Author Archive

Ready, Set, Knit! 387: Kathy talks with Fiona Ellis

Saturday, January 24th, 2015
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This week Kathy talks with WEBS 2015 Knitting Designer in Residence, Fiona Ellis. Fiona’s first design in the series, the I Feel Vine cardigan, is available now.

Ready, Set, Knit! ep. 387 - Kathy talks with Fiona Ellis about the WEBS Designer in Residence program - listen now at blog.yarn.com

To learn more about the Designer in Residence Program read our blog post here, and to learn more about Fiona’s design process read her blog post here.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Sign up now for the WEBS Mystery KAL or Mystery CAL classes before they fill up!

Upcoming Events:

Our 9th Annual Pre-Game Event is coming up on Feb 1st – It’s free but be sure to register!

Join us for a Yarn Tasting with Cascade Yarns on Feb 12th.

Don’t miss your chance to meet and talk with Norah Gaughan on March 7th!

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Right click or CTRL+click and Save As to download the MP3 of this Podcast Subscribe to Ready, Set, Knit! in iTunes Subscribe to the Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast RSS Feed

Fiona Ellis – a Designer in Residence in her own words

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
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Artist or designer in residence programs are set up to foster close ties between an artist, their work and a particular establishment or organization. They are devised to allow time & space for the artist to explore their work, maybe even from a new perspective. It helps builds a closer relationship between the artist and the establishment and also allows everyone to see the behind the scenes workings and progress that ultimately leads to the end product. So I was absolutely thrilled when the wonderful people at WEBS invited me to be one of their Designers in Residence. The team at WEBS and I are hoping that our collaboration will foster not only wonderful patterns to showcase their gorgeous yarns, but also give knitters some context to those patterns along with some fun peaks behind the scenes. The pattern that I came up with for the January launch includes three ideas that are part of my designer philosophy or involve an aspect of my work that I have been recently developing.

Shapes & Motifs

Way back in school I hated mathematics. So it amuses to see how much, and with what relative ease, I now use those principles that I struggled so hard to learn. Somehow the fog surrounding them just lifted once I applied them to knitting. Case in point; when I’m designing a shape or motif I lean on simple geometry to figure out the angle of the line. Even a curved line, when you break it down, is in fact made up of the hypotenuse of series of triangles. And you have no idea how smart it makes me feel to be able to say that!

A sample graph for charting stitch increases from Fiona Ellis, 2015 WEBS Designer in Residence - read more at blog.yarn.com

Let me explain a little further. If you need a steep angle for your line you move (add or subtract) by just one stitch at a time each row. If you need a shallower angle (closer to horizontal) then you move by two or maybe three stitches at a time. The real fun begins when you use these angles in combination with each other to create different shapes. I have been using this rule (see how bossy I’m getting about this now) for quite some time to design non-symmetrical, organic looking shapes such as Paisleys. These kinds of shapes, rather than even geometric shapes like triangles, diamonds etc., require the incorporation of several different angles to create the curved line that defines the overall shape. The leaves I have incorporated into the I Feel Vine cardigan are an extension of this experimentation.

A sample chart, with knit swatch, for charting curved lines from Fiona Ellis, 2015 WEBS Designer in Residence - read more at blog.yarn.com

Using needles to changes gauge

I know that you all do gauge swatches. And also follow the instruction that tells you to change your needle size so that you obtain the same gauge that my test knitter used when making the sample. But have you thought about how needle size, along with stitch structure, changes the fabric that you are creating? I know many of you have, and understand the effect, but for those of you who might be new to the concept here is how I used this principle for this cardigan. Apart from allowing for achieving correct gauge, the other cool thing about changing needle sizes is that you can use the changes to create different fabric properties within the same garment. I did this for the ribbed section of the I Feel Vine cardigan. Ribbed fabric is very elastic and causes the fabric to compress widthwise. This is why it’s often used for cuffs when we need a snug fit at the lower edge of a piece. Combining this type of structure with a smaller needle for that section produces a lovely snug, but comfortable, waist shaping without having to change the stitch count at all.

A collage of inspiring floral imagess from Fiona Ellis, 2015 WEBS Designer in Residence - read more at blog.yarn.com

Finishing

For me a project isn’t over until all the little details have been dealt with; the seaming, closures, and finishing details. In some cases I need to take a less is more approach. There is quite a bit of patterning within each garment piece of the I Feel Vine cardigan so to add bulky or attention-grabbing bands I felt would have taken away from the design. I wanted the focus to be on the mid-section & the leaf patterning above. The closure for this cardigan therefore had to be minimal but elegant, so I used a “pick-up & then bind off immediately” trim with button loops that are created during the bind-off.

I do so hope that you like the design and enjoy making (and wearing it).

– Fiona

What’s Happening in the Warehouse

Monday, January 19th, 2015
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Wow! And just like that it’s mid-January. You would think that would mean a bit of a lull for us here at WEBS, a time to recharge and rest up from the craziness of the holidays, but we’re always getting ready for the next round.

