Scheepjes Day at the Craft Barn

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

Tags: , ,

0

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.

Christmas Gift Inspiration

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products | Posted on 09-11-2017

Tags: ,

0

Is it too early to talk about Christmas? Our Sirdar elf on the shelf is already wreaking havoc in the Craft Barn, getting up to all sorts of mischief. The shop ladies don’t know where they are going to find him when it’s time to open up in the morning. We are sharing pics of the elf on our Instagram, along with all of the usual bits and bobs. Take a look and join in the fun.

Now I have mentioned Christmas and Christmas elves it is time to talk gift inspiration. I am sure many of you are super-duper organised and already have boxes full of handmade gifts ready to wrap. If like me you still quite like the idea of giving a knitted, crocheted or stitched gift then there is still time. We have put together a festive selection of smaller makes, which could also work as a gift just as they are for a fellow crafter.

Juliet Bernard has designed a collection of exclusive knitted hat kits just for Black Sheep Wools. One of our favourite designs is the Torshavn design in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran. An exquisite fair isle pattern that creates a star effect at the crown. The kit includes 2 hanks of yarn and the exclusive pattern.

Scheepjes Frosted Whirl is the latest addition to the Whirl family. A thousand metres of yarn in one delicious ball, all wound up in a swirl of tonal colour blending seamlessly as you go. The frosted balls come with an iridescent thread running throughout.

Prepare yourself for a cuteness overload….meet Sue Jobson’s latest knitted character Rudolph the Reindeer knitted in Sirdar Touch. You might have good intentions to knit this for someone, but once you have finished this squishy bundle you won’t want to part with him. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so! There is a paper pattern and digital pattern available for this design.

Rico Creative Bubble has a soft tinsel feel to it with a spongey bounce, lots of glitz in this yarn. New festive shades have just been added along with festive patterns. The yarn has been created with the idea of washing in mind – body and dishes. With its sponge like texture you could crochet a great exfoliating mitt for the shower or a sponge to clean your pots and pans. There are even some funky Christmas baubles that would look good on the tree.

Scandi Tree by Bothy Threads features traditional Scandinavian trinkets on the tree. A very sweet cross stitch kit that would make a lovely gift for a fellow crafter to stitch.

Socks make a fabulous Christmas gift and a hand-knitted pair, well, now that would be a luxury treat for a loved one. Debbie Bliss has come up with a great range of patterns for her delightful Rialto Luxury Sock yarn. These slouchy spiral socks could be just what you are looking for.

Take a look at this scrumptious treat from Rowan Selects. A limited edition hank of Rowan Sultano, consisting of silk, mohair and cashmere would be a lovely surprise to discover in your Christmas stocking.

West Yorkshire Spinners have come up with a wonder shade of Signature 4ply, it is Christmas in a ball of yarn – Candy Cane. This festive ball of 4ply makes a snuggly pair of socks that look like something a Christmas elf would wear. When you purchase the Candy Cane shade you will receive a free sock pattern designed by Winwick Mum, while stocks last.

This is only really a snippet of all the beautiful treats we have to share for the knitters, crocheters and stitchers in your life. It is just to take a look at some new additions every now and then. Take a look at our Christmas section for more Christmas gift inspiration. Don’t forget we have gift cards too!

 

Celebrations all round

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-10-2017

Tags:

0

We couldn’t believe it when we heard the news. We have done sooo well in the Let’s Knit British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017. Thank you to everyone who voted for us in all categories. It is fantastic to have such fabulous customers and for your continued support in all we do.

Thank you also to Emma Varnam and Sarah Hatton for joining us on Yarn Shop Day for a superb event. We are already excited to plan for next year! Check out how we did below.

  •  We came first place 
    – Best Local Independent Yarn Store – North of England (The Craft Barn)
    – Best Yarn Shop Day Experience
  •  2nd Place
    – Favourite Knitting Blog (this very blog!)
    – Best Crochet Store
  •  3rd Place
    – Best Online Shop

Sara wanted to say a few words in a little video to say thank you. Watch below!

