Saturday, December 31, 2011

String Theory. Once more.

The String Theory Caper Sock yarn all but disappeared from our shelves in a matter of weeks. Not yet ready to cast on, or even settle on a project befitting this luxurious cashmere and wool blend, I held off on the skein of Caper Sock that had caught my eye. When the last skein in that colorway was sold, I pouted for a minute, then remembered that we were expecting a shipment from String Theory this week. Not only were we awaiting one backordered color each in Selku and Merino DK, but Anne had also ordered another 24 skeins of Caper Sock.

By the time we'd refilled the half-empty cubby that Caper Sock calls home, I had to hold off yet again, for there were at least four colors vying for my attention.

When my Arroyo socks are done, I might be ready to choose a color. Until then, it's all yours, String Theory lovers. Enjoy this new selection of colors in Caper Sock!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vogue Knitting.

The Winter issue of Vogue Knitting has arrived and taken center stage on the teacart.

In this issue, you'll find the usual selection of unusual garments that we've come to expect from Vogue, including knitted capes, skirts, and turbans. There are sweaters as well, of course, and hats, mittens, and socks. Take a look next time you're in the shop.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Along with Arroyo, we received a handful of much-needed new colors in Malabrigo Rios, Sock, and Lace. We also got a shiny new shelf to display all the Malabrigo yarns together. The Sock is still with all the other fingering weight yarns in the front room, but now the Worsted, Twist, Rios, Silky Merino, Arroyo, and Lace can be found all in one place. Let's have a look at the new colors, shall we?

In Rios, as you can see in the photo above, we got Pearl Ten, Teal Feather, Paris Night, and several other colors whose fanciful names have already left me. Lovers of turquoises, blues, and greens will be happy with the current selection.

In Sock, we got only four colors: Terracotta, Ochre, Boticelli Red, and Persia. A manageable number of colors to choose from when you decide you simply must get a skein while they're still in stock.

After almost a year of stocking Lace in only one color, we suddenly find ourselves with an embarrassment of riches: a basket full of choices, each skein a different color. (I confess: I gave up halfway through the Saroyan, seduced by the String Theory Merino DK, which was the next shop sample on the to-knit list. The half-scarf blocked beautifully, though, and gives one a good sense of how the Lace works up.)

Alright, Malabrigo lovers, that concludes the tour of The Latest. Come by the shop to see it all for yourself.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hello, Malabrigo Arroyo.

I've written before about the popularity of Malabrigo yarns. Known for their softness and many other fine qualities, Malabrigo yarns are always welcomed with great excitement. This week, in the midst of the busiest shopping days we've seen all year, we were treated to something really special: the arrival of a new Malabrigo yarn.

Arroyo, a sport-weight washable merino, has been on order for the better part of the past year, so Anne and I were nothing short of thrilled to finally see it in person. We weren't alone in our excitement, either. There are those among us who memorize Malabrigo colorways, can identify Archangel, Arco Iris, or Indiecita from only a cursory glance. Arroyo comes in those memorable colors and 17 others, many of which have never before been seen at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. Here are a few of them, ready to be newly memorized.

Immediately, of course, I began thinking of socks. Could I make socks with Arroyo, and could I do it in one 335 yard skein alone? What size needle would make a strong enough fabric for socks, and what stitch pattern would ensure that it remained stretchy? You won't be surprised to know that I took a skein home on Saturday afternoon, the better to answer such questions in the future. All projects have been set aside in order to experiment with Arroyo. I'll be sure to let you know what I come up with. Happy holidays, everyone, I'll see you at the shop!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Simply Crochet.

Another little something for the crocheters came in this week: Simply Crochet: 22 Stylish Designs for Every Day, by Robyn Chachula. This new collection features patterns from a variety of designers, including the well-known Doris Chan and Kristin Omdahl, whose books we also keep in stock.

Come by the shop to take a look!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Interweave Crochet.

Another new winter magazine just settled in on the teacart, this time with a focus on crochet.

The leafy pullover on the cover of the magazine is made in Malabrigo Worsted, a favorite yarn for its plush softness. This issue has more accessories than sweaters, however. Look here for crocheted socks, mittens, and wraps.

See you at the shop.

Monday, December 19, 2011

String Theory. Again.

Anne and I were so completely sold on String Theory that it was less than a week between our first and second orders. Their Caper Sock, Bluestocking, and Merino DK yarns have been capturing the attention of many since they arrived at the shop two weeks ago. During those two weeks, however, Anne became fixated on another String Theory yarn: Selku, a 3-ply sport-weight blend of silk and merino wool. Though it's not technically available for wholesale, we found ourselves making repeat visits to the String Theory website to pick out colors for a yarn that we weren't even sure we could stock. Soon, Anne gave them a call and asked "pretty please," which is, in short, how we wound up with a box full of Selku on Friday.

Like Jitterbug, the Selku came to us in open, untwisted hanks.

Anne and I twisted them up, tucked them into a basket, and made room for them on the teacart, where you'll find them now.

