Heritage Fiber Publications.

This week, we added some new single patterns to the pattern binders.

Heritage Fiber Publications offers a wide range of patterns, from shawls and scarves to hats and socks.

Don’t forget to check the pattern binders as well as the bookshelves and magazine racks when you’re looking for a new project–there are tons of single patterns tucked away there. Dig in.

For the hands and the feet: two new books.

From Martingale & Co. this week, we received two new books. One will help you clothe your hands, and the other, your feet. Let’s take a closer look.

There are many ways to knit small circumferences in the round, and it’s a good thing, too, because preferences vary from knitter to knitter. Some love double points and some loathe them. Some are happy using the magic loop on one long circular, while the mere thought of magic loop knitting sets others on edge. Some prefer knitting small circumferences like mittens or socks on two circular needles, and this new book is for them. Knitting Circles Around Mittens and More, by Antje Gillingham, is a collection of patterns for mitts and mittens using two circular needles.

Along with the patterns comes helpful information about modifying existing patterns to use two circulars instead of double points, as well as instruction on knitting two mittens at once. If knitting in the round on two circulars is your kind of thing, this book may be, too.

Now, for the feet: Knitting Scandinavian Slippers and Socks, by Laura Farson, is for lovers of colorwork. Many of the patterns use worsted weight yarn to create cushy slippers, but some are for fingering weight yarns, as well. Here are some of the stranded designs you’ll find inside:

Take a look at these and other new books next time you’re in the shop.

Books, new and old.

We got a box of books in the mail last week, some of which were new, and others of which were merely in need of being reordered. From the department of Books That Have Sold Well That We Are Pleased To See On The Shelves Again:

  • The Magic Loop: Working Around On One Needle, by Bev Galeskas
  • The Knitter’s Book of Socks, by Clara Parkes
  • My Grandmother’s Knitting: Family Stories and Inspired Knits from Top Designers, by Larissa Brown, featuring contributions from Meg Swansen, Jared Flood, Cookie A., Norah Gaughan, and many more
  • Coastal Knits: a Collaboration Between Friends on Opposite Shores, by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig

And from the rather more exciting department of Books That Have Never Before Graced Our Shelves:

  • Stashbuster Knits: Tips, Tricks, and 21 Beautiful Projects for Using Your Favorite Leftover Yarn, by Melissa Leapman
  • Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere, by Julie Turjoman

Look for these and other knitting and crochet books at the shop. Hope you find something inspiring within their pages.


I spent much of this new year’s eve weekend with a burgeoning pair of socks, made with Malabrigo’s newest yarn, Arroyo. I turned the heel on the first sock, then cast on for the second while watching a movie on new year’s eve. On new year’s day, the socks came with me to a friend’s house, where we talked and laughed and drank tea. This morning as I sipped my coffee, knitted my socks, and listened to a podcast, I had an impulse to photograph the scene, and thought to myself: oh, man. What a blogger thing to do.

It’s been almost a year since I started this Hillsborough Yarn Shop blog, and since then I’ve grown accustomed to that impulse to photograph anything yarn-related, and have often given into it. When people come in showing off amazing work, or Phyllis looks particularly wonderful in a shop sample, or we move some furniture around, I pull out my little camera. When we amass great piles of hats or great piles of yarn, the camera comes out. After a year of moments like these, it seems to make perfect sense to photograph my morning coffee, so long as a sock-in-progress is near. I’m having such fun with the blog, and the beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to thank you all for reading, and for commenting, and for coming into the shop and saying, “You must be Julia, from the blog!” I’m looking forward to another year of documenting the goings-on at the shop. Happy new year, everyone!

Hello, Malabrigo Arroyo.

I’ve written before about the popularity of Malabrigo yarns. Known for their softness and many other fine qualities, Malabrigo yarns are always welcomed with great excitement. This week, in the midst of the busiest shopping days we’ve seen all year, we were treated to something really special: the arrival of a new Malabrigo yarn.

Arroyo, a sport-weight washable merino, has been on order for the better part of the past year, so Anne and I were nothing short of thrilled to finally see it in person. We weren’t alone in our excitement, either. There are those among us who memorize Malabrigo colorways, can identify Archangel, Arco Iris, or Indiecita from only a cursory glance. Arroyo comes in those memorable colors and 17 others, many of which have never before been seen at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. Here are a few of them, ready to be newly memorized.

