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!

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.

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

Sara chats with Heike from Made with Loops

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 27-10-2016

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Last week we had blogger and designer, Heike from Made with Loops at the Craft Barn. Whilst she was here (on top secret business) we took the opportunity to do a video of Sara chatting with Heike about her deisgn inspiration, what her latest projects are and general knit & crochet natter delving into her box of finished makes.

 Here are just a selection of Heike’s favourite projects from over the years. A gorgeous bundle of colour expressed in crochet.


Another mixed bag of crafty delights!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 14-09-2015

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The start of Cherry Heart’s Spice of Life Crochet Along is fast approaching, I can’t wait to share all of the works in progress and finished blankets here on the blog. In the mean time I have a fairly mixed bag of crafty treats to share from our customers. It is good to see an increase in the number of fabric based projects being brought in store for a quick photo, keep them coming!

This first quilt was sewn on Stuart Hillard’s Quilt in a day workshop which we held here at the Craft Barn back in June.


The next project I have to share is another HUGE quilt from Quilt Grandeur by Kaffe Fassett. A customer called Linda made this incredible piece.

Quilt Grandeur quilt

One more quilt from a lady called Alison, who attends our knit and natter group. Alison hadn’t attempted patchwork before, you wouldn’t know with this piece!


Baby George popped into the Craft Barn for some more yarn. Doesn’t he look so content wearing a hand knitted cardigan and hat, wrapped in a beautiful knitted lace shawl.


Although summer may be over for another year here in the UK, the sun will be shining somewhere in the world. How about knitting a lightweight top in Sirdar Beachcomber Dk. Susan has chosen the multi shade – 261 ‘Collecting Shells’, what a lovely name for a summer yarn!

susan_beachcomber_topMary couldn’t wait to share her finished Stylecraft Lily Pond Crochet Along blanket in Stylecraft Special Dk.

stylecraft crochet along lily pond blanket

Christmas in August?

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 07-08-2015

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Christmas in August? What do you think? Is it too soon to be preparing for the festive season? For many crafters August may even be cutting it a bit fine to get everything made in time. If you are planning on a handmade Christmas it could be time to get your making skates on!

We have been sprinkled with festive spirit in recent weeks with the arrival of new shades of the super duper Christmassy, aptly named – Tinsel Chunky by King Cole. These latest additions to the range could quite possibly be even more festive than the original palette. One shade even has the name ‘Christmas’, can you guess which shade it is?

King Cole Tinsel Chunky

If that wasn’t enough festive sparkle, King Cole have also released a new shade of Glitz Dk, that looks like swirls of candy cane wound on the ball.


Did you make a Tinsel Chunky hedgehog? They have been a very popular knitted character of choice here at the Craft Barn. For Christmas you can choose from a whole host of cheery, festive characters.


Tinsel chunky snowmen


Tinsel Chunky santas

Mr & Mrs Christmas and an elf…..


We are now stocking the Anchor Artiste Metallic yarn. There are 26 sparkling shades to choose from!

anchor artiste metallic

Last year Patons held a competition to design a Christmas jumper. The winning pattern has now been published and is available to download for free from the Make It Coats website. Here it is – a snowy scene with lots of cute robins, designed by Ange Smith.

Make It Coats robin jumper: Image source Make It Coats website

 If you enjoy cross stitch perhaps the new collection from DMC might be what you are looking for. The kits are designed to look like Christmas postcards which is a nice touch.

Building a snowman by DMC

Building a Snowman

Santa is coming by DMC

Santa is Coming

Have you decided to start Christmas in August? Share your photos on social media or email


A mixed bag of crafty delights!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 29-07-2015

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Our lovely customers never fail to impress with their latest finished projects. In recent weeks it has been a pleasure to be treated to these delights. As more and more people get to know that we stock such a gorgeous range of fabrics we are starting to see more fabric based finished projects too.

Anne likes to knit various little dolls and characters. She brought in two teeny meerkats from ‘Knitted Meerkats’ book by Sue Stratford. A punk meerkat and a meerkat dressed up as a Christmas tree. These are a fun make that would make a great gift. Take a look at all of the detail in each one – the punk even has a nose ring!

Punk meerkat

Look at this little cheeky chap hidden away inside a Christmas tree – such intricate knitting.

christmas tree meerkat

After finishing the meerkats Anne made a knitted doll from ‘Babes in Wool’ book using various oddments of yarn. Check out her funky hair!

Babes in wool doll

Scarves and shawls are a versatile knit – easy to transport when knitting (especially on circular needles), can be worn all year round (depending on the thickness), perfect for all levels of knitter (plenty of choice, basic to advanced).

