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!

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns. Again.

We first welcomed Claudia Hand Painted Yarns to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop only a few months ago, but already it’s been such a hit that we decided to order more. We made up a few more kits for the Double Silk T-Shirt and Cardigan, replacing the color combinations that flew out of the shop when we first got them in stock. We also made up kits for the Warm Me Up pullover sweater, also knit with the Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace.

For those of you who’d like to find other uses for the Silk Lace, we’re also offering that yarn separately outside of the kit. Each shining skein is 1100 yards long, so one could easily get you through a sizeable lace shawl.

The most exciting part of the most recent Claudia shipment for me, however, was this:

A handful of new colors in the Fingering yarn. Anne generously let me pick out the colors from Claudia’s tremendous selection, and as you might have predicted, I went with the semisolid colorways instead of the variegated. These colors are vivid, rich, and complement one another nicely, if I do say so myself. Any of them would make a stellar pair of Interrupted socks, no?

Come by to see these new beauties and the rest of the Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.

Hello, Crock-O-Dye.

Recently, it became clear that we were getting low on Crock-O-Dye. Crock-O-Dye is a fingering weight yarn from Knit One Crochet Too, a variegated blend of wool, silk, and nylon. It’s meant for socks, but does just as well in a shawl, scarf, sweater, hat, or fingerless mitts… or wherever else you’d like to use fingering weight yarn. Slowly over the past half year or so, our stock went down. We ran out of the hot pink colorway, then we ran out of the sage green, then the sky blue… and then last week, suddenly we realized we had only two colors left. Time to reorder.

It’s always satisfying to replenish our inventory of any particular yarn. The colors look much happier when they’re together. Come by the shop to welcome back Crock-O-Dye, and see what else is new!

Tvinni.

Anne and I recently decided that we needed more colors of Isager Tvinni (pronounced, incidentally, “tweenie.” In case you were curious), a fingering-weight merino from Denmark. We pored over the colorcard, comparing the awe-inspiring array of available colors to our small Tvinni collection, carefully selecting those colors that would play well together and reflect a wider spectrum. Today we received a box which brought these new colors, along with six more copies of Tutto a Mano. I was forced to reorganize the Isager island, petting each yarn and sorting them by color. It’s a hard job, you know, but someone has to do it.

Take a look at our updated Tvinni collection, and see if you’re not inspired to knit it right up.

Chiffon.

Let this be my last Cascade addendum, the last of the contents of those 40 pound boxes to be introduced: say hello to a sumptuous new fingering weight yarn from Cascade, called Heritage Silk.

A few months ago, when we first ordered Heritage Silk, Anne got a single skein for us to knit up as a shop sample. That skein was passed to me, and as soon as I had wound it into a ball, I knew that I would love this yarn for socks. It’s a smooth yarn with the kind of high twist that makes for excellent stitch definition and well-wearing socks. Made from 85% no-nonsense superwash wool and 15% shiny, glamorous silk, Cascade Heritage Silk is a nice blend of basic and indulgent. I tried to knit a sock that reflected those qualities, and this is what I came up with: meet Chiffon.


Like my first sock pattern, Interrupted, Chiffon is knit from cuff to toe with a short-row heel, but is dressed up a bit with three bands of ruching. Come by the shop to see a sample of Chiffon, which you’ll find tucked into a cubby on the sock wall with the Heritage Silk yarn. Download the pattern for free on Ravelry, and please let me know what you think!

Hello, Swans Island.

I could not possibly be more excited to introduce you all to this thrilling new yarn, an organic, hand-dyed merino from the Maine-based company Swans Island.

If you’ve been in the shop in the past two days, then you know that our excitement for this yarn has been obvious, reflected not only in our squeals of delight and our ear-to-ear grins, but also in its placement: front and center on the teacart.

Swans Island Organic Merino is spun and dyed in Maine, and comes in two weights, a worsted and a fingering. The worsted is put up in 100 gram skeins with 250 yards each, while the fingering boasts 525 yards to the skein. These details blur into the background, however, when you touch this yarn. Immediately, the yarn’s main feature is obvious: it is incredibly, amazingly soft. The secret to this softness is in the gentle, minimal processing that comes with ecologically-friendly natural dyes, which you can read more about on the Swans Island website. My new hero, Clara Parkes, author of the Knitter’s Book of Wool, wrote a characteristically in-depth review of the Swans Island Worsted on her blog, Knitter’s Review–a great resource if you’re thinking of giving this yarn a try. And if you’re thinking of giving it a try but don’t know what to knit, check out the first wave of Swans Island patterns, which can be found in a binder between the two Swans Island baskets.

