Posts Tagged ‘yarn’

Babies = Blankets

Friday, June 17th, 2016
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I know of two babies on the horizon, one arriving in September and one arriving in December. Both of the new mothers are good friends, good enough that a tiny baby sweater isn’t enough. I decided to go full-on baby blanket with these special wee ones. I have just enough time (I think) to make crib-sized blankets for each, and I’ve settled on two patterns that are calling to me.

Valley Yarns Haydenville and great baby projects on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Miss September Baby is a much-anticipated girl who has two older brothers. I want her to have her very own special gift so I’m making a Valley Yarns pattern, the Snowdrop Blanket. However, you know how I feel about plant fibers, so no go on the Longmeadow. Instead, I’m going to use some lovely Valley Yarns Haydenville, probably in Silver, because White, or even Natural, seems like a set-up for disaster, since you all know what babies do on blankets. It’s neutral enough to match her nursery and distinctive enough to be an eye-catcher in a Mommy and Me group.

Baby #2 is a mystery, so I’m going to go with a bold pattern I love, the Valley Yarns Pattern Grayson Set. The stitch is simple enough to be knit while watching “Game of Thrones,” and the color changes are just challenging enough so the project won’t be tedious to finish. I’m going to use Haydenville for this one, as well. I’m going to completely switch up the colors, however, and go with Slate Blue as the main color, banded with Natural and to make it pop, a stripe of Yellow. Could read as masculine or feminine, and I am so hoping it becomes the blanket that baby can’t sleep without.

What is your favorite baby pattern? Let me know in the comments, below!

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!

Get Schooled

Friday, May 6th, 2016
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All of the WEBS Summer Classes have opened up for registration, and I love looking to see what gets the fastest sign-ups because it’s different every semester. Last semester, folks couldn’t get enough weaving. Floor looms, table looms, rigid heddle looms, you name it. Weaving is still pretty popular, especially rigid heddle weaving, but I’m happy to see that lots of people are signing up for our beginning crochet classes. I personally don’t think crochet gets enough love, so the more hooks the better! Some advanced knitting techniques are also climbing up the charts, including colorwork and lace.

Knit top-down sweaters that fit, and learn other skills in knitting classes at WEBS this summer. read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

This inspired me to take a look at some gaps in my own knitting education. I really don’t like lace knitting so much–I get all screwed up when each row has a different stitch count, which can happen in a lace pattern. At this point, with at least one child still around to bother me  ask my advice and sage counsel, I need something that can be abandoned at a moment’s notice and picked up again without having to think deeply about where I ended. I can really get behind the idea of a top-down sweater, as taught in our Top-Down Raglan Sweater From Measurements, mainly because I am short and many conventionally knit sweaters are too big, as in too long and too droopy, in the shoulders for me. A top-down sweater can be tried on throughout the process to make it custom-fit to my shape.

What do you guys think about a top-down summer pullover? The Valley Yarns Park Pullover has my favorite elbow-length sleeves and a dependable stitch pattern for the day after the night I had to help edit a term paper. Knit in Valley Yarns Goshen, a smooth cotton/modal/silk blend on US size 7 needles, this will knit up in a flash and I’ll have the sweater you’ll all be jealous of; one that fits my shoulders AND my waist AND the sleeves aren’t hanging off my fingertips.

What will you challenge yourself to learn this summer?

Coned Yarns Love Knitters (and vice versa)

Friday, April 22nd, 2016
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I had a brief, ugly learning-to-weave moment about ten or so years ago…I had a full-time job that was a long way away, I had two young children, and I had to travel constantly. Of course that was a perfect time to learn a very complicated, time-consuming (albeit fascinating and beautiful) fiber craft…NOT.

Valley Yarns Colrain Lace on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

After that, I passed coned yarns without a second glance. However, I saw an oldie but goodie today that made me reassess the coned-yarn prejudice. Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino Tencel, aka Colrain Lace, seems to me to be an eminently sensible yarn to knit or crochet (or weave) just about anything in any season. And luckily for all of us, it’s part of the Anniversary Sale this month, priced at $17.49 a cone, reduced from $24.99.

Although technically a lace weight yarn, it has been knit reliably at about 7 stitches per inch, which to me is fingering and that makes a big difference. It’s not a fine, fine yarn that will slide off your needles and flummox you in a stitch pattern. It will hold on to those needles, and give you some feedback as you stitch, which I don’t find in a lot of lace weight yarns. The blend of merino and tencel gives it both body and a subtle sheen, making it drape beautifully.

