Friday, November 9, 2018

Rhinebeck or bust!

Rhinebeck or bust! Our wonderful customer, Jessica Lepak, made her way back to Rhinebeck this year! Since no YBDers were able to attend this year, she has graciously agreed to guest blog for us about her experience! Thank you, Jessica!
 Fall Leave, apple cider donuts, glorious handknits everywhere, livestock to see and much, much fiber to pet and buy.  That’s my Rhinebeck experience in a nutshell.

I usually try and go to Rhinebeck every other year, but the last few years my kids seemed young and life got hectic, so the date came and went.  This year however, I said was my year to go back, and boy did I ever!

I left Pittsburgh with my newly finished Throwback Sweater in my bag completely giddy to meetup with the designer Andrea Mowry.  What was she like in person you ask? She is just as sweet and sincere as you would expect her to be. My married-woman-mom-of-three-girl-crush on her just became even more embarrassing. I somehow managed to sputter, “May I get a photo with you” and was unable to make a coherent sentence back when she commented on how soft my sweater fabric was!  She is delightfully warm, and seems genuinely happy to be part of such an amazing community...ignore my ridiculous expression, I was so excited.
(my sweater by the way was knit out of Woolfolk FAR (colors 1, 4, 18 and 19) purchased at Yarns By Design, it was totally worth the splurge).   
The rest of saturday was perfect.  The weather was crisp and I spent the day cozy in my sweater walking from barn to barn finding so many lovely treasures, independent dyers, lots of smile and lots and lots of wool. By 3pm I had my fill of the crowds, and far too much fiber in my bag, so we retreated home just as the raindrops began to fall. The haul (and crowds!!) from day one:

O-Wool in their sport weight for a Maritime Pullover for my son and Worsted Weight Merino from Dirty Water Dyeworks for the Find My Way sweater for myself!
Sunday was a little blustery to say the least.  I felt like Eeyore worried that my house would fall down any minute if I lost my warm hat or spilled my hot (getting cold) cider.  I’ve never been more thankful of so many layers as the windchill made the air seem biting. I wore my newly finished Humulus and The Shift cowl, but sadly had to layer up with a hideous windbreaker. The temps and wind however didn’t keep my crew from spending the day at the fairgrounds.  We ate lots of falafel, watched some of the demonstrations and even spent some time with our beloved wooly friends.

While the morning was pretty chilly, the crowds were much more manageable, which I found made for a calmer shopping experience.  I browsed again from barn to barn and then participated in a stitch marker swap! This was a free signup on Ravelry for the first 50 people for each day.  Basically you came to Rhinebeck with 50 stitch markers and left the meetup with 50 stitch markers that others made and brought. It was such a fun idea. About 30 stitch markers in, I started to regret my decisions to make my markers, but in the end am glad I did.  It was fun to put my own stamp on my markers and then collect new ones from other knitters. This will be a fun keepsake from the weekend.

The haul from day two included some more yarn and then a few splurge purchases I’ve been eyeing for years.
The pink and yellow/green yarns, from Cozy Color Works, are to make a few hats. I simply could not decide on a color and really enjoyed talking to the dyer so decided both must go home with me.  I’m not sure what pattern I’ll use yet but this big furry Raccoon tail pompom will go on top. The natural fingering weight is from Twist of Fate Spinnery and will be used to make a Arrows Down Cardigan for myself.  I’m really excited about this one, it actually wasn’t on my list but I spotted another shopper wearing one and knew I needed to add it to my list!

...what were the random splurge items you ask? How could I leave Rhinebeck without a pelt for my couch and some lovely wooden tools to stash away for holiday presents?

In the end, Rhinebeck for me is always just as much a shopping excursion as it is a time to reconnect with old friends, make some new, and enjoy being surrounded by ‘my people’ who don’t roll their eyes at my stash, who are completely smitten with the same craft as I am and are proud to show off their talents. I left Rhinebeck with a refreshed mindset, full heart, and a very, very stuffed suitcase.  Until next time!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Tree of Life project

© yarns by design

In the aftermath of the horrors at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, many of you are wondering how you can help. We have collaborated with our instructor Vanessa on the Tree of Life afghan project. 

