Betwixtmas Make-A-Long | More Tips

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 24-12-2018

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Have you already cast on the Betwixtmas shawl? Could you not resist that sumptuous hank of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply? There is only so long that you can stroke and stare at yarn before it simply has to be on your needles, we understand. If you are waiting for the Betwixtmas period (in-between Christmas and New Year) well done for resisting!
Before you do begin, have you read the shawl designer, Bronagh Miskelly’s guest blog post? For anyone who is unsure about knitting a flat piece of knitting on circular needles, it is really easy to do. You use your circular needle like it is two straight needles. Watch our video of Barbara below.

If the yarn has caught your eye it is King Cole Riot DK that Barbara popped on the needles for this demo.

If you haven’t already, it might be worth practicing the cast on method with a half ball /oddment from your stash. Prior to casting on with your chosen Betwixtmas shawl yarn. We have put together a little video to give you an idea of how this should look when you are doing it too.

 

Don’t forget to join in the chat for the Betwixtmas shawl on our Black Sheep Make-A-Long Facebook group.

 

What is a Make Along?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 21-12-2018

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A make along? Whatever is this, you might ask? Many of you will have heard this term in the knitting and crochet world and for others it something completely new. Let me try and explain what a make along (sometimes Make-A-Long) is all about. Here goes…..
A make along is when a pattern is released with all of the details required to make the design, along with a start date. Usually a blogger, yarn company or yarn store will do this and set a date for everyone to begin their project together. There will be a yarn suggestion and opportunity to purchase said yarn prior to the make along commencing. It brings a community spirit to a project, allowing people from all over the world to join in and make something, knowing that others are doing the same somewhere else in the world. More often than not you will find a dedicated Faecbook group or Ravelry group to share your progress and discuss the project with fellow crafters. A bit like going to a virtual knit and natter group, but you can go at any time of day. If you have a question you can ask away, or you may find that someone else has already asked when you scroll through the group. It is nice to have a browse of what yarn or shade others of chosen for a spot of inspiration. Even if there is an end date on a make along, it doesn’t really end because you can still cast on at a later date (so long as the pattern is still available). Plus, you don’t need to rush and makes mistakes because everyone works at their own pace. It is a friendly and relaxed way of coming together as knitters and crocheters.
You may have also heard – knit along and crochet along. A couple more alongs to add into the mix. These are normally projects where the pattern is released in sections over a period of weeks or months. For example our crochet along blankets with Cherry Heart Spice of Life and A Spicier Life. These patterns are still available and a few years on we still enjoy adding new members to the Facebook groups who are just about to begin the blankets.

We have picked a selection of examples of make along projects that you might find of interest, including a rather special one that is just on the horizon.

Obviously, we have to start with the Black Sheep Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long. This is a free pattern to download, designed by Bronagh Miskelly and it is knitted in Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply.If you would prefer to use a yarn from your stash or an alternative 4ply, then you can do. That is the great thing about a make along it is relaxed and inclusive for everyone. This make along starts on 24th December 2018. Find more info on our Betwixtmas page.

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018 | Black Sheep Wools

Lilla Bjorn blogger and designer, Tatsiana released her make along the ‘Esja Sweater‘ in November this year. A crochet make along in Scheepjes Our Tribe. Tatsiana chose to break the pattern up into weekly sections, but the full pattern is also available to purchase. Tatsiana has a Facebook group where you can go for advice and support whilst making the sweater.

Lilla Bjorn Image

The Scheepjes and Canadutch make along earlier this year was fab because it gave both knitters and crocheters the opportunity to join in. Designer and blogger Canadutch came up with a shawl design that could be made in a knitting pattern – Read Between the Lines and crochet – Crochet Between the Lines. The patterns are available as leaflets by Scheepjes and you will need two balls of Scheepjes Whirl.

 

 

 

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 13-12-2018

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Have you seen our Betwixtmas shawl? It is a delicate lace design, combined with simple stocking stitch, knitted in a hank of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply. This is a project to cast on in between Christmas and New Year.
The designer of the shawl is Bronagh Miskelly. She is kindly put together a blog post with her top tips on knitting the shawl. We would recommend having a practice of the crochet cast on method with scrap yarn before you commence knitting the shawl. With Bronagh’s hints and tips to hand you should have all your questions answered. Don’t forget to share your progress in our Black Sheep Wools Facebook Make-A-Long group. We can’t wait to see which shade of the delicious Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply yarn you have chosen.

