March 14th, 2014

Weaving A New Skill

Share Button

About five years ago I took a Rigid Heddle Loom class with Leslie Ann Bestor here at WEBS. I was in a bit of a knitting slump, had a very stressful full-time job very far from my house, and I wanted to latch onto a new craft to help me handle all the plates spinning in the air around me. I loved that class, but frankly, I didn’t love the weaving all that much. I really adored my finished scarf, which took all of 2 hours to make from warping to tying off the ends. But something about the action of the shuttle going back and forth was jarring, not as hypnotic as I wanted it to be.

However — although I didn’t like doing it all that much, I’m fascinated by woven cloth and all that goes into making it. Since WEBS started as a weaver’s shop, and we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary, it’s only right to pay homage to the weavers and their tools. Have you seen Barbara Elkins’ draft for The Escher Shawl?escher shawl

This gorgeous shadow-patterned wrap looks exactly like an Escher print, made with our Valley Yarns 8/2 Tencel, which reflects light beautifully and drapes just right. This project is most easily woven using a computer assisted loom and weaving software, such as Weavepoint, neither of which may not have even existed 40 years ago.

table loomsOur “Loom Room” is right off our cash register counter, and it’s a treasure trove of looms and accessories. From the mighty Toika Eeva loom for a cool $9,000, to the cute Zoom Loom that can be held with one hand, a loom might be all you need to try a new skill, open up a new pathway in your brain, or craft a garment or accessory in a totally new and unfamiliar way. Take this, our 40th anniversary year, to challenge yourself. What new skill would you like to try?

 

March 12th, 2014

National Crochet Month Special Techniques – Tunisian Simple Stitch

Share Button

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.

March 11th, 2014

Tuesday’s Crochet Tip – Turn a Doily Pattern into a Rug

Share Button

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.

This is a great instant-gratification project! Take your favorite doily pattern and work it up using a chunky yarn and a big hook.

We did something similar with our Hellebore Rug which was crocheted using 2 strands of Northampton Bulky, but if you’re looking for something washable try Katia Big Ribbon or Schachenmayr’s Bravo Big or Filaria.

March 8th, 2014

Ready, Set, Knit! Flashback

Share Button

Kathy and Steve are taking a late winter break so there’s no show this week but you can enjoy Kathy’s interview with author and designer Sally Melville from March2013.

 

And don’t forget that Sally will be here at WEBS at the end of this month! There are still open seats in her First Choices, Basic Shapes class and in her Knit to Flatter and Fit class. If you can’t make it to one of her classes you can still join us for her Why we do what we do! Workshop on March 29th. Registration is free but sign ups are required, a short reception will follow her talk.

Upcoming Events:

Our 40th Annual Anniversary Sale is coming up, April 1 – May 31!

12th Annual Tent Sale is happening May 17th and 18th with our Fleece Market on Saturday the 17th!

March 7th, 2014

Valley Yarns featured in Knitter’s Magazine!

Share Button

In the Spring 2014 issue of Knitter’s Magazine you’ll find the Blue Helix pullover knit in our very own Colrain in the Blue Lapis colorway. Designed by the lovely Fiona Ellis, this sweater features asymmetrically placed cables on the body and sleeves that make this fitted pullover a must-knit.

knitters

Which color of Valley Yarns Colrain would you choose?

March 5th, 2014

National Crochet Month Special Techniques – Surface Crochet

Share Button

This week we’re focusing on Surface Crochet. This is a great technique to use with both knit and crochet fabrics.  In its simplest form it’s a chain of slip stitches that appears on the surface of your fabric. It can be used for simple stripes or for more complex and free-form shapes.

This tutorial video shows you how to add vertical stripes to your knitting, and when combined with horizontal stripes it forms a simple plaid, the technique is used in two projects from our Soft Landing e-Book, the Hen Plaid Wrap and the Viola Plaid Pillow

This video shows you how the technique can also be used to create unique shapes, allowing you to draw on the surface of your project and it’s easy to accomplish. The Sprig Mittens are adorned with whimsical flowers but with surface crochet you could add almost any image.

