Fabric now online!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News, Sewing | Posted on 25-07-2014

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Earlier this year we opened our fabric room. An area within the Craft Barn full of bright colour and dazzling prints. The fabric is all from the Coats range, which includes print designers Amy Butler, Dena Designs, Nel Whatmore, Kaffe Fassett and Tim Holtz to name but a few.

If you aren’t local to the Craft Barn in Warrington the good news is that all of the fabric is now available to order online. To make it easy when ordering online the fabric is sold by the quarter metre. Single quantities will be cut as fat quarters and multiple quantities are cut continuously with the final quarter of any odd-numbered quantity cut as a “skinny quarter.” To purchase one metre, enter 4 in the quantity box. Here is an example of how it works. Where you see 112cm this is the width of the fabric and may vary should the fabric be wider.

1 quarter measures 50cm x 56cm
2 quarters measure 50cm x 112cm
3 quarters measure 75cm x 112cm
4 quarters measure 1m x 112cm

We also stock many patterns from Amy Butler. Below is a selection, ranging from bags and cushions to simple garments. Have you ever visited the Make It Coats website? There are many free patterns available to download for free. This is also a fantastic resource if you need a guide to sewing in zips or binding and finishing.

honey bun poufs


Here are a selection of Tula Pink fabrics cut into a bundle of three fat quarters.

tula pink fabric

Or how about Amy Butler?

amy butler

Then the fun and playful Dena Designs.


If you can’t sew, or are little rusty, then take a look at all of our Rowan workshops. They are taught by Rowan tutors and all include fabric within the cost. The sewing classes are limited to 8 participants and for all machine sewing workshops there will be a Pfaff machine available per person.

There is a further 15% off all fabric both online and in store until midnight Sunday 27th July 2014 BST. Take a look at all of our fabric range here.

#ThrowbackThursday treasures

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 24-07-2014



Stacey has been clearing out her loft and discovering lost treasures. She came into work bearing a bag full of treats – the perfect items to share on #ThrowbackThursday. Stacey found all of these bits and bobs in an old suitcase. Where she inherited them from, she is not quite sure, possibly an elderly relative or from a friends crochet loving relative. When you are a crafty person it is always nice to receive unwanted, yet much loved pieces from the past – a little snippet of social history.

This old box was home to all sorts of hidden treasures – including very fine crochet cotton, a trusty tape measure, crochet hooks and small crochet flowers. Following the vintage pattern book Stacey had a go at a couple of flowers herself.



Stacey found a bundle of crochet hooks. Many old, fine metal ones, in microscopic sizes!


In the bag there were many pieces of unfinished crochet. Stacey worked out that the two large pieces were to be chair back covers. There were also two delicate bookmarks and a beautiful doily.


The final two treasures are these two crochet books. The learn to crochet book has many designs that you could easily make today.


It was interesting to take a look at all of the items Stacey brought in. I was quite fascinated by the book on ‘Chairback Designs’. Although you might not want a crocheted chair back in 2014, the patterns and motifs could still be used for other crocheted items such as scarves or shawls. That is the thing with old patterns and why it can be so hard to give them away, you can always find a use for them somewhere down the line.

If you have some retro crochet or knitted items you would like to share send an email to amy@blacksheepwools.com.

Rowan Truesilk Cardigan – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 22-07-2014



It is a rather hot day here in Warrington today, the sun has definitely got his hat on! We have taken #tryitTuesday outdoors (for some photos) and taken advantage of the glorious weather. I often see customers taking a ball of yarn to the entrance of the Craft Barn to see what it actually looks like in natural light. It really does help and helps the true shade shine through.

Today we have been trying on a beautifully silky, soft cardigan knitted in Rowan Truesilk. The cardigan is called ‘Citrine’ and can be found in the book Truesilk Collection. The cardigan shown in the photo has been knitted to in the smallest size available.

First up we have Lesley, who instantly fell in love with the cardigan. The colour really suits her, and now she plans to add lots of this shade into her wardrobe. Maybe even knitting the cardigan for herself!


