Alchemy kits.

Our Roadside Beanie Kits aren’t the only new kit in the shop – we’ve also made up kits featuring Alchemy yarns and patterns, designed and lovingly hand-dyed by designer Gina Wilde. These are truly unique yarns made of luxurious silk, sometimes blended with merino wool, sometimes with an added metallic sparkle.

The lacy “Simple Shibori Cowl” is knit with Alchemy Silken Straw and Sanctuary in a straightforward feather and fan pattern, then (gulp) thrown into the washing machine to be felted. The Sanctuary felts because of its merino wool content, shrinking into a fuzzy, velvety stripe whose individual stitches are no longer distinguishable. Meanwhile, the Silken Straw stretches out, becoming softer and draping gently.

The “Sparky Serpentine Scarf” is simple and elegant, a decorative accessory and a nice small project for trying Alchemy Sparky. The mesh lace pattern is easily memorized, and sparkles in this silk yarn, which is wrapped in a metallic thread.

Look for these kits and our full selection of Alchemy yarns here at the shop!

Show and tell: colorful shawls.

Time for another round of show and tell! We always love seeing what you make with our yarns, and lately I’ve had the pleasure of seeing and photographing more finished projects than I can share in one blog post. For today, let’s look at some colorful shawls that started life as yarn on our shelves.

Above is Donita’s “Wisdom Wrap,” knit with Alchemy Silken Straw and Sanctuary. She brought it in to show us before felting, which will transform this partly-wool shawl from a colorblock rectangle to a softer, more organic shape – we can’t wait to see it after she takes the leap!

Gwen loves working with Ewe Ewe yarns. She’s worked with Baa Baa Bulky and Wooly Worsted before, and has come back to the latter to make the “Whenever Wrap” above. With so many exciting yarns to choose from, this return to the same yarn for multiple projects is quite the endorsement!

Nancy recently knit this “Butterfly / Papillon” shawl with Brooklyn Tweed’s newest yarn, Peerie, and is preparing to teach a class on the subject here at the shop.

Many of the “Butterfly / Papillon” projects on Ravelry have been made with self-striping or hand-dyed yarns, so it’s particularly striking to see Nancy’s solid color version. I’m looking forward to seeing the shawls that come out of her class!

Nancy’s next project is another colorful shawl, Felicity Ford’s “Efflorescent,” from her latest book, Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork PlaybookThe swatches below were knit with Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, and show two of the three colorways for “Efflorescent,” more class prep. Read more about Nancy’s upcoming class on our Classes page – there are still a few spaces if you’d like to attend!

Many thanks to the talented knitters who shared the projects above, and to everyone who starts their projects with a trip to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We love seeing what you make!

Shibori felting with Alchemy yarns.

Gina Wilde is the mind behind Alchemy’s rich colors, a dyer and designer who dreams up interesting uses for the yarns she paints. We always look forward to her color consultations at TNNA–here she is back in May, helping us select harmonious colors in all four Alchemy yarns we ordered.


Many of her designs use a shibori felting technique, where Alchemy Sanctuary and Silken Straw are knit together, then thrown in the washing machine to felt. Sanctuary, a blend of merino wool and silk, felts into a velvety fabric, while Silken Straw stretches out and softens. The combination of the two in one garment yields unique textures and shapes, and adds an exciting, transformative final step to the knitting process. Last year, I tried shibori felting for the first time, knitting a “Simple Shibori Cowl” in bright, warm shades of Sanctuary and Silken Straw.


We’ve seen lots of beautiful color combinations come together for this project; Mary knit these two “Simple Shibori Cowls,” which were featured on the blog for show and tell.


Our new shades of Sanctuary and Silken Straw make for even more fun combinations. Here are a few I put together; I can’t wait to see what other knitters will come up with!

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Earlier this spring, Anne finished her “Widsom Wrap,” a much larger shibori project.


DSCN2888 The “Wisdom Wrap” calls for one shade in Sanctuary and four in Silken Straw. We’ve restocked Anne’s colorway, a beautiful mix of purple, greens, and dark brown.


Of course, I couldn’t resist putting a few other “Wisdom Wrap” colorways together, this time with a bit of glitter from Sparky.

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Come by to select colors for a “Wisdom Wrap” of your own, or search for other shibori felting patterns on the HYS Pinterest page. See you at the shop!

Show and tell: scarves and cowls.

It’s time for more show and tell! Here are some finished pieces that began their lives as HYS yarns. They all happen to be neckwarmers of one kind of another: scarves and cowls.


Allison has been churning out Spectra scarves for a while now, and is particularly fond of Kauni Effektgarn in color EQ for this project. EQ is perhaps the most colorful Kauni colorway, a bright and sunny rainbow spectrum, shifting from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to purple.


Allison used EQ as both the main and contrast colors in this project, and recommends staggering it so that the main color is one or two shades ahead of the contrast color in the sequence. This keeps the colors from overlapping, so you wont find yourself with, say, orange as both the main and contrast color at any point in the knitting. This particular scarf weighed 115 grams, so it’s entirely possible to knit this from one skein of Kauni Effektgarn, with some winding and rewinding.


Margie recently finished these two scarves, knit in Malabrigo Sock and Prism Saki, respectively. The pattern is “Favorite Scarf Ever,” a free download from Ravelry, and its simple chevron pattern shows off variegated yarns to the fullest.


