Knitting Starter Kit

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting, Knitting Essentials | Posted on 27-03-2017

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Before you embark on your knitting journey it is worth setting out on your quest with all of the essential knitting tools. Along the way you will probably add to this knitting starter kit or find you prefer variations, such as working with circular needles rather than simply straight pins. It’s all part of learning something new, settling with what is comfortable and works for you personally. Speak to any knitter and their knitting kit will vary from another. We have just created a guide to what we would suggest are the essentials for a knitting starter kit.

With these few items, all you need now is some yarn and perhaps a pattern if you wish to start making something straight away.

Knitting Starter Kit


The Essentials

 

Knitting Needles – a selection of knitting needles are always handy to have in your knitting bag when you enjoy working with various weights of yarn. The knitting needles you require will vary depending on what you are planning to make. If you plan to work with a DK (Double Knitting) weight of yarn then 3.25mm and 4mm will be your go to needles for most standard DK patterns. Knitting needles can be made of different materials too – metal, plastic, bamboo or rosewood.

Scissors / Snips – a small pair of embroidery scissors or snips are super useful to have in your knitting kit. It is a good idea to keep them in your knitting bag at all times, as you don’t want to have to go searching at that crucial point in your knitting. Snips are a great invention as you can put a lid on them to protect your rummaging fingers from the blade.

Tape Measure – a very useful tool to have in your knitting starter kit. There is always an occasion where you will need to keep an eye on the length of your piece of knitting. We’ve all been there and done that when it comes to knitting too much and having to pull it back. Staying on track and being aware of how your knitting is progressing is a good habit to get into from the beginning.

Stitch Markers – there are a variety of different stitch markers available, split ring, locking and ornamental. Many people find their own personal favourite as they become familiar with knitting.

Knitters Needle (Sewing up needle) – no knitter can be without a sewing up needle. A must have item whether you are making a project that requires joining together or even if you just need to sew in your ends. A handy tip would be tip keep it in a pouch or attach to a stray ball band so it doesn’t get lost at the bottom of your knitting bag.

Notepad & pen – a very useful pair of items to have to hand to make notes about the pattern you are working on. When you are following a knitting pattern, it is good to get into the habit of writing down where you are up to, so that you can easily pick up where you left off next time.

Crochet Hook it may sound strange and you might think you are now reading the essential items for a crochet starter kit, you’re not, it is still knitting. A crochet hook is a life saver if you drop a stitch in your knitting. Simply catch the stitch and crochet back up to the top.

Non – essential (but still useful)

 

Cable Needle – once you are confident with your knit and purl stitch and fancy tackling something new, such as a cable pattern, then you will require a cable needle.

Stitch Holder – if you are following a knitting pattern it will often require that you leave a piece of knitting on a stitch holder rather than casting off. You can then free up your knitting needles to knit the next section of your pattern.

Nappy Pins – are mini stitch holders really. Very good for when working on smaller projects, to hold small sections of knitting.

Row Counter – these little gadgets can simply be slipped onto your knitting needle, so that you can manually adjust the number after every row or stitch repeat completed so that you don’t lose track of the pattern.

Yarn Bobbinsare used for colour work. When you need small quantities of each colour you can wrap the yarn onto a yarn bobbin and use it from there. This helps to avoid any major tangles with full balls of yarn too.

Yarn Guide an extra piece of equipment that some knitters find helpful when doing Fair Isle. It helps to keep the yarn from getting tangled when working with two colours simultaneously.

Stitch Stoppers – attach to the tips of your knitting needles to prevent your knitting from dropping off the end when in storage.

Knitters Marking Pinswill help to hold your knitted pieces together temporarily whilst sewing up.

 

 

The Latest Baby Blanket Patterns

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 20-03-2017

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Now you know I love a blanket and it appears I’m not the only one. Sirdar have launched some great new baby blanket designs for the Spring that make me want to find a baby to knit for! My absolute favourite is the Rabbit & the Bear Blanket (4759). Knitted in the smooch Sirdar Snuggly Snowflake DK, these are so great and they would make a perfect present.

