Author Archive

Stay Classy

Friday, September 12th, 2014
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It’s back-to-school time — the time of year that Staples and Office Max love the most. It’s also “back-to-knitting/crocheting/weaving/spinning” time around WEBS, and we have some great classes for anyone wanting to learn a new craft or brush up on a current one. When I plan the classes for each semester, I try to come up with something entirely new at least once or twice each time, something that I’d tell my friends about or that I’d want to hear about from a fiber friend. This time around I have a few that I’d love to take myself, so I’m going to tell you about them so that you’ll feel cnabled compelled to take them yourselves!

jazerant, cabled and beaded

Emma Welford’s Jazerant Set was designed especially for our Fortieth Anniverary and the pattern is knit in the most beautiful Valley Yarns Northfield, hand dyed by Malabrigo just for us. We are so lucky that Emma works here at WEBS and is generous enough to teach a class to show knitters how to make this gorgeously cabled and beaded hat and cowl. You don’t have to use Northfield, of course, because no matter what you use, the end result is going to be stunning. That class starts soon, so hurry before all the seats are filled! (NOTE:  Unfortunately, this class has been cancelled.)

Another class I’d take in a heartbeat is Heather McQueen’s Tunisian Crochet Infinity Scarf class. Tunisian Crochet is so fascinating–it’s fast, like crochet, and produces a really unique-looking fabric that resembles knitting. This 4-week class will have students using up those novelty yarns hiding in your stash as well as learning some more advanced Tunisian techniques. The scarves are fast and fun, and look amazing.silky lace and tunisian stitch

I am completely impressed with myself for hunting down some great guest teachers this semester–none more so than Susan B. Anderson, who is a designer, author, knitter, spinner, and all-around-lovely-person. She’ll be here for a weekend in October to teach not only some great garment classes, but we are lucky enough to have her show her students how to make her knitted toys, which are a great holiday gift as well as ideal decor for a nursery or little one’s room.Sock Yarn dragon fun!

Check out all our classes here, and just remember: Shopping at WEBS for supplies is way more fun than shopping at Staples for binders and notebook paper!

Just For Fun

Thursday, August 28th, 2014
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Usually, I am a “color inside the lines” kind of person. I don’t use glitzy yarn, or fluffy yarn, or even much bulky yarn. But recently, Tahki Poppy made itself known to me and I was absolutely captivated by just how different it is from anything I’ve ever used before. For one thing, it’s enormous. The skein barely fits in my hand. But the best part about this yarn is:

Moveable Flowers.

moveable flowers and soft squishy yarn

Yes. Not only are there adorable flowers with a little bead stamen in the center of each flower, but you can position them along the yarn in any configuration that works for you. Make a line of flowers along the cuff of a mitt, or arrange them in a circle around the crown when you make the FREE hat pattern that you’ll find inside the label of the skein. It’s a cozy blend of wool, mohair, and acrylic, and at $11.95 a skein for 43 yards, you’ll get at least a hat or a pair of cuffs to keep you warm (and smiling) all through cold-weather season. What’s a chance you recently took with a yarn or pattern?

Try something new once in a while. It’ll spice things up!

Beautiful, Light, and Airy

Friday, August 15th, 2014
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Berroco has managed to amalgamate the perfect blend of luxury fibers for a fabulous price point. Andean Mist, new for Fall, is a luscious composite of 74% Baby Suri Alpaca and 26% Mulberry Silk.luscious and intensely shaded The resulting mix is a softly haloed, slightly shiny, lightweight yarn that would be shown to its best advantage in a soft lace shawl, a drapy cardigan to throw over a tank in the early fall, or a turtleneck in the heart of winter, or a decorative scarf to augment a solid-color top. A generous 164 yards a skein for $8.00 is almost a steal!  Check out this new video on our website for a walk through all of Berroco’s newest creations, this among them.

A textured cardigan, perfect for all seasons

I love this pattern for a textured cardigan with a striking deep ribbed collar. It would be warm, but not hot, light, but not itchy, and could be worn while snuggling on the couch with a good book, or out to dinner at your favorite restaurant.