Orders being processed in the WEBS Warehouse - read more at blog.yarn.com

Over in our warehouse, where the folks from Customer Service answer your question online and on the phones, and where all your orders are picked, packed and shipped, they’re cleaning up from our End of Year Blowout Sale. Shelves are being cleared and aisles swept to make room for the new Spring yarns that have already begun to arrive. Our Spring 2015 catalog will be available online in just 2 short weeks, and in mailboxes shortly thereafter!

WEBS Warehouse gets cleaned and reorganized to prepare for 2015 events and sales - read more at blog.yarn.com

On top of that the warehouse crew has to start planning and making space for all the great yarns that Steve will be bringing in for our 41st Annual Anniversary Sale that begins on April 1st. It might seem like a long way off right now but the next 10 weeks will fly by!

What are you doing to settle into the new year?

Ready, Set, Knit! 386: Kathy talks with Kristin Nicholas

Saturday, January 17th, 2015
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This week Kathy talks with author and knitwear designer Kristin Nicholas about her newest book, Crafting a Colorful Home.

RSK 386

This is Kristin’s 11th book and while not knit or crochet focused, it does contain a great scrappy knit afghan and geometric crocheted granny square blanket patterns, as well as great lessons for learning to use color in your life.  Read all about the process of writing this book on Kristin’s blog and click here to read the Houzz magazine article that was the inspiration for the book! You can follow Kristin on Facebook or Instagram.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Check out the brand-new design from Fiona Ellis, 2015 WEBS Designer in Residence .

Sign up now for the WEBS Mystery KAL or Mystery CAL classes before they fill up!

Winter/Spring 2015 Classes are on the website now, register before they fill up!

Upcoming Events:

Our 9th Annual Pre-Game Event is coming up on Feb 1st – It’s free but be sure to register!

Join us for a Yarn Tasting with Cascade Yarns on Feb 12th.

Don’t miss your chance to meet and talk with Norah Gaughan on March 7th!

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Right click or CTRL+click and Save As to download the MP3 of this Podcast Subscribe to Ready, Set, Knit! in iTunes Subscribe to the Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast RSS Feed

Ask WEBS – Grafting and the Kitchener Stitch

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
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Ask WEBS Jan. 13, 2015 - Video tutorial for grafting live stitches to a cast on edge and kitchener stitch - see more at blog.yarn.com

We get lots of questions in our drop-ins and in Customer Service from knitters like you who aren’t quite sure how to graft, or do the Kitchener stitch, or why they would even use it! We have 2 great videos to share with you today to help you learn how to graft live stitches to a cast on edge, and how to do the Kitchener stitch. Both of these techniques should be used when you’re looking to have a seamless finish.

Grafting live stitches to a cast on edge is a great way to turn a simple scarf into a seamless cowl. In the video Kirsten is working on the Lumen Cowl in Valley Yarns Southwick.

In the second video you’ll see the Kitchener Stitch. This can be especially important to use in socks if you’re knitting socks from the cuff down where having a bulky seam can be quite uncomfortable at the toe.

Have a question you need answered? Ask WEBS! Let us know what you need help with. Comment below and let us help YOU in future Ask WEBS features.

Ready, Set, Knit! 385: Kathy talks with Kate Atherley

Saturday, January 10th, 2015
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This week Kathy talks with Kate Atherley about her new eBook, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers.

Ready, Set, Knit! ep. 385 - Kathy talks with Kate Atherley about her new book - listen now at blog.yarn.com

Learn about how Kate got into pattern design, her work with Knitty.com, her history with pattern design and editing, and how this book can help you.

Kathy then talks with Education Manager Amy Greeman about our upcoming Mystery Knit-along and Mystery Crochet-along. If you’re local to the store sign up for the class, if you’re not be sure to check our blog in late January for more details of how you can participate.

Reminder:

Drop-ins are Back! Be sure to stop by the store Tuesday and Thursday mornings between 10am and 1pm and Thursday evenings from 5:30-8pm

Winter/Spring 2015 Classes are on the website now, register before they fill up!

Upcoming Events:

Our 9th Annual Pre-Game Event is coming up on Feb 1st – It’s free but be sure to register!

Join us for a Yarn Tasting with Cascade Yarns on Feb 12th.

Don’t miss your chance to meet and talk with Norah Gaughan on March 7th!

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Right click or CTRL+click and Save As to download the MP3 of this Podcast Subscribe to Ready, Set, Knit! in iTunes Subscribe to the Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast RSS Feed

Designer in Residence – Fiona Ellis

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
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We’re so excited about our new Designer in Residence program for 2015! We’ve teamed up with two truly talented designers to bring you gorgeous knit and crochet designs that showcase some of our favorite Valley Yarns. This month we’re debuting the I Feel Vine Cardigan from knitwear designer Fiona Ellis and we’ll have a new design from her each odd numbered month of the year. And we’ll reveal the first crochet design from Doris Chan in February to be followed by a new design from her each even numbered month this year!

