Knitter of the Year – Local Superstar

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 29-06-2018



I know being a member of the Black Sheep team does make me slightly biased, but there really are some talented knitters and crocheters who work at Black Sheep Wools. Carmen, who works in the Craft Barn recently won an award with Knit Now magazine. She was nominated anonymously by a customer visiting in store. Carmen still has no idea who the customer was. All we know is that they took the time to enter details and nominate Carmen for ‘Local Superstar’ in the Knit Now magazine Knitter of the Year awards. Here is the nomination –

“I have only been to the shop a few times when visiting family, but each time this lady has gone out of her way to help me with my knitting queries. She’s very clever and very kind”

Carmen was so pleased to have won. The prize was a day out at Sirdar, taking a look behind the scenes, squishing lots of yarn and a sneak preview of the autumn / winter collection. Sounds like quite a jolly day out.
The date was arranged for June, Carmen went along to Sirdar HQ to meet magazine Editor, Kate Heppell and the rest of the winners. I had a chat with Carmen to get the gossip from the day.

The day started with a meet and greet in what Carmen described as the Sirdar yarn room, showcasing all of the different yarns within the Sirdar brand. Lots of samples to look at and colour to behold.

It was then onto a tour of the warehouse, seeing where all of the yarn is stored before it makes its way to yarn shops up and down the country.

From HUGE crates

To all yarns and shades organised to be picked

Then to the pattern design room, ‘where the magic happens’, as Carmen put it. This is where the whole design process takes place. Patterns are designed, written, swatched and sometimes actual garments are knitted. Carmen learnt that everyone has to knit in the same style with a one needle held under their arm, in the hope to achieve a similar tension. Carmen also had the opportunity to peruse the pattern archive room. There were patterns from as far back as the 30’s and 40’s!

It was then time for a lovely buffet lunch before going into the show room for a sneak peek at the autumn winter yarns and garments. Carmen already has her eye on one of the yarns! Kate Heppell then presented everyone with their awards and a fabulous goody bag including Sirdar yarns.

Carmen enjoyed a lovely day out seeing behind the scenes, meeting fellow knitters and chatting to the staff at Sirdar.

Steeking Fair Isle

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 15-06-2018

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Let’s talk about steeking! Steeking Fair Isle to be precise. Black Sheep Barbara has been working away on an amazing Fair Isle tank top for her husband in Baa Ram Ewe Titus 4ply. For those who haven’t heard of steeking before Barbara described it beautifully, “It’s like knitting a tube and cutting it to make it into a useable fabric”. The cutting is required to form armholes and the neckline. It is a very clever technique that creates a professional durable finish to a garment, plus no seams, amazing!

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Barbara is a team leader in the Craft Barn and an incredibly talented knitter. Well, knitting isn’t her only craft, she loves to do patchwork, embroidery and crochet too. If you visit the Craft Barn do chat to our staff about what they are making too, you will find that we all love having a few projects on the go just like you!

The Fair Isle tank top pattern is a design Barbara found on Ravelry – ‘Machrihanish‘, designed by Fair Isle designer extraordinaire Kate Davies. This Ravelry pattern is available to purchase from the Craft Barn via Ravelry. For her yarn choice Barbara couldn’t resist one of her favourite 4ply yarns, Baa Ram Ewe Titus. Having only ever done a steeked sample previously on a Fair Isle & Steeking workshop with Melanie Boocock (now our in store Rowan Consultant) a couple of years ago, Barbara decided to utilise her skills for a garment. As it is all knitted in the round she found the two handed Fair Isle technique really helpful to use. The beauty of knitting in the round is that there is no purl row when knitting stocking stitch. Barbara brought the tank top in at various stages of the knitting and steeking journey.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Here you can see the reinforced stitches, ready to be cut.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

This is the front of the tank top. You can just about see that the armholes are still joined and you can see the reinforced V-neckline.

In this little video snippet you can see the reinforced crocheted edge that won’t be unravel. You can see how Barbara has picked up stitches to knit the ribbed edging. It’s crazy to think you can cut your knitting with scissors and it will stay intact, that is the magic of steeking!

