Archive for the ‘Inside WEBS’ Category

Customer Spotlight – Malabrigo Blanket

Monday, April 21st, 2014
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Last week one of our local customers, Peggy, brought in a blanket she’s been working on for a friend. She says, “It is a very old pattern that my friend’s mother made for her many years ago. She has been searching for several years to find it.” The pattern was found, an old magazine clipping, and Peggy got to work.

Customer Blanket

Peggy chose to work with Malabrigo Rastita, a soft and cozy merino wool, and 41 skeins later she ended with a gorgeous, Full-sized bedspread. “It is indeed a labor of love and I can’t wait to take to Maryland to its new owner and see her face when she sees it.”

Thanks for bringing in this lovely blanket Peggy! And for those of you curious about the pattern, it was originally published in 1946 in the Complete Book of Crochet, but the pattern is available online as well.

Have you taken on any large scale projects this year?

Local Weavers “Help Our Kids”

Monday, April 14th, 2014
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January 30, 2014 -- Local weaver Vicki Patillo weaves the first of 5 blankets that will be donated to Help Our Kids, a local nonprofit organization for foster children. Patillo is one of several members of the Pioneer Valley Weavers Guild who are donating their time.

January 30, 2014 — Local weaver Vicki Patillo weaves the first of five blankets that will be donated to HelpOurKids, a local non-profit organization for foster children.  She is one of several guild members who donated their time.

Members of the Pioneer Valley Weavers guild recently completed a service project in which they handwove approximately 20 blankets for foster children and babies in the Western Massachusetts area.  Five of the blankets were woven right here at WEBS America’s Yarn Store and donated, along with over 15 other handwoven, knit and crocheted blankets to local non-profit organization HelpOurKids.  

WEBS founder Barbara Elkins began thinking about the project in October of last year and was pleased by the response from the guild and other customers at WEBS.  “There will be some children that will have something of their own and that’s very special.  When they are transferred to a new foster home, a (security) blanket can be very helpful,” Elkins said.

HelpOurKids director Noryn A. Resnick said that the focus of foster care is “too often limited to just being sure that they (foster children) have a place to sleep and enough food.  The part that is missing is athletic equipment to enable them to join a team, music lessons, a prom dress a backpack etc.”  Resnick decided to start HelpOurKids to help foster children fill in specific needs beyond the basics “that make every child feel like a ‘normal’ part of society.”

Guild weaver Pat Kapitzky of Florence, MA chose to participate in the project because she knows how special blankets can be for growing children.  She said, “the idea is that the foster children, when they move around, they have a pretty blanket they can take with them.  I remember my blankie and my two children’s blankies, and they were very important”.  They offered “comfort and security,” she said.

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February 17, 2014 — Dorothy Schimel of Florence, Massachusetts, measures the length of a blanket to donate to foster children at local non-profit, HelpOurKids. 

Elkins volunteered use of an 8-shaft Schacht loom on display in the store and all of the necessary materials for the project.  During the months of January and February weavers came into the store during normal shopping hours to work on their blankets.  Elkins said, “I volunteered the loom and materials because it is in line with WEBS’ values of contributing where we can.  We have a history of donating yarn to causes we support.”  Guild members who could not weave on the loom at WEBS chose to weave individual blankets at home.

March 3, 2014 -- WEBS founder Barbara Elkins, left, and Pioneer Valley Weavers Guild Representative, Deb Adamczyk, right, cut hand woven blankets from the loom.

March 3, 2014 — WEBS founder Barbara Elkins, left, and Pioneer Valley Weavers Guild Representative, Deb Adamczyk, right, cut handwoven blankets from the loom.

The loom was dressed with enough warp to weave up to five blankets.  Elkins and store manager Leslie Ann Bestor set up a striped 3/2 cotton warp with accenting stripes of variegated cotton flake.  All blankets needed to be machine washable and soft and have a finished size of 30 inches wide by about 36 inches long.  Elkins kept the terms and conditions of the project pretty loose allowing weavers to showcase their creativity and skill.

