Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Big News: Hill Country Weavers Is GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!!

-don't worry we are going nowhere fast!
Oh, and we didn't monkey with your kid's tricycle either.

FIRST THURSDAY IS APRIL FOOLS DAY so we have somethingSPECIAL for this First Thursday 2010!

We are repeating our BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR!!
SO here is the drill:

SAVE 20% on all yarn purchases* up to $100.99!
SAVE 25% on all yarn purchases* $101.00 - $299.99!!

* does not include already marked down items

(sale date April 1, 2010)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Alchemy: It Really Is Like Spun Gold

Hey Y'all,
So when Suzanne took me to Market in January, I met all sorts of great folks. Not that it's a contest or anything, but I'm going to have to say that most memorable of all were Gina and Austin Wilde, who own Alchemy Yarns of Transformation. I'm a Jersey girl by birth, and even though I've been here in Austin for going on twenty years, I still have some of that... well let's just say some people think I'm a little straightforward. Likewise, Gina is not shy about saying what's on her mind, and I'll tell ya, this drew me to her instantly. And this was even before I checked out her yarns.

The night after we met, I went by the Alchemy booth, which itself was a stunning work of design genius. Then I started laying my hands upon the skeins, and feasting my eyes on the colors, and I wanted to dance and scream and weep and faint. You know, my version of being at a Beatles concert. Despite my alleged (self-proclaimed) genius with words, this is one of those cases where words cannot do justice to product. I mean you have GOT to get down to the store and check out the batch of Alchemy that just came in. I was down there admiring earlier today and it reminded me of looking at the dessert tray at some five star restaurant in France. The colors are beyond exquisite and the tactile thrill I experienced when I dared touch it was... well let's just say if I didn't have fifteen projects on the needles right now, and the need to make some baby booties and a baby hat by next Wednesday, I would be over here right this instant making something-- anything-- from Alchemy. (Once I get those baby things out of the way, I think I'm setting aside all else and I'm going to do just that.)

A little bit about Alchemy... so, you know about the Slow Food Movement? It's about taking your time with food, eating local, making an effort to know your ingredients and put together meals that don't involve packaged foods. Think of Alchemy as the Slow Yarn Movement. Gina and Austin live on a farm in Sonoma County in Northern California. There, in the studio, the use old school techniques to hand paint premium fibers that they get from around the world. Color inspiration comes from nature. And as for process-- they take no shortcuts. Once the yarn is painted, it is steamed over an open fire, then hung up to dry. They don't hasten this part of the process with chemicals or dryers.

And if that's not impressive enough for you, Alchemy also adheres to strict policies honoring social consciousness. So when you use their yarn, you can be certain you're getting stuff that made it from sheep to store without any animals or humans suffering along the way. (I'm getting so excited sharing all this that I think as soon as I put up this post I'm going to email them and ask them for a job.) You can read more about the Alchemy story at their website. But first, better go get some before it sells out. I ask only that you leave a little for me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

HCW Summer Camp Registration Has Begun-- Don't Wait to Sign Up!!

CAMP HCW 2010!!

June 28 - July 2
July 5 -9
July 12 -16
July 19 - 23
July 26- 30

TIME: 9 - 1 Monday through Friday
Fee: $ 200.00
Age : camper must be NINE years old or older.

1. Beginner
2. Advanced
3. Independent *
PROJECTS: When calling to register your camper, please let the HCW staff know what weaving projects your camper has completed at previous camps in order to determine the appropriate experience level and to individualize weaving projects for your camper.

Camp for Independent Weavers
HCW will continue its independent weaver program for more advanced weavers.
*Campers must have completed 3 prerequisite weaving projects to be considered for the independent weaving program. Independent weavers are eligible to sign up for more than one session.

June 28 - July 2
July 5 -9
July 12 -16
July 19 - 23
July 26- 30

TIME: 2:00 - 4:00 Monday through Friday
Fee: $75.00 plus materials
Age : camper must be NINE years old or older.


Please Contact Suzanne at 707-7396 if you are interested in or need early drop off or late pick up times.

1. Contact HCW at 707-7396 with credit card information to secure a spot for your camper.
2. A 2 week notice is required for cancellation in order to avoid penalty (unless we can fill your slot from our waiting list)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Don't Cry for Me! (Greetings from Argentina!)

[Eduardo y Maggie]


Buenos Dias (noches, actually) from Buenos Aires. My hotel room has a super slow connection so I probably will have to wait and post most of the pictures I took when I get back. But let me tell you-- this town (massive city) is FULL of textiles galore. We haven't even been to the local craft market yet, where I expect we'll find some traditional knitted stuff. But walking around I found that all of the many magazine stands sell a number of knitting mags, lots of the retailers sell interesting sweaters (I'm talking about contemporary, machine knitted stuff, but still pretty), and... oh yes...

