April 14th, 2016

A few small items

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I’m happy to introduce you to three new items in the store that are sure to please. The first is a nifty felted, zippered pouch by one of my favorite vendors, Frabjous Fibers. Made by hand in Nepal, they are fully lined and are slim enough to slip into a knitting bag or tote bag. Perfect for notions and other small items that need safe-keeping, these pouches are easy on the wallet, making them perfect for gift-giving. Although we carry four different colors, the pink one is my favorite. This might sound a little crazy, but it looks to me like each sheep has a slightly different facial expression!

New products at WEBS from Frabjous Fibers, JUL Designs and more! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Tired of the same old shawl pin styles? JUL Designs has created some innovative leather closures for your cardigans, shawls and scarves. This clever design features screws that safely and securely keep your garments stylishly in place.

Although we have an extensive button collection in the store, I’m always looking for new and interesting additions. Martha Sunderland, the owner of Favour Valley Woodworking in New Hampshire, hand crafts buttons in varying shapes and size from locally-sourced woods like American Beech, Dawn Redwood, Purple Lilac, cherry, pear and blueberry. These are store-only items so you must come visit to appreciate them. When Martha delivered our order a few weeks ago, there was much excitement and enthusiasm from staff. When you see them, you’ll understand why. These buttons are truly special items and worthy of your hand knit creations.

As always, thank you for your continued support. We wouldn’t be here without you!

April 14th, 2016

Introducing Southampton!

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We’re really excited to share our newest member of the Valley Yarns family with you, Southampton!

Southampton, the latest from Valley Yarns. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This incredibly versatile yarn is a blend of kid mohair and mulberry silk, with a shiny plied core surrounded by a fluffy, fuzzy halo of loose fibers. This yarn can easily be worked at multiple gauges from lace to worsted, and if you double, or triple, stand your work you can even knit at bulky and chunky gauges. Knit or crochet beautiful, lightweight garments and accessories, or even colorful and cozy throws!

What kind of projects are you excited to make with Southampton?

 

April 13th, 2016

“Weavers, Break Out Your Skeins!”

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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?

April 12th, 2016

Anniversary Sale Spotlight – Cashmere!

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I have to tell you, even I was surprised by the luxury fibers in this year’s sale! We have 6 yarns with cashmere!

Cashmere yarns in WEBS 42nd Anniversary Sale. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

If you’re looking for a workhorse yarn for incredible garments that has just a little extra oomph we’ve got two choices for you.  Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran is a classic,  a machine washable blend of 55% Merino Wool/33% Microfibre/12% Cashmere in over 3 dozen saturated solids is perfect for trend defying garments and accessories that you’ll wear for years. And if tweed is your thing then Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed couldn’t be better. A softly plied and lofty blend of wool, silk and cashmere in tonal tweeds for classically rustic garments, and shawls you want to wrap up in all year long.

Cashmere yarns in WEBS 42nd Anniversary Sale. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

DK is a versatile weight equally suited to adult and children’s garments and accessories and there’s no reason to shy away from a little bit of luxury there. Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK is a touchably soft blend of merino wool, silk and cashmere for a yarn with lots of bounce and shine! With over 30 colors to choose from it’s ideal for colorwork projects. And if you want a little hand dyed color in your cashmere stash, pick up a few skeins of Mrs. Crosby Hat Box. the color wizards at Lorna’s Laces have dreamed up all new colorways reminiscent of exoctic locales and travels.

Cashmere yarns in WEBS 42nd Anniversary Sale. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

On the finer side, if you’re a lace or shawl person Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere is another gorgeous hand-dyed yarn with a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon blend that would be gorgeous for shawls and durable enough for incredible socks! But my favorite of the cashmere yarns in this sale has to be the Greylock from Valley Yarns. This beauty is 100% cashmere, lightly spun and plied for an airy yarn with the slightest halo. It’s soft and squishy with an incredibly generous 300 yds in each ball.

That Greylock is honestly calling my name, and the JoSharp has my wheels turning. Which yarns will you be adding to your stash?

April 11th, 2016

The Ascending Leaves Pullover

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Our Valley Yarns Longmeadow is the perfect yarn to bridge the seasons, and the new Ascending Leaves Pullover designed by Ashwini Jambhekar is the ideal springtime sweater! Cool and soft against the skin, but fluffy enough keep you warm on breezy April days, this pullover features a climbing vine lace pattern that circles the hem and flared sleeves.

