Author Archive

Holiday Catalog Spotlight: Gifts to Make – Larger Projects

Monday, November 9th, 2015
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Our holiday catalog is hitting mailboxes now, and the holidays are quickly approaching. We’re just two and half weeks away from Thanksgiving here in the US, and I find that once Thanksgiving comes and goes, it’s full steam ahead with no stops to the rest of the holidays. Luckily, there’s still some time to get some bigger projects done, if you’re looking to give something bigger, or if you want to knit something for yourself before the holidays come. Here are a couple of ideas:

Valley Yarns 605 Colorfall Cardigan at yarn.com

You may remember seeing Valley Yarns 605 Colorfall Cardigan knit in Valley Yarns Charlemont. For the holiday catalog, we knit it in 2/10 Merino Tencel, in a natural/gray combination, and it’s stunning. It’s a perfect layer that can easily be dressed up or dressed down.

Valley Yarns 676 Two-Tone Blanket and Valley Yarns 663 Oatmeal Afghan at yarn.com

In the holiday catalog, you’ll also find two spectacular blankets. Valley Yarns 663 Oatmeal Afghan and Valley Yarns 676 Two-Tone Blanket are great gift ideas. The Oatmeal Afghan is knit in Valley Yarns Amherst, which is one of my favorite Valley Yarns because it is so soft. I would love to have this blanket on my couch for the cold nights that are surely coming. The Two-Tone Blanket is knit in Valley Yarns Valley Superwash Bulky, so it’s a quick knit that’s machine washable. It’s also a multidirectional knit that gives it an interesting, modular look. I love that you can be creative and select your own color combinations. I can see one in just brights using some of the newer colors of Valley Superwash Bulky.

Prism Eccentric Chevrons Shawl and Rowan Triangle Shawl at yarn.com

Want to give a shawl to someone? Prism’s Eccentric Chevron Wrap is available in a kit so you don’t have to worry about selecting the colors. The graphic interest comes from unbalanced, or eccentric chevrons: one leg is much longer than the other, which skews the fabric off-center. Even better, the kit is discountable, so you automatically get our discount. If the person you’re creating a gift for is into a little sparkle, you might want to check out the Triangle Shawl from the Rowan Swarovski Evening Collection. This shawl is knit with Rowan Kidsilk Haze, then there’s a crocheted border with Swarovski crystals.

Are you planning any larger projects for holiday knitting?

Valley Yarns 670 Holiday Bears KAL Week 1

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
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Welcome to week 1 of our Valley Yarns 670 Holiday Bears KAL! Did you have a chance to gather all of your materials? If not, there’s still plenty of time to join and catch up. This is a fairly fast project that we’ve broken down into 4 weeks, but if you’re ambitious, you could even finish a bear in a day!

For this first week, we’ll be working up until the neck. There are a few skills you’ll need, so we’re including some pictures and videos to help you out. The first thing you’ll have to do is cast on to your dpns and join without twisting. This can be a little tricky. I like to cast all my stitches onto one dpn then transfer the stitches to each separate needle. Then, I lay my needles flat on the table and check every needle to make sure all my stitches are facing the same direction. You don’t want to twist them!

Tip for joining in the round and not twisting stitches

For the head and neck, you’ll need some to know an increase and some decreases. The increase you’ll need to know is kfb (knit into the front and back of the stitch). For this increase, you knit the stitch just like you normally do, but don’t drop it off the needle. Instead, you go back into the back of the stitch and knit it. Here’s a handy video to help:

You’ll also need to do some decreases. The pattern includes k2tog (knit two stitches together) and ssk (slip, slip, knit). Here are two videos of those two decreases if you don’t know how to do them:

Have you started your bear? Do you have any questions we can help you with?

Holiday Catalog Spotlight: Gradients

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
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If you haven’t received our holiday catalog in your mailbox yet, it should arrive any day now. (In the meantime, you can check out our online version here.) Gradients are big this year, and you’ll find two in the catalog from the fine folks of Wonderland Yarns. We feature the Wonderland Yarns Mad Hatter 5-Skein Pack, and the Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat 5-Skein Pack. Gradients lend themselves well to accessories, and more. You can use them as the main yarn, or as an accent.

