Market awaits.

Anne, Rosi, and I are getting ready for our annual trip to Market. The National Needle-Arts Association holds an annual conference and trade show every year, an event that came a little earlier than usual this year. TNNA is where we do the majority of our fall and winter yarn ordering for the shop, and where we look out for exciting new products and project ideas. We also take classes, both in technique and in business, and we come home even more inspired than usual to be in the business of yarn. The shop will be closed from Thursday, May 1st – Monday, May 5th, and will reopen at our usual business hours on Tuesday, May 6th. Til then, I’ll leave you with this little teaser: the first six shades of a brand-new-to-HYS yarn have arrived.


More on that when we return on Tuesday. In the meantime, keep your eye on the blog for updates from Market!

Headed home.

Sunday was another long day of walking up and down the aisles here at TNNA, talking to vendors, and placing orders. We’d spent Saturday night swatching new yarns to see how we liked them, and oh, how we loved them! Though we didn’t get much sleep, by Sunday morning, we were ready to pick out colors and invite these new yarns to the shop.

Along the way, we ran into one of our heroes, Clara Parkes, a writer, designer, and expert reviewer of all things fiber. We told her how very many times we’ve followed her lead on new products and yarn, like Titus and the Lilly Brush, and thanked her for all that she does.

We were a little star struck.

It’s been an incredible trip, and meeting Clara Parkes was the cherry on top. Now we’re heading home to the shop, which will be open Tuesday morning, as usual. See you there!

Scenes from TNNA.

Here in Columbus, we started another day at TNNA with early morning classes. Anne took a business class with Andrea Marquis, our sales rep for Mountain Meadow Wool and Yarn Hollow. Rosi and I both took “Learning to Love Intarsia,” taught by designer Sally Melville. The technique was brand new to me, and Sally made it clear, doable, and exciting. From there, we went to the market floor, where hundreds of vendors had set up booths filled with yarns and garments. We went from booth to booth, checking out new products and catching up with some of our favorite companies. Along the way, we spotted a few designers we recognized, the likes of Amy Herzog, Stephen West, Grace Anna Farrow, and Anne Hanson. It’s been an exciting, inspiring, fabulous day; here are some scenes from the market floor.








To market we go.

On Thursday afternoon, Anne and Rosi and I piled into the car and headed to Columbus, Ohio. The National Needle-Arts Association holds an annual conference and trade show in Columbus every June, an event we often refer to simply as “TNNA.” TNNA is where we do the majority of our fall and winter yarn ordering for the shop, and where we look out for exciting new products and project ideas. We also take classes, both in technique and in business, and we come home even more inspired than usual to be in the business of yarn.
This morning, we had our first classes. Anne studied “7 Techniques to Instantly Make You a Better Knitter” with designer Cat Bordhi. The seven techniques are all used in one of Bordhi’s patterns, a cabled cowl, which Anne and the other students will create during this day long class. Meanwhile, Rosi brushed up on finishing techniques with Chris Bsylma, skills that we all benefit from revisiting from time to time.

20130621-141718.jpgI took a class with Melissa Leapman called “Crochet for Cowards,” aimed at knitters looking to pick up new crochet skills. Until this morning, all my crochet skills were self-taught, and it was useful to check those skills with an encouraging instructor. We practiced chain, single, double, and slip stitches, worked on flat swatches and in the round, and started two projects: a purse and a hat. Most helpful of all was troubleshooting common crochet pitfalls, like extra stitches, loose edges, and turning chains. I left feeling more confident, one of the loveliest possible side effects of a needlework class, and spent lunchtime practicing a new-to-me stitch pattern, “crochet seed stitch.”
20130621-142501.jpgTonight, we’re looking forward to Sample It, an event that allows us to purchase samples of all kinds of new products, from yarns and patterns to bags and other accessories. That way, we can try them out before we decide to buy them for the shop. It’s always a bit of a feeding frenzy, with a long line outside the door and plenty of activity within. That long line is where I’m headed next; I’ll report back tomorrow from the market floor!

Hello, Alchemy.

We are delighted to announce that we now carry two Alchemy yarns: Silken Straw and Sanctuary.

Before we went to market in June, looking for new yarns to bring into the shop, a friend pointed us to Alchemy, a company known for their exquisitely hand-dyed silks and silk blends. That recommendation along with Clara Parkes’ glowing reviews of Alchemy Yarns meant that we had to take a look.

What we saw at Alchemy’s booth at TNNA was a riot of color and texture, a tempting array of unusual yarns and knitted garments. We spoke with Gina and Austin Wilde, the creators of Alchemy Yarns, about their fibers and dyeing process, and were delighted by their passion for both. We were particularly wowed by Silken Straw, a sport weight ribbon made of silk which, yes, feels stiff, like straw. Once Silken Straw has been knit up, washed, and worn, it softens somewhat spectacularly, and drapes in just the way you’d expect from a 100% silk yarn: beautifully. Silken Straw is a yarn like none other, and we’re thrilled to make it available at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop.

Our first Silken Straw project is this White Caps Cowl, a free pattern from the Purl Bee. Anne knit a shortened version, using just half a skein of Silken Straw and one skein of Habu Cotton Nerimaki Slub. The combination of fibers and textures makes an otherwise simple stockinette tube an intriguing accessory. I’ve been playing with color pairs, matching up the Alchemy with the Habu.

Sanctuary is a sport weight wool and silk blend that we ordered in just two colors, for they’re meant to be combined with Silken Straw in Alchemy’s shibori felted patterns. These unexpected wraps are knit in bold color blocks, then felted, which shrinks the parts knit in Sanctuary, but leaves the Silken Straw sections as they were. The result is something very special, a flat rectangle made into a sculptural garment by applying hot water and agitation.

