Glitz, sparkle & dancing

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 18-12-2014

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It’s the final of Strictly Come Dancing this weekend and we are all getting very excited here at HQ. Every week there is a so much glitz and glamour to behold, not to mention impressive dance moves. We thought it would be nice to celebrate with our top ‘seven’ (or as Len Goodman would say, severrrrrrn) dance themed products. Take a look below and add a sprinkle of sparkle to your day with our strictly treats.

Let’s kick things off with the dazzling King Cole Cosmos

king cole cosmos

Could this be your favourite dance? A dancing cross stitch kit from Heritage by John Clayton – American Smooth

american_smooth

What glamourous dress would be without an elegant wrap? Knitted in the luxuriously soft Sublime Lace yarn the Heroine wrap will keep you warm.

sublime lace wrap

There’s lots of glitz in Louisa Harding Simonetta!

louisa harding simonetta

This looks like it could be a moody argentine tango, what do you think? Midnight Dance cross stitch kit by Dimensions.

midnight dance cross stitch

A lace skirt in Juniper Moon Farm Findley to whirl around while practicing your dance moves.

lace skirt

And finally a smattering of beads to add that finishing touch. Debbie Abrahams does the most exquisite selection.

debbie abrahams beads

A mixed bag of knitting and crochet

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 17-12-2014

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I am not sure where to begin with this blog post. We have so many fantastic projects knitted and crocheted by our lovely customers it may be difficult to fit them all onto one post. Seeing all of the creative ways you choose to use your yarn is always inspiring. It isn’t sat on the shelf for too long before it is transformed into something so beautiful.

Without further ado here are a selection (more to follow) of the latest projects to show off from our Black Sheep Wools customers.

angela_655_merino_tweed

Angela brought in two cardigans, she has knitted one for her son and one for grandson. The pattern for the men’s cardigan is from Sublime book 655, knitted in the now discontinued yarn Sublime Chunky Merino Tweed. Angela has made matching Christmas cardigans before, you may remember her amazing interpretation of the Arthur Christmas sweater in cardigan form two years ago. She used a basic cardigan pattern and added her design having sketched it out on graph paper.

angela_655_close_up

The children’s version is knitted in SMC Extra Soft Merino, following Sirdar pattern 1275.

angela_1275_smc

There are reindeer on the reverse too.

angela_1275_smc_2

Carole, who regularly attends our knit and natter group is crocheting a shawl in Louisa Harding Amitola. The pattern is a free download, available from Ravelry – scalloped triangle shawl. The colour changes within the ball fit perfectly into the stitch change, creating a stripe effect. The shade used is 117 – wishes.

carole_shawl_amtola

Brenda has knitted a dress in Rowan Wool Cotton 4ply. Take a look at the lace detail in the skirt, so beautiful. If you do like the look of this pattern then there is good news, the pattern (Vali) is available as a free download from the Rowan website.

brenda_wool_cotton_4ply

Onto a crocheted character made by Jo. She has crochted the rabbit from a pattern in a crochet magazine, using up oddments of yarn.

jo_crochet_rabbit

Ann popped in with her latest project. She has knitted the sweater in Sirdar Click Dk yarn, following King Cole pattern 3107. An easy to wear winter sweater with the detailed combination of cable and lace detail.

ann_click_dk

Joan and Carole from our knit and natter group have been crocheting a gift for Jacky’s grand-daughter, an Olaf (from Frozen) hat. They found the pattern on Hopeful Honey‘s blog. For the main part, Peter Pan Moondust Dk has been used.

frozen_joan_carole

Still by Kim Hargreaves – #tryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 16-12-2014

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Still is the latest book to be released by Kim Hargreaves. Kim’s books are a delightful picture book full of stunning designs, with the added bonus that you, yourself can have those stunning designs (with a little help from your knitting needles). The garments are always styled so beautifully, increasing the irresistable temptation to want to knit every single item in the book. Temptation is heightened here at Black Sheep Wools HQ when the sample garments arrive. For Stacey it was love at first sight when it came to the ‘Dark’ sweater, knitted in Rowan Kidsilk Haze. She just had to try it on and that was it, yarn and book purchased, ready to knit her own sweater. I took a photo there and then in preparation for our ‘Still’ #tryitTuesday.

still by kim hargreaves

The sweater really suits Stacey, she cannot wait to get the yarn on her needles.

still_lesley

Lesley tried it on too over her blouse.

still by kim hargreaves

I tried on ‘Black’ knitted in the light and airy Rowan Brushed Fleece. It would probably work better with a round neck long sleeve top.

still by kim hargreaves

Colette tried on ‘Dark’ too. She tucked in her collar a little to highlight the stand up collar on the knitted top.

