Hello, Berroco Modern Cotton.

Meet Modern Cotton, a brand new yarn from Berroco!

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Modern Cotton is a worsted weight blend of 60% cotton and 40% rayon, perfect for warm-weather knit and crochet projects, or year-round for those allergic to wool. Modern Cotton is soft in the hand with excellent stitch definition, qualities that this little cabled sweater illustrates nicely. You’ll find it at the shop, hanging on the wall above the worsted weight yarns.

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The pattern is “Diggory,” from Berroco booklet #345, which puts this brightly-colored, easy-care yarn to good use in all manner of baby and children’s garments.

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Modern Cotton is also a very good value, with a relatively low price tag for the yardage. That along with its soft feel and machine-washability made me think blankets. The range of colors both neutral and bright brought to mind the Purl Bee’s delightfully simple garter stitch baby blanket pattern, “Super Easy Crib Blanket,” a riot of color in seven shades.

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Berroco has also released some free patterns for Modern Cotton, like the lacy “Saurey” baby blanket, and two women’s sweaters: “Joyce” and “Sanpoku,” a tee and a cardigan, respectively. Norah Gaughan used Modern Cotton in her most recent Berroco booklet. Modern Cotton will do well in any pattern calling for worsted weight yarn where the drape of plant fibers is welcome. Check it out when you’re next at the shop, along with the “Diggory” sample, which can give you a good sense of how the yarn behaves in knitted fabric. See you there!

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Kindling shawl.

A new lace shawl now decorates the walls at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop: “Kindling,” by Kate Gagnon Osborn, knit with three skeins of Fibre Company Savannah.

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If you’ve visited the shop on a Sunday recently, you may well have seen Rosi stitching on this shawl. Once the knitting was done, she passed it on to me so I could try my hand at blocking it with blocking wires–a new skill for me.

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Using a Knitter’s Pride Lace Blocking Kit and some online tutorials, blocking the “Kindling” shawl was easier than I thought it might be.

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It’s always amazing to me how the fabric changes with a good soak, and this is particularly true for lace patterns. When they first come off the needles, they look rumpled and bumpy, but after blocking, the eyelets open up and the lace pattern can really shine. It was satisfying to see, even though I hadn’t knit the thing myself.

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Fibre Company Savannah is a sport weight blend of 50% wool, 20% cotton, 15% linen, and 15% soya, which gives it the elasticity of wool and the lightness of plant fibers–a perfect spring and summer yarn.

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Come by the shop to admire Rosi’s handiwork and see our “Kindling” sample for yourself. You’ll find Savannah in the sport weight section, and the pattern is always available as a Ravelry In-Store Pattern Sale–we’ll print it out for you and save a digital copy in your email or Ravelry pattern library. Hope to see you there soon!

New colors in Berroco Maya.

Last April, we ordered our first bundle of Berroco Maya, a worsted weight blend of cotton and alpaca spun up into a stretchy, lofty chainette. We were delighted to learn that Maya now comes in a wider range of colors, and ordered another bundle twice the size of last year’s.

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There are many pleasant qualities that set Maya apart. The combination of cotton and alpaca is soft and light, thanks in part to its chainette construction. A chainette yarn is basically a knitted tube, and the inherent stretchiness of knitted fabric transforms that mostly-cotton fiber into smooth and stretchy yarn. It also creates a loftier yarn than plant fibers usually offer, much lighter in weight than we might normally expect from a worsted weight cotton yarn. And have I mentioned: Maya is machine-washable, which makes it ideal for baby and children’s things, especially for those who live in warm climates or may be sensitive to wool.

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Our big bundle of Maya also included a hand-knit sample of a lacy, cropped sweater from the latest Maya booklet.

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We’re always delighted to have generous, garment-sized samples like these, because they give the best sense of how a yarn behaves in knitted fabric. Come on in and try it on for size, study the stitch definition, feel the weight and texture of the thing with your own hands.

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While you’re at it, peruse the Maya booklets for pattern inspiration.

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When you’re thinking warm-weather knitting, remember Berroco Maya. See you at the shop!

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Berroco Touche: now on sale!

UPDATE: As of 11/19/2014, we are totally sold out of Berroco Touche!

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It’s always bittersweet news when yarns are discontinued. On the one hand, we’re sad to see good yarns go. On the other, we’re happy to announce that said yarn is now on sale. We’re now offering Berroco Touche at over 30% off!

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Touche is a worsted weight blend of cotton and rayon, which come together to make a soft, machine-washable yarn that is far from stiff–a complaint we sometimes hear about mercerized cottons. Touche is perfect for the wool-averse among us, as well as for baby and children’s things. I’ve also seen it made up into a lightweight summer top. Check out Berroco’s large collection of free knit and crochet patterns for Touche ideas; their website allows you to sort patterns by gauge, making it easy to substitute Touche for other worsted weight yarns.

