Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from HCW!


Learn to Knit in 2011

Knit Purl Express classes for January
Don't have time for the full meal deal?
Sign up for an EXPRESS CLASS!
January 3 6:30- 8:30
January 20 6:30 - 8:30
January 30 3:00 - 5:00




Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Merry, Very Special Christmas Surprise from Us to You!

Hey Y'all,
MERRY CHRISTMAS!! We have a big exciting surprise for you! Last week we announced that you can now purchase SHELTER -- Brooklyn Tweed's amazing new yarn collection-- at our brand new online shop. If you missed the post awhile back about the SHELTER line from Brooklyn Tweed (aka Jared Flood), you can read all about it here. Hill Country Weavers is one of a handful of flagship stores around the country that has the honor of carrying SHELTER in-house, and offering it online was the next big step for us.

designed by Kathy Bateman
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)
Well, guess what else? Suzanne was so excited and inspired by the unique quality of SHELTER, she invited a number of local designers to create patterns that put an Austin twist on the yarn. This posed an interesting challenge, since Austin has four seasons: summer, summer, summer and Christmas. The substantial woolliness of SHELTER and the Southwestern heat of our city don't have an obvious fit, but that just upped the ante on the challenge. What designers discovered is that SHELTER's color palette and earthy texture actually play quite nicely with the weird unreconstructed hippie/urban cowboy aesthetic that Austin is known for. We think it's fascinating how this yarn, which was developed in New Hampshire, with a very New England feel to it can still look quite natural when paired with neon, stucco and cowboy boots.

designed by Snowden Becker
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

Very soon we'll have a print version of the pattern collection available for you. But as our special gift this holiday season, Suzanne toiled tirelessly and ceaselessly to get the patterns online. That's right, you can buy them TODAY at our online shop! Here are some more gorgeous pictures of the projects, taken by Austin photographer Meg Rice.

designed by Kourtney Moon
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

designed by Emily Kausalik
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

designed by Kathy Bateman
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

designed by Suzanne Middlebrooks
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

designed by Suzanne Middlebrooks
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

designed by Elizabeth Green Musselman
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

designed by Elizabeth Cobbe
photo by Meg Rice (c 2010)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Worry, You Can Holiday Shop Right Up til Christmas Eve!


December 19 11-5

December 23 10-9

December 24 10-3

December 26 1-5


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great News for Our Far Flung Friends! Shop Online at HCW

Big Fat Exciting News!! Hill Country Weavers now has an online store! It's true. Right now, we're offering just one exclusive brand: Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed. You might recall awhile back we posted a note telling the story of Brooklyn Tweed's new line. BT aka Jared Flood is one of our very favorite knitters, teachers, and human beings. If you were lucky enough to take a class with him last year, you know what a swell guy he is.

Jared put a lot of thought, time and effort into developing his born, bred, sheared and spun in the USA line of fibers and the colors are gorgeous. He's also a magnificent photographer so just looking at his stuff can keep you happy. (Note to Jared: please make us a screensaver so we can look at Shelter all day long.) Shelter is only available in a handful of shops around the country. We are lucky enough to be the designated Southwest dealer.

For those of you who don't live close enough to drive in every time the urge hits to get more Shelter, you can now buy it online at our shop. And you can also pick up Jared's super beautiful patterns, many of which are inspired by architecture. And heck, even if you do live close enough to drive over to the shop regularly, you'll still want to check out the online shop.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Time for Second Sunday!


Join us for the last Second Sunday of 2010!
December 12
11:00- 1:00

It is SUCH a busy time of year. So much shopping, wrapping up both the gifts and all the many tasks on your overburdened To-Do List. Let's face it-- you might not get it all done. So why not get a jump on leaving those tasks unfinished. Come on down to HCW on Sunday and chill with your knitting buddies. Because nothing gets you in a better, cheerier state of mind than working those needles with your fellow fanatics. Bring some snacks to share and those projects you need to get finished.
See you soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Santa Baby... Holiday Gifts That Measure Up

[pictured above: lantern moon tape measure that's in sheep-shape! i have one of these and i love it!]