 

What would you knit with this lovely stuff?

Every Place I Look, Delights Abound

Friday, August 1st, 2014
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It seems like every time I leave my desk to walk through the store, a new,  delicious yarn announces itself to me, and because I’m an enabler with a giant stash, I want to share this love with you, dear reader. I hope that you’ll love these yarns as well, and knit the things I want to knit but never have time for. In this post, I will share not one but two new Fall yarns, designed to make your heart beat a little faster.

Swan’s Island is a real place in Maine, although Swan’s Island Yarns isn’t located there anymore. The rockbound coast of Maine...The fact that it is in Maine it integral to the spirit of these yarns, however, and that’s what counts. I’ve adored both the fingering and worsted weight Swan’s Island yarns, and now there’s a new one to love: Swan’s Island DK. The most beautiful, rich colorways, and also — SUPERWASH. How A colorful fall cornucopiagreat is that? The gauge is a very useful 5 1/4 sts to 1″ on a US size 6 needle (or size you’ll need to get that gauge–I’m a notoriously loose knitter and often have to go down a size or two). But what I like even more is the ethos of the owner’s of Swan’s Island Yarns to hand-make all their products with local and organic materials and to keep as much of their business based in the US as possible. You’ll love making a baby sweater for a cherished child or a comfy fall cardi for yourself in any of the rich hues of this yarn.

Classic Elite natural woolMy other favorite yarn (this week) is Classic Elite’s Mohawk Wool. Made in a beautifully halo’d 60% merino, 30% Romney wool, 10% nylon, this undyed natural fiber is just begging to be knit into a luxuriously cabled Aran sweater, or lovingly crafted into a throw or blanket for snuggling under when November rain turns into December snow. Classic Elite’s pattern support is legendary and you’ll find plenty to make out of this workhorse yarn, also in a DK/Sport weight. I love this textured hat, which would be a fairly quick project with a lot of bang for your knitting buck.Texture...and buttons!

Enjoy!

Camp That Doesn’t Involve Mosquitoes, Tents, or a Lake…

Friday, July 18th, 2014
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I did not go to summer camp when I was a kid. I lived on a farm and worked every summer. When I moved to New York and went to college, I was amazed at the fact that parents let their kids go away every summer to swim, kayak, make friendship bracelets, and most of all, not have to coax 100 chickens into a pen twice a day, every day.

Here at WEBS, we have summer camp, and it’s the best kind of summer camp: Fiber Camp. Run by teacher extraordinaire Lindsey Lindequist, these kiddos start every day with a knitting project, and move on to wet felting, fiber dyeing, drop spindle, and (it wouldn’t be camp without them) friendship bracelets. We had a lot of kids who signed up this summer and we’re in Week Two of Fiber Camp. Some of these ladies are very serious about their fiber love!Our first week of Fiber Camp!

You could certainly do your own fiber camp, and you don’t even have to invite anyone if you don’t want to. Try some wet felting–all you’ll need is some roving, a dish or pie plate, some dish soap, and water. Combine some colors that you find pleasing, drop them in the water in your dish, add dish soap to make the fibers adhere and mesh with each other and just mash away until you see a roving, water, and dish soap creates felt...design emerge that you like.

You could do some fabric dyeing or yarn dyeing, as well. Just use food coloring and some vinegar, soak your skein or fabric, microwave it for a few minutes, and then hang it up to dry. Instant color!Annabelle Wood creates dyed silk fabric

What camp do you think you’ll want to do this summer? Reading a good book camp? Knitting or crocheting a summer tee camp? Or maybe you could try my favorite camp, naptime camp. Enjoy!

Finally, Valley Superwash Bulky!

