Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fair Isle Socks or Mittens

This post is especially for anyone who is signing up for the Fair Isle Socks or Mittens class at River Knits, February 19, 26, and March 5; 7-9pm. This is a great class for anyone who has already knit socks and is ready to take the next step into something more complicated. Socks and mittens have a lot in common: they are small, cover our extremities, and offer a wonderful little canvas for beautiful Fair Isle stitch work.

As with the HATS! class, I encourage you to choose a pattern that appeals to you. But, I also understand that there are so many patterns to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow it down. I recommend first deciding what size needles and yarn you are comfortable with and going from there. For more about yarn weights, please visit the Craft Yarn Council's page on the Standard Yarn Weight System. Here are some pattern suggestions (some, but not all, are free):

Fingering Weight:  This is the finest weight you'd want to use for mittens or socks (though there are people who actually use lace weight sometimes....I'm not one of them).  Fingering weight yarn is usually knit on needles size 0-3 (depending on how you knit) at 7-10 stitches per inch. This very fine gauge allows for intricate patterning.  On Ravelry, there are more than 1000 sock patterns and more than 700 mitten patterns that fit into this category (fingering or light fingering). So, this is truly just a tiny sampling of what's available.

Butterflies are Free by Rose Hiver I love that these socks are mirror images of each other.
Wallflower by Stephanie van der Linden are beautiful!
Pisqu by Leslie Comstock are very traditional looking. Beautiful.
Garden Gate Socks by Emily Johnson  Yes, they are knee socks, and yes, they are knit at 9 stitches/inch, but man, they are beautiful!
Dither by General Hogbuffer  I love way the colors meld into each other on these.

Lotus Mittens by Heather Desserud are quite lovely.
La Joie du Printemps also by Heather Desserud are amazingly beautiful.
Okay, I have to admit I'm finding myself falling in love with lots of mittens designed by Heather Desserud. :)
Akay by Natascha Reim Latvian style mittens.
Peerie Flooers by Kate Davies also has a matching hat pattern!

Sport Weight:  A little heavier than fingering weight, sport weight (and sometimes DK weight) socks and mittens knit up a little faster than their fingering weight brethren. They are typically knit at a gauge of 6-7 stitches per inch on size 2-5 needles (again, depending on how you knit). There are significantly fewer sport weight patterns for mittens and socks than for fingering. Here are some that appeal to me.

Caspian Sea Socks by Priscilla Gibson Roberts
Pizzelle by SpillyJane
Tank Girl Socks by Laura Hohman  (Another pair of knee socks. I made these for my daughter for Christmas this year, and I have to pry them off of her to wash's kind of gross and flattering all at the same time.)
Svedia Socks by SJ Griffin

Winter Wonder Mittens by Amy Loberg I love the swirly snowflake motif on this!
Narwhal Mittens by Ysolda Teague  because...narwhals.
Forest Mushroom by Elinor Brown  features Estonian braid on the cuff, which I love.
Robot Love Mittens by Fact Woman from Mod Knits  Who wouldn't love mittens with robots on one side and binary code on the other?!

Worsted Weight and Heavier: yarns in this weight range create super-warm socks and mittens. The look is a little more rustic because the yarn is thicker, so you can't get the intricate details you can with thinner yarns. Socks and mittens in this weight range are usually knit at 5.5 or fewer stitches per inch, typically on needles larger than size 4 (as stated before, it depends on how you knit). On Ravelry, there are fewer than 50 Fair Isle sock patterns that fall into this category, but still more than 500 mitten patterns.

Miner's Dream by Jennifer Still are lovely.
Bunny Hop OP Sock by Laura Andersson are super cute with a ruffle at the top.
Fair Isle Sock by Patons would be really lovely in natural shades of Cascade 200.

Knitter's Mitten by Elisabeth Sliney Marino features grazing sheep!
Maine Woods and Rivers Mittens by Pat Higgins are rustic and lovely.
Bacon Mittens by Nikol Lohr  because.....bacon.
Drifty Mittens by Mandy Powers are so adorable and call for Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky on size 9 needles!

So, I hope that at least gives you a good starting point for finding some Fair Isle sock and mitten patterns. Please don't feel limited to this list! Choose whatever you like, and well work through them together!  If you need additional help finding something, just email me at And, if you want to sign up and join us for the class, stop by, call or email River Knits. This 3-session class is $45. Hope to see you there!!!

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