Tag Archives: Fair Isle

Knitting: not just a craft but a way of life

My grandma Foster taught me to knit on one of her annual visits, when I was 7 or 8 years old, and my Mum completed the training. I rarely saw either of them without some garment on the go. I don’t remember owning or wearing a shop-bought jumper until I was in my late teens.

Lots of lovely patterns, including the knitted cable coat I made

Lots of lovely patterns, including the knitted cable coat I made

To people of my parents and grandparents generation and social class, knitting was almost a way of life. Having learned to knit when I was young, I made all the usual small items – mostly scarves or hats – and it was not until I was in my early teens that I graduated to larger garments. My Mum was particularly good at cable sweaters, and I learned the craft from her, eventually (in 1978) knitting a long coat in Aran with cables, bobbles, and pockets. It was so beautiful I almost didn’t dare wear it! I still have it, although the moth has been in munching away in various places, so I have some repair work to do – luckily I found a few balls of the original cream Aran wool in my stash, so at least I don’t have to worry about matching it.

I knitted off and on throughout my teens and twenties and thirties, interspersed with bouts of needlepoint, cross stitch, and crochet (which Janet, Mum’s best friend, taught me when I was 16). But I always come back to knitting. I took it up again four or five years ago, and have been teaching myself new techniques – lace knitting, sock knitting, and now Fair Isle.

Fair Isle pincushions

The pattern for these was taken from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 150 Scandinavian Motifs.

My Fair Isle knitting is in it’s early stages – still a little too tight, simple shapes only, and limited colours. In fact, most of what I have done so far look like a number of swatches! But I am getting there, and getting better. I will be blogging about this a good deal in the future!

I also taught myself Lace Knitting, although I would say that I have only reached the intermediate stage so far. Nevertheless, I have produced a couple of rather nice shawls (with a third in progress) and a shrug. The next stage is to try some of the advanced Lace patterns, where every row is patterned, rather than only alternate rows.

All of my crafting life, with a very few exceptions, I have been following other people’s designs, treading in their footsteps. I really want to try designing for myself, but have never really had the courage to try it until now. That is my next big challenge!

Lacy shrug knitted in Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn (hence the stripes)

Lacy shrug knitted in Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn (hence the stripes)

Lace shawl in Kidsilk Haze Stripe

Lace shawl in Kidsilk Haze Stripe

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