The teacart has become, for the moment, a small fiber shrine to Maine, with two yarns each from Swans Island and String Theory, and a few copies of Coastal Knits placed strategically nearby. Come by to worship at said shrine, pet these and other new yarns, and daydream about your next project. See you at the shop.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Folk Socks.

Here is an older book, made new this year with revisions and updated content. First published in 1994, Nancy Bush's Folk Socks is back in print and back on our shelves.

With its long historical preamble, various heel- and toe-shaping techniques, and colorwork patterns, Folk Socks is right up my alley.

In thumbing through this excellent book, I was particularly struck by a simple pair of socks, knit in gray and white with only one small stranded motif.

With the abundance of stitch dictionaries, sock books, and color combinations I have available, I'm likely to add more color, more patterning, more complication to my colorwork socks, all in an attempt to try as many new things as possible in any given sock. These socks, and this book, reminded me that beautiful socks need not be covered from cuff to toe in patterning. One well-chosen motif can go a long way. And oh, this book has me aching for more colorwork socks!

Come by the shop to see Folk Socks for yourself, and be talked into colorwork sock-knitting by yours truly.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Textured Stitches.

We just got a new collection of patterns from Interweave, a classy book by Connie Chang Chinchio called Textured Stitches: Knitted Sweaters and Accessories with Smart Details.

Upon glancing through the book, I was impressed by the stylish, tailored shapes, and the carefully chosen stitch patterns that adorn them. Take a look inside:

Find it with the latest magazines and books on the teacart.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Works in progress.

Because of the nature of a yarn shop, Anne and I probably spend more time talking with people about their projects in the future tense than we do checking up on older projects, both finished and unfinished. There is much more to chat about if one has not begun one's project: what fiber to choose, and then what yarn, and what color? How much of it? What size needles or hook, and where to turn if a particular technique is unfamiliar? Finished and unfinished works carry all these conversations with them as well, of course, but not always with the same exuberance that drives one to begin. Occasionally, though, a break occurs in the project planning and a question comes: what are you working on now? With this question in mind, I submit these two works in progress, one of Anne's and one of my own.

Anne is working on a pair of socks of late, "happy socks," as she describes them. The pattern is simple, fundamental, even, and has been worked so many times that at this point, it can be summoned from her memory. Ribbed socks can be such a comfort in this way. The yarn is Claudia Hand Painted, in a fingering weight. Many a knitter has reached out to touch this sock-to-be, then rushed over to the Claudia cubby for a few skeins of their own.

I'm still working on my Saroyan, a scarf out of Malabrigo Lace yarn. I work on it only during quiet moments at the shop, and thus, am progressing slowly. Still, there is something to be said for the patience that knitting teaches us, and pleasure in the process. The yarn is soft and fine, the pattern well-written, and let's not kid ourselves: this is totally not the only knitting project I have going at the moment. I have a sweater half-finished, two sock patterns half-written, another pair on the needles, and about thirty other knitting ideas competing for the title of Next New Project. Never a dull moment, I tell you. 

So, what are you working on now?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Knitter's Pride interchangeable circular needles.

Interchangeable circular needle sets are no doubt topping many a knitter's wish list this season. Their appeal can be traced not only to their convenience and compactness, but also to a kind of cuteness: pairs of needle points are lined up in a little case, with a pocket for cords of different lengths. The Knitter's Pride Dreamz interchangeable needle set is even more appealing due to the fact that each needle size is a different color, which makes it easy to find a matching pair of points.

They're pretty things, these needles. Put them on your own wish list, and remember that we also have interchangeable circular needle sets from Addi and Lantern Moon, along with all kinds of other desirable knitterly gifts. See you at the shop!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hello, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK.

Debbie Bliss yarns have become something of a staple at the shop over the years. Her Cashmerino yarns are soft, machine washable, and come in a wide range of colors and weights, from sport to super-bulky. Patterns for Debbie Bliss yarns are plentiful and reliable. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK may not be the latest, most exciting new yarn, but we've been quietly keeping it in stock since Anne opened the shop five years ago, and it's made many a knitter happy over those years.

A few weeks ago, we added several new colors to our Cashmerino DK collection and replenished some that were low in quantity. Pleased by the new, expanded spectrum, I snapped a picture or two, which were soon forgotten in the excitement surrounding newer yarns.

Shame on me, forgetting Cashmerino DK like that! A yarn that I've used to make sweaters for myself and for my two-year-old niece, that I've saved the scraps of for colorwork hats, that I've recommended over and over again to those seeking soft, washable yarns for all kinds of projects. A yarn that Anne turned to just a few months ago to make fingerless mitts for her daughter. We have wonderful new yarns coming in all the time, it seems, but they are surrounded by equally lovely yarns, many of which have been at the shop for years. Cashmerino DK is one of them, so consider it when looking for a dk weight wool in solid colors. See you at the shop!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hello, String Theory.

