Author Archive

My Favorite Child

Friday, March 13th, 2015
Share Button

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!

We Could Use Some Color!

Friday, February 27th, 2015
Share Button

Not to belabor the point, but we’ve had more snow in the last month than we had all last winter. As much as I like winter, I’m now throwing up my hands and admitting defeat. This week, I thought I’d spotlight some fun yarns in vibrant, warm colors to get us all thinking about spring. Even though some of my picks are built for cold-weather projects, it will still lighten my thoughts to see these intense shades on the needles.

 Amy talks about yarns in vibrant, warm colors to get us all thinking about spring on the WEBS blog - read more at blog.yarn.com
Debbie Bliss Paloma is a bulky-weight yarn but the slightly tubular chainette construction makes it feel super-light. And the rich dark pink that caught my eye would make a great-looking tam to take you from freezing outdoors to cozy inside. Cascade Avalon Multi in a sweet pastel palette would be perfect for a pullover vest or shrug to layer over a long-sleeve tee. And who doesn’t love Madeline Tosh? Tosh DK in Fluoro Rose makes a bold statement, so just a little will go a long way. Maybe a loose cowl or some fingerless mitts? It’s never too early to plan your garden, and to help with that, take a peek at Schachenmayr Tahiti in a variegated green/yellow/teal color combo. It can’t help but bring lacy flowering shrubs and lilac bushes to mind.
Are you thinking of spring? What would be your dream color or project?

The Warp and Weft of Generations

Monday, February 16th, 2015
Share Button

Store Sales Associate Marthe Young’s daughter Lilah is getting married in May, and Marthe’s wedding weaving preparations are not only heroic, but poignant as well. She is weaving together three generations of handmade cloth to give her daughter a beautiful wedding gift of her talent and her love.

Marthe is know to our customers as a knowledgeable instructor for many of our rigid heddle loom classes as well as a knitter, crocheter, and expert seamstress. Her weaving education began right here at WEBS, more than 30 years ago. In 1979, the then-single Marthe took a weaving class with Barbara Elkins when WEBS was in its infancy. She loved it and bought herself a Harrisville design loom that she put together from a kit. On that loom, she wove her own wedding ensemble with yarns and fiber obtained from WEBS, using the same warp for her cocoon jacket, dress, and belt.

WEBS retail associate Marthe and her mother on their wedding days with the fabric Marthe wove for her own dress - read more at blog.yarn.com

A 25″ Schacht Rigid Heddle Flip Loom is what Marthe used to weave her daughter’s wedding shawl. You can see the photo of this airy, delicate shawl, but what you can’t see from a picture is the intricate patterning of the tone-on-tone fibers, the tiny sequins, and the gossamer weight of this heirloom. When Barbara found out about Lilah’s engagement, she gave Marthe a cone of pearls on thread (which Marthe calls “Barbara’s Pearls of Wisdom”). Marthe plied those with her own home-spun BFL — because of course, Marthe is a spinner, as well! She used a combination of rayon chenille, silk, merino, and , because the wedding will take place on an alpaca farm, some baby alpaca as well. At the edge of the shawl woven next to the pearls is the yarn used in Marthe’s own wedding dress. Once woven, it became apparent that the shawl wasn’t quite long enough — Lilah is a tall drink of water! — so Marthe knew she’d need a border, and when looking for something to use for that border, she came across some scraps from her mother’s hand-sewn wedding dress from 1948. Obviously it was perfect, and that became the end-borders of this lovely shawl.

The wedding shawl Marthe has woven for her daughter Lilah using miltiple fibers including yarn from her own wedding dress and satin from her mother's - read more at blog.yarn.com

Marthe’s current loom, a collector’s-item cherry Norwood, is what she’s using to weave shawls for each of the bridesmaids. You can see the template she’s using, with the charcoal-colored warp of Colrain Lace, Plymouth Gold Rush, Cascade 220, a mystery rayon closeout yarn, and Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo. The weft is 5/2 bamboo as well, and the deep color will set off the accents of mint green that the groomsmen will be wearing in their bow ties and sneakers (!), as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Shawls woven for Marthe's daughter's wedding party - read more at blog.yarn.com

On her wedding day, Lilah will be wearing elements of both her mother’s and her grandmother’s history. Those legacies are woven together in each generation like the warp and weft on a loom. Like living history, all of these garments tell a story about their owner, and they give us a springboard to the future.

