March 27th, 2015

The Blog Post About Yarn Weights

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I get so many questions about yarn weights. “What is worsted?” “Is fingering the same as sock yarn?” “What do you use super-bulky yarn for?” All great questions, and usually there is a well-defined answer to each one. Let’s explore the wonderful world of gauge together, shall we?

The Craft Yarn Council has a “Yarn Standards” chart on their website and it’s extremely helpful. They note that they’ve added a new “Jumbo” category on this chart, and while it’s interesting to note that many yarn companies are producing that kind of yarn, it’s not likely that you’ll knit all your projects in a Jumbo yarn.

Understanding yarn weights on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

Going from large to small, Bulky or Super Bulky yarns get a gauge of 3.5-2.5 stitches to the inch. Our Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky is an example of a bulky yarn, and it’s also a single-ply yarn, meaning it’s not twisted or chained in its construction. This gives it loft and lightness. It’s great for bigger projects like a warm jacket, a winter throw, or felted slippers.

Worsted-weight yarn will knit at a gauge of 4-5 stitches to the inch. This, to me, is a workhorse yarn, in the best possible way. You’ll see many patterns written for a worsted gauge, because almost anything can be made in it! Valley Yarns Colrain is a beautiful example of a worsted weight yarn, getting about 4.5 stitches to the inch on a size 7 needle for most folks.

A side note here: needle size is usually listed on yarn ball bands, as in “4.5 stitches to the inch on a size 7 needle” but what should be included on EVERY ball band after that sentence is “or size to obtain gauge.” I knit very loosely (go figure, I’m the most tightly-wound person out there), so I need to go down in needle size to get the intended gauge. Some folks are tight knitters and need to go up a size or two to get fewer stitches to the inch. That’s how gauge works, my friends.

DK stands for “Double Knitting” and it’s a bit of a puzzle to some knitters. They aren’t sure whether it’s bigger or smaller than worsted weight. The “double knitting” comes from an old yarn standard of plied yarn, where most worsted weight was about 4 plies and smaller weights were 8-plied, or doubled. This is a finer gauge, of about 5.25 to 6 stitches to the inch on a size 5-6 needle. Our Valley Yarns Longmeadow is a great example of a DK yarn.

Sport weight is slightly lighter in weight than DK yarn. Typically, a sport-weight yarn will knit at a gauge of 6-6.75 stitches to the inch on a size 4-5 needle. Sometimes, sport weight will also be called “baby yarn” because it’s so often used to knit small garments for small people. Fresco, a yarn distributed by Classic Elite, is one of my favorite sport-weight yarns, because its 3-ply construction makes for soft and light garments, and the stitch definition is wonderful.

Understanding yarn weights on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

Fingering weight yarn is often called “sock yarn” but not all fingering yarn is suitable for socks. Got that? For instance, Valley Yarns Huntington is great for socks because it’s washable and has some nylon in it for durability, and it knits at a gauge of 7-8 stitches to the inch on a size 2 or 3 needle. That is technically the definition of a sock yarn. However, another example of fingering weight yarn is our KangarooDyer Hand-Dyed Charlemont, which gets the same number of stitches to the inch on the same needle sizes. The difference is that Charlemont is made from merino and silk, with a little polyamide in it. Nobody wants silk socks, believe me. Silk doesn’t stretch. Your socks will fall into your shoes just like when you were in kindergarten and then you’ll be miserable. But fingering-weight yarn is delightful to knit with and the projects you can use it for are numerous!

The lightest yarn category for knitters is lace-weight. This is cobweb-like yarn, with ridiculous gauge numbers. You could get up to 40 stitches to the inch on size 0000-1 needles. However, most knitters will use larger needles with lace-weight yarn to make open, airy patterned shawls or scarves. I’m a little too impatient to knit with lace-weight yarn, and frankly, it demands a lot of attention and chart-reading (you know me and charts) that I’m not prepared to call “fun.” We sell a beautiful coned lace-weight yarn blend of alpaca and silk, Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk, and of course, our very talented Gail Callahan (Kangaroodyer) has dyed some skeins of it to make it even more gorgeous.

 

March 26th, 2015

From Afghan to Tunic

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In the store’s final salute to National Crochet Month, I’d like to share a terrific garment made by Connie Chisholm. Connie states that she stopped by WEBS to pick up 10 skeins of Universal Yarn’s Classic Worsted Tapestry. This yarn is no longer available, but using Universal’s Classic Worsted will yield the same beautiful results. Originally, her idea was to crochet an afghan. That plan evolved a few times and the final result is a tunic-length pullover which Connie designed herself using a double crochet stitch. You can read all the details about Connie’s first sweater on her Ravelry page.

