Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

More Yarn Love

Friday, November 20th, 2015
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I always have a sharp out eye when the store staff is stocking new yarns and I make a point of walking right past our display cubes where the cool yarn kids hang out so I can see who my best friend of the week will be. This week I have two best friends–both in my desired sporty gauge.
Yarn and Soul Superfine 400 (in my mind I put the emphasis on “fine” so that when I say it to myself it comes out “SuperFINE!!”) comes in 25 gorgeous heather shades, and I honed right in on some dark green (called Seaweed) that would coordinate perfectly with most of my (black and white) wardrobe. 100% superfine alpaca and it has a little halo that just melts into a lovely drape. I’d make this adorable Side-Button Vest to go over a cream turtleneck for maximum contrast.

Two yarns from Spincycle Yarns now available at, read more on the WEBS Blog at

My other new amour is a yarn I talked about on our “Ready, Set, Knit!” podcast a few weeks ago; Spincycle Yarns’ Dyed In The Wool. It’s a sport/heavy fingering weight yarn, and superwash to boot, so you might make some kick-butt heavy boot socks but I’d rather make something that every can see–because the hand-dyeing process takes place before the yarn is spun so it has a unique patterned effect. If you’re making a large project, you might need to compare a few unwound skeins for the closest match, but if you’re using a hand-dyed yarn like this, I think it’s best to let the yarn tell you what to do. You can’t be the boss of a hand-dyed yarn! Spincycle is owned and run by two women who produce small batches of exquisite yarn in the Pacific Northwest. 17 different colorways are at your disposal, including my favorite name, Venus In Furs (check out the Velvet Underground song for a little kick in your workday, my friends) which is a melange of pinks and purples against a background of cream, brown, and burgundy. I’d make these really cute Kira K gloves to match my (black) winter coat and really make them pop.

What patterns do you like to use hand-dyed yarn to make? And what special care do you take to match up colorways? Let us know in the comments, below!

Oh, So Fast, The Holidays Come…

Friday, November 6th, 2015
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I went downtown today to run an errand, and what did I see? Evergreen garland being put up on several storefronts and lightposts. It’s just too soon! Every year, I kick about this and nobody listens.

If we’re going to front-load the holiday season, at least let us have beautiful knits to make our holiday crafting better. I got a fun email from our friend Kristin Nicholas with the news that Yankee Magazine, the bible of New Englanders, is featuring some of her holiday patterns as well as the cutest video of her Pom Pom Garlands. This is a craft that can be done by anyone with the dexterity of a 3-year-old with the Clover Pom Pom makers sold in our store. Her Pom Poms are characteristically Kristin, made with her striking color choices.

Colorful holiday gift ideas from Kristin Nicholas on the WEBS Blog. Read more at

I always try to point folks making Christmas stockings to Kristin’s Creative Christmas Stockings pattern, available in PDF form. The colors are not what you’d call “Christmas-sy” but to me, that makes them way more appealing. The bright contrasts are as joyful as the spirit of the holidays; and aren’t you all getting a wee bit tired of red, green, blue, and white? Yankee magazine is also featuring Kristin’s Heart to Heart Mittens, which we carry in PDF as well. The word “happy” doesn’t begin to cover how these fun mittens make one feel. Not only does the pattern give you two options, one for one heart, one for many hearts, but Kristin’s clear directions even show the knitter how to embroider the accents onto the mittens before the top is closed, making them even easier to knit.

If all holiday designs could be knit in Color By Kristin yarn, I’d be much less Grinchly. What makes your holiday knitting happier?

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

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 to narrow your pattern search. Read more on the WEBS Blog at

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

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?

An Unexpected Treat

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
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I get the WEBS emails, just like you do. Last week, one sprang out at me, featuring a yarn I had heard about but not really seen (I work tucked away in one of the offices and am not out in the store as much as I want to be!). Amano is a lovely group of yarns in enough weights to satisfy any knitter, crocheter, or weaver, all featuring some iteration of alpaca–baby, royal, and an important-sounding alpaca designated “Imperial,” which obviously makes it the Homecoming King this year. Late-breaking news: Royal is the TOP 1% of alpaca fiber, Imperial is the next 2-10%. So, royal is the Homecoming King and imperial, obviously, is the guy who fixes the overhead projector.

Amano Ayni is my new best friend. 80% baby alpaca, 20% silk, this sport-weight dream of a skein has a hint of halo, enough to say “I’m soft, but not scratchy.” I am imagining a drapy A-line sweater, soft enough to wear next to the skin. Warmi (is that the best name for a yarn? yes.) is a worsted-weight workhorse, perfect for sweaters, shawls, hats, or scarves. It’s got a lush color palette inspired by fruits and vegetables.

