Author Archive

WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Capstone Graduation 2017

Monday, July 10th, 2017
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My favorite evening of the year is the Capstone Graduation ceremony, held at the Delaney House a few miles down the road from WEBS. It’s a chance to congratulate and praise the students who have made their way through the 19 required classes and electives, and then used the knowledge they’ve acquired to design and knit a sweater that fits them to a T. This year’s graduation was held on June 21, a beautiful summer evening, and our group gathered to socialize, see old and new friends and fellow students and teachers, and celebrate our newest group of 9 graduates.

We began with a tribute to a dear friend and colleague, Liz Wrobleski. Liz passed away very unexpectedly in late December–we’d already met and I had approved her proposal for her Capstone sweater, but she never got to start it. Her family gave one of her exquisite sweaters to us, and we awarded her certificate to her husband and son in her honor. It was a beautiful and sad moment, but her family was supportive and we are so grateful that we were able to recognize her talent. Here is her Sweater Construction sweater–and it’s flawless.

Liz Wrobleski sweater

Susan Drew is a seamstress as well as a phenomenal knitter, and her sweater design was an interpretation of a classic Chanel jacket, with i-cord trim standing in for Coco’s famous braided edging. She used a 3-color slip stitch pattern, and painstakingly reviewed each step of her process with her mentor, Stephanie Gibbs, for technical accuracy. I think you’ll agree that the effort she expended shows to great advantage in her iconic design.

Susan Drew sweater

Kim Lier chose to do a cabled aran sweater, but proportionally correct for her small size and shape. She researched cables, twists, crossings, ribbing, twisted stitches, and finally steeled herself to do a saddle shoulder (without EVER having done one before!) so that her cables would truly shine, uninterrupted by a shoulder seam. At one of our “support group” meetings, she worried that perhaps her sweater was going to be smaller than she wanted–and she ended up ripping out a month’s worth of stitches to re-do her design to more closely mirror her ideal fit. Her cabled cardigan is really a work of art, and her mentor, Leslie Ann, agrees.

 Kim Lier sweater

When I first met Salin Low, she was caring for a very ill spouse. Although I knew she had a long drive to WEBS and had a lot on her plate with work,in-home care for her husband, and a lot of complicated knitting, she was always warm and took time to talk with me and her fellow students. Sadly, her husband passed away a few months ago. Salin created a Capstone love letter to her husband by adapting the design on her wedding ring, whichwas a glass seal used for sealing letters with wax. The design was a sun and a flower with the words “I turn for you” in French. With mentor Erin’s help, Salin’s sweater incorporated an intarsia sunflower and sun, and embroidered sun rays on the shoulder. The sunflower was supported by an i-cord stem and the border of her hem was stranded in different colors to resemble grass. The entire effect is clean and simple, with texture on the flower adding a visual pop to the background of the stockinette stitch.

Salin Low sweater

Angie Tierney had an ambitious plan for her sweater–using two different yarn weights, she wanted to make a sweater that looked like a sleeveless vest over a lighter long-sleeved shirt. I had no idea how she was going to make that work, but of course she did, beautifully. Using Valley Yarns Colrain for the body of the sweater, she designed numerous cable patterns to accentuate the shaping and fit of her “vest,” and then chose Valley Yarns Huntington to knit the sleeves, collar, and hem. By choosing tonal variations rather than stark contrasting colors, she softened the visual effect of the two different parts of the design and truly made a unique sweater that will certainly be an attention-getter once the weather moves into winter temps.

Angie Tierney sweater

Michal Lumsden and I share a former workplace–she’s there now, and I was there for several years before her. I knew her colleagues would be supportive of her knitting in meetings, for which I was pretty envious! Michal’s sweater is a simple, elegant, form-flattering light cardigan with an intriguing eyelet at the hem, giving it an airy feel and a sophisticated look. I told her that if I didn’t know she had knit it, I would have picked it out of a lineup for her to wear. It just says “Michal” to me! The genius of having 3 top buttons leaves the options for accessorizing open–in the summer, it can layer over a tank, and in the winter, a turtleneck wouldn’t look out of place underneath it. Cyndi Shepard, her mentor, is incredibly proud.

