Author Archive

Tuesday’s Tip – How to Fix a Stretched Collar

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
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The neckline of a sweater can definitely stretch over time, and completely change the look of your garment.

If you have a sweater with a stretched collar, try single crocheting around the top of the ribbing. If you know how to crochet, this is the easiest and fastest method. But if you’re more comfortable knitting, you can also pick up and knit a couple of rows from the top. The new knitting (and the new bind-off) will be a little bit more snug and will help draw the neckline closed again.

Tuesday’s Crochet Tip – Increasing Evenly in Crochet

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
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Crochet patterns don’t always specify exactly where to work increases. Instead, they may say something like, “Increase 4 stitches evenly over the next 5 rows.” When spacing out increases yourself, it’s best to work them at least one stitch in from the edge of your project. This will make the edges much neater.

In the photo, swatch ‘A’ was worked with the increases at the very end of the rows, while swatch ‘B’  has the increases worked one stitch in from the edge. You can see the difference in how clean the edges look. Swatch ‘B’ is definitely neater finished product.

 

Tuesday’s Tip – Use a Bread Clip to Tame Yarn Tails

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
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This week’s tip comes from Kerry, one of our fantastic Customer Service Representatives here at WEBS.

Kerry discovered this tip when a customer sent in a partially completed project for us to look at. The customer needed help matching the discontinued yarn the project was made of, but Kerry couldn’t help notice the bread clip used to keep her yarn tail manageable and tidy. She had left an extra long yarn tail to use for seaming when her project was complete.

You could also use bread clips to substitute for bobbins when doing colorwork projects!

WEBS Staff Spotlight – Amy

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
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This is our Mother/Daughters Knit-a-Long. Hannah Fettig’s Medium Weight Pullover, knit in Madelinetosh Vintage.

Amy has been with us at WEBS for almost two years now, and she quickly dazzled us all with her incredible creativity and enthusiasm. Amy has completely embraced the handmade lifestyle, and does everything she can to always give handmade gifts. The desire to create her own gifts is what got Amy knitting in the first place. She and her husband started with making candles for everyone they knew, then Amy branched out into making dolls. Handmade holidays are a tradition in her family, even her children exchange handmade gifts. “I love giving people handmade gifts. Giving someone something you sat down to make just for them is a feeling you can’t replicate. They actually sat down, and looped a million loops of yarn just for you!” 

How long have you been knitting? How did you learn to knit?
I’ve been knitting for about 13 years.  Years before I learned to knit, I was friends with a woman from Germany who was knitting, what I now know is, the Dale of Norway Ladybug sweater and hat.  I thought I might like to learn someday and knit that sweater.  Several years later, we had just moved to Northampton, MA and my oldest daughter was learning to knit in school.  I didn’t have many local friends and needed a distraction, so I picked up Melanie Falick’s Kids Knitting book and taught myself.  I still recommend that book to anyone wanting to learn to knit.

1: Arm Warmers from Handmade Holidays. Knit out of Valley Yarns Huntington
2:  This is the first version of “Rooshed”  the one that didn’t quite work out!  The bowl is crocheted in linen and finished with yarn leftover from other projects.  I have a ton of these and use them for knitting baskets around the house.

3. These are glycerin soaps that I make every holiday.  They are both scented with peppermint essential oils.  I make different soaps for every season.  I’m about to make the pumpkin soaps and fall leaf soaps!  I can’t wait.
4. Stacking felted bowls for my Handmade Holidays Class at WEBS this fall.  They are made with Berkshire Bulky with needle felted dots out of Berkshire Bulky as well.
5. Bramble Cowl in Madelinetosh Vintage.
6. This is a shadow box that I made a while back.  Gladys is made of pleather with a beaded udder.  The grass and fence are felt.

What other fiber arts do you do?
I will try just about anything.  I currently still sew, needle-felt, crochet (a little)  and recently started weaving.

What is your favorite yarn to work with?
It’s impossible for me to choose!  I have the great fortune of being surrounded by all kinds of amazing yarns at work.  If forced, I would say Madelinetosh, Spud and Chloe, Rowan, Berkshire Bulky, and… See what I mean?

What’s your favorite fiber project?
One of my favorite fiber projects is the “Yarn Lamp”.  We have two at the store and I have two at home.  The lamps might quickly be supplanted by the headboard that my dad is designing for me to yarn bomb, however.  I can’t wait to get started.  I’m planning on using all my leftover little balls of yarn that seem to multiply around my studio. My new motto, “Yarn. It’s not just for sweaters.”

1.  Birch trees are my favorite.  Each leaf painted, hand cut and tied to the nail with string.  The leaves actually blow if there is a breeze.
2. This is a little piece I created for a banner for my blog.  That’s Ms. Ellaneous knitting the spring. Made with fabric, acrylic paint, fabric and yarn.
3. Another multi-media creation on wood.  I have tons of these little blocks.  You can rearrange them and stack them.  These were made for a friend’s bird themed nursery.

