Making my Fair Isle allover

If you count mixing up a hodgepodge of different patterns with some patterns all of your own, adding in a few well-loved techniques and learning a couple from scratch, then you could say that the allover pattern is mine. For its base I used the number of stitches recommended for the bust section of the Kate Davies’ Bluebells jumper (adding seven for a steek), ribbed as much as I thought looked good, and knitted right up to the armholes. I know how long I like my jumpers, so when I got to that point, I stopped. I then roughly shaped the sleeves as she recommends, adjusting her instructions so that the increases all took place within the plain green sections of the pattern.

That done, I joined the sleeves to the body as you would for any yoked knit, and continued with the pattern. I did stick quite closely to Kate’s shaping around the top of the cardigan, and I have to say her instructions are spot on, resulting in a lovely fit around the shoulders. Then I ribbed the neckline, cast off, and cut the steek. The raw edges were crotcheted following the directions on her blog and the wool proved lovely and sticky, holding together really well. Perhaps it was confidence, having done this once before, but I think the Shetland wool made this part of the project much easier than the more slippery yarn I used for Fliss’ cardi.

It was then just a case of picking up and knitting the front bands and sewing on some buttons. There were a few ends to be woven in, and as I’d started all the new balls at the steek, I used them to further stabilise the front edges. I hand stitched a gross grain ribbon over the cut steek, but it wasn’t really necessary. In fact, I was very tempted to use a couple of steek sandwiches instead, but had my heart set on the contrasting textures of the ribbon and the wool.

If you want to have a go at making your own fair isle, I’d suggest using a pattern you’ve tried before. Pick a size larger than you’d usually wear (because try as I might, it always comes out slightly smaller), and then just begin! You can make up the patterns as you go along (as I did) or mark them out on a sheet of graph paper first. It’s great fun, watching them appear as the garment grows. And if you’ve never knitted with two colours before, have a bit of a practice first. Knit a couple of rounds on some circular needles, then place a second ball of wool on your left (if you are a British-style knitter, right if you knit the Continental way) side. Pick it up with your left hand. You just knit with whichever colour that stitch is meant to be. There are so many things in life which seem complicated and yet are breathtakingly simple, and this is one of them. If you can knit, you can knit fair isle. Mrs Roberts picked it up in approximately seventeen seconds.

I must admit, I did use the original bluebell motif around the very top of my cardigan. It’s beautiful, and seemed the right thing to do as April melted into May. After all, that was what I bought the wool for in the first place. After a bit of a meandering journey, I got there in the end.