Monday, September 28, 2009

Announcing Brooklyn Tweed Schedule: Don't Wait-- Classes Will Sell Out!

About a month ago, I breathlessly informed y'all that Brooklyn Tweed is coming to town in November. (You can read that post here if you missed it.) Back then, we were still working out a class schedule. Well, we've got it now! These classes are all going to sell out so do not, I repeat DO NOT wait to sign up. You can do that by calling the store: 512-707-7396. Hurry!

Oh, and if you can't make the classes (or even if you can) remember there's a reception for Brooklyn Tweed that will be held in the store on November 6th (Friday) from 7 - 9 p.m. This is a mere ten bucks-- more than a bargain, an outright steal.

Here are class descriptions and cost info:

Seamless Sweater Workshop
NOVEMBER 6th, 1:30 - 4:30
Fee: 45.00

Description: This course will cover the foundations of seamless sweater knitting: construction, percentages, techniques, and yoke variations. We will be exploring Elizabeth Zimmermann’s 7 seamless sweater models and discussing her percentage system (EPS). The goal of this course is to familiarize knitters with the seamless method of sweater construction and design, and give them the confidence to formulate original garments, without a pattern, to suit their own tastes.

Pre-Requisites: Knitters should be comfortable with the following techniques:
• knit and purl stitches; basic stitch patterns (ribbing, seed st, garter st, etc)
• knitting in the round (required)
• directional decreasing (k2tog, ssk, centered decrease variations will all be discussed)
• experience working small garments in the round (hats)
• sweater knitting experience encouraged but not required

• One skein (50g or 100g) of worsted weight wool or wool blend (animal fibers only please). Smooth, multiple-ply yarns are recommended for clear stitch definition. Boucle and novelty yarns prohibited.
• One pair of US8 16” circular needles
• One stitch marker
• Notebook and writing utensil for note taking

We will be making a shaped swatch in-the-round, exploring ways of using different types of increases and decreases as design elements.

Homework: Come prepared to knit a hat-sized swatch in the round with needles and yarn listed above. No other preparation required.

Reception and Presentation with Jared Flood
NOVEMBER 6, 7:00 - 9:00
Fee: 10.0 0

Jared will share information about the design process, discuss his new book and provide some tips to enhance your fiber photography!

A Taste of Lace
NOVEMBER 7, 10:00 - 1:00
Fee: 45.00

Description according to Tweed: I have particular love for knitting lace garments in heavier weight wools than is traditionally the case. I find that, not only does this pairing of yarn and technique create beautiful and unique pieces of knitwear, but serves as a wonderful learning tool for beginning lace knitters.

In this course we will be talking about the basics of lace and trying our hand at making some of our own with larger needles and heavier yarn. Topics covered include how to read a chart, yarn overs and directional decreasing, planning lace projects, getting ‘gauge’, and the most important and magical part of lace knitting: blocking.

Pre-Requisites: Knitters should be comfortable with the following techniques:
• knit and purl stitches
• working a decrease

• One skein (50g or 100g) of worsted weight wool or wool blend (animal fibers only please). I like woolen spun 2-ply yarns with lace. Light colored yarns are better for improved stitch visibility. Boucle and novelty yarns prohibited. Wooly yarns like Shetland, are particularly suited for the blocking techniques we will be discussing.
• One pair of US8 needles, at least 8” in length
• One packet of stitch markers
• Notebook and writing utensil for note taking

We will be swatching simple lace patterns, provided by me, in order to practice the basic techniques of lace knitting. I will also bring pattern recommendations for further exploration after the conclusion of the course.

Homework: Come to class with all necessary materials. No other preparation required.

Plan Your Own Aran
NOVEMBER 7, 2:30 - 5:30
Fee: 45.00

Description: This course is intended for intermediate to advanced knitters, prior sweater knitting experience highly encouraged. We will be covering a seamless design model for planning a unique aran garment, and will discuss both pullovers and cardigans. The course will cover swatching, blocking, gauge and construction techniques as they uniquely apply to heavily cabled garments. Participants should be comfortable with simple cabling techniques.

