Author Archive

Can I Like Plant Fibers?

Friday, April 8th, 2016
Share Button

The jury is still out, but I found two yarns whispering to me from their hidey-holes in the store that might sway me to the non-protein-fiber dark side.

In what has to be the most interesting confluence of fibers that I’ve encountered, Nettle Grove, from Plymouth Yarn Company, is a mix of 45% cotton, 28% linen, 12% nettle fiber (you read that right), and 15% silk. This tonal sport-weight yarn actually feels so soft and swingy, and has a beautiful sheen. It doesn’t have any of the inelasticity that I’ve grown accustomed to feeling in fabric knit in cotton or linen. It must be the nettle. In doing some internet research, I discovered that stinging nettle has been used for centuries to make luxurious cloth, especially in the British Isles. It’s closely related to flax and hemp, and once washed and finished, results in a soft, drapey fabric. Nettle Grove comes in 8 variegated colorways, and my favorite, hands-down, is a gorgeous orange called Sunrise. It looks like a creamsicle, and I’d make this swingy tank top with it in about 2 days.

Amy learns to love plant fiber yarns! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Alicia is a fingering weight 100% linen yarn. I have documented my issues with linen here (stiff, hard to knit, no memory) but this one could be a game-changer, in that Stacy Charles encourages knitters to use a worsted-weight gauge for this smaller yarn. It really looks like embroidery thread, with saturated colors and a tight twist. Using a worsted gauge for Alicia will give projects an airiness that knitting to gauge ordinarily would not. The more this yarn is soaked and blocked, but softer it will become. If you’re looking for a project, the Allium Shell, designed by Joan Forgione, would really make the yarn the star. It’s a short-sleeved pullover, with a zig-zag bobble pattern that really makes the best use of the crisp stitch definition and smoothness you’ll get from this dedicated fiber.

What’ll you put on the needles when the weather heats up? Let us know in the comments!

My New Yarn Crush

Friday, March 25th, 2016
Share Button

The newest yarns from Skacel, HiKoo Seuno and Sueno Tonals. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Although you all know that I’m not the biggest fan of plant fibers, I found a yarn that might help me over that bias: HiKoo Sueno and it’s twin sister, Sueno Tonals. It’s a mix of 80% Merino Superwash and 20% Viscose from bamboo. Bamboo is a light, silky, slippery fiber for the most part, and it tends to grow a bit when knit, but I think the merino in this combo smacks that bamboo into submission with the power of wool. Even better, it’s a yarn that spans multiple gauges, from a worsted to a sport weight, needles sizes between US 3 and US 7. What a shape-shifter! The Sueno comes in 14 spring-y colors like Dusty Lilac and Mud Puddle; the Sueno Tonals are delicate and beautifully shaded variations of the original line. I’m already thinking about what I’d make with either one. The pattern support from Skacel is superior, as usual. Since we’re on the cusp of spring, I might make this beanie, which can be worn in these last raw days of March on into the chilly nights of April.

Check out this intriguing fiber blend, and get it on your needles!

My Discomfort Zone

Friday, March 11th, 2016
Share Button

I’m making a gorgeous cowl (yes, another one) that features stranded colorwork. In case you want a visual, it’s this beautiful thing, The Wallpaper Cowl designed by WEBS’ own Emma Welford, our Social Media Coordinator. In case you’ve seen our latest Instagrams, Facebook posts, and our new venture into Periscope, she’s the genius behind those lovely images.

I decided to knit it in our Kangaroo Dyer’s hand-dyed Valley Yarns Northfield, in a charcoal gray as the main color and a cool chartreuse-green as the contrast. They look gorgeous. Here’s what doesn’t look gorgeous: my hideous floats. Here, because I’m honest, is what I started with:

Amy learns to tame her floats for the Wallpaper Cowl. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Not so great.

So, off to the Internet went I. But because I’m more of a “I need to do it to learn it” kind of brain, that was a bust. I saw what to do but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Reader, I went to Drop-In. I felt a little odd about it, because I work in a yarn store and I’ve been knitting for quite a while, but I just couldn’t do it! I didn’t know how to trap those floats! Beth Altimari, savior of my knitting, came to my rescue once again and in about five minutes, showed me exactly what to do so that I didn’t have big screwy loops all over the place. Now my floats are even, manageable, even, I daresay, tidy.

