Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Cashmere, Of Course

Friday, January 27th, 2017
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Continuing my love affair with yarn that is not sport or fingering weight, I have been anxiously waiting to get our new Valley Yarn Wachusett on my needles. If you haven’t caressed this yarn yet, you are missing a very comforting experience. A very luxurious blend of merino wool and cashmere (the magic word!) makes knitting with Wachusett a treat. Getting a gauge of 19 stitches to 4 inches in stockinette makes a sweater fly off the needles, and a very generous 163 yards in a ball will let you settle in for hours of fun. A very slight halo and a range of clear brights and smoky neutrals give you lots of choices if you like colorwork or color blocks; of course, any of those colors could stand on their own as well.

Amy's loving Valley Yarns Wachusett, read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The Backstage Boss hat from Advenure Du Jour Designs would be a great test knit for Wachusett–with two colors that can either complement or contrast, you’d get a real feel for what this yarn can do. I’m a fan!

Big, Bigger, Biggest

Friday, January 13th, 2017
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I realized that my last two substantive projects (sweaters, that is) were both knit in teeny, tiny yarn. Usually I’m a fan of a gauge that is smallish, but it just takes too darn long. And my hands ache by the time I’m seaming.

I went back to an old fave, Rowan Big Wool. About 10 years ago, I knit a sweater in this yarn and I remembered that feeling of being able to finish not one, but two sleeves in an evening. It’s BIG. In a good way. Less than 2 stitches to 1 inch on size 17-19 needles. It’s like knitting with two broomsticks! But for a small project like a hat, a cowl, a scarf, even a vest, you’ll get that superhero feeling of making a garment in no time at all. Big Wool is 100% merino wool, tightly plied, so it’s not fuzzy. A generous 100-gram ball gives the knitter plenty of bang for not a lot of bucks. Even more enticing, when you buy 5 skeins of Big Wool, we’ll give you the Rowan Archive Collection Big Wool book FREE! Lots of great patterns that use this lovely stuff to its best advantage are in this treasure trove.

Rowan Big Wool and Amy's plans for a quick knit on the WEBS Blog, read more at blog.yarn.com

Because I love the feeling of being wrapped up in a blanket, I might make the Pioneer Cape, a really smart shoulder covering that will stay in place, unlike a shawl or a scarf. The color palette is muted but expansive, giving you just the range you’d like for a conspicuous yarn like this. Now go, knit like the wind!

Mind Over Matter

Friday, December 16th, 2016
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I’ve been unsettled lately. The universe seems to be sending me (and lots of people I know) signs that we need to simplify, focus, cultivate warmth and compassion. Of course, I turn to knitting, as it is one of the crafts I can count on to engage my mind without leaving much room for thinking about what seems to be a bleak next few months. A yarn I’ve been loving is West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious, a serious wooly wool that isn’t scratchy or fuzzy. West Yorkshire Spinners are based in England (of course!) and source their wool locally, processing it in a very traditional way on state of the art equipment. It’s the best of both worlds or handmade craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. The result is a tightly spun DK-weight yarn in 12 delicious colors to use as you’d like. Stranding, cables, textures, open-work; Illustrious can do it all.

West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious yarn and pattern collection. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

West Yorkshire Spinners commissioned designer Emma Wright to come up with a series of garments, accessories, and wearables to showcase Illustrious, and her 11 patterns reflect the design process from start to finish. I’ve been eyeing a fantastic colorwork cardigan called Hermione so I can use as many of those 12 colors as possible.

What kind of knitting takes you to a happier place? Let us know in the comments.

Arranmore by The Fibre Co.

Friday, November 25th, 2016
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I wanted to write about this wonderful stuff a few months ago, but we went through a dry spell and didn’t have it in stock (that’s the sign of a great yarn–you have to suffer through a drought before the good stuff rains down). Now we are fully stocked and you should know about it because once you try it, you won’t want to knit with anything else.

Arranmore is a beautiful example of a true Donegal tweed yarn, spun in Ireland. In colors that capture the Irish coast, it’s a true aran-weight yarn, meaning it is toothy and authentically wooly, with flecks of color throughout highlighting the earth, sky, and water tones of the yarn. Composed of wool, cashmere, and silk, Arranmore has a springy, sturdy feel and a substantial crispness that relaxes and blooms once wet-blocked. at 3.5 stitches to 1 inch on US size 8 needles, your projects will fly off your needles quickly, and the twist ensures no splitting or catching on your needle tips.

