Sew an accessory case for Mother’s Day

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Free Patterns, Sewing | Posted on 06-03-2015

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With Mother’s Day just around the corner we wanted to give something special to all the Mother’s out there. What better gift than a free pattern! Whether you are looking to make a gift for your Mother, or treat yourself to something new this accessory case will be a pretty, yet practical present. It is time to dust off your sewing machine as the lovely Cherry Heart, aka Sandra has designed a fabulous fabric ‘Ready to Roll Case‘. The accessory case is ideal for housing all of your crafty trinkets. There are ten slots for smaller items and one large pocket at the end perfect for slipping in your tape measure or pin box. This could be varied to suit what items you plan for the roll to be used for. It could even make a funky pencil case or even make up brushes.

Sandra chose a selection of floral prints from the Tanya Whelan ‘Petal’ collection. A soft pastel colour palette, which reflects her yarn choices in much of her crochet work. Sandra’s usual attention to detail can be seen in the form of embroidery stitches, including a simple running stitch and heart, the perfect finishing touch.

If you would like to make this accessory case you can find the free pattern available to download from our website today!

sew an accessory roll

sew an accessory roll

Photo courtesy of Cherry Heart


Stuart Hillard GBSB Guest Blog Post – Part 3

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Guest Blog | Posted on 04-03-2015



stuart hillard

Week 4 already and I think we all knew that this week, a man would be leaving the sewing room and with two evictions looming I began watching wondering who we would be losing. The first task saw our sewers making a boned corset in four hours. The sweat was starting to run before the patterns had even been given out, it’s a lot to do in such a short amount of time. Little Ryan had made one before so he was delighted and Matt almost swore on the BBC! I loved the finished garments, particularly Neil’s which won (of course) and Ryan’s beautifully crafted striped number scraped the bottom because of pattern matching. I wasn’t impressed with that particular bit of judging.
It was at this point that I noticed that Patrick was wearing a kilt although his legs didn’t make an appearance. I could almost hear a nation weeping! It was dictators at dawn for the alteration challenge as Margaret Thatcher’s old power suits made way for President Mugabe’s epaulettes! What a hideous challenge, as little Ryan said “There’s pressure in’t there”… quite!
Heading into the final challenge it was clear that both Amanda and Ryan had their cards marked by the judges and were going to have to pull something pretty impressive out of the bag. Unfortunately neither of them did. The pleating ranged from exquistite (Neil and Deborah) to hideous (Matt) and Lorna predicted a bitter end which unfortunately was how it turned out as LR and Amanda got the boot. I felt a little tear pop into the corner of my eye but quickly whisked it away and finished my cocktail. The Sewing Bee is getting tough and I’m just going to have to get tougher!

Video Blog Two

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 03-03-2015

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Catch up with my latest WIP’s including patchwork, knitting and crochet! x x

Quilting, knitting & crochet projects

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 02-03-2015

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Our knit and natter group, ‘Yarn in the Barn‘ are always busy making allsorts of different things. Every Tuesday they bring new treats tucked up in their project bags. Seeing the diverse range of crafts is so inspiring.

I recently popped in with the camera and took a few photos of the latest on the go and finished projects. Judy has been enjoying doing a patchwork and quilting piece. She has used a selection of various fabrics from her stash.

judy quilting patchwork

Mary has made a crocheted doll for one of the other ladies in the group’s grand daughter. She can’t crochet but loved the crochet doll book.


Both Cathy and Jacky have been knitting hats in Sirdar Divine. One has been adorned with a faux fur Rico Pompon and the other with a regular pompom made from the Sirdar Divine yarn.

sirdar divine knitted hats

Edna has been busy knitting cardigans and ventilator bonnets for our Premature baby campaign. They are all knitted in Sirdar Snuggly 4ply yarn.

premature baby hats and cardigans

Joan is making a fabulous rag rug out of old t-shirts!



Last but not least a beautiful knitted cowl. Unfortunately I don’t have a name to put with this gorgeous Louisa Harding Amitola cowl. The lady who knitted it decided to put her own spin on Juliet Bernard’s original hexagon cowl design. She has chosen to leave out the half hexagons and instead added a crocheted edge. This pattern is available to download for free from our website.


Look at the way the colours blend and merge into the next so effortlessly.



