This was one of my goals for 2013 – and I’m so excited to be completely on-track, at least so far.
In January, I knit my first pair of self-striping socks – for myself.
Then, for February I knit a pair of socks for my youngest daughter – her older sisters have socks still that I’d made previously for them, but Becca had outgrown her previous pair a while ago, so she was due. I picked a fun self-striping yarn for her too – Loops & Threads Luxury Sock in the Balloons colorway and made just a plain stockinette sock again. She loves them and I did get them done in time – by about 10 minutes.
For March’s socks, I was thrilled to have been able to buy a skein of yarn from Fibernymph Dye Works, in her Bounce base. This is the Calypso colorway, and I love the chunky stripes with the eensy while stripes between. Green striped socks make me so happy, so these were again for me. And again, I finished them in time.
Since my oldest daughter’s birthday falls in April, I decided that it was her turn for another pair of socks. Abbi asked for socks in rainbow colors, which made for an interesting challenge when yarn shopping. I was able to find a rainbow-striping yarn from KnitPicks – their Felici sock yarn in (what else) the Rainbow colorway.
This time I wanted to do something a little different – they’re still going to be self-striping socks and I still wanted a fairly mindless, easy pattern but I wanted something other than straight stockinette. One of my newest podcast favorites is Mel-Tran Designs Knitting Corner and Melissa has a free pattern out on Ravelry for a Chevron sock striping pattern. The pattern is written toe-up, but it’s been very easy to adapt to cuff-down.
Abbi never wears matching socks, so these are going to be fraternal twins – I’m not every trying to match up the striping pattern. It’s kind of freeing to not have to even think about whether the stripes are lining up or not.
I’m making these on size 2 needles (3mm) over 72 stitches per sock. They do fit Abbi’s foot and leg, but she must have a large heel because it’s difficult to get the portion of cuff over her heel. I’m debating whether to keep going or frog these and start over again with 80 stitches per sock. The yarn is really stretchy though, so they may be ok as-is.
Striping sock yarn is so much fun to work with – I’ll have to see if I stay in the stripe frame of mind over the next few months or if I want to try anything else. Socks are a fun way to try out new techniques and patterns with a project that’s fairly quick, easy and portable.
12 pairs of socks by the end of 2013 – so far, so good!
Although I’ve been knitting for several years now, it’s only really been in the last year or so that I’ve really become aware of the gorgeous array of natural fiber yarns that are out there. One of my favorite companies nowadays is Dream in Color – a yarn line carried by my LYS.
I first became aware of Dream in Color yarns when their Dream Club was highlighted in the weekly LYS newsletter. Basically every month from September 2012 through February 2013, Dream in Color dyed up a special colorway and paired it with a pattern designed specifically for that month’s club. Instead of working like most traditional yarn clubs, where individuals sign up and receive yarn shipments directly at home, this one is a bit different in that they send the club packages to the local yarn stores and you purchase them there.
I missed September’s yarn and pattern, but snagged October’s last fall. It was a gorgeous yarn with a mix of browns, golds and a hint of green – totally reminiscent of autumn leaf colors. The pattern was called Autumn Fern Mobius – a beautiful infinity style cowl/scarf that I was very excited to knit.
I did cast the project on in October, but due to holiday knitting – I didn’t finish until January. I love how it turned out though, and I’ve been wearing it often. I’m so not used to wearing actual wool – it’s almost been too warm to wear on many days unless the temperatures have been really frigid.
November’s yarn was a soft pink that I really liked, but the pattern was for a pair of opera (up to the elbow) length mitts (called Carmen) that I wasn’t sure I would like or not. I ended up actually using that skein of yarn (plus an extra I bought later) for my Enfolded Shawlette that I knit in January.
I went back and forth about the pattern that came with the gorgeous skein of December Dream Club yarn. Although I really liked the idea of the Seychelles shawl/cape, I just didn’t know if it’s something that I would ever wear. And the yarn was just too pretty to make something I wasn’t totally sure about. So I went searching on Ravelry for an alternative and came up with the Context pattern. It was a very quick and fun knit and it blocked out beautifully after I finished it. It fits perfectly as a scarf or shawlette.
