Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fair Isle Knitting

I haven't been to Fair Isle, just seen it in the distance from North Ronaldsay.  Here's a map showing the location of Fair Isle.

Fair Isle is part of Shetland, located 27 miles southwest of Sumburgh Head on the mainland of Shetland, and 27 miles northeast of North Ronaldsay, part of Orkney. 

Here's a photo I took at Sumburgh Head in Shetland, you can see the puffins, they are as cute as their name sounds

I don't know why this tiny island gave its name to the Fair Isle style of knitting.  I prefer to use the term  "Fair Isle" to this traditional style of colorwork of Scotland, and use the term "stranded colorwork" to refer to anything else.  It bothers me to see the term used for all colorwork styles.  However, there is so much culture passed along shipping routes;  see how close to Norway Shetland is...

Here's a sweater done in traditional Shetland colors, with a minimum of natural dying

I purchased Alice Starmore's famous book a long time ago;  Alice also speculates in the book on why this teeny island gave its name to such a tour de force of style

This book has recently been reissued by Dover Publications in 2009;  mine was published in 1988 by Taunton Press.

I think the only Alice Starmore pattern that I have done is a favorite, "Square Dance" 

I'm sure I did it in Alice's Alice Starmore Scottish Campion. (A campion, BTW, is a flower in the family known as "pinks" or "carnations").  My sons wore this sweater and it now hangs in my nephew's closet.  This is from Stillwater;  so why did I trash my copy as it now goes for $70 new on Amazon??

 I knit this vest below, now an old chestnut, but can no longer recall where the pattern came from;  I may have found a vest pattern and put it together with the classic peerie patterns, but I can't find either source in my book collection. "Peerie"  means "small" in Shetland dialect but I also heard it used in Orkney;  it also refers to the repeat in a Fair Isle pattern.

The yarn is a Green Mountain Spinnery single ply fingering weight that no longer exists.  I might wear this tomorrow to keep me warm,  it's cold here this month...

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Here's my needlefelted Santa (I didn't do it, but I am enjoying it);  merry merry.  Its snowing near here today;  unusual weather for us.  More next week.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Finished Objects

The Ashford traditional was sitting on an old trunk, and I caught Fiona sitting under it.  Fiona looks good with all furniture.  She's also sitting under some acid dyed Shetland Supreme.

Finally,  both of the twins' sweaters are done.  Well, that is, if buttons and zipper don't count.  To be redundant, both are from Noro Kids book but I used Plymouth Encore which should wash well.

Purchased at Barnes and Noble

 Too cute.  They have tiny pellets in their feet to make them stand up.  Off to bake some edible gingerbread people.    Merry merry...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lucia Day

Today is Lucia Day.  In case you don't know, Lucia was a young Christian woman who purportedly was martyred for her faith.  She was married to an Italian when all she really wanted was to be a devout Christian.  She brought food to Christians who were persecuted in Rome, and wore candles on her head so that she could carry food, according to this website and folklore.

Lucia Day is December 13th.  This date was the winter solstice in the old Julian calendar,  So this makes it appropriate that in Sweden and in many other countries, especially Scandinavian countries,  a Lucia Queen is crowned, usually with a battery-operated candle crown, and a procession is held.  She gives out pepparkakor or ginger cookies and people enjoy lussekatts, the buns eaten on this special day.  I make lussekatts (see this post for a little more discussion), and somewhere in my  recipe collection I have Karin Larsson's recipe for pepparkakor.

Wikipedia suggests some reasons why this Italian saint is venerated in Scandinavia.

Somewhere in all this melee of timing of the solstice, Lucia Day, and Christmas, Lucia has become associated with the Christmas holidays, and I like to think, the return of the light at the solstice.  I don't ordinarily spend alot of time with holiday decorating, but I love a little needlefelted Santa that I bought at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival a number or years back.  This year I decided to try to find a Lucia.   I located one on Etsy.  Darla makes adorable needle felted figures and I could spend an awful lot at her shop.  Here's the Etsy link.  Photo above of my Lucia, product of Darla's talent.

Before I located Darla's Lucia, I thought of knitting one, perhaps using Theodora 

  Helene's traditional Icelandic costume for Theodora would adapt nicely for Lucia's dress

Wouldn't she be cute??  Next year...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Camellias, holiday knitting rush

One of the lovely things about South Carolina is the camellias.  In previous years, the deer ate the buds and leaves off of the two that I have. My backyard deer traffic has lessened in the last couple of years as a major auto thorofare was  built a little ways behind my house;  I will gladly trade some traffic noise for camellia blossoms.  One of mine started blooming in November.  I believe it's Camellia japonica and might be Pink Perfection but here she is

I have another variety that is red with double blossoms that should bloom next month.  If you want to see some lovely and more varied camellia photos, visit Pixie's blog

Knitting time is slim this month, here is progress on nephew's sweater "Alex" from Noro Kids:  almost done, sleeves about 50% complete.  Ordering zipper today.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Confederate Rose

I was  biking one day in October several years ago, here in SC, and was stunned saw a HUGE 20 foot tall tree, with many large blossoms. A small bit of research revealed that it was a Confederate Rose, Hibiscus mutabilis.  It's not native to the south;  it's from China, but loves the southern part of the US.  And obviously it's not a rose, but in the hibiscus family.  Sometimes it's called a "Cherokee Rose".

Last Christmas I bought two, one for my sister, one for me.  Her soil is better than mine and she put hers in right away.  I waited till summer.  Hers is now about 6 feet tall, mine is about 3.  But mine had more blossoms than hers last month.  The blossoms start out virginal white, then go to light pink, then dark pink as they fade

I do love a hot pink;  it reminds me of the 2 ply lace weight yarn I bought at Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick two summers ago. 

The plan for this?  Possibly an Estonian lace wrap from my favorite book

I love living in SC as I can grow things that flower year round, and can always have some cut flowers in the house.  But the Confederate Rose goes from white to droopy hot pink in about 24 hours, so I enjoy it outside.