I am working on a pair of Fresco Fair Isle Mitts, by Pam Allen, from the Fall 2008 issue of Interweave Knits. I am using some of the yarn I bought at Rhinebeck (from the Carolina Homespun booth). It’s very nice hand-dyed wool from Hand Jive, called Nature’s Palette Fingering.
The pattern calls for 3.25 mm needles for the hand and 2.75 mm needles for the cuff. I did my gauge swatch using the main colour, in three needle sizes, starting with 3.25 mm and working down to 2.75 mm. The 2.75 mm needles gave me the exact gauge stated in the pattern, so they are what I used. I adjusted accordingly, and used 2.25 mm needles for the cuff.
The Fair Isle pattern is pretty simple. I made it harder on myself by trying to learn to knit with one colour of yarn in each hand. I followed the instructions in Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified by Ann Bourgeois and Eugene Bourgeois. You can see a video of this technique on their web site, but essentially you use the right hand to knit one colour using the English technique, and the left hand to knit the second colour using the Continental or European technique.
I did eventually get the hang of it, but it seems that my gauge is a lot tighter in Fair Isle this way than it is when knitting with one colour in my usual way. So of course the mitten doesn’t fit. It is far too tight, and I don’t think that wet blocking will do enough to fix it. I don’t know what I did to anger the Goddess of Gauge, but she is clearly not happy with me and is making me pay penance.
The picture on the left shows the back of the hand, and the one on the right shows the palm side. The thumb hasn’t been finished yet, the stitches are still on waste yarn.
I do like the colours, and the pattern. I will try again, this time using the needles suggested in the pattern. I won’t rip this one out until I do the next one, just to see how it turns out. I have an oddly superstitious feeling about that.
I also initially had some trouble keeping my place on the chart, while knitting on the couch watching tv. Then I remembered that I had this magnetic chart holder in my cross-stitch tools. It worked great for marking my place. This small sized one fits inside a page protector, too, so is a great size for knitting patterns. The plastic row marker is curved, so it magnifies the lines under it.