Arne and Carlos at Black Sheep Wools November 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 29-11-2017

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Last week we were very lucky to have the fabulous, Scandinavian design duo Arne and Carlos back at the Craft Barn. They taught a full day workshop, ‘A Master Class in Socks’, followed by a cosy evening talk all about their life designing, with an added sprinkle of festiveness.

Fabulous knitted baubles in Stylecraft Life DK yarn from Arne and Carlos book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. Find more of the books from Arne and Carlos here.

The workshop had double the number of students an average full day workshop has 10-12. There was a cheerful mix of chatter and deep concentration. During the workshop everyone completed a mini sock in Regia Arne and Carlos 6ply yarn. Arne and Carlos taught the toe up method of sock knitting with a focus on the technique used for knitting an afterthought heel.

It wasn’t long before mini socks were knitted and a full size sock was whizzing along the needles. Here is a photo of designer and blogger Lynne Rowe testing her sock for size.

The room had been decorated with a festive hygge feel. Barbara unleashed her floristry expertise entwining garlands with ivy and fairy lights.

Once you start listening to Arne and Carlos, you are instantly swept away and enveloped by their cosy, or should I say ‘koselig’ Nordic lifestyle. Arne and Carlos shared that, ‘koselig’ is actually the Norwegian term to describe cosy and the Danish word ‘hygge’. The views from their lakeside home look magnificent, as Carlos flicked through the slides it was time for your mind to be transported and dream about the inspirational scenery they are surrounded by daily. One photo in particular was striking, a deep blue sky with an incredible full moon beaming down and lighting up a snow laden forest, the perfect weather for staying in, wrapping up warm and doing some knitting. Arne spoke about growing up in a traditional Norwegian village where he would knit by the fire place with 3 generations of his family – mother, grand-mother and great grand-mother.

Arne loves King Cole Tinsel. He couldn’t help but have a knitted i-cord on the go! Carlos on the other hand is not so much a fan.

Our lovely cake lady Sian was posed with the challenge of making traditional Scandinavian sweet treats. Carlos kindly assisted with a list of suggestions, Sian went for Cinnamon and Cardamom buns, they were a delight and got the seal of approval from Carlos. Along with a warm mug of Gluehwein everyone had a koselig evening.

At the end of the evening all members of staff had a group photo with Arne and Carlos. The end to a fabulous day!

For anyone who couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn to meet Arne and Carlos, be sure to watch their YouTube videos for inspiration. Grab a cuppa and enjoy delving into their creative world.

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!

 

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!

Arne & Carlos at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 15-06-2017

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Yesterday was a fun filled day at Black Sheep Wools, we had Norweigian knitting designers Arne and Carlos in store for the day. It was such a treat to have the bright and cheery duo back at the Craft Barn. They really are so inspiring to be around. Last year they visited for the first time on a cold day in February. This time round they have experienced a hot, sunny day in Warrington. Read the blog post about Arne and Carlos’ first visit.

In the morning they taught a workshop showing people how to make knitted birds using double pointed needles. We had a large group in for the workshop, the places sold out within 24 hours! It was great to see the room full of people all enjoying knitting and chatting away to Arne and Carlos.

Arne showing Christine (Winwick Mum) how he knits with DPN’s

During the workshop they were flitting from one table to another helping the ladies and having a natter too. I don’t know how some people did it, but some of the participants managed to finish knitting their bird within the 3 hour class, one of those people being blogger Emma Varnam. Check out her ‘seagull’ knitted bird. What a whizz! I think it would have taken me a good hour or so to figure out how to keep all my stitches on the DPN’s.

Blogger Lynne Rowe‘s two shaded bird

In the afternoon they held a mini lecture talking about the inspiration behind their new book – A Field Guide to Knitted Birds. I enjoyed listening to them enthusiastically talk about the ideas behind their latest book. They shared a photo of a bird house that lives in their beautiful garden, which they built to encourage birds back into their garden. Arne enjoys sitting in the garden watching the birds at work and fish swimming in the stream. Colour plays a big part in their designs and they have been creative with ‘abstract’ birds. Some of the patterns are bright and multi coloured birds with adornments of sequin and charming embroidery. A favourite of mine from the book are the species of winter birds – the only breed of bird to wear hats and scarves, Pedro and Juanita with their Peruvian hats are so sweet. It is was interesting listening to Arne tell imaginative stories about the birds, I think he should write a book! If you couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn yesterday take a look at Arne and Carlos YouTube channel. They post a video a week sharing tips and advice on knitting and more!