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
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I’d been hearing some murmurings about a new kid in town around the office, but when I saw our newest Bright and vibrant, Superwash Bulky is a superhero!Valley Superwash star, I saw the rumors were true. Valley Superwash Bulky is a delightful soft, squishy yarn at a big enough gauge that projects will knit up in record time. On US size 10 or 10.5 needles, it gets 3.5 stitches to the inch, and that means a cowl in a weekend, a sweater in a few weeks, and a soft, washable baby blanket finished by the end of your summer vacation at the beach.fast and adorable superwash bulky cremini baby sweater The springy feel of this yarn makes it eminently touchable, and the sweaters you make will be warm and light without the bulk of an alpaca or mohair fiber. Give it a try for that colorblock hat you’ve been wanting to make for your favorite sports team, or a quick sweater for your son or daughter that can be washed and worn for years. This adorable Cremini Baby Sweater is a Valley Pattern that we introduced in our latest catalog, and you can probably make it in a weekend. Happy knitting!

What’s the “Coolest” Fiber Choice?

Friday, July 4th, 2014
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Here in Massachusetts, summer has really hit us. Today is forecast to be at least 90 degrees with high humidity and that’s just the kind of weather I really hate. It’s the kind of weather that makes me not even want to knit, especially the project I have on my needles right now, which is an alpaca cardigan for my mother. God bless you, mom, but I can’t look at it.

This weather makes me wonder if weaving is the way to go. A lot of the woven fabric I like the best is in cotton or linen, which are two fibers I really don’t like to knit. However, woven, they look complex, rich, and most of all, light and cool.linen towels by Scott Norris Take for example, Scott Norris’ linen towels, which are works of art that will provide years of service in your kitchen or bathroom — if you can bear to use them for something so pedestrian as drying your hands or your dishes.

Carol Birtwistle has also done some beautiful work with cotton and cotton blends, and she is a true master of twills. These towels are perfect for summer, since they never feel heavy or sticky.cool cotton twill

In a few weeks, Convergence comes to Providence, RI. This national conference is only held every other year, and usually not as close to “home” as Rhode Island is to us. There are going to be some amazing handwovens there, and it really inspires me to finally get serious about learning to weave.

What is your hot-weather solution to the fiber doldrums? Do you like to knit with plant fibers, or do you take a break? Let’s chat in the comments!

Sweater Cum Laude

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
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On Wednesday, June 18, 7 students received their WEBS Expert Knitter Certificates, signifying that they completed not only the 18 required classes for the program, but had climbed the highest mountain of all: designing and knitting their Capstone sweater. The evening was a celebration not only of their knitting talent and perseverance, but of their creativity and passion for design and fiber. I’d like to let the pictures do the talking, because the garments are absolutely exquisite and should be seen by as many eyes as possible.

Ocean-y color and delicate laceKristie Nathanson was actually a 2013 graduate, but life got in the way, like it does, and she completed her sweater after last year’s Capstone Ceremony. We wanted to recognize her and showcase her lacy confection, knit in Valley Yarns Charlemont.Linda invented her own cable stitch for this lacy cabled sweater!

Linda Mason did an intricately textured Empire-waist cardigan, and not only had at least three different cable patterns, but invented a stitch never before seen–by putting lace INSIDE a cable. Amazing! She used Valley Yarns Northampton, in a classic Aran natural.

 

Pat's bright-blue cablesPat Wheeler did a vivid blue cabled cardigan with eye-catching silver buttons in Cascade 220. Pat had the biggest binder of swatches ever seen, and she used a technique not often employed outside of the classroom–the double-pick-up around her neckband. It creates an invisible edge and is finishing at it’s finest.

Barbara Meunier also used cables and showcased her moss-green knitted sweater in Louet Gems Sport yarn with wooden buttons to create a natural-looking garment that was both simple and intricate. Barbara was the calmest by far of all our Capstone contenders, and it shows in her knitting.Ping, Barbara's mentor, describes her design.

Laurie Scutt-Drohan started her Capstone process more than a year ahead of her actual knitting! When I first gathered the contenders in October of 2013, she already had a big binder of swatches in various yarns she was contemplating for her final project. She eventually decided to use Valley Yarns Charlemont in a deep teal, which complents her fair skin and dark hair beautifully. Laurie is the perfect example of someone knitting their stress away, as several events conspired to make her Capstone year a Laurie looks great in her teal-blue fingering weight cardi.stressful one. But I think you’ll agree that she used her gift to great advantage in this beautifully-fitting sweater.

