Author Archive

Back To School

Friday, August 28th, 2015
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Even though it’s still hot enough to be annoying, school is in session here at WEBS. Fall classes are available online even as we speak! Fall has always been my favorite season, because I’m way better at starting things than finishing them. Our Handmade Holiday workshops will guarantee that you’ll have a finished project in a day or two; quickly enough that you can make all kinds of gifts and decorations for the last part of fall without breaking a sweat.

Fall classes are open! If you're near to Northampton learn a new skill, master an old one or just have fun making gifts for the holidays. Register in-store now or online at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

For instance…Amigurumi Halloween Monsters. How cute are they? So cute. This three-hour class teaches the basics of amigurumi (small crocheted figures, monsters, food, etc) and you’ll end up with a Frankie, a Mrs. Frankie, and a baby Candy Corn. Amy Stephens, our resident photography coordinator, will be teaching her very popular Snow Families and Evergreens class, and you may remember those from last year’s Holiday Catalog cover. It won’t take long for you to be enraptured with these fun, simple projects to decorate your home, or give to a special friend.

Fall classes are open! If you're near to Northampton learn a new skill, master an old one or just have fun making gifts for the holidays. Register in-store now or online at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

We haven’t left out the traditional favorites, either. Challenge yourself with Carol Feller’s Barkentine pattern in Intermediate Sweater Skills. Finally delve into the world of woven cloth in Weekend Weaving. Learn intricate stitch patterns and how to conquer them once and for all in Stitches: Textures. Or whip up a seamless sweater custom-fit to you in Top Down Raglan Sweater from Measurements.

Fall classes are open! If you're near to Northampton learn a new skill, master an old one or just have fun making gifts for the holidays. Register in-store now or online at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Our guest instructors are pretty awesome this fall–returning for a second visit is Kate Atherley, author and technical editor at Knitty.com. She’ll be teaching a day of design and pattern-writing skills, as well as showcasing techniques from her new book, Custom Fit Socks. And for spinners, Shannon Herrick from Frabjous Fibers will be here in November to play with 3-D Fiber spinning.

Even if you aren’t near enough to WEBS to take a class, you can choose from tons of great pattern and technique books on our site, or go to our YouTube Channel to learn a new skill! What would you like to master this fall?

I Love Greylock

Friday, August 14th, 2015
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Mount Greylock is located in the far northwestern corner of Massachusetts, abutting New York state. I used to work in that area, and even though a 75-minute commute was horrible, it always cheered me up to see the mountain all four seasons of the year. I hiked the trails on weekends in the fall, when it seemed like I could stand just about any terrible commute for the expanse of nature I was treated to.

Of course, eventually, I had to leave that job because nobody can do a commute like that forever. And now that I’m back at WEBS (third time, see “Hotel California”) I get to see all the new Valley Yarns as they come out onto the sales floor. I have a particular fondness for Valley Yarns Greylock, which is as close to perfect (for me) as a yarn can be.

Valley Yarns Greylock - 100% Cashmere available for a limited time at yarn.com

Greylock is only in the store for a limited time, so snap it up now. There are 27 beautifully heathered colors of this 100% cashmere yarn, wound into generous 300-yard balls. The colors are soft and blendable, and I can’t imagine a single thing that wouldn’t knit up into a gorgeous project. The fingering gauge of 7 sts/inch on a US size 2 needle is perfect for shawls, cowls, scarves, and hats. I will personally be knitting my college-bound son a hat and mitten set in his school colors as he journeys far away. Why not try crocheting the Valley Yarns Pickwick Cowl out of Greylock? It would be the most luxurious garment, perfect as a gift for a special friend or family member…or just keep it for yourself.

What will you knit or crochet with Greylock?

Knitting Through the Years

Friday, July 31st, 2015
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Recently, a friend told me about her mother, a knitter and crafter, who has been having some memory problems. She wants to keep knitting but she has problems counting her stitches, and following patterns if they aren’t right in front of her, clearly marked. It made me think about what we carry here that would be helpful, and I thought I’d let you in on what I found.

