Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tanks Giving-- Carol's Lovely Lace

We're hoping to do a lot of posts featuring work y'all have knitted up. And today, for our inaugural edition of Your Cool Stuff on Our Blog, HCW patron Carol is here to tell us about a gorgeous summer tank she finished recently. Carol says:

"The pattern is called Lace-Edged Corset by Michele Rose Orne in the book Lace Style by Pam Allen & Ann Budd** out of Interweave Knits. On my way to finding the yarn called for, I fell in love with a pale cream Bamboo from Ornaghifilati. I then couldn't find a yarn for the lace edging
that matched, but did find Enchante, a 100% silk, by Kaalund Yarns in Jacaranda, a lovely multi-shaded lavender to mauve. However, it was too fine by itself, so I finally found a shade of #8 pearl cotton (Anchor #108) that supported it beautifully.

I thought it would be cool to use bamboo needles to stitch bamboo yarn, but as I knit tight, it proved less than ideal, but I
continued and used it as an opportunity to practice knitting looser. The mix of my tension and the different yarn caused the gauge to come out right at the size 3 needles the pattern called for. I looked at the book because of the word 'lace' and bought it because of this pattern. I immediately saw my daughter wearing it. I mostly enjoyed making it, although I made the pieces separately first, had them come out different lengths, and ripped them right out and made them over at the same time, which I hadn't wanted to do because of dealing with three balls of yarn at once.

I reworked the bottom lace as the directions made a lace that was too ruffled for the effect I wanted. Making a fitted garment wasn't hard, but blocking it was, as laying it flat messed up the fitting. I did work it out, though, and the yarn blocked quite nicely. In all, I am delighted with the results. My daughter is due to visit me this summer and I plan to get pictures of her wearing it. I refuse to mail it as I insist on seeing her face when she opens her present."

**Yes, we do have the book in stock. And shhhh, if you run into Carol's daughter, don't tell her. It's a SURPRISE.

Monday, April 27, 2009

iPhone Apps For Knitters-- YAY!

I don’t know about you people, but I am an iPhone junkie. I don’t even like talking on the phone much. But I do love having an all-purpose gadget—computer, game device, calculator, much needed GPS, and iPod—in my bag at all times.

For those of you unfamiliar, I’ll tell you one of the coolest things about the iPhone. You can install all sorts of applications— from incredibly silly games to highly practical gadgets— that range from free to 99c to… well, I’m not sure what the high end is. And yes, there are even apps for knitters.

StitchMinder is a free iPhone app that can keep track of rows completed, what pattern row you’re on, pattern repeats and increase rows. Very, very helpful. I became instantly addicted and used it constantly when I was working on a (for me) complicated sweater pattern.

I also bought KnittyBag for 99c, a total bargain. I can use it to keep track of all the needles I own so when I’m at HCW wondering if I have those size 2 DPs some pattern calls for—and I’ve done that a lot, forgetting to bring my needle bag— now I can check my iPhone.

KnitGauge is another 99c app you can use when you don’t have a tape measure handy. When you bring up the program, you can lie your iPhone sideways on a swatch and drag screen images of needles to match up with your knitted stitches. Voila: gauge calculated!

I have this belief that knit-geeks were the original tech-geeks, long before the days of harddrives and software, or even electricity for that matter. Think about it—all the number crunching and measuring and calculating that has gone into knitting for centuries. Computer whizzes have nothing on Aran pattern designers. So I really like how these apps bring the two worlds together—makes excellent sense.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Free Pattern! Lindsay & The Beanstalk Summer Scarf!

Summer Time and the Knittin' is Easy... That's the name of our HCW pattern booklet, with summer scarf designs by Suzanne, Valerie, Pam, Gardiner, Fran, Brenda, Susan, Jordi, Latifa, Kathy and Lindsay. Because, you know, this is Texas and if we only wore our scarves in winter, we'd get what? Two weeks of the year to show off our fine stitches? That's not nearly long enough.

