Yarn Shop Day 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 12-04-2018



Yarn Shop Day 2018 is only a month away and we can’t wait to tell you about what we have planned. This year we have knitting, crochet and yarn dyeing on the agenda. If you haven’t visited us at the Craft Barn on Let’s Knit Yarn Shop Day before then make sure that you mark Saturday 12th May in your diary as busy. There is always an extra buzz of excitement in the air with lots going on, a mix of customers old and new discovering their local yarn shop. If you don’t live nearby then do find out what your local Yarn Shop have planned. I’m sure they will have something fun up their sleeve. Stay up to date on the day via our Instagram. Winwick Mum and Emma Varnam will be doing an Instagram take over, showing you Yarn Shop Day 2018 through their eyes. Take a look on our Craft Barn page to find your way to us.

Yarn Shop Day 2018

Yarn Shop Day 2018

What is happening at the Craft Barn?


Emma Varnam – Crochet
Crochet expert Emma Varnam will be sharing her skills doing mini drop in sessions throughout the day. Learn how to master amigurumi crochet in the morning and then discover how to do a crocheted granny ripple in the afternoon. The ripple effect is fabulously displayed in Emma’s latest pattern, exclusive to Black Sheep Wools. Find the Scheepjes River Washed and Stone Washed blanket pack here. Emma will also be surrounded by copies of all four of her crochet books. There is something for the beginner through to the well seasoned crocheter.

Amigurumi Crochet Technique – 10am – 12pm | Crochet Ripple Effect – 1pm – 3pm

Emma says – “Every year I love being part of Yarn Shop Day. It is lovely to meet so many lovely people and share our passion for yarn – the cake at Black Sheep Wools is also fabulous!”

Winwick Mum – Sock Knitting
Christine Perry is the blogger behind Winwick Mum. She is your go to lady when it comes to sock knitting! On Yarn Shop Day Christine will be on hand to offer advice with knitting socks. She will be holding two drop-in sessions, one in the morning and then one in the afternoon.

Winwick Mum (Christine Perry) 9.30 – 12pm | 1pm – 2pm

Christine says – “I’m delighted to be a Yarn Shop Day Ambassador for this year’s Yarn Shop Day, and also to be back at Black Sheep Wools – is there anything better than a local yarn shop that has fabulous cake as well as fabulous yarn?!

I’ll be around to answer any questions you might have on sock knitting, whether you want to get started or you’re well on the way to filling your sock drawer with lots of gorgeous hand-knits.  There will be an opportunity for you to try out different sock needles to find the one that’s just right for you, and to squish lots of yarns – Black Sheep Wools has a great range of sock yarns – so you’re sure to be spoilt for choice!  I’ll also be signing copies of my book, Super Socks, so there’s no excuse to not have some socks on your needles!

It’ll be great to see you on Yarn Shop Day – do come and say hello and show me your socks – even if they’re on your feet!”

Debbie Tomkies – Yarn Dyeing
Debbie will be set up in our large workshop room doing yarn dyeing demonstrations. Enjoy watching the magic happen as she plays with colour and creates amazing yarns.

Debbie Tomkies 10.30am – 12.30pm | 1.30pm – 3.30pm

Melanie Boocok – Beginners Knitting
Our in store Rowan Consultant, Melanie Boocock will be holding learn to knit drop in sessions throughout the day. Melanie will be on hand to teach the complete beginner how to get started knitting using Rowan Big Wool and chunky needles.

Melanie Boocock 9.30am – 2.30pm 

Nominations are open!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 05-04-2018



It’s that time of year again. Time to nominate all of your favourites (*cough…us) in the Let’s Knit British Knitting and Crochet Awards. In previous years we have been overwhelmed by all of you lovely lot, who have voted for us and made us winners and runner up in various categories, including Independent yarn store for the Craft Barn, crochet store and knitting blog. If you wouldn’t mind sparing a few minutes, we would really appreciate your nomination. Plus, you could win up to £300 of yarny goodies. That sounds like a pretty good prize to me!
Hop over to the Let’s Knit British Knitting & Crochet Awards page here. You have until the 12th April to nominate.

British Craft Awards 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 22-03-2018


British Craft Awards 2018

We are a little delayed in sharing our very exciting news here on the blog, sorry about that. In February it was time for the winners of the British Knitting Awards 2018 to be announced. We are very pleased to say that we came away with two awards – 1st Runner up for Crochet Retailer of the year and 3rd place for Knitting Retailer of the year.
Thank you to everyone who voted. We are ever so grateful to all of our customers who have taken the time to vote for us. Let’s see if we can get to first place next year!

Stylecraft Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 06-02-2018



Join us for the Stylecraft showcase day at the Black Sheep Craft Barn in Warrington. Stylecraft Blogstar, Lucia’s Fig Tree will be in store for the day sharing her spectacular designs and her colour expertise. Lucia will be happy to advise on the colour palette and yarn for your next blanket. Discover the new season yarns and patterns too! There will be goody bags for the first 50 customers who spend £25 or more on Stylecraft. Not forgetting a fab raffle prize giveaway.