The Fibre Co. Arranmore on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Of course, The Fibre Co. has great pattern support, and thoughtful garments and accessories showcase this colleen of a yarn to it’s finest. I think if I wasn’t drowning in gift-knitting, I’d probably be casting on The Lake Isle tunic. It’s a fascinating combination of plain stockinette and colorwork, with an unexpected funnel neck to keep one warm in the chilly UK winter weather. Or the chilly New England weather. Try it and see; you won’t want to stop knitting.

The More You Know

Friday, November 11th, 2016
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I tried out a new circular needle recently and it was a game-changer. Knitter’s Pride Royale fixed circular needles are wood with metal tips, which I like (somehow, metal seems pointier). What I really love about the Royales are that they SWIVEL at the join. Come on! Yes, they do. No kinking up, no twisted joins, just smooth sailing. This swivel is only available in the fixed circular needles, not in the interchangeable sets, alas. But what a great reason to stock up on sizes you may need for your holiday knitting! They’d be a great stocking stuffer for a knitting group buddy, or an in-law at a gift exchange.

Knitter's Pride Royale Needles on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I’ve been making some deadline projects lately, but once I free up my time and buy the right size Royale, I’ll be casting on the Genevieve Baby Cardigan for a special baby arriving in December. So fast, so delightful on the right needles. Check them out!

Noro For Grownups

Friday, October 28th, 2016
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One of the first sweaters I made, for my then-7-year-old son, was in Noro Kureyon. He loved the colors but it was a tad scratchy, and after he grew out of it, I couldn’t find any child that would love that sweater like he did. Noro has always been the gold standard for eye-catching, long color repeats and brightly-hued blues, pinks, reds, and greens. At least, I thought that’s what I loved about Noro yarns.

Read more about Noro Tennen on the WEBS blog at blog.yarn.com

What did I spot in one of my hoarding window-shopping expeditions into the store? Why, Noro Tennen, a gorgeous blend of wool, silk, and alpaca in colors evocative of nature in late November. The color names bring to mind images of stone, smoke, wood, and salmon, and the yarn brings those images onto your needles. Each worsted-weight skein is a very generous 275 yards, making the possibility of a hat, cowl, ear-warmer, or fingerless mitts out of one of those skeins very real. But I think this slightly fuzzy, rustic yarn demands a sweater, and our Shay Cap Sleeve Pullover would be perfect to show off the muted colors and unique texture of this special yarn. Perfect to throw on over a slim long-sleeve shirt or under a heavier jacket, Tennen will be a savvy investment for moments of quiet, contemplative stitching.

Kits = Best Thing Ever

Friday, July 29th, 2016
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Kits seems to be the New Thing. I think that I’ve never seen so many kits in the store as I did on a recent meander through the yarns. I hasten to add that I think kits are a fabulous thing, because you have every single thing you need to knit or crochet (or weave!) a project with no need to make any kind of decision whatsoever, other than what color palette you most enjoy. There are so many different project kits I’m just dying to use that I thought I’d let you in on some of my favorites.

Project and specialty yarn kits available at yarn.com Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The Fair Isle Box of Itty-Bitties captured my heart. If you’ve ever done Fair Isle knitting you know that you use about a yard of each color and it makes no financial sense to buy 10 different skeins of yarn and use a quarter of each to make a hat. This beautiful box of teensy skeins of sport weight yarn in 8 colors will turn into a beautiful Fair Isle hat in your talented hands. Three different colorways give lots of options.

More options await you in the Wonderland Yarns “Mad Hatter” kits. Included in each kit is a large skein (344 yards) and 5 smaller skeins (86 yards each) for a total of 774 yards of lovely sport weight yarn. That’s plenty to make the “Which Way” shawl that is free with the purchase of one of the 6 color options.

Artyarns has also conspired to seduce fiberlovers with Gradient Kits. These are colors in the same family that range from light to dark, perfect for shawls and scarves in ombre or gradient designs. WEBS carries several different color palettes including 3 that are exclusive to our customers. And Merino Cloud yarns are deeeee-lightful, a merino/cashmere blend that is twisted for beautiful stitch definition.

There are plenty more to drool over–Zen Yarn Gardens Cordoba Shawl kit, using Superfine Fingering yarn in their signature intense colors, Lorna’s Laces String Quintet kits in Shepherd Sock, Baah Yarns “Wings” cowl kit in Baah Yarns’ La Jolla, pattern included in the kit. I think you’ll have a hard time deciding to make just one project. Tell us what kits you love the most in the comments!

