Black Sheep Boutique – Emma Varnam

Posted by Amy | Posted in Black Sheep Boutique | Posted on 21-06-2019

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We are very excited to share the next designer to join Black Sheep Boutique – Emma Varnam. Emma is a good friend of Black Sheep Wools and we have been working with her on projects for many years now. You may have already made one of her beautiful crocheted blankets without even realising it was one of Emma’s designs….Garden Route or Little River? With the launch of her boutique it means that all of her current blanket pack kits and pattern books are all in the one place online.

Black Sheep Boutique Emma Varnam

Emma is passionate about both knitting and crochet, a yarnaholic like many of us! She enjoys sharing her crochet and knitting stories on her blog, find crocheted blankets, sock knitting, garments, amigurumi and more. If you haven’t seen Emma’s book Cute Crocheted Animals then do take a look, the sou’wester for a rabbit is just too cute. Crocheted animals with crocheted outfits has got to be the most adorable combination. This isn’t Emma’s only book, find them all in her Boutique shop online. We have also been lucky enough to have Emma Varnam in store at the Craft Barn celebrating Yarn Shop Day over the years. We were so pleased to welcome her again for our Yarn Shop Day 2019 celebrations in April. Voting is now open in the Let’s Knit British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2019, if you did visit our shop and had fun on the day don’t forget you can vote for yarn shop day experience as one of the categories.

To introduce Emma Varnam to Black Sheep Boutique, I sent her a selection of questions to get an insight into her life as a designer.

We are so happy that you have chosen to be part of our Black Sheep Boutique. What does it mean for you to be part of this new venture?

Firstly I love Black Sheep Wools, this is where I go when I want to look at yarn and squidge the wool. I can spend many a happy hour in the aisles and usually treat myself to a cheeky piece of cake. Black Sheep have always been so supportive of my work so it is the natural place for me to collaborate with special bespoke designs.

What inspired you to start designing?

I started to design for my son when he was very little. I couldn’t find designs that really reflected the jumpers I wanted to make so I began making my own. My love of toy design began when I started making him things in the evening which I knew he would love and play with. I believe all the best things are made from love.

You have created lots of fabulous designs, which would you say is your favourite or one that holds a special place in your heart?

Probably Jack Rabbit from my book Cute Crochet Animals. He really has captured many hearts. He has a very British look and indeed I know that he has been made many times by crochet enthusiasts. It is thrilling to see photos pop up of my toys across the globe.

Cute Crochet Animals by Emma Varnam

How do you create your colour palettes?

They usually come from prints or cards which I love. I might take a greetings card which really appeals to me and use the colours that I pick out from the illustration as blanket shades. You can find new and interesting combinations this way.

Garden Route Cottage - Emma Varnam | Black Sheep Wools

Garden Route Cottage – By Emma Varnam

Garden Route Coastal - Emma Varnam | Black Sheep Wools

Garden Route Coastal – Emma Varnam | Black Sheep Wools

Do you ever take a break from crochet and knitting to enjoy other crafts?

Oh I wish i did…If I have another hobby it is gardening. I adore my garden and during the summer will spend endless hours pottering about in it.

Have you tried any new yarns lately? Is there anything that has really caught your eye?

Well I am enjoying the new shades of Rowan Felted Tweed. I like brighter hues so I am delighted that Kaffe Fassett has added to the colour range. They are gorgeous. I have also used Rico Bubble yarn – which is a cool tinsel yarn for my new book which is out now. Crocheted Cacti and Succulents. I have used it to create cacti spikes and it looks FABULOUS! I picked it up on one of my shopping trips to the Craft Barn.

Crocheted Succulents By Emma Varnam | Black Sheep Wools

What is your go to crochet stitch pattern / motif?

Well if it is for toys, you have to say double crochet in the round for amigurumi. Such a brilliant technique, it is like sculpting with yarn. Another would be a shell edging stitch. I adore it.

Do you still find time to crochet / knit for yourself in between designing?

Oh yes – I almost must….sounds crazy but I will often have a pair of knitted socks on the go and they sit permanently in my handbag. If I am waiting in the car for my son, I will whip out my knitting so I don’t spend too much time on my phone.

What direction do you see crochet going in the next 5 to 10 years?

Well I see that we are going back to the traditional skills – but with a twist. Youtube and the internet has made us insatiable for new techniques. People seem to want to learn something new all the time, so more complex patterns are being developed in fairisle and aran. People are beginning to look at things like double knitting and brioche too. The more complex the better seems to be the trend at the moment.
I think we are also questioning our use of plastics a bit more so you might see a growth of blending hardwearing natural fibres like Blue Faced Leicester with softer merino yarns. We’ll see – we do love a yarn that washes well.

We always love seeing your latest books and designs and can’t wait to add more of your projects into the Black Sheep Boutique. What are your future crochet plans? Have you a new book in the pipeline?

