Author Archive

Selfish Project Month

Monday, February 3rd, 2014
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The holidays are now a distant memory, and while some of the more organized and enterprising members of our crafting community have already started planning, and possibly even working on projects for the end of this year, many of us just want to take a little time to focus on ourselves. I am included in that second group. I didn’t make nearly as many projects as I was planning for gifts, but as I was working on them, all I could think of was projects I wanted for myself – legwarmers, mittens, hats. (It has been really cold!)

Since February also happens to feature Valentine’s Day, we thought it might be nice to show ourselves a little love and focus on selfish knitting and crocheting. In the next month, we’ll feature patterns and ideas that you can make for yourself (or someone else if you really wanted to).

You’ll also want to keep an eye out here and our other social media sites next week because we’re going to be doing something special.

Are you planning on knitting or crocheting for yourself?

Staff Favorites: Patterns

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
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In the store, we often get to see customers come through with great finished projects made with stellar patterns. We realized recently that several of us have finished some really great patterns and wanted to share them with you. Some of them are new, some are old, and some are even designed by our staff. Take a look at what we’ve worked on.

Elektrocute designed by Emma Welford

Elektrocute by Emma Welford
Like most of my design ideas, Elektrocute started out as a hastily-scribbled sketch on a post-it note while I was working. From sketch to chart to FO, it turned out exactly as I was picturing it and that makes it my latest favorite! I think the evolving colorwork pattern is fun and youthful while Madelinetosh Pashmina makes it luxe. Go wild with color combinations…I dare you! - Emma W.
I test knit this for Emma, and I must say, it’s a super fun pattern! – Mary

Cabled Baby Sweater designed by Rebecca L. Daniels

Cabled Raglan Baby Sweater by Rebecca L. Daniels
Made in Louet Gems Sport, a wonderful springy yarn that had a lot of personality and showed cabling nicely. This was my first top-down raglan sweater (believe it or not) and they each knit up in less than a week. Not only did I love the pattern, I loved learning this technique and I can’t believe I didn’t come around to it sooner. I’m contemplating making another pair as a first-birthday present. - Amy G.

Cladonia Shawl designed by Kirsten Kapur

Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur
I love knitting the Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur.  It was a simple shawl with a very nice lacy details to finish it off.  I knit it up in the Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light as the main color and Madelinetosh Tosh Lace for the lace detail in a different color. - Bonnie L.

Rooshed designed by Amy Stephens

Rooshed by Amy Stephens
I have always loved lace weight yarn but my attempts at knitting lace have always ended in tears. Rooshed is my answer! It’s an asymmetrical shawl/scarf that is practically weightless. It’s long enough to style a number of different ways. I’ve knit three already, in a silk/merino blend and have plans to knit another one in black. They’ve been popping up on a number of people who work in the store too. I love seeing everyone’s fiber and color choice. - Amy S.
I’m pretty excited about this pattern. It’s definitely on my to-knit list! – Mary

Crossroads Hat designed be Elena Nodel

Crossroads Hat by Elena Nodel
I knit this hat while start to finish while watching a football game. It was a super quick knit and it was also a really fun knit. I’m not a huge fan of purling, so it seems silly to have chosen this particular pattern, but the slipped stitches and cabling helped to break it up and move it along. Once you get going, the location of the slipped stitches and cables just flows. I knit it in two colors of Madelinetosh Tosh DK. - Mary K.

Elementary Cowl designed by Amy Stephens

Elementary Cowl by Amy Stephens
One of my favorite patterns, right now, is the Elementary Cowl. I think I’m knitting the 12th one. I just can’t stop! The pattern is incredibly easy. What I’m drawn to is picking out different colors and working with yarns that have a chainette construction like Classic Elite Chalet/Chateau, Cascade Eco Cloud, and Rowan Lima/Lima Colour.  The fabric is so warm, soft and squishy. It’s a perfect knit for watching TV, a knitting group project, or watching swim meets. - Amy S.

What’s your favorite pattern that you’ve recently completed? Do you like seeing our finished projects and patterns recommendations?

 

Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage and the Hot Chocolate Run

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
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Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage SetThe close of November not only brought a bit of panic to my life (I want to knit how many things by when?!), it also meant the end of our Ravelry KAL. This month we did Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage. All of the proceeds from the sale of this set will be donated to Safe Passage. We had two wonderful members of our group knit them, and I send a big thank you their way.

With the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage quickly approaching (it’s this Sunday, December 8th), I’d like to share with you a little information about Safe Passage, and our team’s fundraising goals.

Safe Passage is located in Northampton, MA and has served Hampshire County since 1977. Safe Passage offers survivors of all types of domestic violence hope, along with support, as both are essential in the journey from violence to safety.

