Five Reasons I Love my Strickplaner

The Strickplaner 2020 is now on sale! I’m thrilled that we are stocking this wonderful paper planner for the third year running. This clever planner, developed by Martina Behm in collaboration with WeekView, a small German planner company, is designed to help you stay focussed on what you actually want to be getting done in any given week, month, quarter, or even year with lots of added sections that are specifically for knitters and other fibre crafters (think places to record project notes, chart patterns, and note yarn purchases)! I wrote about how much I love my planner last year, and that hasn’t changed much! Here are just five of the many reasons that I am a hardcore Strickplaner fan!

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Joy from the Everyday – The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork System

There is a great temptation sometimes to doubt one's own ability and for many, me included, this is often around design and use of colour. But fear not! Help is at hand.

You may have been lucky enough to have taken one of Felicity (Felix) Ford's classes, and if you have, you will undoubtedly have been filled with her boundless enthusiasm for the potential of just about anything as a source of inspiration for design. We love spending time with Felix (above) because she sees the world differently from us and can communicate how she sees things so clearly that we cannot help but have our eyes opened to the possibilities.

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Book and DVD Review: Fair Isle Designs from Shetland Knitters and 50 Tips from Shetland Knitters

It's a Shetland fiesta here this morning at A-C Knitwear Towers! My love of Shetland and its incredible knitting heritage, along with the wonderful wildlife, has been mentioned a few times here over the years. Today's post covers the new book from the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers, Fair Isle Designs from Shetland Knitters Volume 1, and the fantastic DVD, 50 Tips from Shetland Knitters, produced by Hazel Tindall and Elizabeth Johnston

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Book review: Coop Knits Socks Yeah! Volume One

There is no way that I can claim to write an unbiased review of this book! I edited the patterns, am very good friends with Rachel, and the book is stocked in our online shop. Unbiased just isn't possible. That said, I still think I would be jumping around shouting about this book, even if I hadn't worked on it, and didn't know Rachel. You'll just have to trust me on that...

This lovely book was released back in October 2016 when we were deep in editing work and kids adjusting to being back at school. Much to my regret I didn't get around to shouting about it at the time, so I'm making up for it now. Clicking on any of the photos in this post will open larger versions in a lightbox so that you can see all the details of these pretty designs.

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A Shetlander's Fair Isle Graph Book

A few weeks ago, the postman delivered a book from Shetland. Jen remarked, "The Wool Week Annual is bigger this year - that's a bit of a surprise," then opened the package. It wasn't the Shetland Wool Week Annual, but something a little different (the Wool Week Annual arrived a couple of days later and more on that another time!).

Knitting pics - 1

A Shetlander's Fair Isle Graph Book in Colour consists of reproductions of two notebooks from the second quarter of the 20th Century. These originally belonged to Bill Henry who was in charge of the Hosiery (Knitwear) Department at Anderson & Co. of Lerwick through the middle of the last century. 

Carole Christiansen's introduction gives a great insight into the knitting industry in Shetland and really sets the scene for why what follows is a little special. Usually, if charts were drawn, their purpose was to give the knitter an idea of how the colours should change, rather than which colours to use. What sets these notebooks apart is that they have been fully coloured in, that is directing the knitter to colour choice as well as pattern.

Knitting pics - 2

What fascinates me about this book is the air of mystery over who actually drew the charts and what the purpose of the charts was. Is this a record of Fair Isle motifs that Bill had seen coming in from the local knitters, or were they produced by him, or someone for him, to direct knitters to a particular pattern, or a combination of both? Whatever the truth this is an important record of how external influences affected design through the period of the books, from the inclusion in the earliest pages, and thereafter absence, of swastikas to the appearance of Norwegian styles through the 1940s.

The big draw of this book is obviously the huge number of Shetland colourwork patterns to use within your own knitwear, but I think it is more than just that, so if you have an interest in the development of knitting, or are looking for a reference for colourwork, then this is a must-have book.

A Shetland's Fair Isle Graph Book was produced by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers and is published by The Shetland times. It is available from The Shetland Times bookshop and is priced at £20. 

Disclaimer: We received a review copy of the Shetlander's Fair Isle Graph Book free of charge from The Shetland Times. We have not received any other payment for this review, and are sharing it because we think it's a great book!



If you're of the knitterly persuasion and you haven't yet read Clara ParkesKnitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World, then you've missed something. While it lives up to its billing and follows Clara on her adventures across the globe, meeting, teaching and learning from knitters and yarn producers, this book has far more depth. 

The style of writing is warm and full of fun, even when things are far from ideal. I did wonder what I'd have to do to get Clara to paint me in a bad light, but I rather think the effort would be completely wasted. Her generosity of spirit flows throughout the book, whether dealing with people who are hard work, or comparing the shopping habits of knitters at shows in different places.

What makes Knitlandia more than a travelogue above all is that it is also a first-hand account of how the knitting world has been transformed over the last 15-20 years from someone at the centre of that world. The impact of the internet, social media and Ravelry in particular is an undercurrent through the book as changing attitudes and habits of knitters are marked. I was especially interested in the way that knitters consume has changed. When once print patterns were a means for spinners or dyers to showcase their products, the rise of independent designers and digital downloads have transformed the landscape, to the point that the jobs Jen and I do actually exist. As for how to learn a new technique, there's a fascinating insight into the working model of Craftsy

As someone who has in the past felt like a mere tourist in Knitlandia - the world of the knitters, this book really spoke to me as it viewed exactly the same human interactions through completely different eyes. I hope that Clara continues to travel widely, recording her observations of the world so that in the future she can publish a sequel that I will be eager to read.

Tomorrow, Jen reaches a milestone. Be sure to come back for a special treat!