February 18th, 2015

Year of the Sheep

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The Year of the Sheep, according to the the Lunar New Year, begins tomorrow and I am excited to celebrate. Partly because the sheep is described as a sign of creativity, but mostly because I love the soft, curly, squishy fleece sheep produce. Wool fiber and yarn are staples of the textile arts and for good reason. Wool is warm, making it perfect for winter blankets and throws, scarves and shawls and wraps. And it dyes beautifully, giving us colorful palettes of vibrant hues with which to weave cloth.

I love to weave blankets and wool is my fiber of choice, especially this year as I stare at the mountains of snow that are piled outside my New England home.  Jaggerspun Heather is a beautiful 100% wool with stunning heathered colors and a true bargain with 498 yds per 100g skein. The sett is 12 – 16 epi, which makes a cozy, warm blanket that weaves up incredibly fast. And – spoiler alert! – we will have a fantastic draft for a lap robe in deflected doubleweave available in early April!

Valley Yarns Draft #7, the Dornik Twill Throw in 2/10 Merino Tencel - available for download at yarn.com

Another of my favorite wool blends is Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel. The tencel in this yarn adds a lovely sheen and drape, making this a great choice for shawls that feel like a warm, comforting hug. We have experimented with the care on this yarn and have had good success washing hand wovens on a gentle cycle in cool water following by air drying. Check out Draft #61 Plaited Twill Shawl for an 8-shaft weave (I love the plaited effect that makes it seem like a weave within a weave) or try the Dornik Twill Throw, Draft # 7, for 4-shaft looms. Barbara just wove a new version of this throw in a different colorway; the color range of the yarn lends itself to many great combinations.

Valley Yarns Draft #67 the Zephyr Lace Shawl in 8-shaft Atwater-Bronson Lace - available for download at yarn.com

For pure luxury it’s hard to beat Jaggerspun Zephyr, which is a 50-50 blend of merino wool and silk. Although the sett is not too fine (20 – 30 epi), the yarn is soft and light and feels like sinking into a cloud. We combined two closely related colors to create a lacy shawl that is almost iridescent, with warp and weft floats that shimmer. There are lots of colors to choose from, so you can create your own combination to weave the Zephyr Shawl in Atwater-Bronson, Draft #67.

Leyden Glen Farm lambs - see more at getting-stitched-on-the-farm.blogspot.com

So start counting sheep and the ways we love them (as an aside – it’s lambing season, which is about as lovable and cute as it gets! Visit the website of your favorite sheep farmer to confirm this and say “awww”.). And since it is the Year of the Sheep, how will you celebrate with wool in your weaving?

February 17th, 2015

Doris Chan – a Designer in Residence in her own words

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Our 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence, Doris Chan, took some time to write about the program, her history with WEBS, and how you can help her decide what Valley Yarns to use next and what to design, over on her website.

The Shawl Collar Stole from Doris Chan, one of six new designs available at yarn.com

About her first design, the Shawl Collar Stole, she says, “Anyone who has wrapped this baby around the shoulders does not want to take it off. Truth be told, I enjoyed the lush softness of the piece while I was creating the sample; this from a crocheter who has allergies, among them wool. Thick yarn, big hook, zero finishing, quick work, nearly instant gratification.”

Have you tried our Valley Superwash Bulky yet?

February 16th, 2015

The Warp and Weft of Generations

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Store Sales Associate Marthe Young’s daughter Lilah is getting married in May, and Marthe’s wedding weaving preparations are not only heroic, but poignant as well. She is weaving together three generations of handmade cloth to give her daughter a beautiful wedding gift of her talent and her love.

Marthe is know to our customers as a knowledgeable instructor for many of our rigid heddle loom classes as well as a knitter, crocheter, and expert seamstress. Her weaving education began right here at WEBS, more than 30 years ago. In 1979, the then-single Marthe took a weaving class with Barbara Elkins when WEBS was in its infancy. She loved it and bought herself a Harrisville design loom that she put together from a kit. On that loom, she wove her own wedding ensemble with yarns and fiber obtained from WEBS, using the same warp for her cocoon jacket, dress, and belt.

