Posts Tagged ‘yarn’

An Unexpected Treat

Friday, October 2nd, 2015
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I get the WEBS emails, just like you do. Last week, one sprang out at me, featuring a yarn I had heard about but not really seen (I work tucked away in one of the offices and am not out in the store as much as I want to be!). Amano is a lovely group of yarns in enough weights to satisfy any knitter, crocheter, or weaver, all featuring some iteration of alpaca–baby, royal, and an important-sounding alpaca designated “Imperial,” which obviously makes it the Homecoming King this year. Late-breaking news: Royal is the TOP 1% of alpaca fiber, Imperial is the next 2-10%. So, royal is the Homecoming King and imperial, obviously, is the guy who fixes the overhead projector.

Amano Ayni is my new best friend. 80% baby alpaca, 20% silk, this sport-weight dream of a skein has a hint of halo, enough to say “I’m soft, but not scratchy.” I am imagining a drapy A-line sweater, soft enough to wear next to the skin. Warmi (is that the best name for a yarn? yes.) is a worsted-weight workhorse, perfect for sweaters, shawls, hats, or scarves. It’s got a lush color palette inspired by fruits and vegetables.

The new Amano yarns now available at Read more on the WEBS Blog at

Puna means “Andes Mountains” in the native language of the Incas, and is the essence of the Andes, made from 100% baby alpaca in a beefy 273-yard skein. It’s got a little more halo than Ayni, so I’d treat it a bit more gently, and my perfect project for this sport-weight wonder is the Delia Cowl in Amano’s pattern book for Fall/Winter. The simple openwork contrasts with the warmth of the alpaca to make a very useful garment.

The dip-dyed colorways of Mayu would be a wonderful vehicle for a body-conscious sweater– the addition of cashmere and silk to alpaca makes it almost criminally soft, and the heathery tones almost gleam, showing off the myriad shades in the skein. Puyu means “cloud” in the language of the Incas, and it does look very cloudlike. Baby alpaca is blown into a mesh tube made of silk for an almost two-tone appearance that will make luxurious accessories like hats, scarves, and even ponchos look expensive. Rounding out the Amano family is Apu (“Simpsons” fans will join me in a round of giggles), a dainty ball of imperial alpaca that I can’t stop holding. The Maria Cowl in Amano‘s pattern collection seems like the perfect project in Apu, with startling stitch definition and a drapy texture that caresses the skin.

Check out this new family online or in the store–you’ll want to make friends immediately. What project are you looking forward to knitting in an Amano yarn?

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

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!

Inspirational Knitting

Friday, July 17th, 2015
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I’ve loved Blue Sky Alpacas yarns since I first worked at WEBS, lo those many years ago. It’s not just the lovely yarns in soft, clear colors, or the fiber choices, either (alpaca wins my heart, always). It’s the pattern support. They support all the different lines they produce — Spud and Chloe, Royal Petites, Blue Sky…everything is beautiful to look at, functional, and best of all, really fun to knit.

Blue Sky Alpacas Truck Show on display now at WEBS Retail store. Read more on the WEBS Blog -

The team at Blue Sky Alpacas just sent us a trunk show, and it’s to their credit that in 85-degree heat and 90% humidity, those wooly garments really got me thinking about what I’d like to wear this fall and winter. To help out, they also sent this video, so that knitters could see how the sweaters, wraps, and poncho work on a human being. Too often, knitted sweaters tend to be lovely to look at but a bit off-putting in the actual wearing. Too tight here, too itchy there, something hits at the wrong place on your body and you spend lots of time tugging it around. While, admittedly, the model in this video is gorgeous, and probably weighs as much as the chocolate bar I ate for breakfast, the sweaters and wraps still look like they would flatter anyone wearing them.

Blue Sky Alpacas Truck Show on display now at WEBS Retail store. Read more on the WEBS Blog -

I’m dying to make the Canby Cardi. It satisfies my requirements for a sweater that closes in the front (because I hate things flapping around me) with a cunning one-button design, but it also curves in a way that immediately shapes the waist while somehow making you look polished and stylish. While I wouldn’t necessarily wear a poncho, the Bianca Wrap is comfy and not too voluminous; knit in a neutral plus cream, I would wear it over every shirt I own this fall.

Check out the trunk show if you’re local to our store, and look at our new Blue Sky Alpaca products online to bring a little bit of fall anticipation to your summer!




Thursday, June 11th, 2015
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If you haven’t participated in the Shop Hop in the past years joining in is super easy, all you need is $5 to purchase your passport and a sense of adventure! The I-91 Shop Hop runs Thursday, June 25th through Sunday, June 28th and you can purchase a passport at one of the 12 shops participating this year, and you still have time to purchase your 2015 passport! We are looking forward to welcoming more than 300 Shop-Hoppers to our store over the weekend.

