July 6th, 2016

Poet’s Corner Shawl

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It’s time to introduce the first of our new designs for July! The Poet’s Corner Shawl designed by Jess Gagnon for Valley Yarns and knit in Hatfield is a surprisingly lightweight and warm triangle shawl with a delicate lace and ruffle detail.

The Poet's Corner Shawl from Valley Yarns. Learn more about the yarn, the designer, and where you can get your copy of the pattern on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The 100% baby alpaca, laceweight Hatfield has a subtle lustrous sheen and slight halo that adds an extra layer of softness to your knits. With it’s mostly stockinette stitch body, a simple lace border and graceful little ruffle detail, the Poet’s Corner Shawl is a quick summer knit that you’ll love wrapping around your shoulders when the cooler air of Autumn settles in.

We asked Jess to tell us a bit about herself and what she enjoyed about working with Hatfield.

When did you learn to knit? 
10 years ago, working as a children’s librarian, I was shelving books and noticed a children’s learn-to-knit book.  I figured if a child could learn to knit from a book, surely I could as well!  It worked, and I’ve been knitting since!  At the time, I was an avid cross-stitcher looking to broaden my crafty horizons.  Knitting fit the bill.  I’ve neglected my cross-stitch for years – might be time to cross breed the two.  Hmm…inspiration may be striking here…
 
What prompted you to start designing?
I continually want to learn new things, so I reached a point where designing seemed a good natural step to continue my learning process.  And designing helps me create a precise garment or accessory that I can’t seem to find elsewhere – I can satisfy my own need for a particular piece, and then refine it in pattern form for others.  Honestly, I used to be afraid (literally, afraid) of the idea of designing.  Math is not my forte, so was frankly intimidated by the idea of it.  Once I put a name to it, realized what I felt was fear, I make a conscious step to move past it.  I feel like the floodgates of creativity have been opened, and it’s so refreshing!
 
Give us a glimpse into your design process, where/how do you find inspiration?
Designs come at me from all angles.  Typically when I’m my most relaxed, and when I’m not trying for it, a concept will hit me (while hiking, doing yoga, going for a run, petting my cat, etc.).  Sometimes I’ll spot a design element out in public or on the news, and I’ll try to puzzle out how to take that element and translate it into knitting.   I try to keep a notepad handy so I can draft a quick sketch as soon as possible to keep the idea fresh.  I’ve been know to resort to using a sticky note and ball-point pen if those are the only resources available!
 
Tell us your favorite fiber related story.
In the 10 years I’ve been knitting, my husband has never asked for anything.  Never.  He will volunteer admiration, or ask about what I’m working on, but will never ask.  Finally, he asked if I’d make him a sweater.  He’s had a hard time finding a work-appropriate, comfortable, attractive sweater.  So, we picked out a yarn color, and worked together on design elements, and I made him his very own sweater.  Literally, his very own, as I designed it but haven’t written it up.  I love that he finally asked for something, and that we could collaborate on something to meet his exact needs.
 
What did you love about Valley Yarns Hatfield?
The softness.  It’s so important to me to have a yarn that feels good to work up.  For me, knitting is about the process, and the tactile experience.  The critical component to a fulfilling experience is the yarn touch.  Hatfield fit the bill, and then some – so soft, and delightful.
The Poet's Corner Shawl from Valley Yarns. Learn more about the yarn, the designer, and where you can get your copy of the pattern on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com
Which color of Hatfield will you choose for a Poet’s Corner Shawl of your own?
July 5th, 2016

Choose Your Own Adventure – Hat KAL: Week 1

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Let’s get some yarn on the needles!

Choose your favorite worsted or DK weight yarn from Valley Yarns and swatch on different needles until you’ve got 5 sts per inch. I swatched 4 different Valley Yarns  (Northfield, Sunderland,  Colrain and Valley Superwash) and found that I got 5 sts per inch on a US size 7/4.5mm needle, so I would recommend that you start there.

Because this hat is worked in the round you’ll want to swatch in the same manner!

Prepping for our Choose Your Own Adventure Hat KAL - swatching in the round. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Cast 30 sts onto your circular needles, or one dpn.