Designer Q & A’s – Sue Stratford

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 19-10-2017

Tags: , ,

0

This November we are very lucky to be having knitting designer, Sue Stratford visiting our Craft Barn in Warrington. You may recognise Sue Stratford’s name from many toy knitting books, including Christmas themes, meerkats and cats. She can often be found at craft shows up and down the UK, having recently been at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace in London. She is one busy bee and enjoys keeping everyone up to date via social media and through her website.

Sue will be teaching two workshops and doing a book signing / toy knitting tips in store this November. On Thursday 9th November Sue will be in store for the afternoon from 2pm – 4pm sharing knitting tips and signing copies of all her fabulous character books including her latest book ‘A Bird in the Hand’. Bring along your Sue Stratford makes to share or ask Sue’s advice on knitting toys. Very handy if you have a project on the go at the moment eager to finish for Christmas.

On Friday 10th November Sue will be teaching Learn to Knit in the Round, a full day workshop which includes a delicious lunch and an exclusive cat doorstop pattern that you will begin to make on the day. Sue will guide you through the technique so that you will confidently be able to knit in the round on future projects. Other techniques covered include using circular needles and double pointed needles, magic loop technique, jogless join (for working stripes in the round), three needle cast off, short row shaping and the i-cord. There are still places available should you wish to book.

Sue Stratford’s second workshop is on Saturday 11th November – Bird Toy Knitting workshop a full day once again that includes all of the usual yummy delights (lunch and a slice of scrumptious homemade cake in the afternoon) and knitting too. Choose from a selection of birds to knit on the day. Sue will have the packs made up ready for you to select. Making the bird you will cover a variety of helpful techniques that you will be able to use in many knitting projects – including short row shaping ,intarsia colourwork (and a tiny bit of fair-isle), interesting finishing techniques and lots of hints and tips. Find more info and book a place today. 

With Sue’s visit just around the corner we thought it would be nice to ask her a few questions about her crafty life. It is always nice to delve into the creative world of a designer. Sue has answered a selection of questions below and added in one or two pics along the way. We look forward to seeing you in store in November. Enjoy!

Who taught you to knit? What was the first thing you ever made?

My Mum taught me to knit as a child.  One of the first things I knitted was at school, we had to make something that would be displayed at Parent’s Evening and so I started making a navy tie for my Dad.  When my parents found my work it said ‘Susan – bookmark’.  In those days, long term projects weren’t for me!

When designing something new, where do you begin? Is it a sketch, with a colour palette or sampling?

I find lots of things inspire me and spark an idea, it may be a ball of yarn that I just look at and can see what I could make it into.  I always start with a sketch because I can see what I want to end up with in my head, but it really helps to get it down on paper.  I always thought I wasn’t good at drawing but I have had to get better!  I love flicking back to that original sketch and seeing that my finished design looks just like it.

We can’t wait to have you in store teaching workshops in November. How long have you been teaching workshops? What inspired you to teach?

I am really looking forward to coming to Black Sheep Wools to teach workshops.  I have taught for over ten years, starting when I opened my shop in 2006.  I really felt it was important I taught the classes as I believe that it gave my customers confidence in my abilities.  It is very satisfying seeing people learn and achieving something they thought they couldn’t do or was difficult.

You are best-selling author of many knitting books. Which was your favourite to design for?

I have loved working on all the books I have written and have to say that usually whatever I am working on at that time is my favourite but there is a special place in my heart for ‘Knit Me, Dress Me, Love Me’.  The idea came after I made knitted bunnies wearing a sewn dress for my daughters and their cousins for Easter a few years ago, I loved coming up with the ideas for the clothes and enjoyed doing a bit of sewing too!

Do you have a favourite place to knit / design?

I just like to be at home, sat on the sofa when everyone is at school and enjoy the peace and quiet!  I usually have a cat sat near me and our dogs Hetty and Spike.  The time goes so quickly and I get completely caught up in what I am doing.

Do you enjoy doing any other crafts? 

