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SheKnits
New Pal

13 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2004 :  2:08:11 PM  Show Profile Send SheKnits a Private Message
Anyone done Fair Isle patterns? Where do you find your patterns - suggestions for someone just getting started? I've been knitting for a long time but never done this technique and decided it was time to try it. I've always loved the look, but I'm not sure I'll have the patience to finish.

Sandra Edmiston

MichelleKS
New Pal

45 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2004 :  3:06:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit MichelleKS's Homepage Send MichelleKS a Private Message
I have done a couple Debbie Bliss patterns for children that use Fair Isle color work. You may want to try a Dale of Norway - they have some kits and I believe the instructions are pretty good. I am preparing to knit a couple designs from the book Norsk Strikdesign (I think that is right). Check out www.beaelliskitwear.com and www.nordicfiberarts.com they sell books, kits and yarn etc.
Good luck! Also, check out www.wendyknits.net - Wendy knits a vast amount of Fair Isle

Michelle
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Annemieke
Chatty Knitter

Netherlands
185 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2004 :  3:14:28 PM  Show Profile Send Annemieke a Private Message
Next to cables I find Fair Isle the easiest to finish because you see it grow from pattern to pattern. If you are not desperate for an officially traditional look, you could practice on any 2-color pattern (e.g. Norse)With Fair Isle you have only 2 colors per row and
no loops of more than 7 stitches. So you don't have to do extra twists on your yarn. Now if I knew of a way to send you my patterns and have them translated in transit, you'd be off, but alas!
Basically a big diagram is divided in horizontal stripes; do try it with some left over yarn......
Choosing the colors is the hardest part.
Please keep us posted,

Annemieke


When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either.
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mbmoody
Gabber Extraordinaire

583 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2004 :  4:11:55 PM  Show Profile Send mbmoody a Private Message
Check out this link for a Fair Isle tutorial: http://www.sheeweknits.com/fair_isle_101.htm


I made a Philospher's Wool kit for my first Fair Isle. I didn't like the kit, but many people love them. Now I'm just starting my first more traditional Fair Isle pattern.







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meggitt@alaska.net
New Pal

1 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2004 :  5:11:19 PM  Show Profile Send meggitt@alaska.net a Private Message
I've done Fair Isle a couple of times, and enjoy it. It's amazing what you create. My biggest mistake the first time was not fully understanding the color choices. I made choices that, although lovely in the final product, didn't really show off the X's and O's like they should have. Spending some quality time with colored pencils and graph paper is a MUST first!
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Samantha
New Pal

12 Posts

Posted - 02/05/2004 :  5:17:53 PM  Show Profile Send Samantha a Private Message
Hi there -

My first fair isle knitting experience was also a Philosopher's Wool kit. They had a booth at the Sewing and Stitchery expo in Puyallup, WA, and I took a quick 20 minute hands on class on how to do two handed knitting. From the two women sitting next to me, I noticed that as they were REALLY new knitters, this was really frustrating for them to learn, I don't know if that is the case for everyone.

Anyway, I caught onto it well, and had loads of problems with the instructions in the kit, but then got the book and cleared a lot of it up. It is something else to watch the pattern come out while you go and I think that is really what helps you keep going. I there there is a lot of fun options out there, and I think for me it gave me a lot more tools for dealing with working more colors in my projects.

Sam
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BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2004 :  04:37:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
I have come to love the stranded color work technique, no matter if it's in a fair isle design, a faroese one, or just something I made up. Some great sources for traditional designs are in Alice Starmore's books and in The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Ann Feitelson. I like these the best. In the book Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified by Ann Bourgeois, there are some great techniques and patterns but these sweaters don't make me as happy and they aren't as traditional either.

The technique of two color, multi color stranded knitting is really well exploited in the books by Lise Kolstad. Her Small Sweaters is still availabe (I think) and has really fabulous kids patterns and fantastic charts but of them all, More Sweaters: A Riot of Color, Pattern, and Form is my #1 book for coming up with patterns and designs. Her "Design Factory" technique - not a knitting technique, mind you, is utterly brilliant. In fact - if you can't locate a copy of this book via your public library (even if they don't own this book, they can borrow it for you via inter-library loan) drop me a note here and I'll explain it.

