Giveaway: "Mini Knitted" Book Series + Interview with Sahiyo Ishii

Mini Knitted Books

I have an amazing opportunity for you today! Search Press (the publisher of the adorable Mini Knitted series) is giving one reader 5 books, including:

Keep reading for details on how to enter! Sachiyo Ishii is the author of 4 of these books, and she’s joined us to tell us a bit about herself and her process!

Each book is packed with projects (more than 25 patterns per book), using a variety of techniques with simple knitting stitches.

Interview with Sachiyo Ishii

Sachiyo is the prolific author of 4 of the Mini Knitted books, and I was delighted that she took the time to come talk to us! Welcome, Sachiyo!

How did you begin knitting? And when did it take a professional turn?
I took up knitting in my 30’s after my second son was born. I could not knit a stitch until then. I thought dressing my boys in my handmade clothes was trendy and very Yummy Mummy, but soon discovered that knitting requires skill and patience. With my friend’s help, I did achieve my very first piece, but the stitches were messy and uneven, and the sleeves came out in different lengths.

It seemed to me that I had a very long way to go until I would be able to knit a decent garment. I almost gave up knitting altogether, however, I discovered that you can make small toys with basic skills. I practiced published patterns for some time and then, I started creating my own to add personality. I knitted many animals and proposed my current publisher, Search Press the idea of the knitted animal park. It is great to find a channel that I can put my effort into.

You’ve written so many books! Where do you find your inspiration?
I get inspiration from everywhere. When I walk in town, looking through books and magazines, shop windows, everywhere! I am constantly thinking of new designs no matter where I go or what I do. Illustrations and cartoons, felted work and sugar craft are a good source, too. They are already in simplified forms and it is easy to make them into my craft projects.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy attending fitness classes and swimming. When I get stuck with a project, swimming can be the best solution to get a fresh idea. I don’t do enough but I like visiting craft shops and fairs. I guess I cannot completely be free from crafting.

What is your favourite yarn/knitting needle/craft supply?
For many years, my favourite yarns are Rowan. I love felted tweed especially. It is such a delight to knit with quality yarn.
I have been using bamboo needles since I took up knitting. They are less slippery and keep stitches well and the best of all, they feel great in hands. If you are still new to the skill, bamboo needles are must. I have been using Clover Takumi needles.
My favourite is Clover products. My mother loved them for many years and recently I inherited them all. Some are bought over 30 years ago but still in very good condition.

Is there a favourite piece you’ve made? Perhaps for yourself?
It is hard to say since I have many favourites, but I love the knitted carousel. I have a whole set of amusement park in knitting and would love to do a book someday. Most of my creations are for myself except occasional gifts to my friends. It is great to be an author. You get to keep all samples!
knitted carousel Sachiyo Ishii

Thank you, Sachiyo!

Find Sachiyo!

Instagram: knitsbysachi
Ravelry: sachiyo-ishii
Pinterest: knitsbysachi
Twitter: Knitsbysachi

Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook: Review

This book. Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook. Drool.

I saw it. And I bought it.

I don’t buy a lot of craft books. (Seriously, all of my books fit on one shelf!)

But I bought this one and love it. And I added my old cable stitch dictionary to my ‘Spring Cleaning’ pile. Because I don’t need it any more.

Norah Gaughan's Knitted cable sourcebook

(does this inside cover give you an idea of all of the amazingness inside?)

I had read a lot of amazing reviews about this book, but I’m a bit of a skeptic. I thought, ‘oh, they’re probably just saying nice stuff because Norah Gaughan is really famous’. (geesh, that makes me sound really awful, doesn’t it? It’s just that in my job, I see a lot of books.) And the cable on the cover is nice, but it didn’t make me pass out from the amazingness.

But once my book arrived I discovered that my skepticism was unwarranted. It actually IS really amazing.

