A lovely thank you message

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 17-04-2015

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Earlier this week we had a visit from a knit and natter group called ‘Wool & Chat’, a group based in Burscough. The ladies had an enjoyable day, spending time shopping, sitting down for a bite to eat, then watching Stacey doing her amazing arm knitting demo.

A member of the group, called Sue sent over a lovely email we had to share with everyone. If you are a member of a knitting / craft group and fancy taking a trip to the Craft Barn in Warrington, please get in touch and we will book you in the diary.

Dear All at Black Sheep Wool Barn,

Thank you for a fabulous day yesterday. Everyone enjoyed the experience, they didn’t need to tell me I could tell by the happy chatter on the coach coming back to Burscough. This will be a trip that will be remembered for many years to come or until we come again!

The fact that it was so successful is all down to you and your staff! The lunch was great, especially the scones! Jane and her team really pulled out all the stops by making the room look so welcoming, the china cups and saucers etc, the warm and friendly “just ask” attitude. We are al full of praise for her and hope she had time to put her feet up later on!

The staff in the shop also made us feel very welcome and that nothing was too much trouble and we were all so grateful for the advice and helpfulness.

And what can we say about the arm knitting! This is something we are definitely going to give a try as we have some young people who are going out to Uganda and we want to teach them how to do it so that they can pass it on to the young people over there! We will send you pictures so you can see how they got on!

So a very heartfelt thank you to you all! You have given us a day to remember, a new skill to learn and lots of lovely wool to get knitting with.

With love from

Sue Hodgkins and the Wool ‘n Chat group.

woolnchat_coach

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Meet the team – Emma

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Meet the team | Posted on 16-04-2015

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emma_banner

Name: Emma

Skills:

- Knitting
- Crochet
- Cross stitch
- Sewing

Favourite yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton

Favourite colour: Purple or pink

Favourite season: Summer

Tell us a little bit more about yourself…….

I love going to Walt Disney World, Florida – well on holiday in general really!
I have 2 cats – Dawson & Lily

What is your favourite craft and why?

Knitting – I love the end result, knowing I have made it.

What’s the one craft accessory you could not live without and why?

Small scissors for snipping yarn and threads.

When did you catch the crafting bug?

I have been doing cross stitch since I was young. Then knitting and crochet since I started at Black Sheep Wools, within the last 3 – 4 years.

What’s in your project bag? 

Chunky monkey from Jem Weston’s Cute Little Knits book. Also a crocheted star shape cushion in Stylecraft yarn.

cute little knits monkey

Nearly finished ready to sew up.

fair isle cute little knits

Chunky monkey fair isle scarf

stylecraft star

What type of maker are you? Do you have lots of WIP’s or do you like to finish a project before starting a new one?

I usually start a few things but then tend to only work on one until it is finished.

Which designer inspires you the most?

Jem Weston :)

Do you have any top tips to share?

Take a copy of your pattern, read all the way through and cross out / hide any bits which aren’t relevant e.g. when knitting a garment with 2 versions on a pattern.

Blogger of the month – March 2015

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Blogger of the Month | Posted on 14-04-2015

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march_2015We are pleased to share our Blogger of the month for March 2015. A massive congratualtions goes to……… Charm About You blogger, aka Lucy. Lucy writes a beautiful and colourful blog where she shares all of her patchwork and quilting experience. There is always a new project popping up finished with interesting embroidery or reading the journey through a blog post, as a selection of fabrics are gradually transformed into a patchwork design. Charm About You is the perfect place to gravitate for all patchwork lovers. It may well inspire you to dust off your sewing machine.

Read all about Lucy and her blog – Charm About You in the interview below. Don’t forget to take a look at her blog too. She has a fantastic offer and Black Sheep Wools gift card to give away. If you enjoy keeping up with your favourite bloggers via social media, be sure to follow Lucy @charmaboutyou.

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

When I began quilting I read a lot of blogs and didn’t have any friends that sewed. I starting blogging to document my projects and reach out to the quilting community. I made my first quilt in the summer of 2011 and that’s when I decided to start blogging. The friendships and connections I have made through blogging continue to inspire and encourage me.