When I teach my beginner knitters class I start the students on a watch cap hat with a simple snowflake design in stranded color work. This is taught in class #2 and the students are always so pleased and proud that they can do something so fancy even though they've only been knitting one week. Jump in, be bold, and have fun.

Bess
http://likethequeen.blogspot.com
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amg9@duke.edu
New Pal

2 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2004 :  07:26:26 AM  Show Profile  Visit amg9@duke.edu's Homepage  Send amg9@duke.edu a Yahoo! Message Send amg9@duke.edu a Private Message
There is a really nice introductory booklet/pattern entitled "From Swatch to Blocking -An Adventure in Fair Isle Knitting" by Nancy Shroyer. Her booklet has gotten rave reviews from Knit Picks recently (http://www.knitpicks.com/Content/fairisle_blog.asp#new), but also from Cast-On, Interweave Knits, Knit n'Style, Spin-Off, etc. The cost is also relatively low for a Fair Isle vest and the colorways are lovely. She will also work with you on a colorway, which I have done personally. Her kits are being sold in several yarn stores, or you can buy them direct from her at: http://www.nancysknitknacks.com/books_&_patterns.htm. She has lovely sweater patterns as well, but I would start with her vest booklet first. The booklet also gives advice about choosing colors for Fair Isle and she has a separate book entirely on color choice.
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sky.witch@bresnan.net
New Pal

4 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2004 :  07:56:15 AM  Show Profile Send sky.witch@bresnan.net a Private Message
If you cannot knit with a strand in each hand yet, practice. I think the biggest help for me was practicing knitting with my 'weak' hand until I was comfortable. My first Fair Isle project was a sweater knitted in the round for my husband. I used the EPS system she discusses in her 'Knitting Around.'

I based my design very loosely around her patterns. For safety as I experimented, I stayed in the same general color family - using only four colors (dark teal, medium gray, baby blue, and white).

Good Luck!
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Patience
Permanent Resident

USA
1080 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2004 :  09:35:19 AM  Show Profile Send Patience a Private Message
I, too am knitting a Philosopher's Fair Isle sweater and I absolutely love their method. I was very pleased with the kit and they have an wonderful array of colors from which to choose. Ann's easy way of teaching (there is an accompanying video, which I'd have been lost without) is so soothing and it clarifies the weaving method she teaches. Her husband Eugene is a knitter too, taught by Ann, and I've met both of them at Stitches East. It's hard to say which one is more helpful, but I do love hearing Ann's English accent!

I knit the sleeves following the pattern, but when knitting the body, I started to design my own color patterns, which is totally acceptable. The sleeves need to match, but the body does not, which gave me my first chance at "designing". Good luck and let us know what you decide, Sandra!

Regards, Patience in PA
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of troy
Permanent Resident

USA
2474 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2004 :  09:48:16 AM  Show Profile  Visit of troy's Homepage Send of troy a Private Message
if you starting out, i would suggest fair isle as a decorative element-- rather than an all over design

there are several patterns (knitter's magazine had one last month, Lion Brand site has one.. etc) that have a hem or yoke or even just a 'stripe' of fair isle. (dale of norway has some of these type designs too) --a sweater that is solid dark grey/black to about underarm level then a stripe of fair isle in black and white, and the upper shoulder yoke is white.. the stripe usually continues on the sleeve and back of the sweater.

what is great about these designs, is, you are not overwhelmed with pattern. if you love the work (and i enjoy it, but i have never done an adult sweater in fair isle, just kids, and adult sweaters 'trimmed' ) you can go on to bigger and better fair isle designs.. and if you hate it, of find it hard, you at least know, (its just 10 more rows, its just 9 more rows,...) and you will actually finish the sweater! its a great way to try out fair isle.
some designs have 'mini motifs' all through the body, a broad (15 to 20 row) 'stripe design and then back to mini motifs.
these are good too. (and besides, you can leave out the mini motifs in the lower (major) portion of the sweater, and just put in the 'broad band' (and if you want, mini motifs in upper body)--

i tend to like designs with fair isle 'high up" (in show off position) rather than on the hem.

i have aslo seen fair isle used in a vertical band (either side of a button band) --again, it's a design element, not an over all design.. enough to give you a good taste, not so much that you get frustrated and overwhelmed.
just like cables.. they are relatively easy, but most knitters don't start out with an 'full aran' type design, but rather with a single or simple cable-- and sweater 2 or 3 is the 'aran' sweater.

