Handywoman.

I’m delighted to announce that Kate Davies’ newest book has arrived at the shop!

Handywoman is Davies’ memoir of a life of craft, one shaped by a stroke she suffered at age 36. Her brain injury changed how she saw and moved through the world, and how she made her living in it. Hers is a story of adaptivity and creativity, one I’ve followed for years on her blog.

Kate Davies is a knitwear designer and writer who I very much admire, for her traditional-looking, smartly-crafted patterns as well as her academic approach to textiles. Her books often blend knitting patterns and prose, and I’ve been a fan of both those elements, knitting sweater after sweater as avidly as I’ve read her essays on textiles and history. I’m keenly looking forward to reading what she has to say about her own life, and about disability in general. Her recent and fascinating TEDx talk is a good preview of her approach to the subject matter, and definitely worth watching.

I find it especially impressive that Davies has brought Handywoman into the world under her own publishing imprint, expanding the scope of Kate Davies Designs from pattern books to include narrative-based books like this one. Her blog post about the process of creating Handywoman is interesting and inspiring, and shows just how much work goes into making books, from writing and design to printing and promotion.

Along with this new book, we’ve restocked some of our favorite Davies titles: Colours of Shetland, Yokes, Happit, and West Highland Way. Come by to peruse them all, especially if you’re unfamiliar with her work – she’s truly a unique voice in the world of knitwear, one with an important perspective to share.

Look for Handywoman on the teacart here at the shop!

West Highland Way.

Delighted to announce that Kate Davies’ newest book is here!

West Highland Way is a stunning collection of patterns and essays inspired by the Scottish long-distance walking route it’s named for.

Landmarks along this route are marked with musings from Davies and a garment inspired by said landmark. “Còinneach,” a favorite cardigan of mine, is named for a hill overlooking Loch Lomond, for example.

Kate Davies is a knitwear designer and writer who I very much admire, for her traditional-looking, smartly-crafted patterns as well as her academic approach to textiles.

West Highland Way is exactly the kind of book we’ve come to expect from Davies: rich in cultural and historical information, lovingly produced, and bursting with photography as beautiful as the knitwear.

Come by the shop to browse the latest books as well as our older favorites; we keep many of Davies’ books in stock. See you there!

Hello, Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond is one of the newest yarns here at the shop, a colorful tweed from BC Garn in Denmark.

Loch Lomond is a 2-ply wool, a loosely-plied yarn with tweedy flecks whose label suggests needles between US 6 and 8 for a gauge of 4.5 stitches per inch. With 170 yards per 50 gram skein, Loch Lomond is light for a worsted weight, its gauge category as assigned by Ravelry.

As I unpacked our first BC Garn order, Anne and I surveyed the fine-looking yarn in front of us and the big-looking gauge on the label and raised an eyebrow each. Maybe it would grow or bloom with washing and blocking, we said to one another. There was nothing to do but swatch.

I got that happy assignment, and began knitting on US 6 needles, then switched to 7, then to 8, wanting to show the manufacturer’s suggested gauges. That swatch gave me a range of fabrics, with gauges of 5 stitches per inch, 4.75 stitches per inch, and 4.5 stitches per inch, respectively. All three are a little loose for my taste, so I knit a separate swatch on a US 5, which is my favorite of the group.

Anne had been eyeing Loch Lomond for Kate Davie’s popular “Carbeth,” a pullover knit with 2 strands of DK weight yarn held together throughout for a bulky gauge. I knit a third swatch with this pattern in mind, holding Loch Lomond double on a US 10.5 needle, which didn’t quite give me gauge for the pattern, though probably a 10 would do it.

The fibers did bloom with washing and blocking, filling in the empty spaces between stitches a bit, and the lightweight fabric that results is soft to the touch and pretty cohesive even on the larger needle sizes. As ever, the right needle size and pattern for this yarn depends upon what kind of fabric you want to get out of it; for a sturdy sweater, I’d aim for a DK gauge of 5.5 stitches per inch or so, but for an airy shawl, the worsted to aran gauges of 5 – 4.5 stitches per inch and more open fabric would be lovely. Consider Churchmouse’s “Easy Folded Poncho,” Jared Flood’s “Guernsey Wrap” at the DK gauge, Heidi Kirrmaier’s “Climb Every Mountain,” Hannah Fettig’s “Schoodic Cardigan,” and Carrie Bostick Hoge’s “Lucinda.”

Come by the shop to see and feel these swatches, or pick up a skein of Loch Lomond and make some swatches of your own!

Happit.

We’re delighted to have Kate Davies’ newest book on our shelves!

Happit is a small collection of shawls and cowls, paired with a couple of essays by Davies, whose writing about knitting and history is as impressive as her design work.

Several of these designs call for yarns we stock here at the shop. “Fantoosh,” the lace shawl on the cover, is knit with Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply, a hand-dyed yarn we keep in good supply. The two cowls, “Funchal Moebius” and “Betty Mouat Cowl” are made with CoopKnits Socks Yeah!, a favorite easy-care fingering weight wool. We just got a handful of new colors in that yarn – look for a blog post on the subject soon!

Happit makes a lovely addition to our Kate Davies collection, and a good introduction to her work if you’re not yet acquainted with her. Look for it on the teacart here at the shop!

Inspired by Islay.

Kate Davies’ newest book is now on our shelves. Let’s take a peek inside Inspired by Islay.

Kate Davies is a knitwear designer and writer who I very much admire, for her traditional-looking, smartly-crafted patterns as well as her academic approach to textiles. Her books are always good reads as well as good knits, putting her work in a larger historical and cultural context, and bursting with glorious photography by her talented partner, Tom Barr. 

