Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

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

Tags: , , ,

0

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

Betwixtmas Shawl Make-A-Long 2018

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips
Guest Blog by Bronagh Miskelly

 

Getting started with your Betwixtmas Shawl

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

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

Getting started

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

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

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

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

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

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

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Stitch markers

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

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

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

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

Checking your shawl shaping

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

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

Betwixtmas Shawl Top Tips

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

DIY Knitting and Crochet Tips

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

0

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

 

 

Scheepjes Stone Washed & River Washed XL Mini Pack

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 19-04-2018

Tags: , ,

0

Carol is knitting a blanket in Scheepjes Stone Washed XL and River Washed XL 15g mini balls. The pack contains 50 balls, one of each shade and it comes in a fabulous box, complete with handle. There is also a slightly finer 4ply alternative to the aran weight XL, Stone Washed and River Washed colour pack. Sara and Stacey had fun strutting up and down the Craft Barn showing off the latest must have from Scheepjes. Take a look below.

Now I have set the scene with these pretty snazzy colour packs, it’s back to Carol’s blanket. Carol is making an easy knit garter stitch blanket, picking out each shade in colour order and knitting as she goes. Some of the balls do run out mid-way across the blanket, but that adds to the overall colour effect of the blanket. As long as you don’t mind sewing in a few ends this blanket is a must knit. Watch Carol’s video below, where she talks you through her project.

The blanket so far with roughly half of the mini balls used.

Scheepjes Stone Washed XL and River Washed XL Colour Pack

Men’s Knitting Patterns

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 23-03-2018

Tags: , , ,

0

In amongst so many patterns for ladies and babies, men’s knitting patterns sometimes can be missed. We have plucked out a selection of men’s knitting patterns to share. If you are ever struggling though, we do have the option to narrow down the search depending on who / what you are knitting for. Hover over patterns on our home page and select in the ‘For’ category.

Before you even begin to be tempted to make any of the knitwear below, we must talk about the ‘Boyfriend Sweater Curse’ (unless you are a man knitting for yourself). You may have heard this pop up online or in a knitting magazine over the years. It is a theory that knitting a sweater for your significant other can lead to a break up! Eeeek! A knitted sweater isn’t just whipped up in a couple of hours, as we all know, a lot of time and effort goes into making it. With all the hours put in you are thinking about this person a lot (maybe whether or not they are the one for you) and you really want the person you are knitting for to appreciate it. This can be said for any knitted gift though and I guess this is where the theory came about.

We are obviously very sceptical of this theory and feel that the sweaters and cardigans below are too fabulous not to be knitted. We want knitting to bring you happiness! A good way to know the recipient will like the jumper is to involve them in choosing the pattern and shade. Pick a selection of designs that you would be happy to knit and let them choose from there. If you are going to knit for a new man in your life, maybe start small and go for a scarf or hat – still a lovely gift.

Choose from a v-neck or shawl collar cardigan in this pattern from Hayfield in Bonus Aran Tweed. A versatile knit for any season!

Men's Knitting Patterns | Cardigan in Hayfield Bonus Aran Tweed

Rowan Journeyman book has been designed by Martin Storey. An incredible collection of knitwear for men. Out of 12 patterns in the book these are four standout designs.
Clockwise from top left ‘Heston’, a cable design using Rowan Hemp Tweed. ‘Curtis’ is the next one along, a textured design using two shades of Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. ‘Brando’ is a hooded sweater with an all over cable design in Hemp Tweed. ‘Cooper’ is a snuggly sweater knitted in Felted Tweed Aran, a slip stitch design creates a rib like texture. There are many more tempting patterns from this book too.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a double knit yarn is more your thing, how about this raglan sleeve sweater in Stylecraft Life Vintage Look DK and Life DK. The Life Vintage Look yarn is a tweedy sort of yarn that lends itself to men’s knitwear.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Knit a round neck sweater or cardigan in a textured diamond stitch in Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed DK.

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

If a chunky knit is called for, why not knit this super cosy cabled sweater in your favourite chunky yarn?

