Archive for the ‘Tips & Techniques’ Category

Hot Gifts -Gild your Knits!

Friday, December 12th, 2014
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Last Fall we noticed a trend on fashion runways that we thought was super exciting, gilded knitwear! Sweaters and accessories where sections had been covered in silver or gold leaf. And while we’ve seen a few pieces in some high end department stores and online shops we thought this is something we can do for ourselves and so can you!

Gild Your Knits! Learn how to add metal foil accents to your knits on the WEBS blog.

We started with some bulky yarns – there are only days left to Hanukkah and Christmas after all! We knit up the Lodge Pole Cowl in Valley Yarns Northampton Bulky, the project was blocked before we began the next step.

Then we stopped by our local craft store and picked up sizing(the glue), pouncing sponges, and gold foil all from Martha Stewart. Be sure that you are using the right glue for your project! Just any old glue won’t do the job!

Working at a nice flat and stable work surface, dab the sizing onto the areas you’d like to highlight with the foil. We used a liberal amount of the sizing since the fiber will absorb some of it and you need enough on the surface to dry and become tacky before applying the foil. Once that was done we left it to dry according to the package instructions. The time may vary depending on how humid it is where you are so check on your glue every 10 minutes or so until it is tacky without being sticky.

Once the sizing had dried enough to be tacky we started to gently apply the gold foil. It will only stick to the glue but you may find that tiny pieces will tear off and float around your work area. You may want to keep a vacuum handy! Once the foil is applied and has covered all the glue use another one of your sponges to press it firmly into the fabric removing any excess foil and fly-away bits. This not only helps to set the foil in place, but burnishes the surface giving it some extra shine and helps to break up the foil so the shapes of the individual stitches show.

Gild Your Knits! Learn how to add metal foil accents to your knits on the WEBS blog.

This technique should work on most smooth yarns so avoid mohair, alpaca, angora or anything with a halo. The sizing is also water soluble so this is not a washable surface, you’ll need to spot clean any projects made with this technique. This could easily work on crochet and woven fabrics as well. So go forth and gild your knits and crochet! Make something just to try out the technique or use it to spiff up an older, but well loved accessory, and show us what you’ve made!

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.

Shuttle Shenanigans

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
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Beginning to weave is an exciting adventure that opens the door to so much – creativity, color, texture, pattern and more. It is also overwhelming at times to learn the new language (sley? heddle? tromp as writ?!) not to mention the huge variety of tools.

One of the most basic tools is the shuttle, which holds and carries the yarn to weave the cloth. Sounds simple enough, right? Then why are there so many different ones and how am I supposed to know which one to use?! It’s enough to make you cry, but that will stain the wood, so let me break it down for you. We’ll start with the major types of shuttles.

boat shuttlesBoat Shuttles

Boat shuttles are longish, narrow wooden shuttles that are open in the center with a long metal shaft that holds the bobbin of yarn. Boats can be open underneath the bobbin or closed (solid wood) underneath. The profile of a shuttle refers to its height; a slim shuttle will be shorter and fit into a narrower shed (the opening between the threads that the shuttle passes through). Double boat shuttles can hold two bobbins of yarn. The yarn in a boat shuttle feeds off the bobbin and through a slot or hole in the side of the shuttle.

Stick Shuttles

stick shuttlesStick shuttles are thin flat pieces of wood that have notches at both ends. They also come in a variety of lengths, anywhere from 6” up to 30”. It is much easier to work with a shuttle that is slightly longer than the width of your project. If it is too long, you will end up whacking the walls and doing a bit of flailing; too short and you will have to reach into the shed  to grab the shuttle. A Belt shuttle is a short stick shuttle that has one beveled edge so that it can be used to beat the yarn in. Belt shuttles are often used with inkle, card and backstrap weaving.

Rag, Rug & Ski Shuttles

rag, rug & ski shuttlesRag shuttles look like two thin tapered pieces of wood with columns in between. This is so you can wind a lot of strips of cut or torn rags, which are rather bulky, onto the shuttle.

A rug shuttle is used as its name suggests – to weave rugs. It is a solid, square-ish piece of wood with groves along the sides and notches at the end to hold the yarn (I think of it as a stick shuttle on steroids); it needs the extra heft to carry the heavier rug yarns. As with stick shuttles, choose a rug shuttle based on the width of your project.

A ski shuttle has a wooden base with upturned ends (like a ski!) and an upright center to wrap the yarn around. It can be used for yarns that are too bulky for a boat shuttle, but it slides along the warp which is an advantage over a stick shuttle.

