June 10th, 2015

Reading for Inspiration

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Greetings from the Weaving Room! I love books and my personal reference library is full of everything from pattern dictionaries to technique books, structure-focused tomes and classics from weaving icons. I keep an eye out for new books coming in to the store, looking for inspiration and education.

I have found myself restless of late, yearning for my weaving to be more than just squares and rectangles. And then…..Simple Woven Garments, by Sara Goldenberg and Jane Patrick arrived this spring. Filled with gorgeous photography and layouts, this book is a great springboard into the world of sewing handwoven cloth. The project photos, of course, fall into the category of eye candy but I really loved that they took equal care in providing detailed, close up photos of techniques. Another nice feature is the use of side bars with suggestions for other fabric ideas and alternate styles. I’m a big fan of projects that encourage you to say “what if” and offer suggestions for making it uniquely your own.

The book starts with an introduction to sewing handwovens with information about shaping, sizing, cutting and sewing. I found the techniques to be simple and a great place to start (as opposed to feeling faint and intimidated at the thought that I need to learn French seams right away!). All the projects can be woven on either rigid heddle or shaft looms and the authors discuss the considerations for using one or the other. Some of the projects also incorporate knitting and I gotta say I love a good bi-craftual project.

Flame Lace Top from Simple Woven Garments by Sara Goldenberg & Jane Patrick - read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Of course I checked to see which projects used WEBS/Valley Yarns and found the Flame Lace Top with 8/2 Tencel and Variegated 8/2 Tencel combined as the weft. I love the lacy texture of the weave and the clever pulled threads to provide shaping. I wasn’t sure, however, that the blouson look  was for me. After reading suggestions in the “Alternate Styles” box, I realized I could make one of those long open vests I’ve been coveting by increasing the length and cutting it down the center front (and perhaps making an inkle facing?). I could also use Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo for the warp (single stranded) to give it that wonderful drape……………

See, this is what happens when you read books – you get inspired and start to dream of what you can create!

And to further inspire you, Jane Patrick will be in town this summer to teach at NEWS (New England Weavers Seminar) and she will be signing books in our booth (bottom floor of the Campus Center at Smith College) on Thursday, July 9th from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. We will have Simple Woven Garments in addition to her other books – The Weaver’s Idea Book and  Woven Scarves. We hope you can join us!

June 6th, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! 403: Kathy talks with Beth Leggiere

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This week Kathy talks with Beth Leggiere, owner of HandKnits in Brattleboro, VT. about the upcoming I-91 Shop Hop.

RSK 403

Beth relocated from Wilmington Vt and rebuilt after the devastation of Hurricane Irene. You’ll find lots of great, small and local fiber sources as well as your favorite brands. There are great raffle prizes at each store, each day, as well as a Grand Prize that you can enter to win.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week :

Upcoming Events:

Summer Classes are online – sign up now before all the seats are filled!

I-91 Shop Hop is coming June 25th through June 28th – get your passport now!

Classic Elite Yarns Trunk shows are ongoing and there’s always something new to see! Stop by the store to see what’s on display.

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Right click or CTRL+click and Save As to download the MP3 of this Podcast Subscribe to Ready, Set, Knit! in iTunes Subscribe to the Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast RSS Feed

June 5th, 2015

What’s your mashup?

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I’ve told you all before that my favorite thing ever is Pinterest. I can lose a good hour here and there searching for recipes, home decor ideas, and fun workouts that don’t feel like a workout. What I’ve been doing lately is a search mashup, as in, searching “whatever” + “whatever.” This morning, I searched “Yoga” and “Knitting” and I found the best stuff…mostly the comfiest-looking wraps and shrugs and throws. But then…

I also found the most ridiculous, and yet beautiful, pair of knitted yoga pants. Who would knit yoga pants? You could never actually do yoga in them because as soon as you bend your knee, or sit down, the yoga pants would retain that shape forever. But they’re gorgeous.

Would you knit yoga pants? Knitting mash-ups on the WEBS Blog -  blog.yarn.com

The most useful thing I found in my search was handknit yoga socks. Now that’s a good idea! Sometimes you feel a little chilly on the way to the studio. Sometimes you want to put something comfy on your feet while you’re in Resting Pose. Or, because you’re a knitter, sometimes you just want to knit some socks. These would look stunning in a squishy merino like Madeline Tosh, or a fun combo of fibers like HiKoo CoBaSi. Cotton, bamboo, and silk, what’s not to like?

