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.

Another garter stitch shawl.

If you’ve been to the shop in the past couple of weeks, you’ve likely seen me with a little ball of lace-weight purple yarn and a pair of bamboo needles. I’m working on a sample for the shop, a simple garter stitch shawl in the style of the Alpaca 1 shawl, which has become a favorite free HYS pattern.

My purple lace-weight is a slightly textured cotton from Habu, a yarn that got some attention on the blog last year.

To add interest to this triangular shawl, I’ve added big, thick stripes by holding a strand of white Habu cotton together with the purple. This creates an interesting marled color, and a slightly different texture, as well, though the stitches remain blissfully simple. All I have to remember to do is increase one stitch at the beginning of every row, and then knit, and watch as it slowly grows. The fabric is soft, stretchy, and tremendously lightweight; perfect summertime knitting.

If you’d like to see and feel this feather-light piece, come by the shop, where you can get a garter stitch shawl started for yourself in single or double strands of cotton or any other lace-weight yarn that strikes your fancy. See you at the shop!

Berroco Touche.

Here’s another Berroco yarn that we have on sale this week: Touche.

Touche is a machine-washable, worsted weight blend of cotton and rayon. It’s soft and squishy, with a bit more elasticity than one usually expects from plant fibers, making it quite pleasant to knit with. It’s softness and easy care make it perfect for baby things, like this simple baby hat. I made it with one skein of Touche this week, and it took only a few hours. The pattern is the Super Simple Hat Calculator, a free pattern that gives instructions for a variety of sizes and gauges. This means that whatever yarn you choose can successfully become a hat with the help of the Super Simple Hat Calculator. This means that we turn to the Super Simple Hat Calculator again and again and again.

Touche and many other Berroco yarns are 25% off until Sunday the 10th, which, as I write this, is tomorrow, so come by soon to shop Week 2 of our Going-to-Market sale! Many of these Berroco yarns were quite affordable to begin with, making them irresistibly inexpensive at 25% off. Between the free pattern and the sale yarn, you could be knitting this baby hat for less than four dollars. Irresistible, no? See you at the shop!

 

Just a reminder–all sales are final on sale items; there can be no exchanges, no returns, nor will we special order. Thanks!

Berroco Pure Pima.

Allow me to introduce you to one of the Berroco yarns we have on sale this week: Pure Pima.

Pure Pima is a dk weight cotton which comes in bright, solid colors, with 115 yards on each 50 gram ball. I’ve written here before about a lovely Norah Gaughan sweater we have at the shop made in Pure Pima, which beautifully illustrates its use in garments. Poking around on Ravelry, I found a cute free pattern from Knitty which calls for Pure Pima–a retro-styled sleeveless top called “Petrie.” What else is a dk weight cotton good for? Baby sweaters, blankets and hats, of course, as well as lightweight shawls and scarves, market bags… and dishcloths.

Yes, I took home a few fistfulls of Pure Pima over the weekend and started knitting a kitchen towel, using the classic Ballband Dishcloth pattern with a few extra pattern repeats. It’s a classic for a reason, as it turns out: free, easy to memorize, and pleasant to look at. I never thought I’d knit something that I planned to wipe my hands, dishes, and counters with, but there you have it: I’m knitting a kitchen towel and loving it.

Come by the shop to pick up some Pure Pima for your own burgeoning collection of handknit kitchenwares, or for any other project wanting dk weight cotton. Be sure to check out the other discounted Berroco yarns this week, too!

 

Just a reminder–all sales are final on sale items; there can be no exchanges, no returns, nor will we special order. Thanks!

Debbie Bliss Stella.

Week 1 of our Going-to-Market sale is almost over, meaning that you have until 5 pm on Sunday, June 3rd, to get select Debbie Bliss yarns at 25% off! This is the time to buy your sweater’s-worth of Fez, a few indulgent skeins of Pure Silk or Pure Cashmere, a stockpile of Pure Cotton for baby blankets or washcloths, or enough Cashmerino Aran to make fingerless mitts for everyone you know this winter.

With this in mind, may I present another of this week’s discounted Debbie Bliss yarns: Stella.

Stella is an aran weight blend of silk, rayon, and cotton, which comes in bright solid colors. Stella is great for garments as well as accessories, especially for the animal-fiber-averse among us. It’s wool-free but soft and squishy, so if someone you love has requested a scarf or hat but insisted that wool is too scratchy, Stella is a good substitute.

Inspired by a customer who stocked up on Pure Cotton for knitting kitchen towels this week, Anne used Stella to make a quick hot pad or trivet. Knit on smaller needles than recommended by the ball band, Stella makes a nice sturdy fabric.

Come by the shop to check out Debbie Bliss Stella, along with all the other discounted Debbie Bliss yarns and booklets. See you there!

 

Just a reminder–all sales are final on sale items; there can be no exchanges, no returns, nor will we special order. Thanks!

New yarns from Schulana.

Last week, I wrote about two of the most recent knit samples at the shop. If you’ve been in the shop in the past week or so, you may already have seen two more finished samples: hats made with new yarns from Schulana.

First up is a hat I made using Schulana Lambswool, a marled tweed yarn whose fiber content is reflected in its name. The yarn is incredibly soft and light, with 110 yards on each 25 gram ball.

We thought it’s rustic look and lofty nature made Lambswool an excellent substitute for Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft yarn, so we picked Gudrun Johnston’s hat pattern for Loft, Norby. I’m pleased with the result–so pleased, in fact, that I’ve already taken home a sweater’s worth of Lambswool. I can’t wait to figure out what I’m going to do with it!

While I knit up the Lambswool, Anne was working on a top-down baby hat using Schulana Tamarillo, a machine-washable cotton tape yarn with multicolor slubs that pop out from the knitted fabric.

This little hat is a great example of why we try to have samples and swatches of every yarn we carry. It’s not always easy to envision the finished fabric just by looking at the yarn in a ball. Some yarns, like Tamarillo, will surprise you when you knit them up. The pattern, Baby Boy (Or Girl) Sun Hat, is available as a free download from Ravelry.

Finally, our third new Schulana yarn for spring is Macaibo, a self-striping cotton/viscose blend, knit sample forthcoming. Enjoy perusing these new yarns next time you’re at the shop!