Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shetland Island on My Little Island . . .


As promised, Jamieson and Smith dispatched my order (and with impressive dispatch too, I might add -- the package arrived at the same time as my new Bompard sweaters and I don't have to tell you what a happy day that was!).
The various colours that will make up the beautiful Kate Davies Rams & Yowes (or rams & ewes) lap blanket are each and every subtle one a natural, undyed colour -- these are simply the varieties to be found on sheep wandering the Shetland Islands. Isn't this a veritable symphony of earth tones?
You might be able to see the stitches I've cast on to that (twisted) circular needle above (it looks a bit like a heart there). I managed to wait the two weeks to find a crack in my calendar before I could read through the pattern and then find the time to sit without interruption to count carefully up to 197 while I cast on.
Meanwhile, I'd been practising my new and tentative ability to knit two-handed for Fair Isle (i.e. one colour strand held with my right hand, the other with my left, rather than holding only in my right, as is my usual style), working on another pair of mittens. Turns out that knitting two-handed on a long circular needle is SO much easier than with the 5 double-points used for mittens.

Also turns out that knitting this charming sheep is pretty addictive and the perfect complement to watching the season finale of Downton Abbey (infuriating!) and catching up on Dexter and Breaking Bad and The Big C. . . .
 I've got a row of the ewes done and the second row is forming just above them . . .
Just on the right of the photo there, just below the green stitch marker, you can perhaps see the "checkerboard" column of the five steek stitches. This marks the spot I will slice through with scissors when I'm finished knitting the Rams and Yowes. Those stitches will then be folded back and stitched down to provide a facing of sorts, and I'll pick up stitches all around to knit a garter stitch border of -- wait for it -- 780 stitches! Yikes! That border will take a few lively episodes of Bones, perhaps, or maybe I'll catch up on Lost Girls. . . or Girls, for that matter.

I've steeked once before, and although it's a nervous-making task to slice through stitches and trust the whole garment doesn't immediately unravel, Jamieson & Smith is, according to Kate Davies, nonpareil for Fair Isle knitting -- stickiness built into every fibre. It's certainly gorgeous to work with and I'm having such fun. The only downside is that I'm having some shoulder and upper back tightness, so trying to pace myself .

Off for my run, now, before heading to work. Any fun new projects you're stealing time for? I'd love to hear. . . . And knitters, have you knit any of Kate Davies designs? Or knit any favourite Fair Isle hats, sweaters, or other garments? Steeked? Do share. . . .

26 comments:

  1. My grandfather came from Whalsay in the Shetland Islands and I visited there once. The colours of your wool reflects the misty tones of the islands. Did you know that a lot of Shetlanders came to live on Vancouver Island and taught the First Nations People to knit sweaters? Have fun with your sheep.

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    1. Lucky you! looking over Kate Davies' blog, I've been thinking I'd really like to get to the shetland Islands,
      No, I didn't specifically know it was Shetlanders who had taughte the FN people to knit their marvelous Cowichan sweaters -- have you a reference to a book, article, etc. I could read about it?

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  2. I haven't knit any of her patterns. I've turned into a non adventurous, lazy knitter of late. Perhaps it's time to pick up my game some and go for a challenge. The Ewe are so adorable. Steeking!! Eek...not braved it yet. My Fair Isle stayed in the round. It was a sweater for Hubs when we were dating...millions of years ago. He still wears it to this day when he goes sailing.

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    1. Steeking is really not so bad -- even almost fun, if you can get in the right state of mind . . . Don't you love seeing those old sweaters keeping on keeping on?!

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  3. Those yarns are gorgeous. And your row of sheep is absolutely charming!

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    1. Aren't they delightful, those wee sheep?!

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  4. What gorgeous yarn! I have steeked precisely once, many years ago - it did work, but it was scary. I love Fair Isle but nobody in my family would wear it; a throw is the perfect solution. Once I've finished Spouse and Kid 1's jumpers for this winter, maybe I'll contemplate a more challenging project ...

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    1. It's such a bold concept, the steeking, isn't it? Imagine the first time it was done . . .

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  5. Gasp, sigh, I am in awe. Such an evocative pairing of yarn, colour and pattern.

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    1. That's all Kate Davies' and Jamieson & Smith's brilliance -- I bought the kit and my only input is the actual knitting. Isn't it clever?!

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  6. Oh you are a superior knitter mater...that pattern would have me struggling and frustrated. I cannot concentrate and watch TV at the same time...how do you manage? Do you write the row that you are on down? There must be something I am missing....besides grey cells :-)

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    1. This is a particularly easy to follow pattern -- I don't try to work on complicated stuff while I'm watching TV -- you can easily see where you are on the pattern with this and the charts are big and clear.

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  8. I'm going along like a house afire on the Suvi Simola pullover -- in the hopes that I can wear it this season. Hence the radio silence on my blog -- I can knit and watch TV, but haven't yet figured out how to knit and type!

    Haven't made a Fair Isle garment bigger than a tam in ages, but I will attest to J&S yarn's stickiness. When I made my purple tam, I couldn't rip out the gauge swatch, it was so well meshed. It's interesting -- and enticing -- that the throw is made in the round, since I'd no sooner purl all those rows than I would have root canal without drugs.

    Before cutting open a steek, I recommend a nice glass of wine and a good yoga breath.

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    1. When I read your comment about ripping out the gauge swatch, I gasped, and you'll see why soon . . . I have had occasion to rip for the worst/stupidest possible reason.
      Can't wait to see that pullover -- I love that pattern!

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  9. I haven't knit Fair Isle since my daughter was a toddler. Perhaps it's time, with three little ones expected. The ewe pattern is very sweet - and tempting.

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    1. Babies and toddlers are the perfect size for Fair Isle projects -- I love how quickly little garments come together!

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  12. Beautiful photos. I have a veritable phobia of sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc., but we will leave that aside:).

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    1. Hmmm, is there a point of origin for this phobia or were you born with it? ;-)

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  13. Now that wool is just beautiful and the pattern is really appealing. I have never done any Fairisle. You are making me wonder if I should. I have had quite a long run of making smallish things (hats, cowls, mittens and so on) in beautiful wool so the scale of this is pretty impressive. I tend to crochet when I am making anything sizeable because it is so much quicker but perhaps it is time to bite the bullet. Love, love, love the sheep!

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    1. I think the lap blanket is a great compromise -- it's big enough to make an impact, but a decent size to see grow -- and other than the steeking, there are really no construction challenges.

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  14. Very sheep--err--chic! I love Kate Davies' blog, as you know, and am delighted to see how you are working with her pattern so beautifully. It must be great fun to see those wooly creatures appear, row by row . . .

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