I love to knit Fair Isle patterns and often have the urge to incorporate some Fair Isle motifs into mostly solid projects that I am making. These include hats, sweaters, afghans and the like. This book is perfect for incorporating Fair Isle into your knitting patterns or developing a pattern of your own using one of the 200 motifs from this knitting directory. It is a wellstone of pattern possibilities. The author describes the book as "a knitter's directory of 200 Fair Isle motifs". Is is, in essence, an encyclopedic dictionary of most of the motifs you can imagine in the Fair Isle tradition.
"The directory is organized by row and stitch count. It includes a stunning, actual-size photograph, a black and white chart, a color chart, a color variation chart, and a suggested all-over repeat chart for each of the 200 motifs." There is a section on Essential Skills for Fair Isle knitting. For the purist, there is no substitute for Shetland wool. However, the author concedes that baby and sock yarns, Norwegian yarn, Icelandic wool, mohair, cotton, variegated and novelty yarns can all be used to create Fair Isle. The section on gauge stresses the importance of knowing gauge before starting the project. We all know this to be true but even I have knitted sweaters big enough to fit the whole state of Iowa into because I was lazy about gauge. There is a nice section about casting on and another about circular knitting. The author has a page on how to hold the yarn and another page on stranding. There is a section on weaving and one on increasing and decreasing. Steeking, a process that has always scared me, is covered as well. Color theory is addressed which is very helpful because the multi-colored basis of Fair Isle depends on color harmonies and choice. The author addresses design principles and ways to plan a project.
Excitedly, I turned to the section on Motif Selector and was gaga. There are so many motifs and so many beautiful ones. Each motif is shown in multi-colored possibilities. The photographs are close-up and beautiful. Interweave Press and Mary Jane Mucklestone have outdone themselves with this book, a resource any Fair Isle knitter (or knitter-to-be) can not do without. It is superb.
This Fair Isle reference goes beyond so many of its predecessors because of the vivid close-up photography and information on color knitting.
The motifs range from very basic (2-3 stitch repeats over 1-2 rows) to the most advance OXO style motifs (which include color suggestions as well as potential companion motifs). Each motif shows a basic chart, a closeup photo of the motif worked in knitting (in full color!) and some also offer repeat pattern charts for a larger/all over effect.
The book also includes some information on two-color knitting with information on circular knitting, how to fix mistakes, joining pieces and steeking. I would not call this a comprehensive reference because, while the photographs are excellent, they are only a page or so on each technique. If I were working my first steek, I would want more details.
This, along with a good sweater design reference (for sizing, potential sweater shapes, etc) is a must-have for a knitter who is reader to begin working with color.
on November 23, 2011
Every knitter should own this book! I highly reccomend it to anyone who knits - at any level of ability. The pictures alone are inspiring and the range of patterns from easy to complex make Fair Isle and colour-work approachable.
I'm not an accomplished Fair Isle knitter - colour doesn't come easily to me and sweaters are still daunting. I know how to knit so I don't need general instructions. It's the colour samples and the thoroughness of MaryJane Mucklestone's presentation that make this book a canon. She has managed to make Fair Isle feel doable - breaking down the patterns into a series of patterns - each of which is beautifully presented and charted.
I always look for MaryJane Mucklestone's work because of her consistently engaging take on tradition and design. I've been following her knitting design/colour work and Fair Isle in particular, for some time. She brings a lilt - an almost Sixties whimsy to solid traditional techniques and designs. Recently she's been writing/photographing wonderful South American and Andean knitting. Her photo documentation is excellent - she clearly knows how to style and I love the frequent hints at the settings of her own life and travels. I learn something every single time I sit down and follow one of her posts or articles. In this book, she's done it again.
If you enjoy Fair Isle knitting, you will definitely want to add this excellent Fair Isle technical reference and stitch dictionary to your knitting book collection! It's a wonderful "quick reference" guide to colorwork knitting that beautifully complements my two favorite "complete" Fair Isle knitting references, Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, and The Art of Fair Isle Knitting: History, Technique, Color & Patterns (both of which discuss Fair Isle knitting techniques and design theory in depth, and include some wonderful garment patterns).
This book contains no garment patterns. Most of the book is given over to a directory of repeating Fair Isle motifs, which are arranged in order from the simplest (single-row, two-stitch "lice") to the most complicated (19-row, 24-stitch rosettes). The directory starts with a "Motif Selector" that shows each motif knitted in a full-color swatch. The stitch pattern pages that follow for each motif include (1) a chart for the motif by itself, (2) a chart for the motif in a repeating pattern, (3) a full-color chart for the motif as knitted in the sample swatch, and (4) a full-color chart for the motif in the repeating pattern as knitted in the swatch. Each motif page gives the row and stitch counts for the individual motif. Motifs include the traditional OXO, poinsettias, pine trees, rosettes, hearts, Greek keys, and many others.
Knitters who are new to Fair Isle knitting will love the beautiful full-color, close-up photos of Fair Isle knitting on the needles that appear in the comprehensive "Essential Skills" chapter. Particularly valuable are the "Holding the Yarn" photos that show three ways of holding yarn for two-color knitting, and the "Weaving" photos that show the back of the work with perfectly-tensioned floats.
The "Essential Skills" chapter covers (1) yarn, (2) gauge, (3) casting on, (4) circular knitting, (5) holding the yarn, (6) increasing and decreasing, (7) correcting mistakes (by taking back, unraveling rows, or using duplicate stitch), (8) joining pieces together, (9) steeking, (10) blocking and finishing, (11) color theory, (12) color harmony, (13) color choice, (14) classic design principles, and (15) planning a project. Each topic is clearly explained using text, drawings, and step-by-step photos.
