Sara’s yarn review – Debbie Bliss Rialto

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 10-08-2017

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Watch my latest video on our YouTube channel to find out what I have been making with Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and Debbie Bliss Rialto DK. I have been knitting a cardigan / jacket with Rialto DK and crocheting a vibrant baby blanket with Rialto 4ply.

Take a closer look at my blanket here. Keep an eye out to see the finished article very soon.

Rainbow Yarn

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 05-07-2017

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Recently I noticed our Instagram looked like a rainbow, an illuminating array of rainbow colour. Seeing this has inspired me to write this blog post and share what delights there are in the world of yarn. Not just self striping, multi – coloured hanks, individual balls of colour too, that you can create your own rainbow with.

Over the past couple of months we have taken in a new brand – Caron. The first yarn to join us was Caron Simply Soft, with over 50 shades to choose from. This one really is an incredible rainbow of colour. With so many colours to choose from this yarn is a must for anyone who enjoys making colour palettes. The way the yarn has been displayed in the Craft Barn flowing through the colour spectrum is just too tempting. There is something quite therapeutic when methodically arranging yarns in according to their hue.

Eve is a Saturday girl at the Craft Barn, her Grandma has crocheted a rainbow blanket in Caron Simply Soft for her to take to Leeds festival this summer.

Then Caron Cakes arrived. A swirl of colour wound temptingly into one large cake of yarn. Now cake and yarn are two of our favourite things, so combining the two is amazing! The colour combinations in these beauties are gorgeous. There are 18 shades to choose from, some tonal, others complimenting colour combinations. If you are looking for rainbow yarn then look no further than the shade ‘Rainbow Sprinkles’.

Debbie Bliss always has a good colour range and Rialto DK does not disappoint. A sophisticated shade range to entice your knitting needles or crochet hook to venture into a new project. Choosing colours is part of the process and very much a fun task it is.

Now who couldn’t resist a rainbow yarn sock? These cheery colour combinations from West Yorkshire Spinners are sure to make you smile. Their Signature 4ply is very popular amongst sock knitters. There are one shade, striped and bird inspired options to choose from. However, if it is rainbow yarn you are after then ‘Rum Paradise’ is the one, or feeling more pastel – ‘Sherbet Fizz’.

Debbie Bliss has recently taken Botany Lace under her yarn umbrella. Take a look at the shade ‘Ronda’, a gorgeous rainbow yarn.

Sirdar’s cake yarn – Colourwheel DK has a fantastic aptly named yarn called ‘Follow the Rainbow’. As you can see it does echo its name quite accurately.

If we’re talking a rainbow of yarn then you can’t miss out Stylecraft Special DK. All those shades to choose from to make your bespoke rainbow. How about Sue Stratford’s Rainbow Blanket crochet kit?

It’s not just yarn, we also have fabrics that are bursting with a rainbow of colour. The Freespirit Designer Solids range has all the colours you need to make a vibrant quilt.

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!

Emma Wright at Black Sheep Wools

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 16-03-2017

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On Saturday 25th March we have young knitwear (and crochet) designer Emma Wright coming in store, to the Craft Barn for a Designer Showcase day. Emma will be in store from 10am – 3pm, surrounded by lots and lots of her superb designs for you to have a nosey and a natter to the designer herself. Back in November we did a Designer Q & A interview with Emma. Read the blog post here.

Emma Wright has worked with many well-known brands, designing for – Debbie Bliss, West Yorkshire Spinners and Designer Yarns to name but a few. If you are looking for inspiration for a new project or want a little advice on a knitting query, Emma will be on hand to help. For adults and teens who would like to learn to knit, Emma will be hosting two learn to knit drop in sessions tthroughout the day. Why not pull up a chair and join in!

Learn to Knit Drop in Session
10.30am – 11.30am | 1.30pm – 2.30pm

Emma will be back on Thursday 27th April teaching her Cable & Bobble Hand Warmers workshop. The beautiful hand warmer pattern is featured in her West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious book. Each participant can choose their prefered shade of Illustrious Dk yarn to use on the day. Emma will teach you how to do the perfect bobble and learn how to do cable. Plus, all full day workshops include a delicious finger buffet style lunch, refreshments and a scrumptious slice of homemade cake served late afternoon. All in all a fantastic day out that includes luxury yarn and cake too!

 

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.

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…….

emma-wright-headshot

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!

emma_wright_workspace2

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

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

rialto_4ply_baby_blanket

Stylecraft Special Dk granny square blanket

special_blanket

Debbie Bliss Lolli top

lolli_top

Juniper Moon Findley Dappled  and Debbie Abrahams beads

findley_beads

Staff Makes

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 21-04-2016

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Black Sheep Wools staff are always busy making one thing or another. If we aren’t making something, we also enjoy thinking of what we could be making. So many projects get planned and changed during a day at work. No matter what part of the company you work in, whether you are packing an order, putting new stock on the shelves in store, adding new products to the website, you really can’t hide from the continuous flow of temptation that catches our eye on a daily basis.

I have gathered together a selection of projects made by our talented staff. These are really only a snippet of the projects that do get made; many are eagerly given to the recipient before having a photograph.