From Folly Cove

Friday, February 13th, 2015
Share Button

I’ve been paging through our latest catalog featuring some of our new Spring yarns and designs. It seems like it’s been snowing a lot lately, and as much as I like hiking and snowshoeing, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ll put on the needles in the warmer months.

From Folly Cove collection by Julia Farwell Clay from Classic Elite Yarns - Available at yarn.com

I was struck by Classic Elite Yarns’ new pattern collection, “From Folly Cove.” It features designs by Julia Farwell-Clay, who has a design sense that skews right up my alley. What I love about these patterns, and the theme of the collection, is that she takes her inspiration from the works of the Folly Cove Designers, a group of women who hand-printed textiles in Gloucester, MA, from the 1930’s until the late 1960’s, when author and founder Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios (The Little House, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel) died. My husband’s family has been going to Gloucester ever since he was a pre-teen, and he and I take our kids to there every summer. We love the beautiful beaches and towns, and the history of Cape Ann. We always ride our bikes down to the harbor to see the Gloucester Fisherman Memorial and we try to time our summer visits so that we can be in town for the annual Festival of St. Peter.

The designs in “From Folly Cove” take elements from the original textile print blocks created by those innovative women of Cape Ann. The Iarrobino Vest is a vest pattern using a butterfly tesselation motif as inspiration, and the matching cowl (you know my love for cowls) focuses on a single motif turned over and upside-down. The Cape Ann Stole calls to mind the repeating patterns of the sand dunes at Good Harbor Beach, and is a perfect shoulder-warmer for the nights when the breezes over the Atlantic Ocean turn chilly.

I hope you’ll thumb through “From Folly Cove” and when you’re finished picking out the many patterns you’ll be making, take a hop over to the Cape Ann Museum‘s web site to read about the original designers and their groundbreaking work.

Road to China Lace

Friday, January 30th, 2015
Share Button
Road to China Lace from The Fibre Company available at yarn.com
I will often have a chat with Stephanie, our Store Manager, and paw through her desk to see what’s new. Sometimes I’m not bowled over, but this afternoon when I stopped by to say howdy (well, actually, I stopped by because she keeps an excellent cookie stash), she just held up a gorgeous skein in a warm topaz color of the most delicate laceweight yarn I’ve seen in a long time. This beautiful new friend is The Fibre Co’s newest, Road To China Lace, and it comes in 14 smoky jewel tones. I took at look and thought that Peridot would be my go-to, but it was a hard choice. The combo of baby alpaca, silk, camel, and cashmere wound into a drapey 2-ply laceweight version of one of my favorite yarns to paw, Road To China Light, would make delicate and warm hats, shawls, scarves, cowls, or sheer sweaters to layer over a long-sleeve tee. I might use it for this cowl I’ve been thinking about making for my yoga buddy. It would be perfect to throw on under a jacket on the way to class.
How do you treat yourself with yarn? What’s your favorite luxury fiber?

 

It’s A Mystery…

Friday, January 16th, 2015
Share Button

For our fiber friends in the Northern Hemisphere, winter often finds us burrowed into our homes, or trudging from our house to our car to our office to our car to our house. Here at WEBS, we’re hatching a mystery knit- and crochet-a-long to spice up your short days and long nights. It accomplishes a number of good things: you’ll learn some fascinating new techniques that you’ll use forever, you’ll have something fun to look forward to every month as a new square is revealed, and you’ll have a beautiful keepsake blanket that will be just the thing to use as a wedding gift, a graduation present, a baby-shower goodie, or an early holiday present.

