Araucania Atacama: now on sale!

************As of October 31, 2015, we are now sold out of Araucania Atacama!************


Araucania Atacama is a 100% alpaca yarn from Chile, hand-dyed in variegated colorways. Soft and fuzzy, but no longer manufactured, we’re offering it now at a deep discount of about 45% off its original price.


Atacama’s label suggests an aran weight gauge of about 4.5 stitches per inch, but many knitters and crocheters have commented on Ravelry that it’s happier at a tighter gauge, on smaller needles or hooks. Like most yarns, Atacama can be used at a range of gauges–think about how dense or loose you’d like the resulting fabric to be, do some swatching, and choose a needle or hook size that makes a fabric that suits you and your project.


Come by the shop to snag some Araucania Atacama at this great price while it’s still in stock!


A reminder: all sales are final on discounted yarn. There can be no returns or exchanges, nor special orders–the discount applies only to what we currently have in stock. Thanks!

Mountain Colors mitten kits.

We just got in some new kits from Mountain Colors, the Montana hand-dyers that make Bearfoot. Here are the “X-Country Mitten” kits, with the pattern and yarn needed to make a cozy pair of colorwork mittens.


The yarn inside these kits is the worsted weight Mountain Goat, a lustrous blend of wool and mohair. Each kit has four little skeins of the stuff, three in hand-dyed colorways and one in cream.


The “X-Country Mitten” kits would make a great gift for any knitter, particularly a knitter who’s interested in giving stranded colorwork a try. Come by the shop to pick one up for yourself or a friend!

Back in stock: Yarn Hollow Photograph.

I was delighted to unpack a big box at the shop this week from Michigan yarn company Yarn Hollow. We carry one Yarn Hollow yarn, Photograph, a worsted weight Bluefaced Leicester wool that is hand-dyed in tonally variegated colorways, and it was that gorgeous yarn that filled this box. We’d had a special request for a particular color, which was all the excuse we needed to pick out a few other new colors and fill up on those that were running low.


There are very few patterns written expressly for this yarn, but it would be a perfect substitute for any wooly worsted weight yarn that a pattern might call for. Consider the Swans Island patterns that call for their worsted weight Organic Merino, or Berroco’s sizeable collection of free patterns calling for worsted weight yarns. Many of the single patterns in our pattern binders at the shop call for worsted weight yarns as well.


If you’re planing a project that will take more than one 250 yard skein to complete, remember that all hand-dyed yarns vary from skein to skein, even within the same dyelot. To mitigate the difference, try alternating skeins–working two rows from one ball, then two rows from another ball, back and forth to blend them together.


Come by the shop to admire Yarn Hollow Photograph and consider it for your next project!

Back in stock: Swans Island.

Along with the brand new Swans Island Organic Washable DK, we also recently stocked up on our supply of Swans Island Organic Merino in both fingering and worsted weights. At market, Melissa from Swans Island showed us these two Dyer’s Choice Limited Edition colors, Orchid and Plum, and Anne, with a slight swoon, immediately ordered them in fingering weight.


They fit nicely into the now somewhat amazing palette of rosy pinks and reds that we currently have in stock in this yarn.


Aside from those two, the other colors we ordered were familiar ones, favorites that find their way into HYS shopping bags again and again, destined for lacy shawls and scarves, cozy cowls, and special sweaters.




Meanwhile, we also doubled our stock of Swans Island Organic Merino Worsted, filling in missing colors and making sure we had enough for the Fall season.






Swans Island Organic Merino are some of the squishiest, softest merino yarns around, and the natural dyes make for truly unique and beautiful colorways. Each skein is a thing of beauty, and the result of loving, hard work by the skilled craftspeople of Swans Island Blankets. If you haven’t treated yourself to a skein of it yet, consider doing yourself the kindness. One 525 yard skein in fingering weight is enough for a scarf or shawlette, and one 250 yard skein in worsted weight is plenty for a hat and mitts, or decent-sized cowl or scarf. Look to the Swans Island pattern binder for ideas and inspiration for how to use that special skein. See you at the shop!

Hello, Swans Island Organic Washable.

For three years now, we have visited the Swans Island booth at TNNA to place orders for their exceptionally soft merino yarns which are hand-dyed in Maine. Many of our knitters have made sweaters, shawls, hats, and mitts with these yarns, then come back for more, telling us how nicely they behave on and off the needles. When we arrived at market this year to find that Swans Island had created a machine-washable yarn, we knew we had to have it.


