Posts Tagged ‘knit pattern’

Can I Like Plant Fibers?

Friday, April 8th, 2016
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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!

Raising The Bar

Friday, March 11th, 2016
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In February, I worked at the WEBS booth at Stitches West, in California. So many folks wandered into our booth to see what goodies we had, and I had a blast helping them find great yarns (not hard) and walking them through patterns for projects they wanted to make. I kept hearing the same thing, which was usually a variation of “I’m not a very good knitter, I can’t make that pattern because it’s too hard, are you sure I can handle that yarn/pattern/needle size/stitch pattern?”

The first thing I ever knit was a sweater, and it remains the ugliest sweater ever, but because I started with something sort of difficult, I think I have a bit more confidence about some things in the knitting world than I might if I had just stuck with scarves or hats. I would never say I’m a fantastic knitter, but I can get a project done without much whining and I love stitch textures like cables and knit/purl combos.

The Mill River Cardigan knit in Valley Yarns Sunderland. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

In that vein, I am encouraging all knitters who have ever wanted to knit a sweater to choose our Valley Yarns pattern 668, the Mill River Cardigan. First of all, it’s knit in Sunderland, which is the softest, coziest, DK-weight baby alpaca I’ve ever felt. The lace panels on either side of the front button bands won’t weigh the sweater down, but will let air and light filter through the panels to create movement and loft. I personally think it’s a triumph of sweater design by our own Kirsten Hipsky.

It’s a classically shaped cardigan, knit in pieces and seamed at the shoulders, sides, and sleeves; you’ll pick up stitches for the two bands on each front piece and you can choose to put in buttons and buttonholes, or leave it open. Either way, you’ll get a sweater’s worth of fiber and finishing education. If you get stuck on anything, check out our website for technique videos – we’ve got a lot of help for you! Or go to your LYS, which, hopefully, is WEBS. Either way, once you finish this charming garment, you’ll be filled with a new confidence and ready for more!

What knitting challenge will you take on this year?

Another Fine Donegal I’ve Gotten Myself Into

Friday, February 26th, 2016
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vintage leaf sweater

Photo copyright Debbie Bliss

I have been loving Debbie Bliss’s Fine Donegal from afar these days, but I grabbed a skein to check out a particularly pleasing color this afternoon (it has an antiseptic number instead of a name, but if I were the Head Namer at Debbie Bliss, I would probably call it Pine Forest with New-Growth Leaves), and I fell in love with it all over again.  It’s a scrumptious blend of wool and cashmere in a sport-weight gauge of 6.5 stitches to an inch on US size 3’s, which is my sweet spot. My love was confirmed when I went wandering around on Ravelry to see what folks are making with this delicious stuff, and found The Vintage Leaf Sweater, designed by Debbie herself and found in the pattern book that supports this yarn (also called Fine Donegal). All the pictures in this book must have been taken on a really hot day because the model looks really mad. No matter; the garments drew me in and especially Ms. Vintage Leaf. Body-conscious, close-fitting at the neck, and with a hypnotic twisted-stitch lace pattern that looks like –you guessed it — leaves. It has an afterthought collar, and elbow-length sleeves that add even more class.

It’s snowing here today, and even though we had the coldest weekend ever, I’m hopeful that looking at some sweet tweedy yarn will bring a little spring to mind. Happy knitting!

Selfish Knitting

Friday, December 18th, 2015
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I’ve celebrated “my” holiday, and now I’m sitting back and watching other people celebrate holidays. I guess we’re all counting down days til the New Year, and I’m very sure you’re getting tired of “10 Best” lists.

Selfish Knitting on the WEBS Blog. Read more at blog.yarn.com

I’m going to buck the trend and write a shortie about a thing I’m knitting just for me. It’s been a while since I’ve picked up the needles for 1) a sweater, and 2) a sweater for me, but last week I cast on some Classic Elite Telluride in a heathery grayish-blue for the Lone Star vest. I’ve been stalking that garment for months, trying it on every once in a while and forcing other staff members to admire it on me. I finished up some gift knitting for the last of my knitting list and I decided It Was Time.