Finally Arne and Carlos made their way into the shop where they did a book signing and had photos taken with many of our customers. If you would like to see more pics pop over to our Instagram where there are more behind the scenes photos. We are giving away a two signed copies of the knitted birds book, one on Facbeook and one on Instagram. Winners will be chosen on Monday 19th June 2017.

Arne & Carlos Afternoon

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 02-06-2017

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On Wednesday 14th June our favourite knitting duo Arne and Carlos will be back at the Craft Barn. After everyone had such a fabulously, fun day with them last year we were very, very excited when we got the call to say they were available in June. They will be teaching a workshop in the morning themed around their latest book – Field Guide to Knitted Birds. This is now fully booked, it sold out within 48 hours!


The good news is that they will be holding a mini lecture in the afternoon and doing a book signing too. The lecture will be from 2pm – 2.45pm and the book signing in store from 3pm – 4pm. Both of the afternoon events are free to attend with no need to book. The lecture will be held in our workshop room so we are restricted on numbers, it will be a first come first served basis. We look forward to seeing you there!

Arne & Carlos Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-02-2016

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On Tuesday, the day finally arrived for knitting superstars Arne and Carlos to visit the Craft Barn. It was a much anticipated day, we had all been looking forward to meeting them for many months. The workshop room had been decorated with their books and yarn dotted about the place, we even had life size cardboard cut outs of them in the Craft Barn! (kindly loaned from Coats Crafts).

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workshop_yarn_books

Last week I had taken on the task of winding all the balls of yarn in preparation for the workshop, it was then neatly tucked up in delicate organza Rowan bags ready and waiting.

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arne_carlos_workshop_yarn

The day started with a fabulous workshop. Arne and Carlos taught everyone how to make a pair of Fair Isle wrist warmers in the round (5 Wise Virgin Wrist Warmers – pattern from Knitting Scandinavian Style). It was the biggest workshop we have ever held at the Craft Barn, with 23 people in total. Every time I popped in to take a few photographs there was a real buzz in the air, with everyone chatting away to Arne and Carlos as they worked their way around the room.

arne and carlos workshop

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Sara joined in with the workshop too and overcome her fear of Fair Isle. Not usually her favourite choice when knitting, Sara now plans to knit a sweater from Knitting Scandinavian Style by Arne & Carlos. Here she is showing off her progress so far.

sara on arne and carlos workshop

Once the workshop finished it was time for a quick turn around and a moment to relax for Arne & Carlos. Whilst tables and chairs were moved around them they managed to have a bite to eat before the afternoon lecture. They especially enjoyed the lemon and ginger cake from the tea shop!

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They managed to sign a few books for us too!

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With all of the workshop tables out and the room now filled with enthusiastic listeners, we were all eager to find out more about their lives as knitting designers.

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It was interesting to get an insight into their lives and hear about where they lived, how they became designers and what inspires them. There was so much to take in within the hour lecture, having the photos was great too as it added something extra whilst they were talking. Not only are they lovely, interesting people they are also really funny and were making little jokes here and there throughout.

Here is a photo of where they live in Norway and what their house (a disused railway station) originally looked like when Arne bought it back in 1999. They are so creative in all aspects of their lives, not just knitting.

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One of the most inspiring things that I picked up on was when Carlos talked about their magnificent garden in Norway – “Designing is all about trying and failing, and trying agin”. This was said in the context of creating their garden (a place where they love to knit) however this linked in nicely with their designing too. Below is a photo of their garden which they created from nothing and was the first thing that they did with the house, added a flourishing garden.

The garden is very important to them as this is their main source of inspiration. They take this inspiration from the abundance of colour and incredible lighting.

garden

They covered all aspects of their design work from Knitted Dolls, Regia sock yarn collaboration, Kim Kardashian to taking inspiration from Arne’s Grandmother’s traditional Norwegian knitwear. ’55 Christmas Balls to Knit’ was their first ever book which is now available in 17 different languages. They told a funny story about how the publishers got a little mixed up with the title, which should have actually read ‘baubles’, not ‘balls’.

