Shetland show and tell.

Here’s another bunch of show and tell! All of these projects started their lives as yarns here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, and all those yarns have something in common: they’re all composed of 100% Shetland wool, the somewhat prickly stuff that I love so much. It’s not merino-soft, but Shetland wool maintains its shape over time, even as it softens with washing and wearing. Let’s see how these Hillsborough Yarn Shoppers are using it.


Paula came in recently with her finished “Solo,” knit from a Hanne Falkenberg kit. Those of you who have tackled Falkenberg kits know what an accomplishment this is; Falkbenberg’s signature Shetland yarn is a fine gauge, all in garter stitch, which can feel tedious after a while. What’s more, her designs are cleverly, unconventionally constructed, and it’s important to have a good system for tracking row count, increases and decreases. Paula worked diligently on the knitting and the note-keeping, making her “Solo” a real success!


Paula had another bit of Shetland show and tell with her that day, a fair isle tam knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.


The pattern is from Mary Rowe’s Knitting Tams, a collection of fair isle tams that Paula is finding somewhat addictive. She left the shop after this visit with the makings of at least two more tams, which I hope I can share with you here on the blog as they’re completed.


I recently finished a Shetland sweater, myself, which you wont be surprised to learn is from Kate Davies’ Yokes, a book I can’t stop talking about.


I knit this “Cockatoo Brae” cardigan in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, which behaved perfectly in the colorwork and showed no inclination to unravel after I cut the steek.


My only modifications to the pattern were a change in colorway and in buttonband construction. I used Anna Zilboorg’s “perfect buttonhole” technique, from her Knitting for Anarchists and Splendid Apparel books, which was somewhat fiddly but entirely worthwhile. I practiced reinforcing and cutting the steek on my swatch, then picked up along the cut edge to work a few practice buttonholes, which helped me get the hang of it.



A few months ago, I wrote about our ever-expanding selection of colors in Shetland Spindrift, and how each new group of shades reminds me of a particular knitter and project they were special-ordered for. I was so delighted when Anne sent me this photo of one of those projects, now completed. Here’s Stan in his striped sweater, a self-designed recreation of a favorite, well-worn sweater. He dropped in the other day with process swatches for another Shetland project in the works… I can’t wait to see what he makes next.


A hearty thanks to all the fiber artists who start their projects here and share their work with us! We love to see our yarns grow up into finished garments, and are so inspired by the work you do. See you at the shop!

Another day at TNNA.

One of the great opportunities at TNNA is to take classes with skilled designers and teachers in the field of fiber arts. This morning, Anne and Rosi tried spinning with Nancy Shroyer, and Amy and I had classes with Lily Chin and Cat Bordhi, respectively. After two educational hours, we headed back to the showroom floor to continue shopping.  We had to stop by Baa Ram Ewe, of course, having become obsessed with their new Dovestone yarn. I’m hoping to use it to knit “Epistrophy,” from Kate Davies’ Yokes, and was delighted to find exactly that sweater hanging on the rack in the booth, in exactly that yarn, of course.   Yarn Hollow attended TNNA for the first time this year, and we stopped in to order a few new colors in Photograph.   From there, we wandered the showroom floor, taking it all in, and discovering exciting new products that we can’t wait to bring into the shop. We even ran into Clara Parkes, of Knitters Review, and chatted about our favorite new yarns for this coming season. It’s always a pleasure to get her take on these things, and a treat to do it in conversation with Clara herself.

 Somewhere along the way, we came across this display of Anna Zilboorg’s swatches and samples from her Splendid Apparel book. We’re looking forward to seeing her at the shop this coming Thursday, June 4th, for an informal book-signing and perfect buttonhole tutorial. We’d love to have you join us and meet Anna; sign up for this free event on our website! 

Splendid Apparel.

Designer Anna Zilboorg’s latest book is here! Meet Splendid Apparel: a Handbook of Embroidered Knits.


Zilboorg is local enough to visit our shop a few times a year, and even led a workshop here back in 2011. She taught what must have been the beginnings of this book: a bit of embroidery, and a bit of her signature almost-seamless panel sweater construction.


Splendid Apparel is an exhaustive resource on those subjects, showing how to embellish knit fabric of all kinds, from ribbing and lace to twisted stitches and cables. Zilboorg thoughtfully includes embroidery instructions for both right- and left-handed people.


