Show and tell: sweaters and cowls.

Here are a few more show and tell projects, sweaters and cowls that were recently completed and brought into the shop to share.


Mara showed up at the shop wearing this tank top she knit with Berroco Touche, a worsted weight blend of cotton and rayon. She was excitedly shopping for yarn, Birthday Club postcard in hand, but I had to interrupt her to take her picture. The pattern is Pennekamp, one of the many free patterns available from Berroco’s website–a great resource. I love the color, and the reminder that handknits are wearable year-round, even into the heat of summer, if the fiber and design are right.


Abby brought in this sweet little sweater she recently finished knitting, modeled on a favorite store-bought sweater that has already been passed down from her older daughter to her youngest. This new hand-knit iteration is made in three shades of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, and designed by Abby herself, with some guidance from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.


Here’s another top-down sweater: Molly’s recently-finished Gemini pullover. She used the dk weight Katia Linen yarn that the pattern calls for, and the result is a lightweight fabric that’s cool to the touch, perfect for summer wear. Like many Gemini-knitters, Molly plans on adding a single crochet border to the neckline in an effort to stabilize it and minimize stretching.


Margie made these two cowls using the free Abstract Leaves Cowl pattern. The purple cowl is knit with Marion Foale 3-ply Wool, a solid-color fingering weight yarn. The gray and white cowl is knit with Malabrigo Lace, a lace weight single ply merino. Seeing these two side-by-side is a great illustration of how one pattern can be used to create very different-looking garments just by using different yarns. Though the fiber content of the two yarns is similar, they differ greatly from there–different stitch definition, different coloration, different gauge, different drape, a different look entirely. Margie’s cowls are intended as gifts, and it’s a great gift pattern for knitters who are low on time, or yardage–a mere 125 yards of lace or fingering weight yarn are called for.

Thanks to all these knitters for their show and tell, and thanks to everyone who starts, continues, and completes their projects at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop! We love to see what you create with our yarns.

Show and tell.

Time for another round of show and tell, where I get to show off all the incredible things folks are making with yarns from HYS. I’m always pleased by the variety of projects you all are working on, from skirts to scarves, from sweet knits for babies and children to sophisticated garments for adults.


Abby knit this three tier skirt for her daughter’s fifth birthday, then kindly brought her in to model it for us. The yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima, a dk weight cotton that is sure to stand up to all the twirling and playing and other five-year-old wear-and-tear that it’s meant for. 



Robin sent us this photo to share a pair of baby blankets she made for a soon-to-be-born set of twins. The pink one was made with Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Superwash, and the blue one was made with Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran. Both are soft, squishy, machine-washable wools that are perfect for cuddly blankets like these.


Margie saw the Argosy scarf hanging on the wall at the shop and decided she wanted to make one. Not two weeks later, she had finished two Argosy scarves, one in Noro Matsuri and one in Noro Silk Garden Light. Both dk weight yarns self-stripe in those signature Noro colorways, but Matsuri is mostly cotton, with a bit of wool, and Silk Garden Light is a blend of wool, silk, and mohair.


The results are slightly different in terms of stitch definition, but equally striking, with their diagonal stripes and geometric openwork. Want to make an Argosy scarf of your own? Amy is teaching a class on the subject in July, where you’ll learn chart-reading, lace, cable cast-on, and other skills. Read more about it and sign up on our website!


Pat fell in love with this color of Araucania Chacabuco, a textured bulky weight cotton yarn, but wasn’t quite sure what to make with it. She took it home, found a simple poncho pattern, knit it up, and then came back to show us what she’d come up with. Because of the boucle texture of this yarn, a simple stockinette stitch is all that’s needed to show it off; the yarn is interesting enough without a complicated stitch pattern. The resulting garment is soft and surprisingly lightweight for such a thick cotton–a success.

Thanks to all the knitters and crocheters who share their work with us! Over and over again, Anne and I are wowed by what you create. Keep the show and tell coming!

Citrus coasters.

Those of you who have visited our shop are likely well acquainted with our set-up: one of each color and kind of yarn out on the shelves, more of each in the back if you need it. There are exceptions to that rule, however; if you’ve ever seen a capital letter “L” written on a yarn’s label, you may already know that “L” stands for “last,” as in, that’s the last skein we have in that color.


Our Going to Market Sale has produced a lot of “L”s in Debbie Bliss and Noro yarns; what to do with those small quantities once you’ve gone and fallen in love with the color? One lone skein can become a stripe in a larger project, of course, but sometimes it’s enough for a small project of its own. Here’s one idea.


Last week, after I finished my first crochet project, I was so excited that I started another (much smaller!) crochet project: coasters. There are plenty of free patterns for crocheted coasters on Ravelry, and a more experienced crocheter might not even require a pattern, but I was happy to have some instructions to guide me. I settled on Citrus Coaster, a simple pattern which made use of the few stitches I already knew and taught me a few more, too. I used Debbie Bliss Eco Baby, a sport weight organic cotton with 136 yards on each 50 gram ball.


