Knit Flix

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Fair Isle with Beth Walker-O'Brien

Jeni & I took Beth Walker-O'Brien's FI class at Stitches West yesterday and it was great. I liked her teaching style and I learned quite a bit--like all the things I did wrong when I made the Cross Country Chullo. But I'm glad I attempted a colorwork project before taking her class because that experience raised a number of questions that she addressed. Let's just say I had a lot of "ah-ha" moments.

There was a lot of information in the class, but the main take-aways I got were:
  • FI knitting tends to be tighter than stockinette in one color. Plan for it--maybe go up one or two needles sizes to compensate for it. When in doubt, fake a swatch in the round and wash.
  • It's okay to block mid-project. Okay, I already knew that, but it was good to hear her encourage it.
  • Steam sets in stains. I've steam blocked a couple of items mid-project because it's so much faster than having to wait for the project to dry, but I never thought about how it would set in oils and dirt. A good reason to have more than one WIP, right?
  • Color dominance. The color in your left hand will stand out, the color in your right hand will recede. I don't understand why, but the key here is to be consistent.
  • Steeks. When, why, how. I'll refer to my notes when I knit a Fair Isle sweater. Maybe I'll take Beth's FI Finishing class next year.
  • You need tension in FI knitting to make it work. I was so worried about puckering with the Chullo that I overcompensated and had floats & stitches that were too loose, resulting in deformed stitches and a hat that was too big.
  • Trust your knitting and look at the public side. When Beth came by to check on our progress, I showed her my sample thinking it was too tight. I showed her the back side. "Isn't it too tight? I think it's too tight." But she turned it over and said, "Look at this side. It looks perfect." I kept wanting to show her the back side, and she kept turning it over to see the public side. Finally I got it.
Here's the knowledge applied to Alice:

I wish I had taken a photo before blocking because I was freaking out a bit. The floats looked too tight. I could definitely see puckering on the public side. Was it pulling in? Maybe going up one needle size wasn't enough. I wished I had put a lifeline in before starting the color work because I was probably going to have to rip it out (and so on and so on and so on). But a Eucalan bath this morning resulted in this:

I need more practice to get a feel for the tension, but it's a good start.

Thank you Beth!

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  • Wow, that looks amazing! You've gotten so much done since yesterday. Wow. Wow. WOW.

    I can't wait to try out my new FI skills before I forget, but I've got this darned Olympic Knitting to finish first. Grrrrr...

    By Anonymous jeni, at 2/18/2006 11:11 AM  

  • Wow, it looks great!

    By Blogger Abigail, at 2/18/2006 11:57 AM  

  • I love it! I found your blog while searching for local classes on Fair Isle. Haven't had much luck and I don't want to wait til next year's Stitches. Any suggestions?

    By Blogger Lorilee, at 5/16/2010 6:50 PM  

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