Monday, October 31, 2011

Vogue Knitting.

The Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting is here.

Find it on the teacart!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Knitter's Book of Socks.

Clara Parkes has done it again, and by "done it again," I mean "provided a practical, beautiful, fascinating, rigorous resource for knitters." From the author of Knitter's Review, the woman who brought us The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool, here's The Knitter's Book of Socks.

If you're a sock knitter, this is an indispensable book. If you're an aspiring sock knitter, this book may be a good place to start. While many of the patterns include cables, lace, or colorwork, the first is an introductory-level sock with a simple texture pattern, using worsted weight yarn. Once you've worked up a pair of those, you'll likely be ready and eager to dip your toes into some of the more complicated patterns. Also: those of you who are worried that your knitted socks will be too baggy or too tight, not stretchy enough, or that they'll fall apart after one wear will be encouraged and emboldened by The Knitter's Book of Socks. Parkes spends entire chapters on the effects of various fibers, twists, plies, and stitch patterns on the structure of a sock, giving knitters the information they need to avoid the potential pitfalls that may concern them.

The patterns come from an astounding group of designers, using all kinds of techniques to make socks in a wide range of styles. Cat Bordhi, Lucy Neatby, Ann Budd, Norah Gaughan, Nancy Bush, Cookie A, and Jared Flood all make appearances, as does a favorite new yarn of ours: the Swans Island Organic Merino, in fingering-weight.

I'm almost halfway through a sweater using this yarn, and had never considered it for socks, as it's hand-wash only. Then I came upon Parkes' ode to hand-washing hand-knit socks, which made the task sound more pleasant than inconvenient. Having just accidentally felted a pair of colorwork socks, I'm ready to make the switch to hand-washing, and it sounds like my socks will look better and last longer that way. Suffice it to say, I'm reconsidering putting that beautiful Swans Island yarn on my feet, and I have no doubt that The Knitter's Book of Socks will change the way I pair yarns and sock patterns, making me a better, more educated sock knitter. Come by the shop to peruse this new book, and plan your next pair of socks!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Anne and I recently decided that we needed more colors of Isager Tvinni (pronounced, incidentally, "tweenie." In case you were curious), a fingering-weight merino from Denmark. We pored over the colorcard, comparing the awe-inspiring array of available colors to our small Tvinni collection, carefully selecting those colors that would play well together and reflect a wider spectrum. Today we received a box which brought these new colors, along with six more copies of Tutto a Mano. I was forced to reorganize the Isager island, petting each yarn and sorting them by color. It's a hard job, you know, but someone has to do it.

Take a look at our updated Tvinni collection, and see if you're not inspired to knit it right up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


For the past few weeks, Anne has been hard at work on a sweater, a sample for the shop knit from a Habu kit. The yarn is a fine, slubbed cotton, and the pattern is in the Japanese style, with little to no written instructions. Instead, Anne's knitting is guided by a simple diagram, a few numbers, and a post-it note with tally-marks for each knitted row. When asked what she's knitting, she holds up the diagram and says, "This is the entire pattern," which always elicits a raised brow. Japanese patterns may seem mysterious and complicated, but Anne assures us that this is not so. When the sweater is done, she promises a class on Japanese pattern reading.

Just in time for this proposed class, our selection of Habu kits has expanded.

I've written before about the Kusha Kusha scarf kit, which also features a Japanese pattern. Now, three sweaters are joining the Kusha Kusha kits.

Come by the shop to chat with Anne about Japanese patterns, and to take a closer look at our expanded Habu collection. If a class on Japanese pattern reading appeals to you, let us know, and we'll alert you when the class is scheduled. See you soon!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Purple caps.

Thanks to all the knitters and crocheters who made purple baby caps this year, we were able to send off a big box of 174 purple caps to the good people at the Period of Purple Crying project. They're working to educate new parents and other caregivers that an infant's increased crying is totally normal, and that it is never okay to shake an infant in frustration, that real harm can be done that way. These purple caps will go home with newborns throughout North Carolina along with information about the Period of Purple Crying.

Once again, thank you so much to everyone who participated!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Schoolhouse Press.