I made myself a set of four in two evenings, not because I’m so speedy with a hook, but because they’re such small pieces, measuring about 4.5″ across.


Each coaster weighs between 7 and 9 grams, so one skein can easily make a set of four, perhaps even six, though your yardage may vary depending upon your tension. At any rate, I thought it was a novel way to make use of one small skein, and could make a nice little gift, too.


Debbie Bliss Eco Cotton, the aran weight version of Eco Baby, would also make nice coasters or dishcloths, and a quick search on Ravelry for free crochet coaster patterns reveals that there are plenty of choices in aran weight yarns, too. During our Going to Market Sale, all things Debbie Bliss and Noro are 25% off, so come by before June 19th to take advantage of the discount!


Some reminders:

  • All sales are final on discounted yarns; no returns nor exchanges
  • Discount applies only to in-stock yarns; no special orders

Thanks for understanding!

On blankets, and learning to crochet.

Recently I finished making a blanket, the largest project I’d ever attempted. It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it might, in part because I became a little obsessed with working on it, and in part because of how I made it: crochet. I’m just learning to crochet, finding my way around a whole new language of stitches and abbreviations. It’s been a delightful experience so far, learning so many new things and being encouraged by the quick growth of my blanket. Having grown used to the slow, deliberate pace of knitting over the past six years or so, I was surprised and excited by how quickly crochet moves by comparison.


The color combination is crazy, I know, especially coming from someone who often professes a great love of gray. To choose these crazy colors, I went through my stash and pulled out all the superwash wools. Between all the odds and ends and extra skeins leftover from projects past, I had a little over half the yarn I needed to make a medium-sized blanket. So, I did what anyone starting a scrap project does; I went shopping for more “scraps.”


I started out thinking I’d use only sport and dk weight yarns, but a bit of worsted and even a few skeins of aran weight made their way into it and didn’t seem to affect the gauge much at all. The thicker yarns made puffier stitches, a slightly more dense fabric, but for my purposes, they were happy among the many other weights. Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, Cashmerino DK, Cashmerino Aran, and Rialto DK all made an appearance, along with Cascade 220 Superwash Sport, Berroco Pure Merino, Mission Falls 1824 Wool, and String Theory Merino DK, to name a few.

I only switched colors at the end of a skein, and then held the end together with my next color for a few stitches. This creates a few marled spots here and there where the colors mingle together. It meant I didn’t have to weave in any ends, and ensured that I used every last inch of yarn–no more scraps.


I had so much fun creating this wild-looking thing, throwing colors together that I’d normally keep far apart, and using up so much yarn that had sat around for so long. If you’re interested in taking on a similar project, I highly recommend it–go through your stash, figure out what you’ve got, and come to the shop to get the rest of the “scraps” you need! This tutorial got me started on the granny ripple stitch pattern. From there, you can make a granny ripple piece in any dimension you like; mine measures about 49″ x 65″, and used about 1,250 grams of wool, mostly in sport and dk weights.


It’s a good time to be shopping for yarn in blanket-making quantities, as all our Debbie Bliss and Noro yarns are 25% off until June 19th for our Going to Market Sale. With one colorful crocheted blanket under my belt, I find myself looking at these baskets differently, thinking of how good all the colors look together. Blankets can free you up that way–you don’t have to consider what you’ll wear these colors with, or how they look with your face, or whether the last four sweaters you made were in the same color family. Just pick what pleases you, and plan on curling up in it when it’s done.


Come by the shop to plan a blanket of your own, take advantage of the Going to Market Sale, and browse our ever-growing collection of crochet books. See you there!




Some reminders:

  • All sales are final on discounted yarns; no returns nor exchanges
  • Discount applies only to in-stock yarns; no special orders

Thanks for understanding!

Going to Market Sale!

Every year, we attend the National Needle Arts trade show and market, a gathering place for yarn companies and retailers, and a time for placing Fall and Winter orders. As we prepare to go to market, we offer a sale for the three weeks before our trip: a Going to Market Sale.

This year, all yarns and booklets by Debbie Bliss and Noro are discounted by 25% between Friday, May 24th, and Wednesday, June 19th.


Between Debbie Bliss and Noro, we’ll have over 50 yarns on sale in all kinds of weights, colors, and textures.


These yarns lend themselves to a great variety of projects, from shawls and scarves to socks and sweaters, from baby things and blankets to dishcloths and market bags.


There’s truly something for every knitter and crocheter here, so do stop by between May 24th and June 19th to see all the fabulous yarn we’ve discounted!


Some reminders:

  • All sales are final on discounted yarns; no returns nor exchanges
  • Discount applies only to in-stock yarns; no special orders

Thanks for understanding!

Show and tell: sweaters, scarves, and cowls.

So many amazing finished pieces have been finding their way to the shop lately that a backlog of show-and-tell photos has accumulated on my camera. Without further ado: here are some of the things that we and the knitters around us have been busily creating!