Isabelle took on the Rowan Starry Starry Night shawl an exclusive free download from Black Sheep Wools designed by Sarah Hazell. The shawl uses a ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe and Rowan Fine Lace. I have seen a few different variations in the past, but not this particular colour combination. The grey / blue shades look lovely worked together.

starry starry night shawl

starry starry night shawl

Leona brought in three patchwork cushions she had made using floral Coats fabrics, including Nel Whatmore Memory Lane and Tanya Whelan Petal. Can you believe this was her very first time taking on a patchwork project? Leona attended the Basics of Patchwork workshop a couple of months back. She soon got the hang of it!

leona's patchwork cushions

A customer called Delyse brought in this gigantic throw she had knitted. The blanket is knitted in a variety of Sirdar Country Style Dk yarns and a selection of oddments Delyse had in her stash. The squares were joined together using a 3 needle bind off method. Each large log cabin square has been created by picking up the stitches along the side of the centre shape and continuing round for the colour change.

log cabin knitted blanket

log cabin knitted blanket



Little Things Blogged – Free Patterns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Free Patterns | Posted on 27-07-2015

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I have two special summer treats to share today. The lovely Tanya at Little Things Blogged has created two patterns just for you, our Black Sheep Wools customers. Tanya has used the Hayfield Fiesta Dk in both designs, yet they are completely different. Seeing the yarn used in a different context makes you realise how creative you can be with yarn and a hook or pair of knitting needles. One design is crocheted and one is knitted. Tanya has gone for a pretty crocheted shawl and a simple knitted pillow cover. Both designs are perfect for beginners and will be made up in no time at all. There are 8 different shades to choose from in the Hayfield Fiesta Dk range including neutral creams and beige, then vibrant exotic shades of orange and pink. The yarn really is a dream to work with too.

little things blogged crochet shawl

Tanya also suggests that the crochet shawl could be worn as a sarong. If you get your crochet hook working at record speed it could be ready to pop in your suitcase next week! Here’s Tanya modelling the shawl.

little things blogged - free pattern

For the knitted pillow Tanya has worked two shades (Yumyum Yellow & Flamenco) together. This creates a tropical effect that really shows off the colours. A simple yet effective design. Think of all the different colour combinations you could make……take a look here at the Hayfield Fiesta Dk.

little things blogged - free pattern

Download both patterns from our free patterns page.

little things blogged - free pattern

September Workshops 2015

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 22-07-2015

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Wait until you see all of the exciting workshops we have lined up for this autumn. There are plenty of new additions, plus many favourites back by popular demand. We are always looking to add new workshops to our repertoire, so if there are any that you would like to see held at the Craft Barn please get in touch and we will see what we can do – email:

We have a selection of knitting, crochet, patchwork and sewing workshops aimed at all levels of crafter. They aren’t just for those picking up a new skill, oh no – we have workshops for the well-seasoned  crafter to advance their skills further too. There are a mixture of both full and half day mini workshops to choose from taught by either Rowan tutors or our highly talented members of staff.


Our very own Barbara will be teaching her very popular ‘Basics of Patchwork‘ workshop on Thursday 3rd September. This is a great 2½ hour workshop to help kick start your love of patchwork.

basics of patchwork workshop


Rowan tutor Jem Weston will be sharing her love of toy knitting and cute creatures in her brand new workshop ‘Toy Knitting‘ on Friday 4th September.

toy knitting workshop


Rowan tutor Melanie Boocock will be teaching the first patchwork workshop of the new season ‘Patchwork Bag‘ on Saturday 5th September. This workshop is perfect for those who are new to patchwork or those who wish to brush up on their skills.

patchwork bag workshop

patchwork bag workshop


Black Sheep Yvonne has had fabulous reviews about her 4 week ‘Intro to Sewing‘ workshop. Over the 4 weeks Yvonne will guide you through to begin your sewing journey. The course will be held on consecutive Thursday mornings starting with Thursday 10th September and ending on Thursday 1st October.

intro to sewing workshop


Jane Crowfoot will be back for two workshops on Friday 11th September and Saturday 12th September. On Friday she will be teaching ‘Fair Isle & Intarsia knitting‘ then ‘Professional Finishing‘ on Saturday 12th.

fair isle and intarsia knitting workshop


Rowan tutor Carol Meldrum has a brand new workshop for autumn – ‘Brioche and Tuck Stitch Knitting‘ on Friday 18th September. This would be a great technique to learn for making gorgeous scarves and snoods this winter. On the day you will start making a cowl.

brioche and tuck workshop

brioche and tuck knitting workshop


Carol will also be teaching ‘Learn to Crochet‘ the following day on Saturday 19th September.

learn to crochet workshop


Betsan Corkhill will be holding a unique workshop based around her book – ‘Therapeutic Knitting‘ on Saturday 26th September.

therapeutic knitting workshop


All of our workshops are held in our fantastic workshop room within the Craft Barn in Warrington. Julie or Jayne will look after you throughout the day keeping you fed and watered with a delicious lunch, mouth-watering cakes and fresh pots of tea.

There are many more workshops taking place throughout October, November and December. Take a look here on our workshops page for more information.