Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

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 yarn.com

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 yarn.com

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.

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?

Craft and Social Media

Friday, April 10th, 2015
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Finding WEBS on the web - social media links and online community on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

I’ve realized lately that every time I check my social media sites, the first thing I do is see what WEBS is doing there. There is a rich treasure trove of websites that are devoted to putting people in touch with other people, and you can find someone, for instance, who is a left-handed crocheter who only does stuffed animals in the blink of an eye. Knitting is a pretty social craft, as is crochet; less so, unfortunately, are weaving and spinning. Weavers and spinners, I know you are lovely and sociable, but there aren’t many sightings of folks dragging an 8-harness loom to the local Starbucks for Craft Night. In that way, sometimes it’s easier for knitters and crocheters who don’t know each other to get to know each other. I thought I’d walk you through our social media sites so that you can check out what we post, and who talks to whom through our newsfeed. In this post, I’ll spotlight Ravelry and Facebook, and in some subsequent posts, I’ll walk you through some of our other social media platforms.

Finding WEBS on the web - social media links and online community on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

No mention of fiber social media is complete without Ravelry. This is the first place I look each day. I check our “All Things WEBS” group to see how the knitters and crocheters doing our Mystery Knit-A-Long and Mystery Crochet-A-Long are doing, what new yarns or needles have been added to our Anniversary Sale, or any information about store events that I might have missed. You can also search for Valley Yarns patterns, or see if anyone is knitting the same design you are, and if they made any modifications to the pattern. You can see how many folks are using Valley Yarns for different projects. And, best of all (to me), you can search for a group that might be tailored to your own particular interest. Once again, left-handed crocheters, I just searched and found not one, but TWO groups devoted to left-handed crocheters, both with large memberships. It’s a wonderful time-suck, and in my position as Education Manager, I’ve tracked down guest teachers, connected with students who’ve requested interesting class ideas, found some great designs to have our instructors use as teaching ideas, and lots more.

Finding WEBS on the web - social media links and online community on the WEBS Blog - read more at blog.yarn.com

Facebook is a great place to find information but it’s also a fun place to find interesting blog posts from other designers and yarn companies, see some deals before they make it onto the website, and hear from our customers around the world. Dena, who manages our social media presence on all sites, manages to find the most beautiful images our in-house photo and video team has produced to complement each post. I love to read the comments folks post about what we share on Facebook; I’ve learned about locally-sourced, allergy-free yarn as well as some variations on Tunisian Simple Crochet stitch from various customers who chime in with their knowledge from time to time.

What groups do you like on Ravelry? Do you follow any designers or yarn companies on Facebook? Let us know!

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!

Ask WEBS – Projects using two yarns at once

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
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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!

 

 

 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 9th, 2015
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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?

Yarn Tasting,Trunk Shows and Fun…Oh My!

Thursday, February 5th, 2015
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Have you ever wanted a chance to sample a yarn before you buy it? Well now you can! We are hosting a Cascade Yarn Tasting on February 12 from  6-7:30 pm. Come try out the wide variety of Cascade yarns that we carry, including their new Spring yarns and check out all the wonderful pattern support. You might get inspired to start a new project! We’ll raffle some fabulous prizes throughout the evening and provide snacks for you to enjoy, you’ll even have the opportunity to get a free set of Colonial Blonde circular needles when you purchase $40 of regularly priced Cascade yarn! This event is free, but registration is required

Cascade Yarn Tasting February 12th 6:00pm-7:30pm at WEBS retail Store in Northampton MA - more details at yarn.com

If you visit the store in mid February you’ll see the stylish and cozy garments from knitwear designer Cirilia Rose in the trunk show from her new book, Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads. Cirilia began her knitwear career at WEBS while a student at UMASS, and has worked with important knitwear companies such as Berroco, Skacel and currently , New Zealand mill Woolyarns. Over 20 garments and accessories will be available for you to discover in this trunk show, and you can pick up a copy of her book while you’re here.

Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads Trunk Show at WEBS retail store in February - more details at blog.yarn.com

 

There are always book signings, trunk shows and special events happening in our store, be sure to check our calendar and the Events listing to see what’s coming!

 

Ready, Set, Knit! 386: Kathy talks with Kristin Nicholas

Saturday, January 17th, 2015
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Play Now:

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This week Kathy talks with author and knitwear designer Kristin Nicholas about her newest book, Crafting a Colorful Home.

RSK 386

This is Kristin’s 11th book and while not knit or crochet focused, it does contain a great scrappy knit afghan and geometric crocheted granny square blanket patterns, as well as great lessons for learning to use color in your life.  Read all about the process of writing this book on Kristin’s blog and click here to read the Houzz magazine article that was the inspiration for the book! You can follow Kristin on Facebook or Instagram.

Steve’s Yarn Picks of the week:

Reminder:

Check out the brand-new design from Fiona Ellis, 2015 WEBS Designer in Residence .

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

Winter/Spring 2015 Classes are on the website now, register before they fill up!

Upcoming Events:

Our 9th Annual Pre-Game Event is coming up on Feb 1st – It’s free but be sure to register!