January’s Dream Club was a win-win for me with both the yarn and the Ichigo Tam pattern. This is probably one of the most absolute gorgeous yarn colorways I’ve ever seen, and I’d been wanting a slouchy hat of some sort for myself since I didn’t already have a hat and I’m not a fan of the more tightly-fit ones. I had to wait a little while before casting the hat on though, since I didn’t own either of the needle sizes and lengths required. I cast-on the larger size of the pattern, for a 22” head circumference. But when I got about halfway through the pattern repeats – enough so I could try the brim on, I decided that while it did technically fit, my thick, bulky hair would probably pop the hat right off the top of my head.
So I frogged the whole thing and started over, adding an extra 16 stitches. Oh that was painful! But the end result was well worth it since the hat fits perfectly and I absolutely love it. And I even have almost half the skein left, so I think I’ll find a pattern and knit myself a pair of mitts to match.
I haven’t purchased February’s Dream Club yarn/pattern (yet), mainly because my budget is tighter than it had been and I’m not totally in love with the yarn colorway, which is in shades of red. The pattern isn’t something I’d really wear either. I may pick it up later if my LYS has any left over – they have had leftovers of almost every other month so we’ll see. But overall it’s been so much fun to see what Dream in Color comes out with every month and I can’t wait to see if they do another round of the Dream Club this fall!
When it comes to knitting, I’m sort of an island in some ways. Back when I used to crochet during and after my college years, I had one good friend who also crocheted and a couple of others who dabbled in it as well – and it was great fun to be able to ‘talk shop’ and compare and share patterns, yarns, etc.
But I don’t have any friends around here who knit.
Up until this year, I’d gone to a weekly knitting group at church and always loved seeing what they were working on and hearing stories, asking questions and such. This year the timing just hasn’t worked out and I’ve really missed the camaraderie. It’s hard to find a new group – not only finding one that meets at a convenient time, but I’m on the shy side and the idea of going to an already established group where the members know each other and have friendships and such already intimidates me greatly. I’d looked forward to trying a group at a local LYS this school year – now that my girls are all in school full-days, I would be able to make it to their Wednesday morning group. Which I did – exactly once, before necessity kicked in and I lost my free weekdays to a part-time job. Evening groups aren’t a great option since the kids always seem to have something going on in the evenings these days.
So that means that my best options are online. I’ve started to use Ravelry a lot more these days – I’ve always tracked my projects there but it’s got a huge social element to it as well, with groups that you can join and discussion forums to follow and participate in. As with any new group, it’s hard to break in to something already established, but I’m braver online than I am in real life, so I’m trying a little at a time.
Which brings me to the concept of the online knit-along (KAL). It seems like a good way to participate in something that has a bit of a social aspect and gives you a common topic to talk about since everybody’s working on the same project. I found my first KAL this year through the Dream in Color blog – they’re a yarn company and I’ve been buying their Dream Club yarns each month since last fall. They posted in December about a designer who was starting a KAL for a new shawl she’d designed, using Dream in Color Calm yarn. I hopped over to her Ravelry group and looked at the pattern – the Enfolded Shawlette. It’s gorgeous – and since it’s knit in a worsted weight, it looked like a great option for a first-time shawl knitter like me. Plus, I already had a skein of Dream in Color Calm that I’d bought from the November Dream Club. It was pink – not my first choice, but I thought it would make a pretty shawl.
As it did. It was a surprisingly quick knit and I finished it in a total of 9 days. I really enjoyed sharing my progress pictures in the group and seeing what others were doing as well. I already have another of Linda’s shawls in my queue and look forward to knitting it as well.
Shawls are fun to knit, I’m finding! I’ve already completed a second one (as part of another KAL), but I’ll share more about that next time. I don’t know if the online KALs and Ravelry groups are totally filling my need for having people to talk knitting with, but it’s a start.
Just as with any knitting project, it’s all about small steps building to a greater whole.
It’s the beginning of a new month, and I’m actually on track for my sock knitting goal for 2013 – so far anyway. My goal is to knit one pair of socks (minimum) each month this year, and I completed the first pair just a day late, on February 1st.
This pair of socks wasn’t very complicated but it marks a few firsts for me.
1) This is my first pair of socks knit with self-striping yarn.
2) My first try at an afterthought heel.
3) My first pair of socks knit without a specific pattern, instead using what I’ve learned about socks so far coupled with the Yarn Harlot’s basic sock recipe from her Knitting Rules book (which I recently read as well).