So the gang got together to come up with some light, bright, and whimsical ideas for you to create fashionable accessories that won't cause you to break out in a sweat. There's even a pattern for you crocheters out there, and another one for those who prefer weaving. The booklet is on sale now at HCW. But to get you started, here's a free pattern and some pictures of what you'll find inside.

Lindsay & The Beanstalk Pattern
Knit with one ball of Elsebeth Lavold Cotton Frappe

Cast on 22 or multiples of 4 + 2

Row 1: k1, *yo, k1, s1, k2, psso the k2, repeat from * until one stitch left, k1
Row 2: purl
Repeat these 2 rows until desired length acheived

Close up of Lindsay & The Beanstalk

This is Brenda Koester's crocheted scarf Flower Window Box made with one skein of Mondial Bamboo

Close up of Flower Window Box

And here's Kathy Bateman's knitted scarf Orange You Glad It's Summer knit with one ball of Katia Lino.

Close up of Orange You Glad It's Summer

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Second Annual Warehouse Blowout Sale! Friday & Saturday Only!

Last year, Suzanne was sitting on a bunch of back stock eyelash yarn. You know, that fluffy, fuzzy, very forgiving stuff that’s great for whipping up fun and fancy scarves and accessories in garter stitch, or crocheting some pizzazzy finishing trim on shawls and sweaters. To clear out the excess and make room for the next season’s offerings, she threw what we now can refer to as the First Annual Warehouse Blowout Sale!

Because it was so fun, she’s doing it again. Welcome to the Second Annual Warehouse Blowout Sale! And really, you shouldn’t miss it. Because this year, it’s more than fuzz and fluff. There’s a lot of classic everyday yarn, some of it from the recently discontinued Jaeger line by Rowan. There’s some traditional stuff that is great at showing off stitch definition and cabling. Definitely stock that will appeal to knitters of all levels and tastes, with enough of some skeins to provide a sweater’s-worth of yardage.

The first annual sale had shoppers in a frenzy, some planting their kids in boxes of yarn to stake their claim. You might want to bring several kids with you this year to mark your territory, as the pickings are going to be that good. Oh, and please—you should definitely bring your own bags.

The sale is OFF SITE (see below) and Friday and Saturday only.

APRIL 24 and 25 10am – 6pm
40% - 80% off of retail prices & featuring these classics!!

Debbie Bliss
Jo Sharp
Dale Yarns

Address: 11313 Yucca Drive (corner of Yucca and DK Ranch Road)
contact HCW at 707-7396 or for additional information.
Maps will be available at HCW or use Google Maps

Monday, April 20, 2009

HANDKNIT HEROES-- Comics for Knitters

Suzanne went to market in San Diego a little while back. Market, as I imagine it, is this super fantasy world where all the yarn and notion wholesalers gather to woo all the top tier knit shop owners. In my fantasy, there’s just this explosion of fiber art love.

Okay, so maybe it’s not really like that. But I do know, from talking to Suzanne, that there really is plenty of cool stuff that goes down. And definitely new and interesting product. This year, it wasn’t some new yarn or diamond encrusted needles that grabbed her most. Instead, it was a comic book.

That’s right. A comic book. It’s called Handknit Heroes and it’s the brainchild of writer/knitter Stephanie Bryant. As she explains in her intro, the idea came to her at a knit night (don’t all great ideas happen at knit nights?). And after mulling it over, she came up with a story and then hired Marc Olivent to illustrate it and knit designer Erssie Major to create a related pattern.

The result—Issue 1—is a pretty rocking little cross between old school comics and new wave graphic novels with instructions for a cool scarf (one that would be useful to a superhero) thrown in. There are four main characters, a bit of mystery, and a cliffhanger ending to entice you to sit on the edge of your seat (knitting, of course) as you await the next issue.

And yes, you can get your copy of the inaugural issue at HCW. It’s $5.50, a bargain for a story, a project and what might wind up being a collector’s item one day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cowl: A Little Correction

Last week we posted a free pattern for Susan's gorgeous Lacy Cowl. There was a small error in the pattern. We made the correction directly in the original post so that now it reads just right. Whether you already printed the pattern, or are ready to do so now, you can find it right here and rest assured it's accurate.

