Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn.

Back in June, I was moving some armful of yarn from here to there when I discovered a lonesome skein of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn. Once, we had many skeins of the stuff, all living together in a basket. While its friends went home in the hands of knitters and crocheters to become pairs of socks and mitts, scarves or shawls, this particular skein was left alone. It was a little dusty, having been forgotten in some nook or cranny for however long, but none the worse for wear. I held it up and called to Anne, “What should I do with this?” Sensitive as she is to lonesome skeins, Anne brushed it off, purchased it herself, and began knitting a pair of socks with it.

The more she knit, the more we wondered why we didn’t stock the yarn anymore. Composed of 50% alpaca, 30% merino, 10% silk, and 10% nylon for durability, the fabric it created was cuddly, yet sturdy, and the colors were rich and compelling. “Maybe we’ll visit Misti Alpaca at market,” Anne said, “and get some more of this.” A couple of months have passed, and Anne has completed sock #1, cast on for #2, and Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn is back on our shelves.

Come by the shop to admire sock#1 and consider Misti Alpaca for your next project.

Socks and shawls: show and tell.

I’ve collected a lot of good pictures for show and tell over the past week or two, and they divided themselves nicely into two categories: socks and shawls. Let’s begin with socks.

Above, Sharon models her first completed pair of socks, made in a self-patterning sock yarn that miraculously lined up perfectly to make a matching pair.

Jessica has also recently finished her first pair of socks–the hot pink pair, in Malabrigo Sock yarn–and has started several others, for her mother and sister. Jessica and Sharon are both graduates of Marion’s class on Magic Loop Socks from the Toe Up. There are still spaces in the upcoming session, so if you’re looking to get started knitting socks on one long circular needle, check your schedule and sign up now!

A couple of weeks ago, Rosa came in with some friends and sat working quietly on this exquisite colorwork shawl. She’s knitting it in the round, and plans to steek it–cut it open–so that it will lie flat in a large triangular shape. These crayon-bright colors look particularly stunning against a plain black background. I can’t wait to see the finished project!

Speaking of finished projects, here’s Rebecca’s Color Affection shawl in Isager Plant Fibre yarn, which drapes beautifully at this gauge. As a lover of neutral colors, I particularly like this color combination, and the gradation of light to dark from the top of the shawl to the bottom edge.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your incredible creations with us!

Marion’s socks.

Marion is one of our teachers at the shop, and while she has taught classes on everything from colorwork hats to lace sweaters, her specialty is undoubtedly socks. While Anne and I work our socks from cuff to toe on double-pointed needles, Marion uses one long circular to work her socks from toe to cuff, and it is this technique that she has taught so many knitters over the past few years. Every week, it seems, she’s working on a new pair of socks, incorporating cables, lace, and color patterns whenever possible. This week I snapped some pictures of her most recent sock-knitting projects.

Both pairs are made in Malabrigo Sock yarn, a fingering weight yarn made of 100% superwash merino wool. The stitch patterns featured in these two pairs of socks are from the recently-published Sock Knitter’s Handbook, by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott. All of the above can be found at the shop, of course, and if you’d like to learn the technique, Marion has two upcoming classes. One is her Magic Loop Socks from the Toe Up, in which Marion walks students through the creation of their first toe-up socks. For those who have already learned this technique and want to try knitting two socks at the same time on one long circular needle, Marion is teaching Two-at-a-Time Toe-Up Socks. Both classes begin in September; check our website to read more about these and other classes.

Knit Socks for All Seasons.

Summer is a particularly good time for knitting socks. While I seem to have a pair going at any given moment, no matter the season, it’s during these long, hot days that I appreciate the small size and portability of socks the most. With that in mind, have a look at this new book of sock patterns: Knit Socks for All Seasons: Fabulous, Fun Footwear for Any Time of Year, by Stephanie van der Linden.

Colorwork, cables, lace… van der Linden gives us a bit of everything in this book.

At the back of the book, there’s a small black-and-white booklet of all the charts used in the patterns, making it easy to photocopy and enlarge said charts. I’ve never seen this in a knitting book before, but it seems absolutely brilliant to me, knowing how tiny those charts tend to be.

You can find Knit Socks for All Seasons on the teacart, surrounded by the newest knitting and crochet magazines, and if you fall in love with it, rejoice in a 15% discount during the month of July! (Yes, even books are included!) See you at the shop.

Bluestocking. Again.

Last week, we got another bunch of String Theory Bluestocking in another bunch of gorgeous colors.

This weekend, I finally cast on for a pair of Bluestocking socks, anxious to get my hands on a kind of wool I’d never tried before: bluefaced leicester. I chose a pattern from Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Book of Socks, called Hickory, with a barklike ribbing down the leg and instep. The whole leg was done in three evenings, which is how I know I love both the yarn and the pattern.

Come by the shop to take a closer look at the Knitter’s Book of Socks, where there are 200+ pages of serious sock knitting inspiration, and to admire the String Theory Bluestocking. See you at the shop!