Then we have Barbara…….


Me (Amy)…….


And finally Ellie.


Blanket Day

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 21-07-2014

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Last week in Yarn in the Barn at first glance you could have been mistaken for seeing double. Four of the ladies had brought in their finished mystery knit-a-long and mystery crochet blankets all on the same day!

Joan and Chris have joined in with the free Rowan Pure Wool Worsted knit-a-long designed by Martin Storey. Taking up the challenge of knitting a variety of squares in an assortment of colours and stitch patterns to be made into a luxurious afghan blanket. The knit-a-long spanned over 10 weeks, with a new pattern being released online on a weekly basis. Over the weeks I have seen snippets of the blanket, as from the early stages through to the jig-saw of joining together.


Above is a photo of Joan’s early squares knitted in the Rowan Pure Wool Worsted.


Here is Chris’s completed cable edging and her first black of squares joined.

Then as if by magic both blankets are now very much complete, ready to snuggle up warm come winter!


Joan’s blanket.


Chris’s blanket.

A lot of work has gone into knitting both of these gorgeous blankets. When you see the finished piece it is definitely well worth the effort. The full pattern is now available to download from the Rowan website.

Each year Jane Crowfoot designs a spectacular project for her crochet club members and for 2014 her project does not disappoint. The theme was based around the 60s/ 70s. The sign up process for Jane’s crochet club can be found on her website. Now that the final outcome had been revealed, in August Jane is offering the option to purchase the kit in full from her website.

Cathy and Alison have both been making Jane Crowfoot’s bed throw and keeping with the pace as the project progressed. This is the first time Cathy has taken part in the Crochet club and she has enjoyed the challenge. Here is her finished throw.


It was difficult to capture it all in the one photograph! Here is a close up of a centre panel including detailed beading.


The 2014 crochet club project will be the fourth one that Alison has made. Her throw was almost finished last Tuesday and only needed the edging to be complete. This really is like a jig-saw to join together. Lots of pieces, that once joined create an incredible throw / blanket.


Have you been knitting Martin Storey’s mystery afghan or Jane Crowfoot’s crochet club blanket? Share your stories with us, we would love to see how you got on! Email amy@blacksheepwools.com with photos.

Blogger of the month – June 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Blogger of the Month | Posted on 17-07-2014


june_of_the_monthWow! It has nearly been 12 months since we started our Blogger of the month feature! In that time we have discovered so many fabulous blogs and it has been great being able to share them with you. I still enjoy looking back at the winning blogs and reading about their latest projects, and what they have been up to in the blogging world. If you have missed one of the months, take a look for yourself in the ‘Blogger of the Month‘ category on the right hand side of this page. There might be a blog you have never heard of before, or one you enjoy following already. Either way we hope you find a further  insight from our blogger interviews.

Our June blogger of the month winner is Made with Loops aka Heike. I sent over the question list to Heike and she promptly sent over her replies with lots of photos attached.

heike blogger of the month june

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

I started Made with Loops just over two years ago. As long as I can remember I have always been making things. When I left working in London behind and moved to Wales, I was finally able to fulfil my dream of working with yarn. Working for Rowan Yarns as a design consultant and teaching workshops let to starting a knitting group, and writing a blog was the next step. Initially it was to keep a diary for myself, but it has steadily grown into what it is today…a work in progress.


What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)?

I find it impossible to work on just one project at any one time. At the moment I am working on a new knitted shawl design and crochet table centrepiece, as well as my project 2014, which is a knitted blanket, made of all my odd balls of merino DK yarn.



Who taught you to crochet and knit?

Both my grandmother’s taught me, one taught me to knit and the other to crochet. I started when I was about seven years old.

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

I generally work in my studio, which is a computer and TV free zone. My radio keeps me entertained throughout the day, usually I swap between Radio 4, Classic FM and Radio 2, depending what time of day it is.


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

I truly treasure all hand made items that I have been given or made myself. Just think of all the work that goes into something made by hand, and all the love and thoughts that the maker puts into the item – priceless!