Wonderland Yarns Gradient Packs at yarn.com

In Passaggio from Lyrical Knits, the Cheshire Cat 5-Pack is combined with Madelinetosh Tosh Sock to make a gorgeous wrap. It is worked seamlessly and works up into an interesting trapezoid shape.

Lyrical Knits Passaggio PDF at yarn.com

If you want your gradient to shine on it’s own, a pattern like Spectral or Tralicco from Stitches of My Life Designs may be what you’re looking for. Each cowl uses a gradient and an interesting stitch pattern to achieve a beautiful look.

No matter what pattern you end up choosing, a project made with a gradient makes a great gift. It’s an easy way to incorporate color without having to do too much pre-planning. What do you think of gradients?

Starting Soon: Valley Yarns 670 Holiday Bears KAL

Friday, October 30th, 2015
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Valley Yarns 670 Holiday Bears KAL

If you’ve seen the cover of our holiday catalog, you know we’ve featured some adorable bears this year. They make the perfect gift for a favorite little one. Knit in either Valley Yarns Valley Superwash, or Valley Yarns Valley Superwash Bulky, they use the same pattern, but end up in two different sizes. The pattern also features accessories for your new bear friends; a hat and sweater. We’ll be starting the bears next week. In the meantime, you can collect your supplies.
Skills You Will Need (or Learn):
knitting in the round on dpns
knit in front and back of stitch (kfb)
knit 2 together (k2tog)
slip slip knit (ssk)
seaming

Things You Will Need:
Valley Yarns 670 Holiday Bears pattern (PDF or physical copy)
For 9″ bear: Valley Yarns Valley Superwash – 1 skein for bear, 1 skein for hat or sweater
For 12″ bear: Valley Yarns Superwash Bulky – 1 skein for bear, 1 skein for hat or sweater. (We’ll be knitting ours with Valley Superwash Bulky in 02 tan, with accessories in 23 grape.)
For both: Scraps of dark brown or black for face, and natural for the optional pom pom on the hat
2 sets of US 5 (for 9″ bear) or US 8 (for 12″ bear) DPNS, or size needed to get gauge
Polyfill or Superwash Merino Wool Top for stuffing (Note: if using wool top for stuffing, remove stuffing before machine washing to avoid clumping or pilling.)

Gauge:
For 9″ bear: 6 sts = 1″ (stockinette worked in the round)
For 12″ bear: 4 sts = 1″ (stockinette worked in the round)

We hope you’ll join us for this KAL. We’ve broken it up into four weeks, but you can finish much faster than that, making these bears a great gift idea.

Sparkle and Shine with Rowan Swarovski Create Your Style

Monday, October 12th, 2015
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We all love a little sparkle and a little shine. This year, the folks at Rowan are teaming up with the folks at Swarovski for their new CREATE YOUR STYLE collection.

Rowan Swarovski CREATE YOUR STYLE at yarn.com

Two pattern books, Daytime and Evening, and a collection of free patterns, feature some of Rowan’s best yarns combined with beautiful Swarovski crystals and beads. You’ll find patterns for both garments and accessories that are simply stunning.

Rowan Swarovski Star Hat & Mitts at yarn.com Rowan Swarovski Betty at yarn.com

These patterns are absolutely spectacular. Depending on the pattern, the beads are sewn on later for embellishment, or they’re added as a crocheted lace border. Combining the ethereal feel of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and the brilliance of Swarovski crystals and beads creates a wonderful, classic, and sophisticated finished project.

Rowan Kidsilk Haze Shine at yarn.com

In addition to the patterns the combine the yarns and crystals, Rowan has also introduced Kidsilk Haze ShineRowan Kidsilk Haze Shine is a special, luxurious yarn that’s perfect for making exceptional accessories that sparkle, shimmer and reflect light in all directions. It combines Kidsilk Haze with approximately 100 sparkling 3mm Swarovski bicone crystals pre-strung along the length, one every 4″. It’s perfect for delicately feminine hair accessories, bracelets, collars and little accents with Rowan Kidsilk Haze Shine.