Yes I have so excited about my Crocheted Cacti and Succulent book – I giggled permanently when I designed those plants. I have some exciting new projects in 2019 with Stylecraft Yarns and West Yorkshire Spinners and I am hopeful of writing a sequel to Cute Crocheted Animals. I have ALOT of fun!

Emma Varnam Designer Q&A

Something exciting coming soon from Emma, exclusive to our Boutique

Emma Varnam Black Sheep Boutique

Coming soon…..

Since Emma answered our questions she has been announced as Knitter of the Year in Knit Now magazine. Congratulations!

Shop Emma Varnam Black Sheep Boutique
Read Emma’s blog
Follow Emma on Instagram

More Mindful Crochet with Lynne Rowe

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 21-05-2019

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Are you ready for more Mindful Crochet with Lynne Rowe? Take a look at the first instalment here. In this blog post we share the final two videos from the mindful crochet series. It was a pleasure to work with Lynne, she is so knowledgeable and passionate about her craft.

Listen to Lynne’s soothing voice as you delve deeper into the basics of crochet. Enjoy introducing a treble crochet stitch and exploring colour. Lynne is using West Yorkshire Spinners Re:Treat and an Amour crochet hook in the video. For every kilo of Re:Treat sold West Yorkshire Spinners are donating 50p to the national mental health charity MIND. The yarn was developed with well’being in mind and was the perfect yarn to use as part of our Mindful Crochet series.

We hope that you have enjoyed learning to crochet with Lynne and have begun to bring a mindful mantra to your hobby.

All crochet terms are UK terminology.

Mindful Crochet with Lynne Rowe

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 16-05-2019

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We have teamed up with crochet designer and workshop tutor Lynne Rowe to bring you a series of Mindful Crochet tutorials. Join us and be Mindful in May.
Lynne is a big advocate of mindfulness, having previously worked with Betsan Corkhill on the book – Knit Yourself Calm. Lynne enjoys practicing mindful techniques alongside her knitting and crocheting. Enabling her to disconnect and really focus her mind away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
In the videos below you can learn to crochet whilst introducing mindful practices. Lynne has such a soothing and calm voice that you will instantly focus on her every word. The videos are an interesting watch for those who can already crochet and those who wish to learn.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep an eye out for part 3 and 4, coming soon!

In part 1 Lynne talks about getting to grips with holding your yarn and hook and making a chain stitch.

In part 2 Lynne begins to introduce a mindful mantra for a double crochet stitch. Focusing on your breathing and the flow of the crochet.

Lynne has two mindful workshops coming up in June at the Craft Barn in Warrington. There is Mindful Knitting on the morning of Saturday 29th June and Mindful Crochet in the afternoon.

Keep up to date with Lynne Rowe over on her blog and Instragram (the_woolnest).

Designer Q & A – Attic24

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 15-03-2019

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We are so excited for our special guest visiting the Craft Barn tomorrow. It’s only Lucy, from Attic24 blog! How fantastic is that? Lucy will be joined tomorrow by fellow knitting and crochet buddies, Emma Varnam and Winwick Mum. Pop in store and say hello, the gang will be here from 10am – 4pm. In anticipation for her visit we sent over a few (maybe more than a few) questions to delve a little deeper into the creative world of Attic24. Lucy kindly responded with some great answers. Enjoy having a read of our Attic24 interview, it is really interesting to learn more about her crochet journey.

Designer Q & A Attic24 | Black Sheep Wools

When did you begin crocheting?
Before I had my children, I was a self employed designer-maker working with textiles and embroidery. I ran my little handmade business from home, making brightly coloured textile pictures and a range of embroidered greetings cards. I packed up my textile business when I had my first child in 2002, thinking that eventually I would come back to it.
Fast forward to 2007 and I was very busy being a full time Mum to my two young children aged 3 and 4 then. I loved that time in my life, but I found myself starting to miss my old creative work and began to look for a way to balance out the needs of my young family with my need to do something creative for myself again.
It was a friend who suggested I try crocheting – she knew of my arts and textile background, and thought that crochet would appeal to me as she had just learnt herself and was finding it very therapeutic. We agreed that yarn crafts were far more child friendly than sewing, being that you can sit on the sofa amongst the chaos of family life and pick up a crochet project far more easily than you can get out a sewing machine and ironing board!
So I decided to give it a go, borrowing a crochet hook and ball of yarn from my friend and getting her to teach me the basics of crocheting a chain. I bought a small beginners crochet book from a local yarn shop and over the next few days I taught myself the basic stitches and learnt how to make a simple granny square. I knew straight away that I wanted to crochet blankets, and those very first granny squares eventually became my very first blanket.
That was over eleven years ago now, and I can honestly say that learning to crochet changed the course of my life. I still have that first blanket draped over the back of my sofa and it’s one of my most treasured things.

