Black Sheep Boutique – Emma Varnam

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

Tags: , , ,


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

Knitted Borders

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting, Knitting Essentials | Posted on 01-05-2019

Tags: ,


Do you prefer adding knitted borders or a crochet border to your project? Very often when you have knitted a blanket, washcloth or any project really, you might want to finish it off with a border. If you are able to both knit and crochet, then you might opt to put down your knitting needles and get out a crochet hook to crochet an edging (if crochet is your thing then take a look at our crochet borders post). A good idea for some, but not everyone can crochet and sometimes that isn’t the effect that you want to achieve. Knitting can create such a different
There are occasions when a knitted edging must be considered before you begin as it is worked into the design as you go. Please be aware of this when you look at the selection we have to share in this knitted borders blog post.

We asked three designers to share a knitted border / edging that they enjoy using on knitted projects – Heike Gittens, Carol Meldrum and Graeme Knowles-Miller. They were all given two contrasting shades of Scheepjes Our Tribe to play with and these are the fabulous knitted borders they chose.

Heike Gittens – Knitted Border

Heike has worked on various projects with Black Sheep Wools over the years. She was our Blogger of the Month back in June 2014 and now teaches workshops at the Craft Barn. She also designs some gorgeous shawls. Pop over to her blog Made with Loops to find out more.

Heike says – 
There are two things that I frequently use in my designs, stripes and I-cord edgings. I love the versatility of the I-cord, as it can hide unsightly ends and finishes off a shawl or garment in neat and unfussy way.

I-Cord Border

In the swatch Heike sampled she cast on 45 stitches, this will vary depending on what you are knitting.

Cast on 45 stitches with the main colour and knit one row.
Row 1 (WS): With main colour knit to 3 stitches from end, slip 3 stitches with yarn in front (wyif).
Row 2 (RS): With contrast colour knit 3, then knit to end with main colour.
Row 3: With main colour knit to 3 stitches from end, with contrast colour slip 3 stitches wyif.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until swatch measure 15cm from cast on. Make sure to twist yarns to avoid holes.

I-cord cast off:
With RS facing and using contrast colour: *Knit 2, knit 2 together, slip 2 stitches back to left hand needle; repeat from * until all stitches have been cast off.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Knitted Border | Black Sheep Wools | I-Cord Edging

Graeme Knowles-Miller – Knitted Border

Graeme is a talented knitwear designer who we have previously interviewed here on the blog. He teaches workshops at the Craft Barn and has designed some incredible garments for baa ram ewe and many other yarn brands. We recently added an exclusive mitten kit to our website, designed by Graeme. Take a look at the Blå Votter Mittens.

Graeme says –
When working a Fair isle project it sometimes seems a waste to put a boring plain rib, and other times you don’t really want it to pull in at all but need a neat edge. This is the perfect time for one of my favourite knitting edges, corrugated ribbing. It is worked the same as any other ribbing but uses two or even three colours at once to give fantastically defined straight lines. When working a 1×1 as shown the blue is only ever knit and the white is purled, this means that there is no pull between the stitches providing a textured surface rather than the usual smooth stocking stitch. This edging looks so good it can even be used with the wrong-side facing out and looks just as good. 

Corrugated Ribbing Border

Row 1: *Knit 1 in color A, purl 1 in color B; rep from * to end.

Row 2: *Knit 1 in color B and purl 1 in color A; rep from * to end.

To work the same pattern in the round, repeat row 1.

Knitted Border | Black Sheep Wools

Carol Meldrum – Knitted Border

We have enjoyed having Carol Meldrum at the Craft Barn for many years now teaching a great selection of workshops. Carol also has a number of her own knitting and crochet books, including Freeform Crochet with Confidence. Last year we did a series of knitting how to videos with Carol that were featured on our YouTube channel and blog.

Carol says –
This neat little bobble edging is an easy way to add a spot of texture to your knitting.You simply pick up stitches along your chosen edge, work a few rows of knit, then make the bobbles and cast off at the same time. The bobbles can be spaced out by casting off more stitches before making the bobble, and you can change the size of the bobble by increasing the amount of times you knit into the front and back of the stitch -the more stitches you increase by the larger the bobble will be, but remember to take care when passing the stitches over and off your needles. It makes a great alternative to the picot cast off.

K knit
st(s) stitches
rep repeat
RS right side
WS wrong side
RHN right hand needle

Special Abbreviation
MB make bobble – Knit into the front and back of the next st 5 times,pass the first 5 loops on RHN over and off the first loop.

Bobble Edging

Pattern note
Bobble edging can be worked along any outer edge fabric.The edging is worked using a multiple of 3 sts. When picking up stitches to make the edging ensure that you use this multiple.If you want more space between your bobbles, pick up a multiple that matches your spacing.

