Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fair Isle Shmair Isle

A few days ago, I finally began the Fair Isle sweater that I’ve talked about recently. Now, don’t get excited. The news is not good.

First, I had a gauge problem. I knit about 15 rows (which is a good amount on a sweater in the round!) and something looked off. Despite my careful swatching for gauge, it looked too large. I pulled it off the needles and indeed found that it was absolutely huge! The problem, I think, is that I did my gauge swatch with #3 DPNs that just happened to be handy on the table next to me. On short DPNs I tend to hold the needles more firmly and my knitting motions are small and restrained. When I switched to the large circular and got into a more natural rhythm, my knitting got much looser. I never thought of this before but it makes sense I suppose. I was knitting “sock style” with my gauge swatch and “sweater style” with the actual garment.

Oh well. Frog, frog, frog.

I started again with the right number of stitches, comforted by the thought that despite having to rip back quite a bit of knitting I would be proceeding with fewer stitches and so in the end I’d make back the lost time quickly.

With little time for knitting these days, I was thrilled with the speed of my progress. By yesterday morning, I had about five inches of sweater in the round done … but something was nagging at me. I just didn’t like the look of it. I set it aside yesterday morning and returned to it last night. Nope. Still didn’t like it.

I finally decided that there are two things that caused my distaste for the thing. First, I think the scale is too large for Fair Isle. I understand now why that Norwegian sweater pattern I mentioned liking so much calls for a laceweight yarn. Even though I was knitting with a sport-weight and #3 needles, which is a fairly small gauge for a sweater, it’s still too large a gauge to yield the kind of fine, detailed colorwork that I yearn for in a Fair Isle sweater. I just didn’t like the looks of the pattern. It was just too large for the sweater I had envisioned.

The second problem was the colors. I LOVE the six colors I selected for this sweater. I LOVE how they look together. I LOVE them individually. But I don’t love them for Fair Isle. There are too many dark colors and not enough light. I thought the contrast between the dark colors would be enough to give the look that I wanted, but I was wrong. I don’t know why exactly, as I’ve seen many Fair Isle sweaters done with darker shades where the contrast is still enough to bring the pattern to the forefront, but in the sweater I was making it just didn’t work for me. The pattern didn’t pop enough for my taste.

And so I frogged again.

I still have the itch to make a Fair Isle sweater, so I will return to the plan at some point, but this is not the yarn for it. Before I start planning again, selecting a new yarn, dyeing, calculating, etc., I want to make a sweater with this yarn that I like so much. I’ve actually got a new idea for it – much less interesting and intricate – but something that I hope will work out better. I’ve cast on again and will share pictures of the progress as soon as I get a little further along. I won’t bore you with the details of the new plan, as I’ve already wasted enough blog-time jabbering on about the now-defunct Fair Isle plans.


Some happier news on the yarn front: I’ve been dyeing like crazy! My workshop is bursting with yarn that’s drying. For any of you who have been disappointed with the low stock on sock yarn, that will soon be rectified. I’ve had quite a run on sock yarn lately and my stock is shockingly low, but there’s plenty on the way. I’ll also be diving into a new supply of cashmere in the coming week or so.

I’ve also got two of the “complementary color” sets listed right now. The first is on Etsy (click the photo below to go to the listing). In fact, this set is currently a Featured Item on the front page of Etsy! This is the first time I’ve had an item on the front page, so that’s quite exciting. It will stay there for a couple of days, unless it is sold first. Either way, it’s good exposure and makes me happy (easing a bit of the pain in my neck and shoulders caused by the Fair Isle sweater!).

The other set is a Christmas Color set. Click on the photo below to link to the Etsy listing. Perhaps it’s still early to be thinking about the holidays, but it seems that some knitters’ minds would already be looking forward and planning for holiday knitting.

Another set of each of these yarns is also currently at auction on eBay.

That’s all the news for today. Happy Knitting!


anne said...

LOVE that really dark purplr-gray-brown or whatever color it is (the one at the 1 o'clock position). will it be available on its own?
sorry about your sweater—that's a big disappointment over something you planned for a long time!

barbp said...

So sorry to hear of your frustrting expierence, however I learned a lot about swatches and knitting from this post. It's small comfort I'm sure, but thanks for sharing your expierence.

Love the purples. It's too early for me to even think about Christmas but your colors are right on.