Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Design Project

For the master knitter program, my next task is to design a hat in Fair Isle style with at least three colors.  This will be the most complicated design I have done to date so I'm going to document my progress and approach through this blog.

First I have read up on Fair Isle knitting and tam design so I have a good technical background to draw from.  I also found a great article by Alice Starmore on tam design and structure in Thread's Knitting Around the World,   That was a tremendous help as was Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns.  From these I developed a basic pattern for a woman's tam with the following measurements:  23 in circumference with roughly a one inch ribbed brim, 4 inches to the wheel shaping and 3.5 inches for the wheel itself.

Next I had to figure out gauge.  I'm using Knit Picks Palette yarn which is a wool fingering weight in lots of colors that are perfect for Fair Isle.

This pink and grey were just yarns that I had available to swatch with.  I did samples on US 4, 3 and 2 needles to come up with different gauges.  The sections are divided by pink stripes.  I came up with an 8 stitch to an inch on size 2 (2.75 mm) needles and an 8 row gauge.

So my general pattern is (caution, not completely tested yet, so I don't know that this is what I will end up with) is to cast on 128 stitches in circular knitting, work 2 x 2 ribbing for 1.25 inches, increase to 168 stitches and work in pattern for 4 inches.  Then work seven spokes of 24 stitches (a spoke is a Centered Double Decrease).

I've been swatching various colors and designs.  I saw an exhibit at the Met last month on Andean textiles and they had the most amazing colors - cream, red, gold and black.  Those are the four colors I want to use - I don't want to use a lot of different colors and get subtle shadings, I want to have the more primitive feel of the Andean textiles.  So after lots of different swatches, I have a pattern for the straight part of the tam and also one for the wheel.

I like the brighter red color but unfortunately that was just a small ball from my swatch.  I'm now between two reds and will have to make a choice from that.  So more swatches to do!

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