Friday, May 29, 2009

SO Much to Tell!!

Technically it's Free Pattern Friday but, pardon our breathlessness, so much is going on that I'm going to use this Friday's post to get you caught up on some really cool things happening. Then, next week, we'll see about resuming the free patterns. (And feel free to email me any free patterns you're particularly fond of:

First of all, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot, gave a totally kick ass reading at BookPeople last night, an event we co-hosted with The Knitting Nest. I'm going to take a little time over the weekend to write up tales from the reading-- I need to process before I can report because yes, there was so much good stuff I'm still reeling with joy.

Meanwhile, sorry I didn't report this sooner but I only recently found out myself about the art installation at dBerman Gallery at 1701 Guadalupe. The show features work by Lauren Levy, who lives here and uses buttons as her primary medium, with some quilting in the background. I just wrote a piece about the show for a forthcoming issue of FiberArts Mag. The bad news, though, is that the show closes TOMORROW. So, if you're reading this before 6 on Friday or between 10 and 6 on Saturday, do NOT wait, go on over and see her work. I'm including pictures here but you have to get up close to see the thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS of buttons. Really astounding stuff. (Oh, and if you go today, you might also want to walk up one block and check out the incredible two-for-one happy hour appetizers at the Clay Pit-- why sit in traffic when you can see good art and eat good Indian food for half price?)

And then, on Sunday, Testsite, an Austin studio/gallery/experimental workplace/private residence located at 502 W. 43rd Street, is launching their latest project. Click this link for all the details. But the short version of it is that there is a opening reception and artist/writer conversation on Sunday May 31 from 2-5 p.m. where artists Sheila Pepe and Elizabeth Dunbar are going to talk about this wild project they've got planned. They are going to install massive networks of crocheted yarn and then, over the course of three open knitting sessions in June they are inviting the public in to unravel and then use the same yarn to make new projects. So, yes, the installation will physically deteriorate over the next month, but be repurposed and, in the process, promote community and creativity. And, oh yeah, it's going to be FUN.

Okay, below are a few more pics of Lauren's work. Even if you can't make it to the gallery, by all means at least visit the website and see pictures of all her pieces. See you at the Stash Swap tomorrow!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stash Bash!

Hey Y'all,
First of all-- do not, I repeat: DO NOT miss Stephanie's Yarn Harlot soiree tonight at BookPeople. Even if you didn't score tickets to the reception, you are still welcome to the reading. You do not have to purchase a book to attend. However, if you want a book signed, you will need to buy at least one there. So, let's say you have two YH books you already own and want those signed-- okay, but you'll need to buy one at BP, too. Shop local and all that. Also, rumor has it that Stephanie has a bad head cold so depending how long the line is to greet her, well, maybe she'll only have time to sign forty books per person-- let's see how she feels.

Now, onto the next VERY IMPORTANT matter of business/fun. Usually, we keep our email updates different from our blog posts, you know, to keep it lively and interesting and different. However, occasionally, I can't resist sharing with you info from an email, just in case you didn't get it. (If you aren't on our mailing list and want to be, just shoot me a note:

So this Saturday, May 30, we're hosting a HUGE STASH SWAP & SALE. You are invited to join us as a seller, a buyer or both. The event is from 10 a.m. til 6 p.m. and we'll get there at 9 a.m. to help set up on the front and side lawns of the store.

You don't have to RSVP, but it sure helps so... if you know for sure you're coming, drop a note to and let us know how big your stash is. (The one you're bringing, not Your WHOLE STASH-- hehehe.) The focus of the sale will be on fiber and fiber-related tools (yarn, roving, needles, hooks, drop spindles, books, magazines, etc.), but bringing other craft supplies is fine, too - including fabric, beads, and the like.

There will be a large bin available for any yarn and other materials that you would like to give away rather than sell. Please bring along a chair to sit in and as many beach/summer-themed containers as you can for displaying the goodies you have to sell (e.g., kiddie pools, coolers, buckets, beach bags, beach towels). We are gathering together some of these things, too, but would appreciate any containers you can bring for yourself. If you have a beach umbrella, that would be a smart thing to bring, so that you can keep yourself shaded. Water and sunscreen would be good, too - we only want people passing out from yarn fumes!