The Annual I-91 Shop Hop is just around the corner. Get your passport now! Read more at

Why participate in the Shop Hop? At each store you visit your name will be entered in the daily prize drawing. Each of the daily prizes contains a variety of wonderful yarns, patterns, needles and accessories. Once you’ve visited all 12 shops and have your passport stamped just turn it in at the last shop on your trip and you will be entered into a grand prize drawing! On Sunday, there are two drawings: the daily basket and a chance to win a wooden swift and ball winder.  As an added bonus, each shop will have a special knit kit for sale just for Shop Hop! So be sure to hit all the shops during the long weekend and keep your fingers crossed for the daily prize and grand prize on Sunday. Hope to see you then!

The Annual I-91 Shop Hop is just around the corner. Get your passport now! Read more at

Participating Shops:
Green Mountain Spinnery- Putney, VT
Handknits- Brattleboro, VT
Sheep & Shawl-South Deerfield, MA
Northampton Wools, Northampton, MA
WEBS America’s Yarn Store-Northampton, MA
Marji’s Yarncrafts-Granby, CT
Creative Fibers-Windsor, CT
Village Wool-Glastonbury, CT
Country Yarns-Wallingford, CT
The Yarn Barn,LLC-Woodbridge, CT
Knit New Haven-New Haven, CT
The Yarn Basket-Branford, CT

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

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

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

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?

My Favorite Child

Friday, March 13th, 2015
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I’m not one of those people who can’t choose a favorite yarn. I know that many will say that it’s like being asked to pick which of their children they like the best. But my children know who I like the best, and it’s a yarn child: Shibui. Almost any Shibui. And we just got some new children Shibui in the store that I’m already playing around with to figure out the perfect pattern pairing.

Shibui Linen available at

Shibui Linen is an anomaly for me, because I normally don’t like plant fibers. They can be a little too unyielding for me, and a bit hard on the hands holding the needles. However, Shibui Linen is softer and silkier than most linens, with a chainette construction that gives it some…well, give. I love the Apple color and would absolutely make myself a cap-sleeve tee or loose vest for summer concerts in the park.

Shibui Twig available at

Shibui Twig is Linen’s next-door neighbor, or cousin, or step-sister. It’s a more matte version of Linen, with a mix of linen, recycled silk, and wool in a slubby, tweedy amalgam that would stick to most wooden needles. It’s a true DK weight, getting 5.5 stitches to 1″ on a US size 4/3.5mm needle. What would I make from this yarn? It has so much personality in the skein that I’d want to let that shine. Maybe a drapy open cardi? Or a simple summer shawl for when our air-conditioning gets a little too aggressive.

Shibui has some beautiful pattern support for these two newbies. I really like the Japanese aesthetic in their design; it speaks to my love for clean, uncluttered simplicity. Take a look and see what inspires you!

We Could Use Some Color!

Friday, February 27th, 2015
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Not to belabor the point, but we’ve had more snow in the last month than we had all last winter. As much as I like winter, I’m now throwing up my hands and admitting defeat. This week, I thought I’d spotlight some fun yarns in vibrant, warm colors to get us all thinking about spring. Even though some of my picks are built for cold-weather projects, it will still lighten my thoughts to see these intense shades on the needles.

 Amy talks about yarns in vibrant, warm colors to get us all thinking about spring on the WEBS blog - read more at
Debbie Bliss Paloma is a bulky-weight yarn but the slightly tubular chainette construction makes it feel super-light. And the rich dark pink that caught my eye would make a great-looking tam to take you from freezing outdoors to cozy inside. Cascade Avalon Multi in a sweet pastel palette would be perfect for a pullover vest or shrug to layer over a long-sleeve tee. And who doesn’t love Madeline Tosh? Tosh DK in Fluoro Rose makes a bold statement, so just a little will go a long way. Maybe a loose cowl or some fingerless mitts? It’s never too early to plan your garden, and to help with that, take a peek at Schachenmayr Tahiti in a variegated green/yellow/teal color combo. It can’t help but bring lacy flowering shrubs and lilac bushes to mind.
Are you thinking of spring? What would be your dream color or project?

Pattern Dictionaries – Springboard to Creativity

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
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Greetings from the Weaving Room!

As the daughter of a reference librarian, I grew up loving books and using them to learn about the world. It was only natural, then, when I moved into the fiber world to continue to rely on books for knowledge and inspiration. One of my favorite things to do is sit down with a pile of pattern dictionaries and page through them looking for ideas, leaving a path of colorful page markers in my wake.

