Kaffe Fassett at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 13-01-2017


I have very exciting news to share……world renowned textile designer Kaffe Fassett will be coming to the Craft Barn this March, to teach a workshop and host an evening lecture. Kaffe Fassett is a name that you will first and foremost associate with colour, an abundance of incredible colour. From the early days of his career in the 1960’s designing for knitwear brands Missoni and Bill Gibb, colour has always been what Kaffe is all about. He has produced many books over the years featuring designs for knitwear, needlepoint and patchwork, inspiring people to make their own colourful creations. I can’t wait to hear learn more at Kaffe’s Glorious Colour lecture, it is going to be amazing to have the opportunity to meet the man himself.

kaffe fassett

Kaffe and his partner Brandon Mably will be at the Craft Barn for two dates in March, 2nd and 3rd – day 1 Kaffe and Brandon will be teaching their Diamonds Patchwork Quilt workshop. Kaffe will share is knowledge and help to advise fabric choices and layout for your Diamonds patchwork quilt. He will critique the quilt designs created, giving any suggestions for changes. This is the chance to have a your own quilt designed by you and Kaffe Fassett, now that’s a story to tell when the quilt is all finished out on display at home. Followed by a second event in the evening, Kaffe will be holding his Glorious Colour lecture. This will be taking place at the British Legion in Culcheth, which is only a hop, skip and a jump (2 minute drive) down the road from the Craft Barn. On day 2 Brandon will be teaching a knitting workshop – Persian Poppy colour knitting. Brandon will share his Fair Isle technique and encourage participants to explore colour, giving them the confidence to use their own colour palette in the future.

Kaffe fassett

 There are still places available on all three of the events that we have planned. Find more information and book a place on our workshops page. It would be fantastic if you could join us.

Kaffe Fassett

If you are feeling inspired already, take a look at our selection of Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably fabrics. They sure are one talented duo!

Knitted Elf on the Shelf

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 30-12-2016


This Christmas we have had a little visitor in store. He has been springing up here and there around the Craft Barn sometimes wreaking havoc in the tea shop. This cheeky monkey is our Elf on the Shelf. He arrived at the beginning of December when Lucy and Barbara finished knitting him from the Hayfield Christmas Elves pattern. Lucy knitted and Barbara joined all the pieces together and finished him off, a Black Sheep team effort.

We have been putting updates of the elf’s where abouts on our Instagram throughout December. Take a look below at some of the photos! It has been fun guessing where he is hiding in a morning. Did you spot him on a recent visit?


Browsing the fat quarters in the Craft Barn.


Climbing up the Yankee candle stand.


Sitting with the knitted cakes in the tea shop.


Taking a dip in the Regia sock yarn.


Taking a break on a knitting bag.


Looking after fire safety in the tea shop.


Making a mess of the WYS Signature 4ply yarn.


Eating a slice of cake in the tea shop.


Waving farewell to the Christmas tree….until next year.

Pompom wreath how to

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


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.


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


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.

Time to share customer projects

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 15-12-2016

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With Christmas just over a week away I wanted to start the celebrations early, celebrating all of the wonderful work from our customers. This blog post has been gathering new projects for a couple of months now, so please bear with me as I talk you through each crafty make. I have a vast selection of treats to share – knitting, crochet and sewing. These are all projects that have been snapped in our Craft Barn.

First up is Natalie, wearing a delicate camisole top she has knitted in Juniper Moon Farm Findley. On the pattern image the straps are a chunky ribbon, Natalie opted for two fine ribbons instead. This is the beauty of making your own garments from the colour you choose, right down to the finishing details, it’s all your choice. Natalie was planning to make a second top in a different shade as this one is so lovely. As you can probably guess this photograph wasn’t taken in the last few days (brrrr!).