What’s your mashup? Think of two things to search together that would yield the most interesting result. But always put “knitting” first!

June 3rd, 2015

I Love a Good Mystery

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I don’t know about you, but my summer knitting seems to consist mostly of MKALs (Mystery Knit-a-longs). There’s something about the surprise that is more appealing to me during the warmer months than any other time of year. I like having a pattern handed to me in chunks. It also sometimes helps me to finish sections, since I know the next one is coming.

Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light

There are several MKALs starting up (or that have recently started) that I’m already signed up for, or thinking of signing up for. Kirsten Kapur’s Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2015. I have quite the stash of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light that I’m planning on going through and choosing two colors to make this shawl. It’s one of my favorite yarns for shawls, so I’m excited to get going on this one.

The Fibre Co. Meadow

Next up is the Hydrangea MKAL 2015 by the fine folks from Kelbourne Woolens in The Fibre Co. Meadow. I did their MKAL last summer that featured Meadow and I loved it. They include great tips on the different techniques, so it’s awesome if you’re trying to pick up new skills and really learn something. I’m still trying to decide on a color though. After the winter we had, I still don’t want any dull or netural colors, but the Queen Anne’s Lace is calling to me!

The Shetland Trader MKAL is also appealing to me. I like that it’s more of a focus on texture than on lace. Gudrun Johnson designed one of our 40th Anniversary patterns, Valley Yarns 40th Anniversary 14 Tirrick Shawl, and this one is still on my to-knit list. I just love the pattern and I have no doubt that Gudrun’s MKAL would be a fun one. Maybe in three colors of Valley Yarns Charlemont?

So, what do you think about MKALs? Are they something you’re interested in? Obviously from my three picks, I’m a shawl knitter, but there are lots of other MKALs out there. What is your ideal MKAL project?

June 2nd, 2015

Designer in Residence – the Lace Stole from Doris Chan

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June is here and summer is just around the corner! While we might all be ready for poolside barbeques and heat waves, Mother Nature seems to have different plans. It’s been rather chilly in the Northeast lately and the newest design from Doris Chan might be the perfect thing to keep you warm at that Graduation or late Spring wedding! The Lace Stole, crocheted in Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel is the third design from Doris Chan as WEBS Designer in Residence.

Doris Chan WEBS 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence, her third design the Lace Stole in Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel - learn more at blog.yarn.comLace accessories are not about warmth or coverage; they’re all about drama. Yes, in the cold you could gather up the Lace Stole and softly twist it around your head and neck for a scarf and enjoy the cozy feeling of silky wool yarn. But the glorious nature of a lace weight stole is truly revealed when you think of it as a statement piece. This whisper-light, crush proof, packable stole is born for travel. Simply stash it in a compact bundle in your bag (hopefully protected from snagging on anything), and when the moment is right to transition from dress-down casual to dress-up drama, pull it out, shake it loose with a flourish, and fling it around your shoulders. Graciously accept all the compliments!

Doris Chan WEBS 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence, her third design the Lace Stole in Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel - learn more at blog.yarn.comWhether you prefer classic neutrals, or rich jewel tones, there’s a shade of 2/10 Merino Tencel that’s perfect for your own version of the Lace Stole. Which color will you choose?

May 27th, 2015

May Sales bring Summer Weaving

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Greetings from the Weaving Room! What a glorious holiday weekend! I was reveling in that sweet transition from spring into summer, trying to maintain my personal balancing act between weaving and gardening. Having transplanted the seedlings into the gardens, now I turn to organizing my summer weaving. It’s the last week of our Anniversary Sale and there are some great yarns for warm weather projects.

Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo, on sale through May 31, 2015 in WEBS Anniversary Sale at yarn.com

One of my personal favorites is Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo. I love the subtle sheen of the yarn and the beautifully soft drape that makes it a perfect choice for summer scarves. We have some stunning drafts for this yarn, featuring a variety of weave structures. For a striking pattern in subtle tone-on-tone colors, try Draft #72 Advancing 5-end Twill Scarf. The Lemongrass Scarf, Draft # 78, is a simple 4-shaft scarf with two contrasting colors that really pop. And then there’s Virginia West’s delightful and colorful Lattice Scarf, Draft #04 from our 40th Anniversary series. A fun adventure in deflected double weave, it uses the bamboo to add an overlay of texture and depth to a tencel scarf.