There are always lots of designs for crocheted blankets but not so many knitted, well Sirdar are doing their best to change this. They have released one pattern with four completely different knitted baby blankets on them (4749). One features cables, the next is a leaf pattern another has a subtle diamond pattern on it, Last but not least is the square striped blanket, in fresh spring colours. A great design that would be perfect for a relatively new knitter too.

If you want a super easy blanket, take a look at pattern 4758. Knitted in the classic that is Sirdar Baby Crofter Dk, it shows off this yarn beautifully. It would be great to knit in the car (as long as you are not driving). No shaping, no counting – just perfect!

If these baby blanket patterns aren’t what you are looking for, then take a look at more of our latest arrivals from Sirdar.

Emma Wright at Black Sheep Wools

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 16-03-2017

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On Saturday 25th March we have young knitwear (and crochet) designer Emma Wright coming in store, to the Craft Barn for a Designer Showcase day. Emma will be in store from 10am – 3pm, surrounded by lots and lots of her superb designs for you to have a nosey and a natter to the designer herself. Back in November we did a Designer Q & A interview with Emma. Read the blog post here.

Emma Wright has worked with many well-known brands, designing for – Debbie Bliss, West Yorkshire Spinners and Designer Yarns to name but a few. If you are looking for inspiration for a new project or want a little advice on a knitting query, Emma will be on hand to help. For adults and teens who would like to learn to knit, Emma will be hosting two learn to knit drop in sessions tthroughout the day. Why not pull up a chair and join in!

Learn to Knit Drop in Session
10.30am – 11.30am | 1.30pm – 2.30pm

Emma will be back on Thursday 27th April teaching her Cable & Bobble Hand Warmers workshop. The beautiful hand warmer pattern is featured in her West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious book. Each participant can choose their prefered shade of Illustrious Dk yarn to use on the day. Emma will teach you how to do the perfect bobble and learn how to do cable. Plus, all full day workshops include a delicious finger buffet style lunch, refreshments and a scrumptious slice of homemade cake served late afternoon. All in all a fantastic day out that includes luxury yarn and cake too!

 

British Craft Awards 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 10-03-2017

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It’s time to celebrate folks! We are super excited to announce that we came 2nd place in the British Craft Awards 2017 for Knitting Retailer of the Year. It is a fantastic achievement that we are all very pleased about at Black Sheep Wools. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for us and all your continued support. We have lots of new and exciting things coming up in 2017. Keep your eyes peeled for new yarny delights landing on our website very soon.

The winners in each category were announced at the Stitches exhibition in February. Take a look at theyarnloop blog post for full listings of all winners and runners up.

Kaffe Fassett & Brandon Mably at Black Sheep Wools

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Patchwork & Quilting | Posted on 03-03-2017

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As I write this blog post the legend that is Kaffe Fassett is sitting in Stephen’s office, listening to Radio 4, working on a needlepoint. How utterly amazing is that!

I remember hearing his name lots when I was a young Saturday girl in our shop in Sale, Manchester. As my own knitting & sewing skills have progressed my admiration of him has only grown. His use of colour is simply breath taking and his philosophy ‘keep learning’ is infectious.

I have been lucky enough to meet Kaffe a couple of times before this week. But nothing prepared me for his visit to Black Sheep Wools. I picked Kaffe and Brandon Mably, his design partner & studio manager, up from Warrington Train Station on Wednesday evening. I was so nervous! I made Matt clean the car (a rare occurrence) and drove so carefully. I had horrors of bumping the car with them both in it.

We made our way to the Craft Barn and their reaction to our beautiful shop was amazing. They both loved it. The fabrics were inspirational and they had never seen a yarn collection like it in the UK. It all boded well for the next day.

Julie and Jayne in their Kaffe Fassett aprons

Kaffe & Brandon ran a patchwork colour workshop on the first day. It was about inspiring people and being confident in your colour choices. Big bold patterns were called for and the designs that the group came up with were breath taking.