Juniper moon farm findley - Speedwell

Now this project was a challenge to photograph – a few extra pairs of hands were needed. Ann un-wrapped this gigantic granny square blanket to share with everyone in the Craft Barn. Large enough to fit a King size bed, Ann has crocheted lots and lots of granny squares with many variations on colour and design. The yarn she has used is Rico Baby so Soft Dk, fantastic for crochet as it glides easily through your hook. Plus a good yarn for making accessories for the home as it is anti-pilling. Ann couldn’t tell me the exact number of balls used as she kept buying them as she went along. What would you guess?
giant granny square blanket
Kay came into the Craft Barn to do a spot of shopping wearing her latest make. A super cosy cardigan, knitted in Rowan Softyak Dk (shade 239), following a pattern by Jo Storie – ‘Chloe‘. Rowan Softyak comprises of a cotton, yak and nylon blend. This is a stylish cardigan that can easily be worn with many outfits.
Rowan softyak dk cardigan
Michelle brought in an adorable baby jacket and matching hat crocheted in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply (pattern DB011). The pattern is one I have enjoyed crocheting myself for a friends little one so it was nice to see how someone else had got on with the pattern. Michelle opted for a dusky pink shade of Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply. 
debbie bliss rilato 4ply jacket
When we had a sample garment on display of this next cardigan, there were many members of staff lusting after it here at Black Sheep Wools. The cardigan that you swoon over every time you pass it by and secretly hope some kind knitting elves will make for you. Sandra who attends our knit and natter group couldn’t resist and made herself this gorgeous Fair Isle cardigan.
The design is called Orkney and can be found in Rowan Magazine 52, knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed.
Orkney cardigan - Rowan Felted Tweed
Orkney in Rowan Felted Tweed
A delightful pastel treat from Janet to share now. Janet has crocheted a fabulous Jane Crowfoot Persian Tiles blanket using DMC Natura Cotton. As this is a 4ply weight Janet adjusted her hook size accordingly. Her colour palette is so serene and pretty, such a contrast to the beautiful bold, jewel tones of Jane Crowfoot’s original colourway. What a lovely gift for her daughter!
Jane Crowfoot persian tiles blanket
Susan had brought her almost finished Spice of Life blanket into the Craft Barn to ask advice on what shades to choose for her border. Decisions, decisions….with so many lovely colours of Stylecraft special dk in a blanket it can be tricky making a decision on which two to pluck out. With some helpful advice from Stacey, Susan made her choices (a grey and berry) whilst I took a quick photo.
spice of life cal
A group of ladies from a sewing group brought in a selection of sewing projects they had recently completed. I am not sure who exactly made each item but I do know all of the ladies names – Jacqueline, Elizabeth, Lilian and Amy are quite a talented bunch.
A quilt, can you spot the Kaffe Fassett fabric?
A fabric box in Kaffe Fassett fabrics.
And lots of colourful windmill bags. This pattern is available to download for free from our website.
windmill bags
Sue has knitted a mystical dragon in King Cole Tinsel. This chap is quite large, as you can see compared to a ball of yarn. The wings have pipe cleaners in to keep the structure, he even has a beady dragon eye.
King Cole Tinsel dragon
For this snuggly throw, Jo has crocheted squares in James C Brett Marble Chunky – shade MC63. She has followed a stitch pattern of front post trebles, a very effective stitch that has created a lovely texture which lends itself to the multi-coloured yarn.
Jean made an adapted version of Ewe-Jean the sheep (renamed for Jean). This version is without the loops, she looks like a little spring lamb. The original pattern is a free pattern by Happy Crocheting.
Last but not least is Evie’s detailed patchwork quilt, an incredible project that must have taken many hours of patient stitching. Evie hand stitched each of the designs, traced from images she found online of Hello Kitty. She then pieced it all together to create a spectacular patchwork quilt.
hello kitty embroidered quilt
hello kitty quilt
Thank you to everyone who has shared their projects with us over the past few months. I look forward to seeing more projects in the New Year.

Ode to Autumn – Spice of Life Blanket

Posted by Amy | Posted in Spice of Life CAL, Staff Projects | Posted on 08-12-2016

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To celebrate the one year anniversary of Sandra Paul’s (aka Cherry Heart) gorgeous Spice of Life crochet along Sara has been crocheting a blanket in a new colour way – Ode to Autumn. Sara has opted for a selection of shades that are not her usual go to colours. Ode to Autumn is made up of rich, warm tones of rust, berries and gold – to name but a few. With an abundance of colour to choose from in the Stylecraft Special Dk it is quite a challenge to pick a winning combination. You will not be disappointed with this beautiful palette.

Watch Sara’s video below where she is talking all about making her Ode to Autumn blanket.