There are 21 designs altogether in Still by Kim Hargreaves book. Take a look here at all of the patterns. A favourite of mine is the slouchy hat on the front cover, knitted in Rowan Fine Lace and Rowan Mohair Haze.

Stocking Filler Alert!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 12-12-2014

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If you are knitting or crocheting a Christmas present this year, then time is very much of the essence. Your needles and hooks are probably going at record speed and may even have a little steam coming from them (this will be me on Christmas Eve). I am not sure about you but I wouldn’t fancy taking on a Christmas jumper at this late stage, not if I wanted the recipient to be opening it on December 25th 2014 anyway! The theme of this blog post is stocking fillers. We all like to add an extra something in with a gift. Whether it is a crafter or non-crafter who you are looking for that little extra, we have something for everyone here.

To take a tiny bit of the stress away we have compiled a selection of our top 5 stocking fillers. Some require knitting or crocheting and others are simply lovely treats. In no particular order…..

friendsheep bag stocking filler

Ok, so this one won’t fit in a stocking, bu t it could make a nice bag to pop another gift in. Vanessa Bee Jute Bag – Friendsheep £5.99. There are other designs of Vanessa Bee bags too.

cosmetic wool bag stocking filler

Wool ball cosmetic bag £7.99. This could easily double up as a mini prject bag!

stacking_pots_carol_meldrum_stocking_filler

These stacking pots are from Carol Meldrum’s 30 minute crochet book. This free pattern is available to download for free from our website and would make a great stash buster as well as a cute gift.

owl_tape_measure_stocking_filler

Bright and ever so handy retractable owl tape measures. A must have item in any crafters tool kit. £3.49 each.

divine_twirl_scarf_stocking_filler

Carol (founder of Black Sheep Wools) has designed this free scarf pattern. Knitted in the glitzy Sirdar Divine. The pattern is really easy to follow and creates a fancy twirl effect.

Blogger of the month – November 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Blogger of the Month | Posted on 10-12-2014

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blogger of the month november

Well done to ‘The Bumbling Bee‘ on being nominated as our blogger of the month for November 2014. We were all very pleased to see Hannah aka The Bumbling Bee nominated. She writes a lovely blog where you will find various crafty projects, including sewing and knitting, plus tasty treats too. Take a look over on her blog where you will find her latest post with the promise of a new project on the horizon. Which blanket will she choose? As always we sent out a list of questions, Hannah has kindly answered and with lots of photos too.

If you write a blog don’t forget to get in touch or nominate one that you have just discovered reading. We are always on the lookout! Head to our nominations page here.

hannah

How long have you been blogging? What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve been blogging for just over 3 years. I had discovered the world of blogs about a year before that and was intrigued to give it a go. This came around the same time that I was getting frustrated by how little time I had for creativity in my life anymore and starting a blog seemed like the perfect way to help motivate me to get back to crafting.

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? 

I currently have a few things on the go in the lead up to Christmas. I actually thought about Christmas early enough this year to be able to knit some of my gifts. I’m usually very last minute when it comes to Christmas shopping. I’m currently finishing a set of knitted owl lavender bags for my Nana, as well as having a couple of scarves cast on. I’m still quite slow at knitting but I’m hoping I’ll get it all done in time!

Who taught you to sew/knit?

My mum both sews and knits and she tried to teach me when I was growing up – I just wish I had been a more willing learner back then! I have fond memories of lazy Sunday afternoons of making things alongside her. She is my go to whenever I have a sewing or knitting question. Last year, when I decided I wanted to learn to knit again, I arranged a knitting night with some friends where another friend of ours taught us how to get started. I would definitely recommend that as a fun way to learn!

What was your first ever knitting project? 

This is the first year that I’ve been serious about knitting so I’ll ignore the partially knitted scarves from my childhood! I started making a scarf for myself but I made it up as I went and cast on too many stitches so that quickly became a blanket for my niece’s doll. My first successful project was my second attempt at a scarf!

scarf

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you knit / sew?

Craft is my way to relax so I love to listen to laid back music whenever I knit or sew – I find I get a bit frantic with the knitting needles if I listen to anything too upbeat!

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

Just give it a go! Don’t worry about it being perfect, I personally think that the best way to learn is to find a project that catches your eye and just pick up the thread or knitting needles and have a go. There is very little that can happen that can’t be corrected and if you do make a mistake just find somebody to ask about it (take your project into a shop if you don’t know anybody). I’ve definitely learnt best from my mistakes and have found sewing and knitting far more satisfying since I’ve just enjoyed the making process rather than focusing on the end product.

Where do you find inspiration for a new project? E.g. online, local yarn shop etc. Do you choose the yarn or pattern first? 

I can often be found on Pinterest and Instagram, the beautiful images just draw me in! I’ll nearly always pick a pattern first or at least have an idea of what I would like to make before choosing yarn.

Do you have a favourite project? 

