Tips for following crochet charts

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 20-01-2017

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A while back now, way back when days were warmer and the sun was shining (well, it was warmer than 0 to minus temperatures) in summer 2016, we held a crafternoon in the Craft Barn all about reading crochet charts. Our in house crochet expert Stacey ran the crafternoon sharing her knowledge and experience. It was great to see so many people join Stacey for an afternoon of concentration.

Tips for following crochet charts crafternoon

At the time we had planned to video Stacey’s top tips, but after some thought we decided that the best solution would be to have a trusty list of bullet points that you could always have to hand. As promised (be it a few months down the line) here are Stacey’s top tips for reading crochet charts. Stacey prefers following a chart over written instructions. They really aren’t something to be overwhelmed by, with these helpful tips you will be cracking charts in no time. The best part of all is that it will enable you to crochet a pattern regardless of the language the written pattern is in. If you unearth a fabulous crochet pattern in a foreign language; as long as there is a chart you just need to decipher the symbols and you are off. There will be no limits to your crochet skills!

  • Photocopy your chart and have two different coloured highlighter pens at the ready.

  • Always familiarise yourself with the symbols for the chart your are about to follow. They can vary from chart to chart so it is worth checking each time.

  • The start of each row / round will be numbered in order. Find your starting point – “1”. Look at the row / round and read through what stitches to expect. This way you won’t be in for any surprises halfway through.

  • As you move through each row / round highlight as you go with one of your highlighters. If you have to stop part way through you will know where you are up to.

  • For the next row / round use the second highlighter shade so that you can differentiate between the rows / rounds. Continue to use alternate shades as you proceed with the chart.

  • As you are working through, your crochet will start to look like the chart. Take a moment to stop and look at your progress as you are going along.

A good chart to set you off on your journey to cracking charts is the virus shawl pattern. A pretty pattern that shows off variegated beautifully such as Stylecraft Cabaret and King Cole Riot Dk.

Pompom wreath how to

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 24-12-2016

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There is something so addictive about the Clover pompom makers. Once you make one, you just want one more and then another and another. When you have made lots, why not make a funky pompom wreath. We have been experimenting with a soft pastel and silver colour palette for these pompoms. It is really simple to make, all you need is an embroidery hoop, oddments of yarn, Clover pompom makers and scissors. If you prefer to have a slightly neater finish, it could be a nice idea to wrap your embroidery hoop with yarn before tying on the pompoms. Then once they were all secured you could sew all of the ends in neatly. We have gone for a more spur of the moment wreath, with a rustic edge.

pompom_wreath

We have used a selection of yarns in this wreath including –

King Cole Tinsel
Stylecraft Sundae Dk
Stylecraft Special Dk
Sirdar Snowflake Chunky
King Cole Galaxy Dk
Sirdar Pearls Dk
King Cole Glitz Dk

Pompom Snowman How to

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 23-12-2016

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This jolly chap is a fun make to use up some of your stash (or a reason to buy more yarn!). Gather together oddments of white yarn, Clover pompom makers and a few scraps of felt. Watch the pompom snowman how to on our YouTube channel now. A quick and easy make for Christmas time.

Blocking your knitting or crochet

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 20-10-2016

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Blocking is something that we are all familiar with as a knitter or crocheter. Even if it is just seeing the word pop up at the end of a pattern and wondering, how do I do that? What is the best way? Others may have tried and tested methods for finishing off their latest project. Personally I have a habit of ignoring the concept of blocking until it is completely necessary, at which point I bring out some rather heavy books sandwiching my knit or crochet for a day or two, possibly not the best method, but an attempt nonetheless. Not all projects require blocking; most patterns will suggest whether or not it is necessary on the pattern. However, lace projects need blocking as the stitches need easing into shape to show the definition of the design. It is also down to your own opinion and the finish you wish to achieve.

