Archive for the ‘Classes’ Category

Camp That Doesn’t Involve Mosquitoes, Tents, or a Lake…

Friday, July 18th, 2014
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I did not go to summer camp when I was a kid. I lived on a farm and worked every summer. When I moved to New York and went to college, I was amazed at the fact that parents let their kids go away every summer to swim, kayak, make friendship bracelets, and most of all, not have to coax 100 chickens into a pen twice a day, every day.

Here at WEBS, we have summer camp, and it’s the best kind of summer camp: Fiber Camp. Run by teacher extraordinaire Lindsey Lindequist, these kiddos start every day with a knitting project, and move on to wet felting, fiber dyeing, drop spindle, and (it wouldn’t be camp without them) friendship bracelets. We had a lot of kids who signed up this summer and we’re in Week Two of Fiber Camp. Some of these ladies are very serious about their fiber love!Our first week of Fiber Camp!

You could certainly do your own fiber camp, and you don’t even have to invite anyone if you don’t want to. Try some wet felting–all you’ll need is some roving, a dish or pie plate, some dish soap, and water. Combine some colors that you find pleasing, drop them in the water in your dish, add dish soap to make the fibers adhere and mesh with each other and just mash away until you see a roving, water, and dish soap creates felt...design emerge that you like.

You could do some fabric dyeing or yarn dyeing, as well. Just use food coloring and some vinegar, soak your skein or fabric, microwave it for a few minutes, and then hang it up to dry. Instant color!Annabelle Wood creates dyed silk fabric

What camp do you think you’ll want to do this summer? Reading a good book camp? Knitting or crocheting a summer tee camp? Or maybe you could try my favorite camp, naptime camp. Enjoy!

Sweater Cum Laude

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
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On Wednesday, June 18, 7 students received their WEBS Expert Knitter Certificates, signifying that they completed not only the 18 required classes for the program, but had climbed the highest mountain of all: designing and knitting their Capstone sweater. The evening was a celebration not only of their knitting talent and perseverance, but of their creativity and passion for design and fiber. I’d like to let the pictures do the talking, because the garments are absolutely exquisite and should be seen by as many eyes as possible.

Ocean-y color and delicate laceKristie Nathanson was actually a 2013 graduate, but life got in the way, like it does, and she completed her sweater after last year’s Capstone Ceremony. We wanted to recognize her and showcase her lacy confection, knit in Valley Yarns Charlemont.Linda invented her own cable stitch for this lacy cabled sweater!

Linda Mason did an intricately textured Empire-waist cardigan, and not only had at least three different cable patterns, but invented a stitch never before seen–by putting lace INSIDE a cable. Amazing! She used Valley Yarns Northampton, in a classic Aran natural.

 

Pat's bright-blue cablesPat Wheeler did a vivid blue cabled cardigan with eye-catching silver buttons in Cascade 220. Pat had the biggest binder of swatches ever seen, and she used a technique not often employed outside of the classroom–the double-pick-up around her neckband. It creates an invisible edge and is finishing at it’s finest.

Barbara Meunier also used cables and showcased her moss-green knitted sweater in Louet Gems Sport yarn with wooden buttons to create a natural-looking garment that was both simple and intricate. Barbara was the calmest by far of all our Capstone contenders, and it shows in her knitting.Ping, Barbara's mentor, describes her design.

Laurie Scutt-Drohan started her Capstone process more than a year ahead of her actual knitting! When I first gathered the contenders in October of 2013, she already had a big binder of swatches in various yarns she was contemplating for her final project. She eventually decided to use Valley Yarns Charlemont in a deep teal, which complents her fair skin and dark hair beautifully. Laurie is the perfect example of someone knitting their stress away, as several events conspired to make her Capstone year a Laurie looks great in her teal-blue fingering weight cardi.stressful one. But I think you’ll agree that she used her gift to great advantage in this beautifully-fitting sweater.

Liz Crouch was the only other Capstone graduate to use lace. Her original idea was to make a twin set in a plant fiber, but when push came to shove, she felt a fiber blend was the right choice, and ended up using Classic Elite’s Soft Linen, a linen/wool blend, in a flattering lavander shade. It suits her, as you can see, and her lace panels are perfectly balanced and her garment fits her to a T.Lavander lace and beautiful shaping

Jeanne Crosby had a deceptively simple sweater until you saw it up close…and noticed the crocheted panel and neckpiece of skulls in deep black Valley Yarns Northfield. Northfield is soft and drapy and the combination of the smooth fabric and the bold skull pattern really made her sweater outstanding. It completely suits her personality and she loves it!Look closely for those crocheted skulls.

