Rico Creative Melange Glitz Chunky – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 28-10-2014

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Today’s #tryitTuesday is a short sleeve sweater (pattern 265) knitted in Rico Creative Melange Glitz Chunky. The sweater features button detail on the collar which adds an extra element to the design. As you can see from the photographs below the cable design is mirrored across the garment, giving depth to the self striping yarn. On this pattern there are two options to knit – the short sweater with collar or a long line tunic without a collar.

Stacey and Lesley have both tried on the short green sweater for #tryitTuesday. What do you think?

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First Sewing Projects

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects, Sewing | Posted on 27-10-2014

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The Coats fabric landed in store early April and made its way online in the summer for all to discover. The fabrics are of exceptional quality and can be used for various projects. Even if you don’t sew, or only sew a little there are many ways you can utilise the fabrics, why incorporate them into your knitting or crochet projects?

The first sewing workshop took place in June and since then we have held many more, from learn to sew to hand applique. For anyone who regularly visits the Craft Barn or plans to organise a trip why not combine your visit with a sewing workshop. All project based sewing workshops include fabric within the price. Here are some photos of cushion covers made on the moving on from learn to sew workshop that took place in October here at the Craft Barn. The workshop was taught by Rowan tutor – Vicki Walker.

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Over the past couple of weeks customers have been popping in store with their own sewing projects. It’s nice to see the fabric being made into so many different items.

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Margaret has sewn a quilt using the Tula Pink Fox Field fabric range.

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Anne has made a bag out of various fat quarters of Coats fabric she purchased in the Craft Barn.

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A mish mash of designs that work well and make a lovely patchwork bag.

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Barbara has made bunting for us to display in the Craft Barn. A gorgeous way to show off the fabric range.

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She also made these little characters, who have now found a home in the tea shop with Jayne and Julie.

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Gemma has made cute fabric dolls and upholstered dining chairs in Coats fabrics.

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Gorgeous choice of Tanya Whelan fabrics for the chairs.

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Have you purchased any fabric online and made your own creations? We would love to see them and share here on the blog. Please email them in to amy@blacksheepwools.com.

Free Halloween Patterns

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns | Posted on 24-10-2014

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Halloween is just around the corner and we have two special treats to share with you. The best part of all they are FREE treats! Pumpkin bear would make a cheery mascot for a spooky evening of trick or treating. The kind people at GMC publishing have given us Pumpkin bear as an exclusive free download for Black Sheep Wools customers. Knit him in a pumpkin shade of orange – ‘snapdragon’ in Sirdar Country Style Dk. Not only is he a pumpkin shade, he also has a cape with a cute little pumpkin motif to decorate. Find more character bear patterns in the book ‘Knit-a-bear‘ by Val Pierce including a sailor, a snowboarder and a princess.

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The second pattern is a simple pair of fingerless mittens – or should I say ‘Hairy monster mitts’, that I made last year in Sirdar Funky Fox. You will only need one ball for the mittens and a small piece of felt for the claws. They could be the finishing touch you are looking for to complete your halloween costume. Download both of these patterns from our free patterns page.

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Stuart Hillard Event – 2nd November 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Sewing | Posted on 23-10-2014

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On Sunday 2nd November Stuart Hillard will be visiting the Craft Barn to celebrate the launch of his first book – Sew Fabulous. Stuart took part in the first series of the Great British Sewing Bee. He did exceptionally well finishing runner up in the whole series. Since then Stuart has continued to share his love of sewing recntly launching his book – ‘Sew Fabulous‘.

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Stuart will be here from 10am until 1pm. signing copies of his book, joining in with any sewing chit chat and generally sharing his knowledge and love of sewing! We look forward to seeing you there.

Take a sneak peek into Stuart’s book below. There are patterns (including pattern paper), instructions on how to do various skills – including rotary cutting and binding a quilt. The book is available to order online here.

