As mad knitterly notions go, knitting over a metre of fair isle in 14 days is pretty bonkers. But I did it! And that feels really good.
Over the years, friends and I have done a few peerie yarn bomb/guerilla knitting type projects for Shetland Wool Week. It started with a dalek, tardis and an octopus. Last year was a lace panel in a phone box. This year I transformed a mooring ring in the harbour into a fair isle peace sign.
The idea had been lurking for a while but I only started it about 2 weeks ago. I swatched (an event in itself), picked a pattern, chose some colours and set going. The pattern is from the glorious Fair Isle Knitting Patterns by Mary Macgregor and the colours are all Shetland wool with a mix of stash and newly purchased.
The fair isle section was knitted in the round using magic loop and with a steek. I’ve heard a fair bit about steeking but the idea of cutting up your knitting remains terrifying to me, even after the great mitten success. To prepare, I read Kate Davies’ excellent tutorials and then promptly ignored quite a bit of it! My theory was that since it wasn’t a knitted garment, I didn’t need to stabilise the steek and I reckoned that using Shetland wool with its inherent stickiness would probably result in a fairly stable fabric anyway.
Thankfully, that pretty major gamble worked out. I chopped up the steek, positioned the knitting around the mooring ring and then sewed it together. Brilliant!
The white inner sections are knitted using the i-cord technique with aran weight yarn held double. I can’t say I gave a lot (or even enough) thought to how I would do the inner sections of the peace sign and my decision to use a bulky i-cord was based really on a need for speed! Saying that, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and the only thing I would change is the white colour as I think it detracts from the fair isle a bit.
Following on from this project, I’d really like to learn more about how to choose colours for fair isle knitting because I’m a bit rubbish at it right now. Any suggestions of online help or good classes would be gratefully received! I also need to learn to give myself more time for pretty much everything because this was an intense knit!
Overall, it was fun to take on a completely different challenge and it gave my a pretty big sense of achievement to actually manage it. While it’s set my other knitting plans back a bit, it’s been worth it and made for a great start to Shetland Wool Week.
Pattern – no pattern as such but the fair isle motif is taken from the book Fair Isle Knitting Patterns by Mary Macgregor. I offset the pattern every second row to create more of an allover design and just guesstimated how much to knit! Knitted in the round and steeked at the end. For the white sections, I did a rough i-cord with the yarn held double.
Steek assistance – I read this brilliant info from Kate Davies about steeking and the best way to do it. I didn’t use it on this project since it wasn’t a garment but I will definitely use these resources if I ever pluck up the courage to knit a fair isle jumper or cardi!
Magic loop – this has been my favoured method for knitting in the round for a good while now. I think this post by Tin Can Knits really covers the basics well.
Cast on – long tail cast on. I’ve finally got it memorised but this video from Wool and the Gang explains it brilliantly.
Cast off – just a very standard cast off, if slightly rushed by dawn fully breaking! Nothing like casting off as the Northlink ferry arrives from Aberdeen!
Needles – for the fair isle section, I used some 3.75mm circular needles (no idea what brand but the join was hopeless!) I knitted the white i-cord on 6mm double pointed needles.
Wool – a mixture of Jamieson’s and Jamieson and Smith from stash and some newly purchased. The Jamieson’s spindrift colours used in the fair isle are 127 Pebble (white), 688 mermaid (jade-y turquoise-y green) and 684 cobalt (blue). The white i-cord is Jamieson’s Shetland Heather in 104 natural white and held double. I’m pretty sure the grey background is Jamieson and Smith Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight in 2003 Shaela but I’ve long since lost the ball band so I can’t be sure. I know it’s definitely from Jamieson and Smith though and all their greys are brilliant! I think the yellow in the fair isle is also Jamieson and Smith but their 2ply jumper weight and I think the colour is 091. Again, I may be wrong about that!