News of the project spread throughout the various social groups at WEBS, inspiring knitters and crocheters who were not connected to the guild to also participate.  Local customers in the weekly drop-in groups at WEBS donated another dozen knit and crocheted blankets.

Elkins said that the blanket project is one of several socially worthwhile projects the guild takes on every year.  “I can’t say the effort was a surprise; it wasn’t.  We have a history of concern for others and an interest in spreading the word about weaving.  I was very pleased by the amount of participation.  Weavers are a generous bunch of people,” she said.

According to Elkins, over WEBS’ 40 year history they have always tried to contribute where they could.  In the years since Kathy and Steve took over those efforts have only grown exponentially.  “It is important that we give back because we have received such overwhelming support from our customers,” she said.

March 3, 2014 -- WEBS founder Barbara Elkins, surges hand woven blankets.

March 3, 2014 — WEBS founder Barbara Elkins, prepares handwoven blankets to be cut and finished by weavers at home.

Blankets were hand delivered to HelpOurKids Director Noryn A. Resnick at the once a month guild meeting held at WEBS.  When she addressed the group, she thanked them for their donated time and effort.  According to Resnick, foster children are often moved around without any belongings.  “This will stay with them when they go to their emergency foster home and then when they go into their permanent foster home.  It provides them stability and some consistency.”

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March 11, 2014 — Director of local non-profit, Help Our Kids, Noryn A. Resnick, (center), received over 20 handmade blankets from weavers, knitters and crocheters at the once a month guild meeting held at WEBS America’s Yarn Store.

Acknowledging the amount of care and skill woven into these blankets, Resnick said that these pieces will likely be heirlooms for the children as they grow older.  “I said to Barbara, you’re not only warming their bodies, but you’re warming their minds because they’re afraid, they’re frightened and just to have something that’s their own and that they can depend on and cuddle, it’s just really wonderful.  Someday when they’re in a stable environment, they’ll get to keep this and know that someone really did care about them and that they were not forgotten.”

For more information about HelpOurKids or to make a donation, please visit http://www.helpourkidsinc.org/.

New Store Samples to Inspire You

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
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When you first walk through WEBS’s doors, you might be overwhelmed by the wide array of colorful yarns and sample garments on view. Sample garments are the first impression you’ll get of a yarn and we try to offer as many samples as we can for you to enjoy. You’ll find the garments and accessories located throughout the store; often you’ll have to look up to see samples on the tops of bookcases!

From now on, we’re making our sample sweaters in the medium size, rather than the typical small size, to accommodate a more realistic range of body types and sizes. If you’re interested in a particular design, please feel free to try on the sample and ask questions about it. Our associates are always happy to help you.

We try to keep our store samples updated and fresh for each new season. This month we’ve added several garments and accessories that show off some of our new spring yarns and familiar yarns as well.

When Katia Big Ribbon arrived for spring, I was bowled over by the variety of colors and knew this yarn was made for a fun, summer-y accessory. This free crocheted slipper pattern, modeled by Mary Anne, is available free of charge on the Knitting Fever website. One ball of this super bulky yarn is sufficient for a pair of solid color slippers. But if you buy two colors, you can mix and match them as we’ve done and have enough yarn for two pair!

katia slippers     katiacloseup

We’ve carried Freia Fine Handpaints Ombre Lace for several months and, as gorgeous as it was in the ball, it needed to be knit to truly illustrate its’ beauty. I chose KnitWhits “Sonoma Scarf” which is available as a PDF on our website. Our laceweight sample was knit in the Grapevine colorway but please check out the other beautiful colorways we carry.