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips
Guest Blog by Bronagh Miskelly

 

Getting started with your Betwixtmas Shawl

If you haven’t made a triangular shawl before, there maybe a couple of things that you aren’t familiar with, so here are a couple of tips to help you along.

But don’t worry, there is nothing complicated in this shawl, if you can knit, purl and put your yarn over a needle you are ready for anything in the pattern.

Getting started

The first thing the pattern asks you to do is to crochet a chain of 4 sts in some spare yarn and place these on you knitting needle before knitting them with the main yarn.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

This is a provisional cast on method, which is a way of having stitches at both ends of a section of knitting. Once you have worked a number of rows (a total of five in this case) you unravel the chain of crochet to reveal live stitches at the bottom of your piece of knitting.

If you are worried about dropping stitches when you unravel your crochet, us a spare needle to pick up the stitch loops before you remove the spare yarn (as shown below). It is a good idea to use a smooth yarn for your crochet stitches so it is easy to remove.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Once you have revealed your stitches from the provisional cast on, they work just like any other stitches. In this case you knit the three original stitches, pick up some down the side of what you have knitted so far and then knit the three from the provisional cast on. This means you have worked stitches round three sides of your piece of knitting creating a small curve that forms the centre back of the shawl that you will work outwards from.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Stitch markers

The pattern sets the position for three stitch markers. It may feel quite crowded to have three markers when you only have 9 or 13 stitches.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

However, these three makers help you put the yarn over increases in the right place and rapidly become more spaced out because the yarnovers add four extra stitches on every right side row which is what makes the shawl grow.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Checking your shawl shaping

I recommend using a circular needle for this shawl even though you are working in rows. This is partly because you end up with a lot of stitches but also because it is difficult to see the shape of the shawl developing and to check your yarnovers are correctly lined up.

Here the start of a shawl is spread out along the cable of a circular needle. This allows us to see that the garter stitch sections at each end in fact create a single long side of the shawl and that the centre set of yarnovers create a spine down the centre of the shawl to the final point.

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

As your shawl grows the shape will become more obvious and it is important that your yarn overs always line up.

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Company News | Posted on 11-12-2018

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Betwixtmas, a phrase I heard a friend use a couple of years ago to describe those days between Christmas & New Year. It’s a funny time, Christmas has been and gone, the days go by in a bit of a haze. You eat trifle for breakfast (well I do!) and leftovers for lunch. The one tradition I have during this time is that I make myself something beautiful to wear. For the last few years it’s a been a shawl in a hank of something lovely, a real treat to myself. I don’t make anything too complicated, trifle for breakfast can have an impact on my brain, it’s not the time of year to be challenged! This year I want to share this tradition with you.

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018 | Black Sheep Wools

Betwixtmas Shawl 2018 | Black Sheep Wools

Please welcome the Black Sheep Betwixtmas Shawl. A beautiful free pattern designed exclusively for Black Sheep Wools by the fabulous Bronagh Miskelly.  This design is so inclusive regardless of your knitting level. You start off with soothing stocking stitch, allowing your mind to get to grips with the construction of a shawl. Then Bronagh takes us on to a simple lace eyelet pattern, not too much counting and easy to keep track of. The best bit is you get the whole shawl out of one hank of yarn. So it’s an affordable piece of luxury at an expensive time of year.

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018

The pattern was designed using the latest luxury yarn to hit our shelves, Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply. A stunning 100g hank of superwash merino available in 30 stunning colours. The most difficult thing about this project is choosing your colour. Should I do my usual blue, or maybe an emerald green. I never knit with yellow yarn, it really isn’t me. Yet the yellow in this range is utterly gorgeous!

Betwixtmas Shawl | Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply

Now we want this to be a completely inclusive project. You can make it in any yarn you like, we’d suggest a 4ply to get the correct tension but it’s entirely up to you. The pattern is completely free to download from our website and we will be showing you our progress on the Black Sheep Wools Makealong group on Facebook. We’d love to see your makealong too!

#betwixtmas #betwixtmasmal2018

Watch the video below where I share all of the shades and you can see the beautiful Betwixtmas shawl.

 

Seashore Baby Blanket in Scheepjes Whirl

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 30-11-2018

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Scheepjes Whirl comes in sooooo many incredible colour combinations. Every member of staff could probably reel off a list of about 10 favourites. If you stop and look at them for longer than a couple of minutes you just keep spotting another one, oh and another one, that you can’t resist. With the addition of new shades too, well, let’s just increase that top 10 to top 15! If you love to knit or crochet shawls then this yarn is a dream come true. There are some amazing examples out there, including patterns from Scheepjes themselves.

