Finished Spice of Life CAL Blankets

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Spice of Life CAL | Posted on 26-11-2015

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I have lots of finished Spice of Life Crochet Along blankets to share today. Over the past few weeks I have gradually been collecting photographs of Black Sheep Wools staff blankets. When Sandra (Cherry Heart) set out with her crochet along she probably hadn’t imagined how many blankets would be made by avid crocheters from all around the world. The popularity of this beautiful design has been phenomenal!

If you have taken part and still can’t get enough of the stitch combinations Sandra has used be sure to take a peek at our #solinspired competition.

Colette was the first to finish her blanket. She was so excited when the final strand of yarn had been woven in and fastened off that she came in to show everyone on her day off. Colette hasn’t been crocheting long but it is clear to see she has now definitely got the crochet bug. Each week Colette enjoyed taking on the challenge of new stitches. Some weeks she would even take back a whole section and repeat it until she got the stitch pattern correct – no cutting corners!

Colette has used a variety of different double knitting yarns that she had in her stash.

spice of life cal

Not satisfied with just the one CAL on the go, Colette started a second blanket. A Christmas gift for her sister using Hayfield Aran with Wool.

spice of life cal

Although Sara originally made her blanket in Stylecraft Special Dk she couldn’t resist joining in with everyone else this time and making one in Sirdar Cotton Dk.

spice of life cal

Janet chose to use aran yarn instead of double knitting. Rather than using a 4mm crochet hook Janet used a slightly larger size to accommodate the bulkier yarn. Janet’s jolly colour combination of Sirdar Supersoft Aran is just perfect for her grand-daughter.

spice of life cal

Stacey has also been very busy with Spice of Life blankets. I missed a photo opportunity for this one as no sooner had it left Stacey’s crochet hook, had she given it to her son. The photo below is of Stacey’s second blanket. This one is crocheted in a variety of Stylecraft Special Dk shades, some from her stash and others that are extras.

spice of life cal

Rowan Brushed Fleece Poncho – #tryittuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 24-11-2015



How fast can you knit? If the answer is super fast or you are willing to take on a challenge, this poncho from Rowan could place a big tick against someone on your Christmas list. The poncho is knitted in Rowan Brushed Fleece - a yarn that is so light and airy, with a soft fleecy texture. A huge plus point of this design is that the pattern is a free download from the Rowan website (Geometric Weave Poncho). The blocks are made up of garter stitch, so no complicated stitches to throw you.

The design is extremely versatile and can be worn in many different ways. It could quite easily double up as a very luxurious blanket too!


Stacey said that she would love to wear it nipped in at the waist with a belt. She opted to pull the poncho in tight to mimick a belt.


Colette wrapped the poncho over her shoulder for a relaxed look. A nice brooch or shawl pin wouldn’t go amiss to keep the poncho in place.


Lesley wasn’t sure which way she preferred to wear the poncho. After a few takes she went for loosely wrapped.

What do you think? Could you see yourself wearing / making this poncho? It might be the item you can’t stop wearing throughout the chilly winter days. Go on….you will have it knitted up in no time! :)


Mermaid Tail Knitting Pattern

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns | Posted on 18-11-2015



Yvonne is quite the expert when it comes to knitting, she loves a challenge and can often be found fixing many a knitting problem. Whether it is for staff or a customer, she won’t be beaten. In the shop you hear about all sorts of unusual patterns customers are knitting. The type of patterns you will discover whilst pinning away on Pinterest. Recently a lady got chatting to Yvonne about a crocheted mermaid tail she had spotted online. Yvonne’s immediate thoughts were a knitted mermaid tail. With her creative juices flowing and her knitting needles clicking Yvonne got to working on a fabulous knitted mermaid tail. Once she had finalised the stitch pattern she was off!


The tail is designed so that a child can snuggle in all the way up to under their arms. Yvonne has created the pattern so that you can adjust it accordingly for the size you require.

Lesley and Jayne have enjoyed modelling the tail for photographs. This tail measures 110cm long, with the width at the top 50cm when the tail is laid flat with back pieces together.


Here is the reverse side of the blanket with a slit to easily get in and out.


Mermaid Tail Knitting Pattern

By Yvonne from Black Sheep Wools

You will need

6mm, 80cm circular needle
1 pair 6mm needles
A – 3 balls Stylecraft Special Chunky – shade 1422 (Aspen)
B – 3 balls Stylecraft Special Chunky – shade 1062 (Teal)
C – 2 balls King Cole Cosmos – shade 1100

Cast on 130sts in A using 6mm needles.
Knit 7 rows.