Without doubt it is the cot quilt I made recently. It is the biggest sewing project I’ve made and it was so satisfying to finish it. I’ve been wanting to try quilting for some time but felt a little daunted by how involved it is. As somebody who tends to like to see end results quickly, I was surprised at how satisfying I found the whole process… in fact I’m planning to make another couple of quilts after Christmas!

quilt

Do you follow other blogs? 

Under the Sycamore is a regular read of mine, I love how craft is so naturally integrated into her life and how she captures beauty in everyday life so wonderfully. I also like to keep up-to-date with Emma Knitted and Caught on a Whim for sewing and knitting inspiration.

How many projects do you have on the go at one time? Do you like to vary between different crafts?

My house is filled with half-finished projects, I’m very guilty of starting things and never finishing them! I like the challenge of trying something new so I try a wide variety of crafts – I feel most experienced at making jewellery but love paper craft, sewing and knitting as well.

teardrop jewellery

origami boxes

Where do you store all of your yarn and fabrics? Is your stash ever growing? 

I’m a hoarder when it comes to craft supplies – you never know when that scrap of fabric might come in handy! I don’t have an allocated craft area so I’m regularly moving things around to try to create extra storage space but fabric is overflowing in our spare room, whilst I keep my yarn in the lounge to bring a dash of colour to the room.

What is your favourite item to knit/sew? 

I love to make things that have a practical use so any kind of accessory or something for the home. It’s nice to be able to wear handmade accessories knowing that they’re completely unique.

clutch bag

flower hair accessory

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Be authentic, it is obvious when bloggers are trying to orchestrate their posts to maximise blog visits rather than just be themselves and it’s really off-putting. Also, don’t worry if you’re new to design or photography…it’s best to just get started and learn as you go. I am certainly not a designer or photographer but I have learnt a lot in these last couple of years to help improve the quality of my blog posts, I’d still be waiting to start my blog if I had waited to learn these skills first!

Who do you sew / knit for? 

I love to make things for my friends and family, it’s a great excuse to buy new yarn when it’s a gift! I really enjoy the process of choosing a pattern and yarn that I know they’ll love. I’ll also soon be knitting for our baby which is due in February…so yet another great excuse to go yarn shopping!

Do you enjoy machine sewing or sewing by hand? Or both? 

I mostly use the sewing machine because it’s much quicker and a lot less likely to fall apart than my slightly dodgy hand sewing! However I’ve become more and more attracted to the idea of relishing the making process and I also want to improve my patience at hand sewing so I’m going to try to start sewing by hand more often.

Kanzashi flower

 

Sublime Natural Aran Sweater – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 09-12-2014

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Try it Tuesday has come whirling around again. With the countdown to Christmas underway and crisp winter weather in the air, we have gone for a slightly festive sweater this week, ‘Etoile’ from Sublime book 682. A cosy treat, knitted in Sublime Natural Aran. Knit a garment in the Sublime Natural Aran and you will want to wear it all winter. Made from 100% British wool, this yarn will be a pleasure to knit.

The design is a simple sweater, with a slash neck and garter stitch edging. The star motif is created using textured stitches giving a subtle relief effect. There are 8 shades to choose from in this fabulous new yarn and the book includes patterns for both women and girls.

Lesley was raring to go for trying on this week. I hope you like our Christmas tree too!

sublime natural aran

Beth popped on the sweater over her blouse.

sublime natural aran

Barbara loved the warm and snuggly feel of the Sublime Natural Aran yarn.

sublime natural aran

Fabric Friday #fabricfriday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Sewing | Posted on 05-12-2014

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Each week on Instagram and Facebook we like to share a favourite fabric from one member of staff. Fabric Friday adds a little sprinkle of fun to a Friday afternoon. It has now been going for a few weeks and we have started to gather quite a collection. It is nice to see someone’s personal choice amongst the extensive range of Coats fabric we stock. I know my eye is often drawn to particular colours or designs. When a favourite bolt of fabric is plucked out by someone else, it really does open your eyes to something new, something that could so easily have been missed. It is lovely to see the enthused choice being made, deliberating between designs and studying the print in detail. When Stuart Hillard was here for a book signing back in November we asked him to choose, as you can see from his picture below, he didn’t choose just one, he chose them all.

fabric friday dena designs

The Dena Designs – Fox Playground in yellow caught Emma’s eye. She loves the detail in the print, especially the foxes. Plus the print is constructed in a way that there is no upside down.

barbara fabric friday

Barbara selected Nel Whatmore – Secret Garden Agapanthus in pink. She was drawn to the floral print.

stuart fabric friday

Stuart Hillard couldn’t decide on just one fabric, he wanted to choose them all!

ellie fabric friday

Ellie chose Kaffe Fassett – Sateen Belle Epoch in red. The Kaffe Fassett Sateen Flame came a close second.

yvonne fabric friday

Yvonne admires the design work in Tula Pink – Fox Field Pony Play in dusk.

colette fabric friday

Colette had her eye on Amy Butler – Hapi Trapeze Voile in charcoal with the plan to make a simple fabric scarf.

