Sirdar Showcase Day

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 01-10-2014

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Firstly my apologies for not writing this blog post sooner. I’m afraid I don’t even have a great excuse; I’m just not quite sure what has happened to the last few weeks!
So let me cast my mind back and tell you all about our Sirdar Showcase event that we hosted in our Craft Barn on Saturday 13th September.

The idea for the showcase event came from Sirdar’s Sales Director, Emma Mychajlowskyj. Twice a year retailers are invited to Sirdar’s Showroom at their offices in Wakefield. The room always looks amazing, the mannequins are dressed beautifully and it is a great way to show off their new yarns. Emma wanted to take this out on the road and show their customers their new collections in the best possible way, and I’m pleased to say her idea worked.



The display arrived by van on the Friday afternoon, we cleared out lots of space in the shop and set up the mannequins. The same yarns were put side by side, showcasing the colours and designs perfectly. The new Autumn Winter collection is one of the strongest collections I’ve seen and their was a huge amount of inspiration for any knitter or crocheter. By the time we all went home on Friday night the shop looked fantastic. We had a quick curry (it’s always a curry when Sirdar come over to Warrington) and then an early night in preparation for a busy day.


Saturday dawned and it was a bright & sunny day, not the best weather to sell yarn in it must be said. However the customers mustn’t have taken any notice of this and were queuing outside at 9am. They weren’t disappointed they had super service from Russell, Sirdar’s Managing Director, Emma & Jan our Sales Rep. These guys really know their yarns. The new Sirdar ‘Wool Rich Aran’ was the hit of the day. It comes in the most beautiful jewel colours and has a gorgeous shine to it. My favourite though is the Sublime Superfine Alpaca Dk, there is a blue jumper on the front of the book that has my name all over it!




To ensure everyone had a super day we had a raffle for every customer to take part in with three prizes. The first was enough Sublime Alpaca, & Sirdar Wool Rich Aran to knit two garments. Second & third prize was their new hat yarn, ‘Heads Up’ and sock yarn ‘Heart & Sole’. That’s Sirdar from your head to your toes! We also gave away goody bags to every customer who spent over £25, and with yarn & needles in every bag they were certainly well received.




All in all it was super day. The customers loved the new yarns and designs and more than that they loved meeting the Sirdar team. Now come on Emma what event are we doing next year!

Rowan Creative Focus Worsted Sweater – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 30-09-2014



It is the turn of the boy’s for #TryitTuesday. I am not sure how I managed it but they were all just about happy to be models for #TryitTuesday. The sweater is knitted in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted and is a from Pioneer book, design ‘Crockett’.

May I present to you three generations of Mulvey men! Starting with Steve’s eldest son Tom. I don’t think he was too keen on the idea of having his photo taken, but went along with it anyway. The sweater really suits him – it could be one to add to his Christmas list for his Auntie Sara to knit.


Next up – Steve.


And finally Paul.


Who do you think wears it best? Leave a message below, we would love to hear from you.

Knitted Woodland Animals

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Customer Projects, Knitting, Staff Projects | Posted on 29-09-2014


Knitted characters are always a fun project to make. Once you are finished and the pieces are sewn together you can give your little character their very own personality, whether you add lots of stuffing or leave them floppy; also the placement of features such as eyes and mouth. This can determine if they happy or even angry!

If you are a regular vistor to the Craft Barn or our social media pages – such as Instagram you will have spotted one or two knitted hedgehogs over the past few weeks. The hedgehog pattern is new in from King Cole, knitted in Tinsel Chunky. Originally Barbara knitted this one for display in the Craft Barn.


Then our customers brought in their own versions as fast as their needles could knit them! Joan from our knit and natter group has made the most out of everyone so far. The silver coloured one will be her 12th!


This one is a ‘disco’ hedgehog, made using oddments of all the different shades of hedgehog Joan has knitted. If you have knitted your own hedgehog please send in photos to It would be great to see how many different variations have been created.


