Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

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 yarn.com

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 blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

 

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 - blog.yarn.com

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 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!