Myself, I’m the lucky girl who gets to knit up a shop sample with this wondrous stuff, a hat, which I’ve just cast on for. Only four rows in, I can already tell you that this yarn is a dream. I have several Swans Island sweater daydreams floating around in my head, competing with one another. I’m so excited, I have no idea which to cast on for!

Interrupted.

A customer and I were chatting recently about the joys of sock knitting. Specifically, we were waxing rhapsodic on the joys of simple sock knitting–not the intricate colorwork socks that I often daydream of, nor socks adorned with various combinations of cable twists and lace, but basic stockinette or ribbed socks. “Socks are friends,” she said, and by that I think she meant that socks need not be impressive to entertain and comfort the knitter. Simple socks can be worked up while watching a movie, or waiting at a doctor’s office, or any of the many other places we end up waiting, for that matter. When you reach for knitting to keep your hands busy, but not necessarily your mind, simple socks are often just the thing.

Interrupted is a sock pattern of my own design, which I hope will satisfy knitters looking for simple socks. Knit with the tempting Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn, these socks are simple enough to allow variegated colorways to shine and interesting enough to support a more subdued color.

The brightly-colored sock pictured above can be found at the shop, tucked into the cubby where the Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn lives. Come by the shop to inspect the sock in person, which should give you a good idea of how the yarn knits up: soft but sturdy. Download the pattern for free on Ravelry, and please let me know what you think!

Linen Stitch All Knit Scarf.

For the past month or two, Anne and I have been working on shop samples at an accelerated rate. As new yarns and kits arrive for fall, new ideas for showing them off are coming to us faster than we can knit them up. Eventually, though, we do finish them, and then proudly display them with the yarn, offering a tangible example of that yarn’s potential. Here is one such project, the Linen Stitch All Knit Scarf, which Anne and I passed back and forth, each knitting a few rows here and there until it was completed.

The Linen Stitch All Knit Scarf is available as a kit from Schaefer Yarn, and includes the pattern and three 2oz skeins of Schaefer Heather, a fingering weight blend of superwash merino, silk, and nylon. Worked in linen stitch in the round, this scarf has a woven look to it and a simple but unusual construction.

Around and around you go, never having to purl, and then at the end a small portion of your knitting is unraveled and braided to create fringe.

As I’ve mentioned here before, Schaefer Yarn names their variegated colorways after memorable women, from Elizabeth Zimmermann to Gloria Steinem to Jane Addams. Not only does each skein honor a memorable woman, each of the six color combinations honors a memorable female fiber artist: Sheila Hicks, Anni Albers, Diane Itter, Lenore Tawney, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Claire Zeisler.

Come by the shop to try on the scarf and see these beautiful colors in person, and don’t resist the urge to get lost on google image search, exploring the work of the incredible artists these kits are named for.

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns.

With August comes the new Fall yarns, and here is one of our most exciting acquisitions of the season: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, out of Harrisonburg, VA. Anne fell in love with a silk sweater she saw at TNNA in June, and the rest is history, which is to say, the makings of that silk sweater are now in the shop. We’ve put kits together with 2 skeins of the Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace in different but complimentary colorways, which are held together throughout the knitting of either a cardigan or a t-shirt. The kits include the yarn, the pattern, and a Hillsborough Yarn Shop project bag.


Obsessive sock knitter that I am, though, the real excitement for me is the Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn. Made of 100% extra fine merino, hand painted in bright variegated colorways, this yarn is squishy and soft but tightly plied, which should make for luxurious but long-wearing socks.

I’ve already knit a sample sock for the shop with this yarn, so you can get a feel for how it knits up. The pattern for said sample sock is forthcoming–a pattern of my own design, which I’m excited to release into the world as soon as I’m done editing it. Til then, you’ll be delighted to know that there are many wonderful free patterns for Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn. If you’re looking for a way to use this yarn, try Skew, Herringbone Rib Socks, or Roll Top Socks, ankle socks which actually take only one 50 gram skein. The Claudia Hand Painted Fingering yarn is about equivalent to Koigu in weight and yardage, so it’s a perfect substitute if any patterns for Koigu should happen to catch your eye.

Come by the shop to see Claudia Hand Painted yarns in person, to squeeze some skeins and admire the vivid colors!