British Craft Award Winners 2015!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 27-02-2015


We are very pleased to announce that we were voted ‘Cross Stitch Retailer of the Year’ for the North West of England in the British Craft Awards 2015. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us, we really do appreciate your support. It is lovely for us to be able to share our passion for cross stitch and all things crafty with you.

Carol picked up our award whilst at the Stitches show in Birmingham.

Carol British Craft Awards

Stuart Hillard GBSB Guest Blog Post – Part 2

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Guest Blog | Posted on 26-02-2015



stuart hillard

The themed weeks on GBSB are amongst my favourites and in particular I love the vintage week.  This may be in part due to the fact that those 1950′s hand cranked singer sewing machines remind me of my mum sewing when I was a child.  This was in the late 1970′s by the way, just in case you were wondering!  The Walkaway dress was great fun and I particularly loved Paul’s version in Kaffe Fasset fabric with rainbow binding.  It was a lot to achieve in a very short amount of time and it’s a question I’m asked all the time, “Are those timings genuine”?  Take it from me, they are!  No one gets a second more than the allotted time and of course rushing can produce some spectacular catastrophes.  When we sew at home, the best way to be successful is to take our time and if all else fails, a break and a brew can work wonders!

The second challenge was Claudia’s and my favourite alteration challenge ever…it was The Sound of Music meets The Sewing Bee, aka curtains to couture in 90 mins.  I loved little Ryan’s hawaiian shirt, Neil’s halter was uber chic and Lorna’s skirt was so smart it would have made an Austrian nun weep tears of joy!  I was delighted to see Lorna gain her first place in this challenge, proving to everyone that she was not going to play second fiddle to Neil for the entire series.

The final challenge saw our lovely bees making a sheer (or not so sheer!) blouse for their models.  Matt’s ragged offering scraped through though lord knows how and Lorna again triumphed with her beautiful creation winning garment of the week. Hoorah!  Neela was the third contestant to pack up her pins and catch the last bus home.  Next week sees a double whammy as two of our sewers are sent packing.  Who’s on your hit list?  x

Spinning yarn with Cathy Wright

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 25-02-2015



Spinning yarn is a fascinating craft that always mesmerizes me. There is something so ethereal about the craft. It was at Woolfest 2014 I first witnessed both spinning wheels and spindles. On Friday I had the opportunity to have a little go at using a spinning wheel. The lovely Cathy Wright came over to demonstrate for a crafternoon in the Craft Barn. Cathy is a well-seasoned spinner having spun yarn for over 10 years. She always uses a spinning wheel and makes gorgeous yarns from all sorts of different fibres including Blue Faced Leicester wool, bamboo and banana fibre. I imagine the process of spinning yarn is quite therapeutic (once you get the hang of it) and extremely satisfying, to think that you have created your own skein of yarn which can then be made into whatever takes your fancy.

Cathy visited along with her mum, who also enjoys spinning. They set up a spot in the Craft Barn with a spinning wheel a piece and showed off their skills. I don’t know why, but I was quite surprised as to how little equipment is actually required. I know you do only need a wheel, but it’s amazing to think of what you can create with so few items.

cathy spinning yarn
Watching the ladies in action with the melodic turn of the wheel and the smooth transition of fibre to yarn made it too hard to resist having a go. I was a little apprehensive at first having never sat down to a spinning wheel. After a while I started to grasp what it was I needed to do, controlling the fibre as it was swept up into the wheel. Cathy did the pedaling of the wheel so that I could concentrate on the fibre.  I wouldn’t say I was a natural, but it was exciting to see the yarn starting to grow on the bobbin. Both Cathy and her mum were so patient and both took a student under their wing to attempt spinning. Throughout the (cr)afternoon they were extremely busy giving both adults and children a go with the wheel.

Cathy will be back in March and April teaching a full day workshop here at the Craft Barn. By the end of the day you should have a beautiful skein of yarn hand spun by you. The workshop includes the use of a spinning wheel, fibre and a delicious finger buffet lunch. To book a place please go to our workshops page.

Celebrating 2015 the year of the sheep!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 24-02-2015


Last Thursday was the first day of Chinese New Year. As you may already know by now 2015 is the year of the sheep. Being surrounded by many balls of wool here at Black Sheep Wools amd having ‘sheep’ in our name we have quite a close affinity with the animals. To celebrate we have put together our top 5 sheep themed items – from cross stitch kits to knitting patterns.

