Posts Tagged ‘spinning’

Holiday Gift Ideas for Spinners

Monday, November 26th, 2012
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If you have a longtime spinner in your life or someone excited to get just started we have some great gift ideas for you.



Gifts for the spinner:

Spinning Wool by Anne Field, Abstract Fiber Targhee and  Blue-Faced LeicesterAshland Bay multi-colored merino topGreat Adirondack mulberry silk rovingSchacht dizzy yarn gaugeSchacht Hi-Lo spindles andLavihsea Lotion Bars

Spinning and Weaving Week – Wrap Up

Saturday, October 6th, 2012
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We had such a great time this year with National Spinning and Weaving week, we wanted to share some of the fun with you! Spinners and weavers came out for great demonstrations and to enjoy each others company while crafting away.

Barbara demonstrates weaving on the Spriggs Triangle and Square loom.

During an Inkle Loom workshop, students got an up close look at how to make heddles, dress the loom, start and end weaving, and, of course, how to actually weave!

Drop spindle spinning on handmade drop spindles! These two used a wooden dowel and CD to create their spindle.

What did you do to celebrate National Spinning and Weaving week?


Spinning on my Ladybug

Monday, October 1st, 2012
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In celebration of National Spinning and Weaving week, we’re highlighting four different WEBS staff members and their spinning or weaving tool of choice. Here, Sara tells us how the Ladybug changed her thoughts on spinning for the better.

I learned how to spin one night with my knitting group 9 years ago. One of our members brought in drop spindles made from dowels, rubber bands and old CDs. We spent a few hours laughing, growling,learning the basics of spinning and plying and we all went home with remarkably wonky mini skeins. At the time I was a busy working mom with 2 toddler girls and not a lot of time to sit still so I thought it would be perfect for me. Unfortunately, I was ignoring how much I detest stop/start progress on any project. I don’t sit down to work on anything unless I can dedicate some serious time and brain resources to it. After a few dismal tries I gave up on the spindle and decided that spinning just wasn’t for me. 

About a year later Schacht introduced the Ladybug. They are adorable and compact, the wheel is the same color as my VW Beetle, I instantly wanted one. A spinning wheel can be quite an investment when you are wholeheartedly interested in spinning and I had already abandoned the craft once so I waited. I would try the wheel out in the store occasionally and think how much I liked it and that I would totally use it but then I would remember the spindle and I’d go back to waiting. Two years ago a friend of mine got a Ladybug and made the mistake of telling me to take it for a spin, I was in love and a few short weeks later my Mathilde came home. (Yes, I named my new Ladybug!)

I spun my way through a pound of fiber the very first evening. I had no plans, no technique to speak of just a desire feel the fiber move through my fingers and become something new. I spun through 3 braids and 1 bat of fiber the next week and watched as the yarn I produced became markedly more consistent and even. I explored long-draw, worsted and spinning from the fold and I liked them all. I liked the WHOLE process because it was a whole process. With a little bit a prep work to the fiber I could sit and spin 1, 2, even 3 whole bobbins in one sitting and with the attached Lazy Kate I could swap a full one for an empty and just keep going! When I was ready to ply all my bobbins were right there ready to go.

I love the compact style and portability of my Ladybug but I love MORE that I can complete the whole process in one spot and almost all at one time.

Check out Sara’s review of the Ladybug in the video below!

The Joy of Spindle Spinning

Sunday, September 30th, 2012
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In celebration of National Spinning and Weaving week, we’re highlighting four different WEBS staff members and their spinning or weaving tool of choice. Here, Ashley tells us why she loves spinning on her drop spindle.

Drop spindle spinning is one of my favorite ways to explore new fibers and feed my yarn making addiction. With a handy “yarn-tainer” to hold my fiber of choice and keep my spindle safe, I can bring my latest spinning project with me wherever I go. This keeps me  from boredom in long lines and and lets me engage people who see me spinning and have no idea what I’m doing, often stopping to ask. Public spinning is certainly a wonderful conversation starter!

