Steeking Fair Isle

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 15-06-2018

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Let’s talk about steeking! Steeking Fair Isle to be precise. Black Sheep Barbara has been working away on an amazing Fair Isle tank top for her husband in Baa Ram Ewe Titus 4ply. For those who haven’t heard of steeking before Barbara described it beautifully, “It’s like knitting a tube and cutting it to make it into a useable fabric”. The cutting is required to form armholes and the neckline. It is a very clever technique that creates a professional durable finish to a garment, plus no seams, amazing!

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Barbara is a team leader in the Craft Barn and an incredibly talented knitter. Well, knitting isn’t her only craft, she loves to do patchwork, embroidery and crochet too. If you visit the Craft Barn do chat to our staff about what they are making too, you will find that we all love having a few projects on the go just like you!

The Fair Isle tank top pattern is a design Barbara found on Ravelry – ‘Machrihanish‘, designed by Fair Isle designer extraordinaire Kate Davies. This Ravelry pattern is available to purchase from the Craft Barn via Ravelry. For her yarn choice Barbara couldn’t resist one of her favourite 4ply yarns, Baa Ram Ewe Titus. Having only ever done a steeked sample previously on a Fair Isle & Steeking workshop with Melanie Boocock (now our in store Rowan Consultant) a couple of years ago, Barbara decided to utilise her skills for a garment. As it is all knitted in the round she found the two handed Fair Isle technique really helpful to use. The beauty of knitting in the round is that there is no purl row when knitting stocking stitch. Barbara brought the tank top in at various stages of the knitting and steeking journey.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Here you can see the reinforced stitches, ready to be cut.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

This is the front of the tank top. You can just about see that the armholes are still joined and you can see the reinforced V-neckline.

In this little video snippet you can see the reinforced crocheted edge that won’t be unravel. You can see how Barbara has picked up stitches to knit the ribbed edging. It’s crazy to think you can cut your knitting with scissors and it will stay intact, that is the magic of steeking!

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

I just had to share a photo of the reverse side, it is so neat and visually pleasing.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Here is Barbara’s husband modelling his new tank top. Isn’t it fabulous!

 

 

Yarn Shop Day 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 18-05-2018

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We had a magnificent day at the Craft Barn on Saturday for Let’s Knit Yarn Shop Day 2018. There was all sorts going on in store. Emma Varnam was surrounded by colourful crocheted delights teaching mini crochet classes, Christine Perry (Winwick Mum) shared her top tips on sock knitting, Melanie Boocock (our Rowan Consultant) taught customers to knit and Debbie Tomkies filled the workshop room with a rainbow of colour showcasing her dyeing skills. Thank you so much to all of our special guests for making the day so fabulous!

If you couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn, we hope you managed to visit your local yarn store. There aren’t as many of us around these days and that’s what is so good about Yarn Shop Day, showing the love for your local bricks and mortar yarn store.
There is something so wonderful about entering the Craft Barn full to the brim of irresistible squishy balls of yarn. Your creative juices are ignited and your yarn stash wish list begins to increase before your very eyes. It is a place to meet fellow knitters and crocheters, chat to our super talented staff who are able help out with planning your next project or solving a knit or crochet puzzle and generally immerse yourself with inspiration from every angle.

On the day Emma Varnam and Christine Perry took over our Instagram account to share Yarn Shop Day through their eyes. Here are some of the photos below. There was a glass of Prosecco for everyone, Stylecraft goody bags and fab raffle prizes too.

Yarn Shop Day 2018 | Black Sheep Craft Barn

Emma Varnam brought in all of her Cute Crocheted Animals to visit for the day.

Winwick Mum ready for sock knitting!

Debbie Tomkies brought an array of fabulous hand dyed hanks to showcase the incredible shades you can create.

Yarn Shop Day 2018

I hope you don’t mind Christine, but I have taken this shot from your blog. A great photo of Melanie in action teaching a group of ladies how to get started knitting.

Pop on over to Emma’s blog to read her run down of the day and Winwick Mum‘s too. They have both written lovely posts about their day.

We hope to see you again next year!

Men’s Knitting Patterns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 23-03-2018

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In amongst so many patterns for ladies and babies, men’s knitting patterns sometimes can be missed. We have plucked out a selection of men’s knitting patterns to share. If you are ever struggling though, we do have the option to narrow down the search depending on who / what you are knitting for. Hover over patterns on our home page and select in the ‘For’ category.