WEBS retail associate Marthe and her mother on their wedding days with the fabric Marthe wove for her own dress - read more at blog.yarn.com

A 25″ Schacht Rigid Heddle Flip Loom is what Marthe used to weave her daughter’s wedding shawl. You can see the photo of this airy, delicate shawl, but what you can’t see from a picture is the intricate patterning of the tone-on-tone fibers, the tiny sequins, and the gossamer weight of this heirloom. When Barbara found out about Lilah’s engagement, she gave Marthe a cone of pearls on thread (which Marthe calls “Barbara’s Pearls of Wisdom”). Marthe plied those with her own home-spun BFL — because of course, Marthe is a spinner, as well! She used a combination of rayon chenille, silk, merino, and , because the wedding will take place on an alpaca farm, some baby alpaca as well. At the edge of the shawl woven next to the pearls is the yarn used in Marthe’s own wedding dress. Once woven, it became apparent that the shawl wasn’t quite long enough — Lilah is a tall drink of water! — so Marthe knew she’d need a border, and when looking for something to use for that border, she came across some scraps from her mother’s hand-sewn wedding dress from 1948. Obviously it was perfect, and that became the end-borders of this lovely shawl.

The wedding shawl Marthe has woven for her daughter Lilah using miltiple fibers including yarn from her own wedding dress and satin from her mother's - read more at blog.yarn.com

Marthe’s current loom, a collector’s-item cherry Norwood, is what she’s using to weave shawls for each of the bridesmaids. You can see the template she’s using, with the charcoal-colored warp of Colrain Lace, Plymouth Gold Rush, Cascade 220, a mystery rayon closeout yarn, and Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo. The weft is 5/2 bamboo as well, and the deep color will set off the accents of mint green that the groomsmen will be wearing in their bow ties and sneakers (!), as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Shawls woven for Marthe's daughter's wedding party - read more at blog.yarn.com

On her wedding day, Lilah will be wearing elements of both her mother’s and her grandmother’s history. Those legacies are woven together in each generation like the warp and weft on a loom. Like living history, all of these garments tell a story about their owner, and they give us a springboard to the future.

February 14th, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! 390: Kathy talks with Doris Chan

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This week Kathy talks with our 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence, Doris Chan. Her first design, the Shawl Collar Stole is out now.

Ready, Set, Knit! ep. 390 - Kathy talks with Doris Chan our 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence - listen now at blog.yarn.com

Kathy and Doris talk about how Doris designs, her first trip to the store and warehouse, and the crochet friendly vibe at WEBS. You can find more of Doris’ designs on Ravelry and at Designing Vashti.

And for those of you wondering what all the snow up here look like, here’s Steve next to our monstrous snowbank!

Steve Elkins and the snowbank outside WEBS yarn store on Feb 13, 2015!

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Sign up now for the WEBS Mystery KAL or Mystery CAL classes before they fill up! Classes Start February 21st!

Upcoming Events:

The Magpies Homebodies and Nomads Trunk Show from Cirilia Rose is on display in the store through Feb 23rd. Stop by and check it out!

Stitches WEST is happening at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA Feb 20-22, stop by the WEBS booth and say hi!

Try your hand at Japanese knitting with Donna Druchunas, classes run Feb 28th and March 1st!

Don’t miss your chance to meet and talk with Norah Gaughan on March 7th!

There are still open seats in classes with Margaret Radcliffe on April 12, Slipped Stitch Patterns and the Lazy Knitter’s Guide to Pattern Stitches!

Classic Elite Yarns Truck shows are ongoing and there’s always something new to see! Stop by the store to see what’s on display.

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
February 13th, 2015

From Folly Cove

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I’ve been paging through our latest catalog featuring some of our new Spring yarns and designs. It seems like it’s been snowing a lot lately, and as much as I like hiking and snowshoeing, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ll put on the needles in the warmer months.

From Folly Cove collection by Julia Farwell Clay from Classic Elite Yarns - Available at yarn.com

I was struck by Classic Elite Yarns’ new pattern collection, “From Folly Cove.” It features designs by Julia Farwell-Clay, who has a design sense that skews right up my alley. What I love about these patterns, and the theme of the collection, is that she takes her inspiration from the works of the Folly Cove Designers, a group of women who hand-printed textiles in Gloucester, MA, from the 1930’s until the late 1960’s, when author and founder Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios (The Little House, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel) died. My husband’s family has been going to Gloucester ever since he was a pre-teen, and he and I take our kids to there every summer. We love the beautiful beaches and towns, and the history of Cape Ann. We always ride our bikes down to the harbor to see the Gloucester Fisherman Memorial and we try to time our summer visits so that we can be in town for the annual Festival of St. Peter.

The designs in “From Folly Cove” take elements from the original textile print blocks created by those innovative women of Cape Ann. The Iarrobino Vest is a vest pattern using a butterfly tesselation motif as inspiration, and the matching cowl (you know my love for cowls) focuses on a single motif turned over and upside-down. The Cape Ann Stole calls to mind the repeating patterns of the sand dunes at Good Harbor Beach, and is a perfect shoulder-warmer for the nights when the breezes over the Atlantic Ocean turn chilly.

