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.

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?