Author Archive

Guest Teacher Spotlight: Drew Emborsky, aka The Crochet Dude

Thursday, June 9th, 2011
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On Thursday, June 23rd, we are excited to be one of the stops on The Crochet Dude’s New England Summer Boot Camp Tour!

The Crochet Dude Boot Camp

Drew Emborsky has been busy this week getting ready to head out for a summer of crochet, but we managed to fit in a quick conversation about the upcoming class:

Tell us a bit about your Summer Boot Camp Tour!

Drew: I started the concept of teaching crochet “boot camp style” when my book Crochet It. Love It. Wear It! came out. Every project in the book uses post stitches and my local yarn shop asked me to teach an intensive two-hour workshop just on that stitch. That first Boot Camp was so much fun and so successful that I developed an entire list of Boot Camp workshops.

That concept translated well into doing a multi-city tour!

What can students expect in the Post Stitch Boot Camp you will be running here at WEBS?

Drew:  They can expect to learn some skills that will make their crochet experience even more satisfying. They will learn some of the tricks that I use to make my crochet projects more professional. Most of all they can expect to have a lot of fun!

What makes crochet fun for you?

Drew:  Even after crocheting since I was 5 years old, I still find it fascinating that with just a little hook I can transform a ball of yarn into such amazing projects. It still feels like magic each time!

What is your favorite bit of advice for fiber craft newbies?

Drew:  Always, and without exception, use yarn that you love love love. There is no happy ending to an unhappy process. If you adore the yarn that you are working with then the project will be amazing no matter what.

Thanks so much to Drew for taking some time away from packing his suitcase full of hooks and yarn to answer our questions!
Post Stitch Boot Camp will be on Thursday, June 23rd, from 5pm – 7pm.  There will also be a free book signing event from 7pm – 8pm.  Click here for all the details!

Capstone Projects – A Sneak Peek

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
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As I mentioned in the recent post about the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program, the final project before graduating the program is the Capstone Project.  This project challenges knitters, who have completed all of the required coursework , to design and knit an original sweater from scratch! Over the course of five months, and with the support of an assigned mentor, program members sketch, swatch, knit, rip out and re-knit, all in the pursuit of a well-constructed, lovely garment that shows off the many skills they have acquired throughout the program.

So far, two groups have completed Capstone Projects and graduated the program.  Their finished projects are an inspiration:

2009 Capstone Sweaters

2010 Capstone Sweaters

Tomorrow, the 2011 sweaters will be due, and I am so excited to see the culmination of all the hard work the current program members have been putting in over these past few months.  (A few have already made it to my desk and they are gorgeous!)

Here is a sneak peek of where this year’s Capstone Projects were just a few short weeks ago!



Expert Knitter Certification Program

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
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One of the fun things about working at a shop that so many people consider their local yarn store, is watching all of the different communities that pop up.  There are informal communities such as the regulars at our various Drop-In sessions,  employees who join together in impromptu knit-a-longs, weavers who know they can stop by and get some advice from the store’s founder, Barbara, and people who travel from far and wide with a group of friends to shop at the store on a regular basis.

Another community we have happily worked to build here at WEBS is made up of the members of our WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program.  Knitters who join this program are interested in taking their craft to the next level by following a course of 18 classes designed to take them from their current skill level (many are beginners) through confidently designing a sweater from scratch.

Just a few of the great classes in the program:Some of the Expert Knitter Certification Classes

All of the classes are taught on-site, here at the store, by a team of wonderful Teachers-in-Residence, as well as by nationally and internationally known Guest Teachers.  Each instructor brings a unique perspective to the craft, as well as many tricks and tips!  Most classes are open to all customers, but members of the Expert Knitter Certification Program get a head start on registering each season during a special preview period.

After completing the coursework, program participants begin an independent final project, the Capstone Project, designing and knitting a sweater to fit.  Once that sweater is completed and reviewed by the Capstone Committee, participants are awarded the WEBS Expert Knitter Certificate during a lovely graduation event! The sweaters created through this process are an inspiration. (We’ll give you a sneak preview of this year’s Capstone Projects in-progress in an upcoming post.)

Beyond the usual course and materials fees for each class,  a yearly fee of $50 is the only additional cost for participating in the program.

Knitters join the program for a variety of reasons.  Some are looking to take classes that might be a challenge and out of their comfort zone,  some friends join together and see it as a great way to spend regular time together sharing a craft they adore, others want to be able to look at a bag of yarn and declare “I know exactly what that will be!”  Whatever the reason for joining, all members of the program find they have joined a welcoming community of people who enjoy yarn, and who want to learn as much about fiber crafts as possible while having lots of fun in the process.

If you would like more information about the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program, you can download the brochure here (pdf) or contact us using the info on this page. You can also check out our newly formed Ravelry forum and meet some of the current members!

Spring = Busy!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
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We manage to stay pretty busy most of the time here at WEBS, as you might imagine. But some weeks it can feel like we are taking that busyness to the next level! Late March seems to be one of those exciting times.