I have a lot of favorite things in the shop. From time to time, some unsuspecting customer will ask me what my favorite yarn is, and the answer they get is lengthy, a handful of yarns at least, and only represents my favorites of that particular moment. We have so many yarns that I love to knit with, and so many more that I'm aching to work with but have not yet gotten to. The same can be said for books, though I am slightly more focused in that department. I keep my knitting library relatively small, favoring reference types over project-based books, usually. When I look at my own collection, it closely mimics one shelf at the shop in particular: the Schoolhouse Press and Elizabeth Zimmermann shelf.

We devote a shelf to Schoolhouse Press publications partially for organizational reasons, but primarily to honor the output of a particularly outstanding book publisher. Schoolhouse Press was founded by knitting heroine Elizabeth Zimmermann in the mid 1950's and is now run by Zimmermann's daughter, Meg Swansen. The Schoolhouse Press shelf is my favorite for a reason: the books that are found there are stuffed with information that liberates knitters from patterns, encourages experimentation, and urges you to be the boss of your own knitting.

And now, we've collected all our single patterns from Schoolhouse Press into one binder. Zimmermann's classic Baby Surprise Jacket can be found there, along with the updated version: the Adult, Baby, and Child Surprise Jacket, and others--the Tomten, the Green Sweater, and now, the Square-Rigged Vest. There have been several developments, you see, since last we spoke of my Square-Rigged Vest. Anne insisted that it become a class, and I agreed to teach it. (It's half-filled, so if you're interested, register now!) A phone call to Schoolhouse Press solved the problem of the pattern being out of print--they kindly reprinted it for us, which is why you'll now find it in the Schoolhouse Press pattern binder. With every new publication, and kindnesses such as these, Schoolhouse Press gives us another reason to appreciate and admire them. Come by the shop to join us in our admiration, and I'll gladly point you towards my favorite shelf in the shop.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Fall is just starting to feel like fall, and now this: the Winter 2011 issue of KnitScene. Come on, cold weather, catch up with the knitting magazines!

Find it where the newest magazines are always found, on the teacart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy birthday, Hillsborough Yarn Shop!

Five years ago today, Anne officially opened the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. For me, as well as for many others, the shop is more than a shop. It's the reason I (re)learned to knit, a skill and passion that has become a very important part of my life. A Hillsborough native, I noticed the new business on Churton Street back in 2006 and thought: perhaps I'd like to knit? Five years later, I feel strange if a day goes by without at least a few knitted rows. The shop has since become many things to me: a source of inspiration, a place for meeting fascinating people, and (lucky me!) my job. A big, resounding thank you to Anne for the welcoming, inspiring space she's created!

As Anne is quick to point out, our customers have at least as much to do with our success as she does. As a thank you to all of you, we're having a sale and celebration this weekend. We're offering a 15% discount on absolutely everything in the shop, with the exception of classes, and that which is already discounted. Come in anytime this Friday, Saturday or Sunday, October 21st, 22nd, or 23rd, and we'll pour you a glass of champagne, offer you a cupcake, and take 15% off the price of your purchase. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Hello, ArtYarns.

Perhaps you recognize this basket of soft, shiny yarns.

That's our stash of ArtYarns, some of the most indulgent skeins in the shop. The sheen of silk, the halo of mohair, and the sparkle of beads and sequins all conspire to create a glamorous yarn, a treat for the hands as well as the eyes. Although one skein is small, it's enough to create a little kerchief, just as Anne knit up in white. When you're considering treating yourself to a skein of ArtYarns Beaded Silk and Mohair, take a look at the sample to get a sense of how much fabric can come from one skein.

One of the new things Anne ordered for the shop this fall came from ArtYarns: kits with enough smooth, soft, and sparkly yarn to create a knit or crochet shawl.

You'll find them just beneath the ArtYarns basket, by the desk. Come by the shop to take a closer look.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Isager adoration. Again.

In the past month, two new books of patterns have come out using Isager yarns. For all the attention they have gotten in the shop, I was surprised to realize that I hadn't introduced them here on the blog. Forgive the belatedness of this announcement, if you would, and take a peek at some new ideas for these incredible yarns.

