Archive for the ‘Products at WEBS’ Category

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

 

 

Winter Is Coming

Friday, October 24th, 2014
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I’ve had that line from “Game of Thrones” in my mind for a while. For me, it’s excited anticipation, but I understand that there are some folks for whom winter is a dirty word. I’m sympathetic, but when I think about winter, I think about luxurious small knits and quick projects that keep me warm. I usually knit about one Big Thing (sweater, throw) each winter, but I really like projects that are fun, fascinating, and don’t take up too much of my time. I have a lot of yarn, people. It has to get used up before I die.

In that vein, I thought I’d showcase a few projects I’m going to try to get done before the winter holidays this year. I’d love to make Melissa LaBarre’s September Circle cowl, knit in a self-striping sock yarn or a variegated or hand-dyed Melissa LaBarre's textured cowl patternfingering weight yarn. I am not a sock knitter, so I don’t have sock yarn on hand, but I’d use Madeline Tosh Merino Light in a deep colorway, like Wicked. At first, it looks brown, but a closer peek reveals rusty pink, gold, and dark purple accents. It would be amazing paired with a camel-colored sweater or jacket.

I love Kristen Nicholas‘s color sense and simple but eye-catching designs. The Coleus Scarf is just my cup of tea, a warm, not-too-long scarf in her signature deep colors. Even though it qualifies as “colorwork,” it’s just not as headachey as Fair Isle or Estonian stranded knitting. Of course, I’d use Kristen’s Color by Kristen yarn, distributed by Classic Elite, in some yummy blues and greens, with some fuschia pops here and there to liven things up.

Rich colors in a simple pattern

Photo credit: Kevin Kennefick

I’d also love to go back to that thing I never did: socks. I have knit exactly 3 socks in my whole life, and even though 2 of those socks were supposed to be a pair, they were entirely different sizes. I’m going to give the lame excuse of lack of focus and young children, and since my children are older now and I have the wherewithal to concentrate on it, I think I might make one last attempt at knitting a pair that look like a pair. My choice? Susan B. Anderson’s Popsicle Socks, in a bunch of different colors of Spud and Chloe Fine. I made some long fingerless mitts in this beautiful yarn a few years ago, and I have some colors left over, so I could scout around for a few that complement my existing shades of deep orange and pine-y green; I’d love to throw some purple or dark brown in there for a wintry feel.fun stripes in a quick pattern

What’s your winter knitting? And what is your dream project or yarn?

Shop our Holiday 2014 Catalog!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
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Our Holiday 2014 Catalog is online now. You can shop for gorgeous luxury fibers from Jade Sapphire, brand new Marblz needles from Knitter’s Pride, and new patterns from Valley Yarns, Classic Elite and more. And have fun decorating for the season with our Snow Family and Evergreens pattern featured on our cover.  Stock up on everything you need to make the perfect gifts this year. If you’d like to get a physical copy of the catalog you can sign up here. If you’re already on our mailing list the catalog should arrive in your mailbox in about 2 weeks.

Webs Holiday 2014 Catalog - online now at yarn.comSnow Family and Evergreens, Marblz Interchangeable Needles set, Cobblestone Socks in Valley Yarns Leyden and Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere in the Seeing Red colorway.

#HotChocolateHolidays Workshops Are Open for Business!

Friday, October 10th, 2014
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As many of you know, WEBS is a big supporter of Safe Passage, an organization here in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts that helps women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. Safe Passage produces what is arguably the most fun way of raising money every year, and that is The Hot Chocolate Run, a 2-mile walk/5K run in early December. The Hot Chocolate Run (and yes, Virginia, there IS hot chocolate at the finish!) has grown from a few hundred intrepid runners in its infancy to over 5,000 runners and walkers, all of whom are united in raising money to help this worthy cause, and in their dedication to drinking hot chocolate from the mugs that are handed out to each participant.

Your customized lip balm

WEBS has sponsored this event for many years, and this year, fresh off some exhausting fund-raising I did last year for Safe Passage, I thought I’d join in the spirit of giving in a bigger way and conceived the #HotChocolateHolidays Workshops. Three local crafting entities have joined with WEBS to host a fun-night-out to teach a DIY skill  that can be a gift for a special someone for the winter holidays or even a gift you give yourself. The best part is that a percentage of the kits bought to make the crafts will go right to Safe Passage.