Christmas Jumper Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 12-12-2017


It’s that time of year again…..Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day is this Friday. As a little treat for anyone visiting the Craft Barn on Friday, we are having a lucky dip to help raise money for Save the Children charity. A £1 donation will get you one dip in our bag of goodies! See you Friday, lucky dip available while stocks last.

Arne and Carlos at Black Sheep Wools November 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 29-11-2017



Last week we were very lucky to have the fabulous, Scandinavian design duo Arne and Carlos back at the Craft Barn. They taught a full day workshop, ‘A Master Class in Socks’, followed by a cosy evening talk all about their life designing, with an added sprinkle of festiveness.

Fabulous knitted baubles in Stylecraft Life DK yarn from Arne and Carlos book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. Find more of the books from Arne and Carlos here.

The workshop had double the number of students an average full day workshop has 10-12. There was a cheerful mix of chatter and deep concentration. During the workshop everyone completed a mini sock in Regia Arne and Carlos 6ply yarn. Arne and Carlos taught the toe up method of sock knitting with a focus on the technique used for knitting an afterthought heel.

It wasn’t long before mini socks were knitted and a full size sock was whizzing along the needles. Here is a photo of designer and blogger Lynne Rowe testing her sock for size.

The room had been decorated with a festive hygge feel. Barbara unleashed her floristry expertise entwining garlands with ivy and fairy lights.

Once you start listening to Arne and Carlos, you are instantly swept away and enveloped by their cosy, or should I say ‘koselig’ Nordic lifestyle. Arne and Carlos shared that, ‘koselig’ is actually the Norwegian term to describe cosy and the Danish word ‘hygge’. The views from their lakeside home look magnificent, as Carlos flicked through the slides it was time for your mind to be transported and dream about the inspirational scenery they are surrounded by daily. One photo in particular was striking, a deep blue sky with an incredible full moon beaming down and lighting up a snow laden forest, the perfect weather for staying in, wrapping up warm and doing some knitting. Arne spoke about growing up in a traditional Norwegian village where he would knit by the fire place with 3 generations of his family – mother, grand-mother and great grand-mother.

Arne loves King Cole Tinsel. He couldn’t help but have a knitted i-cord on the go! Carlos on the other hand is not so much a fan.

Our lovely cake lady Sian was posed with the challenge of making traditional Scandinavian sweet treats. Carlos kindly assisted with a list of suggestions, Sian went for Cinnamon and Cardamom buns, they were a delight and got the seal of approval from Carlos. Along with a warm mug of Gluehwein everyone had a koselig evening.

At the end of the evening all members of staff had a group photo with Arne and Carlos. The end to a fabulous day!

For anyone who couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn to meet Arne and Carlos, be sure to watch their YouTube videos for inspiration. Grab a cuppa and enjoy delving into their creative world.

Scheepjes Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 15-11-2017

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To celebrate being a Scheepjes stockist we have a treat for you. Haak Maar Raak blogger, Kirsten, designer of the Hygge CAL and Look What I Made blogger, Dedri Uys, designer of Sophie’s Universe blanket will be in store for the day. Come along and chat to the designers, squish Scheepjes yarn and discover Dedri’s latest kit. There will be goody bags (first 50 customers who spend £20 or more on Scheepjes), raffle prizes and more! See you Saturday.

Celebrations all round

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-10-2017



We couldn’t believe it when we heard the news. We have done sooo well in the Let’s Knit British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017. Thank you to everyone who voted for us in all categories. It is fantastic to have such fabulous customers and for your continued support in all we do.

Thank you also to Emma Varnam and Sarah Hatton for joining us on Yarn Shop Day for a superb event. We are already excited to plan for next year! Check out how we did below.

  •  We came first place 
    – Best Local Independent Yarn Store – North of England (The Craft Barn)
    – Best Yarn Shop Day Experience
  •  2nd Place
    – Favourite Knitting Blog (this very blog!)
    – Best Crochet Store
  •  3rd Place
    – Best Online Shop

Sara wanted to say a few words in a little video to say thank you. Watch below!

Rowan Flagship Launch Day

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-09-2017



This Saturday we have an amazing event taking place in store. Open to everyone and free to attend! We will be hosting a special launch event to celebrate being THE Rowan Flagship store of the North of England. Two of Rowan’s finest designers, Martin Storey and Lisa Richardson will be with us for the day to share their passion and expertise. There will be lots going on in our Rowan area all day, Martin Storey & Lisa Richardson will be in store from 10am – 3pm!
There will be goody bags for the first 20 customers who spend £30 or more on Rowan, a charity raffle, glasses of bubbly and lots of yarn to squish and admire! This event is free to attend and will be taking place in the Craft Barn on Saturday 30th September 2017. We’d love you to join us.