Pattern worked over 12 rows as follows –

1) K5 in A, K7 in B *sl, k7* rep *to* to last 5sts, k5 in A.
2) K5 in A, p7 in B *sl, p7* rep *to* to last 5sts, k5 in A.
3+4) As rows 1 & 2.
5+6) K5 in A, K yarns A+C together to last 5sts, k5 in A.
7) K5 in A, k3 in B *sl, k7* rep to last 8sts, k3 in B, k5 in A.
8) K5 in A, p3 in B *sl, p7* rep to last 8sts, p3 in B, k5 in A.
9) +10) As rows 7 & 8.
11) +12) As row 5 & 6.

You must now consider the length you require (continue in full 12 row pattern sets) until you have length required, ending in row 12.
This section = top of blanket to back of knee.

Work rows 1 – 10 from pattern.

Next row k5 in A working yarns A+C together. *k5, k2tog, k1, k2tog* rep *to* to last 10sts, k5. K5 in A. (100 sts)

Next row as row 12.

Continue in pattern rows 1 – 4.
Next 4 rows of pattern dec 1st at each end of each row, this will reduce border to 1st each end. (92sts)

Changing from straight needles to knit on a circular needle.
Next row as row 5 of patt to last st (sts are now on circular needle). Join by k2tog (last and 1st st) (91sts). Place a stitch marker at this point.

Next row p to maintain patt now on circular needles. Commencing with p2tog (90sts).

Continue in patt row 1 – 12.

Row 1 – 5 k and 7 – 11 k. Row 6 &12 p.

At this point the length can be adjusted here. Measure the length required from knee to ankle.

When length is reached we need to return to 6mm needles for the tail.


Working in A+C together.
Returning to 6mm needles starting from stitch marker.

K2, p2, rib for 22sts. P1, turn.
Increase in 1st st. Rib for a further 45sts (46sts).

Place remaining stitches on stitch holder.

Working on 46sts rib for 30 rows. Increase at each end of every row (100sts).

*Rib 50sts, place them on a stitch holder. Continue on remaining st by casting off 2st at centre rib to end decrease at side edge.

Work 4 rows dec 1st at centre edge whilst increasing 1st at side edge (48sts).

Continue decrease 1st at centre edge whilst keeping side edge straight for 8 rows (40sts).

Cast off in rib.*

Working on 50sts from holder rep reversing shapings from *to*. This completes the back half of the tail.

Repeat all the above on 45sts on holder to complete front of tail.

Stitch tail together.


Jayne couldn’t resist having a lie down, snuggled up in the mermaid tail after a long day in the tea shop yesterday.

If you make your own tail please share photos with us either on social media or email

What have our customer’s been making?

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 13-11-2015

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I have accumulated quite a few customer projects recently that are just bursting to escape from the camera and make their way here, onto the blog. If you need that extra push to get a project finished you may well be inspired after reading this post. Seeing finished projects always makes me feel enthusiastic about digging out those unfinished projects. After completing a project you really do feel a fantastic sense of achievement. It is lovely when our customers bring them along to show us in the Craft Barn.

Young Alfie came to the Craft Barn with his mum for a shopping trip. His outfit of choice…..a beautifully knitted jumper, made in Sirdar Baby Crofter Dk. Alfie chose the shade himself – shade 185. The pattern for this snuggly jumper can be found in Sirdar book 377.


This sweater is good to compare with the baby jumper above. Mary from Knit & Natter brought in a sweater she had knitted for herself in Sirdar Baby Crofter. The mock Fair Isle effect has been elongated and slightly distorted due to the width of the knitting. It has created an interesting stripe pattern.


Alison who attends Knit & Natter at the Craft Barn couldn’t wait to share her latest project. We hadn’t had Stylecraft Carnival Chunky in stock very long before Alison popped in with a finished waistcoat. She is looking forward to wearing the waistcoat with a long sleeved top this winter.


Although we don’t have a pattern for this Aran jumper (it was an old favourite from Jackie’s stash), it is still nice to share the hard work that has gone into knitting such a detailed cable, Aran jumper.


Have you ever tried knitting mitred corner squares? Kym brought in a completed blanket that she had knitted using a variety of 4ply yarns; many of which she purchased at the Craft Barn including Regia Angora Merino. The squares are built up and joined as you knit.


Kym also had a second blanket which she is part way through. Knitted predominantly in Sirdar Heart & Sole Sock 4ply.


Wendy came shopping wearing her latest project. She has crocheted a cardigan in King Cole Shine Dk.



