Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Almost Time

Ever since I learned the craft, I've been wanting to knit something like this:

Elinor's Jumper by Knitchet
Or this:

The Perfect Christmas Jumper by Susan Crawford
Or this:

The Victory Jumper by Knitsels

(Is that last one Intarsia?)

In truth, stranded colour-work freaks me out. It seems so fussy. And I really can't knit continentally at this point (I've tried - not tremendously hard, but I've tried) so working one colour with the right hand and the other with the left hand seems implausible.

Are any of you English-style knitters who also make fabulous Fair Isle sweaters? Is it difficult? Or does it just look that way?

36 comments:

  1. I think the Victory Jumper would be a good place to start - it's really just stripes superimposed on a lace pattern, so only one color per row. I've loved that one for a long time too.

    Can't help you with the Fair Isle question though; I knit both ways, so when I do Fair Isle I hold one color in each hand.

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    1. Why am I not surprised that you knit both ways!! I can do continental knitting but my tension is very diff than when I work English style. I suppose I should do some more practicing.

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    2. hehe - I knit English until I was about 13, and then my mom MADE me switch to Continental. I fought her at the time, but as usual, she was right! I'm so glad I can do both!

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  2. Don't be freaked out! Go for it - it's just knitting, you can always rip it it you don't like it :) It's not that hard - it just looks like it is. You can do it!

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    1. So true! It just seems crazy making pictures on your knitting :-)

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  3. Funny you should post this! I have been thinking it is time to take the plunge into colourwork for some time now, but have been chickening out.

    And I knit 'english' as well (continental aggravates some tendon issues).

    I think I am going to start with some easy wrist warmers that I have in my queue....they have stripes of scallops in 3 colours, so look kind of simple.

    That way if I screw it up it isn't going to be the end of life as I know it! ;-)

    And yes, I agree - Gail - it figures you can knit both english and continental. Wonder girl!!

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    1. I am not surprised since we seem to be on the same knitting wavelength! Wrist warmers are a smart way to start. Why do I suppose I'll start with a sweater??

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  4. I knit English and I never realized changing colors was a problem. I just drop the other strand. Maybe I'm doing it wrong! I just finished a Christmas stocking requested by a friend with a lot of color work, like knitting in the recipiant's name. The switching back and forth was a pain, but since it wasn't going to be worn I didn't worry too much about it. I would like to be better at this since I'm pretty much self-taught before the wonders of youtube videos.

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    1. I'm sure you're doing it just right!

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  5. Oh, your skills are much more advanced than mine. I am a Continental knitter - I think there is a way to do fair isle just using 2 different fingers, at least with Continental, rather than alternating between English and Continental. Intarsia only has one "active" color at a time, so there's no need to do both. The Victory Jumper looks a little like a baby blanket I just finished, which was easy. I just changed colors at the end of the row when called for. Aside from a lot of ends to sew in, there was no complicated procedure and the blanket looks beautiful.

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    1. Thanks so much for this input! And my skills are no more advanced, I'm sure.

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  6. I do Fair Isle using just my right hand to throw the stitches, as usual -- although I'm thinking I will make it a 2013 goal to learn the continental approach.
    I'm not keen on intarsia, but both that and Fair Isle are like anything else, as DaneMum says. You just get started and follow instructions and make a few mistakes and before you know it, you'll have a pair of Fair Isle mitts or a hat or a whole damn sweater!!

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    1. You know, I bought a video (online) to learn Continental. I've read the books. I tried (not so consistently, in truth). I suppose that just knitting Continentally will be easier than knitting and purling (presuming I do a knit in the round sweater). But you have just the right attitude. I should be able to sort it out one way or another. I mean, I finished that Bettie's Pullover :-)

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    2. There you go -- good attitude! ;-)
      and if you make a cardigan, knitting in the round, you can look forward to steeking . . . or is that eek-ing . . .

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    3. OK, now you have crossed the line! I am NOT doing that for at least another year. :-)

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  7. I have to learn Fair Isle...I just love it so. But it seems so tricksy. Maybe materfamilias has the right idea...a 2013 goal to learn the continental technique. I have the yarn for some mittens with Fair Isle and Intarsia, so I've no excuse.

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    1. OK, let's make it a little goal for 2013. No pressure!

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  8. No knitting advice... I just wanted to say that The Perfect Christmas Sweater looks like reindeer standing above a field of radiation warning symbols to me. Try as I might, I can't unsee it.

    Sorry - just had to share. :)

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    1. Oh no! I will not see it. I will not see it. :-)

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  9. I throw and can only knit contential when I strand. This video is the most helpful:

    http://www.philosopherswool.com/Pages/Streamingvideo.htm

    and the best trick I learned is that you MUST hold your yarn in the left in the same why as you do in your right.

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    1. Oh, thank you for this information! So helpful.

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  10. In response to your question about the last one - it's not intarsia, but the first one is! The second one looks to be both intarsia and fair isle. The third looks like just regular stripes, pushed into that wavy appearance by the lace pattern.

