New colors in Kelbourne Woolens Germantown.

Last week, a big box arrived from Kelbourne Woolens, packed full of their worsted weight wool, Germantown. Inside were six new colors, plus a handful of colors we’d sold out of.

Germantown is a recreation of a classic wool that had been produced in Germantown, Pennsylvania, under a few different brand names since the mid-to-late 19th century. Made of 100% North American wool, Germantown is a worsted spun, worsted weight yarn with a smooth texture, soft hand, and nice elasticity.

The Kelbourne Woolens team see this yarn as a classic basic wool for beginners as well as more advanced stitchers – easy to work with, with good stitch definition, but at a reasonable price for a domestically-produced yarn of this quality.

These new colors are a playful mix of brights and pastels, one that fits beautifully into the existing Germantown color palette. 

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One skein is enough for a hat, and the folks at Kelbourne Woolens are designing one for every month of this year. Even better, every one of these patterns is free to download from Ravelry – look there for “January,” “February,” “March,” “April,” and “May,” and stay tuned for the rest of their Year of Hats!

See you at the shop!

Show and tell: socks.

We love seeing projects made with yarns from our shop, and we truly feel honored that so many of you bring your finished pieces in for show and tell. When I’m able, I like to take pictures of these completed projects to share here on the blog. I’m always collecting them, and sometimes they seem to sort themselves into themed posts – all one kind of wool or technique, one yarn in particular, or even a shared color palette. Today’s theme is socks, a favorite project of ours, and the knitters featured here have made some amazing pairs.

Glen knit the vibrant pair above with MJ Opulent Fingering, a hand-dyed blend of merino, cashmere, and nylon. The pattern is “Dublin Bay Socks,” a free download from Ravelry, and it looks excellent in this semi-solid colorway, showing off the lace detail down the leg.

Lois’s socks have a lot in common with Glen’s: the pattern, “Socks on a Plane,” is available for free, they have a little pattern running down the leg and foot on a stockinette background – in this case, a cable, and they were made with hand-dyed yarn, the beloved Malabrigo Sock. I often warn knitters that cables and other patterns don’t show well in highly variegated yarn, but this is exactly the kind of exception that proves the rule. I love the way the wild colorway shines in simple stockinette, and the cable doesn’t disappear into it. Rather, it pops out a bit, brings welcome textural interest to an already interesting color. Well done, Lois!

Above are Karin’s “Sidney” socks, from Rachel Coopey’s CoopKnits Socks Vol. 2, made with Malabrigo Sock. These are the latest in a long series of increasingly intricate handknit socks that Karin has crafted for herself and her family. Like many of us, she likes to challenge herself a bit with each new project, trying a new stitch pattern or technique, and a sock is a good-sized project for that kind of experimentation. It’s a good way to learn a lot in a relatively short time, and Karin is living proof!

Margaretta is another generous, challenge-seeking sock knitter, and this “Harlequin” pair from New Directions in Sock Knitting pretty much blew my mind when I saw them in progress – organizing the bobbins alone looked like quite a task. She rose to the occasion, though, mastering intarsia-in-the-round along the way, and surprised me again when she came back for more yarn to knit a second pair.

This pair, like the first, is made with Malabrigo Sock, which you can tell is a popular sock yarn here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. Margaretta insists that her technique improved measurably from the first pair to the second, and while I believe her, I honestly think both pairs look equally flawless. Still and all, she gave the second pair as a gift to a friend, knit yet a third pair and gave them to another friend, and kept the “learner” pair for herself.

 

Thanks to the knitters who shared their work on this post, and to the many more who begin their projects with trips to our shop! We appreciate your support, and love seeing what you make. If you’re not a sock-knitter but would like to become one, check out Amy’s upcoming class on the subject, an introduction to basic socks that may send you on a sock-making spree. Look out for more show-and-tell on the blog in the near future!

Hello, Malabrigo Caracol.

Back at TNNA in June, we stopped by the Malabrigo booth, eager to see their newest yarn for the first time. Caracol is not only new, but also an unusual yarn, for Malabrigo and the Hillsborough Yarn Shop alike. We were genuinely surprised when we saw it, and I’m happy to report that it’s now on our shelves! Meet Caracol.

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Caracol is a super bulky weight yarn with a thick and thin texture, a style we haven’t brought into the shop for a few years now, as preferences for smoother yarns grew. What really sets this yarn apart, though, is that it’s criss-crossed by a thinner yarn before being kettle-dyed in Malabrigo’s signature super-saturated colorways, creating a unique look and texture we’ve just never seen before.

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Some skeins are criss-crossed with a black binder thread, giving a stained glass effect, and others with white, for more subtle variation.