Before you even begin to be tempted to make any of the knitwear below, we must talk about the ‘Boyfriend Sweater Curse’ (unless you are a man knitting for yourself). You may have heard this pop up online or in a knitting magazine over the years. It is a theory that knitting a sweater for your significant other can lead to a break up! Eeeek! A knitted sweater isn’t just whipped up in a couple of hours, as we all know, a lot of time and effort goes into making it. With all the hours put in you are thinking about this person a lot (maybe whether or not they are the one for you) and you really want the person you are knitting for to appreciate it. This can be said for any knitted gift though and I guess this is where the theory came about.

We are obviously very sceptical of this theory and feel that the sweaters and cardigans below are too fabulous not to be knitted. We want knitting to bring you happiness! A good way to know the recipient will like the jumper is to involve them in choosing the pattern and shade. Pick a selection of designs that you would be happy to knit and let them choose from there. If you are going to knit for a new man in your life, maybe start small and go for a scarf or hat – still a lovely gift.

Choose from a v-neck or shawl collar cardigan in this pattern from Hayfield in Bonus Aran Tweed. A versatile knit for any season!

Men's Knitting Patterns | Cardigan in Hayfield Bonus Aran Tweed

Rowan Journeyman book has been designed by Martin Storey. An incredible collection of knitwear for men. Out of 12 patterns in the book these are four standout designs.
Clockwise from top left ‘Heston’, a cable design using Rowan Hemp Tweed. ‘Curtis’ is the next one along, a textured design using two shades of Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. ‘Brando’ is a hooded sweater with an all over cable design in Hemp Tweed. ‘Cooper’ is a snuggly sweater knitted in Felted Tweed Aran, a slip stitch design creates a rib like texture. There are many more tempting patterns from this book too.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a double knit yarn is more your thing, how about this raglan sleeve sweater in Stylecraft Life Vintage Look DK and Life DK. The Life Vintage Look yarn is a tweedy sort of yarn that lends itself to men’s knitwear.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Knit a round neck sweater or cardigan in a textured diamond stitch in Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed DK.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a chunky knit is called for, why not knit this super cosy cabled sweater in your favourite chunky yarn?

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Take a look on our Men’s Knitting patterns page on the website to see more patterns.

How to cast off knitting?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 16-03-2018

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How to cast off knitting can be done in more ways than one. It can vary depending on your project and the stitches you are knitting (is it a purl, is it a knit stitch). Don’t feel bamboozled though, generally you will need a standard two needle cast off to finish off your project beautifully. It is so satisfying to cast off that final stitch, sealing in your stitches to see a neatly cast off piece of knitting. A much needed addition to our collection of Knitting Essentials blog posts, after all if we are going to share how to start knitting, you need to know how to finish it.

We have put together a series of ‘how to cast off knitting’ videos with the help of designer and workshop tutor, Carol Meldrum. Carol is a super tutor who teaches knitting finishing techniques, crochet and many more knitting workshops. It only made sense for her expert knitting hands to share a couple of demonstrations with you all. Carol will cover two needle cast off, how to sort out a baggy cast off stitch, rib cast off and three needle cast off – great for shoulder seams on garments.

How to Cast Off | Black Sheep Wools

Keep up to date with Carol on her Instagram page, she also teaches on knitting holidays around the world. Along with pics of knitting, you will also be treated to some breath-taking scenery.

How to cast off knitting – Standard two needles

 

1) With right side facing, knit the first 2 stitches.

2) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on the right hand needle. (One at the bottom)

3) Lift the stitch over the second stitch on the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

4) Knit the next stitch on the left hand needle. You will now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat steps 2 to 4 until you have the last 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

6) Fasten off yarn, leaving a 15cm end. Insert the end through the last stitch and pull tight.

Fixing a baggy cast off stitch

 

Sometimes when you cast off the final stitch can look baggy. This is the first stitch from the previous row. Watch the video for this on Instagram.

1) To avoid getting a baggy end stitch, work the standard two needle cast off (steps 1 to 4) until you have 1 stitch on the right hand needle and 1 stitch on the left hand needle.

2) Slip stitch on right hand needle, back onto the left hand needle.

3) Insert right hand needle through the back (tbl) of the first stitch. Keep both stitches on the left hand needle.

4) Then insert right hand needle knit wise through the last stitch on the left hand needle.

5) Place the yarn around the right hand needle as normal and knit the 2 stitches together and slip both off the needle.

How to cast off knitting – Rib stitch

 

Depending on the pattern you are working you may have to cast off in rib. For this example we have used a 2×2 rib of 2 knit stitches, followed by 2 purl stitches.

Cast off using the two needle method in rib as follows:

1) With right side facing, knit the first two stitches.

2) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on right hand needle.

3) Lift the first stitch over the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

4) Knit the next stitch on the left hand needle – you will now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat steps 2 and 3 once more.