Men's Knitting Patterns | Black Sheep Wools

Take a look on our Men’s Knitting patterns page on the website to see more patterns.

Knitting my first pair of socks

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 02-02-2018

Tags:

0

In November last year Arne and Carlos came to the Craft Barn to teach their workshop, ‘A Master Class in Socks’. Not being a sock knitter myself the idea of a sock master class sounded complicated and difficult. How wrong I was………

Stacey, who is a team leader in the Craft Barn attended the workshop, thoroughly enjoying a day with Arne and Carlos learning how to knit a toe up sock, with lots of handy hints and tips along the way. A week after the workshop Stacey popped in the office to share what she had been making. She had already finished not one, but two pairs of socks, with a third pair already on the needles. She enthusiastically explained how the sock was constructed, not complicated at all, just very straight forward with nothing that sounded too fiddly or complex. By the end of the day I was in the shop buying a ball of Regia Design Line 6ply and a set of KnitPro Zing 3.5mm DPN’s The idea of something slightly thicker than a 4ply and I was sold, ready to embark on sock knitting. On their blog and YouTube channel Arne and Carlos have a video and pattern for the easiest sock in the world. This is what I followed to knit my socks. There is also a super video that shows how to knit the heel.

I always thought knitting socks would be fiddly, to the point where I would have just one lonely sock, if that, or a tangled mess that was supposed to resemble half a sock never to be complete. I thought they would take forever to knit and I was so wrong. They were really fun to knit, having the various milestones (adding waste yarn, ribbed cuff and heel) along the way kept it really interesting and spurred me on to knit faster. Within just a couple of evenings I had made a sock!

I had been told by many knitters that you can’t beat a pair of had knitted socks, ‘they will be the warmest, comfiest socks you ever have’. Now I can wholeheartedly agree, having worn my own pair of knitted socks they are super warm and cosy to wear.

Slightly squished dancing feet

If you have never attempted sock knitting and feel inspired to give it a go, head over to Arne and Carlos blog and watch their video How to Knit the Easiest Sock in the World. Further down their blog post you will also find a basic pattern to follow. Make sure that you take into account yarn thickness and foot size. This pattern is a great starting point for venturing into the land of sock knitting. I might even try knitting a pair in 4ply next, that’s when I have finished my second pair in Fall Night 6ply.

For this pair of size 4 socks I increased up to 4osts, 10sts on each needle. I used –
Regia Design Line 6ply in shade Summer Night
3.5mm KnitPro Zing Double Pointed Needles 15cm

Juliet Bernard Exclusive Hat Collection

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 20-12-2017

Tags: , ,

0

Juliet Bernard has designed a collection of hat knitting kits exclusively for us, Black Sheep Wools. A super talented knitter, Juliet was taught as a child by her German grandmother. Juliet has worked in the knitting industry for many years and has been involved in many projects including Innocent Smoothie hats, designing a jumper Hugh Jackman (yes, THE Hugh Jackman) wore in Eddie the Eagle movie and being Editor of The Knitter. Juliet also teaches knitting workshops at the Craft Barn, they are always popular and book up very quickly. Keep an eye out for dates popping up later in the year.

Juliet has curated an exclusive hat collection that includes many different knitting techniques and skills including cable, bobbles and fair isle. Some are designed in the round and others flat with a seam. She has carefully chosen luxurious yarns for the kits. Whilst Juliet at the Craft Barn teaching in the autumn we videoed Sara chatting to Juliet all about the designs. Watch the video below.

Take a look below at the hats designed by Juliet Bernard. Which one will you choose?

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Diamond Cable Hat in Rowan Alpaca Soft Dk

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Zig Zag Children’s Hats in Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Dk

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Torshavn Hat in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Diamond Cable Hat in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK 

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

Twill Hat in Rowan Felted Tweed

Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection

A Ride in the Forest Hat in Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK

We can’t wait to knit one or maybe even all of the Juliet Bernard exclusive hat collection. Which one will you choose?

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.

