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



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
2.75mm 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

Valentine Craft Ideas

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Posted on 14-02-2017

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This Valentine’s Day why not break with tradition and give yourself a gift of love. We are thinking a crafty gift, whether you knit, crochet or cross stitch why not put aside your current project for a day or two and make yourself a Valentine themed treat. Some of the mini projects make great stash busters too, so there are no limits when it comes to colour choice. No need to stick to traditional pinks and red for these Valentine craft ideas. You are making a little something for you, so go and have a rummage through your stash or treat yourself to a new ball of your favourite shade of yarn.

Valentine Craft Ideas

Mini Crochet Hearts

These teeny crochet delights are a quick and easy make. Why not attach a loop of crocheted chains and add to a key ring? Make lots and lots of mini crochet hearts and thread onto a pretty ribbon to make a Valentine garland. Share your pics with #blacksheepwools on Instagram or tag @blacksheepwools. We will keep an eye out to see what creative ideas you come up with.

Knitted Love Heart

This knitted love heart can fit in the palm of your hand. It is once again a mini make that requires just a small amount of DK yarn and toy stuffing. If you wanted to make a bigger version you could adjust the needle size accordingly and use a chunky or super chunky weight yarn.
Wondering what you would do with a knitted love heart? Why not pop a spot of dried lavender into the stuffing before sewing up, attach a loop of ribbon to the finished heart and hang it in over a coat hanger in your wardrobe.

Heart Dishcloth

Black Sheep Lucy came up with this fun dishcloth pattern shaped like a Valentine love heart. The crochet pattern is easy to follow and can be made up in soft cotton yarn such as Rico Creative Cotton Aran.

Cherry Heart’s Valentine Hottie

Sandra Paul aka Cherry Heart designed this exclusive Valentine’s hottie for us a couple of years ago. It is still a fun make and with a warm hot water bottle inside you can snuggle up and stay cosy this winter. Make it in the shades of Rico Creative Twist Super Chunky as seen here.

Live Laugh Love Cross Stitch Kit

Live Laugh Love cross stitch by Historical Sampler Company is a modern take on a sampler cross stitch design.  Stitched in a vibrant shade of aqua this kit will light up any room in your house with a cheery message.


Digital Knitting & Crochet Patterns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Posted on 01-06-2016


Did you know that we sell digital patterns? Alongside hundreds of paper patterns, we now offer many patterns in a digital format, currently from the Sirdar, Hayfield and Sublime range. This means that you no longer have to wait for your chosen pattern to arrive in the post, or pay for postage when purchasing a digital pattern. The digital pattern is delivered directly to your email address and is also accessible via your Black Sheep Wools account, where it is saved for when you wish to view. From here you can download the pattern to your computer or device and print a copy or alternatively store it on your tablet.

Paper patterns can find a home in so many different places, when you are trying to locate one, guaranteed it’s not where you thought it would be. As knitters and crocheters we all pop a pattern leaflet in a book here, a folder there, in a knitting bag – the places really are endless. Now you can store all of your patterns clutter free and you know where to find them all saved as digital patterns.

If you search for a Sirdar pattern on our website, many will come up with two buying options, one for the paper pattern leaflet and the other for the digital pattern. From here you can click through and add the preferred pattern to your basket.


We are continually adding new patterns to the website and more brands will be coming soon. Take a look below at some of the latest additions to our website.


A cute mermaid tail


A cardigan or vest in the cotton viscose blend of Sirdar Amalfi dk


Baby / children’s cardigan in Sirdar Snuggly Crofter Dk

Knitted Shark Blanket

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 27-05-2016

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We have a bit of an under the sea theme going on at the moment here at Black Sheep Wools. The knitted mermaid tail pattern has been a huge success and it is amazing to see the number of tails you have all made. When Yvonne initially designed the pattern, she wanted to help out a couple of regular Craft Barn customers who couldn’t fathom the crochet versions out there. To Yvonne it was a challenge that she was excited to accept. Continuing with an under the sea theme, Janet has gone on to design a fabulous shark blanket in Stylecraft Special Chunky.