After discussing blocking with other members of staff it became apparent that everyone chooses a different way to block, which in turn create the desired results. There is something nice about choosing your own preferred method, something many of us do anyway when casting on a new knitting project. Should I use the thumb cast on, two needle cast on or maybe another method? I also put a photo out on Facebook of Lucy’s super creative, homemade blocking contraption made out of Lego, asking the question what do you use when blocking your knitting or crochet? Lucy’s idea was met with much adulation, an idea that had everyone ready to raid their children’s / grand-children’s toy box to build their own.

blocking your knitting or crochet

Lucy’s Blocking Technique

Lucy has made a custom sized blocking area using Lego, complete with Lego man one horse and a crocodile. The great thing is she can adjust this depending on the size of the pieces she is blocking, a great idea for granny squares. To help keep the shape she has given each square a light spritz of water after laying it on.
If you are wondering what yarn these juicy shades are from – it’s Stylecraft Batik Dk. Keep an eye out on our Instagram and Facebook for photos of the finished blanket.

blocking your knitting and crochet

Pauline’s Blocking Technique

Pauline is a customer who posted her technique for blocking knitting on our Facebook page. She has knitted the most adorable cardigan in Sirdar baby crofter dk. This is what Pauline does –

“I soak the knitting for 20 mins, them squeeze the excess water out. Then I roll it in a towel. I then pin it neatly in place. Do not stretch, just straighten it out. I use a pillow, which I then put in the sun to dry the item off. I got the idea when I read that someone used her spare bed mattress.”

blocking your knitting and crochet

Judy’s Blocking Technique

Judy posted this photo to our Facebook page. A wooden board with various holes drilled into it to accommodate the varying shapes and sizes of her crochet pieces, a simple idea that can be easily adjusted as and when you need to.

blocking for your knitting and crochet

Barbara’s Blocking Technique

Barbara works at Black Sheep Wools and she has a rather interesting technique for blocking. This involves a little help from a feline friend – her cat, Lily. Lily looks like she means business on this photo and will not be moving off the blocking mat until Barbara’s beautiful top is blocked to her standard. These are KnitPro blocking mats that can be purchased from Black Sheep Wools. I am afraid we don’t have a cat to go with them, but you could use T-pins instead.
There you have a it a mixed bag of ways to block your knitting or crochet. If you would like to share your favourite method with us please send an email to social@blacksheepwools.com. As a crafter it is great to share our knowledge, there is always something new to learn or a technique to improve on. Keep an eye out on our social media for even more blocking techniques that have been sent in to share.

How to customize flip flops with crochet

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 28-06-2016

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Recently I posted a step by step how to showing how to add pretty crochet with beads to you flip flops. If you haven’t already had a go, or need a little refresher on hand whilst crocheting, why not print out this handy guide. Alternatively you could pin this to a Pinterest board for safe keeping.

Please send in pictures of your customized flip flops, it would be great to see how you get on. Email them to social@blacksheepwools.com.

crochet with beads flip flop

Beaded Crochet Flip Flops

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 16-06-2016

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Summer is here and we are ready to shake off our shoes and socks and slip into summer flip flops. Not just any flips flops; I am talking customized beaded crochet flip flops. Sometimes a basic pair of flip flops just need that extra added sparkle, don’t you think? It is even better when adding glitz is in the form of one of our favourite crafts – crochet. Any new excuse to get the crochet hook out is always a plus, especially for a fun summer upcycling project. One packet of beads really does go a long way so you could make lots of beaded crochet flip flops with the one packet.

If you live in or around the Warrington area join us next Friday afternoon (24th June 2016) when we will be holding a ‘Friday, Flip Flop Crafternoon’ at the Craft Barn. Bring along your flip flops and 3mm crochet hook and learn how to customize them with our easy to follow demo in store. The flipping, flip flop fun will be happening from 2pm – 4pm.

Beaded Crochet Flip Flops – How to

 

YOU WILL NEED

flipflop1

Thread approximately 30cm of sewing cotton onto the needle and tie a knot at the end to create a continuous loop.

flipflop2_2

Thread your 4ply cotton yarn through the loop like so.

flipflop3_3

Now thread your beads onto the needle and push down to the yarn. For one flip flop I have used 34 beads. This is for a small flip flop, ladies size 3-4. If you require more or want to add more anyway, feel free to add more beads. It’s always better to add more at this point, as you cannot add extra once you begin.

flipflop4_4

As you are adding the beads push them through onto the 4ply cotton yarn so that they are ready to use.

flipflop5_5

I have chosen 3 different shades of beads and threaded them in a repeat pattern.

flipflop6_6

To begin, fasten the yarn to the left side of the flip flop. I have tied it with two simple knots.

flipflop7_7

Wrap yarn around flip flop and join in hook with a double crochet.

flipflop8_8

Crochet 3 more double crochet stitches around the flip flop (or more if you prefer) ready to add in your first bead.

