Sirdar Competition

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 19-07-2017

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If you could have any sweater design, what would it be? Time to get your thinking cap on as Sirdar have just launched a fantastic competition. They are asking for entrants to design a winter sweater. There is a sweater template for you to work on, so there are no drawing skills required just the mind of a knitter. The winning design will get made up by the Sirdar design team on display at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London at Alexandra Palace in October. Not only that, everyone will be able to make the winning design, with the free pattern being available to download on the Sirdar website.

Below is a more detailed run down of the competition from Sirdar themselves.

“To coincide with the launch of our gorgeous new yarn Sirdar No.1 we are launching a fab competition for you to design a winter sweater! Your winter design could be anything from a novelty Christmas knit, to an oh so stylish Alpine sweater. All you have to do is sketch your design on to the template,  including as much detail as you can to really make your design come to life!

The Sirdar No.1 colour palette is incredible and comes in 18 shades, so we ask that you only choose colours from this range for your designs. Visit the Sirdar website using the link below to view the complete range.
http://www.sirdar.co.uk/…/classics/dk/Sirdar_no1_F047/shades

To submit your entries please e-mail a copy of your design sketch to socialmedia@sirdar.co.uk. The closing date for the competition is the 7th August, with winners being announced on the 11th August.

Now for the bit that you have all been waiting for, the prizes!

1st Prize – judged by Sirdar Head Designer Julie Langham
– Your design will be made into a leaflet which will be available as a free download on the Sirdar website.
– Your design will be knitted up by the Sirdar design team and showcased at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. 
– You will also win 2 tickets to attend the show on Saturday 14th October, so you will get to see your finished knit on the Black Sheep stand.

2nd Prize – judged by Sara Mulvey of Black Sheep Wools
– 2 tickets to attend The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace on Saturday 14th October.
– A Sirdar goody bag.

3rd Prize – judged by the Sirdar social media team
– A Sirdar goody bag.

Good luck!”

Rainbow Yarn

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 05-07-2017

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Recently I noticed our Instagram looked like a rainbow, an illuminating array of rainbow colour. Seeing this has inspired me to write this blog post and share what delights there are in the world of yarn. Not just self striping, multi – coloured hanks, individual balls of colour too, that you can create your own rainbow with.

Over the past couple of months we have taken in a new brand – Caron. The first yarn to join us was Caron Simply Soft, with over 50 shades to choose from. This one really is an incredible rainbow of colour. With so many colours to choose from this yarn is a must for anyone who enjoys making colour palettes. The way the yarn has been displayed in the Craft Barn flowing through the colour spectrum is just too tempting. There is something quite therapeutic when methodically arranging yarns in according to their hue.

Eve is a Saturday girl at the Craft Barn, her Grandma has crocheted a rainbow blanket in Caron Simply Soft for her to take to Leeds festival this summer.

Then Caron Cakes arrived. A swirl of colour wound temptingly into one large cake of yarn. Now cake and yarn are two of our favourite things, so combining the two is amazing! The colour combinations in these beauties are gorgeous. There are 18 shades to choose from, some tonal, others complimenting colour combinations. If you are looking for rainbow yarn then look no further than the shade ‘Rainbow Sprinkles’.

Debbie Bliss always has a good colour range and Rialto DK does not disappoint. A sophisticated shade range to entice your knitting needles or crochet hook to venture into a new project. Choosing colours is part of the process and very much a fun task it is.

Now who couldn’t resist a rainbow yarn sock? These cheery colour combinations from West Yorkshire Spinners are sure to make you smile. Their Signature 4ply is very popular amongst sock knitters. There are one shade, striped and bird inspired options to choose from. However, if it is rainbow yarn you are after then ‘Rum Paradise’ is the one, or feeling more pastel – ‘Sherbet Fizz’.

Debbie Bliss has recently taken Botany Lace under her yarn umbrella. Take a look at the shade ‘Ronda’, a gorgeous rainbow yarn.

Sirdar’s cake yarn – Colourwheel DK has a fantastic aptly named yarn called ‘Follow the Rainbow’. As you can see it does echo its name quite accurately.

If we’re talking a rainbow of yarn then you can’t miss out Stylecraft Special DK. All those shades to choose from to make your bespoke rainbow. How about Sue Stratford’s Rainbow Blanket crochet kit?

It’s not just yarn, we also have fabrics that are bursting with a rainbow of colour. The Freespirit Designer Solids range has all the colours you need to make a vibrant quilt.