6) Bring yarn forward between the needles and purl the next stitch. You should now have 2 stitched on the right hand needle. Repeat steps 2 and 3 once more – you will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

7) Purl the next stitch on left needle, then repeat steps 2 and 3 again.

8) Continue to cast off in rib as set, following the knit and purl stitches from the row below. Remember to make sure your yarn is in the correct position for knit and purl stitches.

How to cast off knitting – Three needles / Two edges together

 

Three needle cast off is used to join to pieces of knitting together and will give a smooth firm seam. It is ideal for shoulder seams, why not give it a go next time you are finishing a garment?

1) Depending on the project, the cast off can be worked with either the wrong or right side facing. Here we have cast off with the right side facing.

2) You will need three needles for this cast off method.

3) With wrong side together, hold both needles facing in the same direction, in your left hand.

4) Insert the third needle knit wise through the first stitch on the front and back needles, and knit together. You will have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat step 4 once more, now there should be 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

6) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on the right hand needle.

7) Lift the stitch over the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

8) Repeat steps 4 to 7 until 1 stitch remains on right hand needle.

9) Fasten off yarn, leaving a 15cm end. Insert the end through the last stitch and pull tight.

Is there a technique that you would like to see covered on a how to video. Share you suggestions in the comments below.

Yarn used in examples is Scheepjes Softfun.

How to do mattress stitch?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 19-01-2018

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We asked superstar knitting designer Sarah Hatton to help us out with this knitting essentials how to – how to do mattress stitch? Sarah is an established designer who has been designing for many years and has incredible patterns featured in Rowan magazines and her own books. She also teaches knitting workshops and knows a thing or two about gin!
Whilst Sarah was in store teaching we took the opportunity to film a quick video on how to do mattress stitch. Sarah prepared two stocking stitch swatches (in Rowan Big Wool) to demonstrate the technique. Watch the video below or on our YouTube channel.

If you prefer to read the instructions, we have put together still images with our own text to guide you through this helpful finishing technique.

What is mattress stitch?

Mattress stitch is a joining method for two knitted pieces. It is most commonly used for joining two pieces of stocking stitch knitting. Fantastic for joining garments, giving you a practically invisible seam. Once you have got this sewing up skill under your belt, you will want to get that unfinished jumper finished pronto (note to self: get jumper finished!).

How to do mattress stitch

Line up your two pieces of knitting side by side with right side of work facing. Thread a length of yarn onto a sewing up needle and insert the needle under the first stitch at the bottom right of your knitted piece.

Mattress Stitch

Now move over to the left piece and insert the needle under the first stitch at the bottom or your work.

Mattress Stitch

Go back to the first stitch on the right and insert your needle and pull through to secure.

Mattress Stitch

Pull tight to secure, ready to begin the magic art of mattress stitch.

Moving to the left piece (green), insert needle under the first horizontal bar of the knitted row, then come back up with your needle leaving a gap of two bars in between. Move over to the right piece and do the same on the opposite side. There is no need to pull the stitches tight at this stage, leave it so that you can see a laced zig zag of sewing up yarn for the time being.

Mattress Stitch

Continue to swap from side to side matching the rows as you go. Once you have sewn up approximately 5cm – 10cm, gently pull the yarn you are sewing up with whilst holding the start of the seam and watch the two pieces of knitting marry together.
Once you reach the end of your knitted pieces sew in ends to finish off.

Mattress Stitch

What is your preferred seam for knitting? Do you find mattress stitch to be the best sewing up method?

Scheepjes Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 15-11-2017

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To celebrate being a Scheepjes stockist we have a treat for you. Haak Maar Raak blogger, Kirsten, designer of the Hygge CAL and Look What I Made blogger, Dedri Uys, designer of Sophie’s Universe blanket will be in store for the day. Come along and chat to the designers, squish Scheepjes yarn and discover Dedri’s latest kit. There will be goody bags (first 50 customers who spend £20 or more on Scheepjes), raffle prizes and more! See you Saturday.

How to knit garter stitch?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 04-08-2017

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To begin your knitting journey, the best place to start is with garter stitch. For anyone who has never knitted before and is wondering what exactly garter stitch looks like, then take a look below……

How to knit garter stitch | Black Sheep Wools

This is what garter stitch looks like as a knitted piece. The effect is created when you knit row after row continuously, I would describe it as a raised texture of interlocking loops. Garter stitch can also be called ‘knit stitch’ or ‘plain knitting’. So if you are reading a pattern in the future keep an eye out for the different terminology.

