May’s Fair Isle Themed Session

May’s session concentrated on looking at a technique that inspires delight, fear and desire into the hearts of  knitters everywhere, Fair Isle (or is that just me?!). This technique of working with two (or more!) colours, stranding and weaving in the spare yarn along the back of the work, and the particular geometric patterns that accompany it are known the world over as Fair Isle.  Not bad for the inhabitants of the tiny isolated Shetland Island where the technique was perfected and sent out into the world!
Saturday’s brilliant weather saw our numbers slightly depleted but
it has to be said that the smaller group suited the tricky technique, with everyone who needed advice having someone to help them.
Kate Day from the Costume Gallery and our wonderfully helpful volunteers selected fair isle pieces from the gallery’s collection and a fantastic display of vintage fair isle patterns from the 1920s onwards were on display. It was fascinating to see very early fair isle pattern’s billed as ‘Jazz Knits’ in the  patterns contemporary with the period. You can image how highly fashionable the fair isle patterns were at that time as they reflected the futuristic Art Deco geometric shapes that swept through all areas of design.
I gave a presentation about the history of fair isle knitting, some of the legends and sheep surrounding it, and why fair isle appeals to me: because it looks impressively difficult- but isn’t! You can see the slides from the presentation if you click the link below.
We had a lot of fun on Saturday and one of the highlights was seeing our new friend Melinda’s beautiful collection of fair isle pieces that she had made and brought to share with the group. Please do take her lead and feel free to bring in your pride and joys, or even your worst disasters or 30 year works in progress! I’m sure you’ll agree it is lovely to see other people’s work and share in their triumphs and learn from their mistakes.
If anyone is interested in taking part in the fair isle tam knitalong please visit our Ravelry group at
See you at June’s ‘Texturise’ session at Manchester Art Gallery!

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