So I popped in the store on Sunday, right around closing time, to imagine a list I might make of holiday gifts I'd love to receive. I checked in with Kathy, Kennedy, and Emily, too. Then I made a mad dash through the rooms, snapping pictures of all sorts of goodies, from stocking stuffers to a very fancy bag (available in red or green) that would excite most knitters more than, say, receiving a diamond ring. (Let's face it, you can't keep your stash in a diamond ring-- they're terribly impractical.) Here are some ideas for you to give and receive, along with a few bonus pictures-- of my son showing off his new Alpaca fingerless gloves that I made for his birthday, and of a couple of items I found online. Now remember, it's always better to shop local and we all know HCW has the best supply of everything for knitters. But once in awhile I find something out there that I order online, just to round out my collection.

[kennedy says you need one of these bags in red and also green (see below)]

[glass buttons are an exquisite gift. i could just put these on my coffee table and look at them they're so pretty.]

[kathy wants a stocking full of super chunky from knit collage. can you blame her?]

[glass needles anybody? these are so darn pretty.]

[more glass-- do you see a theme here. there are all sorts of beautiful shawl pins made in many mediums.]

[a great stocking stuffer-- why settle for plastic cable needles when you can have these tactilely fabulous bamboo ones?]

[more stocking stuffers-- fancy stitch markers, already wrapped!]

[when i checked on sunday this was the very last yarn bowl in stock and we won't have more until january. would somebody please buy this for me?]

[my son wearing his alpaca fingerless gloves. i learned how to make these in one of deb's classes. gift certificates for classes are also an excellent present.]

[if you want to round out your knit-gifts this year with some t-shirts or posters that proclaim your passion, you can get t-shirts, mugs, etc. online at CafePress or how about a Keep Calm and Knit On poster from this etsy shop.]

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nice to Snow Ewe! (Holiday Classes!)

Knitters-- Flock on in for upcoming classes. Make your holiday gifts. Better yet, make gifts for yourself. Here's what we've got going on. Call the shop to sign up.


(second Friday of every month)

December 10

"Felting ornaments for the holidays is a fun and fast way to create one of a kind personalized decorations."
Bring styrofoam balls in whatever sizes you desire to felt around and pictures or sketches for ideas.
You may also want to include some scraps of yarn to create garlands.
Let's make December national wool month this year and celebrate it's versatility.
MATERIALS:styrofoam balls, scraps of yarn and fleece in holiday colors, felting needles and fleece, which can be purchased at HCW. 2 old towels, old nylon stockings.

Weaving for Knitters
December 9 6:00 - 9:00
Fee: 40.00

This is a perfect class for my fellow fiber fanatics! The loom we use is really portable and extremely easy to set up. You can use all kinds of knitting yarn from leftovers to all that sock yarn you haven't used yet. You will burn through your stash in not time. Weaving cloth is a magical thing and incredibly FAST!!!!
MATERIALS: Bring your Stash... or better yet, buy New Stash!
IMPORTANT: Student can bring their yarn in ahead of time to determine if it is suitable for this class
INSTRUCTOR: Suzanne Middlebrooks

Continental Knitting
December 11 10:00 - 1:00
Fee: 40.00
all levels welcome: Beginner to Seasoned!
Continental knitting AKA German style or pic knitting is a popular, fast, fun and very efficient way to knit!
Deb will teach you the continental way to knit, purl, and yarn over while creating a colorful market bag or these fun and fast washcloth/dishcloths.
Learn how to knit and purl by carrying the yarn in your left hand. Continental knitting is often used in color (fair isle knitting) and can help alleviate strain by using both hands to knit.
Patterns ranging in difficulty have been selected and revised to allow the new continental knitter to practice and hone their new skill. Students will receive copies of all patterns.
WASHCLOTH MATERIALS: Student will need 90-125 yards (per cloth) of any cotton or cotton blend yarn with a gauge from 4.5 - 5.5 stitches per inch. Needle size per yarn label.
1 skein Araucania Pomaire or comparable gauge cotton
2 skeins in 2 different colors of Cotton Classic that compliment/contrast variegated Pomaire,
US # 9 needles, 16" length (some like to switch to 24" as the bag gets larger)
4 Split ring stitch markers
Bring some wool or acrylic scrap yarn for practice and your knitting gear.

