Archive for the ‘Inside WEBS’ Category

Fiona Ellis – In praise of the humble I-cord

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
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Designer in Residence Fiona Ellis joins us again this month to tell us all about her love affair with the i-cord, which just happens to be one of the stunning features in her newest pattern release, In the Loop.

In the Loop the 2nd design from Fiona Ellis in WEBS' Designer in Residence series - read more at blog.yarn.com

I have loved making the humble I-cord since I was a little girl. Like many of us, I had one of those spool knitting toys. For some reason, & I never knew why, it was called French knitting when & where I was growing up. Mine was like a doll so you needed to make a few inches of cord to be able to see the colour change. It would keep me amused for hours. Then, once I had made yards and yards of the stuff, I would sew it into mats for my grandmother. I even made ones as big as door mats. I graduated to “proper” knitting at age 5 when I was taught by my Gran…maybe she already had enough mats by then. Then in design school I learned that if you set one set of cams to slip on a knitting machine you could make cords even more quickly, and carry on a gossipy conversation at the same time (13 ladies in my studio at the time). In this environment it was called rouleau cord. Once I had made it (and found out who was dating whom) I set about finding creative ways of using it in my designs. That fascination with cords hasn’t left me. When I moved to North America I discovered they were called I-cords in hand knitting circles.

As I delved deeper and deeper into designing cables I saw that adding cords to cables was a perfect marriage. I have experimented a lot with embellishments projects by adding cords mostly to give the knitted-in cable cords the appearance of spilling out of the fabric. If you think about it an I-cord is really part of a cable that hasn’t yet been set into the pattern….or is that just me? Many designs later and too many experiments to count I continue to use I-cords as an embellishment for cable patterns. They can be used as ties, to neaten the front edge of a cardigan, to gather a cuff or lower edge [Re-gathering Intentions], as button loops instead of a button hole, or as belt loops, and in the case of “In the Loop” as a feature at the neckline. Here I imagined the cables separate from the fabric, link around each other before settling back into the neckline.

Collage of designs from Fiona Ellis featuring i-cords - read more at blog.yarn.com

The method for working this is fairly simple: when you reach the stitches that will become the cord (two in this case), you slide them onto a holder such as a safety pin and cast on the same number to the main fabric just like you do when working a thumb on a pair of mittens. Once you are ready to work the cord it is necessary to increase the stitch count from two to four so that it will look the same size as the knitted-in cord. You work the I-cord as usual until it is the desired length, then decrease the stitch count back down to two. To attach the cord you work one stitch from the cord together with one stitch from the fabric – twice. Then all you have to do is weave in the ends.

Just in case you thought I might stop at playing with simple I-cords. A few years ago I began to think; if cords are good, then adding other embellishments to them, such as whimsical leaves used here on these mittens [Woodland Leaves], must be even better!

You can see more of Fiona designs that feature i-cords here and here.

National Crochet Month – a new adventure

Thursday, March 12th, 2015
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I should probably start by saying that I am a life-long knitter. My passion for playing with two sticks and some string has been with me for as long as I can remember. In fact, I was crafting with yarn long before my grandmother ever taught me to knit. So it seems odd to me, in retrospect, that my deep and abiding love of all things yarn never made the jump to crochet. Perhaps it’s because there simply wasn’t a crocheter close at hand to steer me in that direction. At any rate, as time went on, I found that I was quite happy knitting away and gave very little thought to including crochet in my skill set.

Find everything you need to learn to crochet, or just to get started again, at yarn.com

Since joining the team at WEBS, however, I have found that it just might be helpful to have some understanding of the crochet questions and conundrums that arise from time to time, and in order to do that, I should probably begin to acquire some functional knowledge of the craft. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got the conceptual basics down, you know, things like: crochet projects require more yarn than knitting projects; recommending the proper hook size for a particular yarn; and making (very) basic estimates about gauge. Herein was the sum total of my understanding of crochet. Until now.