Because it is beautiful to look at, this book should make a wonderful gift for any knitter, regardless of the knitter's skill level. However, knitters should be able to read charts to get the most out of the book. (For learning to read knitting charts, I recommend Charts Made Simple: understanding knitting charts visually). Because the book is an invaluable reference for any knitter who is interested in Fair Isle colorwork knitting or design, I give it an unqualified 5 stars.
on November 21, 2015
I bought this book because I was interested in, but intimidated by, Fair Isle knitting. The book begins with a gallery of clear, color photos of swatches of increasing complexity. Then there is a detailed page for each motif, with both a color chart and a black/white graph. These make it very easy to follow the "recipe". I decided to make a sampler scarf. After the first 3", I was adding my own modifications to the pattern, By the time I was 12" into it, I was designing my own, from scratch!
I did notice a couple of minor discrepancies, but nothing that isn't obvious, e.g., the book says motif 200 is 19 rows, but it's clearly 23.
on January 27, 2014
The only reason I gave this book a 4 is because it is a paperback ( a well constructed paperback) and is not so easy to hold open for work. That said, I am delighted with the possibilities it offers for decorating garments. What I most like about it is how Mucklestone offers other color possibilities and other value choices for each motif. She also shows how to use each motif as an overall pattern and how to combine different motifs in one project. I've not used the book yet other than looking through and drooling over it, since I'm in the middle of my first stranded project. But, it won't be long.
on October 27, 2012
If Alice Stareemore is the Queen of Fair Isle than this author is clearly in the Royal Family.
I was hesitant to order this book b/c I have books that have many motifs, and I have all the " real" fair isle books that have been published thru the years. BUT this book, is pure EYE CANDY,,,,nothing less.
Others before me have gone more in depth in their reviews so I will not go over what has been reviewed already.
Some knitters are really into cables and stitch patterns and then there are knitters who have a deep love of color, and I love color in my knitting
All my knitting not just in sweaters.
All I know is that this book has all the motifs in COLOR which puts this in a completely different category~
There are motifs that I can use on a hat,,,,on mittens, and ultimately, on a sweater. I will find ways to use this book in ALL my areas of knitting! ( and yes I will be keeping this book in my knitting bag AT ALL TIMES)
This book has lots of information on a " how to" w/ Fair Isle, which I did not think it would have so there is a lot of information in this book for anyone wanting to give colorwork a go, it is very informative,
I am really inspired by this book ! I had wanted to design my own sweater (or vest for DH) and yes I could have used one of my other books but this one will be use a whole lot more b/c the COLOR pictures will help me design a lot better.
It is ALWAYS easier to get inspired when you see a motif in living color vs black and white'
This book is clearly one of THE BEST Fair Isle books I own!
Total EYE CANDY!!!!!!!! AND, while this book could be left out on the coffee table b/c it has very pretty designs in it, it WILL live in my knitting bag so I can use this book in a good majority of the knitting I do. This gives saving wool scraps a whole new meaning.
on December 16, 2011
I'm a beginner knitter, so I have much to learn and many new techniques to explore. I will say, however, that this book is the most inspiring and beautiful knitting publication that I have come across. Previously, when I would search for fair isle motifs or patterns to play around with, I only had the black and white, traditional charts to inform me. I'm not saying that these are antiquated and are not useful, but Mary Jane Mucklestone's coupling of each motif with a clear, color picture of the knit swatch is enormously helpful. I was also impressed by the sheer number of motifs that were included. I realize the title of the book gives that away, but while flipping threw, I literally saw thousands of ideas forming in my mind, with new pattern and color combinations. The book itself is handsomely designed and I would definitely recommend this as a gift for all of your knitting friends and family.
on January 11, 2015
This is great, just what I was hoping for, really. If you've ever thought about borrowing motifs from any number of Fair Isle patterns to put your own together, this makes that really easy and convenient because the charts are right where you'd expect them to be.
The motifs are also nicely organized, and the variety of colors used are just lovely...never garish. It's a precarious balance, I think, to create a book that uses yarns and colors to communicate ideas without those yarns and colors taking over center stage.Ms. Mucklestone handles that balance splendidly. If the colors on the cover appeal to you, so will the rest of this book.
I've noticed with collections of things that one can buy at once like that Columbia Classical Music collection you bought years ago, or one's first giant tool or hardware parts set, or even when we used to buy albums years ago, there was often one thing that received a lot of use, a couple more that were used sometimes, and a whole lot of things that were rarely if ever used. Stitch dictionaries, and if I may be so bold as to include this with those, frequently don't fit that type, and this one certainly doesn't. There's no dregs here, no filler...these are all motifs that seem like they might have a useful place. If you collect stitch dictionaries as I do, this one will have a worthy place.
It seems evident to me that this book was constructed with a lot of care, and a lot of attention to detail. It expands my "vocabulary" considerably, and I already have a project in mind with which to use it.
on February 12, 2013
I honestly cannot imagine a way to improve this book. Where do I begin the praises? Let's start with the visual guide, which enables you to find the stitch pattern you want in the space of a few pages, eliminating the need to leaf through the whole book when looking for inspiration. Every stitch dictionary should have this type of index, it would save hours! When you choose your pattern, you can immediately see how many stitches and rows each repeat will take up, making your life easier whether you are designing from scratch or adding color to an existing pattern. Then the stitch is charted in three different styles- two color variations and black-and-white- ensuring that anyone can find a chart that is easy for them to read. I am recommending this book to all my knitting friends.