Friday, May 3, 2013

Lightbulb Moment

I've been struggling with a hat for a few weeks now. I've restarted it four times now, though it has nothing to do with the lovely job Eliza did writing the pattern! I've been having trouble with my fair isle tension. I keep losing the green stitches in the tan background. I thought at first that it was the new tacking technique I was trying, so I stopped doing it, but I was still having trouble.

Check this out:

For the lower half of the leaf (the puckered part), I held the yarn like nyah*:

The top half of the leaf, I held the yarn like nyah:

I've figured it out! I'm a Continental knitter. I hold my yarn in my left hand when I knit. I read or inferred (probably by reversing instructions I thought were meant for English knitters) somewhere that the dominant color in fair isle should be held in whatever hand you use dominantly (second picture). I was wrong! I think the reach from my right hand to the the needle created too much tension on the contrast color yarn so that the stitches got sucked into the background.

I don't know if I've explained that very well or correctly, but the lesson learned is: the dominant color should always go in your right hand and contrast color should always go in your left when stranding two-handed (third picture). I'm excited about having a perfectly even stranded hat when I'm done!

What is your stranding experience? Have you experienced the same trouble? I'm entirely willing to be proven wrong if you've found a different solution, since this is just my experience. I mean, I use stranded knitting and fair isle interchangeably...I don't even know if that's correct. :) I am going to take a fair isle class this weekend, so I can get a professional opinion.

*John and I watch a lot of South Park.


  1. Interesting... I'm going to try this experiment, because my last fairisle pattern did get sucked into the background, and I didn't know why. Hmmmm

  2. I think about doing Fair Isle - then I think again - LOL! I think your hat is looking really nice. Can't wait to see it when you finish!

    Linda in VA

  3. Continental knitter? How fancy! I'm so glad you figured it out, it looks great! I also use stranded/colorwork/fair isle interchangeably, so we can be rebels together (if they are actually separate things). That is such an unusual color combination, I really like it.

  4. That hat looks amazing so far! And congrats on finding your natural knitting groove, I think you're so right- some people are pickers and some are throwers!


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