Finished Spicier Life Blankets

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 23-02-2018

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In September 2017 we launched the Spicier Life Crochet Along. This spectacular blanket was designed by crochet sensation, Sandra Paul, aka Cherry Heart. A Spicier Life blanket was a follow on blanket to the original Spice of Life. Sandra used new stitches in a sampler style with the idea that the two blankets will look harmonious displayed together. India was the inspiration for her design and rich, evocative colour palettes – Jaipur, Bollywood and Taj Mahal.

Spicier Life CAL Blankets | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Whilst the CAL was running we set up A Spicier Life Crochet Along Facebook group, which now has almost 9,000 members. Soooo if everyone who is in the group has made at least one Spicier Life blanket……. that’s A LOT of blankets. It is safe to say, it is a very popular crochet along project. All of the patterns are still available via our website should your crochet hook be twitching with inspiration after reading this post.

We have gathered together a selection of Spicier Life blankets from the group, ones sent in by customers and staff. It is interesting to see whether people chose one of Sandra’s packs to make the blanket, with yarn from their stash or a colourway of their own.

If you do make a blanket and share it on social media make sure you include #spicierlifecal. It is always a treat to see new blankets popping up.

Black Sheep Lucy enjoyed making the blanket using Debbie Bliss Rialto DKJaipur colour pack with a few shade adjustments to match her living room. The yarn gives lovely stitch definition and is so springy.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

We found this blanket in the group. A crocheter called, Valerie has used left over yarn from her first 2 Spicier Life blankets. Soft, pretty shades with subtle transitions.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Shades of green and purple in this blanket work so well together, this one is by Alexis.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Spotted this one on the group for its vibrant colour combination, by Louise. Made with various yarns from her stash.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

A customer called Hazel has opted for one colour, made in Scheepjes Stonewashed XL. Using just one shade allows the texture to really shine through.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Sharon shared a photo of her Taj Mahal blanket in Stylecraft Special DK.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Steph has used a variety of tonal autumnal shades.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Lisa’s choice of pastels is so striking. All of these shades are Stylecraft Special DK.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Bold blocks of blues in this blanket by Susan.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Carol took a nice outdoor photo of her Bollywood Spicier Life blanket in Stylecraft Special DK.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

 

 

 

Pantone Colour of the Year 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 16-02-2018

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Quite a few blog posts have fell into the miscellaneous category of late. I wasn’t sure where talking about Pantone Colour of the Year should fit? Perhaps a “colour” category is what is missing from our category list?

Talking about colour when it comes to yarn is a fun subject to write about. Whether you knit, crochet or weave, colour always plays a huge part in what you create. The combination of various colours you put together or the one colour you choose for a project can make such a difference to the finished outcome. If you knit a jumper and only realise once it is all sewn up, actually it really doesn’t suit me, it can be so disheartening and disappointing. The good thing is, if you are making a blanket or cushion you won’t be wearing it so you can play with colour til your heart’s content. I find choosing a colour for a project lots of fun. It’s not like going into a clothing or homeware store and only having the options in front of you. The options are endless! I enjoy playing with colours, lining up balls of yarn and eliminating ones that aren’t quite right until I reach the perfect combination.

Pantone Colour of the Year - Black Sheep Wools

Every year Pantone release their Pantone colour of the year. This year it is Ultra Violet. Pantone share the colour trend forecast for the year ahead for designers and brands to follow in their work.

A description of Ultra Violet taken from the Pantone website
“A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.” 

I went on a hunt around the Craft Barn to find a selection of yarns on the Ultra Violet shade spectrum. These included Scheepjes River Washed in Yarra, Sirdar Wild in Luxe, Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky in Ultramarine, Vinni’s Nikkim in Dark Purple, King Cole Tinsel in Sparkler and Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK in Pip Squeak Purple.

Pantone Colour of Year - Ultra Violet

Ultra Violet is a great base to build a strong colour palette around. It is surprising what colours can be combined once you start trying different options. I started with a strong purple / ultra violet shade of Rico Essentials Cotton DK and tried out the following.