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Last year, I made this baby hat using one skein of Berroco Touche, with guidance from the Super Simple Hat Calculator. It’s a simple thing, just a roll brim hat knit in stockinette and finished with a little i-cord knot at the top. A quick knit, and a sample that gives a good sense of how Touche behaves in knitted fabric. Come by the shop to snag some Touche at this great price while it’s still in stock!

 

A reminder: all sales are final on discounted yarn. There can be no returns or exchanges, nor special orders–the discount applies only to what we currently have in stock. Thanks!

Hexagonal Market Bag Knit-Along.

Now that Anne and I have both completed our Gemini sweaters, we’re ready for another knit-along. In keeping with the warm-weather knitting theme, we’re making market bags.

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Our pattern is Laura Dianiska’s Hexagonal Market Bag, a free pattern on Ravelry. It calls for approximately 400 yards of worsted weight cotton; a perfect choice for a sturdy, workaday bag to fill with produce at the grocery store. Anne is using Louisa Harding’s Nautical Cotton, a 100% mercerized cotton yarn, and I’m using Plymouth’s Linen Isle, a blend of cotton, rayon, and linen.

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We got started on Saturday, beginning with the hexagonal garter stitch base of the bag. Once the base was completed, we picked up stitches around the edge and began the oh-so-simple mesh lace pattern that makes the bag so stretchy.

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Want to make a Hexagonal Market Bag of your own? Join us in this informal Knit-Along. Any sturdy plant fiber yarn should do; Nautical Cotton comes in all kinds of colors, and we have a nice selection in Linen Isle, too. Then there are the rest of the worsted weight plant fibers–Berroco Linen Jeans, Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, Mirasol Wach’i, Online Linie 12 Clip, Queensland Bebe Cotsoy, and more. Come by the shop to see all the choices, and to see how Anne and I are progressing on our bags. We’ll also be posting on the Ravelry HYS group with any lessons learned along the way, just as we did while we were making our Gemini sweaters. See you at the shop!

Hello, Berroco Maya.

Recently a knitter came into the shop with a conundrum. “I want to make something summery,” she said,”but I love working with wool.” How well I relate; there is nothing like the feel of stretchy, springy, bouncy wool yarn in the hand. Plant fibers, by nature, lack elasticity, but they don’t have to stay that way. The way they’re spun and plied into yarn has a major impact on the fabric they create as well as the experience of working with them.

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Maya, a new yarn from Berroco, answers this conundrum by adding a bit of alpaca to a cotton base and constructing a chainette with those fibers. A chainette yarn is basically a knitted tube, and the inherent stretchiness of knitted fabric transforms that mostly-cotton fiber into smooth and stretchy yarn. It also creates a loftier yarn than plant fibers usually offer, much lighter in weight than we might normally expect from a worsted weight cotton yarn.

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Before we placed our order, Anne acquired a sample skein of Berroco Maya for us to swatch and we were both impressed.

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Anne began on a US size 6 needle, feeling that the suggested US #8 would make a floppy, loose fabric. She passed it on to me and I worked up to #7, and #8, and indeed, I preferred the denser fabric created by the #6. “Let’s block it,” Anne wisely suggested, and we were so glad we did. When the Maya swatch had a chance to bathe in lukewarm water and dry flat, it transformed, creating a much more cohesive fabric. We got a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch on the #8, exactly as the ballband had suggested.

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What to make with Berroco Maya? The design team at Berroco has come up with a nice little collection of accessories and warm-weather garments that take advantage of Maya’s loftiness and drape.

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Look for Berroco Maya and the Berroco Maya pattern booklet next time you’re seeking a summery, yet stretchy knit. See you at the shop!

Lana Grossa Linea Pura Taglia: now on sale!

UPDATE: As of 11/19/2014, we are totally sold out of Lana Grossa Linea Pura Taglia!

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We’ve just discounted Lana Grossa Linea Pura Taglia, a yarn with many names.

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Taglia is a bulky weight yarn made of 100% organic Mako cotton, but its unusual construction keeps it remarkably lightweight. Many yarns are composed of strands of fiber twisted together, but Taglia is essentially a knitted tube, which gives the usually-inelastic cotton fiber extra stretchiness. Taglia suggests a US size 10 needle to obtain a gauge of 3.5 stitches per inch, and yet the fabric it creates is much lighter in weight than more traditionally-constructed bulky weight yarns.

