Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Fair Isle

There is a technique in knitting called Fair Isle. To state it as plainly as possible, the Fair Isle technique is one that allows those really vivid snowflake patterns and the like. For knitters inexperienced with Fair Isle (such as myself), just the mention of the term brings on a nightmarish image rather like this:

This is a quintessential Fair Isle sweater.

Personally, I've never felt compelled to learn this technique. I keep it rather basic with my colors...stripes are good enough for me, and self-striping yarns make me squeal in delight. Or would, but I'm not actually a squealer.

Then came new Mason-Dixon book, Knitting Outside the Lines. When my Local Yarn Shop (LYS), Loopy Yarns, had their Grand Reopening at their new location earlier this month, co-author Ann Shayne was there, signing copies of the book and showing off some knitted wares, the patterns for which were in the book. I don't generally buy knitting books, and a book signing has never been something to entice me.

I glanced over at the signing table while mingling with people and fondling various yarns (never the other way around), and my eye was caught. I made my way to the table, touched a knitted throw, and said, with a slight tremor in my voice, "Is this Silk Garden?"


Yes, indeed, it was some of my beloved yarn brand, Noro. In this case, a worsted-weight silk/wool blend, done up in a fun and whimsical throw.

I left with a signed copy of the book, and started reading about the pattern on the way home.

The damn thing is done using Fair Isle.

Because my passion for selected projects rarely takes my skills and ability into account, this means that I'm going to have to learn Fair Isle. This will be a process. A process that no doubt will be followed in this blog.

The first step will be working on my stitches in general. I have an extremely tight gauge. In order for Fair Isle to work, as I understand it, I need to relax to something roughly resembling a "normal" gauge. This is because a certain amount of "stranding" is involved. To illustrate, go to your closet and pull out a fair isle sweater (we all have one, whether we admit it or not). Turn it inside out. Chances are, you will see that there are strands of the various colors of yarn going horizontally along the sections where actual designs appear on the front. My knitting is generally too tight for something like that to be successful, meaning I would have an impressively warped project.

I have resigned myself to the fact that, in order to achieve a more relaxed gauge, I'm going to have to knit a lace pattern. I don't knit lace patterns, because they are almost all way too girly for me. However, it's something that would require a normal-to-relaxed gauge in order to turn out well.


There is an afghan I like, however, that requires some light lacing, and might be a go. I already have the yarn, so I have to decide if I'm ready to cast on and start something that large, when there are so many socks and hats in the world needing knitting, but it might be the way to go. The good news is that because I do not have the yarn for this fair isle project, nor currently the funds to buy it, I have time on my side.

I will keep you posted.

1 comment:

UK Christine =^..^= said...

You can always make something lacy for someone you know? Then you can practice being more relaxed and you don't have to wear anything with lace. :)