Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fair Isle Fumbles

Above is Drips. I was hankering to make one since I first came across the pattern late last spring. I didn't really have it in me until this fall. I dove in, thinking it would be easy to learn how to do the colour-work. You know that saying, when you 'ASSUME" you make an "ASS" our of "U" and "ME"? Yeah, I forgot about that. Hubris got the best of me. But let me explain ... I don't want to put you off Fair Isle knitting, just please learn from my foibles.  

So I figured it should be easy, sure it's a new technique, but I've seen other people do it, it's 2 colours, and an easy chart to read. What could go wrong? My tension, that's what. There are many projects where tension in fair isle isn't a huge issue, and it's ok if it's a little off. But a hat needs to stretch to fit a head, so the tension has to be consistent. If it's too tight, the hat won't stretch. If it's too loose, you'll see gaps between the colours when it stretches. 

Of course, I really had not thought about any of this, I just said "Hey! Lets make a cool looking hat! Wheeee!" (I did not actually say any of that, inside or outside of my head, but it illustrates my reasoning, or absence thereof). 

I looked up some videos on youtube about Fair Isle knitting, and took it from there. I found that I was most comfortable holding a strand in each hand, so I used that technique. Now, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the tutorials I followed, they were great. I did not learn anything incorrect or bad from them. My problem stemmed from the fact that my tension knitting with my left hand (continental technique) is a lot tighter than my tension knitting with my right hand (english technique). It makes sense, I have knitted English all my life. 

After a few attempts, I threw in the towel. The yarn, Malabrigo Worsted, is a single ply and not resilient. If I kept ripping it out I'd also wreck the yarn. I made a compromise, decided to add the drips to my hat using duplicate stitch (embroidery), and resolved to tackle the fair isle issue again after consulting with a professional. 

I've since consulted with the intrepid Liane, who learned from the all knowing Mairi, that for me, the best way to get a consistent tension on a fair isle hat is to use the method where I hold both strands of yarn in my Right hand. The 2 handed method was comfortable for me, but I could not control the tension. Problem solved, I'll give it another shot later.   


Bethany said...

Aw, sorry you had trouble with the stranding. The first couple colorwork rows, with those long floats, are the hardest. I just made sure I had a very relaxed hand when doing the colorwork.

I hope you give colorwork another shot! Thanks for knitting my pattern. :)


Haley said...

Thanks Bethany! You are so sweet! I will give it another shot, I'm just waiting for the Manos Maxima to arrive at the store, it's coming in Neon colours and I'm super psyched!

xox haley