British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017 – Nominations

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 23-06-2017

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Super exciting news! We are very pleased to announce that we have been nominated in FIVE categories in the Let’s Knit British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017. We are very grateful for everyone’s support so far to get us to this stage. It would make one happy flock of sheep if you voted for us to win. 😉 Plus, when you vote you are entered into a prize draw with prizes worth up to £750. Pop over to the Let’s Knit page to vote.
Voting closes on 30th August 2017.

British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017 nominations –

  • Best Online Shop
  • Best Website
  • Best Crochet Store
  • Favourite Knitting Blog
  • Best Local Independent Yarn Store – North of England

Arne & Carlos at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 15-06-2017

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Yesterday was a fun filled day at Black Sheep Wools, we had Norweigian knitting designers Arne and Carlos in store for the day. It was such a treat to have the bright and cheery duo back at the Craft Barn. They really are so inspiring to be around. Last year they visited for the first time on a cold day in February. This time round they have experienced a hot, sunny day in Warrington. Read the blog post about Arne and Carlos’ first visit.

In the morning they taught a workshop showing people how to make knitted birds using double pointed needles. We had a large group in for the workshop, the places sold out within 24 hours! It was great to see the room full of people all enjoying knitting and chatting away to Arne and Carlos.

Arne showing Christine (Winwick Mum) how he knits with DPN’s

During the workshop they were flitting from one table to another helping the ladies and having a natter too. I don’t know how some people did it, but some of the participants managed to finish knitting their bird within the 3 hour class, one of those people being blogger Emma Varnam. Check out her ‘seagull’ knitted bird. What a whizz! I think it would have taken me a good hour or so to figure out how to keep all my stitches on the DPN’s.

Blogger Lynne Rowe‘s two shaded bird

In the afternoon they held a mini lecture talking about the inspiration behind their new book – A Field Guide to Knitted Birds. I enjoyed listening to them enthusiastically talk about the ideas behind their latest book. They shared a photo of a bird house that lives in their beautiful garden, which they built to encourage birds back into their garden. Arne enjoys sitting in the garden watching the birds at work and fish swimming in the stream. Colour plays a big part in their designs and they have been creative with ‘abstract’ birds. Some of the patterns are bright and multi coloured birds with adornments of sequin and charming embroidery. A favourite of mine from the book are the species of winter birds – the only breed of bird to wear hats and scarves, Pedro and Juanita with their Peruvian hats are so sweet. It is was interesting listening to Arne tell imaginative stories about the birds, I think he should write a book! If you couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn yesterday take a look at Arne and Carlos YouTube channel. They post a video a week sharing tips and advice on knitting and more!

Finally Arne and Carlos made their way into the shop where they did a book signing and had photos taken with many of our customers. If you would like to see more pics pop over to our Instagram where there are more behind the scenes photos. We are giving away a two signed copies of the knitted birds book, one on Facbeook and one on Instagram. Winners will be chosen on Monday 19th June 2017.

How to cast on?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 08-06-2017

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How do you cast on your knitting? Do you have a preferred method? There are many different ways to cast on knitting from the thumb method, two needle, to a cable cast on and many more. Some projects require a specific cast on, such as lace work or a design that requires a more elasticated edge.  We are beginning with the thumb method cast on. This is a great cast on method for newbie knitters and is pretty easy to do. You may find that it is the only one you choose to use once you get started.

If you are new to knitting then we have just the tools to get you started. It may also be of interest to the seasoned knitter. Having knitting tips to hand all in one place is always helpful mid project. With your knitting needle conversion chart and knitting starter kit at the ready, all you need now is to begin knitting. Gather your ball of yarn and knitting needles and follow the step by step instructions below.

How to cast on

Make a slip knot and catch through your needle.


Gently pull the slip knot taught to your needle leaving a long tail of yarn to create the number of required stitches.


Loop the yarn around your left thumb, holding the needle in your right hand (your left thumb is going to act as a needle for this part).


Insert the needle underneath the yarn on the top of your thumb. Get ready with the yarn (that is feeding from the ball) in your right hand to make a stitch.


Bring the yarn in right hand around (under and over) the needle and down in-between left thumb and needle.


Take the loop on your left thumb over the needle to create a stitch.


Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you have the desired number of stitches for your project.

Yarn used in video is Conway + Bliss Elektra

Arne & Carlos Afternoon

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 02-06-2017

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On Wednesday 14th June our favourite knitting duo Arne and Carlos will be back at the Craft Barn. After everyone had such a fabulously, fun day with them last year we were very, very excited when we got the call to say they were available in June. They will be teaching a workshop in the morning themed around their latest book – Field Guide to Knitted Birds. This is now fully booked, it sold out within 48 hours!