1. Twilleys ‘Simon the Sheep’ knitting kit

 This adorable little chap would make a lovely gift.

simon the sheep

2. Needle Felted Sheep workshop

 Stacey will be teaching a 3D needle felting workshop here at the Craft Barn on Thursday 26th March.

needle felted sheep workshop

3. Anchor long stitch kit – Shaun the Sheep

 This long stitch is a good design for those just branching out into the world of long stitch, not too many colours to work with!

shaun the sheep long stitch

4. Sheep, lamb and sheepdog pattern

 Little ones will love these characters to play with. This one pattern contains all 3 designs!

sheep, lamb and sheepdog

5. Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Fine Boucle

 This wool blend yarn comes in 4 different ‘sheep’ shades.


Debbie Abrahams Mystery Blanket 2014

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 20-02-2015


It’s a while since Michelle last brought in a fabulous knitted blanket. Michelle first brought in one of her blankets back in 2013. Take a look at that blanket here on the blog. Since then I am sure Michelle has made many other projects, although blankets can be quite time consuming. The patience of a saint is often required when joining squares / shapes together and sewing in ends. We all know that feeling, whether it’s knitted or crocheted.

A couple of weeks back Michelle brought in a magnificent blanket she was making as a gift for her Grandpa. He did not know of this surprise present, so I had to keep the photos hidden away until Michelle had given it to him for his 80th birthday. This incredible piece of work is knitted from Debbie Abrahams Mystery Blanket 2014 pattern. The design is based on seasons – including birds, seasonal colours and flowers. Michelle still had some finishing touches to make when the initial photos were taken in the Craft Barn.

debbie abrahams mystery blanket 2014

The birds had tiny little beads as their eyes.

debbie abrahams mystery blanket 2014

debbie abrahams mystery blanket 2014

Michelle sent in this photo just before she wrapped it up to give to her Grandpa. Doesn’t it look amazing!

finished blanket

Thank you for letting us share it Michelle.

Stuart Hillard GBSB Guest Blog Post – Part 1

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Guest Blog | Posted on 18-02-2015



stuart hillard

I’m so excited to be blogging for Black Sheep Wools for the duration of The Great British Sewing Bee! Thank you for having me and let’s begin! Ok, I’ll start with a confession, I missed the first two episodes of GBSB as I was swanning around Australia promoting my book, Sew Fabulous, and generally escaping the snow. Good old BBC iPlayer stepped in and saved the day and I enjoyed a two hour “sew-fest” at 3am in my jim jams. It was wonderful to see so much Amy Butler fabric in the first episode…Lorna and Amanda both chose Amy fabrics for their cotton trousers and proved that fabric with massive impact can take a simple pattern to a whole new level but it was army boy Neil who won the first challenge with his military precision and creases you could cut yourself on.  Transformations came next and, like the judges, I was thrilled to see so many imaginative ways to re-vamp a denim shirt and not a single bit of cowboy fringing to be seen… hoorah!  In the final challenge it was Neil who triumphed with his cut-away dress… help me out here, is he actually married to Rhianna or was my jet-lag playing tricks on me?  Annie said farewell and we were all promised a calf named Claudia…sweet.

the great british sewing bee week1

Image source – The Great British Sewing Bee Facebook page

the great british sewing bee week 2

Image source – The Great British Sewing Bee Facebook page

Episode two and three more sewing challenges. On that note, I can’t help thinking that these challenges are pretty tough for week two… if you’ve never sewn before and fancy having a go please do not panic! There are squillions of easy patterns to start you off and in the real world we all have more time and less pressure than the contestants in the sewing room! I loved Lorna’s little tweed waistcoat, she consistently produces well-made garments and she’s definitely in my top five already. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she will make it to the top spot in a challenge soon, she seems like a very talented and creative lady.  Speaking of creative, I love Ryan’s style, he has great flair and some fab ideas. Sewing for children, the theme of week 2, is where a lot of people get started with a needle and thread.  A new baby or young children are often the catalyst that starts a person’s sewing journey.  A simple quilt, basic clothes or a fancy dress outfit are brilliant ways to get started and cotton fabrics, particularly the ones made for patchwork, are perfect and easy to stitch.  It was another chap, this week Paul, who made the garment of the week with his hilarious ballerina elephant costume.  I was sorry to see Alex leave and her tears show the passion that many of us feel when we are sewing. I can’t wait for episode three of the Great British Sewing Bee which airs on BBC2 this thursday at 8pm…

xxx Stu