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31 Days to Get Organized: Storing Your WIPs

Friday, January 4th, 2013
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Welcome to Day 4 of our 31 Days to Get Organized series. We’re done sorting through our unfinished projects and left some clues so we can pick them back up again later. Next task is storing them so they’re ready for you when you’re ready for them.

Everyone has a limit to how many WIPs that they are comfortable with. Some people only work on one project at a time. When they finish it, they’ll start another. Others may only have at most 2 or 3 projects going. For these folks, they really don’t need to come up with a system for storing their works in progress. But when your WIPs grow much more than 3 projects, coming up with a way to keep them organized can be really helpful, otherwise you might start to lose track of some of the pieces, making it much harder to start knitting or crocheting that project again.

A few years ago I purchased this Lantern Moon Tower to store my WIPs. There are a few things that I really like about this storage solution. I like what it looks like so I don’t mind it being out in the open. Out of sight can mean out of mind. This stand currently lives next to my desk so I see it every day, reminding me of projects that need to be finished. I also like that it is vertical storage, so it doesn’t take up much floor space. Though I can fit quite a bit in the baskets, it’s a defined amount of space for my WIPs. I don’t allow them to accumulate beyond what I can store in the tower. Maybe it’s an arbitrary limit, but seems to be what I’m comfortable with.

As I look at my tower of projects, I see that it’s terribly disorganized (for my comfort level). Projects that need to be frogged, old swatches from finished projects, skeins of yarn not actually in a current project. I’ve got some sorting and cleaning up to do. Ideally, I like to keep all of the yarn and pattern for a project together, where each project has a separate project bag. My large Amethyst Crochet Blanket is too big to fit in one basket now. So it lives in my largest project bag on the floor next to the tower.

I use quite an assortment of project bags. There’s the inexpensive WEBS shopping bag. Some of you may have a few of these hanging out in your house too. Gallon size or larger clear plastic zip top bags work great to store projects. They’re cheap and you can see everything that’s in the bag. My favorite type of bag for most projects is a drawstring top bag. They’re easy to use and I can stuff it easily into my messenger bag when I head out of the house. I rarely leave home without a project!

Two drawstring bags that I love (for different reasons) are the Blue Sky Alpacas Pretty Cheep Project Bags (only $6.50 each) and the GoKnit Pouch both small and medium sizes (I’m crazy about the snap loop so I can attach it to my belt loop when I’m knitting on a plane or standing and waiting for a band to start). Sometimes though, I need a larger project bag to fit everything, especially for a big project like an afghan. WEBS carries a number of large project bags. It’s a really nice splurge if you don’t have one yet. When I got hired at WEBS, the first thing I did was purchase a big project bag I had my eye on. I still love it and use it frequently.

Now you know my system for storing projects. But what works for me, may not work for you. I recommend finding a storage solution that is flexible and is easy to use. If you’re the type of person who needs to see it to remember it, store your projects out in the open or somewhere you will see them frequently. Maybe a big basket near the sofa where the projects are accessible would work well. But I suggest at least sorting the projects within the basket with separate project bags, otherwise things could quickly become a jumble. Another option could be a storage ottoman, a place to kick up your feet while knitting and crocheting AND store your projects.

But maybe you want them more tucked away. If you have a little extra closet space, hanging cubby storage would be able to fit several WIPs, easily accesible, but still out of site. Plastic storage boxes could work too. But I would recommend plastic storage drawers over boxes since they’re easier to access. If you don’t have the vertical space for drawers, then an under-the-bed rolling storage box could work better.

I’ve mentioned just a few ideas for ways to store your WIPs. What’s your favorite solution or tip for storing WIPs? Share what works for you in the comments.

– Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Tips for Your WIPs

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
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Yesterday’s task was to sort through your unfinished knitting and crochet projects (WIPs) and decided what you want to finish and what to let go. It’s Day 3 of 31 Days to Get Organized and I have a few tips for your WIPs so that they’re easier to come back to when you’re ready to pick them up again.

