Scheepjes Stone Washed & River Washed XL Mini Pack

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 19-04-2018

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Carol is knitting a blanket in Scheepjes Stone Washed XL and River Washed XL 15g mini balls. The pack contains 50 balls, one of each shade and it comes in a fabulous box, complete with handle. There is also a slightly finer 4ply alternative to the aran weight XL, Stone Washed and River Washed colour pack. Sara and Stacey had fun strutting up and down the Craft Barn showing off the latest must have from Scheepjes. Take a look below.

Now I have set the scene with these pretty snazzy colour packs, it’s back to Carol’s blanket. Carol is making an easy knit garter stitch blanket, picking out each shade in colour order and knitting as she goes. Some of the balls do run out mid-way across the blanket, but that adds to the overall colour effect of the blanket. As long as you don’t mind sewing in a few ends this blanket is a must knit. Watch Carol’s video below, where she talks you through her project.

The blanket so far with roughly half of the mini balls used.

Scheepjes Stone Washed XL and River Washed XL Colour Pack

Men’s Knitting Patterns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 23-03-2018

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In amongst so many patterns for ladies and babies, men’s knitting patterns sometimes can be missed. We have plucked out a selection of men’s knitting patterns to share. If you are ever struggling though, we do have the option to narrow down the search depending on who / what you are knitting for. Hover over patterns on our home page and select in the ‘For’ category.

Before you even begin to be tempted to make any of the knitwear below, we must talk about the ‘Boyfriend Sweater Curse’ (unless you are a man knitting for yourself). You may have heard this pop up online or in a knitting magazine over the years. It is a theory that knitting a sweater for your significant other can lead to a break up! Eeeek! A knitted sweater isn’t just whipped up in a couple of hours, as we all know, a lot of time and effort goes into making it. With all the hours put in you are thinking about this person a lot (maybe whether or not they are the one for you) and you really want the person you are knitting for to appreciate it. This can be said for any knitted gift though and I guess this is where the theory came about.

We are obviously very sceptical of this theory and feel that the sweaters and cardigans below are too fabulous not to be knitted. We want knitting to bring you happiness! A good way to know the recipient will like the jumper is to involve them in choosing the pattern and shade. Pick a selection of designs that you would be happy to knit and let them choose from there. If you are going to knit for a new man in your life, maybe start small and go for a scarf or hat – still a lovely gift.

Choose from a v-neck or shawl collar cardigan in this pattern from Hayfield in Bonus Aran Tweed. A versatile knit for any season!

Men's Knitting Patterns | Cardigan in Hayfield Bonus Aran Tweed

Rowan Journeyman book has been designed by Martin Storey. An incredible collection of knitwear for men. Out of 12 patterns in the book these are four standout designs.
Clockwise from top left ‘Heston’, a cable design using Rowan Hemp Tweed. ‘Curtis’ is the next one along, a textured design using two shades of Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. ‘Brando’ is a hooded sweater with an all over cable design in Hemp Tweed. ‘Cooper’ is a snuggly sweater knitted in Felted Tweed Aran, a slip stitch design creates a rib like texture. There are many more tempting patterns from this book too.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a double knit yarn is more your thing, how about this raglan sleeve sweater in Stylecraft Life Vintage Look DK and Life DK. The Life Vintage Look yarn is a tweedy sort of yarn that lends itself to men’s knitwear.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Knit a round neck sweater or cardigan in a textured diamond stitch in Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed DK.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a chunky knit is called for, why not knit this super cosy cabled sweater in your favourite chunky yarn?

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Take a look on our Men’s Knitting patterns page on the website to see more patterns.