The introduction isn’t very long, but it’s packed with pretty juicy information. The topics covered include:

  • Using a double point needle as a cable needle
  • Left vs. Right slants
  • How to slip stitches onto a needle & how to work the held stitches
  • Cable terminology
  • How to read cable charts
  • Tips for keeping your place on a chart
  • A full explanation of Norah’s own Stockinette Stitch Equivalent System (SSE), so you can swap different cable stitches into different patterns
  • How to fix a mistake in a cable
  • How to count cabled rows

I read the introduction and felt like, ‘Wow. That has everything I need to know.’

The cable designs (many not previously published) are just stunning. Look at this one.

Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook


Very few are this complicated… most of the stitch patterns are two notches above ‘simple’, but stunningly beautiful and hovering significantly below ‘crazily complex’. Which is exactly what you want in a stitch dictionary.

I fell in love with the Seed Rib Half Drop (#84 in the book) and cast on for a scarf immediately.

Seed Rib scarf from Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook

Isn’t it gorgeous? (The cable pattern, I mean… not my knitting!) It was so enjoyable to knit… I felt like each cable was a little piece of knitter’s candy. I just kept wanting to get to the next one!

FreshStitches scarf cable pattern norah Gaughan's

The book also contains 15 projects, which are all quite lovely and creative projects using cables, in addition to the more than 150 stitch patterns in the book.

Pullover Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook

Whoa. This book is just plain fabulous. Treat yourself.

Those links are affiliate links. That means I earn a tiny commission if you buy after clicking through. 🙂

Quickie Intarsia Tutorial

Great little instarsia video! Stacey makes it easy!
Intarsia. Oooh. Sounds scary, right?

instarsia knitting

But it’s totally not scary at all! I’ve filmed a quickie video for you… it’s only 2 minutes, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

Intarsia Tutorial Video

Intarsia is a method of changing colors over big stretches (when it’s too far to carry your unused color). All you do is twist the two yarns around each other and keep working!

Here’s a video!

Cool, right?


FreshStitches chevron cowl Chiclets
I use this technique in my newest pattern, Chiclets (click here to buy now!).

You may also want to check out this fabulous free pattern I designed for Knitty all the way back in 2010. Another great first Intarsia pattern!

And you can follow up with Anne Berk’s Craftsy Class, Next Steps in Intarsia. Sounds fun, right?!?

How to use 9" circular needles for any pattern!

You know I love my 9″ circular needles. I think they’re the easiest way to knit socks and sleeves.

But, because they’re fairly new, there aren’t a lot of patterns written specifically for the 9 inch needle. I’m often asked how to translate your favorite sock pattern into one that can be used on a 9″ circular.

Here’s how to do it! And good news, it’s easy!

How to translate any pattern to using 9" circular needles

In this blog post, I’m going to show you a simple little example of a piece of knitting with 10 stitches. The green string is our yarn!
yarn on 9 inch circular needle

Step 1: Place your End of Round marker

If you’re familiar with knitting on circular needles, then you are probably already doing this step. The end of round marker is an interestingly-colored marker (different from all the rest!) that tells you when you’ve hit the end of your round.

end of round stitch marker on a 9" needle

Place stitch markers where the double points would be

Now, here’s the real trick. You want to place stitch markers on your work to note where would have been between the double point needles (shown in the image as orange).
how to use stitch markers on a 9" circular

Using our little example, let’s say the pattern told you to cast 3 sts onto one double point, 3 sts onto another and 4 sts onto a third needle. You would place markers to section off 3, 3 and then 4 sts.

This trick works whether you’re instructed to use 3 or 4 double point needles.

If the pattern called for 2 needles (such as when you knit socks on 2 circular needles), then you can do the same trick, just using fewer markers!

That’s it! Now you can knit, and easily follow the instructions as they refer to double point needles. If you want a bit more help, you might want to find stitch markers that contain numbers (to remind you which ‘needle’ would have been which.

knitting on double point needles with freshstitches

You can now use 9″ circular needles on socks and sleeves… now that you know how to ‘translate’ the pattern! Happy knitting!

Why I don’t mind making mistakes…

Almost every time I knit or crochet or sew something, I make a mistake.