So, I was saying I got some good insider advice last time I was in HCW about a store here in BA called Milana Hilados. In fact, there is one street where there are maybe eight or ten knit shops-- I actually lost track. But I was so grateful to have gotten the lowdown and the advice to stop in at Milana. Now there is no doubt that HCW is my favorite knit shop on the planet. And in my travels-- I've been to Japan, all over the US, and France-- I've seen more than a few nice knit shops. But never-- not until now-- have I walked into any store other than HCW that had such an impact.

Milana is fabulous, fabulous, fabulous, PACKED with Argentine yarn that they spin and dye there. I got to meet Eduardo one of the owners, and another owner (didn't get his name), and Maggie, who works in an adjacent store that sells sweaters designed by her and another woman. Maggie spoke English, so that was good. I had managed to ask "Quantos lana para.." which is (I think) "How much yarn for..." -- what I was trying to get at was How much of this yarn do I need for a sweater? since they sell yarn by weight-- not "distance"-- and metric weight at that.

By the time I was done, I'd gotten a tour of their back storeroom (MASSIVE) and a tour of the sweater shop next door (BEAUTIFUL) and, of course, I'd done some shopping. I got this super-chunky stuff, pre-baubled with these brightly colored yarn balls. I got enough for a sweater, and asked what size needles I needed. 22!!! Yes TWENTY-TWO!! So I got those, too-- they look like boat oars (I included my foot in the picture above for scale).

Then I came back to the hotel room and tried to find a super easy pattern for a sweater. I wanted to get started right away. I just could not find what I wanted, though I found a cute baby kimono that I liked the looks of. Remembering what I'd learned in a class with Fran (in particular the kimono-based pattern I used) I decided to just go crazy and write my own pattern, thus I am making a Japanese-inspired, Argentine wool kimono sweater of my own design. This yarn is SO chunky and the needles SO big that I only had to cast on 20 stitches for the right front, which I'm just about done. It took about an hour. This in contrast to a pair of socks I'm working on size 2 needles which will probably take me til August to finish. I might return from Argentina a dedicated super chunky knitter (that's a reference to the yarn, not the empanada consumption).

We also took a break from yarn shopping to visit the Evita Peron museum-- that's a story in itself, but one for later-- there was even some crocheting on display. I am getting back to my super chunky sweater now. Will report more later. Hope y'all are having a good SXSW.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Peru, Japan, Argentina-- Around the World in 80 (Thousand) Yarns

Popped into the shop on Saturday for a quick peek at new stock before I head off to Argentina later today. (Yay Argentina!) South Congress is already buzzing with SXSW energy-- some musicians have started to arrive, plus there were plenty of folks already in town for the Film and Interactive Festivals. Between the incredible weather, all those out-of-towners, and now Daylight Saving Time, it's feeling pretty darn festive in Austin and I am so excited that winter is, apparently, behind us. (Well, except for I planted my tomatoes last week, a little on the early side for planting, which usually means we'll get a surprise freeze-- yes, it's all my fault.)

While I was in the shop, I was yapping about my upcoming trip to South America, and those of you who know me know that I'm not exactly the soft-spoken type. Being a loudmouth doesn't always work in my favor, but on this day it did. A couple of shoppers overheard me-- well, okay, they probably all overheard me, but a couple of them approached me. One had lived in Buenos Aires and traveled in Uruguay and, right off the top of her head, she listed for me several good places to go for yarn. She also explained that a lot of the best yarn that is produced in South America is for export-- in other words, the stuff you have easy access to while you're actually in the country can be lower quality. So I wound up with all these insider tips, including the name of a hotel next to a place that sells wholesale Manos del Uruguay, where, my new best friend explained, the yarn is piled so high you can dive into it like a swimming pool. I'm imagining swimming laps in Manos and then stumbling into the little hotel next door to rest up. That is my idea of a dream vacation.

The funny thing is, I can get yarn from around the world at HCW-- I really don't need to fly 14 hours to pick up some Manos. But a big part of what I love about traveling is hunting for yarn shops, trying to explain to shop owners across a major language barrier, that I AM AN ENTHUSIASTIC KNITTER. I just get a huge kick out of it. I know a lot of folks work yarn hunting into vacations, and that some of us build our vacations around yarn (see the previous post about retreats). I'd really love to hear from y'all about your travel related yarn stories (or your yarn related travel stories). And if anyone has a trip planned soon, and you want tips, let me know and maybe we can get some connections going here, advice from folks who've been to place X letting those of you on your way to place X know where the good stuff is.

Meanwhile, if you don't have a trip planned anytime soon, not to worry. You can take a little spin (pardon the pun) around the globe down at the shop. Toward that end, we just got in a bunch of Misti Alpaca from Peru (that's Misti in the picture above) and lots of lovely cotton-blends from Noro. Oh, Noro! How I love thee! Here are some pics:


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Retreat Yourself! Join Us April 9 - 11 for Knitting Retreat!!

