Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More by Kathleen Taylor (Taunton Press $24.95) I realize this book report will only appeal to a limited audience, but knitters will rejoice in the beautiful volume. The pictures of these gorgeous sweaters and hats will have some of us just itching to get out the 4 pointy sticks. The 30 projects are explained in an easy to follow manner, giving an intermediate knitter the confidence to take on the more challenging work.
Fair Isle knitting is named after a small island off the north coast of Scotland. Originally a fishing and sheep rearing community, its location brought traders from Scandinavia. These brightly patterned sweaters were sought after by tourists and provided family income after the decline of the hand knit lace popularity (new fangled knitting machines were able to produce more and finer hosiery than a human knitter). The people of Fair Isle used their unique sheep wool to develop the characteristic designs that while looking quite complicated, are actually accomplished by simply using two strands of yarn per row.
My first attempts were akward and clumsy, but it was truly an A-ha! moment when it finally fell into place and I was able to hold a yarn in each hand and knit at the same time. My delight in watching the design emerge caused me to knit so long that afternoon, my hands hurt the next day! Be sure to take breaks and do stretching exercises as you begin.
Fair Isle sweaters are knitted in the round, and then cut for placement of the sleeves and neckline. This can be terrifying after all the hours of knitting you've done, but with Kathi guiding you through the steps you won't drop a single stitch.
This is Kathleen's 5th knitting book, and like the earlier ones, give you the confidence and inspiration to felt, dye, turn a heel or something else you night never have thought you could do. I first met Kathi back when she was a mystery author with a delightful small town series set in her adopted home of South Dakota. The landscapes and colors of South Dakota are also found in her knitting patterns and colors. Kathi has written many patterns for the Knitpicks yarn company, and I was pleased to be able to be one of her "test knitters" for a couple projects. You can get a feel for this on her blog, Kathleen's Dakota Dreams, where you'll find Friday Freebie patterns, works in progress, and more gossip than you'd ever admit to knowing about American Idol. Click here for Kathi being interviewed for the morning Souix Falls news show earlier this month.
Kathleen's knitting books are available at our online store, or in historic downtown Hoquiam.
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