Author Archive

Designer in Residence – Doris Chan

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
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Our new Designer in Residence program is off to an amazing start! This month we reveal the first design from our Crochet Designer in Residence Doris Chan, The Shawl Collar Stole.

Doris Chan WEBS 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence, her first design the Shawl Collar Stole in Valley Yarns Superwash Bulky - learn more at blog.yarn.com

With a bit of clever shaping, The Shawl Collar Stole is a meltingly soft stole that drapes beautifully and securely around the shoulders. The wide top band in gentle ribbing turns over to form a snuggly collar. The back is curved to create some roominess through the arms and allow the fronts to sit properly. The stole is just wide enough for comfortable coverage, but not so wide that you’re constantly sitting on the back, and the fronts have enough wrap-around length without getting in your way. Valley Superwash Bulky makes the crocheting quick and smooth, while the relaxed gauge and open lacy stitch pattern keep this stole surprisingly lightweight yet cozy without being stuffy.

Doris Chan WEBS 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence - learn more at blog.yarn.com

We asked Doris to tell us about about how she designs, what she finds inspiring, and to give us a hint about what we can expect to see throughout the year.

Tell us a bit 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?

Unless an editor requests a specific silhouette or style, I will always begin with yarn. Yarn in the hands speaks to me in ways I don’t completely understand and begins a process not easily explained. I have referred to this process as organic designing rather than technical designing. A technical designer may create a completed project in the mind, perhaps to the point of being able to write a pattern, before ever picking up a hook. That designer has only to plug in an appropriate yarn and crochet according to the plan, or have a contract crocheter make the sample. An organic designer grows things from yarn. Sounds idiotic and overly simplistic when put that way, but it does describe how it feels to me. It’s not that technical designers don’t care about yarn or that organic designers are space cadets. Designers aren’t totally one or the other, just as no person is totally right brained or left brained. Good design is a cocktail of the two in different proportions, plus a dash of individual skill and aesthetics.

On my technical side, I possess a personal bag of crochet tricks or techniques on which I often fall back; years of experience (trial and error) have granted me a feel for seamless construction, working lace stitch patterns in relaxed gauge, shaping and manipulating fabric. But for me there can’t be design until I grok the yarn in a fairly intense, hands-on way. I sometimes take the yarn for a series of test drives(some call it swatching) before I arrive at the place I need to be. Once there is good fabric, then the project can grow from there.

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? 

Surely you jest. I am a serious slug and hardly leave my home. As an admitted sci-fi fan geek I immerse myself not in colors and fashion or artistic images, but in works of fantasy. Not that I design sci-fi fangeek crochet (not much anyway!), but I do tap into the sense of wonder, the outside-the-box possibilities that are at the core of my favorite guilty pleasures. My friends and readers inspire me. I may ask what sort of crochet they’d like to see, and then make it so. I also look backwards quite often, seeking out images and descriptions of vintage or retro pieces that can be translated into crochet-speak and given contemporary appeal. But what inspires me most is meeting a yarn that doesn’t want to live in my usual comfort zone. This pushes me to work even farther outside the box and leads me to different techniques, fresh approaches and new solutions in order to make that yarn happy in crochet.

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

My aesthetic is governed by what I believe looks and feels right on the body. Wearable, doable garments and accessories in flexible, forgiving fabrics that are shaped to fit and flatter are what I love to design. I prefer working in one single solid color, the better to showcase the crochet stitchwork. BUT…occasionally I wander over to the dark side and design afghans. That’s where I play with color. Nothing is as satisfying as making something amazing for your home to look at and enjoy every day

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

My favorite Valley Yarn to date, mainly for the reason that I am allergic to and cannot wear wool, is Goshen. I have designed extensively in this lovely cotton blend, and it is my go-to medium worsted yarn for my own personal crocheted garments. I eagerly anticipate working again with fine gauge Charlemont and the growing family of Valley Superwash, now in DK, worsted and bulky weights.

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

Majorly unfair question. Honestly I’d rather NOT know what everyone else is doing, so as not to be unduly influenced by anyone. If you want to accuse me of being a lazy slug, that’s another way to say it. I do follow with understandable interest the work of my boss at DesigningVashti.com, Vashti Braha. She often takes her crochet in directions I fear to tread and with enviable passion.

