Yarn Shop Day 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 19-04-2017

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This will be our fourth year celebrating Yarn Shop Day in association with Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines at Black Sheep Wools in Warrington. Time certainly does fly by, it has hard to believe it was 2014 when Lousia Harding kicked off the first ever day of Yarn Shop Day celebrations at the Craft Barn. For those who haven’t heard of Yarn Shop Day, it is basically a day to celebrate and support your local bricks and mortar yarn store. Local yarn shops are not so common on the high street these days. If you are lucky enough to live local to one, whether it is the Black Sheep Craft Barn or further afield, wherever you live in the UK be sure to visit on 6th May 2017.

Over the years we have had so many well-known faces of the yarn world at the Craft Barn – Emma Varnam (crochet), Cathy Wright (spinning & dyeing), Sue Pinner (crochet), Beryl Weir (weaving), Winwick Mum (sock knitting) and Crafternoon Treats (crochet). Plus, demonstrations from our talented Craft Barn team too. We always like to mix it up with a variety of interesting folk who do various crafts with yarn. This year is set to be just as fun as ever with yet another fantastic line-up……knit and crochet designer, Sarah Hatton and crochet designer and blogger, Emma Varnam.

Not only do we have all of this planned, we will also have a glass of fizz for everyone on arrival! There will be fab raffle prizes (including the Stylecraft Treasure Hunt bundle) and 50 goody bags to give away to the first 50 people to spend £20 or more in store. All procceds from the raffle will be donated to Alder Hey Hospital.

Yarn Shop Day – Sarah Hatton

Sarah Hatton is a super talented (and super lovely with it) knitwear designer. You will recognise her name from being featured in many Rowan publications over the years and in her own books, most recently Modern Mini Knits. Garments from this book will be on display for you to discover Sarah’s designs. Sarah also teaches workshops too, having taught many here at the Craft Barn in Warrington.

Knitting Tips & Tricks | 10.30am – 11.30am | 1pm – 2pm
Sarah will be holding drop-in sessions where she will be showing knitting tips and tricks that will improve the overall finish of your knits, sharing her most favoured methods of sewing up and finishing. She will be happy to answer your knitting questions and help to advise on your next project too.

Knitting SOS with Sarah Hatton | 2pm – 3pm
Bring in your latest project for a quick once over. Sarah will be on hand to help with any knitting mishaps that you might have encountered recently.

Yarn Shop Day – Emma Varnam

Emma Varnam is a crochet designer and blogger who was part of our Yarn Shop Day celebrations back in 2015 (we won Best Yarn Shop Day Experience’ in 2015). Emma is back for 2017 with even more crochet delights. She has been busy designing gorgeous crocheted characters for Debbie Bliss and having her latest book published – Cute Crocheted Animals. Enjoy taking a peek at her designs and having a chat to the lovely Emma on the day. If you have already made one of her animals bring in store, Emma would love to see!

Amigurumi Crochet How to | 10am – 11.30am | 1.30pm – 3pm

Emma will be sharing her top tips on how to create cute features for the faces of your adorable animals. A slight slip of the stitch here or another stitch there can really change the face from being happy to angry. She will also be demonstrating working in the round and how to attach limbs.

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


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.

Counting down to Kaffe Fassett

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



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.





Baa ram ewe at the Craft Barn

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



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.

Kaffe Fassett at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 13-01-2017


I have very exciting news to share……world renowned textile designer Kaffe Fassett will be coming to the Craft Barn this March, to teach a workshop and host an evening lecture. Kaffe Fassett is a name that you will first and foremost associate with colour, an abundance of incredible colour. From the early days of his career in the 1960’s designing for knitwear brands Missoni and Bill Gibb, colour has always been what Kaffe is all about. He has produced many books over the years featuring designs for knitwear, needlepoint and patchwork, inspiring people to make their own colourful creations. I can’t wait to hear learn more at Kaffe’s Glorious Colour lecture, it is going to be amazing to have the opportunity to meet the man himself.

