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Fair Isle Cowl

FairIsle
This cowl is the first step on my path to improve my fair isle skills which was one of my  goals for 2017. While pursuing this goal, I realized that I had never actually studied the process but had just blindly followed the habits passed on to me by my mother and other knitters I have known.  I have always twisted my yarns at the back of the row at every colour change as I was taught and could never understand why my fair isle looked so much lumpier than others!

I purchased Melissa Leapman’s book “Mastering Color Knitting” from Amazon recently, and found a few good resources at my local library also. Here are some of the hints I picked up:

1. Yarn tension is extremely important! Fairly obvious of course, but the idea that tension was greatly affected by dropping one colour whenever you begin to work with the next colour was new to me.  Keeping a consistent tension requires holding both colours at all times; one in each hand, both in the left hand, or both in the right hand, whichever feels most comfortable. I found that holding both in my right hand works for me.

2. It  is important to be consistent with the position of the strands of the yarns. Whichever colour you wish to appear dominant should be carried below the other yarn and this positioning should remain the same throughout. This also creates much more even, smooth floats on the reverse side.  In the past, I have paid absolutely no attention to the position of the yarns and am quite amazed at the difference it makes!

3. Carry your floats evenly and loosely across the back of your work.  I knew that this was important, but always felt that if I allowed my floats to be loose, my stitches would also look too loose and therefore had a tendency to pull my yarns too tight creating a puckered look.  Try spreading out the stitches where you are carrying your yarns to help create a looser float.

4. Most of the resources I used suggesting not carrying your yarn more than 1″ across the back of your work. I had always believed that it was a hard and fast rule to only allow 3 stitches before catching in the yarn being carried. When a longer float is necessary, don’t twist the yarns, just catch in the yarn being carried, bringing it under the working yarn on a knit row and over the working yarn on a purl row.

I don’t consider my fair isle improvement journey at an end just yet, this project was just the beginning!  My true test will be to try a much more intricate pattern with a finer yarn which I have planned for “M is for Mitten” in my “A” to “Z” Knitting Challenge!

Stay tuned…..

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Tips & Tutorials

I have overcome my fear of Entrelac!!

The last step is a row of triangles, completed as follows;
With right side facing, pick up 9 stitches for a total of 10.
Slip 1, P9, turn, K9 ssk, turn
Slip 1, P7, P2tog, turn, K8, ssk, turn
Slip 1, P6, P2tog, turn, K7, ssk, turn
Slip 1, P5, P2tog, turn, K6, ssk, turn
Slip 1, P4, P2tog, turn, K5, ssk, turn
Slip 1, P3, P2tog, turn, K4, ssk, turn
Slip 1, P2, P2tog, turn, K3, ssk, turn
Slip 1, P1, P2tog, turn, K2, ssk, turn
Slip 1, P2tog, turn, K1, ssk, turn
P2tog, turn, ssk, do not turn. Leave the remaining stitch on the right hand needle.

EntrelacFinalTriangle

Continue reading “I have overcome my fear of Entrelac!!”

Tips & Tutorials

Overcoming my fear of Entrelac – Part 5

The next stage is probably the easiest, as all you are doing is creating 4 rectangles.  Start by picking up 9 sts along the edge of the right triangle just completed.  You are picking up only 9 sts because you already have one stitch from the previous section.  If you are changing colours for this section, join the new colour on the first of these 9 stitches and leave the 1 stitch in the previous colour. This will not be noticeable once you complete the next row or two.

Turn so that the wrong side is facing.

Slip 1, P9. Turn. K9, ssk. Turn.
Repeat this step 9 times.
Slip 1, P9. Turn. K9, ssk.
Don’t turn..

For the next rectangle pick up 10sts along the edge of the rectangle from the first row of rectangles
then follow the steps above until you have all four rectangles complete! Now you can really start to see the woven effect!

EntrelacRectangle6EntrelacRectangle5

Continue reading “Overcoming my fear of Entrelac – Part 5”

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Overcoming my fear of Entrelac – Part 4

Now that the left side triangle is complete it’s time to start the first rectangle.

With the wrong side facing pick up and purl 10 stitches along the edge of the last triangle in the beginning row of triangles.

Turn the work so the right side is facing and work the first rectangle:
Slip 1, K9, turn.
P9, p2tog, turn.
Repeat the above two steps 9 times.
Slip 1, K9, turn. P9, p2tog.
Don’t turn.

Repeat this step for the other rectangles, picking up 10 sts along the edge of the next triangle in the row of initial triangles, and repeating the steps above.

Continue reading “Overcoming my fear of Entrelac – Part 4”

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Overcoming my fear of Entrelac – Part 3

Creating the rectangles (not quite yet)!

I couldn’t quite resist adding a second colour for this step, nothing like making things even more difficult!

What I didn’t realize until I got started is that there is actually another step before creating the first row of rectangles – the left side triangle!

Here’s how the triangle is created:

P2, turn. K1, m1, k1, turn.
P2, p2tog, turn. K2, m1, k1, turn.
P3, p2tog, turn. K3, m1, k1, turn.
P4, p2tog, turn. K4, m1, k1, turn.
P5, p2tog, turn. K5, m1, k1, turn.
P6, p2tog, turn. K6, m1, k1, turn.
P7, p2tog, turn. K7, m1, k1, turn.
P8, p2tog, turn. K8, m1, k1, turn.
P9, p2tog. Don’t turn.

All of the patterns I found indicated to knit the first stitches after each turn following the P2tog, which I did for the first few rows. Then I decided to try slipping the first stitch after each turn. I did this for the last few rows and I found it gave a much neater edge.

entrelactriangle

Once again, this was much less intimidating than expected and I am starting to get quite excited about the process.  Next step, rectangles!

 

 

Tips & Tutorials

Overcoming my fear of Entrelac – Part 2

First stage complete! I have finished the base triangles which are the first step for this process.  The actual process is very easy:

Cast on 40 sts.
I used 40 stitches for the purposes of this lesson (4 base triangles of 10 stitches each),  but any number of stitches can be used as long as the number is divisible by the number of base triangles. For example, cast on 36 stitches for 6 base triangles of 6 stitches each.

First triangle:
K2, turn, P2, turn
K3, turn, P3, turn
K4, turn, P4, turn
K5, turn, P5, turn
K6, turn, P6, turn
K7, turn, P7, turn
K8, turn, P8, turn
K9, turn, P9, turn
K10, do not turn.
Repeat above for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th triangles.

Continue reading “Overcoming my fear of Entrelac – Part 2”