Liz Crouch was the only other Capstone graduate to use lace. Her original idea was to make a twin set in a plant fiber, but when push came to shove, she felt a fiber blend was the right choice, and ended up using Classic Elite’s Soft Linen, a linen/wool blend, in a flattering lavander shade. It suits her, as you can see, and her lace panels are perfectly balanced and her garment fits her to a T.Lavander lace and beautiful shaping

Jeanne Crosby had a deceptively simple sweater until you saw it up close…and noticed the crocheted panel and neckpiece of skulls in deep black Valley Yarns Northfield. Northfield is soft and drapy and the combination of the smooth fabric and the bold skull pattern really made her sweater outstanding. It completely suits her personality and she loves it!Look closely for those crocheted skulls.

We had another student who was halfway through with her sweater and in the process of finishing up her final classes when another life event took her attention:  Sarah Johnston had baby Nina Belle in March, and as she told me, she couldn’t put Nina Belle down to pick up her needles once that beautiful little girl made her arrival! So I’m sure that at some point in the next year or so, Sarah will send me a mysterious package that will turn out to be her Capstone sweater and we’ll celebrate her at that time.

Sarah Johnston's personal Capstone: Baby Nina Belle!

I hope this inspires you blog-readers to create some magic of your own! All these knitters started with Knitting II; and you can see how dedicated they are to their fiber art! Maybe we’ll institute a Graduate Program here at WEBS. What would that include? Let me know your thoughts!

An Hors’ d’Ouvre Before the Main Course

Friday, June 20th, 2014
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I will be doing a ginormous, photo-filled blog post in a few days about our WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program Capstone Ceremony (and you will be so inspired that you will sign up and start taking some classes!) but since the Ceremony isn’t happening for a few hours, I’d like to share one of our new Fall yarns with you, a little ahead of schedule.A heathery pile of softnessJaggerspun Heather is a new yarn, and a cousin to our store staple, Jaggerspun Zephyr. While Zephyr is a laceweight blend of merino and silk, Heather is a sturdier fingering weight, and is 100% wool. It’s absolutely beautiful, in lots of vibrant heathered shades and with almost 500 yards for $11.00, it practically begs you to buy it. It would make a light but warm shawl for any season , but I will also plan to use it for hats, mittens, fingerless gloves, or any weaving project. Once washed, it becomes even softer and loftier.

I would use any shade of this lovely fiber to make Knitting School Dropout’s September Circle Cowl. It’s a seamless loop scarf that combines a fingering weight yarn and larger needles for a perfect fall accessory. Wear it doubled around your neck for extra warmth. As written, this pattern uses approximately 420 yards, so one skein will do it!Imagine this in Amethyst...

What are you thinking about making this summer for Fall?

 

Linen Gets a New Look

Friday, June 6th, 2014
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…and by a “new look,” I don’t mean that it looks different. It means that I am looking at linen in a new light. I usually don’t like knitting with plant-fiber yarns; they seem too slippery, too inflexible, and in the case of linen, too hard and crunchy-feeling to make pleasing garments. However, recently I saw a sweater one of our WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Capstone candidates knit in Classic Elite’s Soft Linen (35% wool, 35% linen, 30% baby alpaca), and it really changed my mind. Rather than being a wrinkled, stiff armor-like Bright summery soft linen and wool create perfect lightweight garments.tunic, this sweater was soft and drapey, but with enough body to show off the shaping and stitch definition. The lace pattern around the sleeves and body was open and light, with enough personality to show the eyelets to great advantage.

Doodlebug, a light and practical summer sweater.
Classic Elite’s pattern support
for their yarns is legendary, and I found the perfect sweater to show off this lightweight yarn: Doodlebug, a sleeveless shell with a delicate chevron/eyelet pattern and a wide ribbed hem to put on top of skirts or summery capris.

 

What yarn changed your mind this year?