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Blogger of the month – September 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Blogger of the Month | Posted on 21-10-2014

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Congratulations to September’s blogger of the month Barbara aka ‘Noddfacrafts‘ blogger. After finding out that she had been nominated as our Blogger of the month for September Barbara decided to pay a visit to the Craft Barn. It was lovely to meet Barbara and for her to get the chance to have a browse of the Craft Barn. Whilst she was here she kindly allowed us to take her photo for this very blog post. As you can see in the pic below, Barbara was wearing a beautiful hand knitted cardigan.

As usual we sent over the questions to Barbara and she has answered them with photos too…………

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

I have been blogging for just over two years. I started a travel log when we travelled from Lands End to the Orkney Isles in 2013 in my Camper Van AKA Damnvan1. This log quickly became a blog in which I talked about my crafting,vintage hunts, and travels.

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What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? 

My latest WIP is a shawl for my 88 year old Mum for Christmas. I do have multiple UFOs (unfinished objects) but I am trying to focus and complete this gift in good time, and not allow it to become another UFO! But life would be boring without UFOs!

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Who taught you to crochet?

My Nanna taught me to crochet when I was a teenager. She could only do edging around embroidered cloths but in order to crochet you can start with very basic knowledge. If you can pull wool through a loop using a hook you can crochet!

What was your first ever knitting or sewing project?

As a very young child I was brought up to sew and knit. As a 7 year old my Mum taught me to use her hand sewing machine with which I made curtains for my dolls house. My Mum also taught me to knit. As an 11 year old I knit squares to sew into the sleeves of my hand knitted school jumper. These were to stop the elbows wearing out as I was always leaning on them! Thrifty days!

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

I do watch tv whilst knitting. I enjoy Great British Bake Off and the British Sewing Bee. I always think that I could win but of course that’s rubbish!

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

One of my greatest treasures is a tapestry covered chair that my lovely late father recovered in hand made and designed wool tapestry. This is what I would save if my house was on fire. (After the dog)

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

The very best tip is when sewing,wool fabric etc,thread your needle with the two ends of yarn through the eye of the needle. This will leave a loop at the other end. Pass needle through material and up through the loop. This secures the thread without a knot or multiple stitches and is a tidy way of starting to stitch.

Where do you find inspiration for a new project?

I use the internet mainly for inspiration. I am a great Ravelry fan. I also collect vintage patterns and books which are a great sources of ideas. I browse yarn and fabric emporiums constantly especially when travelling in the van. I love the Black Sheep Craft Barn which is perfect as the staff are wonderful and I can have a tea and scone in their coffee shop. I am a pattern first girl. I rarely buy yarn without first finding a pattern.

Do you have a favourite knitting snack?

See 8 above. I drink far to much tea and love scone with jam and butter. Yum!!

What is your favourite yarn to work with? Is there a particular brand?

I don’t have a favourite yarn as it is always the last one that I bought! But I am currently using 100% Alpaca and a fabulous Rowan Yarn called Mohair Haze.

When yarn shopping are you always drawn to a certain colour?

I love colours that are vibrant, clear and lush. I have a tendency to choose from the pink/red end of the spectrum, but it depends how I feel on the day.

Do you have a favourite project?

One of my favourite projects is my Bee Keepers Quilt. This is being made in Alpaca and Sock Yarn and seems to be becoming a labour of love.

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Do you follow other blogs?

I follow lots of blogs. Mainly crafty ones.

How many projects do you have on the go at one time?

Currently I’ve six or seven projects on the go. Many are put away in my stash chest but surface every now and again and I do a bit more work on them! Every blue moon I actually finish one! Unfortunately I’m not disciplined enough to complete one before I start another.

What other past times do you enjoy?

Other favourite pastimes include baking, travelling and looking after my Grandchildren of which I have three!

What is your favourite item to crochet?

My favourite item that I crocheted is a multicoloured, bright, Granny Square blanket which I made for my Daughter when she moved into her new home.

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Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

My advice to anyone wanting to try blogging is give it a go. Enjoy the words, don’t worry about followers etc and blog away to your hearts content.