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We went home from TNNA with a sample skein of Caracol that was handed over to me for sample-knitting. A yarn with this much personality doesn’t need a complicated pattern to show it off, so I knit up a very quick hat and topped it with a very big pom-pom. The pattern is “The Big Hat,” a free download from Ravelry, also suitable for Malabrigo Rasta if smoother yarns are more your speed.

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Those who know me know this is not usually my kind of yarn, but I have to say, this was a really fun change of pace! Caracol is squishy, soft as can be, and provides near-instant gratification. Look for it in the super bulky section here at the shop, and remember it when the need for a handmade gift sneaks up at the last minute!

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Sherri’s Cowl.

Our friend Sherri loves to make scarves and cowls as gifts, always looking out for patterns that are quick and easy to knit. She came home from a recent ski trip telling us about a chunky openwork cowl she saw around the neck of every young woman on the slopes. She snapped a picture of a similar cowl at a store and showed it to Anne. “We could make these,” she said, “and you should make one for the shop!” When Anne relayed the idea to me, we began designing Sherri’s cowl together. I looked through the perennial 365 Stitches a Yearpausing now and again to show one stitch pattern or another to Anne. “Did it look like this?” I asked. “Or this?” When I landed on the right stitch, I got out some yarn and US size #17 needles to swatch.

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First I tried Shibui Silk Cloud held with two strands of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, then just one strand of each, and finally two strands of each, which made a fluffy, lightweight fabric at a gauge so large, it seemed to knit itself.

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I knit it flat, like a scarf, then sewed the ends together to make a loop. The finished cowl now hangs at the shop, and I’ve written up a little pattern for it, which is free with the purchase of yarn for the project.

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I named it “Sherri’s Cowl,” which seems fitting; Sherri herself had already completed almost two of these before I finished mine with fringe.

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I chose three different shades of green, for a marled effect: a light and dark in the Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, and a medium in the Shibui Silk Cloud.

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I had fun brainstorming alternate colorways in these soft and fuzzy yarns, finding common ground between two yarn companies’ color palettes.

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There’s something so satisfying about combining colors and seeing how they come together in the knitted fabric. I can’t wait to see what other combinations you knitters come up with!

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Come by the shop to try on “Sherri’s Cowl” and plan one of your own. Sherri tells me they are somewhat addictive, and I can confirm that at the very least, they are gratifying in their speedy creation and playful yarn-blending. See you at the shop!

Hello, Lang Merino+ Color.

Another new yarn has found a home here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop! Meet Lang Merino+ Color.

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Merino+ Color is an aran weight superwash merino wool, smooth, springy, soft, and self-striping. It comes in nine different colorways, a nice variety. Some. are subdued and painterly, while others are playful and bright.

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Each 100 gram ball boasts 197 yards, plenty for an adult-sized hat, pair of mitts, or small cowl.

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I knit this modified version of Wendy Johnson’s free “Easy Broken Rib Cowl” with just one ball of Lang Merino+ Color, shortening the circumference by casting on fewer stitches than called for. DSCN5274

Come by the shop to try on the sample for size; if you’d like to make one like it, make a note to cast on 192 stitches. If you’d prefer the cozier, larger size shown in the pattern, pick up a second skein and follow the pattern as written.

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Look for Merino+ Color in the aran weight section here at the shop. See you there!

Araucania Toconao: now on sale!

UPDATE: As of 4/22/2016, we are totally sold out of Araucania Toconao!

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Another discontinued yarn has moved to the Sale Trunk here at the shop: Araucania Toconao. It’s a lovely springy yarn, but since it’s no longer manufactured, we’re now offering it at a deep discount of about 30% off the original price!

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Toconao is an aran weight merino wool, soft and smooth, with sharp stitch definition. It’s hand-dyed in mostly semi-solid colorways, so alternating skeins is a good idea if your project requires more than one skein.

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One 139 yard skein makes a hat or a pair of “Fetching” mitts, two makes a small “Oats” or “Honey Cowl;” pick up a third skein for a generous cowl or scarf. Look for more pattern ideas on our “Aran weight” board over on Pinterest!

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Though we’re sad to see good yarns go, we love sharing them with you at a discounted price. Come by to pick up some Toconao at a great price before it disappears!

 

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!

Back in stock: Malabrigo Rios.

The July sale put a big dent in our inventory of Malabrigo Rios. It’s no surprise so many knitters took the opportunity to stock up at a discount; Rios is beautifully hand-dyed in rich, memorable colors, soft and springy in the hand, and machine-washable, no less. We’re delighted to have bunches more of the stuff on our shelves after a big reorder.

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A superwash worsted weight wool is a versatile kind of yarn, good for garments and accessories alike. We’ve noticed that Rios is particularly beloved for baby blankets, and it was Purl Soho’s generous collection of free baby blanket patterns that came to mind as I unpacked this shipment.

