Celebrating 40 Years of Rowan Yarns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 12-10-2018

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On Saturday we had a party at the Craft Barn. An all-day event to celebrate 40 years of Rowan yarns. And what a spectacular day it was. We had our favourite Scandinavian knitwear designers in store for the day – Arne and Carlos. Now, this duo are such talented knitwear designers and sooo lovely too. They will always ignite your creativity with ideas and inspiration. Happy to chat away with customers and we even had them compering our Rowan fashion show, which was so much fun! We had members of staff modelling and Paul & Carol (who set up Black Sheep Wools many years ago). Take a look at our Instagram Stories highlights to see more snippets from the fashion show.

Our Rowan Consultant, Melanie has written a guest blog post about the day –

Melanie’s Blog Post

“Our 40th Anniversary party for Rowan Yarns was loads of fun. We celebrated Rowan past and present. Our fashion shows were full of fabulous vintage garments and stunning designs by Arne and Carlos. They were also full of fun and laughter, with expert modelling throughout. Arne and Carlos told us all about their design inspiration for their beautiful New Nordic collection. My particular favourites are Tuva and Embla.

Carmen wearing the ‘Tuva’ sweater from New Nordic book.

‘Embla’ in Kid Silk Haze and ‘Olava’ in Felted Tweed and Kid Silk Haze.

Sara and Carol wearing garments from Arne and Carlos – New Nordic book.

Stacey wearing ‘Monty’ from Rowan 40 Years book.

Paul is wearing a vintage Rowan sweater with a fabulous trellis effect textured stitch.

Hannah is wearing matching hat and sweater from New Nordic book.

I’d asked people to bring or wear their own Rowan knits, I wasn’t disappointed there were some stunners.

Sarah our Rowan rep, wearing the ‘Fowberry’ cardigan from Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine 64. This cardigan is knitted in Rowan Alpaca Classic.

Gina showing off her vintage Rowan sweater. What a detailed Fair Isle design!

We had balloons, bubbly and birthday CAKE. I know loads of people bought yarn for their next projects. I can’t wait to see the results.

Yummy birthday cake!

Carlos cutting the delightful Red Velvet birthday cake.

As our 40th Anniversary season progresses I’ve been planning my own projects. At this time of year I am making gifts for my family and friends. With that in mind I’ve made lots of beautiful Rowan kits for hats and scarves. I also have a free pattern for Fingerless Mitts with each purchase of Rowan Brushed Fleece. With gifts in mind have you seen the Rowan At Home collection by Martin Storey. I love the Oswald Owl cushion. I’m also choosing which shade of Softyak to choose to make Mullion by Sarah Hatton. It’s in the New Vintage DK book.”

Stay up to date with Melanie on her Instagram, where you will find a variety of snaps of delicious Rowan yarns and the odd pic of her cute dog, Milo.
Melanie will also be teaching a mini knitting class in store on Saturday 1st December. Enjoy making a Christmas decoration using beautiful Rowan yarns. Pop over to our workshops page to book a place.

Ubuntu update – Week 4

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 11-10-2018

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I am keeping on track with the Scheepjes Ubuntu CAL so far. This week I have been working on week 4. Although I couldn’t seem to get this part of the pattern at first, with a break and a clear head I was able to work it out and complete the pieces.

Ubuntu Week 4 Video

The patterns for the Ubuntu blanket are released weekly on Dedri Uys’s blog Look at what I made. If you fancy giving it a go yourself we have all 3 kits available on our website. Find them here. I am making the medium size in Scheepjes Stone Washed.

 

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tips

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet, Knitting | Posted on 05-10-2018

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What do all of these items have in common? They can all be there to help you out when you don’t have the correct knitting or crochet tools to hand. Sometimes you can discover that a household item that you use every day, actually lends itself to crafts more than you realise. One day it’s in the kitchen cupboard, next it is taking pride of place next to your project bag. A collection of DIY knitting and crochet tips.

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tips | Black Sheep Wools

We asked our Facebook followers – Do you ever find yourself using household items to help with your knitting and crochet? 
Along with Black Sheep staff too, there were some brilliant suggestions made. Crafters are a resouceful lot, thank you to everyone who shared their tips. It only made sense to pool all of our DIY knitting and crochet tips together in one blog post. We have probably only really scratched the surface of what super ideas you crafty lot use. If you do think of any more please comment below this post.

