If you have ever knitted for a baby (or had a baby for whom things have been knitted), you will know that they do not get a lot of wear out of their handknits. That lovingly-created small cardigan might get worn three times before it’s outgrown, and to my mind that is a Shocking Waste of Nice Yarn. So here I am with various small baby jackets etc, many of them in shades of blue, and it occurs to me that an adult-sized garment that uses lots of different colours could usefully be created out of all these little quantities, with a little supplementation (it’s all Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino).
So I fish out my box of colouring pencils, and my copy of the amazing Alice Starmore‘s Fair Isle Knitting, and start fiddling about with colours. What I end up with is a plan for a pattern that looks like this:
And I think that is Quite Pretty. And as I’m only supplementing the yarn I’ve already got, and don’t mind frogging if it all goes wrong, I feel no need to swatch (to be honest, I have never, ever felt the need to swatch). So, I am all cast on and doing the bi-coloured rib as we speak. It’s going to be a gilet. Or possibly a cardigan if it all goes well.
I’m knitting anti-clockwise, rather than clockwise – essentially going around the inside of the circular needle rather than the more-usual outside. This is because with Fair Isle one of the most crucial elements is keeping your floats (the carried yarn you’re not using) even and not too tight and leaving the floats on the outside is one way of helping this to happen. It’ll be more obvious as I continue, because I’ll be basically knitting it inside-out. The other thing I’m planning is to steek – not something I’ve done before, and I’m trying not to think too hard about it because it involves taking shears to your knitting after it’s all done and the ways in which that could go disastrously, expensively wrong are too many to think about.
I’m talking a good game here, but I’ve never designed a ‘proper’ Fair Isle garment before, or knitted a gilet, or steeked so, y’know, there’s doubtless going to be some learning-curve stuff that’s going to happen. As the man says, the day you don’t make any mistakes is the day you don’t learn anything. I learn a lot, all the time.