Michal Lumsden sweater

Elaine Bloniasz knew she wanted to use Fair Isle colorwork in her sweater. True Fair Isle is knit in the round with no seaming, but the Capstone requirements demand that there be shoulder, sleeve, and side seams on the sweater for their final project. Elaine and her mentor, Erin, came up with a truly genius solution for that, by making a yoke that she seamed into her shoulders. Desperate times call for desperate measures…Her sweater fits her so perfectly that it reminds us all that truly well-fitting garments are within our reach.

Elaine Bloniasz photo

Jan Wilson has spent a lot of time in Africa, courtesy of her daughter and son-in-law who moved there to teach. She was entranced by a woven basket she saw during her time there, and had the idea to recreate the look and feel of that basket in her sweater. It is amazing! Knitting a worsted weight yarn at a tighter gauge gave her the tightly coiled texture of woven plant fiber, and her tri-color braids perfectly reflect the braided seam holding the coiled strands together. Working tirelessly with her mentor, Ping Wood, Jan really made this sweater the stand-out for most closely resembling the inspiration for the garment.

Jan Wilson sweater

Ruth Manna worked with mentor Beth Decker on a drapey open cardigan with intarsia striping that is deceptively simple in appearance. In order to make those stripes she had to do intarsia (color blocking) sections with invisible joins. I know she ripped them out over and over in her quest for perfection, and her garment is the richer for her hard work. Not only that, but the stripes in her hemline align exactly with the striping on her sleeve cuffs–and that is perfectionism I can get behind! Ruth’s sweater is absolutely lovely, fits her perfectly, and would be appropriate year-round.

Ruth Manna sweater

I’m so proud of this year’s graduates. Their sweaters are on display in our store for a few more days, so come in and see them in person!

Cashmere, Of Course

Friday, January 27th, 2017
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Continuing my love affair with yarn that is not sport or fingering weight, I have been anxiously waiting to get our new Valley Yarn Wachusett on my needles. If you haven’t caressed this yarn yet, you are missing a very comforting experience. A very luxurious blend of merino wool and cashmere (the magic word!) makes knitting with Wachusett a treat. Getting a gauge of 19 stitches to 4 inches in stockinette makes a sweater fly off the needles, and a very generous 163 yards in a ball will let you settle in for hours of fun. A very slight halo and a range of clear brights and smoky neutrals give you lots of choices if you like colorwork or color blocks; of course, any of those colors could stand on their own as well.

Amy's loving Valley Yarns Wachusett, read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The Backstage Boss hat from Advenure Du Jour Designs would be a great test knit for Wachusett–with two colors that can either complement or contrast, you’d get a real feel for what this yarn can do. I’m a fan!

Big, Bigger, Biggest

Friday, January 13th, 2017
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I realized that my last two substantive projects (sweaters, that is) were both knit in teeny, tiny yarn. Usually I’m a fan of a gauge that is smallish, but it just takes too darn long. And my hands ache by the time I’m seaming.

I went back to an old fave, Rowan Big Wool. About 10 years ago, I knit a sweater in this yarn and I remembered that feeling of being able to finish not one, but two sleeves in an evening. It’s BIG. In a good way. Less than 2 stitches to 1 inch on size 17-19 needles. It’s like knitting with two broomsticks! But for a small project like a hat, a cowl, a scarf, even a vest, you’ll get that superhero feeling of making a garment in no time at all. Big Wool is 100% merino wool, tightly plied, so it’s not fuzzy. A generous 100-gram ball gives the knitter plenty of bang for not a lot of bucks. Even more enticing, when you buy 5 skeins of Big Wool, we’ll give you the Rowan Archive Collection Big Wool book FREE! Lots of great patterns that use this lovely stuff to its best advantage are in this treasure trove.

Rowan Big Wool and Amy's plans for a quick knit on the WEBS Blog, read more at blog.yarn.com

Because I love the feeling of being wrapped up in a blanket, I might make the Pioneer Cape, a really smart shoulder covering that will stay in place, unlike a shawl or a scarf. The color palette is muted but expansive, giving you just the range you’d like for a conspicuous yarn like this. Now go, knit like the wind!

A Scarf As Big As You Want

Friday, December 30th, 2016
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At this time of year, I think many of us crave a huge scarf, big enough to envelop one from head to toe. While the gorgeous Mentolat Scarf isn’t quite that big, it’s a generous helping of love from Manos del Uruguay, knit in their Silk Blend yarn. WEBS has made it easy for you to knit this uniquely-constructed scarf by making a kit-our Mentolat Kit comes in 4 different colorways, each with 6 colors of Manos del Uruguay’s Silk Blend yarn.

Manos del Uruguay Mentolat Scarf Kits available at yarn.com More on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This DK-weight single ply blend of 70% merino and 30% silk is dreamy, both in color and texture. The kit provides you with 1500 yards, plenty to make the largest-sized scarf in your choice of color blocks. Since we’re officially at the tail end of the holiday season, this might make a great gift for a knitting friend who would rather DIY next year’s presents. Each kit comes with a free Mentolat Scarf pattern, making it a one-stop gift item, although frankly, I’d covet this for myself, and not ever give it away.

Mind Over Matter

Friday, December 16th, 2016
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I’ve been unsettled lately. The universe seems to be sending me (and lots of people I know) signs that we need to simplify, focus, cultivate warmth and compassion. Of course, I turn to knitting, as it is one of the crafts I can count on to engage my mind without leaving much room for thinking about what seems to be a bleak next few months. A yarn I’ve been loving is West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious, a serious wooly wool that isn’t scratchy or fuzzy. West Yorkshire Spinners are based in England (of course!) and source their wool locally, processing it in a very traditional way on state of the art equipment. It’s the best of both worlds or handmade craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. The result is a tightly spun DK-weight yarn in 12 delicious colors to use as you’d like. Stranding, cables, textures, open-work; Illustrious can do it all.

West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious yarn and pattern collection. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

West Yorkshire Spinners commissioned designer Emma Wright to come up with a series of garments, accessories, and wearables to showcase Illustrious, and her 11 patterns reflect the design process from start to finish. I’ve been eyeing a fantastic colorwork cardigan called Hermione so I can use as many of those 12 colors as possible.

What kind of knitting takes you to a happier place? Let us know in the comments.

Arranmore by The Fibre Co.

Friday, November 25th, 2016
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I wanted to write about this wonderful stuff a few months ago, but we went through a dry spell and didn’t have it in stock (that’s the sign of a great yarn–you have to suffer through a drought before the good stuff rains down). Now we are fully stocked and you should know about it because once you try it, you won’t want to knit with anything else.

Arranmore is a beautiful example of a true Donegal tweed yarn, spun in Ireland. In colors that capture the Irish coast, it’s a true aran-weight yarn, meaning it is toothy and authentically wooly, with flecks of color throughout highlighting the earth, sky, and water tones of the yarn. Composed of wool, cashmere, and silk, Arranmore has a springy, sturdy feel and a substantial crispness that relaxes and blooms once wet-blocked. at 3.5 stitches to 1 inch on US size 8 needles, your projects will fly off your needles quickly, and the twist ensures no splitting or catching on your needle tips.

The Fibre Co. Arranmore on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Of course, The Fibre Co. has great pattern support, and thoughtful garments and accessories showcase this colleen of a yarn to it’s finest. I think if I wasn’t drowning in gift-knitting, I’d probably be casting on The Lake Isle tunic. It’s a fascinating combination of plain stockinette and colorwork, with an unexpected funnel neck to keep one warm in the chilly UK winter weather. Or the chilly New England weather. Try it and see; you won’t want to stop knitting.

The More You Know

Friday, November 11th, 2016
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I tried out a new circular needle recently and it was a game-changer. Knitter’s Pride Royale fixed circular needles are wood with metal tips, which I like (somehow, metal seems pointier). What I really love about the Royales are that they SWIVEL at the join. Come on! Yes, they do. No kinking up, no twisted joins, just smooth sailing. This swivel is only available in the fixed circular needles, not in the interchangeable sets, alas. But what a great reason to stock up on sizes you may need for your holiday knitting! They’d be a great stocking stuffer for a knitting group buddy, or an in-law at a gift exchange.

