Monday, February 7, 2011

Fair Isle Fun (instead of football)

In 10 days I'll be heading to Stitches West!  I am so excited.  I know I will return home with new yarns and new pattern ideas so I am trying to finish up most of my current WIPs.  It so happens that 2 out of the last 3 projects I've had on the needles for awhile are stranded patterns:  Selbu Modern and the Fairly Easy Fair Isle cardigan.  This weekend I finished and blocked the hat and came close to finishing the sweater.

We are not big football fans, so on Sunday we took advantage of the beautiful weather and lack of crowds to take a long walk on the river trail.  At the last minute I threw the camera and still damp Selbu in my backpack for a photo opportunity at the Sundial Bridge:

Pattern:  Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osborn
Source:   pdf download from Kelbourne Woolens  (This is a free download, but Kate has this note on Ravelry:  In lieu of purchasing my patterns, please consider making a much needed donation to the PSPCA as a way of saying thank you.)    
Materials:  2 skeins of Rowan Pure Wool 4ply, US 0 and US 2 needles 

Once again, I am in awe of the magic of blocking.  About halfway through this project, I almost ripped it out because the contrast between the two colors was so subtle as to make the stranded pattern almost invisible.  You can see from other FOs on Ravelry that the pattern is lovely done in colors with more contrast.  I especially like it in blue and brown.

Here is pic of my leftovers so you can see why I thought the pattern would show up more:

This yarn and I have a history though, and I couldn't bear to rip it out.  After receiving a free gift (with a subscription) from Rowan of green yarn, I happily swapped with someone on Ravelry for a lighter grey so that I could overdye it.   I dyed a few skeins pink with lobster mushrooms, and a few of them brown with a black walnuts dyebath.  Sitting next to each other they look quite different, but they blend together once they are knitted up.  The blocking process smoothed out the lumpiness of my knit stitches and brought the pattern out.  It is still subtle but I like it.  

Here is a tip I learned in a Fair Isle knitting class
When choosing colors to use in a stranded pattern the contrasts in the colorwork will be effected not only by the hues of the yarn, but also by the saturation level of each color.  It is difficult though to determine the saturation just by looking directly at the skeins of yarn.  In order to see the relative values of each color, make a black and white photocopy of the yarn shade card.

Here is an example.  I printed a picture of Cascade 220 color choices from Jimmy Beans Wool and then recopied it in black and white to see the values of each color.

What a difference, huh?  For my Selbu Modern I really wanted to use up some of my hand-dyed yarn, but I will make use of this tip to choose colors for my next stranded project!  


  1. Great tip for yarn selection! Selbu has been hovering in my queue for a while-- such a lovely design. I think yours looks wonderful.

  2. Thanks for the reminder regarding color selection. If I ever get to another FI project I will use this tip.

    I needed your beautiful hat when I spontaneously stopped by the Sundial Bridge a few nights ago for a moment of introspection. It was chilly, but serene.

    Nice work Shannon : )

  3. Such a good tip for selecting yarns. I'll have to remember that one!

  4. The hat turned out great and looks great on you with the new haircut! Thank you for the helpful tip on yarn selection.

  5. Beautiful hat. It looks lovely on you. Wish I had a hat head :(

  6. You look terrific in your hat! I love the subtle colors worked together like that. Thanks for the color section advice -- I have just started quilting and choosing the colors/patterns takes some thought.

  7. Oh good tip for colour choosing. Still, I like your subtle colours.

  8. Useful tip for colour choosing thanks.

  9. Love your Selbu Modern. It looks great on you, too! I am glad that you were able to use your hand-dyed yarns for this. Thanks for the color tip.

  10. I like the color combination very much. Of course I love pink and brown together. I think the subtlety is very attractive.