June 7th, 2016

Valley Yarns 2016 Summer Catalog is here!

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You can browse our new summer catalog now!

Valley Yarns Summer 2016 Catalog - available to view online now! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

3 new Valley Yarns, 22 new patterns, and almost a dozen editorials and write-ups for yarns, products we love, and a designer we’re beyond happy to feature! Get a jump on your Summer knitting now! Physical copies will be landing in mailboxes mid-month. If you’re not on it already, sign up for our mailing list and you’ll receive our Fall catalog in September. If you’re local you can pick up a copy in the store! Which new yarns and patterns are you excited about?

June 6th, 2016

The Oblique Hat

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We’ve had a few, brief previews of Summer weather here in New England, and it’s got us all thinking about smaller portable knitting projects, because let’s face it, there’s no way we’re going to stop knitting just because the thermometer is topping out in the 90’s!

The Oblique Hat from Valley Yarns. Learn more about the yarn, the design, and where you can get your copy of the pattern on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Evie Scott has designed the fantastic Oblique Hat for Valley Yarns in our super versatile Huntington yarn. Not only is this a stylish, and truly unisex hat, but it’s available in 4 sizes, with instructions for knitting the beanie style shown, or adding some depth for a slouchy version. The super stretchy band of ribbing seamlessly flows into an architecturally inspired spiral. A simple two-stitch cable twists upwards in columns to the crown, a great time to practice cables without a cable needle!

The Oblique Hat from Valley Yarns. Learn more about the yarn, the design, and where you can get your copy of the pattern on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

With a veritable rainbow of over 2 dozen solid colors to choose from Valley Yarns Huntington is a perfect choice for hats for the whole family. Extremely soft and machine washable this yarn has beautiful stitch definition and longevity. Who will you knit an Oblique Hat for, and in what color?

Be sure to check out all the new patterns from Valley Yarns here, (psst, the patterns for our new catalog are up already!). Tell us which one is your favorite and what kinds of designs you’d like to see  in the comments.

June 4th, 2016

Ready, Set, Knit! 446: Kathy talks with Amy Greeman

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This week Kathy talks with WEBS Education Manager, Amy Greeman, about upcoming Summer Classes.

Ready, Set, Knit! episode #446 - Kathy talks with Amy Greeman. Listen now on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Check out Knitting 1 for all the friends and family that keep asking YOU to teach them! Advanced Lace Knitting with Todd Gocken, Spinning Camp for adults and Fiber Camp for the kiddos. And Jason Collingwood is back this summer! Check out all the class listings on our site and sign up early, summer classes fill quickly!

The amazing Amy Hendrix of Madelinetosh is here for a meet and greet later today!

Valley Yarns Summer 2016 Catalog will be online on Monday and in mailboxes mid month. Make sure you’re on the mailing list now to get a copy of our Fall catalog in September. And join our e-mail list to see the e-catalog first!

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Our retail Store is closed on Independence Day, Monday, July 4th.

The I-91 Shop Hop will take place June 23–26th. Get your passport now and plan your weekend!

Upcoming Events:

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 3rd, 2016

Gifts, Just Because

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Normally, this time of year means Father’s Day, graduations, weddings, all kinds of big-ticket events which require big-ticket gifts. But as a mom, I’ve found that this time of year is also the time to think of babysitter gifts (thank goodness WEBS is located in the middle of 5 colleges. My kids had babysitters for any occasion.), teacher gifts, playdate-host-mom gifts…the list can be endless. While many of my friends/babysitters/kids’ teachers are fiber crafters, sometimes they aren’t. WEBS has lots of fun stuff that doesn’t necessarily require that you know the word “gauge” to enjoy.

Gift ideas on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Frabjous Fibers produces the cutest little notion bags I’ve seen in a long time. The bags come in varied sizes and shapes, like this itty bitty sheepy, this “Mama Sheep” scalloped-edge envelope, and this fun brightly-colored bag big enough to hold tissues, a juice box, and your phone. You can also get an adorable felt “embellishment” which I’d put on a backpack or pin to a hand-made hat for a special caregiver.

