Hello, Alpaca 1.

When Anne returned from her trip to Denmark in August, she came back with many stories and many knitting ideas. The first one that she realized was simple: a triangular garter stitch shawl in Isager Alpaca 1, a 2-ply lace-weight yarn that at the time, we had just recently ordered in a pretty little spectrum of colors. Anne had seen one like it in Marianne Isager’s shop, and was determined to recreate it as a shop sample here. It may be a simple shawl, a “nothing pattern,” as Anne often describes it, but it has been a huge hit.

The particular combination of this yarn at this gauge makes simple garter stitch look new and somehow complicated. I’ve seen seasoned knitters puzzle over the shawl, asking about the stitch pattern. The texture is truly unusual, stretchy and fuzzy and light. Sometimes I wrap it around my neck like a scarf while I’m rearranging the Alpaca 1 basket, and I must say, it tempts one.

Having nearly run out of Isager Alpaca 1 due to the beguiling nature of the garter stitch shawl, it was time for a reorder at the start of the new year. As I put out the new colors, I felt content seeing them all together again, and daydreamed a bit about which color I’d choose if I were making one myself. What would you choose?

The next time you’re in the market for a mindless knit with exquisite yarn, consider the Alpaca 1 shawl. Try it on next time you’re in the shop and see if you’re not tempted.

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns. Again.

We first welcomed Claudia Hand Painted Yarns to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop only a few months ago, but already it’s been such a hit that we decided to order more. We made up a few more kits for the Double Silk T-Shirt and Cardigan, replacing the color combinations that flew out of the shop when we first got them in stock. We also made up kits for the Warm Me Up pullover sweater, also knit with the Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace.

For those of you who’d like to find other uses for the Silk Lace, we’re also offering that yarn separately outside of the kit. Each shining skein is 1100 yards long, so one could easily get you through a sizeable lace shawl.

The most exciting part of the most recent Claudia shipment for me, however, was this:

A handful of new colors in the Fingering yarn. Anne generously let me pick out the colors from Claudia’s tremendous selection, and as you might have predicted, I went with the semisolid colorways instead of the variegated. These colors are vivid, rich, and complement one another nicely, if I do say so myself. Any of them would make a stellar pair of Interrupted socks, no?

Come by to see these new beauties and the rest of the Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.

Hello, Malabrigo Lace.

Malabrigo is known for its rich colors and buttery softness, as well as for its own popularity. Because of its fine qualities and popularity among knitters and crocheters, it’s hard to get a hold of, and it’s hard to keep in stock. Periodically, we’re able to replenish our collection of particular Malabrigo yarns, and this time around, we were able to finally get our hands on some Malabrigo Lace.

The Lace is a single ply made from baby merino wool, used as often for garments as it is for lace shawls. Faced with the pleasurable challenge of working up a shop sample in Malabrigo Lace, I spent at least an hour roaming around Ravelry looking at what others had used it for before I settled on a pattern. As of now, I’m about a dozen rows into Saroyan, a lovely, lacy, leafy scarf that’s available as a free download on Ravelry. I’m not far enough along to share pictures yet, though I’ll surely do so as it grows. When I started working on it, someone commented, “That’s not really your kind of thing, is it?” and while it’s not, that’s part of why I chose it. I rarely knit lace patterns, I rarely knit scarves, I wouldn’t have chosen this particular color for myself–but I’m having such fun! It feels good to reach out of my comfort zone and knit something different. If you’d like to make a lace-weight Saroyan of your own–or a Citron, or a Featherweight Cardigan, or any number of other things–come by the shop and we’ll talk Malabrigo Lace.

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.

With August comes the new Fall yarns, and here is one of our most exciting acquisitions of the season: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, out of Harrisonburg, VA. Anne fell in love with a silk sweater she saw at TNNA in June, and the rest is history, which is to say, the makings of that silk sweater are now in the shop. We’ve put kits together with 2 skeins of the Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace in different but complimentary colorways, which are held together throughout the knitting of either a cardigan or a t-shirt. The kits include the yarn, the pattern, and a Hillsborough Yarn Shop project bag.

Obsessive sock knitter that I am, though, the real excitement for me is the Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn. Made of 100% extra fine merino, hand painted in bright variegated colorways, this yarn is squishy and soft but tightly plied, which should make for luxurious but long-wearing socks.

I’ve already knit a sample sock for the shop with this yarn, so you can get a feel for how it knits up. The pattern for said sample sock is forthcoming–a pattern of my own design, which I’m excited to release into the world as soon as I’m done editing it. Til then, you’ll be delighted to know that there are many wonderful free patterns for Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn. If you’re looking for a way to use this yarn, try Skew, Herringbone Rib Socks, or Roll Top Socks, ankle socks which actually take only one 50 gram skein. The Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn is about equivalent to Koigu in weight and yardage, so it’s a perfect substitute if any patterns for Koigu should happen to catch your eye.

