Fair Isle for a Good Cause

I thought I’d share a project that I knitted last year.

I was on holiday in North West Scotland, near Gairloch with K and the dog. Our trip coincided with a local community event: the Gairloch Gathering. There were lots of stalls from local traders and organisations and various activities including a pet parade (Buddy was not exactly on his best behaviour for that), children’s sports, a fell race, a demonstration of electro-fishing (used for sampling purposes), all ending up with a ceilidh in the evening.

There was a lovely yarn stall and a kit caught my eye: yarns and pattern to make this beautiful beanie – Harriet’s Hat. This was designed by Harriet Middleton to sell as a fundraiser for the Shetland Scanner Appeal. She wanted to do this following her own need for regular trips to the mainland for MRI scans. You can buy the pattern to download here for only £4 and there are similar gloves and other accessory patterns available too. The kit included 6 different shades of Jamiesons Spindrift Shetland yarn, which echo the colours of the scanner appeal logo.

The hardest part of knitting this was that the blue shades are very close to each other, both in the yarn and the colour chart on the pattern, but (as long as I was looking at the pattern in decent light) it worked out ok in the end.

It’s the first pattern I’ve worked on that has a nice design on the ribbing

Another thing I like about it (I think this is a characteristic of true Fair Isle) is that though the overall design is complex and multicoloured, you only have to use 2 colours of yarn at any one time on each row, so no tangles of yarn!

I was glad that I darned the ends in as I went along though – there were lots!

It is knitted in the round on circular needles, starting out with a K2P2 rib band, then in stocking stitch, finishing the decreases on double pointed needles. The decreases on the crown of the hat result in this gorgeous snowflake-like centre.

I really enjoyed making this – it was interesting and kept me engaged . The design and colours work well together. It fits well and is very warm – it covers the ears! It’s always good to know that you are supporting a good cause too!

Have you ever knitted Fair Isle?

How I recovered from One Sock Syndrome

About 4 years ago I ended up in hospital just before we were about to go on a family holiday. It didn’t seem right that they should all miss out, so when I was out of surgery, I insisted they went without me. Off they set for Wester Ross , North West Scotland while I stayed in hospital. We spoke on the phone every day and came back with loads of presents including a pattern for kilt stockings. “It looked challenging,” they said. “We know you like making complicated things.”

A few months later, much recovered, I bought some sock yarn, got the double pointed needles out and made a start. It was a two-colour design (the Gairloch pattern – read about it here http://ichscotland.org/wiki/gairloch-pattern-stockings ) It didn’t look too difficult, but oh my goodness when done on the double pointed needles it was a nightmare! I eventually got to the end of the first sock, but had absolutely no urge to continue.

Four years later my knitting friend, Carol is knitting loads of socks – trying to keep up with the demand from her family who love them. She’s using circular needles – I had to try it. What a difference! So much easier that double pointers.

There was no confusion about splitting a pattern repeat between needles, or wondering what on earth to do if I got to the last stitch on a needle and had to knit two together. It was easier to control the tension too. I tend to knit tightly to start with and have to be especially careful to keep things loose when I’m using two or more colours. Needless to say I finished the second stocking much quicker! Here they are, modelled by K

One Sock Syndrome Cured! I have one less UFO (Unfinished object)!

A few weeks later we were back in Scotland, visiting Gairloch Museum – the new museum had it’s official opening while we were there in July. It’s well worth a visit (read about it here https://www.gairlochmuseum.org). There’s actually a display of Gairloch Pattern garments in the museum (and they sell the pattern I used in the gift shop).

Gairloch Pattern knitted items at Gairloch Museum

To prove to myself that I wasn’t just finishing a project and I’m really ok with socks, I recently made these.

I picked up the yarn at Alnmouth Wool Festival because I just loved the colours – it’s Opal Safari in shade Botswana – I got a free pattern from the stall and it was a breeze, despite the tiny little 2.5mm circular sock needle – . I love them – definitely cured!

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