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!

Stylecraft Batik Swirl – Yarn Review

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

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

Watch the video below to take a closer look.

Stylecraft Batik Swirl DK

Highland – 3735

Stylecraft Batik Swirl DK

Meadow – 3736

Stylecraft Batik Swirl DK

Forest – 3737

Scheepjes Sweet Treat – Yarn Review

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 26-07-2018

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Scheepjes Sweet Treat is a lace weight, mercerised, cotton yarn that is ideal for fine lace crochet. The colour range is phenomenal with over 80 shades available and all of the shades are the same as Scheepjes Catona. This is useful to know if you want to mix and match the yarns together. The Scheepjes Sweet Treat would make a pretty, delicate border around the edge of a mandala or blanket.

Watch the video below to see how I got on crocheting with this yarn.

The lovely ladies in the Craft Barn have displayed the Sweet Treat in groups of colour.

Scheepjes Sweet Treat

Soft pastel shades on display in the shop

Scheepjes Sweet Treat

Blues and greens

Scheepjes Sweet Treat

So many shades of Scheepjes Sweet Treat! Oranges and purples.

Sara’s Unfinished Project Update – Part 2

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 13-03-2018

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An update on my UFO’s. I have finished quite a few more things since the last video (and started a few!). Take a look at my video below and let me know what you think. I am so pleased with my crocheted blanket in Scheepjes Whirl, it used just one ball.

I have also found yet another bag of UFO’s. This was a fun video to film, as I genuinely didn’t know what was in there. I even found a necklace and a pair of head phones!

Sophie’s Universe Blanket Complete

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Crochet, Sara's Blog | Posted on 13-02-2018

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Watch my crochet journey making the Sophie’s Universe blanket in Scheepjes Cotton 8. I really enjoyed making the blanket, using the Cotton 8 yarn for the first time and learning lots.

Sophie’s Universe was originally a crochet along project, designed by Dedri Uys.  The pattern is available on Dedri’s blog – Lookatwhatimade.net. Since the CAL was a huge success, Scheepjes decided to make the pattern into a book. The book is great to follow, with so much detail.

Progress report. It’s beginning to take shape.

Ta da! Take a look at my finished Sophie’s Universe blanket!

Sophie's Universe Blanket

Sara’s UFO challenge with update

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 28-01-2018

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Have you made any craft resolutions this year? I have. I’m going on a UFO (unfinished object) mission in January & February. I have to. It’s getting out of hand. I’ve pulled about ten bags out of my cupboard and I’m on a yarn ban until they are finished. I’m embarrassed to say I have a baby blanket that only needs a border, a jumper that needs the side seams sewing up, a long stitch that is half done. I really need to get these finished. Then I can start on my next resolution, to knit some garments to wear at work. I’ve neglected my knitting recently, I only made one jumper last year. So once I’ve finished my UFO’s this is next on my list.

Now as you know I’m working my way through my WIPs this month. I’m feeling very proud of myself, so far I have finished five. When this video was filmed last Friday it was three. However I’m afraid I have to start something new. Today I will be starting a beautiful shawl in Stylecrafts Batik Elements. Now this isn’t for me (although I’ve admired it for ages) it’s to display at the shows. So I get to feed my startitus* guilt free!
*Startitus – a medical condition that means you constantly start new projects before you’ve finished the old ones. A condition that mainly affects crafters.

Sara’s yarn review – Debbie Bliss Rialto

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 10-08-2017

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Watch my latest video on our YouTube channel to find out what I have been making with Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and Debbie Bliss Rialto DK. I have been knitting a cardigan / jacket with Rialto DK and crocheting a vibrant baby blanket with Rialto 4ply.

Take a closer look at my blanket here. Keep an eye out to see the finished article very soon.

Joji Locatelli Mystery Wrap – Colour Ideas

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

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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

 

Debbie Bliss Weekend in Harrogate

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 25-04-2017

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I was lucky enough to spend the weekend before Easter with the design guru that is Debbie Bliss on a knitting weekend at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time with Debbie over the last few years and I hope I can say that we are friends as well as business acquaintances, so I relished the chance to go away with her. She is so talented, a huge inspiration and lots of fun too. The weekend was arranged by Arena travel in conjunction with the editorial teams from Simply Knitting & the Knitter. 35 ladies joined us and Black Sheep Wools provided the pop up shop.