Customer crochet projects on the WEBS Blog - Read more at blog.yarn.com

Connie says that she loves to crochet because it allows her to design creatively and that “all you need is an idea, patience and time to enjoy the process.” Connie’s garment clearly demonstrates her enthusiasm for crochet and her design skills too.

 

 

March 24th, 2015

Ask WEBS – changing color in crochet

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Ask WEBS March 24, 2015 - Changing color in crochet. Read more at blog.yarn.com

Changing color in a crochet project can seem like a really tricky bit of maneuvering if you’ve never done it before but it truly is simple! The key is to stop using your old color before you do the LAST YARN OVER of the last stitch in your old color. The last yarn over should be completed in your new color!

Ask WEBS march 24, 2015 - Changing color in crochet. Read more at blog.yarn.com

1. You will start one stitch before your color change actually starts (here we’re demonstrating in single crochet)

2. Insert your hook into the next stitch

3. Yarn over

4. Bring up a loop

Ask WEBS March 24, 2015 - Changing color in crochet. Read more at blog.yarn.com

1. With the new color, fold the yarn over to form a loop, leaving about a 6 inch tail

2. Grab the new color loop with your hook

3. Pull that loop through the 2 loops already on your hook

4. Continue working with just the new color (you can see the new stitch in the new color)

 

And now you’re set up to work over your tails. What do I mean by that? One of the great things about solid stitch patterns in crochet is that you can crochet your stitches right over your tails and not have to worry about weaving them in!

Ask WEBS March 24, 2015 - Changing color and working over tails in crochet. Read more at blog.yarn.com

1. bring the tail of your new and old color across the top of the row of stitches that you’re working into

2. Now hold those tail in place but FORGET that they’re there! Just pretend that they are part of the tops of the stitches in the row below

3. Insert your hook into the next stitch the same way you always do – see how the hook goes under the tails as well?

4. Yarn over your hook, just as you always do. You can see, highlighted in red, that your yarn over has gone over the tails, essentially locking them down to the top of the row below

Ask WEBS March 24, 2015 - Changing color and working over tails in crochet. Read more at blog.yarn.com1. Bring up a loop

2. Yarn over one last time – here you can see that the tails are actually inside the stitch!

3. Once that stitch is finished you can’t even see those tails

4. Keep trapping those tails inside your work for a few inches and you can cut those tails and move along!

Do you change colors this way? Do you crochet over your tails?

 

March 21st, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! 394: Kathy talks with Liz Sorenson

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This week Kathy talks with first time guest Liz Sorenson, owner of Sheep & Shawl in South Deerfield, about the 5th annual I-91 Shop Hop coming up in June.

Ready, Set, Knit! episode 394 - Kathy talks with Liz Sorenson- listen now at blog.yarn.com

At her store Liz focuses on locally sourced yarns and rovings, as well as classes and consignment pieces. The Shop Hop runs June 25th -28th, get all the details here and get your Passport now, 12 shops on the I-91 corridor are waiting to see you! Like our Facebook page or join the All Things WEBS Ravelry group to see all the latest news.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Next Saturday is the Meltdown! Family book and music festival! Bring the family for a great day at Smith Voc. High School.

You can join in the WEBS Mystery Blanket Knit-A-Long or Crochet-A-Long at anytime, grab the patterns that have already been released and join in the conversation on Ravelry.

Upcoming Events:

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
March 19th, 2015

WEBS Mystery Blanket KAL and CAL- Square Two

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Did you finish all 9 squares from last month?! It’s time to get started on your second set of squares!

Crocheters: We’re combining traditional crochet and Tunisian crochet! And don’t worry, you won’t need a special Tunisian hook for this one. Three strips of Tunisian Simple Stitch are joined together by sections of single crochet and an ingenious joining stitch that leaves NO visible seam! And Tunisian Simple stitch is a wonderful backdrop for embellishments like cross stitch.

The pattern can be downloaded here (FREE) and to help you with those new stitches we’ve put together some video tutorials, there’s even 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.)

These small strips of Tunisian crochet are also a great time to practice new-to-you stitches like Tunisian Knit Stitch and Tunisian Purl Stitch, so we’ve included tutorials for those as well.

Once your strips are finished you’re ready to join them together and personalize your squares!

Joining Single Crochet

Cross Stitch on Tunisian Simple Stitch

Knitters: We’re cabling! Nothing too complicated but a finished square with lots of visual interest. We’ll be working 1 x 1, 2 x 1 cables, we’ll show you how to use your cable needle and how to cable without a needle!

The pattern can be downloaded here (FREE) , even if you’ve never cable before you can tackle this one with the video tutorials we’ve put together for you. We even have a playlist for the Knit-A-Long blanket on Youtube to make it all easier. (Please remember that our techniques videos are NOT the pattern! These videos are here to help you understand the featured techniques, you’ll need to refer to your pattern for specifics.)