Pastel shades – Peach 52 and Jade Green 47

Jewel shades – Dark Green 67 and Royal Blue 36

Pantone Colour of the year

Earthy shades – Olive Grey 81 and 53

Pantone Colour of the year

If you prefer a tonal gradient then why not combine both Scheepjes Softfun and Scheepjes Softfun Denim for a blast of the Pantone colour of the year.

There are endless possibilities with ultra violet, a colour that is both wearable and perfect for homeware items. Will you be choosing it for your next knitting or crochet project?
Pantone Colour of the year - Scheepjes Softfun

 

 

Sophie’s Universe Blanket Complete

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Crochet, Sara's Blog | Posted on 13-02-2018

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Watch my crochet journey making the Sophie’s Universe blanket in Scheepjes Cotton 8. I really enjoyed making the blanket, using the Cotton 8 yarn for the first time and learning lots.

Sophie’s Universe was originally a crochet along project, designed by Dedri Uys.  The pattern is available on Dedri’s blog – Lookatwhatimade.net. Since the CAL was a huge success, Scheepjes decided to make the pattern into a book. The book is great to follow, with so much detail.

Progress report. It’s beginning to take shape.

Ta da! Take a look at my finished Sophie’s Universe blanket!

Sophie's Universe Blanket

It’s all about the Unicorn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 09-02-2018

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If you have been shopping lately, chances are you will have spotted a unicorn or two. Not an actual mythical creature strutting along the high street, but a unicorn printed on clothing, stationary, toys and much more. I’m sure I’ve even seen a unicorn cake! Basically, they are quite popular, especially amongst children. This is what sparked our idea to create a crocheted unicorn poncho. A fun garment to wear or play dressing up in.

Unicorn Poncho

We asked friend of the Black Sheep, Yvonne France, to design an exclusive pattern for Black Sheep Wools. Yvonne is the brains behind the magnificent knitted mermaid tail. A whizz when it comes to knitting or crochet, we had no doubt Yvonne would come up with something fab.
Here it a magical, mystical, mythical unicorn poncho, with a fantastic multi-coloured mane of Stylecraft Merry go Round yarn in rainbow.

Unicorn Poncho

The poncho is sized to fit a child aged 6-10 years old. There are instructions included in the pattern on how to adjust the sizing should you wish to make the poncho bigger or smaller. Please be aware that additional yarn may be needed should you choose to make it bigger.

Unicorn Poncho

It is crocheted in Stylecraft Special Aran and then Stylecraft Merry go Round for the fringed mane. The kit is only available to buy from Black Sheep Wools and includes everything you need except crochet hooks and buttons. Don’t forget to add 4mm and 5mm hooks to your basket.

 

Stylecraft Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 06-02-2018

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Join us for the Stylecraft showcase day at the Black Sheep Craft Barn in Warrington. Stylecraft Blogstar, Lucia’s Fig Tree will be in store for the day sharing her spectacular designs and her colour expertise. Lucia will be happy to advise on the colour palette and yarn for your next blanket. Discover the new season yarns and patterns too! There will be goody bags for the first 50 customers who spend £25 or more on Stylecraft. Not forgetting a fab raffle prize giveaway.

Knitting my first pair of socks

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 02-02-2018

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In November last year Arne and Carlos came to the Craft Barn to teach their workshop, ‘A Master Class in Socks’. Not being a sock knitter myself the idea of a sock master class sounded complicated and difficult. How wrong I was………

Stacey, who is a team leader in the Craft Barn attended the workshop, thoroughly enjoying a day with Arne and Carlos learning how to knit a toe up sock, with lots of handy hints and tips along the way. A week after the workshop Stacey popped in the office to share what she had been making. She had already finished not one, but two pairs of socks, with a third pair already on the needles. She enthusiastically explained how the sock was constructed, not complicated at all, just very straight forward with nothing that sounded too fiddly or complex. By the end of the day I was in the shop buying a ball of Regia Design Line 6ply and a set of KnitPro Zing 3.5mm DPN’s The idea of something slightly thicker than a 4ply and I was sold, ready to embark on sock knitting. On their blog and YouTube channel Arne and Carlos have a video and pattern for the easiest sock in the world. This is what I followed to knit my socks. There is also a super video that shows how to knit the heel.