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? Do you have a photo?

There is always more than one WIP on the go! My current favourite is my Green Tea and Sweet Beans pattern by Jen Kingwell. I am hand sewing the blocks and enjoying the relaxed pace. I have created my own versions of the appliqué blocks because I wanted to incorporate some English Paper Piecing and have used different shapes to create the flowers.

epp flowers

Who taught you to sew? When did you catch the bug?

I am mostly self-taught and used a lot of different online tutorials to help me learn the basics. My Aunty and my American cousin both quilt and offered me lots of tips and advice. I did some embroidery when I was younger and still enjoy doing that occasionally. I have always had a basic sewing machine but it was reading blogs that encouraged me to really get into quilting.

What was your first ever patchwork / quilting project?

The first quilt I made was a present for my Nan using a very simple pattern. My grandmother is an amazing woman and she knits, crochets, embroiders and also paints beautifully. She made me and each of my children crochet blankets and I wanted to make something for her.

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you sew? If so what?

I do watch TV while I am hand sewing, mostly totally trashy stuff that doesn’t require attentive viewing! I prefer to do one thing at a time so I might stop to watch Scorpion, Bones or Elementary. My days are so busy and noisy (three children!) that I prefer peace and quiet when I sew so I can concentrate, also my machine is so loud I can’t really hear anything over it!

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

There’s a few but one of my most treasured is the Bees of A Feather quilt I finished last year. I was in two online quilting bees, ‘Bee A Brit Stingy’ and ‘Scrappy? Sew Bee It’, and asked both groups to make me feather blocks using the Feather Bed Quilt pattern by Anna Maria Horner. After making some of my own feathers I put them all together, it was a bit of a puzzle and I used low volume fabrics to fill in any gaps. I hand quilted it and loved every stitch! Having blocks come from friends all over the world, the scrappy and beautiful feathers and the overall design make this a very treasured quilt that I sleep under every night.

beesofafeatherquilt

quilting

Do you have a patchwork or quilting tip you would like to share?

There are so many great books and resources online full of practical tips but generally I would say to sew what you love. Find a pattern that excites you, fabric that speaks to you and go for it! Quilting projects can take time and I stay motivated when I really want to see the finished quilt. I have tried lots of methods and styles of patchwork and quilting, it is fun experimenting and using different techniques so you can see what you enjoy most. I never thought I would love hand piecing until I actually did it. Foundation paper piecing, free motion quilting, appliqué, English paper piecing, hand quilting etc. – there are so many methods for you to try!

Where do you find inspiration for a new project? Do you choose the fabric or pattern first?

Usually my inspiration comes from online, I also see a lot of projects in books and magazines but anything can spark an idea! I tend to pick a project first and then find the perfect fabric to make it.

Do you have a favourite crafting snack?

Not sure it counts but probably coffee!

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

I use many different brands and designers and like to mix lines rather than stick to one. I like modern prints, as well as 1930s reproduction fabrics and lots in between. Many of my projects are quite eclectic as a result.

Do you have a favourite project? 

Two of my favourite makes combine sewing and embroidery to create cases that I use daily! The first is my Sewing Portfolio Organiser, pattern by Kerry Green available on the Liberty Craft Blog. I changed the outer part and used a Sublime Stitching embroidery pattern. The second is the Embroidery Bag, from the tutorial by Sara Lawson. Both these bags help keep me organised and I really enjoyed making them.

sewing bags

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

I follow so many, too many to list! I often use Feedly to keep up with the blogs I read but you can see who I follow on my Blogger profile.

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

Loads! When I started I just did one at a time but those days are gone and now I’m happy with working on different projects when the mood suits me.

What other pastimes do you enjoy?

Other pastimes?! I think I’m too addicted to sewing for anything else! I love being with my family, my kids creativity makes me smile and seeing friends and having a good natter is always good for my soul. I am a voracious fiction reader and welcome book recommendations!

Which fabric designers do you admire? 

I love Denyse Schmidt and her ability to create retro prints that still feel modern. Anna Maria Horner designs beautiful prints in gorgeous colour palettes. Darlene Zimmerman has adorable 1930s prints and two of my favourite modern fabric designers are Carolyn Friedlander and Rashida Coleman-Hale. There are many more I admire and I look forward to more fabric collections from Jen Kingwell and Ayumi Takahashi who both debuted their first designs this year.