The book features a collection of designs inspired, as the title suggests, by the Scottish island of Islay, a place of personal importance to Davies. She also enlisted the help of a geologist, wildlife photographer, and Gaelic heritage consultant, among others, to paint a rich portrait of the island. Read more about the fascinating process behind the book on Davies’ blog.

Look for Inspired by Islay on the teacart here at the shop. We also keep Davies’ other titles in stock: The Book of Haps, Buachaille, Yokes, and Colors of Shetland.

See you at the shop!

The Book of Haps.

Kate Davies’ newest book came out a couple of months ago, and though we had it in stock, it sold out quickly and never made it to the blog. With new copies on the teacart, I’m here to right that. Here’s The Book of Haps.

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As Davies defines it, “hap” is a Scottish dialect word for a simple shawl or wrap. The emphasis is on functionality and everyday wear, though of course these garments can also be quite pleasing to the eye.

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The patterns in this collection are not all Davies’ own; designers Bristol Ivy, Martina Behm, Carol Feller, Romi Hill, Gudrun Johnston, and Veera Välimäki have all contributed hap variations, among many talented others.

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Look for The Book of Haps here at the shop, along with the rest of Davies’ ouvre. See you there!

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Show and tell: stripes and colorwork.

We’re back with another round of show and tell! Here are some of the finished projects we’ve had the good fortune to admire lately, all of whom began as yarn on our shelves. Today, let’s look at projects featuring stripes and colorwork.

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Paula knit this “Chevron Baby Blanket” with Berroco Modern Cotton, modifying the pattern a bit to knit at a slightly smaller gauge. She swatched to figure out how wide each pattern repeat would be with her yarn, then added stitches to her cast-on so that her blanket would come out the desired size.

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Paula also finished this “wwwww #1” recently, a lined headband by Kate Davies. Paula used Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift for the colorwork exterior, and soft-as-can-be Shibui Maai for the lining. Nicely done, Paula!

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Margaretta recently knit Elizabeth Zimmermann’s classic “Baby Surprise Jacket” with Fibre Company Canopy Worsted, and used her leftovers to make a “Boston Whaler” hat. I love her unexpected combination of sage green, steely gray, and bright fuschia, especially with those perfect pink buttons!

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Margaretta has also been working on General Hogbuffer’s “Slippery Slope Socks,” using the solid CoopKnits Socks Yeah! and the self-striping Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball. Since I snapped this picture of the first finished sock, she’s completed the pair, and plans to make another with different colors.

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Judie’s “Wildheart” shawl was also knit with self-striping yarn, Cutthroat Yarn Gradient BFL. She added a picot bind-off to an otherwise unadorned edge; a little something that I think makes the whole shawl shine.

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Thanks to the talented knitters who shared their work with us today, and to all the fiber artists who begin their projects here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We love seeing what you’re working on!

Buachaille.

We’re big fans of designer Kate Davies around here. We keep her Colors of Shetland and Yokes on the shelf at the shop, and I knit from them and daydream about them often. Throughout the last months of 2015, we followed along on Davies’ blog as she created her own yarn and developed new designs for that yarn. Her newest book, Buachaille, collects those designs, and we’re delighted to have a stack of copies on the teacart.

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Though I think of Kate Davies as a sweater designer, these patterns are all for small accessories.

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Hats, mitts, mittens, slippers, cowls, even felted bracelets can be found within this book, and for some, Davies offers two versions–one decorated with stripes, and another with stranded colorwork.

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We don’t carry Kate Davies’ Buachaille yarn, but we do have some good substitutes in the DK weight section at the shop. Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone is a blend of British wools with the same 2 ply structure and a similar look, in saturated solid colors. For a DK weight with a bit more drape, consider Fibre Company Acadia, with its soft alpaca and tweedy silk content. A machine washable wool like Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK would work well here, too, perhaps especially for the house slippers. Buachaille shows a DK weight yarn knit up at a range of gauges, but as long as you’re getting the gauge the pattern calls for and a fabric you like, you can confidently substitute yarns.

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Buachaille is so much more than a book of knitting patterns, which should come as no surprise, given its author. Kate Davies’ books are always good reads as well as good knits, and this one ups the ante with traditional Scottish recipes. Pick up Buachaille for a glimpse at the beautiful Scottish Highlands that Kate Davies calls home.

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Look for it on the teacart here at the shop!

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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook.

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Meet Felicity Ford’s Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. This special book is not a collection of patterns, but rather a manifesto on design.

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Within it, Felicity Ford shares her particular system of translating inspiring images into colorwork knitting, from selecting colors and designing charts to swatching, evaluating your swatches, and applying your designs to knitted garments.

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This is a beautiful book, and one about which you may already have heard rave reviews. When it first came out, Kate Davies did a lovely write-up on her blog, as did Clara Parkes and Ysolda Teague. All three are in agreement: Ford’s Sourcebook is an inspiring one because it is so particular to its author.  It’s an interesting and galvanizing read, one that had me itching to pull out my colored pencils and Knitter’s Graph Paper Journal, and dive headfirst into a basket of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.

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The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook began as a Kickstarter project, with designer Felicity Ford seeking crowd-funding to self-publish the book. Though the subject and her approach are somewhat esoteric, Ford found many supporters, making the book a resounding success. We’re proud to stock it here at the shop, and in fact, are on our third reorder.

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Look for The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook on the teacart, amongst the latest books and magazines, and look to our class listings for more opportunities to learn about stranded colorwork. See you at the shop!