Don’t tie up your needles and hooks in your WIPs – If you’re going to stop working on a project for awhile, remove your knitting needles or crochet hook from your work before storing it. If it’s a crochet project, just slip in a locking stitch marker, paper clip, or waste yarn through your last stitch to keep it from unraveling. If it’s a knitting project, you’ll have a little more work to do. If you don’t have many live stitches, you can use a stitch holder (my favorite are the Clover Double Ended Stitch Holders). If you have a lot of stitches, move them to a piece of waste yarn. If you’ve never done this before, watch our How to Use a Lifeline in Knitting video to see how it’s done.

Leave a clue as to what size hook or needle you were using – You don’t always end up using the recommended size hook or needle for a project. And it’s really tough to remember what size you were using. If you haven’t made a note about your size yet, jot it down somewhere. Just write it on a sticky note and stick in your project bag.

Keep your swatch with your project – This is particularly handy if you run out of yarn and need just a little bit more to finish. You can unravel your gauge swatch and use that yarn to complete your project.

Write down details of where you left off on the pattern – I’ve spent way too many hours trying to figure out where I was in a pattern when I pick up a project again. Often I have to unknit or rip back my crochet to a known point in the pattern, very frustrating. Leave some kind of trace on the pattern, either a sticky note, highlighter tape, or actually writing on the pattern itself. I’ve learned not to trust the numbers on counters anymore since sometimes these get changed by accident (or by little children).

Make a note of the size you’re making – This comes up most often for me with sweater patterns either for me or babies and toddlers. It’s not always obvious which size I intended to make.

What tips do you have that make it easier to pick up a WIP and start knitting or crocheting it again? Share your tip in the comments.

– Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: WIPs – Keep or Frog

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
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Welcome to day 2 of our 31 Days to Get Organized series. Today we’re digging out all of our knitting and crochet works-in-progress (otherwise know as WIPs). Some of you don’t have a pile of unfinished projects. You may be a one-project-at-a-time kind of person. Or you may never have more than a couple projects going at a time.

But some of us are overwhelmed by the growing number of projects that we’ve started and can’t seem to finish. There are many reasons that keep us from finishing a project.

  • Running out of yarn
  • Getting bored with the pattern
  • Starting a new project you’re more interested in
  • Getting stuck with some part of the pattern
  • The person you were making the project for outgrew the size you were making
  • You no longer like it or you never liked it
  • You took out the needles or hook and can’t remember the size you were using
  • Holiday or gift making took over and you never picked up the project again
  • You have finished all the pieces, but hate seaming.

Whatever reason you’ve dropped a project, it’s ok to not finish it if you don’t love it anymore. Give yourself permission to let it go.

You can see above the Berroco Eastlake sweater I started 4 1/2 years ago. You know a project has been around awhile when the yarn has been discontinued. (Here’s hoping I have enough yarn to finish the sweater, otherwise it’ll be a short-sleeve sweater). This is my oldest project. My knitting gauge may have changed over the years. But I still really like this pattern and love the yarn. So it’s a keeper.

I recently looked at a multi-block afghan I’ve been knitting for years and realized I hate the yarn. Every time I picked up the afghan to knit, it made me grumpy. But I do like the pattern. So I gave myself permission to give away the blocks I had knit and the rest of the yarn too. Then I picked my favorite yarn and started the afghan over.

So your task today is to pull out all of your projects, old and new, and decide what you’re going to finish, and what you’re going to frog (rip out). If you can’t stand the idea of frogging it, you can also pass it onto someone else to finish.

What’s your oldest WIP? What project are you determined to finish in 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

31 Days to Get Your Knitting & Crochet Organized

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013
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Many of you have made New Year’s resolutions to get your craft life organized in 2013. Some of you want to finally finish those lingering unfinished knitting and crochet projects (UFOs). Some are overwhelmed by their yarn stash. Others may want to organize their craft supplies so they can find what they need, when they need it.

January is National Get Organized Month. Before I started working for WEBS many years ago, I was a professional organizer, and I’m still passionate about organizing (now yarn too). Through the month of January, I will be posting tips and advice on decluttering, organizing, and storing your works-in-progress (WIPs), yarn stash, patterns, and more.