There are so many different kinds of spindles, each developed in different regions of the world and adapted for spinning whichever fiber was available in that particular climate. Most ancient of crafts, spindle spinning clothed our ancestors going back almost 20,000 years. I really enjoy that sense of ancient continuity,  touching the fibers and turning the spindle in the same way that men and women have done for untold generations.

For brand new spinners, a large whorl drop spindle will have a nice long spin time, and the capacity to hold thicker yarns as well as thin ones. It will also make a great plying spindle long after one has graduated to the smaller whorl spindles for making laceweight yarns. Spindling allows the spinner to take the process at their own personal pace, which can ease the learning process and offers the yarn “more intention per inch” increasing the evenness over time.

The great beauty and variety of spindles available encourages the spinner to try many different styles and sizes and experience the different drafting and spinning techniques they offer, and a glimpse into the cultural history of the area the spindle originated from. Drop spindle spinning is a wonderful way to make your production infinitely portable, to connect us along the thread of time and allow our fingers to explore luscious fibers without limits!

Come see Ashley demonstrate Spinning Exotic Fibers on Monday, October 1 at WEBS! 

National Spinning and Weaving Week at WEBS

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
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October 1 – 7 is National Spinning and Weaving Week and WEBS is celebrating with a week of events, special activities and discounts! WEBS was founded and grew out of Barbara Elkins’ passion for weaving and we hope to share and spread that enthusiasm to weavers and spinners from novice to experienced (and perhaps entice some others to try their hand at it for the first time!).

In the spirit of sharing these time-honored arts, we will be featuring daily demonstrations of both weaving and spinning in the store from 11 am – 1 pm. These demos will be free and, we hope, will spark questions and conversation between the weavers and spinners and those watching. A great variety of techniques will be presented – both wheel and drop spindle spinning, floor looms, frame looms, rigid heddle and more. If you’ve ever wanted to see fleece spun into yarn or watch yarn woven into cloth, come on over and check it out!

In addition to the daily demos, we are also offering mini workshops to present a sampling of different techniques so that people can try something new and add to their toolbox of skills. If you’ve been curious about trying something new or just want to expand your skills, this is a great way to start. All mini workshops will run from 2 – 4 pm and cost $5. The schedule will be:

Monday: Spinning Exotic Fibers – Musing about mohair? Confused about cotton? This mini-workshop will explore several different exotic fibers like camel down, silk and cotton. We will also look at the different drafting styles that may suit each fiber.

Tuesday: Hand Techniques for Rigid Heddle Looms – Looking for some new techniques to add some pizzazz to your rigid heddle weaving? Join us for this workshop as we look at both hand-manipulated laces and pick-up stick patterns. We will also cover how to hemstitch your weaving while it is on the loom.

Thursday: Inkle Weaving –In this inkle loom workshop, you’ll see how to make heddles, dress the loom, start and end weaving, and, of course, how to actually weave.  If time permits, we’ll talk about how to plan a warp. There will be an opportunity for a little bit of hands-on work.

Wednesday is our big Meetup Day as we encourage weavers and spinners to come together and celebrate the beauty and joy that these crafts bring. We will have a space to hang out (with refreshments!) and socialize with others who understand what it means to weave at 56 epi or drool over handpainted BFL roving. There will be goodie bags plus the allure of the warehouse and store (have you seen the new Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo and the spinning fibers that have recently arrived?). Bring show and tell and share your stories of fibery adventures and inspirations.

Also on Wednesday, Barbara Elkins will be doing a computer loom demo from 1pm – 3pm.

In addition to all of the fun things happening at the store each day, throughout the week we will be offering a 10% discount in-store (in-stock only) on weaving and spinning tools and equipment.

So join us for a fun week as we celebrate the richness and diversity of spinning and weaving. Whether you’ve never tried it before or have been spinning and weaving for years, there’s something for everyone.

– Leslie Ann

The Buzz at WEBS – July 20, 2012

Friday, July 20th, 2012
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The Buzz at WEBS

This week the staff at WEBS is buzzing about a beautiful, lightweight shawl that’s perfect for warm weather knitting. Also, a warm and cozy cowl for when winter finally returns! And two fantastic book reviews from our weaving expert Barbara and our spinning expert Ashley.

