Some Fairisle Knitting


Last year I made a big effort to unclutter the house. This included going through craft supplies, and discarding those I knew I would never want to use, such as acrylic yarn and kits for ugly toys that I had not wanted to make since I received them as a child. That was a very long time ago. If you are considering taking the same action, I can thoroughly recommend it, as the guilt about not using these supplies leaves the house with the supplies. I donated mine to a large op shop that has a high turnover in stock (and whose stock was not unlike so much of the clutter I was trying to shed).

Of the yarn supplies, I kept the wool, mohair, alpaca and cotton yarns, and I discarded the synthetics and the crepe-spun yarns (regardless of fibre content). More recently I went through my three very small hat-box size cases of yarn, and allocated the yarn to specific projects, and noted those projects at the back of my project book. Sometimes I follow patterns, sometimes I just knit plain raglan jumpers. So my list includes the following, which I am working on because I feel like knitting fairisle, but not too much: ‘Debbie Bliss style fairisle’. This note was sufficient to remind me that I wanted to knit a fairisle jumper or cardigan with a white background and simple colourwork. The patterns I selected for the colourwork are simpler than those shown on the cover of ‘Great Knits for Kids’ and the similar adult cardigan shown on p90 of ‘How to Knit’. However, I selected a few fairisle patterns from other sources (Alice Starmore and Mary Jane Mucklestone provide a comprehensive range in their books). I contemplated knitting a swatch, as my gauge has been inconsistent lately, but then decided to begin with the sleeves and use them as a swatch.

So I began with 48 stitches, knitted a very narrow band, then embarked on the pattern. I had it written out on a strip of graph paper, and assumed that I would need to knit approximately 110 rounds, and gain about 30 stitches on the way, as that is my usual sleeve pattern. Due to the narrow bands of fairisle separated by three rounds of white, I decided I would just increase at the end of the second round and beginning of third round of white, and just watch the knitting to see if it would work. I tried on the sleeve several times during the knitting, and all seemed well.

Now one sleeve is complete and the second on its way. By holding the sleeve against my body I can see how much of the fairisle pattern (how many rows) will be needed to make the jumper the length I wish to the armholes. Such a mindful and yet relaxed way of knitting! I just won’t be telling my mother about the irregularity of sleeve increases. She would not approve!

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One Response to Some Fairisle Knitting

  1. It is looking good. You have some good reference books with Alice Starmore and Mary Jane. I would not personally start on the sleeves and instead would begin on the bask – ribbing on the body of the jumper working upwards. We all have different ways of working.

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