Seashore Baby Blanket in Scheepjes Whirl

Sara is an avid shawl maker, both knitted and crocheted. With a ball of Whirl and a crochet hook in hand she fancied trying something else, a baby blanket. Enjoying the pretty pattern created by a shell stitch Sara came up with a one ball baby blanket. We decided on the name Seashore Baby Blanket to reflect the theme of the stitch pattern. This blanket pattern is available for free when you order a ball of Scheepjes Whirl from Black Sheep Wools.
Sara talks about making the blanket and shares her new colourway Popin Candy in the video below.

With the launch of 15 new shades of Whirl you really will be spoilt for choice when crocheting this blanket. The special edition shades are called the ‘Ombre’ collection. Each shade has a gradual gradient change from dark to light. Scheepjes do pick some stunning colour ways!

Scheepjes Whirl | Ombre Collection

Take a closer look at the Seashore baby blankets, including the one Black Sheep Lucy made for her friend in Scheepjes Whirl Peppermint Patty Cake. The pattern will be included in your parcel when you order a ball Scheepjes Whirl. If you are shopping in the Craft Barn ask at the till when you are purchasing your ball of Whirl.

Have you made a Seashore baby blanket? Share your photos on social media and don’t forget to tag us in your pic or use the hashtag #blacksheepwools.

Seashore Blanket in Scheepjes Whirl

Seashore Blanket in Scheepjes Whirl

The British Craft Awards 2019

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 23-11-2018

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It’s time to cast your vote in the British Craft Awards 2019. Eeeeek 2019,It’s hard to believe that we are nearly at the end of 2018.

The British Craft Awards are organised by Immediate Media who publish popular craft magazines including The Knitter, Simply Crochet and Simply Knitting. There are six categories to vote in covering a wide variety of crafts. We are very pleased to share that we have been nominated for ‘Retailer of the Year’ in the following categories – Crochet, Knitting and Cross Stitch.

As a small independent retailer we are always pretty chuffed to hear that we have been nominated when it come to awards such as these. It would mean so much if you would take the time to vote for all of your favourites, including us! If you live in the UK then you will have the opportunity to enter the British Craft Awards prize draw and win one of 6 £100 Amazon vouchers.

The British Craft Awards 2019

 

Scheepjes Yarn – Folk Issue

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in New Products | Posted on 14-11-2018

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Take a look through the latest Scheepjes Yarn Bookazine – Folk issue with me. I hadn’t flicked through even a single page of the book before I did this video. I wanted to share my excitement with you. There are some stunning designs featured in the book that I will definitely be adding to my wish list.

Handmade Christmas 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 09-11-2018

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Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night have been and gone it’s time to have a moment…..and then step into Christmas (in the words of Elton John). We are talking Christmas knitting, crochet and cross stitching. Many of you probably feel that November is a little late to be starting a Christmas project. We aren’t talking Christmas jumpers here or poster sized cross stitch scenes. More like small makes that will add a personalised touch to your gifts this year. Projects that will take one evening and ones that might take a couple of days. Mini projects are always handy to have on the go as in between projects or alongside a serious make. If you are crocheting a blanket or knitting a fair isle jumper, there are days when you just aren’t feeling it and need a change of scenery. Take a look at our selection and see what takes your fancy. No one needs to know if you end up keeping your handmade Christmas make for yourself!

Handmade Christmas

Winter Dolls by Annaboo’s House – back in 2013 we asked a group of bloggers to come up with Christmas decorations. Annaboo’s House came up with these three festive characters, Pip, Nat and Baby Mo. Crocheted in Rico Creative Cotton Aran they make for the sweetest Christmas ornaments. The patterns are still available for free from our free patterns page on the website. When you click through to the free patterns page narrow down your search on the left hand column to select ‘Christmas’. It will make it easier for you to find them, plus some more great decoration patterns.

Handmade Christmas | Winter Dolls by Annaboo's House

James C Brett Chinchilla snood – Who can resist a spot of faux fur in winter? In winter months you want to be cosy and comfortable, wrapped up in gentle layers of warm fabrics. Soft and furry yarns fit that feeling perfectly. James C Brett Chinchilla is a beautifully soft, faux fur yarn for the season ahead. Knit a cowl with just two balls or how about a headband with one ball. This pattern features a cape and shoulder cover too. The cape would look opulent over an evening dress or an outfit for a winter wedding.