For my first mystery shawl KAL, I decided to be good and went stash-diving. I unearthed a forgotten skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino and gave it some love by knitting up this airy lace shawl. The Lace Merino blocks out better than I dreamed, soft and drapey with crisp stitch definition. And as luck would have it, the autumnal red tones and lacy leaf motif go together perfectly! > Emma W.

It might be 100 degrees out right now, but we can’t forget that winter will come again eventually. Cowls are my favorite accessory and I wear them outside under a warm coat, as well as around the office on chilly mornings. The Valley Yarns Bell Lace Cowl is the perfect length. I can wear it long as an accessory, or wrapped around twice to be kept extra warm. It’s knit in super soft Northfield so its perfect to be worn up against the sensitive skin on your neck and face. > Grace H.

I like to spin on my Ladybug in the summer while I sit out on the deck in the evenings and I realized the other day that all my bobbins were full so I’ve been plying up a storm! From Left to right: Creatively Dyed Yarn fiber in the colorway Goat, Optim Merino from Ms. Gusset (a gift Kirsten H. brought back from Sock Summit last summer) and a batt of mystery fiber from Kathy Elkins massive destash event back in May. Now I have 7 empty bobbins to fill with singles! > Sara D.

The weavers among us are excited about a new book that just came in. It is Custom Woven Interiors, by Kelly Marshall, a Minnesota weaver and the owner of a production company of the same name. The book is part pictures of the warp rep rugs, throws, blankets, pillows, curtains and table fabrics in her home and part instructions for those projects. The drafts are mostly for 8 shafts, with some 6-shaft and some 10-shaft projects. Because the fabrics use a lot of colors of 5/2 cotton, but not a lot of each color in the warps, this seems like a great study group project. If each participant provides a few colors, the cost can easily be shared and everyone would come out with a great fabric. Sturdy looms required for the sett of 48 epi! > Barbara E.

Entering the complex world of natural dyeing can seem daunting, but Jenny Dean welcomes her readers to the exploratory process with clear and engaging information in Wild Color. All the equipment you’ll need and how to make sure your choice of dyepot doesn’t change your color results, how to mordant different types of fiber and choose the safest one to use for the color results you want, and how to safely work with toxic chemicals and plants without worry for your family or the environment. Color modifiers, Ph charts and a cool recipe for achieving 25 different color results from one dyebath! My favorite feature of this book is the copious information on the dye plants themselves, from flowers and leaves to barks and roots, with how to grow and/or harvest for the best color results, how much plant material is needed and the many different colors that can be drawn from the same plant. Last year’s dye experiments, guided by this wonderful compendium, yielded great results. I’m already harvesting new plants to add to my dyepot and looking forward to exploring all these wild colors. > Ashley F.

The Buzz at WEBS – July 6, 2012

Friday, July 6th, 2012
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The Buzz at WEBS

This week, the staff at WEBS is buzzing about some old yarn favorites, as well as a brand new addition to the Valley Yarns line. Ashley is buzzing about the Know Your Wheel DVD and has written a fantastic review for all the spinners out there!

I am knitting a Catkin (designed by Carina Spencer) for a friend (shhh don’t tell!) in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light colorways Wicked and Manor. This pattern is available for purchase on Ravelry, and although the length of the pattern may seem daunting, it is very well written and easy to follow. Carina Spencer has her own site with video tutorials to aid your Catkin creation. It can be worn as a shawl with the buttons down the front or side and as a cozy scarf. I had so much fun picking colors! The Tosh Merino Light is very soft and great to work with, too. > Heidi R.

Reynolds Soft Linen – This yarn caught my eye in our warehouse! This hot coral/tangerine color is very popular this season, and I thought it would be great for accessories. I grabbed three balls of it, two of which I am making a cute clutch purse with. The linen will help make this a durable bag for years to come! > Deb S.