Cathy brought in her latest knitted project to Knit & Natter. When Cathy first started coming to Knit & Natter a couple of years ago she generally only crocheted. Since then she has made various knitted projects and recently brought in this cardigan to share. Her first ever project knitted in the round! Cathy enjoyed taking on the challenge of a cardigan knitted in the round. The best part of all, no seams. The pattern is called Frosty and can be found in Rowan Magazine 58, knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed.


Pretty cable detailing around the neckline and button band.


Eileen brought along her latest project especially to show Yvonne in the Craft Barn. Yvonne had helped her to cut the back piece of fabric, so that the butterfly design was precisely central with perfect symmetry either side of the zip.

tim holtz eclectic elements melange

Eileen has used a Butterick pattern and Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements Melange fabric.

tim holtz eclectic elements melange

Q&A with Knit Now Editor Kate Heppell

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 12-11-2015



We are really looking forward to our fabulously, festive Knitmas evening next Thursday at the Craft Barn. There will be lots of fun Christmas demonstrations from members of the Black Sheep team and an interesting talk from Knit Now magazine Editor, Kate Heppell. We thought we would get to know Kate and Knit Now magazine a bit better before the event with a quick Q & A. Kate has kindly answered a selection of questions below, she has even included a couple of photos too. The ‘Staggered Cardigan’ looks like the perfect kind of cardigan to wear with everything! Not only is Kate the Editor of Knit Now, she also creates incredible pattern designs too.

Describe your magazine in 3 words…..

Inspiring, modern, friendly

What type of things might we find in an issue of Knit Now?

We try to pack every issue full of projects to suit a variety of tastes, so you’ll always find some quick accessories, toys and baby knits as well as stylish garments to fit and flatter – including plus sizes! We also have how-to features, interviews with interesting people, competitions and giveaways. One of my favourite features is the review, where we get a group of real knitters to test out some new yarns and give their opinions.

As the Editor of Knit Now magazine do you often get tempted with all of the new projects in each issue?

Oh, I’m tempted every issue – most of what we publish is there because I want to knit it! Unfortunately though, I don’t have as much knitting time as I would like and most of that is taken up with design work so it’s rare that I ever manage to knit anything from the magazine unless it’s something I’ve designed myself.

How old were you when you learnt to knit?

I was taught to knit at school when I was 11 but I didn’t really take to it. I ended up begging my Nanny and Grandma to finish the teddy bear we’d been told to knit. I knitted a few little things in my teens I was much more into sewing and dressmaking, but I took up knitting again when I was at University and haven’t looked back since.

Can you remember the very first thing you knitted?

Well, there was that teddy bear which I did for school, but I don’t think that really counts since my Nanny and Grandma finished it off for me! I think the first thing I finished was a rainbow-stripe belt with beaded tassels when I was about 13. It was definitely not as cool as I thought it was.

What kind of knitter are you? Do you keep to one project at once or do you have plenty on the go at once?

I’m definitely much more of a starter than a finisher! I’ve got loads of projects in hibernation and unless I’m on a deadline it can take me a long time to finish something because I’m easily distracted.

Do you enjoy any other crafts? If so, what?

I do enjoy sewing, and my colleague Amy (editor of Love Sewing – she blogs at has an infectious enthusiasm for dressmaking, so she’s got me stitching again. I made my pocket money when I was at uni from making clothes out of old duvet covers, so most of my fabric stash is Rainbow Brite, Duckula and Postman Pat though – I should probably invest in some more practical fabric!

Do you have a top knitting tip you would like to share?

When you’re knitting Fair Isle or stranded knits – don’t twist the yarn at the back of your work unless you want a very dense fabric. I see so many patterns which tell knitters to twist the yarn at every colour change and that only applies to intarsia, not stranded knits. Always carry the main colour above and the contrast colour below.


When you get the opportunity to make something for yourself what type of thing do you like to make?

My favourite technique is stranded knitting – I love designing patterns with a colour work yoke or cute colour work hats. The only problem is that I have warm blood, so if I knit myself a wool jumper I rarely end up wearing it!

Are you making anything at the moment?

I’m currently working on a secret project featuring a well-loved children’s TV character so I can’t show you that! But when I go on holiday next week I’ll be taking a pack of Rowan Calmer that I bought from Black Sheep last year – I think it’ll become a comfy cardigan. I think I’m going to knit the Staggered Cardigan from Issue 45 of Knit Now – I’ve been eyeing it up ever since we published it!


What yarns catch your eye? Are you always drawn to a particular colour, fibre or yarn weight?

At the moment, I’m in love with lightweight chunky yarns – so I can knit big cosy jumpers and scarves without them weighing a tonne! There are some great ones out this year like Debbie Bliss Paloma and Rowan Kidsilk Amore.

