Christmas Jumper Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 12-12-2017

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It’s that time of year again…..Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day is this Friday. As a little treat for anyone visiting the Craft Barn on Friday, we are having a lucky dip to help raise money for Save the Children charity. A £1 donation will get you one dip in our bag of goodies! See you Friday, lucky dip available while stocks last.

How to Knit a Hat

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 07-12-2017

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Would you like to know how to knit a hat? I am sure many of you already do enjoy knitting hats, but there’s always room for one more. Plus, it would make an incredible last minute Christmas gift…..knitting a jumper is probably not something to task yourself with at this late stage in December. It is knitted in a super chunky yarn, so you will have it knitted in a flash.

We have created a really simple hat knitted in the round. If you have never tried knitting in the round with circular needles, please continue to read on, it is not as daunting as you think. We wouldn’t call it a quick and easy hat pattern if we didn’t mean it. Once you cast on and start knitting you will wonder why you ever knitted a hat with a seam. As you draw up those last stitches to finish off you will be jumping for joy having tackled a new knitting challenge.

Watch our video here below or on our YouTube channel.

How to Knit a Hat – You will need

1 ball of 100g Super Chunky yarn (Debbie Bliss Conway + Bliss Odin)
9mm 60cm Circular Needle
Stitch Marker
Sewing Up Needle
Pompom Maker (optional)

Cast on 47 sts.


Add in your stitch marker. Join stitches in the round by knitting the first 2 stitches together.
Knit 8 rows of knit 1, purl 1 rib.

Knit all stitches until work measures 20cm. Knit 2 together at the end of last round. (45 sts)

Decrease rows –
Row 1 – Knit 3, knit 2 together. Repeat to end of row.
Row 2 – Knit.
Row 3 – Knit 2, knit 2 together. Repeat to end of row.
Row 4 – Knit.
Row 5 – Knit 1, knit 2 together.


Draw up stitches and sew in ends. Add a pompom in a contrasting colour to finish!

Arne and Carlos at Black Sheep Wools November 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 29-11-2017

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Last week we were very lucky to have the fabulous, Scandinavian design duo Arne and Carlos back at the Craft Barn. They taught a full day workshop, ‘A Master Class in Socks’, followed by a cosy evening talk all about their life designing, with an added sprinkle of festiveness.

Fabulous knitted baubles in Stylecraft Life DK yarn from Arne and Carlos book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. Find more of the books from Arne and Carlos here.

The workshop had double the number of students an average full day workshop has 10-12. There was a cheerful mix of chatter and deep concentration. During the workshop everyone completed a mini sock in Regia Arne and Carlos 6ply yarn. Arne and Carlos taught the toe up method of sock knitting with a focus on the technique used for knitting an afterthought heel.

It wasn’t long before mini socks were knitted and a full size sock was whizzing along the needles. Here is a photo of designer and blogger Lynne Rowe testing her sock for size.

The room had been decorated with a festive hygge feel. Barbara unleashed her floristry expertise entwining garlands with ivy and fairy lights.

Once you start listening to Arne and Carlos, you are instantly swept away and enveloped by their cosy, or should I say ‘koselig’ Nordic lifestyle. Arne and Carlos shared that, ‘koselig’ is actually the Norwegian term to describe cosy and the Danish word ‘hygge’. The views from their lakeside home look magnificent, as Carlos flicked through the slides it was time for your mind to be transported and dream about the inspirational scenery they are surrounded by daily. One photo in particular was striking, a deep blue sky with an incredible full moon beaming down and lighting up a snow laden forest, the perfect weather for staying in, wrapping up warm and doing some knitting. Arne spoke about growing up in a traditional Norwegian village where he would knit by the fire place with 3 generations of his family – mother, grand-mother and great grand-mother.

Arne loves King Cole Tinsel. He couldn’t help but have a knitted i-cord on the go! Carlos on the other hand is not so much a fan.

Our lovely cake lady Sian was posed with the challenge of making traditional Scandinavian sweet treats. Carlos kindly assisted with a list of suggestions, Sian went for Cinnamon and Cardamom buns, they were a delight and got the seal of approval from Carlos. Along with a warm mug of Gluehwein everyone had a koselig evening.

