Knitting samples: a touch of Fair Isle and a bit of Swiss Darning

It has been my aim with this blog to try to complete and show one item of either knitting or embroidery each week. Sometimes other things get in the way and, having completed nothing in the week, I fall to talking about a book which I’ve found stimulating to thought or inspirational to design/making. (When my cupboard was really bare my husband’s hand made birthday cards have from time to time made their appearance and rescued me from the dread of the blank screen!) This week I was, however, buoyant with having got on with things and I felt I had achieved a lot. Sadly, when push came to shove and it was time to document my week’s production, I realised that although I’ve got a lot of ideas down on paper, all I’ve actually finished are a couple of knitting samples. Well, here they are.

Fair Isle sample bases on a design in Marie Wallin’s Once Upon a Time (collection 4)

The Fair Isle band is a sample for a jumper for the now-full-time-in-nursery-school grandson. The design for the decorative band was taken from Once upon a Time by Marie Wallin (collection 4) but I adapted it for Debbie Blisss Baby Cashmerino yarn quite simply because, with so many ends of balls left over from other things, I can have fun experimenting with colour with no additional expense. The small person also likes the yarn because it is gentle on a skin which has been known to find even Shetland wool a bit scratchy. Because the pattern calls for thicker wool and bigger needles than I was using, the change in scale has a very different look.

Sample flower – an attempt at Swiss Darning

The second sample, a pink splodge on pale blue, is an attempt at a flower which came from playing around with colouring pencils on graph paper. I tried knitting this in Fair Isle, but the strands of wool trailing behind became tangled and the stitches too tight – not a good look. I then knitted a plain square to which I added the design in Swiss darning  and this was a lot better.  Of course, those of you who have done this sort of thing before realise that translating a sketch into knitting has its pitfalls. Each knitted stitch is not a perfect square – like that on the graph paper – because the knitted version is wider than it is tall, and this makes your lovely well proportioned design rather short and fat. But this technique is at least flexible, even on a sample, for it allows you to add another row or two top and bottom to help restore the proportions of the original design – and this is what I did. The flower is still a bit of a blob but – and that’s the point of doing a sample – I shall come back to it and work on a bit more detail.

Collection of knitting patterns: Marie Wallin’s Once Upon a Time (collection 4)

My husband now works as a volunteer for Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum (The Wilson) and he has recently picked up on the blog he started when I started mine. He is particularly keen to highlight individual items in the gallery’s collection and to  document details as to provence, history, etc  which his research has thrown up. Although it is over 30 years since he was director of the gallery, his interest has never waned and coming into contact with items he himself  bought is like meeting again a whole host of long lost friends. If you would like to explore The Wilson’s collection do follow this link. (Not all posts are about the paintings and works on paper.)


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Anne Hill
    Posted September 10, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as one who has never mastered the art (science ?) of keeping tension even in knitting I am totally in awe of all your knitted creations. Embroidery I understand and have done a little, quilting I have done a great deal, but knitting is a deep dark mystery. Perhaps one has to learn young.

    I think your aim of doing something each week to blog about is excellent. It will help keep you focused as long as it doesn’t engender massive doses of guilt when you are unable to produce your quota !

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 11, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      I don’t think you do have to learn knitting young, I think you just have to have a reason to do it. I didn’t get going until I had grandchildren (mind you, it’s true there was certainly never time to learn when my own children were little). Just pick up something small and throw yourself in – that’s the way and don’t worry about tension till later. It’s certainly easier on the eyes in the evening than hand sewing

  2. Posted September 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just been graphing something for crochet and I’m wondering very much whether it will turn out as I intended. I like your bit of Fair Isle – promising, I think

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 11, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      I know exactly what you mean – you do have to know your medium, sometimes one’s designs are far too ambitious for its technical limitations but you can only really tell by having a go, can’t you? Best of luck, throw yourself in.

      • Posted September 27, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Done that! It went very peculiar for a while today!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted September 27, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

          But I’m seeing something positive in that ‘for a while’…

  3. Amara Bray
    Posted September 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Please don’t feel guilty about putting other subje re up on this blog. Although I love seeing the embroidery and knitting, it is your thoughts about the things that make it fun to read. When you post with your thoughts on a book or nature or whatever happens to be happening around you it is just as interesting. This is why I read you! That being said, fair isle knitting is an absolute miracle each time I see it. Very impressive.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 13, 2017 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Well Amara, thank you so much for such a helpful and generous comment. I always feel I’ve short changed viewers of the blog if I haven’t actually made something each week so it is very good to hear you enjoy the writing as much. Settling in here has involved lots of house bound activity for the time being but I hope I will have more things of interest to comment on soon.

  4. Sue
    Posted September 13, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    How rewarding for your husband, The Wilson is a lovely space! I was there on Monday with some friends and tomorrow at the ‘Drop In’ art group. My favourite item on show is the Art Nouveau hair comb/decoration, I am ashamed to say that I covet it, it is so very beautiful.
    Hoping you are enjoying your new home! Sue.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 13, 2017 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Oh I love that hair ornament too! I’ve volunteered to help with the costume collection but there are no longer sufficient staff to take on any more volunteers. 30 plus years ago my husband arranged for the costumes to be on display in The Pitville Pump Room and since that was brought to an end they’ve never really been displayed since, which is a shame.
      It’s good to hear The Wilson is an important part of your life. Have you dropped into The Paper Store?
      My husband is loving helping out with the art collection and even when not actually in the museum is hard at work compiling biographies of all the artists with work held by the gallery. We are both enjoying life in Cheltenham very much.

      • Sue
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        What a pity about the ‘hidden’ costumes, I would imagine there are many treasures being kept behind the scenes which the public may never get to see. I haven’t visited The Paper Store yet, I think it will deserve a proper visit rather than a quick perusal. ..I must add it to my ‘lovely things to do’ list! The Pump Room is another beauty at our disposal, the acoustics just right for concerts. We are so lucky. The literature festival is just around the corner and were you aware that there are Tuesday Lunchtime concerts at the Town Hall at the moment?? Too many treats! S.

        • Mary Addison
          Posted September 27, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          It is a pity that in all museums the lion’s share cannot be displayed and with the costumes at Cheltenham this is a particular shame. The curators are constantly at work rejigging exhibits and The Paper Store is particularly good for showing many things not often shown -like design drawings from the Arts and Craft collection, posters and bits of embroidery and jewellery.
          Unfortunately I shall not be in Cheltenham for the literary festival but I hope to make some of the lunch time concerts, which I didn’t know about until you mentioned them – thank you Sue.

One Trackback

  • […] As with the jumper in teal shown here, the pattern used is the two colour raglan sweater from Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino Book 5. My only complaint about this much used pattern is that I find the neck a bit too wide – perhaps next time I shalln’t pick up so many stitches at the front between the raglan edge and the stitches left on the needle holder? For details of the Fair isle see here. […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


  • September 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Aug   Oct »
  • Photographs & Media

    Please attribute any re-uploaded images to Addison Embroidery at the Vicarage or Mary Addison and link back to this website. And please do not hot-link images!