Author Archive

Weaving White Sale!

Thursday, January 21st, 2016
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I have always loved a White Sale–that January staple where you can load up on all the things that you need for your house but never seem to buy during the rest of the year. This year WEBS is holding our version of a White Sale, a Weaving promotion that is too good not to take advantage of.

weaving white copy

From January 22 through January 29, customers who buy 3 cones of Valley 8/2 Cotton or Valley 6/2 Cotton will receive a free download of our new weaving eBook, Favorite Five Dish Towels. The best part, for all of our readers and customers, is that the White Sale will be online as well as in-store! We’ve included some very well-loved drafts as well as a few newbies, and a bonus small dish cloth is yours as well.

The drafts are written for both 4-shaft as well as 8-shaft looms, and they all work well for both 8/2 and 6/2 cotton. You’ll be able to make Carol Birtwistle’s sprightly Ribbon Towels, Chris Hammel’s beautiful and evocative Garden Towel with either a summer or winter weave structure, two of Barbara Elkin’s designs, the Modified Star Work dish towel and the Waffle Weave Buddies, as well as a new draft, the Crepe Towel. Your bonus, the Petite Dish Cloth, is a tiny work of art, and would be perfect as a housewarming gift along with some handmade soaps and a lovely soap dish.

It’s not often that you get to make your own White Sale! Let us know your color choices and the delighted reactions you see if you decide to bestow one of these designs on a deserving friend for the bleak midwinter.

To Poncho or Not To Poncho…

Friday, January 15th, 2016
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I’ve been thinking a lot about ponchos lately. I used to think ponchos were for the lazy knitter, they had no shape, they made a body look boxy and shapeless. Remember that big poncho crazy a few years ago, caused by, of all things, Martha Stewart in a poncho emerging from jail? Everyone was poncho-crazy and I thought that was awful.

Poncho patterns from Blue Sky Alpacas. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Fast-forward to now, and I am looking with a more kindly eye upon the poncho. I’ve seen more than one pattern for very cute ponchos that look like they are wearable by grownups of a certain age. These Blue Sky Alpacas garments were a huge hit when we had their trunk show in the store this fall. The Two Harbors Poncho is knit in scrumptious Extra (used by me for a very fun cowl a few months back) and the big ribbing swatches will draw the fabric in enough to give it shape and drape that are flattering. The Bianca Wrap is simplicity personified. ONE seam. Light, warm, and comfy. Blue Sky Suri Merino is feather-light with a very nice halo that makes this garment more functional than a shawl or a scarf.

My favorite aspect of ponchos is that they are like a sweater without the sleeves–they go over your head and they stay put. I don’t like open cardigans, nor do I like futzing around with shawl pins or winding scarves so they don’t flop open at the first gust of wind. As my office-mate correctly identified it, “they’re like wearing a blanket.” And who doesn’t want that, when it’s icy outside?

What do you think about this new poncho trend? Which one will you make?

No Resolution

Thursday, December 31st, 2015
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I have NEVER been a resolution-setter, and I know if I did make myself a list, I’d cheat before the Ides of March. I have, however, been giving myself a stern talking-to about my lack of organization when it comes to knowing what I have in my stash. In the last month, I’ve brought home three different patterns, knowing I had yarn in my stash to make them. However, once I crawled on all fours through the closet where I keep my stash yarn (piled into plastic bins, no system whatsoever), I realized that I didn’t have enough of one yarn, didn’t have the needles I needed for another…it was anarchy.

Getting organized in 2016. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

If I was going to run down the organization rabbit-hole, I think I’d need to go through every single needle and set I have. I’d need to record it somewhere (there’s an app for that!) so I always have it with me. I’d need to really sort out the yarn I have, by weight, and if I was super-insane, by fiber. I’d need to go through every single pattern I have lying around in various formats and find a place to keep them free from coffee-spillage and my own absent-mindedness.

If I were to be an organized knitter in 2016, WEBS has a few items that I think would help. This Grellow and Gray Sirka Counter would enable me to finally get rid of about 10 different, useless, row counters and stitch markers. It keeps track of up to 3 separate counts and doesn’t move unless you advance it. GENIUS.

