Mouche & Friends: Seamless Toys to Knit and Love, by Cinthia Vallet.

Cinthia Vallet’s charming debut book is here – let’s page through Mouche & Friends: Seamless Toys to Knit and Love ($34).

This delightful collection includes instructions for 12 knitted toy animals, along with pleasingly intricate garments and accessories for each.

Cinthia Vallet’s toy-making process is unique and totally seamless, and she walks you through the techniques step-by-step.

Come by the shop to get a closer look at Mouche & Friends: Seamless Toys to Knit and Love, or order online for local pickup or shipping. Hope to see you at the shop!

Show and tell: toys.

Every day, we are greeted by knitters and crocheters starting new projects, stopping by for yarns, tools, patterns, and inspiration. Many of them also come in with projects they’ve just finished, which is something really special to see; what was once just an idea is now realized. When folks are willing and I’m able, I like to take pictures of these completed projects to share with you here on the blog, and I have a gracious plenty waiting to be featured. Today, let’s look at some of the most charismatic of the bunch: toys!

Margie knit this “Opal Sock Yarn Bunny” for a friend’s first great-grandchild, with enough yarn leftover for a matching hat. I snapped the photo above when she brought the pair in for show-and-tell, but she sent along a better one when her gifts reached their sweet recipient.



Emily knit “Heroic Herschel” for her son as a birthday gift. Knit with three bright shades of Berroco Ultra Wool, Herschel is soft and machine washable.


This hippo has so much personality, and is clearly beloved by both knitter and recipient, which is one of the wonderful things about toy-making – these gifts are always received with delight!

Mary has gotten into crocheted creatures, starting with this goat in Ewe So Sporty, a soft superwash merino yarn from Ewe Ewe. The pattern is from Crochet a Farm, by Megan Kreiner.

After goats came turtles, from Kreiner’s Bathtime Buddies; Mary crocheted one in Ewe So Sporty, then two more using Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift held doubled.

She made a manatee with Wooly Worsted, too, and each of these creatures only makes her want to do more. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Thanks to everyone who shares their projects and ideas with us here at the shop, we love seeing what you’re making! Keep an eye out for more show and tell here on the blog soon.

Dovestone Smallholding Trunk Show!

We were delighted to receive our latest trunk show early – come by the shop between now and the end of August to see the Dovestone Smallholding Trunk Show!

Ella Austin’s Dovestone Smallholding is a book of stuffed toys knit with Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK, a soft and beautiful blend of British wools.

We have four of the creatures from the book on display: “Wensleydale Lamb,” “Shetland Pony,” “Plum Pudding Pig,” and “Moggy” the cabled cat.

Anne and I have each made a “Fancy Hen” from this collection and admired many others. If you love or aspire to knit stuffed toys, come by the shop to see these sweet creatures in person! Do so before the end of July and you can get the materials to make them at 15% off. Look for them in the DK weight section!

Just a reminder–all sales are final on discounted items; there can be no exchanges or returns. Thanks!

Show and tell: for little ones.

Time to share some of the exquisite finished projects that crocheters and knitters have made with yarn from our shop! I have a big virtual pile of show-and-tell photos waiting to be seen, and sifting through them, I find that they divide themselves neatly into two categories: those intended for children, and those intended for adults. Let’s start small.


Emily knit the “i heart rainbows hat” above for her daughter, using saturated, playful shades of Cascade 220 Fingering. I love how this came out, it’s just so cheery and sweet!


Julie crocheted this impressive “Dragon Neckwarmer” with Ewe So Sporty, a springy machine-washable merino wool. This is a great example of the tremendous sculptural possibilities of crochet!


Tom knit this cute henley pullover, a pattern from Cheryl Brunette’s Sweater 101. Jarbo Garn Raggi is the machine-washable yarn used here; the blonde wood buttons are a perfect match.


A knitter visiting from Portland (whose name I’m so sorry I didn’t catch!) knit an adorable pumpkin hat in Malabrigo Rios for her granddaughter, who models it in the photo above. She came back to the shop for another color of Rios, something to match her pumpkin hat leftovers. Her granddaughter models the second hat below, looking too-cool in her slouchy striped beanie.


Margie’s been knitting with Rios, too. Below, her granddaughter models the “Seathwaite” hat Margie knit for her in the playful shade of “Glazed Carrot.”


Katherine has been knitting Kate Davies’ “Owlet” sweaters for all of her children, and here’s the smallest one modeling the latest, knit in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.


Speaking of owls, I have a bit of show-and-tell myself: a parliament of “Owl Puffs,” knit for my niece’s birthday. I used bits and pieces of fingering weight leftovers held double for marled owls, then embroidered their beaks and sewed on felt eyes with safety-eye pupils. They were fast and fun to make; I hope she likes them!