Let's Make Mittens
December 11, 2:00 - 5:00
Fee: 45.00

MITTENS are ADDICTIVE! Deb takes you through the basics of 'MITTEN KNITTIN' !!
Materials: 2 skeins bulky yarn with stitch gauge of 3 sts/inch, US 10.5 double point needles or recommended needle size on yarn label
bring scissors, split ring markers, and your regular knitting gear!
P.S. IMPORTANT!!! don't forget to wind your yarn before class so you don't miss anything!!

Baby Leggings
December 12 10:00- 12:00
Fee: 25.00

Do you know someone who is pregnant? Maybe you're hoping for some grandchildren in your life? Why wait to knit baby gifts? Start now with these adorable baby leggings! They're quick baby shower gifts and a perfect excuse to learn a new knitting technique.
In this class we will explore 3 ways to knit in the round for projects too small for a 16 inch circular needle. We will make these baby leggings using double pointed needles, magic loop method, and 2-circulars. Everybody has a favorite method, do you know yours yet?
We'll also cover how to stripe colors in the round without an obvious color change--also known as a "jogless jog".
PREEQUISITES: Students must know how to knit, purl, cast on, and bind off.
MATERIALS: Berroco Vintage or other worsted weight yarn. You'll need about 100 yards total – either all one color or two different colors of about 50 yards each.
Bring needles for the methods you want to learn:
* Double pointed needles method: size 7 double pointed needles
* Magic loop method: size 7 circular needle 40" or longer
* 2 circulars method: two size 7 circular needles (length is unimportant, when in doubt get 24" or 29" long needles)
INSTRUCTOR: Kathy Bateman
LEG MODEL : Athena Rose

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First Thursday Sale: Color My World!!

Happy Colordays!


Did you miss Black Friday?
Couldn't compute Cyber Monday?
Well, don't skip HCW's Fyber First Thursday Sale!
SAVE 20% off yarns of black or white*.
15% off books & bags...great holiday gifts!!
* not including already marked down merchandise.

december 2, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Hope My Mom's Not Reading This

Hey Y'all,
So, okay, December starts TOMORROW. And the holidays officially kicked off last week. I'm not ambitious enough to knit all my Christmas gifts, but I did happen to finish up one the other day. I made my mom an Irish Hiking Scarf in Noro. (You can get the free Irish Hiking Scarf pattern here.) I have to confess that it didn't start out as a Christmas gift. Months ago my mom-- who rarely asks for anything-- asked if I'd make her a scarf. It took me awhile to finish thanks to my insane schedule. But since I happened to get it done on the cusp of December, I figured I'd just go ahead and wrap it up because, really, isn't one of the best parts of a gift the part where you riiiiiiiiiip off the fancy paper?

I'm really pleased with this scarf for a couple of reasons. First of all, when I asked my mom what color she likes, she said, "all of them." Instead of feeling overwhelmed by this, my mind instantly thought, "Oh, she means she wants something in Noro." Since I first discovered Noro I was smitten. I return to it again and again-- my comfort yarn. I'm also pleased because it was only two years ago that cables befuddled me. I worked on an Irish Hiking Scarf in 2008 that I kept putting down because I felt confused by the whole concept. This time around, cables felt very easy. Granted, it's not a rocket science project, but working a six-foot long project like this was good practice. I really, truly want to make an Aran sweater in 2011 and this scarf suggests to me that, if I pick a fairly simple pattern, I can actually do it. That strikes me as nothing short of remarkable, as I used to look at cabled sweaters and think, "Never in my lifetime." So here's to progress.

I'd love to hear what y'all are working on for gifts-- either for yourself or others. Soon I'll do a post about Great Gifts FOR Knitters. But today I'm wondering what your idea is for Great Gifts FROM Knitters. Do you do small projects so you can crank out a lot of them? Or do you just pick one or two people who are worthy of your knitting-- who will really appreciate it-- and make them something complicated and time consuming? How far in advance of December do you start? What's the best/worst compliment/comment you ever got on a handknitted gift? Is the Boyfriend Sweater Curse true?