I could know what needles I have by knowing where they are–and this Knitter’s Pride case holds a multitude of different sizes, even crochet hooks and tools. And they’re gorgeous.

Chic.a clear zipper-front pouches are just the thing for all my tools. Cable needles, blocking pins, stitch holders, probably even my double-pointed needles. I can just peek inside and wave to all my goodies.

And time. Time is what we all need more of. In 2016, I definitely plan to take more time to do the things I love to do.

For help in getting yourself organized be sure to check out our “31 Days to Get Organized” series of blog posts!

Selfish Knitting

Friday, December 18th, 2015
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I’ve celebrated “my” holiday, and now I’m sitting back and watching other people celebrate holidays. I guess we’re all counting down days til the New Year, and I’m very sure you’re getting tired of “10 Best” lists.

Selfish Knitting on the WEBS Blog. Read more at blog.yarn.com

I’m going to buck the trend and write a shortie about a thing I’m knitting just for me. It’s been a while since I’ve picked up the needles for 1) a sweater, and 2) a sweater for me, but last week I cast on some Classic Elite Telluride in a heathery grayish-blue for the Lone Star vest. I’ve been stalking that garment for months, trying it on every once in a while and forcing other staff members to admire it on me. I finished up some gift knitting for the last of my knitting list and I decided It Was Time.

I’ve knit a few inches of the front and I was gritting my teeth a bit at the linen content in this yarn (normally I just hate plant fibers), but the alpaca/donegal mix totally makes it worth your time. The linen gives it juuuuust enough structure to counteract the drapey tendencies of the alpaca.

I want to point out to all readers that I made a gauge swatch, changed needle sizes a few times to get it exactly right, and then, my friends…I washed it and blocked it, and THEN measured my finished gauge. Just to be sure. Completely sure.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this sweater; maybe a resolution for all of us could be to make a “selfish” project every once in a while to keep our mojo intact. Happy holidays to everyone!

Knitting for Pleasure

Friday, December 4th, 2015
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If you read the title and think that I’m talking about knitting for the pleasure of knitting, you’re wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to knit and I do it  instead of as therapy sometimes. What I love more is knitting something FOR someone and giving it to them. Hand-knitted gifts often trump more elaborate “store-bought” gifts by virtue of the hand-knitting. You actually created something for someone.

I was reminded of this when I gave my son a simple hat and scarf I knit out of Valley Yarns Sunderland. He doesn’t care one bit about the fiber content (as long as it’s not itchy) or how luxurious or locally sourced or hand-dyed that yarn is. He needed a hat and I had enough yarn left for a scarf.

Knitting joy, gifts and more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The pleasure for me was that as soon as he saw that hat he put it right on his head and it didn’t leave that head anytime he was outside. He even wore it inside (our house is a bit chilly). That’s why you knit gifts and give them away — because it feels good.

Valley Yarns Sunderland is my current obsession. Check out this soft, heathery ball of lovely and knit a gift for a friend. It’ll make you feel SO much better!

More Yarn Love

Friday, November 20th, 2015
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I always have a sharp out eye when the store staff is stocking new yarns and I make a point of walking right past our display cubes where the cool yarn kids hang out so I can see who my best friend of the week will be. This week I have two best friends–both in my desired sporty gauge.
Yarn and Soul Superfine 400 (in my mind I put the emphasis on “fine” so that when I say it to myself it comes out “SuperFINE!!”) comes in 25 gorgeous heather shades, and I honed right in on some dark green (called Seaweed) that would coordinate perfectly with most of my (black and white) wardrobe. 100% superfine alpaca and it has a little halo that just melts into a lovely drape. I’d make this adorable Side-Button Vest to go over a cream turtleneck for maximum contrast.