If you are thinking of making a Spice of Life blanket in the Ode to Autumn pack why not follow Sara’s shade sequence, take a look below –

Autumn Colours            Original Colours

Mustard (1823)                       Turquoise
Pomegranate (1083)            Grass
Pistachio (1822)                     Light Green
Tomato (1723)                        Petrol
Boysenberry (1828)             Red
Khaki (1027)                            Vanilla
Claret (1123)                            Cream
Cypress (1824)                       Melon
Gold (1709)                              Purple
Lobelia (1825)                        Ice Blue
Pale Rose (1080)                  Smokey Rose
Stone (1710)                            Jeans
Burgundy (1035)                   Clay

ode to autumn - spice of life blanket

Christmas Knitmas Evening at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 29-11-2016


On Wednesday 30th November we are holding a Christmas Knitmas evening at the Craft Barn in Culcheth, Warrington from 6- 8pm. The event is completely free to attend. A great opportunity to do a spot of late night shopping at the Craft Barn. Pick up a gift for a fellow crafter or why not drop a few hints of the gifts you might like to see tucked underneath the Christmas tree.

Join us for a relaxed evening of festivity and merriment with the Knit Now magazine team. Enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie whilst perusing the Craft Barn and discovering something new. The Knit Now team will be holding an insightful talk ‘how to choose and knit well-fitting garments’. As knitters this is a subject that we could all find very helpful to pick up a tip or two. There is always something new to learn as a crafter! We will also have quick and easy Christmas makes demonstrations running throughout the evening, shown by our super talented members of staff.

knitmas_eveningA photo from last years’ Knitmas event with the Knit Now team


Designer Q & A’s – Emma Wright

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 16-11-2016

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Discovering new knitting patterns to add to your wish list is always such a delight. Even if it takes a little longer than anticipated for them to come to fruition, it is a comfort to know that your list is always there. Over the summer we added a new yarn brand to our collection – West Yorkshire Spinners. Along with delectable yarns, this included a spectacular range of patterns.  Many of which have been designed by the lovely Emma Wright, including the Illustrious book all designed and styled by the talented young designer. The ‘Hermione’ cardigan from this book is now on my wish list!

It was through taking on the West Yorkshire Spinners range that we first came across Emma Wright, knitwear designer. With so many designs under her belt having worked with many well-known names in the industry, already (she’s only in her early twenties), we wanted to know more. We invited Emma to the Craft Barn for a knitting natter and we are very pleased to share that she will be teaching workshops at the Craft Barn in 2017. Keep an eye out on our workshops page for updates. On 25th March next year Emma will be at the Craft Barn for a designer showcase day – pop the date in your diary. More details of this event will be coming up in 2017.

On the weekend of Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November Emma will be taking over our Instagram. This is super exciting for us as it will be our very first Instagram takeover. Emma will be sharing lots of inspiring photos over the weekend so be sure to check it out.

To delve into the mind of a knitwear designer, I sent Emma some questions to share here on the blog…….


When did you learn to knit? Who taught you?

My nan taught me to knit when I was only young but I never really took it seriously until I went to college. I don’t really remember learning, it’s almost like I’ve always known how. My sixth sense!

Can you remember the very first thing that you ever made?

Unfortunately I have no pictures. Putting aside the teddy blankets, teddy scarves and Barbie clothes, I made a 1960’s inspired shift dress when I was 16 for my first textile project. With a sewn on Peter pan collar and buttons.

Where did you begin your designer journey……..How did you become a knitting designer? Did you study at University? What inspired you to make this decision?

After going to college to do fashion and textiles I went to Nottingham Trent where I graduated in 2014 in Fashion Knitwear and Knitted Textiles. I have always been creative, design ideas pop in my head constantly and after completing the knitted shift dress for my first textile project at college I just knew I wanted to do knitwear. I love the freedom both knit and crochet can offer and I am automatically drawn to colour and texture!

When designing something new, where do you begin? Is it a sketch, with a colour palette or sampling? What is your design process?

Each design is different, something in my everyday life can spark an idea. Something I’ve seen on the catwalk, something vintage I’ve seen in a shop or as simple as a stitch pattern that must be made into that scarf or jumper. I think exciting details, texture and colour can bring a whole new and modern lease of life to a classic jumper.

I am also a massive Pinterest addict, A great place to relax and find inspiration!


As a freelance designer you must have worked with various big names in the industry. Where can we find your designs?

I have been very lucky to work with some of the best brands and designers in the industry such as Debbie Bliss, Erika Knight, Louisa Harding and The Fibre co. I also designed a pattern book called Illustrious for West Yorkshire Spinners which was inspired by heritage and took on a very classic autumnal feel with a wearable modern twist!

star sweater in baby cashmerino

Emma’s design ‘Star Sweater‘ for Debbie Bliss.

wys illustrious book

juliet wys illustrious

hermione wys illustrious

Which other knitwear designers do you admire?