Designer Q & A Attic24 | Embroidery | Black Sheep Wools

Attic24 Embroidery

Designer Q & A Attic24 | First Blanket | Black Sheep Wools

First crocheted blanket Attic24

What sparked your love with this wonderful craft?
I fell in love with crochet primarily because of the ease of it. As a mum of young children, it was something I could very easily fit into the small pockets of time I had throughout my busy days. I would keep my yarn handy and I would pick up my granny squares whenever I had a chance. Even if it was just a few stitches here and there, I loved that I was doing something creative just for me, for my own pleasure and satisfaction.
And of course, there was the colour therapy too. When I first walked into a yarn shop to purchase a few balls to make granny squares, I was hit by the sight of so much beautiful colour on those shelves that I knew I had found something that would bring me a huge amount of happiness. I had always loved bright colours when I worked with fabric and stitch, and finding out that yarns could give me the same sort of colour-fix was such a great surprise.

Granny Squares Attic24 | Black Sheep Wools

What inspired you to begin writing a blog?
Around about the same time that I learnt to crochet, I also discovered the online world of creative blogs. Blogging was still relatively new back in 2007, but I began following a few blogs that really resonated with me – ladies who were sharing snippets of their daily lives, their homes, gardens and creative projects which I found hugely inspirational. I had already begun sharing some of my photos and projects on Flickr (remember this was back in the day before Pinterest and Instagram existed, I know, how did we ever manage?!) and I found that I really enjoyed being a part of a creative online community. It was like suddenly finding my tribe when I had been living in solitary for so long! Writing a blog and joining in with the community I had discovered was the next logical step, although it took me almost a year to pluck up the courage to do it. I had recently relocated and moved to a new town so was feeling a little lost at the time. My youngest had just started mornings at nursery, so for the first time in many years I had some precious child free hours at my disposal. I had always loved writing (I was an avid penpal in my teenage years, writing letters to friends all over the world), and taking photographs to go with my words became a newly discovered passion. There was no end goal, just a desire to share and connect with others, and to be able to fill my free time with a new and exciting hobby.

Designer Q & A Attic24 | Black Sheep Wools

Your blog is so popular, how does it feel to know there are people all around the world reading your blog and making your designs?
Honest answer???? It feels FANTASTIC!!! I The community which surrounds Attic24 is absolutely wonderful and I truly value the friendship and connections that it brings to my life. That sense of belonging is very precious to me, especially as I spent so many years feeling quite alone with my creativity and my quirky way of looking at life. Mind you, having said that, I find that even after all these years I still very much write my blog and create my designs for my own personal pleasure and need.

You design beautiful blankets. For someone who has never seen any of your fabulous makes before, which would be your top 3 to begin their Attic24 journey?
I mainly design my blankets with new crocheters in mind, keeping the stitches pretty basic and creating full photo-heavy tutorials to help with pattern reading. The simplicity of my designs also makes my blankets into perfect projects for those who want to indulge in some therapeutic hooky time where you can lose yourself in the rhythmic stitches without having anything too complex to concentrate on. For those who are very new to crochet, I would suggest blankets that have repeating rows with very little counting involved – the Granny Stripe, the Hydgrangea Stripe or the Sweet Pea.

Designer Q & A Attic24 | Black Sheep Wools

Photography is a huge part of your blog and has been from the very beginning. Would you say that photography is an important part of your creative process? Do you take inspiration from what you have snapped?
Yes, yes, yes, I would absolutely say that photography is at the very heart of everything I do. Each and every one of my blog posts tells a story through photographs, and I always begin a post by uploading all the images in an order which makes sense to the inner dialogue running through my mind. The narrative comes afterwards.
My camera is one of my most valuable tools, allowing me to capture and record all sorts of things which may end up inspiring new designs or colour palettes. In fact most of my recent blanket designs have been inspired by nature, and it’s my photographs and visual observations which spark these creative ideas.

It’s always lovely to see your captivating photos of nature and the great outdoors. What is your favourite season?
Summer is my best favourite time of year, without a shadow of a doubt. I especially love very early summer (late May here in my patch) when we have those gloriously long, light days and all the greenery is back in the woods. Also flowers – summer flowers are a true delight and never fail to inspire me.

Floral Inspiration | Designer Q & A Attic24

Woodland Inspiration Attic24 | Black Sheep Wools

When you aren’t crocheting what other crafts / hobbies do you enjoy doing?
I learnt to knit as a child but hadn’t done much until a few years ago when I learnt to knit socks. I love having a pair of socks on the go alongside my crochet, it’s a different kind of a challenge for me and I get huge satisfaction from wearing socks that I’ve made myself. Plus self striping sock yarns are an addiction that I’m totally on board with!
I discovered the pleasure of modern cross stitch designs last year and that feels like a true hobby for me. I like being able to sit quietly and stitch without any other agenda, it’s just a beautiful way to relax and spend time.