The new Amano yarns now available at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

Puna means “Andes Mountains” in the native language of the Incas, and is the essence of the Andes, made from 100% baby alpaca in a beefy 273-yard skein. It’s got a little more halo than Ayni, so I’d treat it a bit more gently, and my perfect project for this sport-weight wonder is the Delia Cowl in Amano’s pattern book for Fall/Winter. The simple openwork contrasts with the warmth of the alpaca to make a very useful garment.

The dip-dyed colorways of Mayu would be a wonderful vehicle for a body-conscious sweater– the addition of cashmere and silk to alpaca makes it almost criminally soft, and the heathery tones almost gleam, showing off the myriad shades in the skein. Puyu means “cloud” in the language of the Incas, and it does look very cloudlike. Baby alpaca is blown into a mesh tube made of silk for an almost two-tone appearance that will make luxurious accessories like hats, scarves, and even ponchos look expensive. Rounding out the Amano family is Apu (“Simpsons” fans will join me in a round of giggles), a dainty ball of imperial alpaca that I can’t stop holding. The Maria Cowl in Amano‘s pattern collection seems like the perfect project in Apu, with startling stitch definition and a drapy texture that caresses the skin.

Check out this new family online or in the store–you’ll want to make friends immediately. What project are you looking forward to knitting in an Amano yarn?

I Love Greylock

Friday, August 14th, 2015
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Mount Greylock is located in the far northwestern corner of Massachusetts, abutting New York state. I used to work in that area, and even though a 75-minute commute was horrible, it always cheered me up to see the mountain all four seasons of the year. I hiked the trails on weekends in the fall, when it seemed like I could stand just about any terrible commute for the expanse of nature I was treated to.

Of course, eventually, I had to leave that job because nobody can do a commute like that forever. And now that I’m back at WEBS (third time, see “Hotel California”) I get to see all the new Valley Yarns as they come out onto the sales floor. I have a particular fondness for Valley Yarns Greylock, which is as close to perfect (for me) as a yarn can be.

Valley Yarns Greylock - 100% Cashmere available for a limited time at

Greylock is only in the store for a limited time, so snap it up now. There are 27 beautifully heathered colors of this 100% cashmere yarn, wound into generous 300-yard balls. The colors are soft and blendable, and I can’t imagine a single thing that wouldn’t knit up into a gorgeous project. The fingering gauge of 7 sts/inch on a US size 2 needle is perfect for shawls, cowls, scarves, and hats. I will personally be knitting my college-bound son a hat and mitten set in his school colors as he journeys far away. Why not try crocheting the Valley Yarns Pickwick Cowl out of Greylock? It would be the most luxurious garment, perfect as a gift for a special friend or family member…or just keep it for yourself.

What will you knit or crochet with Greylock?

Knitting Through the Years

Friday, July 31st, 2015
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Recently, a friend told me about her mother, a knitter and crafter, who has been having some memory problems. She wants to keep knitting but she has problems counting her stitches, and following patterns if they aren’t right in front of her, clearly marked. It made me think about what we carry here that would be helpful, and I thought I’d let you in on what I found.

Knitting tools to help with memory and keeping track of projects, on the WEBS Blog at

First of all, the Knitter’s Pride Large Pattern Holder seems like a lifesaver. It’s big enough to hold a pattern straight up, or any series of charts so that you don’t have to keep shuffling papers around (my friend’s mother has NO use for technology, so unfortunately paper patterns are her go-to). The magnetic straight-edge holds everything firmly against the backing, and also can be used as a row marker so she doesn’t lose her place.

The Bryspun Rainbow Rings are great stitch markers; colorful enough to stand out from your stitches, and rubber, so they stay put. They come in a variety of sizes, so they’ll fit on pretty much any size needles. The Clover Split Ring Markers are good for hanging on your stitches; if you have a pattern repeat you can mark it off so that you don’t have to remember where to start or how many stitches are in the repeat. They’re easy as pie to move around, too, so that if you increase or decrease, you don’t need to worry that you’ve lost any stitches.

Everyone’s favorite row counter, the Clover Kacha Kacha Knitting Counter, makes a very definitive CLICK and goes up to 99, which is a lot of satisfying clicking. I’ve used one of these since I started knitting and I’ve never had to replace mine. They last forever. Clover also makes a locking row counts, called a Mini. The beauty of this one is that if it gets pushed around in your knitting bag, it won’t change numbers accidentally. It also has a little loop that you can thread some yarn or string through to  make it a pendant so you don’t forget about it if you get up from your knitting chair to get a cocktail glass of iced tea.

