Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fair Isle Knitting -- which color?

What better to talk about on a day with below freezing wind chill and snow on the ground, but something warm like a Fair Isle sweater?

Keitelson's book, which I have, brings up a good point.  When you're going to knit the rib in two colors, which color do you cast on with?
It only matters if you are going to do vertical stripes in the rib.
If you are going to do horizontal stripes, you only care about joining in the yarn in the other color.
So how do you do that?

One site says the traditional method is to SPLICE them.  It warns that you should only do this with all-wool yarns, like real Shetland wool.  The reason is that splicing starts with unweaving the yarn a bit and that makes it weaker.  Why it works with Shetland or other all-wool yarns is that the hairs of the yarn hook onto each other and counteract the weakness.

IF you are using a two-ply yarn
unravel the yarn of your background color for about 2 inches and watch carefully to see which way the threads were wound together into the yarn.
You will have two thinner threads.  Cut one of them by half.
Unravel the yarn of your contrast color for about 2 inches and cut one of those.
Now wind the long end of the background color with the short end of the contrast color in the same direction as they were originally wound.  Clockwise or counterclockwise, wind them the same way.
Now do the same with the long end of the CONTRAST color and the short end of the background color.
Now spit on the ends, put the palms of your hands over them, and rub them to hackle the threads together.  (This is actually a mild felting.)

Here's the website that gives these instructions, and an alternate method.

The key with Fair Isle is that you will have no more than two colors in the row, if it's a REAL Fair Isle pattern.  So you can do this splicing at one side and then use a weaving technique I am going to show you soon to make sure that you don't have long loops on the inside of the pattern.  Because it's only two yarns, you won't end up with a bump on that side. Also you won't end up with little lumps like you would if you knotted the threads together.

Splicing is not discussed in Keitelson's book.  That's why I had to find a website that discussed it.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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