The main reason I’m writing about this is to say that if you’ve been coasting along with your stockinette scarves and your ribbed hats, maybe it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. Try something new, shake up your routine, maybe even dip into another craft. Crochet, weaving, spinning…use a different side of your brain.

And when you come back to knitting, make the Wallpaper Cowl. It’s going to be amazing.

Raising The Bar

Friday, March 11th, 2016
Share Button

In February, I worked at the WEBS booth at Stitches West, in California. So many folks wandered into our booth to see what goodies we had, and I had a blast helping them find great yarns (not hard) and walking them through patterns for projects they wanted to make. I kept hearing the same thing, which was usually a variation of “I’m not a very good knitter, I can’t make that pattern because it’s too hard, are you sure I can handle that yarn/pattern/needle size/stitch pattern?”

The first thing I ever knit was a sweater, and it remains the ugliest sweater ever, but because I started with something sort of difficult, I think I have a bit more confidence about some things in the knitting world than I might if I had just stuck with scarves or hats. I would never say I’m a fantastic knitter, but I can get a project done without much whining and I love stitch textures like cables and knit/purl combos.

The Mill River Cardigan knit in Valley Yarns Sunderland. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

In that vein, I am encouraging all knitters who have ever wanted to knit a sweater to choose our Valley Yarns pattern 668, the Mill River Cardigan. First of all, it’s knit in Sunderland, which is the softest, coziest, DK-weight baby alpaca I’ve ever felt. The lace panels on either side of the front button bands won’t weigh the sweater down, but will let air and light filter through the panels to create movement and loft. I personally think it’s a triumph of sweater design by our own Kirsten Hipsky.

It’s a classically shaped cardigan, knit in pieces and seamed at the shoulders, sides, and sleeves; you’ll pick up stitches for the two bands on each front piece and you can choose to put in buttons and buttonholes, or leave it open. Either way, you’ll get a sweater’s worth of fiber and finishing education. If you get stuck on anything, check out our website for technique videos – we’ve got a lot of help for you! Or go to your LYS, which, hopefully, is WEBS. Either way, once you finish this charming garment, you’ll be filled with a new confidence and ready for more!

What knitting challenge will you take on this year?

Another Fine Donegal I’ve Gotten Myself Into

Friday, February 26th, 2016
Share Button
vintage leaf sweater

Photo copyright Debbie Bliss

I have been loving Debbie Bliss’s Fine Donegal from afar these days, but I grabbed a skein to check out a particularly pleasing color this afternoon (it has an antiseptic number instead of a name, but if I were the Head Namer at Debbie Bliss, I would probably call it Pine Forest with New-Growth Leaves), and I fell in love with it all over again.  It’s a scrumptious blend of wool and cashmere in a sport-weight gauge of 6.5 stitches to an inch on US size 3’s, which is my sweet spot. My love was confirmed when I went wandering around on Ravelry to see what folks are making with this delicious stuff, and found The Vintage Leaf Sweater, designed by Debbie herself and found in the pattern book that supports this yarn (also called Fine Donegal). All the pictures in this book must have been taken on a really hot day because the model looks really mad. No matter; the garments drew me in and especially Ms. Vintage Leaf. Body-conscious, close-fitting at the neck, and with a hypnotic twisted-stitch lace pattern that looks like –you guessed it — leaves. It has an afterthought collar, and elbow-length sleeves that add even more class.

It’s snowing here today, and even though we had the coldest weekend ever, I’m hopeful that looking at some sweet tweedy yarn will bring a little spring to mind. Happy knitting!

Gradient

Friday, February 12th, 2016
Share Button

Apparently, the new new thing is gradients. I’ve been hearing about them here and there, and they seem to be popping up all over. We’ve got the lovliest set of gradients in the store by indie dyer Kate Bacchus of A Hundred Ravens and when I picked up a colorway called Legolas, I was enchanted. We all know that in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Legolas was the CUTEST. And, bonus for me, he’s Jewish.

The sets are made of her Iachos yarn and each contain seven mini-skeins ranging from light to deep. Legolas is a meltingly beautiful mix of greens, from coolest mint to pine-forest, with eye-catching twists of light and dark. Iachos is a soft superwash 2-ply merino wool, in a fingering weight. Each mini is about 55 yards, and the set adds up to 400 yards. You could make a cowl, scarf, or shawl easily. And it would be so much fun to knit! You could stripe or use the gradient from light to dark. When I checked out the sets on Ravelry, I saw very cool colorwork. The sky is the limit.

Best of all, for WEBS customers, the seven colorways we carry are exclusive to our store and customers! Check out all of Kate’s fabulous colors, and listen to our December “Ready, Set, Knit!” podcast when Kathy interviewed Kate about her New England business.

The Bleak Midwinter

Thursday, February 11th, 2016
Share Button

We’re in the thick of winter now; for a while it seemed that we were going to have a “no-snow” season, but as I look out my window now, there’s about two inches on the ground and it’s falling steadily. This weather makes me glad that I have a comforting project to sit with. I’ve just begun #677 Bookstack Cowlthe Bookstack Cowl, a Valley Yarns pattern knit in Superwash DK. It’s so squishy! I just love the hypnotic bookstack rib stitch. The image shows it knit in the “Cloudy Day” colorway, but I switched it up, to a bright red, to go with my black winter parka. The size is perfect for wearing doubled, and the spiraling bookstack rib pattern is reversible.

This doesn’t have to be a winter-only accessory; I could wear this in the spring with a long-sleeved tee in case a light jacket isn’t warm enough. It’s beautiful as well as functional, and isn’t that what the best knits should be?Bookstack rib

It’s Not Too Late For Valentine’s Day Knitting!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
Share Button

It’s down to the wire now–Valentine’s day is right around the corner and you’d love to give your boy- or girlfriend a handmade gift. But you procrastinated, and then you didn’t know what to knit, and then the Super Bowl happened…and now you have only a day or two to make a gift to warm a loved one’s heart. What to do? Fingerless Mitts to the rescue.

A quick trip around our website offers myriad possibilities, and not one of these patterns will take you more than a day or two. (Secret: you don’t have to block them if you completely run out of steam!)  My personal favorite is by one of my go-to pattern designers, ChickenBetty. Her Birthstone Pattern by Chicken Betty.  Photo by Lindsey TophamBirthstone mitts have a beautiful 2-stitch cable motif that goes down the back of each mitt. And the garnet colorway that you see in the pattern would be a lovely offbeat choice for a Valentine.

Spud and Chloe’s Venus Mitts are made in a lovely worsted weight yarn that will keep hands and wrists toasty and stylish. Plus, “Venus.” It screams Valentine. They take only one skein of Spud and Chloe SPUDCHLPDFOTRVENUSMI.zoom.1Sweater, a superwash yarn, and would be nice for either a man or a woman, depending on what color you choose.

Finally, the Swan’s Island Cafe Mitts are the simplest ever in a lovely 2-stripe sequence. Best of all, there are 3 different lengths you can make–so if you’re trying to git’er done on a lunch hour, make the shortest one! How SWANSISPDFCAFEMITTS.zoom.1about white and red stripes? Or, if you’re going manly, gray and blue look very nice together.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Make it a crafty one!

“Let’s Put On A Show!”

Friday, January 29th, 2016
Share Button

Every once in a while, in a meeting, the word “retreat” would come up and everyone around the table would nod and say, “yes, we’ve got to do that one of these days.” Knitters, that day is here! Last week we announced our first-ever WEBS Knitting Retreat (#WEBSRetreat) and we have been overwhelmed by the response. It seems that you really, really like us.

WEBS Fall Knitting Retreat Sept. 16-18, 2016. Registration open Feb. 8th. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Registration opens Monday, February 8. We did that for a reason–to give you all time to put your lifesavers in place: your babysitters, your spouse, your pet caregivers. We wanted you to come up with a really great excuse to give your boss for why you’re not coming in to work on Friday. It takes some time to digest all the information, and make a decision about whether or not you’re going to spend money to treat yourself for an entire weekend of fiber frolics. We wanted you all to be absolutely positive when you click the “Register” link that fateful Monday.

I can tell you that it will be a ton of fun. We have all kinds of great stuff planned, including late-night knitting gatherings, theme meals, lots of shopping time with Steve and Kathy, personalized swag from your favorite yarn companies, and the hottest teachers around. It’ll be action-packed, I guarantee.

You know what? I’ve never been to a knitting retreat. I’m DYING to go to this one. Are you coming?

Weaving White Sale!

Thursday, January 21st, 2016
Share Button

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.