Fair Isle Vest by Yoko Hatta in VK Early Fall 2015 in Dale yarns

There’s a truly lovely Fair Isle vest by Yoko Hatta in the new Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2015 edition.  It uses mostly Dale Alpakka (regulars here know that’s a personal favorite of mine), with some gorgeous Dale Erle accents, all in a very wearable, subtle blend of soft greys and pale, dusty pinks.  If I didn’t already have about 5 different projects on my needles, I’d be casting on for it today!

Fair Isle knit vest by Yoko Hatta Vogue Knitting Dale yarns

Yoko Hatta’s Fair Isle Vest in the Early Fall 2015 Vogue Knitting uses Dale yarns available through my Kidsknits.com shop.

Judging by the Alpakka and Erle yarn orders I’ve received, several of you already took the plunge and are probably making good progress.  But, in the meantime, I’ve also received a few phone calls and emails from knitters who would love to knit Yoko’s vest, but are put off by the instructions given by Vogue Knitting – specifically…are you sitting down?…they have you knit this Fair Isle vest flat.  (“Flat” really is the “F-word” for Fair Isle hand knitting, isn’t it?!)

Machine knitters might be thrilled to see the instructions in flat pieces; however, most of us are hand knitters and those of us hand knitters who knit Fair Isle projects generally prefer knitting them in the round, for several excellent reasons.  Some might do the bottom half circularly, then split the front and back at the base of the armholes, and work back and forth to the top, to avoid steeking such soft yarns.  I wouldn’t!  I’d much rather go circularly, bottom to top, and have all of my stitches looking as consistent as possible.  I’d have no qualms about steeking these yarns, as long as they’re reinforced with double rows of small, machine-sewn stitches, before being cut open.

There are a few other things I’d do differently, too.  I’ll tell you what I’d change, but, of course, you’ll still need to get the pattern from VK to do either version.

In addition to consistent stitches, I like consistent motifs.  And, while I know some of you couldn’t give a fig about how your motifs line up on the sidelines (after all, 99% of the ready-made clothing made these days shows no one paid any attention to that little nicety) to me, and I know more than a few of my fellow Fair Isle-style knitters, there’s beauty in a consistently laid-out design and there’s joy to be found in knitting the same motifs, unbroken, for an entire round.  Yes, by stopping and restarting partial motifs at the sidelines, you can delineate the sizes precisely as you’d like them.  But, interestingly, in this case, by using entire motifs throughout, while the breakpoints between sizes are a bit different, there are just as many options for sizes as are given in the pattern.  Some might even be a better fit for you!  (Or not…see my stitch counts and sizes, below.)  Here’s an outline of what I’m thinking about:

Yoko’s large, argyle motif has a 16-stitch repeat.  The little motif (on the darker grey bands) is a 6-stitch repeat.  While I love the look of this vest, the math nerd in me bristles at the idea of two clashing multiples in one design.  I’d really love to see the motifs line up vertically, too.  Yep, maybe I’m a little too obsessed with lining things up “just so”, but that’s a big part of why I love knitting – I can make all of my things “just so”!  Here are a few ideas I have for 8-stitch motifs (well, the middle one is a 16-st motif – still an 8-st multiple) that could substitute for the original 6-stitch motifs, so that things will line up, unbroken, both vertically and horizontally:

fair isle bands with 8 or 16 stitches per repeat

Just a few of the possible motifs that could line up, unbroken, in this design. The 4th band shows a 16-st repeat; the others have 8-st repeats.

Not only is it nice to have things lined up vertically and horizontally, it’s also important to keep things symmetrical, with the same layout on the front that we have on the back.  To get there, we’ll want an even number of repeats.  Here’s how I’d size things, with even repeats:

Layout and measurements for Mary Ann's version of the VK Early Fall 2015 Fair Isle Vest, designed by Yoko Hatta

Measurements shown in inches.