To get things started, your first task is to make a list of what’s working for you and a list of what you want to improve. For example, I love my circular knitting needle and DPN storage solution; all of my knitting and crochet supplies are in one room; and using Ravelry to keep track of my projects (current and future) works great for me. But I have problems with my WIPs staying on the needles for way too long; my patterns are a mess; and somehow my yarn stash is large yet I never have the yarns I need when I want them.

In the comments below, share the one thing that is your biggest organizational challenge when it comes to your knitting and crochet. I’ll try to include solutions to each challenge in one of the upcoming 31 Days to Get Organized posts this month. I’m really looking forward to helping you all get more organized this month!

– Dena

New Video Section on Our Website

Friday, December 28th, 2012
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Some of you may have noticed that we’ve recently added a new video section to our website. You can find a handy link in our top navigation bar right after Classes & Events.

We have over 140 product, technique, and behind-the-scenes videos to watch with convenient links to other related videos and products in each description. Some video highlights you’ll find are:

  • Newest Videos – Keep an eye out here to catch all of our latest videos like our Year-End Sale preview and the new WEBS Blooper Reel from the past two years.
  • Knitting Videos – From beginning knitting to advanced techniques, you’ll find a collection of knitting videos to help you with your latest project.
  • Crochet Videos – Great videos from learning how to single crochet, to Tunisian crochet, to finishing can be found here.
  • Weaving Videos – Learn how to warp a loom back to front from WEBS founder Barbara Elkins.
  • Spinning Videos – Learn how to spin with a drop spindle.
  • Valley Yarns Videos – Dive in to what makes Valley Yarns so special with yarn reviews and our latest Valley Yarns designs.
  • Product Review Videos – Find out more about some of our favorite or newest yarns, tools, and accessories that we carry.
  • Classes & Events Videos – A look at some of the fun things happening at WEBS.
  • Inside WEBS – Go behind-the-scenes of WEBS – America’s Yarn Store to learn more about the people, store, warehouse, and more.
We’re always looking for suggestions for new video ideas. What knitting or crochet technique do you want to learn? What kinds of products do you like to see a video for? Share your video ideas in the comments below of new videos you would want to see in 2013.

WEBS Handmade Holidays Pinterest Contest Winner!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
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Thanks to everyone who entered our WEBS Handmade Holidays Pinterest Contest. We hope you all had fun. We definitely enjoyed making the Handmade Holidays video and looking at everyone’s Pinterest boards.

And the winner of the contest is… Josephine Cheung! You can see Josephine’s Handmade Holidays board over on Pinterest. We’ll be sending Josephine a $50 WEBS Gift Card for winning.

For those of you playing along, we’ve created our own Handmade Holidays Pinterest Board where we’ve pinned all of the things seen in the video.

Sebastian Gloves Knitalong – Week 3

Sunday, November 25th, 2012
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We’re wrapping up the Classic Elite Yarns Sebastian Gloves Knitalong this week. How are your gloves coming along? I’ve finally finished one of the ribbed cuff gloves and I’ve started a cable cuff glove too.

Cable Cuff Clarification – First up, if you’re knitting the Cable Cuff version of the gloves and haven’t started knitting from the second chart yet, there was a missing line in the instructions. After you finished knitting the 16 rows of the Cuff Cable Chart, BEGIN FOLLOWING CABLE CHART OVER 18 STS BEGINNING WITH ROUNDS 4 TO 8, THEN WORKING CHART RNDS 1 TO 8 TO COMPLETE GLOVE. Some of you may have picked up on this omission. But some may have started with round 1 of the second chart. But no worries. Your gloves will still look great. You’ll just have an extra twist in your second middle cable crossing. You can see an example of the extra twist here.

