Thursday, July 31, 2008

NY Sheep & Wool

WEBS will be hosting another bus trip to this year's NY Sheep & Wool Festival. The date is Saturday, October 18th. We've reserved two buses and need to have enough registrations to be sure we're covering the costs for both by the middle of August. Last year's trip was a sell-out, so I am confident we'll fill two buses this year. We'll depart WEBS around 7:30am and return around 6pm-ish. We'll provide a continental breakfast for everyone, but please bring your own coffee! There will be lots of fun on the trip out to Rhinebeck including fun games with prizes! Bring along your latest project, relax on our motor coach bus and enjoy a phenomenal day in Rhinebeck! Cost of the trip is $65.00 all inclusive. Get yourself registered today so you don't miss out!

On another note, this summer has been wrought with really bizarre weather here in Western Massachusetts. We've had a couple of reported tornadoes, over 12" of rain in the past month (record breaking) and more severe thunderstorms than I can remember in one summer. Now, you all know I am a weather buff and I've been loving a lot of this, but things have really gotten out of control. This afternoon we had a shower come through, a couple of distant rumbles of thunder and some wind. It was tame in comparison to what some of our storms have been like. I hurried the kids in, got the windows closed, fielded a call from a neighbor and then, I turned around and my patio umbrella was gone! I looked all around the yard and scanned the neighbors' yards, but couldn't find it. Once the heavy rain stopped, I sent the boys out for a look and sure enough, they found it:

Yes, it's on the roof, where else would it be? Only 7 and 9 year old boys would even think to look up!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seasons Collide

Our annual Summer Sale is on! This sale is all about clearing out closeout inventory. There are some great deals and steals to be had this year - Steve took no prisoners and is serious about making some room out in the warehouse. For those of you who have ever shopped the store, you know we always have a $2.00 bin. This is where odds and ends land. Well, Steve has added a $2.00 bin to the on-line sale this year! Fun for all! Be sure to check out the great buys on some really nice yarns for knitters, crocheters and weavers. Just remember, when they are gone, they are GONE!

We received our copies of Vogue Knitting Fall '08 a few days ago. I will readily admit that I don't run to the receiving area to grab my copy like I do when Interweave Knits comes. Usually there are a couple of patterns I like, but that's usually it. Well, Fall '08 is a completely different story. It is a really, really, REALLY nice issue. Look at the cover - LOOK AT THE MITTENS:

Designed by Jared of Brooklyn Tweed fame, those are mittens - serious mittens.

Called Green Autumn, they are classic, beautiful, challenging - perfect. The entire mitten spread has some great designs, some a bit more out there then others (from my perspective, but that's just me and my own personal aesthetic). Overall, very nicely done.

As I turned the page I was hit with this:

OMG - it's stunning. Secondly, it's designed by Robin Melanson, who I had the chance to meet briefly and is lovely and thirdly, she used Blue Sky Alpaca Melange.

Then there's this:

I love this too! Knit in Torino Bulky means it will move along. It's seed stitch surrounded by ribbing and knit from the top down. It's rated as an "intermediate" pattern (whereas the other two are "experienced" so won't be showing up on my needles anytime soon) so maybe I'll take it on. We'll see.

At this point, I am loving VK Fall '08 and as I continue to flip the pages (liking other things along the way, not just the ones I'm mentioning here) I come to this:

Norah Gaughan design using Berroco Peruvia. What else needs to be said?

Last, there is this one by Elsebeth Lavold:

Another "experienced" knit so unlikely to be knit by me, but it sure is pretty.

So, hat's off to Trisha Malcolm and her team - fabulous job one and all! Plus the editorial content is quite good too including articles about the Canadian knitting scene and our friends Jess and Casey at Ravelry. This is a nicely done issue.

Okay, what else? Oh, I received a wonderful surprise in the mail about a week or so ago from Iris at Artyarns:

It's beautiful and I was very touched that she thought to send it to me. Cashmere and crochet - what more could I ask for? This will be some pretty intense crocheting since the cashmere is her single ply Cashmere 1 and the pattern calls for a "C" hook. All of the circles are crocheted separately and joined as you go-ish. It's definitely going in the queue! Thanks Iris!

