Archive for the ‘Products at WEBS’ Category

“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?

My New Yarn Crush

Friday, March 25th, 2016
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The newest yarns from Skacel, HiKoo Seuno and Sueno Tonals. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Although you all know that I’m not the biggest fan of plant fibers, I found a yarn that might help me over that bias: HiKoo Sueno and it’s twin sister, Sueno Tonals. It’s a mix of 80% Merino Superwash and 20% Viscose from bamboo. Bamboo is a light, silky, slippery fiber for the most part, and it tends to grow a bit when knit, but I think the merino in this combo smacks that bamboo into submission with the power of wool. Even better, it’s a yarn that spans multiple gauges, from a worsted to a sport weight, needles sizes between US 3 and US 7. What a shape-shifter! The Sueno comes in 14 spring-y colors like Dusty Lilac and Mud Puddle; the Sueno Tonals are delicate and beautifully shaded variations of the original line. I’m already thinking about what I’d make with either one. The pattern support from Skacel is superior, as usual. Since we’re on the cusp of spring, I might make this beanie, which can be worn in these last raw days of March on into the chilly nights of April.

Check out this intriguing fiber blend, and get it on your needles!

We Swatch for Spring

Thursday, March 17th, 2016
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You’ve been reading about some of our new Spring yarns in previous blog posts and our staff has been busily swatching them to find out what they’re like. We make a determined effort to provide you with knitted and crocheted examples of all of our yarns, either through samples or swatches. Often a yarn knits or crochets much differently than you’d imagine from its appearance in the skein. And all of our swatches are washed (which can change the yarn’s appearance even more) to provide an idea of how your garment or accessory will hold up according to its care instructions.

New Spring Yarns at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This season, we present an array of weights and fibers! You’re bound to find a summer yarn that pleases you, even if you’re partial to animal fibers. The prize for most unusual fiber combination goes to Rowan’s Softyak DK, a blend of cotton, yak and nylon. Mary M. loved the chainette construction, and said the yarn has “excellent stitch definition,”  making it “perfect for lace, cables or any other texture work. The yak transforms this summery yarn into a three season favorite.” Mary is thinking of using Softyak DK for one of the season’s popular t-shirts, tank tops or lightweight cardis.

New Spring Yarns at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Ashley F. chose to swatch Plymouth’s Cashmere de Cotone and she describes it as “soft cotton and dreamy cashmere coming together in a cable-plied construction that offers durability and amazing stitch definition.”  Ashley declares that the yarn “was pure pleasure, and after blocking, the sample draped beautifully.”  She would suggest using Cashmere de Cotone for a “year-round top or a sumptuous wrap, ideal for the changing seasons.”

New Spring Yarns at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Marthe Y. experimented with two very different yarns. Pima Splash from Mirasol is a “terrific choice for summer garments such t-shirts, tanks and beach cover-ups.” A colorful, worsted weight cotton, the chainette construction creates a lighter, more flexible fabric than other cottons in its weight class.  Marthe’s swatch is 4.5 stitches to the inch on a US 8 needles and she  suggests working the yarn on a slighter bigger needle for loose, springy fabric.

New Spring Yarns at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Marthe’s second swatch was knit in Euro Baby Maypole DK, a machine washable, 100% polyester yarn with a “self-striping effect, suitable for babies and children, due to its hypo-allergenic quality.” At 262 yards per skein, it wouldn’t take many balls to knit or crochet a baby blanket or child’s garment.

New Spring Yarns at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Beth D. opted for Juniper Moon Farm’s spring offering, Cumulus. She states, “Cumulus  is everything its name implies – soft and fluffy like a puffy, white cloud on a summer day! This 100% cotton yarn is perfect for a cool, lightweight tank or tee, and because it is a heavy worsted weight, it’ll knit up in no time.”  The vibrant color palette provides lots of options for the perfect warm weather project.

New Spring Yarns at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Although not a spring yarn, Malabrigo Rueca is a handspun dream.  Beth says that “Rueca is a delight to knit with. In spite of the variations in yardage and gauge from skein to skein, its softness and stitch definition make this yarn a treat to use for a special gift or a little pick-me-up. And…it is dyed in some of Malabrigo’s most luscious colorways.   Rueca is only available in the store so you must come visit to experience it!

As always, I invite you to spend a little time with us in Northampton this season.  In addition to new seasonal yarns, we have an ever-changing variety of accessories, tools, buttons, patterns and sample garments to tempt you.  Let WEBS be your LYS, wherever you call home. Thank you for your continued support of, and loyalty to, our store.  We wouldn’t be here without you!