Immediately, of course, I began thinking of socks. Could I make socks with Arroyo, and could I do it in one 335 yard skein alone? What size needle would make a strong enough fabric for socks, and what stitch pattern would ensure that it remained stretchy? You won’t be surprised to know that I took a skein home on Saturday afternoon, the better to answer such questions in the future. All projects have been set aside in order to experiment with Arroyo. I’ll be sure to let you know what I come up with. Happy holidays, everyone, I’ll see you at the shop!

Folk Socks.

Here is an older book, made new this year with revisions and updated content. First published in 1994, Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks is back in print and back on our shelves.

With its long historical preamble, various heel- and toe-shaping techniques, and colorwork patterns, Folk Socks is right up my alley.

In thumbing through this excellent book, I was particularly struck by a simple pair of socks, knit in gray and white with only one small stranded motif.

With the abundance of stitch dictionaries, sock books, and color combinations I have available, I’m likely to add more color, more patterning, more complication to my colorwork socks, all in an attempt to try as many new things as possible in any given sock. These socks, and this book, reminded me that beautiful socks need not be covered from cuff to toe in patterning. One well-chosen motif can go a long way. And oh, this book has me aching for more colorwork socks!

Come by the shop to see Folk Socks for yourself, and be talked into colorwork sock-knitting by yours truly.

Works in progress.

Because of the nature of a yarn shop, Anne and I probably spend more time talking with people about their projects in the future tense than we do checking up on older projects, both finished and unfinished. There is much more to chat about if one has not begun one’s project: what fiber to choose, and then what yarn, and what color? How much of it? What size needles or hook, and where to turn if a particular technique is unfamiliar? Finished and unfinished works carry all these conversations with them as well, of course, but not always with the same exuberance that drives one to begin. Occasionally, though, a break occurs in the project planning and a question comes: what are you working on now? With this question in mind, I submit these two works in progress, one of Anne’s and one of my own.

Anne is working on a pair of socks of late, “happy socks,” as she describes them. The pattern is simple, fundamental, even, and has been worked so many times that at this point, it can be summoned from her memory. Ribbed socks can be such a comfort in this way. The yarn is Claudia Hand Painted, in a fingering weight. Many a knitter has reached out to touch this sock-to-be, then rushed over to the Claudia cubby for a few skeins of their own.
I’m still working on my Saroyan, a scarf out of Malabrigo Lace yarn. I work on it only during quiet moments at the shop, and thus, am progressing slowly. Still, there is something to be said for the patience that knitting teaches us, and pleasure in the process. The yarn is soft and fine, the pattern well-written, and let’s not kid ourselves: this is totally not the only knitting project I have going at the moment. I have a sweater half-finished, two sock patterns half-written, another pair on the needles, and about thirty other knitting ideas competing for the title of Next New Project. Never a dull moment, I tell you. 
So, what are you working on now?

Hello, String Theory.

I know I said we were elated at the arrival of Jitterbug last week–and really, we were! But that was before yesterday’s shipment from String Theory, a new yarn company for us. Yesterday, excitement erupted at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop as Anne pulled skein after skein of beautiful hand-dyed yarn out of the box, passing them around to an appreciative group of knitters who petted, hugged, and admired the new yarn with great delight. Several of them decided they couldn’t leave without a skein, and so they were here and gone before they even made it onto the shelf. Luckily, there is still plenty to show off. Have a look at what all of the fuss is about.

String Theory is a small company out of Blue Hill, Maine, a two-woman operation that has been getting a lot of attention recently. String Theory was recently profiled in Coastal Knits, a lovely pattern collection that we’re forever reordering. Clara Parkes mentioned them in a recent post on Knitter’s Review, which led me back to her Knitter’s Book of Socks, where I found patterns using both of the String Theory sock yarns we just got in.

String Theory’s Caper Sock is a luxurious fingering weight yarn, a blend of superwash merino, cashmere, and nylon. Cookie A’s pattern from Knitter’s Book of Socks, below, uses the Caper Sock yarn with lovely results.