Last night, several of us went out to fete the lovely and talented Cirilia.
Many of you know her from the store and others from our catalog. She has been with us since she graduate 3 years ago and has brought so much to WEBS. Well, she is leaving and we are very sad. Fortunately, she is staying in the industry so I know we will still get to cross paths and such. I am not sure if I am at liberty to say where she is going (she wasn't sure either) so I'm going to play it safe and say nothing other than "Go Get 'Em Cirilia!"

Lastly, a Happy, Happy Birthday to Barbara Elkins! B - we hope you are enjoying your day - we enjoyed your cake!


Monday, July 28, 2008

Knitting Daily TV Launches!

Interweave's Knitting Daily TV has finally arrived! WEBS is thrilled to be one of the major sponsors of this exciting new PBS show!

The website is now live and full of information about each episode. Interweave purchased the rights to Shay Pendray's Needlearts Studio and completely revamped the show. Hosted by Eunny Jang, Kim Werker, Liz Gipson and Shay Pendray, KDTV covers a wide variety of fiber crafts, although knitting is certainly the main focus. They all did such an amazing job!

There are thirteen total episodes in this first season and cover topics from "The Sweater", "Knitting Lace", "Cables" and so much more. Each show features segments that are geared towards the show's topic and include things like "Getting Started" or a "You Made It" where the host and a guest discuss and highlight a single project made and interpreted by different people. There's also the "Progressive Project" in which a project is covered step by step from start to finish. There are lots of great tips and tricks and general information.

As I've blogged about previously, I had the opportunity to tape several segments of the show. I have a set of the DVDs sitting here at my house and I have to be perfectly honest - I haven't had the courage to watch them yet!

I know, I am being ridiculous. The first time we recorded the podcast it was torture listening to myself back. Now, it's not big deal and I can honestly assess when I've done a reasonable job or where things could have been done better. I have no doubt that will be the case with these shows, but it's still intimidating!

For those of you right here in Western Mass (actually, Massachusetts in general) neither of the PBS stations (Boston & Springfield) are carrying the show. Although there is a wee little piece of me that is just an itty, bitty bit relieved, the reality is the shows are super and deserve air time. It's important to note that PBS programming is not within Interweave's control. Each PBS station can independently decide if they are going to carry the show. If you want the show in your area, now is the time to write a letter, send and email or make a phone call. Here is the contact information for Springfield and Boston. You can get more information on this at the Knitting Daily TV website.

Also on the website you will find many of the patterns that are demonstrated and discussed on the show, along with some show clips, etc. Be sure to check it out!

The highlight of the day today was an impromptu visit from Marianne Adams, owner of The Yarn Boutique in Lafayette, CA. She and her husband Bob are on an East Coast Adventure and made time to stop by for a visit. Marianne & I have been friends for awhile now and although we chat on email and such, we only see each other at tradeshows, which is far from conducive for socializing in any meaningful way. This was such a nice treat and the first time I've been able to meet her husband. I only wish my day hadn't been so hectic, but it was great to catch up, if even for only a little bit. I've never had the chance to visit her store, but if any of you find yourself in her area, be sure to check it out!

I also owe a shout out to Katkoe on Ravelry. She has a great avatar featuring stitch markers she crafted herself. I commented to her that I loved them and she was nice enough to send me a pair! I was so touched! There is nothing better than surprise gifts:

These so epitomize my knitting, it's almost NOT funny! It is a good reminder for me that is only yarn and it is only knitting and it is NOT the end of the world (even if sometimes it feels that way). Thanks Katkoe!!!


P.S. For any of you who have Facebook pages, I have finally set-up my own page and would love to add some more friends!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Got Yarn?

Um, yeah, we've got yarn, a lot of yarn. So much yarn has come in this week, I gave up trying to take photos and document it all. It's truly mind boggling!

We received in all of Classic Elite fall yarns, all of Tahki/Stacy Charles and Rowan! Seriously, the staff is on such overload at this point, everyone is sort of just wandering around babbling with dazed looks on their faces. It's been a lot to process both physically and mentally. I will touch on a few highlights, but please understand, this is merely the tip of the yarn mountain.