Two yarns from Spincycle Yarns now available at yarn.com, read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

My other new amour is a yarn I talked about on our “Ready, Set, Knit!” podcast a few weeks ago; Spincycle Yarns’ Dyed In The Wool. It’s a sport/heavy fingering weight yarn, and superwash to boot, so you might make some kick-butt heavy boot socks but I’d rather make something that every can see–because the hand-dyeing process takes place before the yarn is spun so it has a unique patterned effect. If you’re making a large project, you might need to compare a few unwound skeins for the closest match, but if you’re using a hand-dyed yarn like this, I think it’s best to let the yarn tell you what to do. You can’t be the boss of a hand-dyed yarn! Spincycle is owned and run by two women who produce small batches of exquisite yarn in the Pacific Northwest. 17 different colorways are at your disposal, including my favorite name, Venus In Furs (check out the Velvet Underground song for a little kick in your workday, my friends) which is a melange of pinks and purples against a background of cream, brown, and burgundy. I’d make these really cute Kira K gloves to match my (black) winter coat and really make them pop.

What patterns do you like to use hand-dyed yarn to make? And what special care do you take to match up colorways? Let us know in the comments, below!

Oh, So Fast, The Holidays Come…

Friday, November 6th, 2015
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I went downtown today to run an errand, and what did I see? Evergreen garland being put up on several storefronts and lightposts. It’s just too soon! Every year, I kick about this and nobody listens.

If we’re going to front-load the holiday season, at least let us have beautiful knits to make our holiday crafting better. I got a fun email from our friend Kristin Nicholas with the news that Yankee Magazine, the bible of New Englanders, is featuring some of her holiday patterns as well as the cutest video of her Pom Pom Garlands. This is a craft that can be done by anyone with the dexterity of a 3-year-old with the Clover Pom Pom makers sold in our store. Her Pom Poms are characteristically Kristin, made with her striking color choices.

Colorful holiday gift ideas from Kristin Nicholas on the WEBS Blog. Read more at blog.yarn.com

I always try to point folks making Christmas stockings to Kristin’s Creative Christmas Stockings pattern, available in PDF form. The colors are not what you’d call “Christmas-sy” but to me, that makes them way more appealing. The bright contrasts are as joyful as the spirit of the holidays; and aren’t you all getting a wee bit tired of red, green, blue, and white? Yankee magazine is also featuring Kristin’s Heart to Heart Mittens, which we carry in PDF as well. The word “happy” doesn’t begin to cover how these fun mittens make one feel. Not only does the pattern give you two options, one for one heart, one for many hearts, but Kristin’s clear directions even show the knitter how to embroider the accents onto the mittens before the top is closed, making them even easier to knit.

If all holiday designs could be knit in Color By Kristin yarn, I’d be much less Grinchly. What makes your holiday knitting happier?

Treasures From The Warehouse

Friday, October 23rd, 2015
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I’m on yarn overload lately. There’s so much new, gorgeous yarn in our store that it’s all blending together in my mind. A few days ago, I took a calming walk out in our warehouse and was reminded once again that there are treasures in our closeout aisles that, in any other context, would be aspirational fibers for any knitter or crocheter (or weaver, truth be told). It’s our luck that a manufacturer made too many of a certain color or just didn’t sell enough to sustain a particular yarn. We can offer those to you at way-lower-than-full-retail-price and you can stock up on some basics that will satisfy any craving. Here are my findings:

Amy discovers fantastic yarns in the warehouse at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool discontinued colors is a gem of a yarn. It’s machine washable and is a pleasing, straightforward worsted-weight workhorse that can handle a sweater, hat, mittens, perhaps a cowl or a scarf. Certainly a baby garment or blanket. The colors available, Orchid Pink, Sky, and Deep Teal, could work for almost any project.

The Fibre Company Road to China Worsted is a dreamy, lush yarn that screams “luxury” to me. It’s a beefy 4.5 stitches/inch on US size 9 needles, and the colors are what I like to call Anthropologie: earth tones, but not muddy browns and grays. Blues, yellows, a ruby red that is eye-catching, and the skein I picked up, in a color called Abalone, is an iridescent gray/green/blue mix that looks like a dragonfly wing. There’s nothing I wouldn’t knit in this lovely combination of baby alpaca, cashmere, camel, and silk.

Frog Tree has long been a favorite of mine. It’s a yarn company that takes what they do very seriously–providing soft, halo-y warm fibers to greedy knitters such as myself. Their Alpaca Sport Melange is a heathery, soft sport-weight that would be perfect for a hat, scarf, or a simple pullover. The bright colors alone would draw any fiber artist to them, but the price! $3.89 a skein, for a yarn that used to be twice that price is a fantastic deal. Stock up, not just on this yarn, but on any of the yarns in this post. And let me know what you’re knitting!