I have an addiction to craft, I like to embroider, I do dressmaking, tapestry and crochet too.  Unfortunately, there are just not enough hours in the day!

Is there a knitted project that you treasure? Made by yourself or a handmade gift from a loved one?

I think that knitters really appreciate a hand knitted gift as they know how much thought and work has gone into it.  My knitty friend Pam gifts me gorgeous knitted socks which I love, Jill made me a fabulous shawl which obviously took her a lot of time to do and was such a thoughtful present.  However, the things that I will treasure most are the baby cardigans that my Mum made for my children, I still have them all and they bring back lots of memories.

Do you have a favourite yarn to knit with?

I am a yarnaholic, I just love yarn!  But I have to say that I much prefer knitting using natural yarns, the feel of the yarn just does it for me.  I have really enjoyed using the Coopknits yarn in my designs and my next ‘Me’ project is a jumper using Baa Ram Ewe ‘Titus 4-ply’ which I have knitted with before and can’t wait to use again.

Do you enjoy knitting for yourself?

I do feel there is no one more grateful than yourself when it comes to knitting.  I knit a lot for me.  Although it may be more accurate to say I have a lot of knitting in progress for me… finishing things is a bit of an issue at the moment but I know eventually I will get round to it!

Do you have a top knitting tip that you could share?

My best knitting tip has to be swatch!  If you are making a garment and feel you don’t want to work a tension square but just start, think twice.  I did this when I was in my early twenties and ended up with a jumper which went past my knees and sleeves that also reached my knees.  Ever since then I have ALWAYS swatched.  To me it is part of the project and the ritual of buying yarn, choosing your pattern and getting ready to make it.

 

Craft Shows – Autumn 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 11-10-2017

0

The craft show autumn season is in full swing. The show team have already been in Manchester, Exeter and Coventry. This week the show team have hit the road again, making the journey to London for the biggest show in the craft calendar – The Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. Today is the first day of the show and is set to be the best one yet. The show is on for 5 days, finishing on Sunday 15th October. Along with all of the usual wonders of the Black Sheep Wools stand (amazing selection of needlecraft, oodles of yarn packs piled up high in the yarn dive, patterns and more) we have a special treat just for Alexandra Palace, a dedicated area of our stand just for Scheepjes. We will have all 109 shades of Scheepjes Catona available to buy – a bit like pick n mix! Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram for photo updates from the show.

If you can’t make it to Alexandra Palace, London this week, then do not worry as we will be off on our travels again later this month and throughout November. Take a look below at our schedule >>

For any future dates coming up in 2018 take a look on the exhibitions page on our website.

Rowan Flagship Launch Day

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-09-2017

Tags:

0

This Saturday we have an amazing event taking place in store. Open to everyone and free to attend! We will be hosting a special launch event to celebrate being THE Rowan Flagship store of the North of England. Two of Rowan’s finest designers, Martin Storey and Lisa Richardson will be with us for the day to share their passion and expertise. There will be lots going on in our Rowan area all day, Martin Storey & Lisa Richardson will be in store from 10am – 3pm!
There will be goody bags for the first 20 customers who spend £30 or more on Rowan, a charity raffle, glasses of bubbly and lots of yarn to squish and admire! This event is free to attend and will be taking place in the Craft Barn on Saturday 30th September 2017. We’d love you to join us.

 

 

Introducing A Spicier Life Crochet Along

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News, Crochet | Posted on 14-09-2017

Tags: , ,

0

Today we have exciting news to share. Do you remember the Spice of Life crochet along from 2015? If you do, then prepare yourself, something amazing is on its way. For those who don’t, hop on over to Instagram and search #spiceoflifecal or visit our Facebook group and you will see what all the fuss is about. We were all captivated by the original Spice of Life blanket, it’s hard to believe 2 years have gone by since it launched. It was a phenomenal success and is still continuing to be a popular make amongst all levels of crocheter today.