A lovely design with easy to follow instructions, beginning with the shark head and working your way down to the tail. Janet is a super talented knitter who has so much patience when it comes to sorting out any knitting disaster. Her attention to detail is impeccable and all of the hand knitted garments she makes are always finished to perfection.

knitted shark blanket

knitted shark blanket

A close up of his teeth, all knitted as one piece.

knitted shark blanket

Sara’s daughter Madeleine happily modelled the blanket when she popped into the Craft Barn one afternoon. The blanket measures 125cm from nose to tail and measures 40cm wide when blanket is closed, perfect to snuggle up in whilst watching TV.

The blanket is only available to purchase as a shark kit, which includes yarn and a pattern exclusive to Black Sheep Wools.

knitted shark blanket

A customer called Kim posted a funny photo of her husband being ‘eaten’ by the shark on our Facebook page. Not the way we would advise to wear the blanket, but something to make you giggle.

kim's knitted shark blanket

If you have made a knitted mermaid or knitted shark blanket please send in a pic to I am currently gathering them together for a bumper blog post.

Spike the King Cole Tinsel Hedgehog

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 08-03-2016



We received a very special delivery last week from Diane at King Cole – a super sized King Cole Tinsel hedgehog, named Spike. He is one gigantic chap who is made of a whopping 33 balls of Tinsel yarn, knitted five times bigger than the largest size hedgehog on the King Cole pattern. Now that is A LOT of yarn! Bearing in mind a small hedgehog (silver one in pic) takes one ball and measures 12cm x 20cm, Spike measures approximately 60cm x 125cm. Spike is here on his holidays for a week before he is moving on to pastures new.

Take a look at the size difference between Spike and the smaller King Cole Tinsel hedgehog.


He is so squishy, Lesley wanted to take a nap on him after a busy day!


For a giggle pop on over to our Facebook page and watch a video of Spike doing a twirl.

Sock Knitting Workshop with Winwick Mum

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 22-02-2016



Over the past 3 weeks Winwick Mum, aka Christine Perry has been teaching people how to knit their very first sock. This was the first time Christine had held a workshop here at the Craft Barn. An avid sock knitter herself with a successful Sockalong under her belt she couldn’t wait to share her knowledge and experience with others on the workshop. The workshop was split over three morning sessions. Christine worked her way through the anatomy of a sock seamlessly, finishing with Kitchener stitch to sew up the toe on week three.

It was interesting going to speak to some of the ladies on their 3rd and final week of their sock knitting journey. I walked in the room and everyone was tuned into full concentration mode happily knitting away. I am always amazed by sock knitting and those double pointed needles. I was assured by all of the ladies in the room that I could easily master them and make my own socks too. To be honest it did get me thinking that socks are something that I should try. Maybe one day, hey!

sock knitting workshop

By the end of the workshop all 9 ladies had completed at least one sock. For one lady this was also her first ever knitted project. Not only had she used double pointed needles, a circular needle and knitted a sock, she had also learnt to knit! One of the other ladies already had orders coming in from friends and family for socks, she had already made 3 single socks.

sock knitting workshop

Everyone used Sirdar Heart & Sole 4ply, one ball makes a pair of socks.

sock knitting workshop

The lovely Black Sheep Carol attended the workshop too. Although she was the original founder of Black Sheep Wools and her knitting needles have seen many projects over the years, socks have not been one of them, someone how socks have just passed her by. When Carol heard about the sock knitting workshop she couldn’t wait to give it and try. Here she is modelling her first ever hand knitted sock. Carol thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and I am sure it won’t be long before she brings in sock two.





We hope to run the workshop again later in the year so keep an eye out on our workshops page for it popping up again soon. In the mean time if you fancy tackling socks yourself why not join Winwick Mum’s Sockalong where you will find comprehensive instructions by Christine on how to knit a pair of socks.