My fascination for cowls would be satisfied with the Valley Yarns Forget-Me-Not cowl, made in Colrain Lace. It’s a quick knit and because you have so much yardage on a cone, you could make several from one purchase! I would probably choose a nice neutral such as Grey Olive, but you could really make a design pop with some of the brighter colors; there are a lot to choose from.

Have you ever knit with a coned yarn? Tell us your projects in the comments, below.

Can I Like Plant Fibers?

Friday, April 8th, 2016
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The jury is still out, but I found two yarns whispering to me from their hidey-holes in the store that might sway me to the non-protein-fiber dark side.

In what has to be the most interesting confluence of fibers that I’ve encountered, Nettle Grove, from Plymouth Yarn Company, is a mix of 45% cotton, 28% linen, 12% nettle fiber (you read that right), and 15% silk. This tonal sport-weight yarn actually feels so soft and swingy, and has a beautiful sheen. It doesn’t have any of the inelasticity that I’ve grown accustomed to feeling in fabric knit in cotton or linen. It must be the nettle. In doing some internet research, I discovered that stinging nettle has been used for centuries to make luxurious cloth, especially in the British Isles. It’s closely related to flax and hemp, and once washed and finished, results in a soft, drapey fabric. Nettle Grove comes in 8 variegated colorways, and my favorite, hands-down, is a gorgeous orange called Sunrise. It looks like a creamsicle, and I’d make this swingy tank top with it in about 2 days.

Amy learns to love plant fiber yarns! Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Stacy Charles Fine Yarns Alicia is a fingering weight 100% linen yarn. I have documented my issues with linen here (stiff, hard to knit, no memory) but this one could be a game-changer, in that Stacy Charles encourages knitters to use a worsted-weight gauge for this smaller yarn. It really looks like embroidery thread, with saturated colors and a tight twist. Using a worsted gauge for Alicia will give projects an airiness that knitting to gauge ordinarily would not. The more this yarn is soaked and blocked, but softer it will become. If you’re looking for a project, the Allium Shell, designed by Joan Forgione, would really make the yarn the star. It’s a short-sleeved pullover, with a zig-zag bobble pattern that really makes the best use of the crisp stitch definition and smoothness you’ll get from this dedicated fiber.

What’ll you put on the needles when the weather heats up? Let us know in the comments!

My New Yarn Crush

Friday, March 25th, 2016
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The newest yarns from Skacel, HiKoo Seuno and Sueno Tonals. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Although you all know that I’m not the biggest fan of plant fibers, I found a yarn that might help me over that bias: HiKoo Sueno and it’s twin sister, Sueno Tonals. It’s a mix of 80% Merino Superwash and 20% Viscose from bamboo. Bamboo is a light, silky, slippery fiber for the most part, and it tends to grow a bit when knit, but I think the merino in this combo smacks that bamboo into submission with the power of wool. Even better, it’s a yarn that spans multiple gauges, from a worsted to a sport weight, needles sizes between US 3 and US 7. What a shape-shifter! The Sueno comes in 14 spring-y colors like Dusty Lilac and Mud Puddle; the Sueno Tonals are delicate and beautifully shaded variations of the original line. I’m already thinking about what I’d make with either one. The pattern support from Skacel is superior, as usual. Since we’re on the cusp of spring, I might make this beanie, which can be worn in these last raw days of March on into the chilly nights of April.

Check out this intriguing fiber blend, and get it on your needles!

My Discomfort Zone

Friday, March 11th, 2016
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I’m making a gorgeous cowl (yes, another one) that features stranded colorwork. In case you want a visual, it’s this beautiful thing, The Wallpaper Cowl designed by WEBS’ own Emma Welford, our Social Media Coordinator. In case you’ve seen our latest Instagrams, Facebook posts, and our new venture into Periscope, she’s the genius behind those lovely images.

I decided to knit it in our Kangaroo Dyer’s hand-dyed Valley Yarns Northfield, in a charcoal gray as the main color and a cool chartreuse-green as the contrast. They look gorgeous. Here’s what doesn’t look gorgeous: my hideous floats. Here, because I’m honest, is what I started with:

Amy learns to tame her floats for the Wallpaper Cowl. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Not so great.

So, off to the Internet went I. But because I’m more of a “I need to do it to learn it” kind of brain, that was a bust. I saw what to do but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Reader, I went to Drop-In. I felt a little odd about it, because I work in a yarn store and I’ve been knitting for quite a while, but I just couldn’t do it! I didn’t know how to trap those floats! Beth Altimari, savior of my knitting, came to my rescue once again and in about five minutes, showed me exactly what to do so that I didn’t have big screwy loops all over the place. Now my floats are even, manageable, even, I daresay, tidy.