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

I just had to share a photo of the reverse side, it is so neat and visually pleasing.

Steeking Fair Isle | Black Sheep Wools

Here is Barbara’s husband modelling his new tank top. Isn’t it fabulous!



Ode to Autumn – Spice of Life Blanket

Posted by Amy | Posted in Spice of Life CAL, Staff Projects | Posted on 08-12-2016

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To celebrate the one year anniversary of Sandra Paul’s (aka Cherry Heart) gorgeous Spice of Life crochet along Sara has been crocheting a blanket in a new colour way – Ode to Autumn. Sara has opted for a selection of shades that are not her usual go to colours. Ode to Autumn is made up of rich, warm tones of rust, berries and gold – to name but a few. With an abundance of colour to choose from in the Stylecraft Special Dk it is quite a challenge to pick a winning combination. You will not be disappointed with this beautiful palette.

Watch Sara’s video below where she is talking all about making her Ode to Autumn blanket.

If you are thinking of making a Spice of Life blanket in the Ode to Autumn pack why not follow Sara’s shade sequence, take a look below –

Autumn Colours            Original Colours

Mustard (1823)                       Turquoise
Pomegranate (1083)            Grass
Pistachio (1822)                     Light Green
Tomato (1723)                        Petrol
Boysenberry (1828)             Red
Khaki (1027)                            Vanilla
Claret (1123)                            Cream
Cypress (1824)                       Melon
Gold (1709)                              Purple
Lobelia (1825)                        Ice Blue
Pale Rose (1080)                  Smokey Rose
Stone (1710)                            Jeans
Burgundy (1035)                   Clay

ode to autumn - spice of life blanket

Zenbroidery – Guest Blog Post

Posted by Amy | Posted in New Products, Staff Projects | Posted on 31-08-2016

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Sophie has written a guest blog post all about getting back into crafts and discovering Zenbroidery. Read her post below and then enjoy watching her stitching in action, on our short Zenbroidery video –

Having come back to Black Sheep Wools (a postgraduate this time- hooray!) for a short but sweet period before heading off to teach English in Vietnam, it did not surprise me that within my first week of working life I was starting a new project. I blame the ladies in the office.

In my childhood years, I was always keeping myself busy creatively; whether drawing, painting or baking. My grandmother encouraged me to try cross stitching and I was really taken by the mindless comfort it provided. You can, therefore, imagine my delight in stumbling across Zenbroidery whilst putting new products on the website. Somewhat distracted from the task at hand, I ventured into the craft barn to see what kits we had to peruse through. I opted for Garden as I’m often drawn to anything floral and thought it would be good to refresh my stitching techniques over a slightly more minimal design. I found confidence in the concept that, due to the beauty of free-form, any mistakes would be irrelevant!

Zenbroidery by Sophie

The next three weeks I spent my evenings stitching contently, avoiding the stresses of organising for my ever-looming departure. The idea in mind being that I’d give the finished piece as a gift to my partner’s Mum before leaving. An intention I soon realised was slightly ambitious.
A Christmas gift instead, perhaps?

Frida’s Flowers Crochet Along – Complete

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 27-07-2016

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How are you getting on with your Frida’s Flowers blanket? Is it complete, now lounging casually in situ over the arm of your cosy chair? Keeping up with a crochet along can be a daunting task. Stylecraft released Jane Crowfoot’s Frida’s Flowers crochet along pattern fortnightly; following two weeks to get crocheting so many of a particular motif, most weeks the required number being four.

Sally stayed organised and on top of things throughout, completing her blanket just a day after the final pattern was released. Super crochet whizz that she is! Here is her blanket, beautifully crocheted and finished to perfection.

This is what Sally had to say –

“I loved the yarn, it feels lovely to crochet with and also gives beautiful stitch definition. I think all the flowers are just beautiful, the 3D effect is stunning. I really enjoy the discipline of doing a Crochet along. I always do it as soon as the pattern is released so I am ready for the next one. I don’t get bored as I can do other things whilst waiting for the next pattern release!”

