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……

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.


Push the needle through this stitch with the yarn from the ball ready to work with in your right hand.

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

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.

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

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.


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


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.

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!

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…….

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 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.

made_with_loops_projects

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.

kaffe_quilt_stuart_workshop

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!

alison_quilt

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.

baby_george_blanket

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