At the end of the evening all members of staff had a group photo with Arne and Carlos. The end to a fabulous day!

For anyone who couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn to meet Arne and Carlos, be sure to watch their YouTube videos for inspiration. Grab a cuppa and enjoy delving into their creative world.

Scheepjes Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 15-11-2017

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To celebrate being a Scheepjes stockist we have a treat for you. Haak Maar Raak blogger, Kirsten, designer of the Hygge CAL and Look What I Made blogger, Dedri Uys, designer of Sophie’s Universe blanket will be in store for the day. Come along and chat to the designers, squish Scheepjes yarn and discover Dedri’s latest kit. There will be goody bags (first 50 customers who spend £20 or more on Scheepjes), raffle prizes and more! See you Saturday.

Christmas Gift Inspiration

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 09-11-2017

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Is it too early to talk about Christmas? Our Sirdar elf on the shelf is already wreaking havoc in the Craft Barn, getting up to all sorts of mischief. The shop ladies don’t know where they are going to find him when it’s time to open up in the morning. We are sharing pics of the elf on our Instagram, along with all of the usual bits and bobs. Take a look and join in the fun.

Now I have mentioned Christmas and Christmas elves it is time to talk gift inspiration. I am sure many of you are super-duper organised and already have boxes full of handmade gifts ready to wrap. If like me you still quite like the idea of giving a knitted, crocheted or stitched gift then there is still time. We have put together a festive selection of smaller makes, which could also work as a gift just as they are for a fellow crafter.

Juliet Bernard has designed a collection of exclusive knitted hat kits just for Black Sheep Wools. One of our favourite designs is the Torshavn design in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran. An exquisite fair isle pattern that creates a star effect at the crown. The kit includes 2 hanks of yarn and the exclusive pattern.

Scheepjes Frosted Whirl is the latest addition to the Whirl family. A thousand metres of yarn in one delicious ball, all wound up in a swirl of tonal colour blending seamlessly as you go. The frosted balls come with an iridescent thread running throughout.

Prepare yourself for a cuteness overload….meet Sue Jobson’s latest knitted character Rudolph the Reindeer knitted in Sirdar Touch. You might have good intentions to knit this for someone, but once you have finished this squishy bundle you won’t want to part with him. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so! There is a paper pattern and digital pattern available for this design.

Rico Creative Bubble has a soft tinsel feel to it with a spongey bounce, lots of glitz in this yarn. New festive shades have just been added along with festive patterns. The yarn has been created with the idea of washing in mind – body and dishes. With its sponge like texture you could crochet a great exfoliating mitt for the shower or a sponge to clean your pots and pans. There are even some funky Christmas baubles that would look good on the tree.

Scandi Tree by Bothy Threads features traditional Scandinavian trinkets on the tree. A very sweet cross stitch kit that would make a lovely gift for a fellow crafter to stitch.

Socks make a fabulous Christmas gift and a hand-knitted pair, well, now that would be a luxury treat for a loved one. Debbie Bliss has come up with a great range of patterns for her delightful Rialto Luxury Sock yarn. These slouchy spiral socks could be just what you are looking for.

Take a look at this scrumptious treat from Rowan Selects. A limited edition hank of Rowan Sultano, consisting of silk, mohair and cashmere would be a lovely surprise to discover in your Christmas stocking.

West Yorkshire Spinners have come up with a wonder shade of Signature 4ply, it is Christmas in a ball of yarn – Candy Cane. This festive ball of 4ply makes a snuggly pair of socks that look like something a Christmas elf would wear. When you purchase the Candy Cane shade you will receive a free sock pattern designed by Winwick Mum, while stocks last.

This is only really a snippet of all the beautiful treats we have to share for the knitters, crocheters and stitchers in your life. It is just to take a look at some new additions every now and then. Take a look at our Christmas section for more Christmas gift inspiration. Don’t forget we have gift cards too!

 

Celebrations all round

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-10-2017

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We couldn’t believe it when we heard the news. We have done sooo well in the Let’s Knit British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017. Thank you to everyone who voted for us in all categories. It is fantastic to have such fabulous customers and for your continued support in all we do.