When you steek armholes, after you make the large bind off that corresponds with the bottom of the armhole, it’s best to decrease only 1 stitch per side of the armhole thereafter.  (That’s what works for the v-neck, too.) So, we’ll have to tweak our process a bit versus VK’s.  But, again interestingly, the changes really won’t change the profile significantly.  Here’s what I’d do:

Armholes: I’d combine the large # of sts decreased in the pattern’s first two armhole decrease rows so that I’d have the armhole base bound off in one shot.  Then, on the next round, I’d cast on my steek stitches right over the armhole bind off, while decreasing one stitch on each side of the steek.  If you want to do the type of steek that gets folded over and sewn down to cover the raw edge, you’ll probably want to cast on 8 to 10 steek stitches; or, if you’d like to try the covered steek technique I often use, 6 sts will do.  (And, if you’d like to read my steek article from the beginning, it starts here.) Whenever two stitches are decreased over two rows in the flat-knit pattern, that translates beautifully to decreasing one stitch each round circularly.  Above the multiple-stitch decrease section, I’d follow the pattern’s single stitch decreases for the armhole the rest of the way up to the back neck shaping.  Don’t forget that the v-neck starts shortly after the armholes!

V-neck: I’d circularly knit the very same decreases; the only difference would be that I’d have a column of steek stitches (same # of sts as armhole steeks) and I’d cast on for them on the 2nd neck round, right over the center stitch.

Shoulders: Looking at the photos of the vest on the model, from the little I can see of the shoulders, I’m pretty sure that they’ve shaped those shoulders, to give them a nice, gentle downward slope.  Unfortunately, the pattern provides no such instructions.  The back neck shaping is done over just the last six rows/rounds.  Coincidentally, it’s just six rounds that we’ll need for shoulder shaping.  So, bind off your steek stitches before starting the back neck shaping.  Then, for just those last six rounds, I’d recommend working f-l-a-t (excuse the profanity.) I’d decrease 1/3 of the shoulder width in each pass, starting from the outside and working in.

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TBT – OOP Dale Book #44 Norwegian hats, mittens, gloves & socks

summer knitting projects in norwegian knitting: hats, mittens, gloves and socks

Just what you’ll need for the beach!

Here’s a gem from waaaaaay back in my Dale files – all the way back to Book #44 – a lovely collection of beloved Nordic hats, mittens, gloves and socks, for everyone from age 6 to 96. Our friends at Dale/Mango Moon have approved our offering Dale “kits” for this design, so you get a free (yep, FREE)  copy of the pattern tucked in with your corresponding Dale Heilo or Falk yarn purchase from Kidsknits.  Just add a note at the end of your yarn order to let me know you want the “Book #44 Accessories Pattern” (or email me, or call the toll-free line – whatever works best for you.)

Use your two favorite shades of either Heilo 100% Norwegian wool or Falk 100% superwash wool. Gauge for pattern = 24 stitches per 4″ / 10cm.  Recommended needles = US #1 (2.5mm) for ribbing / hems & anywhere from a US #2 to US #4 (3 – 3.5mm), or WHATEVER size gets you your targeted gauge, for the main portion of each piece.

Here are the yarn requirements, in # of 50g balls, for #4423A (large overall snowflakes design shown in white/red, navy/white & red/white, above):

Sizes: 6/8 yrs (10/12 yrs, woman, man).

Main Color (MC) = background; Contrast Color (CC) = motif.

Socks: MC = 2 (3, 3, 4)balls; CC = 2 (2, 2, 3) balls.

Mittens: MC = 1 (2, 3, 4) balls; CC = 1 ball, any size.

Gloves: same requirements as mittens.

Hat: MC = 2 ballls, any size; CC = 1 ball, any size.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And here are the requirements for 4423B, the grey/white set, above, which is unfortunately only available in Woman (Man) sizes:

Socks: MC = 5 (6) balls; CC = 2 balls for either size.

Hat: MC = 2 balls for either size; CC = 1 ball for either size.

Mittens: MC = 2 (3) balls; CC = 1 ball for either size.

HAVE FUN!!

Dale Garn Book 44 Norwegian knitting pattern booklet

My much-loved Book #44

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Après Ski Wine Cozy

So, now I take requests.  Well, at least I took this one.  A particularly nice person who just so happens to be an absolutely wonderful knitter (funny how those two pop up together so often) asked me to design a Nordic wine cozy.  Here you go, Debbie!  Cheers!

Après Ski Wine Cozy knitting pattern

My “Après Ski Wine Cozy” – a ski sweater for your wine bottles – was knit in Dale Garn Heilo.  The PDF is available through my Ravelry store.