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tips

Highlighter tape / Post it note

Handy items from your stationary draw, highlighter tape or a post it note. These will be there for you when you are following a chart (also good for a complex row on a pattern) and want to keep track of the row you are on. Move the tape / post it up a row every time you have completed a row. So simple, yet very helpful when you are deep in concentration. A post it can also double up as somewhere to write down where you are up to on your pattern when you are putting it away for the day.

Paperclips / Safety Pins

Paperclips or safety pins can be a saviour when you just can’t put your finger on where you put that tin of beautiful stitch markers you bought. Not as pretty, but do the job in your moment of need. Another good suggestions is a scrap of contrasting yarn. We all have an old scrap of end of balls at the bottom of our project bag!

Hair Clip

This was a fab suggestion from a Facebook follower called Marie, use a hair clip to keep your ball of yarn neat and tidy. Really helpful when you are making a blanket or something that requires multiple shades of yarn being used at once. There will be no excuse for tangled yarn with this top tip.
A hair clip can also be handy for when you are transporting a project on the go. Use the clip to snap onto where you have just stopped working to help prevent any unravelling.

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tops | Black Sheep Wools

Nail Clippers

As a knitter or crocheter you will know that although sometimes you think your fingers can withstand snapping the yarn it is just not possible without nearly injuring yourself. With scissors no where in sight, but a pair of nail clippers to hand they will do the trick. Also, nail clippers are ideal to carry with you if you don’t won’t to have sharp scissors.

Bamboo Skewer

Maybe not for too many stitches, but a bamboo skewer could be helpful as a temporary stitch holder.

Plant Pot / Teapot / Colander

A yarn bowl is a great invention for your ball of yarn to bob up and down in gently rather than thrashing around your feet as you knit. Not always so dramatically, but we’ve all had a rogue ball of yarn that won’t sit still. An actual yarn bowl has been designed with a lip of holes to feed yarn through. A make shift yarn bowl can come in many guises – a plant pot, teapot – feeding the yarn through the spout or a colander – so many holes to choose from and plenty of space for a large ball of yarn.

Cocktail Stick

When you are knitting a pair of socks or rather fine needles a cocktail stick makes for a good cable needle.

Supermarket Beer / Wine Carrier

A Facebook follower called Chris, suggested a supermarket beer / wine carrier as multiple use yarn holder. When you are crocheting (or knitting) with 6 to 8 balls of centre pull yarns all at once, all of the balls can sit snuggly in the beer / wine carrier without any tangles.

Pegs and Washing Line

Black Sheep Lucy, blocks her lightweight shawls by pegging them on the washing line. With lots of pegs the weight will help to block the shawl out to your desired shape. It saves you having to find a flat area large enough to pin it out and block.

DIY Crochet and Knitting Tips

 

 

Ubuntu update – Week 3

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 03-10-2018

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I have completed week 3 of the Scheepjes Ubuntu Crochet Along! Watch the video below to see how I got on. I am really enjoying making this blanket, the Scheepjes Stone Washed yarn is fabulous to crochet with. I’m making the Medium blanket, find all of the kits available on our website.

Take a look at the detail in the stitches.

British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 27-09-2018

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Super duper news to share folks! The results have been announced from Let’s Knit magazine for the British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2018. We have very proud to share that we have won –

Black Sheep Wools also came Highly Commended for Best Crochet Store. What a spectacular set of results! A huge thank you to everyone who voted for us. It really does mean a lot and has us all grinning from ear to ear! We all enjoy sharing our passion for knitting and crochet with you, whether it is in store or online. 

A special thank you must go to Emma Varnam, Christine Perry (Winwick Mum) and Debbie Tomkies for making Yarn Shop Day a massive hit once again. You brought amigurumi crochet, sock knitting and hand dyeing into store for a fun filled day!

British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2018

 

Black Sheep Boutique – Cherry Heart

Posted by Amy | Posted in Black Sheep Boutique | Posted on 21-09-2018

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Introducing Black Sheep Boutique….. A cosy corner of our website where you will find a personalised boutique for a curated selection of knitting and crochet designers. Each designer will have there own page featuring their own colour packs, patterns and designs. See a friendly face, along with a little info written by the designer about themselves, including the types of designs you should expect to see from them. Over the years as a company we have made some fantastic friends in the knitting and crochet world. Opening up Black Sheep Boutique is our way of showcasing the talents of a rather exceptional bunch of designers. When you purchase a colour pack you may not always know the origin of that particular design, who designed it? Do they do anything else in a similar style? Browsing through Black Sheep Boutique, you will be able to find more from your favourite designer and work your way through all of their incredible projects. To start off we are announcing just one designer. Over the next few months we will gradually add more designers to the Boutique. Keep an eye out here on the blog for more names being revealed soon.