Knitting my first pair of socks

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 02-02-2018

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In November last year Arne and Carlos came to the Craft Barn to teach their workshop, ‘A Master Class in Socks’. Not being a sock knitter myself the idea of a sock master class sounded complicated and difficult. How wrong I was………

Stacey, who is a team leader in the Craft Barn attended the workshop, thoroughly enjoying a day with Arne and Carlos learning how to knit a toe up sock, with lots of handy hints and tips along the way. A week after the workshop Stacey popped in the office to share what she had been making. She had already finished not one, but two pairs of socks, with a third pair already on the needles. She enthusiastically explained how the sock was constructed, not complicated at all, just very straight forward with nothing that sounded too fiddly or complex. By the end of the day I was in the shop buying a ball of Regia Design Line 6ply and a set of KnitPro Zing 3.5mm DPN’s The idea of something slightly thicker than a 4ply and I was sold, ready to embark on sock knitting. On their blog and YouTube channel Arne and Carlos have a video and pattern for the easiest sock in the world. This is what I followed to knit my socks. There is also a super video that shows how to knit the heel.

I always thought knitting socks would be fiddly, to the point where I would have just one lonely sock, if that, or a tangled mess that was supposed to resemble half a sock never to be complete. I thought they would take forever to knit and I was so wrong. They were really fun to knit, having the various milestones (adding waste yarn, ribbed cuff and heel) along the way kept it really interesting and spurred me on to knit faster. Within just a couple of evenings I had made a sock!

I had been told by many knitters that you can’t beat a pair of had knitted socks, ‘they will be the warmest, comfiest socks you ever have’. Now I can wholeheartedly agree, having worn my own pair of knitted socks they are super warm and cosy to wear.

Slightly squished dancing feet

If you have never attempted sock knitting and feel inspired to give it a go, head over to Arne and Carlos blog and watch their video How to Knit the Easiest Sock in the World. Further down their blog post you will also find a basic pattern to follow. Make sure that you take into account yarn thickness and foot size. This pattern is a great starting point for venturing into the land of sock knitting. I might even try knitting a pair in 4ply next, that’s when I have finished my second pair in Fall Night 6ply.

For this pair of size 4 socks I increased up to 4osts, 10sts on each needle. I used –
Regia Design Line 6ply in shade Summer Night
3.5mm KnitPro Zing Double Pointed Needles 15cm

Juliet Bernard Exclusive Hat Collection

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 20-12-2017

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Juliet Bernard has designed a collection of hat knitting kits exclusively for us, Black Sheep Wools. A super talented knitter, Juliet was taught as a child by her German grandmother. Juliet has worked in the knitting industry for many years and has been involved in many projects including Innocent Smoothie hats, designing a jumper Hugh Jackman (yes, THE Hugh Jackman) wore in Eddie the Eagle movie and being Editor of The Knitter. Juliet also teaches knitting workshops at the Craft Barn, they are always popular and book up very quickly. Keep an eye out for dates popping up later in the year.

Juliet has curated an exclusive hat collection that includes many different knitting techniques and skills including cable, bobbles and fair isle. Some are designed in the round and others flat with a seam. She has carefully chosen luxurious yarns for the kits. Whilst Juliet at the Craft Barn teaching in the autumn we videoed Sara chatting to Juliet all about the designs. Watch the video below.

Take a look below at the hats designed by Juliet Bernard. Which one will you choose?

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Diamond Cable Hat in Rowan Alpaca Soft Dk

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Zig Zag Children’s Hats in Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Dk

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Torshavn Hat in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Diamond Cable Hat in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK 

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Twill Hat in Rowan Felted Tweed

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

A Ride in the Forest Hat in Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK

We can’t wait to knit one or maybe even all of the Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection. Which one will you choose?

Knitting after a stroke

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 25-08-2017

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A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to an amazingly inspirational lady in the Craft Barn. A lady called Jean Brammer, who was in store for a fun day out exploring the Craft Barn with her knitting group – The Stroke Association Macclesfield Knit & Natter. Eight years ago Jean had a stroke and was left paralysed in her left arm. For a knitter like Jean this was devastating news, to learn that she was no longer going to be able to enjoy her favourite hobby. An avid knitter, Jean has made allsorts over the years for her children as babies, through to adulthood and then grandchildren. Knitting after a stroke didn’t seem like an option but Jean had other plans.

