Learning Fair Isle – First Socks

I promised I’d show you these, from my extensive “Pre-Blogging Archives” in my last post, Fair Isle Space Invaders.

They are my “I’m gonna teach myself Fair Isle” project socks from Rowan’s RYC Classic Home book – the Snuggle bed socks. I made these a couple of years ago.

I wanted something small that I wouldn’t cry over if I just couldn’t master the technique. These were so pretty I couldn’t resist. I’m still toying with making the matching hot water bottle!

I really made life hard for myself choosing these socks – Traditional Fair Isle is done in the round so you never have to cope with a purl row. This pair of socks is knitted on two needles then has a seam down the back and under the foot. That means I had to learn how to weave the yarn 4 different ways! (Left and right hand, knit and purl side)

I learnt the technique mainly from my trusty copy of Montse Stanley’s Knitters Handbook (I’ve mentioned that before!) but my friend Judie showed me how to knit continental so I could do the both hands style. I found I picked up continental quite naturally as I’d been a crocheter before I could knit. I found the holding and catching the yarn almost identical.

After a lot of swearing and unpicking, I was very pleased with my Fair Isle progress.
Have a close look..

I wasn’t quite so pleased with the pattern or the yarn though.

To this day I’m not sure if it was me or the pattern but, when sewn up, very carefully with mattress stitch, the sock will only go on my foot with severe yanking to get my heel in – there is some give but not much in the Fair Isle. I have very small feet too – UK size 4!! Margret (who commented on my space invaders post) raised this concern with the space invaders – a worry certainly!! Once Ben wakes up I’ll try the cuff over his flipper foot. Maybe if I’m careful I won’t wake him… 😉
On top of this, having a seam under my foot, even for bed socks was stupidly uncomfortable, even just padding about getting ready for bed.

Lastly, Cashsoft DK – in felts and bobbles like crazy! I’m really glad I didn’t invest in a large garment. I might have been more careful with a big jumper but these were socks – they went in the washing machine. (It is machine washable.)

Fuzzy huh? …and this was after a little trim…

I do sometimes wear these when it’s really cold – they are warm! But the struggle to get them on and off usually puts me off.


Completed Knit Report  
Name: Snuggle Shetland bed socks
Pattern: from RYC Classic Home
Yarn: Rowan (RYC) Cashsoft DK
Pattern Problems: Too narrow at ankle, no give in fairisle and seam under foot uncomfortable.
Pattern Modifications: None in this pair – but now I know better I’d knit them in the round.
Washing and Wearing: Too hard to get on and off – no give in fairisle. Bobbled like crazy – not a durable enough yarn for socks.
Knit It Again???: No
Difficulty: hard – esp. if you haven’t tackled fairisle before!!
Rating: 2/5

5 Responses

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  1. kathryn
    kathryn April 1, 2007 at 7:56 am |

    They look lovely. And well done for learning all those new techniques.

    But I wouldn’t have wanted to have to seam them. I find seams in fairisle very hard to do neatly so I think I would have adapted the pattern to knit in the round. The lack of give does seem to be a bit of a problem with fairisle – I made my second fairisle sock’s heel and ankle slightly bigger.

  2. Diane
    Diane April 1, 2007 at 5:48 pm |

    It seems odd that they didn’t write them for knit in the round, I guess they thought back-and-forth Fair Isle would be less scary than circular knitting (I don’t agree but the English do seem to have a strange aversion to knitting in the round)

    They do look fab though and it’s a pity they’re not comfortable.

    P.S. I Fair-Isle crochet-wise too 😉 It seemed the most obvious thing.

  3. sebskins
    sebskins April 3, 2007 at 10:36 am |

    wow they are fab, you clever person for learning all these techniques. Its something I wish to learn, such a talented person.

  4. Vikki (vixx)
    Vikki (vixx) April 5, 2007 at 4:11 pm |

    cheers! I must say your fair Isle socks are pretty damn stunning! I love the space invader ones further down too, they are so cool! Vik x

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