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Fair Isle/ Wick Leaf Pattern

What’s in a name? That which we call a stinking corpse lily by any other name would smell as sweet, as Juliet so truly observed. But what about fictional characters? Swap them around and I can’t help feeling some of the mystique would be lost.

Flowers in Dunnet Forest

 Take Moby Dick. Would Ahab have sought his revenge so obsessively if its object had been a certain Peruvian bear and not The White Whale? I suspect not. “From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee, O cursed Paddington! And—I’m sorry, what’s this? A marmalade sandwich? Oh, er, thanks. And a paper plate and a napkin? Ahaha. Sorry about all the harpooning and blasphemy and stuff. Er. So, Peru, eh? Funnily enough, that doubloon nailed to the mast comes from the Andes…”

The Teletubbies would make for interesting villains. Would Voldemort be as menacing if his name was Tinky Winky? What if Anakin Skywalker’s Sith handle had been Dipsy instead of Darth Vader? (Or, to vary the theme for a moment, Dweezil or Moon Unit, like Frank Zappa’s children? “Enough of this! Release him, Lord Moon Unit” does have a certain ring.) Doctor No of course becomes Doctor Po, and is terrifying either way.

Swimmers at the Trinkie

This week’s jumpers are a surprise double-header. The first is a Fair Isle, knit by Margaret, using a pattern and yarn from Jamieson’s. It was initially a project for me to knit; I’d enjoyed my previous forays into two-colour Lopi knitting, and wanted to try something more ambitious. Reader, I crashed and burned: having three or four colours on the go did my head in, and the balls ended up like Ahab, entangled in his line. I was forced to give up after a few inches, so Margaret took it on and started again from scratch. Fair Isle knitting can be stunning, and this, I’m sure you’ll agree, is pretty amazing.

The other jumper is a Wick leaf pattern gansey, knit in Frangipani navy. Sometimes when I’m knitting ganseys with intricate patterns I like to alternate now and then with one where I don’t have to concentrate so much; so this one was knit on and off over several months. The leaf makes a nice change from the more common herringbone, and the pattern is a personal favourite. Plus there’s only so long I can go without knitting in navy…

Finally on names, there’s the world’s most famous international spy. It’s late, eleven o’clock at night in an exclusive London club. He sits at the baccarat table in evening dress, a cigarette dangling lazily from the corner of his mouth. Before him is a drink, a martini shaken not stirred, and a large pile of gaming chips; he is always lucky at cards. The game is finished and the other players are getting up, considerably poorer than when they sat down. As he leans forward to gather his chips the blonde on his left asks his name. He turns to her with a half-smile, eyebrow cocked, and we see him clearly for the first time. The famous music starts to play as he says, “The name’s Bear, Fozzie Bear, ahaaa, wocka wocka!” At which point his bow tie starts to spin and the blonde snorts so hard stuff comes out her nose.

18 comments to Fair Isle/ Wick Leaf Pattern

  • =Tamar

    Magnificent work, both of you! The Fair Isle kit was perhaps a tad ambitious for a first go. Most tat I have seen only have two colors at an in any one row, while the rest just hang there.
    But the Wick Leaf (Wycliffe?) gansey is lovely.

    • Gordon

      Thanks Tamar. I think I could have coped with the pattern (with a bit of help from Margaret), but it was having all the balls of yarn on the go, different combinations from row to row, that did for me. It turned into less of a jumper, more of a rope work!

  • Joan Brenner

    Just WOW!

    • Gordon

      Hi Joan, I love Fair isle, and the Wick pattern is one of my favourites. (It’s the only time I’ve ever been tempted not to share a pattern, so I could keep it as my own little secret. But it’s too good not to share.)

  • =Tamar

    Oh dear, I just saw the typo. I truly meant to type “most that”, not “most tat”!

  • I’ve got the Raga pattern myself, and yarn to knit it. The only thing that has stopped me starting it is the deplorable chart: in the key, colors 6 and 7 are depicted in colors that do not seem to match any of the colors in the chart itself, particularly color 6. I’ve enlarged the chart up to 400% and peered at it and am still mystified.

    Why could they have not used symbols like reasonable beings?

    • I’ve got the Raga pattern (printed) around here somewhere, if I find it while I’m packing to move I’ll see if it’s any different on the pattern that Jamieson’s had printed.

      One thing to note – the underarm directions are miserably written. Starting at the left underarm seam, they have you bind off half the underarm, work over to the right underarm, bind off all underarm stitches, work across to the left again, and off you go. It’s missing half the underarm bind-off, and it took well over a year to get them to admit to there being an error. If you use Ravelry, there’s a thread in the Jamieson’s group that I think should be linked from the Raga pattern page. All that to say, if you are an independent and confident knitter you won’t have a problem. But be prepared to think for yourself!

      • Elizabeth, thank you for your comments! I looked on Ravelry and see that there are indeed problems. And apparently I am not the only one who is having issues with the colors used in the charts. If I ever make this I will ignore the pattern completely and simply use the chart with my own self-made pattern. I’ve spent the last 18 months or so during lockdown knitting fair isles and on at least half of them I’ve just used the charts with my own pattern.

    • Margaret Reid

      Hi Wendy & Elizabeth
      Because I knew we wouldn’t be able to cope with the chart as is, I re-charted it in Excel using colours closer to the required colourway. Additionally, I added a column to one side where I entered the colours needed for each section.
      I never noticed the armhole bind off issue! What we did find, though, is that the armhole was far too deep, and it would have resulted in a wide, very baggy, sleeve. So it’s been shortened from armhole to shoulder.
      The other thing I didn’t do, was steek. Which was just as well, as I had to knit it twice. I made a total mess of it first time round – the gauge was totally off, and I ran out of a colour at about the elbow of the second sleeve. It was put aside for 6-8 months until I could face it again.

      • Thank you for your comment. I, too, recharted the pattern — I do that with most fair isles that I knit. My problem is that I am not entirely sure that I have assigned color 7 properly as on my pattern the color shown in the key matches no color in the chart itself. I guessed, and I suppose it will look okay when I knit it(if I get around to it).

  • Lynne Brock

    Margaret! You genius!! And I feel like I’m going crazy just working with TWO colors!
    And, Gordon, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that leaf design before, what a great pattern – and so effective in navy.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynn, what can I say? Everything looks good in navy… 🙂

    • Margaret Reid

      Well . . . fair isle IS just two colours at a time. You can either break them off at the colour changes, or carry them up at the seam, like I did. Saves having a bazillion ends to darn in.

  • Lois

    Wow! Just WOW to both of you! Those are both stunners. That leaf pattern has me itching to give it a try. But Margaret has left me in awe, there is no way I would attempt that!

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, thank you. Yes, I flew too close to the sun and, like Icarus, got my feathers burned. In future I’ll stick to my regular cruising altitude of ambition, I think!

    • Margaret Reid

      Yes, you could! It’s not difficult, just fiddly, like so much knitting.

  • Linda

    Is there a chart for the Wick Leaf pattern anywhere? It’s stunning!
    Thanks for sharing it

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