Anne recently completed Lemon, a short-sleeved sweater designed by Helga Isager. Lemon is unusually and cleverly constructed, beginning with center panels on the front and back, from which stitches are picked up to work the sides and short sleeves. It’s decorated with lateral braids and welts, little details that make for a unique design.


The pattern calls for Isager Spinni, a single-ply lace weight wool, but Anne substituted Isager Tvinni, a 2-ply wool in a light fingering weight. The finished garment is remarkably lightweight because of the tiny gauge, a perfectly fitting sweater and quite an achievement.


I finished a sweater recently, too: here’s Gemini, a free pattern from Knitty, made in Katia Linen. I’m so pleased with how this linen/cotton blend blocked, softening the fibers and smoothing out inconsistencies in the tension.


I’m also happy to report that it fits nicely; not tight at all, though I took a leap of faith and knit it with the suggested 4″ of negative ease. It’s hanging now at the shop for anyone who’d like to try it on for size. This was a quick knit, and it’s not too late to join our informal Gemini Knit-Along!


Here, Francesca models a jacket she made out of Debbie Bliss Donegal Chunky Tweed. She’d already made one from this free pattern using a thicker, textured yarn and was disappointed by how dense the fabric was. This time around, she’s delighted by the beautiful drape of the Donegal Chunky Tweed. Finding the right yarn for a project makes all the difference!



Margie brought in this lovely lace scarf to show us; a gift for a friend. She made it using the soft and tweedy Fibre Company Acadia, and a free pattern, Christmas Lace. After the knitting was complete, she carefully sewed a few beads in to add a bit of sparkle.


Debbie came in a few weeks ago wearing this gorgeous White Caps Cowl, made in Alchemy Silken Straw and Habu Cotton Nerimaki Slub. The pattern photos show this cowl in a subtle white-on-white colorway, but I love the way it works up when the stripes are a little more visible, as Debbie has done by choosing similar, but not identical colors in each yarn.

Thanks to everyone for the amazing show and tell! I’m so inspired by all that you create.

Celebrating Family.

Another new Debbie Bliss booklet has made its way to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop.

Celebrating Family, as the name suggests, is a collection of knitting patterns for babies, children, and adults. All of the patterns call for sport-weight yarns, either Debbie Bliss Eco Baby, an organic cotton, or Cashmerino Baby, a machine-washable blend of merino wool and cashmere.

Find Celebrating Family on the teacart, and Debbie Bliss Eco Baby and Cashmerino Baby yarns on the shelf just beyond it.

Vogue Knitting.

Another Spring knitting magazine has found us.

The Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Vogue Knitting is brimming with shawls and shells, tunics and tees. This one is made with Debbie Bliss Eco Baby yarn, a sport-weight organic cotton, and I think it makes good use of the available colors, which play so well together.

Find the magazine on the teacart and the yarn on the shelf. See you at the shop!

Hello, Rialto Lace.

When the Spring/Summer issue of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine arrived last month, we noticed that several of the patterns called for a brand new Debbie Bliss yarn: Rialto Lace. Debbie Bliss’s Rialto line of yarns are all composed of springy 100% superwash merino wool, and we’ve had great luck at the shop with three weights: Rialto Aran, Rialto DK, and Rialto 4-ply, which I’ve used for many pairs of socks and one crazy sweater. The Rialto yarns are soft to the touch, wear well, wash easily, and have beautiful stitch definition. The mere existence of a lace-weight Rialto yarn meant that we had to have it at the shop, and so, of course, Anne ordered it.

This week, Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace arrived, and with it, a Rialto Lace booklet, which shows the yarn made up in sweaters as well as shawls. 

Take a peek at this new yarn and browse through the book for inspiration. You can find them both on the teacart.


We’re often asked if we know a good cowl pattern, or have a book of them. This request has been particularly common in the past month or so, so I thought I’d give a virtual version of my in-shop answer. A book of cowls: unfortunately, no. A good cowl pattern: here are four, and all the better because they are free.

To some, a cowl is a tube designed to fit closely around the neck, almost like a dickey. A turtleneck detached from its sweater. Here is one such cowl, in simple 2×2 ribbing, knit with the soft and slightly shiny Debbie Bliss Andes, a dk weight blend of alpaca and silk. The pattern is available at the shop–just ask for the Andes cowl.

To others, a cowl is a long loop of a scarf, designed to be wrapped around the neck twice. We have two cowls that meet this description, the first of which is available online, and the second, at the shop. Meet the Big Herringbone Cowl (above) and the Moebius Cowl (below). We used a worsted-weight merino/silk blend and a mohair/silk blend, respectively.

Somewhere between the two shapes is this newest cowl, knit from String Theory Merino DK. The Purl Ridge Cowl pattern is also available as a free pattern from the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, as of Thursday afternoon, when I bound off, wove in the ends, and immediately tried it on. Cozy.

My challenge to you: choose a color.

String Theory, as I have gushed several times in as many weeks, does incredible things with yarn and dye. My photographs don’t do it justice. Come and see the stuff with your own two eyes!