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

March 18th, 2015

2015: A Weaving Odyssey

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We get many visitors each day in the weaving room. Some are weavers looking for tools and help, some are future weavers beginning the exploration of what it entails, and some are looking to while away the time waiting for their relative or friend to finish the seemingly endless yarn shopping. So, we spend time answering questions, giving tours and demonstrating. This is one of the best parts of my job, because I love to talk weaving whether it is exchanging ideas with a fellow weaver or enticing someone to step down this rabbit hole and embrace weaving themselves. And I understand the curiosity, because looms can be complex machines with lots of parts, and it’s fascinating to see the transformation of a bunch of threads into a beautiful piece of woven cloth.

Toika computer assist looms are available at yarn.com

Of course, nothing is more astonishing than when they spy the Toika Eeva and I tell them it is a computer-assist loom. What?! How does that work?! Isn’t that cheating?! Even experienced weavers can have their minds boggled, so I’ll try to explain how these looms work. Let’s start by clarifying that these are computer-assist looms, not computerized looms. What that means is that the computer assists by lifting the shafts – and that’s all! The weaver still does everything else – warps the loom, throws the shuttle, beats the cloth, advances the warp.

On a manual loom the weaver steps on the treadles to raise (or lower) the shafts and open a shed. The Toika has a single pedal that is connected to a box that sits on top of the loom and is attached to all the shafts. A computer with weaving software is connected to the box and when the pedal is pushed the box lifts the appropriate shafts for the draft. Each step on the pedal advances the shafts to the next pick.

The advantages of this are many. For starters it allows weavers to be free of the physical challenges of lifting shafts with their legs. Many people have issues with hips or knees that make it difficult to treadle a manual loom and a computer-assist loom makes it possible for them to continue weaving. Plus, you don’t have to crawl under the loom to tie up the shafts!

Computer assist looms make the treading as simple as can be! Read more at blog.yarn.com

Then there is the matter of keeping track of larger numbers of shafts. For those who like to weave complex patterns that require 8+ shafts, threading the loom can be daunting as you try to keep track of which shaft is which. One of my favorite things about this loom is that you can have it treadle the threading. What that means is that it will lift the shafts one at a time in the order they are meant to be threaded, all you have to do is grab the heddle and thread it and move on to the next thread. This saves me hours of threading time, trying to make sure I’m on the correct shaft, and threading errors are nearly nonexistent.

And then there’s the other mental task that frequently trips me up – tracking my treadling. I’ve become skilled with long treadling sequences, but it’s liberating to not have to worry about it with this loom. I can shift my focus to my beat and the process and throwing the shuttle. It’s not like I weave on autopilot – I do watch the cloth to see the pattern develop – but I can relax more and enjoy the rhythm.

And we have some great news for those who may be thinking about getting a computer-assist loom – we will have one set up at the New England Weaver’s Seminar July 9 – 12, 2015 and we will be pre-selling the floor model at a 15% discount. It’s a great opportunity to save a significant amount and expand your weaving horizons.  We are offering the deal on a first come, first served basis, with a deadline of April 15. You can choose either an Eeva or a Liisa, from 40″ – 59″ and 16 – 32 shafts. The loom will come with all the usual accessories (software, bench, reed, heddles, etc) plus you can add any extras like second back beam, sectional beam, etc. for the same 15% discount. We set up the loom with a warp and display it for 4 days and then help the lucky buyer take it down and load it up at the end of the conference. For any questions or to place an order contact us at labestor@yarn.com or barbara.elkins@yarn.com. I’m excited to see who takes home this treasure.

March 17th, 2015

Fiona Ellis – In praise of the humble I-cord

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Designer in Residence Fiona Ellis joins us again this month to tell us all about her love affair with the i-cord, which just happens to be one of the stunning features in her newest pattern release, I Feel Vine.

In the Loop the 2nd design from Fiona Ellis in WEBS' Designer in Residence series - read more at blog.yarn.com

I have loved making the humble I-cord since I was a little girl. Like many of us, I had one of those spool knitting toys. For some reason, & I never knew why, it was called French knitting when & where I was growing up. Mine was like a doll so you needed to make a few inches of cord to be able to see the colour change. It would keep me amused for hours. Then, once I had made yards and yards of the stuff, I would sew it into mats for my grandmother. I even made ones as big as door mats. I graduated to “proper” knitting at age 5 when I was taught by my Gran…maybe she already had enough mats by then. Then in design school I learned that if you set one set of cams to slip on a knitting machine you could make cords even more quickly, and carry on a gossipy conversation at the same time (13 ladies in my studio at the time). In this environment it was called rouleau cord. Once I had made it (and found out who was dating whom) I set about finding creative ways of using it in my designs. That fascination with cords hasn’t left me. When I moved to North America I discovered they were called I-cords in hand knitting circles.