Thank you also to Emma Varnam and Sarah Hatton for joining us on Yarn Shop Day for a superb event. We are already excited to plan for next year! Check out how we did below.

  •  We came first place 
    – Best Local Independent Yarn Store – North of England (The Craft Barn)
    – Best Yarn Shop Day Experience
  •  2nd Place
    – Favourite Knitting Blog (this very blog!)
    – Best Crochet Store
  •  3rd Place
    – Best Online Shop

Sara wanted to say a few words in a little video to say thank you. Watch below!

Designer Q & A’s – Sue Stratford

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 19-10-2017

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This November we are very lucky to be having knitting designer, Sue Stratford visiting our Craft Barn in Warrington. You may recognise Sue Stratford’s name from many toy knitting books, including Christmas themes, meerkats and cats. She can often be found at craft shows up and down the UK, having recently been at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace in London. She is one busy bee and enjoys keeping everyone up to date via social media and through her website.

Sue will be teaching two workshops and doing a book signing / toy knitting tips in store this November. On Thursday 9th November Sue will be in store for the afternoon from 2pm – 4pm sharing knitting tips and signing copies of all her fabulous character books including her latest book ‘A Bird in the Hand’. Bring along your Sue Stratford makes to share or ask Sue’s advice on knitting toys. Very handy if you have a project on the go at the moment eager to finish for Christmas.

On Friday 10th November Sue will be teaching Learn to Knit in the Round, a full day workshop which includes a delicious lunch and an exclusive cat doorstop pattern that you will begin to make on the day. Sue will guide you through the technique so that you will confidently be able to knit in the round on future projects. Other techniques covered include using circular needles and double pointed needles, magic loop technique, jogless join (for working stripes in the round), three needle cast off, short row shaping and the i-cord. There are still places available should you wish to book.

Sue Stratford’s second workshop is on Saturday 11th November – Bird Toy Knitting workshop a full day once again that includes all of the usual yummy delights (lunch and a slice of scrumptious homemade cake in the afternoon) and knitting too. Choose from a selection of birds to knit on the day. Sue will have the packs made up ready for you to select. Making the bird you will cover a variety of helpful techniques that you will be able to use in many knitting projects – including short row shaping ,intarsia colourwork (and a tiny bit of fair-isle), interesting finishing techniques and lots of hints and tips. Find more info and book a place today. 

With Sue’s visit just around the corner we thought it would be nice to ask her a few questions about her crafty life. It is always nice to delve into the creative world of a designer. Sue has answered a selection of questions below and added in one or two pics along the way. We look forward to seeing you in store in November. Enjoy!

Who taught you to knit? What was the first thing you ever made?

My Mum taught me to knit as a child.  One of the first things I knitted was at school, we had to make something that would be displayed at Parent’s Evening and so I started making a navy tie for my Dad.  When my parents found my work it said ‘Susan – bookmark’.  In those days, long term projects weren’t for me!

When designing something new, where do you begin? Is it a sketch, with a colour palette or sampling?

I find lots of things inspire me and spark an idea, it may be a ball of yarn that I just look at and can see what I could make it into.  I always start with a sketch because I can see what I want to end up with in my head, but it really helps to get it down on paper.  I always thought I wasn’t good at drawing but I have had to get better!  I love flicking back to that original sketch and seeing that my finished design looks just like it.

We can’t wait to have you in store teaching workshops in November. How long have you been teaching workshops? What inspired you to teach?

I am really looking forward to coming to Black Sheep Wools to teach workshops.  I have taught for over ten years, starting when I opened my shop in 2006.  I really felt it was important I taught the classes as I believe that it gave my customers confidence in my abilities.  It is very satisfying seeing people learn and achieving something they thought they couldn’t do or was difficult.

You are best-selling author of many knitting books. Which was your favourite to design for?

I have loved working on all the books I have written and have to say that usually whatever I am working on at that time is my favourite but there is a special place in my heart for ‘Knit Me, Dress Me, Love Me’.  The idea came after I made knitted bunnies wearing a sewn dress for my daughters and their cousins for Easter a few years ago, I loved coming up with the ideas for the clothes and enjoyed doing a bit of sewing too!