kaffe fassett

Kaffe and his partner Brandon Mably will be at the Craft Barn for two dates in March, 2nd and 3rd – day 1 Kaffe and Brandon will be teaching their Diamonds Patchwork Quilt workshop. Kaffe will share is knowledge and help to advise fabric choices and layout for your Diamonds patchwork quilt. He will critique the quilt designs created, giving any suggestions for changes. This is the chance to have a your own quilt designed by you and Kaffe Fassett, now that’s a story to tell when the quilt is all finished out on display at home. Followed by a second event in the evening, Kaffe will be holding his Glorious Colour lecture. This will be taking place at the British Legion in Culcheth, which is only a hop, skip and a jump (2 minute drive) down the road from the Craft Barn. On day 2 Brandon will be teaching a knitting workshop – Persian Poppy colour knitting. Brandon will share his Fair Isle technique and encourage participants to explore colour, giving them the confidence to use their own colour palette in the future.

Kaffe fassett

 There are still places available on all three of the events that we have planned. Find more information and book a place on our workshops page. It would be fantastic if you could join us.

Kaffe Fassett

If you are feeling inspired already, take a look at our selection of Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably fabrics. They sure are one talented duo!

Christmas Knitmas Evening at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 29-11-2016


On Wednesday 30th November we are holding a Christmas Knitmas evening at the Craft Barn in Culcheth, Warrington from 6- 8pm. The event is completely free to attend. A great opportunity to do a spot of late night shopping at the Craft Barn. Pick up a gift for a fellow crafter or why not drop a few hints of the gifts you might like to see tucked underneath the Christmas tree.

Join us for a relaxed evening of festivity and merriment with the Knit Now magazine team. Enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie whilst perusing the Craft Barn and discovering something new. The Knit Now team will be holding an insightful talk ‘how to choose and knit well-fitting garments’. As knitters this is a subject that we could all find very helpful to pick up a tip or two. There is always something new to learn as a crafter! We will also have quick and easy Christmas makes demonstrations running throughout the evening, shown by our super talented members of staff.

knitmas_eveningA photo from last years’ Knitmas event with the Knit Now team


Afternoon Tea with Sue Pinner

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 03-11-2016

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There is always fun just around the corner when Sue Pinner is in the building. On Thursday Sue came to the Craft Barn to host afternoon tea. Tickets had been sold in advance for the event, which included an afternoon in the company of a talented crochet designer and an exceedingly scrumptious spread of tasty sandwiches and delightful homemade cakes; a rather pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

afternoon tea with sue pinner

afternoon tea with sue pinner
Sue brought along boxes and boxes bubbling over with an extraordinary amount of crocheted projects. Where does she find the time to produce so many creations? I do wonder if perhaps she just doesn’t sleep and continuously crochets day and night. Always with a crochet hook to hand she wears one dangling around her neck, so she really can crochet all the time.
Before she started her talk Sue emptied some of her boxes to showcase a spectacular display of colourful crochet, layering blanket after blanket on the table. A plethora of tactile temptation, I just wanted to rummage through and peak at all of the beautiful crochet.

afternoon tea with sue pinner

Sue explaining the basics of crocheting triangles in Stylecraft Batik dk.

sue pinner triangle scarf

Bolster cushion is featured in Sue’s book – Granny Squares.

granny squares by sue pinner

She began by chatting about her life growing up with creative parents. Sue’s father did watercolour paintings and pottery too. Sue remembers learning to sew at the age of 5 and going on to crochet at 9 years old. It wasn’t until she reached her teens that she became interested in using the craft of crochet to make a blanket. After being given a large bag of rug wool she made an enormous granny square blanket, adding tassels to the edges. She had always known that art and design was the career path she would choose, opting to study a degree in Textiles & Fashion. Throughout her career Sue has explored many different avenues, including making hats, bridal wear, occasion wear and illustration to name but a few. She also worked for many years as a craft tutor at a mental health unit.

