By Hand Lookbook No. 13: Northern California.

The latest volume of By Hand is here!

By Hand is a series of lookbooks where each issue focuses on a city or region. The subject matter is the makers of that community, the designers, hand-dyers, and fiber artists that both shape and draw inspiration from the place they call home.

This issue is all about Northern California, a beautiful part of the country that has been on our minds and in our hearts as wildfire season continues.

This region is home to a few familiar faces, including Julie Weisenberger of cocoknits, and natural dyer Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep. We’re lucky to have some of her Cormo Fingering, Equity Fingering, Equity Sport, and Luminous DK in stock here at the shop – get in touch if you’re interested in what’s available!

Along with maker profiles and knitting patterns, By Hand also features recipes and other crafty projects. So many of us partake in a variety of handiwork, though we may call one or another a favorite; it’s nice to see a diversity of interests on display in this publication. That said, the knitting patterns in this issue are what caught our eye!

Order a copy through our website for a bit of armchair travel!

Triangle Yarn Crawl.

The Triangle Yarn Crawl is a self-guided tour of local yarn shops, where yarn-lovers get together and hop from one shop to the next, shopping, entering raffles, and seeing the full breadth of available fibers. They happen just once a year, and the time has come again: the Spring 2017 crawl is coming up this weekend on April 22nd and 23rd! 

Each local yarn shop has something special to offer, and we’re no exception: we have two Trunk Shows on display, one from Baa Ram Ewe and one from The Fibre Company. Each show features four garments in the newest yarns from those companies, Dovestone Natural Aran and Luma, respectively, and we’re offering a 10% discount on those yarns during the show. We’re putting another of our favorite yarns on an even deeper discount this weekend… follow us on Instagram for more about that later in the week!

One exciting new feature of the TYC this year is that every shop is presenting a new free pattern especially for the Yarn Crawl. Each of the eight participating shops in the Triangle has something unique to offer our local fiber-loving community, and I expect their patterns will reflect that. Ours is a moebius cowl Rosi designed using one of our favorite yarns, Shibui Staccato. Don’t miss seeing the sample when you’re here this weekend!

There’s a bag of goodies at each of the participating shops, a raffle prize full of yarn, patterns, and more. Some of its contents are donated by TYC sponsors like Berroco, Cascade, Malabrigo, Mountain Colors, and Classic Elite, and others come from our own collection here at the shop.

Some of our prizes include a project bag, skein of Knightsbridge, and measuring tape from Kelbourne Woolens, a pack of Cormo Fingering mini-skeins from Sincere Sheep, and a Lilly Brush for removing pills. It’s all packed up in one of our sturdy canvas Hillsborough Yarn Shop totes, along with a few other surprises!

We’re lucky to live in such a fiber-friendly part of the world, with so many choices available to us, and the Triangle Yarn Crawl is a great time to see all of those choices. Come see us as you’re crawling along!


A reminder: all sales are final on sale items; there can be no exchanges, no returns, nor will we special order. Discount applies only to in-store purchases. Thanks! 

Show and tell: summer shawls, part three.

Time for yet another round of summer shawl show and tell!


Judie knit this “Lionberry” shawl with Colinette Jitterbug, enlarging it a bit to make the most of her one skein.


You can read her detailed notes about this modification on her Ravelry project page, a generous gesture that I always appreciate when I’m scrolling through Ravelry seeking good information!


Petra brought in her “Seascape Stole” for show and tell a few weeks ago, knit in this icy blue shade of Sincere Sheep Cormo Fingering. A semi-solid hand-dyed yarn like this is a great choice for a lace pattern; it’s solid enough to show the lace clearly but varied enough to offer depth and color interest.


Nancy knit this “Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief” in Schulana Sojabama, a dk weight blend of bamboo and soy. This silky yarn is cool to the touch, with excellent drape, making this an ideal warm-weather accesory. It’s hanging on the wall here at the shop, so be sure to take a peek or try it on next time you’re here!


Margie has been working on a pair of “ZickZack” scarves, each knit with Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball and Cascade 220 Fingering.


This simple chevron pattern is made beautiful by Margie’s yarn and color selection. The Zauberball is self-striping, and the 220 Fingering is solid. When the two are striped against one another, two skinny rows at a time, the effect is dramatic.


As soon as she finished one, she cast on for the next, which will surely be completed by the time these photos are posted, knowing Margie.


Thanks to all who start their projects with a trip to the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, and to those who share their work along the way! Believe it or not, after three summer shawl posts in as many weeks, I still have lingering show-and-tell photos to share. Stay tuned!

Show and tell: neckwear.

Along with daydreaming about future projects, trying new techniques, and deciding between colors, show-and-tell is one of the predominant activities here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. Now and then, I like to bring this activity to the blog, sharing finished projects that started their lives as yarns on our shelves. Today, let’s look at cowls and scarves.


