Archive for the ‘Products at WEBS’ Category

Babies = Blankets

Friday, June 17th, 2016
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I know of two babies on the horizon, one arriving in September and one arriving in December. Both of the new mothers are good friends, good enough that a tiny baby sweater isn’t enough. I decided to go full-on baby blanket with these special wee ones. I have just enough time (I think) to make crib-sized blankets for each, and I’ve settled on two patterns that are calling to me.

Valley Yarns Haydenville and great baby projects on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Miss September Baby is a much-anticipated girl who has two older brothers. I want her to have her very own special gift so I’m making a Valley Yarns pattern, the Snowdrop Blanket. However, you know how I feel about plant fibers, so no go on the Longmeadow. Instead, I’m going to use some lovely Valley Yarns Haydenville, probably in Silver, because White, or even Natural, seems like a set-up for disaster, since you all know what babies do on blankets. It’s neutral enough to match her nursery and distinctive enough to be an eye-catcher in a Mommy and Me group.

Baby #2 is a mystery, so I’m going to go with a bold pattern I love, the Valley Yarns Pattern Grayson Set. The stitch is simple enough to be knit while watching “Game of Thrones,” and the color changes are just challenging enough so the project won’t be tedious to finish. I’m going to use Haydenville for this one, as well. I’m going to completely switch up the colors, however, and go with Slate Blue as the main color, banded with Natural and to make it pop, a stripe of Yellow. Could read as masculine or feminine, and I am so hoping it becomes the blanket that baby can’t sleep without.

What is your favorite baby pattern? Let me know in the comments, below!

Gifts, Just Because

Friday, June 3rd, 2016
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Normally, this time of year means Father’s Day, graduations, weddings, all kinds of big-ticket events which require big-ticket gifts. But as a mom, I’ve found that this time of year is also the time to think of babysitter gifts (thank goodness WEBS is located in the middle of 5 colleges. My kids had babysitters for any occasion.), teacher gifts, playdate-host-mom gifts…the list can be endless. While many of my friends/babysitters/kids’ teachers are fiber crafters, sometimes they aren’t. WEBS has lots of fun stuff that doesn’t necessarily require that you know the word “gauge” to enjoy.

Gift ideas on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Frabjous Fibers produces the cutest little notion bags I’ve seen in a long time. The bags come in varied sizes and shapes, like this itty bitty sheepy, this “Mama Sheep” scalloped-edge envelope, and this fun brightly-colored bag big enough to hold tissues, a juice box, and your phone. You can also get an adorable felt “embellishment” which I’d put on a backpack or pin to a hand-made hat for a special caregiver.

If you want to get a little fancier, what about a shawl pin? They don’t have to go on a knitted or crocheted shawl, you know. This Moving Mud Shawl Closure is so stunning that I’d wind it into a scarf or onto a bag. This is a great gift for a harried mom who has driven carpool for so long that she dreams in Cheerios.

The lovely Beckys Glass stitch marker charms look as good made into earrings as they do adorning your knitting needles. Or maybe you could string them onto an inexpensive chain to be used as a grown-up-looking birthday gift for a party princess?

I hope this gives you some ideas for fun presents that don’t have to break the bank. If you have a particularly difficult personality to buy for, throw a skein of yarn and some needles into a gift bag, and promise your skills as a teacher. The gift of your time is always appreciated!

Project Planning – Ready, Set, Sett?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016
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One of the first factors that needs to be addressed in planning a weaving project is the sett of the yarn. Knitters talk about the gauge of the yarn – stitches per inch, for weavers it is sett. It tells you how dense the yarn will be in the warp (ends per inch) and the weft (picks per inch) and this information is used to determine how much yarn is needed for the project.

What makes sett feel intimidating is that it’s not a simple “if the yarn is this size, the sett is this” equation. You also have to factor in the weave structure as well as the intended use for the fabric. This is why we list a range of setts with all of our weaving yarns. If you look on the yarn page for tencel  on our website, or the shelf tag in the store, the sett is listed as 20 – 27 epi. The lower end of the scale is for plain weave and the upper end is more suitable for twills.

So where to begin if you have a mystery cone with no information? For the unknown yarns, start by using a yarn balance to determine the number of yards per pound. Knowing the fiber content is also useful as plant and animal fibers behave differently and this will affect the sett. If you can’t tell the fiber content just by look and feel, many people recommend doing a burn test. Be sure to follow safety guidelines if you try this. THere’s a fantastic chart for burn tests here, and a simple but eye opening video here.

