May 22nd, 2015

Shaping Your Knits with Increases and Decreases

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When I taught my oldest son to knit, he got the basic knit and purl stitches down and one day we sat together, knitting (believe me, this happened maybe twice) and he saw me do a series of decreases to make a raglan sleeve. Just like that, he was fascinated, and spent the next six months increasing and decreasing a ratty piece of knitting that he kept in my knitting bag.

I can understand his amazement at how simply increasing or decreasing stitches can make a round shape out of a square swatch. I can never remember, however, which increases slant right or left, which decreases should be done in the center of a row, as opposed to a few stitches from the edge, and what to do when faced with the pattern instruction, “PFB twice in one stitch, turn, k2 bobble stitches, turn, and work p2tog, p2tog tbl, pass decrease.” WHAT?

Increase Decrease - available now at yarn.com

The guidebook for the 21st-century knitter is the newest book from Storey Publishing, Increase Decrease: 99 Step-by-Step Methods by Judith Durant. Judith has edited all the “One-Skein Wonders” books made so popular by Storey, so I know she’s a fount of knitting knowledge. Increase Decrease has the best possible construction for a craft book: a spiral binding so that the book lays flat while you try out all those irresistible new ways of shaping your knits. Judith gives readers the topology of the increase or decrease, and at the same time, she lets you know what it’s best use is. Single increases and decreases work well for knit/purl stitch patterns, while Yarnover Multiple Increases tend to be best used in a lacy garment as they show up as openwork. Twist-and-Hide Decreases are great for garments with a twisted-stitch pattern where you want to hide the decrease. Some increases and decreases show up on both the knit and purl sides, some are completely hidden, and many of the double increases and decreases can be used for knitting that is shaped on two sides at once.

Increase Decrease by Judith Durant - available now at yarn.com

Increase Decrease also gives you “something special” extra-credit reading, with Increases and Decreases for Decorative Effect, such as bobbles, ruching, closed-ring cables, or lace. There are even increases and decreases for colorwork! Like all those great craft books from Storey, there is a list of common abbreviations, and symbols that you’ll see in charted knitting, as well as a very thorough index.

Much like it’s sister book, Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor, I’m pretty sure I’ll be carrying this book in my knitting bag for any project I’ll start.

May 21st, 2015

Made to Border – Exploring Cables with Fiona Ellis

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It’s no secret that I am a big fan of cable patterns, and ever since my designs were first published (1999) I have been exploring creative ways to update the classics.

Exploring cables with Fiona Ellis on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

I have long held the notion that maybe cables don’t have to be strictly vertical in placement with the same row pattern being repeated over and over. Maybe they can change, or morph, into new patterning so that they appear to determine their own path through the garment piece. I have played with this notion a lot over the years – Made to Border is my latest in this series of what I call “morphing cables” designs.

Along the way I have designed patterns where the cable gets wider and wider until it forms a yoke, attached I-cords to give the appearance of the cables beginning outside of the fabric piece, cables that have just given up and become simple stockinette, or ones that extend beyond a hemline or have parts cut away. The idea is always to make it look deliberate, rather than something odd happening because the knitter forgot to follow the pattern. In order to achieve this look I have found that each section has to relate to each other rather than simply introducing (in the words of Monty Python) “something completely different”.

What this means for the knitter is that there is often a complete change of pace part way through a garment, which I hope makes for interesting knitting – a carrot being dangled as it were. Of course there is a comfort to a learned pattern being repeated over and over, but sometimes we want something a little more challenging or to break up the regularity. The downside is that the charts for this type of patterning can be large and somewhat daunting at first glance. But they always build on the patterning that you have already worked (remember Monty Python), so when you do reach the point of change it seems like a natural progression.

Exploring cables with Fiona Ellis, Made to Border, on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

In Made to Border I have lightened the overall look of the cabled garment by adding lacy elements. Nestled in between the lace are simple rope cables, which slowly begin a journey through the piece, first defining the border and then playfully diminishing in size, before finally becoming the simple rope once again. The lacy element comes along for the ride by being reintroduced in the center of each diamond shape. The cardigan is edged with an elegant attached I-cord, which you will know from my earlier posts is a personal favourite in combination with cables, but is also a minimal finishing look which doesn’t detract from the cables within the piece.

I hope that you have as much fun knitting this project as I had designing it! If you would like to hear more about what inspires me please join me on my website where I post on a new theme on the 9th of each month – I call it On-line, On-nine.

Happy cabling!

May 16th, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! 401: LIVE From the Tent Sale!

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This week we’re Live from the Tent Sale! Get a peek at what’s going on at the Tent Sale and find out what Steve brought in special just for this weekend.

Ready, Set, Knit! episode 401 - LIVE from the Annual Tent Sale - listen now at blog.yarn.com

Fleece Market Vendors
Whispering Winds Alpaca Farm
Rag Hill Farm
Moonshine Design
Stitched by Jessalu
Woollies of Shirkshire Farm
Red Barn Alpacas
Barberic Farm
Foxfire Fiber & Designs
Leyden Glen Farm
Artemisia Ink Studio Arts
The Stonehill Farm
Winterberry Farm

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:
MJ Yarns Simple Sock
Bijou Basin Ranch Bijou Spun Bijou Bliss
Opal Cotton Premium 2015
Cascade Eco+ (Anniversary Sale)
Sirdar Snuggly DK (Anniversary Sale)

Upcoming Events:

I-91 Shop Hop is coming June 25th through June 28th – get your passport now!