Please also bring some small bills and coins so that you can make change. We will have some on hand, too, in case you run out of small change. We recommend marking up your yarn, books, etc. with prices ahead of time, just as you would do for a garage sale. You keep all the proceeds.

The gravel lot right next to HCW is now free again. The entrance to the lot is on Monroe St. Please park either here or in the spaces on Congress right in front of that lot. If it rains we’ll move the sale into the Knit Buzz building behind the store.

And remember, as our beloved knitting blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee likes to say, Every stash needs a little airing now and then. So come on down, unload, refresh, and have some fun with us.

See ya tonight AND Saturday I hope,

Monday, May 25, 2009

Get YOUR Free Tickets to the Yarn Harlot Reception!

Hey Y'all,
As promised, we are giving away a VERY LIMITED number of tickets to meet-n-eat with Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-MacPhee, before her reading at BookPeople on Thursday night. You can't buy these tickets, you can only get them from the ticket fairy. That would be me, Spike. Each ticket admits two and includes wine and delicious snacks, plus some Stephanie time and a chance to meet all your fellow rabid knitters.

This pre-reading reception starts at 6 pm and the reading begins at 7 pm. We really want to sock it to Stephanie with a big warm welcome. So do join us. And how do you do that? The first twenty people to email: will receive passes for the event. (Please note, the reading is also free and that is totally open to the public. Just the reception is our little secret.)

Thanks and see you Thursday,

Friday, May 22, 2009

Free Pattern Friday: Fran-tastic Washcloth!

Welcome to Free Pattern Friday Y'all. This week, we wax poetic on the glories of hand knitted washcloths. What is it about these almost-too-pretty-to-wash-with items that we love? Well, for one thing, they're quick to knit up because they're small. For another, even if you do decide they're too pretty for daily showers, you can use them to decorate the "good bathroom" (you know, the one for company). They can also double nicely as a Barbie blanket for the young doll lover in your life. Or, if you make enough of them, you can stitch them together into a big blanket.

Another plus? Washcloths are a great opportunity to try out new patterns before dedicating yourself to a bigger project using that pattern. That way, process of elimination, you can zero in on the patterns you think are prettiest or easiest depending on your knitting needs. (Confession: I most often prefer the easy route myself, though from time to time I get a wild hair and want to up the challenge.)

Good news for those of you already in love with knitting washcloths and those of you just toying with the idea-- HCW staff created a book of patterns that's available down at the store. At a mere five bucks, it's a total steal. Here are some samples of what you can make and if you scroll on down you can try out Fran's Heart Lace Washcloth pattern for free.

Happy knittin',
p.s. Stay tuned for our Yarn Harlot Party Ticket Giveaway on Monday.

[Group shot]

[Suzanne's Washcloth-- Surprise--not-- It's got that woven look.]

[Kathy's Washcloth]

Fran's Heart Lace Washcloth

1 skein Plymouth Oceanside Organic Cotton
US 6 needle

Note: SKP is slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over

Cast on 43 stitches

Work garter stitch for 4 rows.

Row 1: K4, *YO, K2tog, K3, YO, K1, YO, K3, SKP, YO, K1;repeat from*to last 3 sts, K3

Row 2 : K3, Purl 43, K3

Row 3 : K5, *YO, K4tog, YO, K3; repeat from * to end, end last repeat with K5

Row 4 : K3, Purl 37, K3

Row 5 : K4, * K1, K2tog, YO, K5, YO, SKP, K2; repeat from * to last 3 sts, K3

Row 6 : K3, Purl 37, K3

Row 7 : K4, *K2tog, YO, K7, YO, SKP, K1; repeat from * last 3 sts, K3
Row 8 : K3, Purl 37, K3

Row 9 : K3, K2tog, YO, K9, YO, * SL1, K2tog, PSSO, YO, K9, YO; repeat from *, end last repeat with SKP, K3

Row 10 ; K3, Purl 37, K3

Repeat these 10 rows 4 more times and rows 1-4 once more to complete a heart motif.