Knitting tools to help with memory and keeping track of projects, on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

First of all, the Knitter’s Pride Large Pattern Holder seems like a lifesaver. It’s big enough to hold a pattern straight up, or any series of charts so that you don’t have to keep shuffling papers around (my friend’s mother has NO use for technology, so unfortunately paper patterns are her go-to). The magnetic straight-edge holds everything firmly against the backing, and also can be used as a row marker so she doesn’t lose her place.

The Bryspun Rainbow Rings are great stitch markers; colorful enough to stand out from your stitches, and rubber, so they stay put. They come in a variety of sizes, so they’ll fit on pretty much any size needles. The Clover Split Ring Markers are good for hanging on your stitches; if you have a pattern repeat you can mark it off so that you don’t have to remember where to start or how many stitches are in the repeat. They’re easy as pie to move around, too, so that if you increase or decrease, you don’t need to worry that you’ve lost any stitches.

Everyone’s favorite row counter, the Clover Kacha Kacha Knitting Counter, makes a very definitive CLICK and goes up to 99, which is a lot of satisfying clicking. I’ve used one of these since I started knitting and I’ve never had to replace mine. They last forever. Clover also makes a locking row counts, called a Mini. The beauty of this one is that if it gets pushed around in your knitting bag, it won’t change numbers accidentally. It also has a little loop that you can thread some yarn or string through to  make it a pendant so you don’t forget about it if you get up from your knitting chair to get a cocktail glass of iced tea.

The CocoKnits Knitter’s Keep is the most brilliant thing ever. It’s a slap bracelet (that makes SUCH a satisfying sound) that comes with metal cable needle, stitch markers, all kinds of things you need to keep track of while knitting or crocheting. And you just attach them to your bracelet and it holds it for you. Genius. No more turning around in circles while you try to locate a stray needle.

If you are a crocheter, Addi makes ergonomic hooks that don’t tax arthritic fingers. I’m told that the Knitter’s Pride Cubics needles serve the same function, but I bet there are needles specifically for sore hands and wrists out there.

The last thing I thought might be a great addition to a knitting bag are the Nancy’s Knit Knacks Project Cards. You can note what the project you knit was, for whom it was knit, the start and finish date, and any notes – for instance, if you cut out a set of increases, or made the sleeves shorter. Frankly, I could use these myself, since once I finish a project, I often throw it right out of my mind as I hurtle onto the next knitted object.

What have you seen in your LYS that might help you keep crafting as you age? Because I certainly want to keep crafting!

Inspirational Knitting

Friday, July 17th, 2015
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I’ve loved Blue Sky Alpacas yarns since I first worked at WEBS, lo those many years ago. It’s not just the lovely yarns in soft, clear colors, or the fiber choices, either (alpaca wins my heart, always). It’s the pattern support. They support all the different lines they produce — Spud and Chloe, Royal Petites, Blue Sky…everything is beautiful to look at, functional, and best of all, really fun to knit.

Blue Sky Alpacas Truck Show on display now at WEBS Retail store. Read more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

The team at Blue Sky Alpacas just sent us a trunk show, and it’s to their credit that in 85-degree heat and 90% humidity, those wooly garments really got me thinking about what I’d like to wear this fall and winter. To help out, they also sent this video, so that knitters could see how the sweaters, wraps, and poncho work on a human being. Too often, knitted sweaters tend to be lovely to look at but a bit off-putting in the actual wearing. Too tight here, too itchy there, something hits at the wrong place on your body and you spend lots of time tugging it around. While, admittedly, the model in this video is gorgeous, and probably weighs as much as the chocolate bar I ate for breakfast, the sweaters and wraps still look like they would flatter anyone wearing them.

Blue Sky Alpacas Truck Show on display now at WEBS Retail store. Read more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

I’m dying to make the Canby Cardi. It satisfies my requirements for a sweater that closes in the front (because I hate things flapping around me) with a cunning one-button design, but it also curves in a way that immediately shapes the waist while somehow making you look polished and stylish. While I wouldn’t necessarily wear a poncho, the Bianca Wrap is comfy and not too voluminous; knit in a neutral plus cream, I would wear it over every shirt I own this fall.

Check out the trunk show if you’re local to our store, and look at our new Blue Sky Alpaca products online to bring a little bit of fall anticipation to your summer!