What is your favourite item to sew?

Quilts! I adore making beautiful, snuggly quilts to cover people up in handmade goodness. I also love smaller projects like decorative items, zip bags and cushions for when I want a quicker finish.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Be yourself. I am glad I blog because it is a document of my creative journey. Only now have I started to feel I have developed my own style and am confident in my decisions when crafting. Join in the community; comment on blogs, link up to weekly/ monthly blog parties, join swaps or bees – it’s a great way to make new friends. I run another blog called Le Challenge with my friend Nat from Made in Home, we set a theme each month and people link up their finished projects and show how they interpreted the theme. It’s a fun way to get inspiration and get really creative!

Do you read any craft magazines?

I like Quilt Now! Quilt Mania, Love Patchwork and Quilting and Stitch. I tend to buy them when there is a project or article I would like to make or read!

Who do you sew for?

Anyone and everyone. I started giving quilts to all my family and friends but recently I have started more selfish sewing and making things for myself.

What one tool could you not live without?

Just one? Probably a needle! That is all I really need for hand sewing. For patchwork I couldn’t be without a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. There are so many great quilting tools available but those are the bare necessities!

Love Your Yarn Shop Day 2015

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Company News | Posted on 13-04-2015

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yarn shop day 2015

Have you heard of Love Your Yarn Shop Day? It is a day to celebrate your local bricks and mortar yarn shop. Local yarn shops used to be quite a common sight on high streets up and down the country, and in recent years they have gradually vanished.

Love Your Yarn Shop Day is a fabulous idea thought up by Let’s Knit magazine for shops to show off what is so great about visiting a bricks and mortar store. This special day is on Saturday 2nd May and there will be all sorts of fun, free workshops and demonstrations going on here at the Black Sheep Craft Barn in Warrington. All events throughout the day will be free to attend. We would love it if you could come along and experience something new here at the Craft Barn celebrating Yarn Shop Day with us.

Spinning yarn with Cathy Wright

Expert spinner Cathy Wright will be here with her spinning wheel to show the art of spinning yarn. There will even be the opportunity to have a go yourself!

10am – 10.45am
2pm – 2.45pm

Dyeing yarn with Cathy Wright

Not only does Cathy spin her own yarn she also enjoys to dye it too. She will go through various techniques in her session.

11am – 11.45am
3pm – 3.45pm

Sock knitting with Blogger Winwick Mum

Winwick Mum is an avid sock knitter and will be sharing her skills. There will be no more SSS –Second Sock Syndrome once she is finished! Christine will be on hand to offer advice and show you how to begin a sock.

9.30am – 12pm

20 minute Arm knitting demonstration with Stacey

Stacey has taught all members of staff to arm knit and now it is the turn of our customers to learn this exciting technique!

11.30am – 11.50am

3.30pm – 3.50pm

Amigurumi crochet with Emma Varnam

Designer and blogger Emma Varnam will be sharing her knowledge of the basics of crocheting amigurumi, with the help of her book, ‘How to Crochet’.

2pm – 4pm

If you can’t make it to the Black Sheep Craft Barn please do go and visit your local yarn shop. You can find out if there is a yarn shop near you participating on the Let’s Knit website.

Sara’s Video Blog Four

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 10-04-2015

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A quick catch up today on my latest projects……..

Cologne 2015 – Part 2

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 04-04-2015

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Saturday evening started early with drinks in the hotel bar with an industry legend, Jimmy Brett of (obviously) James C Brett.  Jimmy is well known for his one liners and words of wisdom and tonight was no exception. We were joined by his son Jamie and Russell & Emma from Sirdar. As usual we were the noisiest table in the bar.

