Works in progress, works completed.

Anne and I are never without a shop-sample-to-be, it seems. All our new yarns need swatching, and lately we’ve been making whole projects instead of the usual 4″x4″ swatch, the better to show off the yarn. Here’s what we’re up to lately.

We recently got a new yarn from Araucania for the spring: Lontue, a 50/50 blend of cotton and linen. It’s interesting stuff: variegated in color, thick-and-thin in texture, and very fine, but with a suggested gauge of 5 stitches per inch.

I tried it in a drop-stitch scarf, which I really cannot recommend this yarn for–boy, did it look messy! While I was ripping that out, Anne suggested trying a seed stitch. Only a few rows in, it was clear that the pattern would be completely obscured by the yarn’s color and texture. I settled on garter stitch, so that the yarn could shine, and it’s been going well since then. I’m at work on a simple garter stitch shawl, in the style of the Isager Alpaca 1 shawl.

Meanwhile, Anne has completed her Wingspan in Kauni Effektgarn, and it now hangs proudly on the wall at the shop. It’s mesmerizing, especially in person, and another great example of what a good Eucalan soak can do for what seem to be scratchy wools. How the Kauni softened with that wash!

Come by the shop and see it for yourself.

Vogue Knitting.

Another Spring knitting magazine has found us.

The Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Vogue Knitting is brimming with shawls and shells, tunics and tees. This one is made with Debbie Bliss Eco Baby yarn, a sport-weight organic cotton, and I think it makes good use of the available colors, which play so well together.

Find the magazine on the teacart and the yarn on the shelf. See you at the shop!

Cotton Supreme Batik.

Another new cotton yarn has arrived at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, just in time for spring and summer knitting. Cotton Supreme Batik, from Universal Yarns, is a machine-washable, worsted-weight, self-striping, and extremely soft cotton. The striping is unusual: the colors don’t exactly fade into one another, it’s more of an abrupt change, but there are little spots of the last color in the next, which makes for a lovely effect.

This yarn would be a perfect choice for baby things, not only for its cute stripes but also for its easy washability. At 16-18 stitches over 4 inches, it would make for a quick knit, as well. Take a look at what people are using it for on Ravelry; that will also give you a good idea of how the stripes tend to come out.

Habu cotton shawl.

Perhaps you remember our Habu cotton, a soft, airy, laceweight boucle yarn that Anne has been using in a striped shawl.

Perhaps you remember my promise to post pictures of said shawl soon. I was reminded of this promise when the latest shipment of Habu cotton came in this week, boasting more of all the existing colors as well as one brand new teal, completing the Habu cotton spectrum. The shawl is still in progress, and only becomes more alluring as each successive stripe is added.

I said it in the last Habu post and it still holds true: you have to touch this shawl. It’s light, soft, drapes beautifully, and is so open on size 11 needles as to be transparent.

Come and admire it, and begin planning a similarly weightless summer shawl if you are so inclined.

Cascade Ultra Pima.

As new yarns go, Cascade Ultra Pima is not the newest. We got our first few bags of it several months ago now. However, this is such a popular yarn that most of the colors we ordered back then have been backordered until recently. It’s only this week that we’ve begun to see the full range of colors.

Cascade Ultra Pima is a 100% cotton yarn in a dk weight, smooth and slightly shiny. It’s also very affordable, at $9.50 per 220 yard skein. Several knitters have wandered into the shop lately hoping to make lightweight cotton tees–this yarn would be a perfect choice for such an endeavor. Though it’s also right for a lace scarf, or a simple summer cardigan for cool evenings… Ultra Pima has a lot of potential this time of year. Look for it on the cotton tree, and consider it for your warm weather knitting.

Shenandoe Farm.

Perhaps if you’ve been in the shop sometime in the past two weeks, you’ve noticed a new little nook I created for locally produced and dyed yarns.

The local yarns live in the Noro corner, above the Noro. Here, you’ll find a lone skein of local llama yarn, a bit of handspun, and a sock- and dk-weight yarn dyed locally by The Unique Sheep. Those local yarns we’ve had for some time now. It was the introduction of a brand new local yarn that inspired this grouping.

Shenandoe Farm, right here in Orange County, is home to the angora goats that helped produce the beautiful undyed yarn pictured above. Their wool was shipped off to Michigan to be mixed with a bit of cotton and mill-spun. To me, this is some of the most exciting new yarn we’ve received in a long time. It’s rustic looking, pleasant to work with, and fuzzy without shedding. The skeins vary some in color, thickness, yardage, and weight: something to keep in mind when you’re planning a project. That very uncertainty, though, requires you to try out different needle sizes and work a swatch before casting on–a blessing in disguise. This is wonderful stuff to experiment with.

