Everyone loves a good stitch dictionary, and this is a good stitch dictionary.
Over the last year I’ve done a whole lot of knitted colourwork and I’ve really grown to enjoy it. It’s like making clothes out of pixels! I think I enjoy it because it takes me back to my childhood days of making patterns in MS paint to tile over the background of Windows 93. Apologies to any old folk; that legitimately counts as nostalgia now!
Anyway I’ve been looking for something inspiring to put on the bookshelf. I picked 200 Fair Isle Motifs by Mary Jane Mucklestone. When I saw the awesome behind-the-scenes photos of this book on Kate Davies’ blog I was completely sold.
The patterns are ordered from the very simple to the extremely elaborate and every single one has been beautifully charted, swatched and photographed. Not only that but each motif comes with multiple colour scheme suggestions and the occasional tip for combining motifs together. Some larger motifs have expanded chart variations that allow them to be tiled over an entire jumper.
Now I have seen decidedly less impressive stitch dictionaries where a mere colour variation counts as a whole new stitch design, seemingly just to bump the numbers up. But in this case, 200 motifs means 200. And then some!
At the start of the book is a good and broad overview of Fair Isle. The virtues of Shetland wool are thoroughly extolled and various techniques (e.g. holding the yarns, steeking) are shown with good clear photographs. There is also a section on colour theory for the uninitiated and tips for applying these patterns to jumpers.
200 Fair Isle Motifs is aimed squarely at the intermediate knitter; the aforementioned overview is certainly well laid out and nicely written, but it doesn’t coddle you. That’s not a criticism from me though. Technique is not the focus of this book, nor should it be.
The focus is all on the miles and miles of pretty knitting.
If you’re already confident enough in your knitting skills to apply patterns and stitches onto otherwise blank projects this book is well worth a look. It may not be the be-all and end-all of Fair Isle but it’s a an absolute well-spring of ideas.