For the grand opening of Black Sheep Boutique we are very happy to announce our first designer – Cherry Heart. Sandra is the mastermind behind the amazing Spice of Life and A Spicier Life crochet along blankets. We have enjoyed working with Sandra over the years on the Crochet Alongs and have huge admiration for all of her creations. It is always a pleasure reading what she is up to on her blog. We spoke to Sandra to find out what she is been making recently and how she feels about being part of the Black Sheep Boutique.

We are so happy that you have chosen to be part of our Black Sheep Boutique. What does it mean for you to be part of this new venture?
Thank you, I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of it!  It’s all a little surreal in many ways as I never would have imagined this was possible when I started my blog so long ago.  It’s the very best and wonderful kind of surreal though, a bit of a dream come true really.

Black Sheep Boutique - Cherry Heart

What inspired you to start designing fabulous crochet projects?
I think it began from searching existing patterns and not being able to find exactly what I wanted.  I’d find great patterns but then want to tinker or change an element or two and then before I knew it the tinkering had turned into making from scratch.

Forget Me Not Dots Blanket

You have designed so many fabulous blankets over the years and we are pleased to have many of them in our Cherry Heart Boutique. Which would you say is your favourite or one that holds a special place in your heart?
That would have to be my Painted Roses blanket.  It was one of the designs that came together exactly as I had intended and I love how versatile it is.  I’ve made two versions, both of which I love and yet look so different. (Painted Roses blanket coming soon to the Boutique)

Cherry Heart

How do you come up with such harmonious colour palettes?
Mostly I just play with colours until I find the combinations that please me most but sometimes inspiration comes from elsewhere, fabric patterns, interiors, or just being outdoors.

Black Sheep Boutique - Cherry Heart

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
A lot of time I’m inspired by colour.  Certain colour combinations will often spark off an idea, other times it might be patterns or designs I see around me.  The pattern on a china plate, the tiles on a building maybe. It can be the strangest things!

Do you ever take a break from crochet and knitting to enjoy other crafts?
Less often than I used to now just because of time constraints but I enjoying sewing a lot and have been known to dabble in embroidery, cross stitch and I have a weaving loom too!

Black Sheep Wools - Cherry Heart

Have you tried any new yarns lately? Is there anything that has really caught your eye?
I’ve been working with the new Bambino and Bellissima yarn by Stylecraft quite a bit lately and I have to say it’s a bit of a winner.  It’s an acrylic yarn but it feels so luxurious and so soft and bouncy, it’s a real joy to use.

What is your go to crochet stitch pattern / motif? If you could just choose one.
Oooh, that’s a tricky one!  I guess I would have to go the good old granny, it’s so simple and yet so versatile, it’s hard to beat really.  If I was allowed two I’d go for cluster stitches as well, I use those a lot.

Black Sheep Boutique - Cherry Heart

Do you still find time to crochet / knit for yourself in between designing?
Yes, I kind of make it a priority to make sure I continue to work on things for myself, most of my designs come about because it’s something I wanted!  I find it very hard to design things unless I could see myself wearing or wanting the finished project.

We always love seeing your latest designs and can’t wait to add more of your projects into the Black Sheep Boutique. What are your future crochet plans?
I’m always saying that I want to get a garment pattern published.  I’ve designed a few garments now, but haven’t quite been brave enough to release any patterns yet.  It’s definitely something I want to do though.

 

Stylecraft Batik Swirl – Yarn Review

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 13-09-2018

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Like icing on top of a cake – Stylecraft Batik Swirl is a yarn cake that comes in 200g balls. There are 4 new shades that we wanted to share. I have crocheted with this yarn previously and really enjoyed working with it. Now these new shades are here I fancy using it again. The only problem is I can’t decide which one to choose.

Watch the video below to take a closer look.

Stylecraft Batik Swirl DK

Highland – 3735

Stylecraft Batik Swirl DK

Meadow – 3736

Stylecraft Batik Swirl DK

Forest – 3737

Knitting and Crochet Projects By Black Sheep Customers

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 07-09-2018

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We get treated to the delights of our talented customers every day. Whether it is in store at the Craft Barn or online. Knitters and crocheters are a sharing bunch. We all enjoy admiring the work of others and finding out what has been made with all those balls of yarn. It can inspire a future project for yourself or spur you on to finish a WIP (work in progress).
In store all of the Black Sheep ladies are interested when you tell them about your plans for the basket of yarn in your clutch. It is nice when customers pop in wearing a garment they had been discussing making with a member of staff, or even seeking help for a tricky part of the pattern. If you are happy to have you photo taken then we will do. We do try our best to share them all on social media and if not on here.
Online we love to see photos pop up on social media – Twitter, Facebook, tagged on Instagram or using #blacksheepwools. Did you know we now have a dedicated Facebook group? Black Sheep Wool Make-A-Long where you can share your latest makes and chat about your work in progress.

