Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Monday, 3 October 2011

Fair Isle Frenzy

I have recently rediscovered and finally accomplished to make some fair isle items.

In fact I may have found a new love to obsess over...

It all began in January 2010 (yes, squirm, that long ago...) when I bought a fair isle tam and mittens set from Jamieson & Smith with the intention of making and wearing straight away (if you remember back, it was our second very cold Winter, the water had frozen so we had no running water and it was down to about -12 degrees Celsius at night, eek!)

So I started with a mitten and faffed and struggled and cursed as I went around and around, checking my colours and trying not to twist my threads.  Switched to using bobbins, which was marginally better but my dpn's (double pointed needles) poked and prodded and basically laughed at me as I tried to compensate for the ladder between needles by over compensating (don't do that!!!)  I did finish the mitten, but I found the process a little traumatic so I decided to switch to knitting the tam next as it was larger in scale and I thought I might have better look.

The tam progressed happily enough to the decreases for the crown and, gasp, I ran out of yarn.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the kit was for EITHER the tam or mittens but not both.  I sent way for more (the red and navy to be exact) and retired my fair isle foray to the bottom of the basket.

When my yarn arrived, with renewed vigour I picked up my needles again (all five of them) and began again, to find that I had miscounted somewhere and my decreases were not lining up correctly.  In my defence, I was a complete fair isle novice and the charts, though blaring obvious now, at the time were a little double dutch to me. 

So back to the basket she went, and there she stayed.  After a huge attack of conscious I picked the project back up again and patiently ripped back my mistakes and picked up my trusty circular needles (now why didn't I think of that before?) and used the magic loop method to finish the tam.  The mitten soon flew off the needles (circular of course) too and after blocking I was so in love with the notion of fair isle using magic loop that I was googling like a demented lunatic looking for more patterns.

I found Kate Davies and her wonderful Tam patterns on Ravelry and fell in love with her Neep Heid tam and I just had to have it.  I loved it so much even bought the correct colours to make it with.  It was such a wonderful pattern to follow, simple, clear and well laid out.  My Ceann Tornapa exceeded all my expectations.  I then made Caller Herrin' (which is part of Kate's 'Hat's of Midlothian' Collection') using remnants of jumper weight in colours I thought looked lovely together.  Once knit up though, my purples and greens kind of all mushed together and you can't see the pattern but overall it's still a pretty hat.

So after all that fair isle funkiness, I have plans on the back burner to make a spectacularly fantastic, funny men's hat.  Well it's for one man in particular, but there's more about that to follow.

So I hope you've enjoyed all this fair isleness, I have and will hopefully work my way up to a vest or a jumper soon!

Happy knitting



  1. Love all your hats - hope you get lots of wear out of them!

  2. Hi Fiona, yes, I'm definitely needing them earlier than I thought this year, weather is rubbish/tams are wonderful!