A crocheted steek will be demonstrated during the course, as well as techniques for cabling without a cable-needle.

Pre-Requisites: Knitters should be comfortable with the following techniques:
• knit and purl stitches; basic stitch patterns (ribbing, seed st, garter st, etc)
• knitting in the round (required)
• directional decreasing (k2tog, ssk, centered decrease variations)
• experience with simple cable motifs (4 to 6 st cables)
• experience working garments in the round (recommended, not required)

• One skein (50g or 100g) of worsted weight wool or wool blend (animal fibers only please). Smooth, multiple-ply yarns are recommended for clear stitch definition. Boucle and novelty yarns prohibited. Wooly yarns like Shetland, are particularly suited for the blocking and steeking techniques we will be discussing.
• One pair of US8 16” circular needles or double pointed needles, as you prefer
• One stitch marker
• Notebook and writing utensil for note taking

We will be working a thorough in-the-round swatch with cable motifs from which knitters will be able to begin accurate garment planning. Swatch is intended for at-home-steeking, if student desires, after course.

Homework: Come prepared to knit a hat-sized swatch in the round with needles and yarn listed above. No other preparation required.

Hemlock Ring Crash Course
NOVEMBER 8, 10:00 - 12:00
Fee: 35.00

Description: We will begin knitting my Hemlock Ring Blanket pattern together. We will dis cuss the piece’s general construction/shaping, the basic lace techniques employed, chart reading, circular cast-on, and methods for increasing the size of the finished piece. We will also discuss the general benefits of knitting lace at a heavier gauge, with the hopes of making this unique way of making lace accessible to those students who would like to experiment.

Pre-Requisites: Knitters should be comfortable with the following techniques:
• knit and purl stitches
• knitting in the round
• basic understanding of simple lace techniques (yarn over, ssk, k2tog)
• chart reading experience recommended but not required

• at least 100g worsted or aran weight wool (wool blends and other animal fibers also encouraged, although 100% alpaca, mohair, or silk fibers are not recommended). Completion of project will require between 600 and 1000 yards of yarn, depending on
intended dimensions, although students will only need 2 balls of yarn for class. Recommended Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool
• One set of double pointed needles, one or two sizes larger than recommended size on your yarn label
• One package of stitch markers
• One 16” circular needle in same size as DPNs (optional)
• One 32” circulare needle in same size as DPNs (for completion of project. It is unlikely you will need to switch to this needle size during class, unless you prefer working the Magic Loop Method)

Homework: (To Be Completed Before Class)
Download Hemlock Ring pattern from Brooklyn Tweed
( - includes original doily pattern ( and Jared’s Chart (; Read over patterns to familiarize yourself with content of course.

Come prepared with listed materials to begin your project during class.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yarn Crawl Passports Are Here!

Hey Y'all,
Sorry I didn't post Wednesday. As I mentioned-- poor, poor me-- I'm at a knitting retreat in Maine. Cellphones don't work here (except for five random minutes scattered throughout the day) and the internet connection is very spotty, too. But just because I'm not posting doesn't mean I'm not thinking about knitting. Quite the opposite. All we do here is hike and knit and eat (and some folks are doing yoga, too.) If you want to read the long version, click here.

In the meanwhile, and much closer to home-- I got word that the passports for the Third Annual Hill Country Yarn Crawl are HERE. There's just a limited number available, so better get on down to the store and get one while you can. For those of you who like to party in good company, there's a bus ride that's going to do the loop and you can be on it. Here are some details:

Bus Crawl is October 11, 2009
(Sunday Only)

Here's where we're going:

The Yarn Barn, San Antonio
Yarnivore, San Antonio
Rosewood Yarns, Boerne
Ewe and Eye, Boerne
Stonehill Spinning, Fredericksburg
The Tinsmith’s Wife, Comfort
Old Oak's Ranch, WImberly

Fee: $30 -$40 (box lunch included)
Depending on sign-up.