Swans Island have made this dk weight yarn machine-washable using a new-to-the-US process called Ecowash®, which coats the yarn with an organic compound rather than stripping the scales from the fiber. This helps to prevent felting and gives the Swans Island Organic Washable a softer hand than many other superwash wools.


I knit a little baby vest for the shop using a few skeins we picked up at market,  thinking how perfectly suited this yarn is to heirloom baby knits: buttery soft, minimally processed, organic, yet still machine-washable. I alternated skeins to keep this subtly semi-solid shade from pooling, and I’m glad I did; one skein was slightly darker than the other, and working back and forth between the two balls of yarn was a painless way to blend them.


The pattern is “Cabled Vest,” from Susie Haumann’s All You Knit is Love, a collection of knits for babies ages 0-18 months. The pattern calls for two Isager yarns held together, but the gauge is 5.25 stitches per inch, which is perfectly achievable using a single strand of dk weight yarn.


Besides baby things, Swans Island Organic Washable is perfect for adult garments as well as accessories. Its round shape and plump, springy quality give it excellent stitch definition for cables and other texture patterns. One 140 yard skein is plenty for a pair of Welting Fantastic Mitts, and another two will make a matching cowlA Ravelry search sorting by gauge, looking only at patterns calling for dk weight yarns, kept me daydreaming for longer than I’d like to admit, scrolling through patterns for sweaters, shawls, and socks.


Look for the Swans Island Organic Washable yarn in the second room of the shop, sharing the spotlight with Alchemy and Smooshy with Cashmere. It’s an exciting time to visit the shop, as there seem to be new yarns arriving every week. See you there!

Hello, Frolicking Feet.

Along with all the favorite sock yarns we’ve reordered, we also picked up a brand new sock yarn: Frolicking Feet, from a small yarn company out of Maine called Done Roving.


Done Roving is a family-run business based on a farm, and they make a point of sourcing their fiber domestically when possible, and processing it in a safe and thoughtful way. Frolicking Feet is their 100% superwash merino sock yarn, a fingering weight yarn with a tight twist to create a sturdy fabric. Some skeins are hand-painted, for vibrant variegated colorways, and some are kettle-dyed, for monochromatic colorways that show the full range of a single hue, from light to dark.


Frolicking Feet, like many variegated yarns, will not stripe, but may pool in unexpected ways, depending upon how many stitches are cast on. Letting the colors fall where they may is one of the pleasures of variegated yarn, but if you’d rather have a tangible sense of what that beautiful skein might look like in a finished garment, you might search on Ravelry for projects made in Done Roving’s Frolicking Feet. You’ll find all manner of garments there, from socks and shawls to sweet baby sweaters, and see how the colorways can play out in knit and crochet projects.


Come by the shop to greet our newest sock yarn, and see these vivid colors in person–my camera just can’t capture the depth and intensity of the Indigo Purple colorway, it must be seen with one’s own eyes. See you at the shop!

Back in stock: Smooshy with Cashmere.

Another luscious fingering weight yarn arrived this week: Dream in Color’s Smooshy with Cashmere.


Smooshy with Cashmere is an aptly-named blend of 70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere, and 10% nylon. It’s hand-dyed in variegated and semi-solid colorways, deliciously soft and squishy, perfect for next-to-skin wear.


We first ordered Smooshy with Cashmere about a year and a half ago, and it quickly found its following. Some knitters have used Smooshy with Cashmere for socks, for which it’s plenty hearty, but many more have used it for openwork shawls and scarves–a Multnomah or Holden Shawlette would be perfect, and both of those patterns are available as free downloads from Ravelry.


It would be equally an lovely yarn for a special baby gift–think Purl Soho’s Little Baby Sweater or one of the sweet, simple garments from Susie Haumann’s booklet All You Knit is Love.


Come by the shop to pet the Smooshy with Cashmere and plan your next project. See you there!

Hello again, Bearfoot.

Mountain Colors is a small yarn company in Montana that has been hand-dyeing yarn for almost twenty years. We’ve stocked their sock yarn, Bearfoot, in the past; in fact, I’ve written about it here on the blog before. Recently we found ourselves with only four skeins in stock, which seemed a sad and lonesome number–time to reorder.


