Debbie Bliss Weekend in Harrogate

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 25-04-2017

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I was lucky enough to spend the weekend before Easter with the design guru that is Debbie Bliss on a knitting weekend at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time with Debbie over the last few years and I hope I can say that we are friends as well as business acquaintances, so I relished the chance to go away with her. She is so talented, a huge inspiration and lots of fun too. The weekend was arranged by Arena travel in conjunction with the editorial teams from Simply Knitting & the Knitter. 35 ladies joined us and Black Sheep Wools provided the pop up shop.

My first big thing of the weekend was driving the van to Harrogate. Now I have driven a van but I don’t do it very often. In real life I drive a VW Polo, a van is so much bigger. I hate being thought of as a wuss but I was very nervous. My driving can be a bit hit and miss! However I got there in one piece and not a mark on the van!

Set up was my next mammoth task. If anyone talks to you about a pop up shop can you please point out that they don’t really pop up and they certainly don’t pop down again. It took ages. However it did look pretty gorgeous when we’d finished it, if I do say so myself! Huge thanks to Graeme from Designer Yarns for all of his help.

Once the shop was set up we headed to the bar for a Knit & Natter session. It was a great way to meet everyone and start to put faces to names. I was amazed as one lady had come over from Canada and another from Germany. It put one and a half hour drive from Warrington into perspective.

The workshop started at 10am prompt. The theme was confidence with colour. You often hear people lament ‘I’m no good with colour’. Debbie was here to prove that is a load of rubbish! We can all put colours together, we just need to play with them a bit. Graeme, who is a knitting god, gave mini workshops on Continental Knitting and Norwegian Cast On, he really is incredible.

This was not a project based workshop so everyone worked on different things which was great to see where people draw their inspiration from. Attendees had brought postcards with them, pencils, books and items of clothing. You really can get your inspiration from anywhere.

Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner. We were treated to a talk from David Watt from Designer Yarns. David is one of the best technical yarn people I have ever met. He has worked in the yarn industry all over the world and is so passionate. His pet project is the Falkland Aran yarn from the Debbie Bliss range. It is one of the finest Aran’s I have ever worked with and David was happy to share the reasons why. After dinner we all retired to the bar to continue the yarn talk, I possibly had one glass of wine too many and quickly went to bed.

Sunday was a more relaxed day. We had our final workshop in the morning where Debbie tied everything together. The Fair Isle that had been completed was beautiful and there were so many different colour combinations.

I started to pack away at 2pm. The stand may well have looked amazing but it took me ages to take it down. I was still at it at 7pm! I had a fabulous weekend and promised myself that one weekend I will go as an attendee the pop up shop can pop off!

Crochet in Caron Simply Soft

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 12-04-2017

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Now as you now I don’t need much of an excuse to start a new project. Show me a ball of yarn and I’m away. So can you imagine what happened when I was presented with a box of 55 balls of yarn! Oh my giddy Aunt, I went new project bonkers and started two in one day!

The yarn in question is the incredible, and aptly named, Caron Simply Soft. An aran weight 100% acrylic yarn that you can machine wash and tumble dry. The 55 colours mean you can be a true artist and create any palette you like.

My first thought was granny squares. I went for muted berry tones and a starburst design. Because it’s an aran weight the squares grow in no time. The treble stitch shows of the subtle sheen of the yarn and I know the blanket will have a great weight to it. I made three or four squares before I changed my mind. (I told you I went slightly bonkers). The colours would look even better as a V stitch.

I love the V stitch design. I’ve used it before on both the ‘Spice of Life’ blanket and ‘Highland Heathers’. It blends the colours beautifully and crochets up in no time. I’ve only done a small sample of it so far but I love it. So watch this space as I think it will be a WIP in no time!

I was playing with these yarns on Mother’s Day which meant I had much more time to play. It was my first Mother’s Day at home for a few years; I’m usually away at a show. So I made the most of it and insisted on Matt & the girls doing everything. This meant I could crochet all day long, and I did.