On the woodland animal theme I had to share this squirrel. Yvonne who works in the Craft Barn has opted to knit a him for her grandson. This is also from a King Cole pattern – 9012. Yvonne loves to put her own spin on things using Sirdar Fizz for the bushy tail.


Have you knitted or crocheted any knitted creatures with your latest purchase from Black Sheep Wools? We would love to see them! Email any pics to

It’s all about Patchwork (well this week anyway)

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 24-09-2014



Those of you that know me know I am pretty obsessive about knitting & crochet. Well something else has now stolen my heart – patchwork! We started to stock fabric in the Craft Barn back in March and I fell in love with it straight away. However I failed to fall in love with sewing. I remember doing a small amount of sewing at school, on an old Singer treadle machine, I made an apron and a dress. But, apart from sewing name labels on school uniforms, that has been it.

I really tried to like it. I watched ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’, I went on a hand sewing course at night school, I had a go at making an apron and a scarf (both were disasters) but I just couldn’t get into it. I hated the fact I couldn’t do it, I hated having to get everything out, set the machine up, wind the bobbins – what a faff! I gave up and went back to knitting and crochet. That is until last week. I don’t know what changed, I don’t now why I went into the Craft Barn for fabric but I did.

One of our Team Leaders in the Craft Barn, Barbara, is a very talented patchwork enthusiast. I was lucky that she was working on this fateful day. I did my usual ‘can you help me get some fabric’ and half an hour later I was well versed in cutting. I knew about my seam allowance and I knew about the ironing! This is the only bad thing about patchwork; you do a lot of ironing. I hate ironing. I try and avoid it whenever I can. But it appears that I am going to have to learn to embrace it. Barbara sent me home with 9 gorgeous squares from the V&A Vintage Collection, measuring 5 inches each and a book ‘The Beginners Guide to Quilting’.





That night Matt watched football. I packed the kids off to bed and got out the sewing machine. I was slightly frustrated when I had to change the needle, a bit more frustrated because I had to wind a bobbin, but I stuck with it. I read through the instruction book and away I went. I used tailors chalk to mark the seam allowance and managed to keep on the line. I joined three of the squares into strips and then joined the strips to make an (almost) perfect square. It is not the most perfect patchwork, when I showed it to Stephen the following morning he loved telling me my corners don’t quite meet. However for a first attempt it’s pretty damn good! The colours blend so well together and the possibilities of what I can do with it are incredible. I really feel like I have started a great new crafting journey and am so excited. Now for the next bit … quilting here we come.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Sara x

Sirdar Wool Rich Aran Jacket – #TryitTuesday

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in #TryitTuesday | Posted on 23-09-2014



Did you notice the absence of #TryitTuesday last week? I apologise for the mini break, where do the weeks and days go hey? With a garment chosen by Collette and the camera raring to go I called on three of the lovely ladies from the Craft Barn for a quick try on.

This week’s #tryitTuesday was rather impromptu. Always the best way at Black Sheep Wools, take advantage when you have managed to gather everyone in one place at the one time! I was in the shop taking a photo on a mannequin of a customers latest project (I will share this later in the week). After removing the original display garment from the mannequin and placing it to one side Collette decided to try it on. Perfect for #tryitTuesday!

The jacket is a pattern from Sirdar (7187) knitted in Wool Rich Aran. This is a new yarn for autumn winter 2014 which has already received many good reviews from our customers.


Here is Collette in the Sirdar jacket.


Followed by Stacey.


And Jayne from the tea shop.

Jayne has received a special present today from a couple of the ladies in our knit and natter group. Joan and Carole have made Jayne a King Cole Tinsel Chunky hedgehog complete with glitzy bow. She had been left on the doorstep with a note.


Jayne was very pleased with her gift and has named her Henrietta. She is now sat proudly in Tea Bags Full.



