Wednesday, October 03, 2012

My Fair Isle Education

Spoils from Madrona 2008
I can't believe it was way back in February 2008 that I took the Bourgeois' Two-Handed Fair Isle class at Madrona. I bought their book, Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified before class to be really prepared and during the class we made this little bag. It was a good first Fair Isle project, being a tube that you simply close up on one end and add a knitted cord strap.
After that we moved on to bigger and harder things and made a tam. 
I see some little wiggly parts in there, but it generally looks okay...for a firstie.
Ann and Eugene brought plenty of their Philosophers Wool yarn for us to make the projects and even gave us enough to make two tams. Well, then life happened and that second tam got pushed to the back of the closet...until last weekend!
With this second tam, Ann challenged us to use brighter colors. Color choice is one of the most essential components of Fair Isle knitting. I think this one looks kind of Native American--like there's little feathers branching out from the center. These are definitely not my usual color choices, and that's a good thing. 
Talk about branching out!
In the meantime, I had been dabbling with two-color knitting, as in the Drosten Hat on the right, and fake Fair Isle, as in the little cap on the left that I made with striping of leftover hand-dyed and self-patterning sock yarns. I have also since designed a pair of socks, a pair of fingerless mitts, and a hat, all with dabs of Fair Isle involved. Those patterns will be coming soon in the Figheadh and Mirth pattern lines. All of those also work the two colors only on "safe" areas of the pieces, or ones without shaping. This means I had still not done steeks. 
This means I had still not done real Fair Isle. 
Time to remedy that and I am armed with plenty of very reliable sources to keep me in line. I decided to begin with a Fair Isle hat that carried the colorwork onto the crown and all the way up to the last bit. I like knitting the tams, but they don't flatter me, so I prefer close-fitting caps. I searched the Ravelry pattern database and settled on Adriana Hernandez's Oslo Star Hat. It was providence that I had some of the very same yarn she used for her beautiful hat, but in different colors.
I'm doing mine with Madelinetosh Merino Light in Citrus and Golden Hickory. Wish me luck!
Then after the hat gives me more practice (because especially for a right-handed thrower like me, practice is key), I want to make a Fair Isle pullover with steeks. Searching the Rav database again gave me the perfect sweater, and lo and behold, I had it all the time in my Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits, the Bauhaus Fair Isle by Mary Jane Mucklestone. I also found Eunny Jang's great article about steeking in the Winter 2006 issue of IK. I have almost all the issues stretching back through 2003, and it's a wonderful resource--by far my most favorite knitting magazine. I've got the pattern and the article printed out so I can mark them up, and all I have to do now is go into the stash and find the yarn for the sweater. That will be fun, but I won't even allow myself that little party until I am at least mostly finished with the Oslo Star Hat.

And the bonus to all of this is that I can show you my progress, because it's not a secret like all the socks, hats, scarves, mittens, mitts and gloves I'm working on for patterns.

On with the Fair Isle!


La Rue said...

Beautiful stuff!!! Can't wait to see and read about your adventures with this area if expertise....

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fig said...

Thanks Mom and A-nonny-mouse!