May thoughts of deep, sparkling powder keep everyone cool this summer!

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TBT – What’s old is new again! Dale 13801 ladies’ cardigan

ladies fair isle knit cardigan dale 13801

This beautiful, old shawl-collared cardigan, Dale 13801, looks very “fashion forward” today.

Turns out plenty of us traditional knitters are quite the forward thinkers!  The topic of the week around here: “What can I knit this summer that I’ll just love to wear this fall and winter… and every fall and winter to come?” We’re all looking for an interesting project that’s timeless, but stylish, too.

I’ve looked into my store library and found a bunch of Dale gems that fit the bill nicely.  Speaking of “the bill”, you’ll be glad to know that many of these gems are out-of-print Dale designs that qualify for their FREE pattern program, as long as you purchase the suggested Dale yarn for the project.  I’ll be doing a series of TBT‘s (Throw Back Thursdays) throughout the summer to discuss these designs with you, to get your wheels turning and your needles happily humming along.

Of course, finding the right pattern is only half the battle; what about the yarn? So many OOP patterns call for discontinued yarns. Eh, not a problem!  I’ll show you my current yarn recommendations, and I’ll discuss my color selection strategies, too.  (But, as always, you’ll be free to do your TBT project in whatever Dale colors your heart desires.)

Here’s my first recommendation, Dale #13801, an elegant, shawl-collared, ladies’ cardigan that could look perfectly at-home in the best Fall 2015 fashion mags:

Dale 13801 ladies' knit cardigan

Dale 13801. Originally knit in “Freestyle. I’d recommend their glorious, new alpaca / merino blend, “Cotinga“.

When coming up with substitutes for multiple colors in one project, I find I’m happiest in the end if I first stop to appreciate the conceptual framework that tied all of the original colors together, rather than merely focusing on each closest one-to-one color alternative.  The original #13801 used four shades of Freestyle worsted weight washable wool – a gradient of 3 related shades that ran from Natural 0020 (a warm off-white) to Sand (a light, yellowish beige) to Celery (a medium, ever-so-slightly greenish beige), with a medium-dark contrast, for that bold motif you see dancing around the bottom, from Grey Heather 0007.  Freestyle Natural and Grey Heather are still available, but Sand and Celery are long gone.  Here’s what I’d pick today, to get a similar vibe:

Dale Freestyle color choices for knitting Dale 13801

One possible current Freestyle colorway. The #s shown refer to the color #s in the pattern.

Running light to dark, we have the same Natural #0020 (Color 2, in the pattern, and on the card, above), Mushroom #2621 (Color 3), Sand Heather #0002 (Color 1 – it’ll be your trim color, too) and the same Grey Heather #0007 for Color 4 …or maybe 5651.  There’s really not another, deeper beige in Freestyle these days, but 0004 works in the same light-to-dark neutral gradient and I think that 0020, 0004, 2621 and 0007 could play nicely together.  Or, choose any other 4 Freestyle colors you like.  Here’s the entire Freestyle color card for 2015 – you tell me!  OR…

Want something really luxurious?  I’d choose Dale’s lovely, new “Cotinga”, a magnificently soft 30% alpaca / 70% fine merino blend in the very same worsted weight, 18sts over 4″ / 10cm.  Here are my Cotinga choices for another harmonious, neutral look:  Below, running light to dark, we have our beloved Natural 0020, more Mushroom 2621, a nice, rich Fawn 2643 (or you can use the same 0004 we have for Freestyle) and good, old Grey Heather 0007.  Or not.  Here’s the full Cotinga color card for 2015 – you’ll see quite a few different combinations of three that play nicely together and several nice contrasting shades – tell me what you think!

Sizing and measurements below.

Cotinga yarn

Dale 13801 sizing and yarn requirements for kit from Kidsknits.com

If you’d like to order the kit, you can either go right to my Kidsknits online shop to select your yarns and just add a note to your order that you’d like the free 13801 pattern, or you can email me at “mas AT kidsknits DOT com” or call my US toll-free number 1-877-63-3031 and I’ll help you directly.  Whatever is easiest. Have fun!