Valley Yarns Fine Linens, on sale through May 31, 2015 in WEBS Anniversary Sale at yarn.com

Another good summer yarn is linen and we have most of our fine linens on sale this month. Linen is crisp and cool and lends itself well to towels, runners and other household textiles. Most of which, I might add, make magnificent wedding and housewarming gifts! And, naturally, we have some fine drafts for you to use in creating such heirlooms. The standout is Scott Norris’s Foxhead Towels which he designed as part of the 40th Anniversary series, it is #05. A classic overshot on 4-shafts, the draft combines 40/2 and 20/2 linen and gives the weaver several options for varying the pattern. Another classic that is beautiful in its simplicity is Draft#46, Atwater – Bronson Lace Table Runner. The detail of the lace creates a lovely texture in the half-bleach 20/2 linen.

The Anniversary Sale runs through May 31st. What will you get to seed your summer weaving?

May 23rd, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! 402: Kathy talks with Edie Eckman

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This week Kathy talks with author, and designer Edie Eckman. Edie will be at WEBS the weekend of June 20th and 21st teaching 4 wonderful classes. Sign-up for these classes now before they fill!
1 – Around the Corner Crochet Borders – with brand new unpublished border patterns!
2 – No Longer a Novice – Knitting Knowledge
3 – Intarsia without Fear
4 – Mix it up Miters

Ready, Set, Knit! episode 402 - Kathy talks with Edie Eckman - listen now at blog.yarn.com

They also discuss the release of the 2nd Edition of the Crochet Answer Book as well as Edie’s Craftsy and Creative Bug classes. You can find out more about Edie’s online classes on her website.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week – May Anniversary Sale deals!:

Anniversary Sale Yarns – Only 8 days left!

Reminder:

This weekend is the annual Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair in Cummington, today and tomorrow. WEBS is a proud sponsor of their Drop-in Spinning Area.

Upcoming Events:

Summer Classes are online – sign up now before all the seats are filled!

I-91 Shop Hop is coming June 25th through June 28th – get your passport now!

Classic Elite Yarns Trunk shows are ongoing and there’s always something new to see! Stop by the store to see what’s on display.

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Right click or CTRL+click and Save As to download the MP3 of this Podcast Subscribe to Ready, Set, Knit! in iTunes Subscribe to the Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast RSS Feed

May 22nd, 2015

Shaping Your Knits with Increases and Decreases

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When I taught my oldest son to knit, he got the basic knit and purl stitches down and one day we sat together, knitting (believe me, this happened maybe twice) and he saw me do a series of decreases to make a raglan sleeve. Just like that, he was fascinated, and spent the next six months increasing and decreasing a ratty piece of knitting that he kept in my knitting bag.

I can understand his amazement at how simply increasing or decreasing stitches can make a round shape out of a square swatch. I can never remember, however, which increases slant right or left, which decreases should be done in the center of a row, as opposed to a few stitches from the edge, and what to do when faced with the pattern instruction, “PFB twice in one stitch, turn, k2 bobble stitches, turn, and work p2tog, p2tog tbl, pass decrease.” WHAT?

Increase Decrease - available now at yarn.com

The guidebook for the 21st-century knitter is the newest book from Storey Publishing, Increase Decrease: 99 Step-by-Step Methods by Judith Durant. Judith has edited all the “One-Skein Wonders” books made so popular by Storey, so I know she’s a fount of knitting knowledge. Increase Decrease has the best possible construction for a craft book: a spiral binding so that the book lays flat while you try out all those irresistible new ways of shaping your knits. Judith gives readers the topology of the increase or decrease, and at the same time, she lets you know what it’s best use is. Single increases and decreases work well for knit/purl stitch patterns, while Yarnover Multiple Increases tend to be best used in a lacy garment as they show up as openwork. Twist-and-Hide Decreases are great for garments with a twisted-stitch pattern where you want to hide the decrease. Some increases and decreases show up on both the knit and purl sides, some are completely hidden, and many of the double increases and decreases can be used for knitting that is shaped on two sides at once.

