Staying true to my need to always be learning, I have begun something new.
Recently I received a book on Fair Isle Knitting. Fair Isle knitting has always been a source of intrigue for me. The patterns are so beautiful and complex. It always seemed out of reach to me. I figured it would be too hard or I would get frustrated and I would never get the hang of it. In spite of this I decided to that I needed to try it anyway. When my mother gave me a gift card for my birthday I found a book on Fair Isle Knitting and used my card to purchase it.
If you have never tried Fair Isle Knitting or are not sure what it is, I encourage you to check out this book. Fair Isle Knitting by Lynne Watterson
The Fair Isle technique got its origins from a tiny island in the north of Scotland, named Fair Isle. This knitting technique is created by basic stitches and uses no more than 2 colors per row of knitting. If knitted on straight needles it uses a combination of knit and purl stitches. When done in the round on either circular needles or double pointed needles, it uses knit stitches only. The knit side or right side of the fabric shows the pattern and the wrong side (purl side) is the stranded yarn from the color changes. A typical piece of Fair Isle knitting will usually have 2 but no more than 5 colors per piece.
Following the recommendations for yarn in the book I purchased 2 neutral colors shown at the beginning of this post. I worked a snowflake pattern in the darker color as background and the lighter for the pattern using size US 5 needles (slightly smaller than those called for, which were a six).
Stranding was not difficult to do. You just have to be sure to manage your yarn as you strand it to ensure it lays correctly. I say it wasn’t difficult but I still have some tension issues to work out. I also had some issues with holding the yarn. This is something that you definitely need to experiment with to see what works and feels right to you. I ended up holding both in my right hand over my index finger and working whichever color was called for in the pattern. This is tricky but with time I know that it will be easier.
I completed my swatch fairly quickly, I did not time it but it was likely less than 90 minutes. The pattern was a repeat of 14 stitches across (twice) with an extra stitch at the end to balance the work.
The picture above is my completed piece that I finished this afternoon. I was very happy with the result and I was impressed with how straightforward the knitting is.
The completed piece of course needs to be blocked – which is a process of wetting the fabric, pinning it into shape and letting it dry so it no longer curls or tapers in the middle. Don’t let this knitting intimidate you as I did .. take a crack at it and you may be pleasantly surprised. You can expect more from me on this!