Hey Y'all,
Next week, roughly five hundred billion musicians and music fans will descend on our fine city. Many, perhaps most, of them define "vacation" and "fun" as staying up 24/7 for about six days straight, listening to deafeningly loud music, and attempting to see 400 shows in less than a week. I certainly used to be one of those people. Now, vacation for me means sometimes purposefully leaving Austin during SXSW. Not that I don't love it. I just get overwhelmed by it.

Toward that end, I leave for Argentina on Monday. Hopefully I'll work in a little trip to nearby Uruguay, land of Punta, Malabrigo, and Manos. (If that happens, I might not come back...) Whenever I go on vacation now, I always work knitting into the picture. Sometimes that just involves looking for shops and getting some souvenir yarns. Other times-- like every September-- I go on a knit-centric jaunt. The September event I speak of is the Knitting and Yoga Adventures Retreat on Monhegan Island. I've blogged about it before. If you want to know more about it you can check out the official website or read the blog.

For those of you who want a knit vacation but don't have the time/money to go far, far away for a week, I have GREAT NEWS FOR YOU! Robin is hosting a weekend knitting retreat that is nearby-- yet feels far away. It is also reasonably priced. There are only a few slots left. Here are some details and you can email Robin if you want to attend:

Friday April 9, 2010 at 10 am til Sunday April 11, 2010, late afternoon checkout.

Moriah Cabins are located in Marble Falls, looking over Lake Travis. Click here for details about the property-- it is GORGEOUS.

What Exactly Happens At the Retreat?
It's a weekend of knitting, eating gourmet food and snacks, (imbibing), visiting, walking, napping, making memories and getting pretty with manicures, pedicures, and massage therapy. A grown up girl's sleepover weekend plus knitting!
How Much?
Rates will be $350-ish or thereabouts for the weekend, including food. Girlie services are all extra and will be paid to the individuals...The more folks we have the lower the price.

What If I Can't Go The Whole Weekend?
There will be a day rates for folks who can come out for one day, but those spots are going quickly.
How Do I Contact Robin?

Important Note:
Once you sign up there is a NO CANCEL policy. So if you have to back out at the last minute, you need to find someone to replace you.

A Final Word From Yours Truly:
Y'all, if you have not ever been on a knit retreat, let me tell you IT IS SO SO SO SO SO FUN! I just can't convey it in words. Please join us. I can't wait.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Some Days I Just Like to Shop

You know, I'm not a big shopper, not really. Sure, once in awhile I go into Target to get a new mop and wind up with $300 worth of rag rugs (because, you know, they play high-pitched sounds in there, like a dog whistle, that hypnotizes you into buying more than you planned). But as part of my job blogging for JetBlue-- poor me, I have to explore and write about all the shops/parks/theatres/restaurants in our fine city. Which means sometimes, a "workday" involves going around with my camera, meeting shop owners, and hanging out.

That's what I did last Thursday, taking along my partner/photographer, Warren (that's his blog name). We went up and down the chi-chi 2nd Street District, ate a huge lunch at FRANK (a hotdog place that's tres fancy-- I mean, as far as hotdog restaurants go). Then, at long last, we pointed the car south, crossed the bridge and-- FOR THE FIRST TIME IN GOING ON THREE YEARS TOGETHER-- I took Warren into HCW. Now, how he managed to escape such a trip for this long is beyond me. Mind you, he is well familiar with the inventory, since I am forever stash building. And when we were in France, he might point to a model-gorgeous woman, pause, and say, "Isn't that a nice scarf she's wearing?" So he knows about life with a knitter.

When we walked in, I expected him to lie down on the floor and scream, "WHY DIDN'T YOU BRING ME HERE SOONER?!!!" Alas, he was only mildly interested-- remember, all humans are flawed-- and eventually wandered over to Hey Cupcake! ("Just to look...") But since we were in shopping mode, I wandered around and took some pictures of-- yes, it's true-- still MORE new inventory. The ladies were unloading about five million skeins of Habu, but I just told you about some other Habu, so I'll hold off on back-to-back Habu-ing.

I will tell you we got in Blue Ridge Sock Yarn, which is hand painted, and comes in a two-skein pack. The idea is, you use the solid color for the cuff and toe (and heel if you want) and you use the multi-colored yarn for the rest. Pretty cool. We also got some nice sock yarn from the Great Adirondack Yarn Company, where Patti Subik has been hand dyeing yarn since 1980. And still more hand painted yarn came from Claudia Hand Painted Yarn. At her website, Claudia explains that all of her skeins are infused with Peace, Love, Comfort and Joy-- whether you like it or not.