I’ve knit a few inches of the front and I was gritting my teeth a bit at the linen content in this yarn (normally I just hate plant fibers), but the alpaca/donegal mix totally makes it worth your time. The linen gives it juuuuust enough structure to counteract the drapey tendencies of the alpaca.

I want to point out to all readers that I made a gauge swatch, changed needle sizes a few times to get it exactly right, and then, my friends…I washed it and blocked it, and THEN measured my finished gauge. Just to be sure. Completely sure.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this sweater; maybe a resolution for all of us could be to make a “selfish” project every once in a while to keep our mojo intact. Happy holidays to everyone!

Handspun, now what? What to knit with your handspun yarn.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015
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I have plenty of yarn to work through in my handspun stash this year thanks to Tour de Fleece and Spinzilla but deciding what projects to make can be simultaneously tedious and overwhelming.  There is one website and one important tool that I use when deciding on a project, Ravelry and my yarn gauge.

Spinzilla wrap up, what to knit with your handspun yarn. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

First I use my yarn gauge to figure out what my yarn is. Is it worsted, DK, bulky? I wrap the yarn loosely around my gauge and count how many wraps per inch (wpi) I have. I’m using the Fractal spun yarn that I plied from a center-pull ball back in Sept. I ended up with 15 wpi, so I have a fingering weight yarn. Here’s a handy chart that will help to translate wpi into more useful information.  You’ll notice that the stitch gauge is roughly 1/2 the wpi.

Spinzilla wrap up, what to knit with your handspun yarn. Using Ravelry.com to narrow your pattern search. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Now you know your yarn gauge and you can go looking for patterns! Ravelry not only has a fantastic pattern library but they have an advanced pattern search feature that lets you narrow down your search by gauge, yardage, fiber, and more! Go to the pattern tab at the top of the page and you can choose the advanced pattern seach – right there on the left of the screen under the binoculars. Then you can scroll down the categories on the left hand side and narrow down your choices! By choosing Fingering, 300-450 yds and Merino I was still left with over 9,000 pattern choices. So I narrowed it further by choosing a cowl, shawl or scarf pattern and that knocked it down to 3,000 options, but still too many! So I chose adult only patterns and then narrowed my search one more time to Free patterns and that left me with 164, not too bad.

Spinzilla wrap up, what to knit with your handspun yarn. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I didn’t want anything with colorwork or with too much texture since I really want the handspun to shine, I want the fractal color shifts to be the star of the show. I found the Terraform Shawl and it fits the bill! Not only is there a bit of stitch work to keep me interested (no worries about miles and miles of mind-numbing stockinette stitch), but the pattern will show off my yarn, and I can just keep going until I run out of yarn. It couldn’t be more perfect! How do you decide what projects are right for your handspun? Have you made anything with your Spinzilla yarns yet?

Jo Sharp Is Back!

Friday, May 8th, 2015
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The first time I worked at WEBS (this is the third time I’ve worked at WEBS, just for the sake of context), I got to work with Jo Sharp to arrange a visit to the store. She did a talk about her designs and explained how those beautiful yarns got to be so beautiful.

And then, her yarns weren’t here.

Jo Sharp yarns and pattern PDFs available at yarn.com

And now, they’re back! And we’ve got them. It really was like meeting up with an old friend as I perused the neat balls in their side-by-side glass cubes in the place of honor in the store. Hello, Silkroad Aran Tweed–remember the fun we had when we made that hat and scarf for my kid? Why, howdy, DK Cotton.  Don’t take it personally, but I’m still passing you by. I love your squishy softness, but cotton is not my thing.  And…RRRROWWWRRR, Alpaca Kid Lustre. You are inspiring me in a major way. There is much I want to knit you up in.

Luckily, Jo and her team have sent tons of patterns for these classics. The Keyhole Vest in Alpaca Kid Lustre is going right onto my needles. The Tweed Cardigan is next. When I send my oldest off to the coldest college in the universe, I’d like him to have The Bistro Sweater packed into his suitcase to remind him that you can, too, knit love.