Is there a yarn brand that you just can’t resist?

It wouldn’t be fair for me to play favourites – every yarn brand I work with has at least one yarn that I love. My favourite fibre to work with is Shetland wool – it’s just so satisfyingly crisp and cosy.

Do you have something that you made or received as a handmade gift that you can’t part with? Something that you will keep and treasure forever?

Way back in Issue 28 we published one of Emma Wright’s first garment patterns – a lovely raglan jumper with a diamond-patterned yoke, knitted in Blacker Yarns’ lovely cosy wool. The sample fitted me and I posted a photo of me wearing it on the shoot in a very cold house up in Rochdale. Emma saw the photo and told me to keep the jumper – it’s stored very safely in a vacuum-packed bag in a suitcase in the bottom of my wardrobe.


On what sort of scale would you say your yarn stash is?

Relatively modest actually! It used to be pretty huge but after a hellish moth infestation last year, I trimmed it right down to a manageable level and packed everything into Ziploc bags – it’s only about 3 medium-sized boxes now.


Spice of Life Competition!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Spice of Life CAL | Posted on 06-11-2015



As the Spice of Life crochet along draws to a close we don’t want all of the crochet fun to end. Where did those eight weeks go? Over the weeks Sandra has introduced so many different crochet stitches, guiding newbie crocheters and experts alike through the Spice of Life journey. With the blanket finished, your crochet hook will be sitting lonely by your side wondering what the next project will be. Well, here at Black Sheep Wools we have come up with a fantastic competition that will have your crochet hook dancing with glee.

Taking inspiration from all that you have learnt whilst doing the CAL we are looking for a different piece that is ‘SOL inspired’ – created using the crochet stitch patterns featured in Cherry Heart’s beautiful Spice of Life blanket. So, whether you can’t get enough of a tulip stitch, stacked grannies or a shell stitch, now is your time to get creative and show off those crochet skills.

Below are our competition guidelines……..

Using the different stitches you have learnt whilst taking part in this CAL, we want you to create a Spice of Life inspired project. It could anything such as scarf, cushion cover, a rug, a mug hug, a blanket or even a throw – the choice is yours!

Simply post your finished project on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag ‪#‎SOLINSPIRED
Or email with the words SOL Inspired in the subject.

All entries should be received by midnight Thursday 31st January 2016.

The top 10 projects chosen by BSW will win a Stylecraft Special Dk yarn pack (10 balls).

The overall winner and the 2 runners up will be chosen by the public.

Winner – £100 Gift Card
1st Runner Up – £50 Gift Card
2nd Runner Up – £50 Gift Card

Anyone, anywhere in the world can enter this competition excluding employees of Black Sheep Wools.

We’re hoping that this competition will be a great way to get inventive with new ways of using the original Spice of Life pattern.  However please note that the pattern remains the property of Sandra Paul/Cherry Heart at all times and is for your own personal use only.

#ThrowbackThursday Treats

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects, Treasured | Posted on 05-11-2015

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Our Coats representative Jo is an avid crafter. We have witnessed her skills first hand here in the Craft Barn. In just a couple of hours both Jo and Erica whipped up three kimonos, complete with beaded trim. She also loves to knit and has been working with Coats Crafts since the early 1980′s. As you can imagine working for a company who sell knitting yarn for so many years you see lots of new yarns come and old yarns go. It is no surprise that over the years her knitting needles have clicked away on so many different projects.

Last time Jo came over for a visit she mentioned that she had a great jumper she had knitted back in the 80′s, that would perfect for us to share for #throwbackThursday. Instantly my ears pricked up at the mention of a vintage knit. I love looking through old knitting patterns, seeing the different shapes, styles and yarns that were once so popular. Seeing an actual knitted item from a decade gone by, that is even better!

Here is Jo’s cropped jumper knitted in Patons Cascade (no longer manufactured). Cascade had a metallic sheen and was quite a weighty yarn. The Fair Isle design reminds me of an Aztec type print. It is hard to see from the photographs, but the sleeves are actually bat winged (very 1980′s).

Jo's Cascade jumper

The ribbed detail around the neckline, waistband and cuffs highlight the strength and density of the yarn. This brings it all together nicely.

Jo's Cascade jumper #throwbackThursday

Take a look at the beautiful, plunging deep v at the back. This really is a statement piece.