freiashawl   freiaclose

Our next store sample was knit in one of the most sumptuous yarns we carry—Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere which comes in over 20 solid and variegated colorways. I chose Ravelry pattern, “Boxy” by Joji Locatelli, for a few reasons: it’s a contemporary design that can be casually worn with jeans or dressed up when paired with your favorite skirt; it can be knit with a variety of fine gauge yarns; and most important, many women of all shapes and sizes have knit this pattern and they look fantastic! Mary Anne is sporting our sassy version of the pattern in Silk Cashmere color #201, aptly named “Seeing Red.”

boxy      boxyside

“Surf,” designed by Martin Storey and featured in the newest Rowan magazine 55, is an explosion of spring and summer color! Knit in Rowan’s mercerized Cotton Glace in 11 glorious shades, this slightly cropped pullover is classic but stylish and looks perfect on our model, Bonnie.

surf              surfside

We’re excited about these new store samples and we hope you do too—please visit the store soon and check them out!

 

The Thornes Pullover from Amy Herzog

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
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Your response to our first two guest designer patterns has been wonderful. It’s time to highlight the third pattern from our first round of specialty yarns and designers. Amy Herzog designed the Thornes Pullover to be a classic silhouette with special details.

 

About the design Amy says, “The Thornes Pullover from Valley Yarns is a classic, comfortable turtleneck pullover that adds understated elegance to any outfit. The reverse stockinette stitch fabric lends a soft, approachable look to the sweater and makes the color changes in this slightly variegated colorway more subtle. The ribbed trim and twisted stitch detailing give a bit of flair to an otherwise basic staple. I was thrilled to be given such lovely materials for my design for WEBS’ 40th Anniversary celebration. Thornes is worked in their Valley Yarns Superwash DK, in a special color dyed by Madelinetosh called “Magnolia Leaf”. To me, this is the perfect blend of autumn colors. It’s slightly darker than shown in these pictures, like looking at the pattern of fall foliage across a hillside. Incredible.”

And while the gorgeous Magnolia Leaf colorway of the 40th Anniversary Valley Superwash DK hand-dyed by Madelinetosh has sold out this sweater works up beautifully in the solid colors of our Valley Superwash DK, like the Forest colorway.

 

Behind the Skeins

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
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The fantasy of working at a yarn store conjures up images of frolicking through bins of beautiful yarn, caressing skeins of luxurious cashmere, hobnobbing with the knitterati and knitting behind the counter while chatting with customers.  The reality includes all that (except for the knitting at work, alas, and without the symphonic soundtrack and dream sequences) plus the mundane and pedestrian tasks of running a retail business. We thought you’d like to see a Day in the Life at the store, so join us “Behind the Skeins” for a look at what goes on behind the scenes.

vacuuming WEBS

 

 

 

 

  We start the day wearing our housekeeping hats – vacuuming, putting things back in their places, wiping counters, getting things ready so we can open the doors.

 

 

 

 

 

Garment on WEBS blog

J tries on garment on WEBS blog

Often we have early morning meetings with reps from the yarn companies to learn about the new yarns and patterns for the season.  We get to try on sample garments – a great way to see how they actually look on real people.

 

 

 

Every day Bill brings us boxes loaded with new products and restocks.

Bill delivers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it’s fun to see and touch the New.

3/7/14 A new shipment of Madelinetosh has arrived in the store!

3/7/14 A new shipment of Madelinetosh has arrived in the store!

 

 

 

 

And then we have to put it all away!

 

 

 

 

And, of course,  we have to find it again! We put a lot of time into staying organized, a big challenge considering how often we move the yarn. We map the store and update our lists and just when we think we know where everything is, we get a shipment of the next season’s yarns and we start moving and updating again. Ever wonder what happens when we disappear to find more yarn for you?

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We are practicing our orienteering skills in the stockroom!

We all learn pretty quickly that the one constant in our jobs at WEBS is constant change. Interruptions are part of the job as we move back and forth between helping customers and stocking shelves. Customer service is our priority and the other tasks take a back seat to that, so never hesitate to ask us for help!

It all makes for a lively day. It’s great to be surrounded by all the colors and textures and we are continually inspired by the creativity of our customers and colleagues. And, thus it is nice to turn off the lights at the end of the day and head home, because we can hardly wait to work on our latest project while relaxing in a comfy chair!

