Zigzag Cowl Knit-Along.

Last Spring, we had two Knit-Alongs at the shop: first we knit up the summery “Gemini” tee, and then we made “Hexagonal Market Bags.” Halfway through March, sick of freezing rain and snow, we’ve decided we’re ready for another warm-weather Knit-Along. Inspired by the latest new yarn at the shop, Anne, Rosi and I have both cast on for the “1-Skein Zigzag Cowl,” a pattern by Heather Walpole for Ewe Ewe.


I’m knitting one in Ewe So Sporty, the sport weight superwash merino for which the pattern was written. The yarn is tightly-plied and full of elasticity, well-behaved on my Addi Turbo needles and resulting in a pleasing stretchy fabric.


Thinking Spring, Anne chose Tahki Cotton Classic for her Zigzag Cowl, a dk weight mercerized cotton. Like Ewe So Sporty, Cotton Classic has sharp stitch definition, but like all plant fibers, it lacks elasticity, which will make a lightweight, gently draping fabric. Just the thing for decorating and warming your neck on a moderately chilly day.


Rosi’s cowl is made in Mirasol Nuna, a sport weight blend of merino wool, silk, and bamboo. These fibers combine to be quite soft, a little fuzzy, and a little shiny, and make a relaxed, luxurious fabric.


I’m excited to see how these three different yarns behave in the same pattern. Want to make a “1-Skein Zigzag Cowl” of your own? Join us in this informal Knit-Along. The pattern is available at the shop in print or as a Ravelry In-Store Pattern Sale, where we’ll print a copy for you and save a digital copy to your email or Ravelry pattern library. Any sport or dk weight yarn should do; we have a nice selection of colors in Ewe So Sporty, Tahki Cotton Classic, and Mirasol Nuna, along with all manner of other yarns in those gauges. I’d love to see Zigzag Cowls in Malabrigo Arroyo, Fibre Company Savannah, Mountain Meadow Wool Cody, or String Theory Selku, to name a few. Come by the shop to see all the choices, and to see how Anne, Rosi, and I are progressing on our cowls. 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 and market bags. See you at the shop!


The Fibre Company have just published a new collection of 5 accessory patterns, each of which calls for just one skein of the luxurious Canopy Worsted. Say hello to Weekenders.


Canopy Worsted is a soft and slightly shimmering blend of 50% alpaca, 30% merino wool, and 20% bamboo, with 200 yards to each 100 gram skein.


The bamboo gives it a gentle drape, and the alpaca gives it a soft halo, but it maintains a crisp stitch definition that does well in cables and texture patterns.


The hats and cowls of Weekenders make good use of Canopy Worsted’s many positive qualities.



Anne and I can both attest that Canopy Worsted is delightful in the hands and on the needles–I treated myself to a sweater’s worth last Fall, and Anne can’t seem to take off her “Cumberland” cowl. In fact, she recently started making one for her mother. It’s a special skein of yarn, Canopy Worsted, and each of these patterns makes the most of just one skein.


Come by the shop to pick up a copy of Weekenders and a skein or two of Canopy Worsted! See you there.

Show and tell: scarves, cowls, and colorwork.

Speaking of show-and-tell: knowing how much we love to see projects made in HYS yarns, so many of you have brought impressive finished pieces by the shop this past month or so. We’ve seen knit sweaters, scarves, and hats, crocheted cowls and shawls, fingerless mitts, stuffed bunnies, and more, many of which were thoughtfully crafted as gifts for friends and family. As usual, I wish I could photograph them all; here are some of the projects you’ve shared with us lately.


Victoria wove this scarf for her son using three different yarns: the fingering weight Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine and Colinette Jitterbug, and the dk weight Sandnes Garn Alpakka. I love the bold color combination and the herringbone pattern.

DSCN2329If you’ve come by the shop lately to see our newest yarns, we’ve likely ushered you into the lace weight corner to admire the Shibui yarns. Where once you’d find my Mix No. 23 cowl hanging near the Shibui patterns, now you’ll find Amy’s, made up in the delightful Shibui Cima. Amy is now teaching a class at the shop on this double-knit cowl, so I’m hoping to see even more Mix No. 23’s in the coming months. (Intrigued by Shibui? There are still a few open spaces in our upcoming Shibui Mix Partysign up and join us!)


Mary made this “Drop Stitch Cowl” in no time, using 3 balls of the super soft, super bulky Katia Fabula. I always love to see how drop stitch patterns change the way colors fall in variegated yarns, and this cowl is no exception. Mary reports that Fabula became even softer and more pliable after a Eucalan soak. The pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry, and would also look great in Malabrigo Mecha or Mountain Fusion Teton, among others.