Work garter stitch for 4 rows

Bind off.

Pattern adapted from The Vogue Ultimate Knitting Book

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Yarn Harlot is Coming! The Yarn Harlot is Coming!

You know her, you love her, you want to make socks with her... Yes, it's true, everyone's favorite knit-blogger (well, besides/in addition to yours truly), Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot is coming to town next week. She'll be at BookPeople at 6th and Lamar to do a reading at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 28th. And GUESS WHAT?!

That's right, Hill Country Weavers is giving away tickets to hang out with Stephanie ahead of time at a private reception featuring good eats, wine, and all the knit talk you can stand. We'll let you know sometime in the next few days how you can score tickets to the reception. You can't buy them anywhere and there aren't that many for the taking, so stay tuned.

Want to increase your odds? Follow us at Twitter. Or friend us on Facebook. Or better yet, do both.

Okay, mark those calendars and we'll see y'all real soon.


Monday, May 18, 2009

AdVeNtUrEs in KnItTiNg-- Join the fun: it's Free!

Awhile back, I dropped in on the AdVeNtUrEs in KnItTiNg group, where members Pam, Ellen, and Valerie were holding court as part of the ongoing Pi Series. I grilled the ladies about this pi-as-it-applies-to-knitting thing. They explained how the math concept works and suggested I look at online examples. So I looked at some finished pi projects, and saw that they were round and flat, like a tablecloth, and can be folded and worn as a shawl.

“We started Adventures in Knitting with a free class on how to do it,” says Valerie.

But teaching technique was just a slice of the pi class. Says Pam, “Eating pie was our real motivation.” So for meetings, they offered lessons and dessert.

Well, sorry pie-lovers, but that class wrapped awhile ago. In fact, this Thursday, May 21st, group is meeting to celebrate the completion of yet another project and to talk about the next project. And what's that? The Net Duffel Bag by Vivian Høxbro featured in the Spring 2009 INTERWEAVE Knits.

Even if you didn't make the scarf they're finishing up, and even if you aren't sure if you want to commit to the bag, you should absolutely make time to pop in at KnitBuzz 6:30 - 8 and meet the AIK group. They all have great knit tales to tell. When I was there, Valerie educated me about all sorts of online knitting groups and the many swap options out there for both yarn and finished projects. I noted the gorgeous scarf she was working on which, she informed me, would soon be sent off to a stranger. I gasped thinking about giving away something like that to a stranger.

Valerie explained she also receives great stuff. She then told me about the traveling project scene, where a knitter sends out an unfinished project to another knitter, who works on it a bit, mails it to another knitter, and so on until, at last, you get back your original project, finished.

We also talked about how each got hooked on knitting. Valerie started as a girl, learning from a neighbor who ripped out her first project which put her off knitting for sixteen years. Even now, with her passion totally reignited, Valerie hardly ever follows patterns—a little rebellion against the mean perfectionist teacher maybe?

Pam picked up knitting about fifteen years ago, settling on an afghan for her first project. “It was the kiss of death,” she says. “I finally ripped it out and said I’d never knit again. I had little kids, it was the wrong project for a new knitter.” She quit, too, but started again when she met Valerie.

As for Ellen, she was in her early twenties and on a visit to see her mother in New Orleans when the knit bug bit. “We went to the yarn store and got this bulky yarn, hand-dyed, and a got a book called The Right Way to Knit. I made a vest – two squares I seamed at the shoulder. I kept knitting from there.”