Here are just some of the highlights of what is keeping us buzzing along:

This Sunday, March 27th, we are welcoming fourteen favorite crafty talents to the store to chat about their publications and art. This event is free, but we ask that you register so we know how many people to expect. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet these local talents, check out garments from their books, and shop at the store on a Sunday!

Then, one of those authors will be returning the following Saturday, April 2nd, with a pair of classes exploring fun techniques in crochet! Mary Beth Temple is bringing us Broomstick Lace and Tunisian Crochet workshops all in one day. These two techniques have been popping up everywhere lately and I’m excited about adding them to my line-up of design elements. I think they will make dramatic additions to both crocheted and knitted garments. If you agree, and want to explore the basics of these techniques, you can register here!

Be sure to stop by Mary Beth Temple’s table at the Author Event – not only will you have a lovely conversation about all things yarn, but you can also pick up a special discount offer on her classes!

*Pattern on the left is Chamomile Cardigan from Interweave Crochet, Spring 2011 (photo by Joe Coca). Pattern on right is Hourglass Jacket from Stitch Diva.

And then, on to the Anniversary Sale!


But before I get too ahead of myself, I want to thank Mary Jane Mucklestone for coming by the store last week and kicking off this busy season with some fun colorwork classes. My co-worker, Liz, and I shared the exact same yarns, in the same colors and, in doing so, learned a valuable lesson about how different colors can look when used in different orders, and when holding yarns in the dominant or non-dominant positions. Just look at the difference:

And I left with the most adorable baby tam! I can’t wait to make a full-sized version for myself.

Mary Jane did a great job of reminding me just how much I adore doing Fair Isle!

Instructor Profile: Leslie Ann

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
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Here on the blog, we often tell you about the amazing and talented guest instructors we are lucky enough to have in the store each season to teach all sorts of skills and projects. Recently, it occurred to me that readers might be interested in hearing a little bit about some of the wonderful people who teach for us on a regular basis – our WEBS Teachers-in-Residence. It seems a good place to start this occasional series is with Leslie Ann, who has begun a free monthly Rigid Heddle Drop-In Session! The next meeting of that drop-in is tomorrow evening, March12th, 5:30pm – 8pm.

Leslie Ann, what are some of the classes you teach here at WEBS?

I teach Introduction to Rigid Heddle and the rigid heddle technique classes – Lace, Pick Up Sticks and Using Two Heddles. I also teach the Beginning Weaving class for multi-harness floor looms. And I teach a few knitting classes, such as the Cornucopia of Cast-Ons and Bevy of Bind-Offs as well as Casts-Ons and Bind-Offs for Sock Knitters. And, of course, I’m now resident weaver for the Rigid Heddle Monthly Drop-In!

What is your general philosophy towards fiber crafting?

I have always loved creating things with my hands and with fibers. I don’t consider myself particularly artistic when it comes to drawing and coloring (as I’m sure my daughter would tell you!), but I love to touch color and to manipulate it with my hands. And I love to make things for other people. I think it’s really special when I knit or weave that I touch every inch of the thread that goes into what I make. I put my good thoughts and energy into the yarn as I work with it and it feels good to know that it will surround the person I make it for. I find that my creativity is kinesthetic – when I touch yarn I want to make something beautiful with it. I am inspired by the feel and color of yarn and the design flows from there.

My philosophy? I guess it has two parts. The first is that I make things to share the good feelings I get from working with fiber. The second is that it’s all about fun –play with the colors, rejoice in the touch, enjoy the process of creation.

We are excited about the addition of rigid heddle to our regular Drop-In line up! Now that you’ve held a few sessions, what can a customer expect to experience when he/she stops by for Rigid Heddle Drop-In?

Rigid Heddle Drop-In is pretty informal. Some people bring their looms and weave, some just come to chat and ask questions. I have my loom there and demonstrate some techniques. We always have show and tell, which is pretty inspiring. Fun and inspiration are my goals for Drop-In! I find that the weavers really enjoy getting together and sharing projects and experiences. It’s usually such a solitary craft, so it’s fun to be with other folks who speak your language and appreciate the work you are doing. So there’s always that sense of camaraderie. People will find a nice open classroom, set up for weaving. It is great to be able to weave with other folks as well as ask questions about your project. I find that I talk a lot! Mostly answering questions, those little things that really make a difference in our weaving – how much to angle the weft, how to tuck in the ends, how to hemstitch. And I find that the group shares a lot with each other – their experiences with different fibers, successes and challenges, great ideas for projects.

What is your favorite thing about teaching Rigid Heddle?

I love getting other people hooked on weaving! And I love when they see how easy it is with a rigid heddle loom. The day starts with lots of questions (and, sometimes, anxiety) but soon everyone is immersed in weaving. And there’s always such excitement when we pull the scarves off the looms! Rigid heddle weaving is so immediate, the process is so fast, that you get that creative gratification quickly. And it’s fun showing people how to take their weaving to new levels using pick up sticks and finger-manipulated techniques. I feel like I’m opening the door to the candy shop. And then I get to see what people create!