Therapeutic Knitting Guest Blog – Betsan Corkhill

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Guest Blog, Knitting | Posted on 22-09-2014


Betsan Corkhill author of Knit for Health & Wellness has kindly written a guest blog post. We are all looking forward to meeting Betsan here at the Craft Barn on 4th October for our Therapeutic Knitting day. Betsan will be here to answer questions and talk about her findings. She will also be signing copies of her book. The book is now available to order online from our website. Take a look below and read Betsan’s post…………….


‘It’s great to be asked to write a guest blog in line with a Therapeutic Knitting day at the Craft Barn on Saturday 4th October. It promises to be an exciting day.

I’m Betsan Corkhill, founder of Stitchlinks. In the earlier years of my research into the benefits of knitting I was known as ‘That mad knitting woman’ by local GPs. I’m pleased to say that I’ve educated them sufficiently and doctors now refer patients to me for Therapeutic Knitting. Indeed, one of the world’s leading clinical neuroscientists, Professor Lorimer Moseley has written the foreword to my new book ‘Knit for Health and Wellness. How to knit a flexible mind and more…’ It has received 5-star reviews from clinicians, academics, researchers and, very importantly, knitters around the world. It’s fantastic to reach such a broad audience. My dream of getting Therapeutic Knitting accepted in mainstream healthcare has become a reality.

Betsan Corkhill

So how did I get to this point?
I gave up my career as a senior physiotherapist in 2002 having become frustrated at not being able to give my patients the time and treatment they needed. They needed a much broader input of care and guidance including social contact and help in regaining an interest in life and ‘joie de vivre’ again. What I call whole-person health care.

Whole-person health is a passion of mine. It involves looking at your health within the broader context of everything else going on in your life, environment and culture. Therapeutic Knitting enables you to do this to improve wellness whether you are fit and well or living with a medical condition.

After leaving physiotherapy I became a freelance Production Editor for a range of magazines. I became aware of the potential for knitting to improve health and wellness whilst working for a range of craft magazines. Large numbers of knitters from different backgrounds and cultures were saying the same things – knitting is therapeutic, knitting heals from within.

I was immediately interested and began collecting stories from knitters around the world. In 2005 I set out to research the scientific explanations for their claims and began looking at how the meditative, creative and social benefits of knitting can be used to improve health and wellbeing. What I’ve discovered is exciting.

Modern healthcare systems are set up to treat symptoms but there is a lot more to ‘feeling well’ than can be addressed with medication alone. Wellbeing isn’t about positive thinking it is about developing a ‘feelgood core’ which enables you to face up to, and deal with, life’s inevitable downs and challenges. None of us can escape these but Therapeutic Knitting nurtures a frame of mind and gives you an immediately accessible tool to enable you to ride the flow of life events.

Therapeutic Knitting will help you to develop a flexible mind, think creatively, plan forwards, become socially engaged, enjoy fun and laughter plus enable you to contribute constructively to those around you and society. It’s about giving, making, creating, belonging, community, having fun whilst also providing a means of ‘stopping’ – finding a quiet space in this rather mad 24/7 society. Therapeutic Knitting enables you to ‘stop’ ‘heal’ and ‘grow’.

It provides wellbeing at your fingertips anytime, anywhere. You can use it to improve your feeling of wellness, maximise future health and wellbeing, manage life’s day-to-day challenges and stresses as well as to complement medical treatment to enable whole-person care.

People have been asking me to write a book for some time. ‘Knit for Health and Wellness. How to knit a flexible mind and more…’ pulls together my work so far. There is something in it for everyone who wishes to improve their health and wellbeing – even non-knitters. As one reviewer put it ‘This book is for anyone wishing to find balance in their lives’.

As the established home of Therapeutic Knitting, Stitchlinks is a global support network for those who enjoy the therapeutic benefits of craft, particularly knitting and through it we can support each other to live well.