Recently, I knit Maddie the cutest hat. But I included the edge stitches of the chart in every repeat.

hat 2 small

See that white space between each flower pattern? Not supposed to be there.


And on this cardigan… a row of stockinette snuck into the garter stitch border.


Oops again.

But you know what? I don’t mind!

Do you know why? Because I enjoy knitting and crocheting. If I felt pressure for every piece to be absolutely perfect, it wouldn’t be fun anymore!

My grandmother used to say…

“Ain’t gonna see it on a running horse”

Which means, if you were on a running horse (happens every day, right?), no one would see your mistake. And it’s true.

Most people won’t even see it if you’re standing still!

That’s great news!

So relax! Enjoy your crafting! And feel okay making mistakes!

Patterns Featured

Happy Holidays + travel blog post roundup!

I’ve always loved this time of year. It’s Christmas, Boxing Day, my birthday, the New Year and now Maddie’s birthday all at once!

It’s also an incredibly busy time, which makes it especially important to set aside a little time for yourself to do some crafting!

Continental knitting from FreshStitches

It’s also a time when a lot of us are traveling to see friends and family, so I thought I’d do a little round-up of blog posts that I think are super-helpful at this time of year!

What am I bringing with me for my holiday travel? Aaahh! We leave Monday and I haven’t totally decided! I’m definitely hoping to knit Maddie a Mini Manu (but I haven’t had a chance to get to the yarn shop, so I may go in Sydney) and I have some AMAZING rainbow english paper piecing planned. But I need one more relaxing knitting project…

Follow me on Instagram for up-to-the-minute updates on my crafting!

And just a little reminder that since it’s the holidays, I’ll be replying to emails a tad slower than usual. The site will also be down at the start of the New Year for maintenance. It’s going to be bigger and better!

Have you heard about the Red Scarf Project?

This post originally appeared on November 20th, 2013. But it’s such a great cause, I’m reposting it with additional information!

What happens to a child in the foster care system when they turn 18? They’re ‘adults’, and are set out into the world alone, and without a network of family or social resources.

Sad, right?

If those kids are awesome enough to get themselves into college… who sends them care packages? Who do they call if they need an emergency $50 for a surprise textbook?

In most cases, they have no one to turn to.

Makes you sniffle, right?

That’s why I love Foster Care to Success, an organization that supports foster care children who have ‘aged out’ of the system. The organization collects money for emergency funds and runs other great drives to support this often-overlooked population.

I particularly love the Red Scarf Project. I read about it in Craft Activism.

Red Scarf project

The Red Scarf Project collects scarves from September 1st – December 15th every year, and then distributes them to a foster student on Valentine’s Day.

Isn’t that sweet? Can you imagine how special you’d feel if a handmade scarf with a sweet note showed up on your door? And what a boost that would give to your semester?

That’s why I’m knitting one!

Red Scarf Project

I didn’t feel like I had the time: the Kit Club packages, hosting Thanksgiving dinner, planning for the holidays… and then I told myself “Balarky! You can make the time! These college students don’t have families!”

And surprise… I’m finding the time!

Join in!

Can you spare the time?

Nothing fancy is required, just a simple red knitted or crocheted scarf. Check out the guidelines, here.

This link tells you where to mail the scarves, as well as the not-too-hard guidelines (basically is red, gender neutral and about 60″ long). Pattern suggestions, too!

Sweet extras, such as a hand-written note, are welcome!

What is Continental Knitting?

When I’m teaching new knitters, I notice that a lot of them get caught up in the terms for the different styles of knitting. What is continental knitting? What is throwing? And which one is better?

Do what’s most comfortable

When I teach beginning knitters, I don’t tell them anything about how to hold the yarn. I let them do what’s most comfortable. Most folks intuitively grab the needles and yarn in the way that works best for them!

What is Continental Knitting?

‘Continental Knitting’ refers to holding your yarn in your non-dominant hand. For right-handers, that means holding (and tensioning) the yarn with your left hand.

