Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

It’s Not Too Late For Valentine’s Day Knitting!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
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It’s down to the wire now–Valentine’s day is right around the corner and you’d love to give your boy- or girlfriend a handmade gift. But you procrastinated, and then you didn’t know what to knit, and then the Super Bowl happened…and now you have only a day or two to make a gift to warm a loved one’s heart. What to do? Fingerless Mitts to the rescue.

A quick trip around our website offers myriad possibilities, and not one of these patterns will take you more than a day or two. (Secret: you don’t have to block them if you completely run out of steam!)  My personal favorite is by one of my go-to pattern designers, ChickenBetty. Her Birthstone Pattern by Chicken Betty.  Photo by Lindsey TophamBirthstone mitts have a beautiful 2-stitch cable motif that goes down the back of each mitt. And the garnet colorway that you see in the pattern would be a lovely offbeat choice for a Valentine.

Spud and Chloe’s Venus Mitts are made in a lovely worsted weight yarn that will keep hands and wrists toasty and stylish. Plus, “Venus.” It screams Valentine. They take only one skein of Spud and Chloe SPUDCHLPDFOTRVENUSMI.zoom.1Sweater, a superwash yarn, and would be nice for either a man or a woman, depending on what color you choose.

Finally, the Swan’s Island Cafe Mitts are the simplest ever in a lovely 2-stripe sequence. Best of all, there are 3 different lengths you can make–so if you’re trying to git’er done on a lunch hour, make the shortest one! How SWANSISPDFCAFEMITTS.zoom.1about white and red stripes? Or, if you’re going manly, gray and blue look very nice together.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Make it a crafty one!

“Let’s Put On A Show!”

Friday, January 29th, 2016
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Every once in a while, in a meeting, the word “retreat” would come up and everyone around the table would nod and say, “yes, we’ve got to do that one of these days.” Knitters, that day is here! Last week we announced our first-ever WEBS Knitting Retreat (#WEBSRetreat) and we have been overwhelmed by the response. It seems that you really, really like us.

WEBS Fall Knitting Retreat Sept. 16-18, 2016. Registration open Feb. 8th. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Registration opens Monday, February 8. We did that for a reason–to give you all time to put your lifesavers in place: your babysitters, your spouse, your pet caregivers. We wanted you to come up with a really great excuse to give your boss for why you’re not coming in to work on Friday. It takes some time to digest all the information, and make a decision about whether or not you’re going to spend money to treat yourself for an entire weekend of fiber frolics. We wanted you all to be absolutely positive when you click the “Register” link that fateful Monday.

I can tell you that it will be a ton of fun. We have all kinds of great stuff planned, including late-night knitting gatherings, theme meals, lots of shopping time with Steve and Kathy, personalized swag from your favorite yarn companies, and the hottest teachers around. It’ll be action-packed, I guarantee.

You know what? I’ve never been to a knitting retreat. I’m DYING to go to this one. Are you coming?

Fit Fiber Crafters: Good for Your Brain

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
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As the new year begins, many like to focus on shaping up and getting healthier. Each Tuesday in January, our Fit Fiber Crafters series will give you tips on getting your personal yarn world a little healthier, from the health of your stash to the health of your body while crafting, keeping your finished project looking healthy, and exercising your brain when your craft.

Good for Your Brain Learn a New Technique

We’ve all seen the news stories touting what we’ve all known for a long time – knitting (and other fiber crafts) are good for your brain. Not only does it help cognitive function, these activities can help with depression. We like to think that any learning can’t be bad, so why not take some time this year to help your brain’s health and stretch your knowledge a little.

We challenge everyone to learn one new fiber-related skill this year. If you’re not sure where to start, you can take a look at our class offerings. Another option is checking out that pattern or weaving draft you’ve been eyeing but have always thought, “Oh, that’s too hard.” It’s not. You can do it. Use 2016 as your chance to learn how to do it.

Many of us often try new things and stop immediately because it’s too hard. Stretch yourself this year. Take the time to truly learn something new. Show your friends what you did. Maybe you’ll encourage them to try it too.

What are you going to challenge yourself with this year?