Over the next several weeks, we will be knitting/crocheting and collecting squares to assemble into an afghan (or 2, or 20) to give to the Tree of Life Synagogue. If you would like to contribute and are in need of a pattern, please visit the boutique, or email with the pattern request.

Sampled above: Nicky Epstein’s Tree of Life (intermediate skill-level)

We have 3 knit patterns to choose from; Tree of Life, Star of David, or plain. And, are in the process of putting together a crochet pattern(s). 


  • PATTERN: any and all designs and skill-levels are welcome. eg. Star of David, trees, hearts, doves, plain, etc
  • SIZE: 9" horizontally by 8.5" vertically with a 5 row seed stitch edging
  • YARN: Dk or sport weight (3 on the standard scale), super wash wool or other washable fibers only. Please make sure your yarn won't felt! 
  • GAUGE: 6 stitches/in stockinette
  • NEEDLE: size 5-7, or whatever you need to get gauge
  • STYLE: knit or crochet

For more information, visit our Ravelry group under the forum Tree of Life. 

All samples can be dropped off at the YBD boutique by December 1st, 
or mailed to us at:

Yarns By Design
622 Allegheny River Blvd
Oakmont PA 15139
(NOTE: Please include your name & email with your square donation)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thrum thrum thrum thrummmm...

Thrum thrum thrum thrummm... (to the beat of The Little Drummer Boy)

I get asked a lot of questions about thrumming mittens and other knitted items. It is a technique that looks difficult, but is actually quite simple. What you get in the end is a fluffy, squishy, warm mitten, slipper or hat, that is perfect for below freezing temps! What is thrumming you ask? Thrummed Mittens, are also referred to as fleece stuffed mittens. These fluffy wonders originated in Canada, where staying warm is kind of important!  Twisting pieces of fleece wool into a long piece or a loop, they are then knitted into the fabric to create a fleece lining. When worn, the fleece inside felts and creates a warm squishy layer of insulation!

-How, exactly do I thrum?
Step 1.Pull off a wisp of roving or fleece about 3-4" long.

Step 2.Bring the ends to the middle so they overlap a bit.

Step 3.Give the thrum a good twist in the middle, rubbing it between your finger and palm. The finished thrum should be about the same thickness as your yarn.

-You will need around 375-400 thrums for a pair of mittens: roughly 185-200 thrums per mitten.

-      There are two different ways to thrum: long and looped.

-      Turn mittens inside out when finished and gently tug the thrums to tighten them.

-      As time goes on and the mittens are worn, the wool will lightly felt inside to keep the thrums in place. You could always turn them inside out and GENTLY hand felt the wool in some wool wash and water, then let air-dry.

-      Other things to thrum: Slippers, hats, and headbands!

Have you ever thrummed? Willing to give it try? Let us know in the comments below! 


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Everyone needs a knitting buddy!

"Knitting is sitting for creative people!"

On any Thursday night at YBD you will find the "knitting circle" filled with people from all walks of life. It can get a little bit loud, and can get a little bit crazy (knitters do have a wild side) but it is never short on fun! Everyone brings something different to the table. I have had the privilege of knitting side by side with some of these women weekly for about 10 years! Everyone in this group is good at something different, and we always are willing to help each other out when in need. Sometimes we eat cheese and drink wine, sometimes we go for ice cream or beers after, and a few times a year we whip out a pretty amazing potluck dinner! 

If it wasn't for these ladies, and all of our customers, we wouldn't be YBD! We appreciate each and every one of our "Fiber Friends", and I have chosen to feature a few of them in this blog, and the projects they are working on! 