The good news is that they will be holding a mini lecture in the afternoon and doing a book signing too. The lecture will be from 2pm – 2.45pm and the book signing in store from 3pm – 4pm. Both of the afternoon events are free to attend with no need to book. The lecture will be held in our workshop room so we are restricted on numbers, it will be a first come first served basis. We look forward to seeing you there!

Craft Barn Sale 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 23-05-2017

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The annual Craft Barn sale starts on Friday 26th May for 10 days. There will be fantastic branded yarns at amazing prices, including Sirdar, Debbie Bliss, Rowan and many, many more. There will be special discounts on needlecraft, fabric and accessories too! Plus, let’s not forget our super-duper yarn dive, piled extra high full of incredible bargains. The sale starts over the Bank Holiday weekend so why not plan a trip to Black Sheep Wools. All offers are in store only. There are as always lots of amazing bargains for you to browse in our clearance section online.

What can I make with Caron Cakes?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Guest Blog | Posted on 17-05-2017

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Guest Blog post written by Black Sheep Lucy

 

If you’ve not heard of Caron Cakes, it’s a yarn that caused a huge sensation in America when it launched last Autumn. Knitters and Crocheters love the look, feel, colour blends and the fantastic 350 metres per cake! We’ve all been wanting to get our hands on some since we heard about it!
Now that Caron Cakes have made it to the UK they’ve been an instant hit both in the shop and on our website. People can’t help but pick them up and each one has a free pattern on the ballband, plus lots of supporting free patterns online makes them very tempting.

Always one to jump on a new trend, I grabbed a ball of Rainbow Sprinkles and immediately wondered – what can I do with this thing?  It’s easy to just want to keep a Caron Cake as they’re so pretty and possible daunting as they’re so large (and it would make a lovely ornament) but I applied myself and picked one of the free crochet patterns and I was off.

Because the yarn is an aran weight, it works up very quickly and is very satisfying to use. I chose the Crocheted Kerchief Scarf because it looked like a great versatile piece, that would go well with weekend jeans.

I’m a loose crocheter so although a 5mm hook is recommended, I switched down to a 4mm hook. It’s worth making a quick swatch to check this and it worked out fine in the the finished garment.  The yarn is lovely to use, it’s 20% wool, 80% acrylic which means it’s soft but also substantial and not scary to work with. There is a centre pull which is very easy to use and means no tugging or pulling, it also means that the cake goes down slowly like a balloon while you knit or crochet. The patterns are all in American terms so I had to make a quick mental adjustment to remember that their doubles are our trebles but the pattern was so simple that after a couple of rows you don’t have to refer back. I love a pattern like this, great for sitting in front of easy telly and churning out lots of speedy crochet.

As always with self striping yarn, the transitions are the exciting bit. The first one came up pretty quickly moving from green to yellow. The transitions are now gradual like most wool I’ve used, rather one stitch and you’ve switched! This makes for lovely crisp stripes. Despite this though, there is a slight fleck of red throughout all of the colours in Rainbow Sprinkles which ties everything together.
I made good progress and then my more expert crocheting sister came round for a chat. She’d not seen a Caron Cake in person before and wrestled it off me. She stopped for a cup of tea and did the next colour for me. I finally got the scarf back and got half of if done that first evening as I was enjoying this simple pattern so much.
The decrease section took a little longer, maybe two days. As soon as I was finished I opened the scarf up, took a good look and realised that I’d decreased one stitch to early on each alternate row. I took the project to my local craft club the next night and had to frog it back to before I’d made any mistakes. Clever crocheting sis pointed out where I’d gone wrong, showed me how to do it right and then decided that she’d be better finishing it off for me after all – I think she was just enjoying playing with the new yarn.
Anyway, whoever did the work, the finished result is lovely and is very wearable. Now I just need to choose my next colour and project and keep this one to myself. Think I’m going to go with Faerie Cake this time – it’s so pretty!

Hand – Dyeing Workshops with Debbie Tomkies

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 11-05-2017

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Have you ever dreamed about creating your own yarn? What colours would it be? What weight would you go for? All of your wishes can come true at one of Debbie Tomkies Hand – Dyeing Workshops at the Craft Barn.
Debbie is a textile designer with over 25 years experience. She runs workshops at various locations working with both yarn and fabric. Debbie also runs a social enterprise called ‘Making Futures’, working with colleges and community groups, doing creative activities to help build confidence and self-esteem. Not only that, Debbie is also an author of three books.

This summer Debbie Tomkies will be teaching two different hand – dyeing workshops, one using natural dye extracts and the other using synthetic dyes. A great excuse to have a day of fun playing with colour. Each participant will be given a 100g hank of yarn to dye. Debbie will bring a selection of Merino, Bluefaced Leicester and wool blends in either sock (4ply), laceweight or DK. As part of the workshop Debbie will also give everyone one of her pattern designs, so that you can get started knitting or crocheting your hank of beautifully dyed yarn as soon as you get home.