    Intarsia is probably the easiest kind of colourwork to start with, in my opinion. What differentiates it is that no yarn is "carried" as you work. You work one colour until you need to switch, and then you drop it and start with the other. This means that, so long as you get the join right, it'll behave like regular knitting otherwise. Fair Isle is a little harder because you have to carry the other colour(s) behind the stitches as you work, which means you have to be very careful about your tension (of the carried strands in particular). Also, because it's not recommended to carry a strand for more than about 5-7 stitches (though you can "anchor" it if need be), fair isle tends to switch colours more frequently which will mean you'll need to worry more about how you hold your yarns.

    I knit english, and what I do is just hold both colours on the same finger. Because I'm a flicker rather than a thrower, I don't find it difficult to work this way. (My "flicking" actually involves a picking action with the needle, similar to continental. I only recently realized this. I really should make a video.) However, the last big colourwork project I did - doubleknitting - involved changing yarn colours basically every 1-2 stitches and I nearly went mental. I've been trying to learn continental for that purpose but honestly I don't think I care enough to do doubleknitting again so... yeah. I'm okay at continental but I just prefer flicking - it's super fast so I have no real motivation to change.

    I say go for it! Any of those patterns would be easy to achieve. I think the third would be the easiest and the second would be the most challenging. The first would probably be the best introduction to colour work (and is so pretty!). But all of them are achievable.

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    1. How do you know, by looking, the way that the colour work is done? I've tried to figure that out in my (admittedly) brief amount of research. Based on what you've said, I am inclined to do the bird sweater first. I can tell, just by looking, that the red sweater is complicated!

      I'm not interested in going insane in the pursuit of fair isle :-)

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    2. you can easily recognize intarsia just because it's in bigger blocks of colour too far away from other blocks of the same colour -- that is, it's too far for the strands to carry, reasonably, in the back.
      That bottom pattern will be something like your feather-and fan, just done in simple stripes -- the feather-and-fan-ish pattern will pull the stripes into those neat scallops. . .

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    3. Gotcha. Very good explanation.

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    4. materfamilias is totally right. Another sneaky trick, if you're having trouble eyeballing it, is to take a peek at the tags on the Ravelry pattern page. That's how I confirmed my suspicion that the red sweater was a mix of both. (This of course depends on whether the designer tagged it effectively!)

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    5. Another good suggestion! The Ravelry peeps are pretty on top of this sort of thing, usually, I've found.

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  11. (As an aside - what puts me off colour work more than anything else is not the knitting but the way the balls of yarn tend to tangle around each other... ugh. But YMMV! lol.)

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    1. OK, you youngsters are all about the acronyms! I had to look that up in the urban dictionary :-)

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    2. Ha! If it makes you feel better, I got that expression from the Rav forums, employed by many a knitter older than myself :) Just depends which area of the internet you waste time on, lol.

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  12. (I should amend my previous post to say that it's not "because" I'm not a thrower that I don't find it difficult to hold both yarns on the same finger - I'm sure throwers may also do this with ease. I only meant it was something particular to flicking that made it feel easy for me.

    Apologies for the excessive commenting, just felt the need to clarify as I loathe when knitting technique discussions degenerate into which technique is better or more correct... so I didn't want to seem like that was what I was implying!)

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    1. Never apologize for comments! You always provide such good information and a unique perspective.

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  13. Color knitting is fun! The one thing to mind is to keep the floats not to tight, everything else will block out.

    The third FO I made was 'Neepheid' by Kate Davies, and honestly, it was very doable. I just took it slow.

    Preperation for continental knitting (I knit English style, although here it's called 'german') was no more than 5 rows of 30 stitches of a (later abandoned) dishcloth.

    I only ran into trouble when some mods left me with five different colors at the same time in the crown and even that was not difficult in the way that a nice rolling lapel is difficult.

    It took patience more than deep technical skills.

    Also: Don't judge before blocking. Blocking and colorwork are magic together.

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    1. This is excellent advice. I'm moving closer to taking the plunge :-) Thanks!

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  14. I took a fair-isle / stranded knitting class (as I understand it the method is the same, but fair-isle is a fairly specific style of colorwork design, we focused on practical technique not design rules) and the instructor recommended just diving in - holding one color in the left hand and one color in the right hand no matter what style knitting you were already used to. It worked for me, though oddly enough, now I can only knit continental if I hold a strand of yarn in my right hand too. I still knit english/throwing 99% of the time. The other tip is to knit the object inside out so that the floats must go around the exterior of the object instead of the interior; this helps keep the floats from tightening up significantly more than the perimeter of your work.

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    1. That's so bizarre! I wonder if that might happen to me too. The idea of knitting the project inside out is very intriguing. I'm trying to understand how you do that. Do you just turn the fabric inside out but still knit everything (presuming you're knitting in the round)?

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