It is also a resource for clinicians, teachers and other professionals wishing to use Therapeutic Knitting with clients and a hub for research into the benefits. I founded Stitchlinks in 2005 because I recognised that people would need a central, trusted source of information to refer to.

You can get involved in Stitchlinks and the Therapeutic Knitting movement by keeping up to date through the free monthly Stitchlinks Newsletter, joining the Stitchlinks Forum, telling your friends about the benefits, even teaching a non-knitter to knit. If you have a medical condition, please tell your doctor and healthcare workers about Stitchlinks’ research and our community of friends who understand and care. This research is ongoing and you can be a part of this too, by sending in ‘your story’ about knitting.

Use Therapeutic Knitting as a tool to improve your health and wellbeing, develop a flexible mind, enjoy fun, laughter and easy banter with friends. It will enable you to live life to the full.

Come along to the Craft Barn Therapeutic Knitting day on 4th October where I’ll be available to answer your questions and sign a copy of my book.’

Digger Dogs Chunky Blanket

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 19-09-2014


It has been a very busy and crafty week for me. Our new house is now liveable which means I am not spending every waking moment unpacking boxes. The girls have their mum back and I am able to craft again! I have even  managed a few cups of tea sat in our new garden.

The girls took full advantage of our free time on Sunday by declaring the day ‘Monopoly Day’, we played for three hours! They are both new to the game and they love it. It is funny to see how they both are in the way they play it. Madeleine barely buys  anything, she doesn’t want to waste her money. She  bought two train stations which she then sold to Matt for two Lindor chocolates.


However she wouldn’t sell me a get out of jail free card – I was so cross!  Scarlett buys everything she lands on and can’t understand why she has no money in the bank. I seem to spend most of my time in jail and Matt has hotels on Park Lane. I get the feeling he may be the winner.

Unusually for me I have only been indulging in one project over the last few weeks. A very easy, but very lovely crocheted zig zag blanket for our gorgeous dog Digger.


Now I know crocheting a blanket for my dog may seem a little indulgent but he really does deserve it. He is 11 years old (which I think makes him 77 in dog years) and has now taken to sleeping on our navy sofa. Golden Retriever hairs on a  navy sofa are not good, so my solution was to crochet him a blanket. The pattern is from Crochet Design book by Lucinda Guy and was so lovely to do. I used the pattern as a guide but changed the number of stitches and crocheted it in James C Brett Merino Chunky. I’ve never used this yarn before and what a treat it is. I can’t believe you can get this quality for this price. It’s so soft and squidgy. The colour palette is quite muted but this was perfect for my lounge. I am so happy with it and, as you can see, Digger is too!


That’s all for now. I’ll be back in a couple of days to tell you all about my very first quilting project.

Take care



Designer Q & A’s – Carol Meldrum

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 18-09-2014


Carol Meldrum is not only one of our fabulous Rowan workshop tutors she is also a published author. If you have been on one of Carol’s workshops you will know what a fun, bubbly character she is along with being a talented lady. We thought that it would be nice for those who live a little further a field to get to know Carol too. I sent Carol a selection of questions so we could get an insight into the life of a designer. We also have two special treats – FREE patterns from two of Carol Meldrum’s book 30 minute Knits - string of birds and 30 Minute Crochet - stacking pots.

30 Min Crochet_stacking_pots

30 Min Knits_birds-2

Who taught you to knit / crochet? How old were you?

I was taught to knit by my Mum and Grandma when I was about 4 or 5year old, we were also taught to knit, sew and embroider at school. My Grandma taught me to crochet when I was a bit older but I didn’t really get into crochet until I was at Art School, I could remember the stitches but not their names!

What was your first ever knitting / crochet project?

I don’t know whether this was my first knit project but I do remember making a stripy Doctor Who scarf for my doll and not sewing in all the ends just cutting them off and it all fell apart. My first proper crochet project was a huge sculptural instillation piece inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings for the end of 1st year show at Art School.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

It really depends on the type of project I’m working on as to where my inspiration comes from. Often with books and magazines the publisher will have a theme you will work to. I do have a thing for plants and trees though, the way the shapes, textures and colours work together.