*Slide your stitches to the right-hand side of the needle.

Gently bring your working yarn across the back of the work, making sure to leave plenty of slack, and knit the next row of stitches.

Repeat from *

Continue in this manner till the swatch measures 4” from the cast on edge.

Loosely cast off and block your swatch! Here’s a quick tutorial on swatching with this method.

Time to Block!

Not sure about blocking? Take a look at the care instructions on your ballband.

Machine Wash Regular? – Toss that swatch in the machine!

Hand Wash? – Give it a gentle soak and swish in Eucalan, then pin it to dry without too much tension on the stitches.

Dry Clean? – Steam is your friend, pin your swatch out and steam away.

The key with blocking and washing your swatch is to treat it the EXACT SAME way you plan to treat your finished knit.

Now to check your gauge!

Now that you’ve blocked you can measure for gauge.

DO NOT MEASURE FOR GAUGE UNTIL AFTER YOUR SWATCH HAS BEEN BLOCKED AND DRIED! Seriously, please.

Did you measure 5 sts per inch? Yes – then please proceed! (Make sure your swatch is no longer pinned in place when you measure!)

No – Then you’ll need to re-swatch

If you got more than 5 sts per inch you need a bigger needle. Try swatching on a US 8.

If you got less than 5 sts per inch you need a smaller needle. Try swatching on a US 6.

Keep swatching until you get to 5 sts per inch!

Prepping for our Choose Your Own Adventure Hat KAL - measuring your gauge. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

You may need to make several swatches to get the right gauge. It’s totally worth it because you’ll end up with a hat that FITS! And don’t worry about row gauge, you’ll be working the hat length to measurements. 

This is a good time to mention that I like to swatch with 3 different needles. Start with the size smaller than you think you’ll need, the size you’re pretty sure you’ll get gauge with, and the next size bigger and purl a row of stitches between each section for a visual break. This way if your gauge is off by just a touch you’re only swatching and blocking once. I know it may seem silly to make a swatch that’s three times as big as you need but if you have to make a swatch anyway, and you really do (every time!), why not make one that works for you.

Next week we cast on our hats! Here’s a sneak peek of some of the CYOA Hats that our staff knit up!

Prepping for our Choose Your Own Adventure Hat KAL - sneak peek of some of the finished hats! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Be sure to post your pics to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and tag it with #chooseyourownadventure #WEBSKAL #Myhatadventure #CYOAKAL

July 2nd, 2016

Ready, Set, Knit! 449: Kathy talks with Andrea Rangel

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This week Kathy talks with Andrea Rangel about her new book, Rugged Knits.

Ready, Set, Knit! episode #449 - Kathy talks with Andrea Rangel. Listen now on the WEBS Blog - blog.yarn.com

Andrea learned to knit as a child, but didn’t really make it part of her life until college and had her first pattern published in Knitty in 2009. This book has been in process since it’s proposal in 2014, and the yarn choices as well as the functionality of the patterns was super important to Andrea. Listen in to learn how function, beautiful details and yarn choices came together in these 24 designs.

You can follow Andrea on Instagram: @andrearknits, Twitter: @andrearknits, Facebook: Andrea Rangel Knits, or connect with her on Ravelry: Designer PageRavelry Group.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for lots of great new products, contests and fun!

Our retail Store is closed Sunday July 3rd, and on Independence Day, Monday, July 4th. Have a fun and safe holiday!

Join us for the 2016 Tour De Fleece! Join our  Group on Ravelry or join us in the store during our Spinshops on July 17th 10-4, sign up now!

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

July 1st, 2016

Summer School!

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Long hot summer days are sometimes the best time to take a break from the everyday and learn something new. Besides time with like minded fiber folk, it means a few hours in a cool, air conditioned space! We have an extensive offering of classes this summer from truly basic, beginner courses all the way up to expert level skill building. Whether you knit or spin, crochet or weave, all of the above or none at all yet, we have the right class for you!