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

I have many tips I would love to share, but maybe the most important of all is that it’s all about the finish of an item. A rushed finish can easily ruin what you have spent many hours making – So take your time!

Where do you find inspiration for a new project?

Almost always everything starts with colour and yarn. I see the yarn and the colour and an idea comes to my head. Immediately I start scribbling notes, either in my notebook or on my phone and then the next step is swatching…a lot of swatching. This is followed by knitting or crocheting the item, often having to frog back a few times. I write notes whilst I work, and eventually most things become patterns.


Do you have a favourite project?

My favourite project at the moment is my Project 2014 blanket. I love to sit down in the evening working on it whilst watching some TV. The simple and trusted garter stitch rows provide soothing relaxation at the end of a long day.


What is your favourite item to crochet?

I love the speed of crochet and the fact that I can be really bold and creative with colour. I don’t have a particular favourite thing that I love to make, but anything that will decorate the home is fun to work on.



Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

The best advice someone gave me when I started was: “Write the blog you would want to read” and “Give yourself permission to experiment”. Two great pieces of advice that have helped me find my own style in blog-land.

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

I love flicking through magazines over a lovely cup of tea, but my two absolute favourites are Selvedge Magazine and the Edition Paumes Series for endless inspiration.

If you have a blog or read a blog we have not yet featured please share away and nominate today. Click here to go through to our blogger of the month nominations page.


Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 16-07-2014



Do you knit is a question I have been asked so many times at shows, on workshops, or if people see me carrying a bag of yarn.  But these days I find people are asking me if I crochet as well.  Crochet as a craft has grown enormously in popularity, don’t you think?  We even have two magazines devoted to it in the UK, Simply Crochet and Inside Crochet.  So why has it become so popular?  Is it down to the general interest in craft, the superstar crochet bloggers, or the downright yumminess of it?

I suspect it’s a mixture of all three.  It seems to have been around for ever which might make you think that crochet is an ancient craft.  But it isn’t.  Although there are some people that believe that the nun’s lace from the 15th century could be the origin of modern crochet, most people trace its roots back to the 1800s. When Queen Victoria endorsed it as a suitable past time it just took off.  In fact Victorian printed patterns help us to understand how important a craft it was to the households of the day.  Early patterns would feature a sketch and then instructions much as you would expect today.  You can often pick up scans of these patterns on eBay, or from some of the digital books on Gutenberg.org, so you can recreate these historical designs.  In fact sometimes it’s harder to make sense of the US pattern than one more than 150 years old.  That’s because US crochet uses a different terminology to us.  Their single crochet is our double crochet; their double crochet is our treble and so on.  Our friend and crochet guru, Jane Crowfoot thinks that something may have got lost in translation and simply became their ‘norm’; “I think our abbreviations are more logical. If you look at the process of making crochet stitches (once the hook is drawn back through the work) a slip stitch has one stage, a double has 2 stages and 2 loops on the hook, a treble has three stages and three loops on the hook and so on…”  She has a point.

What I love about crochet is how quickly you can take one or two basic stitches and make something; you don’t have to worry about too many stitches at any one time and I can put it down and pick it up much more easily.  It does use up more yarn but then crocheting a project also grows quickly.  If you find knitting with cotton a bit unforgiving but you love all the gorgeous colours, then try crocheting a bright, cotton blanket and it will cheer you up no end.

For me there are two designers who have made a considerable impact on UK crochet and who really are worth checking out.

Jane Crowfoot wrote the Ultimate Crochet Guide which is my bible.  Every time I need to learn a new technique her book is right at my elbow.  Jane is known for her Crochet Club and her columns in Simply Crochet which is a constant source of inspiration.  Her fellow columnist and blogger extraordinaire is Lucy from Attic 24.  Her blog is packed with free patterns and step-by-step explanations.  Her ripple blankets are a huge favourite of ours.

