Category Archives: reviews

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.

Get Sheep(ish) with Vickie Howell’s new Stitch. Rock. Love yarn!

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and CaronI’ve been working with yarn in one way or another since I was a kid – back from when my mom first taught me to finger crochet and use a french knitting spool, to my college years when I learned to crochet and made afghans for everybody I knew – right up to these past years of motherhood, when knitting has become a true passion. I love yarn – working with it, looking at it, running my fingers over it, drooling over colors or fibers that I wish I could bring home but simply don’t have the space (or money) for… Not all yarn needs to be expensive or difficult to find though – and Caron’s newest yarn offering from spokesperson Vickie Howell (the first in her new line of Stitch. Rock. Love yarns) is an affordably-priced, versatile option called Sheep(ish).

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and Caron

I’ve been working with the new Sheep(ish) yarn for the past couple of weeks – I was sent three skeins in the Olive(ish) colorway to try out, which made me very happy since green is my favorite color and this is a beautiful shade of it. Sheep(ish) is a single-ply, wool/acrylic blend (30% wool to 70% acrylic) of a worsted roving yarn (medium weight – 4). It comes in a 3 oz. (85 g) skein with 167 yards (153 m). The suggested needle size is #8 US and hook size is H-8 US. Sheep(ish) is machine washable (cold on gentle cycle), but items should be laid flat to dry. There are 21 different colors all told, so that you’re sure to find the perfect one for your next project.

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and Caron

I initially decided to knit a hat with my Sheep(ish) yarn – I’d found a pattern a little while ago on Ravelry that I’d wanted to try (the Amanda Hat) and since it calls for a single-ply worsted weight yarn, I thought it would be a good fit. The pattern calls for a size US 9 needle, so because my 16” circular is a US 8, I made sure to knit a gauge swatch before beginning the hat. It was also a good way to get a sense of how the Sheep(ish) yarn would be to work with before starting an actual project. I’m glad I took the time to make the swatch – the hat pattern calls for a gauge of 4 sts per inch and I was getting 5 sts per inch instead. So I made a few adjustments in the pattern to account for the gauge difference.

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

I really like how the hat turned out and the Sheep(ish) yarn was wonderful to work with. I don’t usually like using totally synthetic fibers because I don’t like how they feel against my fingers. I generally prefer more natural fibers when possible, but also prefer  yarn that’s machine washable, so the mix of acrylic and wool here is really nice. The yarn slides well through my fingers and onto the needles – and being a single ply, there’s no worry about the yarn splitting as I knit. The Sheep(ish) yarn has a nice sheen to it that I like in the finished product, and it’s just slightly fuzzy. So far I’ve not run into any knots – the skeins are center-pull and it’s been pretty easy to find the ends inside them when I begin one too. This hat fits me well – and my older daughters were more than happy to model it for me. :)

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarnAmanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

After finishing the Amanda Hat, I still had almost 2 full skeins of Sheep(ish) left, so I decided to try another project. I’d seen the new free patterns that Vickie Howell has designed specifically for this new yarn, and love her Urban Revival slouchie beanie. I was able to get a copy of the pattern a few days before it was released and began working on the hat last weekend. It’s a nice quick project in general – this is the first time in several years that I’ve crocheted something instead of knit, so I’ve almost had to re-teach myself how to crochet as well.

Here are a few photos of the hat in-progress – first the band, and then the main hat…

Sheep(ish) Yarn Urban Revival slouchie beanie

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I found a couple of silver buttons that I really like at Walmart, so added those to the band, after I stitched it onto the hat:

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And here’s the finished product – both off and on. I love it – and look forward to wearing it once the weather gets cold out again next fall!

Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 006 Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 010

I am so thrilled to have had this chance to work with the new Sheep(ish) yarn from Vickie Howell’s new Stitch. Rock. Love line from Caron, and can’t wait to try more projects in it (and in more colors) as well. Sheep(ish) is now officially available online at Buy.Caron.com and at JoAnn super stores nationwide To find a location near you that carries it, check out the Sheep(ish) finder app on Vickie’s website. Sheep(ish) is also available through the Herrschners catalogue and will soon be available in select, independent stores. And if you’re in or near Columbus, OH on Sunday, June 12th – Vickie will be at the Notions Marketing booth at TNNA for a Sheep(ish) Make & Take (make your own chopstick cozy!) and an AwareKnits book signing.

You can follow along on the rest of the stops on the Sheep(ish) blog tour here:

Happy knitting (and crocheting)! :)

I received 3 skeins of Sheep(ish) yarn as part of this blog tour, but all opinions here are 100% my own.