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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Fearless Fair Isle Knitting

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.
Visit us on Facebook Jackson Street Books. Order books at Jackson Street Books and other fine Independent bookstores.As always, books ordered here will have a freebie publishers Advance Reading Copy included as a thank you to our blogosphere friends.


  1. When I think of knitting (I don't think of it often, of course -- not a manly avocation...) I don't think of islands off Scotland. I think of Paris. Appropriate for these times, eh?

  2. Seattle Tammy, Ma'am:

    Beleive it or not, your book report resonates with me. I too, am a knitter, and it came about in a curious way.

    Back when I was a boy and hit puberty I noticed a sorta increased tendency for hairiness, everywhere except my head, the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet. I was starting to look like Michael Landon's "Teeage Werewolf in the Little House on the Prairie", true story. So, me being the ingenuitous sortaguy that I am I tried depilation, live flame, rubdowns with pumice, you name it. Turns out that he best thing was a good old fashioned cutthroat razor hones to a "wavelength of light" edge.

    Now, even though I was, at the time, unacquainted with our munificent, omniscient and omnipotent General, I felt that just throwing away all that GODgiven hair was wrong (I never would have thought of saving it in Mason jars, as the General does his manly essence) so I just bagged it and tossed it in a closet.

    At a point in my life where I was dealing with enforced idleness* I saw a show on knitting (I think it was on the "Knitting Channel on cable, ha, ha, "Cable knitting", get it?!) and they had a mini-feature on spinning yarn. Well, you know me. It wasn't but about three weeks, a cannabalized 10 speed bicycle and some skint knucks and I had me a spinning wheel.

    I converted 34 years worth of clippings into hundreds of skeins of beautiful, soft yarn (some of it was curly, too) and I've been making sweaters, socks, caps and peniswarmers for friends and family alike, ever since. If you was to let me know both your and SeattleDan's pertinent measurements, like neck size, chest size, length, girth, angle of the dangle and so forth I'd be happy to make both of you something for those cold, gray, Seattlestanian winters. It's my treat, you just pay for shipping and handling. Send me a certified check or money order for $2,720.17, and I'll get them off to you in the return mail (not, like immediately but before the national debt is paid off).

    Cheers, stay warm; and remember, you might be able to prevent a forest fire, but "long pig" does not, good sushi make.

    *Yes, technically it was "house arrest" but I just did it to save the state some money that they would have spent on a lengthy trial.

  3. But Demo, if Dan or Tammy wore ennyathat furry stuff out in the rain, would it make them smell like wet you?

  4. Bukko Canukko:

    You raise a good question. They might smell like me but that's okay, I won't charge extra for that.

  5. I just never know where you're going demo. Just faith that you will.


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.