I’m not about to stop knitting, perish the thought, but I do love to crochet and there is room for both crafts in my life. Jane has really encouraged me to try mixing up the crafts. She told me: “When I first worked on designs mixing knit and crochet I was told there wasn’t a market for both crafts together especially in the US.  Now I do think there are more and more designers mixing it up a little and this is totally logical as both crafts complement each other so well.”

So if you’ve always wanted to try crochet and never have, why not join us on one of our workshops or look at the Learn to Crochet videos on our website.

Sirdar Soukie Dk Cardigan – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 15-07-2014



Tuesday’s seem to come whizzing round. I feel like it was only a couple of days ago that I shared the last #TryitTuesday. Talking of time going fast new season yarns are already popping up here in the offices. Only last week we added the NEW Sirdar autumn winter yarns – Sirdar Divine, Sirdar Husky and Sirdar Wool Rich Aran. This is only the start of it folks, there will be many new yarns and shades to follow from other brands too! The start of a new season is so exciting and brings many new possibilities – get your shopping lists at the ready.

This week for #TryitTuesday we are staying in the summer spirit with Sirdar Soukie Dk, a new yarn for spring summer 2014. Altogether there are 16 designs to choose from for women and girls, you can either purchase a single leaflet or the book Pretty Party Girls. Today the ladies of Black Sheep Wools have been trying on design 7087 – a single button cardigan.

With Stacey away on holiday Emma has stepped in to add a fresh face to the mix. Here she is trying on the cardigan with a white vest top.

sirdar soukie dk emma

Lesley is still in holiday mode ready to pose for a photo for this weeks #tryitTuesday.

sirdar soukie dk lesley

Barbara tried on the Sirdar Soukie Dk cardigan over a black vest top.

sirdar soukie dk barbara

The yarn comes in a variety of 8 shades so there is plenty of choice. When trying on the cardigan everyone commented on how sparkly the yarn looked knitted up. The sequins were catching the light from all angles; imagine a shawl or cardigan in this over your Christmas outfit! Be sure to keep a memo of Sirdar Soukie Dk for winter when you are after something with a little extra glitz for evening.

Make It Coats!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns | Posted on 11-07-2014



Make It Coats website is a fantastic source when searching for inspiration, advice and new project ideas. There are free patterns available to download covering a variety of crafty disciplines including crochet, knitting and sewing. Some of the projects require little to no experience and can be completed in a matter of hours. The complexity of the pattern is stated on the description so you can easily find a pattern to suit your ability. Just pop on over to the website, sign up, then search til your hearts content through all of the free project patterns. If you don’t have time to download or print the patterns at the time, you can save them to your scrapbook for a later date. What more could you ask for!

You will also find a whole host of helpful videos and instructional snippets in the ‘Learn‘ section. If you are new to sewing or need to double check a technique there are videos from sewing an invisible zipper to binding and finishing. Feel confident knowing that many of your crafty queries can easily be answered here.

Browsing the Make It website I have spotted some super free downloads that could well be potential additions to any crafters to do list. Below are a selection, there are many more for you to discover too.

Starting with sewing! Before I start, did you know that we now stock the Coats fabric range online? Take a look and whet your appetite before choosing a free pattern below.

memory_lane_pillow make it coats

Memory Lane Pillow in Nel Whatmore fabric

teepee_fox make it coats

Fox Teepee, Baby Quilt with Pom Poms and Pillow in Dena Designs fabric

shopping_bag amke it coats

Summer Shopping Bag

rosewater quilt

Rosewater Quilt

On to free knitting patterns from the Make It Coast website. There are cardigans, tops, accessories and toys, with designs for all the family.


Patons 100% Cotton 4ply Singlet top


My Mountain Hat Kilimanjaro in Schachenmayr Boston yarn


Barry Bear toy in Patons Diploma Gold 4ply


Barry Bear Hoodie Jacket in Patons Diploma Gold 4ply

Finally a little taster of the free crochet patterns available to download or save to your scrapbook on Make It Coats website.