Classic Elite Yarns Trunk shows are ongoing and there’s always something new to see! Stop by the store to see what’s on display.

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Right click or CTRL+click and Save As to download the MP3 of this Podcast Subscribe to Ready, Set, Knit! in iTunes Subscribe to the Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast RSS Feed

May 15th, 2015

Resources for the Visual Learners

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Greetings from the Weaving Room! My education as a fiber artisan has included a mix of classes and books. I love books (my mother was a librarian, after all) and I’m one of those odd birds who actually reads owners manuals. I can work my way through the descriptions and instructions at my own pace, stopping to try things out and taking inspiration from the gorgeous photos.

However, I know from my experience in classes that watching someone else’s hands demonstrate techniques increases my learning exponentially. Unfortunately, I don’t get to flit from conference to workshop gorging on the educational smorgasbord. And sometimes I just need a refresher or a close up of one specific piece of the process. So it’s off to the interwebs to find what I need.

I don’t even have to go far, because WEBS has its own YouTube channel with great videos of weaving techniques (knitters, crocheters, spinners, etc, can find video tutorials for their technique as well). Feeling hesitant about warping back to front? Watch Barbara Elkins, WEBS founder, walk you through it step by step.

Want to learn to step up your skills and learn to hemstitch your pieces on the loom? Check out this great hands on demo with yours truly.

Videos are a great way to see exactly what the hands are doing, with the added benefit of being able to pause, rewind and go through it again as you work on your own loom. We are adding to our resource library of weaving videos all the time. Coming soon – how to wind a warp with Barbara Elkins, a tutorial that not only shows the basics, but talks about how to place the cross according the the dimensions of your loom, how to wind with two threads at a time, and many other useful tips.

Technique videos are like having a personal coach to help you succeed and I encourage you to use them to up your game. As we continue to build our library, what would you like to see demonstrated?

May 14th, 2015

WEBS Mystery Blanket KAL and CAL- Square Four

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Are you ready for our last square?

Do you have 27 finished squares from FebruaryMarch, and April? No need to stress if you don’t! Take this project at your own pace and pull all the pieces together on a timeline that works for you.

Crocheters: Crocodile Stitch is the name of the game for this square! With a square that is worked on the bias from one corner to the next, we’ll work half the square in crocodile stitch and finish off with alternating double and single crochet.

Crocodile Stitch

The pattern can be downloaded here (FREE). Did you know there’s a playlist for the full Crochet-A-Long and all the techniques on Youtube? (Keep in mind that our techniques videos are NOT the pattern! These videos are here to help you understand the techniques featured in our patterns, please refer to your pattern for specifics.)

KnittersThis square is all about texture! We’re creating an undulating chevron with knits and purls, broken by embossed sections created with simple increases and decreases. There are no new stitches in this square (yay!), but here a few tutorial to remind you of the less common techniques.

Make 1 Purl stitches

And Make 1 Knit stitches.

Purling multiple stitches together

Don’t forget, we have a playlist for the Knit-A-Long blanket on Youtube to make it all easier (Please note that our techniques videos are NOT the patterns! These videos are here to help you understand the featured techniques, but you’ll need to refer to your pattern for specifics.), and all the squares can be found here.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and tell us about your progress! You can do that here, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Ravelry, or post pictures of your progress on Instagram and tag them with #WEBSMKAL or #WEBSMCAL

Next month we’ll put it all together!

May 13th, 2015

What to Wear This Summer

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If you’ve been to the store within the last month, you’ve seen many new warm weather store samples. For those of you who haven’t visited lately, I want to share some of these spring and summer knits with you. Store employees are modelling their favorite garments of the season.

Spring and Summer knits at WEBS, read more on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

Here’s Alyssa modeling the Irokata Tee knit in Plymouth Linaza. This yarn is new this season and contains alpaca, linen and tencel, creating a sultry fabric that drapes with ease. This tunic features thoughtful details and Alyssa likes the shaping that flatters all body types.

Spring and Summer knits at WEBS - Irokata Tee in Plymouth Linaza, read more on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

Our Education Manager Amy (formerly a store employee) is rocking the ever-popular Featherweight Cardigan. Our version is knit with Fibre Co. Meadow, a pleasing blend of merino, baby llama, silk and linen which we carry in 15 colorways. The combination of these fibers make the perfect cover up in overly air conditioned restaurants and theaters.

Spring and Summer knits at WEBS - Featherweight Cardigan in Fibre Co. Meadow, read more on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

Meg is wearing a sleeveless top  in Sesia Kreo. This 100% cotton yarn is requires a close up look. It’s chainette-constructed, meaning there are lots of tiny strands worked into a tube, which gives Kreo a weightlessness that most cottons can’t boast about. And the strands are subtly dyed which provides the yarn with a warm depth of tone. Meg says Sesia is next-to-the skin soft and easy to wear with a pair of jeans. She also loves the range of colors available.