Kaffe Fassett introduces a new chunky weight yarn called Colourscape. It is so beautiful. I will take a picture of it on the store shelves (forgot today - remember the babbling and dazed looks, I'm there too). It knits at 3.5 sts = 1" on 10.5 needles and has 175 yards for $23.95.

Classic Elite Ariosa is a roving style yarn that is 90% extrafine merino/10% cashmere. It feels awesome! It also knits at 3.5 sts = 1" on 10.5 needles and has 87 yards for $11.99. Classic Elite has also introduced another collection of gorgeous designs to support all of their new yarns.

Plymouth has a new yarn in their Bristol Gallery Collection called Ashton. Ashton is 50% baby alpaca/40% fine merino/10% silk. This DK weight yarn has 122 yards and is just scrumptious. This is one that would make some great scarves for holiday gifts!

From Filatura Di Crosa, we've added a yarn called Ricciolo. This yarn is a blend of 51% mohair/49% acrylic. It's a light, lofty multi-colored boucle. It's fun, its fancy and Steve and I felt strongly that we needed to mix things up a bit. Ricciolo knits at 3 sts =1" on a 10.5 needles. Each ball has 66 yards and because of it's Italian heritage, retails at $12.95/ball. This yarn will make great trim, hats, scarves, etc.

Okay, that's it for yarns for now. Be sure to go through our list of New Yarns to see everything (and I know there will be more up this weekend!)

Earlier in the week, Mary and I headed off to Mt. Skinner State Park for our fall photoshoot. It was hot and muggy and sticky and icky - not the best of days for wearing sweaters, carrying sweaters, styling sweaters and looks, etc. What I can say is that every sweaty moment was SO worth it. Here are a few outtakes:

Pretty awesome view. We live in such a beautiful place!
This shoot was not for the faint of heart. From the drive up the mountain, to the "don't let the model fall over the edge" moments, we worked really hard to capture some amazing shots.

Our model Amy was such a trooper! Nothing phased her and despite the heat, humidity and rough terrain, she was upbeat, pleasant and cooperative throughout the entire shoot. We made sure every shot was ready to go before wrapping her in wool, alpaca, silk. . . . . .
Towards the end, Mary spied this bird. We were all immediately taken with it's intense blue color:

My picture doesn't do it justice, but trust me when I say it was incredible. We didn't know what it was. It was small-ish like a bluebird, but way too insanely blue to be one. Back at the ranch, we were told it's an Indigo Bunting. I am not a huge bird person but let me tell you, Indigo Buntings are welcome at my house anytime!
Last weekend, we escaped for a couple of days to visit friends on Cape Cod. There were fried clams, steamed clams, lots of fun and laughter and of course the beach! Here's Jackson at Nauset Beach at the National Seashore:

The waves were pretty strong that day and all of the kids ended up pretty scraped up and a bit battered, but with some great summer memories.

Here's the crew in all their glory:

Summertime, good friends and the beach. It just doesn't get any better than that!


P.S. I have no idea why Blogger has decided to change my font and not give me the option to change it back to my standard. Another reason I will be breaking up with Blogger in the near future. Grrr. . . . .

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fast and Furious and a little Freddie

There is all sorts of stuff happening and new products arriving faster than I can photograph them and get them up here. I'm going to get right to things.

First up, we are thrilled to introduce five brand spanking new colors from Fiesta Yarns. What makes these extra special? They are exclusive to WEBS! Woohoo! Here they are in Baby Boom, a personal fave:

The color names are (from left to right) - Chesapeake, PB&J, Autumn Lace,Sangria Swirl, and Mulberry Tree. These colors will also be available in other Fiesta yarns and stay tuned for more collaborations with Fiesta!

As I've blogged about many times, going to TNNA is a chance for me to search for cool new accessories and such. One of the items we picked up this year is The Fibersphere (I feel like there should be an echoing sound coming through your computer as I type that!)

It's actually a pretty cool little product. You can safe encase your working ball of yarn into the sphere, protecting it from pets, kids, the elements, etc. If you need/want to take the ball out of the sphere, all you have to do is unsnap it. No cutting of your working yarn. Pretty clever!

Plus, when you purchase this pink version, a portion of the proceeds are donated to Cancer Research. Cost is $20.00.