So come on down to HCW and sign up for what will most certainly be the most fun knitting adventure (on wheels) of the year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Greetings from Maine and Check Out This Cool New Stuff

Hey Y'all,
Well, as I mentioned in my last post-- don't hate me but I am now officially at a knitting retreat on an island off the coast of Maine. It is gorgeous here. Come to think of it, you could put me in a dark, wet basement but as long as you let me knit all day with others, I'd be happy as a clam. I hope all of you get a chance to do a knitting retreat one day, or even just lock yourself in the house one weekend with a bunch of fellow knitters and the phone set to speed dial you're favorite pizza delivery place. What a thrill to designate several consecutive days to just knit and knit and knit with a bunch of kindred spirits.

And we also hiked around the island this morning-- Monhegan Island if you want to look it up. I mention this because I think you should hike on over to HCW. Because, yes, we got still more cool new stuff in recently. Among the goodies-- some cool gadget's from Debra's Garden like the groovy needle gauge key ring and super fancy stitch markers pictured above.

We also got some really brilliant sock yarn from Malabrigo. When I say "brilliant" I mean the colors, yes. But I also mean it's brilliant-by-design: 100% superwash merino wool and 440 yards to the skein. Here are a couple of pics:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Free Pattern Friday: Weaving in the Fast Lane

Hey Y'all,
You've heard us talk about the Cricket Loom before. It's the Knitters' Dream Loom, and weavers love it, too. Why's that? Because you can use sock yarn and, including set-up time, knit up a gorgeous scarf in just a few hours, start to finish. If you click on the image to the left, you'll see a bigger, printable version of the pattern.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meet the Serial Knitters

Today marks the start of a new ongoing series here at the blog. I’m aiming to make this thing weekly but—don’t hate me people, I’m going to that Knitting and Yoga Retreat in Maine next week. So for now, let’s call it biweekly, until I get back in town. And just what is this new series? Thanks for asking. Suzanne was pointing out to me just how many different HCW-affiliated groups there are. Wouldn’t it be fun, she suggested, to give y’all a little peek at what these groups are about, who is in them, and what they’re working on. My guinea pig group was the Serial Knitters, headed up by our own beloved and inimitable Deb Marvin. I’ve been in different Deb groups and classes over the years, but not the Serial Knitters. I did have the pleasure of hanging out with them last Thursday though, and here is what I learned:

Group: Serial Knitters
Meets: Thursdays 10 til noon
Number in Group: 17
Fearless Leader: Deb Marvin
Started: Summer 2003
Gender: Currently all women

Bragging Rights: Longest running knitting group store has had since weekly sessions started. This was actually a continuation of the first class ever held at HCW. The ladies loved it, so they just kept meeting.

How to Get In: Watch the obituaries and take a number. They aren’t “closed” in an exclusive way, they are just full up. “It’s like rush to get in,” says Deb.
Members: Linda, Annie, Jane, Diane, Pam, Robin, Kathy, Jann, Deb, Courtney, Christy, Marisa, Teresa, Sharon, Diane, Rebecca, Beth, Darragh
Something this group gets that others don’t: Free in-class flu shots. Yep, there’s a nurse in their midst and Serial Knitters have been known to drop trou on the spot for a little shot of prevention in the tuches.
Rated: X for strong language. Those with delicate ears are not allowed though Linda has a hard time hearing words with “oi” in them (like moist and coitus) so others try to honor that.

Knitalongs: Nope. Everyone works on whatever they want. None of this “let’s all knit the same thing,” stuff.
Ravelry Group: Yes. Check out Hedonknitstix
Other Pastimes: Once a month K1D2 parties (That’s knit one, drink two but sometimes it turns into K0D3.)