If you want to get a little fancier, what about a shawl pin? They don’t have to go on a knitted or crocheted shawl, you know. This Moving Mud Shawl Closure is so stunning that I’d wind it into a scarf or onto a bag. This is a great gift for a harried mom who has driven carpool for so long that she dreams in Cheerios.

The lovely Beckys Glass stitch marker charms look as good made into earrings as they do adorning your knitting needles. Or maybe you could string them onto an inexpensive chain to be used as a grown-up-looking birthday gift for a party princess?

I hope this gives you some ideas for fun presents that don’t have to break the bank. If you have a particularly difficult personality to buy for, throw a skein of yarn and some needles into a gift bag, and promise your skills as a teacher. The gift of your time is always appreciated!

June 2nd, 2016

Are you ready for an Adventure?

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Choose Your Own Adventure - Hat KAL Cast on July 5th,  2016 on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

We thought the long summer days would be a great time to practice and hone some of your knitting skills on a small and portable project. But it’s summer, there’s places to go, and lots of exciting things to do and see, so a boring staid project just won’t do! How about a project that lets you choose your own adventure?

A part of the pattern will be revealed here on the blog each week during the month of July, and with each new part you can choose from multiple options. Change it up with different cast ons, brims, and stitch patterns for hundreds of possible combinations. Use 1, 2, 3 or 4 colors! Keep it simple and solid, add cables, or add a splash of color with stripes or our fair isle pattern!

Join us for the Choose Your Own Adventure – Hat KAL here on the WEBS Blog in July! One pattern. Hundreds of possibilities. Cast on July 5th.

June 1st, 2016

Project Planning – Ready, Set, Sett?

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One of the first factors that needs to be addressed in planning a weaving project is the sett of the yarn. Knitters talk about the gauge of the yarn – stitches per inch, for weavers it is sett. It tells you how dense the yarn will be in the warp (ends per inch) and the weft (picks per inch) and this information is used to determine how much yarn is needed for the project.

What makes sett feel intimidating is that it’s not a simple “if the yarn is this size, the sett is this” equation. You also have to factor in the weave structure as well as the intended use for the fabric. This is why we list a range of setts with all of our weaving yarns. If you look on the yarn page for tencel  on our website, or the shelf tag in the store, the sett is listed as 20 – 27 epi. The lower end of the scale is for plain weave and the upper end is more suitable for twills.

So where to begin if you have a mystery cone with no information? For the unknown yarns, start by using a yarn balance to determine the number of yards per pound. Knowing the fiber content is also useful as plant and animal fibers behave differently and this will affect the sett. If you can’t tell the fiber content just by look and feel, many people recommend doing a burn test. Be sure to follow safety guidelines if you try this. THere’s a fantastic chart for burn tests here, and a simple but eye opening video here.

So now you’ve got yardage and fiber information, the next step is to determine the range of setts that will work. I often use the Master Yarn Chart compiled by Handwoven magazine. It lists sett for all the yarns used in their projects since 2000 and will give you that range I was talking about above. You have to join their weaving community to see it, but it’s free and provides access to this and other great resources.

Understanding sett and using a swatch maker for your weaving, on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Another tool that just came out is the Swatch Maker 3-in-1 Loom. This little sample loom is brilliant as it allows you sample three different setts (8, 10 & 12 epi) to see which will work best with your chosen yarn. It’s a quick and easy way to test possibilities and minimizes the amount of yarn used for sampling. I’ve been using it to check my ideas for the cloth I want to weave for a summer top.

Understanding sett provides a good foundation for weaving beautiful cloth, take advantage of the available tools to explore the compatibility of yarn and sett for your next project.