We had another student who was halfway through with her sweater and in the process of finishing up her final classes when another life event took her attention:  Sarah Johnston had baby Nina Belle in March, and as she told me, she couldn’t put Nina Belle down to pick up her needles once that beautiful little girl made her arrival! So I’m sure that at some point in the next year or so, Sarah will send me a mysterious package that will turn out to be her Capstone sweater and we’ll celebrate her at that time.

Sarah Johnston's personal Capstone: Baby Nina Belle!

I hope this inspires you blog-readers to create some magic of your own! All these knitters started with Knitting II; and you can see how dedicated they are to their fiber art! Maybe we’ll institute a Graduate Program here at WEBS. What would that include? Let me know your thoughts!

Color Me Amazed

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
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A lot of knitters like to use hand-dyed yarns like Madelinetosh, Lorna’s Laces, or Prism. A fair number of those knitters are disappointed when they experience color pooling, or when they don’t like the way one color in the skein works with another one. artful color, mindful knitsMaybe they’ve done a broken rib stitch and noticed that what they had hoped would be specks of dark blue against a rose background turned into big blotches of purple. There are lots of ways to learn how to work with hand-dyed yarns and I’ve found the absolute best resource of all to not only learn to work with those variegated yarns but to actually plan for how those colors show up in your garment. Laura Militzer Bryant, the founder of Prism Yarns, has written a new book entitled Artful Color, Mindful Knits: A Definitive Guide to Working with Hand-Dyed Yarns, and it goes beyond any other book I know to show fiber artists how to craft with color.

As an art-school graduate, Laura became fascinated with hand-dyed yarns when she first saw them at a trade show in the early 1980′s, and learned how to dye yarns as a result. She founded her own hand-dyed yarn company, photo by Amy StephensPrism, and out of the necessity of having to showcase those yarns, she became a knitwear designer. Both of those talents are shown to amazing advantage in Artful Color, Mindful Knits. She can show you how to stack your colors, how to splash your colors, even how to create an argyle pattern with your skein, all by using her Magic Number system that uses the length of a color repeat, the amount of yarn used for a single stitch, and the total number of stitches. Period. When I learned how to anticipate and even plan when a color shows up in your knitting to form a pattern, I wanted to award Laura a Nobel Prize. The designs that accompany the various color schemes are gorgeous. Jackets, hats, scarves, vests, and sweaters, all in vivid colors and patterns that show a master’s touch are readily accessible to any knitter or crocheter.

Artful Color, Mindful Knits includes a thorough color tutorial in the front of the book, which is eye-opening. Laura shows readers in simple language how colors interact with each other and how we perceive them. This helps us plan how to use color and what colors work best in hundreds of different patterns and yarns.  The book also has a wonderful technique section in the back of the book, showing how to do various cast-ons, increases and decreases, and bind-offs, as well as crochet techniques. It’s really a treasure trove of information, one that will be used again and again.ArtfulColor-7

Hey, local blog-readers: Laura will be coming to WEBS on June 7 to sign copies of her new book from 3:30–4:30pm. Come by to see the Prism Yarns trunk show or sign up for her Introduction to Color class. You will be amazed at what you can do!

The Future of Design Featured at WEBS

Friday, April 11th, 2014
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I love fashion and anything to do with fashion. I love reading wrap-ups of Fashion Week in New York City, I love “Project Runway” and “The Face,” and I especially love that the Rhode Island School of Design is so close to us (less than 2 hours-ish) that students come here for inspiration and supplies for their projects in Apparel and Hand Knitting Design classes. Now we are able to showcase the work these talented soon-to-be-grads are doing in what we’re calling “A Day of Creativity with RISD” on Sunday, April 27. It’s like our own “Project Runway!” While I know that only those local to WEBS will be able to take the classes, we are making the patterns for these fun garments available once the classes have run, so everyone will have a chance to make them! And who wouldn’t? This baby sweater is the cutest thing ever, knit in Valley Yarns Longmeadow for a special infant. Fiona baby sweater

If you’re thinking that a cowl can’t be worn once the temperature climbs into the 60′s, you’re so wrong. Linen stitch cowlThis linen-stitch cowl in light, silky Valley Yarns Goshen will protect you from aggressive air-conditioning in a restaurant or movie theater in style. And the Commelina Shawl, knit in featherweight Charlemont Hand-Dyed Yarn, is a lovely light layer for a summer wedding. commelina shawl

WEBS is making the Day of Creativity a fund-raiser for our local animal shelter, Dakin Animal Shelter. They do wonderful work to make sure all animals in their care are well taken-care-of and you all can do your part by clicking on their wish list to see what they can use as we head into the summer.I hope I’ll see you all at one or more of the classes. There are still openings, and we’ve set the fee at an all-time low of $10 each plus a donation to Dakin Animal Shelter so that everyone can join in the fun.