First up is Meridee! Meridee has been quite the fixture at YBD! She belongs to not 1 or 2, but 3 of our clubs! We refer to her as our "Knitting Engineer". She is incredibly organized, she maps out her patterns on graph paper, and just pays excellent attention to what she is doing. She is also incredibly knowledgeable and we are so lucky to have her! 

How long have you been knitting?
I started knitting in the mid 1980's and stopped sometime in the 90's (probably after my kids were born). I resumed knitting in 2013 by taking a class with Edye. After taking a few lessons with Edye, I joined the YBD Knit Club! 

What is your favorite thing that you have knit?
Tattersall Scarf by Elise Duvekot that I made for my mother.

What brought you to YBD?
My best friend had been knitting for several yarns and when I would visit her in Houston, we would visit LYS's. I discovered YBD when she came to visit here in Oakmont. She had found YBD on Ravelry and asked if we could stop. It was still a few more years before I decided to pick up knitting again, and by then the store had moved and I came in and took a class. I knew what a nice shop YBD is and enjoyed the high quality yarns! 

Currently Meridee is working on Tegna by Boyland Knitworks with the rest of the YBD Knit Club. She is using Hedgehog Sock in Pollen for the bottom lace hem, and Raku for the body. 

Next up is Rebecca! Rebecca not only knits, but bakes (worlds best baker), sews, and rug hooks, just to name a few! She is also incredibly organized with her knitting (this is something I am insanely jealous of because I'm a hot mess express) and is our "Voice of Reason". She always has the simplest and easiest response to our questions. It always has us questioning, why didn't I think of that?

How long have you been knitting?
I have been knitting since 2006. I taught myself to knit via an instructional book. I followed all of the instructions and was making good progress, It wasn't until my MIL asked me, "What are you doing?" Did I know that I taught myself how to knit left-handed? I am right-handed. Knitting became much less awkward  when I switched to the right-handed knitting! 

What brought you to YBD?
I came into YBD  just to see what you had. Little did I know I was to make such great friends and find such great yarns! 

Rebecca is making The Circlet Cardigan by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor, color Vitner. 

Last, but certainly not least, is Cathy! Cathy has been a Fiber Friend of ours for a long time. Outside of knitting, she is an amazing cook, and loves to travel with her husband and kids. She is also one of the funniest people I know! She is a huge supporter of ours, and says on a regular basis "Sandy provides such a beautiful place for us to knit, how could you not support her?" She has been knitting for a number of years, and use to sew as well. Currently Cathy is working on The Weekender Sweater by Andrea Mowry in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, color Faded Quilt. 

How long have you been knitting?
I knit as a little girl and then picked it up again around 6-7 years ago. That was when I first met Sandy.

What is your favorite thing that you have made?
I love making baby things because you get rewarded so quickly! I am also really enjoying making my current project, The Weekender Sweater by Andrea Mowry! 

What brought you to YBD?
I live in Oakmont and never knew we had a yarn shop! I then stumbled upon an ad for YBD and decided to stop in. That was when I met Sandy, and she re-taught me to knit. It was then I started coming to the Thursday night Fiber Friends group!

If you are interested in becoming a Fiber Friend at YBD, all you have to do is show up and knit! This is a free knitting group and we love having everyone attend. There are two different groups that meet, Tuesday mornings from 10-12pm and Thursday evenings from 5:30-8pm. We hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sweater Weather Forever!

We have all seen it on SNL by now, "Sweata Weatha"

Our favorite season, as fiber artists, is finally here! Time to get our woolens out and ready for wear! Also, time for some new WIP's! The first day of fall was this past Saturday and the weather couldn't have been more perfect, cool and windy. I had my pumpkin candles lit, tea in my cup, and WIP's moving fast on my needles. I am currently making my family a big chevron afghan, and I couldn't be more excited to finish it! All summer long I was working on projects that I wouldn't yet get to use when completed. It is almost like finishing a project all over again, when you finally get to wear it! 

