Thursday, 1 March 2018

Fair isle adventures

Today there are 14 inches of snow in the garden. We were hit by the so-called 'Beast from the East' - a heavy duty weather front bringing cold weather from Russia. It is magnificent. The roads are blocked so none of us can go anywhere but the countryside is wonderful. Luckily I did a big shop for groceries as we knew this was coming at us. So, with that in mind, I thought is was a good day for a knitting post.

Growing up my Gran had fair isle covers for her hot water bottles. Those covers mesmerised me - they were not very comfortable to have stuffed down the bed (itchy!) but they were colourful and intricate. I loved them, even if I didn't use them on my own teddy bear covered bottle. I don't know what happened to them.

If you have been reading my blog recently you will know about my current knitting obsession. So it was only natural that I would want to try fair isle knitting at some point. However, knitting a hot water bottle cover was always going to be a step too far for a beginner to fair isle. I figured I could try some simple stranded knitting first. 

My first project was a Christmas bauble from Arne and Carlos' book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. It is now tucked away in the Christmas decoration box in the cupboard and I forgot to photograph it (DOH!). A stranded bag followed courtesy of Craftsy's Cut Your Knitting: Strand and Steek with Confidence class.

colourwork knitted bag

Next stop, a stranded hat from a lovely simple and quick pattern by Sarah Tattrie of Rustic Willow Creations on Etsy. I actually fell in love with the colour combination in the photo and stuck with it for my own attempt. It worked out beautifully. I did change the needle sizes to suit my big head but the instructions were lovely and clear.

colourwork woolly hat

Then - the big one. Fair isle! I found a free pattern on Ravelry for some fair isle cuffs by Little Cotton Rabbits. Again, the colour combo caught my eye. So much brighter than some of the traditional fair isle colours. The appropriate wool was bought and I sat down to start. 

fair isle knitted purse
I can't believe how straight forward it was. You look at a page of squares that form intricate patterns and your brain explodes at the prospect. But it is totally logical. Patience and a little focus and you're off. This is the end result. I did have to unravel four rows as I'd got carried away with a plain green row. I knitted an extra half row which threw off the pattern further up. I didn't do the whole cuff either. What I was really looking for was a little fair isle purse - so I just finished early and stitched the bottom using a three needle cast off. 

Next project? Some leg warmers using a pattern from Nordic Knits by Martin Storey. I'll let you know how it goes - once I actually get the project on the needles.

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