Blue Sky Alpacas also ventured into the project containment realm and introduced these adorable little project bags:

They are called "Pretty Cheep Project Bags" and are made from 100% cotton muslin, measure 12" square and are washable! Each bag has a red tag affixed to it for jotting notes about the project contained in the bag! At only $6.50, they are a "bahgain" (as we Bostonians say) and way cuter than a ziploc!

On this week's podcast, Steve & I have the pleasure of interviewing Michele Orne, author of the just released book "Inspired to Knit - Creating Exquisite Handknits" from Interweave Press.

We actually had the opportunity to meet Michele at TNNA and she is just lovely, as is her book. Rather than approach design from the purely technical standpoint, she delves into the inspirational side of design and how things in everyday life can invoke an idea or concept. Michele is a big proponent of Mood Boards and discusses how to compile and use them. To top off this lovely book, there are 21 stunning designs. Here are a few of my faves:

The Amber Beaded Cardigan:

This cardi actually started out as a shrug. You can see it in the sketch.

Michele decided to add the skirt on after and it created a completely different garment. I personally love it as is and love the shrug version as well. What is also interesting is that the beads are sewn on after the garment was completed.

The Seed-Stitch Poet Jacket appeals to me for it's beautiful lines and gentle shaping:

I also love the Tiny Twists Camisole:

Finally, this coat, the Winter Wonderland Coat took my breath away:

I could go on, but I'll stop here. You need to buy this book. The interview is on this week's podcast which is now up on iTunes and our website.

Last up, I didn't even realize this was in the store already, until I spied it on the shelf:

I took it and put it in my office so I can enjoy an entire year's worth of Yarn Harlot witicisms. I'm telling you all now - if you know of anyone who will want or love this as a gift, buy early, buy often. Do not email me three days before Christmas begging me to send you my copy - I adore you all and would do almost anything for you, but I'm not coughing up the calendar.

Finally, I leave you with Freddie, our unofficial store cat, who lives nearby and comes over to visit and get some love:

Freddie is one big lover-boy of a cat. He will not take no for an answer when he comes calling and if you try to ignore him or push him away, he'll do this:

He will interrupt any and all work until he gets what he wants. He's been known to sprawl right across a keyboard or worse, get in your lap and nuzzle his entire face into someone's neck. Again, not conducive to say answering customers' phone calls.
We love Freddie.
NOTE: Due to a couple of technical difficulties, I was not able to publish this post on Thursday when I originally wrote it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Franklin's Colorway is Here!

It was quite the day today at the shop! Among the many boxes of yarn that arrived today was this:

Finally! Franklin's "Color Commentary" colorway from Lorna's Laces! If you haven't already heard, Lorna's is teaming up with celebrity bloggers to create limited edition colorways in their Shephard Sock Yarn. What fun! Shephard Sock is already a great sock yarn and the "color of the month" concept has pretty much been done, but I am loving this refreshing new take on limited edition colors. Franklin is Franklin Habit of The Panopticon blog and soon to be released book "It Itches" from Interweave Press. If you don't normally read his blog, I strongly encourage you to add it to your bloglines!

I can't wait to see what some of the other bloggers come up with! If you are interested in owning a skein of this yarn, I suggest you order quickly or stop by the store before it's all gone. (Note: small glitch with the shipment and we only received one bag today, but do not despair, the balance of our order will be here in a couple of days). The "Color Commentary" colorways retail for $11.00/2oz hank and you will need two hanks for a pair of socks.

I have a couple of other exciting new products to share with you, but those will have to wait until tomorrow! There's no way I can ever blog about everything new that comes in, so I encourage all of you to frequently check our New Yarns section.

I do want to show you this:

Another fab creation from one of our amazing customers. This is our own Valley Yarns Longmeadow - doubled! Let me tell you, it felt and looked incredible!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Louet Mooi

Of all the new products we had the chance to check out at the TNNA Market back in June, there is no question that Mooi, a new yarn from Louet, was not only the most interesting, but the product that created the most buzz. The buzz was so loud that the folks at Louet went back to Canada and did everything possible to expedite the availability of this yarn from it's original ship date of late summer. Thanks to them for whatever hoops they had to jump through!