Stephen & I then went for our annual dinner date with Designer Yarns in a traditional brauhaus where more beer and suckling pig was the order of the day. They serve the beer in  tiny 200cl glasses so I seemed to drink quite a lot but didn’t get drunk (or at least I don’t think I did) I sat with Louisa Harding and we made some great plans for later in the year – watch this space for some exciting in-store events. I love Louisa’s designs she takes such delight in designing very feminine garments that are shaped to flatter you. She is so skilled and has spent many years learning her craft. It is a skill that is becoming rare in the days of free downloads and a world where anyone can be a designer.

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Louisa has also launched my yarn of the show ‘Amitola Grande’. I love Amitola, the shading of the yarn is gorgeous but it is rather fine. Amitola Grande offers the same beautiful shades but in a worsted weight – mmm!

The next stop was a Flamenco Bar for live music & dancing. We all joined back up with Sirdar & Brett’s.  We had such fun. It is so lovely that all of the manufacturers are such great friends and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They are so passionate about hand knitting yarn and it is this passion that ensures they all create the most beautiful products for us to knit & crochet with.

Breakfast was slightly later the next morning. My head was a little woolly but nothing that a few cups of tea couldn’t sort out.

Our only Sunday appointment was with Michael at Rico. Their stand looks so fresh and inviting. They offer a huge range of craft kits as well as yarn. I spotted fabric paints, key ring kits and even some fur elbow patches! I think my old geography teacher may have liked those.

rico 2015

The fashion show was our final stop. The presentation before the show is in German so it usually goes over my head but the gist of it was that the craft market is still growing – I think! There wasn’t an overall theme for the show but there were some gorgeous garments. The Rowan dresses were fabulous and their show stopper Swarovski wedding dress blew me away.

rowan swarovski dress

All in all it was fantastic weekend. I feel inspired and incredibly lucky to work in yarn.

Cologne 2015 – Part 1

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 02-04-2015

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H&H 2014, what a weekend! I often need to remind myself how lucky I am to have a job I love so much and work with people who continually inspire me and  make me laugh lots! This weekend was no exception.

knitted teepee

Stephen & I flew over on Friday morning from Manchester airport. The flight is always interesting as generally it is full of the knitterati. We spotted Sirdar, Designer Yarns, and Louisa Harding and I celebrated our anniversary. We first met three years ago on this exact flight.

After checking into our hotel we hot footed around Cologne in search of Bratwurst. Which was more difficult than you’d think? Once we had consumed our sausage, bread & mustard we headed off to the exhibition. The best way to describe it is as the Motor show for cars, minus the scantily clad women!

h & h

First stop was the Designer Yarns stand. Their brands are Noro, Araucania, DY Choice and of course Debbie Bliss & Louisa Harding. Both designers were on the stand and it was great to have a cheeky glass of wine (one of which I managed to spill all over Debbie!) and put the knitting world to rights with them. I’m lucky to have got to know both quite well over past three the years and love to hear their take on what is happening in the Yarn world. I think we all agreed that the industry is changing faster now than ever before.

louisa harding

debbie bliss yarn

louisa harding, sara, debbie bliss

russell & ian

We were then off to dinner with the team from Coats: the best named man in the industry Timo Wolff, Sharon Brant, (the knitting hands from Harry Potter) and Kate Buller, Brand Manager for Rowan. They are always great fun and so passionate about their brands. We always go to the same restaurant which is very traditional. My roast suckling pig was gorgeous as was my malt beer. I could have had more but it was early to bed as we had a very busy day planned on the Saturday.

Back to the show on Saturday morning, it was meetings, meetings, meetings. We saw the new Swarovski knitting crystals from Rowan – Wow! I can’t wait to try these when they launch in the Autumn. Stylecraft had the actual ‘Lily Pond Blanket’ from their CAL , & it had actually been crocheted by Jane Crowfoot herself – gorgeous!

stylecraft crochet along

rowan swarovski yarn

rowan swarovski yarn

The meetings were followed by a super long, but alcohol free, lunch with Emma & Russell from Sirdar. We didn’t get to see their new Autumn Winter yarns but from the sound of it there are a couple of crackers. Emma & I are good friends and she always has a great take on the market and the fashions in hand knitting. It had been far too long since our last catch up so the lunch lasted three hours!

crocheted scooter

Saturday night is always fun in Cologne, but more about that next time!

