Author Archive

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?

Summer Pick-Me-Up

Friday, August 26th, 2016
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It’s the last weekend before the “official” start of autumn; here in Massachusetts, that means kids are starting to go back to school, colleges are welcoming freshmen for their orientation, and we’re starting to see the store fill up with parents of boarding school-ers and college students who see WEBS as the destination they come here for AFTER they drop off the kids.

Planning your last summer project with Amy on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Since it’s still pretty hot, I thought about knitting a “Last Gasp Of Summer” project, and with a minimum of searching I found the perfect top: Baby Cocktail “White Sangria” sleeveless top, designed by Thea Colman. It’s a gorgeous confection of eyelet patterning and a flattering shape–a super-feminine A-line with a fitted bust and the option to tailor the “skirt” for your figure. It won’t take long to make, since the details, while beautiful, are fairly simple, and although Thea used Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton, I think I might gravitate toward one of our Rowan closeouts like Pure Wool Worsted Superwash in a discontinued color. Grasshopper is a minty light green, almost a neutral; but Vintage (a mauve-y purple) would carry your top into the warmer days of September over jeans or some white capris (if you want to break some fashion rules!). Check it out, and let us know in the comments what your end-of-summer project is.

Embellish That Stuff!

Friday, August 5th, 2016
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I learned a new craft this weekend–well really, I learned about three crafts this weekend: making block prints, printing on fabric, and embellishing the prints with embroidery. What really stuck with me was learning to embroider, and I think that if you can knit or crochet, you can embroider. The stitches are so intriguing, and easy to do. You use yarn, or crewel wool which is basically yarn. And there are NO RULES so you don’t have to worry about breaking any.

Amy's suggestions for adding embroidery to your knits, on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

It’s intoxicating, I tell you. Kristin Nicholas, who led our weekend retreat, is a local treasure and frankly, a national fiber and color cheerleader. She challenged us to experiment with color, and highlight the prints we made by outlining, filling in blank spaces with interesting stitches, and making negative space pop by using color as an accent.

Embroidering on knitted or crocheted projects is for the color-obsessed among us who can’t leave well enough alone. It’s so fun and makes a ho-hum accessory or garment super-special. Check out these adorable mittens designed by Kristin and imagine the possibilities. Or these cuties.  How about jazzing up your phone holder?

The book that got it all started is her Colorful Stitchery. It has all kinds of ideas for using embroidery on fabric, knitted accessories and garments, and tons of how-to instruction.

Experiment with gilding the lily and make your knits colorful and exciting. Tell us in the comments below what you end up with!

Kits = Best Thing Ever

Friday, July 29th, 2016
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Kits seems to be the New Thing. I think that I’ve never seen so many kits in the store as I did on a recent meander through the yarns. I hasten to add that I think kits are a fabulous thing, because you have every single thing you need to knit or crochet (or weave!) a project with no need to make any kind of decision whatsoever, other than what color palette you most enjoy. There are so many different project kits I’m just dying to use that I thought I’d let you in on some of my favorites.

Project and specialty yarn kits available at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The Fair Isle Box of Itty-Bitties captured my heart. If you’ve ever done Fair Isle knitting you know that you use about a yard of each color and it makes no financial sense to buy 10 different skeins of yarn and use a quarter of each to make a hat. This beautiful box of teensy skeins of sport weight yarn in 8 colors will turn into a beautiful Fair Isle hat in your talented hands. Three different colorways give lots of options.

More options await you in the Wonderland Yarns “Mad Hatter” kits. Included in each kit is a large skein (344 yards) and 5 smaller skeins (86 yards each) for a total of 774 yards of lovely sport weight yarn. That’s plenty to make the “Which Way” shawl that is free with the purchase of one of the 6 color options.

Artyarns has also conspired to seduce fiberlovers with Gradient Kits. These are colors in the same family that range from light to dark, perfect for shawls and scarves in ombre or gradient designs. WEBS carries several different color palettes including 3 that are exclusive to our customers. And Merino Cloud yarns are deeeee-lightful, a merino/cashmere blend that is twisted for beautiful stitch definition.

There are plenty more to drool over–Zen Yarn Gardens Cordoba Shawl kit, using Superfine Fingering yarn in their signature intense colors, Lorna’s Laces String Quintet kits in Shepherd Sock, Baah Yarns “Wings” cowl kit in Baah Yarns’ La Jolla, pattern included in the kit. I think you’ll have a hard time deciding to make just one project. Tell us what kits you love the most in the comments!

Best In Class

Friday, July 15th, 2016
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Every June, I am honored to celebrate another class of graduates from the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program. We just had our graduation and 9 new designers have been launched into the knitting universe! Our very swanky ceremony was held at a very nice hotel/conference center nearby for the first time ever–because we’ve outgrown our former celebration venue otherwise known as “the back classroom.” Want to see some eye candy?

