Friday, March 19, 2010

Fair Isle - lessons learned

I've done Fair Isle knitting before, but nothing like the Big Project. The Big Project is - big! and as of about five days ago, too heavy to knit while walking around. I haven't knit anything I couldn't walk around with for.... over a year, anyway.

I do like how fun the colour pattern is to stitch, though. A lot of work has gone into this sweater to ensure that you never have to carry the yarn too far, and - this is my favourite part - to give you maximum colour impact with minimum tails to work in at the end. I can't wait to get my hands on the finished book.

Other stuff I learned this week:

It's a good idea to keep upcoming stitches bunched up just enough that you don't have to keep pushing the tip of one of your needles, especially if you are speed knitting for many hours with super pointy needles. Owie. I lost a couple of days to that small injury.

That said: if you're speed knitting, stupendously fast needles are a must. I bought Addi Lace tips for this project and haven't regretted it, injury aside. Because of the injury, I'm looking forward to getting the sleeves into the regular Addi Turbos I bought to work them.

Stitch markers are your best friend with Fair Isle. Stitch markers have always been, for me, a tool to mark the beginning of a round. I didn't understand why they come in sets of 8 or so until I got a few rows into this pattern and realized I would need markers between each pattern repeat if I was going to get every one of them right.

I have been getting my stitch markers at Etsy, from Pennywenny, and I love - nay, LOVE - them. They are bright enough to be visible, they never get caught in either my stitches or my needle tips, they slip happily along the rows when in use and tuck snugly into a small snap-lid box when not, and they are so pretty. I give mental thanks to my friend Sharon every day for telling me about them.

Colour coding with stitch markers while speed knitting: pure luxury. Slip the first half on in one colour, so that as you pass you know you're on the first part of the round. Then switch to a transition colour (in this case dark blue) and after that, a third colour that carries through to the end (in this case, light blue.) Or you could do the transition colour at the end, like the ink at the end of of a cash register tape. You'll know where you are in the row as you race along, and whether you could stop now for a chocolate break or wait another repeat or two.

Steek alerts with stitch markers: use beads of a different shape and colour entirely to mark those off, so you can see them coming and watch them go. I am using cube markers from Pennywenny for those.

Thanks to figuring all of this out and also because it turns out I am able to knit from a chart in a moving car without getting quite too dizzy to work, I have made a lot of progress since last week:

It's almost enough to make me think I could be done by the end of the month.

What do you think?


heklica said...

You've made so much progress! And congrats on being able to knit from a chart in a moving car! It sure requres a lot of concentration (and good roads :)). I've recently read how someone chart-knit a lace shawl while waiting at a doctor's. I'm sure mine would be one mistake after another.

Kathleen Taylor said...

Stitch markers are a must for me- that way, I only have to go back so many stitches when I make a mistake (and I make plenty of them). You're doing wonderfully!