Rosi knit this cowl with the delightful Shibui Staccato, a fingering weight blend of merino and silk. She designed it herself, a soft and stretchy moebius decorated with a reversible texture pattern.


Katherine crocheted this “Vega Crochet Cowl” as a sample for her recent class on the subject. It looks great in the self-striping Plymouth Gina, and many of her students followed her lead, selecting different colorways in the same yarn. I can’t wait to see how they all come out!


Here’s Judie in her beautiful “Starshower,” knit in Sincere Sheep Cormo Fingering. One doesn’t fully appreciate the clever shaping of this cowl/shawl hybrid until one sees it on a person, rather than hanging on a hanger as my sample “Starshower” does. Inspired to knit one of your own? Consider signing up for Katherine’s upcoming “Starshower” class to have guidance and camaraderie as you stitch.


I knit this “Rockcliffe” scarf as a sample for the shop, inspired by our recent Cumbria Collection Trunk Show. This is my second time working with Fibre Company Cumbria Worsted, a soft-yet-toothy yarn that I absolutely adore, especially for projects like this one where sharp stitch definition is required. The texture patterns were fun and engaging, but not too complicated; I think this would make a great introduction to chart-reading, especially paired with Kelbourne Woolens’ tutorial, “Working from Charts: Knit/Purl Patterning.”


Here’s Peggy’s completed “M.1” scarf, knit in Shibui Maai, one of the softest yarns in the shop, in my opinion. This is a gift for her husband, and it looks smart in “Suit,” a blue somewhere between navy and cobalt.


Thanks to all the knitters, crocheters, weavers, and fiber artists who start their projects here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We love seeing what you’re making! Keep your eyes on the blog for another round of show-and-tell soon. In the meantime, see you at the shop!

Interweave Knits.

The Spring 2016 issue of Interweave Knits is here!


Flipping through this issue, the first thing that caught my eye was a review of Sincere Sheep Cormo Fingering, a bouncy, naturally-dyed yarn that I’ve tried and loved.


I spotted another familiar yarn put to use in this capelet, designed by Carol Feller; yep, it’s Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK.


There are plenty of other intriguing patterns in this bunch, along with a helpful short row tutorial by Bristol Ivy.


You’ll find Interweave Knits on the teacart here at the shop, by the swift and ballwinder, and all the latest publications. See you there!

More show and tell.

Time for a second batch of show and tell! Our first round was child-sized, full of sweaters and accessories for little ones; these finished projects are made by grown-ups, for grown-ups, though they’re no less playful. Let’s dig in.


Margaretta knit her second “Yipes Stripes Cowl” using five shades of Mirasol Qina, a soft and drapey blend of alpaca and bamboo. There’s something very satisfying about seeing this pattern in new color combinations; this cool palette is a particularly pretty one.


Amy recently taught a class here at the shop on stranded colorwork, focusing on Rachel Coopey’s “Northallerton” hat. For her own “Northallerton,” she used three shades of Baa Ram Ewe Titus, though this hat was quickly claimed by her daughter. Another hat was in order.


Amy knit this one with three shades of Cascade 220 Fingering, substituting different motifs for a colorwork hat all her own.



I recently knit Kate Gagnon Osborn’s “Seathwaite” hat, which is a free pattern written for Fringe Association’s Hatalong No. 5. I used one skein of Fibre Company’s newest yarn, Cumbria, a worsted weight blend of merino, masham, and mohair. The yarn is sturdy yet soft, fuzzy but smooth enough for well-defined cables. I made this for my sister as a Christmas gift, and enjoyed every stitch of it.

I also completed a shop sample not long ago, a “Starshower” cowl knit in Sincere Sheep Cormo Fingering. This unique hybrid of shawl and cowl falls so gracefully around the wearer’s neck. Come by the shop to try it on!



Theresa loves to knit and felt colorful slippers, and sent us a photo of her most recent polka-dotted batch.


She used Bev Galeskas’ classic “Felted Clogs” pattern and a variety of shades of Plymouth Galway, a worsted weight wool that is perfect for felting.


Here, Irene models her “Kashmir Cardigan,” from Helga Isager’s Amimono: the Map Collection. She used several strands of yarn held together to create a marled effect, augmenting some mohair from her stash with a few shades of Isager Highland and Spinni. Blended colors and fibers along with short rows and stripes make for a garter stitch coat that is so much more than just a garter stitch coat–nicely done, Irene!

A hearty thanks to all the fiber artists who start their projects here and share their progress 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!

Hello, Sincere Sheep Cormo Fingering.

Another new yarn has made a home here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. Say hello to Sincere Sheep Cormo Fingering!


