“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

Wacky Fair Isle

Dear Kay,
I am now in a complete wallow with the stash. I have been thinking about color the way a six year old eyes the Crayola box. I’m a mess.
As I mentioned somewhere to you, I’m thinking about cranking up the Fair Isle demon in my soul, so I’ve been watching for patterns and colors. In Sarah Dallas’ Vintage Knits (SUCH the polite collection, I love it), there’s a Fair Isle cardigan in what has to be the yuckiest colorway (colourway for our friends over there) I’ve seen:
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Yech! Good thing she didn’t name this cardigan, because it ought to be called “Wartime Sorrows.”
So I have a pile of Donegal Lambswool in Shale (I love gray, have I mentioned this?), and lots of bits of other colors. So I cooked up this weirdo swatch, kind of a day-glo combo. The orange should read creamsicle.
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I just don’t know what to think. Comments? Have I lost my mind? Is this too Anthropologie for the polite fiber arts of Mason-Dixon Knitting? This swatch is 7 stitches = 1 inch, so it would be a project. As a friend once said at a clothes swap, “Don’t be polite; just be honest.”
x0x0x0 Ann

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Dear Ann, Well…I’d sure hate to stir anything up across the Mason-Dixon Line, but I’m not crazy about this Fair Isle business. It’s a lot of fiddling, and at 7 stitches to the inch a long haul. I like your colourway (looks better with the ‘u’ to me now) and admire your execution of the technique. I just agree with your other comments about the sweater. It looks like something Nancy Drew would drape over the shoulders of her frock in case it got chilly in the roadster. (Come to think of it, maybe I do like it– Oh Ned!!! Oh Helen!!! I can’t wait for our next mystery!). Wonder what others will say??? xox Kay

  2. Hi Ann, I love your color swatch! I think it would make a lovely and fun and very wearable cardigan. certainly a huge improvement on the original colorway. if you are uncertain, put it away for a few days, then look at it again: if you still like it, do it! also, try to see it from a distance, as it will look different. last thing I ask myself in a similar situation: if I saw this in a store, would I buy It?
    hope this helps!
    congratulations to you and Kay for your blog, I love it!
    BTW, you look exacltly as I imagined you. and this does not happen often to me!
    for Kay: knitty skirt more than 3/4 done, might wear it this summer yet!
    LOve, ben

  3. Ann,
    Did I read right, 7 sts = 1″. Therefore, you know what my fearful of little needles answer would be, right?
    That said, I do love that sweater, even though the colourway was chosen by blind badgers in the Sarah Dallas book. That book is my version of AA for small needles…there are a few things I want to make, and if I get over my fear, that book shall be my bible.
    Your colourway is better, I say Ben’s advice is great, put it away for a few, and see what you think then!
    K

  4. Ann, I think it’s great! The dark grey makes the colors really pop. Definitely follow Ben’s advice, but I think you should go for it. The finished product will be gorgeous– if, by the time you finish that 7 st to the inch bad boy, your head hasn’t exploded. :)

  5. BTW, I LIKE the Anthropologie catalog! :)

  6. Nice swatch.
    I say knit it ! It’ll be far from drab and dull :0]
    I love the way that black & dark grey make other colours glow.

  7. this is the story, of a group of internet strangers, picked to discuss a knitters project, and what happens when people STOP being polite!! ann, i agree to with kay (we do things different up here in nyc) that i am not all that crazy about intarsia, unless it is funky, and not predictable. but not kaffe fassettlike either, for i agree with you that his designs are beautiful but not wearable. you need some spice my nashville friend!! the colourway you selected is great, especially the pinks and orange together, but these colours need to be in a spicier sweater. i know, i know, you are fond of white tee shirts and khakis, but i say something with a little more zip is in order!! what about that sweater that louisa harding is wearing in book 34….?
    xo
    e

  8. Ann–You should have met Lis and me when we were in our black and charcoal phase. It lasted a really really long time. We were wearing all-black before all the downtown people did, and for a good length of time after they stopped. Now we’re totally over it. Or at least my curly little Creamsicle friend is. You should also know, and pardon me if this is patronizing, that Lis was spoofing MTV’s ‘The Real World’ in the beginning of her last comment. xox Kay

  9. Kay n Lis–Don’t y’all know that the Real World was my first total wallow in reality tv? I made it through NYC, SF, Miami, LA, and Boston before I figured out that any time you put seven dumbasses together, the only person dumber is the one watching them.
    I’m not really worried about the 7 stitches/inch issue. It’s still just stockinette. But I agree that a really traditional Fair Isle isn’t quite the thing. I’m agonna keep alooking. The pattern that I’ve had in mind for a while is the Schoolhouse sweater from Knitting in America. It’s a two-color pattern by Meg Swanson, knitted in the round. I need to get going on something. Ah, well, mille grazie for your tender thoughts.
    A.

  10. If you’re casting about, you can always knit something for me. Moonbeam went out to dinner last night. Thanks to Moonbeam I am adhering with a bit more stickiness to the Weight Watchers way of life (it’s NOT a diet!! we adamantly DENY that it’s a diet!!!), and performing amazing, never-before-seen numbers of crunches in body conditioning class. The Moonbeam life is not the easy life, but it’s the bodacious life. Sorry about the shade card thing. I hope you don’t think less of me. It just seemed a bit GEEKY. I need to rethink the whole concept, obviously. Love, Kay

  11. Ah, Kay, I’m all about geek, as you well know. It doesn’t get any geekier than this.
    Glad that Moonbeam has completely changed your life. I was figuring that it would . . .
    Knitting for you? Just give a holler. I’ll put you in the knitting schedule matrix as soon as you give the word. This time, pick something even slinkier. No dowdy Fair Isle for you, missy. But here are a few ground rules: no ponchos. No belted bathrobe sweaters. No more than three colors of yarn, unless you really really need there to be. And absolutely no needles larger than 8s.
    x0 A.

  12. I agree that the original colorway in the sweater is a bit drab, and you improved it mightily with those “day-glo” colors! Go for it :-)