The CocoKnits Knitter’s Keep is the most brilliant thing ever. It’s a slap bracelet (that makes SUCH a satisfying sound) that comes with metal cable needle, stitch markers, all kinds of things you need to keep track of while knitting or crocheting. And you just attach them to your bracelet and it holds it for you. Genius. No more turning around in circles while you try to locate a stray needle.

If you are a crocheter, Addi makes ergonomic hooks that don’t tax arthritic fingers. I’m told that the Knitter’s Pride Cubics needles serve the same function, but I bet there are needles specifically for sore hands and wrists out there.

The last thing I thought might be a great addition to a knitting bag are the Nancy’s Knit Knacks Project Cards. You can note what the project you knit was, for whom it was knit, the start and finish date, and any notes – for instance, if you cut out a set of increases, or made the sleeves shorter. Frankly, I could use these myself, since once I finish a project, I often throw it right out of my mind as I hurtle onto the next knitted object.

What have you seen in your LYS that might help you keep crafting as you age? Because I certainly want to keep crafting!

No New Ready, Set, Knit This Week – What are you listening to?

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
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There’s no new Ready, Set, Knit this week, so check out the archives and listen to your favorite episode, or catch up on some you’ve missed. Not having a new podcast this week got me to thinking about the different things I like to do when I’m crafting. I watch TV, listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, and sometimes I just like to enjoy the silence. I have a backlog of podcasts that I need to catch up on and a pile of audiobooks that are waiting to be listened to. I think this weekend will be a good time to slow the go-go-go that’s been happening, take a little time to craft, and catch up on listening.

What’s your favorite “noise” to listen to while knitting, crocheting, weaving, or spinning?


WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program Capstone Graduation

Friday, July 3rd, 2015
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Last week I was honored to present our latest group of graduates of the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program their certificates. This is my second graduating class, and once again I was truly inspired and amazed at the creativity and imagination of our grads. This post will be heavy on pictures, since my words won’t do these beautiful Capstone sweaters justice.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Just as an FYI, our Certification program students take sixteen required classes and three electives in everything from basic knitting to Advanced Fearless Finishing (VERY technical) and Sweater Construction (designing and knitting a sweater to fit). Their Capstone sweater should reflect elements of their classwork, be it texture, color, lace, perfect finishing, or an interesting construction. The only requirements are that it be knit in pieces and seamed, be knit to fit the maker, and have saddle or set-in sleeves.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

As an extra bonus each year the Capstone graduates receive a handmade bracelet by local jewelry artist Kris Potasky. The beads match each sweater and are totally unique.

Without further delay, this year’s lovely garments…

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Patty Creedon (who has only been knitting for TWO YEARS!) made a deceptively simple pullover, accented with a Tunisian crochet collar and sleeve cuffs. It fits perfectly, and the finishing is exquisite.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Susan Gruen (who is also a Master Weaver, because why not?) made a sturdy jacket with a garden motif in a contrasting color; the assymetrical colorwork really stood out but the piece de resistance was her Czech buttons bought in Prague. They were such a perfect match that it looked like the sweater had been built around them, rather than the other way around.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Jessie Tropp’s sweater was a vintage-inspired cardigan with delicate lace panels–and peeking through those panels was a surprise! Bright pink lining on both front panels and down the back. To finish it off, subtle beading accented the lace pattern. It was breathtaking.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Bonnie Miller did the un-doable: she spun fiber into yarn and used that yarn to knit her sweater. Really, what could go wrong? Anything and everything. But thankfully, not much went wrong, and her sweater is a real work of art, with a Japanese stitch pattern adding textural interest.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Sandy Kistner made what I can best describe as an actual couture garment. She used a designer sweater as in inspiration and crafted a slipped-stitch pattern in three different colors that looked like it had come from a Paris showroom.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Meri Ames did tons of research on Japanese kimono construction and use, and dyed her yarn to achieve a shibori effect. Yes, you read that correctly. She dyed the yarn she used to make her kimono. As a dramatic accent, check out the back view, where she showcased a crochet motif that was knitted into the fabric of her garment. Amazing.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

Brenda Aldrich lived in China for five years and it so influenced her that she chose to feature it in the outerwear sweater that she made. She also wanted to honor her Irish heritage, so she used a bright Kelly-green yarn to craft an arch texture in the body of her sweater. She made figure-8 cables around the hem of the jacket, a nod to the Chinese belief that 8 is a lucky number. She also crocheted matching frogs to use as closures. It’s a sweater that tells her story.