The main reason I’m writing about this is to say that if you’ve been coasting along with your stockinette scarves and your ribbed hats, maybe it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. Try something new, shake up your routine, maybe even dip into another craft. Crochet, weaving, spinning…use a different side of your brain.

And when you come back to knitting, make the Wallpaper Cowl. It’s going to be amazing.

Raising The Bar

Friday, March 11th, 2016
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In February, I worked at the WEBS booth at Stitches West, in California. So many folks wandered into our booth to see what goodies we had, and I had a blast helping them find great yarns (not hard) and walking them through patterns for projects they wanted to make. I kept hearing the same thing, which was usually a variation of “I’m not a very good knitter, I can’t make that pattern because it’s too hard, are you sure I can handle that yarn/pattern/needle size/stitch pattern?”

The first thing I ever knit was a sweater, and it remains the ugliest sweater ever, but because I started with something sort of difficult, I think I have a bit more confidence about some things in the knitting world than I might if I had just stuck with scarves or hats. I would never say I’m a fantastic knitter, but I can get a project done without much whining and I love stitch textures like cables and knit/purl combos.

The Mill River Cardigan knit in Valley Yarns Sunderland. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

In that vein, I am encouraging all knitters who have ever wanted to knit a sweater to choose our Valley Yarns pattern 668, the Mill River Cardigan. First of all, it’s knit in Sunderland, which is the softest, coziest, DK-weight baby alpaca I’ve ever felt. The lace panels on either side of the front button bands won’t weigh the sweater down, but will let air and light filter through the panels to create movement and loft. I personally think it’s a triumph of sweater design by our own Kirsten Hipsky.

It’s a classically shaped cardigan, knit in pieces and seamed at the shoulders, sides, and sleeves; you’ll pick up stitches for the two bands on each front piece and you can choose to put in buttons and buttonholes, or leave it open. Either way, you’ll get a sweater’s worth of fiber and finishing education. If you get stuck on anything, check out our website for technique videos – we’ve got a lot of help for you! Or go to your LYS, which, hopefully, is WEBS. Either way, once you finish this charming garment, you’ll be filled with a new confidence and ready for more!

What knitting challenge will you take on this year?

Another Fine Donegal I’ve Gotten Myself Into

Friday, February 26th, 2016
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vintage leaf sweater

Photo copyright Debbie Bliss

I have been loving Debbie Bliss’s Fine Donegal from afar these days, but I grabbed a skein to check out a particularly pleasing color this afternoon (it has an antiseptic number instead of a name, but if I were the Head Namer at Debbie Bliss, I would probably call it Pine Forest with New-Growth Leaves), and I fell in love with it all over again.  It’s a scrumptious blend of wool and cashmere in a sport-weight gauge of 6.5 stitches to an inch on US size 3’s, which is my sweet spot. My love was confirmed when I went wandering around on Ravelry to see what folks are making with this delicious stuff, and found The Vintage Leaf Sweater, designed by Debbie herself and found in the pattern book that supports this yarn (also called Fine Donegal). All the pictures in this book must have been taken on a really hot day because the model looks really mad. No matter; the garments drew me in and especially Ms. Vintage Leaf. Body-conscious, close-fitting at the neck, and with a hypnotic twisted-stitch lace pattern that looks like –you guessed it — leaves. It has an afterthought collar, and elbow-length sleeves that add even more class.

It’s snowing here today, and even though we had the coldest weekend ever, I’m hopeful that looking at some sweet tweedy yarn will bring a little spring to mind. Happy knitting!

Gradient

Friday, February 12th, 2016
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Apparently, the new new thing is gradients. I’ve been hearing about them here and there, and they seem to be popping up all over. We’ve got the lovliest set of gradients in the store by indie dyer Kate Bacchus of A Hundred Ravens and when I picked up a colorway called Legolas, I was enchanted. We all know that in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Legolas was the CUTEST. And, bonus for me, he’s Jewish.

The sets are made of her Iachos yarn and each contain seven mini-skeins ranging from light to deep. Legolas is a meltingly beautiful mix of greens, from coolest mint to pine-forest, with eye-catching twists of light and dark. Iachos is a soft superwash 2-ply merino wool, in a fingering weight. Each mini is about 55 yards, and the set adds up to 400 yards. You could make a cowl, scarf, or shawl easily. And it would be so much fun to knit! You could stripe or use the gradient from light to dark. When I checked out the sets on Ravelry, I saw very cool colorwork. The sky is the limit.

Best of all, for WEBS customers, the seven colorways we carry are exclusive to our store and customers! Check out all of Kate’s fabulous colors, and listen to our December “Ready, Set, Knit!” podcast when Kathy interviewed Kate about her New England business.