The sun was shining so after a morning of V stitch I picked out six new shades that reminded me of spring and sat outside and started a baby blanket. I don’t need a baby blanket but that’s what the yarn wanted to be and who am I to argue. The granny squares are in a mix of five bright shades, pink, blue, green, yellow and purple and I will edge them all together in white. Wow! I love it! I’ve not got much time to do it at the moment but I’m about half way through and hoping to get it finished next week as I have a few days off. Watch this space!

The Latest Baby Blanket Patterns

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 20-03-2017

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Now you know I love a blanket and it appears I’m not the only one. Sirdar have launched some great new baby blanket designs for the Spring that make me want to find a baby to knit for! My absolute favourite is the Rabbit & the Bear Blanket (4759). Knitted in the smooch Sirdar Snuggly Snowflake DK, these are so great and they would make a perfect present.

There are always lots of designs for crocheted blankets but not so many knitted, well Sirdar are doing their best to change this. They have released one pattern with four completely different knitted baby blankets on them (4749). One features cables, the next is a leaf pattern another has a subtle diamond pattern on it, Last but not least is the square striped blanket, in fresh spring colours. A great design that would be perfect for a relatively new knitter too.

If you want a super easy blanket, take a look at pattern 4758. Knitted in the classic that is Sirdar Baby Crofter Dk, it shows off this yarn beautifully. It would be great to knit in the car (as long as you are not driving). No shaping, no counting – just perfect!

If these baby blanket patterns aren’t what you are looking for, then take a look at more of our latest arrivals from Sirdar.

Sara’s yarn review – Stylecraft Head over Heels

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 15-09-2016

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Watch my latest video on our YouTube channel all about Stylecraft Head over Heels yarn. A brand new sock yarn from Stylecraft that comes in six variegated shades. I have knitted a beret in shade Eiger. Emily and Amy have also been having a play with the yarn, crochet and tunisan crochet.

Here is my hat in shade – Eiger of Head over Heels.

Stylecraft Head over Heels

Amy has been trying out tunisian crochet in shade – Eiger.

stylecraft head over heels

Emily has been crocheting a virus shawl in shade – Kilimanjaro.

stylecraft head over heels

Vinni’s Colour Nikkim yarn

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 04-08-2016

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We have recently added a fabulous new yarn to our website – Vinni’s Colour Nikkim. There are 80 amazing shades to choose from! Watch my yarn review below on our YouTube channel.

Sara’s Project Update

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 20-05-2016

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Take a look at my latest video blog on our YouTube channel. Below are photographs of the projects up close.

Baby blanket in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply

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Stylecraft Special Dk granny square blanket

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Debbie Bliss Lolli top

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Juniper Moon Findley Dappled  and Debbie Abrahams beads

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Yarn Shop Day 2016

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 06-05-2016

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Saturday 30th May saw the third ever Yarn Shop Day come to life. Created by Let’s Knit magazine in 2014, Yarn Shop Day is a really important event in our calendar.
It is designed to showcase all that is amazing about your local yarn shop and encourage people to come in store rather than shop online. We are the proud recipients of ‘Yarn Shop Day Of The Year’ award 2014 & 2015 so the pressure was on to create a superb 2016 event.

Our ethos behind the day is to show people why shopping in your local yarn shop is different. Where else can you get expert advice, squish hundreds of beautiful yarns and ooh and ah over their beautiful colours? You certainly can’t do all of that online. No don’t get me wrong, I internet shop a lot and I’m sure you do too. It’s fantastic and a really important part of our business. But nothing beats buying yarn in person.

The day was incredible. We were lucky enough to entice a couple of our most loved bloggers to join us. Winwick Mum, a big Black Sheep favourite joined us in the morning. Her passion for socks is infectious and she drew a real crowd. We also played host to Crafternoon Treats, who has done for bags what Christine has done for socks. Her display of crocheted bags elicited lots of oohs and her patterns are so fresh and exciting.

Photo credit - Winwick Mum http://winwickmum.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/yarn-shop-day-2016.html

Winwick Mum and her sock knitting clinic.

