The first thing you have to learn in Fair Isle knitting is -- knitting!
There are two stitches in making knitwear, the knit and the purl. You will mostly use knit in Fair Isle knitting, because you knit in the round.
There is a great video that will show you the knit stitch, and also a technique for weaving the yarn in on the back so you don't have long stretches of yarn ("floats") that catch at buttons and fingers and pull the sweater out of shape.
Watch how Ann holds the yarn, first. Now copy how she picks up the yarn. It's about 1/3 of the way into the video.
Turn your right hand, palm up;
Run your pinkie under the yarn;
Now twist your wrist so that the yarn makes a ring around your pinkie;
Put your two middle fingers over the yarn;
Slip your index finger under the yarn and keep it near the fingernail;
Hold the needle between your thumb and index finger.
The yarn around your pinkie and under your middle fingers will maintain an even tension that will keep the stitches the same size.
The piece of yarn from the needle to your index finger should be very short as the video shows.
NOW. Put your ball of yarn on your left side and watch what Ann does in the video. It is a very quick way to knit once you get used to it.
Slide the right needle point under the loop of yarn and bring the point up in the middle of the first stitch on the left needle. The right needle point can rest against the right side of the left needle and has to poke out just a little bit beyond it.
Slide the point of the right needle over the yarn, then tilt it down so it can grab the yarn.
Use that right point to pull the yarn through the loop of the stitch on the right side of the left needle point.
Your right needle will rest on top of the left needle with the new stitch around it.
Now lift the right needle and the old stitch up over the end of the left needle point. The old stitch will be looped around the base of the new stitch that you made on the right needle.
This takes some practice but it is actually faster, when you get used to it, than the way Americans usually learn to knit.
Continue on around all the stitches on the needle until you get back to your length of waste thread or marker, whichever you are using. Keep doing this until you get used to it. Don't worry about anything else because until you get this technique right, nothing else will work. The most important thing is to learn to keep the tension even. If your practice knitting has different sized stitches, keep practicing until they are all the same size because the different sizes come from different tensions on the yarn.
Make sure to snug up to the needle and that the yarn is not slack as it runs over or under your fingers, or it will produce large stitches.
Or if it leaves dents on your fingers (or worse yet cuts off your circulation) you'll produce small stitches and your hand will get tired because the tension on the yarn is too high.
Next lesson will be the purl stitch and you'll learn how to do ribbing.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved