Knitting, crafting, cooking, and motherhood… trying to do it all!

Posts tagged ‘patterns’

Fair Isle Knitting

Along with the book mentioned in the previous post, I picked up another of Melissa Leapman’s books from the library, entitled Mastering Color Knitting.

Cover art

This book goes beyond the basics of working with multiple colors, using various colors within the same row (also known as “stranded knitting” or “Fair Isle knitting”).  I read through all the information, realizing that this was a much more advanced technique.  Reading about how to do this was not very helpful, so I began watching YouTube videos.  I watched about five different videos, observing amateur videographers and professional bloggers alike to see exactly how they managed multiple strands.

Basically, what I observed was that everyone has his or her own technique.  Some do it while holding two colors in the same hand, while others do it by holding one color in their left hand and the other color in their right.  I found a pretty Fair Isle snowflake pattern in a scarf book (with a great diagram to follow the colors) and decided to try it out.  Once again, I only created a swatch, but this is what I created:

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Over the course of creating that swatch, I tried the various methods of stranded knitting that I had observed in the video.  I tried to become comfortable with one method, but couldn’t get a good feel for it.  

I decided that, while I am capable of stranded knitting, I do not want to try it again until I am a much more experienced (and faster) knitter.  I think it would also be worth practicing the English method of “throwing” the yarn with my right hand.  I currently use the Continental method of holding the yarn with my left hand, but if I was able to utilize both techniques I would have an easier time doing stranded knitting with two hands.

Instead of focusing on multiple colors, I want to focus on honing my basic knitting techniques.  Next up… circular needles!

Reading a Diagram, Understanding Patterns

With my new-found zeal for knitting, I browsed some knitting books at the library while taking my son for a visit.  I picked up a couple of different books, but the one that was most interesting was by Melissa Leapman, entitled, Color Knitting the Easy Way.  

Front Cover

This book gave me a lot of great information about knitting with multiple colors “the easy way.”  This basically means that you are using multiple colors, but only changing colors at the end of every row.  Through reading this book, however, I learned that this technique does not have to result in straight stripes.  The book actually teaches techniques for a variety of ways to make your stitches create interesting patterns.  Here is one example:

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While this may look like an advanced technique to a beginning knitter, it’s actually not that complicated.  This is basically just alternating red/yellow rows that “dip down” every few stitches to create a unique pattern.  In order to learn how to do this, I carefully read the instructions on how to read a knitting diagram.  A knitting diagram is a grid with a key, showing various markings in each square which indicate specific stitches.  They are typically read from right to left as if you were knitting that way, and then reversed from left to right on the opposite rows (because your work is now facing the wrong side of the fabric.  I don’t know if this should be the next step for all beginning knitters, but I found it very interesting.  I also had fun trying out the new patterns.  

Here is another one of my creations:

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Once again, I only created sample swatches.  I did not want to be too ambitious trying out these new techniques and I wanted to be able to start over if I made a mistake.  This actually proved to be a very good idea.  As it turns out, three of the patterns that I tried were not diagrammed correctly.  In fact, this blue/black pattern was one of them.  According to the picture in the book, there should be a solid black line across the black “steps” in the pattern.  The diagram, however, shows the pattern that I created.  While this does not drastically change the pattern, it was extremely frustrating to me that it would be shown incorrectly.  There were two other patterns that were entirely changed by incorrect pattern.  I was extremely frustrated by this and just slid them off my needles, rather than taking the time to bind them off.  Because I was just learning how to knit and how to read a diagram, I thought at first that it was my own errors.  After spending much time reading and re-reading all the notes, keys, and marks (and after consulting more experienced knitters), it was clear that the book provided faulty diagrams.

Nevertheless, I did learn a LOT from reading segments of this book and I learned how to “carry” yarn while using multiple colors.  I learned that you can create interesting patterns without going back and forth between multiple strands in the same row.  I also learned a lot about reading diagrams, which proved to be very helpful for my next project… knitting a hat in the round!