The Adventures in Knitting group is free to attend and *usually* meets the second Thursday evening of the month at KnitBuzz though, as noted this month, the meeting is coming up on third Thursday. “We want to contribute to our knitting community and support each other as knitters not knitting the same old things,” says Pam. “That’s how you grow, try something new.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

Free Pattern Friday: You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

So last summer, I bought a bunch of Berroco Natural Lin, a rayon/linen blend that looks great and feels great and... And then I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with it. Originally, I started to make a bag, but then I changed my mind. Then I found a pattern for this cute waist-wrap thing, but that didn't work for me either-- I realized, fortunately before I got too far into it, that my mind was doing that trick where I was convincing myself if I made the garment and put it on, I would immediately look like the model showing it off in the pattern picture. Since she's about twenty-five years and at least twice as many pounds less than me, it dawned on me I might wind up with a seventy-hour project on my hands that I would end up putting on one of the dogs like a superhero cape. Much as I like dogs in capes (or any costume really) this is the year of Selfish Knitting for me, where I want nearly everything I make to be something I really, truly wear and enjoy.

I started surfing around for patterns, something that would look really good, keep me busy but not be too complicated because it's getting hot (okay, it already is hot) and summer, for me, is all about doing what I can to try to kick back. Well, I found what I was looking for at The Purl Bee, blog for Purl, that famous knit store in NYC. I dropped them a line to ask if I might share this lovely, simple, knit mostly-in-the-round tunic and they said sure. (I just love the knit community.) So here you go, a link to the Leah Tunic. I hope you dig the simplicity of it-- that's something else I associate with summer. And if anyone else wants to take this project on, let me know and maybe we can get a little knit-a-long going over at KnitBuzz.

Happy Weekend,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Excuses, Excuses: A Bag Lady 'Fesses Up

I don't think I'm alone when I say that sometimes I think my compulsive knitting needs are merely a veiled excuse for collecting bags. By applause, how many of you in the audience also indulge in buying (or making) new bags for each new project you're working on?

For me, bag collecting is a bit like collecting those pretty journals in stationery stores. I have a lot of those, too, each with a few pages filled in, all of them scattered around the house where, instead of feeling guilty or wasteful for having bought so many, I feel thrilled and excited to have them all. Maybe there's another connection-- pretty, empty (or partly full) journals and pretty, empty (or partly full) knitting bags represent potential. Your eyes feel so good looking at the outside and your heart feels so good knowing that what will one day be inside (a lovely collection of poems, a cashmere sweater) is something you created yourself.

Or hey, maybe I'm overthinking it. I'm curious what your theories are. What is it about beautiful bags? Form meets function? Or merely the practical notion of keeping projects separate so they don't tangle? And do you, as do I, like to buy logo bags from faraway knit shops so that when you carry them around envious fellow knitters will imagine you traveling far and wide, centering your vacations on knitting?

Boy do I have a LOT of bags. I love them all. The gigantic ones that hold ten or fifteen skeins for a sweater. The itty-bitty zipper pouches that hold my stitch markers and measuring tape. The long needle bag, a mini-bamboo forest from which my circulars spring forth whenever I open it.

Well, we have a ton of bags down at the shop, more than we can show here. But here's a sampling. And the great thing is, as you know, you don't have to use these for knitting-- they make excellent everyday summer bags, too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Knit-A-Morphosis Part I

The above is a picture of the first sweater I ever made. Oh, I know it looks like a bag. And, in fact, that’s what it really is—now. But once upon a time, it was a sweater. As sweaters go, it was a pretty bad one. The stitches were very consistent and the yarn—gently variegated—was (and still is) gorgeous. But at the time I got it in my head to make it, I was a novice determined to figure out pattern reading on my own.

Anything I didn’t understand—say the meaning of ssk—I sort of just skipped over. Also, I was working with the Peppermint Twist pattern featured in Debbie Stoller’s first Stitch ‘n Bitch book.

That sweater is cropped. As my mid-section still features some of my pregnancy fat (even though my son is, I admit, 18) no way was I showing off my midriff. So I improvised to lengthen it. Eventually, I managed to come up with, roughly speaking, the necessary components to put the sweater together. A front. A back. A couple of sleeves. I even tossed in some stripes.

