Tag Archives: fair isle


This gorgeous young man, our son Will,  is about to begin a new era of his life. Having completed his ‘A’ levels in spectacular fashion, he leaves us this week to start his university studies.

He is sporting a sweater that I made for him last Christmas, one that is based on an original from a very different era.

This portrait of Edward, Duke of Windsor was painted in 1925. When Will asked me to make him a Fair Isle tank top I used this painting, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, as the inspiration for Will’s version. You can see more details of the sweater on Ravelry.

Of course, starting new eras necessarily involves ending old ones. Our beautiful baby boy, with the broadest grin and the loudest laugh, has left his childhood behind and grown into an amazing, talented, considerate, handsome, witty and and endlessly interesting young man. I am bursting with pride as I watch him make this this transition and cannot wait to cheer him on as he embraces life as an adult.

But some things never change. Will, this is for you:

“So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

AA Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

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… to get the button band exactly as I want it. It has been trying (just a few of the many attempts shown) but I think I’m finally there. Just got to make the thing now!

Thanks for all the comments on the previous post – I’ll write in more detail about the design process for this cardigan when I’ve finished it, and if you are interested I’ll write it up and share the pattern (although it might end up being a bit of a ‘insert your own measurement here’ type of thing).

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not-quite-elizabeth-zimmerman’s-fair-isle-yoke cardigan

I started this cardigan on Boxing Day, as my post-Christmas treat to myself. It is inspired by Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sweater of the same name, but I am working it from the top down, not using EZ’s percentage system and I have also changed the Fair Isle pattern on the yoke. So it has sort of ended up being my Fair Isle yoke cardigan, hence the title of this post.

I am mostly using 2 ply Jumper Weight yarn from Jamieson and Smith, with the red being Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Both companies produce wonderful pure wool from the Shetland islands; some people express a preference for one manufacturer over the other but, to me, their yarn is equally lonely. I therefore tend to make my choice based on which one has the colours I want.

This cardigan includes both short row and vertical bust darts, as well as short row shaping at the back neck. It seems to be fitting ok so far. I’m knitting it in the round – it is destined to be my first attempt at steeking (aak!).

I wanted the cardigan to have quite a vintage feel. So I am making it short and fairly fitted, with about 3 inches of 1×1 ribbing at the bottom. I will knit the buttonband separately and sew it on afterwards.

I’m almost at the bottom now, and have just briefly paused my somewhat obsessive knitting to make a little gift for someone. I can’t wait to get back to it though!

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More Autumn Rose-yness

Yay! First arm finished in under a week! In what I can see is going to be an increasingly hard task of finding interesting ways of photographing this project, here’s the sleeve on one of my Victorian handmade quilts.

Going to bed now. Too much happy juice – I blame Anne.

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Some Autumn Rose lovin’

I’m loving my Autumn Rose – it’s such as satisfying project to work on. The colours are luscious, and watching them come together row by row is really lovely.

I started the sleeve using the magic loop method with a Pyrm 100cm circular needle. These are not my favourite needles, as I find the cord too inflexible, but it was the only 100cm 3mm needle that I had. Having re-read Eunny Jang’s tips for Fair Isle knitting, I noticed that she said it was much easier to maintain an even tension with wooden needles rather than metal. So, last night I swapped over to a set of 3mm double pointed Brittany needles. I deliberately haven’t tried any harder to make it better, as I wanted to see whether there was a noticeable difference. But, guess what? My tension consistency has immediately improved!

Something else I have changed is the dominant colour. In the first cross-hatch section I had port red as the dominant colour, and sage as the background colour. I didn’t like the result, so on the next repeat I swapped and made sage the dominant colour. This is the first repeat:

And this is the second one:

Can you see the difference? (Go a bit crossed eyed – you’ll see it then!) It’s subtle, but makes the sage look more crisp and coherent. If you are doing colour-work with two hands, you want the dominant colour to be coming from underneath the background colour, when seen from the back of the work. This makes the stitches very slightly bigger, and therefore dominant. In practice this means holding the dominant yarn in your left hand. If you are holding both yarns in one hand, then the yarn that is held furthest away from the needle will be the dominant one.

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