Anne recently knit a cowl, too, one which she has worn every day since completing it. And no wonder: it’s made with one skein of the luxurious Fibre Company Canopy Worsted, a blend of alpaca, merino, and bamboo. The pattern is “Cumberland,” available for purchase at the shop as a Ravelry In-Store Pattern Sale. Come by the shop to pick up a skein of Canopy Worsted for your own Cumberland Cowl, and you’ll likely find Anne wearing hers.


Anne has also been hard at work making colorwork vests in preparation for her upcoming Intro. to Fair Isle class. The class project is Onslow’s Vest, a free pattern for a tiny vest, fit for a doll or stuffed bear. Thinking of her grandchildren, Anne substituted the bulky Cascade Eco+, with larger needles to match, and came out with the following.


Of course, with one little girl vest behind her, Anne has begun the first of two little boy vests for her twin grandsons. For those, she’s chosen the soft and springy Swans Island Organic Washable DK–a lighter weight fabric will better serve her boys in these Southern climes.



Thanks again for sharing your projects with us! We so love seeing what you create with yarns from the Hillsborough Yarn Shop.

New Isager patterns.

By now, you probably know how we feel about Isager yarns and patterns. We’ve offered classes on Marianne and Helga Isager’s designs, hosted Isager trunk shows, and knit with those yarns and patterns ourselves, again and again. So it will come as no surprise that we’re delighted to share some new Isager patterns with you, meaning patterns designed by Marianne Isager as well as patterns by other designers for Isager yarns.


The “Trellis Wimple” is a generous openwork cowl that can be worn a few different ways. It’s worked on a range of needle sizes to create gentle shaping, and made with two strands of Isager yarn held together throughout: the lace weight Spinni (Wool 1) and the fingering weight Alpaca 2. Use coordinating colors for a solid-looking garment, or try slightly different shades for a marled look.


The “Barclay Scarf” uses three shades of Alpaca 2, which are striped in a texture pattern for a nice effect.


Marianne Isager’s “Diamanten” shawl calls for Spinni (Wool 1) held together with a silk/mohair blend; Shibui Silk Cloud comes to mind. The Isager and Shibui color palettes each have their own character, but there is certainly overlap enough to make some beautiful combinations.


Speaking of Shibui, Pebble or Isager Tvinni would both be a perfect fit for “Vingefang,” a cardigan pattern that also came to us from our Isager distributors.


Come by the shop to see even more new patterns for Isager yarns, and to play the Isager/Shibui color combination game that I’ve come to love. See you there!

Gradient colorways.


We recently acquired a few new colors in Shibui Silk Cloud, one of our newest yarns. Silk Cloud is a shimmering, fuzzy blend of mohair and silk, one that has quickly made its way onto Anne’s needles as well as my own. Already low on a few popular colors, we placed an order with Shibui a few weeks ago and were unable to resist a couple of new hues in Silk Cloud.


When presented with piles of yarn, my first impulse is always to group colors into interesting pairings or trios, thinking, “How could I combine these in a garment?” Unpacking the new colors in Silk Cloud, I immediately thought of the “Gradient” cowl, a free pattern from Shibui.

In the spirit of the Shibui Mix concept, which encourages the combining of Shibui yarns two or three strands at a time, “Gradient” is worked with three strands of Silk Cloud held together. Periodically, one of those three strands is switched out for a different color, which makes a gentle transition from one color to the next.

“Gradient” calls for four shades of Silk Cloud, so immediately I started putting foursomes together, shuffling all our available colors this way and that until I found combinations that pleased me.






Inspired to make a “Gradient” cowl of your own? I can’t wait to see what other color combinations you creative knitters will come up with. Look for the “Gradient” pattern on Shibui’s website, where you can download it for free, and look for Shibui Silk Cloud at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop in the lace weight section. See you there!

Hello, Cima.

Last week, I gave a brief introduction to Shibui here on the blog–their yarns, patterns, “mix” concept for combining yarns, beautiful coordinated colorways, and luxury fibers. This week, I wanted to give each of the three Shibui yarns we carry a chance to shine. Today: say hello to Cima.


Cima is a lace weight yarn composed of 70% superbaby alpaca and 30% fine merino wool, boasting 330 yards on each 50 gram skein. It’s a 2-ply yarn, tightly plied so that it almost resembles a string of pearls.


I fell in love with this double-knit cowl when I saw it displayed at Shibui’s booth at TNNA. As we talked with the people at Shibui, choosing colors and learning about the yarns, I idly petted the cowl, admiring the drape of the fabric, the reversible design. By the time the yarn arrived at the shop, I was ready to pick out colors to knit one myself. The Mix No. 23 pattern calls for two strands of Cima held together throughout, making a sport weight gauge. Double knitting creates two layers of fabric at once, so I had a lot of stitches on my needles, but the yarn was so pleasant to work with, and the pattern so clearly written, that I sped right through it.