flipflop9_9

Make sure that the top of the crochet stitch is on the top of the flip flop edge so that your beads stand on top.

flipflop10_10

Continue to double crochet in the same way around flip flop.

flipflop11_11

flipflop12_12

To add in the first bead start the double crochet and catch the bead in.

flipflop13_13

Wrap yarn around making sure you pass the bead through so that it sits on the top.

flipflop15_15

Do a chain stitch to secure the bead in place. Beads are spaced 2, 3 or sometimes 4 double crochets apart; you don’t need to be too accurate. When you reach the toe post, crochet without beads as close to the centre as possible before moving over to the right side of flip flop.

flipflop16_16

Ta da! One finished flip flop.

flipflop17_17

Now on to flip flop number two. With one packet of beads and a ball of yarn you could make many beautiful flip flops. They would make a great gift.

flipflop18_18

How to crochet a granny square

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 12-05-2016

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Would you like to learn how to crochet a granny square? We have created this very helpful step by step guide for you to follow. With the skills you learn from making just one granny square the options are endless. You could crochet small granny squares, change colour, make one huge granny square, join lots together to make a blanket, scarf….anything you fancy. Once you have got the crochet bug why not tackle a more complex crochet pattern? Take a look at all of our books and patterns here. Plus there are some lovely crochet designs on our free patterns page.

how to crochet a granny square

 

 

 

 

 

How to make a pompom Easter chick

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 16-03-2016

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With Easter just around the corner I have made a simple ‘how to’ video which shows how to make a cute little Easter chick. He is a jolly little chap who can be made quite easily. All you need is a ball of Sirdar Big Softie in shade Top Banana, a Clover Pompom maker and some oddments of felt for his eyes, beak and feet. If you make your own please share a pic, we would love to see.

I hope you enjoy the video it was really fun to make!

How to wrap a gift in fabric

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 08-12-2015

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There are so many gorgeous wrapping papers, ribbons, bows and adornments to choose from when it comes to wrapping a Christmas gift. Sometimes there is so much choice you don’t know where to begin. The paper you wrap a present can be so lovely that you want to keep it. Why not choose a re-useable wrap? Wrap your gift in a piece of beautiful fabric that can be used again, a little extra bonus gift for a crafty friend.

fabric_wrap_finish

Barbara wanted to show off our beautiful fabrics within the Christmas display in the Craft Barn and the no sew cushion sprung to mind. If you haven’t seen it before, basically it is a metre of fabric that is folded and knotted in a certain way to look like a sewn cushion cover. With this in mind Barbara got to work on a small scale version using a fat quarter of fabric.

For the purpose of the demonstration Barbara has used an Anchor Artiste Metallic box, which measures 16cm x 16cm square by 7cm deep.  This would work perfectly for a box of scrumptious chocolates or biscuits.

Step 1

Layout your fabric flat and place the item to be wrapped in the centre – like so.

how to wrap a gift in fabric

Step 2

Bring opposite corner of fabric together in the centre and fold down.

how to wrap a gift in fabric

Step 3

Pull folded fabric taught across the box.

how to wrap a gift in fabric

Step 4

Fold in the side pieces to create a point.

how to wrap a gift in fabric

Step 5

Bring the folded fabric point to the centre and do the same on the opposite side. Keeping the fabric taught at all times.

how to wrap a gift in fabric

Step 6

Wrap the fabric over and under to tie it together and pull tight.

how to wrap a gift in fabric

Step 7

Tie the pieces again to secure and tuck underneath.

how to wrap a gift in fabric

A quick and easy way to wrap Christmas gifts. No need for paper or sticky tape!

how to wrap a gift in fabric

The fabrics shown in this photo are Kathy Davis Joyful Holiday Oh Christmas Tree – Traditional, Zandra Rhodes Lace Mountain Step Up – Solar and Kathy Davis Joyful Holiday Gifts Galore – Traditional.

 

 

How to crochet a bobble stitch #techniquetuesday

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to....... | Posted on 01-12-2015

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A bobble stitch is such a satisfying crochet stitch to do. With this easy to follow video Jane Crowfoot will take you through the simple steps. Once you have got the hang of it you will be adding a bobble stitch here and a bobble stitch there in all of your crochet projects.


We can’t get enough of the colour combination Jane is using in her sample, she really does have a superb eye for colour! The yarn used is Stylecraft Special Dk.