With RS facing pick up and knit a multiple of 3 sts along chosen edge.
Rows 1 and 2: Knit to end.
On the next row, you will cast off and make a bobble at regular intervals.
Row 3 (WS):Cast off first st,*MB, pass rem loop on RHN over and off, cast off 2 sts, rep from * to end.
Fasten off.

Bobble Edging | Knitted Borders | Black Sheep Wools

We hope you find these knitted borders helpful additions to creating a decorative finish to your projects. If you do give them a go and are sharing your photo, remember to tag Black Sheep Wools on social media and include #blacksheepwools then we ca see how you got on.

Knitting a ZickZack Scarf

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting | Posted on 22-03-2019

Tags: ,


When Black Sheep Sara started knitting a ZickZack scarf earlier this year, she caused quite a stir on our Black Sheep Make-A-Long Facebook page. Sara had spotted this stylish scarf on a friends Instagram post and just had to cast it on the needles herself. Straight away she knew which yarn she fancied trying out on this zig zag striped scarf design. It had to be Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars yarn. Sara chose the shades Red Pots and Splash, quite the contrasting colour combination, but when knitted together they work beautifully.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf in Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars | Black Sheep Wools

The ZickZack scarf pattern is designed by Christy Kamm and is available free from Ravelry. It was published on Ravelry in 2014 so it has been around for many years and you could well be reading this having knitted one or two yourself.

Sara enjoyed knitting her ZickZack scarf and found the pattern really easy to follow. It was a great project to pick up and just know what comes next without having to concentrate too much. Watch Sara talking about knitting the scarf in the video below.

We shared a photo of Sara’s ZickZack scarf on our newsletter and Sara got lots of great comments from everyone. It wasn’t long before many knitters in our Facebook group had cast on too. Many people are half way through their ZickZack scarf, but we asked if anyone wanted to share a photo for this blog post. Take a look at how different this scarf can look when you combine varying stripey or plain yarns together.

ZickZack Scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Sara’s ZickZack scarf in Red Pots and Splash.

ZickZack scarf | BlackSheep Wools

Brenda – Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars – Worldgate & Saltaire.

ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Jean – Fyberspates – Peach Bellini and Peak District yarn for the contrast.

ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Jean – Stylecraft Head Over Heels – Red Pots and another shade which Jean didn’t keep the ball band.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Karen – Sirdar Baby Crofter 4ply.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Brenda – second scarf in Stylecraft Head Over Heels All Stars – Pool and Ossie.

Knitting a ZickZack scarf | Black Sheep Wools

Rosa – Sirdar Heart & Sole 4ply – yellow/green and pink/purple.

Have you knitted a ZickZack scarf? What yarns did you use?

Autumn Events at the Craft Barn

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

Tags: , , , ,


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!



Steeking Fair Isle

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

Tags: , , ,


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!



Yarn Shop Day 2018

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

Tags: , , , ,


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!

Men’s Knitting Patterns

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

Tags: , , ,


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.

How to cast off knitting?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 16-03-2018

Tags: , ,


How to cast off knitting can be done in more ways than one. It can vary depending on your project and the stitches you are knitting (is it a purl, is it a knit stitch). Don’t feel bamboozled though, generally you will need a standard two needle cast off to finish off your project beautifully. It is so satisfying to cast off that final stitch, sealing in your stitches to see a neatly cast off piece of knitting. A much needed addition to our collection of Knitting Essentials blog posts, after all if we are going to share how to start knitting, you need to know how to finish it.

We have put together a series of ‘how to cast off knitting’ videos with the help of designer and workshop tutor, Carol Meldrum. Carol is a super tutor who teaches knitting finishing techniques, crochet and many more knitting workshops. It only made sense for her expert knitting hands to share a couple of demonstrations with you all. Carol will cover two needle cast off, how to sort out a baggy cast off stitch, rib cast off and three needle cast off – great for shoulder seams on garments.

How to Cast Off | Black Sheep Wools

Keep up to date with Carol on her Instagram page, she also teaches on knitting holidays around the world. Along with pics of knitting, you will also be treated to some breath-taking scenery.

How to cast off knitting – Standard two needles


1) With right side facing, knit the first 2 stitches.

2) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on the right hand needle. (One at the bottom)

3) Lift the stitch over the second stitch on the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

4) Knit the next stitch on the left hand needle. You will now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat steps 2 to 4 until you have the last 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

6) Fasten off yarn, leaving a 15cm end. Insert the end through the last stitch and pull tight.

Fixing a baggy cast off stitch


Sometimes when you cast off the final stitch can look baggy. This is the first stitch from the previous row. Watch the video for this on Instagram.

1) To avoid getting a baggy end stitch, work the standard two needle cast off (steps 1 to 4) until you have 1 stitch on the right hand needle and 1 stitch on the left hand needle.