Commit to Knit with UKHKA

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 14-10-2015



To celebrate National Knitting week at the beginning of October, the United Kingdom Hand Knitting Association (UKHKA) launched a campaign called ‘Commit to Knit’. National Knitting week is all about encouraging people to pick up their knitting needles (or crochet hooks for that matter) and knit. all in all a week to celebrate the fabulous craft that is knitting. Many people enjoy knitting, but don’t know what to knit, or who to knit for. Very often it is nice to knit small items such as baby clothes, or perhaps have a blanket on the go inbetween a larger project, sort of mini side projects. Commit to Knit is a great initiative for knitters to donate their makes to charity.

Throughout August the UKHKA asked people to suggest charities that they could help. The charities were contacted and those who chose to take part can now be found on the UKHKA blog. On the latest blog post there is a link where you can sign up to the campaign. There are so many fantastic organisations to choose from including Knitted Knockers, The RSPCA and Sands UK to name just a few. Depending on what you wish to knit, or which charity you wish to support, there is plenty of information on each organisation on the UKHKA blog.

‘Commit to Knit’ will help to not only raise awareness of the charities you will also be helping them to raise money when they sell your knitted / crocheted items. For more information go to the charity projects page on the UKHKA website.



Brioche Stitch

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 02-09-2015



Where to begin with brioche stitch? When you start looking it is amazing how fancy and complex your knitting can become when using this stitch. From learning the basics you can go on to knit incredible pieces beginning to incorporate increases, decreases, moss stitch, purl and crossing over stitches, all whilst still using the brioche technique. Once conquered the world is your oyster with this knitting stitch.

Brioche stitch creates a bouncy piece of knitting that is reversible. When you are knitting with two colours you can create some really effective combinations – whether you go for tonal shades or a pop of fluorescent with a neutral it is quite exciting to see how it will turn out.  The only problem is you will want to show off both sides all of the time!


Purl Bee‘s example of brioche knitting is mesmerizing with her fluoro & white combo.

Stephen west brioche stitch scarf

Sometimes there will be just a hint of colour peeping through the springy rib like structure as seen here in the example I discovered by Stephen West.

If you fancy having a go yourself and don’t live too far away from our wonderful Craft Barn, how about coming along to one of our workshops? On September 18th Rowan tutor Carol Meldrum will be teaching a full day workshop on brioche knitting at the Craft Barn. Carol will explore the technique through samples working towards casting on a cowl design, as seen in the photo below.

brioche and tuck workshop

I just had to share some more outstanding examples of brioche stitch by designers Nancy Merchant and Stephen West. Whether it’s the swirly designs from Nancy or the neon colour contrast from Stephen you can’t help but be intrigued by the possibilities of this stitch. It really is hard to believe that they have been hand knitted.

nancy merchant brioche scarf

Carmine and Rocko by Nancy Merchant

nancy merchant brioche hat

Crossing Over by Nancy Merchant

stephen_west brioche hat

Askews Me Hat by Stephen West

stephen_west brioche

Brioche Bolero by Stephen West

National Dog Day – Celebrate with knitting!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 26-08-2015


Today is National Dog Day and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than knitting your favourite pooch a stylish ensemble. We have just the patterns for you…….

Woolly woofers book

Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss is a funky pattern book just for dogs. Knit a variety of outfits from practical cosy jackets to fancy dress or perhaps a hat or cape.

woolly woofers sheep outfit

Sheep outfit from Woolly Woofers.

woolly woofers bee outfit

Maybe a bee costume? Not sure how impressed this dog looks though!

knitted dog coatsThis selection of designs from Hayfield comes in one single pattern leaflet. A collection of four different designs to fit dogs of all shapes and sizes. A knitted dog coat would make a lovely gift for a friend who adores their furry friend.

crocheted dog in rico baby cotton

If you don’t have a real dog to dress up, how about crocheting this little chap by Rico? This leaflet comes with a pattern for a knitted hat and jacket too!


It may not be knitted but if we are on the theme of dogs, how cute is this cross stitch kit from Historical Sampler Company – ‘How Much Is That Doggy‘.