Change to Smaller Needles for Fingers – After you’ve knit the last Reverse Stockinette Ridge and placed the stitches on waste yarn, be sure to change to your smaller needles. I missed this step in the directions, but it’s not the end of the world. By knitting the fingers on smaller needles, this will create a more dense and durable knitted fabric. This is exactly what you want on the finger tips which is where my gloves wear out first. I’ve mended the fingertips of these gloves so many times. I love them and will keep mending them until I run out of yarn. So keep your yarn scraps from the gloves for future mending.

Use Short DPNs – If you never knit glove fingers before on double pointed needles, you may find a shorter needle such as the Knitter’s Pride Dreamz 5″ DPNs to be easier to work with. You’ll only have 3-5 stitches on each needle, and longer DPNs may feel more awkward and just get in the way.

Shaping Finger Tops – Once you’ve knit to the top of a finger and after threading the tail through the remaining stitches, I like to tighten up the stitches from my last round before pulling the tail tightly to close up the top. I find this creates a more tidy looking finger tip.

Closing Up the Gaps – Once you’ve finished all of the fingers, you may find some gaps between each finger. Since you left nice, long tails at the beginning of each finger, with just a couple of stitches, you’ll be able to easily close up those gaps. Before weaving in your ends and cutting off the extra yarn, try on your gloves looking for any other gaps that you want to close up.

Embellish Those Gloves – I really like the look of the cable pattern without any embroidery. But I’ve seen others do some really nice embellishing too. Have fun with this part; you’re almost done!

Thanks again to everyone who have been sharing their glove progress with us. It’s great to see so many knitting along. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below. And if you’re on Ravelry, we’d love to see a picture of your finished gloves in the Sebastian Gloves thread.

Happy Knitting!

– Dena

Sebastian Gloves Knitalong – Week 2

Sunday, November 18th, 2012
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So is everyone ready to get started knitting their Sebastian Gloves? I’ve been working on the Ribbed Cuff Version and have really been enjoying having a portable knitting project again.

First off, I’d like to answer a couple of questions people have had on social media this past week. Some of you may be having the same questions.

1. “I’m not very good at knitting on double pointed needles. Would it be possible to magic loop these?” Absolutely! I would suggest knitting the gloves using your favorite small-diameter circular knitting method. I started out knitting my glove on DPNs, but once I got to the cable portion, I found it easier to knit on two circular needles. With this cable pattern, I didn’t like having a cable cross between two double pointed needles. With two circulars or the magic loop method, it’s easy to have each cable portion on a separate needle.

2. “I don’t want the cable pattern on the inside of the glove. If I recall, cable draws the fabric in compared to the same number of stitches in stockinette. If that’s true – is there a way to figure out how much I’d need to reduce the number of stitches on the inside without knitting it, measuring it, and pulling it out?” Kristin Nicholas‘s response to this question: You would have to figure out your stockinette gauge and substitute in. You would also have to adjust the finger stitch numbers for pickup. The reason I put the cable on both sides is because if a glove is the same on the front and back it can be worn on both hands. The gloves I have that are either right or left handed always wear out on the right hand first. You can swap the gloves between hands so they will wear evenly and you won’t have to re-knit the fingers so often.

3. “Is there a fingerless version of these?” or “Wonder if I could make these as mittens instead of gloves?” If you want to make a fingerless version, there has been suggestions to bind off after the last reverse stockinette ridge or to stop knitting the fingers at the first knuckle. If you want to make mittens, I would suggest skipping the last reverse stockinette ridge and continuing the cable pattern. Follow a basic mitten pattern to shape the top. But you’ll have to do some extra work figuring out how to end the cable pattern.

Now let’s get knitting! Below, you’ll find some notes, links to video tutorials, and tips as you knit the gloves.

Cast On – I just used my go-to Long Tail Cast On. Unless I need a really stretchy cast-on edge, I use this most of the time.

Needles – If you’ve never used DPNs before or need some tips, check out our Knitting in the Round on DPNs video.

Changing Colors – If you’ve never changed colors in your knitting, check out our video on How to Add a New Color to Your Knitting.