Increase Decrease by Judith Durant - available now at yarn.com

Increase Decrease also gives you “something special” extra-credit reading, with Increases and Decreases for Decorative Effect, such as bobbles, ruching, closed-ring cables, or lace. There are even increases and decreases for colorwork! Like all those great craft books from Storey, there is a list of common abbreviations, and symbols that you’ll see in charted knitting, as well as a very thorough index.

Much like it’s sister book, Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor, I’m pretty sure I’ll be carrying this book in my knitting bag for any project I’ll start.

May 21st, 2015

Made to Border – Exploring Cables with Fiona Ellis

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It’s no secret that I am a big fan of cable patterns, and ever since my designs were first published (1999) I have been exploring creative ways to update the classics.

Exploring cables with Fiona Ellis on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

I have long held the notion that maybe cables don’t have to be strictly vertical in placement with the same row pattern being repeated over and over. Maybe they can change, or morph, into new patterning so that they appear to determine their own path through the garment piece. I have played with this notion a lot over the years – Made to Border is my latest in this series of what I call “morphing cables” designs.

Along the way I have designed patterns where the cable gets wider and wider until it forms a yoke, attached I-cords to give the appearance of the cables beginning outside of the fabric piece, cables that have just given up and become simple stockinette, or ones that extend beyond a hemline or have parts cut away. The idea is always to make it look deliberate, rather than something odd happening because the knitter forgot to follow the pattern. In order to achieve this look I have found that each section has to relate to each other rather than simply introducing (in the words of Monty Python) “something completely different”.

What this means for the knitter is that there is often a complete change of pace part way through a garment, which I hope makes for interesting knitting – a carrot being dangled as it were. Of course there is a comfort to a learned pattern being repeated over and over, but sometimes we want something a little more challenging or to break up the regularity. The downside is that the charts for this type of patterning can be large and somewhat daunting at first glance. But they always build on the patterning that you have already worked (remember Monty Python), so when you do reach the point of change it seems like a natural progression.

Exploring cables with Fiona Ellis, Made to Border, on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

In Made to Border I have lightened the overall look of the cabled garment by adding lacy elements. Nestled in between the lace are simple rope cables, which slowly begin a journey through the piece, first defining the border and then playfully diminishing in size, before finally becoming the simple rope once again. The lacy element comes along for the ride by being reintroduced in the center of each diamond shape. The cardigan is edged with an elegant attached I-cord, which you will know from my earlier posts is a personal favourite in combination with cables, but is also a minimal finishing look which doesn’t detract from the cables within the piece.

I hope that you have as much fun knitting this project as I had designing it! If you would like to hear more about what inspires me please join me on my website where I post on a new theme on the 9th of each month – I call it On-line, On-nine.

Happy cabling!

May 16th, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! 401: LIVE From the Tent Sale!

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This week we’re Live from the Tent Sale! Get a peek at what’s going on at the Tent Sale and find out what Steve brought in special just for this weekend.

Ready, Set, Knit! episode 401 - LIVE from the Annual Tent Sale - listen now at blog.yarn.com

Fleece Market Vendors
Whispering Winds Alpaca Farm
Rag Hill Farm
Moonshine Design
Stitched by Jessalu
Woollies of Shirkshire Farm
Red Barn Alpacas
Barberic Farm
Foxfire Fiber & Designs
Leyden Glen Farm
Artemisia Ink Studio Arts
The Stonehill Farm
Winterberry Farm

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:
MJ Yarns Simple Sock
Bijou Basin Ranch Bijou Spun Bijou Bliss
Opal Cotton Premium 2015
Cascade Eco+ (Anniversary Sale)
Sirdar Snuggly DK (Anniversary Sale)

Upcoming Events:

I-91 Shop Hop is coming June 25th through June 28th – get your passport now!

Classic Elite Yarns Trunk shows are ongoing and there’s always something new to see! Stop by the store to see what’s on display.

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.

Right click or CTRL+click and Save As to download the MP3 of this Podcast Subscribe to Ready, Set, Knit! in iTunes Subscribe to the Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast RSS Feed