 

The Nordic Tiles scarf features floating squares that are joined by simple lines of surface crochet along 2 edges and through the center.

Have you ever tried surface crochet?

March 4th, 2014

Tuesday’s Crochet Tip – Quick and Decorative Potholders

Share Button

Tuesday's Crochet Tip - Quick and Decorative PotholdersIt’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 often find myself making one crochet motif, to try out a pattern or yarn, that never actually becomes anything. This is a great way to use up those lonely motifs. Pair them with a solid back piece in the same shape and join them along the edges. These make great last minute gifts! Edie Eckman’s Beyond the Square is a great resource for different shaped motifs. Note: Potholders should be made with 100% Cotton, 100% Wool or a blend of those 2 fibers only, other fibers may scorch, burn or even melt. The two shown are the same pattern with the top potholder made with Tahki Cotton Classic and the Bottom with a combination of Valley Yarns Northampton and Cascade 220.
March 3rd, 2014

March is National Crochet Month

Share Button

Valley Yarns Pickwick Cowl Crocheted in Valley Yarns CharlemontI love checking out obscure days and months (today, March 3rd is ‘If Pets Had Thumbs Day,’ among several others). It’s always fun to see what have days, or months. It’s also fun to check out the far less obscure days and months, like this month! March is National Crochet Month, and we’ll be celebrating it here on the blog all month long.

This month on the blog you’ll find weekly special crochet technique features (surface crochet and Tunisian crochet are just a couple that well be looking at), patterns suggestions, and a few surprises. So, keep checking back!

Do you love to crochet?

March 1st, 2014

Ready, Set, Knit! 347: Kathy talks with Andra Asars

Share Button

Play Now: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This week Kathy talks with Andra about the line of new Spring yarns from Berroco.

Folio and it’s accompanying pattern book, Linus, Modern Cotton and it’s pattern bookMaya‘s new heathered colors and pattern book, and the great patterns in Norah Gaughan Vol. 14. And be sure to check out the BEST of Berroco for WEBS e-book!

Reminder:

Be sure to stop into the store and see all the new Spring garment models! And don’t miss the Classic Elite Yarns Trunk shows.

Steve’s Yarn Picks:

Upcoming Events:

Why we do what we do! Workshop with Sally Melville on March 29th

Our 40th Annual Anniversary Sale is coming up, April 1 – May 31!

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
February 28th, 2014

In Which I Finally Find a Sweater to Knit

Share Button

My personal knitting lately has been cowls, mittens, fingerless gloves, and hats. Occasionally, for a good cause, I’ll work my way into a scarf. I just keep making excuses for not knitting a sweater, and I tell myself (and everyone else) that I just don’t have the time. That’s what knitters say when they are unmotivated, I think…”Oh…(sigh)…I wish I had the time to knit that sweater with the shawl collar, the mirrored cables and the steeked cardigan front. But…sigh…I’ve just been so BUSY.”

Well, forget it. When wandering in the store a few days ago, the most gorgeous sweater caught my eye, and once I turned it inside-out to check the construction, I realized that there was nary a seam to be found. And, it was completely flattering on anyone who put it on, no matter their shape or size.  Here you see it modeled by Andrea, our Website Coordinator.Andrea in Caramel    The pattern is called “Caramel” by Isabell Kraemer, and it’s available as a free download on Ravelry. If you click on the project gallery for the sweater, you’ll see it in the most adorable striped in a wide variety of fibers. Our test knitter, Susan Drew (hanoverknitter on Ravelry) used Shalimar Homage DK in Byzantium (the purple stripes) and Black Truffle (the gray background color). I wish you could feel how soft and delicious this sweater is, and see how beautiful the combination of superwash merino, cashmere, and silk can be. HOMAGEDKSH.BYZANTIUM.zoom.1

I hope that you local folks will check this garment out if you are in the store; and if you’re more than a car-ride away from us, take a peek at who on Ravelry is working on this superstar sweater. It’s going in my queue! What’s your next project? Sweater, socks, or more winter woolies? Let us know in the comments below!