So now you’ve got yardage and fiber information, the next step is to determine the range of setts that will work. I often use the Master Yarn Chart compiled by Handwoven magazine. It lists sett for all the yarns used in their projects since 2000 and will give you that range I was talking about above. You have to join their weaving community to see it, but it’s free and provides access to this and other great resources.

Understanding sett and using a swatch maker for your weaving, on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Another tool that just came out is the Swatch Maker 3-in-1 Loom. This little sample loom is brilliant as it allows you sample three different setts (8, 10 & 12 epi) to see which will work best with your chosen yarn. It’s a quick and easy way to test possibilities and minimizes the amount of yarn used for sampling. I’ve been using it to check my ideas for the cloth I want to weave for a summer top.

Understanding sett provides a good foundation for weaving beautiful cloth, take advantage of the available tools to explore the compatibility of yarn and sett for your next project.

Closeout Gold

Friday, May 20th, 2016
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Because I have been affected by our Anniversary Sale, I have been prowling around the warehouse like a thief, looking for something extraordinary to add to my ever-growing stash. (Mind you, it’s not that I need yarn. Oh no, no, no.) I found Classic Elite Fresco in some discontinued colors in our closeout row and it made me unreasonably happy. First of all, favorite gauge, hands down, is sport weight. Second of all, it’s a happy combo of 60% wool, 30% baby alpaca, and 10% angora. That means that the wool keeps the alpaca in line, not allowing it to get drapy and saggy. The alpaca keeps the angora in line, toning down what sometimes is an unruly halo to a fine shadow around each nicely-twisted strand.

My mother-in-law once made my notoriously picky youngest son a gorgeous argyle vest in Fresco, and try to remember that you like me when I tell you that I stole it right out from under him. He doesn’t even know where that vest lives, but when he sees me wearing it, he gets a resigned expression and no doubt, plots his escape to college and how he’ll hide that vest in his sheets and make a clean getaway.

Great discontinued colors at WEBS, like Classic Elite Fresco. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I saw just the thing that will restore family harmony: this vest, designed by my knitting idol, Veronik Avery. You can find it in Classic Elite’s Saturday Afternoon pattern booklet, and it’s dreamy. A deep V-neck and soft, heathery colors make this so appealing right now, when it’s freezing cold in the morning, and warm and spring-like in the afternoon.

Fresco is a top-quality yarn and we have lots of colors on sale! Come check out Aisle 600 in our warehouse, or shop it online and stock up. You’ve got some knitting to do!

Get Schooled

Friday, May 6th, 2016
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All of the WEBS Summer Classes have opened up for registration, and I love looking to see what gets the fastest sign-ups because it’s different every semester. Last semester, folks couldn’t get enough weaving. Floor looms, table looms, rigid heddle looms, you name it. Weaving is still pretty popular, especially rigid heddle weaving, but I’m happy to see that lots of people are signing up for our beginning crochet classes. I personally don’t think crochet gets enough love, so the more hooks the better! Some advanced knitting techniques are also climbing up the charts, including colorwork and lace.

Knit top-down sweaters that fit, and learn other skills in knitting classes at WEBS this summer. read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This inspired me to take a look at some gaps in my own knitting education. I really don’t like lace knitting so much–I get all screwed up when each row has a different stitch count, which can happen in a lace pattern. At this point, with at least one child still around to bother me  ask my advice and sage counsel, I need something that can be abandoned at a moment’s notice and picked up again without having to think deeply about where I ended. I can really get behind the idea of a top-down sweater, as taught in our Top-Down Raglan Sweater From Measurements, mainly because I am short and many conventionally knit sweaters are too big, as in too long and too droopy, in the shoulders for me. A top-down sweater can be tried on throughout the process to make it custom-fit to my shape.

What do you guys think about a top-down summer pullover? The Valley Yarns Park Pullover has my favorite elbow-length sleeves and a dependable stitch pattern for the day after the night I had to help edit a term paper. Knit in Valley Yarns Goshen, a smooth cotton/modal/silk blend on US size 7 needles, this will knit up in a flash and I’ll have the sweater you’ll all be jealous of; one that fits my shoulders AND my waist AND the sleeves aren’t hanging off my fingertips.

What will you challenge yourself to learn this summer?

Help for the Color Challenged

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
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Color can be one of the most challenging aspects in planning a weaving project. It is often hard to predict how colors will interact in a woven pattern. This task is even more difficult for those coming from a knit/crochet background as the threads intersect in a completely different way. I know I can fall into a rut of using formulas from the traditional color wheel – complementary colors for contrast, analogous colors because they all go together. The resulting cloth usually looks okay, though not always as exciting or rich as I would like.