Here's the Claudia's:

Here's the Great Adirondack:

Here's some Blue Ridge-- Note the two skein combo:

And finally, Suzanne-- who just got a manicure that left her looking like a professional hand model-- showed me the latest goodies in the accessories department. The needle organizers from Namaste are here! Namaste is an animal-friendly company-- that's faux leather on the outside of these very cool, very colorful boxes, which feature clear inside sleeves so you can really, truly, once and for all file those needles in a manner that makes sense.

Happy Shopping Y'all!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First Thursday Sale: TODAY! Plus...If I Were a Rich Man...

Hey Y'all,

Today I am here to report sundry items of interest. Most importantly, it's FIRST THURSDAY. That means there's a big sale all day, details below. There are also several upcoming classes, and I'll post those details below as well. But first, let me tell you-- Fiddler on the Roof is playing at Bass Concert Hall this week and it is MAGNIFICENT! Besides the storyline, the music, the lyrics, and the sets, all of which are splendid, there's also a ton of fab knitting in the costume department. Remember, the story takes places in (BRRRRRRRRR)Russia. And so there are shawls and hats and hand warmers galore. Not that you need an excuse to see the show, but if you go, keep an eye out for the fine wool work. Watching reminded me of how, after I saw A Hard Day's Night, which features a great V-neck sweater, I thought it would be cool to do a picture book of great knitted garments from Hollywood (and Broadway). If you have a favorite sweater/scarf/hat moment from a movie or a play, please tell me about it.

Here's the First Thursday and Class Info:


So guess what's on sale this FIRST THURSDAY?



HCW is proud to welcome our newest team member!
Our super duper, electrical, automated, 20th century, cutting edge, BALLWINDER!

In honor of our newest addition,
20% off the skeins we love to hate (winding, that is) - ARAUCANIA!!


March 11
6:00 -9:00

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

and some HIP TO WEAVE TOO!!
every first sunday of the month
-sunday, march 7

KIDS & TEENS (parents welcome too!) come hang out with LINDSAY on the 1st Sunday of every month for a HIP TO KNIT AFTERNOON!!
FEE: $20
MATERIALS: depends on the individual project, Lindsay will be happy to help you find just the right project!
No prerequisites: ALL LEVELS WELCOME
TIME: 2-5pm or COME at 1:00 for HIP TO WEAVE!

PLEASE RSVP at 707-7396
or email us at

Don't have time for the full meal deal?
Sign up for an EXPRESS CLASS!

MARCH 10 6:30 - 8:30
MARCH 25 6:30 - 8:30
MARCH 28 3:00 - 5:00


Second Friday of every Month
60.00 per class (sign up for 3 for 150.00)

The schedule is every second Friday morning from 10 to 2 (that includes a short lunch break). We will explore the methods of wet and nuno felting and create lovely one of a kind masterpieces, from bags to hats, scarves to booties and much more. You will need wool fleece, which you can purchase at HCW. Bring a few old towels and dress in comfortable clothes. Wet felting can be quite a workout.

ENTRELAC KNITTING - Lady Eleanor Scarf
March 13,
Level: Advanced beginner or intermediate

Have you been aching to make the Lady Eleanor shawl in SCARF STYLE but to afraid of E-N-T-R-E-L-A-C knitting?
Deb guides you through the magic triangles and rectangles that are ENTRELAC to make a scarf version of the Lady Eleanor. This class is designed for the upper beginner or intermediate knitter. Student must be independent in basic skills and know how to pick up stitches

MATERIALS: 4-5 skeins of Noro Silk Garden , Kureyon or any yarn solid or self striping with a similar gauge (not too small for this first project!). Needles: your choice, straight or circular in the size recommended by yarn manufacture.Stitch markers and general knitting gear.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

But Wait, There's More: New Shibui Sock Yarn!

Seems like every post these days is about new inventory rolling in. This feels like the next part of my how-the-store-works learning curve. Let's see, it's been nearly two months since I went to Market and now I'm seeing how the orders come in in a staggered fashion. Which means that every time I head over to the shop I get to drool anew. Now that the Shibui sock yarn is here, I'm super-drooling, since I'm on a roll with socks this year.

Maybe making that mammoth sweater coat (aka the world's most expensive Snuggie) last year prompted me to head down Sock Lane. I'm digging highly portable smaller projects right now. The socks I'm knitting, on size 2 needles, make me feel like I've really acquired some skills in the past ten years. (A friend saw these, and after years of watching me make biggish projects on biggish needles, scrutinized my tiny stitches, and said, "This looks like REAL knitting!")

So, a bit about Shibui-- the Portland company imports yarn from around the world and dyes it all sorts of groovy colors which they give equally groovy names like 50's Kitchen and Beach Ball. A lot of the new stuff is from the Staccato line which is a blend of 65% Superwash merino, 30% silk, and 5% nylon. Super soft. And the socks at the top are from a Shibui pattern-- check out their patterns page for inspiration.