WEBS Mystery Knit-A-Long Blanket Class - register at yarn.com

We’ve even picked out four different colorways in our Valley Yarns Northampton for you. Neutrals will go with anything, Autumns are for those (like me) who crave the heathery tones of October orange, green, and burgundy. Jewel Tones are bold splashes of clear sapphires, garnets, and emeralds, and Pastels are deliciously light and baby-friendly. Each month a new knit and crochet technique will be taught by Sara in her classes here at WEBS. Those students will get hands-on help from the fabulously talented Sara as well as the fun of learning with like-minded folks, and as my mother would say, “you might make a friend.”

WEBS Mystery Crochet-A-Long Blanket Class - register at yarn.com

A week later the square’s pattern will be released online in our blog, along with photos and a technique video so that you can go it alone, if you live too far away to travel to our Northampton store. We’ll be sharing your squares-in-progress on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and anywhere else knitters pop up to visit with us.

We have some spaces in both the Knit-A-Long class and the Crochet-A-Long class. Why not take a step out of your comfort zone and join us?

The Bleak Season

Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Share Button

Now that the holidays are in the rearview mirror, it seems like time to embark on a project to make winter pass a little more quickly. I’ll drop a hint here that we’ll be helping you find a big project to go through the bleak season in a few weeks, so stay tuned! You’re going to learn stuff that is fun, and you’ll have a big ol’ yummy blanket to give or keep by the time the lilacs start to creep out.

Flares and Graces PDF, Plymouth Cashmere Passion and Filatura Di Crosa Zara Kid - all available at yarn.com

In the meantime, I’m going to cast on for a sweater–I haven’t had a big project like that on the needles in almost a year! I thought I’d give our “Flares and Graces” pullover a try. I love the shape of this textured knit designed for us by Guest Designer Fiona Ellis. The sleeves and yoke have a really intriguing cable pattern that will stand up to some binge-watching of “Grey’s Anatomy,” my new addiction. The waist shaping makes it appear slightly fitted, but I’m going to knit it with a bit more ease, in order to put a silky tee-shirt underneath for total comfort.

I am having a tough time choosing between two yarns that seem perfect for this project, which needs a yarn that will clearly define those chevron cables. Zara Kid is a really soft, springy combination of wool and polyamide, and I like the pine-green color that caught my eye in our store. Cashmere Passion is also a contender; the blend of merino and cashmere create a fabric that would be heavenly to wear. The mauve-y pink is a go-to for me lately.

What are you knitting to help you through the holiday let-down?

I’m Looking Ahead

Monday, December 22nd, 2014
Share Button

This year, I didn’t throw myself into the knitted-gift frenzy that has made the last few years a little dicey in terms of holiday engagement. (That means I was the Grinchiest Grinch ever as I glared at every recipient of the scarves, hats, mittens, and cowls that I was knitting for them. Poor planning is my defense.) I’m taking the long view this time around. I’m looking ahead to 2015, because I’m thinking about what I might want to do differently in the coming year.

I don’t make resolutions. Too much commitment. I make vague goals and if (when) I don’t end up fulfilling them, well…lesson learned. Move on.

Most thorough technique book ever!Next year, I’m really going to concentrate on the details. I’m going to move past my go-to Long Tail Cast-On and Knitted Bind-Off. I’m going to experiment with cast-ons and bind-offs that are complementary to my project and look beautiful.

I’m going to learn how to do Kitchener Stitch. I’ve done so much to avoid this necessary fact of knitting life, and it now seems ridiculous. How hard can it be? (stop laughing). I’m also going to learn to read charts. I can protest all I want but I love stitch patterns and cables and those babies are charted. Once again, how hard can it be? (see above.)color chart

Lastly, I’m going to stop making the thought of perfection ruin a perfectly good knitted piece. Only I know that I bumbled a knit stitch into a purl. Nobody will ever see the mismatched decrease except me. I want my knitting to be fun and comforting, not a showpiece. That’s why I started knitting in the first place.

I might add, in a self-serving way, that some of these things can be learned in a class. And that leads me the now open-for-business winter/spring class registration! Check out our offerings and see what you might like to tackle in 2015.