Sorry for the boo-boo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oh Baby! Free Pattern: Sweet Bon Bon Baby Blanket

Wandering around the store one day, I noticed the Sweet Bon Bon Blanket sample and I was immediately smitten. I loved the choices of color, I loved the weight of it, I loved the little bon bon "garnish." I knew it would be perfect for my friends who were expecting. Plus, added bonus, the blanket is done in a Chevron pattern, which I'd never tried before. In the end, it was fun and fast and I was thrilled to learn something new. Little Zoe, my friends' baby, was born last fall and I must say the blanket-- I made hers in pastel purple-- was a perfect fit and a perfect hit. (Also, now whenever I drive by a Chevron gas station and look at the logo, I have happy memories of making that blanket.)

Here's the pattern-- I promise you you will so enjoy making it.

Sweet Bon Bon Baby Blanket
By Suzanne Middlebrooks


• Main Color: 3 skeins Blue Sky Cotton (150 yds, 100 g, 100% cotton)
• Contrast Color: 2 Balls Filatura di Crosa Bon Bon (99 yds, 50g, 100% Polyamid)
• Size 9 or 10 needles


Kfbf: Knit into the front of the stitch, knit into the back of the same stitch, then knit into the front of the same stitch again (an increase of 2 stitches)
S1, K1, Psso: Slip 1 stitch knit-wise, K1, pass slipped stitch over (a decrease of 1 stitch)

Chevron Pattern (multiple of 10 + 6)

Row 1 (Right side): K3, *K2tog, K2, Kfbf, K3, S1, K1, Psso* repeat between stars 9 times, K3
Row 2 (Wrong side): K3, P until 3 stitches remain, K3


Cast on 96 stitches.
Knit 4 rows garter stitch.

Rows 1-12: Repeat Chevron Pattern 6 times.
Switch to contrast color. Do not cut main color yarn. Bring yarn up side of work by knitting first stitch only of Row 13 with both main color and contrast color held together.
Rows 13-16: Knit 4 rows of garter stitch with contrast color. Cut contrast color.

Repeat Rows 1-16 nine times.
Repeat Rows 1-12 one more time.
Knit 4 rows garter stitch.
Bind off.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dear Stella (Episode I)

Dear Stella,

I’m pretty new to knitting. I actually started out on some acrylic yarn and really long aluminum needles I picked up at one of the huge craft stores. A friend of mine who has been knitting a long time laughed when she saw my project. She insisted I try bamboo needles and natural fibers. I popped by HCW recently but had no idea where to begin and everyone around me seemed to be speaking a different language. And I was really stumped by all those little gadgets are on the back wall next to the needles—do I really need all that?

Still Working on a Big Red Potholder in South Austin

Dear Still Working,

I’ve seen so many newbies walk through the HCW door and then their eyes get really big. At first it looks like delight but sometimes the turns to terror. And every time that happens, it reminds me that, while I know the inventory like the back of my paw, a lot of new knitters don’t know where to begin. What needles are the right needles? How do you know what yarn to use for which pattern?

The good news is, our entire staff is bilingual. They each speak both Hardcore and Knewbie Knitterese. I know you might feel shy asking for help, like you’re the only one not in the know. Not true at all. In fact even a lot of seasoned knitters still need advice when taking on a new project.

I recommend that you go to a website like or and just browse through the patterns. Or come into our book room and flip through all the books and magazines. When you spot one or two things you like, talk to one of the sales humans. They’re very friendly and they don’t bite. They can let you know if the patterns you like are good for your skill level. If not, they’ll help you find something a little easier. And they’ll set you up with the right needles, yarn, and gadgets. (Which, no, you don’t need all of them, but some of them—like stitch markers and a tape measure—are really helpful.) As you continue knitting, you’ll figure out what feels best to work with for you.