hot chocolate beads and charmsThe Haberdashery is a way-cool space in a neighboring town and they bill themselves as “Gifts and Guidance for Crafty Homesteaders,” and that encapsulates their mission. Melody Litwin will teach budding fashionistas how to make lipstick and lip balm on October 30. The Northampton Beadery ‘s Brenda McGirk will showcase some hot-chocolate colored beaded bracelets with AMAZINGLY CUTE hot chocolate and running shoe charms on November 13.

gorgeous gift bags

 

And Tess Poe from Beehive Sewing Studio, a maker-space right down the street from us, will help attendees make a gift-bag set and give out beautiful handmade gift tags. All the workshops are only $10 each, and are held right here at WEBS.It would be great to have theseworkshops fill right up, and that’s where you come in! Sign up, bring a friend, learn a craft, give a wonderful organization a chance to help as many victims as possible. It’s not to soon to start stockpiling those gifts for the moment you realize that you need a fun stocking-stuffer or gift bag and it’s 8:00pm on a Sunday night. Join us!

 

Spinning and Weaving Week

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
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We have transitioned from the warmth and busyness of summer to the fall routines of school and harvest. I am enjoying the crisp mornings and the orange and red palette spreading through the trees. And, of course, I am looking forward to October, the month of fiber revelry! So many events and opportunities to connect with fiber and fiber fanatics!

HGA WS wk imageAt WEBS, we kick off the month with a weeklong celebration. International Spinning and Weaving Week is October 6 – 12 and in our little corner of the world that means an abundance of ways to experience fiber and textiles from fleece to finished handwovens.

Central to the week are daily demonstrations and workshops covering a wide range of techniques. Demonstrations are free and open to all who come in to the store. They take place from 11 am – 1 pm and will feature spinners using wheels and spindles to create yarn from fleece and roving. Weavers will also be showcasing their skills on a wide variety of looms. It’s a great opportunity to watch the process up close and talk with the artisans about how they create. It’s not just children who are fascinated by the rhythm (although they are welcome to check it out as well)!weaving demo1

 

Mini-workshops will also be offered daily from 2 – 4 pm. These workshops offer a taste of a new technique, a chance to learn a different way to do things or maybe expose yourself to something new. The mini workshops cost $5 each and you can register online, over the phone or in the store.

temple

 

 

Mini Workshop Schedule:

Monday, October 6

Plying Workshop with Ashley Flagg

 Using a Warping Mill to Wind Warps with Scott Norris

Tuesday, October 7:

Temple Temptations – Create Beautiful Selvages with Chris Hammel

Wednesday, October 8

Creating Texture on the Rigid Heddle Loom with Marthe Young

Fiber Blending for Spinning Unique Yarns with Pamela Darrow

Thursday, October 9

Log Cabin Weaving with Paula Veleta

Friday, October 10

Variable Dent Reed with Paula Veleta

Two special demonstrations during the week will highlight the huge range of possible styles of weaving. On Tuesday from 12 – 1 pm, Weaving Manager Leslie Ann Bestor will demonstrate weaving on a computer-assisted loom. And on Friday we will showcase Saori weaving with Mihoko Wakabayashi from 11 am – 1 pm.

And a WEBS celebration would not be complete without some great deals and discounts! Weavers can look forward to 15% off reeds, warping mills, and Schacht Flip rigid heddle looms; 20% off all weaving DVDs and new additions to the Great Cone Sale. spinningFor spinners we will have 20% off all fiber, Howard hand cards, and spinning DVDs; 15% off spinning wheels and 30% off 8 ounce bags of Louet Dyed Corriedale Top.

Join us to celebrate, learn and be inspired!

Hidden Treasures for Weavers

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
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You know how you can walk by the same thing time after time without really noticing it? Or you get so focused on looking for the new that the regular scenery just fades? I love those moments when I rediscover something wonderful that’s been there all along. Here are some of the hidden treasures I fell in love with again as a weaver:

great weaving drafts and technical informationWeaver’s Craft magazines are a gold mine of information and drafts. Jean Scorgie, a former editor of Handwoven magazine, publishes these little gems and we carry nearly 20 different issues. Each issue features a topic (laces, overshoot, baby blankets, etc.) with information, illustrations, ideas and projects. I recommend these all the time to newer weavers because she really explains the concepts and then provides easy drafts to put the techniques into practice. I am steadily building my collection of these as part of my weaving reference library.