Continental knitting from FreshStitches

It’s called this because it’s thought to be the style of knitting most popular on ‘the continent’ of Europe (as opposed to England), but I’ve spoken to a number of international knitters that reveal this generalization isn’t completely accurate. The finer-grained truth is that there are a variety of knitting cultures (with their preferred yarn-holding styles) within Europe… but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!

I made you a video so that you can see me knitting ‘Continental’:

Most crocheters knit this way, as they are used to tensioning their yarn in their non-dominant hand.

What is Throwing?

Throwing refers to the action of moving the hand holding the yarn around your dominant knitting needle. It is most commonly used with ‘English’ knitting (where you hold your yarn in your dominant hand), but not necessarily.

Throwing in knitting
Throwing in knitting

Most people consider this to be a slower method of knitting… but let me tell you, I know some throwers who make my continental knitting look like it’s happening at a snail’s pace!

I made a little video of me throwing. I’m a bit slower at it because it’s not my usual style!

And more…

There are all kinds of styles of knitting that describe how you hold your hands and where you hold your yarn. We’ve only scratched the surface!

And there is no ‘best’ technique! Each style takes practice and suits different knitters!

However, if you want to do stranded knitting (colorwork), then you’ll probably want to learn both of these techniques for faster two-handed knitting.

Why do different gauges use more or less yarn?

I hear you. Doing a gauge swatch is boring. You have a lovely ball of yarn in your hands and you just want to get started!

But did you know that if your gauge is off, you may end up using more yarn than is recommended? And if you’ve purchased a kit, that may mean you run out!


What does gauge have to do with yarn usage?

We’re used to thinking about gauge as telling you how big your finished product is going to be. If you’re crocheting a stuffed animal, you may not mind if the result is 1/2 inch bigger… but that doesn’t mean you can skip the gauge swatch!

crochet owl by freshstitches

When you measure gauge, you measure the height and width of the stitch.

But a stitch is made by wrapping the yarn around your hook or needle. And bigger stitches are made with bigger loops.

knitting swatch on Karbonz needles

A bigger loop on your hook or needle uses more yarn!

crochet hooks and yarn by FreshStitches

If you’re a loose crocheter or knitter, that means that your loops are a bit bigger than standard… and you’ll use up a bit more yarn!

What to do

First of all, do a gauge swatch! It’s the only way to know if you’re really on target with your stitches.

If your stitches are loosey-goosey, then check out this post on how to get an even gauge in crochet. It isn’t pictured, but a similar technique applies to knitting.

You might also want to read some tips for getting accurate row gauge.

And, if your gauge is off, you’ll want to change your hook/needle size. Going down a size will give you slightly smaller stitches.

You might also want to check out if you’re committing one of these common gauge sins.

Finally… this is only tangentially related to the issue of gauge, but it’s a great chart, so I want to share! There are more tidbits about calculating yardage in this blog post.

The Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair

My visit to Sydney just happened to coincide with the Craft & Quilt Fair… and I was so excited to visit! I was only in town for the last day, which also happened to be my sister-in-law’s birthday (busy, busy!), so I could only stay for a couple hours. I wish I could have stayed longer!

The show was divided into three areas: the shopping bit, the quilt exhibition and the guild display area. In the shopping area, I immediately fell in love with this booth selling batik cottons in all of the shades of the rainbow:

rainbow batik fabric
rainbow fabric collection

Check out this amazing fat quarter I bought:

batik fabric freshstitches

Swoon! It’s perfect for all of the english paper piecing I’ve been doing. (have you checked my Instagram feed? Lots of EPP awesomeness, there!)

It was hard to not buy it all!

There was oodles of great needlework on display. There was a tribute to 50 years of flower power… a display full of knitted and crocheted flowers by Prudence Mapstone.

flower power by prudence mapstone

And each guild had great work on display. I don’t do much embroidery, but the embroidery guild’s display made me want to do more!

embroidery guild display

The quilt exhibition allowed photography for personal use only (not for internet posting), so I couldn’t take any photos to show you. But let me tell you, my jaw was on the ground staring at all of the amazing quilt work! So inspiring!

I just love that you can make such beautiful things with little pieces of scrap fabric!