I've lost a little momentum since the Fair Isle workshop, in that I haven't finished posting about the workshop or worked on my swatch since the last post. Let's try and remedy that, shall we?
I have purchased and wound balls of the yarns I used in the workshop, in preparation for a lot of swatching:
Pretty, aren't they?
Here are some additional references / posts about the workshop:
Janine's post about the workshop (including many swatches)
Ann's post about the workshop (including her great motif swatch, and a link that leads to a vest I'd like to knit)
Janine's post about Speed Swatching
Now, on to what we learned on the third day of class: Sweater Design and Steeks
Day One and Two involved a lot of information, combined with getting up very early to drive out to the workshop, and staying up late to swatch or think about swatching. By Sunday morning, I felt so far away from designing an actual sweater (in the sense of measurement, shaping, etc.), that I probably only absorbed about 10% of the technical piece that Janine presented. Fortunately, her handouts are very detailed, and when (if) I get to the point where I'm ready to start a sweater, I'll be able to refer back to them. What was more meaningful for me was to hear her talk about the pattern design choices she made (not to be confused with the color or motif design choices) in order to end up with a well-fitting sweater. She talked about how she used different types of shaping to avoid problems like poor fitting shoulders, and under-sleeve bulk. Also important was to think about how the motif falls on the garment, to avoid the dreaded "headlights" effect!
The technique that we practiced in class was knitting and then cutting a steek. This is a technique that I'm particularly interested in, first of all because it is terrifying, and secondly because I am a huge fan of cardigans and knitting in the round. We knit a small sample using worsted weight wool, and learned how to increase and decrease in pattern on either side. It makes perfect sense, but still required a fair amount of effort to wrap my brain around. We crocheted on either side of the steek, and then cut. It was amazing!
Here's my swatch after crocheting, but before cutting:
And here it is after cutting, both from the front and from the back:
Cool, huh? The cut ends just wrap themselves under in the neatest way. We didn't "finish" the cast on and cast off edges before cutting, so there is some raveling there, otherwise the ends are almost entirely invisible. It will definitely be more challenging to crochet a steek on a full sweater knit with fingering yarn, but I do feel prepared--and I can always knit up a swatch to practice on!
Next steps for me and Fair Isle
It's pretty straightforward: Keep swatching, and keep learning more. There are so many incredible fair isle projects out there, and I've really only scratched the surface. It will be a challenge to settle on a design and knit something from it. I'd be surprised if I started a sweater anytime soon, but maybe a smaller project like a pillow or a hat would be a good jumping off place. There's also plenty to be learned from knitting someone else's design, or adapting new colors to someone else's design. Now to get swatching!