Why Buy, When You Can Knit?

October 5, 2010 § 4 Comments

E.O. Schaub

There are few things more abjectly humbling for a knitter, I think, than one’s first gaze upon a Shetlander knitting Fair Isle. And if that knitter is me, then figure in being just-off-the-plane jet lagged and staggering around with an “I got forty-five minutes of sleep last night” look on my face. I was, in short, agape.

It was the beginning of September and I was lucky enough to be attending a knitting conference (!) in the Shetland Islands (!!). Carol, a good friend, fellow writer and obsessed knitter whose ancestors are from the Shetland islands, (and who, it turns out, is related to a good third of the population of the town of Lerwick,) was going and she invited me to tag along.

Shetland Fair Isle Sweaters

Before I left, everyone I spoke with was extremely curious: what could a “knitting conference” possibly entail? And where the heck are the Shetland Islands? I, personally, had no idea. Being a big fan of both knitting and going new places, however, I was absolutely convinced I was going to like the answers. It was on that basis alone that I rearranged my life, forked over a truckload of moolah to the good people at Continental Airlines, and agreed to miss my children’s first week of school. (Gasp! Crappy mother alert!)

But back to me being agape. “Fair Isle” is a much-abused term which describes patterned knitting using multiple colors. You see the term bandied about with carefree abandon, used to describe everything from J. Crew pullovers to dog booties, but seeing the real thing in action is another matter altogether. Fingers fly. Incredibly intricate patterns emerge as if by magic. Often, there are no patterns in sight, because the knitter has all the relevant information… in her head. « Read the rest of this entry »

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