Over the past month or two, I have begun a new adventure into the world of chains and half-double crochets, and find myself chomping at the bit to unravel such mysteries as pattern reading and crocheted lace. Fortunately, I am firmly committed to the notion of swatching as a means of acquiring skill, and I have created several lovely (and with mostly straight edges, I might add) single crochet swatches. Feeling confident that it is time to expand my repertoire, I am celebrating National Crochet Month by incorporating a new stitch or two into my next few swatches and investigating our crochet class offerings here at WEBS. How lucky I am to spend my days in the company of truly accomplished crocheters who are happy to answer questions and take the time to help a newbie progress. Whenever I get stuck or make a mess (I even crocheted so tightly that I once broke my swatch – don’t ask), my co-workers patiently get me back on track and tell me how well I’m doing. Encouragement for which I am truly grateful. They point me in the direction of the instructional videos on our website, suggest wonderful tools of the trade (the Knitter’s Pride Dreamz hooks are my favorites so far), and some beautiful patterns to whet my appetite – Valley Yarns Crocus Lace Stole and Fluvial by ChickenBetty both have piqued my interest. They tell me the motion of the hook and my tension will begin to feel more comfortable soon, it just takes a bit of practice. I know they’re right, after all, I’ve said very similar words to many a burgeoning knitter. I just have to relax and and enjoy the process.

March is National Crochet Month

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
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We’re always excited when March rolls around and we have the added incentive to feature extra crochet content! While we do work to make sure that crochet is represented throughout the year it’s really nice to make it our focus for a month each year.

Celebrate National Crochet Month on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.com

We’ll be talking about the different crochet hooks we carry, we’re introducing a new styling guide on the blog for our Valley Yarns patterns and the first featured pattern is crochet. Our Ask WEBS posts will focus on answering your crochet questions this month, and we’ll launch the 2nd square in our WEBS Mystery Crochet-a-Long (It’s not too late to get started, you can join the CAL at anytime!)

Be sure to check out the hundreds of crochet patterns available on our website, with almost 200 FREE crochet patterns there’s sure to be something for everybody. And if you’re able to visit our retail store this month be sure to check the yarn swatches for all our new yarns, there are knit and crochet swatches for each!

Customer Spotlight

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
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This week, I’m thrilled to show off this beautiful colorwork sweater Oranje, which was knit by one of our loyal customers, Martha. You can see her project notes here on Ravelry.

Not only was this Martha’s first colorwork sweater, it was her first steeked project as well.  She eased her nerves about steeking by reading lots of information about how other knitters approach the technique. Martha adapted the pattern to incorporate a fair amount of ease and modified the sleeves to a 3/4 length. The pattern calls for yarns that WEBS doesn’t carry, but Martha substituted Madelinetosh Pashmina, and WEBS’ own Valley Superwash DK.

WEBS' customer Martha and the Oranje sweater she knit - read more at blog.yarn.com

Martha says, “The finished sweater is warm and soft and feels more like a favorite sweatshirt!” Hopefully you’ll be sufficiently inspired by Martha’s work to cast on for a project that includes some new techniques you’ve been curious about. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you can accomplish!”

If you’re proud of a project you’ve recently completed, tell me about it! Please send all your info, and images, along to me at sgibbs@yarn.com.

Thanks for supporting WEBS and I hope to see you in the store soon.

The Warp and Weft of Generations

Monday, February 16th, 2015
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Store Sales Associate Marthe Young’s daughter Lilah is getting married in May, and Marthe’s wedding weaving preparations are not only heroic, but poignant as well. She is weaving together three generations of handmade cloth to give her daughter a beautiful wedding gift of her talent and her love.

Marthe is know to our customers as a knowledgeable instructor for many of our rigid heddle loom classes as well as a knitter, crocheter, and expert seamstress. Her weaving education began right here at WEBS, more than 30 years ago. In 1979, the then-single Marthe took a weaving class with Barbara Elkins when WEBS was in its infancy. She loved it and bought herself a Harrisville design loom that she put together from a kit. On that loom, she wove her own wedding ensemble with yarns and fiber obtained from WEBS, using the same warp for her cocoon jacket, dress, and belt.

WEBS retail associate Marthe and her mother on their wedding days with the fabric Marthe wove for her own dress - read more at blog.yarn.com

A 25″ Schacht Rigid Heddle Flip Loom is what Marthe used to weave her daughter’s wedding shawl. You can see the photo of this airy, delicate shawl, but what you can’t see from a picture is the intricate patterning of the tone-on-tone fibers, the tiny sequins, and the gossamer weight of this heirloom. When Barbara found out about Lilah’s engagement, she gave Marthe a cone of pearls on thread (which Marthe calls “Barbara’s Pearls of Wisdom”). Marthe plied those with her own home-spun BFL — because of course, Marthe is a spinner, as well! She used a combination of rayon chenille, silk, merino, and , because the wedding will take place on an alpaca farm, some baby alpaca as well. At the edge of the shawl woven next to the pearls is the yarn used in Marthe’s own wedding dress. Once woven, it became apparent that the shawl wasn’t quite long enough — Lilah is a tall drink of water! — so Marthe knew she’d need a border, and when looking for something to use for that border, she came across some scraps from her mother’s hand-sewn wedding dress from 1948. Obviously it was perfect, and that became the end-borders of this lovely shawl.