Best In Class

Friday, July 15th, 2016
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Every June, I am honored to celebrate another class of graduates from the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program. We just had our graduation and 9 new designers have been launched into the knitting universe! Our very swanky ceremony was held at a very nice hotel/conference center nearby for the first time ever–because we’ve outgrown our former celebration venue otherwise known as “the back classroom.” Want to see some eye candy?

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Our graduates this year are, from left to right, Lorraine McGough, Sara Gibbons, Liz Frosch-Dratfield, Andy Tarr, Alexis Price, Lindsey Lindequist, Susan Baron, Donna Smith, and missing from the photo is graduate Cindy Romaniak. Each created a masterpiece of design and construction using the skills learned in the 16 required classes that make up the WEKP, as we call it.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This year’s sweaters ran the gamut of texture and construction. Susan Baron made an absolutely perfect coat in Madelinetosh Chunky; the detail was incredible. From the complicated math she used to figure out how to end a cable at the shoulder seam, to the ingenious use of a sport-weight yarn as a facing for the heavier front panel of the jacket, Susan made a garment that any professional designer would be proud to call their own. And, she got the stamp of approval from the designer herself when Amy Hendrix, the co-owner of Madelinetosh, saw Susan’s Capstone at her appearance at WEBS and loved it.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Alexis Price made a lovely cabled pullover, keeping it traditional in her yarn and color choice, but making it her own with shaping and textural details. You can see the pride she takes in her Aran sweater (as well she should!).

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Cindy Romaniak’s complex paneled design contains a number of elements completely unique to her design sensibility. Her use of several different stitch patterns, unique Empire shaping, directional knitting, and eye-catching colorwork made this garment stand out.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Sara Gibbons created an exquisite saddle-shoulder lace-and-cable sweater with 3/4 sleeves and knit it in a heathery green that beautifully complements her coloring. Sara was the most independent of our designers, needing only to consult her mentor Kirsten Hipsky for a few final questions about her finishing. Sara’s design was inspired by a sweater of her mother’s and she really nailed the essence of that earlier sweater.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Lindsey Lindequist achieved the impossible – she finished her Capstone sweater while caring for a 2-year-old and a newborn. My hat is off to her! Her 2-color cable and sweet “Tree of Live” design on her front pockets (pockets! yes!) add standout elements to a reverse-stockinette background. Congrats, Lindsey!

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Lorraine McGough’s “Butterfly Sweater” (as she and I both called it) reflects her sunny personality as well as her perseverance. She knit the front as one piece and then steeked it (in order to preserve the unity of her butterfly eyelet stitch pattern), and knit intarsia butterflies around the shoulders and hem. Her sunny yellow color choice and bright bursts of color were exactly what she planned.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Donna Smith made a designer’s dream sweater: she used stitch patterning to shape the back design of her cabled rib cardigan. The placement of her buttons emphasized the vintage look of her swing design and the blue color she chose added the perfect final touch.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Andy Tarr had a tough year but still managed to pull off one of the most beautiful sweaters we’ve seen–and the complexity involved in her yarn and design made her dedication to her project even tougher. Andy hand-dyed Valley Yarns Huntington in shades of lavender and purple to achieve a gradient pattern, and she knitted a contrasting lace overlay as the front panel of her cardigan. It can be worn either buttoned on both sides as a fitted cardi, or open, as a draped open piece. Either way she wears it, the craftsmanship is evident in every detail.

The 2016 WEBS Expert Knitters Graduates at their Capstone Ceremony. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Liz Frosch-Dratfield had a rough year as well–and almost decided to wait to finish her sweater. However, with some persuasion, she decided to forge ahead (since I knew she’d been planning her Capstone design for over a year!) and her finished design is absolutely exquisite. Knit in Valley Yarns Northfield in purple and heathery green, she used a leaf motif throughout. The ties in front, the hemline, and the sleeves showed off hand-crafted leaves, and the lace patterning echoed the leaves, climbing like vines up the front and back panels of her cardigan. The final result is a flattering and eye-catching work of art.

I’m so proud of this year’s grads. Huge thank yous go to our Capstone mentors: Stephanie Gibbs, Cyndi Shepard, Erin Holman, Ping Wood, Kirsten Hipsky, and Sara Delaney. A thank you as well to Kris Potasky of KP&Co Designs, who hand-made lovely, lovely matching bracelets as our gift to the graduates. And a final thanks to Kathy and Steve Elkins, who started the WEBS Expert Knitter Certification Program in 2008. It’s grown to almost 100 folks at present, and 34 have graduated since 2009. I hope you find inspiration in these designs.

Want to be Inspired?