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NY Nordic Hat

fair isle hat knit in dale yarn from kidsknits.com

NY Nordic Hat, knit in Dale Garn Freestyle washable wool from Kidsknits.com, sized for teens / adults & XL adults.

It’s not easy for an old knitter to capture the interest of a frenetic teenage boy. But, when a few bags of Dale Garn Freestyle came through my door, sporting unmistakably neon colors, my youngest son, Mikey, practically pounced on them.  He promptly let it be known, “You have no choice; you WILL be making me a neon hat!”  I promptly replied, “Love to! And YOU have no choice; it WILL be stranded!”

As it turns out, he loves it.  (And, don’t let him know this, because he thinks his hat is oh-so-cool, and this would really ruin everything for my sweet little hipster, but I think it’s pretty great knowing that I won’t lose him in the crowd. ;) )

Teen wears NY Nordic Hat knit in neon Dale Freestyle yarn

The NY Nordic Hat is a fitted beanie knit in three contrasting shades of Dale Garn Freestyle worsted weight washable wool, one ball for each shade.  Two sizes are given – teen/average adult and XL adult.  Both sizes use the same instructions – just tweak your gauge, as indicated, to target your size.

norwegian / fair isle knit hat "NY Nordic Hat"

I think it’s a nice pattern for experts and novices alike, for each section has something interesting going on, without complications – all short floats, no weaving in necessary;
never more than two colors at once; all decreases are kept within the solid-colored section. A fun knit for all!

neon fair isle hat NY Nordic Hat

Here’s a link to the $5 PDF on Ravelry.  And here’s a link to my Freestyle yarn page.   Choose any three favorite, contrasting colors that your heart desires.

yarn colors for fair isle / norwegian knit hat NY Nordic Hat

Colorway I = neon green, neon yellow & grey heather. Colorway II = orange, natural & red.

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Ladies’ “Spice Route Gloves” knitting kits

My ladies’ Spice Route Gloves Fair Isle knitting design, already available in PDF format through Ravelry, is now available as a knitting kit, too, through my online yarn shop, Kidsknits.com.

Fair Isle knitting pattern for gloves

Ladies’ Spice Route Gloves, in the Ginger colorway. A Fair Isle knitting pattern using Shetland fingering weight wool.

And yes, as always, feel free to request custom colors.

Happy knitting!

knitting kit for ladies fair isle gloves available at kidsknits.com

Orchid colorway for the Spice Route Gloves

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The Littlest Fisherman’s Hat

Baby's sunhat, "Littest Fisherman's Hat", knit in sport weight or DK yarn for 0-3 month or 3-6 months sizes, respectively.  Yarns and pattern available through Kidsknits.com.  PDF available through Ravelry.

The Littlest Fisherman’s Hat in Dale Garn “Terne” 100% cotton, 0-3 month size.

The inspiration for this hat is eighteen years old.  Back in March ’97, my now-hulking son Alex was a newborn.  Waaaaay too much of that spring was spent in a frustrating search for a sunhat for my bald-as-a-cueball little fellow.  No luck at all!  Tons of frilly, flowery, flouncy affairs in every shade of pink for all the little Alexandras of the world, but there was not a single sunhat to be found that was worthy of my Alexander the Great Baby’s sweet, shiny pate.   Why the heck didn’t I come up with this back then??

Who knows?!  But here it is now, to shade the sweet little one in your life today, be they Alexander, Alexandra, Zachary, Zoe or anyone in between.

Littlest Fisherman's Hat, a knitting design from Kidsknits.com.  Yarn and pattern available through Kidsknits.  PDF available through Ravelry.

Littlest Fisherman’s Hat in 3-6 month size, knit in Dale “Lerke” merino+cotton DK weight yarn.

Littlest Fisherman’s Hat PDF for $5 on Ravelry.com.  (And here’s my Ravelry PDF store.)

Dale Terne 100% cotton, used for the navy+white 0-3 month size, available through my on-line yarn shop, Kidsknits.com.  (Get 2 different-colored, 50g balls. If you prefer the sheen of 100% mercerized cotton, use Dale Vipe – same gauge!)

Dale Lerke 52% merino / 48% cotton (used for the blue+yellow 3-6 month size) available through Kidsknits, too.

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