In the evening we had booked Kaffe to do a ‘Lecture in Colour’. He talked us through his inspirations and life, both were fascinating. He takes his inspiration from so many different places, a world traveller with an eye for detail. From paint pots to Irish steps, pebbles on the beach, to paint disappearing down a plug hole – wow, wow, wow!

He is a natural orator. I have heard him speak three times now and each time it has been completely different. The round of applause was loud & long, I think we have all been inspired. The talk in the shop today has been of colour and creativity. I want to go home this weekend and make! Just the cleaning & the ironing to do first!

If you need some inspiration take a look at his books and fabrics on our site, I will be thumbing through ‘Quilts in Italy’ tonight if you need me!

Counting down to Kaffe Fassett

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 01-03-2017

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Preparations are well underway in the Craft Barn for the arrival of Kaffe Fassett & Brandon Mably tomorrow. New fabrics have been added to our already extensive selection, fabulous knitted garments from Kaffe’s latest collection with Rowan are out on display – a general theme of vibrant colour is filling the Craft Barn.

There are a couple of bits and bobs to add in today, then we are ready for Kaffe’s Diamond Quilt workshop, followed by his Glorious Colour lecture in the evening. Then on Friday Brandon Mably will be teaching his Persian Poppy knitting workshop.

If you didn’t manage to book a place on one of their workshops or the lecture this time around; worry not, they will be back at the Craft Barn in July.

 

 

 

 

Knitting Needle Conversion Chart

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting, Knitting Essentials | Posted on 23-02-2017

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When learning to knit one of the first hurdles is understanding knitting needles. There are so many different sizes to choose from for various thickness of yarn, it is important to clarify this before you even begin choosing yarn. Knitting needles can come in many different guises from many lengths of straight pins to double pointed needles (DPN’s) or circular. Have you been given someone’s old set of knitting needles and can’t quite fathom what all the numbers mean? We are here to help!

In the UK and Europe most modern knitting patterns now use metric terminology for all knitting needles. Therefore all knitting needles are sized in milimetres (mm).  This is quite easy to understand as the higher the number in mm, the larger the needle thickness will be.

If you were to find yourself a vintage pattern then you will notice a big difference. Needles were once sized differently, the higher the number, the smaller the needle size, e.g. what we now class as a 2mm knitting needle was actually a UK 14. A UK 14 was the smallest available, with the numbers decreasing all the way down to a 10mm – UK 000.

To add another spanner in the works there is just one more set of needle sizes to keep an eye out for, US sizes. On US knitting patterns you will see needle sizes listed from 0 upwards. Zero is the smallest size knitting needle, in metric a 2mm.

It is always helpful to have a quick reference tool to look back on, so we have created this useful knitting needle conversion chart.

Knitting Needle Conversion Chart

Metric UK US
2mm 14 0
2.25mm 13 1
2.5mm    
2.75mm 12 2
3mm 11  
3.25mm 10 3
3.5mm   4
3.75mm 9 5
4mm 8 6
4.5mm 7 7
5mm 6 8
5.5mm 5 9
6mm 4 10
6.5mm 3 10 ½
7mm 2  
7.5mm 1  
8mm 0 11
9mm 00 13
10mm 000 15
12mm   17
15mm   19
20mm   36

Valentine Craft Ideas

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Posted on 14-02-2017

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This Valentine’s Day why not break with tradition and give yourself a gift of love. We are thinking a crafty gift, whether you knit, crochet or cross stitch why not put aside your current project for a day or two and make yourself a Valentine themed treat. Some of the mini projects make great stash busters too, so there are no limits when it comes to colour choice. No need to stick to traditional pinks and red for these Valentine craft ideas. You are making a little something for you, so go and have a rummage through your stash or treat yourself to a new ball of your favourite shade of yarn.

Valentine Craft Ideas

Mini Crochet Hearts

These teeny crochet delights are a quick and easy make. Why not attach a loop of crocheted chains and add to a key ring? Make lots and lots of mini crochet hearts and thread onto a pretty ribbon to make a Valentine garland. Share your pics with #blacksheepwools on Instagram or tag @blacksheepwools. We will keep an eye out to see what creative ideas you come up with.

