Author Archive

It’s A Mystery…

Friday, January 16th, 2015
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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?

Valley Yarns Brimfield Voted Most Congenial!

Friday, November 7th, 2014
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As I was passing a co-worker’s desk yesterday, I saw a yarn I hadn’t seen before, being knit in a cute seed-stitchy pattern in the round. Something about the way the yarn seemed to hug the needles and at the same time, jump out in a beautifully defined stitch pattern called to me. I could not resist squishing it for the longest time until I had to be called off like a dog with a bone he just found in the back yard.

jewel tones and rich neutrals in Valley Yarns Brimfield.

Valley Yarns Brimfield might be the bestest thing ever-smooth, cool to the touch because of the combination of merino and silk, and best of all, most congenial in that it could be used for just about anything on just about any kind of needle. Bamboo? Bring it on. Karbonz? Of course. The colors are straightforward no-nonsense neutrals and jewel-tones, so you could make a great scarf and hat set, or, my preference, this lovely sweater by Norah Gaughan called East Lake, found in Volume 3 of her Berroco collection of patterns.

Stitch patterns in a cunningly constructed sweater.

photo copyright Berroco

 

What would you knit in this user-friendly yarn? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Is Coming

Friday, October 24th, 2014
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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
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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
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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
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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!