Yesterday was my birthday! And here at CKHQ (Capital Knitter Head Quarters), opportunity had knocked. Husband was far away, and the knitting guild had planned a workshop, so obviously I just had to go. It was my birthday gift to me, and what a gift it was!
The workshop was on Fair Isle Techniques with the rather wonderful Debbie Wilson of Sheep’s Ahoy, your local in Ottawa purveyor of specialty Jamiseon and Jamieson & Smith yarns, kits and other items perfect for the fair isle knitter. Sheep’s Ahoy is a home based business, so do be sure to contact her if you are interested in scooping up some of those goodies!
Fair Isle knitting, for the uninitiated, is a way of doing colourwork that originates from Fair Isle in Scotland, and requires you to use two colours of yarn at once (usually one in each hand) and follow a pattern that looks like a graph or cross stitch pattern.
I’ve done some fair isle work before – but learning with Debbie was awesome, I found out about how I could have avoided weaving in the eight million ends on my amazing cowl, and proper techniques for changing colours and finally really got the right way to trap my floats in both directions (I had cheated one direction the whole way on the cowl).
I was kind of a space cadet first thing in the morning, and it took me a second try to cast the thing on, but got on the right track with some help from my new buddy from Wool-Tyme (who are having an amazing sale this week…oh dear). That’s one of the things I really love about workshops – there’s formal learning, and informal learning from the people you sit with too.
But, most importantly, we learned the joy of the steek from Debbie. The what? The STEEK. Fair isle knitting is a lot easier when you do it in the round. But, you don’t always want your knitting to be a tube. Hence, the steek, a few extra stitches you knit in so that you can CUT YOUR KNITTING. Goodness. It seems crazy just to type it out. You do take efforts to secure the stitches first, in our case that was with some crocheting (I got a little kooky with my crocheting) or you can sew them. Apparently, when you work with that Shetland yarn, you can just cut. Whoa.
My heart raced taking scissors to my precious stitches. It seems so wrong. But, it works. And it’s clearly a useful skill to have in the knitting aresenal. In fact, yesterday, even in that second draft, I had managed to twist that cast on, but it didn’t matter since we were going to cut it anyways! This is definitely varsity level knitting, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. Thank you Debbie and Thanks Guild for helping me have a brand new knitting experience on my birthday!! So cool!