Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Learning New Knitting Techniques - Fair Isle Knitting

My First Fair Isle Knitting Technique Project
Fair Isle Handbag
knitted by jojo sabalvaro tan
I am now beginning to think of myself as more than a beginner knitter and wanted to challenge myself with new knitting techniques. The first one I tried that went beyond the normal stockinette and garter stitch is the cable which I talked about in an earlier post, Knitting a Snood. Now I decided to learn how to do the Fair Isle technique, which I particularly like since you get to play with colors.

Fair Isle is a knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colors. The traditional Fair Isle patterns are normally limited to 5 or so colors and use only two colors per row. It is worked in the round using circular  or double pointed needles. It is also referred to stranded colorwork since as you are knitting using alternate colors of yarn, the unused colors are stranded across the back of the color.

For more about the Fair Isle Knitting Technique please visit :

Fair Isle-Style Handbag

I first tried this technique with a handbag. I found the pattern in the August/September 2011 issue of Knitting Today Magazine. The pattern is called Modern Folk Bag by Deborah Newton. I used 4 coordinating colors of 3.5 oz./100g medium  weight (#4) wool yarn and size 8  (5mm) circular knitting needles). I used Addi Turbo circular needles which are currently my favorite since I find using them easier and faster. 

A Fair Isle Knitting Chart

The bag was knitted in 2 sections, a front and back which are identically worked. With this technique, I had to contend with two new skills, working with two colors at the same time and  working with  a chart. The two colors and stranding were awkward at first, but once I got into the rhythm it was not as difficult as I imagined. It helps that you only work with one stitch, the stockinette. Tip: Make sure that you carry the yarn not in use loosely along the wrong side of the work, so your stitches and design do not bunch up. 

I lined the bag with an ultra suede material, although the instructions did not call for a lining.  I could not find the strap used in the pattern so I just purchased a pair that I thought would work with the bag at a local crafts store. I like how the bag turned out and what more, it fits my IPad perfectly.

Fair Isle-Style Hat

Fair Isle Winter Hat
knitted by jojo sabalvaro tan
After completing the bag, I embarked on a new challenge - working with double pointed needles. I decided to make a winter hat for my husband, adopted from a pattern on Creative Knitting Magazine (September 2011) called Sugar Loaf Hat and a beret from the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine. This particular issue featured a number of Fair Isle projects and what was what inspired me to learn the technique. For the yarn, I used left overs from the bag project.  For needles, I used a set of 5 size 6 ( 4mm) bamboo double point needles. I liked working with bamboo needles but they tended to curve after prolonged use. I must not be a gentle knitter and need sturdier needles. On a recent trip to New York, I found a knit shop along Jamaica Ave. in Queens and bought a pack of Susan Bates Quick Silver double pointed knitting needles. They are made from a lightweight metal and had a smooth glasslike finish that made it a joy to knit, plus they are relatively inexpensive and available in many craft stores. Working with double pointed needles for the first time is quite challenging, especially when working the first few rows of the project. I can not count how many times I had to rip out and restart this project due to dropped and loss stitches from the needles, but I persevered.

Place these little rubber needle guards at the non-working end of each needle to minimize the chance of the stitches coming loose from the needle. These ones are from Clover.

I am very proud of the finished product and my husband said, he loves the hat and would wear it this winter. That's all I can ask for. Next, I'll try socks.


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