Fairisle Vest (Finished)

  • Skill level: Intermediate/AdvancedFair-Isle-Vest-011
  • Dates: Thursdays, 21 May – 18 Jun, 4:00pm-6:00pm (5 sessions, 10 hours total)
  • Instructor: Mairi McKissock
  • Cost: $105 + HST + materials

Fairisle knitting, a pattern tradition that developed on the Fair Isle in the Shetlands, Scotland, uses stranded knitting technique with many different colours of yarn to create complex patterns.  Evolving as a cottage industry where productivity was paramount, spectacular fairisle sweaters are surprisingly straightforward to knit, using traditional stitch patterns & techniques.

This class teaches everything you need to know about working with traditional fairisle stitch patterns to create a front-opening, sleeveless cardigan.  Pattern provided in class.

Techniques covered

You will learn:

  • how to work with traditional fairisle patterns to create complex designsFair-Isle-Vest-026
  • some differences between fairisle and other stranded knitting traditions
  • two-colour stranding technique (review)
  • how to weave in floats during long colour runs
  • how to work corrugated ribbing (two-colour ribbing)
  • how to work a steek (bridging stitches) that will be cut to create an opening in a finished garment
  • different techniques for stabilising steek edges before cutting
  • how to pick up stitches and work an enclosed facing for a button band
  • how to work an applied I-cord edging with buttonholes
  • how to block fairisle garments
  • how to apply techniques learned in this class to other kinds of garments
Skill prerequisites

This class is intended for intermediate or advanced knitters, with some previous experience of stranded knitting. You should:

  • be able to knit in the round with circular needles
  • have knit previously with two colours in the round, carrying strands at the back of the work
  • be able to identify mistakes and problems in your knitting (such as accidental yarn-overs, dropped or incorrectly mounted stitches)
  • be familiar with increase and decrease stitches (left-leaning and right-leaning increases/decreases)
  • know how to cast on and bind off

Please bring the following with you to class:Fair-Isle-Vest-012

  • yarn kit for the project (quantity TBD, approx. 8 skeins Shelridge Yarns fingering weight – available from Creative Yarns)
  • Homework gauge swatch, knit with project yarn (see below)
  • 32″ circular needle in the size used to achieve the correct gauge (eg 2.75mm)
  • locking stitch markers
  • crochet hook smaller than knitting needle size (eg 2.5mm)
  • blunt-tip darning needle
  • a pair of sharp, fine-pointed scissors (eg embroidery scissors)
  • a darning egg/mushroom (if you have one)

Before the first class, please have completed a two-colour gauge swatch in the round and adjusted needle size if necessary.

  • Cast on 72 stitches in one colour (A), using double-pointed needles, two circulars, or magic loop according to preference
  • Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist
  • Joining in a second colour (B), work the following two rounds:
    • (k3 A, k1 B) repeat to end of round
    • (k1 B, k1 A, k2 B) repeat to end of round
  • Repeat these two rounds for at least four inches, then bind off in one colour (don’t break the yarns, in case you need to unravel and rework)

Lay the swatch flat to measure gauge over 4 inches on one side.  You must achieve a gauge of 32 sts and 32 rows to 4″/10 cm.  It is very important to achieve the correct gauge.  Work your swatch with different sizes of needles as many times as necessary to get the right gauge.  If you cannot get both stitch gauge and row gauge to be accurate, stitch gauge is more important than row gauge.

For help with knitting and measuring gauge swatches, we recommend this Knitty article.

During class, homework will be assigned each week to prepare you for the next week’s instruction.  Homework may be quite heavy on some weeks.