Thursday, June 17, 2010

fair isle

We are lucky to have quite a few Grandmas in our family. Six in fact, including Great Grandma Pearl. Even luckier for us, they all are tremendously skilled knitters, have taught me to knit and make gorgeous garments for their Grandchildren. This fair Isle cardigan /jacket came in the post last week from Nana Bec in Wanaka.

Nana Bec likes to improvise and draw from exciting colour palates when she knits. Her garments always have such flare and originality. She especially seems to enjoy all the multiple colour and woven pattern options of the fair isle and intarsia techniques.
I think the wee lass will be lucky enough to see this coat through three winters. Currently she wears it with the sleeves rolled up and it just stops short of her knees. I'm guessing next winter it will almost be a perfect fit and the year after she will probably start to out grow it.

Another one of our many knitty Nanas visited us yesterday. Being impressed, but quiet and slightly competitive, she was checking out the craftsmanship of Nana Bec's coat, paying her respects to the detail and execution.

She then went on to tell me everything she knows about knitting historically and about the pattern of fair Isle coming from the island of the same name in northern Scotland (apparently the fisherman who were particularly gnarly and rugged from all their time out at sea, would knit in this tradition.)

She explained that the Guernsey style jumpers (with the split at the hem) come from the island (also of the same name) in the English channel and the Aran cable jerseys are from Ireland.

Tho this is of interest, it is not the actual facts themselves that are particularly meaningful.

It's the way she imparts all she can recall ...while the memories are still there, graspable and wanting to be heard... that I love.

I cling to these facts, accounts, stories, whatever they may be and hang off her every word in hope I will remember the moment of her sharing them with me.

It's these pieces of handmade clothing and the stories that go with them, that I will keepsake and cherish forever.