In Which I Became a Weaver for 2 Hours

Friday, October 11th, 2013
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If you’ve been reading this blog you know it’s Spinning and Weaving Week. We’ve had some fantastic demos and the store has been filled with new faces. I barely have time to take classes these days, but I remembered a favorite class from a few years ago, Introduction to Rigid Heddle Weaving with Leslie Ann Bestor. I had a lot of preconceptions about weaving–the looms are gigantic!! You need a ton of fiber!! It takes months to make a napkin!

Weaving on a rigid heddle loom.

Leslie Ann proved all those things wrong. I had the most gorgeous scarf ever in less than two hours, and in Madeline Tosh Pashmina Worsted, to boot! Using it as both warp and weft resulted in a very cool plaid-like fabric, and I wear it all the time now. Weaving on a rigid heddle loom is very manageable, it sits very neatly on a tabletop and barely takes up any room at all. There’s no warping board necessary, no intricate warp-winding, no cones of yarn rolling around. The back-and-forth action of the shuttle is very satisfying, as is the way you slam the heddle down on your fabric to make it nice and firm. And did I mention a scarf in 2 hours? with lovely tasseled ends?

Check out our looms–we have some very un-intimidating rigid heddle looms and if those are too much for you, check out these cuties.  Bonus: if you buy a loom (or a spinning wheel) within a week of taking a class, you get a 10% discount.

Check out our weaving and spinning class schedules. I know we have one that will get you looking at fiber in a different way.

The Harlot is Coming!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
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My first career was in publishing–I did publicity for authors and books, and I worked in New York City, for a fairly well-known set of publishing houses (Random House and Simon & Schuster). My strength was celebrity authors, and I got to work with lots of them. When I moved to western Massachusetts, I worked at a smaller publisher, Storey Publishing, in the Berkshires, and I got to work with another celebrity: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Believe me, I was more excited to work with the Yarn Harlot than almost any other so-called “celebrity.” She’s a beautiful writer, she’s a lovely person, and most importantly, she is totally relatable to her audience and she’s an AMAZING knitter and teacher.

The Yarn Harlot is coming!

The Yarn Harlot is coming!

I’m super-duper excited that Stephanie is coming to WEBS right before Rhinebeck to teach for us!! She will run two classes, Grok the Sock (Thursday, October 17) and Knit Smart (Friday, October 18). Grok the Sock is a 6-hour sock intensive, not difficult, and integral to understanding basic construction of the sock.  Knit Smart is a lecture-style class with Stephanie’s trademark humor and smarts, about how to figure out where you might encounter knitting pitfalls and how to make ensure they don’t derail you.

There is limited space available in these classes, so sign up now and beat the Rhinebeck rush!

EZ

Friday, September 27th, 2013
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No, not “easy.” EZ as in Elizabeth Zimmermann, knitting touchstone, uninhibited free spirit, master knitter, mother of Meg Swansen, and most importantly for this blog post, prolific author. Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote numerous magazine articles and patterns, four design books, Knitting Without Tears, Knitter’s Almanac, Knitting Workshop, Knitting Around, hosted her own PBS television series, and founded Schoolhouse Press, which purveys books, yarn, patterns, and tools.  The Opinionated Knitter, is actually a collection of her newsletters over the course of 10 years. She was also the first knitter to ever be honored with an obituary and article in the New York Times when she died in 1999 at the age of 89.

EZ is beloved by knitters and designers for her innovations which are less overthought ideas and more like common sense. Knitting back and forth on straight needles is slow and tedious; her insistence on knitting in the round on circular needles is fast, eliminates the need to purl, and makes seamless garments. While Zimmermann’s patterns have always been relevant, her garments and clear mathematical formulas that re-invent how to design based on measurements and gauge have experienced a resurgence over the last few years. If you look on Ravelry you’ll see thousands of TomTens, Pi’s, and Baby and Adult Surprises.

Beautifully, mathematically proportionate!

Beautifully, mathematically proportionate!

Here at WEBS, our classes have included EZ’s Baby Surprise Jacket and her Pi Shawl design. These classes ALWAYS sell out.  This fall’s EZ classes are almost sold out (Well, the Pi Shawl class is sold out. Run like the wind to get the last space or two in the Baby Surprise Jacket). Have you knit an EZ pattern? What did you love? What would you like to see next semester? Give me your ideas in the comment section below.

