Bowland is knitted in the round from the bottom up. As it is a cardigan this requires a steek positioned at the centre front. The steek will be cut open towards the end of the knitting and button bands picked up on either side. At the armholes two further steeks are added for joining the sleeves. These two steeks are cut open, the sleeve stitches are picked up around the armholes and the sleeves are then knitted downwards to the cuffs.
There is almost no shaping in the garment other than on the sleeves, to make the knitting process as simple as possible, allowing the knitter to focus on their Fair Isle technique. The same motif patterns are used throughout the design again making it easier to build up familiarity and confidence during the knitting process. The sleeves have a slightly dropped shoulder again for ease of knitting. Any shaping or casting off is done on plain knit rows so there is no pattern to worry about at the same time.
The shoulders are joined together using three needle cast-off to provide structure and shape to the cardigan. This technique is fully explained in the pattern.
The raw edges of the steek are concealed behind a decorative ribbon which runs up both button bands and around the neck band. This in turn strengthens the button bands, stops them from stretching and makes them look very very pretty when your cardigan is left open or is hung on the back of a chair.
The pattern instructions themselves are extremely thorough and over the next few weeks I will be adding additional tutorials on the website to assist further. I knit Fair Isle with one colour in each hand which will be one of the new tutorials. Details of this technique are also included in the pattern.
However if you’ve never done Fair Isle knitting before there is a basic introduction video which you can already view on my website.
The Fair Isle motifs are shown as full colour charts and have been carefully designed so that no ‘catching’ of yarns along the rows is required. You can simply strand the yarn at the back of the work as you carry it forward to be used. There is also never more than two colours on any one row.
How to cut your steek is also shown and explained in the pattern.
The pattern comes in a wide range of sizes to cover from 30-52 inch (76-132 cm) bust. I’m wearing the 42-44 inch (107-112 cm) and the cardigan is designed to have a fairly close fit to ensure the shoulders fit nicely.
Bowland is knitted in Excelana 4ply using Alabaster, Sweet Chestnut, Land Army Green, Nile Green, Damson Wine and Dark Mandarin. The yarn is also available in kit form on the website. Excelana works beautifully for Fair Isle knitting. It is a ‘sticky’ yarn so the stitches want to hold together – always reassuring when you intend to cut them apart!
The great news is the yarn is also available as a kit from the website along with a free project bag.
You can get the kits here.
So why “Bowland“? Funnily enough this pattern has spent most of its life without a name. It was just the Basic Fair Isle Cardigan. Which seems a bit uninspiring seeing as most people who see it fall in love with it. Then a few weeks ago, a good friend mentioned how my colour palette had been affected by living here at the farm, and realising how true this was, the name simply fell into place. Our farm is in an Area of Outstanding Beauty known as the Forest of Bowland. The cardigan is knitted in very autumnal, ‘foresty’ colours and so it made sense to name it, Bowland. My first, but certainly not my last, design to be named after where I now live. One of the biggest influences on me though, has been the immediate surroundings of the farm, and when looking for a backdrop for the photoshoot it was no surprise to see that the same colours that could be found in Bowland were echoed in the architecture around me.
My favourite barn door became the natural place to use for the photos, the various shades of fading green paint reflecting both shades of green in the cardigan, the rusting metal and multi-hued stone capturing the tones of the Sweet Chestnut edgings and the Dark Mandarin detail shot through the Fair Isle design.
So a few weeks ago, when my lovely daughter, Charlie, was visiting, I cajoled her into taking photos of me. I think photographers make particularly bad models, as we spend more time thinking about the camera settings and the light and the background than we do about ourselves and must be thoroughly annoying to deal with. I’m really not happy modelling. I would much rather be behind the camera but I am slowly beginning to come to terms with being the model. Charlie somehow got me to behave myself though and she took the fabulous photos above. She made me feel a lot better about the whole thing – and if I could just stop analysing my short comings in the photos I’ll hopefully learn to enjoy it!
So for the details