Here is a selection of finished projects by customers in recent months.

A customer called Carol, came in store with her grandson and a very cute elephant in tow. This friendly chap is from The Knitted Nursery book by Jem Weston. Carol’ grandson chose a different colour combination of Rowan Cotton Glace to be England colours in the World Cup.

The Knitted Nursery Collection by Jem Weston

Karen shared her photo on our Facebook page. A colourful shawl crocheted in Stylecraft Batik Swirl – Rainbow. Following a pattern from Ravelry – Secret Paths by Johanna Lindahl. It took one and a half balls of yarn.

Secret Paths Shawl in Stylecraft Batik Swirl

Lillian crocheted an Into the Sunset blanket and now her daughter’s want one each too! Crocheted using the colour pack of Scheepjes Catona yarn. Lillian chose to share her project on our Facebook Make-A-Long group.

Joanne chose a gorgeous shade of mustard Rowan Summerlite DK to knit the ‘Glimpse’ cardigan from Kim Hargreaves Haze book. She shared her finished photo on our Facebook page. Thanking our Rowan Consultant, Melanie for helping her choose the shade.

Haze by Kim Hargreaves

Leona came in store with an exquisite knitted Christening shawl. Knitted for her first great grandchild in Sirdar Snuggly 3ply, this magnificent piece of knitting is sure to be an heirloom that will be treasured. The pattern was from Woman’s Weekly magazine for the Royal Baby. We found a similar one on our website in Snuggly 4ply (4741).

Helen made this top just in time for the sunshine this summer. Crocheted in Scheepjes Whirl, the pattern is called Spiderdream by Alina Dalichau on Ravelry. The shade looks like it could be Red Velvet Sunrise.

Scheepjes Whirl Crocheted Top

Barbara enjoys crocheting blankets and sharing them with the Craft Barn ladies. Her latest one is crocheted in the beautiful Sublime Baby Cashmere Silk Merino DK.

Sandra’s granddaughter found a cosy spot to snuggle under. The Rock and Roll blanket has been a very popular colour pack this summer. An easy to knit garter stitch design made from Scheepjes Stone Washed XL & and River Washed XL mini balls.

Sue crocheted a Little River Blanket and loved making it. She shared her photo on our Facebook page. This is a colour pack consisting of a Scheepjes Stone Washed and River Washed mini ball pack and a few full size balls of moonstone in Stone Washed.

 

Introducing Lykke Needles and Hooks

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 31-08-2018

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Say hello to our latest knitting needle and crochet hook brand…..Lykke. Lykke needles and hooks have been on our radar for a while now, when Sara visited the International Craft Fair in Cologne earlier this year she was given a few samples. When she showed them to everyone in the office and Craft Barn they were met with very positive feedback. The samples were soon snapped up and being used with great adulation. If we all fell in love with them as avid knitters and crocheters, we knew that they just had to be stocked on our shelves.

What is so different about these needles and crochet hooks, you ask? Well, they are hand crafted from strong birch wood, which makes them super smooth (no yarn snagging here) and light weight to hold. The sizes are etched onto the needles, as opposed to being printed. Both metric and US sizes are on the needles, which is super handy if you are using a US pattern and don’t have a conversion chart to hand.
We have the single point needles, interchangeables, fixed circulars, crochet hooks and the most beautiful gift packs to choose from.

The name Lykke means ‘happiness’ in Danish. All members of staff who have had a go with these beauties have definitely enjoyed working with them.

Sara says – “to have a wooden needle that is so smooth is amazing. Great value!”

Unboxing Ubuntu

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 23-08-2018

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Sara takes you through each of the Scheepjes Ubuntu Crochet Along kits as she unboxes each of the three different sizes one by one. Will you choose Scheepjes Cotton 8 – Small, Scheepjes Stone Washed – Medium or Scheepjes Stone Washed XL & River Washed XL – Large?

Find out more about the Scheepjes Ubuntu CAL on a recent blog post.