It is time to announce Spice of Life part two – A Spicier Life Crochet Along. We have once again teamed up with crochet super star Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart blogger) to bring you yet another fabulous crochet along project. Secret talks with Sandra have been going on since early 2017 and we are soooo happy to be able to share our news with you after all this time. Sandra has hand picked four colourways for this CAL. The original colourway in Debbie Rialto DK – Jaipur, with an alternative in Stylecraft Special DK – Jaipur. There are 2 more options both in Stylecraft Special DK – Taj Mahal and Bollywood. All of the colour packs are available to purchase on pre-order. Take a look here.

If you are joining in with A Spicier Life Crochet Along, don’t forget to use the hashtag #spicierlifecal on social media so we can see your progress. We have also set up a new Facebook group – A Spicier Life Crochet Along.

Before full details are released on Tuesday 19th September 2017, we caught up with Sandra to find out more about A Spicier Life Crochet Along. Read our natter with Sandra below.

How did the popularity of the Spice of Life CAL affect your world of crochet?

Well the whole experience was completely surprising in so many ways and the way it took off in the crochet world was the most amazing thing.  I really didn’t expect people to react so well to it and enjoy it so much, although of course, I’m so happy they did.  I ended up learning a lot from the experience which is always useful and it brought more attention in a way I’m not used to.  Luckily though the crochet world is a pretty kind and wonderful place and I got to meet some lovely people as a result of the CAL.

What is the inspiration behind ‘A Spicier Life’ crochet along blanket design?

I really wanted something that would relate to the original Spice of Life blanket and I still had plenty of ideas for stitch patterns that I would love to use, so in a way it all came together quite easily this time round.  The colours, my usual starting place for any project, were definitely influenced from the ‘spicy’ name of the original and I immediately starting thinking of what, for me, represent some more far off and exotic places in the world like India.  The imagery that I found captured that idea perfectly are also the reason behind the colours and names of the yarn packs.

There are so many gorgeous stitches in ‘A Spicier Life’, lots of texture and pattern, which is your favourite stitch?

I always find it hard to pick favourites, but I’m really enjoying the more textured stitches at the moment, so I like the Victory Puffs because they are so soft and I love the Bobbles for the little pops of colour.

What skill level is required for the Spicier Life CAL? Is it suitable for a beginner?

It really overlaps quite nicely with the Spice of Life on the skill level, starting with easy stitches and then working up to intermediate ones and then taking things a little further. I’ll be introducing some new stitches and even a few slightly more advanced ones.  I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to absolute beginners but anyone is confident with the basics and working back and forth in rows should be able to give it a go as there will be extra help to explain all the new stitch patterns.

How did you find the Debbie Bliss Rialto DK to work with?

An absolute joy!  It’s a wonderful to the touch, so soft and bouncy and it glides over the hook like a dream.  It’s also the perfect choice for a project like this as the merino means that any slight changes in tension as you work through the different stitch patterns can just be blocked out and disappear away at the end.

What other projects have you got on at the moment? We spotted you on the home page of Ravelry a couple of months back. That must have been exciting!

The Ravelry front page was a real surprise and I must admit, I felt quite honoured to be featured!  Just lately I’ve been catching up on some commission work, as it’s easier to fit a little crochet in than find computer time during the summer holidays, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back to writing up a few new patterns soon.

What is your creative process? Where do you enjoying working?

My process tend to vary depending on what project I’m making.  In an ideal world I like to make up samples to test out ideas and check I’m getting the look and feel that I’m after before I take things further but sometimes it’s a little more off the cuff than that.  I do like to keep a note book where I sketch out ideas though, sometimes my hook can’t keep up!

I spend most of my time up in my ‘Craft House’, a little space that I have at the end of the garden.  The reality is that a lot of my time is spend at the computer desk I have up there these days, but of course I’ve made sure I have a cozy corner for those special occasions when I do get to play with yarn.  It’s nice and near the window so I can take advantage of any sun.

Do you have any future crochet plans in the pipeline that you can share? A sneaky peek, perhaps?