Don’t worry about not knowing it all. Just congratulate yourself for having the good sense to come over to the Knit Side. Always room for one more.
Yours in long naps and warm dog sweaters,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spike of Green Cables: Irish Hiking Scarf

[Spike's beloved Satch modeling Irish Hiking Scarf]

As with a lot of knitting techniques, I started out terrified of cables, convinced they would forever be beyond my skill set. And, as with other knitting related fears, I decided to face off with my cable-phobia by taking a class. That was years ago, and Deb was the teacher, and I remember the project was a little purse called Cute & Cabled. I remember because Deb seemed delightfully shocked that someone with my “tastes” (which run toward thrift store flannel shirts, old Levi’s, and hiking shoes on a good day) would sign up to learn how to make a cutesy bag.

But, of course, my goal wasn’t to have a purse I wouldn’t use in which to carry lipstick I wouldn’t wear—I gave the project as a gift. No, it was about the journey for me. I wanted to conquer cables, practice in the presence of a patient teacher, and gain confidence so that I could then turn around and immediately knit an incredibly complicated, oversized Aran sweater, one awash with hundreds of cables.

Yeah, right.

Okay, okay, so the Aran sweater dream fell by the wayside pretty fast, and then I forgot about cables altogether. Until one day, a few months ago I was bouncing around Ravelry when I stumbled upon the Irish Hiking Scarf, and it grabbed me. So I got out some cottony tweedy green yarn I had been saving for just the right project and I began to re-immerse myself in cables.

After a couple of months of pick-it-up-for-a-day-put-it-down-for-two-weeks-pick-it-up-for-a-day routine, I finally hit my pace and got into a daily rhythm. I could understand why which stitches were where, so I could work without referring constantly to the pattern. I even came to figure out when it was time for a cable row without having to use my counter. Which is to say cables finally clicked for me, I mean really, fully, and completely clicked. Don’t you love it when that happens?

Working with such an excellent pattern helped tremendously. I could knit at a very easy level but wind up with a finished garment that looks pretty darn snazzy. And I met lots of knitters along the way who, when they heard what I was working on, enthusiastically said, “I made that!” It’s like the pattern everybody knows.

But just in case you don’t know it, I emailed Adrian of Hello Yarn, who wrote the pattern to ask about sharing it. She wrote back right away and said she’d be fine with me sharing the pattern via a link. So here you go, everyone: A Link to the Free Irish Hiking Scarf Pattern! Thank you, Adrian. I LOVE MY SCARF.

And now I really will make plans for an Aran sweater. (No, really!)

What about y’all—fans of cable or not? And have you had one of those moments when a technique just clicked for you, you really got it? Do tell.

Here are some details from my process-- that one very weird picture? That's the scarf being blocked on some old towels.

Friday, April 10, 2009

In Our Easter Bonnets...

This Easter Sunday, as on Easter Sundays dating back to the 1800s, hundreds or maybe even thousands of New Yorkers will parade along Fifth Avenue, showing off their Easter Bonnets. The tradition started back when the poor folk would come out to watch the rich folk go to Easter church services-- the have nots wanted to see what the haves were sporting that year. Somehow, this all morphed into what is now a hilarious spectacle of an event, with participants in the informal parade trying to outdo one another with their ridiculously silly chapeaux. Irving Berlin even wrote a song about the parade, back in the 1930's, with lyrics that included:

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade
On the Avenue
Fifth Avenue
The photographers will snap us
And you'll find that you're
In the rotogravure
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet
And of the girl I'm taking to the Easter parade

Okay, so that's NY. But what about Texas? Do any of y'all remember when Easter bonnets were still a big deal? I can't remember a specific Easter bonnet myself, though I'm sure I had them over the years. And I do remember that if we forgot to bring a veil to Mass when I was little, we had to bobby-pin a tissue to our heads. Any other tissue-heads out there recall this church ritual?