Do you have a favourite place to knit / design?

I just like to be at home, sat on the sofa when everyone is at school and enjoy the peace and quiet!  I usually have a cat sat near me and our dogs Hetty and Spike.  The time goes so quickly and I get completely caught up in what I am doing.

Do you enjoy doing any other crafts? 

I have an addiction to craft, I like to embroider, I do dressmaking, tapestry and crochet too.  Unfortunately, there are just not enough hours in the day!

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

I think that knitters really appreciate a hand knitted gift as they know how much thought and work has gone into it.  My knitty friend Pam gifts me gorgeous knitted socks which I love, Jill made me a fabulous shawl which obviously took her a lot of time to do and was such a thoughtful present.  However, the things that I will treasure most are the baby cardigans that my Mum made for my children, I still have them all and they bring back lots of memories.

Do you have a favourite yarn to knit with?

I am a yarnaholic, I just love yarn!  But I have to say that I much prefer knitting using natural yarns, the feel of the yarn just does it for me.  I have really enjoyed using the Coopknits yarn in my designs and my next ‘Me’ project is a jumper using Baa Ram Ewe ‘Titus 4-ply’ which I have knitted with before and can’t wait to use again.

Do you enjoy knitting for yourself?

I do feel there is no one more grateful than yourself when it comes to knitting.  I knit a lot for me.  Although it may be more accurate to say I have a lot of knitting in progress for me… finishing things is a bit of an issue at the moment but I know eventually I will get round to it!

Do you have a top knitting tip that you could share?

My best knitting tip has to be swatch!  If you are making a garment and feel you don’t want to work a tension square but just start, think twice.  I did this when I was in my early twenties and ended up with a jumper which went past my knees and sleeves that also reached my knees.  Ever since then I have ALWAYS swatched.  To me it is part of the project and the ritual of buying yarn, choosing your pattern and getting ready to make it.

 

Craft Shows – Autumn 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 11-10-2017

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The craft show autumn season is in full swing. The show team have already been in Manchester, Exeter and Coventry. This week the show team have hit the road again, making the journey to London for the biggest show in the craft calendar – The Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. Today is the first day of the show and is set to be the best one yet. The show is on for 5 days, finishing on Sunday 15th October. Along with all of the usual wonders of the Black Sheep Wools stand (amazing selection of needlecraft, oodles of yarn packs piled up high in the yarn dive, patterns and more) we have a special treat just for Alexandra Palace, a dedicated area of our stand just for Scheepjes. We will have all 109 shades of Scheepjes Catona available to buy – a bit like pick n mix! Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram for photo updates from the show.

If you can’t make it to Alexandra Palace, London this week, then do not worry as we will be off on our travels again later this month and throughout November. Take a look below at our schedule >>

For any future dates coming up in 2018 take a look on the exhibitions page on our website.

Rowan Flagship Launch Day

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-09-2017

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This Saturday we have an amazing event taking place in store. Open to everyone and free to attend! We will be hosting a special launch event to celebrate being THE Rowan Flagship store of the North of England. Two of Rowan’s finest designers, Martin Storey and Lisa Richardson will be with us for the day to share their passion and expertise. There will be lots going on in our Rowan area all day, Martin Storey & Lisa Richardson will be in store from 10am – 3pm!
There will be goody bags for the first 20 customers who spend £30 or more on Rowan, a charity raffle, glasses of bubbly and lots of yarn to squish and admire! This event is free to attend and will be taking place in the Craft Barn on Saturday 30th September 2017. We’d love you to join us.

 

 

Introducing A Spicier Life Crochet Along

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News, Crochet | Posted on 14-09-2017

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Today we have exciting news to share. Do you remember the Spice of Life crochet along from 2015? If you do, then prepare yourself, something amazing is on its way. For those who don’t, hop on over to Instagram and search #spiceoflifecal or visit our Facebook group and you will see what all the fuss is about. We were all captivated by the original Spice of Life blanket, it’s hard to believe 2 years have gone by since it launched. It was a phenomenal success and is still continuing to be a popular make amongst all levels of crocheter today.