Colour plays a huge part in your crochet, how do you settle on a colour palette?
When I was first crocheting, I would choose my colour palette by first selecting a yarn type, then going into a local yarn shop to gather together all the colours that made me happy. It was always a quick, simple, instinctive process and not something I ever gave a great deal of thought to.
These days I really enjoy having a story behind my colour palettes, and spend a long time thinking about the bigger picture and choosing colours that describe a particular season or place. Once I’ve decided on the theme, I visit and research, taking photographs and collecting natural materials (eg summer flowers, or autumn leaves and berries) which I use as my starting point for selecting colours. I then pull out my yarn pegs (simple wooden clothes pegs wrapped with yarn) to build up groups of colours which tell the story, arranging them and playing with them over many weeks until I’m happy with the overall balance. I then begin sampling, which often leads me to make one or two final adjustments with my colour choices – sometimes a collection of colours just doesn’t play out as you expect it to once you begin working up a pattern. I find I make emotional decisions about colours just as much as visual ones – I really do like to “feel” the colours somehow and always know when I’ve created a great colour palette because I feel like I want to cry (it sounds soppy, but it really is that intense!)

What inspires a new design? Colour or crochet stitch? What is your creative process?
This is a really interesting question, and I’ve talked a little bit about my creative process of choosing colours in the question above.
It’s always the colour choices which come first for me, although I’ve often got a vague idea of a stitch pattern at by the time I come to select the colours. I try and think about my story and what I’m attempting to convey with my colours, and then think about a crochet stitch or pattern that will work best to do the job. For example, in my Moorland blanket, I chose the colours to describe the feeling of walking across the high Yorkshire moors in Summer when the heather is blooming. I immediately thought of using a wave stitch to describe the gentle undulations of a long distance landscape, with very successful results.

Designer Q & A Attic24 | Black Sheep Wools

Do you have a favourite shade of Stylecraft Special DK? If so, what is it?
My favourite shades of SSDK are the blue/green ones, echoes of sea and sky. Duck Egg, Cloud Blue, Storm Blue, Sage and Lincoln. I adore these shades and am naturally drawn to include them in my blankets whenever I can.
Interestingly, the colour which is used the most in my blankets is Meadow – I don’t think it’s a beautiful green on it’s own, but it’s wonderful as a mid tone green amongst other colours, especially those ones which are inspired by nature.

What is your go to crochet stitch pattern?
I don’t think I really have a go-to stitch, but I do really love creating stripes. I’ve been drawn back to the ripple stitch many times over the years (I think I’ve made 7 ripples blankets in total) so maybe that would be the one.

Brights or pastels?
I would have to say brights as I am instinctively drawn to them. Bright, vibrant colours make me feel good and I love to use them in my designs.
I’m discovering a new love for softer colours though, and my next project uses quite a muted colour palette (inspired by nature) which is unusual for me. I’ll be interested to see what everyone makes of it!

Do you have a favourite place to crochet?
I pretty much crochet wherever I am and am used to taking my crochet out and about with me. I adore crocheting outside in the Summer when I’ve got a beautiful view to gaze at (crocheting on the beach is a favourite). But I also love to cosy up beside our open fire in the cold months of the year.

Attic24 | Black Sheep Wools

What are your crochet plans for 2019? Are there any cryptic clues you can share?
I don’t tend to plan all that far ahead, but I can tell you some of the things that I’ve got lined up. I’m working on a new blanket right now which will be ready to share in the Spring. I’ve chosen the colours and am in the sampling stage for the stitch pattern – I’m very excited to begin on a new blanket journey.
I’m thrilled to be heading abroad in April and May to teach on two Stitchtopia crochet retreats in the French Alps. The retreats will be focusing on circles of colour – I’ll be creating some new mandala designs as a way of teaching some yarn-based colour theory, including how to find inspiration for colour palettes and how to use them for crochet projects.
Beyond that I’m not sure what I’ll be working on – I’ve always got lots of ideas bubbling for smaller projects, oh and in July I’ll be planning and choosing colours for my next annual crochet-a-long blanket…….I’ve already got an idea for a theme, but I can’t tell you just yet!

What direction do you see crochet going in the next 5 to 10 years?
Do you know what, I would be so, so happy if my own personal direction didn’t change too much in the next decade as I’m enjoying myself so much right now. I love the balance of my creative life, getting to crochet, design and write at a pace which suits me. I am very much a “go with the flow” type of person and don’t tend to plan much or have any great ambitions for the future. I love the luxury of living in the moment wherever possible, enjoying each day as it comes.
As for the direction of crochet in general, I hope that the increase in popularity continues. I’ve seen a massive change in the decade since I started, and I think this is mainly down to the huge variety of yarns (and colours) that we now have at our fingertips. I would love to see more affordable natural yarns (wool, cotton, linen, bamboo) coming in a large range of beautiful colours – it would be amazing to crochet a gloriously colourful natural fibre blanket in a yarn that doesn’t break the bank!