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A quick visit to Ravelry reveals that many have used Taglia for sweaters, which makes sense, given that it knits up quickly but creates a light fabric–a rare combination. Taglia is also well-suited to accessories and baby things, since it happens to be machine-washable. Come by the shop to get Taglia at 25% off!

(A reminder: all discounted yarns are final sale, so we can’t offer exchanges or refunds. Thanks!)

Gemini Knit-Along.

Looking towards Spring, Anne and I have cast on for short-sleeved pullover sweaters. We are each making Gemini, a tee knit seamlessly in the round from the top down.

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Designed by Jane Richmond and available for free on Knitty, Gemini is written for Katia Linen, a dk weight blend of cotton and linen. I’m making up a sample Gemini in the yarn called for, and Anne is substituting with Mirasol Samp’a, an organic cotton.

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In choosing an appropriate substitute for Katia Linen, we wanted to be sure that Anne would be able to get the gauge that the pattern calls for, and that the resulting fabric would behave similarly to the fabric that Katia Linen creates. That means picking a plant fiber, like cotton, linen, hemp, tencel, or bamboo, as all of those fibers have a tendency to stretch and drape. Richmond’s design takes that into account, and she suggests that the knitter pick a finished size about 4″ smaller than their own bust size. In an elastic fiber, like wool, 4″ of negative ease would make for a snug fit, but in a plant fiber, which lacks elasticity, it means a nice, easy fit, not too loose and not too tight.

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Want to make a Gemini of your own? Join us in this informal Knit-Along. We have a nice selection of colors in both Katia Linen and Mirasol Samp’a, and even more when you consider the many other good substitutes that are available: Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy and Cotton Frappe, Cascade Ultra Pima, Berroco Pure Pima, Queensland Haze, Tahki Cotton Classic, Sublime Organic Cotton DK and Soya Cotton DK, Katia Degrade, and many more. Come by the shop to see our Geminis-in-progress and we’ll help you find the perfect yarn to knit your own spring top.

Hello, Linen Concerto.

Consider this Part 2 of our most recent shipment from Plymouth: a new yarn called Linen Concerto.

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Linen Concerto is a slightly textured dk weight blend of rayon, linen, and cotton. It’s perfect for making lightweight garments–shawls, scarves, tees, and tanks–and for those who are sensitive to animal fibers like wool and alpaca. Linen Concerto is soft to the touch and promises to drape beautifully, as rayon and linen often do. We got it in three neutral colors and two bright multicolors.

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Come by the shop to check it out!

Hello, Alchemy.

We are delighted to announce that we now carry two Alchemy yarns: Silken Straw and Sanctuary.

Before we went to market in June, looking for new yarns to bring into the shop, a friend pointed us to Alchemy, a company known for their exquisitely hand-dyed silks and silk blends. That recommendation along with Clara Parkes’ glowing reviews of Alchemy Yarns meant that we had to take a look.

What we saw at Alchemy’s booth at TNNA was a riot of color and texture, a tempting array of unusual yarns and knitted garments. We spoke with Gina and Austin Wilde, the creators of Alchemy Yarns, about their fibers and dyeing process, and were delighted by their passion for both. We were particularly wowed by Silken Straw, a sport weight ribbon made of silk which, yes, feels stiff, like straw. Once Silken Straw has been knit up, washed, and worn, it softens somewhat spectacularly, and drapes in just the way you’d expect from a 100% silk yarn: beautifully. Silken Straw is a yarn like none other, and we’re thrilled to make it available at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop.

Our first Silken Straw project is this White Caps Cowl, a free pattern from the Purl Bee. Anne knit a shortened version, using just half a skein of Silken Straw and one skein of Habu Cotton Nerimaki Slub. The combination of fibers and textures makes an otherwise simple stockinette tube an intriguing accessory. I’ve been playing with color pairs, matching up the Alchemy with the Habu.

Sanctuary is a sport weight wool and silk blend that we ordered in just two colors, for they’re meant to be combined with Silken Straw in Alchemy’s shibori felted patterns. These unexpected wraps are knit in bold color blocks, then felted, which shrinks the parts knit in Sanctuary, but leaves the Silken Straw sections as they were. The result is something very special, a flat rectangle made into a sculptural garment by applying hot water and agitation.

We saw some finished shibori felted pieces at TNNA and had to bring the patterns into the shop, which meant ordering Sanctuary, too. Austin himself helped us select two colors that could go with most any of the ten colors we ordered in Silken Straw.

Come by the shop to see these delightfully unusual yarns from Alchemy! We’re just tickled to have them. Read all about Alchemy Yarns on their website, where they’ve written more about their thoughtful, labor-intensive dyeing process.