Posts Tagged ‘Valley Yarns’

WEBS Mystery Blanket KAL and CAL- Square One

Thursday, February 26th, 2015
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It’s finally time to cast-on, or chain to begin your squares!

Knitters: We’re making a tiled pattern of embossed diamonds with ALL of the shaping happening on the wrong side of the work! That’s right you’ll be increasing and decreasing on the purl side. It’s also a perfect background for some duplicate stitch embroidery, or a monogram, and this square is even reversible!

The pattern can be downloaded here (FREE) and to help you with those new stitches we’ve put together some video tutorials, We even have a playlist for the Knit-A-Long on Youtube to make it all easier.

Purling multiple stitches together:

Purling through the back loop:

Increasing on the purl side – Make One Purlwise:

Duplicate stitch:

Crocheters: We’re making yo-yos! And before you fret about having to make lots of little circles and sew them together make sure you watch our tutorial video. These little circles are made in two parts and joined as they are created!

The pattern can be downloaded here (FREE)and we have a great tutorial video to help you wrap your mind around how this one comes together. There’s a playlist for the Crochet-A-Long on Youtube as well.

Crochet yo-yos:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and tell us about your progress! You can do that here, on Facebook, on Ravelry, or post pictures of your progress on Instagram and tag them with #WEBSMKAL or #WEBSMCAL

How to wear it – The Plesti Fair Isle Pullover

Monday, February 23rd, 2015
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Our Spring 2015 Catalog is online and is making it’s way to your mailboxes and with it comes a whole new bunch of Valley Yarns patterns.  We thought we’d share some styling suggestions for some of our patterns this year to help make these sweaters and accessories a part of your everyday wardrobe.

How to wear it - The Plesti Fair Isle Pullover on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.com

First up is our Plesti Fair Isle Pullover, knit in Valley Yarns Northampton. This sweater features a wide scoop neck and a slightly over sized fit making it feel more like a comfy boyfriend sweater, but it can easily be dressed up. This sweater would also look great as an extra layer over a shirtwaist dress with a pair of knee boots!

How to wear it - The Plesti Fair Isle Pullover on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.com

Though the fair isle work may look complicated there are never more than 2 colors in any row and the motifs are fairly large and easy to memorize as you knit. If you feel you need some practice before tackling the sweater the pattern includes a matching hat that ‘s not only a great to practice your color-work but makes a perfect swatch as well! You have over 3 dozen colors to choose from in Valley Yarns Northampton so the options are nearly endless.

Year of the Sheep

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
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The Year of the Sheep, according to the the Lunar New Year, begins tomorrow and I am excited to celebrate. Partly because the sheep is described as a sign of creativity, but mostly because I love the soft, curly, squishy fleece sheep produce. Wool fiber and yarn are staples of the textile arts and for good reason. Wool is warm, making it perfect for winter blankets and throws, scarves and shawls and wraps. And it dyes beautifully, giving us colorful palettes of vibrant hues with which to weave cloth.

I love to weave blankets and wool is my fiber of choice, especially this year as I stare at the mountains of snow that are piled outside my New England home.  Jaggerspun Heather is a beautiful 100% wool with stunning heathered colors and a true bargain with 498 yds per 100g skein. The sett is 12 – 16 epi, which makes a cozy, warm blanket that weaves up incredibly fast. And – spoiler alert! – we will have a fantastic draft for a lap robe in deflected doubleweave available in early April!

Valley Yarns Draft #7, the Dornik Twill Throw in 2/10 Merino Tencel - available for download at yarn.com

Another of my favorite wool blends is Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel. The tencel in this yarn adds a lovely sheen and drape, making this a great choice for shawls that feel like a warm, comforting hug. We have experimented with the care on this yarn and have had good success washing hand wovens on a gentle cycle in cool water following by air drying. Check out Draft #61 Plaited Twill Shawl for an 8-shaft weave (I love the plaited effect that makes it seem like a weave within a weave) or try the Dornik Twill Throw, Draft # 7, for 4-shaft looms. Barbara just wove a new version of this throw in a different colorway; the color range of the yarn lends itself to many great combinations.

