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Color My World
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Color My World

I am a fickle knitter.

I have several amazing sweaters on the needles, a pair of socks, and random accessories. All of them are things that I was so excited about at some point or another - couldn't wait to cast on… but it seems that all I can think about is getting started on some colorwork, more specifically Fair Isle. This always happens! I have my eye on several patterns – I noted my admiration of the Nordic Memories pullover in the last post – and I am hoping to start that one soon. Last week I picked up the new Rowan Classic Alpaca book…

Stag Jacket Evergreen Yoked Pullover

The Stag jacket and the Evergreen pullover immediately caught my eye (but I also bought the book for the lovely Linden, Cambridge, and Oxford). It is interesting to see this off-shoot of Rowan's knitting collection; I have been more impressed with the Rowan Classic collections than I have been the regular Rowan magazine lately (with the noted exception of the Anna socks… beautiful!) and hope to see the same quality designs for future seasons.

The "jury is still out" for me on Knit Picks. I have worked with one line of their yarn, Andean Silk (for my dearly-departed Hourglass sweater) and I was impressed, but I have a nagging feeling that something is not quite right – how do they get their prices so low? I sincerely hope that they are abiding by fair trade practices in South America, where the majority of their yarn is made. Does anyone know more about this? Please share, if so… but I gotta give it to them for their recent Telemark Ski sweater design. I think it is quite brilliant!

Telemark Sweater

I love the traditional meets modern look – a fitted Fair Isle! I would probably choose slightly different colors if I were to make this, but I think it is a pretty cool design.

Norwegian Stockings

The lovely "Norwegian Stockings" from Folk Socks are also in my mind, but they don't seem like a good beginner project… more like the "someday" knit that I will get to when I feel more confident in my skills.

So, where is a good place to start with Fair Isle and color stranding? I know that traditional Fair Isle is done in the round, so are circular projects like hats and mittens the way to go in the beginning? What about something like these wristlets? I think they were in one of the 2004 Interweave Knits mags… I am calling them the Arnhild Wristlets, after the designer.

Arnhild Wristlets

O wise color knitters, help me!
Lead me in the path of Fair Isle-ness!

(In other words, give me some tips! what techniques do you prefer? what book do you use for reference? what patterns are appropriate for beginners?)

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58 Responses

  1. Betsy

    I lost my love for KnitPicks when I heard they made KnitPixie change their name or they’d sue. It was clear I was dealing with a corporation and not a few nice knitters. But, being frugal with our resources isn’t a bad thing either.

  2. hillary

    I;m currently working on a hat and It’s my first Fair Isle project. I was really worried about it but it’s going well so far and I’m enjoying it more than I expected to. I think that starting with something small makes it less overwhelming. I’m sure whatever you choose will be wonderful.

  3. Jenna

    Wow, lots of great advice! I actually meant to tell you how I found a yarn hold that works for me with two colors but I forgot.

    My practice Fair Isle was Vinter Lue from knitty, I think it would be a great practice project. Plus, you can do like I did and send it to Dulaan, so you can learn a new skill AND be charitable.

    One Important thing that I don’t think anyone else has mentioned: you DON’T have to do two color knitting with two hands! I’m a continental knitter through and through, so learning to throw was out of the question. I found a great left handed hold pictured in Buss’ big Book of Knitting, and now I’m zipping along. I’ll be happy to show you…

  4. Jenn (knittyJenn)

    lolly, you have so driven my love for the Fair Isle. it’s always been there, but darn you…it makes me itch to knit it. although I know I would fail miserably trying on my own at this point. lol. need to knit an actual sweater first before I go and do something crazy like Fair Isle. sigh. in time..

    good luck to you though! I’m very excited to see the progress! oh and I think I’m gonna get that Rowan Classics Alpaca. I am with you on every sweater selection you chose…so cute! :)

    happy Friday!!


  5. Miss Dottie

    Ha! Isn’t that always the way with what you are knitting. I always lose interest with something I knit as soon as it is one the needles. Very naughty of me!

    As far as Fair Isle goes, I thought I nice starter pattern would be the one for Stitch & Bitch Nation, but it might be too easy for you. But then you could follow it up with those great socks! Have you seen the socks that Fig&Plum knit awhile ago? Stunning.

    Good luck and i look forward to seeing what you knit!

  6. Mandy

    I feel quite the same about the KP yarns. I’ve used a few of the yarns so far, and one ball of the worsted wool had three or four knots in it. Other than that, it has been good to work with. The telemark ski sweater also caught my eye! I just completed my first fair isle project (pirate hat from hello yarn) and i’m itching to try again. It’s challenging, but not hard once you get the hang of it.

    I can’t wait to see which fair isle project you choose!

  7. V.knits

    Lots of interesting remarks about the KP yarns. I have used many of their lines, and I have found most of them to be great. I’ve had a problem here and there with knots in a ball of yarn, but I’ve had that problem with non-KP yarns as well (ex: noro!). I would love to suport my LYS more often, but I cannot afford their prices, unless there is a sale (even then I can’t always buy from them). I go there when I can. Without a site like KP, poor people like me wouldn’t be able to afford to knit at all, and that’s the truth. I will continue to support them while they still have good business practices. Yes, there might be customer service problems, but I’ve had those with independent sellsers and LYS as well. It just comes down to economics–a place like KP will flourish as long as they continue to supply an inexpensive, quality product. I know many people have problems with them, but let’s not forget that they do add quite a bit to our knitting community–corporation or not.

  8. Tami

    I too am more impressed with the Rowan Classic pattern books then with the last couple of Rowan Mags. The classic books seem to have patterns for things that are timeless and clothing that you would be able to keep and wear and would not go out of style.

    I love Fair isle and can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    on another note I just wanted to say I am sorry for your lose. I know exactly what you and your family are going through. We lost Chris’s grandma a couple of months ago and I was so glad for the time we had spent with her before her last weeks. I believe both ladies were cherished and our now at peace.

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