Xmas Bear Card Kit by Bothy Threads – Bothy have brought out a series of 3 Christmas card designs, that come with a card and envelope. They are all fun and modern designs it will leave you wondering which one to make first. We have picked out the bear to share, with a jolly red scarf.

Handmade Christmas | Xmas Bear Card Kit

Pompom Wreath – grab an embroidery hoop, a selection of yarns and a pompom maker to make this festive delight. We suggest a variety of textured yarns and maybe a colour theme as seen in our how to video below – Sirdar Temptation, Sirdar Snowflake Dk, Stylecraft Wondersoft Stardust, King Cole Shine, King Cole Tinsel and James C Brett Harmony DK.

Festive Teacosies – Knit either a snowman or a reindeer with this Christmas pattern from Sirdar. Popped on top of a teapot, a tea cosy would make a jolly gift for a friend this year or an addition to your festive decor. Enjoy a mince pie and a cup of tea out of your glammed up teapot.

Handmade Christmas | 8219 Festive Tea Cosies

Christmas Baubles – Arne and Carlos love Christmas time and they have made just the book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit to add a splash of Fair Isle to your tree. There are 55 variations of knitted bauble to make from this book. Last year we had some knitted up for display in store.

Handmade Christmas | 55 Christmas Balls to Knit

Quick and Easy Knitted Hat in super chunky yarn – This knitted hat is a super quick knit. You will need a 100g ball of super chunky to knit this little treat. Depending on yardage you may or may not have enough to make a pompom. The yarn shown in the video is no longer available, however we have a selection of rather yummy super chunky yarns to choose from. Sirdar Tundra would make a nice multi coloured hat or perhaps Sublime Lola.

Tinsel I-cord – Grab two double pointed needles and a ball of mega glitzy King Cole Tinsel yarn. It’s so simple and becomes quite addictive, knitting and then sliding your 3 stitches and knitting again. Use this to make garlands to decorate around your house or even as a delicate tinsel to drape on the tree.

Cast on 3 sts.
Knit.
Slide stitches to other end of needle and knit. Continue to knit 3 and slide until desired length of icord is knitted.
It magically creates a tube of knitting!

 

Designer Q & A’s – Dee Hardwicke

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 01-11-2018

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It was sometime last year that I first spoke to Dee Hardwicke over the telephone. We discussed the possibilty of her coming to the Craft Barn in Warrington for a visit. It was at that point I realised what a hard-working, super creative lady Dee Hardwicke is. When you visit Dee’s website you are instantly welcomed with an abundance of exquisite design. Dee is not only a knitwear designer, publishing two books – A Story in Yarn and Colourwork Knits, she is a talented water colour artist. Creating designs for homeware, stationary and more. I bought a calendar last year from the National Trust, featuring lovely woodland animals, when I got it home I discovered it was designed by Dee Hardwicke. It’s not just at a yarn shop you will come across her designs!

Our exciting news is that Dee will be joining us this month for a Designer Trunk Show on Friday 23rd from 3pm – 5pm and a sell out (sorry) workshop teaching Intarsia Design Knitting on Saturday 24th. The trunk show is free to attend. Dee will be signing copies of both books, and this event will be a unique opportunity to see some of the original watercolour sketches, templates and knitted swatches behind Dee’s beautiful designs. Dee will also be on-hand to talk about her inspiration and to help you select palettes for your own quilt or knitwear projects based on the stunning collection of Rowan yarns to be found at Black Sheep Wools. You’re bound to feel completely inspired to pick up your knitting needles! If you aren’t sure of the Craft Barn’s location pop over to our website for details.

Dee has kindly answered a designer Q & A for us with a selection of inspirational photos. Grab a cuppa and have a read below.

You have a very distinct style in both your knitting and painting designs. What would you say is your main source of inspiration?

I find endless inspiration in nature. I live in Wales, between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, so I’m surrounded by the most beautiful countryside. No two days are ever the same, and I love the shapes and colours that emerge from season to season and from year to year. I always have my sketchbook to hand so that I can paint the world around me, and it’s often something as simple as an autumn leaf or a tiny flower which plants the seeds of an idea in my mind. I only have to step outside to feel inspired.

In your latest book Colourwork Knits: 12 Hand Knit Designs Inspired by Natureyou have designed a stunning collection of garments and accessories. What is your design process, from inspiration to finished piece?

