Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Handknit Romance.

A new book arrived from Interweave this week: Jennie Atkinson's A Handknit Romance: 22 Vintage Designs with Lovely Details.

The first thing I noticed in this book was the use of Swans Island Organic Merino Fingering yarn. The mere mention of Swans Island tends to stop me in my tracks, that I might join in gushing over their spectacular yarn.

Those of you who appreciate fine yarns at small gauges will appreciate A Handknit Romance, especially if you have a fondness for traditional feminine details. Take a look next time you're in the shop.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

(More) new shelves.

Yes, we're at it again. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that we're always at it, where "it" is "rearranging shelves and their contents in a constant attempt to better arrange the shop." We are blessed with an enormous collection of fibers, such that we must use every square inch of our shop to store and display them. When last I reported changes in shop setup, we had added two new shelves and given the cotton tree a new home in the corner. We admired and enjoyed the new configuration for about a week before we started to wonder if more shelves would make it even better. Anne ordered two more shelves, which were assembled and moved into the shop early this week.

Our goal is to get baskets of yarn off of the floor and onto shelves, where they are more easily seen. The two newest shelves are steps in that direction.

We also moved many of our silk yarns into the second room, where they live by the Malabrigo shelf. Aren't they a pretty pair, the silks and Malabrigo yarns?

Yes, we're satisfied with this latest development. For now! You can expect nothing less than constant change here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, whether it's new yarn, new books, new classes, or new shelves. We aim to always improve.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine.

It was nearly 70 degrees out yesterday (in late January, might I remind you), and we just got the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine. In late January. Might I remind you. The unseasonably warm weather has been somewhat disconcerting, but also beautiful, so perhaps this early nudge towards warm-weather knitting is well-timed, after all.

You'll find this new issue along with the other latest books and magazines on the teacart. See you at the shop!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Books, new and old.

We got a box of books in the mail last week, some of which were new, and others of which were merely in need of being reordered. From the department of Books That Have Sold Well That We Are Pleased To See On The Shelves Again:
  • The Magic Loop: Working Around On One Needle, by Bev Galeskas
  • The Knitter's Book of Socks, by Clara Parkes
  • My Grandmother's Knitting: Family Stories and Inspired Knits from Top Designers, by Larissa Brown, featuring contributions from Meg Swansen, Jared Flood, Cookie A., Norah Gaughan, and many more
  • Coastal Knits: a Collaboration Between Friends on Opposite Shores, by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig

And from the rather more exciting department of Books That Have Never Before Graced Our Shelves:

  • Stashbuster Knits: Tips, Tricks, and 21 Beautiful Projects for Using Your Favorite Leftover Yarn, by Melissa Leapman
  • Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere, by Julie Turjoman

Look for these and other knitting and crochet books at the shop. Hope you find something inspiring within their pages.

Monday, January 23, 2012

More works in progress.

About a month ago, I posted pictures of two of the works in progress that hang around the shop. Anne and I always have at least two samples for the shop on the needles--one on her needles and one on mine. Because the urge to talk about what we make and what we see others making is strong, we find ourselves talking about these projects at many points throughout the day. When the process is enjoyable, we'll tell anyone who will listen about how soft the yarn is, how incredible the color. Since I last brought this conversation to the blog, two new works in progress have sprung up.

I'm working on a simple drop stitch scarf with the new Malabrigo Arroyo. This pattern is a particularly good choice for variegated yarns like this, as the elongated stitches highlight a stretch of color in the yarn that would otherwise be distributed differently along the row. We're used to variegated yarns striping and pooling in stockinette and other texture patterns, but the drop stitch scarf pools differently, purposefully. 

Within three rows, I had the pattern memorized, and since then, it feels like it's been knitting itself. 

Anne is also working on a scarf, but hers is made from the Swans Island Organic Merino in the fingering weight. The pattern came from our perpetual calendar, 365 Knitting Stitches a Year, a nice resource to turn to when you intend to make a scarf and don't intend to use a pattern. Flip through the calendar, pick an attractive stitch pattern, cast on an appropriate number of stitches for said pattern, and go until you run out of yarn. A formula for scarf success.

This one will look particularly lovely when it's blocked, I imagine. I can't wait to see it. In the meantime, come by the shop to see these two very special yarns in action, and listen to us go on about them. See you soon!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bergere de France Berlaine, on sale!

If you've been to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, you're probably already familiar with the sale trunk.

Just in front of the desk, a trunk overflows with discounted yarns. The contents of the trunk are ever-changing, and this week, we added something new: Bergere de France Berlaine, a dk weight superwash wool.

