If you haven't noticed (via love and wool), my favourite thing in the world is fairisle knitting. I love stranded colour work. I adore the way the Jamieson's of Shetland yarn stretches over my fingers, I love the sticky nature of it, weaving in the ends when I'm finished, and most of all, the risk of cutting a steek.
I was lucky enough to make a sweater for England's own David Evans. I'd been reading his blog for ages, and I was a long time admirer of his work promoting handcraft.
I won't make the story telling bit of this too long, as I've heard many people talk about how much they hate scrolling through nonsense to get to a recipe.
You've probably already heard the tales on David's end anyway, so I'll just cut to the chase, and give you the pattern you're here for!
Some caveats, as usual: This is not for beginners. It isn't all that difficult, aside from the constant colour changes, but if you've never done stranded colour work, best to back away and find something a bit more easy going to cut your teeth on, OR a better written set of instructions. I recommend Alice Starmore, Kate Davies, or Mary Jane Mucklestone for a well written pattern.
What you'll need to get started:
100cm 2.10mm circular needles
100cm 3.30mm circular needles
tapestry needle for weaving in ends
Of course you can adjust the colours to your liking but I used the following:
All yarn is from Jamieson's of Shetland. They graciously sponsored me, and provided the yarn for this project.
Main colour: Steel 6-8 balls (depending on the size you're going to make)
Cardinal 2 balls
Prussian blue 2 balls
Neptune 2 balls
Dewdrop 2 balls
Mustard 1 ball
Leprechaun 1 ball
Leaf 1 ball
Espresso 1 ball
Petrol 1 ball
Autumn 1 ball
Paprika 1 ball
Heron 1 ball
Damask 1 ball
Maroon 1 ball
Titanic 1 ball
Rule of thumb: Yarn chicken isn't a pleasant game, if you're making a large jumper, more is always better!
And now for some instructions:
This sweater is worked bottom-up, in the round.
starting with the bottom hem:
First, we cast on a tube of stitches at a very tight gauge. Jamieson's is a 4ply weight yarn and for rib knitting, it should be knit on a 2.10 mm needle.
The two sizes are M and L.
The chest circumferences are 106 cm and 118 cm
Feel free to adjust to the size you would like to make using the gauge calculations.
Cast on 288 (336) sts Put a marker at the beginning of the round, and at 144 (168) sts to mark half of the round. Use whatever cast on you like. I like to use an italian 1x1 tubular and then do some cable swapping to turn it into a 2x2 rib.
Work 18-20 rows of *K2 P2* rib (depending on how long you like your rib) on the smaller needles in Steel.
Change to a 3.30mm needle (whatever it takes you to make gauge, which is 30 X38 = 10cm on the bigger needles)
Work 1 row as following: P1, K143(167), sm, P1, K143 (167). Continue working one purl stitch (in the colour of your choice) at the beginning of each section. This creates a faux seam and allows for a break in the patterning. It is a rare thing for any fair isle jumper to have perfect stitch counts for every pattern, so this faux seam gives imperfection a happy excuse.
After this first row is complete, Begin knitting the chart from Row 1 (or where ever you'd like to start)
Knit this tube until you've reached the under arm (at the length of jumper you would like). I recommend about 43 cm for a medium, and 45-48 cm for a large.
It's time to separate the front and back panels of the sweaters with some magical steek making.
That word is pretty scary for a lot of people, but as long as you have at least 14 stitches between your front and back parts, and you use an iron, you'll be just fine.
The first row of the steek:
Place the first 10 (12) stitches on your needles onto a holder, or some stitch markers or whatever to keep them live, but get them off your needles. With your working needle and the colours you're going to knit your next row with, cast on 7 stitches and then begin knitting the chart again, from the 11th (13th) stitch, to make up for the stitches you rested. Knit until 10 (12) stitches before the halfway marker, put 10 (12) stitches on a holder, remove the marker, and then put 10 (12) more stitches on a holder. cast on 14 stitches and continue to the back, knitting around until 10 (12) stitches before the end of the round, place those 10 (12) stitches on a holder and cast on 7 stitches. Join in the round.