Projects Underway: Include but are not limited to: Feather and Fan throw out of Blue Sky Alpacas organic dyed cotton; Lacy Baby sweater out of Tahki Yarns Sky; Murano scarf from Interweave KNITS; Einstein Jacket in Noro; Bettna Jacket in Noro Silk Garden; Clapotis scarf in Manos silk blend.
Deb's Main Role: Unscrew things up.
Topics Discussed at Recent Meeting: iPhone apps for knitters; what’s up with everyone’s kids; why husbands instantly want to have sex when they get to a hotel (sort of the opposite of the Sweater Curse.)
What They Do to Pay for Yarn: Doctor (retired), nurse, multiple attorneys, chemist, hand therapist and more…
Unofficial Motto: Make time for knitting no matter what.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet Kathy (Knitting for Two)

The unshakeable Kathy Bateman, a woman who has yet to meet a knitting mistake she can’t fix, can’t remember exactly when she started at HCW. She does remember feeling like she already lived there (in a good way) as a regular customer. Plus, she’d worked inventory once or twice. So when a slot opened up and Suzanne issued an invite-to-work, Kathy jumped on it. She’s been helping all of us to not pull out our hair ever since, as she patiently reconfigures those little (and sometimes big) errors we sometimes make. I caught up with Kathy recently and below is our interview.

Spike: I think I ask everyone this question—so I’m asking you, too. After all this time, is it still fun to work around yarn? And do you still want to knit when you’re off the clock?
Kathy: Mostly it is. I get to help people all the time. I like solving random knitting problems. And I get to put pretty colors together on the shelf. I still knit when I get home.

Spike: What brought you to knitting?
Kathy: I started in 1997. I was avoiding papers my last year in college. I thought what better way to do that than learn a new skill? My husband ended up with some very strange things. I think he still has those in a box. I made a hat that wasn’t a hat— I didn’t have a pattern. It was a lacy blob thing. That’s one of the many times I learned about gauge.

Spike: Pivotal knitting moment?
Kathy: The town we lived in when I learned to knit was very small. There was a Ben Franklin but it went out of business. Somebody bought the random arts and crafts stuff from them and rented a narrow storefront and put it all in there. That’s all we had access to—whatever yarn they had and stuff at Walmart. At least we were in Iowa where it’s cold and knitting made sense. Then we came back to Texas and I learned about real yarn and that was the most exciting thing ever.

Spike: Favorite thing to knit?
Kathy: I jump all over the place. I have a tendency to do a lot of hats. They’re quick and people pay me to knit them. I have a little business--

Spike: What big project are you working on now?
Kathy: I have a baby coming, due December 10th. I’m knitting a little bit of baby stuff. I I have some interest in it, which I didn’t before. Renate is finishing a baby sack for me—it kind of looks like a dress and it zips at the bottom. It’s Shepherd’s worsted in brown, green and cream. And I’m making an E. Zimmerman baby kimono with soft wool. I’m trying to do girly patterns in boy colors and boy patterns in girl colors, but mostly staying away from pink and blue. Although the kimono has some blue in it—blue and purple and orange. I also made some purple cargo pants out of Classy—that’s a washable, worsted weight wool that Dreamy Color makes. I put penguin buttons on the pockets.

Spike: Most bizarre question you’ve gotten?
Kathy: Some people call and think we’re a hair weaving place. They want to know about that.

Spike: Best advice?
Kathy: If you make a mistake—it’s okay to come in. You don’t have to try to fix it if you don’t have a clue. Somebody will make a mistake and try to fix it themselves and spend three hours when we could’ve fixed the original mistake for them in five or ten minutes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hip To Knit Returns!


Hey Y'all,

We are bringing back Hip To Knit our popular ongoing knit gathering for teens and kids. Parents are welcome to hang out and knit, too. Lindsay is going to be HTK's fearless leader. And the fun starts up again this Sunday, September 13th from 2 pm til 5 pm.

