from the softest combination of baby alpaca and merino wool.

RRP £6.99 NOW £3.99

debbie bliss rialto aran

These shades of Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran are so zesty and warm. Oooo the possibilities…..

RRP £5.50 NOW £3.50

There are sooooo many more yarns in our clearance section pop on over and take a look.

Debbie Bliss Winter Garden Jacket – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 13-01-2015



Did you know that Debbie Bliss Winter Garden is currently on offer at just £5.99 a hank? This gorgeous tweed effect yarn is a luxurious blend of baby llama, merino wool, silk and linen. With this in mind it seemed like the perfect time to share our Debbie Bliss Winter Garden sample garment. The jacket is knitted in a moss stitch which suits the textured yarn. The jacket style is easy to wear and will suit all shapes and sizes. However, it may not be your cup of tea, but you still like the look of the yarn. There are many other lovely knitted designs in the Winter Garden book, failing that we have Rustic Knits which features 5 more fantastic designs.

debbie bliss winter garden

Here is Stacey trying on the jacket for #tryittuesday.


And Beth….


Then Lesley……


Finally Collette.


Sewing Workshop at the Craft Barn

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 12-01-2015

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As I’m sure you all know my latest mission is learning to sew, I am having a small amount of success with patchwork and quilting but actual sewing and making something practical has not been very successful. That is until I went on one of our courses.

We are very lucky here at Black Sheep wools as we have the most fabulous workshop room and run a whole host of different courses, be it knitting, cross stitch or sewing we have the perfect course for your skill level. However can you believe I have never been on one! There is always so much to do here that it seems a bit of an indulgence to take a whole day off for myself. However in December, heavily persuaded by my brother, I decided to do just that. It was wonderful.

The course was run by Stuart Hillard, the well-known quilter and runner up in the first ever series of ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’. I am lucky enough to have got to know Stuart quite well over the last 12 months and he is so talented. A lot of our courses are project based, that way not only do you learn new skills but you also take something gorgeous home. This one was no exception; we made a fabulous messenger bag.

We needed two types of material, a main piece and then a contrast. I picked a fabulous animal print – which, if you know me, you won’t be surprised by. I love animal print!! Isn’t it fabulous. I really wanted to make a bag I would use and I’m not really a floral person so this seemed perfect.



It was a small group, only six of us. Some more experienced than others, and an almost beginner like me. However we all managed to keep up. Stuart took us through every stage as a group and then came round to us all individually to make sure we understood. He was so friendly and approachable and made it all seem so easy.


Cutting the fabric is always a bit scary. Rotary cutters always scare me (I’m sure I will lose a finger one day!). However it is the only way to ensure you have a completely straight edge and practise makes perfect. Once the pieces were cut – which did take me a while, piecing them together was like doing a jigsaw. It is so satisfying when it all starts to come together.

Lunch was fab. I love food and knew our lunches were good and I wasn’t disappointed. Soup, sandwiches, scones and cakes – yummy!


workshop food

All in all it was super day. Not only do I now have a lovely, and unique, messenger bag but I learnt new skills and met some really nice people. I will certainly be doing another workshop again soon!



Shows & exhibitions early 2015

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 08-01-2015


It doesn’t seem like two minutes ago since the van was being cleared after the final show of 2014. Now we are into the New Year and all the fun is set to begin again, the Black Sheep Wools show team are going back on tour. It is a fantastic way for our customers to have a ‘Black Sheep Wools Craft Barn’ experienece in their home town or city. It won’t be long before yarn is being bundled into sacks in anticipation to becoming our famous ‘yarn dive’. The first show is at the end of January in Surrey. If you would like to know all the dates and venues we are exhibiting at then take a look below. The shows listed are all taking place in early 2015, from January to April. If you can’t make any of these dates, do not worry we will be back again in the autumn, keep an eye out on exhibitions page on the website for any new shows being added.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Rowan Colourspun Sweater – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 06-01-2015



I came across these photos when putting together the #tryittuesday outtakes blog post last week. How could I have misplaced photos of these handsome Mulvey men? As you can see they were taken on a much brighter and warmer day than today (wintery January). Tom is actually wearing shorts for his photo! The sweater is called Milas and can be found in Rowan Magazine 54. It is knitted in the wool, mohair and polyamide blend of Rowan Colourspun. The design features quite a low v neck plus a collar, so to avoid a chill it would be necessary to wear a t-shirt or shirt underneath. The rusty red section is emphasised with a cable pattern which adds an interesting depth to the Rowan Colourspun yarn.

Paul is first up to show off the Rowan Colourspun sweater.


Then onto Steve.


Finally to Tom.


What do you think of the sweater? Would you choose to knit it?