I used a couple of skeins of Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades that I’ve had for a while and knit them magic loop, 2-at-a-time on size US 1-1/2 needles and 80 stitches, starting with about 20 rows of 2×2 ribbing then just plain stockinette for the rest.
Since I’d never done an afterthought heel before, I simply added the waste yarn when I had the cuffs at a length that I liked and continued on for several inches. At that point, I picked up the heel stitches on one sock, pulled out the waste yarn and knit the heel so that I could try on the sock to figure out how far to knit the foot before starting the toe decreases. Then I finished the foot and toes for both socks at the same time and once they were of the needles, I went back and added the heel to the second sock. Now I know how long to make the foot in general, so I’ll just be able to measure next time and do both heels after the socks are otherwise completed.
They turned out really well and fit great! It was good to have a very simple and easy project to tote around with me or use when I didn’t want to concentrate on anything difficult or confusing.
It’s already February 3rd and I have yet to start this month’s socks – I want to knit a pair for my youngest daughter since she’s currently the only one of the girls without a pair of hand-knit socks that fit (she outgrew her only pair a while ago but I was working on socks for her sisters at that point). I need to get out to the store to find some yarn and then I’ll be ready to cast on a pair for her.
One nice thing about 7-year-old feet – they’re smaller, so the socks will be a faster knit.
I had so much fun knitting the holiday ornaments and gave out almost all of them as gifts. The only one I kept is the first one that I made – it wasn’t the greatest job of figuring out when to start decreases at the top, but I couldn’t bring myself to rip it out and start over since it was my first one. I’ll make another (better) one for our tree for Christmas 2013 – right now I’m a little burned out on them. I gave out a total of 12 ornaments to friends, neighbors, family and teachers. I also spent time sewing little drawstring gift bags for each ornament, which was almost as fun as knitting them. My craft goals for 2013 definitely include more time on the sewing machine.
Along with the ornaments, I also knit my mom a pair of socks for Christmas. I’d made her a pair last year and she liked them so much that I promised her another. I used a different pattern this time for some variety – I knit the H Socks from my 2-at-a-time Socks book by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. It was an easy and fun pattern and Mom really liked the design. The socks took about 10 days – with all of the holiday craziness I didn’t finish them until early Christmas morning, and quickly (and quietly) wrapped them and snuck them under the tree. I made them using a couple of skeins of blue yarn that I’d found buried in my drawer of old yarn from my crocheting days – they had to be at least 10 years old, but the yarn was acrylic and in great shape and it knit up just fine. My mom can’t wear wool, so I have to use acrylic yarn for her socks. I wanted a worsted weight yarn since her floors get very cold in the winter so she wears thick, warm socks.
I’m glad to be done with the holiday knitting so I can finish a couple of other projects that have been languishing on the needles for the past few months – as well as start some new ones. I already cast on a pair of simple stockinette socks in a fun self-striping yarn – those will be my take-along knitting to keep in my purse and knit on when I have a few moments here or there or when I need something mindless to work on. I have a couple of other things in mind as well that I’d like to start soon too.
So, on to my knitting goals! These may be lofty, but hopefully are do-able. There’s still so much that I want to learn/do when it comes to knitting.
- Knit a minimum of one pair of socks each month. I think this is manageable – and I love knitting socks. I also want to learn new patterns and techniques, including trying toe-up socks and some other types of heel construction (such as an afterthought heel).
- Knit a Fair Isle project. I had a lot of fun with the KnitFreedom video e-book course and the felted bag project, so now I want to go on and try a non-felted project to see how well I can manage the tension and different colors. I’m thinking maybe a hat or mittens would be a good first project.
- Knit a sweater. I successfully knit two shrugs a couple of years ago but have never tried an actual sweater. I’ve got yarn and a pattern for a simple kid-sized one that I’d like to work on this winter – although it realistically might not be finished in time to wear until next fall. We’ll see.
- Knit a shawl. I see so many beautiful projects and patterns on Ravelry on in the podcasts that I watch – I’m a bit daunted by the idea of charts, but love the challenge of lace knitting. Going along with this one is…
- Get comfortable knitting from charts.
- Last but not least – my goal is to blog here a lot more regularly than I did in 2012 about my knitting journey, my projects and everything I learn along the way.