Suzanne found this picture of herself sporting an Easter bonnet back in the day. Which got us talking about the evolution...uh... or is that demise of Le Hat de Springtime. Allow me to illustrate this point with the following offerings from our brave comrades over at HCW, unafraid to reveal their questionable holiday headgear:


[Kourtney center, Kathy bottom]

What about y'all? Have any good Easter bonnet pics you're willing to share? Email them to me at and I'll post them here.

Also, speaking of Easter-- this year Easter falls on what is also perhaps better known at HCW as SECOND SUNDAY, the Sunday we typically gather to knit and knosh. This Sunday we'll be closed, so we'll have Second Sunday the following week, on Third Sunday. More info on that soon. Until then, Hoppy Easter (and Passover!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Free Pattern: Susan's Lacy Cowl!

Hey Y’all,

So we have all sorts of plans for this blog—and we’re open for requests and suggestions so do send those in. One thing we’re aiming for is to regularly post free patterns and project ideas. To kick off this part of the plan, today we offer up Susan Bussard’s Lacy Cowl, made with Rustic Silk.

Susan’s been working at HCW for about a year and a half. She’s got two dogs she absolutely adores—they came from Town Lake Animal Center. She’s a knitter, crocheter, spinner and weaver and a member of the Knitters’ & Crocheters’ Guild of Austin. While her new passion is spinning and dyeing, her longtime passion is knitting—she’s been at it for thirty years.

When she’s not working at the store, there’s a good chance she and her husband are driving around to far flung knitting stores in the RV Susan bought so she could take her spinning wheel along on trips.

Here’s Susan’s Lacy Cowl Recipe:

Yarn: 1 skein of Nature’s Palette Rustic Silk
100% tussah silk
142 yds (130 meters) 3.5 oz (100 grams)
Sample is in color NP 148 Glacier (Light blue)

Needles: 16” circular needles #10

Japanese Feather
(From A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker)

Row 1 and all other odd rows: *K10, P1; rep from * around.

Rows 2 and 4: * K10, P1; rep from * around.

Rows 6, 10 and 14: *K1, (yo, k1) 3 times, (ssk) 3 times, P1; repeat from * around.

Rows 8 and 12: *K1, (K1, yo) 3 times, (ssk) 3 times, P1; repeat from * around.

Rows 16 and 18: Repeat rows 2 and 4.

Rows 20, 24, and 28: * (K2 tog) 3 times, (K1, yo) 3 times, K1, P1; repeat from * around.

Rows 22 and 26: *(K2 tog) 3 times, (yo, K1) 3 times, K1, P1; repeat from * around.

Repeat rows 1-28.

Cast on 88 sts. Join with first row of Japanese Feather stitch.

Repeat Japanese Feather stitch pattern until desired length, or until you have just enough yarn to bind off loosely. Avoid binding off after a row that includes yarn overs.
Wash gently either by machine or hand. Put in dryer on cool/warm setting until almost dry, to give it a soft hand. Lay flat to dry thoroughly.


Abbreviations: K=knit, P=purl, yo=yarn over, with yarn in back, ssk=slip 2 sts one
at a time knitwise. Insert tip of left needle into the fronts of these 2 sts from the
left and knit them together. K2 tog=Knit 2 stitches together.

Pattern © Susan Lu Bussard 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Heather, Heather, Heather! And a String of Purls!

Hello Fellow Knit-Heads,
Well I am SO happy to report I am back in Austin, TX. Nebraska weather was just too much for my always-freezing self. But before I left that state (switching my flight ahead two days to avoid a predicted blizzard), I had a most wonderful encounter. Suzanne knew I was flying out of Omaha after my trip to Lincoln. She excitedly informed me that the Most Beloved Heather, who used to so cheerfully help us out at HCW, now lives in Omaha. She sent contact info and Heather and I connected and made a plan to meet up at String of Purls, that city's totally kick ass knit shop.