Knitter's Pride Royale Needles on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I’ve been making some deadline projects lately, but once I free up my time and buy the right size Royale, I’ll be casting on the Genevieve Baby Cardigan for a special baby arriving in December. So fast, so delightful on the right needles. Check them out!

Noro For Grownups

Friday, October 28th, 2016
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One of the first sweaters I made, for my then-7-year-old son, was in Noro Kureyon. He loved the colors but it was a tad scratchy, and after he grew out of it, I couldn’t find any child that would love that sweater like he did. Noro has always been the gold standard for eye-catching, long color repeats and brightly-hued blues, pinks, reds, and greens. At least, I thought that’s what I loved about Noro yarns.

Read more about Noro Tennen on the WEBS blog at blog.yarn.com

What did I spot in one of my hoarding window-shopping expeditions into the store? Why, Noro Tennen, a gorgeous blend of wool, silk, and alpaca in colors evocative of nature in late November. The color names bring to mind images of stone, smoke, wood, and salmon, and the yarn brings those images onto your needles. Each worsted-weight skein is a very generous 275 yards, making the possibility of a hat, cowl, ear-warmer, or fingerless mitts out of one of those skeins very real. But I think this slightly fuzzy, rustic yarn demands a sweater, and our Shay Cap Sleeve Pullover would be perfect to show off the muted colors and unique texture of this special yarn. Perfect to throw on over a slim long-sleeve shirt or under a heavier jacket, Tennen will be a savvy investment for moments of quiet, contemplative stitching.

Sometimes Bigger IS Better

Friday, October 7th, 2016
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Knitting folk, you know I am usually all about the smaller yarn. I think somehow it looks nicer, you can do more with it, the stitch definition is usually better, and also, those are the needle sizes I have lots of. So…expedience.

I recently was lucky enough to be in on a presentation given by Stacy Charles, whose name is probably familiar to all of you knitters. Their new yarn, Sherpa, was really popular at our recent Knitting Retreat, and at first glance, I thought “absolutely NOT.” It’s everything I thought I didn’t like in a yarn: fuzzy, big, random little boucle dots of natural color along the fiber. However, I then saw this yarn knit up in this absolutely gorgeous pullover with matching cowl, and it’s the antithesis of what I don’t like in bulky yarn.

Stacy Charles with Tahki Yarns Sherpa, available at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The Zest Pullover has a drapiness that I could compare to a superstar sportweight or DK yarn, not boxy or puffy, but smooth and shapely. The fuzziness of Sherpa is soft, not like a fuzzy yarn that you don’t want next to your skin. That cowl is about to be on my needles and I’ll finish it in a day, I bet.

What’s the last yarn that changed your opinion? Let us know in the comments, below.

Time For A New Bag!

Friday, September 23rd, 2016
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My favorite project bag is falling apart. It’s the cutest Erin Lane bag ever, in a fabric that I think they don’t use anymore–white skulls on a black background. The best part is that some of the skulls have little pink hair ribbons and it is just subversive and cute at the same time. However, I’ve carried it from East to West and it might have even traveled to another country and it’s shredding. Time for a new bag!

Binkwaffle Dumpling bags and more favorite project bags on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I certainly have a lot from which to choose. I’m a bit picky about my bags, because I like the kind that can stand (or sit) on their own, without falling over and taking up a lot of room. This Binkwaffle Dumpling bag comes in two sizes and seems highly useful in both. They’re both reversible and close ingeniously by simply pulling the handle through a grommet. Ta dah! comfy on your wrist and the big one is sturdy enough to sit quietly without misbehaving beside my chair.

Erin Lane is always reliable (and the fabrics they use are delightful). I particularly like Self-Standing Bucket Tote, big enough to throw my wallet, keys, and sunglasses in along with a project or two. Lots of choices of color and print, too.

If I was going to give a wishlist to a caring husband, I’d certainly encourage a Namaste purchase. The Hermosa Bag is big enough to throw a laptop in and maybe a sweater in case it gets cold (along with the sweater you’ll be knitting, of course). These bags last forever and they are easily mistake for a high-end handbag.

You know, there’s a lot of knitting time before the holidays hit us. Why not indulge in a new bag now for all those gifts you’ll be creating?