My Discomfort Zone

Friday, March 11th, 2016
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I’m making a gorgeous cowl (yes, another one) that features stranded colorwork. In case you want a visual, it’s this beautiful thing, The Wallpaper Cowl designed by WEBS’ own Emma Welford, our Social Media Coordinator. In case you’ve seen our latest Instagrams, Facebook posts, and our new venture into Periscope, she’s the genius behind those lovely images.

I decided to knit it in our Kangaroo Dyer’s hand-dyed Valley Yarns Northfield, in a charcoal gray as the main color and a cool chartreuse-green as the contrast. They look gorgeous. Here’s what doesn’t look gorgeous: my hideous floats. Here, because I’m honest, is what I started with:

Amy learns to tame her floats for the Wallpaper Cowl. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Not so great.

So, off to the Internet went I. But because I’m more of a “I need to do it to learn it” kind of brain, that was a bust. I saw what to do but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Reader, I went to Drop-In. I felt a little odd about it, because I work in a yarn store and I’ve been knitting for quite a while, but I just couldn’t do it! I didn’t know how to trap those floats! Beth Altimari, savior of my knitting, came to my rescue once again and in about five minutes, showed me exactly what to do so that I didn’t have big screwy loops all over the place. Now my floats are even, manageable, even, I daresay, tidy.

The main reason I’m writing about this is to say that if you’ve been coasting along with your stockinette scarves and your ribbed hats, maybe it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. Try something new, shake up your routine, maybe even dip into another craft. Crochet, weaving, spinning…use a different side of your brain.

And when you come back to knitting, make the Wallpaper Cowl. It’s going to be amazing.

Raising The Bar

Friday, March 11th, 2016
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In February, I worked at the WEBS booth at Stitches West, in California. So many folks wandered into our booth to see what goodies we had, and I had a blast helping them find great yarns (not hard) and walking them through patterns for projects they wanted to make. I kept hearing the same thing, which was usually a variation of “I’m not a very good knitter, I can’t make that pattern because it’s too hard, are you sure I can handle that yarn/pattern/needle size/stitch pattern?”

The first thing I ever knit was a sweater, and it remains the ugliest sweater ever, but because I started with something sort of difficult, I think I have a bit more confidence about some things in the knitting world than I might if I had just stuck with scarves or hats. I would never say I’m a fantastic knitter, but I can get a project done without much whining and I love stitch textures like cables and knit/purl combos.

The Mill River Cardigan knit in Valley Yarns Sunderland. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

In that vein, I am encouraging all knitters who have ever wanted to knit a sweater to choose our Valley Yarns pattern 668, the Mill River Cardigan. First of all, it’s knit in Sunderland, which is the softest, coziest, DK-weight baby alpaca I’ve ever felt. The lace panels on either side of the front button bands won’t weigh the sweater down, but will let air and light filter through the panels to create movement and loft. I personally think it’s a triumph of sweater design by our own Kirsten Hipsky.

It’s a classically shaped cardigan, knit in pieces and seamed at the shoulders, sides, and sleeves; you’ll pick up stitches for the two bands on each front piece and you can choose to put in buttons and buttonholes, or leave it open. Either way, you’ll get a sweater’s worth of fiber and finishing education. If you get stuck on anything, check out our website for technique videos – we’ve got a lot of help for you! Or go to your LYS, which, hopefully, is WEBS. Either way, once you finish this charming garment, you’ll be filled with a new confidence and ready for more!

What knitting challenge will you take on this year?

Cleckheaton Australian Superfine Merino 8 Ply

Thursday, March 10th, 2016
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Cleckheaton Superfine Australian Merino 8-Ply at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS blog at blog.yarn.com

Usually reserved for the finest men’s suiting, Cleckheaton has taken the same incredibly soft fiber and created a spectacular yarn. This high quality wool is put up in 65 gram balls making it 30% larger than an average yarn ball. The larger put up and quality fiber make Cleckheaton Superfine Australian Merino 8-Ply a yarn that’s not to be missed at an amazing price. The combination of the bright white natural color of the fleece and the fine crimp of this wool lends a depth of color to the rich, solid tones, and the cable-plied construction of the yarn itself gives you a round and bouncy DK weight yarn with incredible stitch definition.

Cleckheaton Superfine Australian Merino 8-Ply at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS blog at blog.yarn.com

Welcome baby home with bold colors and modern flair. The simple repeated geometric stitch pattern of the Mod Baby Blanket combined with rich saturated hues and a pop of color on the border knit up into a pleasingly unexpected project.