Bluestocking, on the other hand, is perhaps the more interesting of the two String Theory sock yarns because of its fiber content: 80% Bluefaced Leicester wool and 20% nylon. Bluefaced Leicester is a particular breed of sheep known for its long, strong fibers, which ought to make a particularly durable pair of socks. (Care to learn more about breed-specific wools? Put Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Book of Wool on your holiday wish list, or give it to yourself as a gift. Fascinating stuff!) It’s rare and exciting to see a yarn label that specifies the breed of sheep whose wool is inside it, with the exception of the ubiquitous Merino. I can’t wait to give Bluestocking a try, perhaps using Ann Budd’s pattern from Knitter’s Book of Socks.

The third and final kind of yarn we received from String Theory this week is their Merino DK, a name which speaks for itself. I can add little else to describe it, though I’ll mention that it’s superwash, squishy and soft, and that each 100 gram skein is packed with 280 yards. At a dk weight, that can easily take you through a hat, cowl, pair of mittens, or maybe even a scarf.

Come by the shop and we’ll be sure to show you in person all that I’ve shown you here. Forgive us if we can hardly contain our delight: we love yarn, we love knitting, and we are utterly irrepressible. See you at the shop!

Jitterbug. Again.

You would not believe the gasps of delight that accompanied this week’s much anticipated shipment of Colinette Jitterbug. (I know I say things like that a lot–it seems that weekly, we receive boxes of gasp-inducing yarns–but I’m just reporting the facts, here. We’re an excitable bunch.) Unlike most yarns, the Jitterbug comes to us in bunches of untwisted hanks, which makes for a dramatic entrance.

After oohing and aahing over each color as it emerged from the box, Anne and I got right to work twisting up each hank.

Jitterbug, as I’ve written before, is a tightly-plied, squishy, merino yarn in fingering weight which comes to us all the way from Wales. We’ve carried primarily variegated colorways thus far, but the semisolid colorways have been so tempting that we finally, happily gave in.

I went home with a skein of Jitterbug in a golden yellow to make myself a pair of bright, wild socks. There are several other projects awaiting my attention, but it’s quite possible that I’ll put them all aside to cast on with this yarn, for which I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews.

One such rave-reviewer is Anne, who made a little something out of Jitterbug for herself earlier this year.

No big deal, just one of the most amazing sweaters we have in the shop, an exquisite design from Marianne Isager’s Japanese Inspired Knits. Come by to examine Anne’s sweater in close, glorious detail, and to snag a skein of Jitterbug for yourself.

See you at the shop!

The Knitter’s Book of Socks.

Clara Parkes has done it again, and by “done it again,” I mean “provided a practical, beautiful, fascinating, rigorous resource for knitters.” From the author of Knitter’s Review, the woman who brought us The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, here’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks.

If you’re a sock knitter, this is an indispensable book. If you’re an aspiring sock knitter, this book may be a good place to start. While many of the patterns include cables, lace, or colorwork, the first is an introductory-level sock with a simple texture pattern, using worsted weight yarn. Once you’ve worked up a pair of those, you’ll likely be ready and eager to dip your toes into some of the more complicated patterns. Also: those of you who are worried that your knitted socks will be too baggy or too tight, not stretchy enough, or that they’ll fall apart after one wear will be encouraged and emboldened by The Knitter’s Book of Socks. Parkes spends entire chapters on the effects of various fibers, twists, plies, and stitch patterns on the structure of a sock, giving knitters the information they need to avoid the potential pitfalls that may concern them.

The patterns come from an astounding group of designers, using all kinds of techniques to make socks in a wide range of styles. Cat Bordhi, Lucy Neatby, Ann Budd, Norah Gaughan, Nancy Bush, Cookie A, and Jared Flood all make appearances, as does a favorite new yarn of ours: the Swans Island Organic Merino, in fingering-weight.

I’m almost halfway through a sweater using this yarn, and had never considered it for socks, as it’s hand-wash only. Then I came upon Parkes’ ode to hand-washing hand-knit socks, which made the task sound more pleasant than inconvenient. Having just accidentally felted a pair of colorwork socks, I’m ready to make the switch to hand-washing, and it sounds like my socks will look better and last longer that way. Suffice it to say, I’m reconsidering putting that beautiful Swans Island yarn on my feet, and I have no doubt that The Knitter’s Book of Socks will change the way I pair yarns and sock patterns, making me a better, more educated sock knitter. Come by the shop to peruse this new book, and plan your next pair of socks!