If you love sparkle, Rowan Swarovski CREATE YOUR STYLE is definitely something you want to check out. We hope you love it!

Check Out Northampton

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
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Our friends at Smith College created a cute video featuring Northampton. Make sure you check it out, and watch until the end for a special cameo from your favorite yarn store.

Valley Yarns Flash Sale is Here!

Monday, October 5th, 2015
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Are you a fan of Valley Yarns? Have you been meaning to try it for a while but just haven’t gotten around to it? Now’s the perfect chance during our Valley Yarns Flash Sale. You have through October 6, 2015 at 11:59pm EDT to save 30% on Valley Yarns!

Valley Yarns Flash Sale at WEBS

Valley Yarns is our own brand that we source from all over the world. We look for beautiful yarns that will last, and strive to have them at affordable prices. You may want to take this chance to check out our two newest yarns, Valley Yarns Hatfield and Valley Yarns Sunderland. Both of these 100% alpaca yarns are super warm.

Maybe merino is more your style? Take a look at Amherst. It’s one of my favorite Valley Yarns yarns because it is so soft. Prefer something without wool? Valley Yarns Southwick, Valley Yarns Longmeadow, and Valley Yarns Goshen are all wonderful cotton blends. I have a hard time knitting with cotton, but I must say, Goshen is one of my favorite yarns, and I’ve done several projects with it.

If you’re hoping for something machine washable, we have three weights of Valley Superwash, Worsted, DK, and Bulky, that are sure to fit whatever project you are looking to make. I’m actually thinking about some quick accessories in Valley Superwash Bulky, since the weather turned a bit chilly over the last few days, and we have some great bright colors that we’ve recently added to the line.

This is just a small sampling. No matter what Valley Yarns yarn you choose, you’ll love working with it. If you need inspiration, we also have a wonderful collection of Valley Yarns patterns designed exclusively for the yarn.

Don’t forget, until October 6, 2015 at 11:59pm EDT, you can save 30% on your purchase of Valley Yarns.

The Art of Slip Stitch Knitting Review

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
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The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest arrived recently and this book is not to be missed. Slip-stitch knitting is a simple and versatile technique that can be used to create stunning projects that look a lot more complicated than they are. Create stunning colorwork, amazing texture, and more.

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting includes a complete overviews of all of the basics of slip-stitch knitting. Stitch formation, reading charts, customizing stitch patterns, selecting yarns, and tips for designing are all included in this book. Not only that, you’ll also find 16 patterns for garments and accessories that use slip-stitch knitting.

The Fialka Boot Toppers look like complicated Fair Isle, but there are worked in a fairly simple slip-stitch pattern that plays with the placement of stitches, how floats are carried, and color changes. It’s super easy to customize for your favorite color, too. The Šiška Hat looks like a complex cable, but instead it is made up of crossed slip stitches. The reverse is a basketweave pattern, so you get two hats for the price of one. It’s knit in Malabrigo Worsted, so you know it’s super soft, and this one may end up the next project on my needles.

Accessories from The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting

Not only will you find great accessories, like those above, The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting also includes gorgeous garments. I’m a big fan of hoodies, and with a finished size range of 36 ½” – 57 ¼” the Kromka Hoodie would fit an array of sizes. The body of the sweater is worked in a single color in stockinette stitch, and the cuffs and front bands are worked in a two-color slip-stitch pattern, with a different two-color pattern at the hem. It’s colorful without being overwhelming. The Koketka Sweater is a classic yoke sweater knit in the round from the bottom up. There is a two-color slip-stitch pattern on the edges as a border, and another slip-stitch pattern is used on the yoke. This pattern teaches you how to shape without disturbing the pattern, and it’s a beautiful option knit in Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk.

Garments from the Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting

Whether you’re new to slip-stitch knitting, or already a fan, The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting is definitely a book to pick up for you bookshelf, and explore these great techniques.

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of it All

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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Now that you’ve created your list, and  you know what yarns and projects, you should probably decide how you want to organize all of this info. Are you a pen and paper person? Do you prefer a computer? Your smartphone? You need to pick what’s best for you. If you prefer physically crossing things off a list, you might want to use a notebook. If you, like many of us, live on your smartphone, you may want to utilize an app.