I have a couple of projects using Batik DK that I’m having fun with at the moment and I’m looking forward to those coming out.  One is for a magazine feature and one will be on the blog in October, I can give you a little glimpse of those!

Cute Comfort Knits Book Party with Jem Weston

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 01-09-2017

Tags:

0

Next Tuesday at the Craft Barn we are having a tea party in our fabulous Rowan area. Jem Weston will be stopping by at Black Sheep Wools on her book tour from 11am – 3pm. She is visiting various yarn shops (find more info on her blog) taking all of the cute creatures and accessories from her latest book – Cute Comfort Knits along for the ride. There will be tasty party nibbles and a glass of bubbly for everyone!

Jem’s latest book is an absolute delight. Page after page of enticing design, you will find your knitting to do list grow as you flick through the book. Thoughtfully styled photography will have you wanting to jump into the pages and be surrounded by all of the tactile knits. It would make a fantastic gift for a knitter, maybe with a few pages bookmarked of the items you would love 😉

 

 

Knitting after a stroke

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 25-08-2017

4

A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to an amazingly inspirational lady in the Craft Barn. A lady called Jean Brammer, who was in store for a fun day out exploring the Craft Barn with her knitting group – The Stroke Association Macclesfield Knit & Natter. Eight years ago Jean had a stroke and was left paralysed in her left arm. For a knitter like Jean this was devastating news, to learn that she was no longer going to be able to enjoy her favourite hobby. An avid knitter, Jean has made allsorts over the years for her children as babies, through to adulthood and then grandchildren. Knitting after a stroke didn’t seem like an option but Jean had other plans.

With four great-grandchildren Jean was determined to find a way to knit again. Jean searched online for advice but to no avail, a replacement for her left arm was what she required. This was where she had the idea of using a clamp to hold her left needle still whilst she manoeuvred the yarn and knitted just with her right hand. At first Jean tried to use an artist’s vice, but this was not strong enough to hold her needle and stay put. She then purchased a Stanley workman’s vice, which worked! Members of the knitting group Jean attends sent in a selection of photos. See below Jean with her vice in action knitting after having a stroke.

Jean’s great-grandson all snug and cosy in his new blanket. The patterns Jean has used are ones from her stash. Find similar baby blanket patterns here.

Jean’s top tips for anyone who has suffered a stroke and is in a similar situation to herself –

  • Make sure that you get a decent vice that is strong enough.
  • When sewing up pin garment pieces to a memory foam pillow and sew up with right hand.

Jean was extremely patient in the process working out a new way of knitting. After much perseverance it took only a few months for her to be able to knit again. Starting off with simple dish cloths Jean soon built up to knitting blankets and many more baby makes once again. She even finished off a cardigan for her daughter that she was part way through when she had the stroke.

It was a pleasure to meet such a strong and inspirational lady. Thank you to Jean for letting me share your story. Here is a photo of Jean with a baby shawl she knitted for one of her great-grandchildren.

 

Meet our Rowan Consultant – Melanie Boocock

Posted by Amy | Posted in Meet the team | Posted on 18-08-2017

Tags: ,

0

We are still very excited about the Black Sheep Craft Barn becoming Rowan’s Flagship Store of the North of England. Our Rowan area is just delightful, we can’t stop talking about it! This week I interviewed our Rowan Consultant, Melanie Boocock to find out a bit more about her love of knitting and crochet. Melanie is in store every Wednesday and Saturday on hand to help with all of your Rowan queries, offering advise to help choose your next Rowan project. Next time you are visiting why not pop over and say hello.

On Wednesday 23rd August we are having a mini celebration in store for the arrival of new season Rowan yarns and books. Why not pop in for a glass of bubbly and chat to Melanie from 11am – 2pm to discover what’s new from Rowan.

Let’s go back to the very beginning….when did you learn to crochet / knit? Who taught you?

I learned the basics when I was very young from my Mum and my Nanna. My Nanna and Great Nanna were always knitting and crocheting. I wasn’t very interested then. I wish I’d taken more notice. I didn’t take it up again until much, much later. I then became totally addicted to knitting first, then added crochet.