Starting in October, regular HTK meetings will happen the first Sunday of every month. (We're doing second Sunday this month since last Sunday was part of a holiday weekend.)

How's it work? Easy. You can call or pop by the store to RSVP and let us know you're coming. If you've got a project-in-progress you can bring it along. Or pop by a little early on Sunday-- we open at 1-- and Lindsay can help you pick out what you need to make a project suitable for your skill level. ALL LEVELS are welcome-- there are lots of cool beginner projects that knit up quick and look great.

It's a bargain at $25, and a great chance for young knitters to discover the joys of group knitting, so if you've got a young knitter interested, encourage her/him to invite some friends, too.

The whole thing is a bargain at $25.

PLEASE RSVP at 707-7396
or email us at

Hope to see ya Sunday!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crawl of Fame! Get Your Passports Ready!

It's almost time to crawl, y'all. Yep, the Hill Country Yarn Crawl is just a month away. Passports go on sale September 19th and you can pick yours up at Hill Country Weavers. A mere fifteen bucks gets you both your passport and a lovely tote bag. Then, get ready to crawl.

How does it work? Well, you're invited to visit a dozen knit shops in the Hill Country, including, of course, the yarn shop named for the Hill Country. The crawl lasts for four days over Columbus Day Weekend. Other participants include:

Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe (Cedar Park)
Ewe and Eye (Boerne)
Gauge (Austin)
Old Oaks Ranch Fiber Arts Center (Wimberley)
Rosewood Yarns (Boerne)
Stonehill Spinning (Fredericksburg)
The Knitting Nest (Austin)
The Tinsmith’s Wife (Comfort)
The Yarn Barn (San Antonio)
Yarnivore (San Antonio)
Yarnorama (Paige)

And the Yarn Crawl more than a shopping spree. It's a chance to bond with your fellow fiber fanatics, an opportunity to win lots of prizes, and a time to meet up with some fantastic local fiber artists who will be showing off their skills and wares. You'll also get a free gift (value approx $8), and at each store you visit and make a purchase at, you'll be registered to win a $25 gift certificate.


If you visit at least 9 shops over the course of the four day crawl you'll be automatically entered into a bigger contest with a Grand Prize valued at $400!

For all the details check out the link above. And do swing by the store to get your passport as soon as you can-- we've only got a limited number.

Monday, September 7, 2009

FALL in Love!

Okay People! It's Labor Day-- yay! I hope all y'all are off from work and can head down to the shop. As you will see in the glorious photos below, we got big, fat, delicious shipments of fall yarns and accessories. I am psyched. And if you think the pictures are gorgeous, wait until you see this stuff up close, and run your fingers over it. So lovely.

I am also psyched that, at least in our imaginations, the weather will be cooling down soon. Even though I've been in Texas eighteen years as of today, I am-- don't hold it against me-- a Yankee by birth. And so my mind always thinks of Labor Day as the time to bust out the warm clothes. Even if it's really not time for that here in Texas, you can get a jump on knitting some lovely sweaters and socks now, so you'll be ready when our one week of winter hits around New Year's Day. For my part, I'm about 3/4ths of the way through an ear-flap hat made that I'm making with some gorgeous hand-spun, hand-dyed Manos de Uruguay. I think when I finish I'm going to crank the a/c down to 60 and wear it around the house in eager anticipation of when it actually drops down to 60.

I do want to point out that we do not "summer in love" or "winter in love." Maybe some of y'all "spring into love." But really, more often than not, we "FALL in love," right? So come FALL in love with all the great new stuff. And don't forget Fran's sweater class starts this Sunday, September 13th, so call down the shop if you want to sign up.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Free Pattern Friday: Small Batch!

Hey Y'all,
Can you stand another food analogy? Maybe I've been affected by all the food memoirs I've read, or by seeing Julie & Julia. Whatever, the case, when my ladies over at the store sent me a pattern to post for Free Pattern Friday, it reminded me of the kitchen. Because they told me that, even though the pattern calls for Provence yarn, they used Fiber Company's Canopy instead. That, in turn, led to a larger gauge. Which means you can knit the small size listed in the pattern. Which means fewer stitches and a quicker finished garment.