We can’t wait for you to visit the Craft Barn on 16th March. Are you looking forward to coming and spending time with us in store?
Yes, I really am looking forward to it, I can’t wait to experience the famous Craft Barn! I don’t get out that much you know, spending most of my days working alone either at home or in my studio. So it’s always exciting to tiptoe out of my Attic every so often and meet with other like minded people. And if there is yarn to stroke and cake to eat, well I consider that a very, very good day out indeed!

Read Attic24 blog here.

 

Sara crochets a Rainboom MAL

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 01-03-2019

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Sara couldn’t resist picking up a playful box of Scheepjes Stone Washed and River Washed cutie pie mini balls when she saw the new Rainboom MAL by Miss Neriss. This project is called a Make A Long (MAL) by Scheepjes, to be a project that everyone can work on together and share their progress as they go. Share your progress in the Official Scheepjes Facebook group.
The box has recently been revamped with 8 new shades added. There are now a total of 58 mini 10g balls in the pack to enjoy. The Rainboom shawl by Miss Neriss is made using every single ball in the pack, complete with a mesmerising fringe using all of the left over pieces.

Watch Sara talking in the video below about starting the crocheted shawl.

Take a peek at the beginning of Sara’s Rainboom MAL shawl. The way the shawl is worked, going through all of the shades is just so pleasing on the eye.

Rainboom MAL by Miss Neriss | Black Sheep Wools

Sara has now completed the shawl and is chatting about her progress in the video below.

Sara’s top tip for making the fringing is to wrap the yarn around the Scheepjes box the mini balls came in. This is approximately 35cm tall and the fringe needs to be between 30cm and 40cm. It is a good way of getting all of your fringe the same length all in one go.

Rainboom MAL | Black Sheep Wools

Here it is, the finished Scheepjes Rainboom shawl by Miss Neriss. Watch Sara as she works out different ways to wear this fabulous shawl!

Take a closer look at the shawl below. It really is a rainbow of colour.

Scheepjes Rainboom MAL | Black Sheep Wools

 

Black Sheep Boutique – Cherry Heart

Posted by Amy | Posted in Black Sheep Boutique | Posted on 21-09-2018

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Introducing Black Sheep Boutique….. A cosy corner of our website where you will find a personalised boutique for a curated selection of knitting and crochet designers. Each designer will have there own page featuring their own colour packs, patterns and designs. See a friendly face, along with a little info written by the designer about themselves, including the types of designs you should expect to see from them. Over the years as a company we have made some fantastic friends in the knitting and crochet world. Opening up Black Sheep Boutique is our way of showcasing the talents of a rather exceptional bunch of designers. When you purchase a colour pack you may not always know the origin of that particular design, who designed it? Do they do anything else in a similar style? Browsing through Black Sheep Boutique, you will be able to find more from your favourite designer and work your way through all of their incredible projects. To start off we are announcing just one designer. Over the next few months we will gradually add more designers to the Boutique. Keep an eye out here on the blog for more names being revealed soon.

For the grand opening of Black Sheep Boutique we are very happy to announce our first designer – Cherry Heart. Sandra is the mastermind behind the amazing Spice of Life and A Spicier Life crochet along blankets. We have enjoyed working with Sandra over the years on the Crochet Alongs and have huge admiration for all of her creations. It is always a pleasure reading what she is up to on her blog. We spoke to Sandra to find out what she is been making recently and how she feels about being part of the Black Sheep Boutique.

We are so happy that you have chosen to be part of our Black Sheep Boutique. What does it mean for you to be part of this new venture?
Thank you, I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of it!  It’s all a little surreal in many ways as I never would have imagined this was possible when I started my blog so long ago.  It’s the very best and wonderful kind of surreal though, a bit of a dream come true really.

Black Sheep Boutique - Cherry Heart

What inspired you to start designing fabulous crochet projects?
I think it began from searching existing patterns and not being able to find exactly what I wanted.  I’d find great patterns but then want to tinker or change an element or two and then before I knew it the tinkering had turned into making from scratch.

Forget Me Not Dots Blanket

You have designed so many fabulous blankets over the years and we are pleased to have many of them in our Cherry Heart Boutique. Which would you say is your favourite or one that holds a special place in your heart?
That would have to be my Painted Roses blanket.  It was one of the designs that came together exactly as I had intended and I love how versatile it is.  I’ve made two versions, both of which I love and yet look so different. (Painted Roses blanket coming soon to the Boutique)

Cherry Heart

How do you come up with such harmonious colour palettes?
Mostly I just play with colours until I find the combinations that please me most but sometimes inspiration comes from elsewhere, fabric patterns, interiors, or just being outdoors.

Black Sheep Boutique - Cherry Heart

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
A lot of time I’m inspired by colour.  Certain colour combinations will often spark off an idea, other times it might be patterns or designs I see around me.  The pattern on a china plate, the tiles on a building maybe. It can be the strangest things!

Do you ever take a break from crochet and knitting to enjoy other crafts?
Less often than I used to now just because of time constraints but I enjoying sewing a lot and have been known to dabble in embroidery, cross stitch and I have a weaving loom too!