Picnic Blanket in Rowan Handknit Cotton

patons_scarf_bag make it coats

Patons Maze Scarf & Bag crocheted in Patons 100% Cotton 4ply

patons_crochet_bag make it coats

Patons Rose Bag in Patons 100% Cotton Dk




Craft Barn Customer Projects

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 10-07-2014

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It has been too long since I shared some of our Craft Barn customer projects here on the blog. Over the past few weeks, or even months really I have gathered together photos of lovely projects from customers visiting the Craft Barn. If you ever make a journey here please bring along your recent projects as we always enjoy seeing what is made with yarn purchased online and in store.

A lady called Alison visited the Craft Barn during our sale (sorry I have had this one a while) wearing a beautiful shrug. Sara spotted Alison browsing the Rowan section and just had to ask whether she had knitted it. The answer was yes, from the gorgeous Adriafil Angora Carezza Classic. The pattern is from Rowan Angora Haze book. Alison said that she has made quite a few of these shrugs in different shades of the now discontinued Rowan Angora Haze. It is such an easy piece to wear and looks fantastic worn casually with jeans and a vest top. If you like the look of the shrug, then you won’t have to wait too long for the new Rowan Mohair Haze yarn which will be available as a part of the Rowan autumn winter range.


Next up a super cute sheep back pack. Unfortunately I do not know the name of the lady who made this adorable character. The pattern can be downloaded for free from Ravelry and is designed by Tatyana Fedorova.


A customer called Susan popped in to choose new shades for her latest ‘Sunny Sail‘ shawl. Whilst she was in store the girls called me into the Craft Barn to admire her 2 shawls – one she was wearing and the other a work in progress. Susan has used a delectable combination of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Noro Kureyon Sock or Noro Taiyo Sock. After I had taken the photos she was in the process of choosing colour combinations for 2 more shawls. The design does create a beautiful effect, so it is not surprising Susan has been tempted to do more.


The options really are endless!


Margaret has family who live in Australia. She enjoys knitting for both her daughter and grand-daughter. Recently she has knitted an assortment of pretty garments including the three below.


A ladies cardigan knitted in Patons 100% Cotton 4ply following Sirdar Country Style 4ply pattern 9724.


A little girls cardigan in Sirdar Tiny Tots Dk following a Sirdar Baby Speckle Dk pattern 1358. Margaret has lengthened the cardigan slightly to fit more like a cardigan than a cropped style.


Margaret’s third project is a cardigan for her grand-daughter in Sirdar Country Style 4ply. The cardigan is a Sirdar Snuggly 4ply pattern 1891.

Thank you for sharing your projects with us. If you have any you would like to send in via email we would love to see them, email amy@blacksheepwools.com.

Debbie Bliss Juliet Peplum Top – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 08-07-2014



We seem to be running low on models this week for #tryitTuesday. I think everyone is on to me now. They see the camera and instantly run for the hills. Our two Craft Barn team leaders – Barbara and Stacey kindly volunteered and tried on this weeks garment. The top is knitted in Debbie Bliss Juliet, a new yarn for spring / summer 2014. As you can see from the photo below the yarn knits to a tweed effect. It is perfect for summer being lightweight and a cotton blend.

To bring the numbers up to 3 for #tryitTuesday I have included the image from the Juliet by Debbie Bliss book. The design is quite fitted and longer in length, which would be easy to wear with jeans or leggings, maybe even a pair of shorts during summer.


First up is Barbara wearing the top over her black work trousers. Black trousers would also work well, especially with this colour way.

debbie bliss juliet_barbara

Next up Stacey, she did say that being slightly longer in the body she would adjust the length of the garment.

debbie bliss juliet_stacey

Here I was thinking there were no willing volunteers for #tryitTuesday I now have a late comer. As I am writing this blog post the garment has only just been put out into the Craft Barn to go on display for customers to try on. It has been on display for all of 5 minutes and before you know it Jayne’s (who works in the tea shop) daughter, Helen said she will happily be part of #tryitTuesday. An honorary member of the Black Sheep team.

debbie bliss juliet_helen