Once again, we’re planning a relaxing afternoon of yarncrafting, snacks and camaraderie for the hours leading up to the Big Game!! On Sunday, February 1, 2015, from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. join us at WEBS retail store in Northampton. MA for our 9th Annual pre-game escape, and be sure to bring your current knitting, crocheting, spinning or weaving project along to work on while you’re here!! You’ll be surrounded by beautiful yarns, yummy nosh and lots of like-minded folks – football chat is entirely optional. This is a free event, but registration is required, so please sign up on our website or call Customer Service to let us know you’re planning to be here. We look forward to seeing you!!
We get lots of questions in our drop-ins and in Customer Service from knitters like you who aren’t quite sure how to graft, or do the Kitchener stitch, or why they would even use it! We have 2 great videos to share with you today to help you learn how to graft live stitches to a cast on edge, and how to do the Kitchener stitch. Both of these techniques should be used when you’re looking to have a seamless finish.
In the second video you’ll see the Kitchener Stitch. This can be especially important to use in socks if you’re knitting socks from the cuff down where having a bulky seam can be quite uncomfortable at the toe.
Have a question you need answered? Ask WEBS! Let us know what you need help with. Comment below and let us help YOU in future Ask WEBS features.
Learn about how Kate got into pattern design, her work with Knitty.com, her history with pattern design and editing, and how this book can help you.
Kathy then talks with Education Manager Amy Greeman about our upcoming Mystery Knit-along and Mystery Crochet-along. If you’re local to the store sign up for the class, if you’re not be sure to check our blog in late January for more details of how you can participate.
Drop-ins are Back! Be sure to stop by the store Tuesday and Thursday mornings between 10am and 1pm and Thursday evenings from 5:30-8pm
Winter/Spring 2015 Classes are on the website now, register before they fill up!
Our 9th Annual Pre-Game Event is coming up on Feb 1st – It’s free but be sure to register!
Join us for a Yarn Tasting with Cascade Yarns on Feb 12th.
Don’t miss your chance to meet and talk with Norah Gaughan on March 7th!
Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.
I don’t know about you, but I hate to waste anything. This leads to cones with less than 10 yards (could be an accent thread), chokes ties straightened and rehung on the warping board to use on the next warp and piles of cloth scraps trimmed from the ends of woven yardage. I compound the ‘problem’ of scraps by my typical sampling method – I usually add an extra yard or two to my warp so that I can test different weft colors, treadlings and even setts. It’s a great way to test out ideas and provides me with a record of what I’ve tried.
And it leads to these piles, just begging to become something more. Usually these pieces are on the smaller side, which means petite projects. I’ve been inspired by other weavers and have to show you some of the great things they’ve come up with. Of course, you can start with the easy-to-sew rectangular pouches – cases for eyeglasses, phones and other devices. But let’s add a little more pizzazz!
My friend Amy took the beginning weaving class a few years ago and before the 7 weeks were done she showed up with these wonderful zippered bags. She lined them with commercially made fabric, inserted the zipper and created one-of-a-kind bags that can be used to hold everything from knitting/weaving tools & projects to travel accessories. These are fun and can be made in any size, can traverse weft color changes, etc.
Another co-worker, Marthe, took it one step (several steps, actually) further and created this fancy clasp purse. She backed her handwoven cloth with fusible interfacing and a silk lining, added a metal purse frame and embellished it with beads. Another example of a creative person who just can’t stop!
Although I do have a profusion of weftovers in my weaving studio, many of them are pretty small. I just can’t toss them, so I have delved into the world of functional small objects. I started with lavender sachets, sewn from the 60/2 silk scarf I mentioned in my last post. The cloth is delicate and fine and seems perfect to nestle in a drawer of clean linens.