Introducing A Spicier Life Crochet Along

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News, Crochet | Posted on 14-09-2017

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Today we have exciting news to share. Do you remember the Spice of Life crochet along from 2015? If you do, then prepare yourself, something amazing is on its way. For those who don’t, hop on over to Instagram and search #spiceoflifecal or visit our Facebook group and you will see what all the fuss is about. We were all captivated by the original Spice of Life blanket, it’s hard to believe 2 years have gone by since it launched. It was a phenomenal success and is still continuing to be a popular make amongst all levels of crocheter today.

It is time to announce Spice of Life part two – A Spicier Life Crochet Along. We have once again teamed up with crochet super star Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart blogger) to bring you yet another fabulous crochet along project. Secret talks with Sandra have been going on since early 2017 and we are soooo happy to be able to share our news with you after all this time. Sandra has hand picked four colourways for this CAL. The original colourway in Debbie Rialto DK – Jaipur, with an alternative in Stylecraft Special DK – Jaipur. There are 2 more options both in Stylecraft Special DK – Taj Mahal and Bollywood. All of the colour packs are available to purchase on pre-order. Take a look here.

If you are joining in with A Spicier Life Crochet Along, don’t forget to use the hashtag #spicierlifecal on social media so we can see your progress. We have also set up a new Facebook group – A Spicier Life Crochet Along.

Before full details are released on Tuesday 19th September 2017, we caught up with Sandra to find out more about A Spicier Life Crochet Along. Read our natter with Sandra below.

How did the popularity of the Spice of Life CAL affect your world of crochet?

Well the whole experience was completely surprising in so many ways and the way it took off in the crochet world was the most amazing thing.  I really didn’t expect people to react so well to it and enjoy it so much, although of course, I’m so happy they did.  I ended up learning a lot from the experience which is always useful and it brought more attention in a way I’m not used to.  Luckily though the crochet world is a pretty kind and wonderful place and I got to meet some lovely people as a result of the CAL.

What is the inspiration behind ‘A Spicier Life’ crochet along blanket design?

I really wanted something that would relate to the original Spice of Life blanket and I still had plenty of ideas for stitch patterns that I would love to use, so in a way it all came together quite easily this time round.  The colours, my usual starting place for any project, were definitely influenced from the ‘spicy’ name of the original and I immediately starting thinking of what, for me, represent some more far off and exotic places in the world like India.  The imagery that I found captured that idea perfectly are also the reason behind the colours and names of the yarn packs.

There are so many gorgeous stitches in ‘A Spicier Life’, lots of texture and pattern, which is your favourite stitch?

I always find it hard to pick favourites, but I’m really enjoying the more textured stitches at the moment, so I like the Victory Puffs because they are so soft and I love the Bobbles for the little pops of colour.

What skill level is required for the Spicier Life CAL? Is it suitable for a beginner?

It really overlaps quite nicely with the Spice of Life on the skill level, starting with easy stitches and then working up to intermediate ones and then taking things a little further. I’ll be introducing some new stitches and even a few slightly more advanced ones.  I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to absolute beginners but anyone is confident with the basics and working back and forth in rows should be able to give it a go as there will be extra help to explain all the new stitch patterns.

How did you find the Debbie Bliss Rialto DK to work with?

An absolute joy!  It’s a wonderful to the touch, so soft and bouncy and it glides over the hook like a dream.  It’s also the perfect choice for a project like this as the merino means that any slight changes in tension as you work through the different stitch patterns can just be blocked out and disappear away at the end.

What other projects have you got on at the moment? We spotted you on the home page of Ravelry a couple of months back. That must have been exciting!

The Ravelry front page was a real surprise and I must admit, I felt quite honoured to be featured!  Just lately I’ve been catching up on some commission work, as it’s easier to fit a little crochet in than find computer time during the summer holidays, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to writing up a few new patterns soon.

What is your creative process? Where do you enjoying working?

My process tend to vary depending on what project I’m making.  In an ideal world I like to make up samples to test out ideas and check I’m getting the look and feel that I’m after before I take things further but sometimes it’s a little more off the cuff than that.  I do like to keep a note book where I sketch out ideas though, sometimes my hook can’t keep up!

I spend most of my time up in my ‘Craft House’, a little space that I have at the end of the garden.  The reality is that a lot of my time is spend at the computer desk I have up there these days, but of course I’ve made sure I have a cozy corner for those special occasions when I do get to play with yarn.  It’s nice and near the window so I can take advantage of any sun.

Do you have any future crochet plans in the pipeline that you can share? A sneaky peek, perhaps?

I have a couple of projects using Batik DK that I’m having fun with at the moment and I’m looking forward to those coming out.  One is for a magazine feature and one will be on the blog in October, I can give you a little glimpse of those!