Can you remember the very first thing that you made?

Not really. I do remember knitting with really big, wooden needles and chunky blue yarn. I think it was probably destined to be a dolls blanket. I don’t remember what happened to the knitting but I still have the needles.

We have enjoyed having you here at the Craft Barn teaching Rowan workshops, it was great to hear the news that you were going to be our Rowan Consultant. How are you finding your new role?

It was very exciting for me too. I love it. Who wouldn’t enjoy working in such a beautiful environment, surrounded by so much inspiration?

What does your role as Rowan Consultant involve? What do you have planned for Black Sheep Craft Barn customers?

I’ll be available to help choose projects, select yarn and put colours together. I will offer tips and advice about knitting and crochet techniques. I’ve taught Professional Finishing for years so I can help with seams, picking up stitches etc. If you fancy trying out a new technique I can help you get started and answer any pattern queries. Look out for events and demonstrations in the future. I am hosting some sessions for the Lisa Richardson Crochet along throw which started on 3rd August. Join me at the Craft Barn on 16th and 26th Aug between 10.30-12 (more dates will follow).

Difficult question, but if you had to pick just one which would you say is your favourite Rowan yarn?

Too hard. I really love Summerlite 4ply. It’s a beautiful, soft cotton yarn.  My favourite cardigan is Armandier by Martin Storey. I wear it a lot. My favourite techniques are fairisle and lace. For those I couldn’t live without our gorgeous Felted Tweed or really luxurious Kidsilk Haze. For crochet I really love Cotton Glacé.

Do you have a colour that you are always attracted to in yarn?

I love colour, in particular blues, pinks and purples. That could be jewel tones or pastels and everything in between.

What is your top knitting tip and top crochet tip?

It has to be take the time to make a tension swatch. This will make sure you have a fabric you are happy with and a finished item that fits.

You have already seen the new yarns and pattern books coming up for autumn winter 2017. Can you give us an idea of the things that we can expect to see? 

There are beautiful, jewel tones and softer blues and neutrals. The collection for Autumn/Winter showcases some very luxurious fibres. Techniques include fabulous cables, gorgeous colour work, pretty lace and beads. I particular like the styling in Rowan Magazine No. 62 and a collection of designs for men by Martin Storey. There are some lovely patterns for accessories too, perfect for gift knitting. Look out for Georgia Farrell. I think her designs are stunning. There’s also a cute collection by Jem Weston to look forward to.

What projects do you already have on your to-do list for autumn?

I will be doing the Lisa Richardson Crochet along throw in Felted Tweed. I also plan to knit a lovely little cardigan, designed by Martin Storey, in one of our select yarns. I have my eye on a long cardigan using Kid Classic. Crochet, with Felted Tweed and Kidsilk Haze held together, may also feature. In Autumn I start my present making. There are some accessories that will be perfect. That’s probably enough to be going on with………

Where is your favourite place to knit or crochet?

I knit or crochet anywhere and everywhere. At home I sit on my sofa or in the garden. I knit in cafés, on trains, buses and boats. I was once knitting in a beautiful café in the Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh. I got up to go and tell my husband something. I took my knitting with me. Unfortunately I left the ball of yarn behind. I managed to wrap yarn around various tables and people in the café. Long car journeys are very productive. I knit in parks, alongside the canal, on the beach but my all time favourite place to take my knitting/crochet is Whitby Abbey. I can always find a peaceful corner and the views are spectacular.

Melanie wearing her ‘William’ jumper knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed

Melanie at Whitby Abbey

How many WIP’s do you have on the go at once? Are you very methodical with your projects?

I have a number of projects on the go at once, both knitting and crochet. At the moment I have 3 active WIPs and a couple that have been on the go for a while. I once challenged myself to work on one project at a time. I kept that up for a year. I made much less that year than I normally do. I like the variety I get from having a few things on the go at once.

Jampa by Marie Wallin in Rowan Softyak Dk & Fenay by Ann Kingstone in Fine Lace