For my Mix No. 23, I used Cima in “Caffeine” and “Suit.” It was hard to choose just one pair of colors, though–the Shibui color palette is nuanced and unusual, and I loved pairing them up in hypothetical cowls.




Beginning in January, we’re offering a class on double knitting that teaches this very pattern. If you’re interested in learning the technique and making the cowl along the way, consider Amy’s “Double Knitting” class–you can read all about it, sign up and prepay on our website.


There are plenty of other things to make with Shibui Cima, of course, and Shibui’s own pattern line is a great place to start looking for inspiration. Shibui patterns often call for Cima to be held double, or even triple, combining colors in interesting ways, often to achieve a gradient effect. One of their free patterns, Kinetic, uses two strands and two colors in this way; you can download the pattern from the Shibui website.


Cima is also lovely on its own, held singly, anywhere lace weight yarn is called for. To that end, our “Lace Weight Shawls” binder is worth flipping through, along with our collection of lace-themed books. Follow us on Pinterest for more Cima pattern ideas; our “Inspiring Stitches” board is a collection of patterns and projects that make good use of yarns that are available at HYS.


Keep your eye on the blog for more on Shibui yarns and patterns, and come by the shop to become acquainted with these yarns in person!

Show and tell: scarves and cowls.

It’s time for more show and tell! Here are some finished pieces that began their lives as HYS yarns. They all happen to be neckwarmers of one kind of another: scarves and cowls.


Allison has been churning out Spectra scarves for a while now, and is particularly fond of Kauni Effektgarn in color EQ for this project. EQ is perhaps the most colorful Kauni colorway, a bright and sunny rainbow spectrum, shifting from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to purple.


Allison used EQ as both the main and contrast colors in this project, and recommends staggering it so that the main color is one or two shades ahead of the contrast color in the sequence. This keeps the colors from overlapping, so you wont find yourself with, say, orange as both the main and contrast color at any point in the knitting. This particular scarf weighed 115 grams, so it’s entirely possible to knit this from one skein of Kauni Effektgarn, with some winding and rewinding.


Margie recently finished these two scarves, knit in Malabrigo Sock and Prism Saki, respectively. The pattern is “Favorite Scarf Ever,” a free download from Ravelry, and its simple chevron pattern shows off variegated yarns to the fullest.


Speaking of chevron patterns: Cecilia came in last week wearing this beautiful cowl knit in Gina, a soft self-striping wool from Plymouth. She’d picked the colorway to match her new coat, and has since come back for a different yarn to make a coat-matching hat; I’m looking forward to seeing the whole get-up!


Mary’s needles have been busy lately, and she had three projects to show off since last I shared show-and-tell photos on the blog. Above are her two Twist scarves knit in Malabrigo Mecha, one completed, and one halfway there. She’s sailing through these one-skein scarves, planning to give them away as holiday gifts–an excellent plan for a quick knit like the Twist scarf.


Here’s Mary’s second Simple Shibori Cowl, knit in Alchemy Silken Straw and Sanctuary. It’s so satisfying to see this cowl made up in different colorways, and to see the transformation that occurs when they’re felted. This one is made with Silken Straw in color “Belladonna” and Sanctuary in “Ace of Spades,” a subtle, elegant combination.

Thanks to everyone who starts, works on, and shares their projects at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop! We love to see what’s coming off your needles and hooks.

Hello again, Alchemy.

One of the most exciting orders we placed at TNNA this year was with Alchemy Yarns of Transformation. We first discovered Alchemy at last year’s TNNA, when we dipped our toe in the water with a few colors each in two of their yarns, Silken Straw and Sanctuary. Back home at the shop, the Alchemy yarns were a hit; many admired the sample White Caps Cowl that Anne knit up, striping Silken Straw with Habu Cotton Nerimaki Slub. We loved seeing the different color combinations that our knitters put together, and it wasn’t long before our stock of Silken Straw had dwindled to a mere handful of skeins. We knew we’d dive in deeper with Alchemy the second time around, and now that our big TNNA order has arrived, you can see exactly how deep we dove.


At TNNA in June, we sat down with Gina and Austin Wilde, head alchemists over at Alchemy, and they helped us carefully select an astonishing 20 colors in Silken Straw, and 8 in Sanctuary, a soft and springy blend of merino and silk.