Most of the yarns in the sale trunk are dwindling in quantity, with only a handful of skeins in any one color. Not so for Berlaine--if there's not enough for your project in the trunk, just ask us for more, and we'll gladly check our stash in the back room. We may even have sweater quantities of this lovely stuff in a few colors, depending on the sweater. The machine-washability of this yarn makes it particularly well suited to children's things, or the kinds of accessories that sometimes need to be thrown into the wash. Dig into the sale trunk, folks! There's plenty of good, inexpensive yarn waiting there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello, String Theory Selku.

On Tuesday, we got a box from String Theory, which is always cause for excitement. This box in particular was full of Selku, a 3-ply sport-weight blend of silk and merino wool. Selku is a yarn that I've written about before, which we've only stocked in a small handful of colors up until this week. This shipment brought five new colors of Selku, rounding out our collection in a truly lovely way.

Though I haven't had a chance to work with Selku yet, I have stalked it enough on Ravelry to know that it's a perfect choice for a special scarf or shawl. The weight and shine of the silk paired with the elasticity of merino should make for beautiful stitch definition and an elegant drape. Anne wants to use Selku to make the cover sweater from Connie Chang Chinchio's Textured Stitches. Yes, our minds are buzzing, but we've yet to cast on. What would you make from this stunning stuff?

Come by the shop to ooh and ahh, to pet the yarn and consider the possibilities. See you soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Creative Knitting.

Here is the March 2012 issue of Creative Knitting Magazine, having arrived about six weeks before said month will grace us with its presence. The garments inside this issue are for transitional weather: shawls and tunics, lightweight knits for layering. Myself, I'm not quite ready for the spring magazines. I haven't yet gotten my fill of winter knitting. Those of you who are ready to look ahead to warmer weather ought to peer into these pages, however.

Find it on the teacart, surrounded, as can be expected, by the latest knitting and crochet books and magazines.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wiggle Wrap.

If you've been in the shop in the past week, you may have noticed a new sample hanging on the wall. There are many sweaters, shawls, hats, scarves, and bags competing for your attention, of course, so it's possible you missed this latest knit shawl. It's quite striking, though, and wont be in the shop forever, so I thought I'd document it here.

The pattern is "Wiggle Wrap," by Sally Brandl, and it's knit with two balls of Kauni Effektgarn. One ball is a bright, fiery colorway and the other is dark, with deep blues and purples. The two, themselves self-striping, are striped against one another, creating multiple levels of stripes and gradations of color. The premise is simple but the effect is impressive. I'd like to see one in a pair of neutral colorways, or a black-and-white skein with a wild rainbow skein. Get to work, knitters.

Come by the shop to see the Wiggle Wrap while it's still here, and check the Kauni Patterns binder for more Kauni inspiration.

(Many thanks to Nancy for lending us her shawl!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Knitting with Two Colors.

Back in November, I wrote about two of my favorite new colorwork resources: Alice Starmore's Charts for Color Knitting and Mary Jane Mucklestone's 200 Fair Isle Motifs. I remember the feeling of contentment I had in placing those two on my bookshelf at home, thinking, "This completes my colorwork library." That, however, was before Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen's Knitting with Two Colors appeared. Now, having seen this new book from Schoolhouse Press, gaps appear in my colorwork library where none existed before. Where was the technical detail on preparing for and cutting steeks? The guidance on altering existing colorwork patterns, and designing your own? Ways to incorporate shaping into a colorwork sweater without completely confusing the patterning? The hows, whys, and whether-or-nots of various hems, borders, and necklines? Why, here they are, calmly and clearly explained by these two most experienced colorwork knitters, Swansen and Detjen.

Knitting with Two Colors is neither a book of sweater patterns nor a book of colorwork charts, but truly a book of techniques, a slim paperback volume that is absolutely bursting with information. I can imagine no better companion to Starmore's Charts for Color Knitting or Mucklestone's 200 Fair Isle Motifs than Swansen and Detjen's Knitting with Two Colors. Colorwork enthusiasts, and anyone else who's curious, should take a look at this book, and take home a copy if there's an ambitious colorwork project in your future. Find it on the teacart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cleaning up our act. Some more.

We've done some more furniture rearranging this week at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop.

The cotton tree switched places with the corner chair, making it easier for those who sit and knit at the shop to socialize while they do so.

In the interest of using what little space we have more wisely, we acquired a new pair of bookshelves. The Jo Sharp yarns have been gathered on one of them, and the Isager yarns on another.

