Friendly Fair Isle
I mentioned in the new Knitscene blog that I’ve had color work on my mind for a while. I don’t do enough of it, and it’s so fun! My appreciation of color work is pretty thorough. The beauty of the finished product, the time and detail that goes into creating it, and the extra warmth that goes along with having multiple strands of yarn lining a hand knit piece all make form and function come together with the most divine results. That said, color work is really accessible and doesn’t have to be tricky, so I wanted to recommend a number of easy, first fair isle projects for our knitters!
If you haven’t read our newest Knitscene blog, check it out, because there are a few great patterns in there, as well, that are perfect projects for color work newbies.
I’ve said again and again that I think hats are great projects for learning new techniques. It’s a small project and it let’s you dabble in texture or color without going too far down the rabbit hole – so I have a bunch of great hat patterns for you here.
Little Scallops is an adorable hat (that I’ve made about 4 times) with just a touch of fair isle. It’s also a great way to use up bits of sport weight yarn. You’ll be working just a handful of rows of fair isle with this little project. Whether you use Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, Sublime’s super soft DK or Blue Sky’s Baby Alpaca (like I did), you’re going to get great results for this hat.
Laurus is another pattern that incorporates just a bit of fair isle, and it’s a great motif for the nature lovers in your life. Laurus calls for a worsted weight yarn, so try this in anything like Spud & Chloe Sweater, Shepherd’s Wool, Pure Bliss Falkland, Blue Sky’s Woolstok or Shelter (which will be here soon!).
Speckles is another great hat for your people of all ages. Choose colors that are anything from loud to subtle depending on the recipient. All of the yarns listed above for Laurus would work beautifully here, but also consider HiKoo’s Sueno Worsted or Malabrigo’s Rios. The relatively simple pattern here will work well with those painterly palettes.
Color work mittens are a favorite of mine – for fun and practical purposes. Mainly, having lots of yarn running through that pair of mittens is going to make them warmer. As one who ALWAYS has cold hands, I really appreciate this. That said, I love the Hiro Mittens by Julia Farwell Clay. One thing I really love about them, is that the pixelated design is very forgiving if you make a mistake in your stitches. Also, you can pick three colors of yarn, and essentially make three different pair of mittens (gift knitting, anyone?). I’d love to knit these in Falkland, Iris, or Kathmandu. I also think it’d be awesome to knit these up in Juniper Moon’s Stratus, given the wonderful color palette available for that yarn. If you’d like other mitten recommendations let me know, because I have about a million other favorites.
For cowls, I love the Ombra Cowl by Judit Hummel. This is very similar to a cowl in the new issue of Knitscene, but this one was on my radar first, so I feel obligated to mention it. Plus, it’d be so dreamy in Blue Sky’s Extra or Juniper Moon’s Stratus. It’s shown in high contrast color-ways, but there are some dreamy versions on Ravelry that fade between a creamy white and a pale color that make me feel like I’d be floating in a piece of cotton candy.
Michele Wang’s Morse is another graphic cowl incorporating Scandinavian motifs into the color work design. This piece was made for Shelter (coming soon to our Brooklyn Tweed Pop Up) but also consider making this striking piece in those good worsted-weight favorites like Falkland, Shepherd’s Wool or Woolstok.
The Pixel Cowl by Jennifer Beaumont is one last favorite cowl. Knit up in a bulky yarn, this piece will go quickly and still give you a generous amount of cowl. Once again, the pixelated design is very forgiving to stitch mistakes. Beaumont’s version calls for 4 colors to give you high impact – but you can choose a palette that is everything from subtle to bright. You could also make this in 2 colors, alternating each color twice. Rowan’s Brushed Fleece offers a subdued palette, while Odin from Conway + Bliss offers edgy brights, and Juniper Moon’s Stratus will give you a beautiful array of colors with a weightless result.
These color work patterns are all pretty darn easy (according to me and other Ravelry users) and great ways to familiarize yourself with stranded color work! Whether you choose something big or small, color work is fun and offers a challenge in all the right ways. Happy colorful knitting, everyone!