Fit Fiber Crafters: Project Care

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
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As the new year begins, many like to focus on shaping up and getting healthier. Each Tuesday in January, our Fit Fiber Crafters series will give you tips on getting your personal yarn world a little healthier, from the health of your stash to the health of your body while crafting, keeping your finished project looking healthy, and exercising your brain when your craft.

Project Care Choosing the Right Technique

How do you care for your handmade finished fiber projects? This is a question that gets asked often. Many times, the items we make are outerwear, so they don’t have to be laundered as often, but it’s important to know how you’re going to clean something before you create it.

One of the benefits of swatching or sampling is that you get to practice taking care of your finished project. Launder your swatch or sample they way you plan on taking care of it once it’s done. Taking a little extra time at the beginning of your project helps go a long way towards ensuring that you won’t have a sweater that grows into a dress, or a towel that shrinks so much it becomes a washcloth.

As far as laundering goes, you’ll want to check the care instructions that came with your yarn, then consider what the purpose of the project is. You probably want to be able to machine wash, and even dry, a baby blanket, or a kitchen towel, but a shawl or even an adult sweater would be fine to live its life being hand washed. Before even starting your project, you want to make sure it’s going to last. If your swatch comes out of it’s first trip in the washing machine looking a bit worse for the wear, your entire project will probably behave the same way.

On the other hand, if you throw that swatch or sample in the washing machine and it comes out looking just beautiful, you want to keep the finished project looking that way. Sometimes, especially on wool, our usual laundry detergent can be a little too harsh. A wool wash, like Eucalan is not only great for handwashing, it’s also perfect for using in your machine like regular detergent. It’s great for woolens, but also other delicate items you may have in your life.

Before you wash your project, take a quick look at it (whether your hand or machine washing) and make sure there aren’t any stitches that need fixing or ends that need weaving. You don’t want to wash your gorgeous sweater with a small hole that later becomes a giant, tangled mess, when it could have been prevented.

A little care in the health of your finished projects will go a long way in ensuring they’re in your life for years to come.

Check out this great video about washing your projects, too.

To Poncho or Not To Poncho…

Friday, January 15th, 2016
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I’ve been thinking a lot about ponchos lately. I used to think ponchos were for the lazy knitter, they had no shape, they made a body look boxy and shapeless. Remember that big poncho crazy a few years ago, caused by, of all things, Martha Stewart in a poncho emerging from jail? Everyone was poncho-crazy and I thought that was awful.

Poncho patterns from Blue Sky Alpacas. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Fast-forward to now, and I am looking with a more kindly eye upon the poncho. I’ve seen more than one pattern for very cute ponchos that look like they are wearable by grownups of a certain age. These Blue Sky Alpacas garments were a huge hit when we had their trunk show in the store this fall. The Two Harbors Poncho is knit in scrumptious Extra (used by me for a very fun cowl a few months back) and the big ribbing swatches will draw the fabric in enough to give it shape and drape that are flattering. The Bianca Wrap is simplicity personified. ONE seam. Light, warm, and comfy. Blue Sky Suri Merino is feather-light with a very nice halo that makes this garment more functional than a shawl or a scarf.

My favorite aspect of ponchos is that they are like a sweater without the sleeves–they go over your head and they stay put. I don’t like open cardigans, nor do I like futzing around with shawl pins or winding scarves so they don’t flop open at the first gust of wind. As my office-mate correctly identified it, “they’re like wearing a blanket.” And who doesn’t want that, when it’s icy outside?

What do you think about this new poncho trend? Which one will you make?

Fit Fiber Crafters: Sitting Pretty

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
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As the new year begins, many like to focus on shaping up and getting healthier. Each Tuesday in January, our Fit Fiber Crafters series will give you tips on getting your personal yarn world a little healthier, from the health of your stash to the health of your body while crafting, keeping your finished project looking healthy, and exercising your brain when your craft.

Sitting Pretty Good Posture and Breaks Prevent Injury

We all dream about being able to sit down and knit, crochet, spin, or weave all day, but our bodies are not especially excited about that idea, especially if we’re not being careful to take care of them as we craft. It’s important to avoid injury when crafting so you don’t miss out on extended periods of time doing your favorite activity.