Thanks to the yarn-lovers who begin their projects here at our shop, seeking just the right colors and textures for the garments they envision and then expertly create! We are so inspired by what you make. Keep your eye on the blog for more show and tell soon!

Show and tell: critters.

Time for another round of show and tell! Here are some finished projects that started life as yarns on our shelves. These knitted things have something else in common, as well: they all feature animals!


Amy designed and knit this “Baby Turtle Frenzy Blanket” for her granddaughter-to-be using Ewe Ewe Wooly Worsted. It shows sea turtle hatchlings on their journey from the sandy beach through the breakers to the deep blue sea. She wrote a separate pattern for the tiny turtles themselves; get them together at a discounted price on Ravelry or here at the shop.


Amy’s also offering a Tiny Turtle class here at the shop, for those interested in knitted toys–head to our Classes page to sign up!


Ali came by the shop not long ago with two knitted critters. Above are her “Moose and the World’s Tree” mittens, from Annemor Sundbø’s Norwegian Mittens and Gloves, knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Below is her “Hedgehog,” whose belly and face is also made of Shetland Spindrift, with garter stitch spines in Plymouth Galway held double.


I, too, knit a hedgehog from this pattern a couple of years ago, and loved the process as much as the end product. Seeing this one made me want to knit another!


We can’t talk about knitted critters without mentioning the “Baa-ble Hat,” a free pattern with well over 5,000 projects on Ravelry in the year and a half since it was first published. The “Baa-ble Hat” above is my second, and may not be my last. I used bright shades of Plymouth Tweed and Queensland Kathmandu Aran for this one, and love the way the colorwork looks in these speckled yarns.


Amy just finished teaching an introductory class on stranded colorwork featuring the “Baa-ble Hat,” and the hat above was knit by one of her students, Clarine. She used Jamieson’s Shetland Heather Aran for three out of the four shades, knitting the soft green grass with Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed.


Sarah was one of Amy’s students, too; she knit her hat in Malabrigo Rios, and left the shop after class with yarn for another “Baa-ble Hat.” It’s a pleasing little pattern, and a great way to try stranded colorwork for the first time. Amy’s offering another class on the subject in October–sign up now if you’d like to join!

Thanks to all those who share their work with us here at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. We are inspired by your great ideas, and love to see them take shape!

New patterns for Dovestone DK.

I’m happy to report that we recently got some new single patterns for Dovestone DK, the yarn featured in our current Baa Ram Ewe Trunk Show.


Alison Moreton’s Landmark Collection features garments and accessories knit in Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK. Each design is inspired by a landmark in Yorkshore, home of Baa Ram Ewe.


The pattern photos show each piece before the landmark that inspired it, a fascinating peek into the process of translating the shapes and textures around us into knitted fabric.


Another new collection for Dovestone DK is Ella Austin’s Dovestone Smallholding.


This sweet spiral bound book is filled with stuffed animals and dolls knit in Dovestone DK: a cabled kitten and wensleydale lamb, colorwork fowl, pig, and shetland pony.


Look for these new patterns here at the shop, and come before May 6th to catch the Baa Ram Ewe Trunk Show and the 10% discount on Dovestone DK that goes with it. See you there!


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

New books for knitters.

Right as you walk into the shop, you’ll find a small wooden teacart, though you may not recognize it as such. We’ve disguised it by keeping it piled high with the newest books and magazines, along with the ever present swift and ballwinder. The past few weeks have brought a variety of new books to the teacart, from the silly to the serious.


Knit Superheroes is Rebecca Danger’s newest book of knitted toys, a collection of caped, masked creatures with lots of personality. Each critter can be made in either fingering weight or worsted weight yarns, depending upon how large a super-raccoon you intend to create.

DSCN5665 DSCN5664

On the more serious side is Elizabeth Doherty’s Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design, which is both a collection of attractive sweater patterns and a designer’s reference book on this rather specific subject.


DSCN5667I’ve always been fond of knitting books with an abundance of technical information, as I like how seriously they take their subject, and the promise of learning something new. This one is here to present practical methods for perfectly-fitting set-in sleeves, for those who prefer the seamless top-down approach to sweater knitting.


Another designer’s reference now in stock is Kate Atherley’s Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, which is exactly what it sounds like. Pick this one up if you’d like to try your hand at pattern-writing, or for some insight into all the hard work that goes into designing, writing, editing, and publishing knitting patterns.



Look for these and other new books on the teacart here at the shop! See you there.