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

Designer in Residence – Fiona Ellis

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
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We’re so excited about our new Designer in Residence program for 2015! We’ve teamed up with two truly talented designers to bring you gorgeous knit and crochet designs that showcase some of our favorite Valley Yarns. This month we’re debuting the I Feel Vine Cardigan from knitwear designer Fiona Ellis and we’ll have a new design from her each odd numbered month of the year. And we’ll reveal the first crochet design from Doris Chan in February to be followed by a new design from her each even numbered month this year!

Fiona Ellis WEBS 2015 Knitwear Designer in Residence, her first design the I Feel Vine Cardigan in Valley Yarns Amherst - learn more at blog.yarn.com

This long-line cardigan worked in Valley Yarns Amherst is perfect for all seasons; cozy for the chilly months but also great to slip on over a sleeveless top in warmer months to fend off the chill of air conditioning. It’s clever use of stitch patterning utilizes the elasticity of rib patterning at the waist and cuff to give gentle shaping. The rib then morphs into a unique leaf pattern & finally into eyelet lace stitch work which adds to the overall femininity of this garment.

Fiona Ellis WEBS 2015 Knitwear Designer in Residence - learn more at blog.yarn.com

We asked Fiona to tell us about about her process and inspiration, and to give us a bit of a sneak peek into what we can expect to see throughout the year.

Tell us about your design process. Do you have design ideas in your head that inspire you to search out the right yarn or do you find a yarn and let the design grow from there?

I keep an on-going archive, of sorts, for design ideas and projects that I want to work on. So mostly it’s the idea that comes first and then I search out the perfect yarn for the project/design rather than the other way around.

Where do you find inspiration? Do you hike? jog in the city? take your camera everywhere you go? have a studio full of inspiring color and images?

I find inspiration everywhere so I always carry a camera (or my phone) and try to bring a small notebook with me wherever I go. I find inspiration can strike at very strange times – sometimes it’s at 3am! And I find it’s a process that you can’t really command. The ideas just seem to appear of their own accord and can sometimes be fleeting or hard to pin down. So I end up with pockets full of ideas scribbled on coffee shop napkins because I forgot to bring my notebook with me that day. On the other hand I also have this mindfulness practice of taking a photo every day even if nothing seemingly exciting is happening. I’ve been doing this since Sept 2007 and have found some great ideas have emerged from this habit of encouraging myself to closely observe the world. I believe that somehow the two elements work off of each other.

Tell us about your design aesthetic. What can our customers expect to see from you this year?

I studied fashion knitwear design at University so my aesthetic has a lot to do with current (wearable) fashion trends in terms of garment silhouette. I have been a knitter practically my whole life so I like pattern-work that challenges me, though I do try to include sections in each project where there is less challenge, that way some parts of the project can be carried around or worked on in front of the TV (or even in a bar maybe).

Tell us about your favorite Valley Yarn, is there a Valley Yarn you are excited to work with?

It’s so hard to choose because they are all great and each one perfect for specific projects. So I’m going to choose Amherst for entirely personal reasons- see my answer to the next question.

How did you discover Valley Yarns, what is your history with WEBS?

I used to live in Massachusetts very near to WEBS, but this was in the days when I designed for ready to wear fashion houses, before I designed for the independent home knitter. I used to shop at WEBS for my personal projects but I had moved away from the area before I became intimately acquainted with the Valley Yarns.  Since then I have used them when they have been selected for magazine editorials such as the designs I have done for Twist  Collective, Knitters Magazine and others: Sugarbeach in Longmeadow,  Blue Helix in Colrain, Athabasca in Northampton,  and Paula in Stockbridge.

What designers do you like/follow? Are there designs you wish you had time to knit/crochet/sew?

I tend to look at couture designers and my most favorite is the late Alexander McQueen. In terms of knitwear designers that I admire, boy this is actually a long list. I admire so many of the designers working today, but if I had to pick just one I would chose Norah Gaughan. She always comes up with such eye-catching and wonderful designs, ones that I’m almost jealous that I didn’t come up with the idea myself. If I had time to knit for myself from somebody else pattern it would definitely be one of Norah’s…or maybe an Alice Starmore pattern.

Gifts to Make – When there’s just days to go!

Monday, December 8th, 2014
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When your remaining days of gift knitting can be counted on your fingers you know it’s crunch time. Our Essential Accessories eBook has five quick and simple wardrobe staples that everyone needs and loves!

Valley Yarns Essential Accessories eBook - available exclusively at yarn.comThe Knit and Purl Cowl, knit in Amherst, offers four different stitch patterns to choose from, stick with one for the whole projects or change it up with textured stripes. The Simple Shawl is just that! An easy triangle shawl knit from the top down in Valley Yarns Huntington. The Essential Fingerless Gloves, knit in Stockbridge are just the thing to stave off the chills at the office, in the car or shopping around town. The Basic Hat from measurements, shown in Northampton, is THE hat pattern to have in your stash. Knit whatever hat size you need in whatever yarn you have on hand with this handy pattern! And the Basic Heel-Flap Sock may be the perfect basic sock pattern, and it shows of the colors in Franklin so beautifully.

Valley Yarns Essential Accessories eBook - available exclusively at yarn.com

Which will you knit first?