Two of my favorite issues illustrate just how much is packed into a small space. April/May 2000 focuses on twills and includes a discussion of twills, plus sections on floating selvedges, smiling selvedges and how to fix them, gamps, and threading heddles. And it has drafts for 5 different dish towels! The Spring 2001 edition is all about weaving overshot and has articles about drawdowns, tromp as writ, designing name drafts and more, plus drafts for placemats, table runners and a drawstring bag. And all of these can be woven on a 4-shaft loom!

gorgeous weaving projectsAnother overlooked booklet on the magazine rack is Kismet, published by Hill Country Weavers. This is gorgeous, glossy eye candy for weavers loaded with inspiration for thinking (and weaving) outside the box. The projects are woven on rigid heddle looms with knitting yarns and incorporate knit and crochet details. I find the designs to be refreshing and creative and more about new ways of envisioning woven wearables than the specific type of loom used to weave the cloth. Fifteen designs are presented in full detail, ranging from scarves and shawls to blankets, skirts, and fingerless mitts. There is also a wealth of technical information including hemstitching, fringes, seaming, picking up for knit or crochet, reading a draft and a step by step pictorial guide to direct warping a rigid heddle loom.

And, speaking of hidden treasures, did you know we have our own series of weaving drafts designed specifically for the Valley Yarns line of yarns? This year we are showcasing designs created especially for our 40th anniversary in addition to dozens more that have been drafted by WEBS founder Barbara Elkins and other talented weavers over the years. Visitors to the store have the good fortune of not only being able to see them, but also to touch and investigate the drape and details of the pattern Online shoppers can find drafts on our website in a few ways. If you are looking for something to weave with a specific yarn, you will find a tab on that yarn page called “Related Patterns”. Click on it and you will be shown all the drafts/patterns we have created for that yarn. You can also find drafts on the drop down menu for Weaving and Spinning on the home page. You can narrow your search by number of shafts or just ogle the many possibilities while suffering from loom envy.

beautiful colorful woven twill towelsAvailable drafts span the full spectrum of projects, from wearables, like scarves and shawls, to blankets, bags, table runners, placemats and the ever-popular dishtowels. And, yes, dish towels are the number one drafts we sell, with the hands down favorite being Carol Birtwistle’s 40th Anniversary Ribbon Towels. There’s something for everyone from rigid heddle weavers – Draft #55 Charlemont Lace Scarf – to 4-, 8- and 16-shaft designs.

Have you discovered any hidden treasures in your wanderings? Let us know!

 

Weaving with knitting yarn?!

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
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Surely you jest!

As a weaver I sometimes get stuck walking the same path through the store and web pages, looking at the coned yarns because that’s what weavers use, right? But wait, there’s a lot of fun textures and colors over in the knitting yarns that would be great for weaving! And there’s even some yarns I’m used to seeing on cones that are packaged in skeins (knitter’s camouflage?). Here are a few of my  favorite crossover yarns:

luscious heathery colors and softnessJaggerspun Heathers is a wonderful 2/8 wool that arrived recently and I am delighted to see it in 100g skeins. The great benefit of this is that you can buy an array of colors and not be limited by having to commit to one pound or half pound cones and end up with leftovers (not that I object to building stash, mind you). I love to weave blankets and the 2/8 weight is perfect for something warm and cozy. The range of colors includes both natural and richly heathered shades. This is truly a weaver’s staple.

Woven scarves are great as gifts and a perfect canvas  for playing with new textures and fibers. Some basics in my scarf stash are Valley Yarns Leyden, a variegated fingering weight and Valley Yarns Charlemont, a lusciously soft merino-silk blend in solids, kettle dyed and hand dyed colors. Both these yarns have beautiful drape and sheen. And with a sett of 12 -16 epi, these are quick to weave!

Sweet Georgia CashSilkLaceI have a soft spot  for hand-dyed yarns and often take a circuitous route through the lace section of the store, drawn by the luminous colors and luxurious fibers. The lace weight yarns generally have great yardage in each skein, and a single skein can be used as weft to create a special, one-of-a-kind piece. Sweet Georgia makes some stunning yarns, including both CashSilk Lace (pictured here) and Merino Silk Lace. I’d like to take a nap in a cozy nest of these yarns, but will have to settle for a handwoven scarf draped around my neck.

Prism Delicato Layers woven scarfAnother hidden gem is Prism Yarns Delicato Layers. This is a tonally dyed tencel, equivalent to a 6/2 weight, and the colors are spectacular. I wove this scarf using Delicato in Deep Sea for my warp and Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo in Hummingbird for my weft. The Delicato adds such depth and movement to the scarf and it has the drape and softness of silk.