Arne & Carlos sock yarn

Did you know that the colour palette’s for these sock yarns were inspired by Edvard Munch paintings? They joked about originally wanting to name the shades after his paintings; perhaps ‘The Scream’ may not have been too popular as a yarn name.

knitted dolls arne and carlos

They even have Knitted Dolls of themselves; can you spot them in the photo above? This photo was inspired my Kylie Minogue’s Slow video.

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They didn’t know who Kim Kardashian was, but after seeing her photo around the internet they thought it would be fun to knit her ‘break the internet’ pic!

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The photo above is of Arne’s Grandmother on a skiing holiday wearing a traditional Norwegian knit. This type of design has inspired the Fair Isle patterns that the duo includes in their own designs today.

A huge thank you to Coats Crafts for organising the visit from Arne and Carlos. We all had a fantastic day, both staff and customers. We hope to see you again soon on your next visit to the UK.

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Arne, Sara and Carlos in the Craft Barn. Keep an eye out for Sara’s finished wrist warmers popping up on Facebook soon.

For those who couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn we are giving away the Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Dk yarn to make the wrist warmers and Knitting Scandinavian Style where you can find the pattern for the wrist warmers and many more. Simply comment on the blog post and a winner will be chosen on Friday 4th March 10am GMT. Good luck!

arne_carlos_yarn

Designer Q & A’s – Arne & Carlos

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 10-02-2016

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Arne & Carlos

[Credit – 30 Slippers to Knit and Felt, Arne and Carlos Knitting Scandinavian Style, Arne and Carlos’ Easter Knits, Knitted Dolls with a Designer Wardrobe, 55 Christmas Balls to Knit, Knit and Crochet Garden]

In anticipation of the upcoming workshop and lecture with Arne and Carlos at the Craft Barn, I sent over a few questions to find out more about the talented duo. The answers below are just a brief snippet into their creative lives, I am sure they will have lots more to share in their lecture on 23rd February 2016. If you can’t make it to the lecture* (there are still a few places left) you won’t miss out completely as we do plan to film a short video with them too. Keep an eye out on our YouTube channel for this popping up.

*If you would like to book a place on the afternoon lecture (2pm -3pm) please call 01925 764231 or email info@blacksheepwools.com.

When did you first pick up a pair of knitting needles and learn to knit?

Who taught you? Did you knit / crochet from a young age? Arne started very young, probably before Primary School. He learnt from his mother, grandmother and great grandmother, as they all lived under the same roof, in a farm in the traditional Gudbrandsdal region of Norway, where his ancestors have continuously lived since the early 17th century. Carlos learnt as a child too, also at school, as crafts were taught to children at school in Seden in the late 70s. He stopped knitting for a while, though, and picked it up again as an adult.

Can you recall your very first finished project? What did you make?

Arne made a scarf with the letters: ABBA. Carlos can’t remember, made a bracelet for his mom.

How did you get into designing?

Arne has a degree in fashion design for the school of design in Norway, so he is a professional designer and also worked as a teacher in fashion design and pattern construction.

Your first book ‘55 Christmas Balls to Knit’ was a phenomenal success and has now been published in over 10 different languages. What inspired the choice of Christmas baubles?

It was just the idea, of taking the already existing, traditional knitting patterns that form part of our heritage and finding a new way to use them. The idea of a bauble was very appealing, because it was a small item that could be knitted very quickly. At the time, no one was knitting Christmas Balls.

Do you prefer to make small scale projects, such as baubles or larger items, such as garments?  

Definitely small projects.

What would be your one knitting accessory that you can’t live without?

A nice thick scarf, to protect us from the cold Norwegian winter.

I read that you have worked with many international brands including fashion house Comme des Garçons. That must have been an exciting opportunity, what did you design?

Do you have any photographs? Among other things, we designed the Space Invader Sweater that Arne wears on the cover of 55 Christmas Balls to knit.

christmas_balls

Can you give us just one knitting tip?

Knitting tip: When you knit with 2 colours, always carry the thread you are not knitting with for a maximum of 5 stitches, then twist with the other thread, to lock it. That way, you wont have too long floats. If you need to twist on more than one row, make sure you never twist in the same place in the row immediately after, as the other colour will show through.

Do you have a favourite colour combination you are always drawn to for your fair isle knits?

No. We like to work with all colours. I think the way we put colours together is what makes us stand out from all the other designers. We do it instinctively.

