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.


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.


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

pompom maker

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.


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.


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.



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


Show and tell: pastels.

As we head off to TNNA to see what’s new in knitting, crochet, and weaving for the Fall, we’ll close the shop from Thursday, May 28th – Monday, June 1st, reopening on Tuesday, June 2nd. I’ll be blogging a bit from the show, but til then, here’s some show-and-tell, all in soft, solid shades, projects that have recently been completed in HYS yarns.


Here’s Amy’s “Kindling” shawl, knit in preparation for her upcoming class on the subject. The yarn is Fibre Company Savannah, a lofty sport weight blend of merino, cotton, soy, and linen. Amy enlarged her shawl by continuing the main body for one additional pattern repeat before working the lace edging. The patterning shows so clearly in this pale green shade, a wise choice for such intricate knitting.


Speaking of upcoming classes, Marsha recently dropped off this adorable “Pleated Ballet Flat,” a sample for her upcoming class. She used the aran weight Plymouth Royal Llama Silk in a robin’s egg blue.


For such a small piece of knitting, these slippers are packed with techniques, from picking up and knitting to short rows to working in the round on two circular needles. Check out all our upcoming classes on our website!


Jodi brought her beautiful “Tier” scarf in for show-and-tell just before shipping it off to her sister-in-law. She knit it in Shibui Twig, a summery blend of linen, silk, and wool, and carefully blocked it to gently-draping perfection.


Last week, Anne quickly worked up a textured baby hat in the luxurious Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere in a buttery yellow hue. The (free!) pattern is Christine Roy’s “That easy Guernsey hat,” and comes in toddler, child, and adult sizes, too.


Margie has been busy knitting “Shaelyn” shawls in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool as gifts for good friends. Here’s the first one off her needles, in a rustic shade of beige.


Thanks to the accomplished stitchers whose projects begin and grow here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop! We love to see what you’re making, and we’re looking forward to bringing in more inspiring materials for you to work with. I’ve got another round of many-colored show-and-tell projects coming up after our return… see you then!

Hello, Swans Island All American Worsted.

We’re delighted to announce that Swans Island’s newest yarn has arrived at the shop: meet All American Worsted!


All American Worsted is a 2-ply woolen-spun blend of 75% Rambouillet wool and 25% alpaca. There are 210 yards on each 80 gram skein, every bit of which was grown, processed, spun, and dyed in the USA.

DSCN3525All the colors begin with this shade of gray, the natural color of the Rambouillet and alpaca blend. The gray skeins are then dyed with low impact acid dyes, giving each hue a rich heathered quality.



“Woolen-spun” means that the yarn is spun from fiber that has been carded, but not combed. The carding process organizes the fibers to some degree, but they are not as smoothly aligned as combed fibers, giving woolen-spun yarns a rustic look.


Woolen-spun yarns like All American Worsted are also quite lofty, making them more versatile in terms of gauge. Swans Island suggests a gauge of 4.25 stitches per inch, which we’d consider aran weight, but All American Worsted is happy at a range of gauges. After washing, the fibers bloom to fill whatever space your needles have given them. The bottom section of the little swatch below was knit at 4.5 stitches per inch on a US #8; from there, I switched to a US #9, and the gauge is about 4 stitches per inch.

DSCN3530 I knit Stephen West’s “Dustland Hat” at 5 stitches per inch on a US #7, and the fabric is sturdy but supple. All American Worsted renders these knit/purl texture patterns beautifully, and I don’t doubt that it will perform just as well in cables, lace, and colorwork.


For pattern ideas, check the Swans Island binder here at the shop. Their Organic Merino Worsted is comparable, so patterns that call for that yarn will do just as well in All American Worsted. Also, check your Ravelry queue for any patterns calling for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter–I know I am! Of all the yarns we ordered at TNNA this year, this is the one I’ve been perseverating on the most. Any of the Brooklyn Tweed patterns would be stunning in Swans Island All American Worsted, but for myself, I’ve boiled it down to three favorites: “Bray,” “Wheaten,” and “Little Wave.”