 

Sirdar Competition

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 19-07-2017

Tags:

0

If you could have any sweater design, what would it be? Time to get your thinking cap on as Sirdar have just launched a fantastic competition. They are asking for entrants to design a winter sweater. There is a sweater template for you to work on, so there are no drawing skills required just the mind of a knitter. The winning design will get made up by the Sirdar design team on display at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London at Alexandra Palace in October. Not only that, everyone will be able to make the winning design, with the free pattern being available to download on the Sirdar website.

Below is a more detailed run down of the competition from Sirdar themselves.

“To coincide with the launch of our gorgeous new yarn Sirdar No.1 we are launching a fab competition for you to design a winter sweater! Your winter design could be anything from a novelty Christmas knit, to an oh so stylish Alpine sweater. All you have to do is sketch your design on to the template,  including as much detail as you can to really make your design come to life!

The Sirdar No.1 colour palette is incredible and comes in 18 shades, so we ask that you only choose colours from this range for your designs. Visit the Sirdar website using the link below to view the complete range.
http://www.sirdar.co.uk/…/classics/dk/Sirdar_no1_F047/shades

To submit your entries please e-mail a copy of your design sketch to socialmedia@sirdar.co.uk. The closing date for the competition is the 7th August, with winners being announced on the 11th August.

Now for the bit that you have all been waiting for, the prizes!

1st Prize – judged by Sirdar Head Designer Julie Langham
– Your design will be made into a leaflet which will be available as a free download on the Sirdar website.
– Your design will be knitted up by the Sirdar design team and showcased at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. 
– You will also win 2 tickets to attend the show on Saturday 14th October, so you will get to see your finished knit on the Black Sheep stand.

2nd Prize – judged by Sara Mulvey of Black Sheep Wools
– 2 tickets to attend The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace on Saturday 14th October.
– A Sirdar goody bag.

3rd Prize – judged by the Sirdar social media team
– A Sirdar goody bag.

Good luck!”

Arne & Carlos at the Craft Barn

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

Tags:

0

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.

Joji Locatelli Mystery Wrap – Colour Ideas

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Knitting, Sara's Blog | Posted on 04-05-2017

Tags: , , ,

0

I love a good CAL or Knitalong and I’m just about to do another one. This is by one of my favourite designers, Joji Locatelli. She is an Argentinian designer and if you haven’t looked at her work you really must. She has lots of patterns on Ravelry including the ‘Boxy’sweater, one of my favourite designs. Joji is also a master at shawl designing and this is where the mystery Knitalong comes in. Now I have never down a mystery project before so I’m really excited.

The project runs over 5 weeks and starts on the 12th May. As it is a mystery the designer does give you advice on colours, the size of the finished shawl and what type of knitting it involves. This shawl will contain a lot of garter stitch, some TV knitting and some more complicated stuff.

I love the community feel you get from a KAL and this one will be no exception. I’m a member of the group on Ravelry and it’s already got a lovely feel to it.

It’s done in a 4 ply yarn and I have picked five shades of the beautiful Titus from Baa Ram Ewe. I will be using Crucible, Goathland, Bramley Baths, Rose Window  & Chevin. I do hope they look as good together as I think they will.



If you are joining in this KAL then why don’t you post some photos to our facebook page of the colours and yarns you will be using. I’d love to see them!

We all love choosing colours at Black Sheep Wools, so between us we have come up with some more eye-catching combinations.

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Brights
– Blackcurrant Bomb
– Poppy Seed
– Blue Raspberry
– Butterscotch
– Sarsaparilla

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Pastels
– Milk Bottle
– Sherbet Fizz
– Candyfloss
– Pennyroyal
– Cinnamon Stick

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply – Summer
– Kingfisher
– Blueberry Bonbon
– Spearmint
– Tumeric
– Milk Bottle

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Fire
– Coal
– Viking
– Filey
– Parkin
– Wesley Bob

Baa ram ewe Titus 4ply – Heathery
– White Rose
– Yorkstone
– Heathcliff
– Goathland
– Bantam