Knitted Love Heart

This knitted love heart can fit in the palm of your hand. It is once again a mini make that requires just a small amount of DK yarn and toy stuffing. If you wanted to make a bigger version you could adjust the needle size accordingly and use a chunky or super chunky weight yarn.
Wondering what you would do with a knitted love heart? Why not pop a spot of dried lavender into the stuffing before sewing up, attach a loop of ribbon to the finished heart and hang it in over a coat hanger in your wardrobe.

Heart Dishcloth

Black Sheep Lucy came up with this fun dishcloth pattern shaped like a Valentine love heart. The crochet pattern is easy to follow and can be made up in soft cotton yarn such as Rico Creative Cotton Aran.

Cherry Heart’s Valentine Hottie

Sandra Paul aka Cherry Heart designed this exclusive Valentine’s hottie for us a couple of years ago. It is still a fun make and with a warm hot water bottle inside you can snuggle up and stay cosy this winter. Make it in the shades of Rico Creative Twist Super Chunky as seen here.

Live Laugh Love Cross Stitch Kit

Live Laugh Love cross stitch by Historical Sampler Company is a modern take on a sampler cross stitch design.  Stitched in a vibrant shade of aqua this kit will light up any room in your house with a cheery message.

 

Craft exhibitions for your diary

Posted by Amy | Posted in Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 10-02-2017

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Show season has already begun here at Black Sheep Wools. In fact our van of goodies trundled off to Event City, Manchester last week for the ICHF Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts show. This is our most local show to the Craft Barn in Warrington, so it is always nice to see familiar faces and many new customers who our pleased to discover what Black Sheep Wools have to offer.

A visit to a craft show is a great day out. There are many events going on throughout the day including workshops and demonstrations. Plus, when we are exhibiting too it is an excuse to visit the Craft Barn without the journey to Warrington! Browse our exhibition stand and be bowled over by the stunning array of crochet blankets, garments, yarn and needlecraft to get your crafty fingers twitching. Not forgetting the much loved ‘yarn dive’ where you will find some superb bargains of yarn in packets, including brands such as Rowan, Debbie Bliss and Sublime.

We are going on a tour of the UK over the next few months, I’m sure we will be breezing by a city or town near you. Get your diary and pen at the ready……….this is where we will be. More dates for autumn will be added to our exhibitions page later in the year. Details are yet to be confirmed –

Baa ram ewe at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 30-01-2017

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A new year, and there is so much going on already. Now is the time for lots of dates to be added to your shiny new diary, making lots of crafty plans for the year ahead. We are doing our best to keep your diary filled at the moment, with all sorts of exciting events coming up at the Craft Barn.
Today it is all about the yarn brand ‘Baa ram ewe‘. Pull out your diary and pop in this date…..1st February | 12pm – 3.30pm at the Craft Barn. The Baa ram ewe team will be in store sharing the story of the Yorkshire yarn brand – Show & Tell with Baa ram ewe. They will have yarn samples to play with, garments to try on and lots of interesting facts to share.
Plus they will have new season shades of Titus and Dovestone Dk yarns and their new season patterns. All of which will be very much hot off of the press, as their new season products only launch at the end of January. I have had a little peek and already have new shades of Titus on my wish list. I can hear my knitting needles clicking in anticipation.

New shades of Baa ram ewe Titus & Baa ram ewe Dovestone Dk

The event is set to be an informal affair, with the baa ram ewe team in the Craft Barn where you can drop in and say hello or sit down for a natter and listen to their story. If you are very much an advocate of the yarn brand and have enjoyed making many projects previously, why not bring them in on the day to show everyone. If you can’t make it to the Craft Barn on 1st February you can feel like you are in store by following our Instagram. Baa ram ewe will be taking over our Instagram profile for the day. See behind the scenes of them prepping and then photos they take whilst at Black Sheep Wools. If you have a baa ram ewe garment that you would like them to see, post a photo on the day and tag Black Sheep Wools and baa ram ewe.