Archive for the ‘Authors & Designers’ Category

Valley Yarns featured in Knit Simple

Monday, March 31st, 2014
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The Spring/ Summer 2014 issue of Knit Simple is out and features 2 great designs with Valley Yarns Amherst and Longmeadow.

The feather-and-fan lace gently scallops the bottom edge of this charming capelet, while dotted ribbing adds flattering vertical lines. Knit with just 4 balls of Amherst this is a quick and inexpensive project to brighten your spring wardrobe. Which color will you choose?

To work this charming striped blanket, start at the center and knit your way out. Increases form symmetrical diagonal lines, while punchy colors and super-soft yarn make it a perfect companion for your favorite tot.  With almost 20 colors of Longmeadow to choose from you can pick 6 of your favorites for endless color combinations.

Valley Yarns featured in Knitter’s Magazine!

Friday, March 7th, 2014
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In the Spring 2014 issue of Knitter’s Magazine you’ll find the Blue Helix pullover knit in our very own Colrain in the Blue Lapis colorway. Designed by the lovely Fiona Ellis, this sweater features asymmetrically placed cables on the body and sleeves that make this fitted pullover a must-knit.

knitters

Which color of Valley Yarns Colrain would you choose?

Boston Strong Hat

Thursday, February 20th, 2014
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Boston Strong Hat designed by Lisa McFetridgeWe were recently contacted by Lisa McFetridge, who designed the Boston Strong Hat. She asked if we would be interested in offering the pattern for sale on our website and donating the proceeds to OneFundBoston (which continues to offer support to the families effected). We didn’t have to consider our answer for very long.

Many of us on the WEBS staff are runners, and even more of us grew up in Massachusetts. Having grown up in Massachusetts myself, my family and I spent a lot of time visiting Boston while growing up and loved it (so much that I considered going to school there and moving to that side of the state). Many of us recall last April 15th and watching the frightening events. Several of us even knew people who were running or in Boston to support their runner. Even more, we recall the victims and the incredible strength that the survivors and first responders showed, and continue to show.

The hat includes instruction on making a close fitting skull cap or a taller ski cap style. It features the Boston skyline, the phrase “Boston Strong,” and four stars to commemorate the victims of that day. The suggested yarn is Cascade 220 in Blue Velvet and Goldenrod.

With this year’s Boston Marathon approaching in a couple months, we hope you’ll consider purchasing the pattern and supporting OneFundBoston.

On the bookshelf this week: Cozy Knits

Friday, December 27th, 2013
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Cozy Knits from Tanis Grey has 50 projects to keep you knitting all winter long. Whether you need a quick birthday gift, a new hat to match the coat you got over the holidays or you are determined to get a head start on your gift knitting for NEXT year, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for here.

With projects that range from hats and mittens to simple sweaters and adorable pieces for baby, you’ll find yourself knitting up colorful and interesting projects in no time.

Leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite quick and cozy knit project and you could win a copy! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Dec. 31. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and posted here.

Edited, Monday January 6, 2014:

And our Winner is –  Debra who said, “Of the four projects on the cover, I can see making all four (and there’s 46 more to explore!). Hats and mitts are always needed and fun to work up quickly.”

Congratulations Debra! Keep an eye on your inbox, we’ll be contacting you soon.

Valley Yarns featured in Interweave Knits

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
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The new Winter 2014 issue of Interweave Knits features a gorgeous sweater designed by our friend Amy Herzog.

telluride sweater

The Telluride Aran sweater features a central cable panel with deeply ribbed cuffs and hem and is knit with Valley Yarns Northampton in the Pacific Teal colorway.

Which color of Northampton would you choose?

On the bookshelf this week: Knits of Tomorrow

Friday, December 13th, 2013
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Sue Culligan has put together a delightful collection of retro inspired, futuristic designs in Knits of Tomorrow.

From home decor to wearable accessories you’ll find great last minute gifts for early NASA fans, that robot-obsessed little boy in your life and the canine companion of your favorite Time Lord.

Leave a comment below and tell us which retro themed knit is your favorite and you could win a copy! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and posted here the following day.

Edited, Wednesday December 18, 2013:

And our Winner is –  Rachel who said, “That K-9 dog sweater is awesome.

Congratulations Rachel! Keep an eye on your inbox, we’ll be contacting you soon.

On the bookshelf this week: Scarf Style 2

Friday, November 29th, 2013
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With the Thanksgiving holiday not yet 24 hours behind us some of you have kicked into overdrive to get your holiday gift knitting finished. Ann Budd’s new book, Scarf Style 2, is a great resource for smaller, fast and yet beautiful knit gifts.

 

Whether you’re a fan of cables, fair isle or brioche, cowls, shawls or scarves this book has something for everyone!

Leave a comment below and tell us which scarf is your style and you could win a copy! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and posted here the following day.

Edited, Wednesday December 4, 2013:

And our Winner is –  Diane who said, “This book is on my wish list!

Congratulations Diane! Keep an eye on your inbox, we’ll be contacting you soon.

On the bookshelf this week: Knits at Home

Friday, November 15th, 2013
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As the colder days of Fall begin to settle in across New England we start wanting cozy throws and squishy pillows to cuddle up with.

CROSS.zoom.1

Ruth Cross’s Knits at Home: Rustic Designs for the Modern Nest guides you through a range of stitch patterns and techniques that can be adapted to different shapes and sizes, adding personality and interest to any room with beautifully designed and handcrafted knitted pieces. You’ll enjoy exploring different hand knit patterns – from throws to fitted covers, elegant wall hangings to floor rugs – that have a beautiful, organic feel.

Ruth not only offers elegant and appealing home decor projects; she also gives you the techniques to design organic and freeform home items of your own. Taking an experimental approach. Dive into a must-have for handknitting and interior design enthusiasts. Makes a perfect gift, too!

Leave a comment below and tell us which home decor accessory you’ve been wanting to knit and you could win a copy! All comments must be posted by 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Please make sure to leave us a way to contact you if you win! The winner will be drawn randomly and posted here the following day.

Edited, Wednesday November 20, 2013:

And our Winner is –  Michelle who said, “A throw. As a keepsake for my daughter. With cables.

Congratulations Michelle! Keep an eye on your inbox, we’ll be contacting you soon.

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.

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.