Candle’s Glow

Friday, December 5th, 2014
Share Button

It’s almost Hanukkah! Hanukkah is really such a minor holiday in the Jewish lineup, but it gets a lot of play because it usually happens within a month or so of Christmas, which obviously gets major play. I think a lot of folks think it’s the counterpart to Christmas. In any case, it starts on December 16th. I’m sure a lot of you will be giving knitted, crocheted, or woven gifts for the Festival of Lights. I’ve compiled a few ideas that would go well with latkes and sufganyiot (the delicious fried jelly doughnuts that are traditional at Hanukkah).

knitted menorahNo discussion of menorah-craft would be complete without an homage to this fantastic pattern designed by my dear friend Ping Wood: A knitted menorah with knitted candles, and a pocket to keep them in! Genius, I tell you. She even designed a spin-off, a knitted Advent Candle hanging. Candles and pine boughs are always classy.candles and pine boughs

While poking around on Ravelry, I found this menorah pillow in Melanie Falick’s beautiful book Handknit Holidays, which has gorgeous knitted gifts for every winter holiday. This pillow is knit in creamy white, and I think it’s set off beautifully.

creamy white menorah pillow

Photo credit: Moontea

Quirky woodcut holiday cardsLastly, my enormously creative co-workers have designed some holiday fun that you’ll enjoy year-round. Jamie Sweeney did quirky and cool woodcut cards that would be fun to include with a gift or sent on their own to friends to say “howdy.” Gail Callahan, AKA KangarooDyer, dyed these luxurious silk scarves that are not only gorgeous but useful (under a scratchy turtleneck, or to add flair to a woolen overcoat). Proceeds from both of these gifts goes to Safe Passage, a local institution that provides shelter and necessities to women and families who have been victims of domestic violence.hand-dyed silk scarves for Safe Passage

Enjoy this winter’s joys!

Seeing Red

Friday, November 21st, 2014
Share Button

Red is not only a very Christmas-y color, it’s also one of my personal favorite colors. It has to be the right red, however; not orange or blueish red. I like a rich, true, warm red, and maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems to make prettier presents.

I looked through the store for some eye-catching reds to knit a little holiday fun and came up with quite a few that I’ll tell you about. Folks from my tribe, never fear: I’ll do a Hanukkah blue-and-white post next time and include a little pattern fun in that one!soft and squishy warmth

HiKoo Zumie is a big luscious hank of yarn. It’s a bulky yarn that knits up at 2 or 2.5 stitches/inch on a US 13 needle, but it really goes a long way. It’s an acrylic/wool/nylon amalgam, with a slight fuzz. We’ve made the cowl pattern that you’ll find on the inside label of the yarn (free gift for you!) in Crimson and this would be a great quick knit for when you’re heading down the finish line for gifts.

loft and warmth make great giftsLouisa Harding Susurro is a chainette constructed 100% alpaca yarn, so it’s light and lofty and will knit up in a jiffy. It’s a true worsted-weight, with a gauge of 4.5 sts/inch on US size 10 needles. Louisa Harding yarns are so reliable and I’ve used several over the years. The color of this skein is called Rosehip, which makes it sound like yummy tea. This would make such a nice, warm hat for a favorite cousin, or a throw for sitting in front of a fire as you roast chestnuts. Does anyone actually do that? I hope so.luxurious cashmere and silk

For your beloved, go get a skein or two of Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere in Seeing Red. Don’t even think about it. It’s just the softest, silkiest, most true red I’ve seen. You’ll have to take a deep breath to reconcile the price ($37.00 a skein), but it’s a whopping 400 yards, at a fingering weight, so a lacy short shawl or scarf is just right for one skein.

I’m breaking with tradition for my last pick–Rowan Brushed Fleece. It doesn’t have a great warm red, but there is a snowy, ivory color called Cove that would make a great accent. You could stripe a hat, knit the heel and toe of a sock, or make a long candy-cane swirled scarf. I just love Rowan and this bulky behemoth would knit up in a flash if you’ve left a gift for the night before Christmas.halo of creamy white

To paraphrase the Starks on Game of Thrones…Christmas is coming. What will you be making for the holidays?