First, we have No. 1, No. 2, No. 3..., a collection of 9 designs for Isager yarns by a variety of Danish designers. Some favorites:

Next, here's Tutto a Mano, which includes patterns from Marianne Isager along with several other designers, many of which make good use of Isager yarns.

Some (more) favorites:

Two stunning collections, ready for the attention of any and all Isager adorers. Come by the shop to take a closer look!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Knitter's Life List.

Here is a rare case, indeed: not only can this new book be found in our shop, but our shop can also be found in this new book.

The Knitter's Life List, by Gwen Steege, is a compendium of knitting inspirations. Steege offers an introduction to practically every facet of knitting culture: tools, fiber, techniques, reference books, and particular people and places, each one placed in the greater context of the knitting world at large. If that sounds like a lot of information at once, that's because it is. It's not the sort of book you sit down and read from cover to cover, though. The Knitter's Life List would be best enjoyed, I think, by perusing at random, allowing yourself to be pleasantly surprised by the many directions it may point you in. One such direction is toward your local yarn shop, as Steege suggests in the "Explore your LYS" section of this book. She profiles two yarn shops, one on the east coast and one on the west, telling the stories of the owners and the unique communities they've created among their knitters. And who is profiled? Why, it's your local yarn shop, that is, the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We could not be more proud and delighted to be included in this book! Come by to pick up your very own copy and see where it takes you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Best of KnitScene.

Another new title from Interweave has found its way to the teacart.

The Best of KnitScene is a collection of patterns from KnitScene magazine, as its title makes evident, but it has a lot of other information as well. A friendly introduction to the world of knitting from patterns, this book offers short, clear explanations of a variety of knitting techniques that could otherwise appear intimidating, such as fair-isle, cables, and lace. 

It's primarily a collection of sweaters, but there are some socks in there, too, along with hats and other accessories. 

The Best of KnitScene would make a nice gift for an adventurous intermediate knitter who has advanced past the obligatory scarf, hat, and fingerless mitts, and is ready for the next step up. Some patterns would be a piece of cake for such a knitter, while others would be an exciting challenge, making this one book a collection to keep said knitter busy for quite some time. Come by the shop to flip through it and see what you think.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hello, Briggs and Little Sport.

Recently I completed a project that had been stuffed in the bottom of a basket for about a year. I'm not a monogamous knitter, but lingering unfinished projects do bother me a bit. Every once in a while, I'd remember this particular project, a half-completed colorwork vest, and worry about it a little. Would I ever finish it? Why did I put it down again? There must have been something intimidating ahead in the pattern, something scary enough that I'd hide the whole thing away and spend a year knitting other things. When I pulled out the pattern, an out-of-print Meg Swansen gem called the Square-Rigged Vest, it was immediately clear why I had stopped when I did. After casting on at the bottom edge and knitting happily round and round in the color pattern, I'd reached the armpit, where I'd have to plan for steeks. I've cut my knitting before, but something about the little bit of math and boldness required for this next step tripped me up. Coming back to it a year later, I was pleased to find myself excited rather than nervous at the prospect of steeking, and in a matter of weeks the whole project was done.

The yarn is Briggs and Little Sport, an unsung hero of a yarn. A rustic, single ply, 100% wool yarn, Briggs and Little Sport is quite affordable, comes in an astonishing array of colors, and has a sticky quality to it--all of which make it perfectly suited to stranded colorwork knitting. Once knit, the stitches cling to each other, which is handy for steeking, since it takes some serious pulling and stretching for the cut stitches to unravel.

Briggs and Little Sport is often passed over, I think, because it isn't soft to the touch. It took some time to get used to it, but soon my fingers were accustomed to the texture of the yarn and enjoying the process. I was promised by those who had knit with it before that it would soften with washing and I can't tell you how right they were. It's not cashmere or anything, but then, that's exactly what I love about this classic, wooly yarn.

If you're considering a colorwork project, Briggs and Little Sport is certainly worth your attention, but I've seen it used successfully in other ways as well. Marion and several of her students have made February Lady Sweaters holding the Briggs and Little doubled to obtain a worsted-weight gauge. When I searched for the yarn on Ravelry, I found that many knitters are using it for socks, shawls, mittens, and hats, as well as sweaters. Come by the shop to visit this unsung hero and consider how you might make use of it. See you soon!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Knitter's Pride.