Do you have a preference when it comes to choosing your crochet hooks and knitting needles?

I have no preference for hooks and needles. I have one complete set of needles and hooks from my Nanna. I have another complete set from my Mum. I have collected a complete metric set for myself and I still don’t have what I want! I’m just starting to buy circular needles but even they come in different lengths and I have to buy another one!

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

I am a “Magaholic” I buy loads of magazines. I particularly like “Mollie Makes” due to its young, vibrant content and it’s links to the internet. I also buy “Simply Knitting” and “Knitting”.

Who do you crochet / knit for?

I knit and sew for myself and for my Grandchildren. After all knitting and crochet is very ” on trend” these days.

The Knitting & Stitching Show 2015 – Ally Pally

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 15-10-2014

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‘Write a blog post about Ally Pally’ Lesley our Web Manager said. It sounds so easy doesn’t it? However how do I condense the last week of madness into one page? There was so much to do and I met so many lovely people. Well I’ll try so here goes…

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The show this year was bigger than ever and was on for a whole five days rather than the usual four. This meant it is was a little less crowded than previous years. It also meant it was easier for me to wander around and catch up with some familiar faces. I saw so many of the ‘Knitterati’, Jane Crowfoot, Debbie Abrahams, Sarah Hatton, Jem Weston, Stuart Hillard and of course Debbie Bliss. Debbie makes an annual trip to our ‘yarn dive’ and it’s always a pleasure to catch up with her. This year she was accompanied by new design duo ‘Conway & Bliss’, this comprises of Debbie’s daughter Nell and her best friend Theresa Conway. They have set up their own design house producing free downloads in Debbie Bliss yarns for the young at heart. I love their ‘Bliss’ sweater.

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Stuart Hillard is always a pleasure to chat too. He is one of the most enthusiastic sewers I have ever met. He gave me loads of tips on my new patchwork addiction; I just need the time to put them all into practise now!

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One of the best parts of the exhibition is always the ‘Textile Awards’. The designs are amazing and I am always fascinated by where the entrants get their inspiration from. In particular this red sweater caught my eye – how amazing is it?

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The evenings at Ally Pally are fun too. We went to the ‘Let’s Knit’ awards on Thursday night and were absolutely delighted to be the recipients of three awards. I was also delighted to have a glass or two of bubbly, it had been a long day so I felt I deserved it. We also had a night out with the Sirdar & Designer Yarns teams. The pub we ended up in had a table tennis table and it’s official, my brother Stephen is the Knitting Industries best Ping Pong player – he was so good.

The worst part of the whole show is Sunday evening from 5pm – breakdown time. Eurghhh! I hate it. You know that amazing selection f yarn we have in the big pile on the floor? Well it all needs picking up and it’s up to us to do it. It kills my back and you’d be amazed by how dirty we get. The best part of breakdown is definitely KFC at the services on the way home. It isn’t something I’d normally eat but it tastes so good. It gave me enough energy to sing along to the eighties hits on the way home. Farewell Ally Pally – until next year!

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Enjoy.

Rico Creative Melange Chunky – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 14-10-2014

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Last week we received a special delivery from Rico. It was a parcel containing lots and lots of be-A-utiful garments. There were jumpers, cardigans, shawls and even a poncho, a knitters dressing up box. Well, that is what more or less happened when the girls were trying to put the garments out on display in the shop. I took the opportunity to take a photo or two of willing volunteers trying on for #tryitTuesday. Keep an eye out for many more Rico patterns over the coming weeks.

Lesley was quick to join in with the trying on. She liked the snuggly style of the boyfriend cardigan and commented on how it would be an easy piece to wear with many outfits.

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The pattern also features a shorter length style.

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Stacey is one of the taller members of staff and the cardigan is still a longer length on her.

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And finally Barbara who is nearly camouflaged amongst all of the fabric!