Thursday, May 26th, 2016
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Do you have a knitter in your life who consistently amazes and inspires you? Someone who tackles challenging projects and actually finishes them on a timely basis? As Store Manager, I’m fortunate to get to know lots of WEBS customers and their work. Sometimes I’m so impressed that I ask them to be sample knitters for the store. I’d like to introduce you to one of these ladies today. Her name is Susan Drew and if you’ve been in the store and admired one of our samples, there’s a good chance that she knit it.

Susan and I have had many occasions to talk and when I hit on the idea of featuring some of our customers and their beautiful work as an occasional feature of my blog posts, I immediately thought of her. Susan is one of the smartest, accomplished and conscientious knitters I know. We sat down a couple of weeks ago to talk about her knitting life.

Customer project spotlight on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Clockwise from top left: Russian Medallion Shawl by Inna Voltchkova(Piecework Sept/Oct 2015) in JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, Curry. Kowhai and Fern Shawl by Margaret Stove from Wrapped in Lace in Juniper Moon Farm Findley, White. Daydreams in Lace by Brooke Nico(Knitter’s Magazine 100, Fall 2010) in Jojoland Ballad, Coffee Beaded Diamond Shawl by Catherine Devine in Schaefer Yarn Company Andrea Beaded Wedding Purse by Susan Rainey in Red Heart Fashion Crochet Thread (size 5), Silver This shawl was knit by my mother in the early 1960’s. I do not know the name of the pattern or yarn.

 

Like many of us, Susan’s mother taught her to knit at the age of eight. After a 20 year hiatus (during which she worked and raised a family), Susan picked up the craft again, exploring a new world of fibers, teaching herself new techniques, attending Stitches conventions, and enrolling in our WEKP program five years ago. After some initial difficulty with a complicated lace shawl using 100% silk yarn, she realized two things: she was intrigued by lace knitting and, lace was not the type of knitting she’d be able to do for the rest of her life (fine yarn and tiny charts!). Susan wanted to create a collection of exquisite knits to pass on to future generations who would wear them and appreciate the art and craft of knitting.

Susan has built her Heirloom Collection around projects that she loves the most. A stole that her mother knit was the piece that launched her Collection. She is drawn to traditional lace from around the world and is intrigued by the stories behind the designs, particularly Estonian and Russian creations. She’s even made her peace with nupps using bamboo needles that she sharpens herself! Susan credits Ravelry as a research tool for upcoming projects and as a means of communication with other knitters and designers world-wide. A portion of Susan’s Heirloom pieces are featured in the photos here. All knit with luxurious fibers, being able to appreciate them in person was a real treat.

I join Susan in her belief that knitting is one of the most rewarding things that we do. Knowing that we’ve used our own hands to make something unique is a pleasure that all crafts people share. We are all very privileged in perpetuating a centuries-long art and making it our own.

If you know of knitters or crocheters who inspire you, drop me a note.  I’d love to share their work here.

Knit away!

Closeout Gold

Friday, May 20th, 2016
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Because I have been affected by our Anniversary Sale, I have been prowling around the warehouse like a thief, looking for something extraordinary to add to my ever-growing stash. (Mind you, it’s not that I need yarn. Oh no, no, no.) I found Classic Elite Fresco in some discontinued colors in our closeout row and it made me unreasonably happy. First of all, favorite gauge, hands down, is sport weight. Second of all, it’s a happy combo of 60% wool, 30% baby alpaca, and 10% angora. That means that the wool keeps the alpaca in line, not allowing it to get drapy and saggy. The alpaca keeps the angora in line, toning down what sometimes is an unruly halo to a fine shadow around each nicely-twisted strand.

My mother-in-law once made my notoriously picky youngest son a gorgeous argyle vest in Fresco, and try to remember that you like me when I tell you that I stole it right out from under him. He doesn’t even know where that vest lives, but when he sees me wearing it, he gets a resigned expression and no doubt, plots his escape to college and how he’ll hide that vest in his sheets and make a clean getaway.

Great discontinued colors at WEBS, like Classic Elite Fresco. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

I saw just the thing that will restore family harmony: this vest, designed by my knitting idol, Veronik Avery. You can find it in Classic Elite’s Saturday Afternoon pattern booklet, and it’s dreamy. A deep V-neck and soft, heathery colors make this so appealing right now, when it’s freezing cold in the morning, and warm and spring-like in the afternoon.

Fresco is a top-quality yarn and we have lots of colors on sale! Come check out Aisle 600 in our warehouse, or shop it online and stock up. You’ve got some knitting to do!