Thank you! My designs begin with the watercolours and drawings that I make in my sketchbooks. I then develop them into designs for specific pieces, laying out different yarns alongside my watercolours to help decide on palettes, then creating charts and knitting test swatches. When I visit for my Designer Trunk Show on 23rd November, I’ll be bringing some of the original watercolours and swatches for the designs which appear in my books so everyone will be able to see how the process evolves. The knitwear itself is inspired by the shapes I like to wear, such as roomy boyfriend sweaters and fitted cardigans, and I decide which yarns to use depending on the specific design. For example, yarns such as Rowan’s Valley Tweed are ideal for ‘drawing’ with and they’re perfect for creating detailed motifs such as the pretty butterflies on my Pom Pom Shawl and the design on the Circle Flowers Sweater featured on the cover of Colourwork Knits.
Dee Hardwicke Colourwork Knits
Scarf from Dee Hardwicke’s book – Colourwork Knits

 

What is your favourite Rowan yarn to work with?

I love working with Rowan’s Felted Tweed and Valley Tweed since they’re both perfect for colourwork, and I’m very excited about the new Cashmere Tweed, which is a blend of extra fine merino and cashmere. It’s incredibly soft and offers amazing depth of colour. It’s also a really forgiving yarn for colourwork and I’m using it in designs for my next book. I can’t say too much about the book at the moment but I’m very excited about it and I’ll be revealing more on social media over coming weeks.

Is there a particular shade that you are drawn to every time you start a new design? Or a palette of shades?

I work really instinctively when it comes to choosing palettes, and I love experimenting with different colour combinations. When I’m hosting workshops, I always encourage people to play around with colour and to see what palettes they’re inspired by, since there’s no right and wrong. It’s amazing how an unexpected dash of colour here or there can transform a familiar palette; even now, I constantly feel that I’m discovering different ways of using colour. Rowan’s yarns have such beautiful, natural tones and the colours are very much those that you’d find in the landscape, from deep berry reds to rich autumnal oranges and fresh spring greens. Rowan also regularly launch limited edition ranges and capsule collections so there are always lots of exciting new palettes and textures to work with from season to season. I feel inspired just thinking about it!

 

Being a designer as a full time job, do you ever get time to enjoy knitting for pleasure?

I’m really lucky that because I’ve always been very creative, being a designer never really feels like work since it’s more a way of life. Some of my earliest memories are of making little outfits for my dolls and of drawing in the garden, and I’m always happy when I’m knitting … whether that’s in my studio, or tucked up at home by the fire with a piece of homemade cake to hand.

Can you remember the first thing that you ever knitted?

I can! It was a sweater, and I was so inspired by the yarn I was knitting it with that all sorts of variations to the pattern and colour-scheme kept popping into my mind. Of course, I really didn’t have the technical knowledge to match my ideas and so the result was somewhat mis-shapen … but very loved!

 

Do you have a knitted / crocheted treasure? A piece that you could never part with, a gift or maybe something you have made yourself?

The quilt that I knitted for my book A Story in Yarn: How to Design and Knit an Intarsia Heirloom Quilt is my most treasured knitted piece. It’s autobiographical and is inspired by some of my most special, happiest memories, which I talk about in the book. Judging by the lovely messages and photographs I get from people as far afield as the States and Australia, their versions of the quilt have become incredibly special to them too. The fact that my quilt was the starting point for this somehow makes it seem even more precious.
A Story in Yarn

With all of the fabulous designs featured in your books there must be one, two, maybe even more that you would love to wear / have in your home? We would love to know your favourites.
I really do love all of the designs but the Pom Pom Shawl is particularly versatile and can transform an outfit in seconds, adding a glamorous touch to jeans and a sweater, or a welcome splash of colour to a black dress. I’ve had so many compliments for it, and I know that the shawl is one of the first things that many people have knitted from Colourwork Knits (it’s an easy pattern to knit, too). My Boyfriend Scarf and Boyfriend Sweater are perfect for bundling up in on a chilly day, and they’re made from Rowan Alpaca Soft DK so they feel really luxurious to wear. I’m also rarely without my Dee Motif Cardigan since its fitted shape is so flattering and it’s knitted in a gorgeous red (Rowan Valley Tweed in Wolds Poppy).

Dee Hardwicke Rowan yarn garment

What delights will you be sharing with us at your Designer Trunk Show on 23rd November?