My first big thing of the weekend was driving the van to Harrogate. Now I have driven a van but I don’t do it very often. In real life I drive a VW Polo, a van is so much bigger. I hate being thought of as a wuss but I was very nervous. My driving can be a bit hit and miss! However I got there in one piece and not a mark on the van!

Set up was my next mammoth task. If anyone talks to you about a pop up shop can you please point out that they don’t really pop up and they certainly don’t pop down again. It took ages. However it did look pretty gorgeous when we’d finished it, if I do say so myself! Huge thanks to Graeme from Designer Yarns for all of his help.

Once the shop was set up we headed to the bar for a Knit & Natter session. It was a great way to meet everyone and start to put faces to names. I was amazed as one lady had come over from Canada and another from Germany. It put one and a half hour drive from Warrington into perspective.

The workshop started at 10am prompt. The theme was confidence with colour. You often hear people lament ‘I’m no good with colour’. Debbie was here to prove that is a load of rubbish! We can all put colours together, we just need to play with them a bit. Graeme, who is a knitting god, gave mini workshops on Continental Knitting and Norwegian Cast On, he really is incredible.

This was not a project based workshop so everyone worked on different things which was great to see where people draw their inspiration from. Attendees had brought postcards with them, pencils, books and items of clothing. You really can get your inspiration from anywhere.

Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner. We were treated to a talk from David Watt from Designer Yarns. David is one of the best technical yarn people I have ever met. He has worked in the yarn industry all over the world and is so passionate. His pet project is the Falkland Aran yarn from the Debbie Bliss range. It is one of the finest Aran’s I have ever worked with and David was happy to share the reasons why. After dinner we all retired to the bar to continue the yarn talk, I possibly had one glass of wine too many and quickly went to bed.

Sunday was a more relaxed day. We had our final workshop in the morning where Debbie tied everything together. The Fair Isle that had been completed was beautiful and there were so many different colour combinations.

I started to pack away at 2pm. The stand may well have looked amazing but it took me ages to take it down. I was still at it at 7pm! I had a fabulous weekend and promised myself that one weekend I will go as an attendee the pop up shop can pop off!

Crochet in Caron Simply Soft

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog, Yarn Reviews | Posted on 12-04-2017

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Now as you now I don’t need much of an excuse to start a new project. Show me a ball of yarn and I’m away. So can you imagine what happened when I was presented with a box of 55 balls of yarn! Oh my giddy Aunt, I went new project bonkers and started two in one day!

The yarn in question is the incredible, and aptly named, Caron Simply Soft. An aran weight 100% acrylic yarn that you can machine wash and tumble dry. The 55 colours mean you can be a true artist and create any palette you like.

My first thought was granny squares. I went for muted berry tones and a starburst design. Because it’s an aran weight the squares grow in no time. The treble stitch shows of the subtle sheen of the yarn and I know the blanket will have a great weight to it. I made three or four squares before I changed my mind. (I told you I went slightly bonkers). The colours would look even better as a V stitch.

I love the V stitch design. I’ve used it before on both the ‘Spice of Life’ blanket and ‘Highland Heathers’. It blends the colours beautifully and crochets up in no time. I’ve only done a small sample of it so far but I love it. So watch this space as I think it will be a WIP in no time!

I was playing with these yarns on Mother’s Day which meant I had much more time to play. It was my first Mother’s Day at home for a few years; I’m usually away at a show. So I made the most of it and insisted on Matt & the girls doing everything. This meant I could crochet all day long, and I did.

The sun was shining so after a morning of V stitch I picked out six new shades that reminded me of spring and sat outside and started a baby blanket. I don’t need a baby blanket but that’s what the yarn wanted to be and who am I to argue. The granny squares are in a mix of five bright shades, pink, blue, green, yellow and purple and I will edge them all together in white. Wow! I love it! I’ve not got much time to do it at the moment but I’m about half way through and hoping to get it finished next week as I have a few days off. Watch this space!