If you have kids (of your own, or grandkids) think about making them something in fair isle. (again small scale)-you can have 'more fair isle ' (an over all design) but just because the sweater is small, its less likely to overwhelm (but give your self plenty of time-- make the sweater at least 2 sizes bigger than the kid is now!)

as for working the yarn, i knit 'continental' and have always carried both yarns in my left hand, and found i could 'switch' colors (one yarn on index finger, one on middle finger) on the fly. i find carrying both yarn helps with the tension of my 'floats'. (but i have seen 2 handed work that is just as smooth, and even--so what ever method you learn/like is the one to use.
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michele@cwoodford.com


USA
Posts

Posted - 02/07/2004 :  12:02:16 PM  Show Profile Send michele@cwoodford.com a Private Message
PLEASE dive in and try Fair Isle. It's one of my favorite techniques.....you'll achieve "maximum design with minimal effort". (See my article Fair Isle Friends, Knitter's, Winter '97, No.49.) In my own research of expanding technique proficiency I found Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Around invaluble.

One of the tricks is to master what I call the 'ease' of the 'stranding' (carrying the unused color behind the current color being used). Remember that if you pull the stranding too tight the final product will not stretch--and that's the point of knitting, something wonderfully stretchy and comfortable.

Do you knit in the round? You can 'strand' the contrast yarn around without worrying about the back and forth ends. Also in the round you're able to achieve a one row pattern. How about starting with an easy small project in two colors such as a polka dot hat, or cell phone cover in the round? Cast on a number to fit divisible by 4. Work as many St st rows as you want then...
Patt Row 1: *k3mc, k1cc, rep from * to end of rnd.
Patt Row 2: Work St st in mc.
Patt Row 3: *k1mc, k1cc, k3mc, rep from * ending with k2mc.
Continue on practicing. You can stop the patt when you start to dec or for a square shape or a hat that gathers at the top just continue!

NOW try another small project and this time try changing (striping) the main color, then change the contrast color each time, how about making the contrast color fuzzy for fuzzy dots? Or chenille? You will begin to see how the process of colorway building works.

Once you have the basics of stranding down pat look up Alice Starmore, the all time master of Fair Isle pattern and color...and hopefully you'll be on your way to something more challenging!
Good luck and HAVE FUN!
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Nubian knitter
Chatty Knitter

USA
151 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2004 :  2:36:50 PM  Show Profile Send Nubian knitter a Private Message
While We are discussing Fair Isle knitting can anyone tell me if there is a difference between it and Intarsia?

Sheila
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of troy
Permanent Resident

USA
2474 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2004 :  3:34:59 PM  Show Profile  Visit of troy's Homepage Send of troy a Private Message
Yes
Fair isle designs are characterized by 'stranding' (and often repetition) a fair isle design is often a 'band' like a horizontal ribbon.
True Fair Isle only uses 2 colors in any row. but many icelandic, or scandinavian designs also called 'fair isle' use 3 or 4 colors in a row.

intarsia the term is from the latin/italian word for an 'inset tile' - doesn not include 'stranding, (the yarns are 'twisted at color changes. the simplest intarsia would be a simple shape (circle)(of a contrasting color or yarn) inset into the main body of knitting.

but intarsia is somtimes combined with fair isle type knitting (allowing images like pictures, with fine details)

a multi color BAND (or band like design) is more likely to be fair isle. a 'motif' inset into the fabric is more likely to be intarsia.
Many patterns use both techniques in tandem. (a fair isle border' (of say a pasley type design) might be 'paired' with intarsia elements.(individual 'pasleys elements' floating in a solid background.)
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emjaspina
New Pal

