It turns out that this is exactly the sock that I need right now. The riot of colours in the “Rise of the Jellyfish” sock wool from Noodle Soup Yarns is just delicious to work with; it’s true potato-chip knitting – forget about what colour the next row is going to be, here you rarely get one colour for more than a couple of stitches. This photo was taken yesterday morning, by last night I was part of the way into the heel flap.
My other knitting project also received some attention yesterday as I spent some time making decisions about the Fairisle-patterned tank top I want to make. First up, the pattern I will be following comes from this book:
It was published by Mills and Boon in 1979 and I’m pretty sure I received it as a gift from my parents either that year or the following year. I have knitted only two garments from it – a jumper for my dad and a tank top for myself in shades of pink and blackberry. I want to believe that I also knitted myself a cardigan, but since I have no memory of what colours it would have been, I don’t think it ever happened.
My old tank top was knitted from one of the women’s jumper patterns just omitting the sleeves but this time round I’m going to follow this man’s pattern. That is just a perfectly happy acceptance of the fact that I am no longer a sylph-like girl in her mid-twenties and also that I just fancy rocking a baggier fit today.
This book does have a couple of quirks, as you often find with older publications. First up, it’s the sizing: we are so very inclusive nowadays that it’s easy to forget just how limited sizing used to be. This pattern, for example, comes in one size (40″ chest), although some of the men’s patterns get a vast range of 4 sizes, 42 1/2″ chest being the largest. Most of the ladies’ patterns have three or four sizes ranging from 33 1/2″ to 40″.
Perhaps more difficult for modern audiences to understand is that the book is mainly printed in monochrome, which seems very odd for a book about multicoloured knitting. Fairisle patterning is all about the colour, isn’t it? There are two colour pages in the book, plus the dust cover, which serve to give an idea of the colourways possible, but only five of the thirteen garments are shown in colour. Actually, one advantage to the monochrome printing is that it encourages us as knitters to think up our own colour schemes and to look at the patterns more in terms of shape and style than being swayed by a pretty colourway. It also makes it simpler to break down the colours in a particular project in terms of how light or dark each shade is so that when we choose our own colours we can keep the balance right. In fact, one of the tips modern designers suggest when embarking on designing your own colourway is to view the pattern in greyscale in order to judge the shading. Perhaps this monochrome book isn’t as whacky as it first seems.
Having chosen my pattern, I went through my box of yarns and weighed the Shetland wools; from this process these are the ones which made the cut:
The ball sizes have nothing to do with the amount they will appear in the pattern. The marine blue in the centre is going to be the base colour, forming the ribbing and the plain stocking stitch separating each of the patterned bands. As yet, I’m not entirely convinced about how this is going to look knitted up, which is why wise knitters always work at least one swatch. Knowing me, I am much more likely to stand on the edge of the precipice and jump so don’t be surprised if the next time you hear about this project it’s been started and unpicked half a dozen times. I aim to do wisdom once I’m grown up!
The fact is, I’m getting little fizzing sensations inside my mind just writing about this Fairisle project and thinking about how those colours will work together. The precipice is calling me and I need to grab my needles so I can be knitting a parachute on the way down.
Keep safe and calm and join me again another day to see how the ride is going.