I know I said we were elated at the arrival of Jitterbug last week--and really, we were! But that was before yesterday's shipment from String Theory, a new yarn company for us. Yesterday, excitement erupted at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop as Anne pulled skein after skein of beautiful hand-dyed yarn out of the box, passing them around to an appreciative group of knitters who petted, hugged, and admired the new yarn with great delight. Several of them decided they couldn't leave without a skein, and so they were here and gone before they even made it onto the shelf. Luckily, there is still plenty to show off. Have a look at what all of the fuss is about.

String Theory is a small company out of Blue Hill, Maine, a two-woman operation that has been getting a lot of attention recently. String Theory was recently profiled in Coastal Knits, a lovely pattern collection that we're forever reordering. Clara Parkes mentioned them in a recent post on Knitter's Review, which led me back to her Knitter's Book of Socks, where I found patterns using both of the String Theory sock yarns we just got in.

String Theory's Caper Sock is a luxurious fingering weight yarn, a blend of superwash merino, cashmere, and nylon. Cookie A's pattern from Knitter's Book of Socks, below, uses the Caper Sock yarn with lovely results.

Bluestocking, on the other hand, is perhaps the more interesting of the two String Theory sock yarns because of its fiber content: 80% Bluefaced Leicester wool and 20% nylon. Bluefaced Leicester is a particular breed of sheep known for its long, strong fibers, which ought to make a particularly durable pair of socks. (Care to learn more about breed-specific wools? Put Clara Parkes' Knitter's Book of Wool on your holiday wish list, or give it to yourself as a gift. Fascinating stuff!) It's rare and exciting to see a yarn label that specifies the breed of sheep whose wool is inside it, with the exception of the ubiquitous Merino. I can't wait to give Bluestocking a try, perhaps using Ann Budd's pattern from Knitter's Book of Socks.

The third and final kind of yarn we received from String Theory this week is their Merino DK, a name which speaks for itself. I can add little else to describe it, though I'll mention that it's superwash, squishy and soft, and that each 100 gram skein is packed with 280 yards. At a dk weight, that can easily take you through a hat, cowl, pair of mittens, or maybe even a scarf.

Come by the shop and we'll be sure to show you in person all that I've shown you here. Forgive us if we can hardly contain our delight: we love yarn, we love knitting, and we are utterly irrepressible. See you at the shop!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Goknit project bags.

We replenished our supply of Goknit project bags this week at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. These colorful, lightweight drawstring bags have been favorites for both practical and aesthetic purposes. They look so appealing all together, in fact, that we put them right up on the wall.

We have two sizes available, the better to accommodate the range of projects that we knitters and crocheters tote around. The smaller Goknit pouch is just right for a hat or a pair of socks, and the larger will comfortably hold sweaters-to-be.

Either of these bags would make a nice gift for a knitter, as the need for places to store works in progress is unending. Paired, perhaps, with a gift certificate to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, I can think of no more welcome present this holiday season.

Come by the shop to pick up a Goknit project bag for a friend or for yourself.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jitterbug. Again.

You would not believe the gasps of delight that accompanied this week's much anticipated shipment of Colinette Jitterbug. (I know I say things like that a lot--it seems that weekly, we receive boxes of gasp-inducing yarns--but I'm just reporting the facts, here. We're an excitable bunch.) Unlike most yarns, the Jitterbug comes to us in bunches of untwisted hanks, which makes for a dramatic entrance.

After oohing and aahing over each color as it emerged from the box, Anne and I got right to work twisting up each hank.

Jitterbug, as I've written before, is a tightly-plied, squishy, merino yarn in fingering weight which comes to us all the way from Wales. We've carried primarily variegated colorways thus far, but the semisolid colorways have been so tempting that we finally, happily gave in.

I went home with a skein of Jitterbug in a golden yellow to make myself a pair of bright, wild socks. There are several other projects awaiting my attention, but it's quite possible that I'll put them all aside to cast on with this yarn, for which I've heard nothing but rave reviews.

One such rave-reviewer is Anne, who made a little something out of Jitterbug for herself earlier this year.

No big deal, just one of the most amazing sweaters we have in the shop, an exquisite design from Marianne Isager's Japanese Inspired Knits. Come by to examine Anne's sweater in close, glorious detail, and to snag a skein of Jitterbug for yourself.

See you at the shop!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Magazine week.

The magazine-makers of the world have been working overtime, it seems. Last week brought two new issues, Creative Knitting and Interweave Knits. I'd barely flipped through them when three more new magazines arrived. Rest assured, if you come by the shop this week, you're likely to find at least one compelling new project among these glossy pages.

Koigu Magazine is back with a nice follow-up to their premiere issue, which I wrote a bit about back in May. Look here for inspired and unusual uses of fingering weight and variegated yarns.

Knit Simple is here, too, full of cardigans, among other things.

The most impressive, in my opinion, has been Interweave Knits Accessories. The thing itself is stylishly designed, and the patterns are many and varied.

Cowls, hats, socks, mitts, and shawls--the kind of projects that knitters often make for gifts. It's a gift-giving season we're in, and it was gift-knitting that came to mind when I paged through this magazine. Take a look.

See you at the shop.