Monthly Archives: June 2012

Fair Isle Knitting with KnitFreedom

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.

FairIsleKnittingReview 002Along 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 ebookssome 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.

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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.

FairIsleKnittingReview 012Over 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.

FairIsleKnittingReview 015She 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.

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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.