With four great-grandchildren Jean was determined to find a way to knit again. Jean searched online for advice but to no avail, a replacement for her left arm was what she required. This was where she had the idea of using a clamp to hold her left needle still whilst she manoeuvred the yarn and knitted just with her right hand. At first Jean tried to use an artist’s vice, but this was not strong enough to hold her needle and stay put. She then purchased a Stanley workman’s vice, which worked! Members of the knitting group Jean attends sent in a selection of photos. See below Jean with her vice in action knitting after having a stroke.

Jean’s great-grandson all snug and cosy in his new blanket. The patterns Jean has used are ones from her stash. Find similar baby blanket patterns here.

Jean’s top tips for anyone who has suffered a stroke and is in a similar situation to herself –

  • Make sure that you get a decent vice that is strong enough.
  • When sewing up pin garment pieces to a memory foam pillow and sew up with right hand.

Jean was extremely patient in the process working out a new way of knitting. After much perseverance it took only a few months for her to be able to knit again. Starting off with simple dish cloths Jean soon built up to knitting blankets and many more baby makes once again. She even finished off a cardigan for her daughter that she was part way through when she had the stroke.

It was a pleasure to meet such a strong and inspirational lady. Thank you to Jean for letting me share your story. Here is a photo of Jean with a baby shawl she knitted for one of her great-grandchildren.

 

Sirdar Competition

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 19-07-2017

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If you could have any sweater design, what would it be? Time to get your thinking cap on as Sirdar have just launched a fantastic competition. They are asking for entrants to design a winter sweater. There is a sweater template for you to work on, so there are no drawing skills required just the mind of a knitter. The winning design will get made up by the Sirdar design team on display at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London at Alexandra Palace in October. Not only that, everyone will be able to make the winning design, with the free pattern being available to download on the Sirdar website.

Below is a more detailed run down of the competition from Sirdar themselves.

“To coincide with the launch of our gorgeous new yarn Sirdar No.1 we are launching a fab competition for you to design a winter sweater! Your winter design could be anything from a novelty Christmas knit, to an oh so stylish Alpine sweater. All you have to do is sketch your design on to the template,  including as much detail as you can to really make your design come to life!

The Sirdar No.1 colour palette is incredible and comes in 18 shades, so we ask that you only choose colours from this range for your designs. Visit the Sirdar website using the link below to view the complete range.
http://www.sirdar.co.uk/…/classics/dk/Sirdar_no1_F047/shades

To submit your entries please e-mail a copy of your design sketch to socialmedia@sirdar.co.uk. The closing date for the competition is the 7th August, with winners being announced on the 11th August.

Now for the bit that you have all been waiting for, the prizes!

1st Prize – judged by Sirdar Head Designer Julie Langham
– Your design will be made into a leaflet which will be available as a free download on the Sirdar website.
– Your design will be knitted up by the Sirdar design team and showcased at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. 
– You will also win 2 tickets to attend the show on Saturday 14th October, so you will get to see your finished knit on the Black Sheep stand.

2nd Prize – judged by Sara Mulvey of Black Sheep Wools
– 2 tickets to attend The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace on Saturday 14th October.
– A Sirdar goody bag.

3rd Prize – judged by the Sirdar social media team
– A Sirdar goody bag.

Good luck!”

Arne & Carlos at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 15-06-2017

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Yesterday was a fun filled day at Black Sheep Wools, we had Norweigian knitting designers Arne and Carlos in store for the day. It was such a treat to have the bright and cheery duo back at the Craft Barn. They really are so inspiring to be around. Last year they visited for the first time on a cold day in February. This time round they have experienced a hot, sunny day in Warrington. Read the blog post about Arne and Carlos’ first visit.

