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Category Archives: Fair Isle

Recycled Lamb Moving Sale Today!

Recycled Lamb in Lakewood is moving across the street tomorrow. 25 years in one place, and their big move is across the street? Well, it makes sense to the lovely ladies who run the shop, so why not?

Ordinarily RL is one of the few local fiber shops open on Sundays, but they are closed tomorrow for the Big Move/Great Yarn-Over. Today they are having sales to limit the amount of hauling they have to do. Sales on weaving yarn, as well as discontinued yarns and some pattern books are 30% . I know where I’m headed later today.

I was just there last weekend, seeking out Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in lavender and gray for a baby hat. I’m going to attempt a version of the “Sweet Hex Child’s Hood” by Lisa Shroyer.

This pattern involves something called a steek, where you cut apart your knitting. What? Of course I am terrified of the idea of cutting apart my knitting, so I am attempting to redesign the hat so I can knit it flat with no cutting. And I’m changing out the design, so I can use something from the fabulous Icelandic Book instead. As opposed to just following the pattern As Written by the person who actually knows what they are doing.

Current Audiobook: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Currently Reading: Anyone want to explain to me why I felt compelled to purchase a paperback copy of Conversational Japanese at the thrift store this morning? In my dreams someday I’d like to visit the Miho Museum, but seriously have no plans to make that happen. So why purchase the book? There’s probably an interesting psychological study in that; what do the books we purchase say about us?

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb


For those of you who thought I might never finish my snail-speed knitting, I have completed the Fair Isle hat from class at Mew Mew’s. There are actually eight shades of yarn in here, just hard to see them unless you look closely. A very subdued version of a Fair Isle but that’s what I like about it. Sue (owner and teacher) wisely kept the class small so we could all get the individual attention we needed.

Fair Isle Finished

Fair Isle Finished

And from the Who Knew Department, there are several ready-made strickfingerhuts (knitting thimbles) here (and here) that I could have used. Ah well, my creation ended up working well!

“My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M’s and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.” – Dave Barry

The two inches worth of the ribbing on the Fair Isle hat are doing me in. My right hand is stupid with yarn, and it seems easier to have both strands of yarn in my left hand. I went to the sewing shop today and have two possible solutions.

Fair Isle Solution I: Dritz Extra-Large Hooks & Eyes

Fair Isle with Dritz Hook and Eye

Dritz Eye

Put the large eye onto your pointer or middle finger. Lace the two colors of yarn onto the eye, one through each of the hoops (which you’d ordinarily use to sew the eye onto your clothes).
Advantage: You can slip the yarn in and out of the hoops so you can change to a third color of yarn if needed.
Disadvantage: Yarn can slip out of the hoops when you aren’t looking. Holds the two strands of yarn very close together, so you have to be careful of which yarn you’re catching for your knit or purl.

Fair Isle Solution II: Blue Moon Beads Natural Elegance metal chain (from either JoAnns or Michaels, “CHAIN MTL 24″ NE # 149 BURN SIL”).

Fair Isle - Blue Moon beads chain

Blue Moon beads chain

Fair Isle - Blue Moon beads chain

Blue Moon beads chain

The chain has a larger ring inserted every 3 inches or so. Remove the chain part, and just keep the ring with its attached fancy jump ring. Use your jewelry pliers to pry open the small jump ring, insert the yarn, and close the ring again.
Advantage: You can put these rings on the tips of different fingers, allowing you to keep the two colors of yarn farther apart but still under control.
Disadvantage: Not easy to change colors, but you could always put one large ring/jump ring combo on each color of yarn, and just take off or put on the rings attached to the appropriate color of yarn. Depending upon the size of your fingers, the rings might pinch after awhile.

I wouldn’t advise using these suggestions for the portions of the Fair Isle knitting where you’re doing fancy patterns and changing yarn colors a lot. They do seem useful when you’re alternating frequently between two colors for a long stretch and both knitting and purling.

“Necessity, who is the mother of invention.” – Plato

I admit it, I only learned to knit about two years ago. I asked a friend to teach me how to knit and purl so I could make hats for the now-cancelled Knit for Our Troops project.

I hold the yarn in my left hand because that is what makes sense to me. Even though I am right-handed, my right hand cannot seem to manipulate yarn.

Enter Fair Isle knitting. First impression? Yikes! How on earth do you folks do this? I have tried all six of the yarn-holding techniques in The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Feitelson and nothing seems to work well. I have temporarily settled on both yarns in the left hand, wrapped either precariously or too-tightly around different fingers. This works for about 10 stitches, then the yarn falls off and I have to re-wrap and start again. My right hand has a death grip on the needle to manipulate things, which leads to cramping. Can’t assume that’s good!

Fair Isle Yarn

Fair Isle. Seriously?

So what technique do you use for Fair Isle? Are any of you actually using some kind of knitting belt to hold things? Any tips to share? I have two inches of basic ribbing to knit, and at 5 minutes per round, I may not have this done by class on Wednesday night.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

Tonight I start a three week class on Fair Isle knitting. One pattern, eight colors of wool, and size 2 needles. 2. Maybe if I stop knitting everything else on my list of projects I’ll be able to finish this in three class sessions. I chose a fairly subdued color palette and ended up having to trade out one more gray for the brighter pink you see here.

Fair Isle Hat I

Eight colors of yarn!

I’ll keep you posted as to the progress and whether or not my brain ends up being able to handle this new-to-me knitting style. I really like the look of Fair Isle knitting so I’m hoping I’ll be able to learn how to make these things for myself.

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Abraham Lincoln