Monday, November 17, 2008

Fairest Isle Of Them All

I've never attempted this technique of colorwork - fair isle. Was I intimidated? Maybe a little. I love the fun and quirky yet classic and countryside effect of this technique. But, every time I found a pattern I liked it was overwhelming. I would need a magnifying glass, and one of those chart readers just to be able to get through the chart. And usually many many more than just two colors would be used throughout the entire project. I always said, "Someday."

Well, someday arrived. When my crafty friend suggested we take a class at The Point in NYC, I couldn't resist. Our goal was to knit this hat in order to get used to working with a chart and handling two strands of yarn at once.

Much to my surprise, I felt like I got the drift of this technique fairly easily. I think there were three things working to my advantage.

1) I used to knit english style, but switched over to continental. So when holding one strand in each hand was not a problem. I knew which direction to wrap the yarn and could switch between left and right, and the two colors quite comfortably.

2) Loving cables has taught me to read charts efficiently as well. You start to pick up little patterns within the chart and use those to your advantage.

3) After putting in miles and miles of knitting, you start to knit without looking. Since this hat was knit in the round, I only had to deal with knitting and no purling. I could keep my eyes on the chart and keep knitting without having to pause and make note of where I was every time my eye had to move between the chart and the knitting.

Definitely not my style, but I do feel like I got the hang of working with two different yarns in the round by the time this hat was done. We started this hat in class, and I was able to finish it when I got home. A great idea for a holiday present, I might add!

The provisional cast-on was a really nice touch on a hat like this, too.

My only advice: knit LOOSELY. I tend to knit rather tightly, which did not jive with this technique. You'll notice towards the bottom of my hat that the white stitches looked sucked into the brown stitches. That's too tight. Way too tight. I really loosened up towards the top and you can see the stitches look more even.

I'm ready to tackle my second fair isle project now! Maybe another baby gift? A hat, perhaps? Oh, the possibilities! That is definitely my favorite aspect of learning a new technique. I feel like another door has opened with the possibility of a gazillion knitting projects behind it! Just waiting for me!

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