All new summer classes at WEBS! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Try your hand at short rows, beginning rigid heddle weaving. Delve into Yarn 101, or better crochet pattern reading. Learn to fix your knitting mistakes, and spin on a wheel. Indulge in squishy brioche knitting or start filling that drawer with handknit socks!

Which classes will you take this summer? Hurry and register now, seats are filling fast!

June 29th, 2016

Home Schooling

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Many years ago, when I discovered my passion for fiber, I yearned to study it in a focused way. I found there actually are colleges with such programs, but the circumstances of my life did not allow for being a full-time student. Thankfully, my mother (a resourceful reference librarian) sent me a stack of knitting books which became my textbooks for intensive home study.

Now that my fiber focus has expanded to include weaving I look for similar books to recommend to eager weavers wanting to learn more. I am happy to say that there are more than a few and here are two of my new favorites.

Expand your weaving skills this summer with fantastic new books! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I love Next Steps in Weaving because it is beautifully laid out for a progressive study of weave structures. The text is clear and straight forward and easy to understand for all levels of weavers. In addition to thorough descriptions of how the threads interact, she offers basic weaving tips to build overall skills and knowledge. There are plenty of samples to weave, which is a great way to reinforce the conceptual learning, and a few projects for each section of weaves.

Just released this spring, Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom offers similar learning opportunities for rigid heddle weavers. The subtitle is “For Beginners and Beyond” and it is certainly true as the book starts with the basics of warping and learning to weave, then progresses to more complex and beautiful techniques. A home study of this book would be a great way to learn how to get the most out of your rigid heddle and deepen your knowledge of both technique and design.

What books are your favorite study guides?

June 28th, 2016

June Pattern Wrap Up

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You’ve told us you love quick, portable and lightweight projects for summer. In June we released a stunning trio of accessories in our Valley Yarns Huntington and Charlemont.

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

The Olivenhain Fingerless Mitts and Oblique Hat are fantastic projects to stitch on summer road trips and beach days, and the Sequoyah Shawl is perfect for cool summer evenings at music festivals or family picnics. Not only will you enjoy making each of these patterns but you’ll be filling your holiday gift basket as you do!

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

The fun summer knitting continues in July with a trifecta of stunning projects! We’ll be releasing all the details for these new patterns on July 1st, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of knitting with our Hatfield or 2/14 Alpaca Silk you’re in for a treat!

And don’t forget to check out our Summer Valley Yarns Catalog for even more stunning new patterns!

June 23rd, 2016

Customizing CustomFit

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As our second CustomFit workshop gets underway, it occurs to me to stop and take note of how much fun we are having with the whole CustomFit program at WEBS! We launched our new offerings in January, and since then we’ve had so many customers make appointments to get started on CustomFit sweaters. I think the appeal, apart from knitting a sweater that’s designed to fit perfectly, is the notion that knitters may choose any yarn and knit it to a gauge that works for them. And, once the measurements are in our system, knitters can make a new swatch and purchase a new pattern any time.

Knit your perfect sweater with Custom Fit at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

In addition, Amy Herzog has been making changes and modifications to her makewearlove.com website. She has added options for no shaping and a-line shaping to the traditional hourglass shaping offerings. She has also added the ability to use more generic measurements, and added some great patterns for men and kids so that we have the ability to knit beautifully fitting sweaters for our loved ones. Her library of CustomFit patterns continues to grow as well. Many of Amy’s own sweater designs may be generated to a knitter’s particular measurements – and even the ever popular Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig (aka Knitbot) may be knit CustomFit! How cool is that?

If you have ever lamented a sweater project because it just didn’t fit properly, or you just want to have a better understanding of sweater construction and how all the pieces and pattern instructions work together to make a beautifully fitting garment, then CustomFit is the way to go! Check out all of the levels of CustomFit available here in the store to see which one best suits your needs. If you have questions, just email us at customfit@yarn.com – we look forward to having you knit your perfect sweater with us!

June 22nd, 2016

Get Ready to Choose Your Own Adventure!

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Will you choose adventure this summer? It’s time to gather your supplies for our Choose Your Own Adventure Hat KAL!