Come by the shop to meet this gorgeous yarn in person, and plan your next project! Look for Swans Island All American Worsted in the aran weight section, near the Swans Island Organic Merino Worsted. See you there!

Fair isle tams.

If you’ve visited the shop in the past month or two, you may have noticed our stash of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift front-and-center in the second room. We’ve recently replenished our supply of the stuff, inspiring us to plan some colorwork projects.


I finished knitting the “Autumn Tam” just before we left for TNNA, where we serendipitously encountered its designer, Sandy Blue. I had so much fun knitting it, not only because of the clear, engaging pattern and well-reasoned color combination, but also because I just love this yarn. I’ve already picked out enough for a sweater: “Puffin,” by Kate Davies.


I’m happy to announce that Nancy Cavender is offering a class at the shop on knitting fair isle tams, giving students the choice of Sandy Blue’s “Autumn” or “Midnight Sun” tam patterns. Head to the “Classes” page on our website to sign up now!

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We also got a new book on the subject, Mary Rowe’s Knitting Tams: Charted Fair Isle Designs, published by one of our favorites–Schoolhouse Press.

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Most of these patterns, like the “Autumn Tam,” are knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, though a couple of them call for heavier yarns. Anne snapped up a copy of this book the day it arrived, and I can’t blame her; these are exciting patterns for lovers of colorwork.


I’m equally excited about our newly-acquired Jamieson’s color-card, which shows all 200+ shades of Shetland Spindrift. We can’t stock them all here at the shop, but if you’re looking for any colors in particular, do let us know and we’ll be happy to order them for you.


Come by the shop to see our sample “Autumn Tam” and plan a fair isle tam of your own!

Cliff hat colorways.

Our recent Shibui Mix Party resulted in a large Shibui order, which brought not only a new Shibui yarn, but plenty of new colors in Cima, Pebble, and Silk Cloud.


As I put out the new colors, I often arrange them in a spectrum, play with color combinations, and generally admire the stuff.


Thinking of the “Cliff Hat,” I began to group harmonious Pebble colorways in fives.


The “Cliff Hat” is a free pattern from Shibui knit using two strands of Pebble held together throughout, making a plush fabric that’s warm but lightweight.


The simple, graphic motif makes a great introduction to stranded colorwork, where two colors of yarn are in use on any given row.


If this is a project that interests you, consider signing up for Amy’s “Cliff Hat” class, beginning May 17th! We have a sample “Cliff Hat” on display at the shop, so you can try it on for size. Come on in to put together a “Cliff Hat” colorway of your own!


Hello, Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.

We’ve long been stockists of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, a classic fingering weight 2-ply shetland wool. One of my favorite (and hardest-wearing) sweaters is knit in Shetland Spindrift, in fact. Anne and I were delighted to replenish our supply of the stuff recently, and picked up a couple of new patterns as well.



Shetland wools are somewhat rustic and some people find them a bit prickly, with little fibers sticking out of the yarn. Because of each stitch’s willingness to stick to its neighbor, Shetland Spindrift is ideal for steeking, where knit fabric is cut to make cardigans, armholes, or v-necks. Shetland Spindrift may not be merino-soft, but it’s perfectly suited to fair-isle knitting, and maintains its shape over time through repeated wearings and washings.


Last week, when our Jamieson’s order arrived, I cast on for Sandy Blue’s “Autumn Tam,” a 10-color fair-isle hat that’s not nearly as intimidating as it might first appear. I have been having so much fun knitting this thing, I can hardly tell you. The colorwork charts are just complicated enough that they’re delightfully engaging without being frustrating, and either the foreground or background color changes every couple of rounds. As a result, the fabric in my hands is ever-evolving, and I am quite entertained by every moment spent with this project.

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I took this photo a few days after I cast on for the “Autumn Tam,” and my, it has grown since then–come by the shop and you’re likely to find me with my hands full of Shetland Spindrift, eagerly stitching on this hat. See you there!



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.

Upcoming classes.

As you may have read in our most recent email newsletter, we’ve been busy scheduling new classes for the new year ahead. Some are technique-based, like Beginning Knitting and Fixing Mistakes, while others are project-based, where techniques are learned along the way. New classes often mean new samples at the shop, showing the hats, mitts, shawls, and scarves that our teachers will teach in the new year. Here are a few.


Katherine knit this Ardelle hat using 4 strands of Cascade 220 Fingering to achieve a gauge of 3.5 stitches per inch, but any single strand of bulky weight yarn would yield a similar result; consider Lamb’s Pride Bulky, Mountain Fusion Teton, Malabrigo Mecha, and Mirasol Sulka. Ardelle is a great pattern for first-time cable knitters, and will also teach how to pick up stitches, sew a seam, and work in the round on double pointed needles. The pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry, so you can take a look at the skills required and decide whether you’d prefer to tackle it on your own or with the guidance and camaraderie of Katherine’s class.


Interested in learning to knit lace patterns? Three of our upcoming classes focus on lace. Above is Marsha’s Lattice Lace Scarf, which is a great lace introduction using bulky yarn. Marsha is also teaching the Holden Shawlette, a popular free pattern that calls for one skein of Malabrigo Sock, or ~440 yards of another fingering weight yarn. Marsha has made several Holden Shawlettes in a range of gauges; this one is made with a dk weight silk.


In the Holden Shawlette class, Marsha will teach how to read a lace chart and how to construct this triangular shawl, and can help you to lengthen it if you like. Amy’s Sonetto Shawl class approaches the triangular lace shawl from another angle; read more about it on our class page.


Just yesterday, Marsha brought in this cute Lush Fingerless Mitt, a sample for her upcoming class on the subject. She’ll teach how to work in the round on double pointed needles, and how to read and knit the lace/cable motif that adorns these mitts. Meanwhile, the pattern is free, so you can take a closer look at it if you like. Marsha’s mitts are knit in Cascade Indulgence, a worsted weight blend of alpaca and angora, but any worsted weight yarn will do; consider Classic Elite Princess or Lush, which also contain angora, or try Yarn Hollow Photograph or Ewe Ewe Wooly Worsted for non-fuzzy mitts.

You can read more about these and other classes on our class page, where you can also sign up and prepay online. Our classes do tend to fill up quickly, so act now if you’d like to join one! See you at the shop.

Hello, Mountain Fusion Teton.

Just in time for last-minute holiday gift-making, we received 6 new colors in Mountain Fusion Teton, a bulky weight merino wool.


Mountain Fusion Teton is the result of a collaboration between two small US yarn companies: Mountain Meadow Wool, of Buffalo, Wyoming, and Mountain Colors, of Corvallis, Montana. This springy, colorful yarn is 2 ply, where one ply is thick and the other is thin.


This gives a pretty consistent texture with plenty of color interest, not to mention enough yarn in one skein to create a hat or cowl in an afternoon. The pattern for this simple hat is printed on the Mountain Fusion Teton yarn label; also consider “Thorpe,” or the “Drop Stitch Cowl,” both of which are available as free downloads from Ravelry.


Come by the shop to pick up a skein or two of Mountain Fusion Teton, and you’ll have cozy winter accessories in no time, whether for yourself or for someone yarn-worthy. See you at the shop!


Cliff Hat.

Speaking of Shibui, I recently finished a new shop sample with Shibui Pebble: the Cliff Hat.


The Cliff Hat is a slouchy colorwork beanie, a free pattern from Shibui. I used the colors called for in the pattern, colors I might never have thought to put together myself, but which make a beautiful gradient in this easy-to-memorize colorwork motif.


The hat is knit with two strands of Pebble held together throughout, which makes a nice cohesive fabric, soft enough to slouch a bit, but sturdy enough to feel substantial and warm on the head. The two-stranded Pebble swatch I’d knit for the shop is lofty and open by comparison, proof that yarns can be happy at many different gauges; it all depends on what kind of fabric you’re hoping to create.


Come by the shop to see this new Shibui sample, and select colors for a Cliff Hat of your own!