Do you enjoy knitting for yourself? If so, what do you make?

Yes we do, but unfortunately it’s been ages since we had time to make something for ourselves.

Where is your favourite place to knit?

In winter, it’s in front of the fireplace. In summer, it’s in the garden.

Where do you begin when you are starting to design for a new book? Do you begin with colour, a theme etc?

We usually start with a small idea and then look for ways to develop. It is not easy to explain how we do it, though.

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

Actually, we have an archive of old knitted pieces that we collect. The most precious ones are the jackets and sweaters knitted by Arne’s grandmother, as they are exceptionally well made.

What exciting projects do you have coming up in 2016? Anything that you can share with us?

We are excited about the first catalogue for Schachenmayr (I believe it’s for Patons in the UK) that will be out in the summer and also about the new yarns we have designed for Schachenmayr.

Arne & Carlos Afternoon Lecture – Important Information

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 04-02-2016

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On Tuesday 23rd February 2016 stars of the knitting world Arne and Carlos will be visiting the Craft Barn. We are super excited that they will be spending a whole day here with us in Warrington. They are teaching a workshop in the morning, followed by a lecture in the afternoon from 2pm – 3pm. The workshop is now fully booked, however you can still book a place on the lecture. Due to the amount of interest we have had in the lecture over the past few weeks we are now taking bookings. The lecture is still free to attend, but you do need to call or email in to book a place on the lecture. Numbers are limited due to the amount of space we have and for health and safety reasons. Please pass this message on to anyone else you know who’s planning on attending and do get in touch as soon as possible.

Either call 01925 764231 or email info@blacksheepwools.com to book a place.

Arne & Carlos are coming to the Craft Barn!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 15-01-2016

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We are super excited to share that Scandinavian knitting designers Arne and Carlos will be visiting the Craft Barn this February. If you haven’t heard of the design duo then let me fill in a few gaps. Arne and Carlos have been designing for many years and have worked with many high end brands during this time. They are best known for their Fair Isle knits and very first craft book – ’55 Christmas Balls to Knit’. Since its release in 2010 it has been published in over 10 different languages.

They will be spending a full day here on Tuesday 23rd February, teaching a mini workshop in the morning and holding a lecture in the afternoon. In the workshop you can make a pair of wrist warmers following their pattern ‘5 Wise Virgins Wrist Warmers’. The workshop cost is £25 and includes yarns and refreshments. Book a place on the workshop here.

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Hear all about their interesting life in knitting at the afternoon lecture from 2pm – 3pm. It is free to attend and will be held in our spacious workshop room at the Craft Barn. Please call 01925 764231 to book a place on the lecture.

The Knitting & Stitching Show – Alexandra Palace

Posted by Amy | Posted in Shows & Exhibitions | Posted on 01-10-2015

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Can you believe it’s already that time of year again? It’s time for the spectacular Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, London. A whole year has passed since we packed up the van having squeezed crafty goodies into every last nook and cranny that we could find – quite an art in itself.

This year the show will be running for 5 days again, opening on Wednesday 7th October through to Sunday 11th October. That’s 5 whole days to spend in a crafter’s paradise, set in a stunning location in London. Sara took this photo last year of the beautiful stained glass window in Alexandra Palace.

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Popular knit design duo Arne and Carlos will be opening the show on Wednesday at 10am. You may recognise the Nordic designs from books, such as ’55 Christmas balls to knit’ and ’30 Slippers to knit & felt’. They also have a popular sock yarn range with Regia Design Line, each shade creating a lovely fair isle design as you knit.

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There will be fashion shows throughout each day from Coats, showcasing their latest designs and yarns for autmn winter. Also workshops, lectures and tea rooms to have a break from the hustle and bustle. Once you are all shopped out be sure to visit the galleries area, where you will find work from leading textile artists, along with work from talented students. Lots and lots of inspiration to spur on your next project!

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Here are a couple of pics from our stand and setting up last year.

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Sara sat down for a moment with Debbie Bliss in our fabulous yarn dive.

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If you are booking your ticket to the Knitting & Stitching Show in advance we have a special offer for you. Use code EX15 and get your ticket for £12.

For those who can’t make it to Ally Pally why not visit us at another show in the UK. Take a look on our exhibitions page for the events where we will be exhibiting.