Rowan Flagship Launch Day

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

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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!

Cute Comfort Knits Book Party with Jem Weston

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 01-09-2017

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Next Tuesday at the Craft Barn we are having a tea party in our fabulous Rowan area. Jem Weston will be stopping by at Black Sheep Wools on her book tour from 11am – 3pm. She is visiting various yarn shops (find more info on her blog) taking all of the cute creatures and accessories from her latest book – Cute Comfort Knits along for the ride. There will be tasty party nibbles and a glass of bubbly for everyone!

Jem’s latest book is an absolute delight. Page after page of enticing design, you will find your knitting to do list grow as you flick through the book. Thoughtfully styled photography will have you wanting to jump into the pages and be surrounded by all of the tactile knits. It would make a fantastic gift for a knitter, maybe with a few pages bookmarked of the items you would love 😉

 

 

Rowan Flagship Store

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 27-07-2017

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Black Sheep Wools are proud to announce that our award winning Craft Barn in Warrington is now THE Rowan Flagship store of the North West. We have a dazzling display of all Rowan yarns and books nestled within the Craft Barn. Enjoy snuggling up on our sofa in the cosy corner and soak up inspiration for your next project. If you can’t make it to the Craft Barn, the good news is that all of the Rowan products can be found virtually on our website too.

Another new addition will be our instore Rowan Consultant, Melanie Boocock. Melanie has been a Rowan workshop tutor for many years and we are delighted that she has joined us as our Rowan Consultant.  Melanie will be in store two days a week – Wednesday’s and Saturday’s to advise and help with all your Rowan queries. If you have fallen in love with a Rowan yarn, but don’t know where to begin in finding the perfect pattern, Melanie is your lady. With exciting plans for drop in sessions and crochet support for the new crochet along, Melanie will always keep you up to date on all things Rowan. She has recently set up an Instagram account @rowanatblacksheep where you can take a peek at the delights in our Rowan area from a far. Keep an eye out for an interview with Melanie on the blog, coming soon.

New Rowan autumn winter yarns, shades and pattern books will be released in August and to celebrate we will be having a day celebrating over in the Rowan area. On Wednesday 23rd August enjoy a glass of Prosecco (while stocks last) while you peruse the delectable latest additions.

On 30th September we will be hosting a special launch event to celebrate becoming a Flagship store. Two of Rowan’s finest designers, Martin Storey and Lisa Richardson will join us for the day to share their passion and expertise. There will be goody bags for the first 20 customers, a charity raffle, glasses of bubbly, and lots of yarn to squish and admire! We’d love you to join us, pop the date in your diary today.

British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017 – Nominations

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 23-06-2017

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Super exciting news! We are very pleased to announce that we have been nominated in FIVE categories in the Let’s Knit British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017. We are very grateful for everyone’s support so far to get us to this stage. It would make one happy flock of sheep if you voted for us to win. 😉 Plus, when you vote you are entered into a prize draw with prizes worth up to £750. Pop over to the Let’s Knit page to vote.
Voting closes on 30th August 2017.

British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017 nominations –

  • Best Online Shop
  • Best Website
  • Best Crochet Store
  • Favourite Knitting Blog
  • Best Local Independent Yarn Store – North of England

Arne & Carlos Afternoon

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 02-06-2017

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On Wednesday 14th June our favourite knitting duo Arne and Carlos will be back at the Craft Barn. After everyone had such a fabulously, fun day with them last year we were very, very excited when we got the call to say they were available in June. They will be teaching a workshop in the morning themed around their latest book – Field Guide to Knitted Birds. This is now fully booked, it sold out within 48 hours!


The good news is that they will be holding a mini lecture in the afternoon and doing a book signing too. The lecture will be from 2pm – 2.45pm and the book signing in store from 3pm – 4pm. Both of the afternoon events are free to attend with no need to book. The lecture will be held in our workshop room so we are restricted on numbers, it will be a first come first served basis. We look forward to seeing you there!

Craft Barn Sale 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 23-05-2017

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The annual Craft Barn sale starts on Friday 26th May for 10 days. There will be fantastic branded yarns at amazing prices, including Sirdar, Debbie Bliss, Rowan and many, many more. There will be special discounts on needlecraft, fabric and accessories too! Plus, let’s not forget our super-duper yarn dive, piled extra high full of incredible bargains. The sale starts over the Bank Holiday weekend so why not plan a trip to Black Sheep Wools. All offers are in store only. There are as always lots of amazing bargains for you to browse in our clearance section online.

Hand – Dyeing Workshops with Debbie Tomkies

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 11-05-2017

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Have you ever dreamed about creating your own yarn? What colours would it be? What weight would you go for? All of your wishes can come true at one of Debbie Tomkies Hand – Dyeing Workshops at the Craft Barn.
Debbie is a textile designer with over 25 years experience. She runs workshops at various locations working with both yarn and fabric. Debbie also runs a social enterprise called ‘Making Futures’, working with colleges and community groups, doing creative activities to help build confidence and self-esteem. Not only that, Debbie is also an author of three books.

