I have achieved a new record for my knitting: this cushion has the most colours I have ever combined in one knitted project.
I chose Marie Wallin’s pattern ‘Folk Fairisle Cushion’, but I went rogue with my colours. Looking at Ravelry projects for this pattern, I see that most knitters have followed the pattern exactly, using the recommended yarn and colours; only one other knitter chose their own colours as I did. It was not intentional, but friends say that my colour choices have a bit of a Christmas vibe.
When I have done colourwork before, I have tended to limit myself to two or three colours: one main and one or two pattern. This time, I bought a baker’s dozen of Jamieson’s Spindrift in three colour groups: shades of green, shades of pink–red and neutrals. I also threw in a ball of yellow as an accent, but I used so little of it that you can barely tell it is there.
The colours were inspired by the upholstery of my favourite armchair. I enjoy choosing colours, but with almost a hundred in the shop to choose from, taking the upholstery swatch with me as a starting point helped me narrow it down and not become overwhelmed by indecision.
I chose to make a Fair Isle cushion rather than something wearable to ease my nerves about not having enough experience with Fair Isle knitting to predict how colours will blend. A technicolour cushion is easier to live with than a technicolour jumper, which I might find difficult to wear.
Marie Wallin is a truly professional pattern designer, a megastar in the knitting world. I found her pattern easy to follow, but it is not one for the faint-hearted. As well as the colourwork, you have to be confident picking up stitches sideways and grafting. There are also a gazillion ends to weave in.
Marie’s patterns use clear symbols, but I found it helpful to sketch the charts on graph paper to show the contrast between the pattern and background parts of each band. I then use coloured pencils to play with colour combinations. When knitting, I returned to the pattern charts. I only used my sketches for colour planning because a heavy symbol on the chart can look misleadingly like a dark colour. My colouring-in exercise did not really reflect the finished product, but planning in this way gave me the confidence to start knitting. I hope my colour combinations will improve with practice.
I used some corduroy I had in the cupboard to make the cushion back. The texture of corduroy seemed a better choice than the quilting cotton I had. The pattern calls for a sewn fabric back, but I briefly considered knitting a plain red panel.
Initially, I thought the cushion was too busy on the patterned chair, but it has been sitting there for a couple of months, and I rather like it now.
After this experiment, I plan to do more Fair Isle knits. I have lots of leftover yarn and hope to try steeking next time – anything to avoid weaving in ends!