Over at my Ravelry Group….
Nan was stumped…she’d gotten my book, 200 Fair Isle Motifs but now what?
I am fascinated with fair isle. I got myself the 200 Motifs book and have been opening it, admiring the pretty colors, and that’s about all for right now. (I love how different the motifs look when you choose different colors! Who knew?)
My question is this. I have this book now, and two other books with fair isle patterns in them, but I don’t know what to do with them once I have them — how to put them together in a small sweater, or hat, or something, so that they look intentional. I must be missing a step. Should I find a ready made pattern with a charted design and start there? Like the Hermione Scarf, or one of Mary Jane’s hats or tams?
I want to play with the colors of sport weight I have on my bed, but I am just not sure where to start.
“I have a collected file of motifs I like and I am going to cast on for a lap blanket (steeked in the round) so I can work my first steek and I am thinking I will maybe back it with fabric…maybe…I am using up all sorts of leftovers and orphan skeins for this so it will also be stash busting…”
Jeni chimed in
You could make a pair of wrist warmers or mitts to give yourself a chance to get to grips with the new skills. Personally as a newbie Fair Isle knitter, I’ve been knitting socks and sneaking FI patterns into my plain easy pattern. It is great for using up little bits of yarn and as MJ’s book tells you the stitch count of each pattern, its really easy to choose which pattern will work!
And I added my lengthy missive which assumes you’ve got my book!
What ever you choose to make, you’ll have to do a little math. So say you cast on 72 stitches for a scarf. A narrow tubular scarf, knit in the round and pressed flat, essentially folded in two and pressed flat. 72 is divisible by 2 (36), 3 (24), 4 (18), 6 (12), 8 (9), 9 (8), 12 (6), 18 (4), 24 (3) and 36 (2)…so you can find any motifs that have any of the above numbers of stitches. The next step is to place the individual motifs so they look pleasing next to each other, which usually means centering them. Determine the center front of your piece, and center all the patterns there.
If you are making a tubular scarf of 72 stitches the the center front will be between stitch 18 and 19 because the scarf will be flattened so half the stitches will be on each side, therefore the center will be at the 1/4 point. So you’ll have to choose either stitch 18 or 19 to be your center. Let’s just choose stitch 18, it is ever so slightly off center because we have an even number of stitches, but let go – it is close enough!
If you play around on graph paper, you can plan pleasing arrangements. Say you really like motif #169 in my book (on page 159). It is a 24 stitch repeat, a really nice old fashioned OXO pattern which is 11 rnds tall. 24 fits nicely into 72, 3 times. Place either the center of the X or the center of the O at your center stitch (st 18). Looking at the graph, stitch 18 is handily the center of the X. The center of the O is stitch 6.
Now use motif #169 as your “anchor” pattern motif. Choose some smaller peeries to go along with it. I’d choose one with a number that divides into 24, the number of stitches in the motif. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12 all fit nicely. For pleasing variety, I’d also choose a motif that is considerably “shorter” ie fewer rounds/rows.
There are loads to choose from, how about #73 – a 3 stitch, 5 round repeat? Cute! I would make sure I place the center of this motif at where you determined the center of #169 was. On tiny peeries like #73 it does not really matter very much if things are centered because the eye does not really see it, but it is good practice. If you want to use some larger motifs say #185 which is 24 sts, the same as #169, which also has bold X’s, you’d want to decide if you want to line up the X’s or stagger them. The drawing at the top of page 39 shows examples of both (the star of #185 features as the O)
What about color? You can either keep the same background color throughout, or change it for each motif by knitting a plain round before and after each motif.
Now say flipping through the book you decided you really like motif #120…it has a clever way of changing the background color right smack in the middle of it. I’d want to position the top + (st 3 of the 8th rnd) in the center of my motif arrangement. Look at the way I used it twice in the Mix and Match on page 191…I flipped it…you could place another motif in the middle of the flipped #120 if you added some more rounds of the violet background… If you don’t find exactly what you like in the book, try messing around with the motifs themselves…I like motif #56 except I don’t want the circles joined, so I’ll add a background stitch between stitch 1 and stitch 2. Now I have a 6 stitch motif that will fit nicely in the middle of my flipped motif #120…
Think 72 is too narrow for a scarf, too small for a hat? 96 is a great number (divisible by 2, 3, 4,6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32) and 144 is a really great number, divisible by (2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 16, 18, 24, 36, 48, 72). So here gauge will determine what kind of items you can make from the stitch counts above… 72 stitches, with a gauge of 3.5 per inch would make about a 20” in circumference hat. 96 stitches will get you a nice scarf at many gauges and a hat at 4.5 or 5 stitches per inch. At 144 sts for a hat, you’d want a gauge of 6.5 or 7 sts per inch depending on your desired size.
Heh…you see, I could write a whole book just on this subject! Happily it is the basis of one of my new classes ”Making Motifs Sing” that I’m teaching at Interweave Knitting Lab in Manchester NH October 4-7.
And by all means you can buy an existing hat pattern and swap out the motifs if you’ve got a stitch count that will fit into the total number of stitches of a project. I’ve got a few here that will work, Castaway Tam, Fair Isle Sampler Hat, Elfin Peak, Halcyon Hat for instance. And The Green Mountain Hat will be out soon!