This summer Debbie Tomkies will be teaching two different hand – dyeing workshops, one using natural dye extracts and the other using synthetic dyes. A great excuse to have a day of fun playing with colour. Each participant will be given a 100g hank of yarn to dye. Debbie will bring a selection of Merino, Bluefaced Leicester and wool blends in either sock (4ply), laceweight or DK. As part of the workshop Debbie will also give everyone one of her pattern designs, so that you can get started knitting or crocheting your hank of beautifully dyed yarn as soon as you get home.

I asked Debbie for a run down of the difference between the two workshops –

“In terms of the differences between the synthetic and natural dyes, I would say that the synthetics are more repeatable and give more reliable repeatability between batches. It is also easier to predict the final colour as the dyes look on a test paper much the same as they will look on the final yarn. The synthetic dyes give the full range of colours from very bright to soft, muted tones and pastels (they needn’t all be eye-popping brights!). Synthetic dyes are very consistent in terms of strength and it is relatively easy to predict how much dye to use to give a desired depth of colour. Synthetic dyes are ideally suited to a wide range of techniques, including immersion, handpaints, rainbow dyeing, gradient dyeing, speckling and all kinds of fun projects. They are also suitable for fibres, fabrics and other natural materials.

The natural dyes, on the other hand, have more tonal qualities as they often contain numerous different colour components within the plant itself. This gives a subtle toning to natural dyes that is harder to achieve with synthetics. The natural dyes can certainly be rich in shade and give deep colours but tend not to be on the ‘neon-bright’ end of the spectrum! Natural dyes are a little harder to predict as the powders tend to look quite different and often the colour only really blossoms once the dyeing is in progress. Of course that is part of the magic! Natural dyes are also sensitive to other factors. Colours can be changed by adjusting water pH or by adding ‘colour modifiers’ (for example, citric acid, iron sulphate or sodium carbonate). This really extends the colour palette and makes for interesting combinations. Natural dyes can be used for handpainting and other techniques but this does take a little more mastering than with synthetics. Like synthetics they can be used on virtually any natural fibre, yarn, fabric or other material.”

Hand-Dyeing wih Synthetic Dyes

Introduction to Hand – Dyeing with Synthetic Dyes is taking place on Saturday 20th May. This is a full day workshop that costs £65, which includes all materials, a delicious finger buffet lunch and a tea break in the afternoon with homemade cake. You will have a gorgeous hank of yarn to take home and one of Debbie Tomkies’ patterns.

Hand – Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts

The Introduction to Hand – Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts workshop is taking place on Friday 2nd June and cost £65 for the full day.. Natural dye extracts are so versatile and easy to use. There are so many beautiful colours that can be created mixing the powders. The same applies for the natural dye extract workshop to the synthetic, all materials are provided (including a pinny) and your choice of 100g hank of yarn to dye.

We are always updating our workshops listings online. If hand-dyeing doesn’t take your fancy, then take a look at the many other workshops that we offer.

 

Baa ram ewe Show & Tell

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 02-05-2017

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In February we held an afternoon Show & Tell with two of the lovely ladies from baa ram ewe – Verity and Rachel. Rachel is the Business Development Coordinator and Verity is the founder of baa ram ewe, originally setting up the baa ram ewe yarn shop in Leeds many years ago. From here Verity went on to create her own yarn brand – baa ram ewe, sharing the delights of British sheep breeds. The shop is still there today and continues to stock many brands alongside their own ever growing collection.

Verity packing all sorts of goodies to bring to the Craft Barn

Moggy and the sheep preparing to leave Yorkshire with vital supplies!

All of the baa ram ewe yarns are made in Yorkshire, using Yorkshire sheep breeds, British sheep breeds and fibres. Which are spun in local mills before being wound into scrumptious hanks of irresistible yarn. The range includes three different yarns – Titus 4ply, Dovestone Dk and Dovestone Natural Aran.

New shades of baa ram ewe Titus & Dovestone DK

It was exciting to celebrate the launch of their spring collection with team in store. For spring baa ram ewe have launched new shades, a new pattern book and their Titus mini balls tubes.

I found it really interesting to hear Verity talk so passionately about yarn, talking about using British fibres, in particular Yorkshire sheep breeds, such as Wensleydale and Masham. All of their yarns contain a percentage of Wensleydale. See below a pic of this long haired sheep.

One of the snippets of information she shared that sent my creative mind into overdrive, was her staff ‘new shade idea’ meeting. What an exciting meeting that would be to be involved in! Verity said that all members of the team bring forward their suggestions and they discuss shade ideas and come up with names once decided too.

The latest book Titus Vintage Collection features one of their baa ram ewe customers, Alison, as the model. This reflects the inclusive welcoming nature of the brand. Their photographer also works in the shop and they use local Yorkshire hotspots for photoshoots. The brand is very much a Yorkshire brand. You will notice pattern names in Yorkshire Shores such as Robin Hood’s bay and Filey.
The Titus Vintage Collection is made up of vintage Sirdar patterns from the archives that have been re-worked in a modern format. This book introduces the gorgeous new palette of colours too, perfect shades for spring.

Sara couldn’t resist trying on one of the sweaters from the Vintage book.

Watch the video below of Sara chatting to Verity and you will see her warm, friendly nature shine through along with her passion for yarn. Thank you so much to both Verity and Rachel for a fun, relaxed afternoon at the Craft Barn. We really did enjoy having your energy and enthusiasm fill the shop on a Wednesday afternoon.

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.