I’m a firm believer in trying new things, and expanding any hobbies to include new techniques or approaches so they don’t become stale, so this month’s #Craftblogclub creative challenge, “A New Craft for the New Year”, was right up my alley. It centered around doing exactly that – either trying a new craft, or trying something new within one we already did.
I couldn’t make up my mind between trying Fair Isle knitting, or Tunisian crochet, and because I started early enough, I actually ended up trying my hand at both! I’ve done mug cosies (aka ‘mug hugs’) for both of my attempts since they’re quite quick to make, and they use very little yarn, so if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t lost much.
Fair Isle knitting is a specific type of knitting that involves alternating between two or more colours as you go. I’d tried intarsia knitting, which is another form of colourwork, but never Fair Isle – it always struck me as being a bit fiddly, and I preferred to add interest to my knits through texture, as opposed to colour work.
However I figured I’d give it a try, and as luck would have it, I came across a two-colour pattern for a bat-themed candle cosy in a Halloween download. It was just the right length to turn into a mug cosy, which is what I’ve done. I knitted the bats and edging in black, and the background in white, adding two crochet loops and two small white buttons so I can fasten it around my mug.
If you were wondering, I used Bonus DK in White and Black – it’s acrylic and washable, and I had plenty left over from knitting toys! Being me, it naturally had to be a bit batty…
The other mug cosy made using Tunisian crochet, which differs from traditional crochet in that you work backwards and forwards without turning your work, and your forward row involves picking up and holding more that one stitch on your book. It’s like a cross between knitting and crochet, and there’s a very good tutorial on it here. It’s actually easier than it sounds, and gives a lovely fabric that feels more like knitted stocking stitch than crochet.
Again I added two buttons and two loops so I could fasten it around my mug. This one ended up being narrower than the bat one, and if I made it again, I’d definitely add a few more stitches to my cast on chain to make the cosy wider, but I didn’t have a Tunisian crochet hook and was trying to make do with a regular one!
I’m very pleased with how they both turned out, although I don’t think I’ll be trying Fair Isle again! I found it too fiddly to try and keep track of the two colours of yarn, although I’m pretty pleased with the results, and I can see why the double-layer of fabric that is created is so useful for hats and gloves.
I’m more pleased with the Tunisian crochet, and I found it very easy to pick up the basics. The yarn, Sirdar Softspun Chunky, is easy to work with, although Tunisian crochet curls at the ends so it does require blocking before you can do anything with it. There’s a lovely pattern using the technique in Simply Crochet so I’ll definitely be having a go at that with my newfound skills!
Have you ever tried Fair Isle knitting or Tunisian crochet? If so, how did it go?