Spring and Summer knits at WEBS -Women's Shell in Sesia Kreo, read more on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

One of our Assistant Managers, Bonnie, has fallen for Tahki’s Philadelphia Duster in their popular yarn Ripple. The thick and thin texture of this 100% cotton yarn gives the garment a light, airy texture, making a perfect coverup for cool evenings. Bonnie loves the mid-thigh length and the short sleeves.

Spring and Summer knits at WEBS -The Philadelphia Duster in Tahki Yarns Ripple, read more on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

This next top has become the the most-admired sample in the store.  Worn by our second Assistant Manager Beth, Shibui’s Slope is flattering, stylish and timeless all at the same time. Shown in Shibui Twig, this cool and comfortable shell is perfect over a t-shirt, tank or camisole. Beth says she’d wear it with jeans and flats or dress it up with a skirt and heels. Either way, this beauty is sure to become a warm weather go-to garment.

Spring and Summer knits at WEBS -Slope in Shibui Twig, read more on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

Michele sports another Shibui favorite. Shibui Square is knit with a combination of Shibui yarns — Linen and Cima worked together. The side panel is an unexpected detail in this gorgeous piece. Michele loves the drape and lightness the fabric and says wearing this with jeans make the perfect pairing.

Spring and Summer knits at WEBS -Square in Shibui Linen and Cima, read more on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

So, what will you choose to enliven your summer wardrobe? I’ve got my eye on the Sesia Kreo sleeveless top and the Irokata Tee. And maybe Shibui Slope. Possibly Shibui Square. I’m not sure. But I do know that there’s not enough time in the day to knit all the things I like!

If you’re traveling anywhere up or down the East Coast, WEBS is on your way! Please come see us soon to check out what’s new.

Knit away!

May 12th, 2015

Tent Sale in just 4 days!

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We’ve been getting ready for weeks but like an ant’s nest that’s been kicked, all that activity has been below the surface until now! The Tent is going up and we’ll start filling it for you early on Saturday morning. Get here early for some of the best deals and to check out all the local vendors and shepherds at our Annual Fleece Market! And don’t forget that all of the great deals on the May Anniversary Sale Yarns will still be in effect as well as 20% off all in-stock spinning wheels and spinning supplies during Tent Sale. Will this be the year you FINALLY get to WEBS’ Tent Sale? or will this be your 14th visit? How many times have you made it?

The Annual Tent Sale at WEBS - America's Yarn Store, May 16th and 17th 2015. Will you be there? more info at yarn.com

May 10th, 2015

WEBS Mystery Blanket KAL and CAL- Just 4 days till the release of our last Square!

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Later this week we’ll reveal the final squares for our Mystery Knit-a-Long and Crochet-a-Long! We’ve had a great time sharing new techniques and stitches with you and it’s time to cruise to the finish line. No extra needles or tools are needles for this one!

WEBS Mystery Knit-a-Long and Crochet-a-Long Square #4 revealed on May 14th, 2015. Have you joined in yet? read more at blog.yarn.com

And don’t worry if you haven’t started yet, both projects are open for you to join in at ANY TIME! Check out the first Square here, the second Square here, the third Square here and be sure to pop into our Ravelry group and join the discussion.

May 8th, 2015

Jo Sharp Is Back!

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The first time I worked at WEBS (this is the third time I’ve worked at WEBS, just for the sake of context), I got to work with Jo Sharp to arrange a visit to the store. She did a talk about her designs and explained how those beautiful yarns got to be so beautiful.

And then, her yarns weren’t here.

Jo Sharp yarns and pattern PDFs available at yarn.com

And now, they’re back! And we’ve got them. It really was like meeting up with an old friend as I perused the neat balls in their side-by-side glass cubes in the place of honor in the store. Hello, Silkroad Aran Tweed–remember the fun we had when we made that hat and scarf for my kid? Why, howdy, DK Cotton.  Don’t take it personally, but I’m still passing you by. I love your squishy softness, but cotton is not my thing.  And…RRRROWWWRRR, Alpaca Kid Lustre. You are inspiring me in a major way. There is much I want to knit you up in.

Luckily, Jo and her team have sent tons of patterns for these classics. The Keyhole Vest in Alpaca Kid Lustre is going right onto my needles. The Tweed Cardigan is next. When I send my oldest off to the coldest college in the universe, I’d like him to have The Bistro Sweater packed into his suitcase to remind him that you can, too, knit love.

What would inspire you to revisit a much-loved yarn?

May 7th, 2015

Longmeadow featured in Twist Collective

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The Windley pullover from the Spring/Summer 2015 edition of Twist Collective is knit in our very own Valley Yarns Longmeadow in the bright, and sunny, melon colorway.

Windley from Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2015 issue knit in Valley Yarns Longmeadow - read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This perfect for summer pullover is worked in one piece from the top down with easy rolled hems, and a darling lace inset. With almost 20 colors of Longmeadow‘s cool cotton/mircofiber blend to choose from there’s sure to be a Windley in your future!