It’s what happened next that really went wrong. (Or, let’s be generous and say, where things really went differently.) I didn’t know how to seam properly. I glanced at the illustrations in S&B. And then I thought, To heck with it, I’ll just sew it up however I feel like it. (This is the same attitude that caused my junior high home ec teacher to suffer migraines when she watched me work.)

You know that old saying about sugar—One lump or two? This sweater emptied out the sugar bowl entirely, that’s how lumpy it was. And it wasn’t quite long enough. And the sleeves weren’t exactly height/length proportional. But I had spent so much time on it, I was bound and determined to wear it, which I did all five days of each year that the temperature in Austin dropped down below 62 degrees.

For a long time, I never washed it. Mostly I’d dab away schmutz with a damp cloth. Then, in one of those “time saving” moments, I got it into my head that the sweater could be tossed in the washer on gentle. I guess I forgot to switch it to cold water. It came out semi-felted, sort of child-sized, if I could find a child with a very odd body shape. So I decided to turn it into a bag. The results were great if you don’t count the heartbreak I felt at having destroyed the sweater.

I’ve made a number of others since that first one. And I’ve learned a lesson: those puppies aren’t even allowed on the side of the house where the washer lives.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Free Pattern Friday! Cellphone Pouch!

Hey Everyone,
Don't forget to call your mom for Mother's Day! But first, take your cell phone out of its cool knit pouch. Oh, but wait-- to do that you'll need to make the pouch. Easy. How? By using the excellent free pattern below: Daria Cellphone Pouch designed by Susan Bussard. Noro Daria is pretty interesting stuff. It's got that classic Noro variegation you love but no wool or silk here. Instead, it's a cotton/rayon blend and it feels more like cord than yarn. We've got a number of different color mixes on display in the front window. Come on down and check it out.

Cell Phone Pouch Materials

Yarn: 1 skein Noro Daria Multi (makes 2
pouches following these directions)
Needles: 4 #2 Double points (suggest bamboo)
Size E crochet hook
Yarn needle
Gauge: approx 5 st/in
Size of pouch: 5” in circumference, 4.75” long (size can be adjusted by adding/subtracting to the
number of cast on stitches and/or adding/subtracting number of rows between the YO, K2 tog rows.


Cast 6 stitches onto 3 dp needles (2 sts per needle)
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Knit into front and back of each stitch, increasing to 12 stitches total
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: Same as row 2, increasing to 24 stitches total
Row 5-10: Knit
Row 11: YO, K2 tog around (still 24 stitches)
Row 12-18: Knit
Row 19: same as row 11
Row 20-26: Knit
Row 27: same as row 11
Row 28-34: Knit
Cast off loosely. Do not cut yarn.
Crochet a 35” chain (or desired length), attaching the end to the opposite side
of the pouch at top (11 stitches between strap ends).
Weave cast-on tail into the first 6 stitches of the cast on and pull tightly to
close up bottom hole. Weave in all ends.

Tips: Knit rows 11, 19 and 27 loosely, as you will have to k2 tog on the next
row. This yarn does not stretch, so you’ll need the maneuvering room. Also,
before you knit, place your balled yarn in a yarn bra or sock to keep it from
unraveling too easily.

Susan Lu Bussard (copyright 2007)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lots Going on at the Store!

First of all, YAY!, the new Interweave KNITS issue is out. And I'd like to toot my own horn for a minute here. I had the great pleasure and honor of interviewing designer Deborah Newton for this issue. She has designed, among other things, hundreds-- probably more like thousands-- of sweaters over the years. She also has authored a bunch of books and one of them, Designing Knitwear is a regular Bible for folks who want to learn how to design their own garments.

Deb is passionate and delightful and talking to her made me want to drop everything and become a designer myself. (This will have to remain a fantasy, given my aesthetic limitations and propensity to knit hats that look like roasted chickens.) Of all she told me, I think what I liked best was her insistence that you never have to rip anything out, you can just fix it. It's a terrific theory. You can pick up the new issue at the checkout desk at Hill Country Weavers

And what better time to stop in than tomorrow night (May 7th) for First Thursday. As usual we're having a nice big fat sale for you to enjoy. Here are the details:

HCW loves all babies!
So snap on a onesie and get down to the All About the Babies First Thursday Sale!