Bearfoot is a sturdy, fuzzy combination of 60% superwash wool, 25% mohair, and 15% nylon, hand-dyed in vivid colorways that are sometimes semi-solid, sometimes variegated. There are 400 yards on each 100 gram skein, enough for a pair of socks or fingerless mitts, a hat, scarf or shawlette.



The label recommends machine washing finished projects in Bearfoot with vinegar to prevent the bleeding that sometimes comes with richly saturated colors like these. That little bit of special treatment is not too much to ask, I think, for a handknit garment that has already had hours of needlework poured into it before it’s washed.


By all accounts, Bearfoot is worth it, especially for socks; designer Cat Bordhi highly recommended Bearfoot in a sock-design class I took from her at last year’s TNNA. I have a skein in my stash that I’ll likely pull out for my next pair of socks, enticed as I am by the combination of fibers in the yarn, which promise a warm and wooly fabric.


Come by the shop to see our new selection of Mountain Colors Bearfoot, and consider it for your next pair of socks!

Back in stock: String Theory sock yarns.

We’re pleased to announce the arrival of an armful (or two) of String Theory sock yarns. Our supply of Caper Sock and Bluestocking sadly diminished, we placed an order with the lovely Karen and Tanis, who dye these vibrant yarns in Blue Hill, Maine. We picked some new colors and some old favorites, and the result is a very tempting cubby full of colorful yarns.


Bluestocking is a lustrous sock yarn, composed of 80% superwash Bluefaced Leicester wool and 20% nylon, for durability. Because of it, Bluestocking makes a great pair of socks, but it is equally at home in a scarf or shawl, at a slightly larger gauge.


Caper Sock is a plump and springy sock yarn, composed of 80% superwash merino wool, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. The tight twist and the nylon content ensures that Caper Sock is sturdy enough to withstand the kind of wear that socks put up with, but, like Bluestocking, it’s great for other garments, as well. I’ve used Caper Sock to make a scarf, my North Arrow, because it’s so soft, I wanted it wrapped around my neck all winter.


Come by the shop to check out both of String Theory’s excellent sock yarns, as well as their Selku and Merino DK, which we also stock. See you there!


On alternating skeins.

Many of the yarns we sell are hand-dyed, which is what gives them such beautiful variation in color. From favorite companies like Malabrigo, Swans Island, Dream in Color, String Theory, Colinette, and more, some hand-dyed yarns are multicolored and variegated, others are semi-solid or tonally variegated. They can differ in many ways, but all hand-dyed yarns have one thing in common: no two skeins are exactly alike, even in the same colorway, even from the same dye lot. Sometimes this doesn’t matter: for one-skein projects, projects that combine multiple colorways in stripes or colorwork, or projects where you work with two yarns held together, you probably don’t have to worry about the difference between one skein of hand-dyed yarn and another. When you’re making a larger project, like a sweater, wrap, or blanket, the slightest difference between skeins can become apparent at the point where you change from one ball of yarn to the next. Here’s an example:


See how the bottom of the right front is darker than the rest of the sweater? That part was worked in one skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino, and the rest of the right front was worked in another skein in the same color, from the same dye lot. In a truly solid yarn, this transition would be invisible, save for the woven-in ends on the wrong side, but in a hand-dyed yarn, it can be painfully obvious.


What to do? The answer is simpler than it may sound: alternate skeins. That means working from two balls of yarn at once, knitting two rows from one, then two from the other, back and forth as if you were knitting stripes. This blends the two skeins together, so that the difference between the two isn’t so noticeable.


You don’t have to cut the yarn every time you go from one skein to the next; because your stripes are only two rows thick, you can just carry your yarn up the side of your work. Work two rows with Skein 1, then just let it hang. Pick up Skein 2, pulling it up and over Skein 1, and knit two rows from Skein 2.


When you’re done with that second row, you’ll find that Skein 1 is there waiting for you, ready to knit two more rows–no need to cut yarn, no ends to weave in.


This week, I started a sweater in String Theory Merino DK, and I’m alternating skeins every two rows even though this particular colorway, Cobalt, is very nearly solid. It’s an extra step, to be sure, but once you get in the rhythm of it, alternating skeins is no problem. Hand-knit garments are a big investment of both time and money, and we deserve to be absolutely thrilled with the result of our handiwork. Alternating skeins when knitting with hand-dyed yarn helps keep the colors consistent across a larger piece of fabric, which will likely make you happier in the long run. Give it a try if you haven’t yet, and you’ll be surprised by how simple it is!