Frida's Flowers Crochet Along

The intense density of the colours in Stylecraft Classique Cotton Dk really shows off the stitch definition in Jane’s design.

frida's flowers crochet along

If this blanket looks like something that you would like to make, you can find all of the patterns on Stylecraft‘s website. Pick up all shades of Stylecraft Classique Cotton Dk here. We also have alternative packs available in Stylecraft Life Dk and Stylecraft Special Dk too.

Frida’s Flowers Crochet Along – Update

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 21-06-2016


Sally is one organised crocheter. Every fortnight when Stylecraft release the latest instalment of Jane Crowfoot’s Frida’s Flowers crochet along, Sally is ready and waiting for the pattern. In fact she has been so efficient with her crochet, some weeks she has finished all required motifs within 24 hours! I must add that this isn’t her only current project, she is also doing two more crochet / knit along projects which have sometimes had clashing pattern release dates along the way. This hasn’t fazed her or hindered progress on her Frida’s Flowers blanket. In between these projects she also has various other projects on the go too. I know I would find it hard to be so organised that I was ready for a fortnightly pattern, even if that was my one and only project to think about. How do you negotiate and manage all of your WIP’s (Work in Progress)? Do you enjoy having a CAL on the go alongside another project or two?

Sally has been so kind as to send in progress photos of her beautiful Frida’s Flowers CAL along the way, often popping in the office with it for a quick pic when she is working in the Craft Barn.

I hope I have taken note correctly. Below is a photo of part 3, featuring Sally’s adorable dogs – Frankie helping and Molly looking a little bored (maybe Molly is more of a knitter).

frida's flowers crochet along

Sally sent in this photo of part 4. The blanket is starting to take shape at this stage. All of the hexagons are slotting into place to create the blanket structure.

frida's flowers crochet along

Take a closer look at the detail. It’s all very clever how Jane works out the design, including half hexagons to create a neat edge.

frida's flowers crochet alongThen onto a new floral hexagon for part 5. This floral motif features 3D petals, adding an extra dimension to the gorgeous design.

Frida's flowers crochet along

frida's flowers crochet along

Sally sent this photo over on Monday morning, hot off the press from her crochet hook. This is part 6 complete, ready for part 7 next week.

frida's flowers crochet along

How is your Frida’s Flowers crochet along blanket coming on? Have you managed to keep up with the fortnightly installments? If you would like to share your progress with us please do send in a photo to or post a pic on social media.

Frida’s Flowers Crochet Along

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 09-05-2016

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We all couldn’t wait to see Jane Crowfoot’s latest crochet along when it launched back in April. Even before the design was unveiled, we knew Jane’s shade palette and yarn choice (Stylecraft Classique Cotton Dk). After this came inspiration and the actual blanket. Jane has taken inspiration from Frida Kahlo’s traditional Mexican dress, her paintings and floral garlands. Lots of rich colour all worked with a combination of black, blue and purple base colours. Part 3 of Frida’s Flowers CAL launched last week, all of the patterns are available to download for free from the Stylecraft website.

Although the original design is made in Stylecraft Classique Cotton Dk, Stylecraft have also come up with 2 other yarn alternatives – Stylecraft Special Dk and Stylecraft Life Dk. We were lucky enough to have all 3 variations in the Craft Barn, kindly on loan from Stylecraft Yarns. Here they are all laid out together.


When I heard that Sally was making the Frida’s Flowers blanket I thought it might be nice for us all to take a peek at her progress. Sally works here at the Craft Barn and is an avid crocheter, who could quite possibly be Jane Crowfoot’s biggest fan, Jane is her favourite designer. She has always enjoyed keeping up to date with Jane’s designs and absolutely adores all of her work. When I spoke to Sally she began reeling off all of the projects she had made – various mystery blankets, Lily Pond blanket, Nordnorge knitted bag and a Lantern scarf to name but a few.


The above photo is from part one.


It was then onto the blue yarn for part two. Sally is joining as she goes to keep on top of it all.


Part three is a selection of bright colours. Sally brought them all in a basket, they looked so pretty for a photo.


