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.

Journey to Fair Isle Begins

I’ve had my Fair Isle knitting lesson and I really want to thank my teacher, Wendy. She found my lack of patience amusing (she said I was “funny”, I hope that wasn’t code for “annoying”).  That is a good wake up call for me – I tend to be quite impatient.  Many people have said to me “I couldn’t knit, I don’t have the patience”.  I typically respond  “Knitting helps to increase my patience”.  Clearly, I have a way to go in this area!

I am ready to take the plunge into Fair Isle, and I’ve chosen my first pattern. It’s going to be Temple Cats , designed by Suzanne Frary, knit in Knitpicks City Tweed DK.  I’ve loved this pattern since I first set eyes on it, at least a year ago.

Photo Credit Susanne Frary
Photo Credit Susanne Frary

For the background I’ve chosen Kitten, described as having soft hints of camel, ecru, light wheat and cream, and the kitties will be a watery blue. I have one lonely ball of Poseidon, a discontinued color, that’s been knocking around my stash for a few years (leftover from a sweater). It’s time has come!

I really love this yarn, it’s super soft and very beautiful.  It’s 55% merino wool, 25% superfine alpaca, and 20% donegal tweed.

Why this pattern, you may ask?  Well – I love kitties, of course.  It’s relatively simple, and I think a DK weight yarn might be slightly easier to work with than fingering weight for a beginner like me.  I’ve knit some hats, socks and mitts already, so now will be adding the colorwork as the only really new technique.

Going to push the order button tonight on the yarn and pattern.  Watch this space for progress.

More Goodies in the Etsy Store

I listed a few new things in the last week.  All of these would make great gift ideas, and all are $35 or less.  The gloves are all $20 or less.

Here’s some eye candy.

Cheryl completed several pairs of fingerless gloves recently.  They are so convenient for those times when you need to be able to use your fingers.  Think snapping on the dog’s leash, fiddling with your ipod, finding something in your purse, opening your coffee.

This striped pair is an 80% superwash merino/20% silk hand painted yarn.  They are really snuggly!

This orange pair is a 60% Merino Wool, 20% Alpaca and 20% silk blend.

A pink pair made of Debbie Bliss 100% wool tweed.

The blue ones are 50% Peruvian wool, 30% Fine Special alpaca, and 20% silk.

We also have a beautiful Noro hat, made of Bonbori – 96% wool with a very thin strand of nylon wrapped around it in coordinating color – it’s amazingly good looking, warm and can absorb lots of snow or rain and still keep your head toasty.  The slouchy style will be popular with teens!

Then there is the new ruffled Noro scarf in dark chocolate and rainbow colors.  This is silk, wool, and a bit of mohair.  It’s very thick and warm.  This is for the folks who like a shorter scarf.  I find this type of scarf easier to manage with seat belts.   Short scarves are great because they keep all the attention focused on your face!

Our last new release this week is a Koigu hand painted wool ruffled scarf in great shades of blue and purple.  This will flatter everyone.

I think you will agree we’ve been very busy!  More to come next week – keep watching…