Author Archive

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?

No New Ready, Set, Knit This Week – What are you listening to?

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
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There’s no new Ready, Set, Knit this week, so check out the archives and listen to your favorite episode, or catch up on some you’ve missed. Not having a new podcast this week got me to thinking about the different things I like to do when I’m crafting. I watch TV, listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, and sometimes I just like to enjoy the silence. I have a backlog of podcasts that I need to catch up on and a pile of audiobooks that are waiting to be listened to. I think this weekend will be a good time to slow the go-go-go that’s been happening, take a little time to craft, and catch up on listening.

What’s your favorite “noise” to listen to while knitting, crocheting, weaving, or spinning?

 

Holidays in July: Making a List, Checking it Twice

Monday, July 6th, 2015
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When planning your holiday projects, the first step is to decide who you want to gift with your precious handmade projects. Well, the first step is deciding if this is something you want to undertake, but even if you’re only planning one or two projects, a plan is always helpful. Anyway, because your time is important, you do not want to spend that time working on a project for someone who is just going to shove it into the bottom of a drawer, or won’t be able to properly care for it, or who could lose it.

Holidays in July - Making a List, Checking it Twice - Deciding who's on the list

For example, I love my dad. He is amazing and can fix anything. I would love to make him a hat, but I also know how many hats he goes through in a winter. It’s not because he makes a habit out of losing things, or because he’s absent-minded. He has a tough, busy job where he doesn’t stop and is responsible for things like snow removal. In the process of doing a hundred things at once, things like hats get misplaced. I know he would be afraid to accidentally misplace it, so I don’t want to make him something, that I know he’ll love, but will be afraid to use.

Another gift recipient type is the kind that won’t actually be excited about receiving something you spent your time creating. I’ve seen this happen with family members who don’t know anything about crafting, or think it happens overnight. I’ve also seen stunning handmade gifts be cast aside at baby showers because the recipient just wasn’t interested. I’ve been very lucky because nearly every single one of my projects has been excitedly received. Sometimes you don’t know if the person is going to be excited about your gift, but it’s a chance you need to decide if you want to take. Most of the time, you can tell if the person will be thrilled.

So, make a list of the people you want to craft for. Really look at that list. Then, prioritize based on who you really want to knit for. Will my mom, sister, and cousin love those things I’m planning on making? Yup! They stay on the list and move right up to the top. As I mentioned, Dad would love it, but wouldn’t use it, so he gets crossed off. Is my 3 year old nephew really going to be excited about something I make? Possibly, if it’s a dinosaur. He’ll go in the middle, because I can always pick something out equally fun from the local toy store. Coworker 1 would love a project, but since they aren’t family, they’ll also be moved to the middle of the priority list. Coworker 2 would appreciate it, but probably won’t use it, so they’ll get some other awesome trinket. Friend 3 would be just as happy with some store-bought mittens and can’t tell the difference, so I won’t be spending my time knitting for them.

How do you prioritize your gift list?