Rowan Pure Wool: new colors, booklets.

Rowan has added six new shades to their Pure Wool Worsted line, and we’re happy to have them on our shelves.


All six are heathered, each shade composed of a few solid shades that are blended together to look solid from a distance. They fill out our existing selection nicely to make a well-rounded palette.


What to make with Rowan Pure Wool Worsted? Martin Storey has answered this question with two pattern collections in Pure Wool Worsted.


Pure Wool Worsted makes a great sweater yarn, especially for casual everyday sweaters.



It’s smooth and predictable on the needles, sturdy and easy to care for, renders stitch patterns crisply, and happens to be the most economical superwash worsted weight wool we’ve found.



Superwash wool at this gauge is tremendously versatile, and has many uses beyond adult-sized sweaters: use it for baby blankets, children’s sweaters, slipper socks, cold weather accessories, home goods, and the like. It’s also a good candidate for toy-making, as it happens.


I used Rowan Pure Wool recently to knit this pair of bunnies from a pair of free patterns. The bigger one, “Henry’s Rabbit,” is for my niece, and the smaller one, “Henry’s Bunny,” is for her sibling-to-be, due at the end of the month. One skein of Rowan Pure Wool was enough to make the pair. Stuffed animals are definitely not my typical knitting project, but I must say, this was a truly delightful diversion, and this yarn was a perfect fit!


Come by the shop to peruse the Martin Storey booklets, see the new colors, and plan your next project. See you there!

Hello, Malabrigo Mecha.

A new Malabrigo yarn is always exciting. We know so many knitters and crocheters who turn to Malabrigo yarns again and again for their beautiful colorways, soft fibers, and good value. Meet the newest Malabrigo yarn: Mecha.


Mecha is made of superwash merino wool, a bulky weight yarn with 130 yards on each 100 gram skein. It’s a soft and fluffy single ply, which means it’s also a bit fuzzy. The superwash process helps the yarn to resist felting, but single ply yarns are still more likely to pill than plied yarns; not a problem with a gentle pill remover like the Lily Brush.


I’m the lucky knitter who got to make a shop sample with Mecha. I went hunting for a pattern in the Kira K Designs binder and found two great choices: a twisty knit  scarf, and a rippled crochet cowl.


It was a tough choice, but I landed on the Twist Scarf, a pattern that called for exactly 130 yards of bulky weight yarn–a perfect match for Mecha.


I love the way it came out; the knitting was simple and fast, and the scarf is long enough to be worn a few different ways.


The pattern is available as a Ravelry In-Store Pattern Sale, which means that you buy it from us and we’ll print a copy for you, but a digital copy is also saved in your email or Ravelry pattern library.


Ashley, a crocheter with an affinity for Malabrigo yarns, picked up a few skeins of Mecha last week when it first arrived. After playing with it a bit, she discovered that two qualities make it perfect for children’s toys: Mecha is both super soft and superwash. Sitting at the shop, she whipped up a soft stuffed ball with a rattle inside in under 15 minutes. A set of these in different sizes would make a great baby gift, and a quick one. Ashley used the Ideal Crochet Sphere pattern, which is available as a free download on Ravelry. Lucky for us, she left this ball with us as a sample for the shop. Thanks, Ashley!


Come by the shop to check out Mecha and all our other Malabrigo favorites. See you there!

Of mice and monkeys.

For the past few weeks, Anne and I have been knitting animals. We worked on them during the quieter moments at the shop, and so they lingered, unfinished, for some time. Then, over the weekend, one mouse and one monkey emerged, knitted and stuffed, their features embroidered. You should see us morph into children as we hug our finished products, using tiny voices and giggling. Knitted animals are irresistible that way, it turns out. Anne’s mother can attest to this, as well. No one is immune to the charms of a handknit monkey.

Anne designed this monkey for Averette of Purple Crow Books, a wonderful local bookstore on King Street in Hillsborough. Averette did the knitting and Anne did the finishing, and now the completed monkey sits in the window at the Purple Crow. In his lap is the children’s book on which he was based, It’s A Book, by Lane Smith.

Back at the shop, the mouse remains. Phoebe goes with a children’s book that bears her name, Phoebe’s Sweater, by Joanna Johnson. It’s a sweet story about a mouse whose mother knits her a sweater, accompanied by knitting patterns for a matching child-sized sweater. Or, if you’re the animal-knitting type, a mouse-sized sweater, and a stuffed mouse to wear it.
Look for Phoebe near the baby pattern books in the yarn shop, where you’ll find many other stuffed animals to knit, if you’re so inclined. Stop by Purple Crow Books, too, especially if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of doing so.