This weekend I will start getting out all of hand knits and getting them cleaned up and ready to wear. Eucalan, Knitters Blocks and Gleener will be working hard to prep my stuff for winter. I do this at the end of the season too (I'm terrified of moths). 


I first start by washing the hand knit and soaking them a bit in Eucalan (lavender is my personal favorite, and it is a moth deterrent). I will lay them out to block, and when they are dry I will go over them with my Gleener to remove the fuzz and pills. I love the way yarn blooms after it is blocked, so squishy and soft! It really brings the knit back to life! 

How do you go about carrying for your hand knits? Let us know in the comments! 
Happy knitting! 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018 SVYC Wrap up!

The Steel Valley Yarn Crawl has once again, come and gone! Yarns By Design wants to give a BIG thank you to all of the participants of the Steel Valley Yarn Crawl! We look forward to this event every year. We love meeting new people from around the city, and seeing all of our regular favorites too! We couldn’t do this event without you, and most importantly, wouldn’t be here without you! We love our knitting community in this wonderful city! Thank you again, from all of us at YBD! 
Freshly stocked shelves the night before the crawl

A special shout out to all the wonderful companies who generously donate so much to us for our raffles! We couldn't do it without them! 
Berroco, Brooklyn Tweed, Chiaogoo, KFI, Malabrigo, Madelinetosh, Shibui, Skacel, & Woolfolk.
A busy Saturday during the crawl.

We would also like to congratulate our lucky winners of the 3 YBD raffles! Heather Vigano, Terra Elsberry and Laura Yant!

Start knitting, crocheting and clearing out your stash! We look forward to seeing you all again in 2019! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

2018 Steel Valley Yarn Crawl

It's that time of year again! Clear your calendar and clear some space for a fresh yarn stash- the yarn crawl is here! This year we welcome 3 new shops participating, and said a sad farewell to 3 that closed. We get a lot of questions about the crawl, and I am here to answer a few! 
A full shop for the SVYC

What is the Steel Valley Yarn Crawl (SVYC)?
The SVYC is an event hosted by 11 local yarn shops in the great Pittsburgh area. We welcome crafters into our stores from August 3rd - August 12th 2018. To participate, you purchase a bag and passport ($12) and travel from shop to shop getting your passport stamped. Bags can be purchased through the participating shops. Once your passport is full, you leave it with the last shop you visit and it is put towards the grand prize raffle baskets! 

Each participating shop will have 3 raffle baskets as well! You are given tickets with your bag and passport to use towards these baskets. You can also make purchases in order to earn more tickets to use towards the raffle baskets at the shop you are visiting! Every shop will also have a pattern to hand out when getting passports stamped (knit and crochet). 
One of last years YBD raffle basket winners! 

Who are the participating shops?
Bo Peep Fine Yarns (Ligonier) 
Darn Yarn Needles & Thread (Harmony) 
Dyed in the Wool (McCandless/Ross Township) 
Kathy’s Kreations (Ligonier) 
Kid Ewe Knot (Bridgeville) 
McWalker Yarns (Millvale) 
Raggz Fiber Art (Forbes Road/Greensburg) 
Ross Farm Mercantile (Washington) 
Sewickley Yarns (Sewickley) 
Tonidale Yarn & Needlecraft (Tonidale) 
Yarns by Design (Oakmont)

Is there anything special this year for the 5th anniversary?
YES! This year we have included a SVYC Carabiner with your bag! The shops will be handing out stitch markers to hang on the carabiner. 

This years bag has been my personal favorite so far! A mini tote with a pocket on the front, makes for the perfect project bag! 

What are the grand prizes?
2018 grand prize structure as follows:  THREE prizes - first prize valued at over $500, second prize valued at over $300, and third prize valued at over $200! Each store contributes to the raffle prizes! 