In 2006 Sue decided that she wasn’t going to do anymore crafting. Then in 2008, after a 2 year brake she decided to pick up her crochet hook again. From here sue set up her blog and started regularly blogging about crochet. It was then she was approached by her publisher to do a beginners crochet book – Granny Squares by Sue Pinner. Sue has since designed projects for a second book – Granny Squares & Shapes and has also been working with Stylecraft for the past 4 years. Many of your favourite crochet designs have probably been designed by Sue, including her fabulous tartan blanket. Sue brought the original tartan colour way (which can be found on the pattern as a cushion) and a pastel alternative, both crocheted in Special dk.

special dk tartan blanket

granny squares & shapes

Bowls from Granny Squares & Shapes book.

sue pinner
In October Sue embarked on her very first crochet along with Stylecraft – the Carousel blanket, a free pattern that is available on the Stylecraft website. The final instalment is to be released later in November. Sue created the design to reflect all the fun of a fairground, with lots of vibrant colour. There are two original colourways in Special dk and Batik dk. Since creating the original designs Sue has gone on to produce many more alternative versions, pastel, special effects dk, King Arthur’s table and even another blanket to make with the yarn left over from the original Special dk colour pack. She really is a crochet machine! It takes her just an hour to get around the whole of the Carousel blanket. For those who are joining in with the Carousel CAL, Sue did say that the version below has got a few extra rounds than the pattern.

Afternoon tea with Sue Pinner - Carousel blanket

Afternoon tea with Sue Pinner - carousel

We were treated to a vast selection of crochet projects including a blanket made from left over oddments. Sue doesn’t believe in throwing her scraps away, why would you when you can produce a pretty blanket like this one?

sue pinner oddments blanket

Below is the almost finished blanket made from the yarn left over from the Carousel Special Dk colour pack. Sue is definitely a believer in waste not, want not.

carousel special blanket 2
Sue couldn’t get through the afternoon without a spot of crochet. She demonstrated how to do the join as you go method. If you are making the Carousel blanket it could be worth a look. The video is on our Instagram now.

There were a couple of very handy crochet tips shared too. I asked Sue’s permission to share with everyone.

Top Crochet Tips from Sue Pinner
– A treble should be 2 chains! When you are starting a row and it says chain 3, chain 2 instead.
– Always deal with your ends as you go, when you are finishing one motif. Don’t leave them all to the end of a project.

Thank you to Sue Pinner for a wonderful afternoon. Everyone left full of ideas and inspiration (Sue included! She’s always thinking of something new) ready to get their crochet hooks working away.

Sue is currently taking part in Stylecraft Blogstars Blog tour. Find out more on her blog here. She will be back at the Craft Barn on Friday 18th November for her Crochet Christmas Tartan workshop. There are still a couple of places left if you would like to book. 

British Knitting Awards Results

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 28-10-2016


The results are in for the British Knitting awards 2016…….. We are very pleased to announce that Black sheep Wools have won Best Local independent yarn store – North of England, placed third in Best Knitting Blog (this very blog) and third in the category for Best Crochet Store in the British Knitting awards 2016. This is a huge honour for us and a fantastic achievement that we are thrilled to be able to share with you. As a small family business it is fantastic to be recognised in these national knitting awards in association with Let’s Knit magazine. Thank you to all of our lovely customers who helped us get there by taking the time to kindly vote for us.

british knitting awards winners

Earlier this month on the first evening of the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace an awards ceremony was held. Many well-known faces from the yarny world were there including Jane Crowfoot, Juliet Bernard and West Yorkshire Spinners.


Sara and Steve were there to receive our certificates.


Sew Saturday 2016

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 07-10-2016


On Saturday 15th October we will be participating in Sew Saturday 2016. Last year saw the launch of Sew Saturday by Sew Style & Home Magazine. A day to celebrate your local bricks and mortar fabric & haberdashery store in the UK. We are proud to support this campaign for a second year running, encouraging people to visit not only our bricks and mortar store here in Warrington, but also to visit their local fabric shop should they live further afield.

Here at the Craft Barn we will have a variety of mini sessions running throughout the day. There will be a mini drop in hand sewing demonstration from Rowan tutor Melanie Boocock in the morning – she will be showing how to make adorable bird brooches. Then in the afternoon she will be whipping up a fab skirt made from fat quarters, in just a couple of hours. Why not drop in and see how she is going on? She will be happy to take a break and have a natter about sewing, happy to offer any advice. She will also be offering her pattern free to anyone buying fabric to make a skirt on the day. Our creative Craft Barn staff will be demonstrating how to make a ‘no sew’ flower with beautiful fabrics and embroidery too!

If you can’t make it on Sew Saturday, but like the idea of making a ‘skirt in a day’, then how about booking a place on Melanie’s full day workshop on 10th November.

sew saturday 2016