The Ascending Leaves Pullover from Valley Yarns. Learn more about the yarn and designer and where you can get a copy of the pattern  on the WEBS Blog at blog..yarn.com

 

 

Ashwini Jambhekar talks Valley Yarns and design inspiration on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

We asked Ashwini to tell us a bit about herself and her work.

When did you learn to knit? 

My “learn to knit” story is pretty traditional: my mom taught me when I was quite young, around age 4. And in keeping with tradition, my first project was a garter stitch scarf. The yarn was a department-store acrylic in a lovely coral color. I made the scarf for my grandmother, who lived in the heat and humidity of Mumbai, India!

What prompted you to start designing?

I started designing in graduate school, when I discovered the lovely LYS Artfibers in San Francisco (now closed). The shop samples were very youthful and shapely, unlike the large, bulky acrylic or wool samples on display at the time in the east coast chain stores, which were my only other exposure to yarn and garment design. The Artfibers staff used to create new designs for their samples, and after learning a bit from them, I began by making minor modifications to patterns and was soon creating whole designs from scratch.

Give us a glimpse into your design process, where/how do you find inspiration?

I like to think about the different kinds of shapes and lines that can be created in a garment, and what features they emphasize. For ideas, I often browse sewing patterns. I also look through stitch pattern dictionaries and try to imagine various ways to arrange a pattern on a garment, and how the placement affects the overall look of the garment. Unfortunately, the latter can’t easily be determined by swatching, but I definitely swatch to get a sense of how a pattern looks in a particular yarn (and to calculate my gauge, of course!).

Tell us about your design aesthetic.

I primarily knit women’s garments, and strive for a look that’s elegant and feminine. My work as a scientist isn’t compatible with too many frills, so I try to keep the silhouettes pretty sleek. This design is one of my first ones to incorporate flared sleeves, which I love in theory, but perhaps not so much when I’m working.

What did you love about the Valley Yarn you worked with?

I loved the smooth, crisp stitch definition of the cotton in Longmeadow, coupled with the wool-like resiliency provided by the microfiber.

The Ascending Leaves Pullover from Valley Yarns. Learn more about the yarn and designer and where you can get a copy of the pattern  on the WEBS Blog at blog..yarn.com

Valley Yarns Longmeadow has long been one of our favorite Valley Yarns, both for it’s versatility and durability. With a washable 60% Cotton/40% Microfiber blend and all-purpose DK weight, this yarn is ideal for everything from baby knits to homegoods. Which color will you use for the Ascending Leaves Pullover?

April 9th, 2016

Ready, Set, Knit! 440: Kathy talks with Lars Rains

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This week Kathy talks with first time guest Lars Rains new book, Modern Lopi, a collection full of classic techniques with modern colors  and stories.

Ready, Set, Knit! episode #440 - Kathy talks with Lars Rains. Listen now on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Lars grew up in Manitoba and his first knitting project was a Lopi cardigan! After learning the basics of sweater construction he began to modernize the color choices and motifs in sweaters for himself and was encouraged by friends in the industry to publish his work. Check out the fair isle inspired colors and motifs in the Hildur Pullover.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

You can still get on the waitlist for our first ever WEBS Retreat in September.

Upcoming Events:

The 14th Annual Tent Sale happens May 14th and 15th, and don’t forget the 12th Annual Fleece Market on May 14th.

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

April 8th, 2016

Can I Like Plant Fibers?

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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!

April 7th, 2016

Valley Yarns Feature – Haydenville

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haydenville 1

Valley Yarns Haydenville is one of our newest yarns and we’re still marveling over it! An extraordinarily soft blend of superwash merino and acrylic microfiber, it’s just about the perfect yarn for everything! It knits at a worsted weight and has a wonderful sheen that adds to the fantastic stitch definition. And just look at the projects we’ve already created up for you with a yarn that is fast becoming one of our favorites.

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A diminutive chevron stripe accents all 3 pieces in the Grayson Baby Set. The pullover is worked in the round from the top down and is easily adjusted to different lengths.

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The Leaves and Lines Afghan is cleverly constructed from bias-knit counterpane squares, adorned with embossed leaves, eyelets and textured ridges. Try laying them out in different arrangements for totally different looks!

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Our newest pattern, the Honza Baby Blanket is a minimalist garter stitch blanket with intarsia blocks in pops of contrasting colors. Perfect for a crib or as a cushy play mat for the floor this lovely blanket has us dreaming of garter stitch goodness!

How will you use Valley Yarns Haydenville?

April 5th, 2016

Anniversary Sale Spotlight – Yarn for socks!