THEN I went and actually looked at the pattern, which is for a baby sweater. And in the introduction, the designer explains how this can be most satisfying, since you can knit it up very fast. But it features some really nice details, so you get to practice your skills and have a really terrific looking little sweater.

So, wait, how does this relate to the kitchen? Well, I like to mess around when I cook, change up the recipe some, use my instincts. And, though I haven't quite mastered the wisdom of trying out new things in small batches, once in awhile I do remember that this is a good way to go when testing out something new and exotic. Thus this week's pattern, what with the switched out yarn and tiny dimensions, is on par with making just a little bit of something new.

Either that all made perfect sense, or else you might be thinking I worked way too hard this week and my brain is mush. Well, that's true, too. Bon appetit!

Here's the link for the pattern.

And here's the yarn and a detail of the sweater:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

FRAN-Tastic Sweaters!

I am SO happy to tell you that Fran has a sweater class coming up really soon. Starting September 13th, you can work with her for five sessions over five weeks. Then there is a sixth session, about a month out, to give folks who need extra time a chance to finish.

I took Fran's sweater class last January/February and it was life changing for me. Really. Because I learned how to read a tricky pattern, and I learned how to sew seams without ending up with some big lumpy mess that I had put so many painstaking hours into. I was so inspired by the class, and I got so much confidence, that even though I knew it would be a major challenge, I set myself to the task of working on the sweater coat featured on the cover of the latest Interweave KNITS. Fran's voice is in my head as I work, and I have to tell you I am stunned and delighted that I'm actually doing it. So if you've been meaning to learn sweaters, or bump up a level in your skill set, now would be the time.

I chatted with Fran the other day to find out about her history of knitting. Check it out:

Spike: Fran, when did you start knitting?
Fran: I remember knitting as a young kid, sitting on the sofa, in the middle because I had those geat big loooong needles. Then I knit sporadically—a little bit in high school. Once I knit a sweater for a boyfriend and we did break up—I didn’t know about that curse when I made it. But I really didn’t start knitting in earnest until five years after I moved to Austin in '92. I was having a hard time in my life and a friend brought me to a knitting group at the store. Everyone was so warm and friendly. It helped. The knitting preoccupied my mind and got me to focus again. It also distracted me during parts of the day. And the yarns were so beautiful-- in my house growing up we'd had Red Heart yarn. I didn’t know there were all these kinds of yarn. Noro was really exciting. And Koigu. We all would be so excited when a new box arrived.

Spike: When did you start working at HCW?
Fran: I retired from teaching and Suzanne offered me a job. It all sort of fell in place. I think it’ll be four years this month. I started fulltime then I went partime after a year and a half. I slowly started teaching classes. I teach socks on circulars, sweaters, lace, and I have a Tuesday night group. Of all the specialty classes—I like teaching socks. Well, actually I like it all. The way I plan my classes is I find something I like and I knit it up to see if I really like it-- I don’t want to teach something I don’t care for just to teach it. I have to be enthusiastic about it.

Spike: Who are good candidates for a sweater class?
Fran: I think it’s really important that you’ve done at least four or five projects where you've had to read a pattern and that you know something about increasing and decreasing. As far as pattern reading-- it could be a hat or scarf pattern you've learned to read, you don't have to have sweater experience. Learning to read sweater patterns is part of the class. We’re also going to learn buttonholes and shaping. And we do all the different kinds of seaming. Blocking—that’s a big part of it, too. Also, you don't have to knit an adult sweater for yourself. You can make a baby sweater to learn the technique.

Spike: What's it like, getting people from start to finish for a sweater, oftentimes their first sweater?
Fran: It’s so interesting because over five or six weeks they’ve grown so much. They’re very hesitant at first but then they grow confident about tackling issues.