Friday, March 26, 2010

On my way to Fair Isle Fabulous

Yay, I found a few seamless Fair Isle projects that I really want to do: Neiman and Fair Isle Yoke Pullover. I am also intrigued with a couple of hats that I found on Ravelry. I really want to use the variegated yarn that I have and combine it with a solid color, as well as the Noro yarn that I have.

Now I just have to finish my husband's hoodie. It's taking forever!

EZ...not so easy for me

I like straightforward patterns...no thinking involved (not too much anyway)...just give me the numbers and the instructions and I can pretty much knit anything. My dilemma now is that I really want to knit a seamless sweater in fair isle. My searches on Ravelry have yielded few free ones; I would have to invest in a pattern book...that is, unless I go to my library, pick up Knitting Workshop, and actually read and study Elizabeth Zimmerman's way of making a seamless fair isle sweater. I would have to measure and do the stitch counts myself. GAH.

Well, I have been obsessing over doing the fair isle technique for about 2 days, which is a lot of "obsessing" versus "doing" for me. In other words, I REALLY have to knit a fair isle project now. *sigh* Why can't I just "want" to do a scarf??

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

J's Fair Isle Hoodie: Knitting Pockets Backwards

So now I am on the pocket. I am not having to do as much calculating because, it is, after all, just a pocket. I was excited to start it, though, because it counts as a new technique that I can check off my "To Learn" knitting list. What I like about the hoodie's construction is that, in my opinion, the designer made it as seamless as possible and that includes the pocket. It is knit continuously from the body (i.e. not knit separately to be attached afterwards). Very cool.

Using my calculations, I was able to center it on the body. I thought to continue the Fair Isle pattern but decided against it. The shaping is taking a little bit of time because I want make sure that it is neither too big or too small, especially because the row gauge is different from the instructions.

I would also like to mention that I am knitting backwards with this part of the pattern. The project was getting really bulky and becoming a PITA to flip back and forth every single row. I haven't knit backwards since I learned how to knit entrelac a while ago. I thought I would attach the following videoclip to show how it is done:

video

J's Fair Isle Hoodie: The Design

Okay, it's not much of a design. Just a checker pattern. When I decided on not to use a Noro yarn for the hoodie, I knew that I would have to deal with the jog somehow. I thought that using a checker pattern would hide it well and be easy. I was right. With my calculations, I wound up with an even amount of body stitches, so I knit a 2 by 2 square with each color for 2 rows. Then I knit solid with the purple and threw in green squares every 5 rows three times, and ended with another 2 rows of the checker pattern.

I had originally intended to use B. Walker's Mosaic knitting technique, but I quickly disliked how the pattern was puckering, so I switched to Fair Isle. I will admit that I was trying to avoid this particular color technique, mostly because I think it looks really difficult. Floating colors, the puckering, the complex shapes and designs - I just didn't think that I could do it. However, 2 colors at a time? Hmmm, that didn't seem so hard to me...and it wasn't! Yay! Plus, the dark colors worked really well together, especially for a man's hoodie.

Next time, I am going to use an actual fair isle pattern (an easy one, of course), perhaps in a hat.

J's Fair Isle Hoodie: The Concept

My husband is a picky dresser. He doesn't wear sweaters, at least the traditional kind. Most of the tops that he wears have zip-necks or saddle shoulders. I know that either EZ or Barbara Walker explains how to make a saddle shoulder in one piece (or top-down, I can't remember which) but I have accepted the fact that figuring out all those measurements is too much for me, given the little time (and patience) that I have. I am more than happy to let someone else do the calculations and pay for the trouble. Therefore, I have been looking for a topdown or seamless or one piece pattern for a man in the style that my husband would like. I showed him numerous tops in my knitting magazines (even the seamed patterns, warning him with the caveat that I would need to find one that I could knit top-down). Nothing ever caught his attention, until I knit a hoodie for my nephew. "I would wear something like that," he said. After a couple of months searching for a pattern that I would actually use, I found it - the Hackeysack Hoodie in Son of Stitch and Bitch.

I looked through my stash for yarn. Because I have never knit anything that big before, I soon realized that I didn't have enough in any one yarn to use for the project. I visited my favorite yarn store and initially chose the yarn used in the book: Brown Sheep and Noro. Neither worked (although I did keep the Noro - too pretty). Then I thought I would try Berocco Lustre. Too thin - must have been the tencel, but I hated knitting with it and it just did not seem substantial enough for a man's hoodie. Finally I found it - Plymouth Select - a wonderful superwash merino. Soft, springy, machine-washable, and lovely to knit with. I chose a dark teal
(I eventually bought out all of the skeins) and decided to purchase a skein of dark purple for the stripe, instead of the Noro.

I read others' notes on the pattern on Ravelry and started to worry when I realized that I ignored the gauge - 14 sts for 4 inches. For worsted yarn??? When I read that the designer heavily blocked her garment, I made the decision to recalculate the stitches and hope for the best.

Well, I recalculated it for the hood and the body and so far it is working. I had him try it on and the ease was just right. Whew!