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!

Celebrating 40 Years of Rowan Yarns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News, Guest Blog | 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.