Sally is really enjoying using the Stylecraft Classique Cotton Dk for the first time; she finds it moves through her fingers easily when crocheting. Part three is her favourite part so far, as she just loves all of the gorgeous bright colours. When I was chatting to Sally she spoke fondly of Jane’s colour choices, something that she especially admires about her designs. Sally is keeping up with the fortnightly pattern instalment so far, even though she already has many projects on the go. I was finding it hard to scribble them down as she said them, here goes – a Debbie Abrahms mystery knit along, a jumper, 2 shawls and another blanket, phew! That is a lot of knit and crochet. Sally’s response ‘It keeps it interesting’, which is so true I guess, just as long as you write down the last row of the pattern you are working on. There is no chance to get bored of a project working like that.

Sally is going to bring in more of her Frida’s Flowers bits and bobs as she continues with the project. Keep an eye out for more pics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Staff Makes

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 21-04-2016

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Black Sheep Wools staff are always busy making one thing or another. If we aren’t making something, we also enjoy thinking of what we could be making. So many projects get planned and changed during a day at work. No matter what part of the company you work in, whether you are packing an order, putting new stock on the shelves in store, adding new products to the website, you really can’t hide from the continuous flow of temptation that catches our eye on a daily basis.

I have gathered together a selection of projects made by our talented staff. These are really only a snippet of the projects that do get made; many are eagerly given to the recipient before having a photograph.

Yvonne has been knitting away for her super cute grandchildren. Here is her grand-daughter wearing a cabled jacket, knitted in Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky using Hayfield pattern 4534.


Yvonne has also knitted a jumper for her grandson using Schachenmayr Extra Merino. She spotted this stitch pattern being used on a different design and adapted it to a trusty pattern she had in her collection.



Yvonne’s flower decorations are a great stash buster. She has been crocheting pretty flowers from Search Press Crochet Flowers book to adorn straw sun hats for her granddaughter.



Lesley has been making lots of crocheted hats for new born babies. The photo below is of her friend’s little one, sporting his new hat in Hayfield Baby Chunky, complete with a huge pompom.

lesley baby hat

Sally loves to crochet and couldn’t wait for Jane Crowfoot’s Frida’s Flowers crochet along to begin. She had her hook poised and ready for the pattern release from Stylecraft. It only took her one evening to do the first two pieces. Sally opted for the Stylecraft Classique Cotton dk colour pack.


In preparation for the CAL, Crafternoon Treats blogger Kathryn designed a ‘Frida’s Flowers’ inspired project bag. This pattern is available as a free download and you can find the colour pack at Black Sheep Wools. Sally chose to crochet her bag with a variety of oddments, including shades of Stylecraft Special Dk that she has used double to create a chunky yarn.


Although Maria no longer works at Black Sheep Wools she will always be an honorary  member of the team, often popping in for the knit and natter group and to stock up on new yarns. After attending the Arne & Carlos workshop, Maria went on to make a second pair of mitts using another of their patterns. She chose a lovely selection of yarns from her stash. Find the free pattern on Arne & Carlos website.


Emily has finished her Spice of Life Croceht Along blanket, using a selection of Rico Baby Classic Dk and Sirdar Snuggly Dk. A gorgeous colour combination!


Lucy had been searching for the perfect pattern for a double knit yarn for a while. When she spotted the new Rowan Summerlite Dk book she could not resist, so many beautiful patterns all in one book. Lucy is using a forest green shade of Schachenmayr Extra Merino, following the ‘Bronte‘ cardigan pattern. She also took on the task of adapting the pattern so that she can knit it in the round, eeeek! The cuff of the cardigan is so pretty with the cable detailing.


Stacey attended the weaving workshop at the Craft Barn last week and has truly fallen for the craft. She bought a loom and was off making a pretty woven scarf.



Finally, take a peek at Janet’s latest project. There will be a fabulous pattern for this one coming very soon!


Emily Learns to Sew

Posted by Amy | Posted in Staff Projects | Posted on 17-03-2016



Emily recently joined in with Yvonne’s ‘Learn to Sew‘ 5 week course at the Craft Barn. She has always been interested in the idea of sewing and couldn’t wait to get settled on the machine and sew her first seam. Emily works in customer services, it is her cheery voice that you hear on the phone and she also answers all of your email queries too. Always busy she enjoyed taking a mini break from her day job to learn how to sew. With all of the gorgeous fabrics that we all see passing by on a daily basis, the temptation of sewing was bound to take a hold sooner or later.