(This round should subtract 40 (48) stitches of patterning (20(24) stitches on each panel) and add 14 stitches on each panel per steek
276 (324) stitches on your needles at this point
Knit the steeked armholes for another 12.5 cm (15 cm).
(Total armscye should be 21(24) cm.)
After knitting the 7 steek stitches, work 52 (62) stitches of the pattern, and place the next 20 (24) stitches on a holder. Cast on a 14 stitch steek, and then Work the remaining 52 (62) stitches, work the steek stitches and then work until the end of the round. Feel free to place markers at the beginning and end of the steeks. I never do that because when decreasing, I decrease using the first stitch of the steek and one stitch of patterning together.
Knit one more row without decreasing.
Over the next 12(16) rows, decrease one stitch at each edge of the neckline steek.
(24 (32) stitches decreased)
Knit 1 (3) rows in pattern.
(40 (46) stitches at each shoulder)
Continuing to the back neckline: Knit the front without decreases, work the back as follows:
after knitting the steek stitches, work 44(49) stitches in pattern, create a 14 stitch back neck steek, rest 38(50) (stitches on a holder of some sort, and then work the remaining 44 (49) stitches.
Knit 3 more rows, decreasing 1 stitch at each edge of the back neckline steek each round (6 stitches decreased)
At this point there should be 40 (46) stitches at each side of the shoulder.
Bind off row: Knit one last row in pattern, binding off the steeks as you come to them.
Using either a 3 needle bind off or grafting (I graft) put the front and back shoulder seam together.
At this point in the process, I iron the whole thing, especially the steeks, to prevent them from unraveling.
Cut your steeks down the center,
For a bit more information about steeking, David and I had a long conversation on instagram about that, it's accessible from my profile.
You should have a lovely open neckline and two open armholes. Essentially, it is a vest...or as posh people in England say: A "slipover".
Now for a neckband:
Using your smaller needles, starting at the right shoulder and picking up the back first, pick up the neckline until you reach the live stitches. Pick up the live stitches and continue on around until you have a neckline.
If you're a fussy perfectionist, you'll count as you go along, picking up exactly the same amount of stitches on each side. If you're me, you'll do about what you did on the other side, and hope for the best.
Count your stitches and make sure you have a number divisible by 4. Knit double the width of neckband you want, fold it in half to the back and stitch it down. There's not really an easy way to do this, I graft as best I can, so the neckline remains stretchy.
Iron it again, and be proud you made something so beautiful.
For the sleeves:
Starting in the center of the stitches you rested before you made the steeks, pick up and work the live stitches in Steel. Pick up one stitch for each row of knitting along the body, continuing over the shoulder and on to the last live stitches, join in the round. Knit 2 more rounds of Steel, at the point the live stitches meet the picked up stitches, K2tog (working together one picked up stitch with one live stitch) on each side of the live stitches. This will create a traditional triangular gusset at the underarm.
Begin working the chart, Keep decreasing until the triangle of live stitches disappears.
After the triangle is created, Work 6 rows in pattern.
Decrease row: K2tog, Knit until 2 stitches remain, SSK.
Repeat this row every 6 rows until the sleeve is the length and width you desire.
I like to get down to about 72 stitches for a nice snug cuff.
Top tip: I knit both of my sleeves simultaneously, one stripe at a time. That way they both end up shaped exactly the same.
I just make sure I have two sets of each needle so I can swap back and forth without moving needles around.
At the end of the sleeve, of course you want a rib cuff, so swap back over to your skinny needles, make sure you have a stitch count divisible by 4, and work a *K2, P2* rib. When it's long enough to suit, bind off in the way you like best.
Soak your sweater, give your work a gentle tug in both directions to get all your stitches lined up and nestled into place, and then chuck it in the spin cycle (only if you have a top load washing machine!)
When the sweater is a bit damp, and nice and loosey goosey, this is the best time to run your iron over it one more time for a nice finish.
Sew in all the ends. This takes time, and patience, but do NOT skimp here. Put on a film or some good music and just enjoy the simplicity of the task.
After you've done all of your finishing, pack it in a lovely box, and send it off to England. If you're already in England, or don't fancy sending it to anyone, try it on, give yourself a cuddle and a pat on the back for making something so useful, and also beautiful.
I might have done both!