What would your fabric Friday choice be? Share away with the hashtag #fabricfriday or post your comments below.

 

 

My Mountain App

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in New Products | Posted on 04-12-2014

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Schachenmayr have launched a collection of yarns designed with hats in mind – ‘My Mountain‘. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to colour, the range includes 4 different yarns, with over 50 shades combined and faux fur pompoms too! That’s Lova, Boston, Boston Style and Lumio.

Lova is a a chainette type yarn which features a spash of bright colour dotted throughout.

lova_logo_a

We have 34 different shades of Boston to choose from. Here is a little taster below.

boston

Each ball of Boston Style is like a rainbow burst of colour.

boston_style_logo_a

 

Lumio is a super chunky that contains a reflective strand which glows in the dark. Check out this hat made by blogger and designer Emma Varnam. This pattern is free on the ball band!

sparklehat

My Mountain have created an app to help you choose the perfect hat to suit you. Simply upload a photo of yourself and choose the colour and style that suit you best. The app is really easy to use and if you don’t have a photo, don’t worry, it can be used without too. There are patterns for bother knitters and crocheters. Once you have chosen your colours and added a pompom, share your hat pic with friends on Facebook or take a look at your pattern. Once you know what materials are required pop over to the My Mountain yarn page and select and add your yarn choices to your basket.

my mountain app

Take a look at the photo of Steve wearing a green Boston hat with a white teal pompon.

hat_app_steve

We would love to see your pics created using the app. Share away on social media with the hashtag #mymountain.

 

Christmas Knits

Posted by Juliet Bernard | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 02-12-2014

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Knitting or crocheting gifts for your loved ones at Christmas seems such a wonderful idea, especially if you’re planning it in August or September.  There are weeks to go and surely a couple of scarves is not impossible?  But now, as December begins panic really starts to set in.  I remember one Christmas when the cardigan I was knitting for my father was still in pieces on Christmas Eve and the final sleeve was still on the needles.  I had to wrap the whole bundle up and promise him that it would be finished before New Year.

We all lead such busy lives it would be such a shame to put yourself under too much pressure and spoil your good intentions by piling on the stress.  Here are a few tips to help you use the time before Christmas wisely.

  • If you are making something for someone who doesn’t knit they may not appreciate how much time goes into garment.  The mere fact that you have made them something yourself is probably enough-you cared and wanted to make a thoughtful gift.
  • We highly recommend accessories, projects that can be completed in two or three evenings.  There are so many wonderful patterns available for cowls, snoods, hats, wrist warmers, gloves, iPad covers, tea cosies … the list is endless.  And why shouldn’t there be something in it for you as well?  If there’s a yarn you’ve never tried before but always secretly lusted after?  Is there a colour that may be is too bold for you to wear but that would suit your best friend perfectly?  Maybe there’s a new technique that you’d like to try?  Well don’t hold back, now is the time!
  • What about a gift for yarnie friend?  There is a wonderful tradition in Germany to give something called a Magic Ball (Wunderknäuel) and it’s very easy to make yourself.  This is a ball of yarn that as you knit and it unwinds, small knitting notions and trinkets fallout.  So not only will your friends get a beautiful ball of yarn but there are lots of little surprises hidden in it.  Maybe you could start with a tape measure in the centre. Start to wind your chosen yarn around and around As you cover one gift, add the next, a pack of stitch markers, some lovely buttons, or even the odd sweet (wrapped, of course).  You will probably need two or three balls of the same yarn but just keep winding until you have a lovely big ball, tie a ribbon around it and you’re ready to go.

If you still need some more inspiration, head over to the Christmas ideas page on our website.

We would love to hear your ideas for Christmas makes and gifts, if you have anything to share, please do get in touch.

Christmas Shopping Evening

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 28-11-2014

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Next Wednesday evening – 3rd December, we will be holding a fabulously festive Christmas evening here at the Black Sheep Craft Barn, an afterhours shopping event from 5pm – 8pm. Enjoy a glass of  mulled wine and a mince pie on arrival, with Christmas Carols from a local choir and a Christmas raffle. Throughout the evening members of staff will be demonstrating quick and easy Christmas crafts, including wrapping a gift using a fat quarter of fabric, pretty fabric decorations, decorative ways to use glitzy yarns and needle felting a decoration.

All proceeds raised in the raffle will be donated to Toby’s Gift (a local Cystic Fibrosis charity) and Alder Hey hospital. The evening is free to attend, so why not don your favourite Christmas jumper and join in the fun.