Monday, 28 October 2013

Learning Something New During Wool Week

Firstly a warm Thank-You to those who voted for me after my last post.  I came third!  I am very grateful for your kind support.  Now on with my new post:
Last week there were many events across the whole of the United Kingdom to celebrate the wonderful fibre of wool, as can be seen here on the events page from the Campaign for Wool website.  But there were also a number of local events here in Scotland to participate in.  The John Lewis department store ran workshops, which you can read about here on Alison's blog.  One of my favourite Scottish blogs is by Kate Davies and that was where I first read about Wool Week on the Shetland Islands.  One day I would love to visit Shetland wool week, as they have so many events on offer, plus the Mister would be kept amused with all the photography, hiking and fishing opportunities!

The closest event for me was a one-day event offered by Deborah Gray just 3 villages away.  Deborah teaches wool spinning,dying and all sorts of other wooly skills, running workshops in both Scotland and sunny Italy!  Plus she had just been to Shetland to teach workshops and was offering to show photos from her trip.  You too can see some of her photos and read about her time on Shetland here.  Apart from spinning, dying and felting she was also offering an evening workshop to teach and improve the technique of Fair Isle knitting.  Now this is something I am VERY interested in learning.

So here is my first ever attempt at Fair Isle Knitting:
Here's a shot of my stranding on the back:

Three new techniques I have learnt

Deborah taught me how to use a 100cm long circular needle to work this 40 stitch wide sample in the round by pulling the cord through my work about half way around, a technique she called the Magic Loop.  

I also learnt to knit with the background colour in my right hand and the pattern colour in my left and when I wanted to knit the pattern colour I did this using the continental or picking method.  It will make the pattern sit up high like the background colour.

When knitting the ribbed section, I did the purl stitches with the pearl colour in my right hand and used the picking method with the background colour in my left.  This makes the pearl stitches sit up just as high as the knit stitches.

The Result

I have only made a little sample to test out my knitting tension.  So far I think I am knitting too tightly so I will buy a needle one size up and try another knitted swatch to see if I can get the tension to match the pattern.  Which leads me to my next wonderfully woolly treat.  Unbelievably, some of the kits that Deborah had available to learn Fair Isle knitting were designs from my knitting idol Kate Davies!
Peerie means little in the Shetland dialect, and you can read about Kate's design and see some lovely photos of her wearing it here.
...AND the wool I am using is spun and dyed on Shetland with wool from Shetland sheep!
Such a serendipitous workshop for me - three things I have long admired all coming together in one evening!  Shetland wool week, Kate Davies pattern and learning to do Fair Isle knitting!
If you did anything for Wool Week I would love to hear about it!  Feel free to post any links about your Wool Week experience in the Comments box below.
I have now finished this lovely hat - you can see it on my blog by clicking here.


  1. Ooooh your knitting looks brilliant, one day I will learn how to do fair isle but for now I will buy jumpers on ebay :)


  2. I can't even knit and crochet involves my tongue stitching out and me counting to myself, but I love your little flowers!

  3. It's looking so lovely! Fair Isle is something I haven't tried, but plan to one day. Thanks for posting those tips above; if you have any more please let us know! That Kate Davies pattern is simply beautiful...
    Wool Week sounds sublime. I'll have to find out whether Australia has anything similar on offer!

  4. How wonderful Nessa! I would love to learn how to knit like this!


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