How to Choose a Shuttle

First you have to choose the type that is suitable for your loom and project. Boat shuttles feed yarn more evenly and quickly because of the bobbin and are generally the shuttle of choice for multi-harness looms. Rigid heddle weavers will sometimes use boats, though in my  personal experience I limit them to narrower warps as they can nose dive to the floor on wider warps. Stick shuttles work well for rigid heddles and other smaller looms, as well as for some hand-manipulated weaves on larger looms. Rug and rag shuttles – self-explanatory.

Photo by Lindsey TophamBoat shuttles have a number of variables to further influence your choice. Open or closed bottom? Closed bottom will glide more smoothly, open bottom allows you to use your fingers as a brake on the bobbin and are lighter in weight. Weight is an important factor in choosing a shuttle. In general, you want to pick the lightest shuttle that serves your weaving needs, to lessen the strain on your hands, though on occasion you may need something heavier to throw across a wider warp.

If you have the chance to try shuttles in person, take advantage of it. Hold it in your hand and mimic your throwing motion. Evaluate how it fits in your hand, how easy it is to grasp. As with many fine tools, it often comes down to personal preference so listen to your body and don’t be afraid to experiment with different shuttle types. You will probably also find that different projects require different shuttles (which is how we end up with a variety on the shelf next to the loom!).

WEBS 40th Anniversary Shuttle

 

 

Planning a Trip to WEBS? Where to Stay

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
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One of the great things about living in Hampshire County is all of the amazing colleges we have. Of course, this also means that come fall, the hotels in the surrounding area fill up between students moving in and family weekends. When you add in the visitors we have to check out our amazing foliage, hotel room book quickly. If you’re planning to visit WEBS and are including an overnight stay,  it’s a good idea to plan ahead.

Visithampshirecounty.com Hotel SearchVisithampshirecounty.com is a great resource if you’re travelling to our neck of the woods, and they’ve just added a great function to their site to help you find a hotel room. They have added the JackRabbit Book Direct Lodging Search Engine. Enter the dates you’d like to stay and you will receive a list of places to stay with vacancy and price so you can compare. Super simple!

While you’re on the site, you can check out places to eat, shop, and things to see while you’re visiting us. Hampshire County has a lot to offer. Even I, a lifelong resident of Hampshire County, find it useful when looking for something new to do.

Are you planning a trip to WEBS sometime soon?

Dyeing Yarn with Sharpies!

Monday, June 9th, 2014
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If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest you’ve probably seen the posts about dyeing t-shirts with sharpies, our Customer Service Supervisor, Theresa, wondered if it could be done with yarn, and it can!

Dyeing yarn with Sharpies! You'll need yarn, sharpies and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle

You’ll need yarn, your choice in colors of Sharpie markers, and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle – it takes A LOT of the rubbing alcohol, we used almost 12 fl. oz for this project. Place skein of yarn on swift and untie the securing threads, if your yarn is not in a hank you can wind it onto a swift to make the dyeing process easier.

Dyeing Yarn with Sharpies on the WEBS blog

Color your yarn being careful not to damage the strands, and make sure you flip the skein over to color the other side! Then spritz with alcohol, on both sides, until the colors begin to bleed. Set your yarn aside to dry. You may want to take this in stages letting the yarn dry completely between colors.

Dyeing Yarn with Sharpies on the WEBS blog

My final yarn color reminds me of my sister’s favorite fun-fetti cake mix! Give it a try and let us know how you do.

Tiny Tea Leaves Cardigan knit with Valley Yarns Charlemont, dyed with Sharpies

Theresa chose Valley Yarns Charlemont in natural and used her dyed yarn as an accent for a Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan and blanket for her new granddaughter.

 

National Crochet Month Special Techniques – Invisible Single Crochet

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
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This week our focus is invisible single crochet decreases. This is a great way to decrease when you’re working in the round making stuffed animals or amigurumi.

Most single crochet decreases leave you with a gap in the fabric on either side of the decreased stitch which can be really unsightly when that fabric is stuffed. This decrease keeps the same density of stitches to your fabric and is nearly invisible.

This is a great stitch to use on our Valley Yarns Spring animals, the bunnylamb and Robin! Try it out and let us know what you think.

Tuesday’s Tip – Keeping Track of Alternate Increase Rounds

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
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It’s National Crochet Month! To celebrate, we have some wonderful crochet tips to share with you. This week’s tip is from Sara, WEBS Marketing Coordinator and crochet designer.

I like to use 2 linked stitch markers in different colors when my pattern asks me to increase every other round. When I start a round with increases, I’ll use the green marker. This tells me that when I come back to that marker I can Go-Go-Go! No reason to stop and think about the work; just one stitch in each stitch.

When I do start that round with NO increases I’ll mark it with the orange one (better if it was red!), this way when I get back around to that marker I know I need to STOP and make sure that I’m working my increases in this round. This is a great tip for both knitting and crochet!