This gave us more room for the Kauni and the Swans Island, which settled where the Isager yarns used to live.

The whole process was a bit like a game of musical chairs, except that every basket of yarn and every stack of books found a seat when the music stopped. We're so pleased with the newly organized space. Come by and see the difference!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


We're often asked if we know a good cowl pattern, or have a book of them. This request has been particularly common in the past month or so, so I thought I'd give a virtual version of my in-shop answer. A book of cowls: unfortunately, no. A good cowl pattern: here are four, and all the better because they are free.

To some, a cowl is a tube designed to fit closely around the neck, almost like a dickey. A turtleneck detached from its sweater. Here is one such cowl, in simple 2x2 ribbing, knit with the soft and slightly shiny Debbie Bliss Andes, a dk weight blend of alpaca and silk. The pattern is available at the shop--just ask for the Andes cowl.

To others, a cowl is a long loop of a scarf, designed to be wrapped around the neck twice. We have two cowls that meet this description, the first of which is available online, and the second, at the shop. Meet the Big Herringbone Cowl (above) and the Moebius Cowl (below). We used a worsted-weight merino/silk blend and a mohair/silk blend, respectively.

Somewhere between the two shapes is this newest cowl, knit from String Theory Merino DK. The Purl Ridge Cowl pattern is also available as a free pattern from the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, as of Thursday afternoon, when I bound off, wove in the ends, and immediately tried it on. Cozy.

My challenge to you: choose a color.

String Theory, as I have gushed several times in as many weeks, does incredible things with yarn and dye. My photographs don't do it justice. Come and see the stuff with your own two eyes!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hello, Alpaca 1.

When Anne returned from her trip to Denmark in August, she came back with many stories and many knitting ideas. The first one that she realized was simple: a triangular garter stitch shawl in Isager Alpaca 1, a 2-ply lace-weight yarn that at the time, we had just recently ordered in a pretty little spectrum of colors. Anne had seen one like it in Marianne Isager's shop, and was determined to recreate it as a shop sample here. It may be a simple shawl, a "nothing pattern," as Anne often describes it, but it has been a huge hit.

The particular combination of this yarn at this gauge makes simple garter stitch look new and somehow complicated. I've seen seasoned knitters puzzle over the shawl, asking about the stitch pattern. The texture is truly unusual, stretchy and fuzzy and light. Sometimes I wrap it around my neck like a scarf while I'm rearranging the Alpaca 1 basket, and I must say, it tempts one.

Having nearly run out of Isager Alpaca 1 due to the beguiling nature of the garter stitch shawl, it was time for a reorder at the start of the new year. As I put out the new colors, I felt content seeing them all together again, and daydreamed a bit about which color I'd choose if I were making one myself. What would you choose?

The next time you're in the market for a mindless knit with exquisite yarn, consider the Alpaca 1 shawl. Try it on next time you're in the shop and see if you're not tempted.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lantern Moon bags.

A small box filled with small silk bags came from Lantern Moon last week. Anne strung them up on the wall, which has become our default eye-pleasing and space-saving method for displaying bags.

These Lantern Moon bags are narrow and long, and I think would happily accommodate a small scarf project on straight needles, or a sock-in-progress. One customer suggested that a bottle of wine would fit nicely, and I can't disagree. Whatever works.

Be sure to admire them the next time you're in the shop. See you soon!

Monday, January 2, 2012


I spent much of this new year's eve weekend with a burgeoning pair of socks, made with Malabrigo's newest yarn, Arroyo. I turned the heel on the first sock, then cast on for the second while watching a movie on new year's eve. On new year's day, the socks came with me to a friend's house, where we talked and laughed and drank tea. This morning as I sipped my coffee, knitted my socks, and listened to a podcast, I had an impulse to photograph the scene, and thought to myself: oh, man. What a blogger thing to do.

It's been almost a year since I started this Hillsborough Yarn Shop blog, and since then I've grown accustomed to that impulse to photograph anything yarn-related, and have often given into it. When people come in showing off amazing work, or Phyllis looks particularly wonderful in a shop sample, or we move some furniture around, I pull out my little camera. When we amass great piles of hats or great piles of yarn, the camera comes out. After a year of moments like these, it seems to make perfect sense to photograph my morning coffee, so long as a sock-in-progress is near. I'm having such fun with the blog, and the beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to thank you all for reading, and for commenting, and for coming into the shop and saying, "You must be Julia, from the blog!" I'm looking forward to another year of documenting the goings-on at the shop. Happy new year, everyone!