Based in Northern California, Sincere Sheep produces naturally dyed yarns from U.S. sourced fibers. Cormo Fingering is a 2-ply yarn made of 100% Cormo wool, a cross-breed of Corriedale and Merino sheep originating in Australia. The Cormo sheep whose fleece made this yarn live in Kaycee, WY.


Cormo is a finewool, much like its Merino ancestors, and makes a highly elastic yarn that’s velvety soft to the touch. The 2-ply structure of Cormo Fingering gives the yarn a pebbly texture, and gives the knitted fabric a lot of character.

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I’m using a skein of Cormo Fingering to knit “Starshower,” a shawl-cowl hybrid by Hilary Smith Callis. It starts off like a traditional top-down shawl, with a garter tab cast-on, grows for a bit with regular increases, then is joined to work in the round. The end result is a shaped cowl, like a shawl with no dangling ends to worry about.


Each 4 oz skein has 500 yards, plenty for a cowl, shawlette, scarf, or hat and mitt set. A versatile skein like this makes a great gift, too, so consider it if there’s a knitter on your holiday gift list this year. Look for pattern ideas on our “Fingering weight” Pinterest board, and look for this special yarn in the fingering weight section here at the shop. See you there!


The Winter 2015 issue of Knitscene is here!


Sweater weather is finally here, making winter knitting magazines more appealing than ever.


I spotted lots of HYS yarns in this issue. A cabled vest in Rowan Pure Wool Worsted, a textured pullover in Sincere Sheep Luminous DK, cowls in Malabrigo Rios and Fibre Company Canopy Fingering, a cabled hat in Berroco Ultra Alpaca




You can find all of those yarns here at the shop, along with lots of others that can be substituted for these patterns should you prefer a different color or fiber than what the designer used. We’re always happy to help you decide which yarn is best for your pattern and project. Come by soon to plan your fall and winter knitting!

New yarns from old friends.

It’s been an exciting day at market! We visited some of our favorite people today, and it was great to chat about what’s new, see sample garments, and admire each company’s full range of fibers and colors.  Shibui has a luxurious new yarn for fall, and a bundle of new patterns to boot.   We were happy to return to the Sincere Sheep booth to admire their US-sourced yarns, which are all hand-dyed with natural dyes.  I was particularly taken with Fibre Company’s newest yarn, Cumbria, and the exciting new patterns that go with it. I also spotted this gorgeous woven scarf made in Meadow, which I could not stop looking at.  Malabrigo surprised us all with a brand new yarn in an unexpected fiber.  Perhaps the most exciting moment of our day occurred in the Isager booth, where we ran into Helga Isager herself, in from Denmark. Over the years, Anne and Rosi and I have admired many of her designs, and knit some, too. Anne was wearing one, “Robin,” knit in Isager Spinni, so I had to snap a picture.  We’ve already placed so many exciting orders, and there’s more to come. Our trunk show schedule is growing quickly, too. We can’t wait for all these goodies to arrive throughout the fall, to share the new yarns with you, and knit with them ourselves!


Sincere Sheep and Swans Island are two yarn companies we’re thrilled to support, and one of the many reasons is that they both use all natural dyes. This means that their colors are created with minerals, plants, and insects rather than synthetic, petroleum-derived dyes. The bold blue colors have been some of the most popular in both Sincere Sheep and Swans Island yarns, and they all come from natural indigo, a plant-based colorant. Indigo can also be used to create deep purples and steely grays.

Natural indigo has a tendency to rub off, one which you may have already experienced in a pair of blue jeans. A knitter working with an indigo-dyed yarn will likely have blue fingers after a while, but it washes off easily and won’t stain your hands. The color comes off on wooden needles, as well, so metal needles are a good idea if the notion of blue-tipped bamboo needles troubles you.

Once the garment is complete, Swans Island recommends giving it a good soak with a gentle fiber cleanser like Eucalan, along with a rinse afterward, until the water runs clear. After that, the indigo should not rub off onto your neck as you wear your scarf, or onto your clothes. I recently washed a swatch of indigo-dyed yarn, and can attest that while it gave off a dark blue color in its water bath, the color of the yarn itself did not fade.

This little swatch was made with Sincere Sheep Luminous, a dk weight blend of Polwarth wool and Tussah silk. The yarn is a deep, brilliant blue called “Anja,” an indigo-based colorway. (You may have seen that little swatch before, in fact; it’s on the left in this picture of all our TNNA swatches.) Now that three yarns from Sincere Sheep have made the Hillsborough Yarn Shop their home, I thought I’d pull that swatch out and block it, so it could live with the Luminous yarn as a small sample. I was thrilled with how well-behaved the yarn was in its swatch and its bath, how readily it shows off cables, lace, stockinette, and all else. Yarns like these are worth blue-tinted fingertips; anticipate the rub-off and these indigo-based colorways will delight you.

(If you’re interested in the process of dyeing with natural materials, you can read more about it on the Swans Island website.)