I would be remiss if I let myself (and you) get totally distracted by the siren song of luxury yarns. There are many yarns with fun textures and color patterns that are great to weave with. One afternoon this summer we had a scavenger hunt, looking for unusual and offbeat yarns in the store and then wove them into the sampler below. We used Juniper Moon Farm Zooey as the warp, sett at 10 epi (you could also use Valley Yarns 3/2 Cotton) and then wove sections of (from left to right)  Tahki Tandem, Trendsetter Cin Cin, and Lang Ella. These would make lively and unique placemats and table runners. One thing to keep in mind is that if the yarn is self-striping, with long sections of each color, it may pool or look blocky as weft and work better as warp where the color runs stretch out.

rigid heddle weaving knitting yarns

 

So play around with knitting yarns and have fun weaving!

Just don’t call me Shirley.

Just For Fun

Thursday, August 28th, 2014
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Usually, I am a “color inside the lines” kind of person. I don’t use glitzy yarn, or fluffy yarn, or even much bulky yarn. But recently, Tahki Poppy made itself known to me and I was absolutely captivated by just how different it is from anything I’ve ever used before. For one thing, it’s enormous. The skein barely fits in my hand. But the best part about this yarn is:

Moveable Flowers.

moveable flowers and soft squishy yarn

Yes. Not only are there adorable flowers with a little bead stamen in the center of each flower, but you can position them along the yarn in any configuration that works for you. Make a line of flowers along the cuff of a mitt, or arrange them in a circle around the crown when you make the FREE hat pattern that you’ll find inside the label of the skein. It’s a cozy blend of wool, mohair, and acrylic, and at $11.95 a skein for 43 yards, you’ll get at least a hat or a pair of cuffs to keep you warm (and smiling) all through cold-weather season. What’s a chance you recently took with a yarn or pattern?

Try something new once in a while. It’ll spice things up!

Beautiful, Light, and Airy

Friday, August 15th, 2014
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Berroco has managed to amalgamate the perfect blend of luxury fibers for a fabulous price point. Andean Mist, new for Fall, is a luscious composite of 74% Baby Suri Alpaca and 26% Mulberry Silk.luscious and intensely shaded The resulting mix is a softly haloed, slightly shiny, lightweight yarn that would be shown to its best advantage in a soft lace shawl, a drapy cardigan to throw over a tank in the early fall, or a turtleneck in the heart of winter, or a decorative scarf to augment a solid-color top. A generous 164 yards a skein for $8.00 is almost a steal!  Check out this new video on our website for a walk through all of Berroco’s newest creations, this among them.

A textured cardigan, perfect for all seasons

I love this pattern for a textured cardigan with a striking deep ribbed collar. It would be warm, but not hot, light, but not itchy, and could be worn while snuggling on the couch with a good book, or out to dinner at your favorite restaurant.

 

What would you knit with this lovely stuff?

Every Place I Look, Delights Abound

Friday, August 1st, 2014
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It seems like every time I leave my desk to walk through the store, a new,  delicious yarn announces itself to me, and because I’m an enabler with a giant stash, I want to share this love with you, dear reader. I hope that you’ll love these yarns as well, and knit the things I want to knit but never have time for. In this post, I will share not one but two new Fall yarns, designed to make your heart beat a little faster.

Swan’s Island is a real place in Maine, although Swan’s Island Yarns isn’t located there anymore. The rockbound coast of Maine...The fact that it is in Maine it integral to the spirit of these yarns, however, and that’s what counts. I’ve adored both the fingering and worsted weight Swan’s Island yarns, and now there’s a new one to love: Swan’s Island DK. The most beautiful, rich colorways, and also — SUPERWASH. How A colorful fall cornucopiagreat is that? The gauge is a very useful 5 1/4 sts to 1″ on a US size 6 needle (or size you’ll need to get that gauge–I’m a notoriously loose knitter and often have to go down a size or two). But what I like even more is the ethos of the owner’s of Swan’s Island Yarns to hand-make all their products with local and organic materials and to keep as much of their business based in the US as possible. You’ll love making a baby sweater for a cherished child or a comfy fall cardi for yourself in any of the rich hues of this yarn.

Classic Elite natural woolMy other favorite yarn (this week) is Classic Elite’s Mohawk Wool. Made in a beautifully halo’d 60% merino, 30% Romney wool, 10% nylon, this undyed natural fiber is just begging to be knit into a luxuriously cabled Aran sweater, or lovingly crafted into a throw or blanket for snuggling under when November rain turns into December snow. Classic Elite’s pattern support is legendary and you’ll find plenty to make out of this workhorse yarn, also in a DK/Sport weight. I love this textured hat, which would be a fairly quick project with a lot of bang for your knitting buck.Texture...and buttons!

Enjoy!