Archive for the ‘Classes’ Category

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.

The Joy of Spindle Spinning

Sunday, September 30th, 2012
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In celebration of National Spinning and Weaving week, we’re highlighting four different WEBS staff members and their spinning or weaving tool of choice. Here, Ashley tells us why she loves spinning on her drop spindle.

Drop spindle spinning is one of my favorite ways to explore new fibers and feed my yarn making addiction. With a handy “yarn-tainer” to hold my fiber of choice and keep my spindle safe, I can bring my latest spinning project with me wherever I go. This keeps me  from boredom in long lines and and lets me engage people who see me spinning and have no idea what I’m doing, often stopping to ask. Public spinning is certainly a wonderful conversation starter!

There are so many different kinds of spindles, each developed in different regions of the world and adapted for spinning whichever fiber was available in that particular climate. Most ancient of crafts, spindle spinning clothed our ancestors going back almost 20,000 years. I really enjoy that sense of ancient continuity,  touching the fibers and turning the spindle in the same way that men and women have done for untold generations.

For brand new spinners, a large whorl drop spindle will have a nice long spin time, and the capacity to hold thicker yarns as well as thin ones. It will also make a great plying spindle long after one has graduated to the smaller whorl spindles for making laceweight yarns. Spindling allows the spinner to take the process at their own personal pace, which can ease the learning process and offers the yarn “more intention per inch” increasing the evenness over time.

The great beauty and variety of spindles available encourages the spinner to try many different styles and sizes and experience the different drafting and spinning techniques they offer, and a glimpse into the cultural history of the area the spindle originated from. Drop spindle spinning is a wonderful way to make your production infinitely portable, to connect us along the thread of time and allow our fingers to explore luscious fibers without limits!

Come see Ashley demonstrate Spinning Exotic Fibers on Monday, October 1 at WEBS! 

National Spinning and Weaving Week at WEBS

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
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October 1 – 7 is National Spinning and Weaving Week and WEBS is celebrating with a week of events, special activities and discounts! WEBS was founded and grew out of Barbara Elkins’ passion for weaving and we hope to share and spread that enthusiasm to weavers and spinners from novice to experienced (and perhaps entice some others to try their hand at it for the first time!).

In the spirit of sharing these time-honored arts, we will be featuring daily demonstrations of both weaving and spinning in the store from 11 am – 1 pm. These demos will be free and, we hope, will spark questions and conversation between the weavers and spinners and those watching. A great variety of techniques will be presented – both wheel and drop spindle spinning, floor looms, frame looms, rigid heddle and more. If you’ve ever wanted to see fleece spun into yarn or watch yarn woven into cloth, come on over and check it out!

In addition to the daily demos, we are also offering mini workshops to present a sampling of different techniques so that people can try something new and add to their toolbox of skills. If you’ve been curious about trying something new or just want to expand your skills, this is a great way to start. All mini workshops will run from 2 – 4 pm and cost $5. The schedule will be:

Monday: Spinning Exotic Fibers – Musing about mohair? Confused about cotton? This mini-workshop will explore several different exotic fibers like camel down, silk and cotton. We will also look at the different drafting styles that may suit each fiber.

Tuesday: Hand Techniques for Rigid Heddle Looms – Looking for some new techniques to add some pizzazz to your rigid heddle weaving? Join us for this workshop as we look at both hand-manipulated laces and pick-up stick patterns. We will also cover how to hemstitch your weaving while it is on the loom.

Thursday: Inkle Weaving –In this inkle loom workshop, you’ll see how to make heddles, dress the loom, start and end weaving, and, of course, how to actually weave.  If time permits, we’ll talk about how to plan a warp. There will be an opportunity for a little bit of hands-on work.

Wednesday is our big Meetup Day as we encourage weavers and spinners to come together and celebrate the beauty and joy that these crafts bring. We will have a space to hang out (with refreshments!) and socialize with others who understand what it means to weave at 56 epi or drool over handpainted BFL roving. There will be goodie bags plus the allure of the warehouse and store (have you seen the new Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo and the spinning fibers that have recently arrived?). Bring show and tell and share your stories of fibery adventures and inspirations.

Also on Wednesday, Barbara Elkins will be doing a computer loom demo from 1pm – 3pm.

In addition to all of the fun things happening at the store each day, throughout the week we will be offering a 10% discount in-store (in-stock only) on weaving and spinning tools and equipment.

So join us for a fun week as we celebrate the richness and diversity of spinning and weaving. Whether you’ve never tried it before or have been spinning and weaving for years, there’s something for everyone.

- Leslie Ann

The Buzz at WEBS – August 31, 2012

Friday, August 31st, 2012
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The Buzz at WEBS

This week, the staff at WEBS is buzzing about…

A good friend of mine was turning 50 and I really wanted to knit her something special. After narrowing down hundreds of patterns, she decided she wanted a cardigan from Knit, Swirl! in a beautiful charcoal color of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. We decided the Plum Perfect pattern would be the right silhouette for her. It was a bit daunting starting since you cast on 513 stitches around the outside of the swirl. But working a few rows first before joining made it a lot easier to not introduce a twist. Since this sweaters is constructed so differently than any other sweater I’ve made, it was a ton of fun to knit and to see how it magically came together at the end with only one seam. I really want to make one for myself now, maybe the Sheer Beauty which alternates rows of lace yarn and DK yarn creating sheer stripes. > Dena C.

          

Metalico, the new yarn from Blue Sky Alpacas, was so nice to knit. I was lucky enough to snag a skein to knit a swatch for the store and I loved every minute of it! The yarn is so soft and warm, yet it is surprisingly light. It absolutely begs to be knitted into lace, as evidenced by my swatch. > Greta S.

Classic Elite Yarns Blackthorn was knit up into this fantastic wrap for a store sample, and I have to have it! It’s Widgeon Hill and you can find it in the new Classic Elite pattern book 9182 Blackthorn. It’s wonderfully warm and the sample is very long. You can wrap it several times around your neck for extra warmth and protection from winter wind. It’s also crescent shaped, so it sits really nicely over your shoulders so you can easily wear it as a traditional shawl. > Grace H.

I’m always excited when we publish a new season of classes, but fall tends to feel extra special to me. Maybe because I’m so happy for the air to get cooler and looking forward to yarn weather. This fall we are kicking off the schedule with two of the things I am most excited about – The Valley Yarns Trunk Show event, and an ergonomics class with Physical Therapist and knitter Carson Demers! At the Valley Yarns event you’ll be able to try on our new designs, get a sneak peek at the holiday designs, ask Kirsten Hipsky questions and try out our newest yarns. (It’s free, but we ask you to register.)  Carson Demers is offering two workshop options for learning about avoiding aches and pains while knitting – something I know many of us can use advice on. These both happen in September, so don’t miss out! > Tina M.

I was so excited when I saw a copy of The Beaded Edge 2 arrive at the store I ran right to the registers and bought it! I have Midori’s first book and I’ve dreamt of making beautiful beaded edges for everything but until now I’ve never actually done it. Once I had this book in my hands I grabbed a cone of UKI 20/2 mercerized cotton in dark grey and then headed down to the local bead store to find the perfect little pink beads. I’m so excited about getting the first full scallop done, I may just make this piece into a necklace. > Sara D.