The next set of tiny squares I stuffed firmly with fiberfil and they became miniature pincushions, perfect for the high castle of my loom or in the drawer where I keep my hand sewing supplies. I chose cloth with a tighter weave and sturdier structure for these. The red one is an overshot done in 40/2 linen with 20/2 linen for the pattern weft, and it’s so tiny that you wouldn’t even know there’s a treadling error if I didn’t tell you (now you’re going to look, right?). The pincushion in blues was a sampler of weft colors for a huck lace scarf in tencel. Although I stuffed my pincushion with fiberfil, I have heard of folks using emery (the gritty stuff I remember that sharpened the needles in my mom’s pincushion) and ground walnut hulls (which are sold as bedding material in pet shops).
And, speaking of pets, I know how much my sister’s cats (Pip and Squeak) love to chase small things. So I hunted down a pattern for a mouse and made a catnip toy for them. The pattern is incredibly simple – cut out a heart-shaped piece, fold it in half and sew along the open edges, leaving an opening to add the catnip. After the catnip is stuffed inside, hand stitch the opening closed. I have to admit my ‘mouse’ looks a little angular, but that’s mostly due to my clumsy sewing and a too-small seam allowance. Next time I will start with a larger heart. I’m pretty sure that cats will not be picky about the odd shape and will have fun batting it around the house.
What do you do with your weftovers?
We’re so excited about our new Designer in Residence program for 2015! We’ve teamed up with two truly talented designers to bring you gorgeous knit and crochet designs that showcase some of our favorite Valley Yarns. This month we’re debuting the I Feel Vine Cardigan from knitwear designer Fiona Ellis and we’ll have a new design from her each odd numbered month of the year. And we’ll reveal the first crochet design from Doris Chan in February to be followed by a new design from her each even numbered month this year!
This long-line cardigan worked in Valley Yarns Amherst is perfect for all seasons; cozy for the chilly months but also great to slip on over a sleeveless top in warmer months to fend off the chill of air conditioning. It’s clever use of stitch patterning utilizes the elasticity of rib patterning at the waist and cuff to give gentle shaping. The rib then morphs into a unique leaf pattern & finally into eyelet lace stitch work which adds to the overall femininity of this garment.
We asked Fiona to tell us about about her process and inspiration, and to give us a bit of a sneak peek into what we can expect to see throughout the year.
Tell us about your design process. Do you have design ideas in your head that inspire you to search out the right yarn or do you find a yarn and let the design grow from there?
I keep an on-going archive, of sorts, for design ideas and projects that I want to work on. So mostly it’s the idea that comes first and then I search out the perfect yarn for the project/design rather than the other way around.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you hike? jog in the city? take your camera everywhere you go? have a studio full of inspiring color and images?
I find inspiration everywhere so I always carry a camera (or my phone) and try to bring a small notebook with me wherever I go. I find inspiration can strike at very strange times – sometimes it’s at 3am! And I find it’s a process that you can’t really command. The ideas just seem to appear of their own accord and can sometimes be fleeting or hard to pin down. So I end up with pockets full of ideas scribbled on coffee shop napkins because I forgot to bring my notebook with me that day. On the other hand I also have this mindfulness practice of taking a photo every day even if nothing seemingly exciting is happening. I’ve been doing this since Sept 2007 and have found some great ideas have emerged from this habit of encouraging myself to closely observe the world. I believe that somehow the two elements work off of each other.
Tell us about your design aesthetic. What can our customers expect to see from you this year?
I studied fashion knitwear design at University so my aesthetic has a lot to do with current (wearable) fashion trends in terms of garment silhouette. I have been a knitter practically my whole life so I like pattern-work that challenges me, though I do try to include sections in each project where there is less challenge, that way some parts of the project can be carried around or worked on in front of the TV (or even in a bar maybe).
Tell us about your favorite Valley Yarn, is there a Valley Yarn you are excited to work with?
It’s so hard to choose because they are all great and each one perfect for specific projects. So I’m going to choose Amherst for entirely personal reasons- see my answer to the next question.
How did you discover Valley Yarns, what is your history with WEBS?
I used to live in Massachusetts very near to WEBS, but this was in the days when I designed for ready to wear fashion houses, before I designed for the independent home knitter. I used to shop at WEBS for my personal projects but I had moved away from the area before I became intimately acquainted with the Valley Yarns. Since then I have used them when they have been selected for magazine editorials such as the designs I have done for Twist Collective, Knitters Magazine and others: Sugarbeach in Longmeadow, Blue Helix in Colrain, Athabasca in Northampton, and Paula in Stockbridge.
