I have had stranded knitting down as one of my skills I'd like to improve this year as I was never happy with my tension over it and my balls of wool always got in a terrible tangle by the end of a row. (For the uninitiated stranded knitting is where you work with two or more colours on the same row to form a pattern, colours that aren't used are floated across the back of the work, this type of colour work appears in many different knitting traditions including Fair Isle) So when I saw that Ann Kingstone the queen of stranded knitting was coming to teach Fair Isle techniques at my LYS I leapt at the chance.
|Naked Wool - image from their site. www.nakedwool.co.uk|
Before the class we were asked to choose yarn and come with a few rounds of ribbing already started so we would be able to crack on with the pattern stitches straight away. I chose four natural colours from The Shetland Sheep Wool Company as stranded knitting works best with yarns that are kind of sticky (smooth yarns don't work so well) and this had that property but is still soft enough to wear next to the skin.
I knew Ann really well online as we are members of a designer forum and have chatted quite a lot but we had never met in real life before. I was pleased to find she is just as lovely in real life - a really kind and patient teacher, very encouraging and fun to chat with.
Ann explained how to hold the yarn, as everyone in the group throws the yarn English style she taught us to hold one yarn in the right hand and knit in English style and hold the other in the left and knit it continental style. For continental style knitter she teaches yarn management all in the left hand. I was really pleased I already knew how to knit continental as it was one less thing to have to juggle learning but Ann's explanation was very clear and easy to follow and everyone in the group got it straight away.
We followed a simple but pretty chart as we mastered the yarn holds and the techniques Ann taught us to get the strands at the correct tension and Ann chatted to us about colour theory, the knitting traditions and let us coo over samples from previous books and sneak a peek at sketches for her upcoming book "Stranded Knits" which is on my wish list already. We learnt how to join in a new yarn with a clever spit splicing technique and how to catch long floats so fingers don't get caught in them.
I finished my headband in an evening after the class and I am so pleased with how it came out
The right side (above) looks fab and I think I will wear this a lot on winter school runs to keep my ears warm. But I am so pleased with how neat I am able to get the wrong side (below) now.
I really enjoyed being taught at this class - sure I could have learnt most of this from books and the internet but being told and shown exactly what I needed for this type of knitting was really good and having a dedicated three hours of peace and quiet to learn was a real luxury.
Ann teaches all around the country so try and find her somewhere near you - I highly recommend the class!
Disclosure: I was not asked to write a review not have I received anything for doing so. This is genuine feedback on a class I enjoyed attending.
PS: If you haven't entered my fab GIVEAWAY go and do it now!