Many Mahalos to Wendy at Websters (see link in the sidebar!) for getting me excited about Fair Isle while I am still a beginning knitter. She challenged me with it and threw me in, and the result was that my second and third sweaters ever were Fair Isle! The Second Sweater was a delectable confection of handspun (which Wendy also gave to me) half of which we dyed with Orange Kool-Aid. The result was a creamy orangesicle of a baby sweater. The Third sweater is the Philosopher's Wool Kilim Jacket in Nightsky colorway which, although I have been wearing it for some time now, technically still resides in the UFO pile due to lack of clasps. (Now would be a good time to finish that, what with the left pinkie work-injury and all).
Learning Fair Isle early has spared me the stress that other knitters seem to feel about the double-handed technique, the stress they have about cutting in steeks, and the mental block against using the other hand. Indeed, because of the right and left-handed weaving-in action of Fair Isle, I learned Continental very soon after learning English method. I now use Fair Isle weaving stitches to join new balls of yarn (Okay, I admit to knotting yarn together when my cat unexpectedly eats a hole in the strand! See Merino Kitty Floss below). And in case of dire, workman's comp claim, work-related repetitive stress injuries like that of my left hand (Wah!) I plan on knitting English for a bit.
But I must thank Wendy for introducing me to this technique for one reason above all:
The satisfaction and balance of it. The pure feeling of even-ness that comes from using two hands and both sides of the brain to create this fabric. As the sweater grew in length, supported by both hands on two even needles, I felt both sides of my brain straining and both sides of my body involved. Now I must admit that one handed/ one color knitting feels... lopsided.
If you want to see a video of two handed stranded Fair Isle technique:
There was a section of the baby sweater, before I knew about cutting steeks for armholes, where I was knitting back and forth on the upper chest: Right to Left with White on Right and Orange on Left and then back the other way: Left to Right with White on Left and Orange on Right. If you don't believe me about evenly straining both sides of the brain, try that for a minute: At some point your brain and body just get it, and you realize that it is all that same beautiful knit stitch, just on different hands on different needles going different ways with different colors... But it is all the same, it is all One.
(Um, that said and all: Does anyone know how to weave-in Fair Isle while on the Purl side? I mean, just in case, at some future time, I might want to avoid that even feeling of being united with the One and work the Purl side on the way back... Anyone?)