Fiona 1 pinterest draft 1

This long-line cardigan worked in Valley Yarns Amherst is perfect for all seasons; cozy for the chilly months but also great to slip on over a sleeveless top in warmer months to fend off the chill of air conditioning. It’s clever use of stitch patterning utilizes the elasticity of rib patterning at the waist and cuff to give gentle shaping. The rib then morphs into a unique leaf pattern & finally into eyelet lace stitch work which adds to the overall femininity of this garment.

Fiona DiR January

We asked Fiona to tell us about about her process and inspiration, and to give us a bit of a sneak peek into what we can expect to see throughout the year.

Tell us about your design process. Do you have design ideas in your head that inspire you to search out the right yarn or do you find a yarn and let the design grow from there?

I keep an on-going archive, of sorts, for design ideas and projects that I want to work on. So mostly it’s the idea that comes first and then I search out the perfect yarn for the project/design rather than the other way around.

Where do you find inspiration? Do you hike? jog in the city? take your camera everywhere you go? have a studio full of inspiring color and images?

I find inspiration everywhere so I always carry a camera (or my phone) and try to bring a small notebook with me wherever I go. I find inspiration can strike at very strange times – sometimes it’s at 3am! And I find it’s a process that you can’t really command. The ideas just seem to appear of their own accord and can sometimes be fleeting or hard to pin down. So I end up with pockets full of ideas scribbled on coffee shop napkins because I forgot to bring my notebook with me that day. On the other hand I also have this mindfulness practice of taking a photo every day even if nothing seemingly exciting is happening. I’ve been doing this since Sept 2007 and have found some great ideas have emerged from this habit of encouraging myself to closely observe the world. I believe that somehow the two elements work off of each other.

Tell us about your design aesthetic. What can our customers expect to see from you this year?

I studied fashion knitwear design at University so my aesthetic has a lot to do with current (wearable) fashion trends in terms of garment silhouette. I have been a knitter practically my whole life so I like pattern-work that challenges me, though I do try to include sections in each project where there is less challenge, that way some parts of the project can be carried around or worked on in front of the TV (or even in a bar maybe).

Tell us about your favorite Valley Yarn, is there a Valley Yarn you are excited to work with?

It’s so hard to choose because they are all great and each one perfect for specific projects. So I’m going to choose Amherst for entirely personal reasons- see my answer to the next question.

How did you discover Valley Yarns, what is your history with WEBS?

I used to live in Massachusetts very near to WEBS, but this was in the days when I designed for ready to wear fashion houses, before I designed for the independent home knitter. I used to shop at WEBS for my personal projects but I had moved away from the area before I became intimately acquainted with the Valley Yarns.  Since then I have used them when they have been selected for magazine editorials such as the designs I have done for Twist  Collective, Knitters Magazine and others: Sugarbeach in Longmeadow,  Blue Helix in Colrain, Athabasca in Northampton,  and Paula in Stockbridge.

What designers do you like/follow? Are there designs you wish you had time to knit/crochet/sew?

I tend to look at couture designers and my most favorite is the late Alexander McQueen. In terms of knitwear designers that I admire, boy this is actually a long list. I admire so many of the designers working today, but if I had to pick just one I would chose Norah Gaughan. She always comes up with such eye-catching and wonderful designs, ones that I’m almost jealous that I didn’t come up with the idea myself. If I had time to knit for myself from somebody else pattern it would definitely be one of Norah’s…or maybe an Alice Starmore pattern.

Ready, Set, Knit! Flashback

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
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Kathy and Steve are still enjoying their holiday break but you can listen to a flashback episode from January 2, 2010 here.

Reminder:

The Year End Blowout Sale is running through the end of the day today! Stop by the store or get your order in today!

Drop-ins will return next week, on January 6th.

Winter/Spring 2015 Classes are on the website now, register before they fill up!

Upcoming Events:

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Last Days of the 2014 Year End Blowout Sale

Thursday, January 1st, 2015
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You have just 3 days left to fill your cart at WEBS Annual Year End Blowout Sale! Orders can be placed online until 11:59pm EST Saturday. Our retail store is closed today but will be open 10-5:30 tomorrow and Saturday.

We still have multiple colors of our 40th Anniversary Huntington hand dyed by Lorna’s Laces and our Northfield hand dyed by Malabrigo. Don’t miss your chance to stash some Kettle Dyed Charlemont once it’s gone it’s gone! And don’t pass up the incredible prices on Noro Taiyo Lace, Berroco Lago, Cascade Luna Paints and plenty more!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1st, 2015
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Thank you to all our amazing customers for making 2014 a truly wonderful year and the best 40th Anniversary a little company like ours could hope to have.

Happy New Year

We hope 2014 was just as fantastic for you and that 2015 is even better. Happy New Year!