If you have any questions about Leslie Ann’s classes or drop-in, feel free to come into the store, or contact Customer Service, for more information.

Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed this teacher profile! Would you be interested in hearing from more of our lovely and talented teaching staff?

Be Fearless with Your Colorwork

Friday, February 25th, 2011
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The newest issue of Interweave Knits came across my desk recently, and as I glanced over the cover for hints of what awaited me inside, I noticed a familiar name!

Mary Jane Mucklestone has written a wonderful article filled with tricks and tips for tackling Fair Isle knitting, as well as clear, helpful guidelines for choosing colors for your project (the detail that tends to be my biggest challenge).

If the article whets your appetite for colorful knitting, but you could use a bit more information and support, I have just the solution!  Mary Jane Mucklestone is teaching three classes here at the store in March!

Colorful Knitting is the perfect class for exploring principles of color theory and how to apply them to your projects.

Instant Mittens is a class that is all about instant gratification! With fun embellishment techniques, you can have a pair of fabulous mittens done in time for the next New England storm.

And, don’t overlook the Tams class.  Even if this style of head-wear isn’t your style, there is so much to learn from the technique! Reading colorwork charts, designing centered wheel patterns, using yarn dominance to your advantage and more.

If you are in the area, don’t miss out on all that Mary Jane has to share!


Also, on a January episode of Ready, Set, Knit, I declared 2011 to be The Year of Finishing (what was I thinking?)  So, in the interest of keeping myself honest about my New Year’s knitting resolution, that sweater behind the magazine is a top-down raglan that has been languishing in the unfinished pile since December. It is back on the needles and heading toward finished – one lunch break at a time!

Cascade Yarns – A “Tasting” Event

Friday, January 28th, 2011
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Join us in the store on Thursday, February 3rd, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, for a fun opportunity to try out Cascade’s wide array of yarns!

Bring along your knitting needles and crochet hooks in various sizes, because Cascade Yarns will have all of their yarns available for “tasting” – even yarns we don’t currently carry!  The evening will be a wonderful time to play with a yarn you’ve been eyeing on our shelves, or perhaps to discover a new favorite.

We’ll have snacks and giveaways, as well as garments for trying on.  This event is free, but we do ask that you register so that we know how many “tasters” to expect. You can register in the store, or by contacting Customer Service at 413-584-2225 or

With all of the snow we’ve been getting in Massachusetts lately, Pastaza has been catching my attention as a strong contender for a cozy, super warm, cowl.  Maybe Thursday’s opportunity to swatch will be just the thing to get me to cast on…

Ah Ha! Moments

Friday, January 21st, 2011
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Last weekend the store was buzzing, not only with knitters grabbing up yarn for projects (just in case the prediction of a snow storm turned out to be true), but also with the the sound of “ah ha!” moments coming from the classrooms again and again.

In addition to classes about felting slippers, finishing techniques and the tricks and tips of fixing mistakes, this weekend saw Annie Foley lead a group of knitters through the exhilarating process of cutting their knitting for the first time in the workshop “Eek! Steeks!

(Thanks to Kathy C. for sending along her photos of the action!)

We also were thrilled to welcome Amy Herzog who gave a Fit to Flatter workshop. Amy walked us through taking our own accurate measurements, looking at our body shapes and determining the styles that will flatter each of us most. The concepts she passed along were eye-opening, and we had so much fun trying on garments that looked both great and not-so-great on each of us. I know I’m looking at my Ravelry queue with a whole new eye to what might suit me best.

It was certainly a jam-packed weekend, and it’s only the beginning! We have a ton of classes scheduled this season. Just look at them all! Which ones are you excited about?

(Also: Did you know you can leave reviews of classes on our website? If you’ve taken a class in the past that we are offering again, we invite you to say a few words about what you gained by participating. Just click on the class, and then on the “Customer Review” tab. Reviews by past participants can often help encourage others who are considering joining in on the fun!)

Shetland Trader Event

Friday, December 3rd, 2010
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On Thursday evening we were happy to welcome Gudrun Johnston to the store for an event celebrating her pattern collection, The Shetland Trader – Book One!

She was lovely, and treated us to a slide show of gorgeous photos from the book’s Scotland photo shoot as well as images from her mother’s knitwear designs, one of Gudrun’s major inspirations.

We were treated to information on her design process, construction details, and a little story about her experience taking classes at WEBS!  (Which, as the Education Manager here at the store, made me quite happy!)

Then, everyone was invited to examine, touch and try on the garments.  This is a particularly fun aspect of every designer event.  And, let me tell you, the garments are even more beautiful in person.

Thank you to everyone who came out to this event.  And congratulations, Gudrun, on a wonderful pattern book!