Yvonne has been knitting away for her super cute grandchildren. Here is her grand-daughter wearing a cabled jacket, knitted in Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky using Hayfield pattern 4534.

yvonne_4534_rialto_chunky

Yvonne has also knitted a jumper for her grandson using Schachenmayr Extra Merino. She spotted this stitch pattern being used on a different design and adapted it to a trusty pattern she had in her collection.

yvonne_fancy_stitch_jumper

yvonne_fancy_stitch_jumper_close

Yvonne’s flower decorations are a great stash buster. She has been crocheting pretty flowers from Search Press Crochet Flowers book to adorn straw sun hats for her granddaughter.

yvonne_hat2

yvonne_hat1

Lesley has been making lots of crocheted hats for new born babies. The photo below is of her friend’s little one, sporting his new hat in Hayfield Baby Chunky, complete with a huge pompom.

lesley baby hat

Sally loves to crochet and couldn’t wait for Jane Crowfoot’s Frida’s Flowers crochet along to begin. She had her hook poised and ready for the pattern release from Stylecraft. It only took her one evening to do the first two pieces. Sally opted for the Stylecraft Classique Cotton dk colour pack.

sally_fridas

In preparation for the CAL, Crafternoon Treats blogger Kathryn designed a ‘Frida’s Flowers’ inspired project bag. This pattern is available as a free download and you can find the colour pack at Black Sheep Wools. Sally chose to crochet her bag with a variety of oddments, including shades of Stylecraft Special Dk that she has used double to create a chunky yarn.

sally_bagalong

Although Maria no longer works at Black Sheep Wools she will always be an honorary  member of the team, often popping in for the knit and natter group and to stock up on new yarns. After attending the Arne & Carlos workshop, Maria went on to make a second pair of mitts using another of their patterns. She chose a lovely selection of yarns from her stash. Find the free pattern on Arne & Carlos website.

maria_pastel_wristwarmers

Emily has finished her Spice of Life Croceht Along blanket, using a selection of Rico Baby Classic Dk and Sirdar Snuggly Dk. A gorgeous colour combination!

emily_cal

Lucy had been searching for the perfect pattern for a double knit yarn for a while. When she spotted the new Rowan Summerlite Dk book she could not resist, so many beautiful patterns all in one book. Lucy is using a forest green shade of Schachenmayr Extra Merino, following the ‘Bronte‘ cardigan pattern. She also took on the task of adapting the pattern so that she can knit it in the round, eeeek! The cuff of the cardigan is so pretty with the cable detailing.

lucy_summerlite_pattern

Stacey attended the weaving workshop at the Craft Barn last week and has truly fallen for the craft. She bought a loom and was off making a pretty woven scarf.

stacey_weave_scarf

stacey_weave

Finally, take a peek at Janet’s latest project. There will be a fabulous pattern for this one coming very soon!

janet_shark

Spice of Life inspired baby blanket

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 11-01-2016

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I have a bit of a thing. If a friend or relation has a baby I have to make a blanket. My cousin’s new baby, Emily was no exception.

Thankfully I knew it was a girl so colour choice was quite easy. I’m not particularly a traditionalist and I’m not mad on the colour pink so I used 9 different shades which I thought looked a bit vintagey (if that’s a word!). Two of these are pink but they do blend well with the greys and duck egg.

I’ve been so inspired by our Spice of life CAL, and learnt so much, that I knew I had to use stitches from this.

Sara's SOL CAL inspired baby blanket

The main body of the blanket is in v stitch. I love this stitch. It grows so fast and is really economical with yarn. Something I needed to bear in mind as I was using Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. This is one of my favourite yarns but doesn’t go very far so I needed to get the most out of it.

Sara's SOL inspired baby blanket

The border is a row of double crochet, to provide a foundation. Again this is the same as the Spice of Life (SOL) CAL.

I then used the shell stitch to finish off. I loved this stitch and it finished the blanket perfectly.

Sara's SOL inspired baby blanket

I’m delighted with the way it looks. The yarn feels beautiful and I think my cousin will love the colours. Fingers crossed!

I’ve got so many other ideas of blankets I can make with the stitches I learnt from the SOL CAL. If you’ve been left inspired too don’t forget our competition. We are looking for projects that have been inspired by Sandra Paul’s Spice of Life crochet along blanket. That could be anything from a mug hug to a cushion cover! Take a look at our competition blog post for more information.

A few staff projects

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 22-12-2015

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It has been a while since I showed off the talents of our wonderful staff. We have most crafts covered really with the number of different bits and bobs everyone enjoys doing in their spare time. Being surrounded by so much temptation on a daily basis could possibly have something to do with it.

Janet has been busy knitting for her baby grand-daughter. This little bundle of joy is going to be inundated with gorgeous gifts from a super proud Grandma. She is all kitted out for the festive season with a cute reindeer hat and a matching reindeer jumper.

king cole baby Christmas jumper

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer jumper pattern is designed by King Cole pattern number 3804 kc. You can even knit a reindeer tail on the reverse of the Christmas jumper. Janet decided to knit the red nose and sew it on rather than using a mini pompom.

Janet's reindeer baby hat

Janet has used a selection of oddments to knit this reindeer baby hat.

King Cole tinsel centipede

Janet couldn’t resist the King Cole Tinsel centipede. She chose colours to make him look like the Hungry Caterpillar.

King Cole Baby dress in Glitz

One more from Janet, a festive baby dress knitted in King Cole Glitz Dk.

Conway + Bliss Elektra jumper

Yvonne has knitted this cosy jumper by Conway + Bliss in Debbie Bliss Elektra.

Conway + Bliss Elektra

Look at the way the colours change so perfectly, creating an ombre effect.

teepee

Yvonne has also been sewing and doing some applique making tepees for her grandchildren.

Colette's Swarovski bead bracelets

Colette has been crocheting beaded bracelets using Swarovski crystals.

Lucy's bauble

Lucy has made a bauble as a gift for a crafty friend, following the Designer Yarns Bauble Along pattern. She has used a teeny circular needle to knit the bauble in the round.

Lucy's bauble

Topped off with a length of i-cord to fasten onto the tree.

Barbara Virus shawl

Barbara has crocheted a Virus shawl using Louisa Harding Amitola.

Barbara Virus shawl