An Unexpected Treat

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
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I get the WEBS emails, just like you do. Last week, one sprang out at me, featuring a yarn I had heard about but not really seen (I work tucked away in one of the offices and am not out in the store as much as I want to be!). Amano is a lovely group of yarns in enough weights to satisfy any knitter, crocheter, or weaver, all featuring some iteration of alpaca–baby, royal, and an important-sounding alpaca designated “Imperial,” which obviously makes it the Homecoming King this year. Late-breaking news: Royal is the TOP 1% of alpaca fiber, Imperial is the next 2-10%. So, royal is the Homecoming King and imperial, obviously, is the guy who fixes the overhead projector.

Amano Ayni is my new best friend. 80% baby alpaca, 20% silk, this sport-weight dream of a skein has a hint of halo, enough to say “I’m soft, but not scratchy.” I am imagining a drapy A-line sweater, soft enough to wear next to the skin. Warmi (is that the best name for a yarn? yes.) is a worsted-weight workhorse, perfect for sweaters, shawls, hats, or scarves. It’s got a lush color palette inspired by fruits and vegetables.

The new Amano yarns now available at yarn.com. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Puna means “Andes Mountains” in the native language of the Incas, and is the essence of the Andes, made from 100% baby alpaca in a beefy 273-yard skein. It’s got a little more halo than Ayni, so I’d treat it a bit more gently, and my perfect project for this sport-weight wonder is the Delia Cowl in Amano’s pattern book for Fall/Winter. The simple openwork contrasts with the warmth of the alpaca to make a very useful garment.

The dip-dyed colorways of Mayu would be a wonderful vehicle for a body-conscious sweater– the addition of cashmere and silk to alpaca makes it almost criminally soft, and the heathery tones almost gleam, showing off the myriad shades in the skein. Puyu means “cloud” in the language of the Incas, and it does look very cloudlike. Baby alpaca is blown into a mesh tube made of silk for an almost two-tone appearance that will make luxurious accessories like hats, scarves, and even ponchos look expensive. Rounding out the Amano family is Apu (“Simpsons” fans will join me in a round of giggles), a dainty ball of imperial alpaca that I can’t stop holding. The Maria Cowl in Amano‘s pattern collection seems like the perfect project in Apu, with startling stitch definition and a drapy texture that caresses the skin.

Check out this new family online or in the store–you’ll want to make friends immediately. What project are you looking forward to knitting in an Amano yarn?

Crochet Aspirations

Friday, September 11th, 2015
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I got a sneak peak at the Fall catalog before it got mailed out to our eager customers, and it struck me how beautiful the featured crochet garments and projects are. I used to skip right over the crochet projects in catalogs and magazines, because I had a nightmarish recollection of a certain red, white, and blue granny-square vest I was forced to wear my entire 5th-grade school year because some distant cousin had found the ugliest yarn available and dusted off her rusty crochet skills to torture it into a garment for me.

Stylish and contemporary crochet garments for Fall. What are you crocheting? Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Crochet is far different now; the projects I see are sophisticated and fashion-forward. I know how to crochet but I think I need to brush up on my skills before I follow a pattern (hey, there’s a class for that!). Once I feel more confident, the first thing I want to make is Sara Delaney’s Alexandrium Cardigan. I’ve worn it all over the store whenever I needed something to cover my shoulders from our sometimes-aggressive air conditioning. It’s lovely and appropriate for any season.

Our catalog features some aspirational projects for me: the Crossroads Pullover is ingenious, two squares that start from a center point and increase outward. It’s lacy and could be worn over a tank top or under a jacket. Crochet superstar Doris Chan has created an openwork jacket in Goshen, a smooth, delicious cotton blend Valley Yarn. I love the dolman shape and the sturdy collar that wraps down to the hem. My favorite project of all just might be the Valley Yarns Mystery Crochet-A-Long Blanket that we ran as a class last winter. In several different colorways, each square has its own personality and the blanket can be customized to fit any bed or sofa you make it for.

What are you crocheting this fall? Show us your FOs!