Happy New Year and Happy Knitting!
Or at least with knitting a certain kind of project, anyway.
We are in the swing of the holiday season right now and for once I haven’t left my holiday knitting until the very last moment. Back in October, I was at the local yarn store and happened to spy a couple of sample ornaments. I loved the look – a clear glass bulb covered in a knitted sphere. I knew I had to try making one.
The pattern was available at the LYS, so I bought it and also picked up a package of the clear glass ornaments at Michaels pretty cheaply. My first attempt at the pattern wasn’t perfect – I began the decreases way too soon and the stitches at the top of the bulb were very stretched out. But my second one was better. And the third even better…
Until now, after finishing TEN ornaments (so far), I am not only feeling like an expert – but I’ve become addicted to making these. They’re quick and easy – good for a project to work on while watching tv or podcasts. And I can make one easily in a night (two at the most if I get knitting time both nights). I plan on using them for gifts for everyone from the girls’ teachers to neighbors and co-workers (shhh).
I think they’re cute – and they’re a great way to use up leftover sock or fingering weight yarn. I joke that I’m making ‘sweaters’ for the ornaments, although Ron says they look like ‘ornament socks’. I have two of the patterns (both are from Kalamazoo Knits) – Deck the Balls and Deck the Balls with Texture. There are several more patterns available (such as Deck the Balls with Lace and Deck the Balls with Aran), but I think I’ll stick with just these for now. I like the lace patterns, but would probably want to try those on colored glass bulbs instead of clear.
Maybe next year.
Back in January, I set out to knit my oldest daughter a pair of socks. Nine months later – she finally has a pair that fit! And I am planning on waiting a very long time before knitting anything else in pink.
The first pair of socks did not fit Abbi – I think that I actually messed something up in the gusset decreases because while that pair of socks does fit Hannah, they’re very difficult to get over even her heels. And there was no way they were going to fit over Abbi’s heels. So in March, I set out to knit a second pair of the same socks – same pattern, same yarn. The only differences were that I went up one needle size and knit the largest pattern size (Large instead of Medium).
This time, the socks slip over Abbi’s heels easily and they fit her perfectly. Or almost – I deliberately made them slightly long for her feet so she’s got some room before outgrowing them. Although with a shoe size of 8-1/2 already, I can’t imagine that her feet have a ton of growing left to do – but she’s not even 12 years old yet, so who knows.
This particular pair of socks has been hanging over my head for months now. I took a break from them (and almost any other knitting) over the summer and when I picked my needles back up this fall, I knew that I had to make myself finish these before starting anything else. That didn’t quite work – I just plain needed something else to work on for some variety, or I would’ve never been able to get these done.
But they are done! And I am so, so happy. I love this pattern, but after making two pairs of these socks, one right after the other, in the same exact yarn – I am terribly burned out on it. And ready for a new challenge.
Which I am finding in the way of the Dream in Color Dream Club October 2012 Knit-Along project – the Autumn Fern Mobius cowl. The yarn is so pretty and I love the pattern too. I’ve cast it on and finished one set of pattern repeats. Now that the socks are done, I can really get working on this and also finish up the poncho that I started as well.
And yes, I’ll probably cast on more socks again soon too. I love how portable they are, not to mention useful. Or maybe I’ll try some mittens for the girls for winter. And then there’s holiday gift knitting… Oh the possibilities are endless!
Now if only my knitting time were as endless…
Twelve+ years ago, I received four dish towels as either a bridal shower or wedding gift. Actually I received more than four altogether, but these four were different – because they each had a crocheted top with a loop and button, so you could hang them on something. I can’t remember who gave them to us (probably one of Ron’s aunts, we think), and for several years they languished in my kitchen drawers.
Until I had toddlers – and realized that ‘pull the towel down’ is one of the very best games ever. To the toddler, that is. Not so much to the parent who wants to keep things like dish towels hanging up off the (not always clean) kitchen floor. Not long afterward, I discovered that these towels were one of the best things I’ve ever been given. Over the years since the girls have outgrown the game, but any time I try hanging regular towels from our oven door handle, they invariably do still end up on the floor (apparently cats and toddlers like similar games, lol). So these are still my go-to towels and are used on a daily basis.
