Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Technical Bits: Fair Isle

In last week's post about The Perfect Christmas Jumper, I mentioned that the techniques used to make the beautiful colourwork were a combination of Fair Isle knitting and Intarsia. But what does this mean, and is it as scary as some would have you believe? Well I can tell you, not at all. In the first of two posts, I will give an explaination and some tips for using both techniques. First up is Fair Isle.

The Perfect Christmas Jumper by Susan Crawford. Image copyright Arbour House Publishing

Also commonly known as standed knitting, Fair Isle is named after the traditional knitting of the Shetland Isles, this two-coloured standed knitting being particularly known to be practiced in Fair Isle. While traditionally, only two colours were used in any one row, today multicolour motifs are sometimes incorporated too.

The technique used to make the pattern is as follows: as you knit across the row, you use two balls of wool and knit with the one needed for that part of the pattern, while carrying the other across the back of the work. Really, that's it.

A particular characteristic of Fair Isle knitting is the use of small patterns that are repeated right across the work. The patterns for Fair Isle are charted, and thus are easy to follow as you can see exactly where to change colours. Using written-only instructions for stranded knitting can be very difficult to follow.

Elegant Coat Gloves by Susan Crawford. Image copyright Arbour House Publishing

There are a few things to remember when knitting in Fair Isle:
  • More yarn is required in comparison to a normal garment of the same size because of the floats (strands carried across the back)
  • Fair Isle makes a thick, warm fabric which is double layered, again due to the floats
  • If you use a thick yarn it may become rather uncomfortable to wear, so many patterns are written for 4ply (fingering) weight yarns
  • In stranded knitting the pattern is seen only on the Right Side of the work, the Wrong Side shows only the floats
  • Try to keep an even tension with your floats, so they don't pull the work tight
  • Try not to have very long floats as these can catch
  • It's a little more technical than knitting in stripes, but not too much
  • The end result will look wonderful!
So, if that has whetted your appetite for Fair Isle, here are some patterns so that you can have a go yourself.

Elegant Coat Gloves: Ravelry link and Knitonthenet Shop link to the pattern

The Perfect Christmas Jumper: Ravelry link and Knitonthenet Shop link to the pattern

Fair Isle Yoke: Ravelry link and Knitonthenet Shop link to A Stitch in Time Vol 1

Hearts and Bunnies Cardigan: Ravelry link and Knitonthenet Shop link to Vintage Gifts to Knit

Look out for next week's Technical Bits post about Intarsia and let us know in the comments if you're knitting anything using Fair Isle.

Ingrid x

Monday, November 22, 2010

Something to Listen to, Something to Read

Red skeins, copyright Ingrid Murnane

We've been lucky enough to have some lovely reviews of Susan's books over the summer, and I'm going to share the links to two of them with you here.

The first is from Donna Druchunas' blog Sheep to Shawl. Donna is a knitter, designer and all-round creative lady. She has recently been researching Lithuanian knitting and her site is definitely one to bookmark. You can read her review of both A Stitch in Time and Vintage Gifts to Knit, as well as her visit to Liverpool by clicking here.

The second review is by Hoxton Handmade, the presenter of the rather marvellous podcast, Electric Sheep. If you don't already listen to her weekly show, you really should - it's great. Here is the episode with the review of Vintage Gifts to Knit, in which you can also hear about the Sweater of Doom, the UK handmade movement and the wonders of RegrEtsy.

Both books are, as always available to buy in the knitonthenet shop, and if you like, you can get a better idea of the patterns therein by taking a look at their respective pattern pages on Ravelry:
A Stitch in Time
Vintage Gifts to Knit

Happy listening, reading and knitting!
Ingrid x

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Have you started knitting your Perfect Christmas Jumper yet?

Didn't know that there was one?

The Perfect Christmas Jumper © Susan Crawford

Look no further, for The Perfect Christmas Jumper (pictured above) by knitonthenet editor Susan Crawford, might just be the jumper for you to knit this advent.

The pattern is written to fit sizes ranging from 28" to 50" and it is knitted in 4 ply yarn. The original, pictured above was made with Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight wool (which is a 4 ply weight). The jumper is inspired by the classic 1940s silhouette, it has box sleeve heads and is designed to be worn fitted at the waist, as you can see on our model, Charlotte.

Please don't be put off by the colourwork, as it is not as difficult as it might at first seem. It is well worth taking the time to learn. To make this gorgeous pattern you use a combination of fair isle and intarsia techniques, which we shall be covering in 'technical bits' posts next week.

If you would like to knit one, the pattern is available as a PDF file from the knitonthenet shop and is great value at just £3. Will it be your Christmas jumper? There's still time to get knitting!

This pattern is part of the lovely Vintage Gifts to Knit book which features 16 vintage patterns brought up to date for today by Susan Crawford. You can get your copy by ordering it either as an e-book or as a printed book, from the knitonthenet shop or as a Ravelry download.

Ingrid x

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thoughts needed on A Stitch in Time, Volume 2

Hello everyone,

As you know, Susan is working hard on producing A Stitch in Time Volume Two, but she needs a bit of input from you, the reading and knitting public, so please do chip in and tell her what you think in the comments.

Hi Everyone,

I wonder if you could help me make a decision with Stitch in Time 2. I currently have too many projects than are allowed for the number of pages for the book (already bigger than SIT 1) and am having to make some big decisions.

The main issue I have is with the number of crochet patterns. It keeps resulting in either:

1) Too many crochet to knitting patterns for knitters to be happy.

2) Not enough crochet patterns to justify it being classed as a knitting and ‘crochet’ book.

My gut instinct is to suggest something completely different which is this -

Remove the crochet patterns from Volume 2 giving me the right project and page count and put together a separate volume of the crochet patterns, which also gives me the room to add some beauties which I just can’t include in the main volume. This book would obviously be available as a separate purchase but we are looking to have it ready at more or less the same time as Volume 2 and include a special offer price for buying both together. (It would be a smaller volume so also cheaper).

I feel this then gives crochet the respect it deserves rather than as a foot note to the knitting patterns, and gives all purchasers knitters and crocheters exactly what they expect from whichever book they purchase.

I would be really grateful if you could all give me feedback on this by either agreeing or disagreeing (in the comments). If you disagree or have any additional ideas could you also comment.

The decision will have to be made in about the next seven days so do let me know how you feel as soon as possible.

for now
Susan xx

Thanks for your help, chaps

Ingrid x

PS We shall have a proper catch up post soon, and if you don't have one yet (you don't... I'm shocked!) and would like to buy a copy of A Stitch in Time Volume One, click here!