Show and tell: mittens, sweaters, and shibori.

The two most exciting parts of a project are often the beginning and the end. At the beginning, the thrill of casting on with new yarn or trying a new technique is quite motivating. At the end, when the project is complete and whatever challenges were faced along the way have been met, the feeling of finishing is equally exhilarating. Better still: the feeling is contagious. Many of the knitters and crocheters we’ve come to know at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop bring their finished pieces to share, and it’s as much a pleasure to see as it is to show. Here are a few show-and-tell projects I’ve captured with my camera over the past few weeks.


Heather came in with a finished pair of mittens, her first, from a pattern by Susan B. Anderson: “Waiting for Winter Mittens.” She used String Theory Merino DK, a superwash merino whose hand-dyed colorways surprise and delight as you stitch; this colorway, Earthquake, revealed all kinds of colors in the knitted fabric that seemed hidden in the skein. I happen to be a big fan of String Theory Merino DK, having used it in two original designs and, more recently, a sweater.


The pattern is Amy Herzog’s “Aislinn,” albeit a heavily-modified version. Using Herzog’s tremendously handy Knit to Flatter as a guide, I shortened the body of the sweater, lowered the neckline, recalculated the waist-shaping, and added bust darts. I’m happy with the fit, and feel much more confident in making changes to existing patterns as a result of this project.


Another way to significantly change the look of the sweater is simply to change the yarn. That’s what Margie did, to stunning effect, with her “Honey” cardigan. The pattern is by Helga Isager, and it calls for a fingering weight wool in a solid color and a lace weight mohair in a variegated color.


Margie substituted Kauni Effektgarn, a self-striping sport weight wool, and a special skein of semi-solid lace weight yarn that she picked up at a fiber festival. She was careful to swatch for gauge before beginning, and altered the pattern to achieve a slimmer sleeve. Let Margie’s sweater be an inspiration to depart from the called-for yarns and make the changes necessary to create garments you love!


Wanda brought in her completed “Gemini Pullover,” knit in Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton DK. It’s been really neat to see so many finished Geminis coming in, the result of a shop knit-along that started in March. I know there are others out there on the needles now, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all grown up one day.


On Saturday afternoon, Mary came by with a completed “Simple Shibori Cowl” in Alchemy Silken Straw and Sanctuary. Delighted with the result, she’s already cast on for another, and picked up another skein of Silken Straw for yet a third cowl. This color combination is gorgeous: Silken Straw in Coco Rosie, and Sanctuary in Dark Star. I can’t wait to see Mary’s next two cowls!

Many thanks to everyone who shows-and-tells at the shop–we’re so happy to be part of this community of creative stitchers!

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.

Two top-down sweaters: show and tell.

Anne and I feel lucky to be surrounded every day by people making things, whether they’re wearing their latest creation, sharing their works in progress, or planning their next project. We’re always excited to see what clever uses our knitters and crocheters make of the yarn they get from the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, and I love to share those projects here on the blog, as well. The two most recent show-and-tell photos I’ve snapped have much in common. Both are short-sleeved sweaters, and both are knit seamlessly from the top down.


Here’s Mary in her “Charlotte Cardigan” made in Mountain Meadow Wool Cody, a sport weight organic merino that is grown, spun, and dyed in Wyoming. The pattern comes from Swans Island, and is written for their Organic Merino Worsted yarn. The suggested gauge is 17 sts = 4″, which suggests a worsted to aran weight yarn knit at a slightly open gauge for a gently draping fabric. Mary adjusted her needle size to get stitch gauge with a significantly thinner yarn, hoping for a lighter weight sweater. The resulting fabric is light and stretchy, the sweater fits just how she wanted it to, and is sure to get plenty of wear. Having been so successful, Mary has already begun another “Charlotte Cardigan” in Schulana Lambswool, and is planning two more in Ewe Ewe Wooly Worsted and String Theory Merino DK!


Here, Marion models her Gemini, a short sleeved t-shirt made in Cascade Ultra Pima, a dk weight mercerized cotton. She lengthened the sleeves a bit, as well as the ribbing on the cuffs. These kind of changes are simple to make on a top-down pullover; she simply continued knitting each sleeve past where the pattern told her to stop. No big deal as pattern modifications go, and it has a real impact on the look and fit of the finished product.