For the past few months, I’d had in mind the idea to try and make new towel toppers – the original towels are threadbare and falling apart. Plus they don’t match our kitchen and never really have. I do crochet, but wasn’t sure of how to get the holes in the towel to start the process, and had never found a new dish towel that I really liked that would match our kitchen well. But, this past week I finally found a new dish towel at the store that I really liked – so I decided it was time to figure out how to make a topper that would work.
I’d looked at the original towels pretty carefully and determined that they really were half a towel, instead of a full towel – they’d simply been cut in half, which makes sense because once you add the crochet part to it, a full towel would probably drag on the floor.
Between a Google search and a few various YouTube videos, I found and adapted a pattern that worked out very well. You can find the original pattern here – my main change was that since we don’t own an awl, I used an alternate solution to put the holes in my towels. In a couple of the videos I watched, a yarn needle was used to create the first row of stitches, that were crocheted into later – and this method worked very well for me.
Here are the steps that I used:
1) Choose your materials – you’ll need a dish towel (one where the pattern will look ok once it’s cut in half to make 2 towels), worsted weight yarn (something sturdy and washable, like acrylic or cotton), crochet hook(s), yarn needle, button, scissors, iron, sewing machine, thread, and hand sewing needle.
2) Fold the dish towel in half (putting the short sides together) and cut the towel in half to create two towels that are each the same width as the original but half as long.
3) Fold a short hem (1/4” or so) along the cut edge and iron in place. Use sewing machine to stitch along this hem. Alternatively, you could hand-sew the hem if you don’t have access to a sewing machine. Or you could use double-sided tape or another method to make sure the hem stays in place so that the towel doesn’t fray along the cut edge over time as the towel is used and washed multiple times.
4) Thread a yarn needle with a length of yarn that is 2-3 times the width of your towel in length. It’s better to be left with extra than run out, so be generous. Start with one of the top corners of your towel, along your newly-created hem, working on the back side of the towel. Push the needle through in the corner from back side of towel to front, just at the bottom of your hemmed edge.
5) Bring the yarn almost all the way through the towel, leaving a 4-5” ‘tail’ hanging on the back side of the towel. Bring the needle up over the top of the towel and back to the back side, then push the needle through again, along the bottom of your hemmed edge, about 1/4” or so from your first hole. Pull the yarn through – but before you pull the yarn all the way tight, pull the yarn needle through the loop you created in the direction that you’re going with your holes.
6) Continue by adding additional holes along the bottom of your hemmed edge, about 1/4” apart, and pulling the yarn needle through each loop before you pull it tight, to create a running ‘blanket’ stitch along the top of your towel.
7) Once you reach the opposite corner, pull the yarn needle through the loop one last time to create a knot. Cut the yarn, leaving a 2-3” tail and use the yarn needle to pull the tail back through the stitches you created in the opposite direction. Tie a knot back at the beginning corner, cut a short tail and weave it through the first few stitches you created similarly.
8) Pick up the end of yarn attached to your ball or skein and create a slip knot several inches from the end. Insert your crochet hook into the loop of the slip knot.
Note: I find that using a smaller crochet hook for this first row works best – I used an E hook then switched to a G hook for all subsequent rows.
9) If you look at the top of your towel, your running blanket stitch had created a series of sections right along the top, running horizontally along the top edge of your towel, in between each of the vertical stitches where you had pierced the towel. The gap between these horizontal stitches and the top of your towel are where you’re going to create a row of single crochet stitches along the top of your towel, from one top corner to the other, with the front side of the towel facing you.
Note: In the first and last few stitches, I also made sure that the sc stitch picked up the yarn ends that I’d woven through. This will keep them more secure and less likely to unravel over time.
10) Do not cut your yarn. Switch to the G size crochet hook. Here is where I used the free pattern that I found online – I will list the 15 pattern rows or you can view or print the entire pattern here. The only change I made to this portion was to add two additional repeats of Row 6 for a total of 15 rather than 13 rows.
Row 1 – ch 3, turn, dc in each sc across.
Row 2 – ch 3, turn, * dc in next dc, skip the next dc, dc in next 2 dc, skip next dc, repeat from * all the way across.
Row 3 – ch 3, turn, * skip 1 dc, dc in next dc, repeat from * all the way across.
Row 4 – Repeat Row 3.
Row 5 – ch 3 (counts as first dc), turn, 6 dc all evenly spaced across the row (total of 7 dc).