Liven up your color choices with the Color Grid! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This is why I love the Color Grid from Gail Callahan, the Kangaroo Dyer. She has taken the color wheel and transformed it into a color palette in a flat grid. It has an overlay that allows you to select color combinations that are both harmonious and interesting. Start by choosing your base color and the overlay shows the close family, those colors that are closely related and work well together. These colors are safe and what we often rely on because we know they look good together.

It’s great to add some of those to the project, but the real secret is to find the spark that will make your design pop. That’s just what the Color Grid does by highlighting an accent color through a window in the overlay. These sparks of color can be used in small proportions to liven things up, to take a piece from ‘okay’ to ‘wow!’. Working with this tool I have become more adventurous in my color choices and my weaving has become more engaging.

There are some drafts in our 2016 Weaving Sourcebook that illustrate the idea beautifully. In the Summer Garden Towel (Draft 85), blue and green predominate and the thin stripes of brick color draw the eye and make the design really pop out. The Waffle Weave Buddies (Draft 86) also have a striping pattern, this time on a background of white. The aqua and periwinkle are related and look lovely together and the rust adds a spark that keeps the colors from looking monotonous.

Give it a try and send us some pictures, I’d love to see how you work with colors.

P.S. True confession – I also use the Color Grid to help plan my flower beds and the results have been gorgeous!

Coned Yarns Love Knitters (and vice versa)

Friday, April 22nd, 2016
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I had a brief, ugly learning-to-weave moment about ten or so years ago…I had a full-time job that was a long way away, I had two young children, and I had to travel constantly. Of course that was a perfect time to learn a very complicated, time-consuming (albeit fascinating and beautiful) fiber craft…NOT.

Valley Yarns Colrain Lace on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

After that, I passed coned yarns without a second glance. However, I saw an oldie but goodie today that made me reassess the coned-yarn prejudice. Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel, aka Colrain Lace, seems to me to be an eminently sensible yarn to knit or crochet (or weave) just about anything in any season. And luckily for all of us, it’s part of the Anniversary Sale this month, priced at $17.49 a cone, reduced from $24.99.

Although technically a lace weight yarn, it has been knit reliably at about 7 stitches per inch, which to me is fingering and that makes a big difference. It’s not a fine, fine yarn that will slide off your needles and flummox you in a stitch pattern. It will hold on to those needles, and give you some feedback as you stitch, which I don’t find in a lot of lace weight yarns. The blend of merino and tencel gives it both body and a subtle sheen, making it drape beautifully.

My fascination for cowls would be satisfied with the Valley Yarns Forget-Me-Not cowl, made in Colrain Lace. It’s a quick knit and because you have so much yardage on a cone, you could make several from one purchase! I would probably choose a nice neutral such as Grey Olive, but you could really make a design pop with some of the brighter colors; there are a lot to choose from.

Have you ever knit with a coned yarn? Tell us your projects in the comments, below.

“Weavers, Break Out Your Skeins!”

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016
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I am often asked by weavers if they can only use coned yarns for weaving. The answer is an enthusiastic no! After all, why should crocheters and knitters get to hog all the fun colors, textures and feels of skeined yarns? Of course, there are factors that determine the suitability of yarn for warps, so be sure to evaluate your yarn first. The yarn needs to be strong enough to withstand tension as well as the abrasion of the reed moving back and forth. Hold a piece of the yarn and pull firmly. Keep in mind that the tension will be spread across the entire warp and please don’t yank, because there is no yanking in weaving. More importantly, hold the yarn taut and scrape with the side of your thumbnail. See how it behaves with abrasion – does it pull apart or fuzz out?

How to choose the right knitting yarn for your next weaving project on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Another characteristic to keep in mind is the stretch factor. Yarns spun for knitting/crocheting are often springy and stretchy, which is great for sweaters, but not always compatible with looms. Some of these yarns continue to stretch under tension and then spring back when taken off the loom, resulting in a very dense piece of cloth (i.e. scarf that drapes like a rug). Give your potential warp a strong pull and release to see just how elastic it is. It’s not that you can’t weave with stretchy yarns, just use enough tension to create a good shed while resisting the temptation to over tighten. And probably avoid the spandex.

Weft yarns, on the other hand, are a wide open garden of creativity. Yes, the weft needs to play well with the warp in terms of intended care, shrinkage and wear. But the weft is free from the constraints of tension, abrasion and size so let your imagination run free.