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -


Linda Sasso’s sweater also revealed a life-story. She raised 3 daughters as a single parent, and to do that she taught Spanish for many years. Her love and respect for that culture informed her dramatic black-and-red cardigan with an I-cord closure at the neck. Look closely at the embroidery on the front panels and along the sleeves. The flowers reflect her family and the sleeve design shows a Mayan “Tree of Life.”

WEBS 2015 Expert Knitter Graduation Ceremony, more on the WEBS Blog -

And in the category of “Most-Touched Garment,” Sheri Rademacher made a pop-culture sweater that blew the room away. Her “Doctor Who” sweater was made to look like the iconic Tardis, a time machine disguised as a British police call box. The details such as thumbholes at the sleeve cuffs and colorwork that made it look like her Tardis was whirling away were nothing compared to the fact that her hood-windows LIT UP and the sweater MADE NOISE! When I turned out the lights in the room, the applause drowned out the sound of the Tardis whooshing away, and the lights winking from her hood made the evening as fun as a fireworks show.

I hope you’ll be inspired to check out our Expert Knitter program. You can make one of these amazing works of art, too!

Genius is Everywhere

Friday, June 19th, 2015
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Hey! If you stop by the store through June 29, you’ll see our resident genius designer Emma Welford’s work in a trunk show of some of her many beautiful designs. Emma has worked at WEBS for a few years, as our Purchasing Coordinator and now in the store. She may have helped you pick out yarn or you may have stopped by our Thursday evening Drop-In and had her show you how to pick up stitches or do a decrease.

The Coronation Tank and more designs by Emma Welford on the WEBS Blog -

If you check out our website, you’ll see Emma’s new ebook of patterns, “Let Them Knit Cake,” which was released in early spring. It contains what I think is the most beautiful tank ever, the Coronation Tank, knit in Malabrigo Arroyo. The combination of color and texture (the cables making a shapely trim waist and the bright color announcing “summer’s here!” are irresistable. Plus–it’s a tank! It’ll take maybe a week to knit.

Elektrocute and more designs by Emma Welford on the WEBS Blog -

All of Emma’s designs are thoughtful and make me want to abandon everything I have on the needles to start her garments. Just when I think I’ve got her figured out (she designs great textural sweaters!) she comes up with something like Elektrocute, a cowl with the most shocking colorwork that looks like it’s not only doable but imperative that it be made.

Check her out on Ravelry, on her blog, and please come to the store to see her trunk show. You’ll be inspired and awed.

Shaping Your Knits with Increases and Decreases

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
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When I taught my oldest son to knit, he got the basic knit and purl stitches down and one day we sat together, knitting (believe me, this happened maybe twice) and he saw me do a series of decreases to make a raglan sleeve. Just like that, he was fascinated, and spent the next six months increasing and decreasing a ratty piece of knitting that he kept in my knitting bag.

I can understand his amazement at how simply increasing or decreasing stitches can make a round shape out of a square swatch. I can never remember, however, which increases slant right or left, which decreases should be done in the center of a row, as opposed to a few stitches from the edge, and what to do when faced with the pattern instruction, “PFB twice in one stitch, turn, k2 bobble stitches, turn, and work p2tog, p2tog tbl, pass decrease.” WHAT?

Increase Decrease - available now at

The guidebook for the 21st-century knitter is the newest book from Storey Publishing, Increase Decrease: 99 Step-by-Step Methods by Judith Durant. Judith has edited all the “One-Skein Wonders” books made so popular by Storey, so I know she’s a fount of knitting knowledge. Increase Decrease has the best possible construction for a craft book: a spiral binding so that the book lays flat while you try out all those irresistible new ways of shaping your knits. Judith gives readers the topology of the increase or decrease, and at the same time, she lets you know what it’s best use is. Single increases and decreases work well for knit/purl stitch patterns, while Yarnover Multiple Increases tend to be best used in a lacy garment as they show up as openwork. Twist-and-Hide Decreases are great for garments with a twisted-stitch pattern where you want to hide the decrease. Some increases and decreases show up on both the knit and purl sides, some are completely hidden, and many of the double increases and decreases can be used for knitting that is shaped on two sides at once.

Increase Decrease by Judith Durant - available now at

Increase Decrease also gives you “something special” extra-credit reading, with Increases and Decreases for Decorative Effect, such as bobbles, ruching, closed-ring cables, or lace. There are even increases and decreases for colorwork! Like all those great craft books from Storey, there is a list of common abbreviations, and symbols that you’ll see in charted knitting, as well as a very thorough index.

Much like it’s sister book, Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor, I’m pretty sure I’ll be carrying this book in my knitting bag for any project I’ll start.