Fair Isle Question

Hi! :waving:

I’m about to begin a pair of Fair Isle socks but since I’ve never knitted Fair Isle I’m doing some research first.


This video was so helpful, particularly since I don’t find the floats very appealing and this method doesn’t produce them, just a completely woven back.

The question I have is about those rows where only one yarn is used for two or more rows before re-introducing the second color.

Example - A=White B=Blue

B B B B B Round 8
B B B B B Round 7
[COLOR=“Red”]A B A B A[/COLOR] Round 6
A A A A A Round 5
A A A A A Round 4
[COLOR=“Red”]A B A B A [/COLOR] Round 3
B B B B B Round 2
B B B B B Round 1 Read each Round right to left, bottom to top

Each row represents a sampling of a pattern worked in the round.

Since I wouldn’t necessarily want to carry the Blue completely around the back of Rounds 4 & 5 that are all white, could I just drop the blue, knit around Rows 4 & 5 with white only, just carrying the Blue vertically each round until getting to Round 6 where it’s needed to form the horizontal pattern?

I hope this question makes sense! Thanks in advance for your input!

Happy Knitting, :knitting:

As long as it’s only a couple of rows it should be fine. Twisting the unused color when you come around to the beginning may keep any small holes from forming and helps carry it up the side.

I’ve done fair isle socks and my hint to you… work loosely or you won’t get them on your feet! :wink:

I’m a fair isle newbie. Hence lots of other posts in recent days.

I carried the other colour along the back for plain rows, just to make sure the tension was the same. With that philosophers wool technique its easy and quick enough.

The double thickness fabric you end up with is gorgeous. But 1/2 as stretchy as regular knitting !!!

I have been knitting 2 and more color pieces for many years. The stranding thing is always an issue, since a piece of yarn is carried in the back. Making a lot of baby cloth I hardly ever use it, because they can get caught in it easily.

same with socks and gloves and the like… on a hat you see the inside often… and so on.

what I have been doing is the “twisting thing”: every 2, 3 or 4 stitches that you knit with the same color (and carry the other) you twist your yarns once around eachother.
I do this kind of knitting with both (or even 3) yarns on my left hand index finger (SOMETIMES on 2 fingers) and it does take some efford to do (though like everything: you become faster by practice).

that philosopher method really gets me thinking that I should learn English style knitting at some point. Maybe I will do that some time soon. Seems nice (even though stitch 4 looks like mine might be quicker…) Well, it never hurts to know more technique.

one thing is fore sure: when you knit with yarn on both hands simultaneously you surely draw attention :smiley: :smiley: - reason enough to learn, isn’t it?

Hi, Jan!

Would you recommend doing the socks a size larger or working with larger needles? I tend to knit loosely on most things but I can see where manipulating two yarns two handed could tense things up a bit!


Ruthie :waving:

Honestly I’m not sure. :think:

well, I found that in 2 or more color designs only long stretches of one color alone has produced problems, really.

If you interchange the colors often enough, things stretch more.

reason is that the carried yarn is like a “leash” that ties things together (that is why you must not carry it pulled too tight, either). The knitting will have much give as the carried yarns have.

now even the carried yarn gets used in a stitch here and there, of course. the stitch is a loop and therefore has some “slack” to give.

if you would do 1 MC 1 CC (main and contrast color) then the stetch would be limited but not gone.

if you do 7 MC an 1 CC, e.g. then that string of contrast color will hold things too tight.

sometimes a mix of methods can work well. e.g. you can carry yarn only on sections of your knitting and do the sides “mono-colored” - but that will not work in the round. (but is good for sweaters and the like or for gloves or socks that are not worked in the round).

you can also change a pattern to make “dots” of the other color in them, to give them more stretch.

if you work in little lines, e.g. you can just use an end of yarn seperately for all sections you need that strand in (therefore not running it around the whole sock) and then weave the end. That would work for vertical lines, diagonal lines and “local patterns”.

this seems hard to describe, but I will explain further, if you need help there.

some patterns, though, will just never be practical for tube-knitting that gets worn as garment.

a size bigger on your socks, e.g. might end up being too lose and slide down…

another method is, by the way, to include ribbing into the tube, to act as a “spring”. That ribbing you can easily work in 2 colors and use as a part of the design (if it fits and you like it) - e.g. k1 p1 with all knits in one and all purls in the other color. Result: extra stretch to the tube, just because of structure.

AND, of course you could do actual double knitting and have not stranded yarn at all, but that seems toooooo much for a project of socks (and the give is not so extended, either)

PS: where is that sock pattern or a pic of it? is it available online? then we could probably give more detailed tipps for that special occasion.

Hi, Hyper! :waving:

Wow! Thanks for taking the time to reply so thoroughly! That’s incredibly generous! :yay:

The socks I’m contemplating are the Elizabeth Socks from “A Cuff Above” by Cynthia Guggemos. They’re shown on Page 29 of the September 2010 Knit Picks Catalog. I have the yarn and the book and I know they’ll be gorgeous should I happen to also acquire the know-how to knit them!!!:thumbsup:

I’m in the process of finishing up the entrelac sweater vest in Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Knitting. It’s my first entrelac project and it’s been a doozy for sure. The good news is that I can now knit and purl [I]backwards[/I] which is a new knitting skill that I expect will come in very handy for other projects. I had to learn the backwards techniques in self-defense since I calculated there were over 3,000 turns needed in this simple vest front and I would have been dizzy-crazy by the end of the piece.

When it’s done I’ll post a picture and some notes on my entrelac discoveries, but I wanted to study up on the Fair Isle so I’m ready to do those gorgeous socks! (And also I’ve got to find a cardigan pattern with a Fair Isle yoke that I can do for my 80 year old godmother!) Guess I’d better learn Fair Isle pretty quick, right? :slight_smile:

For the Elizabeth socks there’s only 1 row that has alternating colors (MC, CC, MC, CC etc.) and that row happens after 4 rows of plain knit. I couldn’t see carrying the contrasting color all the way around the plain knit rows which was why I hoped I could just twist it around the working yarn at the start of the round and bump it up a couple of rounds vertically until it’s needed again.

Let me know if you can find the pattern and any thoughts you might have on this!

Thanks to all!

Ruthie :hug: