Author Archive

Is Summer Knitting An Oxymoron?

Friday, March 28th, 2014
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While our store may be a little less crowded in the summertime, it’s not because our customers aren’t knitting. Conventional wisdom dictates that nobody wants to be working with wool in the summertime, and hauling a sweater’s worth off to the beach is an invitation for a bottle of sunscreen to spontaneously open up onto your cabled cowl. But I personally knit all year ’round, and with the plethora of lightweight cotton and natural blend yarns there are to choose from, summer knitting doesn’t have to mean wool sweaters. As I looked through the Sale Flyer for the WEBS Anniversary Sale, I found a lot of options for summer shawls (when there’s too much air-conditioning) or light, airy sweaters to throw around your shoulders as you head off for ice cream with the family.

DELICATOPR.PEONY.zoom.1Prism Delicato Layers, made from Tencel, is a lovely, silky smooth yarn that I would use for any lacy pattern. The stitches would stand out clearly and any lace pattern would be beautifully showcased. Regularly this yarn sells for $30 per 630 yard skein, but for the month of April, (while we have it in stock!) it’ll be available for $20.99.

Sport and DK weight yarns lend themselves to lighter garments in openwork patterns, and I couldn’tMAGNOLIACL.5449.zoom.1 find anything nicer than Classic Elite Magnolia. Classic Elite regularly does staff meetings to showcase their new season’s garments and yarns, and when I saw the variety of knitwear one could make with Magnolia, I was sold. The blend of merino and silk has a sheen that makes anything you knit or crochet look like it was crafted by a master knitter. The store price is $10.95, but sale price is just $7.69 for a 120 yard ball. Incredible!

And finally, a truly luxurious yarn that has a really interesting nubby texture with flecks of colorful bits of fuzz, Rowan Summer Tweed (even the name is summery!) would be summer tweedperfect for a short-sleeved sweater or vest to throw over a tee. The worsted weight would make a quick knit that you could finish in a week, and throw in a suitcase for a weekend at the beach. Normally we sell this silk/cotton blend for $10.95 per 131 skein, but the sale price of $7.69 means you should grab it now before it’s gone.

What will you be knitting or crocheting (or weaving) this summer?

Weaving A New Skill

Friday, March 14th, 2014
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About five years ago I took a Rigid Heddle Loom class with Leslie Ann Bestor here at WEBS. I was in a bit of a knitting slump, had a very stressful full-time job very far from my house, and I wanted to latch onto a new craft to help me handle all the plates spinning in the air around me. I loved that class, but frankly, I didn’t love the weaving all that much. I really adored my finished scarf, which took all of 2 hours to make from warping to tying off the ends. But something about the action of the shuttle going back and forth was jarring, not as hypnotic as I wanted it to be.

However — although I didn’t like doing it all that much, I’m fascinated by woven cloth and all that goes into making it. Since WEBS started as a weaver’s shop, and we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary, it’s only right to pay homage to the weavers and their tools. Have you seen Barbara Elkins’ draft for The Escher Shawl?escher shawl

This gorgeous shadow-patterned wrap looks exactly like an Escher print, made with our Valley Yarns 8/2 Tencel, which reflects light beautifully and drapes just right. This project is most easily woven using a computer assisted loom and weaving software, such as Weavepoint, neither of which may not have even existed 40 years ago.

table loomsOur “Loom Room” is right off our cash register counter, and it’s a treasure trove of looms and accessories. From the mighty Toika Eeva loom for a cool $9,000, to the cute Zoom Loom that can be held with one hand, a loom might be all you need to try a new skill, open up a new pathway in your brain, or craft a garment or accessory in a totally new and unfamiliar way. Take this, our 40th anniversary year, to challenge yourself. What new skill would you like to try?

 

In Which I Finally Find a Sweater to Knit

Friday, February 28th, 2014
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My personal knitting lately has been cowls, mittens, fingerless gloves, and hats. Occasionally, for a good cause, I’ll work my way into a scarf. I just keep making excuses for not knitting a sweater, and I tell myself (and everyone else) that I just don’t have the time. That’s what knitters say when they are unmotivated, I think…”Oh…(sigh)…I wish I had the time to knit that sweater with the shawl collar, the mirrored cables and the steeked cardigan front. But…sigh…I’ve just been so BUSY.”

Well, forget it. When wandering in the store a few days ago, the most gorgeous sweater caught my eye, and once I turned it inside-out to check the construction, I realized that there was nary a seam to be found. And, it was completely flattering on anyone who put it on, no matter their shape or size.  Here you see it modeled by Andrea, our Website Coordinator.Andrea in Caramel    The pattern is called “Caramel” by Isabell Kraemer, and it’s available as a free download on Ravelry. If you click on the project gallery for the sweater, you’ll see it in the most adorable striped in a wide variety of fibers. Our test knitter, Susan Drew (hanoverknitter on Ravelry) used Shalimar Homage DK in Byzantium (the purple stripes) and Black Truffle (the gray background color). I wish you could feel how soft and delicious this sweater is, and see how beautiful the combination of superwash merino, cashmere, and silk can be. HOMAGEDKSH.BYZANTIUM.zoom.1

I hope that you local folks will check this garment out if you are in the store; and if you’re more than a car-ride away from us, take a peek at who on Ravelry is working on this superstar sweater. It’s going in my queue! What’s your next project? Sweater, socks, or more winter woolies? Let us know in the comments below!

Adult Snow Day

Friday, February 14th, 2014
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This snow sculpture entitled "Knitting Family Poems" was created for the 2007 Ottawa Winterlude National Snow Sculpture Competition by the Alberta team of Brian McArthur, Dawn Detarando and Will Truchon (it received the People’s Choice Award).

This snow sculpture entitled “Knitting Family Poems” was created for the 2007 Ottawa Winterlude National Snow Sculpture Competition by the Alberta team of Brian McArthur, Dawn Detarando and Will Truchon (it received the People’s Choice Award).

We had a Snow Day last week, when WEBS closed for the biggest snowstorm we’ve had since last year’s blizzard. It felt like an unexpected school vacation day, and since I’d gotten all my work obligations taken care of the day before, I gave myself permission to enjoy the day like a teenager. One of my most hedonistic pleasures is reading knitting reference books, so I had a wonderful few hours spent thumbing through my old classics as well as some recent contenders for BKF (Best Knitting Friend). I thought I’d share a few and see what some of your go-to answer books are.

A book that has saved my life again and again is the timeless The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. June came here about a year ago on a very snowy day, and the delight on the faces of those who were here and happened to meet her was infectious. She has a trick for every knitting conundrum you might find yourself in and her information is delivered with a dry wit that makes her sound like your favorite fifth-grade teacher.

A volume small enough to keep in my knitting bag is Margaret Radcliffe’s The Knitting Answer Book, which I turn to again and again. Even though the answers are short, they give you the most information in the fewest words, and the clever illustrations speak volumes. It’s a small book that is completely portable.

No collection should be complete without Barbara Walker and Elizabeth Zimmermann. Barbara Walker’s 4-book series of knitting pattern and charted stitch designs is used by literally every knitwear designer at some point in their career, and they are priceless for brevity and a sense of history. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s The Knitter’s Almanac and The Opinionated Knitter are the cornerstone of any knitter’s bookshelf.

Some recent favorites worth a look are Clara Parkes’ books The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, for the care and beautiful language she uses to describe fiber. Stitch ‘N Bitch by Debbie Stoller, the founder of Bust Magazine, almost single-handedly brought knitting to a new high over 10 years ago. And no knitter can really call themselves a knitter unless they have some Harlot on their nightstand.

What are your favorite fiber reads? Let us know in the comments what you like to page through on a snow day.

PS. This snow sculpture entitled “Knitting Family Poems” was created for the 2007 Ottawa Winterlude National Snow Sculpture Competition by the Alberta team of Brian McArthur, Dawn Detarando and Will Truchon (it received the People’s Choice Award).

Let the Games Begin!

Friday, January 31st, 2014
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I’m almost finished with the sweater I’m knitting, and not a moment too soon: I’ve entered into the madness that is the Ravellenic Games. Ravelry, the social-media site for all things fiber, holds it’s own version of the Olympics, complete with teams, medals, training, reportage, and a ceremony for awards. It’s the Ravellenic Games, and I’m a proud member of Team Knitting Dead — we who are devoted to the television show “The Walking Dead.” The idea is that you cast on your project at the exact beginning of the Opening Ceremony, and you have until the last minute of the Closing Ceremony to complete your work.

STEPPINPDFHUDSON.zoom.1 Because I’m a big bet-hedger, I’m making a cowl. The Hudson Cowl by Steppingstone Fiber Creations really appeals to me. It’s simple but not boring, and I think I’ll be able to make at least one before the torch is extinguished in Sochi and makes it’s way to wherever the heck the next Winter Games are being held.

What to make it in, you ask? Why, some absolutely jewel-like 40th Anniversary MadelineTosh, our own Valley Superwash DK hand dyed by the geniuses at MadelineTosh. I think Baltic will make the texture of this 40THSUPERD.BALTIC.zoom.1neckwarmer stand out and coincidentally matches a lot of my winter sweaters. I think I’ll bring home the gold before the zombie apocalypse strikes!

How To Get Through The Awful Part of Winter

Friday, January 17th, 2014
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I am a professed winter-lover. I love the clean, white snow and the sharply etched night skies that come with cold weather, and I especially love layering on sweaters and blankets. However what I don’t love is what my area of the Northeast is enduring now: dirty, old snow with a treacherous icy topcoat, cloudy, raw days that spit an unappetizing mix of sleet and freezing rain, and a few days of absolute bone-chilling don’t-go-outside-or-your-face-will-freeze temperatures below zero.

These are the times that I rely on a pop of color, an unexpected fiber combination, or a fun, easy pattern that will help me endure until I can look at the 7-day weather forecast and not see one day that has a temperature in the single digits, or an unbroken line of clouds and ice. While walking through the store a day or so ago I stumbled upon one of Berroco’s new spring yarns, Folio.     FOLIOBERRO.4515.zoom.1First of all, bless Berroco for shipping their spring yarns in January. But also, thank you, Berroco, for showcasing my favorite fiber of all, alpaca, in such bright, rich colors! And thanks even more for combining it with just the right amount of rayon, so it won’t grow, pill, or lose its drape. I fell in love at first sight, and immediately hit on a pattern that shows my two color choices (Spruce–a bright olive green, and Criehaven–a honeyed dark yellow) to best advantage.

KitaKita, in the booklet Berroco 344 Folio which accompanies this yarn, is a long, drapy cardigan with a forgiving silhouette and a cozy ease.

What will help you through the worst part of winter? What gives you hope for spring?

Bang! Zoom! Pow!

Monday, January 6th, 2014
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CULLIGAN.zoom.1I consider myself a fairly straightforward knitter–I make hats, mittens, cowls, and the occasional sweater. I’m not knitting up dog sweaters (well, just once), toys, or iPad covers. Not, that is, until now. We featured the book Knits of Tomorrow on the blog a few weeks ago, and it caught my eye–mainly because my husband is an avid collector of space toys, especially rayguns, from the 1930′s onward. I thought he’d like a knitted object that isn’t a sweater or a hat (because, sadly, none of my family will wear the things I knit. They itch, apparently.) I found this great placemat/coaster set that features a raygun and burst of cosmic kablooey that I thought would be a quick, funraygun knit. The yarn the book calls for is Rowan Denim, but I’m going to switch it up with Rowan Handknit Cotton, which has lots of fun, unexpected colors and feels great on the needles.  Normally, I don’t love knitting with cotton, but the four plies twist in such a way that it doesn’t feel as stiff and unyielding as cotton sometimes can. Although the colors shown in the photo from the book are sort of dark and menacing, I am taking the design in a more light, fun way and I’ll probably use this bright, space-age green to pop out of a dark background.

rowan handknit cotton

I think that working on a totally different kind of project will clear my head as I hunker down to knit the 2 sweaters that are up next in my queue.

 

Comfort Knitting

Friday, December 20th, 2013
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I’ve been knitting so many small projects lately, for the ease of finishing them in a week or less. It also gives me a great excuse to try lots of different yarns and I’ve been branching out in my needle choices as well. But I’ve been seduced by a sweater pattern, and like dating, I want to find just the right yarn to settle down with since I’ll be living with it for a while. I think I’ve happened upon the best thing ever–Shalimar Homage DK.  I had an argument with myself about whether to go with the fabulously-named color “Land! Katie Scarlett” or the less-fabulous “Lagoon”, but the ” Lagoon” won, and I took a skein home to swatch. It’s just lovely. Smooth, with some subtle color Shalimar Homage DK in Lagoonshadings of blue and grey, but not muddy or with any pooling of darker colors. It knits right to gauge and when I washed my swatch (of course I washed it. Don’t you?) it bloomed but didn’t get fuzzy or pill-y. I think I’m going to really enjoy the miles of stockinette stitch my sweater pattern demands, and when it’s finished, I’ll have a soft, beautiful garment that will last forever. I think I’ll knit it on my current favorite needles, Karbonz; and I think I might even drop a hint about getting the Karbonz Interchangeable Deluxe Set, with the 4.5″ tips and 4 different cables. They hold the yarn smoothly while the pointy tips let me knit at top speed, which is a bonus with a sweater that includes pleats and a shawl collar. I’ll call it my “Happy New Year” gift, since Hanukkah is just a memory now. I hope your New Year includes all the yarn you need and some you don’t!

Comfort Knitting with Shalimar Yarns Homage DK

“Hanukkah is Over, Full Speed Ahead to Christmas” Gifts

Friday, December 6th, 2013
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I’ve been wandering around the store, enjoying the festive look of our new cash wrap and the decorations around the shelves. Although my family celebrates Hanukkah, I always like the lights and pine-y scent of Christmas decor. I thought I’d mention some gift items for shoppers looking for Christmas stocking-stuffers as we look ahead a few weeks to present-opening day.

Kristin Nicholas is not only an icon in the knitting world but a good friend and a talented artist. A few years ago, she used some of her rare free time to knit sweaters for her lambs, and then photograph them and turn them into magical gift and greeting cards. How can you resist this face?

LAMBCARDSKSANTALAMB.zoom.1

Another friend and gifted artist is former WEBS employee and potter Malea Rhodes, who produces beautiful ornaments and porcelain buttons for sale in the store. These sheep would look right at home nestled on a knitter’s Christmas tree or carefully wrapped in a stocking or on a special package.

Just right for a crafty Christmas...

And last but not least, these exquisite scissors, which look like they came from an Edwardian sewing box, would be the perfect accessory for any crafter’s stash. The delicate gold accents don’t detract at all from the durability and sharpness of the tool, and it’ll be oohed and ahhed over at your next knitting group meeting.

Happy crafting, happy shopping, and happy holidays!scissors

Quick Knit, Yummy Yarn

Friday, November 22nd, 2013
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The small knits I’ve been obsessed with lately are a great way to “taste-test” some yarns I’ve been eyeing in the store. I knit a pair of handwarmers for a friend in Rowan Lima, which is the softest, squishiest, yummiest stuff ever. My good friend MsEllaneous had me try on a cowl she knit using it along with another yarn, and I died. So comfy. At a worsted gauge of 4.5 stitches to an inch, it’s also really versatile, and I thought nothing could match it for mittens, scarves, cowls, and headbands.

See the delicate color progression?

See the delicate color progression?

Well, 2 sets of handwarmers later, I’ve discovered the only thing better, and that’s Rowan Lima Colour, which keeps that lofty construction of alpaca and merino and adds an ombre color effect which is subtle but totally bewitching. It’s not like a self-striping sock yarn, it’s much more discreet and dare I say, fashion-forward. I chose a blue-gray which started out as a warm light gray, and wound it’s way into a rich dark blue and then back again. Just playing with it was really fun.

 

A great holiday gift!

A great holiday gift!

I’ve found a great pattern to use, too, which will show off not only the lovely color distribution but the stitch pattern in the cowl itself–and best of all, I only need one skein! It’s designer Nina Machlin Dayton’s Tuscan Leaves Cowl, which is actually quite easy and looks great.

What project do you envision for Lima Colour? Comment below!