To me, the yarn said, honeycomb cables, and so that’s what I did. What you see above is about half a hat. I only get to work at it during the slow moments at the shop, but it’s growing quickly anyway. Come by the shop to give those cables a nice squeeze, and to admire the fiber that our corner of the world produces.

Hello, Coast.

There are a lot of things to look at in the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We have a small space and a large inventory, with many yarns, projects, and books fighting for attention. One of my hopes for this blog is to highlight some of those yarns, projects, and books, one at a time, so that they can get the attention they deserve. So far, I’ve been writing mostly about the newest yarns we’ve received, but the yarn that was here before the blog is equally blog-worthy. To that end, I’ll be profiling those yarns with a series of introductory-type posts which I’ll tag as “Hello” posts.
Today: Coast.
Coast is a worsted weight blend of cotton and wool from Takhi Yarns. Because of the fiber content, the colors have a heathered quality, making even the brighter colors look subtle and sophisticated without losing stitch definition. The advantages of cotton and wool blends are many: with cotton comes lightness, perfect for our climate, and with wool comes elasticity, making this yarn a bit easier on the knitter’s hands. The wool content of this yarn also gives it some memory, meaning that sweaters knit in Coast shouldn’t stretch out the way 100% cotton sweaters sometimes do. 
What to knit with Coast? Any pattern that calls for a worsted weight yarn should work well with Coast, which gives you a lot of options. It looks to me like it wants to be a cardigan, the kind you bring to restaurants in case it’s cold in there. A spring cardigan, for overcast days or aggressive air-conditioning. My own knitting hunches aside, Takhi put out some pattern support for Coast, which is worth browsing if you’re looking to knit with it.
As always, Ravelry is a wonderful resource for exploring the possibilities of a yarn you’ve not yet tried. Check there to see what other knitters have done with Coast. 

Familiar cottons.

Getting a box in the mail is exciting. I think we can all agree on this. Getting a box in the mail at the shop is just as exciting, it turns out, even though it happens very frequently. It’s even exciting to get a box in the mail when we already know what will be inside, because we ordered it. Even when what’s inside is an old, familiar yarn, ordered simply to restock, somehow it’s still exciting enough that I feel like documenting it.

Part of the excitement is in the unpacking: cutting into a box and glimpsing its contents for the first time. Also worth photographing, apparently.
The best part, though, is the satisfaction that comes with seeing all the colors together–the old colors that haven’t sold yet and the new old colors that we’re welcoming back. The yarn just looks happier when its full range of colors is represented. 
So: welcome back, Takhi Mia, whose swatch I just finished last week. And a special welcome to the new Takhi Mia Handpaints, pictured above in plastic, and below in its new home on the cotton tree
Welcome back, Fantasy Naturale. This Plymouth yarn is one sturdy, worsted weight, mercerized cotton. A basic, inexpensive yarn with many possibilities. I’ve seen sweaters for adults as well as babies made from Fantasy Naturale, and hats, and blankets, and washcloths. Look for it on the bottom of the cotton tree.

Welcome back, Soft Cotton. Like Fantasy Naturale, this yarn is sturdy and inexpensive, but it does tend to be a little bit softer. Hence the name. Soft Cotton used to live in the front room of the shop in a little basket near the window, but since we replenished its colors it graduated to a larger basket near the other cottons. 
Welcome back, Mandarin Petit. This fingering weight yarn is, like the rest, 100% cotton, and is thus very versatile. Washcloths, baby things, summer tops, even socks. 
We’ve seen Mandarin Petit put to particularly good use with Lucy Neatby’s Celestial Sweater for Small People, a pattern you can find in our “Babies” pattern binder. We also offer a class on this sweater, taught by Carol, which begins on April 3rd. As of now, there are still two spaces left. If you want one of them, sign up on the shop website. Come by the shop to see a sample Celestial Sweater hanging in our window, and to welcome back these familiar cottons.

The cotton tree.

For a moment, between closing on Thursday evening and opening on Friday morning, there was an empty space in the Hillsborough Yarn Shop.

As regular customers likely know, an empty space doesn’t last long in our shop. This particular space was filled with a new display, built for the shop by John, husband of friend-of-the-shop Rosi. We call it the cotton tree.

The cotton tree helped us to get many baskets of yarn off the floor and into view, and also created a specific space for yarns with cotton as all or part of its fiber content. Just in time for spring. We couldn’t be more pleased with our cotton tree. Come to the shop and give it a spin!

Thank you so much, John and Rosi!