Black Sheep Wools - Cherry Heart

Have you tried any new yarns lately? Is there anything that has really caught your eye?
I’ve been working with the new Bambino and Bellissima yarn by Stylecraft quite a bit lately and I have to say it’s a bit of a winner.  It’s an acrylic yarn but it feels so luxurious and so soft and bouncy, it’s a real joy to use.

What is your go to crochet stitch pattern / motif? If you could just choose one.
Oooh, that’s a tricky one!  I guess I would have to go the good old granny, it’s so simple and yet so versatile, it’s hard to beat really.  If I was allowed two I’d go for cluster stitches as well, I use those a lot.

Black Sheep Boutique - Cherry Heart

Do you still find time to crochet / knit for yourself in between designing?
Yes, I kind of make it a priority to make sure I continue to work on things for myself, most of my designs come about because it’s something I wanted!  I find it very hard to design things unless I could see myself wearing or wanting the finished project.

We always love seeing your latest designs and can’t wait to add more of your projects into the Black Sheep Boutique. What are your future crochet plans?
I’m always saying that I want to get a garment pattern published.  I’ve designed a few garments now, but haven’t quite been brave enough to release any patterns yet.  It’s definitely something I want to do though.

 

Autumn Events at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 17-08-2018

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A few dates for your diary folks! When you see what we have planned for the autumn, you will want to cancel all of your plans and gather your crafty friends for a trip to the Craft Barn in Warrington. Without further ado…..

Rowan Yarn Tasting Day
Saturday 1st September 2018 | 9am – 5pm | Free to attend

On Saturday 1st September we will be holding a Rowan yarn tasting day in our fabulous Rowan Flagship area in store. Celebrating all of the new yarns and publications for autumn winter, come along and try the yarns, have a glass of bubbly and a natter to our Rowan Consultant Melanie about the new launches. There will be 10% off Rowan yarns on the day (in store only).

Scheepjes Day – Ubuntu Launch Party!
Saturday 8th September 2018 | 9am – 5pm | Free to attend

We are having an Ubuntu Launch Party! Come along to Black Sheep Wools on Saturday 8th September and meet two of Scheepjes most inspirational bloggers, Look At What I Have Made & Lilla Bjorn. Have a glass of bubbly and help us celebrate the launch of the new Scheepjes crochet along, the Ubuntu CAL. Make a friendship bracelet at our drop-in craft table and leave it for a new friend on our friendship tree, all to celebrate Ubuntu! The first 50 customers to spend over £25 will receive a Scheepjes goody bag!

Pop – Up Shop with Siobhan’s Crafts
Saturday 15th  and Sunday 16th September 2018 | 9am – 5pm

Indie yarn dyer Siobhan’s Crafts will be back with her colourful wares for sale in store. Find delicious hand dyed hanks of wonder! Take a look at her Instagram to tickle your taste buds.

*There will be more pop-up shops from other indie dyers coming up this autumn too. Watch this space!

Rowan 40th Anniversary Party + Special Guests
Saturday 6th October 2018 | 11.30am – 4pm | Free to attend

World famous Scandinavian knitting superstars Arne and Carlos will be at the Craft Barn to celebrate Rowan’s 40th anniversary on Saturday 6th October. It is set to be a fun-filled birthday party with cake, yarn and balloons galore! Join us for a fabulous fashion show celebrating the history of Rowan in its 40th anniversary year. From its very earliest beginnings all the way up to present day, there are garments from every era to delight and inspire the Rowan fans who have loyally supported the brand for the last 40 years. More details on fashion show times to follow on here soon.

Dee Hardwicke Designer Trunk Show
Friday 23rd November 2018 | 3pm – 5pm | Free to attend

Meet the artist, designer and author, Dee Hardwicke, as Dee celebrates the publication of her latest book, Colourwork Knits: 12 Hand Knit Designs Inspired by Nature. The book features Dee’s debut knitwear collection, and follows on from the success of Dee’s previous book, A Story in Yarn: How to Design and Knit an Intarsia Heirloom Quilt. Dee will be signing copies of both books, and this event will be a unique opportunity to see some of the original watercolour sketches, templates and knitted swatches behind Dee’s beautiful designs. Dee will also be on-hand to talk about her inspiration and to help you select palettes for your own quilt or knitwear projects based on the stunning collection of Rowan yarns to be found at Black Sheep Wools. You’re bound to feel completely inspired to pick up your knitting needles!

 

 

Yarn Shop Day 2018

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 18-05-2018

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We had a magnificent day at the Craft Barn on Saturday for Let’s Knit Yarn Shop Day 2018. There was all sorts going on in store. Emma Varnam was surrounded by colourful crocheted delights teaching mini crochet classes, Christine Perry (Winwick Mum) shared her top tips on sock knitting, Melanie Boocock (our Rowan Consultant) taught customers to knit and Debbie Tomkies filled the workshop room with a rainbow of colour showcasing her dyeing skills. Thank you so much to all of our special guests for making the day so fabulous!