USA
19 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2004 :  06:17:09 AM  Show Profile Send emjaspina a Private Message
I have knitted several sweaters and hats in Fair Isle. Two of the sweaters were only two color patterns but the others had several colors. I designed two of the sweaters and two hats, as well. To do that, you just need colored pencils and graph paper. I love knitting Fair Isle, watching the pattern grow on my needles. My first Fair Isle sweater was made when I was a fairly new knitter, but I had no real difficulty with learning the process. You just need to be careful that you don't carry the second strand of yarn over the back of too many stitches, as it can tend to tighten up the garment. I like to twist the yarns at 4 or 5 stitches if the gap would be much longer than that. An added benefit of Fair Isle sweaters is that they tend to be warmer than others, because everywhere you have a pattern, you have double thickness, due to the yarn carried across the back.

Marcia J Spina
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SheKnits
New Pal

13 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2004 :  12:14:11 PM  Show Profile Send SheKnits a Private Message
Thanks everyone. I've decided to take the plunge and ordered the vest pattern from Knit Picks. I hope it's not too ambitious for my first try. Now I just have to be patient until it arrives. I'll let you know my progress.

Sandra Edmiston
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jsjules@embarqmail.com
New Pal

7 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2004 :  8:57:32 PM  Show Profile Send jsjules@embarqmail.com a Private Message
I've been knitting Fair Isle & Intarsia for as long as I can remember - I love the interplay of colors and the evolving design! It's not at all hard, as a previous respondent noted, as long as you maintain even tension (admittedly this comes with practice) and twist the "not being used" color every 3 or 4 stitches to avoid long strandings on the WS. As far as pattern choices, I turn to Alice Starmore's book on Fair Isle knitting when selecting peeries or borders when I don't want an allover pattern. I've also made several sweaters designed by Alice and her daughter Jade, which have very clear, well-written instructions which, IMHO, make the knitting of their lovely, colorful designs easy & fun. If you're interested in seeing their latest designs, their website is www.virtualyarns.com.
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L. Gayle
New Pal

USA
11 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2004 :  10:20:56 AM  Show Profile Send L. Gayle a Private Message
Annemieke- I'm just starting stranding on swatches & am still pretty confused. And I don't know all the logo yet. What is meant by loops, as in only seven loops?
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L. Gayle
New Pal

USA
11 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2004 :  10:23:08 AM  Show Profile Send L. Gayle a Private Message
Annemieke- Sorry, I meant to say "no loops of more than seven stitches"???

Thanks, L.Gayle
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Annemieke
Chatty Knitter

Netherlands
185 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2004 :  11:14:37 AM  Show Profile Send Annemieke a Private Message
L.Gayle, it may well be MY mistake
When knitting with 2 or more colors, you are supposed to twist the colors around to avoid long 'loops' (?, mayby not proper word: sorry) forming at the back that may be caught when you put on your garment. Of course these loops should lie flat if the gauge is correct, but not all of us are perfect when it comes to knitting. According to my sister Chiara (who was taught knitting the Norse way when living there), you can carry on knitting without twisting if a color would come back within 8 stitches of having used that color before. The thread running along at the back would then be short enough to not cause problems.
Fair Isle knitting is about knitting with 2 colors with just a few stitches in between; that is what I like about it. I am now able to not get my threads in a twist and having to undo them. Also, it looks pretty neat at the back.
I so hope I have explained it right

annemieke

When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either.
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reldybg@aol.com


Posts

Posted - 02/15/2004 :  2:35:23 PM  Show Profile Send reldybg@aol.com a Private Message
Annemieke - yes, now I understand what you meant. It is getting much easier with some practice. Sometimes my yarns don't tangle all that much, but other times they do a lot. I'm trying to analyize it now.

I think I've re-read the Fair Isle instructions I have in a book at least 10 times & each time something else clicks. I'm working on weaving in as you go so that those loops or strands are really neat.Amazing how foreign it seemed at first. So if you twist every couple of stitches (which really does make for a neater WS & less danger of pulling) to carry along both colors, how do you avoid those tangles.

I'm also practicing to knit & 'throw' with my l. hand. Twisting the yarns seemed even more complicated. I'm mixing up my questions from a different post.

Ah, memory. Treasure it while you can!
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