Rowan Yarns Crochet Along – Part 1

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 01-04-2015

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Barbara is joining in with the new Rowan Crochet Along, designed by Lisa Richardson. Part one of the weekly pattern instalment was released last week. It is a slightly different format to the previous Rowan ‘along’ projects that have gone before. Firstly it is crochet (the first two were knitted) and secondly there are multiple options for the finished outcome. Rowan have offered a broad selection of items that will suit almost everyone. You can choose to make a baby blanket, ladies shawl, scarf or cushion cover.  This is also good to suit your budget and time too. We all have those WIP’s hiding in our project bags and they won’t knit / crochet / stitch themselves, will they? Adding another large scale project in the mix is not always the most feasible option. Saying that, how many crafters do actually only have the one project on the go at one time. So, if time is a factor then you can choose your project accordingly.

The Crochet Along has been designed in the beautiful Rowan Summerlite 4ply. There are 3 different choices for the colour palette – pastel, bright and blue. Barbara has chosen the pastel colours.

rowan summerlite crochet along shades

The next decision for Barbara was which project to go for? At the moment she is wavering towards the shawl, as it is only the early stages she may change her mind.

To familiarise herself with the pattern Barbara did a test hexagon, following the pattern using an odd ball of yarn, just to get a feel for how the pattern takes shape. This is a good tip when embarking on a new crochet project. Plus it saves your beautiful and perfect balls of new yarn from getting spoilt, should you need to pull it back a few times before you get it right.

test_hex

The test hexagon.

rowan crochet along 2015

rowan crochet along

The four shades of yarn look gorgeous worked together.

rowan crochet along

Have you embarked on the Rowan Crochet Along 2015? Share your progress with us on Facebook, Twitter or Insatgram. We would love to see how you are getting on.

How to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 30-03-2015

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Do you often lust after a fabric collection, yet can’t quite put your finger on what to make? We have just the answer for you and it comes with a simple guide – how to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art. This quick and easy no sew project is extremely easy to do. All you need is an embroidery hoop, a piece of fabric and scissors. It really is that simple! This is a great way to swop and change your decor without spending lots of money. Why not choose a selection of fabrics from a collection and display a group of 3 hoops in varying sizes together The fabric could even be used again for a future project. To keep it in tip top condition opt to pin and tuck the fabric into the back rather than cutting away the excess.

In this example we have used Philip Jacobs Japanese Chrysanthemum – Green and a Milward embroidery hoop.

Step 1

Separate the inner hoop from the outer hoop.

how to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art

Step 2

Lay your chosen fabric on top of the inner hoop.

how to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art

Step 3

Choose where you wish the fabric to sit. Place the outer hoop over.

how to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art

Step 4

Tighten the hoop so that the fabric is taught.

how to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art

Step 5

Turn over and trim away the excess fabric. Cutting up to the edge of the hoop. If you are choosing to keep the fabric as a square pin it in rather than cutting with scissors.

how to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art

Step 6

Et voila! Fabric embroidery hoop wall art in a matter of minutes. The only problem now you will want to change your display every week with so many fabrics to choose from.

how to make fabric embroidery hoop wall art

Carol’s Broken Leg Projects

Posted by Amy Dagger | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 26-03-2015

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Those of you who read our newsletter or have watched Sara’s Mother’s Day video blog may already know that Carol (Black Sheep) has broken her leg. She popped in for a quick visit today with her latest ‘broken leg’ projects. She has been knitting all sorts of lovely yarn samples for the shop and has also taken on the task of Sara’s crochet hexagon throw.

Last week’s project was a fab baby blanket knitted in the popular yarn – Rico Pompon. This was simply knitted on 4mm needles with just two balls. A pattern will follow next week. Keep an eye out on our free patterns page.

rico pompon blanket

 

Here are her first selection of hexagons. Stacey showed Carol how to crochet in a morning and she soon had a few hexagons made, a natural crocheter.

 

crochet hexagons

 

These were the hexagons she brought in today! Lots and lots of hexagons ready to be crocheted together. Stacey is going to show Carol this technique tomorrow. Watch this space for a beautiful throw next week! This is crocheted in shades of Stylecraft Special Dk.

hexagon_throw