If you couldn’t make it to the Craft Barn, we hope you managed to visit your local yarn store. There aren’t as many of us around these days and that’s what is so good about Yarn Shop Day, showing the love for your local bricks and mortar yarn store.
There is something so wonderful about entering the Craft Barn full to the brim of irresistible squishy balls of yarn. Your creative juices are ignited and your yarn stash wish list begins to increase before your very eyes. It is a place to meet fellow knitters and crocheters, chat to our super talented staff who are able help out with planning your next project or solving a knit or crochet puzzle and generally immerse yourself with inspiration from every angle.

On the day Emma Varnam and Christine Perry took over our Instagram account to share Yarn Shop Day through their eyes. Here are some of the photos below. There was a glass of Prosecco for everyone, Stylecraft goody bags and fab raffle prizes too.

Yarn Shop Day 2018 | Black Sheep Craft Barn

Emma Varnam brought in all of her Cute Crocheted Animals to visit for the day.

Winwick Mum ready for sock knitting!

Debbie Tomkies brought an array of fabulous hand dyed hanks to showcase the incredible shades you can create.

Yarn Shop Day 2018

I hope you don’t mind Christine, but I have taken this shot from your blog. A great photo of Melanie in action teaching a group of ladies how to get started knitting.

Pop on over to Emma’s blog to read her run down of the day and Winwick Mum‘s too. They have both written lovely posts about their day.

We hope to see you again next year!

Three Crochet Borders

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet Essentials | Posted on 27-04-2018

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Finding a crochet border that is just right can be quite the task. Sometimes you might want to go bold with an elaborate, detailed edge or maybe let the blanket do the talking and keep it low key. Whatever the project may be that you are adding an edging to, a blanket, shawl or garment, the finished article must be considered.
To help narrow down your search we have three easy to follow edging ideas to add that finishing touch to your crochet or knitting for that matter. It can be nice to combine knitting and crochet by adding a delicate crochet border to a knitted item, this can look really effective on a knitted blanket.

We asked three Crochet Bloggers / Designers to share their go to crochet borders – Emma Varnam, Sandra Paul (Cherry Heart) and Lynne Rowe. Quite the bunch of talented crocheters with a string of books and must have designs between them.

All of the sample below are crocheted in Scheepjes Softfun yarn.

Emma Varnam – Crochet Border

 

Emma Varnam is a good friend of Black Sheep Wools. She has a selection of crochet books including Learn to Crochet for the complete beginner and has recently designed an amazing exclusive blanket design in Scheepjes River Washed & Stone Washed mini balls. Emma will also be with us for Yarn Shop day on 12th May sharing her crochet skills.

Emma says –
I can’t deny it, a shell edging is perhaps my most favourite and ultimately pretty finishing touch to any project. I have used it many times in my designs and it will provide a touch of finesse to your crochet blankets.
I used this technique in my new book; Granny Squares Home. A simple bathroom tidy is finished off with a shell edging, both practical and attractive. A shell is made by working several stitches into a single stitch. In order to keep the rest of your work flat, you need to miss one or more base stitches in the row below.
In the example I have made.

Shell Crochet Border Pattern

Make a slip stitch into the first stitch of your edge.
Miss 1 stitch.
Work 5 treble stitches into the next stitch
Miss 1 stitch.
Slip stitch in the next stitch to create the shell.
Repeat along the edge.
At the corner you can work 7 treble stitches to great effect.

 

Three Crochet Borders | Black Sheep Wools

 

Sandra Paul – Crochet Border

 

We have been working with Sandra for many years now. It all began with the celebrated Spice of Life crochet along blanket back in 2015. We then collaborated once again in autumn last year for a Spicier Life CAL. Sandra posts regular podcasts alongside writing for her blog. Follow her Instagram too she is always teasing something new!

Lacy Crochet Border Pattern

Sandra says –
I quite like this one because it’s a really simple little pattern but it works with lots of projects because the stitch repeat is so small and even though it’s a nice easy, it still looks really pretty and lacy.

I like to use it on smaller blanket projects, it works well on small baby blankets, or for potholders and mandala edgings.  It makes a really pretty edging on fabric too, like table cloths and clothes.

 

This will work with a standard or solid granny square or any motif with a st count which is a multiple of 2 +1 along each side.
Round 1: Starting in a corner space: 3 dc in each corner, 1dc in each st and side sp.
Round 2: sl st to middle dc of 3corner dc’s, *3ch, skip 1, sl st in next st, repeat from * around to 1 stitch from start, 1ch, skip 1, 1htr in starting st.
Round 3: *3ch, sl st into next ch sp, repeat from * around to start, end with sl st into top of htr from the round below.
Three Crochet Borders | Black Sheep Wools

Lynne Rowe – Crochet Border

Lynne Rowe has her own knitting and crochet books, is a pattern tech editor and teaches workshops. She will be at the Craft Barn on 21st July teaching ‘Writing the perfect pattern’ for anyone who fancies writing their own knitting or crochet patterns.