Some things to keep in mind when crafting:

Lighting and Seating
You want to make sure your area is well lit. Having to strain your eyes takes the fun out of your favorite activity and can lead to things like headaches. When you choose where you’re going to sit, it’s best to choose a comfortable spot that has plenty of support where you can sit up straight. I’m guilty if sitting on the couch turned sideways without much care for which way I’m sitting, and I know that leads to pain.

Take Breaks and Stretch.
As much as we love a long session of crafting, breaks are incredibly important. Every half hour or so, get up and take a walk around the house. Go get a glass of water, play with your pet, or go through a stack of mail. Do some stretches. Stretch your hands and wrists, and your shoulders and back. Do some shoulder rolls and get everything a little loosened before you sit back down to go back at it.

Be Mindful
When we’re working on something really complicated, a lot of us hunch up so our shoulders they’re touching our ears. Try to be mindful of where your body is as you craft. A simple readjustment in your body position can also give you a break from a difficult task you’re trying to get done, and it’s long enough to come back at it with new eyes. Maybe a lightbulb will go off!

Most importantly, listen to what your body is telling you. If you’re hand is going numb, or your back is starting to feel funny, it’s time for a break and reevaluation.

No Resolution

Thursday, December 31st, 2015
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I have NEVER been a resolution-setter, and I know if I did make myself a list, I’d cheat before the Ides of March. I have, however, been giving myself a stern talking-to about my lack of organization when it comes to knowing what I have in my stash. In the last month, I’ve brought home three different patterns, knowing I had yarn in my stash to make them. However, once I crawled on all fours through the closet where I keep my stash yarn (piled into plastic bins, no system whatsoever), I realized that I didn’t have enough of one yarn, didn’t have the needles I needed for another…it was anarchy.

Getting organized in 2016. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

If I was going to run down the organization rabbit-hole, I think I’d need to go through every single needle and set I have. I’d need to record it somewhere (there’s an app for that!) so I always have it with me. I’d need to really sort out the yarn I have, by weight, and if I was super-insane, by fiber. I’d need to go through every single pattern I have lying around in various formats and find a place to keep them free from coffee-spillage and my own absent-mindedness.

If I were to be an organized knitter in 2016, WEBS has a few items that I think would help. This Grellow and Gray Sirka Counter would enable me to finally get rid of about 10 different, useless, row counters and stitch markers. It keeps track of up to 3 separate counts and doesn’t move unless you advance it. GENIUS.

I could know what needles I have by knowing where they are–and this Knitter’s Pride case holds a multitude of different sizes, even crochet hooks and tools. And they’re gorgeous.

Chic.a clear zipper-front pouches are just the thing for all my tools. Cable needles, blocking pins, stitch holders, probably even my double-pointed needles. I can just peek inside and wave to all my goodies.

And time. Time is what we all need more of. In 2016, I definitely plan to take more time to do the things I love to do.

For help in getting yourself organized be sure to check out our “31 Days to Get Organized” series of blog posts!

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!

Knitting for Pleasure

Friday, December 4th, 2015
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If you read the title and think that I’m talking about knitting for the pleasure of knitting, you’re wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to knit and I do it  instead of as therapy sometimes. What I love more is knitting something FOR someone and giving it to them. Hand-knitted gifts often trump more elaborate “store-bought” gifts by virtue of the hand-knitting. You actually created something for someone.

I was reminded of this when I gave my son a simple hat and scarf I knit out of Valley Yarns Sunderland. He doesn’t care one bit about the fiber content (as long as it’s not itchy) or how luxurious or locally sourced or hand-dyed that yarn is. He needed a hat and I had enough yarn left for a scarf.

Knitting joy, gifts and more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

The pleasure for me was that as soon as he saw that hat he put it right on his head and it didn’t leave that head anytime he was outside. He even wore it inside (our house is a bit chilly). That’s why you knit gifts and give them away — because it feels good.

Valley Yarns Sunderland is my current obsession. Check out this soft, heathery ball of lovely and knit a gift for a friend. It’ll make you feel SO much better!

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 yarn.com, read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

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!