What are the rules?
-Passports must be purchased from one of the participating yarn stores.
-Each participant must have their own passport. Only ONE passport per person.
-Each participant must fill out the contact information on the passport PRIOR to your first stamp. Please print clearly - we need this information to be able to contact you!
-Each participant must be present at each yarn shop to receive their stamp (i.e., no proxy crawling).
-Each participant must be at least 18 years of age.
-All completed passports must be turned in by the end of business on August 12th, 2018 to the last store you visit.

We are getting really excited to meet new friends, and to see some old! This is such a fun event, and we wouldn't be able to do it without all of you! Stop by and get your bags today! 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mini Skein Madness!

After receiving our most recent shipment of Hedgehog Fibres, it go me thinking about the beauty behind the mini skein! Mini skeins are not only adorable and beautiful to look at, but a great way to add a pop of color to your WIP! From socks, to hats, to sweaters, you can use mini skeins to mix and match colors in any project. Colorwork is an easy way to give a project that wow factor without making yourself crazy with difficult techniques. Here are some ideas on how to use those wonderful minis for more than just a stash filler! 

Sock toe, heel, & cuff

Brighten up you day by stopping by YBD, or visit us on the web to check out our current selection of Hedgehog Fibres in Skinny Singles, Sock, Sock Mini, Merino DK, and Merino Worsted! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Vacation knitting! T-minus 20 days!

"At the beach, life is different. Time doesn't move hour to hour, but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun." -Unknown

In just 20 short (long) days I will be headed down south to The Outer Banks National Seashore! We will be staying in Avon for 2 weeks, and that will require some prep work for knitting projects! I always over pack, but you never know what you will need, am I right? You never know how much or little time you will have to knit or read. I am guessing I will not have too much time, chasing a 5 year old and 11 month old around... but a girl can dream! 

I have 3 projects to take with me this year! I like an easy, medium, and hard to choose from at all times. Recently, I finished up Andrea Mowry's Weekender sweater, and MAN, I am in a slump after that! It was like reading Harry Potter... so good you don't know what to read/knit next! I was riding that knitting high for weeks after finishing it! I was able to whip up a pair of fair isle mitts after and finished a brioche cowl, but I was struggling to figure out "what next"?... till I discovered Tegna! (side note... I plan to make another Weekender in Brooklyn Tweed Newsprint this fall!) 

Tegna! Ooooh, Tegna! This sweater is beautiful, light weight, short sleeved and perfect for taking to the beach! It has a lace detail bottom which is amazing and hard to put down (I know this because I already had to frog... don't knit lace tired and ALWAYS USE A LIFELINE!!!). It is knit in a fingering weight yarn, I chose Malabrigo Sock in Eggplant, and doesn't take a lot of yards! 2 skeins for me! This will be knit while the kids are napping and I am relaxing on the deck staring at the ocean! As soon as the lace detail is done, it will be a perfect car project! I cannot wait to add this garment to my growing handmade wardrobe, this summer! 

Next is my easy, mindless but not terribly boring, transportable go to project, The Hitchhiker Shawl! This is so great, small enough to travel with, lightweight enough to take to the beach, and Malabrigo Mechita! Enough. Said. I hope to have this done by the time we come back for a boutique sample! The color is Paprika, and I never get sick of looking at it! 

Lastly is my "medium" project. I do not mean medium in terms of difficulty, but more size and transportability! I am going to start Hayward, by Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Soot. I want this done for fall, so I am in no hurry at all. I am taking this to work on in the evenings while watching the Pens in round 3 of the playoffs.... because there will be a round 3 (3elieve!!!)! It's mindless enough for the stress that hockey can cause, and noise level of a giant house full of Pens fans. Unfortunately, it is us just a little too heavy and too big to take on car travels and beach trips when its hot out. Super simple design and construction, plus amazing yarn means I am sold! 

I will be taking all my notions with me as well, and needles, and just about everything (like I said, I am not a light packer!). Fingers crossed some of these projects get some knitting love! I also have a book, but Im highly considering getting it in audio so I can kill two sea gulls with one stone! 
What do you like to knit on vacation? Do you take multiple projects or just one? Let us know in the comments below!