I had a lot of fun joining westknits Earth & Sky Mystery knitalong last summer and was super excited to see there will be another mystery shawl KAL starting soon. The Rockefeller Mystery Shawl knitalong starts July 13th, so you’ll want to purchase the pattern before then. After browsing through many fingering weight yarns, I finally decided to knit my shawl in Swans Island Fingering in Seasmoke and Tide Pool. > Dena C.

Valley Yarns Buckland – I am absolutely smitten with the newest addition to our Valley Yarns line. Buckland features the same fiber content as our Charlemont but rather than being plied, Buckland has a chain construction which creates a light, lofty fabric. It has 109 yards in a 50-gram skein and knits at 4.5 sts on a #7. My head is spinning with ideas for this yarn! > Kathy E.

I always forget how much I love Valley Yarns Amherst. Right now I’m working on a project for Kirsten for our next catalog out of Amherst and it’s incredible. It’s easy to knit with and super soft. I think it’s time to dig the Amherst out that I have in my stash and make something for myself! > Mary K-H.

Know your Wheel DVD with Alden Amos and Cindy Lair with Linda Ligon – This two-disc set is chock-full of amazing spinning wheel knowledge, from master wheel maker Alden Amos, who talks with Interweave’s Linda Ligon on the first disc, which will delight tinkerers, wheel makers and aficionados of antique double drive wheels as well as new spinners wanting to really dive into the mechanics of this fascinating tool. The second disc features Cindy Lair of Schacht Spindle Co., sharing copious wisdom on the best ways to set up your wheel, its lubrication needs, and how that applies to many different types of commonly produced modern wheels. Both discs feature tips, tricks and hints to help better understand your wheel and alleviate any trouble you might be experiencing while offering new and experienced spinners the maintenance know-how to enjoy a lifetime of worry-free spinning! > Ashley F.

The Buzz at WEBS – May 4, 2012

Friday, May 4th, 2012
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The Buzz at WEBS

This week the staff at WEBS has a lot to Buzz about! Our Anniversary Sale is in full swing with our new May sale yarns, and we have a fantastic new video to share!

Valley Yarns Goshen – I’m not a big fan of cotton yarns, but our Goshen is a blend of cotton, modal and silk and it’s a dream to work with. It’s happy being knitted and it crochets beautifully! On sale this month only for $2.79! Be sure to check out the great designs we have too! > Kathy E.

This week I’m buzzing about a video I shot with the Kangaroo Dyer, Gail Callahan. Gail hand dyes Valley Yarns FranklinCharlemontNorthfield, and 2/14 Alpaca Silk in her basement, which she’s converted into a working studio. Hearing her story and seeing her workspace left me feeling inspired to rethink color and design with my own work in multimedia. This is a video I am sure to revisit when I’m needing a little inspiration. > Lindsey P.

Berroco Ultra Alpaca is a wonderful workhorse yarn. The alpaca content gives it some extra warmth as well as some drape, while the wool content gives it body and memory. With a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch you can use it for worsted weight patterns, as well as some DK weight patterns. I have some Ultra Alpaca stashed for a crocheted sweater that I’ve had my eye on for awhile, and now that it’s on sale I may just have to buy some more to make a knit sweater too. > Liz A.

Freia Sport comes in four lovely colors. My favorite color is denim. I especially like the monocromatic graduation in this colorway. This yarn would be perfect for a shawl or scarf or perhaps a cute handbag. It could make an interesting felting project too. Check out projects made with this on Ravelry. > Heidi R.

Hand Spun: New Spins on Traditional Techniques - A great new book from Pluckyfluff  (a.k.a. Lexi Boeger) with fantastic photos and fleece-to-finished yarn instructions for a plethora of art yarns, as well as some great projects to knit up with your stash of handspun goodies. With an eye for inspiration, this book is a smorgasboard of techniques, easy to follow instructions and interviews with some of the hottest fiber professionals around. A great addition to the adventuresome spinner’s library. > Ashley F.

I love the video on our Kangaroo Dyer, Gail. I like to add images and video to my Pinterest boards and browse through them when I need to get my creative juices flowing. What do you use when you need a little inspiration?


