As the craft of spinning continues to grow in popularity, we wanted to re-vamp our existing space into a beautiful, welcoming area in the store. And we’ve done just that. It’s our hope that experienced spinners and beginners alike will visit us to explore our enticing fibers on offer from workhorses like Blue Faced Leiceister and Romney to more luxurious blends like Frog Tree Meriboo Top (which comes in 10 shades and is on closeout for $2.29 per ounce, by the way). There’s an open space to try out a variety of wheels from Schacht’s popular Ladybug and elegant Matchless to the staff favorite, the Lendrum DT Complete. The back wall features an array of eye-popping color which is sure to inspire lots of new spinning projects! We’ve had such fun putting this new space together, and as the sole member of the store management team who does not (yet) spin, I have definitely caught the bug! Next time you visit the store, please stop by our new spinning area – even if you’re not (yet) a spinner, you’ll likely find yourself enticed to learn – ask me how I know…
Archive for the ‘Inside WEBS’ Category
I’ve realized lately that every time I check my social media sites, the first thing I do is see what WEBS is doing there. There is a rich treasure trove of websites that are devoted to putting people in touch with other people, and you can find someone, for instance, who is a left-handed crocheter who only does stuffed animals in the blink of an eye. Knitting is a pretty social craft, as is crochet; less so, unfortunately, are weaving and spinning. Weavers and spinners, I know you are lovely and sociable, but there aren’t many sightings of folks dragging an 8-harness loom to the local Starbucks for Craft Night. In that way, sometimes it’s easier for knitters and crocheters who don’t know each other to get to know each other. I thought I’d walk you through our social media sites so that you can check out what we post, and who talks to whom through our newsfeed. In this post, I’ll spotlight Ravelry and Facebook, and in some subsequent posts, I’ll walk you through some of our other social media platforms.
No mention of fiber social media is complete without Ravelry. This is the first place I look each day. I check our “All Things WEBS” group to see how the knitters and crocheters doing our Mystery Knit-A-Long and Mystery Crochet-A-Long are doing, what new yarns or needles have been added to our Anniversary Sale, or any information about store events that I might have missed. You can also search for Valley Yarns patterns, or see if anyone is knitting the same design you are, and if they made any modifications to the pattern. You can see how many folks are using Valley Yarns for different projects. And, best of all (to me), you can search for a group that might be tailored to your own particular interest. Once again, left-handed crocheters, I just searched and found not one, but TWO groups devoted to left-handed crocheters, both with large memberships. It’s a wonderful time-suck, and in my position as Education Manager, I’ve tracked down guest teachers, connected with students who’ve requested interesting class ideas, found some great designs to have our instructors use as teaching ideas, and lots more.
Facebook is a great place to find information but it’s also a fun place to find interesting blog posts from other designers and yarn companies, see some deals before they make it onto the website, and hear from our customers around the world. Dena, who manages our social media presence on all sites, manages to find the most beautiful images our in-house photo and video team has produced to complement each post. I love to read the comments folks post about what we share on Facebook; I’ve learned about locally-sourced, allergy-free yarn as well as some variations on Tunisian Simple Crochet stitch from various customers who chime in with their knowledge from time to time.
In the store’s final salute to National Crochet Month, I’d like to share a terrific garment made by Connie Chisholm. Connie states that she stopped by WEBS to pick up 10 skeins of Universal Yarn’s Classic Worsted Tapestry. This yarn is no longer available, but using Universal’s Classic Worsted will yield the same beautiful results. Originally, her idea was to crochet an afghan. That plan evolved a few times and the final result is a tunic-length pullover which Connie designed herself using a double crochet stitch. You can read all the details about Connie’s first sweater on her Ravelry page.
Connie says that she loves to crochet because it allows her to design creatively and that “all you need is an idea, patience and time to enjoy the process.” Connie’s garment clearly demonstrates her enthusiasm for crochet and her design skills too.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for supporting WEBS and I hope to see you in the store soon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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?