Welting Fantastic.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve recently published two new patterns of my own design: the Welting Fantastic Cowl and Welting Fantastic Mitts.

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Though the patterns were only published this past weekend, I’ve had the knitting done for months, which I spent wearing this set on a near-daily basis. Both are made in String Theory’s Merino DK yarn, a semisolid superwash merino yarn, though different needle sizes make this one yarn into two quite different fabrics.

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The cowl is knit on US size 6 needles, which makes a cohesive but gently draping fabric: exactly what you’d want hanging around your neck. The mitts, on the other hand, are knit using US size 3 needles, making a more dense fabric with greater elasticity: exactly what you’d want for fingerless mitts, which are meant to hold their shape rather than stretch out and drape.

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I loved working with Merino DK, but there are so many other yarns that would be equally lovely for this project. Here are a few that I think would make beautiful Welting Fantastic Cowls or Mitts:

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(From left to right: Mountain Meadow Wool Cody, Fibre Company Acadia, Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit, and Sincere Sheep Luminous.)

Each of these yarns would give the Welting Fantastic Cowl and Mitts a different look, of course; the Merino DK is plump and round, and thus, has a particular kind of sharp stitch definition that really makes the Welting Fantastic pattern stand out and look crisp. The tweedy quality of the Acadia and the pebbly 2-ply texture of the Cody may detract a bit from the stitch pattern, but you wont come close to losing it entirely, and you’ll get to experience the singular joy that working with each of those yarns brings.

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If you’re feeling inspired to create Welting Fantastic Cowls or Mitts of your own, please do visit my pattern store on Ravelry, and also know that we’re happy to offer them at the shop as in-store Ravelry pattern sales. That means you can get your pattern and yarn all in the same place, have us print the pattern for you, and still have a copy of the PDF saved in your Ravelry library. A win-win, I’d say.

See you at the shop!

Lava Flow Cowl.

A new sample is decorating our walls: here’s a Lava Flow Cowl.

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This Lava Flow Cowl was made by Amy, who’s teaching an upcoming class on the subject. It’s full of interesting techniques, like a provisional cast-on, reversible cables, and kitchener stitch in a ribbed pattern. If these techniques are new to you, consider taking the class and reap the benefits of Amy’s guidance, as well as the camaraderie of other knitters. The pattern is available as a free download from Ravelry, and is a perfect garment to showcase a special yarn in a dk or light worsted weight. Amy’s sample is made in Mirasol K’acha, a light worsted weight blend of merino wool, alpaca, and silk.

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Come by the shop to try it on for size, and see if you’d like to make one yourself!

A new color from Swans Island.

Last month’s Swans Island Trunk Show inspired many knitters to create garments with Swans Island’s organic merino wool yarns, which put quite a dent in our supply of the stuff. Last week, we placed an order of Swans Island Organic Merino Fingering in some of the most-loved colorways to replenish our stash: Fig, Winterberry, Oatmeal, Beetroot, Early Thyme, and several other deliciously-named colors. We also got the last bag of Sugar Maple, a limited edition color for Fall, and a first bag of this winter’s Limited Edition Dyer’s Choice: Reindeer Moss.

Reindeer Moss is a lovely, muted sage, which puts it somewhere between Early Thyme and Tarragon in terms of color value.

We also restocked the patterns that were most popular during the Trunk Show, some of which call for Swans Island Worsted, and some of which call for the Fingering.

Come by the shop to see Reindeer Moss in person, and give the Swans Island yarns a good squeeze. See you there!

Ann Norling patterns.

We recently replenished our supply of single patterns by designer Ann Norling.

These are basic, simple designs for babies, children, and adults, written in multiple gauges and plenty of sizes. This gives the knitter maximum flexibility, a template to customize according to the yarns they’ve chosen.

This also makes her patterns good for new knitters, or anyone who just wants to make a basic something, without complex patterning or shaping.

You’ll find Ann Norling’s patterns in our pattern binders by the front window, which are sorted by type of garment. See you at the shop!

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.

Araucania Azapa: now on sale!

UPDATE: As of 11/19/2014, we are totally sold out of Araucania Azapa!