We saw some finished shibori felted pieces at TNNA and had to bring the patterns into the shop, which meant ordering Sanctuary, too. Austin himself helped us select two colors that could go with most any of the ten colors we ordered in Silken Straw.

Come by the shop to see these delightfully unusual yarns from Alchemy! We’re just tickled to have them. Read all about Alchemy Yarns on their website, where they’ve written more about their thoughtful, labor-intensive dyeing process.

Hello, Sincere Sheep.

This past Wednesday, a box arrived at the shop that we’ve been eagerly anticipating since June. We’re proud to announce that we now carry three yarns from Sincere Sheep. Based in Northern California, Sincere Sheep produces naturally dyed yarns from U.S. sourced fibers. We met Brooke at TNNA in June and were blown away by the vivid colors she achieves with natural dyes.

I was the lucky knitter who got to play with a skein of Sincere Sheep Equity Sport while we deliberated at market. The Equity Sport is 100% Rambouillet wool, grown and spun in Buffalo, WY. I read up on Rambouillet wool in Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Book of Wool, a favorite resource, and learned that Rambouillet is a breed of sheep, a relative of Merino known for its soft, springy fiber.

Where Merino stretches and drapes, Rambouillet has a surprising sturdiness, given its softness. I used the Equity Sport to knit a sample fingerless mitt for the shop, a garment it’s well suited to. I also think it would make lovely hats and sweaters.

When we saw that there was an Equity Fingering as well, we had to get both. I think it would be perfect for colorwork projects, or on a bigger needle for draping shawls and cowls.

On the last day of market, we came back to Sincere Sheep to order a third yarn: Luminous, a dk weight blend of Tussah Silk and Polwarth wool. Polwarth is another finewool, like Merino and Rambouillet, but one with a slight sheen and greater strength from longer fibers. Luminous comes in big, 330 yard skeins, enough to do a generous scarf, cowl, or small shawl. We got two patterns from designer Kira Dulaney that call for dk weight yarn with single skeins of Luminous in mind.

Come by the shop to see these gorgeous yarns from Sincere Sheep!

Last day.

It’s our last day here at TNNA, and we each have one last class and a few last minute orders to place before we get back in the car and head home. We’ve been up late swatching potential new yarns, excitedly stitching our way through sample skeins in whatever little stitch pattern suits us at the moment. Before we pack everything up, I wanted to show you a bit of what we’ve been working on.

Such excitement in those swatches! Now off to the next thing, then we’re homeward bound.

A fashion show, a thousand things to see.

Anne and Rosi and I had another long, excitement-and-yarn-filled day here at The National NeedleArts Association Trade Show in Columbus. We got up early for some interesting classes, then hustled over to the fashion show, scoring front row seats, thanks to Rosi.

Then it was time to start walking the showroom floor, where hundreds of vendors had set up displays of their yarn, patterns, books, and accessories. I saw so many things that I’d heard of, but never seen in person, and even more that I’d never heard of at all. There were an overwhelming number of new things to see, but we made sure to visit some familiar faces, as well, to order a few new things from old friends.

After seven hours spent strolling up and down the first five or so aisles of vendors (out of at least a dozen aisles), we dragged ourselves away and back to the room to sort through the business cards and sample skeins we’d acquired throughout the day. There is so much to think about as we decide what to bring into the shop, what would please our knitters and crocheters the most, and how to fill in little gaps in our inventory. We’re having so much fun deciding! And tomorrow, we do it all again, which means that now I must rest up for another big day.

On learning something new.

This morning, I attended a class on Celtic cables taught by Melissa Leapman, knitwear designer and author of Cables Untangled, Continuous Cables, Stashbuster Knits, and Mastering Color Knitting, among many others. I’ve knit a cabled sweater or two, made a couple of pairs of Fetchings, but always working from patterns with written instructions rather than charts. I’ve never really wrestled with the logic of how cables function, never played with them much, instead filing them away under “techniques to learn some other time.” The time came this morning.

In this class, Leapman focused on larger, self-contained cable motifs rather than the vertical patterns we usually think of as cables. She taught us how to read her charts, which I was relieved to find somewhat intuitive, rather than mind-boggling, as charts sometimes are. There were unfamiliar increases and decreases to learn, as well, dramatic increases and decreases that created or got rid of many stitches at a time. These quickly increased and decreased stitches allow the cables to pull in, as cables do, without affecting the overall width of the knitted fabric. Soon I had a Celtic knot, sitting nicely on top of a reverse stockinette background: a very pleasing sight.

I left class ready to tackle a third Celtic cable, a full-page, 45 row chart that had looked rather frightening when I first paged through the handout. Now I can make (some) sense of it, all because I sat down with a group of knitters and swatched and practiced, asked questions and swatched some more. I’m so pleased to be learning something new, and to be reminded that in knitting, there is always something new to learn. Tomorrow, I’ll take another class and look forward to seeing all the vendors. Til then, I’ll swatch, and look forward to hearing about Anne and Rosi’s classes and all that they learned.

To market we go.

This morning, Anne and Rosi and I gathered at the shop, piled into the car, and set off for Columbus, Ohio, headed for The National NeedleArts Trade Show. We knit as we traveled, chatted, and peered out the window at the fields, trees, rivers and mountains we passed.

“What do you think will be this year’s find?” we asked one another, anxious to see the newest yarns, colorways, accessories, and designs. “I’m so excited!” and “I can’t wait to see Julia’s face” were common refrains from the front seat, while I sat in the back and tried to imagine a convention center packed with knitters, crocheters, and yarn aplenty. Never have I attended such an event; I can hardly wait to be as overwhelmed as they tell me I’ll be.

And now we’re here, peeking out at the city from our hotel room, looking forward to the show. I’ll report back again tomorrow after my first class!