Monday, March 3, 2008

fair isle memories

After conversations with my Ravelry friend Jane and my review of Fiona Ellis's fair isle book, I have naturally been thinking about fair isle knitting. I made the vest below at least 20 years ago for my husband. He wouldn't wear it because he thinks it's girly and busy. I thought it was manly. I think he'd have liked it better if the motifs had been wider, but I have learned that really he won't accept any motifs, including cables. Be that as it may, I wear it occasionally, and I like it a lot. It is made of Harrisville Shetland fingering weight and is cozily warm.
Here is a close up that shows the floats on the wrong side and the corrugated ribbing. I think I did pretty well for a first timer; you can see some puckering in the close up, but I think that is from a poor job of blocking that I did recently. I never noticed it before. The thing is, this was both my first and last time of knitting fair isle. The patterning is so intense that I don't want much of it in my wardrobe. Fiona Ellis did have a good idea about limiting motifs to the edges of things.

This spectacular though barrel-shaped sweater is on the cover of Classic British Knits by Madeline Weston, a book that was published in 1986, and is now out of print. It is still available on Amazon through marketplace sellers. According to an Amazon reader, it was also published as The Traditional Sweater Book, and that is available through the Amazon marketplace as well. I think you ought to get it. Over the years I have regularly turned to this book for ideas, and I think it was one of the books that started me off on my sick hobby of collecting knitting books and magazines.

Weston covers ganseys, fair isle, aran, and shetland knitting. For many years, I have admired two knits from this book, pictured below, and before too much time goes by I will have knit at least one of them. I have the yarn for the Sheltand shawl, a combination of Knit Picks Palatte and Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4 ply in grays.

The designs in this book absolutely cannot go out of style. The only thing that has changed since 1986 is the sizing. The sizes run big, reflecting the oversized style of the late 80s and early 90s. That is not problem for me though; I can just make a smaller size. Smaller people would have to recalculate. The smallest finished size is 36 and change, and not all the designs come even that small.

Audiobook: I am reading Remember Me? the latest book by Sophie Kinsella who wrote the Shopaholic series. I know, it's chick lit, but chick lit is totally fun, and Kinsella is its best practioner along with Candace Bushnell. Most of Kinsella's books are narrated by Rosalyn Landor, who is great. Her voice has just the right combination of archness and sweetness for Kinsella's slightly insane characters. So far, though I am liking this book less than previous ones. The premise, heroine has amnesia after an accident and forgets the last four years of her life, is not at all believable. Kinsella's situations are usually not believable, but this one goes a bit too far.


ionadreams said...

I think I prefer the traditional style of fair isle opposed to todays updates, ie. Ivy League, Autumn Rose The vest is beautiful and the aran is... Well, I ordered the book. Stop with the must haves. My budget is down the tubes and I'll never in my lifetime knit everything I desire.

2ply said...

I quite agree about Madeleine Weston's book - I bought it new in 1986 and am still very happy with it. Although some of the designs have aged a little, most haven't and could be worn perfectly happily today. I love the Old Shell Shetland Lace pullover and have been planning to make it for around 20 years....