|View of one croft from another, Isle of Skye|
(an island in of the Inner Hebrides
-- nowhere near Fair Isle!)
But the Yarn Story I'm writing this week is about a 'wee isle' in Scotland that I've not (yet) visited: Fair Isle. It is "wee" indeed -- just under 3 square miles in area, with a population of somewhere between 55 and 60. It's located between the Orkney Isles and the Shetland Isles, well north of the mainland of Scotland.
And it's the home of a tradition of stranded knitting with origins that are somewhat uncertain, origins that include Moorish and Viking influences. These arose in natural colours -- cream, black, brown -- based on the wool from the sheep raised there, and were augmented with colours from natural dyes: yellow from amphibious bistort (also known as water longweed, water smartweed or willow grass), reds from madder combined with a type of local lichen called Korkallett, and blues from indigo that was likely bartered for with ocean-faring traders.
|Pattern of unknown origin!|
As with all stranded knitting, the process is much easier knit in the round, so that the tension of the 'floats' -- yarn carried across the back of the garment -- is easier to control.
What if you can't knit -- or don't want to knit -- in the round? Or want an easier, quicker way to achieve the Fair Isle 'effect', whether working in the round or knit flat?
There are yarns that have been dyed with colour repeats designed to mimic Fair Isle. Many have been created for sock yarns, and others are in heavier weights, for other garments -- and we offer you one of those this week:
Baby Fair Isle Effect
50 grams = 164 metres (179 yards)
Regular Price: $8.50
75% off Sale: $2.13
Machine-washable and easy for new parents to care for, this yarn creates cute and pretty patterns all on its own, for delightful wee sweaters, booties, hats and even blankets.
Check out our stock of patterns when you make your purchase -- and if you need a lesson in knitting in the round, catch Lori and me at the Creativ Festival West in either Edmonton -- September 7 and 8 -- or Calgary -- September 21 and 22 -- where we'll be teaching you how to use both circular and double-pointed needles to do just that! See you soon!
I leave you with a wee poem, read first in Fair Isle/Shetland dialect and then in English, by the late Scots poet -- who hailed from Fair Isle -- Lise Sinclair. You can read along and listen to it here.
*Written by Margaret, who loves to do stranded knitting, especially if it's in the Fair Isle tradition.