Lynne says –
Sometimes, less is more, and when you’ve crocheted a simple granny square blanket, the best way to finish it off is to add a simple edging that complements both the colours and stitch patterns used.

One of my favourite edgings to finish off a cosy blanket, is this pretty scalloped edging which uses basic crochet stitches, including treble crochet, half treble crochet, double crochet, slip stitch and chains.

Scalloped Crochet Border Pattern

Abbreviations:
ch, chain; sl st, slip stitch; dc, double crochet, htr, half treble crochet; tr, treble crochet.

Step 1: Make your Granny Square blanket, in either a single colour, or multi-colours.
Step 2: After working the final round of your blanket, fasten off. Weave in all ends.
Step 3: Round 1 of edging: Join Yarn A with a sl st to any corner, ch3 (counts as first tr), 4tr in same corner space, *work 1tr in every tr and 1tr in every space between groups of 3tr, to the next corner space, 5tr in corner space*; repeat from * to * twice more, then work 1tr in every tr and 1tr in every space between groups of 3tr, to end, sl st to the top of beginning 3ch to join. Cut yarn and fasten off.
You will now have 1 tr in every stitch, 1 tr in the gaps between the groups of 3tr, plus 5 tr in each corner.
Step 4: Round 2 of edging: Join Yarn B with a sl st, to any tr that was worked in the space between groups of 3tr, *5ch, skip next 3 tr, sl st in next tr; repeat from * to last 3 tr, 5ch, skip next 3 tr, sl st in base of beginning 5ch. Cut yarn and fasten off.
After working Round 2 of edging you will have a series of 5ch loops all around your blanket, with a 5ch loop sitting neatly across each corner.
Step 5: Round 3 of edging: Join Yarn A with a sl st to any 5ch space, 1ch (not counted as a st) *work [1dc, 1htr, 1tr, 2ch, 1tr, 1htr, 1dc] all in 5ch space (working over the 5ch loop and not into any individual sts); repeat from *, in every 5ch space to the end, sl st in first dc. Cut yarn and fasten off.
After working Round 3 of edging, you will have a scallop in each 5ch loop.

To finish:
Weave in all ends and if desired, block your blanket as follows: spray with cold water until damp, pin
out flat to measurements required and keeping edging flat. Leave to dry completely.

Three Crochet Borders | Black Sheep Wools

 

Finished Spicier Life Blankets

Posted by Amy | Posted in Crochet | Posted on 23-02-2018

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In September 2017 we launched the Spicier Life Crochet Along. This spectacular blanket was designed by crochet sensation, Sandra Paul, aka Cherry Heart. A Spicier Life blanket was a follow on blanket to the original Spice of Life. Sandra used new stitches in a sampler style with the idea that the two blankets will look harmonious displayed together. India was the inspiration for her design and rich, evocative colour palettes – Jaipur, Bollywood and Taj Mahal.

Spicier Life CAL Blankets | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Whilst the CAL was running we set up A Spicier Life Crochet Along Facebook group, which now has almost 9,000 members. Soooo if everyone who is in the group has made at least one Spicier Life blanket……. that’s A LOT of blankets. It is safe to say, it is a very popular crochet along project. All of the patterns are still available via our website should your crochet hook be twitching with inspiration after reading this post.

We have gathered together a selection of Spicier Life blankets from the group, ones sent in by customers and staff. It is interesting to see whether people chose one of Sandra’s packs to make the blanket, with yarn from their stash or a colourway of their own.

If you do make a blanket and share it on social media make sure you include #spicierlifecal. It is always a treat to see new blankets popping up.

Black Sheep Lucy enjoyed making the blanket using Debbie Bliss Rialto DKJaipur colour pack with a few shade adjustments to match her living room. The yarn gives lovely stitch definition and is so springy.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

We found this blanket in the group. A crocheter called, Valerie has used left over yarn from her first 2 Spicier Life blankets. Soft, pretty shades with subtle transitions.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Shades of green and purple in this blanket work so well together, this one is by Alexis.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Spotted this one on the group for its vibrant colour combination, by Louise. Made with various yarns from her stash.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

A customer called Hazel has opted for one colour, made in Scheepjes Stonewashed XL. Using just one shade allows the texture to really shine through.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Sharon shared a photo of her Taj Mahal blanket in Stylecraft Special DK.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Steph has used a variety of tonal autumnal shades.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Lisa’s choice of pastels is so striking. All of these shades are Stylecraft Special DK.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Bold blocks of blues in this blanket by Susan.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart

Carol took a nice outdoor photo of her Bollywood Spicier Life blanket in Stylecraft Special DK.

Spicier Life CAL Blanket | Black Sheep Wools | Cherry Heart