And don’t forget, we’ll have a new design from Fiona Ellis next month and each odd numbered month of the year. Check out her designs here. And we’ll reveal the next crochet design from Doris Chan in April, and in each even numbered month this year! You can see all her designs here.

Ready, Set, Knit! 388: Kathy talks with Andra Asars

Saturday, January 31st, 2015
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This week Kathy talks with Andra about new Berroco Spring yarns and designs, check out all four of the new yarns here. And all the wonderful pattern support.

Ready, Set, Knit! ep. 388 - Kathy talks with Andra Asars about the new Spring 2015 Beroco yarns program - listen now at blog.yarn.com

And check out our review of Berroco Spring 2015 yarns with Amy S!

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Our 9th Annual Pre-Game Event is Tomorrow! Come by and craft, snack and maybe win some prizes with us before the game!

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

Upcoming Events:

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 – Hemstitching

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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AskWEBS - January 27, 2015, Hemstitching technique, tips and tricks - more details at blog.yarn.com

One of the best ways to add a professional finishing touch to your weaving is with a hemstitched edge. Here our Weaving Manager, Leslie Ann Bestor, shows you how.

Leslie Ann even has a few quick tips to make the hemstitching even easier!

Have questions? Leave us a comment and let us know how we can help!

Get in on the Mystery and Fun!

Monday, January 26th, 2015
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We’re so excited about our upcoming WEBS Mystery Crochet-A-Long Blanket and WEBS Mystery Knit-A-Long Blanket!
WEBS Mystery Crochet-A-Long Blanket and WEBS Mystery Knit-A-Long Blanket, the fun starts February 26, 2015 - more details at blog.yarn.com

You can join us each month as a new mystery square is revealed. Each mystery square can be crocheted or knit in 9 colors to form a unique patchwork blanket. You’ll learn new stitches and techniques, different joins, a simple border treatment to tie it all together, and even learn how to care for a large heirloom project like this. We’ll have photo and video tutorials for the more complicated techniques as well as tips and tricks for making your blanket shine! When finished, the squares can be assembled into a 42” X 58” or 50” X 50” blanket.

Be sure to follow along here on the WEBS blog for video tutorials and join the discussion in our Ravelry Group All Things WEBS to see the progress of your fellow crocheters and knitters!

Materials Required:
9 colors of Valley Yarns Northampton, 2 skeins each (see suggested colorway selections below)
Size H/8 hook (Or size to get your gauge) – Gauge about 16 sts and 17 rows = 4” in sc

or

US size 7 (4.5 mm) needles (Or size to get your gauge) – Gauge about 18 sts and 27 rows = 4” in stockinette stitch

Each colorway is shown above in knit and crochet. The colors used are listed below but feel free to create your own color palette! You’ll need 500yds in each of 9 colors.

Colorway 1 – Neutrals:
Light Grey, Medium Grey, Dark Grey, Sage Heather, Natural, Fawn, Brown Heather, Chocolate, Chestnut Heather
Colorway 2 – Jewel Tones
Amethyst, Ocean Heather, Merlot Heather, Twilight Heather, Burgundy, Dahlia, Midnight Heather, Dark navy, Pacific Teal
Colorway 3 – Pastels
Sage Heather, Natural, Lake Heather, Spring Purple, Denim Heather, Deep Periwinkle, Bright Pink, Raspberry Heather, Light Grey
Colorway 4 – Autumn
Sunset Orange, Light Green Heather, Dark Green Heather, Garnet, Merlot Heather, Rust, Burgundy, Gold, Dark Olive Heather

Dates to Remember
February 26, 2015 – First Square revealed
March 19, 2015 – Second Square revealed
April 23, 2015 – Third Square revealed
May 14, 2015 – Fourth Square revealed
June 18, 2015 – Joining, edging and care instructions revealed

No need to sign up, and the pattern is FREE! Join in whenever is convenient for you. Stay with the monthly timeline or work on the squares at your own pace.

Beginner crocheter or knitter?
No worries! We’ve put together video tutorials for the trickier stitches and techniques that we’ll reveal with each new square pattern, and have a library of basic technique videos on our Youtube channel to help you brush up your skills. You can even ask questions here on our blog, in our Ravelry Group, or on our Facebook Page.

And be sure to post pictures of your project! If you’re using Facebook or Instagram be sure to use #WEBSMCAL or #WEBSMKAL

Get your yarn ordered and get your swatch made now so you’re ready to dive in on February 26th! Tell us what colors you’ll be using.

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