Meanwhile, for those of you looking for inspiration for gift-making, there are a couple of classes coming right up. You can call the shop or pop by to sign up. Here's info:
December 4 1:00 - 4:00
Fee: 60.00
Have you always wanted to try a fair isle project and weren't sure how to begin?
Stranded knitting (which includes fair isle) means working with two colors in each row.
This class will teach you the keys to success with stranded knitting, including how to read color charts,
how to keep your stitches even, and how to work with two yarns at once.
PREQUISITES: Students must know how to cast on, knit stitch, and how to bind off.
MATERIALS: 2 colors of a worsted-weight wool yarn: at least 150 yds of main color + at least 50 yds of contrasting color
size 7 needles (16"" circular + dpns)
blunt-tipped tapestry needle

Best Ever Towel
December 5
9:45 -12:45
Fee: 30.00

Learn to knit with two colors, one at a time.
This introduction to slip stitch technique will show you how to make a beautifully textured fabric that has a different look on front and back.
It makes a great towel but can also be made into a great baby blanket.
PREREQUISITES: How to knit and purl.
MATERIALS: Needles, size 8 or 9
Blue Sky Organic Cotton, 1 each of 2 or 3 colors.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dear Knitting: I'm Giving Thanks for You!

Dear Knitting,
Today is Thanksgiving. I have many things to give thanks for: good health, great friends, and dogs that tolerate costumes to name but a few. Near the top of my list is, of course, you. Knitting? You have saved me so many times. You've kept my hands from becoming devilishly idle. You've inspired me to use my imagination. You've helped me start conversations all over the world, often in languages I did not speak but somehow understood, as strangers pointed to you on my needles and gestured wildly and happily in a way that easily let me know that they, too, were grateful to have you in their lives. I'm thinking of little old ladies on the trains in Japan. Speed knitting men in el mercado in San Miguel de Allende. Yarn shop owners in Buenos Aires.

I am thankful, too, that you are so wonderful that you have managed to make my boyfriend so interested in the process that he actually engages in conversations about you on a regular basis. (Though I admit I'm a little less grateful for the fact that you have inspired him to set knitting challenges for me that I can't seem to refuse: knitted handcuffs, a knitted turkey hat, a knitted menorah hat, and most recently a knitted gnome hat-and-beard. Don't get me wrong, these are all fun but they cut into my Selfish Knitting for Me Time.) I remember last December when we were going to be apart for New Year's Eve-- him in Paris, me in Houston. And he said he planned to go to the Eiffel Tower at midnight to look at all the pretty... hand knitted scarves and gloves. That's really what he said and I know he meant it. Because you, knitting, you are so beautiful and intricate and practical and whimsical and warm and wonderful all at once that you could distract a man from all those sexy mademoiselles and focus his attention instead on life's more important beauties: cables, lace, baubles, ribbing, intarsia, and Fair Isle.

Oh yes, knitting, you are such a wonder to behold. Thank you for existing so that I can take annual trips to Monhegan Island for my knitting retreat. (I wouldn't qualify to attend without you in my life.) Also thank you for existing so I have an excuse to hold semi-regular Knit Knights-- eating/drinking/talking extravaganzas that leave my friends and me fuller on so many levels.

Thank you for being the thing that means I have a unique wardrobe, one I can give myself some credit for. Thank you for lending yourself to playfulness and elegance. Thank you for not minding that sometimes I mix and match hand knit Noro socks with a kimono-style Silk Manos sweater and Alchemy lace scarf.

Thank you for inspiring my writing-- since you came into my life I have found new magazines to write for and, hopefully, soon, will have a book all about you to present to the world.

Thank you for being a really big reason Hill Country Weavers exists (though I know the weaving is important, too). HCW is on par with the beach when it comes to my Happiest Places in the Universe, and I need only step inside the door to feel better about my life. My troubles melt away as I look at all of the yarn and books and gadgets dedicated to you, my dear knitting.

Today is a day for giving thanks. I cannot heap enough upon you. Thank you more than I can say for all you have brought into my world. I can't wait to sit down with you later today and just run my hands all over you, and drink in your beauty, and wrap you in my arms. (Well, okay, wrap my arms in you.)