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The pattern is Rico 267 and is knitted in Rico Creative Melange Chunky. If you do choose to knit the cardigan share your photos and email them to amy@blacksheepwools.com.

Sara interviews Betsan Corkhill

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 13-10-2014

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Betsan Corkhill came to the Craft Barn for Therapeutic knitting day on 4th October. Whilst here sharing her findings with customers in the Craft Barn we took the opportunity to film an interview too. It is a great opportunity for those who couldn’t make it to the event, to watch and gain an insight into Betsan’s work whilst discovering how she came across the idea of therapeutic knitting, researching for her book and setting up Stitchlinks.

If you have enjoyed watching the interview with Betsan Corkhill and want to find out more her book, ‘Knit for Health and Wellness‘ is available to purchase now on our website. If you are interested in setting up your own therapeutic knitting group and would like a starter pack please contact Betsan via Stitchlinks or email lesley@blacksheepwools.com.

Here are a few photographs taken throughout the day.

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Catherine from Spa Beautiful was offering a complimentary hand massage on the day.

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On entering and exiting the Craft Barn we had a mood scarf. We asked customers to knit a row or two to express their feelings on entering and exiting the Craft Barn.

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Wool Week Competition!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 09-10-2014

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As you may know already this week it is ‘wool week’ in association with Campaign for Wool UK. To celebrate the wonder of wool we are giving you the chance to win a magnificent woolly prize – 35 balls of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted yarn! That’s all of the yarn required to complete the Kaffe Fassett mystery knit-a-long in the pastel colour way. Up to now only week 1 pattern has been released, so you should be able to catch up in no time at all. A spot of speed knitting may well be essential. If you would like to be in with the chance of winning this incredible yarn bundle then click on this link to enter. If you are reading this blog post on your mobile device and are struggling to get through to the competition page click here for an alternative link.

Here is a sneaky peek at a selection of the yarns included in the prize……

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The winner will be contacted on Wednesday 15th October. Good luck!

English Paper Piecing

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 08-10-2014

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I wrote a blog post about a couple of weeks ago about the new love in my life – patchwork. I had done a little bit of machine patchwork and I loved it. Well I am now even more addicted.

My machine patchwork hit a bit of a blip last week. I just didn’t get the time to get the sewing machine out. By the time the girls are in bed and I’m ready to have a little bit of me time it’s 9 o’clock. I’m far too tired to get my machine out and set it up. Alas my house isn’t big enough to leave it out all the time, and I’m certainly not moving house for a while! So I would get out the knitting needles and crack on with my Afghan. But you know what it’s like when you are itching to do something. The naughty crafters voice in my head kept taunting me. ‘You don’t want to knit, you want to do some patchwork!’ The upshot was I didn’t enjoy my knitting at all. What on earth was I going to do!

The answer was something that took my straight back to my school days, English paper piecing. A traditional method of hand patchwork that I last did under the tutorage of Mrs Green (my favourite teacher ever!) when I was about 8 years old and I made a pin cushion. I had a quick look on Google to refresh my mind and away I went.

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It is so simple and you need very few materials. I downloaded a hexagon template onto some paper, got three different bits of material, a sewing needle and a reel of cotton. I couldn’t get the girls in bed quick enough on Saturday night I was that desperate to start. I spent ages cutting out hexagons, then even longer cutting out the fabric. I tacked the fabric onto the paper, leaving a small seam allowance and then for the really fun bit. I started stitching the hexagons together.

In true Sara style I winged it a bit to be honest. As this is a trial piece I didn’t really plan how my fabrics were going to work together or what I would make, I simply sewed, it was so relaxing. Now I am certainly no expert but I have learnt a few things on my first attempt. So I thought I would share them with you.

1. Three different types of fabric is not enough. I don’t feel that it has given me enough choice on placing the hexagons.
2. The smaller the needle the easier it is to sew without touching the paper.
3. It’s going to take ages to make a single quilt!

I am so in love with this craft already. If you fancy trying something new then this is the one for you.

Enjoy.