Hello, Semilla.

Earlier in the month, we welcomed BC Garn to the fold here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We now stock two yarns from this Danish company; Loch Lomond got a proper introduction on the blog, and now it’s time to meet Semilla.

Semilla is a 100% organic wool. This means it’s been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), so we can be confident that it’s produced safely and responsibly, from the fiber to the dye.

Each 50 gram ball has 175 yards, and the suggested gauge is 5.5 stitches per inch on a US 6, which is why it’s found a home in our DK weight section here at the shop. It’s very round and smooth for a 2ply yarn, in part because of its tight twist. These qualities give Semilla nice stitch definition for texture patterns, cables, and lace.

One ball of Semilla would make a nice pair of mitts, like Churchmouse’s evergreen “Welted Fingerless Gloves.” While we’re thinking Churchmouse, consider also their “Easy Folded Poncho” and “Welted Cowl & Infinity Loop,” either of which is a good fit for Semilla.

Though it’s hand-wash only, this soft organic wool is a nice choice for baby things, too – think tincanknits’ “Dog Star,” “Peanut,” and “Clayoquot Toque.”

Look to our “DK weight” Pinterest board for more pattern ideas, and come by the shop to see Semilla for yourself!

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!

Akerworks Swatch Gauge.

We’re delighted to announce the arrival of an exciting new knitting gadget: the Akerworks Swatch Gauge is now in stock here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop!

The Swatch Gauge is a new tool for measuring gauge, a heavy plastic one with cut-outs for counting how many stitches or rows make four inches, horizontally and vertically.

When we read about it on Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Review, we immediately reached out to Akerworks with a wholesale request. Her rave review caused them to be inundated with such requests, great news for a small company, so while we had to wait, we’re so happy for them that we can hardly complain!

The defining feature of the Akerworks Swatch Gauge is what Clara Parkes refers to as “honesty teeth.” These little teeth hold your fabric flat as you measure, simultaneously discouraging you from tugging or smoothing it this way or that to get gauge under false pretenses. We’ve all done it – you really want to get gauge, after all! – and knitted fabric is stretchy enough to accommodate our wishful thinking. This Swatch Gauge allows you to count stitches and rows hands-free for the least-biased gauge measurement possible. What a brilliant design!

Look for the Akerworks Swatch Gauge in our notions department. Pick up one for yourself, of course, but also remember them as clever gifts for the knitters in your life. See you at the shop!

Shibui swatches.

Since Shibui Cima, Silk Cloud, and Pebble arrived last month, I’ve enjoyed seeing more and more projects come together with one or more of these yarns. Folks are planning cowls, shawls, mitts, and hats with the stuff, and I’ve cast on for a pullover knitting Silk Cloud together with Isager Highland. I’ve also enjoyed the task of knitting Shibui swatches for the shop in all three yarns and all manner of yarn combinations.


First, I knit a swatch in each yarn, following the suggested gauge on the ballband.


Next, I knit swatches in each of the yarns held double.


Then came the most fun: I made a swatch for every possible combination of the three yarns.


Each yarn brings its own characteristics to the finished fabric when combined; Cima lends a certain bounciness to whatever yarn it accompanies, Pebble gives a loftiness and tweedy texture, and Silk Cloud shimmers beneath its fuzzy mohair halo.


I noted the gauge and needle size for each swatch, but don’t limit yourself to these gauges alone. Like all yarns, this trio can be worked up at a wide range of gauges for different kinds of fabric and purposes.


Our Shibui Mix Party may be full, but you can still come by the shop to see and touch these swatches, which give a tangible sense of how Shibui yarns play together. Follow our “Inspiring Stitches” board on Pinterest for pattern suggestions for these and other HYS yarns. See you at the shop!