Many knitters are intimidated by Fair Isle or stranded knitting. They know the technique produces beautiful results, but until they understand the basics it seems like something beyond them.
Mary Jane Muckletone takes the mystery out of Fair Isle and provides knitters with lots of basic motifs to explore in 200 Fair Isle Motifs: A Knitter's Directory.
About the Book
- Pages: 208
- Format: paperback
- Number of patterns: 200 motifs
- Skill level: none given, but most are suited to beginner to intermediate Fair Isle knitters
- Illustrations: full-color photographs; black and white and color charts
- Knitting lessons: a 30 page "essential skills" section covers Fair Isle technique and other things you need to know to successfully plan and knit a project
- Publication date: November 2011
For knitters who have never done stranded knitting before, 200 Fair Isle Motifs provides a good introduction, covering everything from yarn selection and how to hold the yarn to knitting in the round, following charts, cutting steeks and more.
Knitters will learn how to weave in the strand that's being carried as they go, the best ways to increase and decrease, how to fix mistakes, choose colors and design a basic garment.
This all provides a good foundation for approaching the rest of the book, which is full of the pattern motifs you might choose for your project.
The one complaint I have about this book as a guide for completely new Fair Isle knitters is that it doesn't contain a sample project to give knitters a chance to practice working this technique without having to think about motif and color selection. It's not too difficult to pick a motif and knit a swatch or a little bag on your own, but with 200 possible pattern choices, it might be easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices and not know where to begin.
Most of the book is devoted to the 200 Fair Isle motifs mentioned in the title. The section begins with a "motif selector," which includes small pictures of each motif knit in a sample and directs you to the instruction page.
The patterns themselves are arranged by the size of the repeat, so if you know that you want something small or large you can flip to that section and easily find your options. The motif directory includes information on the size of the repeat, a black and white chart for a single repeat, color charts for the colorway shown in the knit swatch and a variation, and a black and white chart with several repeats of the pattern shown. There's also a larger version of the swatch picture.
All of this provides plenty of information and inspiration to knitters who might want to add one or several of these motifs to a project. Because several patterns are shown on most pages, it's also pretty easy to see how patterns might be combined to go in the same project or altered by choosing different colors.
There are a wide variety of motifs here, from simple blocks and way lines to the traditional snowflake and flower patterns. There are swirls, shamrocks, hearts, patterns that look like butterflies, zig zags and more.
It's easy to get inspired flipping through 200 Fair Isle Motifs. I found myself looking through it saying to myself things like, "Oh, that would be cute on a bucket bag," or "I'd like a sweater with that just above the ribbing."
Which is, of course, exactly the point. Mucklestone is trying to get us all hooked on Fair Isle knitting by providing a little something for everyone, from those who want tiny, subtle designs to add to a hat or mittens to those who want to design full-on, colorful Fair Isle-style sweaters. Both will be happy to explore these pages and knit up a little bit of what they find.