I hope you’ll thumb through “From Folly Cove” and when you’re finished picking out the many patterns you’ll be making, take a hop over to the Cape Ann Museum‘s web site to read about the original designers and their groundbreaking work.

February 11th, 2015

Berroco Spring is Here!

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Have you had a chance to check out the Spring yarns and patterns from Berroco? If you haven’t yet, you’ll want to take a peek!

Berroco Mixer

Berroco Mixer is featured on the cover of our Spring catalog. (Have you looked at the online version? It should be hitting mailboxes soon!) This blend of cotton, polyester, viscose, and nylon has a shimmery and matte finish and a great texture. It works up into a flowing fabric and is featured in Berroco 354 Mixer pattern book.

Berroco Espresso

Berroco Espresso is a bulky blend of cotton and acrylic that works up at 3 stitches per inch. It is a colorful yarn that is machine washable, so it’s perfect for easy-care projects that will fly off your needles or hook. You can find patterns in Berroco 356 Espresso.

Berroco Indigo

Berroco Indigo is made of recycled cotton fibers and is super soft – like a favorite pair of jeans. It is slightly tweedy and comes in a great palette of colors. It is a machine washable yarn that’s perfect for garments and accessories. You can find patterns for both in Berroco 353 Indigo.

Berroco Fiora

Berroco Fiora is a soft blend of cotton, viscose, alpaca, nylon, and wool. It has a wonderful heathered look because of the different fibers. There is fantastic pattern support for this classic yarn in Berroco 355 Fiora and Berroco Norah Gaughan Vol. 16.

Check out the Berroco Spring 2015 video we have on our YouTube channel!

February 10th, 2015

Ask WEBS – Projects using two yarns at once

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Ask WEBS Feb.10, 2015  Using two strands of yarn in a non-color-work project - Read more at blog.yarn.com

When you first read through your pattern you may see a note that says to “hold the yarn doubled throughout” or “yarn is doubled throughout”, this means you’ll carry 2 strands of yarn and knit with them as if they are one strand. This allows you to knit at a bulkier gauge or to combine yarns for a completely different look and texture, like transitions of color. The Lodge Pole Cowl uses two strands of Valley Yarns Northampton Bulky for a chunkier gauge than one strand would have yielded and the Gradient Cowl from Shibui transitions colors easily by changing just one at a time.

Knitting two strands together as one - read more at blog.yarn.com

If your pattern is made up of short stripes, usually only 2 or 4 rows of each color, it may make more sense for you to “carry the yarn up the side” of your work rather that cutting and starting with new yarn for every new row – think of weaving in ALL those ends! The trick to this method is carrying the yarn up the side of the work each time you change color for the stripes. You’ll finish a row, and when you turn the piece over you’ll let the color you just finished with hang to the front of your work and bring the new color up behind to begin the new row. If you remember to change your colors this way for each color change it will be nearly invisible. The Garter Trap scarf, and the Chevron Tube Cowl are great examples of this technique!

Working with 2 colors in a project and carrying the yarn up the side - read more at blog.yarn.com

What techniques or stitches are you struggling with? Ask WEBS, we can help!

 

 

 

February 9th, 2015

Just in time for Valentine’s Day

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Our new Heart Pops Hat pattern is not only adorable but FREE!

The Heart Pops Hat pattern - FREE at yarn.com

Just two skeins of Valley Yarns Berkshire is actually enough to make two hats (in opposite colors). And try the Clover Heart-Shaped Pom-pom maker for the perfect topper to this little hat. What colors would you use?

February 7th, 2015

Ready, Set, Knit! 389: Kathy talks with Benjamin Levisay

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This week Kathy talks with President of XRX and Knitter’s Magazine, Benjamin Levisay, about the upcoming STITCHES WEST show.

Ready, Set, Knit! ep. 389 - Kathy talks with Benjamin Levisay about STITCHES WEST 2015 - listen now at blog.yarn.com

Kathy talks to Benjamin about his now retired podcast, the Fiber Hooligan, and what you can expect at STITCHES WEST this year, from classes to market sessions and what to expect on the market floor.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Sign up now for the WEBS Mystery KAL or Mystery CAL classes before they fill up!

Upcoming Events:

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.

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 6th, 2015

Will you join the KAL or the CAL?

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Are you joining us in making a WEBS Mystery Blanket? There’s a Knit-A-Long and a Crochet-A-Long, something for everyone!

Our first square will be revealed, FREE!, on February 26th right here on the WEBS Blog. So get your yarn ordered and get swatching!

You can find all the information about yarn, needles, hooks and gauge here. We can’t wait to share this project with you!