Inspired to create a top-down sweater of your own? We have single patterns in many styles, and books on the subject, as well. The Gemini pattern is available for free from Knitty, and we just happen to have some new colors in Cascade Ultra Pima. Come by the shop to plan your next project, and be sure to get in here during July to do so at a 15% discount!


Show and tell: Malabrigo Lace and more.

I’ve been steadily accumulating show-and-tell photos over the past few weeks, snapping pictures as knitters are willing and I am able. Here’s the latest batch. It’s an eclectic mix, as ever, representing the wide range of projects that we all take on: sweaters, a shawl, and a pair of intricate fingerless mitts. Two of the above happen to be made with the same yarn, the ethereal Malabrigo Lace. Let’s start there.


Malabrigo Lace is a soft and delicate single-ply yarn that lends itself to shawls, scarves, and other garments where drapey fabric is desired.


Margie’s beautiful textured shawl in Malabrigo Lace behaves in just that way, light as a feather and gently draping. It’s made even more intriguing with the variegated colorway she chose.



One might not expect to see this dainty yarn made up into fingerless mitts, where a denser fabric is often preferred. On a smaller needle, however, Malabrigo Lace makes a more cohesive fabric, and that’s exactly what Margaretta’s Malabrigo Lace mitts showcase. And what ornate mitts they are!

photo (4)

Anne has completed her Gemini in Mirasol Samp’a! It’s great to see the slight difference in fabric between her Gemini and mine; Samp’a is composed of 100% organic cotton, which is somewhat softer than the Katia Linen that I used. Come by the shop to compare the two, and let that inform your yarn selection for your own Gemini tee. Look for it hanging in the front window of the shop, and feel free to try it on for size.


I finished a sweater recently, too, as those who attended the Mountain Meadow Wool Yarn Tasting can attest. Here’s my Topeka, knit in none other than Mountain Meadow Wool Cody. Cody is perhaps the stretchiest yarn I’ve worked with, which made it easy on the hands as I knit, and has me reaching for it again as I begin my next design project.


I’m so thrilled with this simple henley pullover, and with the slightly cooler temperatures that allowed me to wear it this weekend. I’ll likely make another Topeka pullover one day, and maybe even boldly depart from my favorite color: gray.

Thanks to everyone for the fabulous show and tell, and do continue bringing your finished objects to the shop to share with us! See you there.

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.

Gemini Knit-Along.

Looking towards Spring, Anne and I have cast on for short-sleeved pullover sweaters. We are each making Gemini, a tee knit seamlessly in the round from the top down.


Designed by Jane Richmond and available for free on Knitty, Gemini is written for Katia Linen, a dk weight blend of cotton and linen. I’m making up a sample Gemini in the yarn called for, and Anne is substituting with Mirasol Samp’a, an organic cotton.


In choosing an appropriate substitute for Katia Linen, we wanted to be sure that Anne would be able to get the gauge that the pattern calls for, and that the resulting fabric would behave similarly to the fabric that Katia Linen creates. That means picking a plant fiber, like cotton, linen, hemp, tencel, or bamboo, as all of those fibers have a tendency to stretch and drape. Richmond’s design takes that into account, and she suggests that the knitter pick a finished size about 4″ smaller than their own bust size. In an elastic fiber, like wool, 4″ of negative ease would make for a snug fit, but in a plant fiber, which lacks elasticity, it means a nice, easy fit, not too loose and not too tight.


Want to make a Gemini of your own? Join us in this informal Knit-Along. We have a nice selection of colors in both Katia Linen and Mirasol Samp’a, and even more when you consider the many other good substitutes that are available: Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy and Cotton Frappe, Cascade Ultra Pima, Berroco Pure Pima, Queensland Haze, Tahki Cotton Classic, Sublime Organic Cotton DK and Soya Cotton DK, Katia Degrade, and many more. Come by the shop to see our Geminis-in-progress and we’ll help you find the perfect yarn to knit your own spring top.