Speaking of chevron patterns: Cecilia came in last week wearing this beautiful cowl knit in Gina, a soft self-striping wool from Plymouth. She’d picked the colorway to match her new coat, and has since come back for a different yarn to make a coat-matching hat; I’m looking forward to seeing the whole get-up!


Mary’s needles have been busy lately, and she had three projects to show off since last I shared show-and-tell photos on the blog. Above are her two Twist scarves knit in Malabrigo Mecha, one completed, and one halfway there. She’s sailing through these one-skein scarves, planning to give them away as holiday gifts–an excellent plan for a quick knit like the Twist scarf.


Here’s Mary’s second Simple Shibori Cowl, knit in Alchemy Silken Straw and Sanctuary. It’s so satisfying to see this cowl made up in different colorways, and to see the transformation that occurs when they’re felted. This one is made with Silken Straw in color “Belladonna” and Sanctuary in “Ace of Spades,” a subtle, elegant combination.

Thanks to everyone who starts, works on, and shares their projects at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop! We love to see what’s coming off your needles and hooks.

Wisdom Wrap, in progress.

Right before we left for market in June, Anne started knitting a Wisdom Wrap, one of Gina Wilde’s shibori felting designs for Alchemy Yarns. We’d seen (and played dress-up with) a Wisdom Wrap at market the year before, and kept it in mind all year.


It’s an unusual piece, but simple to construct. The first step is to make long stretches of i-cord with Sanctuary, a luxuriously soft blend of merino and silk. Then stitches are picked up along the length of the i-cord and knit up into garter stitch rectangles using Silken Straw.


The end result is a kind of i-cord scaffolding, which frames the Silken Straw color-blocks. When the knitting is done, the Wisdom Wrap is ready to be felted, just like the Simple Shibori Cowl. The Sanctuary i-cord shrinks and felts, looking almost like a velvet rope, and the Silken Straw rectangles soften and stretch out. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but having seen the finished wrap at market and tried it myself on a smaller scale with the cowl, we feel confident that a successful shibori transformation awaits. In the meantime, Anne is hard at work on the wrap, working lengths of i-cord in between blocks of garter stitch–soothing knitting.


Besides the meditative knitting process, one of the major joys of an Alchemy project is choosing from their outstanding, vibrant color palette. Though she was picking from a smaller selection, before our colors numbered in double digits as they do today, Anne put together a beautiful colorway for her Wisdom Wrap, which calls for one shade in Sanctuary and four in Silken Straw.


In selecting colors for a Wisdom Wrap, one strategy is to begin with the Sanctuary, which comes in variegated colorways. From there, you can use the same colorway in Silken Straw, and then pull out three solid colors in the Silken Straw that appear in the variegated color you’ve chosen. Anne is using Sanctuary in color “Dark Star,” and Silken Straw in “Dark Star,” “Jungle Juice,” “Citrine,” and “Coco Rosie.” As I was arranging the Silken Straw in its basket, I couldn’t help but play the Wisdom Wrap game, putting potential colorways together, sometimes following the strategy I just laid out, sometimes not.





I could play this game all day. Come in to plan a Wisdom Wrap of your own!


Hello again, Alchemy.

One of the most exciting orders we placed at TNNA this year was with Alchemy Yarns of Transformation. We first discovered Alchemy at last year’s TNNA, when we dipped our toe in the water with a few colors each in two of their yarns, Silken Straw and Sanctuary. Back home at the shop, the Alchemy yarns were a hit; many admired the sample White Caps Cowl that Anne knit up, striping Silken Straw with Habu Cotton Nerimaki Slub. We loved seeing the different color combinations that our knitters put together, and it wasn’t long before our stock of Silken Straw had dwindled to a mere handful of skeins. We knew we’d dive in deeper with Alchemy the second time around, and now that our big TNNA order has arrived, you can see exactly how deep we dove.


At TNNA in June, we sat down with Gina and Austin Wilde, head alchemists over at Alchemy, and they helped us carefully select an astonishing 20 colors in Silken Straw, and 8 in Sanctuary, a soft and springy blend of merino and silk.


The two yarns are often used together in Gina Wilde’s signature shibori felted designs, so it was important to create complementary palettes in each yarn. We admired all of Alchemy’s knit samples at market, and came home with two special skeins to create an Alchemy sample of our own: the Simple Shibori Cowl.

alchemy cowl before

This lacy cowl is constructed of both Silken Straw and Sanctuary in a straightforward feather and fan pattern, then (gulp) thrown into the washing machine to be felted. The Sanctuary felts because of its merino wool content, shrinking into a fuzzy, velvety stripe whose individual stitches are no longer distinguishable. Meanwhile, the Silken Straw stretches out, becoming softer and draping gently.

alchemy cowl after

I confess, I held my breath as I tossed the cowl in my washing machine, but it quickly became clear that there was nothing to be afraid of. I checked every minute or two to see how the felting was progressing and removed the cowl when it was done, then laid it flat to dry. The transformation was fascinating, and the finished cowl is lightweight and lovely.


Want to make a Simple Shibori Cowl of your own? With all these colors, there are many beautiful combinations to choose from.



Look for the Simple Shibori Cowl pattern in the Alchemy pattern binder, where you’ll find plenty of interesting uses for these singular yarns.



Anne has a Wisdom Wrap on the needles, a little over halfway done–more on that another day. Come by the shop to see all our Alchemy yarns and patterns, and to plan your next project!