 

 

WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program Capstone Graduation

Friday, July 3rd, 2015
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Last week I was honored to present our latest group of graduates of the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program their certificates. This is my second graduating class, and once again I was truly inspired and amazed at the creativity and imagination of our grads. This post will be heavy on pictures, since my words won’t do these beautiful Capstone sweaters justice.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Just as an FYI, our Certification program students take sixteen required classes and three electives in everything from basic knitting to Advanced Fearless Finishing (VERY technical) and Sweater Construction (designing and knitting a sweater to fit). Their Capstone sweater should reflect elements of their classwork, be it texture, color, lace, perfect finishing, or an interesting construction. The only requirements are that it be knit in pieces and seamed, be knit to fit the maker, and have saddle or set-in sleeves.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

As an extra bonus each year the Capstone graduates receive a handmade bracelet by local jewelry artist Kris Potasky. The beads match each sweater and are totally unique.

Without further delay, this year’s lovely garments…

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Patty Creedon (who has only been knitting for TWO YEARS!) made a deceptively simple pullover, accented with a Tunisian crochet collar and sleeve cuffs. It fits perfectly, and the finishing is exquisite.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Susan Gruen (who is also a Master Weaver, because why not?) made a sturdy jacket with a garden motif in a contrasting color; the assymetrical colorwork really stood out but the piece de resistance was her Czech buttons bought in Prague. They were such a perfect match that it looked like the sweater had been built around them, rather than the other way around.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Jessie Tropp’s sweater was a vintage-inspired cardigan with delicate lace panels–and peeking through those panels was a surprise! Bright pink lining on both front panels and down the back. To finish it off, subtle beading accented the lace pattern. It was breathtaking.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Bonnie Miller did the un-doable: she spun fiber into yarn and used that yarn to knit her sweater. Really, what could go wrong? Anything and everything. But thankfully, not much went wrong, and her sweater is a real work of art, with a Japanese stitch pattern adding textural interest.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Sandy Kistner made what I can best describe as an actual couture garment. She used a designer sweater as in inspiration and crafted a slipped-stitch pattern in three different colors that looked like it had come from a Paris showroom.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Meri Ames did tons of research on Japanese kimono construction and use, and dyed her yarn to achieve a shibori effect. Yes, you read that correctly. She dyed the yarn she used to make her kimono. As a dramatic accent, check out the back view, where she showcased a crochet motif that was knitted into the fabric of her garment. Amazing.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Brenda Aldrich lived in China for five years and it so influenced her that she chose to feature it in the outerwear sweater that she made. She also wanted to honor her Irish heritage, so she used a bright Kelly-green yarn to craft an arch texture in the body of her sweater. She made figure-8 cables around the hem of the jacket, a nod to the Chinese belief that 8 is a lucky number. She also crocheted matching frogs to use as closures. It’s a sweater that tells her story.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

 

Linda Sasso’s sweater also revealed a life-story. She raised 3 daughters as a single parent, and to do that she taught Spanish for many years. Her love and respect for that culture informed her dramatic black-and-red cardigan with an I-cord closure at the neck. Look closely at the embroidery on the front panels and along the sleeves. The flowers reflect her family and the sleeve design shows a Mayan “Tree of Life.”

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

And in the category of “Most-Touched Garment,” Sheri Rademacher made a pop-culture sweater that blew the room away. Her “Doctor Who” sweater was made to look like the iconic Tardis, a time machine disguised as a British police call box. The details such as thumbholes at the sleeve cuffs and colorwork that made it look like her Tardis was whirling away were nothing compared to the fact that her hood-windows LIT UP and the sweater MADE NOISE! When I turned out the lights in the room, the applause drowned out the sound of the Tardis whooshing away, and the lights winking from her hood made the evening as fun as a fireworks show.

I hope you’ll be inspired to check out our Expert Knitter program. You can make one of these amazing works of art, too!

Genius is Everywhere

Friday, June 19th, 2015
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Hey! If you stop by the store through June 29, you’ll see our resident genius designer Emma Welford’s work in a trunk show of some of her many beautiful designs. Emma has worked at WEBS for a few years, as our Purchasing Coordinator and now in the store. She may have helped you pick out yarn or you may have stopped by our Thursday evening Drop-In and had her show you how to pick up stitches or do a decrease.