Holidays in July: Keeping Track of It All

Pen and Paper Person?
Head to your favorite office supply, or even better, paper store and peruse the notebooks. There is great joy in selecting a new notebook with fresh pages that’s just waiting to be filled up. Consider how you’ll want to keep track? Are you going to want to dedicate one page per person? (You can draw a big ‘x’ through the page when you finish the project.) Would you like to use lined paper, or maybe graph paper? Again, you need to think about how you’ll function best. I like the idea of using a page per person, especially in a smaller notebook, like a pocket Moleskin.

Computer Savvy?
Do spreadsheets make you grin from ear-to-ear? Does having information saved on a computer make you more comfortable than a notebook that can be lost? Spreadsheets may be the way to go for you. You can organize the columns however you like. Name of the recipient, project name, yarn being used, anything else you need for the project, finish date for the project. You could even include things like start date, halfway point date (where you need to be halfway done), or a column for a contingency gift just in case (which you won’t need, since we’re planning ahead). One of my favorite things is color-coding. I’d probably color code the people by priority level and then the projects by type. If there are several hats on the list, and I’m feeling particularly excited about making hats for a few weeks, I can easily spot them on the spreadsheet and knock them out. When you complete a project, you can gray out the cells, or use strikethrough to mark it finished.

Smartphone Addict?
Nearly everyone I know has some version of a smartphone, and there are tons and tons of different organizational apps. If you’re an organized person, chances are, you already have your favorite. Mine depend on what I’m doing. For example, for something like grocery shopping, I use Clear. This app is basically a list-maker. You can swipe to check the item off the list. If you want something more robust that handles more information, you may want to check out something like 2Do, or Swipes, which integrates with Evernote. Because organization is such a personal thing, you want to use the app that’s best for you.

How will you keep yourself organized?

 

Holidays in July: Which Project? What Yarn?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
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You’ve decided who you’re going to make gifts for, but what exactly are you going to make them, and what yarn are you going to use. Usually we have at least a general idea of what we want to make someone. Using my examples from last week, I know I want to make my mom socks, my sister would love something kooky, my nephew a dinosaur, and coworker 1 a shawl. My cousin needs a pair of mittens or gloves and we’ll add a boyfriend who needs another hat in there too (since he liked the last one so much).

Holidays in July - Looking for projects on yarn.com and Ravelry

Where do you go now? I think the easiest way to proceed is to choose a specific pattern that you want to make the person. You could search through the patterns on our site, use the search feature, and search for, say dinosaur. Oh look! Danger Crafts Basil the Boogie-Woogie Brontosaurus PDF. It’s adorable and going on the list for the nephew. Something kooky for my sister may be a little bit longer of a search. I would start this search on Ravelry. The ‘advanced search’ feature is great for this. I started by clicking on ‘softies’ (all), then ‘knitting’, and ‘worsted’ (because I don’t want to spend forever knitting it). Next, I sorted by ‘most popular.’ I didn’t see anything on the first page that screamed her name, but what I did see was a fox, and my sister loves foxes. So, I added fox to the search box and found a great project for her – Backyard Bandits. Hey, I could make her all three! Well that’s settled. On to searching for the other projects.

Holidays in July - Searching yarn.com for yarns

So, now that I have that projects settled, it’s time to pick the yarn. I have all the pattern information and a general idea of what I’m looking for. Again, I take to the search section on our site. We’ll use that Boogie-Woogie Bronto for this example. I know I want something washable, since it’s a stuffed animal, and my nephew is 3. Under the yarn category, I click ‘Yarn by Fiber’ and select ‘Washable Wool.’ Scrolling through, I spot Berroco Vintage. I’ve used this yarn before with loads of success, and I know there are lots of color options, so I’ve found my yarn for the Bronto. I just need to decide on colors.

Another option, is of course, knitting from the stash. My stash happens to be a lot of sock yarn that’s perfect for socks, shawls, and mittens. So, taking a look at the requirements for those projects, and looking at the yarn I have in my stash, I’m sure to find just what I need. And if not, there’s always yarn.com.

What’s your favorite way to search for yarns and patterns?