I asked Debbie for a run down of the difference between the two workshops –

“In terms of the differences between the synthetic and natural dyes, I would say that the synthetics are more repeatable and give more reliable repeatability between batches. It is also easier to predict the final colour as the dyes look on a test paper much the same as they will look on the final yarn. The synthetic dyes give the full range of colours from very bright to soft, muted tones and pastels (they needn’t all be eye-popping brights!). Synthetic dyes are very consistent in terms of strength and it is relatively easy to predict how much dye to use to give a desired depth of colour. Synthetic dyes are ideally suited to a wide range of techniques, including immersion, handpaints, rainbow dyeing, gradient dyeing, speckling and all kinds of fun projects. They are also suitable for fibres, fabrics and other natural materials.

The natural dyes, on the other hand, have more tonal qualities as they often contain numerous different colour components within the plant itself. This gives a subtle toning to natural dyes that is harder to achieve with synthetics. The natural dyes can certainly be rich in shade and give deep colours but tend not to be on the ‘neon-bright’ end of the spectrum! Natural dyes are a little harder to predict as the powders tend to look quite different and often the colour only really blossoms once the dyeing is in progress. Of course that is part of the magic! Natural dyes are also sensitive to other factors. Colours can be changed by adjusting water pH or by adding ‘colour modifiers’ (for example, citric acid, iron sulphate or sodium carbonate). This really extends the colour palette and makes for interesting combinations. Natural dyes can be used for handpainting and other techniques but this does take a little more mastering than with synthetics. Like synthetics they can be used on virtually any natural fibre, yarn, fabric or other material.”

Hand-Dyeing wih Synthetic Dyes

Introduction to Hand – Dyeing with Synthetic Dyes is taking place on Saturday 20th May. This is a full day workshop that costs £65, which includes all materials, a delicious finger buffet lunch and a tea break in the afternoon with homemade cake. You will have a gorgeous hank of yarn to take home and one of Debbie Tomkies’ patterns.

Hand – Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts

The Introduction to Hand – Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts workshop is taking place on Friday 2nd June and cost £65 for the full day.. Natural dye extracts are so versatile and easy to use. There are so many beautiful colours that can be created mixing the powders. The same applies for the natural dye extract workshop to the synthetic, all materials are provided (including a pinny) and your choice of 100g hank of yarn to dye.

We are always updating our workshops listings online. If hand-dyeing doesn’t take your fancy, then take a look at the many other workshops that we offer.

 

Joji Locatelli Mystery Wrap – Colour Ideas

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Knitting, Sara's Blog | Posted on 04-05-2017

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I love a good CAL or Knitalong and I’m just about to do another one. This is by one of my favourite designers, Joji Locatelli. She is an Argentinian designer and if you haven’t looked at her work you really must. She has lots of patterns on Ravelry including the ‘Boxy’sweater, one of my favourite designs. Joji is also a master at shawl designing and this is where the mystery Knitalong comes in. Now I have never down a mystery project before so I’m really excited.

The project runs over 5 weeks and starts on the 12th May. As it is a mystery the designer does give you advice on colours, the size of the finished shawl and what type of knitting it involves. This shawl will contain a lot of garter stitch, some TV knitting and some more complicated stuff.

I love the community feel you get from a KAL and this one will be no exception. I’m a member of the group on Ravelry and it’s already got a lovely feel to it.

It’s done in a 4 ply yarn and I have picked five shades of the beautiful Titus from Baa Ram Ewe. I will be using Crucible, Goathland, Bramley Baths, Rose Window  & Chevin. I do hope they look as good together as I think they will.



If you are joining in this KAL then why don’t you post some photos to our facebook page of the colours and yarns you will be using. I’d love to see them!

We all love choosing colours at Black Sheep Wools, so between us we have come up with some more eye-catching combinations.

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Brights
– Blackcurrant Bomb
– Poppy Seed
– Blue Raspberry
– Butterscotch
– Sarsaparilla

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Pastels
– Milk Bottle
– Sherbet Fizz
– Candyfloss
– Pennyroyal
– Cinnamon Stick

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Summer
– Kingfisher
– Blueberry Bonbon
– Spearmint
– Tumeric
– Milk Bottle

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Fire
– Coal
– Viking
– Filey
– Parkin
– Wesley Bob

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Heathery
– White Rose
– Yorkstone
– Heathcliff
– Goathland
– Bantam