2) Slip stitch on right hand needle, back onto the left hand needle.

3) Insert right hand needle through the back (tbl) of the first stitch. Keep both stitches on the left hand needle.

4) Then insert right hand needle knit wise through the last stitch on the left hand needle.

5) Place the yarn around the right hand needle as normal and knit the 2 stitches together and slip both off the needle.

How to cast off knitting – Rib stitch


Depending on the pattern you are working you may have to cast off in rib. For this example we have used a 2×2 rib of 2 knit stitches, followed by 2 purl stitches.

Cast off using the two needle method in rib as follows:

1) With right side facing, knit the first two stitches.

2) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on right hand needle.

3) Lift the first stitch over the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

4) Knit the next stitch on the left hand needle – you will now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat steps 2 and 3 once more.

6) Bring yarn forward between the needles and purl the next stitch. You should now have 2 stitched on the right hand needle. Repeat steps 2 and 3 once more – you will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

7) Purl the next stitch on left needle, then repeat steps 2 and 3 again.

8) Continue to cast off in rib as set, following the knit and purl stitches from the row below. Remember to make sure your yarn is in the correct position for knit and purl stitches.

How to cast off knitting – Three needles / Two edges together


Three needle cast off is used to join to pieces of knitting together and will give a smooth firm seam. It is ideal for shoulder seams, why not give it a go next time you are finishing a garment?

1) Depending on the project, the cast off can be worked with either the wrong or right side facing. Here we have cast off with the right side facing.

2) You will need three needles for this cast off method.

3) With wrong side together, hold both needles facing in the same direction, in your left hand.

4) Insert the third needle knit wise through the first stitch on the front and back needles, and knit together. You will have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat step 4 once more, now there should be 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

6) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on the right hand needle.

7) Lift the stitch over the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

8) Repeat steps 4 to 7 until 1 stitch remains on right hand needle.

9) Fasten off yarn, leaving a 15cm end. Insert the end through the last stitch and pull tight.

Is there a technique that you would like to see covered on a how to video. Share you suggestions in the comments below.

Yarn used in examples is Scheepjes Softfun.

How to do mattress stitch?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 19-01-2018

Tags: ,


We asked superstar knitting designer Sarah Hatton to help us out with this knitting essentials how to – how to do mattress stitch? Sarah is an established designer who has been designing for many years and has incredible patterns featured in Rowan magazines and her own books. She also teaches knitting workshops and knows a thing or two about gin!
Whilst Sarah was in store teaching we took the opportunity to film a quick video on how to do mattress stitch. Sarah prepared two stocking stitch swatches (in Rowan Big Wool) to demonstrate the technique. Watch the video below or on our YouTube channel.

If you prefer to read the instructions, we have put together still images with our own text to guide you through this helpful finishing technique.

What is mattress stitch?

Mattress stitch is a joining method for two knitted pieces. It is most commonly used for joining two pieces of stocking stitch knitting. Fantastic for joining garments, giving you a practically invisible seam. Once you have got this sewing up skill under your belt, you will want to get that unfinished jumper finished pronto (note to self: get jumper finished!).

How to do mattress stitch

Line up your two pieces of knitting side by side with right side of work facing. Thread a length of yarn onto a sewing up needle and insert the needle under the first stitch at the bottom right of your knitted piece.

Mattress Stitch

Now move over to the left piece and insert the needle under the first stitch at the bottom or your work.

Mattress Stitch

Go back to the first stitch on the right and insert your needle and pull through to secure.

Mattress Stitch

Pull tight to secure, ready to begin the magic art of mattress stitch.

Moving to the left piece (green), insert needle under the first horizontal bar of the knitted row, then come back up with your needle leaving a gap of two bars in between. Move over to the right piece and do the same on the opposite side. There is no need to pull the stitches tight at this stage, leave it so that you can see a laced zig zag of sewing up yarn for the time being.

Mattress Stitch

Continue to swap from side to side matching the rows as you go. Once you have sewn up approximately 5cm – 10cm, gently pull the yarn you are sewing up with whilst holding the start of the seam and watch the two pieces of knitting marry together.
Once you reach the end of your knitted pieces sew in ends to finish off.

Mattress Stitch

What is your preferred seam for knitting? Do you find mattress stitch to be the best sewing up method?

Scheepjes Day at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 15-11-2017

Tags: , ,


To celebrate being a Scheepjes stockist we have a treat for you. Haak Maar Raak blogger, Kirsten, designer of the Hygge CAL and Look What I Made blogger, Dedri Uys, designer of Sophie’s Universe blanket will be in store for the day. Come along and chat to the designers, squish Scheepjes yarn and discover Dedri’s latest kit. There will be goody bags (first 50 customers who spend £20 or more on Scheepjes), raffle prizes and more! See you Saturday.