Each week Yvonne taught a different aspect of sewing. Week 1 – exploring different fabrics and patterns, week 2 – understanding the sewing machine and seam widths whilst making a panelled cushion front, week 3 – finishing off the cushion cover and putting in a zip, week 4 – making a cosmetic bag with zip and lining, week 5 – making a peg bag with lining and bias binding.


Week 2 – Emily chose a selection of fabrics, including many Kaffe Fassestt designs for her cushion front.


Week 3 – Emily sewed in her first concealed zip and added in a cushion pad to plump up her finished cushion cover.


Emily answered a few questions to tell us more about her experience on the 5 week course.

Have you ever done any sewing previously?

No, but I have always been interested and I’ve watched my mum sew at home.

What made you choose to do the ‘learn to sew’ workshop?

After watching the sewing Bee I was fascinated by the way clothes were made and how there is so much detail involved. Before I did the workshop with Yvonne I didn’t realise how many different variations of zips there were! Being surrounded by so many nice fabrics I couldn’t help but want to learn.

Do you think that you will continue to sew?

Yes, I plan to make a skirt for the summer. It’s just going to be a hard decision with all of the lovely fabrics we stock.

Did you enjoy Yvonne’s tecahing style?

Yvonne was a brilliant teacher. She was very patient and explained everything very clearly. If any of us came across a problem she always took the time to explain again. The five weeks were planned well. I like the way each week was dedicated to a different skill.

Over the 5 weeks you covered many techniques, which was your favourite week?

I was pleased when I completed my cushion cover and learnt to sew in my very first zip. Another week I enjoyed was learning how bias binding works, whilst making the peg bag with a curved edge.

Do you feel the workshop met your expectations?

I learnt a lot more than I thought I would and like the fact that we made mini projects throughout. I strongly recommend anyone who has never sewn before to come along to the next learn to sew workshop with Yvonne. I especially liked the length of the workshop, having it split over 5 weeks into 2.5 hour sessions made the information less overwhelming and more enjoyable.


Week 4 – Emily made a lined cosmetic bag, with zip. There are a few pins as Emily hadn’t finished it off when I grabbed it for a photo.


Week 5 – Here is Emily’s peg bag with bias binding. There are still a few pins as she was ready to finish this part at home.


We plan to run a similar workshop again later in the year. If this looks like something you would be interested in, please take a look on our workshops page for upcoming dates.


Spice of Life Blanket

Posted by Lesley Cragg | Posted in Spice of Life CAL, Staff Projects | Posted on 22-01-2016


Early last year, I had an idea. I wanted to help people like me who knew the basics of crochet, move onto something more complicated and that used different stitches & techniques. I thought the best way to do that would be to host our very first Crochet Along and  I knew just the lady to help us do it…

Sandra Paul (aka Cherry Heart) and I had worked together on a couple of projects beforehand and I knew that her eye for design, colour and pattern writing skills would be just perfect for this project.

I contacted Sandra and invited her over to the Craft Barn where we chatted through some ideas and decided that a sampler blanket would be ideal.

It was from here that the Spice of Life Crochet Along was born. Little did we know that it would turn out to be one of the most successful CAL’s to date!

As momentum built up around the CAL both on and offline, staff here at BSW had lots of fun in choosing their own yarn and colours to make this beautiful blanket.



I chose these colours from the Stylecraft Special Dk range as each one of them made me smile!




Lesley's Spice of Life Blanket

The Spice of Life Facebook group has nearly 8000 members now from all over the world and continues to grow day by day. Some people are working on their 4th, 5th & even 6th blanket!

The pattern is still available on our website and now you can purchase my colour pack for just £22.75! That’s pretty good value for such a beautiful blanket.

Taking part in this CAL has given me the confidence to have a go at other patterns and to not be afraid to try new stitches. If you haven’t yet made your blanket then I would whole heartedly recommend it, even if you are an expert crocheter!

You can find the pattern and more information over on our website: