Fair Isle for Nerds
With a sweater completed and another one just about done, I decided to bite the bullet and make a Fair Isle sweater. I'm gonna do it right, too, with fingering weight yarn and teeny-tiny needles and everything.
Problem was, I needed a pattern. I could do what I imagine everyone else is doing, and knit Eunny's Venezia (from the current IK). Or, I could knit one of Jamieson's gorgeous patterns. However, traditional Fair Isle patterns have that horizontal-stripe thing going on, and as I noted in my previous post, horizontal stripes are not my friend.
So I offered to make my mom a sweater. Turns out that, while very into the handmade sweater idea, my mother also suffers from Fear of Horizontal Stripes. While I do not understand her fear, as she is 5'6" and thin, I will respect it. I briefly entertained the idea of making a sweater for one of the men in my life. But the idea of knitting a sweater at 8 st/in for myself is nearly overwhelming; the idea of doing that for someone larger just makes me want to bash my head into the wall. I also entertained the idea of knitting it for The Wibbles instead. Although this is appealing, as he is very small, my heart and soul will be going into this sweater. One day, too soon, he will outgrow it, and then I will have to kill myself. He can have my second FI sweater. The first one will have to be for an adult.
Then I thought to myself - I don't have to knit a traditional pattern! I can design my own, without any horizontal stripes! Before knitting and interactive fiction took up what little space in my brain was left free by The Wibbles, I had an obsession with wallpaper symmetry groups. Why not figure out a way to make FI patterns that possess some of my favorite symmetries? So that's what I did.
In case anyone is remotely interested in geometric FI patterns, I'll post here how to make patterns that possess the pg, pgg and cmm symmetries. All you need is a computer that runs Excel, a printer, and a pen of some sort to color in squares with.
I decided to use 7x7 grids, which means that the pattern repeat will be 14 sts by 14 rows. I figure that's a decent size repeat for fingering weight yarn. (You can use whatever size you want; just follow the general pattern.) To generate the pattern repeat, you need four of these grids in a 2x2 formation (see pics).
The first task is to letter each grid. This is done as follows:
(Notice that the CMM grid is slightly different from the other two, as most letters appear twice in each square.) Print out several copies of each square, to experiment on.
Next, start experimenting. The only rule is that once you color in a square, you must color in ALL other squares with the same letter. Color in one square to begin with, and all the same-lettered squares. See what the result looks like, and pick your next square to color in. Repeat until you have something you like.
If you want to avoid long floats, check for runs of more than 5 stitches in the same color, and color in or erase some squares to correct it.
Click the links to see some examples I came up with (I included more repeats so as to see the pattern better):