I am a massive fan of Gucci, nobody does glitter like they do! I love the femininity of Orla Kiely and as I’ve said previously I’m very driven by colour, texture and pattern.

What have been your knitting highlights of 2016?

Oh wow! I’ve just recently done a collection of crochet interiors for DYChoice. This is my first crochet collection and my first interior collection so quite an achievement for me and I am very proud of the final collection. Early in 2016, I designed an AW16 collection for DYChoice called Alchemy. Inspired by the magical word itself, to be transformed or created through a magical process. For me this was knit and as the yarn is full of colour and texture through fibre I worked on colour placement around the classic silhouettes. For photography I styled the collection with metallic and dark autumn shades.

alchemy1 emma wright

alchemy2 emma wright

alchemy4 emma wright

Do you enjoy knitting / crocheting for yourself? If so, what do you make?

Yes! When I get time (which is rare) I like to make winter accessories, hats, scarves and headbands usually.

Can you share any projects you have coming up in 2017?

I always dread this question but I have a head full of secrets, I’m pretty good at keeping things hush. I keep my social media as up to date as possible with up and coming projects and new releases, I have also started my own emmaknitted Ravelry group which is quite exciting!

A couple of fun questions before you go……

Knit or crochet? Knit

4ply or chunky? Chunky

Pastel or bright? Oh that’s hard, I love both!

Do you have a favourite place to crochet / design? Does anywhere in my pj’s count?

Do you do any other crafts? If yes, what? I love sewing, embroidery, papercrafts… crafts in general!

Do you have a favourite yarn? Yes! Erika Knight Vintage and Maxi Wool

Keep up to date with Emma on social media here
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @emmaknitted
Hashtag: #emmaknitted
Ravelry Group: emmaknitted

Turkish Delight Bolster Crochet Along

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet, Free Patterns | Posted on 10-11-2016

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Is your crochet hook looking for a new challenge? Are you ready for a burst of rich colour to warm up autumn days? Well, you are in for a treat. We have teamed up with blogger and designer Heike Gittens from Made with Loops to bring you the Turkish Delight bolster crochet along. A four week project that will be complete in time for Christmas; whether you choose to gift the bolster or make it as a gift for your own home, there will still be plenty of time to catch up on your other festive makes before Christmas day.

turkish delight bolster crochet along
On 15th November the first pattern will be available to download from our website on the bolster CAL page. Each week there will be two strips to complete, with the fourth week consisting of joining and adding the finishing touch of  a gorgeous chunky tassel to adorn each end.
Heike has used Vinni’s Colour Nikkim to make the cushion. This a soft cotton yarn, which is hand dyed and balled in South Africa. The yarn offers a vast selection of colour, with over 80 shades in the range. The perfect choice for a crochet project such as this one. With so many colours to choose from it would be fun to create your own palette for the Turkish Delight bolster crochet along. Maybe a gradient of green or possibly a selection of pinks and purples? The options are endless! If you would prefer to go for a colour pack, we have two very different options to choose from. Heike’s original brights or the more subdued pastels pack.

turkish delight brights pack

turkish delight pastels pack

Take a look at this video to see just some of the shades of Vinni’s Colour Nikkim we stock!

Heike took inspiration for the Turkish Delight bolster design from her travels to North Africa and the Middle East. The abundance of colour and fantastic architecture she encountered whilst travelling has all accumulated to inspire this textured and vibrant design.

turksih delight bolster crochet along

Photograph: Heike Gittens

Heike visited the Craft Barn recently, so we took the opportunity to film a video introducing the turkish delight bolster crochet along. It is a good to see the scale of the bolster and start planning where it will live in your house when you make one too. Plus, Heike talks to Sara about more exciting projects coming up in 2017.

If you are going to be joining in with the crochet along we would love to see photos of your progress. Share them on social media with the hashtag #turkishdelightcal or tag Black Sheep Wools in a photo. If you aren’t on social media please send an email to social@blacksheepwools.com. Enjoy!