Mooi (pronounced "moi" - although I know we'll end up calling it "moo-ee") is the Dutch word for "pretty". It is a blend of 70% bamboo/15% bison/15% cashmere. I know, I was skeptical at first too! Don't let this ecletic blend fool you. It is incredible. What is really intriguing is that bamboo is dyed, while the bison and cashmere remain in their natural colorations. The bison also adds a bit of a soft "haze" to the yarn. Speaking of colors, although the palette only features 7 colors, they are spectacular. I have to give Josh, our photographer-in-residence a shout out for the excellent job he did in shooting this particular yarn. My monitor here at home (which is nothing special) shows the colors beautifully and you are easily able to see the bison fiber.

Mooi is a lace weight yarn, knitting at 7-8 sts/inch on a #2-#4 needle. It needs to be handwashed (of course) and each 100 gram hank contains 350 yards. Now, given the incredible fiber blend, you know we are dealing with a luxury product. The price per hank for Mooi is $49.95/hank, discountable. I know, even with the discount it's a bit extravagant, but this yarn is so totally worth it. Also, you need to take into consideration that just like products produced here in the U.S., Mooi is produced in Canada on Prince Edward Island and therefore a higher price point is to be expected.

Anyone else who has been able to see this yarn in person or stops by the store to check it out, please let us know what you! Leave me a comment!

Also, just a couple of quick shots from a fun family day yesterday at Fenway Park! It was a gorgeous day in Boston and at Fenway! Red Sox are leading the AL East at the All-Star break.

Happy times here in Red Sox Nation!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

New KnitScene!

The Fall issue of Knitscene is out!

It is now in a larger format, which I think it is great. There are several interesting projects in the issue, but there's one that I am particularly fond of:

This is the Matryoshka Stole. I love the design, I love the beads, I love the size. What I really love is that it is knit in our own Valley Yarns Stockbridge! But what makes this even better is that it was designed and knit by Cirilia who works for us in the store, has designed for us and has model in our catalog!

Even more exciting - Cirilia is profiled in Knitscene's "One Cool Knitter" feature.

If you haven't picked up the fall issue yet, stop by the store or you can order it on-line.

Oh, and for those of you intrigued by that sweet capped sleeved sweater Cirilia is wearing in the article, I know where you can get it! It's the Gallery Jacket, and it's also designed by Cirilia. The yarn is our own Valley Yarns Sheffield.

Congratulations Cirilia! We are very excited for you!


Friday, July 11, 2008

You're Suppose to Listen to Your Mother!

Well, either I'm failing as a parent or he can read very well, because it's obvious our oldest child simply does not listen. Why is that you ask? Well, let's just review this.

See! I was quite clear - "Don't rush to be nine", I said. I did not use any advanced vocabulary or vague grammatical nuances, I used simple, basic language that any eight year old with a decent 2nd grade education could easily comprehend. Do you think he listened to me? Of course not. Nope, he just whizzed through an entire year, despite my pleas and as of 1:43pm this afternoon, EDT, he is officially nine.

I mean, he started out like this:

These were adorable times, but honestly, growing out of the reflux stage and the I-don't-want-to-sleep-at-night phase was kinda okay with me.

These flashes of independence were charming:

I was even okay with how easily he took on the role of big brother:

I could even handle his opinionated personality that appeared pretty earlier on:

(Note: trust me when I say the "opinionated" portion of his personality was apparent waaaay before this photo was taken).

When he donned this and whispered in my ear "Mommy, I really AM a Superhero", I was okay with that, because I knew what was under that mask:

And even as Steve & I revelled when he started school, we didn't think much of it, heck it was only preschool:

But last year I was very serious about the "getting older" stuff. It had to stop, or at least slow down to a pace I could handle. But once again, my requests were cast aside and he went ahead and skated-swung-sang-played piano-Wii'd-learned-and-grew his way through another year.

In the end, I guess the only thing we can really do is say "Happy Birthday Jackson! We Love You!"

P.S. To celebrate Jackson's Birthday, we have a great new product in the house! We are pleased to welcome Silk Garden Sock! Eight fabulous colors of Silk Garden are now available in sock weight! It's 40% lambswool/25% silk/25% nylon/10% kid mohair with 330 yards. Price is $19.99 and it is discountable! One ball will make a pair, but I know this yarn will be used for so much more than just socks! Let the celebration begin!

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