With love and gratitude,
p.s. The picture at the top is a hat much like one I made. This one comes from and you can find the pattern by clicking this link.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And You Think Those Socks You're Knitting are Tricky...

Hey Y'all,
Deb sent me a really cool link to a TED Talk about crocheting a coral reef. In case you don't know, TED Talks are these twenty minute lectures by smart people from all walks describing interesting projects they're working on. In this particular talk, called Margaret Wertheim on the Beautiful Math of Coral, Wertheim describes how she and her twin sister came up with a project to get lots of people working together to crochet massive coral reefs. The video, which you can see here, is a great example of the complexity of crocheting.

This past week, I taught yet another person to knit. And as my student makes progress, I'm revealing to him some of the hidden awesomeness I discovered about knitting along the way, namely the math and architecture. So many handicrafts have been (and in some circles remain) dismissed as silly pastimes undertaken by women. Wertheim's project dispels this-- it demonstrates vision, art, math, science, and environmental concern. And as we know from our own projects, there can be tremendous complexity in creating a knitted, crocheted, or woven item.

Watching the TED Talk reminded me of the massive research I did last year as I worked on a book about the history of quilts. That book will be officially released tomorrow. (If you want to buy a copy you can email me at or pick up a copy at Amazon.) Like other crafts associated mostly with women, there have been plenty of times over the course of history when quilts were either taken for granted or not appreciated as art (or both). And, also like other crafts, because the medium (textiles) often deteriorates over time and due to use, many pieces have been lost due to disintegration. Even some of the magnificent works that remain are mysterious because their makers are unknown.

Perhaps it's true that as the makers were creating their works they did not think of the pieces as art. Or, even if they did, the artistic part was secondary. A lot of quilts are utilitarian first, made to keep people warm. Nowadays, there's an entire movement of art quilters (some of whom prefer the title Textile Artist)-- I wrote about 20 of these artists in my last book. Fortunately these days there's a growing pool of quilt historians who are focusing on all that hard work undertaken by so many nameless women throughout history. A few places, like the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, that have massive collections of historic quilts and also offer really in-depth textile programs. Earlier this year, the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum in London featured its first installation of historic quilts.

Closer to home, the University of Texas has a pretty impressive collection, though it's not on permanent display anywhere (yet). I was lucky enough to acquire a lot of images from the Joyce Gross Collection at UT to include in my latest book. You can make an appointment to check out the collection at the Dolph Briscoe Center.

With Thanksgiving coming up, I'm offering thanks for all of the nameless women throughout history who toiled so hard-- knitting, quilting, crocheting, weaving, cross-stitching, etc.-- to make things that were both practical and beautiful. I love how DIY has had such a resurgence in the past ten years and all the super-creative ways needleworks are now being employed. Nicely done, y'all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eastside Knit Night: Tuesday, November 16th!

Hey Y'all,
A lot of you probably already know about E.A.S.T the groovy art event that happens all over the East side for two weekends. I live here in the east and let me tell you, if you've never taken the E.A.S.T. tour it is really something. The 2010 event kicked off this past weekend and this coming weekend you have another chance to check out art studios large and small, see great art, eat snacks, and meet fellow art lovers. But something you might not know is that Tuesday night, November 16th, from 5:30ish til 10:30ish, Starving Art Studios at 2326 E. Cesar Chavez is hosting Eastside Knit Night.

EKN is being brought to you by The Wondercraft folks-- they operate a craft shop out of a shiny Airstream named Stella-- and Yarn Harvest, the folks who take old sweaters and turn them into "new" yarn. Both Wondercraft and Yarn Harvest are local operations (yay, Austin!). There will be many great knitters on hand to teach new knitters (I believe I'm on the roster of teachers). And at some point they'll be screening the documentary Handmade Nation which features Austin's Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching and Madga Sayeg, aka Knitta Please, who, you might recall, blessed our city this past year with lots of great knit graffiti (vastly improving "those blue things" at the Lamar underpass).

They'll be free gifts from Gauge Knits (hi Karli!) for the first thirty people to show up.

This is going to be a SUPER AWESOME EVENT! Please join us!