The Buzz at WEBS – March 23, 2012

Friday, March 23rd, 2012
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The Buzz at WEBS

This week, the staff at WEBS is buzzing about so many different things! Weaving, spinning, knitting and yarns all make an appearance.

We’re excited about this addition to our weaving inventory. Dovetail Tapestry Beaters are elegant, beautifully finished tools to aid detail work in many aspects of your weaving. Think weaver controlled techniques as well as tapestry weaving. The contoured shape and silky feel make them a pleasure to hold. The tines are smoothly finished so they will not snag your warp or weft and the finely pointed handles allow for delicate placement in the weft. They are made in four sizes: 2”, 1 ½”, 1” and ¾”. Size refers to width at the tines. See our website for prices and ordering information. > Barbara E.

The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn by Brenda Gibson offers a complete picture of the craft of spinning.  This book has everything from historical perspective and the basics of fiber preparation and handling, to the techniques for spindle and wheel spinning, and “recipes” to create many different kinds of yarns, all in one place. An excellent introductory book for someone just starting out in the exciting world of spinning and full of information even an experienced spinner can appreciate. > Ashley F.

I have to admit it–I don’t own any Noro! So why not start with Noro Shiraito? This luxurious yarn pairs Noro’s gorgeous colors with incredible softness. Since it’s perfect for next to the skin wear, a shawl or cowl would allow me to cuddle up to it while showcasing the shifting color changes. > Emma W.

A customer came to the shop wearing the pattern Courting Sophia which she’d knit in Valley Yarns Huntington. I fell in love with the variety of straightforward lace stitches and figured this was an oppportunity to use Madelinetosh  Tosh Lace in my new favorite color, Curiosity. This project, with its generous amount of stockinette stitch, works up quickly and I couldn’t be happier with my yarn choice. > Stephanie G.

I tend to knit with yarns that are in the fingering to DK range, but this winter when my sister showed me a super bulky circular scarf and asked for a similar one, I was happy to oblige.  I unexpectedly fell in love with the scarf I made her, (partially due to how quickly it grew!) and decided to make one for myself. It gave me a chance to try out Berroco Vintage Chunky, held doubled.  This yarn is so squishy, is easy to work with, and blocks beautifully. > Tina M.

With winter behind us and the warm weather here to stay, I’d love to know what’s on your hooks, needles and looms.  Do you stick to cotton and lace in the summer months or prepare for winter with warm woolies all year round?

The Buzz at WEBS – September 29, 2011

Friday, September 30th, 2011
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This week the staff at WEBS is buzzing about…

1. Craft Activism is a gorgeous book with fun projects representing the many different ways crafters are working to positively impact their environments, create community or support a cause!  The book is filled with interesting stories and colorful projects – I especially like the choose-your-own-chart colorwork mittens, and the tin can flowers are adorable. I can’t wait to see some of these projects in person at the Craft Activism event next week! > Tina M.

2. Cascade Yarns 220 Fingering – The notoriously reliable 220 line introduces another versatile basic in a fingering weight. Soft and lightly plied at 7.5 stitches per one inch on a US 2.  We are carrying a lovely range of 57 shades!! Visions of colorwork are dancing in my head! > Cara S.

3. Swans Island Fingering yarn is a magical combination of soft, sturdy, and sproing-y that you don’t see too often. I just knit up a sweater in it on size 6 needles, and the yarn not only held its own at the bigger gauge, but made an incredibly light, soft fabric – in fact, my boyfriend and roommate now make fun of me every time I pick it up because I’ve raved about it so much!

4. Knitter’s Pride Symfonie Rose Crochet Hook Set – I fell hard for this set of hooks when I first saw them. They are simply stunning and are embellished with Swarovski crystals! Sparkly crochet hooks that look and feel great – what more can a girl ask for? > Kathy

5. I am buzzing with excitement about the National Spinning and Weaving Week here at WEBS. We will be having a wide variety of activities including daily demonstrations, mini-workshops and more. Tuesday night will be a spinning open house and the store will be open until 9pm, with demonstrations of all our spinning wheels. Wednesday we will welcome weavers and spinners from near and far for a meetup day with raffles, goodies bags and more. > Leslie Ann B.