One glance through Sivia Harding’s design pages on Ravelry shows the design priniciple “thread” that runs through all of her work: magic. Her designs incorporate lovely beads and intriguing shapes: shawls that arc, möbius accessories and sweaters, and EPS cowls that hug the neck and drape gracefully around the shoulders to keep out the cold. And the beads—they peek from between flowing cables on a pair of gloves, adorn the points and shapes of a lace wrap. She is also known for her knitted jewelry designs, of course, where beads and buttons turn something as simple as I-cord into a work of art. You can find Sivia's designs in all kinds of publications: she has been published in many books, fiber arts magazines, and she also has a Ravelry store.

Happily for us at Knit Fit! Sivia believes that every knitter can work this magic, and she loves to teach us how in her classes!

Sivia describes herself as a process knitter. She started out with crochet, though, which she learned as a child from her grandmother. “I remember making endless crochet chains and then endless crochet afghan squares,” she says. She didn’t learn to knit until she was an adult, when she made what she describes as “an awful garter stitch scarf with very questionable edges!”

When I asked what she loves, and what she struggles with, as a knitter and crocheter, she gave me the same answer: the process. As she puts it, “I love the process. The wisdom of the movements and the fiber, and how it produces calmness and balance all by itself. The biggest struggle for me as a designer is to fully trust that process, not to get too complicated in my mind.”

Sivia makes her living as a fiber artist—a designer and an instructor in a set of venues that she chooses carefully, and which also includes a retreat that she runs in Washington’s San Juan Islands. She also works part time, “assisting a friend who is in theater.” More magic!

She brings this same degree of care and attention to detail to her choice in yarns, where she favors “yarns that are next to skin soft and spun and plied with care,” or what she calls “yarn integrity.” Still, she says that her stash is “preeeeeeety big.” I have a feeling that I would enjoy hearing Sivia tell me about each item in her stash, as much as I would enjoy looking at it. J

Check out Sivia’s class offerings for this year’s Knit Fit! In her teaching, as in her designs, magic is on the menu, and there are both subtle and sparkling forms to work, “as you wish.” (Couldn't resist a little Princess Bride reference...) There is still room in a couple of her classes!

You can also find Sivia on Ravelry, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Posted by: Sharon Crowley


by Sharon Crowley


Aleen Caplan Yamasaki is a creative, independent knitter – and crocheter – and spinner, too! Her first foray into the fiber arts was inspired by a favorite art teacher, whose innovative spirit led her to constantly learn new crafts, which she then brought into her classroom. Aleen learned how to spin from this teacher—sort of. She explains, “Well actually a boy I was interested in learned from her and then I had him teach me.” Not a bad motivation. :-)

Along with spinning, Aleen also learned how to work with natural dyes. At a certain point, she decided it was time to do something with all of the yarn she was making, so she took up crochet. “I could follow patterns,” she says, “but soon started doing more freeform and making hats of my own design to sell at a gallery in Cannon Beach.” That, in a nutshell, encapsulates Aleen’s teaching philosophy: learn new techniques, learn to follow written instructions – but don’t be afraid to strike out on your own!

Aleen added knitting to her toolkit while attending graduate school in Seattle. She worked in a store called Rumplestiltskin, which sold supplies for knitting, crochet, embroidery, and sewing. The store owners offered their employees a sweet perk: free classes! Despite not yet knowing how to knit, Aleen had already been helping customers to navigate knitting patterns. She realized that it “was mainly an issue of being analytical.” From there, it was a natural next step for her to take a knitting class – and lo! a new obsession was born.

Much like her high school art teacher, Aleen's desire for knowledge led her to learn as many knitting techniques as she could. Before long, she was also teaching her own knitting classes at several Seattle-area yarn stores. Learning and teaching this craft have been endlessly rewarding. As she explained to me, “I have checked many knit techniques off of my ‘to learn’ list over the years but am always happy to add more and even happier to be able to teach them to others knitters so they can discover the joy, too.”

In addition to teaching, Aleen enjoys going on yarn crawls and “soaking in the atmosphere of different shops.” She doesn’t like putting information about her yarn stash in Ravelry, though, because “then I would somehow have to admit to myself and the knitting world how much yarn I have and I just not ready for that.” (Yep...I think many of us know how that feels.) In terms of her own knitting, Aleen loves to make vests - they are wearable, and the lack of sleeves allows her to finish faster so she can move on to the next one! She laments the shortage of good vest patterns, but rather than feeling discouraged, she has simply set herself the goal of writing some new vest patterns.

I got to take Aleen’s “Burp and Bark through Brioche” class at last year’s Knit Fit, and had a great time. She has a lively teaching style, and she encourages her students to learn the fundamentals of each technique so they can start experimenting with them in their knitting.

Aleen’s classes are perennial favorites at Knit Fit! This year, she’s bringing back her popular brioche and double-knitting classes, along with a 1-hour midday class on the basics of Navajo knitting. I’m particularly intrigued by “Advanced Double-Knitting: Adding Texture.” I never realized it was possible to add texture to double-knitting – much less in so many different ways! Check out her class offerings below – and register today!

Teacher Feature: Meet Lisa Ellis!

by Sharon Crowley

Lisa Ellis is a prolific knitwear designer, and we are so excited that she's back to teach at Knit Fit this year! Lisa has had two books published by Leisure Arts, as sole designer/author: Wardrobe Favorites, and Fun Time Sweaters. She has also published designs in several other books and magazines, and she sells individual patterns in her Ravelry store.

Browsing through her designs on Ravelry gives an immediate sense of her excitement and versatility. She has designed for all ages, everything from sweaters, socks, and other accessories to decorative items for the home. Throughout, her work shows a flair for the visual, with pops of color and texture that keep things both useful and interesting.

Lisa learned to knit through the Camp Fire Girls - her mom was the leader. But her interest really took off in college, while she was studying overseas. First, her Spanish host mother made her a cashmere cardigan using neither a pattern nor measuring tape. Lisa says, “She would just put the pieces up against me and physically gauge when to start the armhole decreases and so on.  It turned out gorgeous!”

Later, while studying in France, Lisa saw a young Norwegian woman making sweaters in one of her classes. Not only did this young woman knit without a pattern, she also did color work without looking. Says Lisa, “I was mesmerized and intrigued!  This opened up my world of knitting without a pattern.  To knit without relying on a pattern is truly invigorating and liberating.”

These days, Lisa has shifted her focus away from her design business. She is enjoying the freedom to knit without deadline pressures, along with the opportunity to spend more time exploring the craft. She gravitates toward unusual fibers (bison, mink, yak, and possum, for example), and loves that she has more time to knit herself and her family. Her knitting passion now, she says, is "bar none, teaching."

Lisa’s sense of adventure is a prominent strand that runs through all of her classes. Read through the descriptions, below. You’ll notice a few key themes: techniques for adding color, new tools to try, and different ways to achieve more professional results. Lisa emphasizes patience in her teaching, creating space for people to learn at their own pace. At the same time, she encourages students to try new things and to keep their knitting fresh. “Like I say in my classes, if you become complacent with your knitting, you will move on to another craft form.  My goal is to teach new techniques, finesse the practice and bring new excitement to knitting.”

Check out Lisa’s classes, below – and register here!

Connect with Lisa online: Website, Ravelry