Row 6 – ch 3, turn, dc in each dc.
Rows 7-13 – Repeat Row 6.
Row 14 – ch 3, turn, dc in next 2 dc, ch 1, skip 1 dc and dc in next 2 dc (button hold made).
Row 15 – ch 3, turn, dc in next 2 dc, dc in ch 1 space, dc in next 3 dc.
Fasten off yarn. Weave in all ends. Hand sew on button.
I think I’m going to try making more of these – they’d be really fun holiday gifts, especially if made with festive towels and yarns. And they’re a quick project – I made the two towel toppers (from the one original towel I purchased) in one day.
Just a couple of quick notes – you may have to go back and tuck the yarn tail through the very first blanket stitch you made in order to have your stitch run right to that first corner where you started with your yarn needle. Also, make sure that your button is going to fit through your buttonhole before sewing it on.
A portion of this pattern is not of my own design, but comes from a free pattern I found on http://www.freecraftunlimited.com. I have noted where I’ve made changes or adapted the original pattern for my own use. You can find the original pattern at http://www.freecraftunlimited.com/dish-towel-crochet.html.
Not that I haven’t been knitting… Although I do find that during the summer I don’t generally do as much knitting as in the colder months. It’s just too hard to knit when your hands are sweaty.
But I did actually knit more this summer than usual – probably because it was SO hot out that we spent practically the entire summer inside, in air conditioning. And then 3 weeks on vacation – and yes, I did take my knitting with me. And I even worked on it. For a few minutes here or there. Sometimes.
I only finished one project over the summer though, and you can see all about it in the review that I did post back in June, for the Fair Isle video e-book from KnitFreedom. And I have another project that’s just about half done as well – I’m trying a poncho from a book that I purchased, called More Knitting in the Sun. It’s my first foray into lace knitting and is a very simple pattern that’s extremely repetitive – which is making it a very easy knit. The poncho is knit in two panels that are then attached – I have the first panel completed but am waiting to start the second.
The reason I haven’t started the second panel for the poncho yet is because I still have that pesky pair of pink Athena socks left to finish for my oldest daughter. I’d knit a pair last winter/spring which turned out to be too small – I’m not sure how I miscalculated, but even my 9-year-old has trouble getting the socks over her heels to put them on and take them off.
This second pair that I’m working on seem to be better – I finished the gusset decreases last week at Hannah’s soccer practice so am to the point of just working on the foot length. I am so tired of this pattern though – one reason why I’m making myself finish these socks before starting anything else. Poor Abbi has never had hand-knit socks yet, while both of her sisters have. Whoops.
After I’ve finished the socks and the poncho (I’ll post more details about that project when I start the second piece of it), I’m not totally sure what I’ll try next. I do want to have a pair of socks on the needles at all times though, since they’re an easy and portable project. And I think I’d like to try to learn how to knit them toe-up, since I’ve now pretty much mastered the 2-at-a-time method. Other projects I think I’d like to try are:
- a lightweight, slouchy hat for myself
- A sweater
- fingerless gloves/wrist warmers
- a new Fair Isle project (may be combined with an of the above if I can find a fun pattern)
I also have bought several skeins of the ruffle yarn to us to make scarves for holiday gifts – I know I’ll make one for my mom and possibly for my mother-in-law, although I made her a scarf last year. I might make a couple to use as teacher gifts for Hannah and Becca as well – Abbi has a male teacher this year, so I’ll have to think of something else for him. I like the ruffle scarves though because they’re a fun, quick knit that doesn’t look like it takes as little time as it really does. <grin>
Speaking of ruffle scarves, I did teach Abbi how to knit them, and she finished one – which she gave to her best friend as a birthday gift over the summer. I’m working on teaching Hannah, and on getting Abbi motivated to try making another. Maybe I’ll be able to delegate the gift-making for the grandmas to the girls… Hmm, that idea is worth considering!
I’m mostly a self-taught knitter – or rather I should say that I’m an Internet-taught one. Although my mom did teach me the basics when I was a kid, it wasn’t until I re-taught myself a few years ago that I truly understood and fell in love with it. Because… I’m left-handed and my mom had taught me to knit ‘righty’, which just was never comfortable. Being a ‘lefty’ knitter has been a little bit of a challenge since all of the instructors I’ve come across haven’t known what to do with me exactly. So when it comes to learning new techniques, I turn to my favorite source of information – the Internet.