May 31st, 2016

Valley Yarns: Spring Pattern Wrap Up

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Wow, what a run of exciting new patterns. Between our Spring 2016 catalog that came out in March, new patterns for Haydenville and Longmeadow in April and all new designs for Goshen and Southwick in May we’ve introduced 13 brand new patterns to you in the last 3 months! On the off chance that you have missed any of these beauties we thought we’d pull together a little recap.

New Designs for Spring 2016 from Valley Yarns - details on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Our Spring Catalog featured the Tulip Pullover in Stockbridge, the Sieberi Shawl in Longmeadow, the Leaves and Lines Afghan and the Grayson Baby Set in Haydenville, The Tink Cardigan in Sunderland, the Marguerite Scarf in Leyden and the Anemone Mitts in Goshen. A bright cheerful collection of knits for Spring from our own Valley Yarns Design Manager, Kirsten Hipsky!

New Designs for Spring 2016 from Valley Yarns - details on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Then we partnered with some wonderful Indie Designers for a spate of all new pattern in April and May. Three gorgeous tops in Longmeadow, Ascending Leaves, the Easy Day Tee, and the Rose Sorbet Tank, the New Hope Pullover and All Dressed Up Stole in Goshen, the Vertical Pullover in Southwick and the Honza Baby Blanket in Haydenville. We asked these designers to let the yarn inspire them and boy did it!

Fresh New Designs from Valley Yarns in June - details on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

And don’t worry! We have even more exciting new designs ready to reveal in June! Here’s a sneak-peek at some of the featured yarns and Indie Designs you’ll see, but we’ll also release our Summer Valley Yarns Catalog with over 20 additional new patterns. Get your needles ready, you’ve got a lot of knitting in your future!

And if you love Longmeadow or Stockbridge stock up now! Sadly, both of these yarns have been discontinued and once our current stock is sold through, it’s gone forever.

May 30th, 2016

Anniversary Sale Spotlight – Last Chance!

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Our Anniversary Sale is coming to a close tomorrow! We’ve had two full months of incredible deals on yarns for knitters, crocheters and weavers, as well as needle and hook sets. With just over 24 hours before these sale prices end you have one last chance to shop these deals and build your stash for summer and even holiday knitting!

anniv sale last chance

left, top-bottom: Tahki Cotton Classic Lite, Noro Taiyo, Knitter's Pride Dreamz Deluxe Interchangeable 
Needle Set and Cascade 220, Debbie Bliss Boheme, Lorna's Laces Solemate
right: Jade Sapphire Khata

Take home your choice of over 100 yarns and needle/hook sets now, at savings of up to 30%, while you still can! Wednesday morning at 12:00am they’ll all be full price again.

May 27th, 2016

Valley Yarns Southwick

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Southwick is another longtime favorite in the Valley Yarns line. And with almost 10 years of pattern support you have over 25 dedicated patterns to choose from! (just click on the “Related Patterns” tab at the top of the yarn page on our website to see them all)

Get to know Valley Yarns Southwick! On the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Bamboo and Pima Cotton combine in this slinky, worsted weight yarn for finished projects that have incredible shine and drape. A versatile color palette gives you great options for gradients and colorwork, or solid projects with textured stitches that will really pop. The yarn has a fantastic lustre and the colors are richer with more depth because of it.

Get to know Valley Yarns Southwick! On the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I’ve always liked the wide striping ripples of the Paradise Pond Cowl, I’m also a big fan of our Northampton so it was a winning combo all around.  I work in an office, in a building that houses our retail store, education department and classrooms, and marketing departments, and there are very few times a year when it’s actually a steady comfortable temperature. I love winter and adore being able to bundle up, but I don’t necessarily want to be wearing wool just to ward of the chill of the AC in the summer. I dug through our pattern archives and decided that this cowl worked in Southwick would be perfect, and I was right! I used 3 balls of #26 Classic Navy for the main body, 1 ball of #22 Teal for the stripes, and 1 ball of #21, Blue Mist for the edging. I didn’t have quite enough of the Blue mist left for the edging and I liked the look of the 3 colors used for the original. I also moved up to a slightly bigger hook. I used an H, the pattern called for a G, but I wanted to make sure the stitches could move around and the resulting fabric wouldn’t be too stiff. It worked beautifully and I’m super happy with the finished cowl. The whole project, 5 balls, cost me only $26.95!