Valley Yarns Draft #67 the Zephyr Lace Shawl in 8-shaft Atwater-Bronson Lace - available for download at yarn.com

For pure luxury it’s hard to beat Jaggerspun Zephyr, which is a 50-50 blend of merino wool and silk. Although the sett is not too fine (20 – 30 epi), the yarn is soft and light and feels like sinking into a cloud. We combined two closely related colors to create a lacy shawl that is almost iridescent, with warp and weft floats that shimmer. There are lots of colors to choose from, so you can create your own combination to weave the Zephyr Shawl in Atwater-Bronson, Draft #67.

Leyden Glen Farm lambs - see more at getting-stitched-on-the-farm.blogspot.com

So start counting sheep and the ways we love them (as an aside – it’s lambing season, which is about as lovable and cute as it gets! Visit the website of your favorite sheep farmer to confirm this and say “awww”.). And since it is the Year of the Sheep, how will you celebrate with wool in your weaving?

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?

Designer in Residence – Doris Chan

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015
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Our new Designer in Residence program is off to an amazing start! This month we reveal the first design from our Crochet Designer in Residence Doris Chan, The Shawl Collar Stole.

Doris Chan WEBS 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence, her first design the Shawl Collar Stole in Valley Yarns Superwash Bulky - learn more at blog.yarn.com

With a bit of clever shaping, The Shawl Collar Stole is a meltingly soft stole that drapes beautifully and securely around the shoulders. The wide top band in gentle ribbing turns over to form a snuggly collar. The back is curved to create some roominess through the arms and allow the fronts to sit properly. The stole is just wide enough for comfortable coverage, but not so wide that you’re constantly sitting on the back, and the fronts have enough wrap-around length without getting in your way. Valley Superwash Bulky makes the crocheting quick and smooth, while the relaxed gauge and open lacy stitch pattern keep this stole surprisingly lightweight yet cozy without being stuffy.

Doris Chan WEBS 2015 Crochet Designer in Residence - learn more at blog.yarn.com

We asked Doris to tell us about about how she designs, what she finds inspiring, and to give us a hint about what we can expect to see throughout the year.

Tell us a bit 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?

Unless an editor requests a specific silhouette or style, I will always begin with yarn. Yarn in the hands speaks to me in ways I don’t completely understand and begins a process not easily explained. I have referred to this process as organic designing rather than technical designing. A technical designer may create a completed project in the mind, perhaps to the point of being able to write a pattern, before ever picking up a hook. That designer has only to plug in an appropriate yarn and crochet according to the plan, or have a contract crocheter make the sample. An organic designer grows things from yarn. Sounds idiotic and overly simplistic when put that way, but it does describe how it feels to me. It’s not that technical designers don’t care about yarn or that organic designers are space cadets. Designers aren’t totally one or the other, just as no person is totally right brained or left brained. Good design is a cocktail of the two in different proportions, plus a dash of individual skill and aesthetics.

On my technical side, I possess a personal bag of crochet tricks or techniques on which I often fall back; years of experience (trial and error) have granted me a feel for seamless construction, working lace stitch patterns in relaxed gauge, shaping and manipulating fabric. But for me there can’t be design until I grok the yarn in a fairly intense, hands-on way. I sometimes take the yarn for a series of test drives(some call it swatching) before I arrive at the place I need to be. Once there is good fabric, then the project can grow from there.

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? 

Surely you jest. I am a serious slug and hardly leave my home. As an admitted sci-fi fan geek I immerse myself not in colors and fashion or artistic images, but in works of fantasy. Not that I design sci-fi fangeek crochet (not much anyway!), but I do tap into the sense of wonder, the outside-the-box possibilities that are at the core of my favorite guilty pleasures. My friends and readers inspire me. I may ask what sort of crochet they’d like to see, and then make it so. I also look backwards quite often, seeking out images and descriptions of vintage or retro pieces that can be translated into crochet-speak and given contemporary appeal. But what inspires me most is meeting a yarn that doesn’t want to live in my usual comfort zone. This pushes me to work even farther outside the box and leads me to different techniques, fresh approaches and new solutions in order to make that yarn happy in crochet.