Here are some ways Safe Passage will put your gift to work:
$25: Resources, support and hope for a woman calling the 24-hour hotline
$75: Safe transportation for a family traveling to Safe Passage’s emergency shelter
$100: A drop-in support group session for survivors of domestic violence
$140: Education for parents on talking with their kids about domestic violence
$500: Healing counseling for a child who has witnessed violence

This year, the WEBS staff as a team hope to raise more than we have in the previous years. To encourage that, one of our staffers has started the More Jacksons than Jackson campaign. Kathy and Steve’s son is signed up as a member of our team, and at this moment, he is in the fundraising lead. We’re all trying really hard to raise more than him (in good fun, of course). WEBS will match all of the donations that we receive, but if Jackson wins, instead of doubling the donation, it will be tripled. If you’d care to donate, you can do so here. Donate to the whole team, or a specific member (including Jackson).

Thank you!

Valley Yarns 579 Advent Candle Wall Hanging

Sunday, December 1st, 2013
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Valley Yarns 579 Advent Wall Hanging Free PatternAs we enter into the darkest month of the year, it is fitting that candles have a symbolic role in the Christmas holiday. Our festive Advent Candle Wall Hanging allows you to mark each of the weeks of the Christmas season. Now you can celebrate the season without fearing hot wax, flames or prickly pine needles. In addition, our pattern allows you to create a 4 or 5 candle arrangement.

You can download the free pattern here.

Happy Holidays!

Ravelry KAL: Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage Set

Thursday, November 14th, 2013
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We’re at just about the halfway point of our KAL for Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage Set. How are your projects coming along?

Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage Set - MittensI’ve started on the mittens and I’m at the colorwork section. They are speeding right along now that I’ve finished the ribbing (for some reason, ribbing seems to take forever to me). As you can see, I chose a different set of colors. I went with black, gray, natural, and just a pop of color. It’s very similar to my wardrobe! I’m loving the way that they’re knitting up.

I’m really excited to finish this project, and not only because it’s getting cold and I need mittens and a hat, but because I feel so strongly about supporting Safe Passage. If you don’t know about Safe Passage, it is an organization that is local to us at WEBS that offers survivors of all types of domestic violence hope and support. You can learn more about Safe Passage by visiting their website.

A team from WEBS will be walking and running in the Annual Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage. If you’d like to donate to our team, you can do that here. WEBS is going to generously match all of the donations that we as a team receive. Last year, with the match, we were able to raise over $8,600. We’re hoping to beat that number by leaps and bounds this year!

Don’t forget, you could win a $50 WEBS gift card! Check out the details in our Ravelry group, All Things WEBS. Work up this mitten and hat set (or just the mittens, or just the hat) and be entered to win!

Are you a Standard Size?

Sunday, November 10th, 2013
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This is our last guest post by Dora Ohrenstein.

Let me start with a question: do you choose a sweater size based on your “standard size”? This is the number one reason people experience “sweater fail,” and those who have know how disappointing it is. Standard sizing is something that clothing manufacturers have developed, for obvious reasons of convenience, and that designers are required to follow when grading patterns. If your measurements are not standard — and let’s face it, whose are? — you will be so much happier with your garments if you learn to alter patterns.

Some women have a bust size that is large in relation to their overall size — they are really a small or medium according to standard sizing, but with a few extra inches in girth here or there. Others may have shoulders that are larger than standard, or a significant difference in circumference between bust and hips. Once you understand the key measurements and alteration points of a sweater, you can tweak patterns to fit you more precisely.

Schematics are included in most patterns to allow the knitter or crocheter to see what the actual finished measurements of individual pieces are, and to compare them to her own. Where there is a discrepancy of over an inch, it’s time to think about making an alteration. You’d figure out how many inches of difference at various crucial points, and how you would alter the stitch and row counts so that the sweater ends up at your measurements, not the mythical standard sized person. Alteration is just some tinkering with the numbers on your calculator, it is not rocket science, and it can be mastered if you are motivated.

Now is the time to bring up the sensitive subject of measuring one’s body. Nobody likes to do it, it’s hard to do yourself, and your husband won’t know how and all that. Nevertheless, I urge you to please find a way, because without it, it’s hard to make a sweater that fits, trust me. For very good instructions on how and where to measure, please visit: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/sizing.html

Our main areas of concern are three width measurements on the body: bust circumference, high hip circumference, and shoulder width (sometimes called cross back width), and two length measurements on the body: shoulder to high hip, and armhole depth. If you like sweaters to hang at different lengths, then take circumference and length measurements at the low hip, waist, and mid thigh as well.

