Fair Isle Success

I have completed the Temple Kitties hat – my first Fair Isle attempt.  I’m really happy with it – what do you think?  I love the tweediness of the yarn, the contrast between the colors, the fit, the softness – everything, really.

Thanks to Lydia for modeling.
Thanks to Lydia for modeling.

The yarn is Knitpicks City Tweed DK.  My colors were Kitten (cute name!) and Poseidon.  Poseidon is no longer available.  I had a ball lying around, left over from a sweater.  I’d been wondering for a long time what to do with one 50 gram ball of DK weight yarn.

Here’s a link to my Ravelry page for this project, which shows the details, including the yardage I used.

This is what I learned, along with a bit of advice for other Fair Isle novices:

1.  Choose an easy hat pattern in a heavier weight yarn for your first Fair Isle project.  I chose a pattern with two color knitting on only part of the hat, and in a DK weight yarn.  The trim around the base was rather fiddly and time consuming, but looks wonderful – the photo doesn’t really do it justice.  Hats are small, finished quickly and the construction is simple – you don’t want to add a lot of complicated, unfamiliar techniques to this first project.  Make this project for yourself, and select a pattern you love.  This will keep you motivated if you struggle a bit in the beginning.

2.  If you have a problem, take a deep breath, tear it out as soon as you see the problem, give it a day or two, and begin again.  You will succeed.  The awkwardness of handing the yarn will get much better very quickly.  It’s like anything else (think of when you learned to ride a bike) – practice makes perfect.  That’s a cliche for a reason – because it’s mostly true.  Perhaps a better saying would be “practice makes much better”, but that’s not as snappy, is it?

I had to try twice, the first time something got twisted.  it wasn’t the cast on;  the disaster happened later.  I didn’t discover the problem until row 12 of the 23 row chart, and I was quite miffed about it.  Tore it out completely, came back in 2 days and started (carefully) again, had no further problems.

3.  Don’t freak out about the fit until the project is done (or at least halfway).  I wasn’t sure it was going to fit, it seemed huge in the beginning, but now that it’s done I think it’s just right.  Fair Isle doesn’t stretch like stockinette or garter stitch, so it will be difficult to gauge fit in the beginning.

4.  If you have a hard time handling the yarn, try holding it another way.  I’m a continental knitter, so I hold both yarns in my left hand, but I know that won’t work for everyone.  The person who taught me recommended I hold one yarn in the left and one in the right hand, and that was so uncomfortable for me I knew I’d be struggling harder than necessary.  Experiment, but give your normal way of holding the yarn a good try first.

5.  Make another Fair Isle project soon to build on your learning.  Try a pattern in fingering weight yarn.  How about a pattern designed to use 2 yarns only, one plain and a long color change yarn?   I have a couple of balls of Mini Mochi in a bright rainbow colorway, I plan to use a creamy white to contrast.   Here are some pattern ideas I’m kicking around:

Montreal Hat by Drops Design Hat

Montreal Hat from Drops Design

Or maybe this hat designed for Mini Mochi

Mini Mochi Hat

Whatever pattern you choose, keep it simple, without a lot of new techniques, The corrugated ribbing shown on the Mini Mochi hat above is simple, so I might try that on project number two. I’ll  save tricky new stuff for project number three.

Here’s a one question poll for my readers.  I’d love to know if I have any Fair Isle experts out there.

 

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this technique, and any advice from the experts.

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5 thoughts on “Fair Isle Success”

    1. Thanks, I want to knit another one so badly! I’m thinking a soft yellow tweed with the blue kitties again. Should be so cute. Knitpicks, here I come.

  1. Very nice hat. I never start out simple – it is just my style. When I taught myself this technique my concession was to make a hat before starting on the cardigan. The pattern for both had about 8 different colors but I loved the challenge.

    1. I guess I have a lower threshold for frustration than you do. I have 3 teenagers right now, maybe that’s all the challenge I need. I do a lot of lace knitting, and I kind of jumped right into that when I started, but for some reason – maybe the learning to manage 2 yarns at once – it seemed wise to me to take it easy for the first project.

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