Real Fairisle knitting is one of the joys of my existence. Working with shetland wool feels intuitive, like what knitting should be. I have been exploring the happiness of working in one brand of that yarn imparticular, Sandness's own "Jamieson's of Shetland". Their colour palette is the best there is on offer. I've loved them for ages, but this is my first foray into "pattern writing" with their wool.
A warning: This is not a pattern for a beginner. In fact, if you are a beginner, let me be the first to tell you to click the back button and start with something far simpler and better written. This is a "recipe"... a "suggestion" for how you might knit a sweater, using lots of yarn colours and tiny needles. I love beginners! When I teach someone to knit for the first time I revel in each newly made stitch and I usually cry when that person binds off their first project, but this is not a beginner's sweater.
This sweater is also not size-inclusive. The two sizes are M and L 106 cm and 118 cm bust. The pattern is free, If you need help grading within my mathematical abilities, please contact me and I might be able to help, and will maybe add more sizes later on. I'm just one person, and I'm just here, sharing my art with the world.
I'm not sure what inspired this palette, aside from my usual muse, but I really love playing in blue.
This pattern utilizes six shades of blue from the Jamiesons of Shetland spindrift palette:
Midnight, Pacific, Lomond, Prussian Blue, Highland Mist, and sky.
3 shades of grey:
White, Pebble, and Steel
2 shades of yellow:
Gold and Daffodil
and one beautiful shade of red:
The big question here is: How much of each colour does one need to knit this sweater?
The yarn you need the most of: Midnight! probably 8-12 balls.
Always get more than less. Yarn chicken isn't a pleasant game.
The other shades of blue: 2 balls each to be safe. Definitely 2 balls of pacific.
1 ball of steel
at least 2 balls of pebble
2 balls of white
2 balls of gold
1 ball of daffodil
1 ball of cardinal will probably do, 2 to be safe if you're making the larger size.
And now for some instructions:
This sweater is worked bottom-up, in the round.
starting with the bottom hem:
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 2.5-2.75 mm needle.
The main colour of the sweater is Midnight, which gives it a lovely denim feel.
I knit the two sizes simultaneously. There is a simple recipe involved in knitting a Fairisle sweater, I'll go through that as I explain.
The two sweaters I knit are a size M and L. The chest circumferences are 106 cm and 118 cm
Gauge on those needles = 30 stsX 32 rows per 10cm.
Cast on 288 (336) sts Put a marker at 144 (168) 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 kung fu to turn it into a 2x2 rib, but I'll leave that up to you.
Work 18-20 rows of *K2 P2* rib (depending on how long you like your rib) on the smaller needles in Midnight.
Change to a 3.00-3.50mm needle (whatever it takes you to make gauge, which is 28 X30 = 10cm on the bigger needles)
Knit 2 rounds in midnight, and then begin knitting from this chart, beginning with round one:
Knit this repeat 12 (14) times around your tube, beginning with round 1. For my sweater I knit 50cm (I wanted my sweater long, but I think most people knit 5cm less than that).
45-50cm will get you securely to your underarm.
Here I am trying on my "tube"... I tried to strategically end the tube on a part of the chart that had 3 rows of midnight. If it doesn't work out that way, really, no biggie! Just keep knitting.
On Colour changes:
It is difficult to carry colours to rows above. You can do it sometimes, but in most instances you will need to leave a 7-8cm tail, and weave it in later. You'll have a mess of ends when you're finished. That is part of Fairisle knitting.
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 20(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,
You should have a lovely open neckline and two open armholes. Essentially, it is a vest.
The murky bit:
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 again, be proud you made something so beautiful.
Now pick up the sleeves:
Starting in the center of the stitches you rested before you made the steeks, pick up and work the live stitches in Midnight blue. 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 Midnight, 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.
My sweaters both had a 100 stitch cuff, but that really is up to the wearer of the garment. Most people prefer somewhere in the 70 stitch range I think!
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, and then knit the other sleeve in the same manner.
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.
If you're up for it, Knit another one for your friend...
Then make him take a picture...because wearing matching sweaters for even 5 minutes is the best thing...