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Crafternoon Treat – Kathryn Senior and her friend.

Photo credit - Captain Crochet https://captaincrochetblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/yarn-shop-day/

As well as bloggers we were also visited by top crochet designer Sue Pinner. Author of Granny Squares 1 & 2 and lead crochet designer for Stylecraft, Sue is a crochet genius and all round lovely lady. I came away from spending time with her with lots of ideas of future projects – obviously when I’ve finished some others!

sue_display

Photo credit - Captain Crochet https://captaincrochetblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/yarn-shop-day/

Every Yarn Shop Day we try and feature something different in our workshop room. Previously we have done dying & spinning and this year weaving was the new skill to learn. Beryl, one of our regular workshop tutors, joined us for the day. She is an incredible teacher and produces lovely work. So many people had a go and enjoyed the experience. This is certainly something you couldn’t do online!

beryl_weaving

Photo credit - Winwick Mum http://winwickmum.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/yarn-shop-day-2016.html

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All in all we had a superb day, customers travelled far and wide to visit to us. Two girls even travelled down from Hull to spend the day with us. If you couldn’t make it to Black Sheep Wools I do hope you spent some time in your local yarn shop. Now to plan next year!

Sara’s Video Blog – Part 7

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 29-03-2016

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Cologne 2016

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 21-03-2016

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I’ve been lucky enough to have just spent the weekend at the H&H exhibition in Cologne. This is the international trade fair for the craft industry and regular readers of our blog will know that Stephen & I go to this event every year.

It’s absolutely huge, this year was the biggest yet and it was in four different halls. Thanks goodness I packed comfortable shoes!

The flight was much more entertaining than usual as I was sat next to the lovely Amanda from ‘Little Box of Crochet’. I’ve met Amanda before and she is such great company and her boxes are divine. She made sure the journey went in a flash.

We landed in good time and headed over to the show. We only had an hour or two but it was good to say a few quick hellos and get a feel for what was in store for us. Then it was a quick change and out for dinner with Sirdar & James C Brett. These guys are good friends and great company. I shared a metre of sausage with Sarah from Sirdar (you can only begin to imagine the innuendo’s) and a few small beers.

Cologne 2016

After all that sausage it was time for Papa Joe’s Jazz Bar. I love this place; it’s absolutely tiny but always packed. So busy that we only stayed for one and then made our way to a Flamenco Bar. Thankfully there are no photos of me tripping the light fantastic with a nimble footed, and very dapper, gentleman.

We were up early on Saturday morning to make the most of the show.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Knitted Butchers shop. It was incredible and as you would expect in Germany there was huge amount of knitted bratwurst!

knitted butchers

knitted butchers

Look who we bumped into as we were wandering around, the lovely Debbie Bliss and her daughter Nell from Conway & Bliss. It was so great to have a quick catch up with them.

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It was a bit of star spotting moment as next we were greeted by the Norwegian design duo Arne and Carlos. Those of you who have read the recent newsletter will know how much I love these two, I think I’m almost a stalker!

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New Arne & Carlos double knitting yarn, coming soon.

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We had a meeting in the afternoon with Rico. Their stand was beautiful, full of great design in beautiful spring time colours.

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Our final meeting of the day was with Designer Yarns. They had one particular yarn that blew me away, Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran. It’s already on my shopping list for autumn!

The wonderful Designer Yarns team also took us for dinner that night. Again there was lots of beer and bizarrely a cigar. I know I promise I won’t do it again!

beer_cigar

On Sunday Stephen & I decided to sneak a couple of hours to ourselves and had a wander around Cologne. It was Palm Sunday and it was incredible how many people were carrying huge palms through the city centre. There was also a great range of buskers, from classical music to dancing puppets we saw them all.

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As you can tell the weekend was huge fun but incredibly tiring. It was lovely to get in my own bed last night. Even if I did have to share it with Poppy the puppy!

Sara’s Video Blog – Part 6

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 05-02-2016

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