Category Archives: fair isle

Quick fix

I take back every bad thing I ever thought about swatches. Swatches are awesome. You know when swatches are particularly awesome? When by your own rules you are not allowed to actually start the project yet but you need to do something to take the edge off because you’re so tired of using the project as bait for Real Life things but making a swatch is not against the rules.

So, I swatched for Venezia (scroll down). I love these little swatches so much. They are so pretty I might frame them afterwards. I keep going and looking at them and petting them and thinking about the colours. I did 2 combinations, providing me with the added bonus of checking gauge on 2 different needle sizes at the same time (check check for the 3.0mms and 27sts/4ins. I rock.). Both are with Knit Picks Palette. Because it was just so very priced-to-own and so of course I did the thing where I ordered too much and now have a Palette arsenal get to try out a couple of different options.


This is #1, and comes very close to the actual colour combination in the original pattern. That 2nd shade of blue is bothering me just a little, though, so I might switch that out and rearrange it with a different shade, were I to go ahead with this selection.


But on the other hand, there is this combination #2. The pale foreground shades are all the same, but the background shades are instead a mix of reds and purples. It is far, far more “earthy” than I usually go for – just check my closets, ain’t no rusty shades in sight – but I can’t help but be enticed. There’s enough red and purple to stand out that I am starting to get convinced.

I’ll just let these babies dazzle me for a little longer.

Have a great Sunday! I think mine is going to include carrot cake.


Filed under fair isle, stash, venezia

Baah. Baaaaaaahhhh.

I did enough work today so far that I am rewarding myself with blogging. And some Cheetos. Mmmm, fake cheesy orange Cheetos, mmm…

But anyway. Hey, so there’s this super cool easily customizable scarf/shawl pattern thingie. Maybe you’ve heard of it? One or two people have already knitted it. Well, okay. Maybe one or two thousand.

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I’d seen Clapotis out there in blog land for a while, but didn’t really feel drawn to it. Then suddenly something flicked on in my brain last winter when I was sitting in our chilly common room on campus and thinking, “gee, if only i had a neat little shawl/scarf thing to just cover up but look nice at the same time…” so into my mental queue it went. I always feel a little sheepish casting on for patterns that are just. so. popular, because I wonder if I’m just being, well, a dumb sheep. But then I remind myself that sometimes people do flock to things because they’re actually really awesome, aside from being really popular.


I bought this yarn (Patons SWS in Natural Plum) back in August and cast on in early October. When I got to the middle ‘straight’ section there was a while where I couldn’t look at it, it felt like it was going to go on forever. I stun myself to realize that this project was only with me for a little over a month. Pretty snappy, all things considered. And it really is a genius pattern, I see that now. You could customize for any length or width you want, any gauge or weight, whatever. In retrospect the SWS was possibly a less wise choice, since the dropped stitches were very snaggy (in this pic I had not yet dropped all of them, but I have now), but I do love the colour. And since it’s a little bulkier, I could get away with doing only 1 less repeat and still ending up with a nice shawl-sized Clapotis. I think it’ll live on my desk chair for a little bit.

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It is also kitty-cat-approved. But my next project is very much not kitty-cat safe, since it is currently attached to no less than 4 balls of wool:


This is my interpretation of the December Lights Tam. I’m still a little “hmmmmm” on the colour combination, but I think it’ll work. I am heartened that the pattern is still clearly visible and that the yarns do clearly belong to only 2 colourways. And it’ll be a nice preparatory knit while I wait to get the chance to cast on for a full fair isle sweater. (Soon. Soon, my precious).

Happy Wednesday! Pushing Daisies, anyone?


Filed under cats, fair isle, finished object: accessories

But it was only hard the first time

(Warning! A post chock full of photos and rambling.)


As I’ve been working away on the Endpaper Mitts over the past few days – using them alternately as bait (to do work) or procrastination fodder (just a few more rows and then I’ll work), my train of thought was enjoying itself. “I love fair isle,” my brain said. “This is easy. I know some people don’t like fair isle, but I love it. Why don’t I do fair isle more often? It’s so much more fun than other knitting. I should knit more fair isle. I love fair isle. Fair isle is the best ever.”