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

My aesthetic is governed by what I believe looks and feels right on the body. Wearable, doable garments and accessories in flexible, forgiving fabrics that are shaped to fit and flatter are what I love to design. I prefer working in one single solid color, the better to showcase the crochet stitchwork. BUT…occasionally I wander over to the dark side and design afghans. That’s where I play with color. Nothing is as satisfying as making something amazing for your home to look at and enjoy every day

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

My favorite Valley Yarn to date, mainly for the reason that I am allergic to and cannot wear wool, is Goshen. I have designed extensively in this lovely cotton blend, and it is my go-to medium worsted yarn for my own personal crocheted garments. I eagerly anticipate working again with fine gauge Charlemont and the growing family of Valley Superwash, now in DK, worsted and bulky weights.

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

Majorly unfair question. Honestly I’d rather NOT know what everyone else is doing, so as not to be unduly influenced by anyone. If you want to accuse me of being a lazy slug, that’s another way to say it. I do follow with understandable interest the work of my boss at DesigningVashti.com, Vashti Braha. She often takes her crochet in directions I fear to tread and with enviable passion.

And don’t forget, we’ll have a new design from Fiona Ellis next month and each odd numbered month of the year. Check out her designs here. And we’ll reveal the next crochet design from Doris Chan in April, and in each even numbered month this year! You can see all her designs here.

It’s A Mystery…

Friday, January 16th, 2015
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For our fiber friends in the Northern Hemisphere, winter often finds us burrowed into our homes, or trudging from our house to our car to our office to our car to our house. Here at WEBS, we’re hatching a mystery knit- and crochet-a-long to spice up your short days and long nights. It accomplishes a number of good things: you’ll learn some fascinating new techniques that you’ll use forever, you’ll have something fun to look forward to every month as a new square is revealed, and you’ll have a beautiful keepsake blanket that will be just the thing to use as a wedding gift, a graduation present, a baby-shower goodie, or an early holiday present.

WEBS Mystery Knit-A-Long Blanket Class - register at yarn.com

We’ve even picked out four different colorways in our Valley Yarns Northampton for you. Neutrals will go with anything, Autumns are for those (like me) who crave the heathery tones of October orange, green, and burgundy. Jewel Tones are bold splashes of clear sapphires, garnets, and emeralds, and Pastels are deliciously light and baby-friendly. Each month a new knit and crochet technique will be taught by Sara in her classes here at WEBS. Those students will get hands-on help from the fabulously talented Sara as well as the fun of learning with like-minded folks, and as my mother would say, “you might make a friend.”

WEBS Mystery Crochet-A-Long Blanket Class - register at yarn.com

A week later the square’s pattern will be released online in our blog, along with photos and a technique video so that you can go it alone, if you live too far away to travel to our Northampton store. We’ll be sharing your squares-in-progress on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and anywhere else knitters pop up to visit with us.

We have some spaces in both the Knit-A-Long class and the Crochet-A-Long class. Why not take a step out of your comfort zone and join us?

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.

The Long Collared Vest by Sally Melville

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
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As we approach the end of 2014 we still have a few exciting 40th Anniversary projects to share with you and one of our favorites is the Long Collared Vest by Sally Melville. We were so thrilled when Sally expressed an interest in being part of this year’s celebrations! Working with the Burgundy color of our Berkshire Bulky she has designed a cozy knee length vest that we all wanted to curl up in when it arrived in the office.

Long Collared Vest pinterest promo

The large shawl collar hugs you around the shoulders and neck while the textured bodice stitch helps to give the vest structure and visual interest. And just for fun there’s a decorative button band on each side of the ribbing that makes a great place to showcase your favorite decorative buttons. The Long Collared Vest is a great winter knit and the perfect layering piece. With over 3 dozen colors of Berkshire Bulky to choose from which will you cast on with?

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?