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In tandem with our anniversary sale, which entitles our much-appreciated customers to 15% off everything in the shop between October 13th and 21st, we’re discounting Araucania Azapa by 25%.

Araucania Azapa is a bulky weight blend of merino wool, alpaca, silk, and rayon, with about 140 yards on each 100 gram skein. Azapa is a single ply yarn, and comes in semisolid colorways with tweedy flecks. It’s soft and cuddly, makes a great bunny hat, and is exactly the right gauge and length to make a Bandana Cowl.

The Bandana Cowl is a free pattern from the Purl Bee, one which is well-written, easy to understand, and knits up quickly. It was only published a year ago, but already, there are almost 3,000 Bandana Cowls on Ravelry–a number high enough to be considered a recommendation in and of itself. A cozy Bandana Cowl in Araucania Azapa makes a perfect holiday gift or instant-gratification fall knitting project. Come by the shop soon to get it at 25% off!

Noro Slip-Stitch Cowl.

On Tuesday morning when I first opened the shop for the week, a new knit sample caught my eye. A cozy, woolen cowl in a riot of colors made me reach for my camera. Take a look at this Slip-Stitch Cowl from Knit Noro Accessories.

This cowl was knit by Katherine, an amazing knitter and crocheter that we are proud to have as a teacher at the shop. Her latest class is on this very cowl, which uses a simple slip-stitch pattern and two colors of the self-striping Noro Kureyon yarn to give the illusion of stranded colorwork. As I write this, there are only two spaces left in the class, which begins in September. Sign up now if you’d like to join Katherine and a great group of knitters in the making of your own Slip-Stitch Cowl!

If you’re unable to secure a space in the class, or would like to tackle this project on your own, come by the shop to page through the beautiful book Knit Noro Accessories. We have many colors of Kureyon in stock, as well; come and lose yourself in the endless color combinations!

More show and tell.

Here are two more finished projects whose lives began as yarn from the Hillsborough Yarn Shop.

Kathy brought in her completed Wingspan made with a single skein of Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball, a self-striping fingering-weight yarn. Like Anne’s Wingspan made in Kauni, the color changes in the Zauberball highlight the unusual construction of this shawlette.

Carrie Anne brought in a cowl she made that used just one skein of the luscious, soft-as-cashmere Malabrigo Finito. It’s always great to see what the yarn becomes when it grows up into a finished piece, and to see projects that make the most of a single skein. Thanks for the show and tell, ladies!

Creative Knitting and Knit Simple.

Two more Fall magazines arrived this week: Creative Knitting and Knit Simple.

Each one boasts a collection of cowls, and the one that caught my eye was in Creative Knitting, made from Cascade Rustic in a rich red. Rustic, if you’ll recall, is specially discounted this month. A cowl is a great project for this yarn, and it’s also-discounted cousin, Lana Bambu.

Knit Simple had its share of cowl patterns as well, but these two bulky sweaters stood out to me instead. Made in Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande and Lamb’s Pride Bulky, respectively, these two sweaters would knit up quickly. Quick knits can be so encouraging.

Come by the shop to flip through the latest magazines and plan your next project!

Kochoran cowl.

During quiet moments at the shop, when all the restocking, reordering, class-scheduling, question-answering and yarn-selling is taken care of for the moment, Anne and I often ask one another, “What hasn’t been swatched yet?” This simple cowl is what happened when the answer to that question was “Noro Kochoran,” a bulky, self-striping blend of wool, angora, and silk.

I rarely work with yarns as thick as Kochoran, so it was a pleasantly unusual to see the knitted fabric emerge so quickly. I cast on at the end of the day one Thursday and the cowl was done mid-morning on Saturday. It was a chilly day in the shop, and the insistent air-conditioning had us bundled up in many lovely (if seasonally-inappropriate) shop samples. Here Anne knits a North Arrow scarf while modeling the Kochoran cowl and the Norby hat, made up in the exquisitely soft Schulana Lambswool.

The Kochoran cowl is a simple, quick knit, and fetching in its simplicity, I think–a nice accessory to make now and store for winter gift-giving. I know a knitter who made a bunch of cowls something like this one for nearly all the women in her family last holiday season. Easy to make and well-received when given: a winning combination, don’t you think?