As I delved deeper and deeper into designing cables I saw that adding cords to cables was a perfect marriage. I have experimented a lot with embellishments projects by adding cords mostly to give the knitted-in cable cords the appearance of spilling out of the fabric. If you think about it an I-cord is really part of a cable that hasn’t yet been set into the pattern….or is that just me? Many designs later and too many experiments to count I continue to use I-cords as an embellishment for cable patterns. They can be used as ties, to neaten the front edge of a cardigan, to gather a cuff or lower edge [Re-gathering Intentions], as button loops instead of a button hole, or as belt loops, and in the case of “In the Loop” as a feature at the neckline. Here I imagined the cables separate from the fabric, link around each other before settling back into the neckline.

Collage of designs from Fiona Ellis featuring i-cords - read more at blog.yarn.com

The method for working this is fairly simple: when you reach the stitches that will become the cord (two in this case), you slide them onto a holder such as a safety pin and cast on the same number to the main fabric just like you do when working a thumb on a pair of mittens. Once you are ready to work the cord it is necessary to increase the stitch count from two to four so that it will look the same size as the knitted-in cord. You work the I-cord as usual until it is the desired length, then decrease the stitch count back down to two. To attach the cord you work one stitch from the cord together with one stitch from the fabric – twice. Then all you have to do is weave in the ends.

Just in case you thought I might stop at playing with simple I-cords. A few years ago I began to think; if cords are good, then adding other embellishments to them, such as whimsical leaves used here on these mittens [Woodland Leaves], must be even better!

You can see more of Fiona designs that feature i-cords here and here.

March 16th, 2015

How to Wear It – The Crossroads Pullover

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As we celebrate National Crochet Month we thought it would be a great time to look a little more closely at our Crossroads Pullover.

The Valley Yarns Crossroads Pullover is made with two squares that grow from the center-out, to create this ingenious and easy to crochet tee.  A draped V-neck on the front and back create a flattering, adjustable neckline as well as cap sleeves, all without additional shaping. Finish it off with four simple seams and you have have a new wardrobe staple that’s perfect for almost any occasion.

Valley Yarns: How to Wear It - The Crossroads Pullover

Crocheted in Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel you get the benefit of the bounce and memory of the merino paired with the shine and drape of the tencel. Fine yarn and a loose gauge create a sheer, lacy fabric that’s great for layering.

Valley Yarns: How to Wear It - The Crossroads Pullover read more at blog.yarn.com

We’d love to see your finished garments! Anytime you’ve made a Valley Yarns pattern be sure to tag it with #VYwearit We may feature you here on the blog, highlight you on Facebook, or repost you on Instagram!

March 14th, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! Archives

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There’s no show this week as Kathy and Steve enjoy some time with family, but you can check the archives and listen to any one of our almost 400 episodes here.

Reminder:

Shop Hop Bag Day is TODAY March 14th,  present a shop hop bag from any of the past I-91 Shop Hops and receive 15% off your entire purchase! In store purchases only.

Upcoming Events:

American Red Cross Blood Drive, Tuesday March 17th at our Northampton MA retail location – Give on St. Patrick’s day with a donation of blood for those in need! Donate blood or platelets. Give blood and you could help save up to three lives.

There are still open seats in classes with Margaret Radcliffe on April 12, Slipped Stitch Patterns and the Lazy Knitter’s Guide to Pattern Stitches!

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.

March 13th, 2015

My Favorite Child

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I’m not one of those people who can’t choose a favorite yarn. I know that many will say that it’s like being asked to pick which of their children they like the best. But my children know who I like the best, and it’s a yarn child: Shibui. Almost any Shibui. And we just got some new children Shibui in the store that I’m already playing around with to figure out the perfect pattern pairing.

Shibui Linen available at yarn.com

Shibui Linen is an anomaly for me, because I normally don’t like plant fibers. They can be a little too unyielding for me, and a bit hard on the hands holding the needles. However, Shibui Linen is softer and silkier than most linens, with a chainette construction that gives it some…well, give. I love the Apple color and would absolutely make myself a cap-sleeve tee or loose vest for summer concerts in the park.

Shibui Twig available at yarn.com

Shibui Twig is Linen’s next-door neighbor, or cousin, or step-sister. It’s a more matte version of Linen, with a mix of linen, recycled silk, and wool in a slubby, tweedy amalgam that would stick to most wooden needles. It’s a true DK weight, getting 5.5 stitches to 1″ on a US size 4/3.5mm needle. What would I make from this yarn? It has so much personality in the skein that I’d want to let that shine. Maybe a drapy open cardi? Or a simple summer shawl for when our air-conditioning gets a little too aggressive.

Shibui has some beautiful pattern support for these two newbies. I really like the Japanese aesthetic in their design; it speaks to my love for clean, uncluttered simplicity. Take a look and see what inspires you!