And then, it occurred to me that if someone – a non-knitter, say – were to happen upon me while I was knitting this slim and sleek little fingerless mitt on tiny tiny pointy needles with tiny tiny yarn in two colours, they would probably look at me with either fascination or trepidation and wonder what in the freaking heck I was doing. And I was quite sure that nobody would think that I was doing anything that could be remotely considered easy.

So the ‘represent’ voice in my head then reminded the ‘this is so easy’ voice not to dumb down my skills, and reminded me not to tell people knitting is easy, because, damnit, Knitters Shalt Not Undervalue Their Skill Which Is Mighty And Glorious. And I started wondering why I would feel so compelled to tell people that what I was doing wasn’t hard, because it’s certainly not because I think it doesn’t involve skill.


I think part of it is that the Recruiter Knitter in me doesn’t want non-knitters to be scared off. I don’t want them to see my fiddly DPNs and multiple colours and think, “damn, good thing I’m not trying to do that.” I want them to think, “I could do that! I’d do it in green and blue and make it 1/2 inch shorter to fit me better!” And because I like that knitting is challenging, and don’t like to think that challenge = hard = run away, I would rather people think it’s a fun, easy thing.

(I remember reading an interview ages ago with Jennifer Garner during her Alias super-spy days, where she responded to the eleventy-millionth question along the lines of “wow, you’re so fit! You must work out so much and be insane about exercise!” and she was all, “I just work out for an hour a day. Really. Anybody can work out for an hour a day. Really.” And I think my brain follows this logic with knitting, that if you’re convinced only some people can do X, then you’ll never let yourself do X. With the exception of out and out non-preference. If you just plain don’t like fair isle/cables/socks, then of course why the heck would you want to bother? but anyhoo…)


But that isn’t really all of the picture, either, because I know quite rationally that any knitting technique requires a certain combination of skill, fear, and blind faith. I remember the first fair isle sweater I did from Philosopher’s Wool, and was just getting used to the idea of working with one strand of colour in each hand and then got told that I would have to do steeks, which is a nice-sounding word for cutting up the beautiful and multiply-coloured fabric I was going to have to knit with my bare hands.

I had the fear then. Then, if a non-knitter had come upon me, I would have said that yes, yes this is hard, please save me from myself. But that’s just it, it was only hard the first time. Now I love it. It’s the bestest ever. I’ll happily join the Knitting Conversion Squad, Fair Isle Division. it was the same with DPNs. I was all, “are you kidding? Socks with 4 needles? Maybe I’ll just do these plain 2-needle ones first and then work up nice and slow to 4 needles…” And then with cables, too, I needed hand-holding, and now I chastize myself for not trying more cables. So much knitting, so little time.


And so now that I’ve had those little bits of fear I realize now that (with my knitting, anyway), I’m okay with the fact that there’s a lot of skill I haven’t learned or mastered yet, because I get what it’s like to have worked through these first few other fears. I’ll learn the other hard stuff all in good time. Now I will happily join the cheering squad for my new knitting friends who aren’t sure about cables or aren’t sure about socks or whatever, because I recognize now that a lot of knitters – myself included – need to hear people saying, “it’s not hard, I promise, you can do it,” before they can start telling themselves that. And I think ultimately that’s where my “knitting is easy” voice comes from.

So, anyway…did I tell you about how awesome fair isle is? ;)


Endpaper Mitt #1 is lovely. And fits, well, like a glove. (Yuk yuk yuk.) I’m already planning a second pair in solid yarn so that the contrast will show up better – this was an experiment using a solid colour paired with a single-spectrum self-striping yarn. The dark shades of purple aren’t as strong against the charcoal as the lighter shades are. Still, they fit well and are super comfy and I’ll enjoy wearing them. Now, to finish #2…


Filed under fair isle, knitting philosophy