Afternoon Tea with Sue Pinner

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 03-11-2016

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There is always fun just around the corner when Sue Pinner is in the building. On Thursday Sue came to the Craft Barn to host afternoon tea. Tickets had been sold in advance for the event, which included an afternoon in the company of a talented crochet designer and an exceedingly scrumptious spread of tasty sandwiches and delightful homemade cakes; a rather pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

afternoon tea with sue pinner

afternoon tea with sue pinner
Sue brought along boxes and boxes bubbling over with an extraordinary amount of crocheted projects. Where does she find the time to produce so many creations? I do wonder if perhaps she just doesn’t sleep and continuously crochets day and night. Always with a crochet hook to hand she wears one dangling around her neck, so she really can crochet all the time.
Before she started her talk Sue emptied some of her boxes to showcase a spectacular display of colourful crochet, layering blanket after blanket on the table. A plethora of tactile temptation, I just wanted to rummage through and peak at all of the beautiful crochet.

afternoon tea with sue pinner

Sue explaining the basics of crocheting triangles in Stylecraft Batik dk.

sue pinner triangle scarf

Bolster cushion is featured in Sue’s book – Granny Squares.

granny squares by sue pinner

She began by chatting about her life growing up with creative parents. Sue’s father did watercolour paintings and pottery too. Sue remembers learning to sew at the age of 5 and going on to crochet at 9 years old. It wasn’t until she reached her teens that she became interested in using the craft of crochet to make a blanket. After being given a large bag of rug wool she made an enormous granny square blanket, adding tassels to the edges. She had always known that art and design was the career path she would choose, opting to study a degree in Textiles & Fashion. Throughout her career Sue has explored many different avenues, including making hats, bridal wear, occasion wear and illustration to name but a few. She also worked for many years as a craft tutor at a mental health unit.

In 2006 Sue decided that she wasn’t going to do anymore crafting. Then in 2008, after a 2 year brake she decided to pick up her crochet hook again. From here sue set up her blog and started regularly blogging about crochet. It was then she was approached by her publisher to do a beginners crochet book – Granny Squares by Sue Pinner. Sue has since designed projects for a second book – Granny Squares & Shapes and has also been working with Stylecraft for the past 4 years. Many of your favourite crochet designs have probably been designed by Sue, including her fabulous tartan blanket. Sue brought the original tartan colour way (which can be found on the pattern as a cushion) and a pastel alternative, both crocheted in Special dk.

special dk tartan blanket

granny squares & shapes

Bowls from Granny Squares & Shapes book.

sue pinner
In October Sue embarked on her very first crochet along with Stylecraft – the Carousel blanket, a free pattern that is available on the Stylecraft website. The final instalment is to be released later in November. Sue created the design to reflect all the fun of a fairground, with lots of vibrant colour. There are two original colourways in Special dk and Batik dk. Since creating the original designs Sue has gone on to produce many more alternative versions, pastel, special effects dk, King Arthur’s table and even another blanket to make with the yarn left over from the original Special dk colour pack. She really is a crochet machine! It takes her just an hour to get around the whole of the Carousel blanket. For those who are joining in with the Carousel CAL, Sue did say that the version below has got a few extra rounds than the pattern.

Afternoon tea with Sue Pinner - Carousel blanket

Afternoon tea with Sue Pinner - carousel

We were treated to a vast selection of crochet projects including a blanket made from left over oddments. Sue doesn’t believe in throwing her scraps away, why would you when you can produce a pretty blanket like this one?

sue pinner oddments blanket

Below is the almost finished blanket made from the yarn left over from the Carousel Special Dk colour pack. Sue is definitely a believer in waste not, want not.

carousel special blanket 2
Sue couldn’t get through the afternoon without a spot of crochet. She demonstrated how to do the join as you go method. If you are making the Carousel blanket it could be worth a look. The video is on our Instagram now.

There were a couple of very handy crochet tips shared too. I asked Sue’s permission to share with everyone.

Top Crochet Tips from Sue Pinner
– A treble should be 2 chains! When you are starting a row and it says chain 3, chain 2 instead.
– Always deal with your ends as you go, when you are finishing one motif. Don’t leave them all to the end of a project.

Thank you to Sue Pinner for a wonderful afternoon. Everyone left full of ideas and inspiration (Sue included! She’s always thinking of something new) ready to get their crochet hooks working away.

Sue is currently taking part in Stylecraft Blogstars Blog tour. Find out more on her blog here. She will be back at the Craft Barn on Friday 18th November for her Crochet Christmas Tartan workshop. There are still a couple of places left if you would like to book.