Turning out the lights

March is National Crochet Month

Monday, March 3rd, 2014
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Valley Yarns Pickwick Cowl Crocheted in Valley Yarns CharlemontI love checking out obscure days and months (today, March 3rd is ‘If Pets Had Thumbs Day,’ among several others). It’s always fun to see what have days, or months. It’s also fun to check out the far less obscure days and months, like this month! March is National Crochet Month, and we’ll be celebrating it here on the blog all month long.

This month on the blog you’ll find weekly special crochet technique features (surface crochet and Tunisian crochet are just a couple that well be looking at), patterns suggestions, and a few surprises. So, keep checking back!

Do you love to crochet?

Meet the Store Crew

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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Feb. 11, 2014- Store staff photo. Photo by Mary Kubasek

Walk in the door of WEBS’ retail store in Northampton and you will be greeted by one of the folks pictured above. This is our crew and they represent countless years of experience in the fiber arts. On any given day we have 6 – 9 staff on hand to keep things running smoothly and the cast of characters varies from day to day, as this is no ordinary 9-5 job.

I am Leslie Ann and I co-manage the store with Stephanie, helped by our Assistant Manager Bonnie. We work as a team, balancing our strengths to keep the skeins spinning and things on course. Stephanie is the Master Yarn Mover, Bonnie is known for her customer service and I am fluent in the language of weaving, with special emphasis on translating for beginners.

We are lucky to have a crew with great expertise. In addition to being skilled knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners and felters, our staff possess hidden talents and super powers that they use to help our customers.  Marion is our Button Maven and can help you find the perfect match among our vast collection, while Maryanne excels at helping people pick patterns and yarn colors that will flatter.  Can’t remember the name of that pattern you saw 3 months ago? J will come to the rescue! Likewise, Ashley can identify random yarn faster than a spinning spindle.

We also have Mary the Gauge Whisperer and Gail, who dyes every day.  Katie claims to have laser vision and Marthe tames the unruly shelves in the warehouse, while many others possess the strength of great and friendly customer service. Nancy keeps us laughing with her sense of humor, we have an in-house animal rescue league and an expert yarn untangler often found at the winding station.

Our diverse interests, both fiber-related and outside of work keep things lively in the store. We share our projects – WIPs, FOs, and pipe dreams.  We laugh about crazy patterns we’ve seen and ooh and ahh over the new yarns.  One and all, we are super yarn enablers and egg each other on when we see someone petting a skein or making piles of colors.

It’s a people-loving bunch and we enjoy getting to know our customers, so introduce yourself when you’re in the store and let us help you with your fibery needs.

The Windchill Cardigan from Melissa LaBarre

Friday, February 7th, 2014
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We’ve been so thrilled with your response to our first specialty yarn and dedicated patterns. We thought it was time to share another pattern highlight with you. Melissa LaBarre designed the Windchill Cardigan for us and it’s just stunning!

About her relationship with WEBS:

I’m so happy to be one of the designers for Webs’ 40th anniversary. Webs has been a big part of my life for more than a decade.
I discovered Webs when I started knitting again, just over 10 years ago. What a place to discover when you’re a new knitter. I think I started by buying 2 of everything and making a bunch of fancy scarves.
Years later, knitting had become a big part of my life. I started designing and picked up a part-time job at Webs. During my 2 years there, I co-wrote 2 knitting books, New England Knits and Weekend Hats.
Now I’m a work-at-home designer and mother of a toddler girl, with another baby girl on the way. My designs had shifted from adult garments to accessories and baby designs in the last year, so it was fun to design my first adult sweater in a year for Webs’ anniversary.
You can check out more of Melissa’s patterns on our site, on her Ravelry page or follow her on Facebook!

