Crochet Expert Karen Whooley

Today on the YarnThing Podcast with Marly Bird: Crochet Expert Karen Whooley (and knitter too)!


Karen learned to crochet when she was 7 years old.  Her old Italian grandmother was their babysitter and felt that they were watching too much TV, so she got out yarn and crochet hooks and taught them to crochet.  A couple of years later, her grandmother gave her a small steel hook and thread and she started doing Italian crochet lace.  Since her grandmother couldn’t read English patterns, they worked from pictures, just figuring out what to do.  As she grew older, Karen began teaching herself new techniques from books like Tunisian crochet.  On the design side, a friend encouraged her to start submitting designs which she did in 1998 and has been going since.  Various family members had tried to teach her to knit, but since she had been crocheting too long, holding the yarn in her right hand didn’t work.  Finally in 2004, she found continental knitting and now she knits too!

ICBCover_smallBecause she is obsessed with socks and shawls, Karen has many patterns for both, including books.  She has two books of just crochet socks as well as several patterns with magazines. Now, a lot of people have the misconception that crochet socks are always really bulky and uncomfortable, but Karen shows you how to use finer gauge yarn and good stitches to use for the sole to make them more comfortable.  Crochet socks sill aren’t for everyone (some people have really sensitive feet), but if you have wanted to try them, check out Karen’s book, you might be surprised!

fair isle crochet coverKaren’s latest work involves Fair-Isle crochet.  She had a stranded sweater that she absolutely loved when she was younger and one of the first things she learned when she learned to knit was how to do stranded knitting.  Later, she took a class on doing a specific color illusion picture technique with crochet.  Through experimentation, she took this technique and figured out how to do Fair-Isle crochet patterns that don’t lean and look good.  Karen teaches this both with floats (like in stranded knitting) and tapestry style, where the carried yarns are enclosed in the stitches.  In addition to her Leisure Arts book, Karen’s Craftsy class just recently went live!  The class teaches you all about the techniques and process of doing Fair-Isle crochet!

Listen in below to hear everything Marly and Karen talked about today including how she stated crocheting and knitting, Fair-Isle crochet, how to still craft with arthritis and much more!

Important links from today’s show:

More Knitting Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with MarlyBird on BlogTalkRadio

And we can’t forget the Giveaway!  Leave a comment below for your chance to win you own access to Karen’s Craftsy class!


Let’s give some love to our sponsors!
Indian  Lake Artisans
Fiesta Yarns
Drew Emborsky
Bijou Basin Ranch
Buffalo Wool Co.
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  1. Miranda Gaines says:

    I love fair isle knitting but have never tried it in crochet. I would love to give it a try and it sounds as though Karen’s Craftsy class would be the perfect place to start. I hope I win!

  2. Edith M. Smith says:

    I would love to learn fair isle crochet and I know that Karen is a great teacher so I hope I win. 🙂

  3. Linda says:

    I didn’t realize until this podcast that you can do Fair Isle in crochet. Actually, I should have known better . . . thanks to great designers like Marly and Karen, all these wonderful techniques are not exclusive to one craft.

  4. hotknitter says:

    I love the looks of fair isle and have done a touch in knitting. I never thought about it in crocheting but it would be great to experiment with it. Thanks for the discussion.

  5. Alison says:

    It is funny that we don’t realise how many techniques, like fair isle, can be used in both knitting and crochet.

  6. Iryna Boehland says:

    Thank you, Marly. I actually called the life show this time, so I was one of many.
    Was nice to hear you, Karen!
    I also knit and crochet since 1st grade. Actually my family taught me to knit first, I learn to crochet on my own. That’s probably why I hold the hook not so gracefully, but like a knitting needle.
    I even did a test crochet for you! That was fun!
    I know about Tapestry crochet, but not sure if know FI crochet. Would be cool to learn it!
    I love to learn. Anything and everything. Life is never boring!
    Good luck with your growing business and congrats on new classes and books!
    iris68 on Rav

  7. Janet says:

    Colour-work is one of the techniques I want to explore; I’ve already got Karen’s Fair Isle class on my wish list. Now I just have to find the time!!!

  8. Shelly says:

    I did my first Fair Isle crochet this past winter. I now know what I DON’T know. It would be great to learn Karen’s tips and techniques.

  9. Sally Hikaka says:

    I am sooooooo excited about Karen’s fair isle crochet Craftsy class & have it in my wish list. I discovered fair isle crochet, & the potential of the technique worked in the round, last yr & have been experimenting with it since. I’ve never bothered with working it flat because of not being happy with knowing what to do with all the ends. Yaye, Karen’s class will show me how

  10. Mimi says:

    I love color work in crochet. I was glad to hear the summary of the technical and visual distinctions between fair isle crochet and tapestry crochet. I’ll put Karen’s class on my wish list!

  11. Renee says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast and am so looking forward to learning fair isle crochet! I’ve been learning fair isle knitting, but really enjoy crochet a bit more. Thank you, Marly and Karen, for bringing this to us!

  12. Kate M says:

    I haven’t yet tried Fair Isle crochet but I did see Karen’s Crafts class and it looks AMAZING! Thanks for another great show!

  13. Audrey says:

    Fair Isle is classic and classy, sometimes even whimsical. Thank you for bringing these techniques to crochet, Karen!

  14. Brenda says:

    Karen has some really great Ideas about Fair Isle in crochet! Boom!! (That was my mind being blown). What a great podcast!

  15. Laurinda Reddig says:

    Karen was the very first designer I ever met IRL, when she was first getting started, and I have been very curious to see what she does with Fair Isle!

  16. Ida Williamson says:

    As a crocheter, I always admired the beautiful fair isle knitting. So excited to try fair isle crochet!

  17. Marypat says:

    I would love to try Fair Isle crochet . Just add another project to my long list!! Thanks, Marly…….

  18. Priscilla McLane says:

    Fair Isle Crochet looks so interesting. I have crocheted since I was 5. I love learning new techniques. Craftsy is awesome. I love the Craftsy format.

Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

Meet Marly

Knitting & Crochet Patterns for Every Mood
A cartoon image of a joyful chicken, sitting comfortably in a green armchair, knitting happily with blue yarn, surrounded by pink and white flowers, looking for DIY project ideas. -Marly Bird

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A colorful illustration of a white rabbit with a unicorn horn, nestled among multi-colored leaves arranged like a fan behind it, projects every mood of peacefulness and whimsy. -Marly Bird

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A whimsical illustration of a white chicken adorned with pink flowers and light pink butterflies, featuring flowing tail feathers and a playful pose, all set against a simple white background, perfect for mood-based projects. -Marly Bird

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Projects that require a bit more intense focus (but music is nice!)


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