I've written before about the range of needles and hooks we offer at the shop. Today, I'm here not to summarize our collection, but to introduce the latest line of circular knitting needles: Knitter's Pride Dreamz.

These circulars are made from laminated compressed birch, and come in 16", 24", 32", and 40" lengths in a wide range of sizes. They also come, as you may have noticed, in a wide range of colors, making them pretty as well as functional. For those of you who loved the colorful (and sadly discontinued) Lana Grossa laminated circulars, this may be just the substitute. Come by the shop to look through these candy-colored needles, and enjoy having yet another variety to choose from when shopping for circulars. We hope you'll give them a try and let us know what you think!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hello, Classy.

If you've ever come into the shop looking for washable worsted weight wool, you're not alone. This seems to be one of our most common requests. Wool is soft, warm, wonderfully stretchy, and has many applications, all of which are qualities that draw knitters and crocheters to wool yarns. Many of those knitters and crocheters (as well as those they knit and crochet for) are also looking for yarns that can be machine washed without fear of accidental felting. Enter superwash wool. We've got a lot of it, and the rich, tonally-variegated Classy, from Dream In Color, is one of the first stops on the Washable Worsted Weight Wool Tour at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. Our stock had been dwindling, but a recent order got us back up to date on many colors that had been marked with the dreaded "L," which stands for "Last," as in, "Last skein in stock. Sorry!" Now there is a good chance that we have a sweater's worth of most any color one could select from the Classy basket. Dig in, you makers of hats, mitts, baby sweaters and blankets, and rest easy: there's no accidental felting in this yarn's future.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Swans Island hat and mitts.

Though Anne and I were both beside ourselves with excitement over the arrival of the new Swans Island yarn, it's possible I was more excited, because she had assigned me the task of swatching it. I began by looking through their patterns for inspiration--a good starting place, as their patterns are beautiful in their simplicity, allowing the knitter to relax and enjoy the yarn. I chose the Harbor Hat pattern, which progressed quickly, and soon I had completed it, with more than half the skein to spare. Back to the Swans Island pattern binder I went, this time, for the Blackberry Mitts. 

The completed set now lives on the teacart with the Swans Island yarn, perched atop the basket, ready to be inspected by those who are curious just how this stuff knits up. Allow me to spoil the surprise: the yarn is wonderfully soft, smooth, and consistent. The patterns are easy to follow and quick to knit. Our love affair with Swans Island continues. In fact, I've started a sweater for myself out of the fingering weight Swans Island, the New Zealand Pullover from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knit One Knit All. At 7 stitches to the inch, it'll be a while before it looks like much, but I will surely do some show and tell once it begins to resemble a sweater.

Come in and admire the Swans Island yarn and patterns if you haven't yet done so, and slip your hands inside these mitts. See you soon!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Behold: the premiere issue of knit.wear, a brand new knitting magazine from Interweave. Billing itself as a collection of "simple handknits for the thoughtful knitter," knit.wear is packed with clean, modern-looking sweater patterns. Anne and I were impressed with this stylish new magazine. What do you think?

Come by the shop to flip through the premiere issue and see all else that is new.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Let this be my last Cascade addendum, the last of the contents of those 40 pound boxes to be introduced: say hello to a sumptuous new fingering weight yarn from Cascade, called Heritage Silk.

A few months ago, when we first ordered Heritage Silk, Anne got a single skein for us to knit up as a shop sample. That skein was passed to me, and as soon as I had wound it into a ball, I knew that I would love this yarn for socks. It's a smooth yarn with the kind of high twist that makes for excellent stitch definition and well-wearing socks. Made from 85% no-nonsense superwash wool and 15% shiny, glamorous silk, Cascade Heritage Silk is a nice blend of basic and indulgent. I tried to knit a sock that reflected those qualities, and this is what I came up with: meet Chiffon.

Like my first sock pattern, Interrupted, Chiffon is knit from cuff to toe with a short-row heel, but is dressed up a bit with three bands of ruching. Come by the shop to see a sample of Chiffon, which you'll find tucked into a cubby on the sock wall with the Heritage Silk yarn. Download the pattern for free on Ravelry, and please let me know what you think!