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Go International with Your Yarncrafting!

For some people, knitting or crocheting might be a hobby, while for others, it has been a cultural influence.  Like the United States, the United Kingdom has seen a large increase in knitting popularity over the years; In July, an English newspaper entitled The Guardian, mentioned in their article "Pride in the wool: the rise of knitting", that knitting searches on Google have increased to over a million per month. Although there has been a recent increase in yarncrafting popularity, in many instances, knitting or crocheting has been passed along from generation to generation; it is common to hear, "My grandmother (mother) taught me when I was a child". Knitting and crocheting is done all over the world, in many different styles; see the roundup below to check out some knitting styles adapted from over seas!

Fair Isle  

Fair Isle knitting is a technique that originated from Fair Isle, a small island located in the Shetland Islands of northern Scotland.  The technique is a traditional style that works in the round and uses two colors per row, usually with frequent color changes.  This style was developed in the mid 19th century and uses basic knit stitches, no purling.  Fair Isle knit patterns became very popular once they were seen on King Edward VIII, who donned the pattern during golfing in the 1920s.

Click here to see Lion Brand's Fair Isle patterns.

Irish Lace Crochet 

Irish lace crochet is a technique that dates back to the 19th century famine years in Ireland.  During this time, charity groups taught crochet lace techniques to anyone who was willing to learn; they saw it as a way to jump start the economy.  The style is comprised of separately crocheted motifs which are then applied to a mesh background.  The tools for Irish lace crochet involve a fine steel crochet hook and thread or cotton in varying weights. A thinner thread/cotton is used for the mesh while a thicker thread/cotton is used for the motifs.

Click here to see Lion Brand's Irish Lace Crochet pattern.

photo source:
Original Artisan

Andean Knitting 

The culture of knitting in the Andes is quite interesting because it is done primarily by the men.  The men knit caps (also known as Chullos) to keep them warm while working, and are mostly made with natural fibers, such as that from an Alpaca. The ear flaps are an important part of the cap, providing good insulation.  These hats are knit with very thin double-pointed needles and incorporate a plethora of colors. Chullos often tell a story of the man who's wearing it, so a lot of motifs (animal and human), stripes, diagonal lines and diamond patterns can be found on them; the Andean men take a lot of pride in their knitting.

Click here for Lion Brand ear flap hat patterns.

picture source: Globe Hoppers
Estonian Lace/Haapsalu shawl 

The Estonian lace shawl is a traditional knit style originating from Haapsalu, a small town in Estonia.  Local artists sold these shawls at the seaside during the late 19th century, ranking popular amongst the Russian aristocracy for souvenirs and gifts.  A traditional shawl is knit as a rectangle, and uses very fine lamb wool yarn- mostly done in white.  The shawls are traditionally constructed using wooden needles.  The shawl's body is composed of a center, a border and an edge- which has been knit separately and then sewn to the body.  This knitting tradition is still kept alive today through the school systems, as girls are taught this intricate pattern in grade school, and pride themselves on completion.

I'd love to hear how you learned to knit/crochet; were you taught by family, self taught or took a class? Are any of you familiar with these styles? I'd personally love to be able to Fair Isle knit one day, but since I'm still a beginner, that may take some time. Share your experiences with us!

Sources:Globe Hoppers: Haapsalu Shawl, Knitting Letters A to Z, Original Artisan

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