Ribbed Cuff – For the first row of ribbing in the ribbed cuff, I would suggest knitting all stitches. If you do the ribbed pattern on the first row, you’ll get a messier transition between the color change (see photo at the right). I ripped back and reknit this row. Check out our tutorial on how to knit clean stripes in ribbing for more explanation.

Knitting Cables – I love cables because they add a lot of fun texture and look a lot more complicated than they really are. If you’re a cable newbie, watch our How to Knit Cables video before starting the cable section. One of my favorite tools to use to keep track of where I’m at in a cable chart is highlighter tape. Really, it’s awesome. You can see it in use here. But sticky notes work really well too.

Marking the Thumb Gusset – Later in the glove, you’ll need to measure from the beginning of the thumb gusset, to where you knit the last reverse stockinette ridge. For ease of measuring later, I would suggest slipping a locking stitch marker in the middle of the cable pattern of this row. It’s easier to see where the thumb gusset begins.

Knitting the Thumb Gusset – You’ll be using a Make 1 stitch (M1) to create the thumb gusset. For a refresher on how to knit Make 1 Increases, watch this video.

Once you’ve knit the thumb gusset, you’ll hold the thumb stitches on waste yarn and continue knitting the rest of the glove hand. You’ll need to knit until the hand measures a certain amount from the beginning of the thumb. Don’t make the mistake that I made and measure from where you put the thumb stitches on waste yarn. You’ll need to measure from the beginning of the thumb gusset. So I had several rows I had to unknit. And unknitting cables is definitely harding then knitting them. Learn from my mistakes.

That brings us to the last reverse stockinette ridge. We’ll pick up there next week. Now take a moment, slip on your glove, and take a picture. Looking good so far I bet. Share your progress on our Ravelry page here. I’d love to see everyone’s color choices and gloves so far. I’m knitting the small size, which is a little snug for my hand.

If you get stuck, please post your questions in the comments.

Happy Knitting!

– Dena


Sebastian Gloves Knitalong – Week 1

Sunday, November 11th, 2012
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We loved Kristin Nicholas’s Sebastian Gloves the first time we saw them. But we were blown away by the incredible response they got when we featured them on the cover of our Fall 2012 Catalog. Their cheerful cuteness were hard to resist.

Last week, Kristin Nicholas kicked off a two-day Sebastian Gloves knitting class. But not everyone is fortunate enough to live close enough to WEBS to take our classes. So we’re starting a knitalong today for the Sebastian Gloves! If you’ve never heard of a knitalong (also known as KAL) or participated in one before, they’re a fun way for a group of knitters to virtually knit a pattern together. We’ll offer tips, answer your questions, provide tutorials on techniques used in the gloves. You’ll share your progress, ask questions when you get stuck, and definitely post photos of your finished gloves.

If you’ve never knit gloves before, a knitalong is a great excuse to try a new kind of project. You’ll find lots of help and encouraging words here.

This week of the knitalong you’ll be collecting the supplies you’ll need to get started.

Step 1 – Purchase the pattern. You have two options. The Sebastian Gloves can be found in the Classic Elite Yarns 9209 Color by Kristin Book 1 pattern book which we currently have in stock. Or if you prefer a digital version, you can purchase the Sebastian Gloves PDF pattern on our website too.

Step 2 – Purchase the yarn. The yarn used for the gloves is Classic Elite Yarns Color by Kristin, a 50% wool, 25% alpaca, 25% mohair worsted weight yarn. If you’re knitting the Ribbed Cuff version, you’ll need 1 skein each of 4 colors. If you’re knitting the Cabled Cuff version, you’ll need 1 skein each of 3 colors. In my Ribbed Cuff gloves, I’m using the 4 colors pictured at the right, with the Turquoise Sea color as my main color.

Step 3 – Decide which color will be your main color and contrast colors. Especially if you’re going to knit the Ribbed Cuff version, I recommend drawing a quick map of the glove and where each color will appear in the glove. This will save you time later to prevent you from knitting the wrong color. Believe me, it happens.