The sweaters are intricate, colorful, and richly textured.


Zilboorg makes good use of HYS yarns like String Theory Merino DK, Berroco Ultra Alpaca and Ultra Alpaca Light.



Check out Splendid Apparel next time you’re in the shop, and while you’re at it, take a look at Zilboorg’s other books: Knitting for Anarchists and Magnificent Mittens & Socks.


See you at the shop!

Knitting Traditions.

The latest issue of Knitting Traditions is here, beckoning from the teacart.


Many of us already anticipate the twice-yearly publication of Knitting Traditions, eager to get our hands on this history-filled magazine. For those of you who haven’t picked up a copy before: Knitting Traditions looks at the craft from a historical perspective, focusing on techniques and styles from all over the world and across time. There are patterns informed by these traditions as well, but for me what sets this magazine apart from the others is all the good reading material.




There is one pattern that jumped out at Anne and I, an aran vest designed by Anna Zilboorg, featuring her “perfect buttonhole.”


Come by the shop to get this latest issue of Knitting Traditions, and peruse the Spring knitting and crochet magazines. See you there!

Julia shows and tells.

I first wrote about the Shenandoe Farm angora goat yarn back in April, when I introduced the local yarns nook and waxed rhapsodic about this rustic,  undyed yarn. It wasn’t long after I finished that cabled hat that I started on a sweater out of the same yarn. Now that I’ve completed said sweater, I thought it might be time for some show and tell.

My sweater was inspired first by designer Anna Zilboorg, who described a method of sweater construction at a workshop in February that pretty much blew my mind. A seamless sweater, knit in flat pieces? With set-in sleeves, shaped simply, like drop-shoulder sleeves? I had to try it. Luckily, Nancy was teaching a class at the shop on this same method while I was wading through the process on my own, so I had a chance to pick her brain on the subject every other week. Not to mention, I eavesdropped on her students as they tackled their own Zilboorg-style sweaters. The side panels, made of stitches picked up at the armpit, were the topic of many a brainstorm session. For those curious: an armpit detail.

I can’t say how rewarding it is to take on a knitting challenge like this and come out with a finished garment, and how exciting to watch others do the same. I can’t wait to see Nancy’s students’ finished sweaters, as every one of them designed their own unique garment using different stitch patterns, yarns, and colors. That’s one of the pleasures of knitting classes, after all–to see the many variations that are possible for a given pattern or idea.

And what am I up to now? I’m challenging myself to another self-designed sweater, with another recently-raved-about yarn: Marion Foale 3-ply wool.

Hope your weekend provided some good knitting time, too. See you at the shop!

Anna Zilboorg.

About a month ago, on Valentine’s Day, the Hillsborough Yarn Shop hosted designer Anna Zilboorg for a special workshop on embellishing knitted garments with embroidery. As the class was much larger than our usual groups of four to six, we met at the public library to learn embroidery from Anna.

The workshop was inspired by an incredible embroidered sweater that Anna wore into the shop one day. Anne and everyone else who happened to witness this sweater requested a class from Anna, and happily, she agreed.

Anna’s sweater features a twisted stitch pattern from one of Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries, striking embroidery along the traveling stitches, and the most perfect handknit buttonhole I’ve seen. The directions for this buttonhole are in Anna Zilboorg’s Knitting for Anarchists, a fantastic resource.

It was a truly wonderful day, spent learning new techniques and admiring the talent of not only Anna Zilboorg herself, but also all of the knitters gathered to learn from her. I have no doubt that everyone left newly inspired, ready to embellish, experiment, and invent. Myself, I left inspired to pull a few favorite knitting resource books down from the shelf. Anna’s sweater construction has really stayed with me since the workshop, and design ideas are percolating…
Those of you who are sorry to have missed the workshop can still get in on the Zilboorg craze that has swept the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We carry Anna Zilboorg’s books, Knitting for Anarchists and Magnificent Mittens & Socks, as well as the Jan/Feb issue of PieceWork, which features Anna’s pattern for embroidered socks. Additionally, Nancy will soon be leading a knit-along at the shop for those interested in designing a sweater using Anna Zilboorg’s method, a truly unique construction that wowed us all at the workshop. Check out the course description on the shop website if you’re interested.