It is time to announce Spice of Life part two – A Spicier Life Crochet Along. We have once again teamed up with crochet super star Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart blogger) to bring you yet another fabulous crochet along project. Secret talks with Sandra have been going on since early 2017 and we are soooo happy to be able to share our news with you after all this time. Sandra has hand picked four colourways for this CAL. The original colourway in Debbie Rialto DK – Jaipur, with an alternative in Stylecraft Special DK – Jaipur. There are 2 more options both in Stylecraft Special DK – Taj Mahal and Bollywood. All of the colour packs are available to purchase on pre-order. Take a look here.

If you are joining in with A Spicier Life Crochet Along, don’t forget to use the hashtag #spicierlifecal on social media so we can see your progress. We have also set up a new Facebook group – A Spicier Life Crochet Along.

Before full details are released on Tuesday 19th September 2017, we caught up with Sandra to find out more about A Spicier Life Crochet Along. Read our natter with Sandra below.

How did the popularity of the Spice of Life CAL affect your world of crochet?

Well the whole experience was completely surprising in so many ways and the way it took off in the crochet world was the most amazing thing.  I really didn’t expect people to react so well to it and enjoy it so much, although of course, I’m so happy they did.  I ended up learning a lot from the experience which is always useful and it brought more attention in a way I’m not used to.  Luckily though the crochet world is a pretty kind and wonderful place and I got to meet some lovely people as a result of the CAL.

What is the inspiration behind ‘A Spicier Life’ crochet along blanket design?

I really wanted something that would relate to the original Spice of Life blanket and I still had plenty of ideas for stitch patterns that I would love to use, so in a way it all came together quite easily this time round.  The colours, my usual starting place for any project, were definitely influenced from the ‘spicy’ name of the original and I immediately starting thinking of what, for me, represent some more far off and exotic places in the world like India.  The imagery that I found captured that idea perfectly are also the reason behind the colours and names of the yarn packs.

There are so many gorgeous stitches in ‘A Spicier Life’, lots of texture and pattern, which is your favourite stitch?

I always find it hard to pick favourites, but I’m really enjoying the more textured stitches at the moment, so I like the Victory Puffs because they are so soft and I love the Bobbles for the little pops of colour.

What skill level is required for the Spicier Life CAL? Is it suitable for a beginner?

It really overlaps quite nicely with the Spice of Life on the skill level, starting with easy stitches and then working up to intermediate ones and then taking things a little further. I’ll be introducing some new stitches and even a few slightly more advanced ones.  I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to absolute beginners but anyone is confident with the basics and working back and forth in rows should be able to give it a go as there will be extra help to explain all the new stitch patterns.

How did you find the Debbie Bliss Rialto DK to work with?

An absolute joy!  It’s a wonderful to the touch, so soft and bouncy and it glides over the hook like a dream.  It’s also the perfect choice for a project like this as the merino means that any slight changes in tension as you work through the different stitch patterns can just be blocked out and disappear away at the end.

What other projects have you got on at the moment? We spotted you on the home page of Ravelry a couple of months back. That must have been exciting!

The Ravelry front page was a real surprise and I must admit, I felt quite honoured to be featured!  Just lately I’ve been catching up on some commission work, as it’s easier to fit a little crochet in than find computer time during the summer holidays, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to writing up a few new patterns soon.

What is your creative process? Where do you enjoying working?

My process tend to vary depending on what project I’m making.  In an ideal world I like to make up samples to test out ideas and check I’m getting the look and feel that I’m after before I take things further but sometimes it’s a little more off the cuff than that.  I do like to keep a note book where I sketch out ideas though, sometimes my hook can’t keep up!

I spend most of my time up in my ‘Craft House’, a little space that I have at the end of the garden.  The reality is that a lot of my time is spend at the computer desk I have up there these days, but of course I’ve made sure I have a cozy corner for those special occasions when I do get to play with yarn.  It’s nice and near the window so I can take advantage of any sun.

Do you have any future crochet plans in the pipeline that you can share? A sneaky peek, perhaps?

I have a couple of projects using Batik DK that I’m having fun with at the moment and I’m looking forward to those coming out.  One is for a magazine feature and one will be on the blog in October, I can give you a little glimpse of those!