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Our graduates this year are, from left to right, Lorraine McGough, Sara Gibbons, Liz Frosch-Dratfield, Andy Tarr, Alexis Price, Lindsey Lindequist, Susan Baron, Donna Smith, and missing from the photo is graduate Cindy Romaniak. Each created a masterpiece of design and construction using the skills learned in the 16 required classes that make up the WEKP, as we call it.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This year’s sweaters ran the gamut of texture and construction. Susan Baron made an absolutely perfect coat in Madelinetosh Chunky; the detail was incredible. From the complicated math she used to figure out how to end a cable at the shoulder seam, to the ingenious use of a sport-weight yarn as a facing for the heavier front panel of the jacket, Susan made a garment that any professional designer would be proud to call their own. And, she got the stamp of approval from the designer herself when Amy Hendrix, the co-owner of Madelinetosh, saw Susan’s Capstone at her appearance at WEBS and loved it.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Alexis Price made a lovely cabled pullover, keeping it traditional in her yarn and color choice, but making it her own with shaping and textural details. You can see the pride she takes in her Aran sweater (as well she should!).

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Cindy Romaniak’s complex paneled design contains a number of elements completely unique to her design sensibility. Her use of several different stitch patterns, unique Empire shaping, directional knitting, and eye-catching colorwork made this garment stand out.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Sara Gibbons created an exquisite saddle-shoulder lace-and-cable sweater with 3/4 sleeves and knit it in a heathery green that beautifully complements her coloring. Sara was the most independent of our designers, needing only to consult her mentor Kirsten Hipsky for a few final questions about her finishing. Sara’s design was inspired by a sweater of her mother’s and she really nailed the essence of that earlier sweater.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Lindsey Lindequist achieved the impossible – she finished her Capstone sweater while caring for a 2-year-old and a newborn. My hat is off to her! Her 2-color cable and sweet “Tree of Live” design on her front pockets (pockets! yes!) add standout elements to a reverse-stockinette background. Congrats, Lindsey!

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Lorraine McGough’s “Butterfly Sweater” (as she and I both called it) reflects her sunny personality as well as her perseverance. She knit the front as one piece and then steeked it (in order to preserve the unity of her butterfly eyelet stitch pattern), and knit intarsia butterflies around the shoulders and hem. Her sunny yellow color choice and bright bursts of color were exactly what she planned.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Donna Smith made a designer’s dream sweater: she used stitch patterning to shape the back design of her cabled rib cardigan. The placement of her buttons emphasized the vintage look of her swing design and the blue color she chose added the perfect final touch.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Andy Tarr had a tough year but still managed to pull off one of the most beautiful sweaters we’ve seen–and the complexity involved in her yarn and design made her dedication to her project even tougher. Andy hand-dyed Valley Yarns Huntington in shades of lavender and purple to achieve a gradient pattern, and she knitted a contrasting lace overlay as the front panel of her cardigan. It can be worn either buttoned on both sides as a fitted cardi, or open, as a draped open piece. Either way she wears it, the craftsmanship is evident in every detail.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Liz Frosch-Dratfield had a rough year as well–and almost decided to wait to finish her sweater. However, with some persuasion, she decided to forge ahead (since I knew she’d been planning her Capstone design for over a year!) and her finished design is absolutely exquisite. Knit in Valley Yarns Northfield in purple and heathery green, she used a leaf motif throughout. The ties in front, the hemline, and the sleeves showed off hand-crafted leaves, and the lace patterning echoed the leaves, climbing like vines up the front and back panels of her cardigan. The final result is a flattering and eye-catching work of art.

I’m so proud of this year’s grads. Huge thank yous go to our Capstone mentors: Stephanie Gibbs, Cyndi Shepard, Erin Holman, Ping Wood, Kirsten Hipsky, and Sara Delaney. A thank you as well to Kris Potasky of KP&Co Designs, who hand-made lovely, lovely matching bracelets as our gift to the graduates. And a final thanks to Kathy and Steve Elkins, who started the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program in 2008. It’s grown to almost 100 folks at present, and 34 have graduated since 2009. I hope you find inspiration in these designs.

Babies = Blankets

Friday, June 17th, 2016
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I know of two babies on the horizon, one arriving in September and one arriving in December. Both of the new mothers are good friends, good enough that a tiny baby sweater isn’t enough. I decided to go full-on baby blanket with these special wee ones. I have just enough time (I think) to make crib-sized blankets for each, and I’ve settled on two patterns that are calling to me.

Valley Yarns Haydenville and great baby projects on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Miss September Baby is a much-anticipated girl who has two older brothers. I want her to have her very own special gift so I’m making a Valley Yarns pattern, the Snowdrop Blanket. However, you know how I feel about plant fibers, so no go on the Longmeadow. Instead, I’m going to use some lovely Valley Yarns Haydenville, probably in Silver, because White, or even Natural, seems like a set-up for disaster, since you all know what babies do on blankets. It’s neutral enough to match her nursery and distinctive enough to be an eye-catcher in a Mommy and Me group.

Baby #2 is a mystery, so I’m going to go with a bold pattern I love, the Valley Yarns Pattern Grayson Set. The stitch is simple enough to be knit while watching “Game of Thrones,” and the color changes are just challenging enough so the project won’t be tedious to finish. I’m going to use Haydenville for this one, as well. I’m going to completely switch up the colors, however, and go with Slate Blue as the main color, banded with Natural and to make it pop, a stripe of Yellow. Could read as masculine or feminine, and I am so hoping it becomes the blanket that baby can’t sleep without.

What is your favorite baby pattern? Let me know in the comments, below!