20% off all yarns and kits located in HCW babyland (think knitwhit), all yarns with "baby " in the name (think, baby cashmerino, baby alpaca, baby kid extra....), and all yarns from these Baby Friendly Companies:
Be Sweet
Louisa Harding
Fibre company
Ella Ra
Cottons by Araucania

PLUS!!! 20% off all BLUESKY YARNS in honor of our baby bon bon blanket (get the pattern for free)!

Want more baby???
Try these baby blanket yarns:

Still crying baby???
10% off books and patterns featuring baby projects!

And we'll give you an additional 5%off total sales if you can answer a question about the big babies at HCW!!

See you there,

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dear Stella (Episode 2)

Dear Stella,
Everywhere I turn, I hear people talking about social networking this and social networking that. I’m afraid I’m a little out of the loop on this. Can you explain? Thanks.
Not a’Twitter

Dear Not,
I’m guessing you’re talking about online social networking. I actually prefer my social networking via some good sniffing sessions down at the dog park. But I have to admit that the Internet can be a handy way of meeting like-minded folks who share your passions.

We’ve had a Hill Country Weavers' website for years now. And awhile back, we joined Ravelry, an online community for knitters. But in the past few weeks, we’ve really gotten motivated to learn for ourselves what all the fuss is about. So we started a Facebook page, signed up for Twitter, and got this blog going. So now you have all sorts of ways to keep track of what we’re up to—from mini-bursts of micro-blogs on FB and Twitter, to these longer entries here at our blog (with Free Pattern Fridays!). Of course you can always come down to the store or join us at KnitBuzz for some face-to-face community building. There’s a list of classes and meet-ups at the website.

Meanwhile, here’s a handy, all-in-one list of where you can find us, friend us, and follow us on the web:

Be our friend on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter!

Check out our blog. (Hey, you already are!)

Get info on the store-- classes, gatherings and more.

Be our friend at Ravelry!

See ya online,

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Little Correction: Lindsay & the Beanstalk Pattern

We found a little boo-boo in the original pattern we posted for Lindsay & the Beanstalk summer scarf. That's been corrected, so now the pattern reads just right. So sorry for any inconvenience.

Free Pattern: Let the Good Times SCROLL!

Scroll Stitch Scarf

Okay, we're on a (sc)roll with Free Pattern Fridays, so here's another one for you. Knits up quick and easy and it's made with lovely Alchemy Bamboo which comes in a lot of cool color combos like these:


• 2 balls of Alchemy Bamboo
• Size 7 needles


Cast on 42 sts (or some multiple of 10 plus 2)
Row 1(RS) k1 *yo, k8, k2 tog* end k1
Row 2 p1 *p2 tog, p7, yo, p1* end p1
Row 3 k1 *k2, yo, k6, k2 tog* end k1
Row 4 p1 *p2 tog, p5, yo, p3* end p1
Row 5 k1 *k4, yo, k4, k2 tog* end k1
Row 6 p1 *p2 tog, p3, yo, p5* end p1
Row 7 k1 *k6, yo, k2, k2 tog* end k1
Row 8 p1 *p2 tog, p1, yo, p7* end p1
Row 9 k1 *k8, yo, k2 tog,* end k1
Row 10 p1 *yo, p8, p2 tog-tbl* end p1
Row 11 k1 *ssk, k7, yo, k1* end k1
Row 12 p1 *p2, yo, p6, p2 tog-tbl* end p1
Row 13 k1 *ssk, k5, yo, k3* end k1
Row 14 p1 *p4, yo, p4, p2 tog-tbl* end p1
Row 15 k1 *ssk, k3, yo, k5* end k1
Row 16 p1 *p6, yo, p2, p2 tog-tbl* end p1
Row 17 k1 *ssk, k1, yo, k7* end k1
Row 18 p1 *p8, yo, p2 tog-tbl* end p1
Repeat Rows 1-18 until desired length. Bind off.