What do you think? Would you like to give it a go? We have created a step by step photo tutorial and easy to follow video. The video is worked at a slow pace with exaggerated movements so that you are able to follow the steps. Once you become comfortable with garter stitch you will find your own way of holding the needles and keeping tension that is just right for you and your knitting. Many knitters prefer to keep both needles tucked under their arms or just one needle tucked under. It really is personal preference and before you know it you will have a scarf knitted ready for winter. If you haven’t seen any of our Knitting Essentials blog posts before, make sure you take a look at our How to cast on video before you begin.

How to knit garter stitch?

With the desired number of stitches cast on keep the needle with all of the cast on stitches in your left hand. With the other needle in your right hand insert the needle into the front of the first stitch.

How to knit garter stitch | Black Sheep Wools
Push the needle through this stitch with the yarn from the ball ready to work with in your right hand.

How to knit garter stitch | Black Sheep Wools

Bring the yarn around the back of your right needle and down in between the stitch on the needle.

How to knit garter stitch | Black Sheep Wools

How to knit garter stitch | Black Sheep Wools

Keeping the yarn in between the needle (not too tight) carefully bring the right needle back and up through the loop of the stitch. Make sure that you don’t drop the stitch at this point (you’re nearly there).

Slide the stitch off the left needle onto the right needle.

How to knit garter stitch | Black Sheep Wools

Now repeat steps 1-5 until you have knitted the desired number of rows.

How to knit garter stitch | Black Sheep Wools

Yarn used in video is Sublime Evie Prints.

How to cast on?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 08-06-2017

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How do you cast on your knitting? Do you have a preferred method? There are many different ways to cast on knitting from the thumb method, two needle, to a cable cast on and many more. Some projects require a specific cast on, such as lace work or a design that requires a more elasticated edge.  We are beginning with the thumb method cast on. This is a great cast on method for newbie knitters and is pretty easy to do. You may find that it is the only one you choose to use once you get started.

If you are new to knitting then we have just the tools to get you started. It may also be of interest to the seasoned knitter. Having knitting tips to hand all in one place is always helpful mid project. With your knitting needle conversion chart and knitting starter kit at the ready, all you need now is to begin knitting. Gather your ball of yarn and knitting needles and follow the step by step instructions below.

How to cast on

Make a slip knot and catch through your needle.

How to cast on knitting
Gently pull the slip knot taught to your needle leaving a long tail of yarn to create the number of required stitches.

How to cast on knitting
Loop the yarn around your left thumb, holding the needle in your right hand (your left thumb is going to act as a needle for this part).


Insert the needle underneath the yarn on the top of your thumb. Get ready with the yarn (that is feeding from the ball) in your right hand to make a stitch.


Bring the yarn in right hand around (under and over) the needle and down in-between left thumb and needle.


Take the loop on your left thumb over the needle to create a stitch.


Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you have the desired number of stitches for your project.

How to cast on knitting | Black Sheep Wools

Yarn used in video is Conway + Bliss Elektra

Joji Locatelli Mystery Wrap – Colour Ideas

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Knitting, Sara's Blog | Posted on 04-05-2017

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I love a good CAL or Knitalong and I’m just about to do another one. This is by one of my favourite designers, Joji Locatelli. She is an Argentinian designer and if you haven’t looked at her work you really must. She has lots of patterns on Ravelry including the ‘Boxy’sweater, one of my favourite designs. Joji is also a master at shawl designing and this is where the mystery Knitalong comes in. Now I have never down a mystery project before so I’m really excited.

The project runs over 5 weeks and starts on the 12th May. As it is a mystery the designer does give you advice on colours, the size of the finished shawl and what type of knitting it involves. This shawl will contain a lot of garter stitch, some TV knitting and some more complicated stuff.

I love the community feel you get from a KAL and this one will be no exception. I’m a member of the group on Ravelry and it’s already got a lovely feel to it.

It’s done in a 4 ply yarn and I have picked five shades of the beautiful Titus from Baa Ram Ewe. I will be using Crucible, Goathland, Bramley Baths, Rose Window  & Chevin. I do hope they look as good together as I think they will.



If you are joining in this KAL then why don’t you post some photos to our facebook page of the colours and yarns you will be using. I’d love to see them!

We all love choosing colours at Black Sheep Wools, so between us we have come up with some more eye-catching combinations.

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Brights
– Blackcurrant Bomb
– Poppy Seed
– Blue Raspberry
– Butterscotch
– Sarsaparilla

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Pastels
– Milk Bottle
– Sherbet Fizz
– Candyfloss
– Pennyroyal
– Cinnamon Stick

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Summer
– Kingfisher
– Blueberry Bonbon
– Spearmint
– Tumeric
– Milk Bottle

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Fire
– Coal
– Viking
– Filey
– Parkin
– Wesley Bob

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Heathery
– White Rose
– Yorkstone
– Heathcliff
– Goathland
– Bantam

 

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!