The two yarns are often used together in Gina Wilde’s signature shibori felted designs, so it was important to create complementary palettes in each yarn. We admired all of Alchemy’s knit samples at market, and came home with two special skeins to create an Alchemy sample of our own: the Simple Shibori Cowl.

alchemy cowl before

This lacy cowl is constructed of both Silken Straw and Sanctuary in a straightforward feather and fan pattern, then (gulp) thrown into the washing machine to be felted. The Sanctuary felts because of its merino wool content, shrinking into a fuzzy, velvety stripe whose individual stitches are no longer distinguishable. Meanwhile, the Silken Straw stretches out, becoming softer and draping gently.

alchemy cowl after

I confess, I held my breath as I tossed the cowl in my washing machine, but it quickly became clear that there was nothing to be afraid of. I checked every minute or two to see how the felting was progressing and removed the cowl when it was done, then laid it flat to dry. The transformation was fascinating, and the finished cowl is lightweight and lovely.


Want to make a Simple Shibori Cowl of your own? With all these colors, there are many beautiful combinations to choose from.



Look for the Simple Shibori Cowl pattern in the Alchemy pattern binder, where you’ll find plenty of interesting uses for these singular yarns.



Anne has a Wisdom Wrap on the needles, a little over halfway done–more on that another day. Come by the shop to see all our Alchemy yarns and patterns, and to plan your next project!


Show and tell: sweaters and cowls.

Here are a few more show and tell projects, sweaters and cowls that were recently completed and brought into the shop to share.


Mara showed up at the shop wearing this tank top she knit with Berroco Touche, a worsted weight blend of cotton and rayon. She was excitedly shopping for yarn, Birthday Club postcard in hand, but I had to interrupt her to take her picture. The pattern is Pennekamp, one of the many free patterns available from Berroco’s website–a great resource. I love the color, and the reminder that handknits are wearable year-round, even into the heat of summer, if the fiber and design are right.


Abby brought in this sweet little sweater she recently finished knitting, modeled on a favorite store-bought sweater that has already been passed down from her older daughter to her youngest. This new hand-knit iteration is made in three shades of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, and designed by Abby herself, with some guidance from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.


Here’s another top-down sweater: Molly’s recently-finished Gemini pullover. She used the dk weight Katia Linen yarn that the pattern calls for, and the result is a lightweight fabric that’s cool to the touch, perfect for summer wear. Like many Gemini-knitters, Molly plans on adding a single crochet border to the neckline in an effort to stabilize it and minimize stretching.


Margie made these two cowls using the free Abstract Leaves Cowl pattern. The purple cowl is knit with Marion Foale 3-ply Wool, a solid-color fingering weight yarn. The gray and white cowl is knit with Malabrigo Lace, a lace weight single ply merino. Seeing these two side-by-side is a great illustration of how one pattern can be used to create very different-looking garments just by using different yarns. Though the fiber content of the two yarns is similar, they differ greatly from there–different stitch definition, different coloration, different gauge, different drape, a different look entirely. Margie’s cowls are intended as gifts, and it’s a great gift pattern for knitters who are low on time, or yardage–a mere 125 yards of lace or fingering weight yarn are called for.

Thanks to all these knitters for their show and tell, and thanks to everyone who starts, continues, and completes their projects at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop! We love to see what you create with our yarns.

Three new knit samples.

Over the weekend, Amy dropped off three new knit samples, each one the subject of an upcoming class.


We’ve seen this Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf pattern made up in Zauberball Starke 6; here, it’s shown in Noro Silk Garden in shades of blue, green, and purple. The self-striping yarn really highlights the short-row construction of this garter stitch scarf, and the aran weight yarn knits up quickly, creating a cozy accessory.


The Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf class meets two Saturday afternoons in August; read more about it and sign up on our website.


This Inspira Cowl is knit with two different colors of Noro Kureyon in a simple stranded colorwork pattern. It’s a generously sized cowl that is shaped to hug the neck and accomodate the shoulders. The Inspira Cowl is an opportunity to learn to knit in the round, make decreases, and work a two-color stranded knitting pattern. Class meets two Saturday afternoons in September; head over to our website to sign up now.


This last sample, a fair isle tam, is made using one self-striping yarn, Noro Silk Garden, and one solid color yarn, Plymouth Galway. The solid color recedes into the background and the self-striping yarn pops out as the main pattern color, giving the look of a many-colored fair isle garment without having to weave in all those ends. I’m sorry to report that Amy’s Beginning Fair Isle Tam class is already full, but the pattern is free from Knitty.com, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions should you decide to tackle it on your own. And if you’re set on learning fair isle knitting, including weaving in all the ends, take a look at Anne’s Introduction to Fair Isle class, which meets Wednesday evenings in July. She’ll even teach you how to bravely cut your knitting, creating steeks!

Come by the shop to see all three samples, and the yarns used to create them. If you hurry in today, June 19th, you can even get the Noro yarns at 25% off, on this last day of our Going to Market Sale! See you at the shop.