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Our 42nd Anniversary Sale is in full swing and with over 80 yarns and accessories at incredible discounted prices and it can seem daunting to wade through that much information! In the coming weeks we’ll break down the yarns in our sale, highlight some of our favorites and give you some great project ideas. This week we’re all about socks!

Sock yarns from Regia and other top brands in WEBS 42nd Anniversary Sale. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The fine folks at Regia are constantly rolling out fantastical new combinations of colors and stripes and we have four of their yarns in this sale! Mood Color 4-ply and Relax Color 4-ply are both classic sock weight yarns at 8 sts per inch on US 1-3, with a blend of 75% superwash wool and 25% polyamide for durable, longlasting socks with plenty of yardage in each skein for a pair. Regia Colorito Color 4-ply blends wool and polyamide 75/25 into a slightly heavier yarn, 7.5 sts per inch on US 1-3 with a fantastic colorplay of stripes over a variegated background color. And for a pair of super cozy, winter weight socks try Regia Blue Zone Color 6-ply. This almost DK weight yarn knits up at 5.5 sts per inch on US3-6 sock socks that will fly off your needles!

Sock yarns from Lorna's Laces and other top brands in WEBS 42nd Anniversary Sale. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

A long time favorite of sock knitters and the WEBS staff, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock is a fantastic blend of superwash wool and nylon available in 3 dozen scrumptious hand-dyed colorways! Want to sneak a little luxury into your life? Try Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere! 25 subtly tonal hand dyed colorways that you will enjoy knitting as much as you do wearing. Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sox combine alpaca, merino and nylon into one of the softest sock yarns we’ve ever felt and the delicate variations of color create a beautiful dappled effect in the finished socks.

Needle and Hook sets from Knitter's Pride in WEBS 42nd Anniversary Sale. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

And don’t forget your solids! Whether you need a bit extra for heels and toes or you need a good range of colors for some fantastical fair isle these two yarns fit the bill perfectly. Valley Yarns Charlemont combines superwash merino, silk and polyamide in a silky smooth yarn that feels great against the skin. Louet Gems Fingering is a 100% wool yarn with just the right amount of bounce and squish for colorwork that really pops! And now is the perfect time to upgrade your tools! Our Knitters Pride Karbonz 6″ DPN Sets are on sale as well.

Stock up on yarns and needles now and set yourself up for a summer full of sock knitting fun! What’s your favorite sock yarn from this year’s sale? Or do you have plans for other projects with these yarns? Tell us all about it!

April 4th, 2016

The Honza Baby Blanket

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Our first new Valley Yarns pattern for Spring 2016 is the incredibly versatile Honza Baby Blanket, designed by Ann Klimpert, the perfect, easy-care blanket, knit in Valley Yarns Haydenville, for any baby in your life!

Honza blog fb

This cozy, squishy blanket is knit all in garter stitch with bold, modern intarsia blocks of color, and a crisp pinstripe of color added along the edges with surface crochet. And don’t let that crochet technique give you pause, we’ve got a quick tutorial to help you out.

We asked Ann to tell us a bit about herself and her work.

When did you learn to knit?

I began knitting when my kids were in elementary school. It filled a void in that it let me work with my hands but was still portable. It was both creative and practical.

What prompted you to start designing?

After knitting for a few years, I found I was making small changes in patterns, the length, sleeve style, stitch patterns, etc. After a while, it was a small jump to actually designing an entire project.

Give us a glimpse into your design process, where/how do you find inspiration.

Just about anything can spark an idea, from the lines of a bridge to the colors in a painting. Once I have a rough idea, I swatch for days!

Tell us about your design aesthetic. 

My background is in industrial design so I tend to favor pure, clean designs. I love garter stitch for its squishy playfulness and simplicity. It’s rugged and elegant at the same time.

What did you love about the Valley Yarn you worked with?

I used Valley Yarns Haydenville for my baby blanket and it has the perfect blend of wooliness and practicality for baby items. Machine washable and soft but substantial. And the color selection is fantastic!

Honza blog

The Honza Baby Blanket is knit in Valley Yarns Haydenville, a washable and dryable blend of superwash merino and acrylic microfiber, for a truly easy care knit. You can try one of our colorways or choose your own from over 30 different shades. The original blanket was knit with Light Grey, Pompeii, Navy, and Natural, but we think it would also look adorable in Chocolate, Natural, Pink, and Burgundy, or Yellow, Teal, Lake, and Sage, or Sage, Purple, Red Purple, and Grey.

The combination possibilities are almost endless! What colors of Haydenville will you choose?