The wedding shawl Marthe has woven for her daughter Lilah using miltiple fibers including yarn from her own wedding dress and satin from her mother's - read more at blog.yarn.com

Marthe’s current loom, a collector’s-item cherry Norwood, is what she’s using to weave shawls for each of the bridesmaids. You can see the template she’s using, with the charcoal-colored warp of Colrain Lace, Plymouth Gold Rush, Cascade 220, a mystery rayon closeout yarn, and Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo. The weft is 5/2 bamboo as well, and the deep color will set off the accents of mint green that the groomsmen will be wearing in their bow ties and sneakers (!), as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Shawls woven for Marthe's daughter's wedding party - read more at blog.yarn.com

On her wedding day, Lilah will be wearing elements of both her mother’s and her grandmother’s history. Those legacies are woven together in each generation like the warp and weft on a loom. Like living history, all of these garments tell a story about their owner, and they give us a springboard to the future.

Welcome to the store!

Friday, January 23rd, 2015
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This is the store’s first official blog post! Our bi-monthly entries will give us an opportunity to share what’s new and upcoming in the store. If you’re lucky enough to have visited us in the past, you know that WEBS offers a jaw-dropping variety of inspiring yarns, samples and patterns, as well as a helpful and courteous staff to assist you with whatever you want to knit, crochet, spin, felt, or weave. If you’ve not yet made it to the store, I hope that our entries will inspire you to plan a trip to see us very soon.

A customer plans a project with a rainbow of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool at WEBS retail store.

We’ve got some exciting and inspiring plans for 2015. We’ll use this space to share what’s new in the store–event and sales, new yarns and patterns we’re excited about, designer trunk shows, current staff projects and more. I’d also like to use this space to show off  some of the beautiful work that you do. Feel free to email me photos and details of your latest creation. Your work could be featured in this space!

I’m so grateful to each of you who’ve decided to make WEBS your LYS, no matter where you live. Please introduce yourself when you come visit.

 

Please send images of projects you’ve completed with yarn or a pattern you purchased at WEBS, and don’t forget to tell me about your projects! to Sgibbs@yarn.com

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?

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1st, 2015
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Thank you to all our amazing customers for making 2014 a truly wonderful year and the best 40th Anniversary a little company like ours could hope to have.

Happy New Year

We hope 2014 was just as fantastic for you and that 2015 is even better. Happy New Year!

Ask WEBS – We want your questions!

Thursday, December 11th, 2014
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Early in 2015 we’re going to start answering your fiber queries twice each month but first we need to know: What do you want to know?!

Ask WEBS! Tell us what you really want to know. http://blog.yarn.com

Tell us what you have trouble with. What totally stumps you? What do you wish you could understand more clearly? We have experts on hand in knitting, crochet, spinning and weaving so bring on the questions! Ask WEBS and let us offer you some expert answers.

Snow Family KAL! – Week 4

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
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And here we are at the end of our KAL. Your Snow Family is all done and now they just need some trees to set the scene.

#SnowFamilyKAL Week 4 , time for the evergreens! Join the knit-along on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.com

There are three sizes of tree to make in this pattern and they’re all really simple cones that just fly off your needles. Once they’re finished you can lightly stuff them to hold their shape but since they’re knit with 2 strands of Northampton held together, they may not even need it! You can even stack the individual trees to create one big evergreen.

And since you had so much fun customizing their accessories why not customize the trees? A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my favorite holiday specials so I decided to take Lucy’s advice and make a, “big, shiny aluminum tree… maybe painted pink.” Well, it’s not aluminum OR painted but it sure is pink!

#SnowFamilyKAL Week 4 , time for the evergreens! Join the knit-along on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.com

Thanks for joining the #SnowFamilyKAL How did you personalize your snowfamily?