Knitting Continuing Education

Friday, August 30th, 2013
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Once I graduated from college, I knew I’d never, ever continue my education. I was fed up with writing papers, of all things. It wasn’t the studying, or making it to classes every week, or homework. It was writing papers. Of course, I ended up in the communications field a few years after I graduated and what did I do for a living? Basically, write papers. But when I learned to knit, suddenly I was on fire to learn. I took a Beginning Knitting class at a local community school taught by the wisest and most patient teacher ever, and for the first time, I understood how knitting worked. Once I started working at Webs, a whole new world opened up for me. I took classes in stitch texture, in finishing; I took a felting class, and a weaving class. I learned to crochet and spent an entire summer one year making a garden’s worth of crocheted flowers joined by scalloped edging.

Students + yarn = sweater

The Webs Education Program is one of the most amazing resources that fiberists in our area can take advantage of. There are classes ranging from Knitting I, where you can learn to cast on, knit, and purl, to Advanced Fearless Finishing and Sweater Construction, where the intricacies of design are brought to life in fiber form. Guest teachers are regulars at Webs, and in the time I’ve worked here I’ve met some amazing celebs: Debbie BlissStephen West, Ann Budd, Kristin Nicholas, and of course, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

Webs also has a unique Expert Knitter Certification Program. It’s sort of “knitting college,” a series of classes that take the dedicated student from fiber basics to a Capstone Project, which is a sweater designed and knit by the student. The process usually takes about three years, but can take as long as one needs to bask in the fiber-y glow. It’s a serious commitment, with regular meetings with an advisor of sorts (the Education Manager) who signs off on completed classes and projects, and counsels each member on next steps or answers questions about which classes might fill a requirement. Graduates of the program might go on to teach at Webs or at other schools or community education programs, but they all emerge from the Expert Knitter program with every skill they will ever need to design a garment and knit it to perfection.

I encourage all blog readers (and all your friends) to take a look at the classes offered this Fall. You can make charming holiday gifts, design a Pi shawl in the spirit of Elizabeth Zimmerman, craft a pair of mittens, learn to spin on a wheel, weave a chenille scarf, delve into stitch textures and their derivations from various ethnic traditions, or just learn to cast on and bind off.

And starting right after Labor Day, there’ll be a change…and that’s me. I’m taking the reins of the Education Program as Tina McElmoyl, our current Education Manager, leaves to continue her education. I’m so excited to be inheriting this program, which Tina has made into a rich, expansive, well-oiled machine, and I’m eager to get to know all the students and teachers. Most of all, I’m so satisfied when I see the range of our education options at Webs; from knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, felting, and dyeing, there’s no place that does more.

Expert Knitter Certification Program Graduation, 2013

Friday, June 28th, 2013
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This week, we were excited to celebrate another set of graduates of the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program!

These amazing garments were designed and knit by two program members, Jennifer and Sylvia, who were tasked with designing their ideal sweater as the final challenge in the program.

The Expert Knitter Certification Program is a series of 18 classes, taught at our store in Northampton, MA, designed to increase the knitting skills and confidence of everyone enrolled in the program.  These classes range from the very basics of knit and purl to advanced construction techniques, and everything in between.

After completing the required courses, members of the program begin a final project designing and knitting an original sweater from scratch, drawing upon the skills learned throughout the program. Each knitter is assigned a design mentor who is available for support. The process of sketching, swatching and knitting happens between January and June, when the project is due. The sweater can be a cardigan or a pullover and can be simple or elaborate, as long as it is finished well and suits the designer perfectly both in size and in personality. And that’s exactly what both of these garments accomplished.  We are so proud to add these two designers to our list of program graduates. Congratulations Sylvia and Jennifer!

For a slideshow of images of graduation, press play below.

For a look at past graduations, click here.

For more information about the program, click here.

 

Look Who’s Stopping By

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
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There are so many exciting people visiting us at WEBS in the next few months!

Our first guest in February is Debbie Stoller, author of the Stitch ‘n Bitch series of books. She’ll be joining us for a workshop and book signing on February 18th. 

She’ll be in the area because of a fabulous sounding retreat she is teaching in Rowe, MA.  So if you are looking for a quick, relaxing getaway, this month, you should check that out too!

In March we are welcoming Norah Gaughan and the Berroco Design Team who will share the Berroco Spring 2013 collection, the Comfort Baby & Toddler Book, and a few favorites from Fall 2012. Hear all about the new garments, the design process and get a chance to try on some new favorite pieces.

Beth Brown-Reinsel will be here to teach three classes exploring traditional folk knitting techniques. Learn colorful knitting methods of Latvia, Maine and Norway.

In April we welcome Judith Durant and Dorothy Ratigan, a dynamic duo who will share their Knitting Know-How and help you out with your knitting woes.

  

Also in April, Melissa Morgan-Oakes will have you knitting two socks at a time, (top-down, or toe-up!) in no time.

For more details about all of these events and workshops visit our website! And keep an eye on that page – you never know who will visit us next and that link is the place you’ll always find the latest information.