Our Weaving Sourcebook for 2016 features a few drafts using skeined yarns. The XOXO Shawl, draft 91, is woven with Hatfield an exceedingly soft laceweight baby alpaca that feels like a wearable hug. Lisa Hill designed a beautiful deflected double weave pattern that creates circles and dots of color. Each face of the cloth shows a different color emphasis, making it fun to wrap and change the look.

How to choose the right knitting yarn for your next weaving project on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Sunderland is one of the newer yarns in our Valley Yarns collection. Also spun in 100% baby alpaca, it is a worsted weight with a palette of rich heathered tones. Paula Veleta designed the Golden Plum Tartan Scarf, Draft 99, for the rigid heddle and the gorgeous effect comes from the carefully placed lines and blocks of stunning color.

Do you have a favorite skeined yarn you like for weaving?

Can I Like Plant Fibers?

Friday, April 8th, 2016
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The jury is still out, but I found two yarns whispering to me from their hidey-holes in the store that might sway me to the non-protein-fiber dark side.

In what has to be the most interesting confluence of fibers that I’ve encountered, Nettle Grove, from Plymouth Yarn Company, is a mix of 45% cotton, 28% linen, 12% nettle fiber (you read that right), and 15% silk. This tonal sport-weight yarn actually feels so soft and swingy, and has a beautiful sheen. It doesn’t have any of the inelasticity that I’ve grown accustomed to feeling in fabric knit in cotton or linen. It must be the nettle. In doing some internet research, I discovered that stinging nettle has been used for centuries to make luxurious cloth, especially in the British Isles. It’s closely related to flax and hemp, and once washed and finished, results in a soft, drapey fabric. Nettle Grove comes in 8 variegated colorways, and my favorite, hands-down, is a gorgeous orange called Sunrise. It looks like a creamsicle, and I’d make this swingy tank top with it in about 2 days.

Amy learns to love plant fiber yarns! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Alicia is a fingering weight 100% linen yarn. I have documented my issues with linen here (stiff, hard to knit, no memory) but this one could be a game-changer, in that Stacy Charles encourages knitters to use a worsted-weight gauge for this smaller yarn. It really looks like embroidery thread, with saturated colors and a tight twist. Using a worsted gauge for Alicia will give projects an airiness that knitting to gauge ordinarily would not. The more this yarn is soaked and blocked, but softer it will become. If you’re looking for a project, the Allium Shell, designed by Joan Forgione, would really make the yarn the star. It’s a short-sleeved pullover, with a zig-zag bobble pattern that really makes the best use of the crisp stitch definition and smoothness you’ll get from this dedicated fiber.

What’ll you put on the needles when the weather heats up? Let us know in the comments!

Rigid Heddle Revels

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016
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Spring is here and with it is the 2016 Weaving Sourcebook. Our annual weaving catalog is not only filled with color cards of our coned yarns – oh so helpful – but features pictures and links to our new crop of weaving drafts. This year we are especially proud of the stunning array of projects for Rigid Heddle looms. These drafts run the gamut from beautiful colorwork to textured weaves and unique finishing techniques. It’s a great time to be a rigid heddle weaver!

The Textured Towel (Draft 92) uses double heddles to handle both the fine size of the 8/2 cotton as well as add great texture to make these towels really pop. Our 8/2 cotton  has such a great range of colors, you can match the décor of any kitchen. I’ve got a family wedding coming up and a set of these towels will be perfect for a gift to the young couple. As many of you know, I love to make sets by varying the weft colors and this plaid design will be great for playing with stripe placement.

The Nightscape Pillow - draft now available at yarn.com Read more about this and other new drafts and products in the 2016 Weaving Sourcebook on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Another fun textured design is the Nightscape Pillow (Draft 98) woven with Brimfield. The decorative popcorns are created by pulling up loops across a single pick in a bright color that makes it really pop. The background stripes are in plain weave with a syncopated color order that keeps things lively. Brimfield is one of our newer yarns and is soft and squishy with a color palette that continues to expand.

We round out the hand manipulated drafts with the Comfy Couch Throw (Draft 100) made with the supersoft Superwash DK in both solid and hand dyed colors. The unique construction of the throw is set up in the warp, where some slots are left empty. This creates channels of weft floats in the middle of the cloth and loops along the edges. The panel is woven in two pieces which are then joined together by pulling the edge loops through each other to form a decorative seam and finished selvedges. Surface texture is added by using the weft floats to anchor crochet chains in a color pattern of choice.

So celebrate your rigid heddle loom and add some new techniques to your weaving vocabulary!

What is your favorite thing to weave on your rigid heddle loom?