Rhymes With Fuchsia

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nothing More Than Hat

Today's post was supposed to be substantial: it was supposed to be my S post, in fact, substantial and significant. But it's involved searching through old pix for material, and it's getting late, so instead I present a knitting project I'd nearly forgotten about, but found during the abovementioned search.

I made this hat for my sister's then-boyfriend for Christmas 2005. I believe he still owns it, and that my giving it to him did not cause him to break up with my sister forthwith ("I cannot stay with a woman whose sister knits goofy hats!"). I'm told that it's extremely warm and excellent for skiing. The extremely warm part doesn't surprise me, as except for the ribbing it's two layers of alpaca. It was the second serious stranded knitting project I ever did (the first being another gift for that same Christmas, which I am keeping under wraps, so to speak, because I may make another one for the upcoming holidays). The color pattern is a random geometric motif that I created by fooling around with diamonds.

Having learned to knit English style and switched over to Continental about ten years ago, I do stranded knitting holding one yarn in each hand. I know some knitters can do very fast colorwork holding two or more yarns in one hand and simply flicking out the one needed for each stitch, but I am not one of them. And despite my best intentions I have yet to learn Alwen's two-finger method.

Speaking of stranded knitting, can someone please settle something for me? As I understand it, technically all Fair Isle knitting is stranded but not all stranded knitting is Fair Isle. What are the specific characteristics of Fair Isle? I know one of them is not more than two colors in any row, which is certainly true of Bob's hat, but I think there's more to it. This may be a bit like asking the difference between knitted lace and lace knitting — ask two knitters and you'll get three opinions — but I'm going for it anyway. Despite having plenty of opinions of my own (not that you would have noticed as I am so shy and retiring), I can always use a few more.


  • Eh...um...I have this book you can borrow....

    I'm pretty much in the same place you are - I know that not all stranded knitting in Fair Isle, and I know that if I really need to know the difference I can go look it up, and I know that if I'm talking to a non-knitter I can pontificate and sound very smart on the subject, but...really, I couldn't tell you the difference off the top of my head. If I had to guess, I believe that "true" Fair Isle uses the peeries and other tradtional patterns of the Shetland Isles.

    By Anonymous Imbrium, at 12:24 AM  

  • True Fair Isle knitting involves the two colors per row which change frequently, but also the use of the small geometric designs (the peeries, as Imbrium said) and carrying (floating) the stitches no more than 5 at a time (more than that increases the risk of the yarn catching on something and pulling). I think there are other characteristics as well, things like symmetry in the patterns for ease of memorizing, knitting in the round for seamless garments (even sweaters - traditional designs use underarm gussets to avoid seams), steeks, and stuff like that. Harmony Guide to Aran and Fair Isle Knitting offers lots of info on this topic.

    By Anonymous chris, at 8:01 AM  

  • Oh,yeah, the hat - it's gorgeous!!

    By Anonymous Chris, at 8:03 AM  

  • Yep, Chris and Imbrium have it pretty much covered. The other patterns are variations on ogees and crosses. Scandinavian knitting frequently makes us of "lice" - widely separated single stitches in contrasting color, along with repeating representational designs such as hearts, snowflakes, reindeer and the like.

    By Blogger Roxie, at 9:14 AM  

  • Hit a nerve here!

    From the introduction to Sweaters from Camp: "...a type of two-color knitting that is unique to the Shetland Isles. The morif may shade from color to color and At The Same Time the background may shade as well."

    It simply makes me cringe when I see the current tendency to call all stranded color knitting "Fair Isle." /rant ;)

    By Anonymous Joy, at 9:45 AM  

  • So maybe I should look in some book too...oops, nope, I see others have you covered here. My head hurts! I haven't read blogs all week, and you have five posts... It's a great hat regardless of what technique was employed. So, Conan... I'm looking for a humongo long list of synonyms for frowsy (frowzy?)/musty/smells like old sneakers... got any good ones?

    By Blogger Lisa, at 12:58 PM  

  • Well, I was about to offer my opinions, but others got here first. So, ditto. I'll leave it at that.

    By Blogger Danielle, at 3:58 PM  

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