National Crochet Month Special Techniques – Extended Stitches

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
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This week our focus is extended stitches. You can extend almost any crochet stitch with one simple step, when you have finished the set up for your stitch yarn over and pull through just one loop on your hook first, then finish the stitch as you normally would.

To make an extended single crochet stitch: insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and bring up a loop, yarn over and pull through one loop, yarn over and pull through two loops. The right side of a few stitches have been highlighted above so you can see the difference in length.

Extended single crochet still gives you the nice dense fabric that you usually get with single crochet but with a bit more movement and drape. And since the stitches are a bit taller the work goes quicker! This is a great stitch for crochet socks, like our Cosmos pattern!

To make an extended half-double crochet stitch: yarn over, insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and bring up a loop, yarn over and pull through one loop, yarn over and pull through all three loops.

Extended half-double crochet gives you the height of double crochet stitches without being as open as double crochet. Again you can see the difference in length in the highlighted stitches.

To make an extended double crochet stitch: yarn over, insert your hook into the next stitch, yarn over and bring up a loop, yarn over and pull through one loop, yarn over and pull through two loops, yarn over again and pull through two loops.

Extended double crochet stitches give you the height of triples/trebles without being terribly leggy. You can see the difference in the highlighted stitches above.

Have you ever used extended stitches?

 

Tuesday’s Crochet Tip – Finger Crochet

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
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It’s National Crochet Month! To celebrate, we have some wonderful crochet tips to share with you. This week’s tip is from Sara, WEBS Marketing Coordinator and crochet designer.

Arm Knitting has taken off like wildfire this year and there’s no reason why crocheters can’t get in on the action! Grab a few skeins of yarn and NO Hook and make yourself a scarf in less time than it takes to watch your favorite sitcom.

National Crochet Month Special Techniques – Tunisian Simple Stitch

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
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This week our focus is Tunisian Crochet. This is an older technique that’s getting plenty of love lately. While there are lots of great pattern books out there now it can be hard to decide if it’s a new technique you’d enjoy. For a short piece like we’re practicing with today you can use a regular crochet hook but for anything larger than 10 stitches you’ll need a Tunisian or afghan hook. These typically look like straight knitting needles with a hook on the end instead of a point, or a version that looks like a regular crochet hook with a long cord on the back. This second type of Tunisian hook is also available in an interchangeable version with different length cords that you can attach to different hook sizes.

 

Tunisian crochet begins like almost every other crochet project, with a foundation chain. In the samples here I’m working with a very short chain, just 9 chains long! Each completed row of stitches is made up of two rows of actions; the Forward Row puts loops on your hook and the Return Row works them off again.

For the first Forward Row, insert your hook into the second chain from your hook and pull up a loop, leave this loop on your hook! Insert your hook into the next stitch and pull up a loop leaving it on your hook. Repeat this process for each chain stitch.

Now that Your first Forward Row is done you should have 9 loops on your hook and you’re ready to begin the Return Row. To start, yarn over and pull through just one loop on your hook. Yarn over again and pull through two loops. Repeat this step, yarning over and pulling through two loops, until you have worked all the way back to the beginning and only one loop remains on your hook.

Your first full row of stitches in now complete! The Forward Row changes a bit now but your Return Rows will stay the same as what you’ve just done.  If you look at the row you’ve finished you’ll notice stitches that are straight up and down, these are called “vertical bars” and this is the part of the stitch that you’ll be using. Insert your hook under the first vertical bar, yarn over and pull a loop back through that bar. Repeat that step, inserting your hook under the next bar, yarning over and pulling up a loop, until you have used all the vertical bars (the last one lives right on the edge of your work at the left hand side).

Now you’ll repeat your Return Row, yarn over and pull through one loop first, then yarn over and pull through 2 loops at a time until you’re back to just one loop. Repeat those last two rows and you get a substantial fabric with great texture. Tunisian wants to curl in on itself so don’t be surprised by that! The larger your finished object the less curl there will be. And since Tunisian fabric is a bit more dense than regular crochet you’ll want to use a hook that is a size or two larger that what you might normally use.

Swatching is a great way to try out new techniques and stitches but no one wants a basket or drawer full of little squares of crochet or knit fabric so what do you do with them? I like to make fingerless gloves, I use them all the time. For this pair I started with a chain of 25, and worked 25 rows of Tunisian Simple Stitch to for a square, and then seamed the edges, leaving a gap for the thumb. For the work pictured here I used Katia Azteca in color 7840 and a size J/10/6.00mm hook.

If this technique appeals to you and you’re looking for more check out Tunisian Crochet by  Sharon Hernes-Silverman, Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies or The New Tunisian Crochet – Dora Ohrenstein.