Come by the shop to see Claudia Hand Painted yarns in person, to squeeze some skeins and admire the vivid colors!

Kusha Kusha.

The Kusha Kusha scarf gets a lot of attention at the shop. This is in part because of its unusual, organic-looking shape, almost like a strand of kelp. Another reason to take note of this scarf is its fiber content. Kusha Kusha is knit with two strands of lace weight yarn held together, one of which is 100% merino wool, the other of which is stainless steel wrapped in silk. The stainless steel gives memory to the yarn and the resulting fabric, so that you can crinkle it up or stretch it out and it holds its shape.

The Kusha Kusha scarf comes as a kit from Habu Textiles, complete with the pattern and a cone of each yarn. We’ve carried these kits at the shop for some time, but our supply was getting low. When we reordered this past week, we got many more colors than we’d ever had before, a spectrum of elegant pairings.

Make sure to take a look at this unusual scarf the next time you’re in the shop. If you’re curious to see what others have done with this kit and pattern, check out the Kushua Kusha Love group on Ravelry. See you at the shop!

Isager adoration.

As you know, we at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop are big Isager fans. We stock many books by designer Marianne Isager, from perennial shop favorite Japanese Inspired Knits to Inca Knits, Classic Knits, and Knitting Out of Africa. We are also quite enamored of her daughter, Helga Isager, whose designs are collected in a series of booklets called Amimono. We keep all the Isager pattern books together, wedged between baskets of Isager yarns, which themselves are quite special: lightweight, delicate yarns of many fibers, designed to be held double or triple when a larger gauge is desired.

If you’ve been to the shop lately, you’ve likely seen Anne hard at work on one of Helga Isager’s designs from the latest Amimono collection, a lightweight wool top with unusual construction.

And, if you’ve been to the shop lately, you’ve likely heard that Anne has been invited to Denmark to attend a small workshop with Marianne and Helga Isager. Your jaw has likely dropped. Anne is leaving for her trip to Denmark in under a week, and could not be more excited. I’m almost as excited as she is just to hear all about it upon her return.

We can’t all go to Denmark, unfortunately, but there is a bit of new Isager goodness in the shop this week. We received a box of Isager Alpaca 1, a 2 ply laceweight made of 100% alpaca, soft and delicate, with a fuzzy halo. For as long as we’ve had Alpaca 1 in the shop, we only stocked it in black and white. I don’t know how we held out for so long, but this week, we opened up the Alpaca 1 spectrum to include a rainbow of colors.

A beautiful sight, to be sure, but even more remarkable to touch. Come by the shop to pet the Alpaca 1 and pore over the Isager pattern books if you haven’t yet. Helga and Marianne Isager are truly unique knitwear designers, worth a look even if you don’t plan to knit their patterns. See you at the shop!

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.


We’ve been waiting quite a while for a box from Schaefer Yarns. We’d long ago sold out of their textured worsted weight wool, Nancy, whose colorways are named for memorable women throughout history, the likes of Julia Child, Clara Barton, Renata Tebaldi, and Clare Booth Luce, among many others. On Thursday, the box from Schaefer came at last, so the Hillsborough Yarn Shop is home to Nancy once more.

Schaefer Nancy comes in very large hanks of about 600 yards, enough for a shawl, shrug, or vest. We also received a selection of patterns for Nancy that are free with purchase of the yarn, if you’re looking for project ideas. 
For lace-knitters and silk-lovers, the real excitement in the Schaefer box was five shiny new skeins of Andrea. This 100% silk lace-weight yarn is truly exquisite. Behold!

There’s a limited amount of Andrea in stock, so if silk and lace are your weakness, don’t hesitate. See you at the shop!

Habu cotton.

Many visitors to the shop have admired the two kits that live on the teacart: the Kusha Kusha scarf kits from Habu Textiles, and the striped shawl kits from Be Sweet. Last week, these two kits were joined by another yarn from Habu: a lace-weight cotton boucle, which can be seen in the basket in the above photo. The juxtaposition inspired Anne to cast on for the striped Be Sweet shawl with the Habu cotton, suitable for those knitters who have the misfortune of being allergic to the mohair yarn used in the Be Sweet kits. I haven’t snapped a picture of the shawl yet, so you’ll just have to come to the shop in the meantime to see it, or better yet, feel it. It is extremely lightweight, elegant and delicate. A shawl for all seasons, but particularly those that make wool and mohair less than comfortable. I’ll post a picture soon, but I’m serious about coming in to feel it: you should.