The Coronation Tank and more designs by Emma Welford on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

If you check out our website, you’ll see Emma’s new ebook of patterns, “Let Them Knit Cake,” which was released in early spring. It contains what I think is the most beautiful tank ever, the Coronation Tank, knit in Malabrigo Arroyo. The combination of color and texture (the cables making a shapely trim waist and the bright color announcing “summer’s here!” are irresistable. Plus–it’s a tank! It’ll take maybe a week to knit.

Elektrocute and more designs by Emma Welford on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

All of Emma’s designs are thoughtful and make me want to abandon everything I have on the needles to start her garments. Just when I think I’ve got her figured out (she designs great textural sweaters!) she comes up with something like Elektrocute, a cowl with the most shocking colorwork that looks like it’s not only doable but imperative that it be made.

Check her out on Ravelry, on her blog, and please come to the store to see her trunk show. You’ll be inspired and awed.

What’s your mashup?

Friday, June 5th, 2015
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I’ve told you all before that my favorite thing ever is Pinterest. I can lose a good hour here and there searching for recipes, home decor ideas, and fun workouts that don’t feel like a workout. What I’ve been doing lately is a search mashup, as in, searching “whatever” + “whatever.” This morning, I searched “Yoga” and “Knitting” and I found the best stuff…mostly the comfiest-looking wraps and shrugs and throws. But then…

I also found the most ridiculous, and yet beautiful, pair of knitted yoga pants. Who would knit yoga pants? You could never actually do yoga in them because as soon as you bend your knee, or sit down, the yoga pants would retain that shape forever. But they’re gorgeous.

Would you knit yoga pants? Knitting mash-ups on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

The most useful thing I found in my search was handknit yoga socks. Now that’s a good idea! Sometimes you feel a little chilly on the way to the studio. Sometimes you want to put something comfy on your feet while you’re in Resting Pose. Or, because you’re a knitter, sometimes you just want to knit some socks. These would look stunning in a squishy merino like Madeline Tosh, or a fun combo of fibers like HiKoo CoBaSi. Cotton, bamboo, and silk, what’s not to like?

What’s your mashup? Think of two things to search together that would yield the most interesting result. But always put “knitting” first!

Shaping Your Knits with Increases and Decreases

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
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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.

Jo Sharp Is Back!

Friday, May 8th, 2015
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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?

Craft and Social Media, Part II

Friday, April 24th, 2015
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Crafting and social media go hand-in-hand. In my last post, I explored the tip of the social media iceberg with Ravelry and Facebook, the two most-watched avenues. Today, let’s wander through a few others that are tailor-made for looking at yarn and it’s by-products.

Follow WEBS Yarn Store on Pinterest - read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Pinterest is my favorite thing of all time. Absolutely the best way to lose an hour or two, so I have to ration my time on it carefully. WEBS’ Pinterest page is filled to the brim with all kinds of boards…crochet, UFO’s, knitting inspiration, tips and techniques, just to name a few. And because our E-Commerce Manager, Dena, is in charge of the content, and I know that she loves movies as much as I do, I noticed a “Yarnspotting in the Movies” board, where you can find some fun shots of movie stars knitting. If you follow a board’s link, you can often go down another rabbit hole of fiber fun, like playing fiber-hopscotch.

Follow @websyarn on Twitter - read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Twitter is a little less visual, but more up-to-the-minute, and the WEBS Twitter feed is filled with quick tweets from designers, our store staff, fiber bloggers, and even some news sources that have nothing to do with yarn! We always put Steve’s Deal of the Day on Twitter and we usually announce some surprise sales and giveaways there as well. It’s worth a look every day to see if you’re missing any bargains, or just a fun shout-out from The Yarn Harlot.

Follow @websyarn on Instagram - read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Instagram is a newcomer, and a fast-growing source of luxurious fiber porn. We post lots of store pictures, so you can see the goings-on of our store staff, and our customers. Take a peek at our warehouse in real time–you’ll see yarn going in and yarn coming out! We’ll often post some “slice-of-life” photos as well, like Assistant Store Manager Bonnie’s dog Fiona, a fixture in our store for a few months while she healed from a broken leg. Check out Fiona shopping! We’ll always post some fun stuff from our store events and trunk shows so it feels like you’re a local customer, even if you live in another time zone.

Have any of you dipped a toe into these sites? What are your favorite follow-ees? Let us know!