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

You’ll need:

120-250 yds of DK or light worsted weight yarn – this will depend on what type of hat you choose to make. We’ll be aiming for a gauge of 5 sts per inch, in stockinette in the round. On July 5th we’ll have tips and tutorials on how to swatch in the round!

(There’s colorwork, cables, and stripes to choose from. A simple hat with an all over texture might only use 120 yds of one color, but if you’d like to do colorwork  you’re going to need more yardage and in all the colors you might want to use! Think about what kinds of colors and textures you might like and plan accordingly. And don’t worry about having too much yarn. You can always take off on another adventure with what’s left!)

 Needles (Size US 7/4.5mm recommended) –  double points ,  a 16″ circular2 circulars, or magic loop, however you normally would knit a hat.

additionally you may need:

stitch markerstapestry needlescissorscable needlepom pom makertassel maker

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

I’ll be making a striped hat in Valley Yarns Sunderland, I prefer double pointed needles for the whole sh’bang. I’m going to need a stitch marker to denote the beginning of the round, and I plan to top it off with a tassel. So, there I am all set and ready for July 5th when we’ll swatch for gauge!

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 21st, 2016

Tour de Fleece

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Most people know about the Tour de France, but – hang onto your yellow jersey – have you heard of the Tour de Fleece? Spinners have taken it upon themselves to take their wheels (and spindles) for a spin and follow the great race. Unlike what happens in France, this Tour has no rules, just guidelines: spin each day the cyclists ride and rest on their rest days; on the mountain climb days challenge yourself with a new fiber, technique or yardage. Mostly just have fun and use the race as a way to pace yourself and spin almost daily for a month.

Tour de Fleece events at WEBS. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

WEBS is hosting a team again this year, so check our thread on our Ravelry page to join and be part of the fun. We will encourage and inspire each other to spin and have fun, share pictures and chat about spinning and why we love it so much.

And because I love a party with a purpose, we’ll be hosting a day of workshops and activities on July 17th at our store in Northampton. Join us for the day and spend time learning, shopping, gathering and spinning together with the folks that understand our love of twisting fiber into yarn. The daylong event (10 am – 4 pm) will feature workshops in the morning and afternoon with a slate of 4 different classes for both time slots. Options include hand carding, Navajo plying, spinning lace yarns, long draw, fractal spinning and more. All workshops are hands on and you will be able to sign up for your choices ahead of time.

The mid-day break will provide more activities as well as a chance for lunch (bring your own and we will provide cookies and fruit). Sit and spin, relax and shop (special spinning deals for the day), chat with spinning friends old and new. And because we’re trying to pack in as much as possible (it is a challenge day for the Tour, after all), we’ve got a couple more activities. Gather ’round the wheel display to hear about why spinning wheels have different drive styles and tensioning options and learn which features work best for the types of yarns you want to spin. Or stretch out with some gentle yoga focused on the muscles we use in spinning.

We hope you can join us for our special spinning day. I know I’m looking forward to it and to spinning along with the cyclists throughout the month of July.

June 20th, 2016

Valley Yarns Charlemont

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We’ve been in love with Valley Yarns Charlemont since the first sample skeins came in! With a blend of superwash merino, mulberry silk, and polyamide, this yarn has an incredible depth of color, a silky sheen and drape that you won’t believe! A wonderful choice for both knit and crochet projects,  as well as weaving, with 439yds per skein, you’ll keep coming back to Charlemont.

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

I’m fairly partial to our Amethyst Brook Afghan, having designed it!, but Dena’s version in Charlemont is one of my most favorite finished projects from this pattern. Combining some of our solids with hand dyed colors of Charlemont, and using all cool tones, makes these interlocked hexagons look like the ripples from raindrops on a pond. What a fantastic combination of pattern and yarn!

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

Whether you prefer knit or crochet, accessories or sweaters, we have a full ines of patterns just for Charlemont!

left – right: the Colorfall Cardigan, the Katya Pullover, the Veranda Tam, the Sequoyah Shawl, and the Chapel Falls Shawl

Dena tells us why she loves Charlemont! Have you knit or crocheted with it? Tell us all about your favorite project.