If you like color and pattern, you've probably been intrigued by Fair Isle. Maybe you wondered if this traditional Shetland Islands technique could be used for crocheting as well as knitting, and whether it would be too difficult for you.
Wonder no longer! Craftsy is offering a new class, "Demystifying Fair Isle Crochet," taught by Karen Whooley. (Full disclosure: I received free access to the class. As you know, I will give you an honest assessment.) In the class Karen proves that (a) you can crochet Fair Isle and (b) it's not too hard for you! Keep reading and you will find a link for 50% off the class price!
Karen is no stranger to Fair Isle: in fact, she is the author of Learn to Fair Isle Crochet (2012; Annie's), Fair Isle to Crochet (2010; Leisure Arts), and six other crochet titles—with three more in the works. She's done her share of teaching also, from small guild meetings to national shows. If you subscribe to any crochet magazines you have probably seen her work.
"Demystifying Fair Isle Crochet" has the professional production quality and good pace that Craftsy classes are known for. You really get in-depth instruction from Karen. The course runs a little more than three hours and includes seven lessons, beginning with introductory material and leading up to three Fair Isle projects: the Poet Shawl, a trivet, and a hat.
Traditional Fair Isle usually includes up to five colors in a fairly muted palette; however, some people call any kind of stranded colorwork "Fair Isle." No matter which definition you use, Fair Isle crochet is worked with two strands of yarn on every row. They can be the same color for solid portions of an item, but will be in two colors elsewhere. The pattern is brought to life by having a certain color on the front in a certain position of the pattern. To know where that position is, Fair Isle is charted on graph paper. Karen is very thorough when she teaches how to interpret a graph. She explains the way to handle repeats, both horizontally and vertically, and gives tips to right- and left-handers. She also includes patterns that will be worked in the round, like the hat.
It's obvious that Karen did a lot of preparation for the class. (Having been on HGTV's "Uncommon Threads" myself, I can attest to the importance of having step-outs ready at the right time—and to how time-consuming it is to prepare them.) I especially liked in the Poet Shawl when she intentionally made five different types of mistakes, then went back to show us what they were and what caused them. It's helpful to know what to avoid, especially when the only solution might be to rip out several rows. (I do think that if a float ends up on the front rather than the back, you might be able to cut it and weave it through to the back; and if you happened to use the wrong color in a stitch or two, you could cross-stitch over it in the correct yarn.)
Although Karen is a crochet star, she isn't a movie star (yet). She explains the process of working with Craftsy:
From contact to filming it was about 2.5 months. This was quick because I had already written two books on Fair Isle in Crochet and I have taught classes on the subject. Since I had the basics of the class already in place, it was just a matter of fleshing it out, creating samples and new patterns. They have lots of help for teachers who have never been on film before—like me! But once I was there and got through the first lesson, it was a whole lot easier.
Like every good crochet teacher, Karen emphasizes making a gauge swatch, especially for something worked in the round like a hat. "You would be surprised how different your gauge can be in my Fair Isle technique versus normal single crochet," she says.
I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in Fair Isle or who wants to learn a new technique. What you can expect from the Karen's Craftsy video course:
● an introduction to Fair Isle, and a course overview;
● detailed instructions on how to change colors (and not get tangled);
● how to let the yarn "float" across the back and how to work over it to hide the floats;
● three original projects, including written patterns and charts you can print out;
● a forum to ask questions and get answers;
● in-depth instructions on working flat and in the round;
● several options for finishing your pieces;
● a bonus: tips for creating your own Fair Isle charts.
Where else can you find Karen Whooley?
Twitter: @KRWKnitwear for professional tweets; @12thManKnitting for all things football!
Teaching schedule: http://karenwhooley.com/calendar/
And oh, yeah! Here's the link to the 50% off deal for Karen's Craftsy Class, "Demystifying Fair Isle Crochet."