Jo's Cascade jumper - #throwbackthursday

Jo also brought in a pattern she had unearthed from her stash for a delicate pair of crocheted gloves. Jo recalls making these gloves quite a few years back. These gloves remind me of old Hollywood films, so chic and glamorous.

vintage crocheted gloves pattern

If you have any hidden treasures tucked away in your wardrobe please share a photo, we would love to see. Email photos to

A Pairfect Pair of Socks – Part 2 – by Winwick Mum

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Guest Blog | Posted on 03-11-2015

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Part 2 of Winwick Mum‘s guest blog post………..

In my last post (read part 1 here), I told you about the new Regia Pairfect yarn that I’ve been trying out.

regia pairfect

Black Sheep Wools have six colours in stock: Cinnamon Colour, Wood Colour, Fresh Colour, Waterfall Colour, Moor Colour and Oriental Colour.  They’re all striped in exactly the same way and are suitable for either men or women, which makes them pretty versatile.

I mentioned last time that I was following the guide on the ball band for a pair of size 6 socks.  The ball band doesn’t give you a pattern so you will need to know how to knit a pair of socks (and don’t forget that there are free tutorials on my blog at that can help you, so don’t be put off!) but it’s helpful to have the ball band guide so that your socks and stripes line up.  And boy, do they line up!  I am seriously impressed!

The ball band says that with a 64 stitch cast on, you will knit 5cm of the first colour.

regia pairfect socks

Look at that!  You’re impressed too, aren’t you?  And wait, there’s more.  The ball band also says that after the cuff there will be seven stripes of colour before the start of the heel.

regia pairfect socks

Seven stripes exactly and I was ready to start my heel!  The rest of the sock is plain colour knitting which is less exciting, but I raced down the foot of the first sock eager to find the yellow marker that would tell me where to start my second sock.  It was easy to find in the centre of the ball – you just finish off your sock and then keep pulling the yarn out until you find the yellow yarn again.  Then you find the point where the yellow ends in exactly the same way as you did with your first sock and off you go.

I was interested to see just how close a match these socks were going to be.  I was very careful about where I started both socks, but even so, I expected that it might be just a little bit out – after all, dyeing yarn isn’t an exact science … or is it?

regia pairfect socks knitted by Winwick Mum

It would appear that it is!  I was stunned and, being a stickler for matching socks, delighted to see how well they turned out.  I would definitely consider using this yarn again – it’s certainly an easy way to get a Pairfect pair of socks!

Knitmas Evening at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 29-10-2015


For the upcoming festive season Knit Now magazine have launched an ever so Christmassy campaign – Knitmas. A superb combintaion of two of our favourite things, Christmas and you guessed it……..knitting. The idea of Knitmas is Knit Now’s fantastic idea to make sure that everyone has what they need to make Christmas as yarny as possible. Knit Now have teamed up with many different shops up and down the UK to give their readers amazing offers. also hosting many Knitmas parties. This is where we come in, we are hosting a Knitmas evening at the Craft Barn, on Thursday 19th November from 6pm until 8pm.

There will be mulled wine and mince pies for everyone on arrival, an insightful talk from Knit Now Editor Kate Heppell all about the making of a magazine and the local Culcheth choir will be filling the Craft Barn with an extra sprinkle of festive cheer.

Tickets are limited and are available for £5.00 each either from our website or in store. We look forward to seeing you there!

knitmas evening




Sirdar Harrap Tweed Dk Cardigan – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 27-10-2015



Sirdar Harrap Tweed Dk is a new yarn for winter 2015. The name ‘Harrap’ was chosen as this is the name of the founders of Sirdar yarns back in 1880, the Harrap brothers. It is just what you need for an autumn knit, or crochet for that matter. Sara has crocheted a beautiful blanket using Harrap Tweed. Watch this space for more on that pattern coming soon.

A warm blend of wool, nylon, acrylic and viscose, each shade is a rich tone with a tweed effect that encapsulates the tradition of the yarn perfectly. This has already proved a firm favourite with many of our customers and we imagine it will be a yarn to stay in the Sirdar collection for many years to come.

This week Jayne and Stacey have been trying on a button up cardigan knitted in Sirdar Harrap Tweed – pattern 7481. A fitted, jacket style cardigan that features a double row of buttons and a funnel neck finish. As we only have two Black Sheep models today I thought it might be nice to share the main pattern too.

sirdar harrap tweed

The sample garment we have on display in the Craft Barn featured below in #tryittuesday is knitted in ‘Simpson’ shade 100, a beautiful charcoal grey colour. This is a great colour to work with as a base colour for your outfit, it will work well with brights or pastels.

sirdar harrap tweed cardigan - Jayne

Jayne tried on the cardigan with her monochrome dress. She opted to button up the top of the cardigan.

Sirdar harrap tweed cardigan - Stacey

Stacey likes the button detail on the cardigan. It fits perfectly too!