Weaving pattern directories - available at

Weaving pattern dictionaries are books that present a plethora of pattern ideas that you can then use to create a project. They will show the threading, tie up and treadling for one repeat of the pattern and usually include photos of the resulting cloth. Oftentimes you will see multiple variations in treadling or tie up to produce different patterns from the same threading. My favorite books for weaving include the vintage and ever-popular A Handweaver’s Pattern Book  by Marguerite Davison and The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon which are both for 4-shaft looms. A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patternsedited by Carol Strickler is great for the 8-shaft looms and for rigid heddle weavers there is Jane Patrick’s wonderful Weaver’s Idea Book.

Four Shaft Twill Towels, Valley Yarns Draft #33 - available at

One of the things I love about these books is seeing the variety of patterns that can be achieved with one threading, just by changing the tie up or treadling. I feel like I’m getting more bang for my warp, so to speak, and can put on a long warp and weave lots of things without getting bored with the pattern. When I designed the Four Shaft Twill Towels (Draft #33), I put on a long warp in natural and then varied things by changing the weft colors and also by changing the tie up. It felt like each towel was new, which kept it fun, and it allowed me to make sets of towels (and you know how much I love sets that are matchy but still uniquely individual!)

Exploring huck patterns with Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo - available at

Learning this process of translating a weaving pattern into a project draft has been very liberating for me. I often fall in love with the feel of a specific yarn and then get stuck trying to find a draft that fits. Last summer as we prepared for Convergence, I knew I needed to dress a 4-shaft loom for the floor model. I wanted to use our Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo which is soft and drapey and perfect for scarves and shawls. I looked through my pattern dictionaries, fell in love with a huck pattern and the result is the Lemongrass Scarf (draft will be available for sale in April).

So cozy up with a good book and start translating inspiration into handwovens! I’d love to see what you create.

Weaving with knitting yarn?!

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
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Surely you jest!

As a weaver I sometimes get stuck walking the same path through the store and web pages, looking at the coned yarns because that’s what weavers use, right? But wait, there’s a lot of fun textures and colors over in the knitting yarns that would be great for weaving! And there’s even some yarns I’m used to seeing on cones that are packaged in skeins (knitter’s camouflage?). Here are a few of my  favorite crossover yarns:

luscious heathery colors and softnessJaggerspun Heathers is a wonderful 2/8 wool that arrived recently and I am delighted to see it in 100g skeins. The great benefit of this is that you can buy an array of colors and not be limited by having to commit to one pound or half pound cones and end up with leftovers (not that I object to building stash, mind you). I love to weave blankets and the 2/8 weight is perfect for something warm and cozy. The range of colors includes both natural and richly heathered shades. This is truly a weaver’s staple.

Woven scarves are great as gifts and a perfect canvas  for playing with new textures and fibers. Some basics in my scarf stash are Valley Yarns Leyden, a variegated fingering weight and Valley Yarns Charlemont, a lusciously soft merino-silk blend in solids, kettle dyed and hand dyed colors. Both these yarns have beautiful drape and sheen. And with a sett of 12 -16 epi, these are quick to weave!

Sweet Georgia CashSilkLaceI have a soft spot  for hand-dyed yarns and often take a circuitous route through the lace section of the store, drawn by the luminous colors and luxurious fibers. The lace weight yarns generally have great yardage in each skein, and a single skein can be used as weft to create a special, one-of-a-kind piece. Sweet Georgia makes some stunning yarns, including both CashSilk Lace (pictured here) and Merino Silk Lace. I’d like to take a nap in a cozy nest of these yarns, but will have to settle for a handwoven scarf draped around my neck.

Prism Delicato Layers woven scarfAnother hidden gem is Prism Yarns Delicato Layers. This is a tonally dyed tencel, equivalent to a 6/2 weight, and the colors are spectacular. I wove this scarf using Delicato in Deep Sea for my warp and Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo in Hummingbird for my weft. The Delicato adds such depth and movement to the scarf and it has the drape and softness of silk.

I would be remiss if I let myself (and you) get totally distracted by the siren song of luxury yarns. There are many yarns with fun textures and color patterns that are great to weave with. One afternoon this summer we had a scavenger hunt, looking for unusual and offbeat yarns in the store and then wove them into the sampler below. We used Juniper Moon Farm Zooey as the warp, sett at 10 epi (you could also use Valley Yarns 3/2 Cotton) and then wove sections of (from left to right)  Tahki Tandem, Trendsetter Cin Cin, and Lang Ella. These would make lively and unique placemats and table runners. One thing to keep in mind is that if the yarn is self-striping, with long sections of each color, it may pool or look blocky as weft and work better as warp where the color runs stretch out.

rigid heddle weaving knitting yarns


So play around with knitting yarns and have fun weaving!

Just don’t call me Shirley.