What fiber project are you working on right now?
Right now I’m finishing up the samples for a Handmade Holidays class I’m teaching this fall, along with putting the finishing touches on some new patterns for shawls and cowls.  I’m obsessed with cowls.  There’s a long list lined up after that, including a cowl challenge at work, the aforementioned ‘yarn bombed’ headboard and a sheep footstool with a needle felted fleece.

How else do you like to express yourself?
In addition to the fiber arts, I also paint in acrylics, make shadow boxes, fool around with carving stamps and printing.  I also have a habit of making seasonal glycerin soaps for gifts and the guest bathroom.  Recently, I bought a better camera to take pictures of my finished projects.  I’m still trying to figure out the camera but I am enjoying taking pictures.

1. These are carved out of a big eraser then used with a stamp pad.  The cards were for a friend’s baby shower.  We all wrote wishes for the baby on the cards and then hung them on a ribbon.  They are still in the baby’s room.
2. This is a slouchy hat that I designed out of Knit One, Crochet Too Ty-Dy socks.  There’s a slightly slouchy version and a super slouchy version
3.  These are the Lost Tooth Monsters out of Berkshire Bulky.  They provide a convenient “pocket” to put the tooth in and the reward!
4. This is my newest design “Rooched”.  It’s knit in Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Treacle Toffee.
5. My dad and I made this lamp, and three others with balls of Rowan Fine Tweed.  The lampshade is also knit out of Rowan Fine Tweed.  The full Lamp Story is here on my blog.

Do you have a favorite non fiber related project you’ve completed?
Some of my favorite non-fiber projects are the “art blocks” that I paint, and the larger paintings for over the fireplace.  I am very “seasonally motivated” in terms of what I make when, and how the seasons are reflected around the house. Every season I change the art and most of the other decorations, soaps included.  It’s a little crazy, but sometimes that’s the only way I know what time of year it is!


Rooshed worn as a shawl. Knit in Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Treacle Toffee.

How do you like to spend your free time?
We still have three children at home so most of my “free” time is spent trying to maintain some sort of healthy balance between work, kid’s activities, creative endeavors, family time, and rest, with some fun too.  I haven’t figured it out yet but I’m still trying!

If you weren’t working at WEBS, what would you like to be doing? What is your dream job?
My dream job keeps changing the more I learn.  I love “styling” photos and videos of knitwear.  I like thinking about setting, color, outfits that complement the piece you are photographing and even adding in a little humor.  Luckily, I get to do that with my own designs.  I would love to do it on a bigger scale though.

This is our doppelganger family of Love Monsters. As I was designing the pattern I tried a bunch of different yarns and shapes. It turned out to be our family!

If Amy could, she would do it all. She loves styling her home and would even weave her own drapes if she had the time! She began designing out of necessity. Her daughter needed a Valentine’s Day gift, so the Love Monsters were born! She really enjoys creating a special environment with her handmade projects; changing the decorations in the house with the seasons lets her home match the mood outside. “I don’t buy ‘high art’, I just make it myself!” 

Originally from Kentucky, Amy now lives in the Pioneer Valley with her husband, four children, and two dogs. 

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Joining a 3-Needle Bind Off

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
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This week, our Design Manager, Kirsten, shows us how to join a 3-needle bind off. This is such a wonderful technique for joining a vertical piece of knitting to a horizontal piece; such as the sleeves to the body of a sweater, or the edging of a shawl. The alternative to the 3-needle bind off is more cumbersome and involves binding off using the traditional yarn over method, then sewing the pieces together. This technique tends to be very tight and can cause the project to pucker. The 3-needle bind off keeps your project looking seamless!

Now that you’re familiar with the technique, you can cast on for the Multi-Directional Cowl, the Rhea Lace Stole, or the Rhea Lace Scarf!

Tuesday’s Tip – Keep the Yarn Label for Reference

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
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When I finally complete a project after months of knitting or crocheting, the first thing I usually do is cast on for something new! And let’s face it, we don’t always wait until we finish knitting to get a new project going.

With so many projects going on at once, it’s easy to lose track of which yarn went with which finished object. Try keeping one of the ball bands used for your project, along with a scrap of the yarn. You can write on the back of the label which pattern was used with the yarn and which size you made. The label has valuable information like the care instructions for your project, as well as the dye-lot used. A photo album with pockets is great for storing the labels along with your scrap of yarn!

 

Tuesday’s Tip – Unravel Projects with a Ball Winder

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
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Your ball winder is a valuable tool that can be utilized even after you start your project!

Sometimes you need to rip back the sleeves on a sweater, or just an entire project that didn’t come out quite right. So many of us end up winding the yarn from our project by hand. Don’t forget about your ball winder, and you can unravel your project in a snap!

For instruction on how to use a ball winder and swift, click here.

Tuesday’s Tip – Swatch with Scrap Yarn

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
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This week, Sara has a great tip for testing new patterns!

I do a lot of designing and I spend a considerable amount of time swatching different stitch patterns. I’ve found that I like to spend time with a stitch pattern before I commit to a fiber, especially if it’s a luxury fiber like silk or cashmere. So, I keep a skein or two of orphan yarns in my stash and partial skeins.

Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool is a perfect yarn for this. You could buy one skein to make a couple small projects, then keep the rest to use for swatching. This way, I can spend some time with the stitch pattern and if I find that I do not like the process of creating it I don’t feel bad about wasting the yarn used.

Pictured: Valley Yarns 478 Foundry Lace Stole/Scarf crocheted in Valley Yarns Colrain.

 

WEBS Staff Spotlight – Greta

Friday, July 26th, 2013
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Groove by Stephen West knit in Fiber Company Acadia

For Greta, knitting isn’t just a hobby she loves, it’s a tool she has used to focus and concentrate; as well as relax and express her creativity. Greta’s Aunt Mary Ann gave her a learn to knit kit one year. She had tried so many different crafts at the guidance of her artistic Aunt, but knitting really seemed to click. She’s been knitting for ten years now, and has created countless gifts while allowing herself to keep a few treasures for herself! Knitting even helped Greta get through college. While studying at Smith, she found knitting helped her ADD; “Giving my hands something to do allows my brain to focus. I was able to pay attention in class much better while knitting.”

Do you do any other fiber arts?
I’ve dabbled in spinning and rigid heddle weaving, but I recently took Sara Delaney’s crochet class this spring here at WEBS and now I’m hooked (literally)!

How did you learn to knit?
I initially taught myself the rudimentary skills using a Boye kit my Aunt, Mary Ann, gave me for Christmas. Then I picked up Debbie Stoller’s Stitch and Bitch and that was the beginning of my knitting addiction. When I was in college at Smith my knitting friends all used to joke that knitting was the perfect hobby for a Smithie, saying “you can be productive even when you’re relaxing!”

The Berry Bramble Blanket knit in Valley Yarns Northampton

What is your favorite yarn to work with?
It’s really tough to choose a favorite, especially with all of the choices we have available to us in the store, but I’d have to say my favorite yarn is Acadia from The Fibre Company. I really like all Fibre Company yarns; I’ve worked with Terra, Organik, Road To China Light, Canopy, Canopy Worsted, and Tundra. But I really like the light weight, fiber content, and ply structure of Acadia. Don’t even get me started on their colors, either, because I could go on for days.

Tundra Sailor Hat knit in Fibre Company Tundra

Do you have a favorite fiber project you completed or one you’re most proud of?
I think my favorite fiber project is my Daybreak Shawl. I made it out of Blue Moon Socks That Rock Medium in some truly beautiful colors picked by my friend Debbi. It’s my favorite handknit to wear and to this day it’s the project I get the most compliments on.

What fiber project are you working on right now?
Only about a million things! My main focus right now is a crocheted afghan for my cousin’s wedding in August. However, I’m really more of a process knitter (read: ADD knitter) so I tend to start a great many things but finishing them can be a real hurdle for me.

How else do you express yourself artistically?
I’ve never felt I had much in the way of artistic talent, so knitting (and crochet) really fills that void for me. When I was young my mom had my brother, sister and I take art lessons from a woman a few blocks away. We used to do all kind of projects in a wide range of mediums, but I never felt I had a knack for any particular medium until knitting came along. But she did teach me that there are no rules when it comes to artistic creation, and no idea too small.

Do you have a favorite non fiber related project you’ve completed?
When I’m not knitting and I want to make something I make these pretty origami paper stars. I did origami in high school and stopped for a few years, but recently picked it back up. It’s easy and quick and the results are beautiful. It takes about a minute to make each star.

How do you like to spend your free time?
It’s no secret to just about anyone who knows me that my main passion (other than knitting) is Roller Derby! I skate for the Pair O’ Dice City Rollers in Springfield, MA where I practice 3 days a week. Roller Derby is a great sport because it’s a ton of fun (we’re an awesome group of ladies) but also takes a lot of athletic skill. Plus, since Roller Derby grew out of a very DIY culture, you wouldn’t believe how many knitters/crafters there are on the team!

Greta has been working at WEBS for three years now, and has a wonderfully adventurous attitude about life. “I’m going to try all the things and if i don’t like something, I just won’t do it.” She’s taken juggling classes and has recently taken up kung fu. Greta really enjoys team sports, and loves the challenging, fast paced and aggressive environment. Roller derby has taught her great skills on how to work with people and win. Winning definitely isn’t everything to Greta though, “If we don’t win the game, at least we win the after party!”

Greta lives in the Pioneer Valley with her boyfriend Justin, while missing her nephew dog back home, Pretzel.

Tuesday’s Tip – How to Use Tights to Tame Slippery Yarn

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
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This week, Sara has a great tip for keeping those slippery yarns in line!

When working with slippery yarns it can be a nightmare to keep them untangled; even when wound into a ball! I’ve kept a few pairs of tights from when my girls were little and cut the legs into 6-8″ tubes. When I’m working with a yarn like Berroco Seduce, I will wind it into a center-pull ball and then slip it into one of the tubes to keep it all nice and tidy.

Now you can knit or crochet easily without your slippery yarn tangling!