Friday, 17 April 2015

Completed: First Fair Isle

Hi guys! I hope all your overseas readers are enjoying the weather warming up....The winter chill is approaching here and I am not amused! Anyway, here's a top I finished a while back!
This was my first attempt at fair-isle knitting and it really wasn't too bad!

This came from a book I reviewed when I got it for my birthday last year, Learn to Knit, Love to Knit. I recommended it at the time, but now I say stay away! My first project from it was a bit of disaster; I've frogged it and hope it remake it into something I like.
The problem with this book is not only the poor fit on the first pattern I made- none of the patterns have schematics and I have no trust in it anymore. lol. 

So this is basically inspired by the book, but it is nearly all reworked by me. I just used the chart and garment style from the book; everything else I made up!

So what does that mean? It means custom stitch counts for every part of the pattern. I used a different weight of yarn from the pattern and also created my usual custom bust/hip/waist shaping. I also went for about 3" of negative ease, unlike the pattern. 
Some of the elements of the pattern are borrowed from Peabody, a pattern I knitted a long time ago.... which I have also frogged! I know! I'm killing my yarn babies, to make them into something I wear more often. I currently have 3 projects frogged, waiting to be reborn.
I borrowed a lot of the shoulder shaping and neckline from Peabody, as well as the sleeves, although I modified them a little.

I made the pattern without side seams, which is my preferred method of construction. :) So much easier!

The yarn I used was Valley Yarns "Goshen", which is a cotton/rayon/silk blend. I knew that fair isle was easiest and most suitable for wool yarns, because they are "sticky" and the fibres hold on to each other well. Being 100% stubborn, I decided my first try at fair isle was to be in this slippery, smooth yarn. I was concerned about the negative ease stretching it out too, and possibly letting the floats show through. First, I asked my knitting guru Gail what she thought, and she said you could do negative ease with fair isle. And you know what? It didn't work out too bad! It's not perfect, and I think it stretches a little at the bust, but I think it looks acceptable.

This is the closest shot I grabbed. Now if anyone is inspecting my chest more closely than this, I don't approve.

I think the fair isle pattern is really cute and I'm glad I started simple. I'd like to do more fair isle, but I'm not buying any more yarn till I work through what I have. Also, does anyone else find picking colours for colourwork quite the daunting task??

Guts! Pretty floats.
I honestly don't know how often I'll wear this top, but it was a good experience. And I KNOW I will wear it more than if I made it out of 100% wool like the sample in the book is. Why would I want a 100% wool top with short sleeves? First, it would run the risk of irritating the skin, as a lot of wools aren't skin-soft. And then my torso will be too hot in wool, or I'll be warm in wool but with freezing arms. I don't quite "get" the concept of a short-sleeved wool top. Then again, I do have a sensitive personal thermostat. 

The sample from the book. CUTE styling, except for the mega positive-ease.
I do need a pair of pants that actually fits me though... I have to wear these jeans with a belt to keep them up (that pesky pear-shape waist-to-hip ratio). You can see the belt buckle makes a funny lump underneath the top!

I went to the trouble of adding bust short rows, like I've done before. They're really quite invisible. It's just my knitting nerdiness coming out, but I like how they improve the shaping :)

Knit tops always seem to ride up on my backside and create wrinkles in the small of my back. I guess it doesn't bother me too much *shrugs*. Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with this top! It seems my love for knitting isn't going to wane anytime soon.

One of my favourite bloggers, Tassadit from Rue des Renards recently mentioned how some bloggers seem to hype up certain techniques as SUPER SCARY, and it can psyche you out! Well I agree with her: don't listen to those people! Fair isle is one of those techniques people seem to freak out about, but it's way less hard than it looks. And it's fun and it looks awesome. I used to listen to those people and get scared, and I probably have been one of these scaremongers on occasion, unintentionally! But I'm much happier now that I've learned not to fear techniques... well, most of the time.

Have you guys ever attempted a "scary" technique and found out it wasn't so bad? :)


  1. I love it! I think it's a much better improved version of the one in the book. I agree with your choice of wool, I have made the mistake of buying a short sleeve sweater in 100 % wool only to discover the obvious problems you stated. I think the color combo is really pretty , I hope you get to use it, it goes particularly well with jeans I think. As for the pear shape, I am a pear too. I've come to the conclusion that pear is beautiful aside from what marketing execs and model agencies say, PSHAW to anyone that says otherwise! and to not let me forget this I have started a mental list of beautiful women who are pears too, my last find Mira Sorvino; how's that for beautiful!

  2. OH no I meant to say Mena Suvari.

  3. Lovely sweater, that's exactly the fit I like and I love the fair sle pattern. I find very few patterns are designed to have negative ease, and being lazy I tend to just knit smaller sizes! There is a nice shirt sleeve fair isle in debbie bliss' lad girls knitting book.


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