Get to know Valley Yarns Southwick! On the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

With over 8 years of great pattern support you have a full range of project choices from knit or crochet! Pictured above is a selection of my favorites.

top l-r: Pincushion Moss Shawl, Blue Mist Cardigan, Nakota Cardigan, Fiddle Head Set

bottom l-r: In the Loop, Beveled Silver Wrap, O’Quinn Cowl, Vertical Pullover

And don’t miss Greta’s review of Southwick from our Youtube Channel You can find reviews of many of our Valley Yarns, great technique tutorials, product reviews and extra special tidbits! What will you knit with Southwick? One of our original patterns or one originally intended for another yarn? Tell us all about it in the comments!

May 26th, 2016

Want to be Inspired?

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Do you have a knitter in your life who consistently amazes and inspires you? Someone who tackles challenging projects and actually finishes them on a timely basis? As Store Manager, I’m fortunate to get to know lots of WEBS customers and their work. Sometimes I’m so impressed that I ask them to be sample knitters for the store. I’d like to introduce you to one of these ladies today. Her name is Susan Drew and if you’ve been in the store and admired one of our samples, there’s a good chance that she knit it.

Susan and I have had many occasions to talk and when I hit on the idea of featuring some of our customers and their beautiful work as an occasional feature of my blog posts, I immediately thought of her. Susan is one of the smartest, accomplished and conscientious knitters I know. We sat down a couple of weeks ago to talk about her knitting life.

Customer project spotlight on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Clockwise from top left: Russian Medallion Shawl by Inna Voltchkova(Piecework Sept/Oct 2015) in JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, Curry. Kowhai and Fern Shawl by Margaret Stove from Wrapped in Lace in Juniper Moon Farm Findley, White. Daydreams in Lace by Brooke Nico(Knitter’s Magazine 100, Fall 2010) in Jojoland Ballad, Coffee Beaded Diamond Shawl by Catherine Devine in Schaefer Yarn Company Andrea Beaded Wedding Purse by Susan Rainey in Red Heart Fashion Crochet Thread (size 5), Silver This shawl was knit by my mother in the early 1960’s. I do not know the name of the pattern or yarn.

 

Like many of us, Susan’s mother taught her to knit at the age of eight. After a 20 year hiatus (during which she worked and raised a family), Susan picked up the craft again, exploring a new world of fibers, teaching herself new techniques, attending Stitches conventions, and enrolling in our WEKP program five years ago. After some initial difficulty with a complicated lace shawl using 100% silk yarn, she realized two things: she was intrigued by lace knitting and, lace was not the type of knitting she’d be able to do for the rest of her life (fine yarn and tiny charts!). Susan wanted to create a collection of exquisite knits to pass on to future generations who would wear them and appreciate the art and craft of knitting.

Susan has built her Heirloom Collection around projects that she loves the most. A stole that her mother knit was the piece that launched her Collection. She is drawn to traditional lace from around the world and is intrigued by the stories behind the designs, particularly Estonian and Russian creations. She’s even made her peace with nupps using bamboo needles that she sharpens herself! Susan credits Ravelry as a research tool for upcoming projects and as a means of communication with other knitters and designers world-wide. A portion of Susan’s Heirloom pieces are featured in the photos here. All knit with luxurious fibers, being able to appreciate them in person was a real treat.

I join Susan in her belief that knitting is one of the most rewarding things that we do. Knowing that we’ve used our own hands to make something unique is a pleasure that all crafts people share. We are all very privileged in perpetuating a centuries-long art and making it our own.

If you know of knitters or crocheters who inspire you, drop me a note.  I’d love to share their work here.

Knit away!