I got there first, and was pretty blown away by SOP. The nice folks at The Yarn Shop in Lincoln had told me that SOP has a very curious method of organizing inventory. Instead of putting yarns together by brand or weight or fiber content, just about all the fibers are organized by color! Very interesting visual effect. And what makes the place even more fun is that, while you'll see walls of one color or another, all around the store there are any number of bright, multi-color objects like furniture and paintings. Speaking of furniture, there are cozy overstuffed chairs and couches around a fireplace in the main room. And there's a bright teaching room off to one side, but with a wide open doorway (wait, bigger than a doorway-- maybe we say "no doorway") so that there's a nice community feel.

I plopped down and started talking to a couple of knitters and a couple of the store owners. I know I don't have to say it, but let me say it anyway: it is SO easy to shoot the knit with others. I love how you don't have to explain or defend your passion. And I love how, after ten years of knitting (the first four focused on garter-only rectangles), I finally understand what people mean when they refer to "broken cables" or "top down cardigans."

Then, whoosh, in came Heather, as bright and shiny as y'all might recall and we had the best knit-and-chat session, getting caught up. Heather's still adjusting to the weather-- if I lived in Omaha, I'm sure I'd spend the rest of my life adjusting to the weather. But she's got a job she loves at Gallup, and a nice house, and many, many, many opportunities to wear her knitted goods. In fact, the day we met, she had on a gorgeous sweater and scarf and was working on a lovely lacy cowl.

I was so glad for the company, and filled with more than a little gratitude when Heather actually led me from String of Purls to the airport-- a labyrinth I never could've navigated on my own. H promises to visit Austin soon, and I hereby proclaim that when she does, we will have a KnitBuzz party in her honor.

So thanks, Heather. And thanks String of Purls. I can't wait to try out that alpaca I bought with that two-sided cable pattern y'all generously shared.

Friday, April 3, 2009

KnitKit = Big Hit!

Hey Y'all,
So I'm in Lincoln, Nebraska this week to research a book I'm working on about the history of quilts from around the world. Actually, I have changed the name of the state to Nebrrrraska, since it's around 30 degrees here in the mornings. And it's supposed to be blizzard conditions this weekend. The upside of all this terrible weather is that I can-- and have been-- essentially wearing every single thing I have ever knitted, and I have been wearing these items simultaneously. For example, right now I've got on Noro leg warmers, a Manos silk/wool sweater, some Nashua hand warmers, and a shawl/scarf I knitted up from recycled silk from Tibet. (My heavy Noro hat is in the car).

It's kind of odd that while I am, at heart, a hardcore knitter, I make a good part of my living writing about quilts. One day, I hope to transition to writing full time about knitting. But for now, when I'm in some faraway place researching quilts, I do my best to drop by the local knit shop ASAP. I managed to get to The Yarn Shop my first day here. I met Salli, the proprietress, and her friend/co-worker Amber, and their friend Thea, who were sitting around knitting. I wandered the shop looking for a treat-- I try to always buy yarn mementos on my travels-- and wound up with some alpaca sock yarn and a tote that says Caution: Chick with Sticks.

I was surprised to learn they don't carry Noro-- Salli says it's too much of a pain for her to deal with the company. But I won't hold it against them that they don't carry MY ALL TIME FAVORITE FIBER. They have plenty of other great yarns to choose from. I had a really great time chatting with them. And then, as I was about to head out, Salli said, "Wait! Have you seen this?" and she showed me the new KnitKit . To my eye, it looked like a cross between a miniature toilet seat lid and an oversized pack of birth control pills. Then Salli demonstrated the MacGyver-esque tool, a real work of genius, featuring a tape measure, mini scissors, stitch markers, a crochet hook, a thread cutter and point protectors, all in this sleek little package. (Made me wistfully remember my old '67 Volkswagen pop-top camper van, an entire little house packed into about a 2x2 foot area.)

Well wouldn't you know it-- within hours I happened to get an email from Suzanne, asking me if I'd seen the new KnitKit yet-- she just got a batch in at the store. And lo, I had. Holy serendipity, Batman! I love it when that happens. So good news then-- you can pick up your own right over here at Hill Country Weavers. A steal at twenty bucks.

This weekend: I head to Omaha for another knit shop stop. Stay tuned...