Cleckheaton Superfine Australian Merino 8-Ply at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS blog at blog.yarn.com

A sophisticated and tailored sweater that will certainly become a 4-season favorite, the Longline Cardigan is a fully fashioned knit with subtle stitch patterning and optional patch pockets. Work up this knit in a versatile neutral, or add a pop of color to your wardrobe with a jewel tone or modern color blocks. And don’t miss out on 4 other fantastic patterns in this yarn, the Triple Stitch Cowl, the Sweater Cape, Brioche Beanie and Mitts, and the lovely Crochet Cowl.

Longmeadow in Vogue Early Spring 2016

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
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With each release of Vogue Knitting we look forward to seeing what wonderful new garments designers have imagined with our Valley Yarns and Early Spring 2016 does not disappoint!

High Low Tunic knit in Valley Yarns Longmeadow in Vogue Knitting Early Spring 2016. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Julie Turjoman has designed the close fitting, High Low Tunic, with a split back and gorgeous slipped stitch texture. Once the body pieces have been knit and seamed the bodice is picked up and worked in the round. While we are sold out of the Winter Lake colorway we have quite a few fun and summer color in Longmeadow. Go classic and beachy with Natural, or add a splash of color with Periwinkle or Coral.

New designs from Vogue Knitting Early Spring 2016. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

And don’t miss out on all the other incredible designs in this issue!

#4 Graphic Top by Yoko Hatta in Cascade Yarns Anchor Bay, #5 Striped Romper by Courtney Cedarholm in Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Dyed, #13 Open Waves Top by Jacqueline van Dillen in Rowan Creative Linen, #16 Cable & Lace Duster by Yoko Hatta in Plymouth Yarn Linen Concerto, #17 Deep V-Neck Duster by Deborah Newton in Classic Elite Yarns Soft Linen, #18 Lacy Cardi by Sarah Hatton in Rowan Pure Linen, #19 Deep Rib Tank by Annabelle Speer in Cascade Yarns Fixation Solid, #24 Eyelet Top by Yoko Hatta in Fibre Company Meadow.

Special Fiber Packs for Spring Training!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
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We are going all in with the sports metaphors this year. We already have the Tour de Fleece in July; we needed a spring equivalent and what better event to represent skill building than Spring Training? In my last post I talked about the event we are having on March 13 – be sure to check it out and sign up if you are in the area.

Spring training is about more than the event, however. We created some great fiber pack specials to add excitement and zip to your spinning life. We started with an assortment of fibers and blends from Louet to keep things interesting and encourage spinners to try new fibers. Then we asked our friends at Frabjous Fibers to dye an exclusive colorway just for Spring Training and we added that to the pack. And because we love bonuses, we added a (not so) little bag as the icing on the cake.

Spring Training Fiber Packs at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The Rookie Pack features easy-to-spin fibers that are perfect for newer spinners, with enough variety to keep you from getting bored. There’s a half-pound of Blue Faced Leicester and another half-pound of Falkland, and for some fun color play there are 4 different 4-ounce bags of dyed Corriedale. The Frabjous Fiber Take Me Out to the Ballpark colorway is dyed in BFL and will amaze you with a gradient of luscious hues from the ballpark – green grass, blue skies and a touch of brown (that’s either the pitcher’s mound or the color of your uniform after sliding in to home plate).

The All Star Pack brings some different players to the field with half-pound bags of Masham, Light Grey Romney, and Medium Grey Romney. We added some color with a half-pound bag of dyed Merino/Silk and then sprinkled in a 2 ounce bag of Camel/Silk for a touch of luxury. This pack also contains 4 ounces of the exclusive Take Me Out to the Ballpark colorway, this time in a BFL/Silk base.

Remember the surprise I hinted about? As a special bonus, when you buy either of the fiber packs, you will get a free gift – a cotton tote bag for carrying your fiber and yarn. This bag is sturdy and roomy enough for some serious stash, with great shoulder straps to make it easy to carry and WEBS’ Spring Training logo on the outside pocket.

I’m pretty excited to dive into these packs (um, yeah, I may be buying both packs) and feel what it’s like to spin some fibers I haven’t tried yet. I’m not sure if I’ll start with the Romney (maybe a marled 2-ply with the two shades of grey?) or the Take Me Out to the Ballpark (maybe a Navajo ply?). Which of these would be your first choice?