What is your favourite yarn to knit with?

I’m a huge fan of Rowan yarns and always gravitate back to Felted Tweed DK, Kid Silk Haze and Cotton Glace.


Where is your favourite place to knit?

I’m usually sat at my desk when knitting or crocheting with everything spread out on the table, I do tend to expand the creative chaos out over the living room though!

Do you ever watch TV or listen to music when doing your knitting / crochet?

I like to listen to radio 4 or 6 music depending on my mood, but am partial to a cheesy movie in the afternoon!

Do you have a favourite knitting / crochet snack?

I don’t really have a favourite snack but I do have to have a coffee on the go.

What other knitwear designer do you admire?

There are so many talented designers we are spoilt for choice, but I really admire Kim Hargreaves work. She has a definite style that is simple and elegant, the small details with texture, pattern and finishing touches makes her work for me anyway stand the test of time.

What / who inspired you to become a knitwear designer?

It’s all Kaffe Fassett’s fault that I ended up studying knitwear design. I had originally planned to do Fine Art Print Making but after a spell in the Textile Department and being introduced to Kaffe Fassett’s work and how he almost paints with yarn, I knew textiles were for me.

Do you have a knitted / crocheted treasure? A piece that you could never part with, a gift or maybe something you have made yourself?

I inherited my Grandmas crochet hooks and there is one in particular that I love to use and would be heartbroken if I lost it.

Do you enjoy knitting / crocheting for yourself? If so what do you make?

I do enjoy making garments for myself but the time I have to knit/ crochet for myself is very limited. I have a notebook full of swatches, sketches and scribbles ready to be transformed into garments.


If you could give us just one knit or crochet tip, what would it be?

My top tip would be to check your tension before starting a project, especially if it’s a new stitch or yarn that you’ve not worked with before.

Carol will be teaching a cable knitting workshop here at the Craft Barn on Wednesday 24th September 2014. The workshop is suitable for those new to cable knitting or those who wish to perfect their technique. There are still places available should you like to book a place. Take a look on our workshops page for more information.




British Knitting Awards – Winners!

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 17-09-2014


We like to share good news with you here at Black Sheep Wools and today we have two pieces of good news! We are very pleased to announce that we have won Best Yarn Shop Day Experience 2014 and Best Local Independent Store in the North of England in the Let’s Knit British Knitting Awards 2014. Woohooo!! Thank you so much to everyone who kindly voted for us, we are very grateful for your support.

Knitting Logo Winner

Therapeutic Knitting

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 15-09-2014


Come along to our Therapeutic Knitting Day on Saturday 4th October 10am – 4pm!

Therapeutic Knitting is an excellent tool for improving your health and wellbeing and can be used to manage stress, rediscover balance in life or improve your feelings of wellness.

World Expert in therapeutic knitting, Betsan Corkhill will be joining us from 10am to answer your questions on how you can benefit as many others have done.

Betsan, the founder of Stitchlinks, has been researching the meditative, creative and social benefits of knitting since 2005 and has many years’ experience as a clinician. Her book ‘Knit for Health and Wellness. How to knit a flexible mind and more…’ has received acclaimed reviews from leading clinicians, academics, researchers and, importantly, knitters across the world. There will be copies of this amazing book available to purchase on the day.

She has been running a Therapeutic Knitting group at an NHS pain clinic in Bath since 2006 and regularly gives talks to doctors and other healthcare workers. Other clinicians and carers across the world are following her lead and using therapeutic knitting to help their clients manage a range of medical conditions including mental and physical illnesses.

Betsan will be signing copies of her book and chatting to anyone who wants to know more about how therapeutic knitting can help them or the people around them.

Please help by spreading the word about this fantastic event! If you have any queries or questions, please email