Selfish Project Month

Monday, February 3rd, 2014
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The holidays are now a distant memory, and while some of the more organized and enterprising members of our crafting community have already started planning, and possibly even working on projects for the end of this year, many of us just want to take a little time to focus on ourselves. I am included in that second group. I didn’t make nearly as many projects as I was planning for gifts, but as I was working on them, all I could think of was projects I wanted for myself – legwarmers, mittens, hats. (It has been really cold!)

Since February also happens to feature Valentine’s Day, we thought it might be nice to show ourselves a little love and focus on selfish knitting and crocheting. In the next month, we’ll feature patterns and ideas that you can make for yourself (or someone else if you really wanted to).

You’ll also want to keep an eye out here and our other social media sites next week because we’re going to be doing something special.

Are you planning on knitting or crocheting for yourself?

Staff Favorites: Patterns

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
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In the store, we often get to see customers come through with great finished projects made with stellar patterns. We realized recently that several of us have finished some really great patterns and wanted to share them with you. Some of them are new, some are old, and some are even designed by our staff. Take a look at what we’ve worked on.

Elektrocute designed by Emma Welford

Elektrocute by Emma Welford
Like most of my design ideas, Elektrocute started out as a hastily-scribbled sketch on a post-it note while I was working. From sketch to chart to FO, it turned out exactly as I was picturing it and that makes it my latest favorite! I think the evolving colorwork pattern is fun and youthful while Madelinetosh Pashmina makes it luxe. Go wild with color combinations…I dare you! - Emma W.
I test knit this for Emma, and I must say, it’s a super fun pattern! – Mary

Cabled Baby Sweater designed by Rebecca L. Daniels

Cabled Raglan Baby Sweater by Rebecca L. Daniels
Made in Louet Gems Sport, a wonderful springy yarn that had a lot of personality and showed cabling nicely. This was my first top-down raglan sweater (believe it or not) and they each knit up in less than a week. Not only did I love the pattern, I loved learning this technique and I can’t believe I didn’t come around to it sooner. I’m contemplating making another pair as a first-birthday present. - Amy G.

Cladonia Shawl designed by Kirsten Kapur

Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur
I love knitting the Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur.  It was a simple shawl with a very nice lacy details to finish it off.  I knit it up in the Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light as the main color and Madelinetosh Tosh Lace for the lace detail in a different color. - Bonnie L.

Rooshed designed by Amy Stephens

Rooshed by Amy Stephens
I have always loved lace weight yarn but my attempts at knitting lace have always ended in tears. Rooshed is my answer! It’s an asymmetrical shawl/scarf that is practically weightless. It’s long enough to style a number of different ways. I’ve knit three already, in a silk/merino blend and have plans to knit another one in black. They’ve been popping up on a number of people who work in the store too. I love seeing everyone’s fiber and color choice. - Amy S.
I’m pretty excited about this pattern. It’s definitely on my to-knit list! – Mary

Crossroads Hat designed be Elena Nodel

Crossroads Hat by Elena Nodel
I knit this hat while start to finish while watching a football game. It was a super quick knit and it was also a really fun knit. I’m not a huge fan of purling, so it seems silly to have chosen this particular pattern, but the slipped stitches and cabling helped to break it up and move it along. Once you get going, the location of the slipped stitches and cables just flows. I knit it in two colors of Madelinetosh Tosh DK. - Mary K.

Elementary Cowl designed by Amy Stephens

Elementary Cowl by Amy Stephens
One of my favorite patterns, right now, is the Elementary Cowl. I think I’m knitting the 12th one. I just can’t stop! The pattern is incredibly easy. What I’m drawn to is picking out different colors and working with yarns that have a chainette construction like Classic Elite Chalet/Chateau, Cascade Eco Cloud, and Rowan Lima/Lima Colour.  The fabric is so warm, soft and squishy. It’s a perfect knit for watching TV, a knitting group project, or watching swim meets. - Amy S.

What’s your favorite pattern that you’ve recently completed? Do you like seeing our finished projects and patterns recommendations?