Hello, Bluestocking.

Surprise, surprise: I have some new yarn from String Theory to share. Say hello (again) to Bluestocking, a soft, sturdy fingering weight yarn composed of 80% Bluefaced Leicester wool and 20% nylon.

If it seems like we’re ordering from String Theory weekly, it’s because we are. Anne and I love this yarn, and it’s clear you all do, too, at the rate it’s disappearing from our shelves! While Caper Sock has been ordered and reordered several times, we hadn’t shown the same love to Bluestocking until this past week.

Anne started a pair of Bluestocking socks, couldn’t keep her hands off them, and suddenly we were on the phone with the wonderful people at String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn, in Blue Hill, Maine. Much to Anne’s dismay, I suggested we start small, to the tune of six colors. When we sold half of them on the day they arrived, it was clear that I was wrong and Anne was right: Hillsborough Yarn Shoppers have enough love for both Caper Sock and Bluestocking. We ordered more.

I’ve got a skein of the stuff waiting for me at home, and it is torture not to cast on immediately. Care to torture yourself in a similar fashion? Come by the shop and witness the glory of all of String Theory’s yarns. See you there!

Washing socks.

In the past five years or so, knitting has become a part of my daily routine. Whether I’m working on a knitted sample at the shop or spending my evening playing with short rows, stripes, and garter stitch, knitted stitches find their way into my day. My obsession with knitting has brought other routines along with it, like reading knitting blogs and haunting Ravelry. Since I started knitting socks, the biweekly routine of hand-washing my hand-knit socks has become a comforting weekend ritual.

As I ready my socks for washing, I admire my motley collection of brightly-colored, differently-textured knits, some pairs more successful than others. Into a warm water bath they go, along with a drizzle of Eucalan soap, and there they sit for twenty or thirty minutes, while I sip coffee, wash dishes, sweep the kitchen–whatever little tasks need my attention. Once they’ve been bathed, I roll my socks up in a dry towel, give it a squeeze, then lay them out on another dry towel. It’s a bit mundane, this routine, but it pleases me to care for the things I’ve made, and to see all my socks lined up, worn but clean, waiting to be put to use.

That’s what I’ve been up to this weekend, along with casting on for a new sweater and admiring a newly-obtained skein of sock yarn. Hope your weekend was similarly peppered with knitterly delights.

Knitting in the round: two new books.

Knitters who know me know that I love a good reference book. I savor detailed explanations, carefully labeled diagrams, and knitting books just stuffed with information. Here are two such books, both of which have recently arrived at the shop.

In Circular Knitting Workshop, Margaret Radcliffe gives expert guidance on the technique for which the book is named. This includes several different methods of knitting in the round: using a singular circular needle, two circular needles, and four or five double-pointed needles. Radcliffe then arranges quite a lot of knitting knowledge around this technique, explaining how gauge, charts, and finishing techniques function in circular knitting, as opposed to a flat knitted piece.

Most useful of all, perhaps, is her section on converting pattern instructions from flat to circular. This is a question that comes up at the shop all the time; a knitter admires the look of a pattern, but would rather work seamlessly in the round than sew flat pieces together. Circular Knitting Workshop is the best resource I’ve seen for making these kinds of changes to a pattern.

Meanwhile, The Sock Knitter’s Handbook focuses this same kind of technique-teaching attention to the particular craft of knitting socks.

Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrot have put together a great resource, with schematics and instruction for both toe-up and top-down socks.

Many heel and toe variations are explained and clearly illustrated, with different colors of yarn used in each different step of knitting. This helps to highlight the construction of the thing, the process that gets you to the product.

Come by the shop to stick your nose in a book or two, for that, too, is one of the great pleasures of knitting.

Knitting Traditions.

The latest issue of Knitting Traditions has arrived!

Inside, you’ll find lots of good reading along with plenty of project ideas. Knitting Traditions is always heavy on the history, making it one of my personal favorites on the knitting magazine rack.

Find it on the teacart, surrounded by all the newest books and magazines.

Double point work-in-progress tubes.

It’s been a knitterly gadgets kind of week here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. Along with the Fix-a-Stitch, we also received a shipment of double point work-in-progress tubes, or DP Wip Tubes, for those who like to abbreviate.

Like the Fix-a-Stitch, the DP Wip Tube solves a specific problem simply and well. Say you’re knitting a sock on double pointed needles and you want to toss it into your knitting bag. How can you be sure that your live stitches wont accidentally slide off of one of those needles? You could put an individual point protector on each double point, to be sure, or you could carefully fold your sock-in-progress around your needles and hope for the best. The DP Wip Tube offers complete security to your stitches.

Anne is certainly a proponent of the DP Wip Tube, with two in use (and in reach) when our new shipment arrived.

Handy, no? Pick up a set of DP Wip Tubes next time you’re at the shop.