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The Purl Soho “Super Easy Crib Blanket” calls for seven colors, and I had fun putting a few colorways together in Rios. There’s a “Crochet Super Easy Baby Blanket,” too!

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The classic colors in their “Hudson Bay Inspired Crib Blanket” pattern are easy to approximate in Rios.

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I also like the “Shadow Stripe Baby Blanket,” which looks like a good, easy project for learning intarsia. It’s shown in three colors, a white background with two-tone stripes.

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Also consider the Purl Soho “Flying Geese Knit Baby Blanket,” “Mosaic Blanket,” and “Forever Baby Blanket,” all of which would look great in Malabrigo Rios.

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We also replenished our supply of Malabrigo Sock, for those that prefer a smaller gauge yarn. Come by the shop to plan your next project, and remember Rios next time a baby blanket appears on your to-do list!

Hello, Habu XS-45 20/3 Bamboo.

Habu’s bamboo lace weight yarn arrived at the shop this week, just in time for summer stitching and weaving. XS-45 20/3 Bamboo may not be a romantic name, but the yarn itself is lovely, a lace weight 100% bamboo with elegant drape and lustre.

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A Ravelry search reveals that this yarn is often used held together with other yarns to make unique fiber blends or thicker fabric. Just as often, it’s used on its own in delicate lace shawls, like Elizabeth Freeman’s “Laminaria” and “Aeolian Shawl,” or Evelyn A. Clark’s “Swallowtail Shawl;” free patterns, all, by the way.

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Take a peek at this new Habu yarn next time you’re at the shop, and remember to come by during July for our Annual Inventory Sale! In the meantime, enjoy the holiday weekend; we’ll be closed July 4th and 5th, reopening at our regular business hours on Tuesday, July 7th. See you then!

Baa-bles and pom-poms.

While we were at TNNA, in between swatching new yarns and meeting with vendors, I worked on a colorwork hat. In spite of the long, busy days, the hat was quickly completed, due to the thick, quick-knitting yarn, and the adorable, addictive nature of the pattern.

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Here’s my “Baa-ble Hat,” a free pattern designed by Donna Smith for Shetland Wool Week 2015. I knit it in four shades of Jamieson’s Shetland Heather Aran, which has all the wooly charms of its fingering weight cousin, the beloved Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.

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I topped it with this delightfully oversized pom-pom, which I made using what looks to be the largest pom-pom maker available.

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I trimmed a good inch or so off of the pom-pom after removing it from this gadget, and still, it’s a rather significant pom-pom.

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Anne and I have been getting some serious pom-pom practice of late, making colorful pom-poms for our summer shop window display. We used all different gauges of yarn, from fingering weight to super bulky, sometimes working with two different colors or multiple strands of yarn in any given pom-pom.

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It’s a motley group of pom-poms, but now that they’re hanging neatly in the shop window, we’re really quite fond of them, and the whimsical atmosphere they’ve lent the place.

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Come by the shop to pick up a pom-pom maker or two–we just got the full range of sizes in stock!

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Pre-Market Sale spotlight: Elsebeth Lavold Bamboucle.

From May 5th – 27th, we have Elsebeth Lavold and Louisa Harding yarns discounted during our Pre-Market Sale: single skeins are reduced by 30% and full bags of 10 are 40% off! Throughout the sale, I’ll be highlighting some of these yarns and giving ideas for what to make with them. Today: spotlight on Elsebeth Lavold Bamboucle.

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Elsebeth Lavold Bamboucle is a textured blend of 45% cotton, 30% bamboo, 17% linen, and 8% nylon. It’s an aran weight yarn, with about 87 yards on each 50 gram ball, and knits up at around 4.5 stitches per inch on a US 7 or 8.

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Because of its fiber content, Bamboucle lacks elasticity, and creates fabric with drape rather than memory. This makes it ideal for shawls and scarves, loose-fitting sweaters, and home goods.

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As I was searching Ravelry for patterns well-suited to aran-weight plant fiber yarns like Bamboucle, I found Alicia Plummer’s “Hudson,” a two-color cowl. It was this lightweight, summery pattern that inspired the color pairs I photographed for this blog post.

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If it’s a larger garment you’re interested in, consider Mags Kandis’ “Amiga” cardigan and Heidi Kirrmaier’s “Simple Summer Tweed Top Down V-Neck,” both free patterns for casual sweaters.

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For home goods, try Megan Goodacre’s “Leafy Washcloth” and Marsha’s upcoming class on the subject, Barbara Breiter’s “Optical Illusion Cloth,” and Laura Dianiska’s “Hexagonal Market Bag,” which we did as an informal Knit-Along a few years back.

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Come by the shop to check out Elsebeth Lavold Bamboucle and all our other discounted yarns during the Pre-Market Sale!

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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!