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Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Faroe Vine Sweater and Hat
Topic: faroese knitting

This hat was knit by Tracey Ewing:

Posted by countrywool at 7:30 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007 8:56 AM EDT
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Faroe Broken Root Sweater and Hat
Topic: faroese knitting



Posted by countrywool at 7:21 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007 8:58 AM EDT
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Faroe Blossom Sweater and Hat
Topic: faroese knitting

Pictures tell a greater story than any words, and so here is the Faroe Blossom design.












Posted by countrywool at 7:14 AM EDT
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Monday, 15 January 2007
A steeked Faroese cardigan project
Topic: faroese knitting

So, why are steek techniques so varied? The biggest mystery to me is why an "inny" or an "outy". This experiment on my needles is my Faroese Vine Cardigan intended for the Cape Ann (MA) Knitting retreat(s) in March and April (and again in November in New York...dates to be announced in April). Knit with Dale HEILO in charcoal and lightest grey heather, the steek below is a purled steek, while the snappy stripes above are a knit steek. I LIKE knitting the steek stitches, and resented puling the yarn to the front for the purled one. However, is stands to reason that the purled one will fold inward better and create an easier edge to pick up stitches from. We'll see. 

Next on the agenda is a twisted knit for the steek stitches. This cardigan will be a true steek sampler.

Posted by countrywool at 10:39 AM EST
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Wednesday, 23 August 2006
Kid's Faroe Blossom Sweater...after blocking
Topic: faroese knitting

It is always an act of faith for me when I knit to make a specific size in a new yarn. I gauge and swatch and gauge and swatch and wash and block many hats before I settle on a "blocking ratio" change. Two stranded color knitting can change size dramatically after blocking. Yarns vary in their elasticity. And, most importantly, knitters vary in their tensioning systems while they knit with two strands of yarn at the same time.

I have discovered that "I" will gain about 1.5" of width and an inch of length when I block Dale's Norwegian wool HEILO yarn. (This on a child's sweater). This discovery took quite a few hats until I was satisfied I was consistent. So, I knit my desired sweater 1" shorter than I wanted (1/2" in the body and 1/2" in the shoulder) and used a WORKING GAUGE of 6.5 sts=1", rather than the 6 sts=1" that measures in the final washed hat.

The final result:

The washing method I use for blocking: use HOT water and a tablespoon of your favorite shampoo. Soak for 20 minutes. Lift the sweater out of the basin carefully and let drip. Run hotter water in the basin, gently squeeze the drips out of the soapy sweater and immerse in the hot water, letting soak 10 minutes. Remove the sweater and carry to the washing machine. Turn off ALL water valves so no water at all can enter the washer. Set the washer for SPIN, and if you can, a gentle cycle. Spin for about 10 minutes. 

Find the measurements desired in the beginning, and lay out your sweater, front side down, on a thick towel or clean bedspread, using a yardstick to move the warm knitting around to your specifications. Leave the sweater alone for 6 hours, then turn it over and repat into size. Let dry at least a full day (more if you are in humid air).

Just a note on the construction of this sweater; I am CONTINUALLY DELIGHTED with the tidy shoulder lines that circular knitting brings to any garment. It is a challenge to get all the patterns centered as you join body and sleeves, so that the patterns decrease in a pleasing and balanced way as you knit around up to the neck. I find writing patterns for these designs to be incredibly challenging (which is part of the fun), but the smooth knitting that results is rewarding.

This sweater is one of 3 designs that will be available at the Cape Ann Faroe Sweater Knitting Retreat next March, in sizes 6 months through Men's XXXL.


Posted by countrywool at 8:29 AM EDT
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Monday, 31 July 2006
Kid's Faroe Blossom Sweater...before blocking
Topic: faroese knitting



Having spent the last 2 months vacationing from blog writing (among other things) I have returned to tackle my favorite knitting topic: blocking.

In the Knitting Doctor Sessions I run here at Countrywool once or twice a month, the effectiveness of blocking has to be one of the biggest surprises for most knitters. What is there about hot water and soap, along with flat drying, that creates such harmony and unity in a natural fiber garment? How is it that your so-so knitted project can blossom and align itself in a most professional manner after a few simple steps? 