In the morning they taught a workshop showing people how to make knitted birds using double pointed needles. We had a large group in for the workshop, the places sold out within 24 hours! It was great to see the room full of people all enjoying knitting and chatting away to Arne and Carlos.

Arne showing Christine (Winwick Mum) how he knits with DPN’s

During the workshop they were flitting from one table to another helping the ladies and having a natter too. I don’t know how some people did it, but some of the participants managed to finish knitting their bird within the 3 hour class, one of those people being blogger Emma Varnam. Check out her ‘seagull’ knitted bird. What a whizz! I think it would have taken me a good hour or so to figure out how to keep all my stitches on the DPN’s.

Blogger Lynne Rowe‘s two shaded bird

In the afternoon they held a mini lecture talking about the inspiration behind their new book – A Field Guide to Knitted Birds. I enjoyed listening to them enthusiastically talk about the ideas behind their latest book. They shared a photo of a bird house that lives in their beautiful garden, which they built to encourage birds back into their garden. Arne enjoys sitting in the garden watching the birds at work and fish swimming in the stream. Colour plays a big part in their designs and they have been creative with ‘abstract’ birds. Some of the patterns are bright and multi coloured birds with adornments of sequin and charming embroidery. A favourite of mine from the book are the species of winter birds – the only breed of bird to wear hats and scarves, Pedro and Juanita with their Peruvian hats are so sweet. It is was interesting listening to Arne tell imaginative stories about the birds, I think he should write a book! If you couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn yesterday take a look at Arne and Carlos YouTube channel. They post a video a week sharing tips and advice on knitting and more!

Finally Arne and Carlos made their way into the shop where they did a book signing and had photos taken with many of our customers. If you would like to see more pics pop over to our Instagram where there are more behind the scenes photos. We are giving away a two signed copies of the knitted birds book, one on Facbeook and one on Instagram. Winners will be chosen on Monday 19th June 2017.

Joji Locatelli Mystery Wrap – Colour Ideas

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Knitting, Sara's Blog | Posted on 04-05-2017

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I love a good CAL or Knitalong and I’m just about to do another one. This is by one of my favourite designers, Joji Locatelli. She is an Argentinian designer and if you haven’t looked at her work you really must. She has lots of patterns on Ravelry including the ‘Boxy’sweater, one of my favourite designs. Joji is also a master at shawl designing and this is where the mystery Knitalong comes in. Now I have never down a mystery project before so I’m really excited.

The project runs over 5 weeks and starts on the 12th May. As it is a mystery the designer does give you advice on colours, the size of the finished shawl and what type of knitting it involves. This shawl will contain a lot of garter stitch, some TV knitting and some more complicated stuff.

I love the community feel you get from a KAL and this one will be no exception. I’m a member of the group on Ravelry and it’s already got a lovely feel to it.

It’s done in a 4 ply yarn and I have picked five shades of the beautiful Titus from Baa Ram Ewe. I will be using Crucible, Goathland, Bramley Baths, Rose Window  & Chevin. I do hope they look as good together as I think they will.



If you are joining in this KAL then why don’t you post some photos to our facebook page of the colours and yarns you will be using. I’d love to see them!

We all love choosing colours at Black Sheep Wools, so between us we have come up with some more eye-catching combinations.

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Brights
– Blackcurrant Bomb
– Poppy Seed
– Blue Raspberry
– Butterscotch
– Sarsaparilla

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Pastels
– Milk Bottle
– Sherbet Fizz
– Candyfloss
– Pennyroyal
– Cinnamon Stick

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Summer
– Kingfisher
– Blueberry Bonbon
– Spearmint
– Tumeric
– Milk Bottle

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Fire
– Coal
– Viking
– Filey
– Parkin
– Wesley Bob

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Heathery
– White Rose
– Yorkstone
– Heathcliff
– Goathland
– Bantam

 

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.

Sara has been looking in her knitting kit, sharing her essential items below on our YouTube channel.

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