Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Funny, Frustrating, Frugal, Fancy Fairisle

Stranded knitting also known as Fairisle, is a method of using more than one colour in your work to make repeating horizontal and vertical patterns in all or part of the project. Traditional Fairisle uses no more than two colours per row and is also known as stranded knitting because the colour not in use is held at the back of the work creating a strand. It is definitely an advanced technique but it's well worth having a go because you won't believe what pretty things can come out of your fingertips.

Over a year later and I'm still in shock and awe that this is one of my creations. 

Stranding can be accomplished by letting one colour hang at the back of the work while you are working with the other colour and picking the dropped yarn up when you need to work it again whilst dropping the original. Here's a little video to let you know exactly what we're talking about:

If you fancy learning the technique first hand let us know and we'll schedule a workshop when we've got a free slot. 

Other people use both hands, one colour in each hand. Simply knitting with the left hand continental-style when that colour is due and the right hand English style when the other is. You want to avoid having your floats too long - over five stitches or so and you're in danger of the material puckering. To avoid that you wrap the yarn around each other at the back of the work which is called 'catching the yarn'. This is easily done when you are working with one hand and dropping the yarns but becomes more fiddly when you're working with both hands, so let me show you a handy little tip for catching the yarn when you're working with both hands:

1). Knit to the place you want to catch the yarn. Insert the needle knit-wise and wrap the yarn to be caught (mauve) around the needle as if to knit.

2). Wrap the colour to be worked (grey) around the needle as if to knit.

3). Take the colour to be caught back around the needle, essentially un-knitting it.

4). Carry on knitting with the yarn you want to make the stitch with and the first yarn should be caught at the back with no unnecessary twisting. 

Once you've got your head around this, the process of catching yarn at the back of the work becomes a doddle!

We've had a look through our yarns and patterns and come up with a few exciting ideas all for you: 

If it's your first time might we suggest that you start with a chunky yarn and a simple repetitive yoked pattern. Something a little bit like:

Pattern - £2.30                 Yarn - Alafoss Lopi £5.00 for 100g, 100% Icelandic wool.

Or some sort of accessory - keep it small to see whether you like it. We've got some cute earflap hats patterns in stock for kids through to adults - lovely!

Now, if you're really getting serious you might want to try this:

It's the Oranje pattern from Knitty's Winter 2011 issue. Absolutely gorgeous - or 'striking' as some might say. Of course, you get to choose your colours but I can't help thinking that our new Schoeller and Stahl sock yarn would do the trick:

You also get to try your hand at braids which is something of a novelty (I'm making this myself and braiding for the first time so I'll update you when I'm there... It's going to be a birthday present for myself though so you may have to wait until July...).

That's enough of a fairisle rant - I'm missing it a bit you see - when I've got something good and proper fairisle-y on the go I'll give you a good update with pictures and tips and excitement. Until then you'll have to cope with me telling you all about it.

Love Eleanor. :)

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