What to knit with small amounts of color coordinated yarn when stripes no longer fulfill the need for artistic expression?
More Slouch Hats – but this time with a Fair Isle pattern.
I am told that knitting Fair Isle patterns is also referred to as “stranded”. “Fair Isle” sounds all Celtic and mystical. “Stranded” sounds like my car died in a snow storm, so Fair Isle it is.
Knitting Fair Isle requires carrying one color yarn loosely behind another (typically, there are only 2 colors in each row). As there are no more than 3 stitches between color changes in this pattern, there is no need for twisting the yarn.
For more hints on Fair Isle knitting scroll down to bottom of this post.
This pattern is written for Worsted or Aran weight yarn (size 7 US = 4.5 mm needles) or DK weight (size 5 US = 3.75 mm needles). DK just requires a few more stitches and rows.
Following a color chart when knitting in the round could not be easier. The rows each start with Stitch 1 and each square represents one stitch. “Translating” the Sample Color Chart above:
- Row 1 = K3 Red, K1 Blue, K1 Red.
- Row 2 = K1 Red, K3 Blue, K1 Red.
- Row 3: K2 Green, K1 Blue, K2 Green.
In the Pattern below, the Worsted/Aran weight stitches are the first numbers, the DK are in red in the parenthesis.
Using size 5 (4) circular needles (16″ long works well) and main color, cast on 90 (100) stitches.
Place a marker and join without twisting. Knit K1, P1 ribbing for 2.5″.
Change to size 7 (5) circular needles (also 16″ long) and increase to 105 (120) stitches in first row. First row and all remaining rows are now Knit Every Stitch.
Knit two more rows with main color.
Using chart, knit Fair Isle Pattern (double click on it and it will enlarge) Knit rows 1 – 4.
For worsted weight, decrease 1 stitch in Row 5 to 104 stitches. There is no decrease required for the dk, the number of stitches remains 120 stitches.
Knit rows 6 – 15 from chart.
For worsted weight increase 1 stitch in Row 16 to 105 stitches. There is no increase required for the dk, the number of stitches remains 120 stitches.
Many thanks to the commenters who noticed that the original stitch repeat was incorrect on the chart. The revised chart notes that the upper and lower color bands (Rows 1 – 3 and 17 – 19) have a 3-stitch repeat. The middle section (Rows 6 – 14) have an 8-stitch repeat. The stitch repeats are identified by the vertical red lines.
Carry contrasting yarn loosely in back of work. Leave tails of contrasting yarn at least 6″ long for weaving in when knitting is completed.
After Fair Isle Pattern is complete, continue knitting with main color until hat is 8.5 inches long (including ribbing).
- K3, *K2tog, K10*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
K8, *K2tog, K9*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- K5, *K2tog, K8*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- K0, *K2tog, K7*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- K2, *K2tog, K6*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- K4, *K2tog, K5*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- K0, *K2tog, K4*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- K1, *K2tog, K3*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- *K2, K2tog*. Repeat between * and * to end of row.
- K2tog across row.
Cut tail 10″ – 15″ and thread through large eyed sewing/darning needle. Thread tail through remaining stitches and draw tightly closed. Secure by back stitching and weaving though on wrong side.
Secure contrasting color yarn tails by weaving through stitches of same color yarn.
After photographing the brown/red hat knit in DK yarn, I noticed I had added two rows to the color chart. Row 2 and Row 18 of the original pattern had been repeated.
The Color Chart to the right reflects this change.
It has also been revised to indicate the corrected Pattern Repeat identified by commenters.
Fair Isle Knitting hints:
If carries are too tight, the hat will not stretch to fit an adult head and the colors will appear “squished”. Practicing carries with straight needles to become acquainted with the appropriate carry tension might help tight knitters.
Some stitches in Fair Isle may seem to “fade” into or hide behind those stitches around it. Using the point of a small knitting needle, gently pull the stitch out of hiding. Once “freed” from being behind it neighbors, it should remain visible.
Some stitches (especially near row starts) may appear too large. Tug gently on the carry (back side) near the stitch to close up the size.
Fair Isle knitting looks best with “fat” yarn. Since yarn cannot be put on a weight gain regiment, needle sizes are typically one size smaller than recommended for a yarn.