Along the way, I’ve found some very helpful sites, videos and blogs. But the one place where I’ve found the most comprehensive information, tips, and how-to’s has been the KnitFreedom site by Liat Gat. Not only does she post many videos on everything from how to cast-on to how to fix errors, but she even has a series of left-handed knitting techniques. And a weekly tips newsletter. And a Ravelry group. And a wonderful series of video ebooks – some of which are even free.
When I saw that Liat was introducing a new ebook on the technique of Fair Isle knitting, I immediately knew that I wanted to try it. I’ve been wanting to try color work for a little while and I knew that the combination of how-to video and text instruction that Liat uses would be an effective way to learn. Plus, having recently gotten a iPad, I was intrigued by the iBooks version she had available that would let me learn on-the-go.
What I love about this ebook (and the rest of the ones she offers) is that it combines text instructions with videos, and takes you from beginning to end through a simple Fair Isle project so that when you finish the ebook, you have a completed project. The pattern is for a felted bag, and although I’ve never really been very interested in felting in general, I appreciate that this pattern is for a felted project so it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes as you’re learning to knit Fair Isle – the felting process hides a lot of beginner errors. And I liked the accomplishment of learning more than one new technique at once – the pattern also includes I-cord handles, so it really was a three-for-one with Fair Isle, felting and I-cord as new techniques I learned from this ebook.
Over the past several years I’ve used many different YouTube videos to learn knitting techniques, but I can say that hands-down, I enjoy Liat’s videos the most. The video quality is clear and she uses yarn and needle colors that are easy to see. She’s easy to follow and takes you through step-by-step – but it’s her personality that makes these my favorite. If she misses a step or makes an error, she just corrects as she goes and doesn’t make every video take ‘perfect’. Which is a great opportunity for learning, as she’ll throw in little techniques for how to fix problems or mistakes that she runs across.
She also demonstrates in both English and Continental styles and shows multiple techniques for accomplishing the same task, so you can choose what works best for you (such as the different options for holding two strands of yarn at the same time). She doesn’t give a left-handed take on this particular ebook, but I found the videos easy to follow anyway – this pattern is a simple in-the-round one where being lefty isn’t a concern.
For my felted bag, I visited my local yarn shop to purchase yarn. This pattern calls for a bulky weight, 100% wool yarn, which I wasn’t able to find. The closest I could get was a bulky weight wool yarn with 15% mohair (Lamb’s Pride Bulky). I was assured that this yarn would felt just fine – it would simply have a ‘furrier’ kind of texture to it. In retrospect, I wish I’d shopped around more and found a different yarn – this one worked fine, but it’s difficult to see the Fair Isle pattern now that the bag is felted, and the yarn was just slightly more difficult to work with, which probably wasn’t the best option for something like this where I was learning a new technique. I’m strongly considering looking for a different yarn and making another bag just to see what the difference is, and to get some more practice with Fair Isle before I tackle a non-felted project.
Overall, I do feel confident that I understand how Fair Isle knitting works after going through Liat’s KnitFreedom Fair Isle ebook. The technique is actually easier than I thought it would be, and I appreciated the little tips and tricks that Liat included in her videos that helped make me a lot more comfortable with it. My next step is simply to practice, so I can learn to get the float tension correct and determine what my most comfortable method is for holding two strands of yarn at the same time. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to review this ebook and will definitely be looking to KnitFreedom when I’ve completely mastered Fair Isle knitting and am looking to take on my next knitting challenge.
You can find The Complete Video Guide to Fair-Isle Knitting by Liat Gat at KnitFreedom.com. The video ebook is $29.99 and you can watch it on your computer, as well as on mobile devices such as Android tablets, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and iPhone – and if you have an iPad, you can download the iBook version that I used. I loved being able to follow along right on my iPad and it was very helpful to have the pattern and instructions with me in such a convenient way. I also really appreciated that Liat shows how to use an app on your iPad to annotate the pattern chart as you go so you can easily keep track of which rows you’ve done.
I received a copy of The Complete Video Guide to Fair-Isle Knitting for the purpose of review. No other payment or compensation was received for this post. All opinions given here are solely my own.