Above you see the finished Kid's Faroe Blossom Sweater (one of the featured patterns at next year's Cape Ann Faroe Sweater Knitting Retreat ) BEFORE BLOCKING. I will now wash it and post the next picture when it is dry, along with a full explanation of how I go about it. 

Posted by countrywool at 8:35 PM EDT
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Thursday, 11 May 2006
A Lighter Blossom Hat
Topic: faroese knitting

This pastel, but still all natural color, version of the Blossom hat feels springlike. It sports a complete tubular edge of 12 rounds.

I hate the edge. It really doesn't behave the way I want it to. Still, it looks fine, but is not worth the extra trouble.

I am working on a third hat right now, in a different pattern chart. Picture coming next week. It will have just a 4 round tubular edge, and I am LIKING it. Have also tried a percentage change in the ribbing to see if that will give me what I like. When switching from a single rib to a 2-stranded stockinette color pattern, wonky things happen to the fabric created.

Posted by countrywool at 1:49 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 10 May 2006
New Faroe Designs...The Blossom Hat
Topic: faroese knitting

I dug my needles into Faroe knitting while I was still at the Nordic Retreat. Hats are always the first item on the list when contemplating a new sweater design, as they are a great tool for checking out color combinations and edge treatments as well as circular gauge.

I experimented with tubular cast on styles and intensities, wanting to offer that at the retreats next year. I really like the edge one gets. Used for just a few rounds, it is super. Used for the entire hem-edge, I am not so sure I like it. I have a second hat waiting in the wings, drying while being blocked. I will report in a few days about the differences between them.

The hat above sailed out of here on Bob's head Sunday while still wet. (He has new friends who are knitters and he wanted to show it to them). Well, it came back this morning on his head. Since it is a cool day, and he whined so nicely, I let him keep it for a bit, but made him sit for the picture. I elicited a PROMISE that as soon as it gets hot, the hat comes back for the summer, so I can display it in the shop.

Posted by countrywool at 11:17 AM EDT
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Thursday, 6 April 2006
Next in the retreat plans...Faroese sweaters
Topic: faroese knitting
I have been fascinated for a long, long time by the ethereal beauty of Faroese color patterns in sweaters. Simple, simple, natural sheep colors used in small repeated patterns make for easy knitting and warm clothing. In the Norwegian tradition, such two layer fabric can weather hard wear, and is very beautiful.

"The Faroe Islands are 18 tiny islands situated in the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Norway. Only 45.000 people live on the islands. Still it’s a nation of it’s own with own culture and own language."
So begins an intro on the Faroese design website of Gudrun & Gudrun, two designing women from the Faroe Islands. Sheep and wool are enjoying a resurgence and are once again a good business there, but it was not always so. The Islands and the sheep have struggled over the centuries. If you find their history as interesting as I do, you will enjoy this article.

Knitting came to the Islands in the late 1500's, and within a very short time, the quota of knitted socks that were exported reached in the hundreds of thousands. Sweaters were hand knitted at large gauges and sold in the mid 1900's. Here is an original design by Meg Swansen with Faroe color stitch patterns. Many times the marketed sweaters were turtlenecks. Most were steeked to add in the sleeves. Many sported natural sheep colors and all had lovely, simple to knit repeated small color stitch patterns that employed almost no float wrapping, which would slow down a knitter.

Over the years I have dabbled with Faroe stitches in some hat patterns I've written. On the left is FAROE BANDED HAT and on the right is FAROE VINE HAT. They are quite fun to knit and go remarkably fast even with two colors as there is no fiddling with the carried color. For the three sweater patterns, three hat patterns, and one sock pattern I have in my head, I hope to fully explore the use of 9 different natural sheep colors in the next year. I will break with tradition to create sweater patterns that do not have steeks, but rather raglan shoulder shapings, so that the entire garment can be worked continuously on circular needles, with only a few underarm stitches left to graft at the end.

Posted by countrywool at 8:08 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006 8:12 AM EDT
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