Step 4 – Check your gauge by knitting a swatch. Some people swatch, some people don’t. Sometimes it depends on the type of project you’re going to knit. Check out our blog post on Checking Your Gauge if you’re not sure if you think you need to swatch or not. If you do swatch, use the color that appears the least in the gloves you’re knitting.

Step 5 – Get together the other materials you’ll need. After you determine which size needles to use, you’ll need a set of double pointed needles in that size (larger needles) and then a set about two sizes down from there (smaller needles). The recommended sizes are US 5 & 7. You’ll also need a cable needle, stitch holders, and some waste yarn.

Note: if you prefer to knit gloves on two circulars or use one long circular needle for magic loop, go right ahead. I’m finding using two circular needles easier to use when knitting the cabled portion of the gloves since I don’t like it when a cable crosses between two double pointed needles.

Step 6 – Decide which size you’re going to make. This pattern is written in small, medium, and large sizes for women.

Step 7 – Share your color combination and questions. Please share your color choices in the comments below or in the Sebastian Glove KAL thread on Ravelry. And if you have any questions, ask away. That’s what we’re here for.

We’ll start knitting the gloves next Sunday. Then the knitalong will wrap up a week later, which leaves plenty of knitting time left if you’re making them as a gift for the holidays.

I can’t wait to see which color combinations people are going to come up with. This is a great project for trying a color you may not normally use. Have fun with your color selection.

Happy Knitting!
– Dena

National Spinning and Weaving Week at WEBS

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
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October 1 – 7 is National Spinning and Weaving Week and WEBS is celebrating with a week of events, special activities and discounts! WEBS was founded and grew out of Barbara Elkins’ passion for weaving and we hope to share and spread that enthusiasm to weavers and spinners from novice to experienced (and perhaps entice some others to try their hand at it for the first time!).

In the spirit of sharing these time-honored arts, we will be featuring daily demonstrations of both weaving and spinning in the store from 11 am – 1 pm. These demos will be free and, we hope, will spark questions and conversation between the weavers and spinners and those watching. A great variety of techniques will be presented – both wheel and drop spindle spinning, floor looms, frame looms, rigid heddle and more. If you’ve ever wanted to see fleece spun into yarn or watch yarn woven into cloth, come on over and check it out!

In addition to the daily demos, we are also offering mini workshops to present a sampling of different techniques so that people can try something new and add to their toolbox of skills. If you’ve been curious about trying something new or just want to expand your skills, this is a great way to start. All mini workshops will run from 2 – 4 pm and cost $5. The schedule will be:

Monday: Spinning Exotic Fibers – Musing about mohair? Confused about cotton? This mini-workshop will explore several different exotic fibers like camel down, silk and cotton. We will also look at the different drafting styles that may suit each fiber.

Tuesday: Hand Techniques for Rigid Heddle Looms – Looking for some new techniques to add some pizzazz to your rigid heddle weaving? Join us for this workshop as we look at both hand-manipulated laces and pick-up stick patterns. We will also cover how to hemstitch your weaving while it is on the loom.

Thursday: Inkle Weaving –In this inkle loom workshop, you’ll see how to make heddles, dress the loom, start and end weaving, and, of course, how to actually weave.  If time permits, we’ll talk about how to plan a warp. There will be an opportunity for a little bit of hands-on work.

Wednesday is our big Meetup Day as we encourage weavers and spinners to come together and celebrate the beauty and joy that these crafts bring. We will have a space to hang out (with refreshments!) and socialize with others who understand what it means to weave at 56 epi or drool over handpainted BFL roving. There will be goodie bags plus the allure of the warehouse and store (have you seen the new Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo and the spinning fibers that have recently arrived?). Bring show and tell and share your stories of fibery adventures and inspirations.

Also on Wednesday, Barbara Elkins will be doing a computer loom demo from 1pm – 3pm.

In addition to all of the fun things happening at the store each day, throughout the week we will be offering a 10% discount in-store (in-stock only) on weaving and spinning tools and equipment.

So join us for a fun week as we celebrate the richness and diversity of spinning and weaving. Whether you’ve never tried it before or have been spinning and weaving for years, there’s something for everyone.

– Leslie Ann