So there I was, trying to persuade the twinnage to stop putting worms in each other’s hair, when my phone pinged with an email from none other than Hazel Tindall.
(By the way, there is an extremely lucky giveaway winner to announce, right at the end of this post.)
Just in case she’s not on your radar, Hazel Tindall is from Shetland and she’s the world’s fastest knitter. In the time it’s taken you to read this sentence, she’s finished off two fisherman’s keps and a jumper. She’s fast, and she loves to knit Fair Isle, so I’m a fan. But why was she emailing me? I was pretty sure that it wasn’t to seek my advice on speeding up her knitting… and fortunately, I was right.
No, the reason for her message was to ask whether I’d like to review her new DVD. My response was roughly as fast as Hazel’s knitting: of course I wanted to review her DVD!
Introducing 50 Tips From Shetland Knitters:-
Available as a DVD or download, it comprises 3½ hours of wisdom from Hazel and her fellow Shetland yarn-sage, Elizabeth Johnston. Both women are highly experienced knitting tutors, and their choice of content was based largely on what people most frequently ask them.
(Before we go any further, may I just point out that a DVD review is blimmin’ difficult to illustrate, so in addition to a snap or two of the product, I’ll pepper this post with a few photos of the snow, that I took the other day as I wandered around our village, OK?)
If you’re after a whizz-bang action drama on a conspicuously Hollywood budget, then this is not the DVD for you. Instead, this is a simple, calm-paced, video of two wise knitters sitting on a sofa, discussing what they do and why they do it, demonstrating as they go. James Bond patently doesn’t abseil in at the end to rescue them from imminent peril; instead, Hazel thanks the viewer politely and signs off. (Oops, I’ve spoiled the ending: sorry.) The biggest plot intrigue I found was wondering about the history of the graffiti etched into the table that they were using. Was this an old Shetland school desk? What did the graffiti say? Who’d written it?
for once, this is a very, very, helpful DVD, perhaps most suited to the intermediate knitter who wants to add to their repertoire of skills, or to the advanced knitter who wants to deepen their understanding of why they do what they do.
Hazel and Elizabeth were shaped by their environment, as production knitters raised to knit fast, efficiently, and pragmatically. (And goodness, Hazel is fast. I couldn’t help willing her to show us her speediest work, and there are a couple of spots where she seems to really go for it.) The pragmatism of their approach is refreshing: clearly the Knitting Police don’t have jurisdiction on Shetland. An example: whilst I tend to use the Is-it-visible-from-three-feet-away? rule when deciding whether to correct a mistake, Hazel employs the far more evocative, “The man on the galloping horse is never going to see [it]” principle – I like her thinking… though obviously it depends on the skill of the rider. (If I were riding a galloping horse, then I wouldn’t even notice if you’d accidentally knitted three sleeves on your cardigan.)
Sorry, I’m straying into flippancy again.
The DVD covers 50 subject areas, from cast-on, to increasing/decreasing, making neat edges, to repairing mistakes, to grafting. Each is not so much an instruction, as a discussion of alternatives, with demonstrations from one or both women. The close-up demonstrations are perfectly clear and well-paced. It’s refreshing to hear Hazel and Elizabeth discussing the reasons for doing what they do, comparing notes and learning from each other. The most skilled knitters I’ve come across always seem to be open to alternatives and new ideas, rather than dogmatically sticking to Doing It The Way You’re Supposed To Do It Because That’s The Rule. Elizabeth and Hazel may have been renowned knitting experts for decades, but they’re still learning.
Given that both women hail from Shetland, it’s hardly surprising that there’s a bias towards Fair Isle colourwork and steeking, and that was just fine by me. I learned a lot. Seriously. And when I go back and watch it again, I’ll learn even more…
…which brings me to how to use this video. You could try and use it like a reference tool, although it might be frustratingly difficult to pinpoint the exact segment that you need, even with the contents guide on the back cover (see below). Instead I recommend sitting back and watching all the way through, gathering ideas to try along the way. There are certainly quite a few things that I’m going to do differently in the coming weeks.
It was interesting to hear both women’s preferences. In short, they’re not fans of circular needles, they acknowledge that fixing mistakes in lacework is a faff, and they don’t like purling if they can avoid it. (I am so with them on the purling thing, and if even Hazel Tindall doesn’t like purling, then I feel bold enough to come out and say it, too.)
In short, I really, really, like this DVD, and there is a vast amount of wisdom distilled into these two small disks. Unless you’re a complete beginner knitter, I thoroughly recommend it. Thank you, Hazel, for the opportunity to do this review.
50 Tips From Shetland Knitters is available right now. You can either purchase it as a download from Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/50shetlandknittingtips/ or you can order the DVD from several suppliers in Shetland: current list can be found on Hazel’s website: www.hazeltindall.com/dvd.
The download costs US$30 (roughly £23), and the DVD costs £25.
And if you want to learn more about the contributors, their websites are here:-
Meanwhile, we have a giveaway winner to announce, do we not? THANK YOU to all 317 of you who entered the Adagio Teas giveaway either here, or @thetwistedyarn on Instagram, or on The Twisted Yarn Facebook page. You all made it a big success. Unfortunately, there can be only one winner. So I allocated each entry a number, fed them all into the random number generator at random.org, and waited for it do work its magic. And we have a winner! Step forward, please, and take a bow:-
Carol-Anne Adreetti. Congratulations! Courtesy of Adagio Teas, you win a PersonaliTEA teapot in a colour of your choice, with two cups to match, plus a festive Stocking Stuffer Set, AND five different loose tea sampler sets. Wa-hey! I’ll send you a Facebook message within the next day or so to request your address.
To everyone else, thank you for entering, and I’m sorry that you weren’t lucky this time. Meanwhile, the festive Christmas tree tea cosy crochet pattern is here, and if I can squeeze a few more hours out of the next couple of days, I’ll finish the knitted bauble tea-cosy pattern, too.