What would inspire you to revisit a much-loved yarn?

How to Wear It – The Park Pullover

Monday, March 30th, 2015
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As Winter finally begins to loosen it’s grip on New England we’re thinking about great, wearable Spring and Summer knitting, and the Park Pullover may just be the perfect project.

The Park Pullover is based on one of our most popular children’s patterns the Picnic Child’s pullover. Alternating stripes of 1×1 ribbing and stockinette create a soft and casual sweater with flattering elbow-length sleeves. It’s as fun to knit as it is to wear, and since it’s top-down, the lengths of the sleeves and body are easy to modify!

Valley Yarns: How to Wear It - The Park Pullover

Knit in Valley Yarns Goshen you get the strength of cotton, durability from the Modal and a gorgeous sheen from the silk content. Available in over 2 dozen colors, you’re sure to find the one that’s perfect for your wardrobe!

Valley Yarns: How to Wear It - The Park Pullover read more at blog.yarn.com

We’d love to see your finished garments! Anytime you’ve made a Valley Yarns pattern be sure to tag it with #VYwearit We may feature you here on the blog, highlight you on Facebook, or repost you on Instagram!

My Favorite Child

Friday, March 13th, 2015
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I’m not one of those people who can’t choose a favorite yarn. I know that many will say that it’s like being asked to pick which of their children they like the best. But my children know who I like the best, and it’s a yarn child: Shibui. Almost any Shibui. And we just got some new children Shibui in the store that I’m already playing around with to figure out the perfect pattern pairing.

Shibui Linen available at yarn.com

Shibui Linen is an anomaly for me, because I normally don’t like plant fibers. They can be a little too unyielding for me, and a bit hard on the hands holding the needles. However, Shibui Linen is softer and silkier than most linens, with a chainette construction that gives it some…well, give. I love the Apple color and would absolutely make myself a cap-sleeve tee or loose vest for summer concerts in the park.

Shibui Twig available at yarn.com

Shibui Twig is Linen’s next-door neighbor, or cousin, or step-sister. It’s a more matte version of Linen, with a mix of linen, recycled silk, and wool in a slubby, tweedy amalgam that would stick to most wooden needles. It’s a true DK weight, getting 5.5 stitches to 1″ on a US size 4/3.5mm needle. What would I make from this yarn? It has so much personality in the skein that I’d want to let that shine. Maybe a drapy open cardi? Or a simple summer shawl for when our air-conditioning gets a little too aggressive.

Shibui has some beautiful pattern support for these two newbies. I really like the Japanese aesthetic in their design; it speaks to my love for clean, uncluttered simplicity. Take a look and see what inspires you!

How to wear it – The Plesti Fair Isle Pullover

Monday, February 23rd, 2015
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Our Spring 2015 Catalog is online and is making it’s way to your mailboxes and with it comes a whole new bunch of Valley Yarns patterns.  We thought we’d share some styling suggestions for some of our patterns this year to help make these sweaters and accessories a part of your everyday wardrobe.

How to wear it - The Plesti Fair Isle Pullover on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.com

First up is our Plesti Fair Isle Pullover, knit in Valley Yarns Northampton. This sweater features a wide scoop neck and a slightly over sized fit making it feel more like a comfy boyfriend sweater, but it can easily be dressed up. This sweater would also look great as an extra layer over a shirtwaist dress with a pair of knee boots!

How to wear it - The Plesti Fair Isle Pullover on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.com

Though the fair isle work may look complicated there are never more than 2 colors in any row and the motifs are fairly large and easy to memorize as you knit. If you feel you need some practice before tackling the sweater the pattern includes a matching hat that ‘s not only a great to practice your color-work but makes a perfect swatch as well! You have over 3 dozen colors to choose from in Valley Yarns Northampton so the options are nearly endless.

From Folly Cove

Friday, February 13th, 2015
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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.