We also need at least one width measurement and one length measurement on the sleeve: your upper arm circumference, at the largest point, and sleeve length from the underarm to the wrist. I suggest you make a schematic and record these width and length measurements on it, then scan and save it in your computer.

Once you’ve done this, please visit this page: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/womansize.html

to see how your measurements compare to standard sizes. You’ll see immediately which areas you will need to consider for alterations in sweaters. Keep in mind that this same alteration is likely to come up repeatedly, and that once you’ve done it on a couple of sweaters, it will be quite easy.

One more important concept to consider is the matter of ease, the bit of extra fabric we add to body measurements to make a garment more comfortable to wear. I’ve noticed a strong temptation to add generous amounts of ease, as if in terrible fear that the sweater will be too small. Please do not fall into this trap. A sweater that’s 4 – 6 inches larger than you everywhere will look like a big baggy sweater. Keep in mind that knot or crochet fabric is very stretchy, in all directions, and can be counted on to stretch more with wear. In most situations except outerwear, there’s no reason to add more than 2″ of ease over your full body circumference. In fact, bustline widths can be done with no ease, or with negative ease. No ease can be very comfortable and flattering and if you are very shapely, an inch of negative ease is not be scoffed at. It will simple make the sweater emphasize your curves. You can take a cue from your store bought sweaters by measuring them at the bust width to see how much ease they have over your actual body measurement — remember you are measuring half your circumference. You may be surprised to see the result!

Whether you’re making a sweater from the top down or bottom up, knowing your measurements ahead of time, and comparing them to the sweater pattern, will save you lots of time and energy. There is some math involved, but please don’t panic – the calculator does all the hard work!

If you’re interested in exploring this topic further, you might want to join me at VK Live, where I will be offering a class entitled: Altering Crochet Sweaters. To learn more, or register, go to http://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/66410/classes/. Or visit my website to learn more about online classes: CrochetInsider.com.

Valley Yarns 578 Hanukkah Menorah Wall Hanging

Thursday, November 7th, 2013
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FREE PATTERN Valley Yarns Hanukkah Menorah Wall Hanging

Ping Wood shares a little about her latest design for Valley Yarns, 578 Hanukkah Menorah Wall Hanging.

Throughout the globe, there are celebrations to mark the changing seasons. Interestingly, celebrations occurring during the transition to Fall and Winter often involve light, mainly in the form of lanterns and candles. These celebrations recognize the shortening hours of daylight and the symbolic and practical notion of illumination.

Some of these holidays across the world include the Lantern Moon Festival in China, and Diwali, and Indian holiday. In November of this year, Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Light is celebrated by Jews around the world. How about knitted wall hanging to help you celebrate this holiday?

This wall hanging includes removal knitted candles and a back pocket for storing your mock candles, and even hiding some yummy chocolate coins. A wall hanging allows you to share the holiday tradition with young children without having to handle a lit candle.

Check out Valley Yarns 578 Hanukkah Menorah Wall Hanging. It’s a free pattern!

Our Newest Holiday Catalog

Monday, November 4th, 2013
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WEBS 2013 Holiday CatalogIt’s happening…no matter how much denial we may be in…the holidays are coming!

Our 2013 Holiday Gift and Inspiration Guide should be hitting your mailbox any day. If you’d like to get a preview online, you can flip through the pages here. We hope that you’ll find tons of great gift ideas, both for the people on your list, and maybe a little something you can ask for for yourself.

Valley Yarns Holiday 2013 PhotoshootWe had the photoshoot for the new Valley Yarns patterns at the Wisteriahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA, and our model was our own Emma Welford. (Not only does she work at WEBS, but she’s an amazing designer, and you can check out her designs here.) If you remember, we also had the photoshoot for our Valley Yarns catalog at Wisteriahurst. If you’re ever in Holyoke, MA, it is a beautiful place to visit full of interesting history.

This year’s cover features knit and crocheted jar covers. You can use Valley Yarns 575 Crochet Jar Covers and Valley Yarns 576 Knit Jar Covers to spice up your Mason jars. And even better, the patterns are free. They’re great to use for storage of anything (crochet hooks, knitting needles, pens, etc.), as vases, or, you can use them for holiday decorating by popping a flameless LED candle into the jar. (Important: please use ONLY flameless LED candles in your jars.) I’m a big fan of the LED candles and have them all over my house. I love that many of them have a timer, so I’ll have great ambiance without having to remember to light or extinguish a candle. I’m looking forward to adding a few of these jars and jar covers to my decorating this season.

Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage SetI must say that my favorite project from the catalog is Valley Yarns 574 Safe Passage Set. All of the proceeds of sales of this pattern will be donated to Safe Passage. Every year, WEBS participates in the Hot Chocolate Run that benefits Safe Passage, and I think I’ll be making a set for myself to wear. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this set soon, and it is our November Ravelry KAL, so join in!

We hope that you enjoy flipping through and shopping the holiday catalog as much as we enjoyed creating it.

What project from the catalog is on the top or your list to make? What are you hoping to get this holiday season?

 

Getting the Right Fabric in Crochet

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
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Today we have a guest post by Dora Ohrenstein

Floating Tee, lacy open work and cashmere yarn.

Floating Tee, lacy open work and cashmere yarn.

Consider this: when you create an item, whether knit or crochet, do you think about the fabric you’re making? Sometimes we yarn lovers get so caught up in a the look of a particular design or stitch, we forget about the tactile feel of it, the way it hangs and moves.

What are some of the characteristics of fabric? Its smoothness or texture, stiffness or fluidity, weight, solidity, warmth, elasticity, breathability on the skin, washability, durability. You probably think about such things when purchasing items for your wardrobe or home. If it’s a blanket, you want it to be warm, soft enough to feel good but hardy enough to survive washing. A jacket might also be warm, but needs to be fluid enough to allow ease of movement for the wearer. A top for wearing indoors would need other qualities: breathable fabric that is comfortable to wear and soft against the skin, and that drapes nicely around the body. At the other end of the spectrum is a bag, which works best with a more rigid, structured fabric that will hold its shape over time.

Eleganza Raglan, made with very soft Pima cotton in DK weight

Eleganza Raglan, made with very soft Pima cotton in DK weight

A variety of fabrics can be created in both knit and crochet, but how it’s done is quite different depending on the craft. Since my expertise is in crochet, and since many knitters, and even some crocheters, don’t quite understand how fluid fabric can be achieved in crochet, let me amplify!

Several factors are significant: Firstly, the size of stitches, which means the size of the hook. I tend to use a larger hook than what is called for on the ball band. Typically, for a fingering weight yarn, I use a D or E, for a DK, a G or H, and for worsted, a J or K. There are no hard and fast rules, and a lot depends on the stitches you will be using. If you habitually crochet tightly, your stitches may look very neat and tidy, but your fabric will be dense and rigid. Loosen up those stitches and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in the feel of your fabric.

Shawled Collar Tunic, made with a large hook and mohair blend yarn

Shawled Collar Tunic, made with a large hook and mohair blend yarn

Our chosen stitches make a huge impact on fabric too. In crochet, there is no default stitch like stockinette, but rather, an infinite number of stitch patterns that result in closed or open work fabrics. To make closed fabric that drapes well, avoid short dense stitches like single crochet. Instead, use taller stitches to improve drape in the fabric. Working in one loop only also increases drape. The more open and lacy the stitch pattern used, the more drape. The more dense and textured, the more rigid the fabric. So, any time you use cables, puffs, bobbles or other dimensional stitches, you are working towards structure and away from drape. That’s why these stitches are great for hats and bags.

Of course the fibers in your yarn make a difference too: alpaca, bamboo, pima cotton are examples of fibers that enhance drape. Here are some photos of sweaters from my book entitled Custom Crocheted Sweaters. In each case, the yarns and stitches were carefully chosen so that the sweaters would drape in a flattering way. I hope this shows how crochet fabric can be just as suitable for wearables as is knit. I think both are lovely and both have a place in our lovely yarn universe!

I’m happy to answer any questions you post here about crochet fabric! If you want to delve further into the topic, I invite you to my classes at Vogue Knitting Live, January 17 – 19, 2014, click here for the complete schedule.

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Dora Ohrenstein is a crochet designer, author and publisher. Her books include The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave, 2013), Custom Crocheted Sweaters (Lark, 2012), the first in-depth book on sweater construction and alteration for crocheters, Creating Crochet Fabric (Lark, 2010), and Crochet Insider’s Passion for Fashion (Leisure Arts, 2009). Dora’s chic and innovative designs appear regularly in Interweave Crochet, Crochet! and Crochet Today. She is Co-Editor of Annies.com widely read Talking Crochet column, and she writes for various other publications about crochet history, international traditions, and techniques. Dora is the founder and editor of Crochet Insider, (www.crochetinsider.com) an online magazine that has won the Flamie Award three times. She is also a professional singer and voice teacher.

October Ravelry KAL/CAL Wrap Up

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
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We’re so excited about all the participation we had for October’s KAL/CAL over in our Ravelry group.

We had a random number generator select the winner of the $50 gift card, and the winner is: ValSue

OctWinner2013

Head on over to the group to check out all of the awesome projects.

Will you be participating in our November KAL?