I always thought knitting socks would be fiddly, to the point where I would have just one lonely sock, if that, or a tangled mess that was supposed to resemble half a sock never to be complete. I thought they would take forever to knit and I was so wrong. They were really fun to knit, having the various milestones (adding waste yarn, ribbed cuff and heel) along the way kept it really interesting and spurred me on to knit faster. Within just a couple of evenings I had made a sock!

I had been told by many knitters that you can’t beat a pair of had knitted socks, ‘they will be the warmest, comfiest socks you ever have’. Now I can wholeheartedly agree, having worn my own pair of knitted socks they are super warm and cosy to wear.

Slightly squished dancing feet

If you have never attempted sock knitting and feel inspired to give it a go, head over to Arne and Carlos blog and watch their video How to Knit the Easiest Sock in the World. Further down their blog post you will also find a basic pattern to follow. Make sure that you take into account yarn thickness and foot size. This pattern is a great starting point for venturing into the land of sock knitting. I might even try knitting a pair in 4ply next, that’s when I have finished my second pair in Fall Night 6ply.

For this pair of size 4 socks I increased up to 4osts, 10sts on each needle. I used –
Regia Design Line 6ply in shade Summer Night
3.5mm KnitPro Zing Double Pointed Needles 15cm

Sara’s UFO challenge with update

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 28-01-2018

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Have you made any craft resolutions this year? I have. I’m going on a UFO (unfinished object) mission in January & February. I have to. It’s getting out of hand. I’ve pulled about ten bags out of my cupboard and I’m on a yarn ban until they are finished. I’m embarrassed to say I have a baby blanket that only needs a border, a jumper that needs the side seams sewing up, a long stitch that is half done. I really need to get these finished. Then I can start on my next resolution, to knit some garments to wear at work. I’ve neglected my knitting recently, I only made one jumper last year. So once I’ve finished my UFO’s this is next on my list.

Now as you know I’m working my way through my WIPs this month. I’m feeling very proud of myself, so far I have finished five. When this video was filmed last Friday it was three. However I’m afraid I have to start something new. Today I will be starting a beautiful shawl in Stylecrafts Batik Elements. Now this isn’t for me (although I’ve admired it for ages) it’s to display at the shows. So I get to feed my startitus* guilt free!
*Startitus – a medical condition that means you constantly start new projects before you’ve finished the old ones. A condition that mainly affects crafters.

Matchy Monday

Posted by Amy | Posted in Miscellaneous | Posted on 26-01-2018

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Over the past 12 months or so on social media we have been sharing ‘Matchy Monday’ yarn colour matches with random every day items. Sometimes you will find that you are drawn to a particular colour whether it’s yarn or a new teapot! Do you find the same colour popping up in all aspects of your daily life? If you are wondering what shade to knit or crochet with take a look around you, what shades catch your eye? The colour combination of something like a bouquet of flowers could be just the inspiration you need for your next project.
On various Mondays we have shared our #matchymonday spots. It was fun finding the perfect yarn match for all sorts of household objects, fabrics, nail polish and more. If you do have a colour that you love or have a swatch of fabric to match up, chances are there will be a shade of yarn out there to partner up.

If you have come across an occasion where you are knitting (or crocheting) away with your latest ball of yarn and can see the colour blending in with your mug, cushion or even shoes, whatever it might be then please share a photo with us.

Here are a selection of the Matchy Monday moments we have shared so far. Keep an eye out on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more coming soon.

Matchy Monday

Gorgeous lilac with a lilac shade of Vinni’s Colour Nikkim.

Matchy Monday

Stacey’s bikini and Scheepjes Cotton 8 colour combination to make a crocheted beach dress from Scheepjes Sea issue bookazine.