I’ll be displaying a selection of garments from Colourwork Knits, including the Dee Motif Cardigan and Pom Pom Shawl, although in view of what I’ve just said above, I may well be wearing them on the day! I’ll be bringing the original watercolours which inspired designs from the book too, as well as knitted swatches, so everyone will really be able to get an insight into how a design evolves. I’ll also be bringing my intarsia quilt and some of the beautiful flower and leaf templates and charts used to create it. The event will be a wonderful opportunity to chat to people about the design process and, I hope, to inspire them to get knitting!

Dee Hardwicke Rowan

What are your creative plans for 2019? Any new knitting books on the horizon?

Very excitingly, I have plans for two new books, one a collection of really wearable knitwear in beautiful colours, and the other focusing on interiors. I can’t say too much at the moment but I love social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc – as a way of giving people a behind-the-scenes look at what I’m working on so there’ll be lots of clues over coming weeks and months! www.deehardwicke.co.uk / @deehardwicke

Knitting and Stitching Show Ally Pally 2018

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 26-10-2018

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It may seem a bit late to be writing a blog post about the ‘Knitting & Stitching Show’ at Alexandra Palace, it was two weeks ago however it does take me a while to recover from this show (and the recovery takes longer every year).

It’s a big and busy show and we are away from home for 6 days. It’s exhausting but I do love it. Black Sheep Wools have been exhibiting there for over 25 years, and I’ve been at the last seven. There is no show like this one and I do believe that this year’s was the best yet. The show had a new ‘Champagne & Prosecco Bar’, ‘the innovation Station’, a Knitting Lounge, a VIP section, as well as the incredible exhibitor list.

Mike, Declan, Stephen & myself arrived in London at 2.30 on the Tuesday afternoon. We enjoyed a picnic (made by my Dad, the best sandwich maker ever) in the sunshine and always have the same conversation. It can’t possibly be a year since we were here last! Then we unload the vans.

Our first night tradition is to reward ourselves with a curry and a beer. I actually had four bottles of beer – which I completely regretted the next day!

Wednesday is then set up day. Back breaking and laborious this is always a much longer day than you think it will be. We have a discussion at lunchtime every year, ‘what time do you think we’ll be done?’. This year we estimated it could be as early as 4.30. It never is! We left the hall at 6.30 pm. I also sustained an injury, a mannequin fell on me and bust my lip. I carried my battle scar bravely – and told anyone that would listen – for the rest of the show!

We are known at the show for our ‘Yarn Dive’. A huge pile of packets of clearance yarn just perfect for you to dive in and snaffle a bargain. It is photographed by magazines and bloggers every year and features in countless social media posts. We also have our Cross-Stitch Stand which is packed with goodies from Bothy Threads, DMC, Anchor and many more.

This year we had something different too. We worked with one of our favourite designers Jane Crowfoot and had a ‘Janie Crow’ stand and a Scheepjes stand too. These both worked brilliantly.

Jane usually does this show herself. However she is hugely in demand and is now doing more international shows so she just couldn’t fit Ally Pally in. (There is so much behind the scenes prep for these shows). We were completely delighted when she agreed for us to exhibit her designs. Jane and her fabulous husband Andy set up the stand for us and worked so hard over the weekend.

We also had a Scheepjes stand, we did this for the first-time last year and it was a great success so we made it a bit bigger and had a few more products on it. Scheepjes were at the show too, sponsoring the VIP section. Their bloggers ‘Boy & Bunting’ and ‘New Leaf Designs’ dropped by our stand a few times and were so warmly received. We then had superstar designer Dedri Uys on the stand on Saturday – this was so much fun!

Working with Jane & Dedri was incredible for me. These are two of the most talented crochet designers in the world, they are also great friends with each other and so warm and welcoming. It was incredible, I was smiling from ear to ear.

The Ally Pally Show is a magnet for high profile designers. I was lucky enough to get a cuddle from Arne & Carlos, say hi to Dee Hardwicke, catch up with Stuart Hillard, wave at Attic 24 and chat to Winwick Mum.  I went for a fab Turkish with Sue Stratford (she tells the best jokes!)  watched Kerry from Toft teaching classes and there were so many more girl fan moments.

The trading days are the best bit. I love meeting our customers and we have regulars that come to us every year and it’s a real thrill to see them. We have Becky who shows me a book of everything she’s made in the last year, the £2 ladies who come every Sunday, a mother and daughter team who ask about my mum and dad every year and so many more.

As always I left Ally Pally with a big smile on my face. What a fab few days. I couldn’t do any of it without Mike, Declan & Steve. They organise the stock, load the vans and design the stand and they would say they do all the work whilst I chat!

Till next year Ally Pally!