This morning I woke up one hour before my alarm was set to go off. I yawned peacefully, rolled over, and… got out of bed. Even though I worked late yesterday, and face a 12-hour day today, there was a certain somp-thin’ somp-thin’ sitting on my couch that was even more interesting than an extra hour of sleep. If you know me and my love of sleep, that’s saying a whole lot. Seriously!


What do we think?

I’m liking it! This motif is basically the same one used in Marko’s Mittens (p. 100 of Folk Knitting in Estonia). I sized it up a bit so it would fit my 108-stitch calf by incorporating the Whorl motif (p. 29).

I have to give a big shout-out to Nona – I’m once again using the theory of yarn dominance, which I think makes a huge difference. Practically speaking, I’m picking the dominant color (blue) with my left hand, and throwing the background color (yellow) with my right. In addition, I’m lessening the stripe jogs by the method she describes here. Nona rocks.

I’m still deciding exactly how the rest of the leg will look. I initially planned to have one back seam where all the decreases would take place, like Eunny’s mini-argyle stockings, but now I’m reconsidering. I think two side seams, just like on the Blue and Cream Stocking, or the soon-to-be-released VK sock, will be more practical. Two seams will allow me to decrease 4 stitches per round rather than just two, and considering 108 will need to turn into 54, that’s a serious consideration for those of us with shapely (ahem) calves.

So, tell me – are you experiencing serious Fair Isle envy? Yeah, baby! It is a most delicious technique ;).

Speaking of, Miss Knotty asked, “What is a good ‘tryout’ project for a first-time fair-isle attempt?” Miss Knotty, and anyone else who might be thinking of trying Fair Isle – I think you should look for a small project worked in the round on one circular needle, preferably using thicker (than sock weight) yarn. Of course – a hat! My favorite book for truly drool-worthy FI hats is Charlene Schurch’s Hats On!, which features cute designs in a range of sizes.

Now, shoo! Go Fair Isle your heart out!


43 thoughts on “Somp-thin’

  1. stitch-dom

    Pretty pretty pretty!!! I would very much like to get my fair-isle on. Even though this would involve breaking the hearts of all my UFO’s. And cheating on my yarn diet of course. Not to mention the herculean effort involved in facing my Fair-Isle Fear.

  2. Charity

    Love the progress! And thanks for the tip on the book – I’ve been dreaming about Fair Isle, but haven’t been brave enough yet. A hat, though, seems manageable.

  3. Jan

    I’ve been drooling over two-color projects for some time and decided to practice by knitting one sock in a worsted weight to get the hang of the process without having to worry about fit.

    I made Laila’s sock from ‘Folk Knitting in Estonia’ and used it as a Christmas stocking. (It’s in my Dec. 2005 archives.) Shortly thereafter, I injured my hand so I wasn’t able to move right on to a more complex project. That’s the plan for this fall, though.

  4. Lynn

    Nona does, indeed, rock. I first found her blog when she was in the midst of trying different short row methods, and her explanations of the technical bits about knitting never fail me.

  5. Risa

    Oh my, your socks are going to be lovely! I just bought the yarn for my first Fair Isle project, but have been a bit apprehensive. Now it seems like I should grab a stiff drink and jump in.

    I can’t wait to see your progress!

  6. Jeff

    Wow. I never considered myself as someone who would want to do Fair Isle- mostly because I’m scared of it, but this is just so wonderful that I might have to very soon. I am in love with your color choices by the way- and the Estonian patterns are beautiful.

  7. Erin

    I did the Fair Isle 101 Sweater from last Fall’s Interweave Knits for my first Fair Isle. I found it pretty easy. But your socks are making me drool now! I need to find myself a good Fair Isle Stocking pattern… πŸ™‚

  8. maryse

    my first fair-isle project which was done pretty much on the fly using motifs that i had found in an old knitting book, was a neck garter that i made out of dk weight (i think)- i remember it being a lot of fun.

  9. KarenB

    Alrighty, then! You may proceed this way to exit my head.

    I was thinking this morning that Fair Isle should be my “next big thing.” Thanks for the suggestion and the tips!

  10. Annarella

    Beautiful! I’ve never attempted sox (purely because I couldn’t “step” on something I’d knitted, I’d break my heart), let alone fair-isle sox, but I bow to your talent, they’re gorgeous!!! xxx

  11. LaurieM

    I knit those mittens out of semi-solid Koigu and wore them all winter long. I’m looking forward to wearing them again another year. I like the way the whorl fills in the gaps around the points of the main motif.

    I think your double seam idea is a smart one, and it would imitate the first sock more closely.

  12. hellahelen

    Refresh my memory: are you a two-fisted Fair Isler, a one-handed, both yarns on one finger Fair Isler, or a one-handed, yarns on different fingers Fair Isler?


  13. Laura(keet)

    Wow, what a lovely darlin’ sock! I’m sure it will love its cousin very much.

    That hat book looks awesome; I’ll have to peruse it in person. I haven’t FI’d myself yet but I did pick up a FI hat kit from Green Mtn Spinnery at MD Sheep & Wool. The kits are GREAT and the patterns are in color. The samples at the festival were beautiful. Sadly I didn’t see the kits available on (just checked) but perhaps they will add them someday.

  14. hellahelen

    Oh, duh, the answer to my “how do you Fair Isle” question is right there in your post. . . that part about dominant color. . .

    Nice socks! πŸ™‚

  15. Ruth

    Awesome socks! I am SO going to get on with my FI fire socks. And because of you and Eunny, that fitted FI jacket flitting around the back of my brain for the last year is rising inexorably to the top of the to do list – in fact, the authentic Shetland wool is winging its way here (or ought to be – I ordered it yesterday.)

    I’m so glad you mentioned the dominance thing, because I had NOT clued into that before, and clearly it does make a big difference. I am shamed to admit that I was, until now, picking with the colour that had the most stitches showing because I like picking better than throwing. Now that my OCD has been triggered, I must dig the half-finished Alice Starmore out of storage to see if I can bear to continue.

  16. Margot

    Oh yes, I heartily agree that Hats On is full of great patterns for first-time fair islers. I think my first fair isle was a some detail on a mitten cuff, but my first all-over FI was from that book.

    The sock is lookin’ good.

  17. Cara

    Forget the fair isle – I am SO all about the knee high! LOVE IT!

    And I totally agree that Nona rocks. She is a wealth of information.

  18. nat

    I love the Fair Isle. Definitely envious. I can’t wait to see what you do with the decreases – I also have those “shapely” calves (from all that damn baseball when I was little!). πŸ™‚

  19. Susan

    You are such a hoot! I love following your love of the knitting process on your blog. You give a whole new perspective to the craft. Go, Girl!!

  20. Siow Chin

    You’re rekindling my fairisle love. My FI scarf experiment is still stuck there in the cupboard but no, no, no, I have to focus on the WIPs … …

  21. Katarina

    Very pretty, indeed! And yes, ma’am! I’ll find a nice fair isle sock pattern STAT and knit my heart out! πŸ˜‰ I’m waiting for Nancy Bush’s “Folk Socks” to arrive, I’m sure I’ll find something nice in there. You’ve definitely inspired me to do some colourwork!

    /De-Lurkin’ Katarina

  22. marjorie

    Those socks look terrific.

    “Hats On!” is an underrated book. My first circular knitting project was the watch cap from that book, and even though it is now easy, I’ve made it many times because it is so nice for the men in my family. The instructions for the tubular cast-on in ciruclar knitting are particularly good. Heilo works perfectly for that watch cap.

    My first Fair Isle project was mittens from a Swedish pattern leaflet. But similar patterns are in Folk Socks–and I’d recommend those as a first two-color project. The only other challenge is the thumb, which I think is easier than turning heels.

  23. April

    You are the queen of fair isle, so you have to say, “Get along with you” instead of “Shoo” hahahaha j/k I’m getting the fair isle bug, too, one of these times I’ll actually DO something about it.

    I need to learn the two handed method first though.

  24. Heather

    I love these and the blue and cream socks. Now I have an idea for my next challenge.

    All of a sudden everyone is doing knee socks. I’m working on a pair of lace knee-highs, but fairisle is next methinks.

  25. liz

    Love your blog, you inspired me to try patterned socks. But it turns out that trying to follow the complexities of the color changes in each row is slow and annoying. As you knit these socks, do you follow the pattern stitch by stitch, or do you know the direction the pattern is going so you don’t have to knit with one eye on the pattern and one eye on the sock? Do tell!

  26. Krista M

    Kathy, a quick question for you…Awhile back you made a sweater with pentagons around the neck. I am planning on making Nora Gaughan’s Supernova Pullover from the new Interweave Knits that has a similar construction. Helpful hints? Did you do anything differently?

  27. Sara

    I’ve always wanted to try fair isle but have this insane fear that I will end up wrapped up in various strands of yarn and not be able to move.

  28. Julia

    I would actually continue with the motif you have, moving to something a little smaller further down the leg. I think that it’s in keeping with the boldness of the first sock, but that it will be hard to visualize how it all works together until you get further along in the pattern.

    By the way, congrats on the pointy addi turbos – it will be nice to have choices.

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