Author Archive

Winter Is Coming

Friday, October 24th, 2014
Share Button

I’ve had that line from “Game of Thrones” in my mind for a while. For me, it’s excited anticipation, but I understand that there are some folks for whom winter is a dirty word. I’m sympathetic, but when I think about winter, I think about luxurious small knits and quick projects that keep me warm. I usually knit about one Big Thing (sweater, throw) each winter, but I really like projects that are fun, fascinating, and don’t take up too much of my time. I have a lot of yarn, people. It has to get used up before I die.

In that vein, I thought I’d showcase a few projects I’m going to try to get done before the winter holidays this year. I’d love to make Melissa LaBarre’s September Circle cowl, knit in a self-striping sock yarn or a variegated or hand-dyed Melissa LaBarre's textured cowl patternfingering weight yarn. I am not a sock knitter, so I don’t have sock yarn on hand, but I’d use Madeline Tosh Merino Light in a deep colorway, like Wicked. At first, it looks brown, but a closer peek reveals rusty pink, gold, and dark purple accents. It would be amazing paired with a camel-colored sweater or jacket.

I love Kristen Nicholas‘s color sense and simple but eye-catching designs. The Coleus Scarf is just my cup of tea, a warm, not-too-long scarf in her signature deep colors. Even though it qualifies as “colorwork,” it’s just not as headachey as Fair Isle or Estonian stranded knitting. Of course, I’d use Kristen’s Color by Kristen yarn, distributed by Classic Elite, in some yummy blues and greens, with some fuschia pops here and there to liven things up.

Rich colors in a simple pattern

Photo credit: Kevin Kennefick

I’d also love to go back to that thing I never did: socks. I have knit exactly 3 socks in my whole life, and even though 2 of those socks were supposed to be a pair, they were entirely different sizes. I’m going to give the lame excuse of lack of focus and young children, and since my children are older now and I have the wherewithal to concentrate on it, I think I might make one last attempt at knitting a pair that look like a pair. My choice? Susan B. Anderson’s Popsicle Socks, in a bunch of different colors of Spud and Chloe Fine. I made some long fingerless mitts in this beautiful yarn a few years ago, and I have some colors left over, so I could scout around for a few that complement my existing shades of deep orange and pine-y green; I’d love to throw some purple or dark brown in there for a wintry feel.fun stripes in a quick pattern

What’s your winter knitting? And what is your dream project or yarn?

#HotChocolateHolidays Workshops Are Open for Business!

Friday, October 10th, 2014
Share Button

As many of you know, WEBS is a big supporter of Safe Passage, an organization here in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts that helps women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. Safe Passage produces what is arguably the most fun way of raising money every year, and that is The Hot Chocolate Run, a 2-mile walk/5K run in early December. The Hot Chocolate Run (and yes, Virginia, there IS hot chocolate at the finish!) has grown from a few hundred intrepid runners in its infancy to over 5,000 runners and walkers, all of whom are united in raising money to help this worthy cause, and in their dedication to drinking hot chocolate from the mugs that are handed out to each participant.

Your customized lip balm

WEBS has sponsored this event for many years, and this year, fresh off some exhausting fund-raising I did last year for Safe Passage, I thought I’d join in the spirit of giving in a bigger way and conceived the #HotChocolateHolidays Workshops. Three local crafting entities have joined with WEBS to host a fun-night-out to teach a DIY skill  that can be a gift for a special someone for the winter holidays or even a gift you give yourself. The best part is that a percentage of the kits bought to make the crafts will go right to Safe Passage.

hot chocolate beads and charmsThe Haberdashery is a way-cool space in a neighboring town and they bill themselves as “Gifts and Guidance for Crafty Homesteaders,” and that encapsulates their mission. Melody Litwin will teach budding fashionistas how to make lipstick and lip balm on October 30. The Northampton Beadery ‘s Brenda McGirk will showcase some hot-chocolate colored beaded bracelets with AMAZINGLY CUTE hot chocolate and running shoe charms on November 13.

gorgeous gift bags

 

And Tess Poe from Beehive Sewing Studio, a maker-space right down the street from us, will help attendees make a gift-bag set and give out beautiful handmade gift tags. All the workshops are only $10 each, and are held right here at WEBS.It would be great to have theseworkshops fill right up, and that’s where you come in! Sign up, bring a friend, learn a craft, give a wonderful organization a chance to help as many victims as possible. It’s not to soon to start stockpiling those gifts for the moment you realize that you need a fun stocking-stuffer or gift bag and it’s 8:00pm on a Sunday night. Join us!

 

Foolish Love

Friday, September 26th, 2014
Share Button

We are all so excited about the first in-store appearance by Linda Niemayer, founder of Blue Sky Alpacas! But I have a secret, and it’s this: I’m more excited about their newest yarn, Extra. I am thrilled to have Linda here, along with her Destination Collection garments, which I can’t wait to see, and the swatching bar, and all the yummy stuff that comes along with a store event. But…I fondled a swatch of Extra today in my favorite pea-greeny color (Marsh, if you’re interested) and I can’t stop thinking about all the patterns I could use this yarn to knit and knit and knit.soft and richly colored Extra

Extra is a luscious blend of baby alpaca and fine merino wool, and comes in big 200+ yard hanks that knit at a worsted gauge of 4-5 stitches to the inch on size 7-9 needles. You could make a cabled cowl with a hank and a bit, or a scarf and a matching hat with 2 skeins. Extra’s construction is nicely twisty without being fuzzy or loose; you’d be able to see every stitch and cables or textures would stand out beautifully.

Cane Bay Wrap featuring ExtraI think the first pattern I’d knit, just to have something on the needles, would be the lovely Cane Bay Wrap, which would knit up in a flash and serve as a great present for the upcoming winter holidays.

Has you had a foolish love for a fantasy yarn? What was it?

Stay Classy

Friday, September 12th, 2014
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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
Share Button

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!