What designers do you like/follow? Are there designs you wish you had time to knit/crochet/sew?
I tend to look at couture designers and my most favorite is the late Alexander McQueen. In terms of knitwear designers that I admire, boy this is actually a long list. I admire so many of the designers working today, but if I had to pick just one I would chose Norah Gaughan. She always comes up with such eye-catching and wonderful designs, ones that I’m almost jealous that I didn’t come up with the idea myself. If I had time to knit for myself from somebody else pattern it would definitely be one of Norah’s…or maybe an Alice Starmore pattern.
Kathy and Steve are still enjoying their holiday break but you can listen to a flashback episode from January 2, 2010 here.
The Year End Blowout Sale is running through the end of the day today! Stop by the store or get your order in today!
Drop-ins will return next week, on January 6th.
Winter/Spring 2015 Classes are on the website now, register before they fill up!
Be sure to check out all of our upcoming Events here.
Now that the holidays are in the rearview mirror, it seems like time to embark on a project to make winter pass a little more quickly. I’ll drop a hint here that we’ll be helping you find a big project to go through the bleak season in a few weeks, so stay tuned! You’re going to learn stuff that is fun, and you’ll have a big ol’ yummy blanket to give or keep by the time the lilacs start to creep out.
In the meantime, I’m going to cast on for a sweater–I haven’t had a big project like that on the needles in almost a year! I thought I’d give our “Flares and Graces” pullover a try. I love the shape of this textured knit designed for us by Guest Designer Fiona Ellis. The sleeves and yoke have a really intriguing cable pattern that will stand up to some binge-watching of “Grey’s Anatomy,” my new addiction. The waist shaping makes it appear slightly fitted, but I’m going to knit it with a bit more ease, in order to put a silky tee-shirt underneath for total comfort.
I am having a tough time choosing between two yarns that seem perfect for this project, which needs a yarn that will clearly define those chevron cables. Zara Kid is a really soft, springy combination of wool and polyamide, and I like the pine-green color that caught my eye in our store. Cashmere Passion is also a contender; the blend of merino and cashmere create a fabric that would be heavenly to wear. The mauve-y pink is a go-to for me lately.
What are you knitting to help you through the holiday let-down?
You have just 3 days left to fill your cart at WEBS Annual Year End Blowout Sale! Orders can be placed online until 11:59pm EST Saturday. Our retail store is closed today but will be open 10-5:30 tomorrow and Saturday.
We still have multiple colors of our 40th Anniversary Huntington hand dyed by Lorna’s Laces and our Northfield hand dyed by Malabrigo. Don’t miss your chance to stash some Kettle Dyed Charlemont once it’s gone it’s gone! And don’t pass up the incredible prices on Noro Taiyo Lace, Berroco Lago, Cascade Luna Paints and plenty more!
We began our 40th anniversary series of drafts with a beautiful 16-shaft twill design from Barbara Elkins and end the year with a lovely baby blanket woven on a rigid heddle loom and designed by Leslie Ann Bestor, the new Weaving Manager for WEBS. It is a set of bookends that describes the weaving community in so many ways, touching on the breadth of experience, fibers and looms available.
The Bouquet of Hearts Baby Blanket, woven with Valley Yarns Longmeadow, showcases both the simple beauty of plain weave and the ability to add intricate details that rigid heddle looms do so well. Brook’s Bouquet is a technique of wrapping small bundles of threads to create lace-like windows in the cloth. In the blanket, the motif is a heart, but you can graph out and add your own motif – anything from the baby’s initials to other shapes.
Another key piece of the design, says Bestor, was to encourage weavers to work beyond the width of their looms and weave panels that can be seamed together. The seam can be done by hand or machine, invisibly or as a decorative accent. However it’s done, putting woven panels together expands the width – and the possibilities – of your loom.