Matchy Monday

Stylecraft Head over Heels sock yarn was a mesmerising match for Tula Pink fabrics.

Matchy Monday

Caron Simply Soft fluorescent yellow shade (9773) is game, set and match for a tennis ball.

Matchy Monday

Shades of Rico Essentials Cotton DK were just the colours for my nail polish.

Matchy Monday

Lucy knitted a lovely hat in Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock. This spray of foliage was just the match.

Matchy Monday

King Cole Cottonsoft DK in coral is just the colour for this sunglasses case.

Matchy Monday

Another floral display this time with Scheepjes Catona.

Matchy Monday

A selection of Rowan yarns in shades of green compliment Barbara’s tea set.

Matchy Monday

A vibrant blue nail polish to match Stylecraft Special DK in turquoise. I wonder if there is a nail polish colour to match every shade of Special DK? Now that would be a challenge for Matchy Monday.

Matchy Monday

A yellow raincoat to match this yummy shade of Baa Ram Ewe Titus. The shade is called Brass Band.

Please share your photos on social media @blacksheepwools #matchymonday.

 

 

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?

Customer Projects Round Up 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 05-01-2018

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At the start of a new year it is nice to reflect and celebrate your favourite craft projects of the year just ended. Over the year we have collected a variety of knitted, crocheted and stitched projects customers have shared in store or via email. If you follow us on Instagram you may recognise some of the finished makes below. As I gathered together all of the images and yarn / pattern info I noticed that crochet seems to be the most common craft. I guess it could be that a lot of crochet projects, such as scarves and shawls are easy to transport, either in a bag or in the case of a shawl quickly whipped off your neck for a photo. I know customers do regularly come in store wearing a knitted garment, but don’t want to be photographed, so there are still plenty of knitters out there. Without further ado I shall share a selection of customer projects from 2017. We can’t wait to see what you will be making in 2018!

A customer called Sheila sent in a photo of the blanket she had knitted in Sirdar Snuggly Dk (pattern- 4749). Sheila opted for the shades as seen on the pattern, a lovely colour combination.

Andrea was shopping in store wearing a ‘Lost in Time‘ shawl crocheted in Scheepjes Whirl – Blueberry Bambam. Look how beautifully the colours flow! She used an extra ball of Scheepjes Catona for the edging.

Marcia knitted a cute cardigan for her grandson in Sirdar Snuggly DK and King Cole Cherish DK, following Rico pattern 089.

One for the summer months – a beach dress crocheted in Scheepjes Cotton 8 by a customer called Jan. This pattern is from Scheepjes ‘The Sea Issue‘ bookazine.

Onto a knitted item using Scheepjes Secret Garden knitted by Jackie . This beautiful rainbow shawl knits up with just 6 balls. It is called Shawl of Secrets.

Elizabeth sent in a photo of her blanket knitted in a selection of shades of Sirdar Colourwheel DK. A fantastic use of this variegated yarn in a Kaffe Fassett blanket design. The pattern is from a book in Elizabeth’s stash – Knitting with the Color Guys.

I appear to have misplaced the name of the customer who brought this quilt topper in (sorry :(). An incredible explosion of colour using Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

Joan knitted a cowl in Caron Simply Soft following a free pattern ‘Snakes and Ladders‘. There is a link next to the yarn to download the pattern.

Liz came in store wearing a jacket knitted in Stylecraft Jeanie Aran. She popped it on a mannequin for a quick snap.

Sally brought in a knitted cat in Sirdar Touch.

Jessica visited the Craft Barn wearing this beautiful delight. A Lost in Time shawl by Johanna Lindahl crocheted in Scheepjes Catona.

Christina knitted a Paddington inspired duffle hooded jacket for her grandson in Hayfield Chunky Tweed yarn.

Su was busy knitting this dragon in the tea shop. The pattern is actually for King Cole Tinsel, but Sue went for a different look using King Cole Galaxy.

Just before Christmas Margaret came in store with her husband and son. They were wearing matching Christmas jumpers she had knitted for them in King Cole Shine – Christmas.