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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fair Isle Dilemma

I will soon be heading back to Shetland after quite a long absence to continue with my work on Vintage Shetland. This book will be looking at a selection of 20th Century knitted items in the Shetland Museum Archive. The items have no patterns so I am creating patterns from the source knitting, recreating the garment and multi sizing the pattern. There are a lot of other elements to the book including the story of each of the chosen items, but before I get to that point I need to narrow down my choices to just 20 items from the entire 20th Century archive! What a very very difficult choice to make. And this is where I need your help.

I have two quite similar cardigans both of which I love but which can't both make it into the book as they are just too close in too many ways. So, I'm going to leave it to the public to decide as they say. I'm going to share some photos of each cardigan with you and I would like you to tell me which you think should make it into the book and why. And to give an added incentive there will be a shetland yarn goodie bag for one reader that I will choose at random from all the comments. I'm going to set a closing date of 10th May so I know which of the two garments I'm investigating further when I'm back in Shetland but I won't draw a winner until I get back from Shetland at the end of May.

So without further ado hear are the two cardigans.

The first has no name and is in a very bad state of disrepair which is one of the things I like about it so much. Fortunately the holes don't interfere with reading the pattern. It has some style difference to many of the garments I've been looking at including a moss stitch button band an interestingly shaped neck line which you can see on this first photo. It also has slightly inset sleeves which I really like although the pattern doesn't join particularly well at the armholes, with an odd motif on the front bodies where they join the sleeve. What would appear to be the final buttonhole is very high for the neck shaping so may work but may not.

copyright Susan Crawford 2012
I really like the colours used in this garment and the repeat motif in red and blue is particularly charming. With it being so damaged it also appeals to me that I should save it before it fades away completely.

copyright Susan Crawford 2012
copyright Susan Crawford 2012
copyright Susan Crawford 2012
The second cardigan is in a much better state of repair with a more traditional neckline and crew neck. This cardigan has a more standard sleeve, armhole and neck construction but the chosen motifs and richness of colours are really beautiful and make it stand out as garment.

copyright Susan Crawford 2012
  copyright Susan Crawford 2012
You can see the really lush colours on this close up and the really effective use of very simple motifs. I really like the little chequer board at the commencement of the pattern too. This cardigan also has a moss stitch button band and overall is just beautifully knitted. This cardigan also has a matching scarf which I could include in the book too. Ooh, in addition to this I have already begun to read the pattern from this one.

copyright Susan Crawford 2012
So to summarize, I would like to know whether you prefer garment one or garment two and why. Personally I will admit to leaning towards garment one although I know it will involve more work than garment two but I will go with the decision of the majority.

So over to you....

for now
Ruby xx

EDIT: After realizing just how busy I'm going to be getting ready for our trip on the 10th, I am closing the competition today, 12 hours early. As previously mentioned I will pick a winner at random when I get back from Shetland. In the meantime I can safely say that the winning garment is Garment 1 - the item with no name - and this will now be included in the Vintage Shetland research and book.

Thank you all for taking the time to comment. 

Ruby xx

79 comments :

Stitched Together said...

I prefer garment one as well.

KnittingPony said...

Hello Ruby! My favourite is the first cardigan. I love the button band and neckline, as well as the motif and set in sleeves. I could imagine wearing it, especially in those colours. I think it would look gorgeous over a vintage-inspired dress or simple top and indigo jeans. There is something very feminine about the motif and colours, too, without it being girly.

Lieke said...

Both cardigans are gorgeous!
However, I would choose the first one. The fair isle pattern is much easier on the eye and also more beautiful. Also, I like the model better than that of the second one.

Anni Howard said...

Why not integrate the two designs? I love the colours and patterning of design 1 - the colours actually look quite modern and fresh. But the shape is a bit odd, particularly the height of the last buttonhole, as you say. So you could use the shaping and other details of design 2, with the colours and patterning of design 1 ... or the option to knit the same shape but in two patterns/colourways?
Anni x

Zarah said...

I vote for number 1 for the book (although number 2 is my personal favourite)

xxx

Meghan said...

Garment one, definitely. I kind of like the dilemmas of the pattern at the sleeve join and the button band...although then again, I'm not the one having to decipher them! While I agree the pattern/colors on the second cardigan are great, they read as very Alice Starmore to me--which isn't a bad thing, but it does mean if preserving the more surprising pattern is a factor, it's garment one all the way.

Lapurplepenguin said...

It may be unanimous. I'm also a fan of cardigan one. In particularly like how the more complicated motif stripes are separated by the blue zigzags and red columns, it adds "air" to the design as we say in publishing. Also being less typical it is important to preserve it to show the variety in knitting traditions.

Helen Chatterton said...

Hi Susan, number one for me. I prefer the colours, the motifs are unusual, I've never come across one of them. I prefer the line of the garment as well. Good luck, Helen

zinah said...

I like the first one better. :) Both the pattern and colors.

picperfic said...

I totally love the first cardigan, and judging by how worn out it is, the owner loved it too. The subtle colours on the oatmeal background work so well together and would flatter any complexion. I love the raised neckband, with the option of a button high up on the neckband to keep out winter chills, which could be left undone for a different look. I would wear this with a vintage inspired dress or with jeans and boots. I would like the pattern now please!!

Isis said...

Both are beautiful! I would prefer option 1, it's easier to admire the different patterns when there are "white spaces" in between. Also I like the neck/buttonband.

Caroline Mersey said...

Definitely no 1 - I'd make and wear That more than no 2.

Lynn said...

I'm putting myself out on a limb but I really like sweater number 2. The colors are a little bolder and look quite contemporary to me (in MHO that is).

Michele aka yarndoggie said...

The 2nd one has a beautiful pattern but I think I prefer the 1st cardigan. It looks more feminine & would probably be more flatterning.

Tanya said...

Hi Susan,

They are both beautiful but I prefer number 1, I love the more unusual shape and the colour palette - and it would be great to preserve it for the future, as you say.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/woolbothy said...

Gosh! I can see your dilemma.

Personally I'd go for the first one, mainly because of the colours. For me, the sleeve shaping would be an added bonus. I'm also a great fan of moss stitch bands.

The chequered design is so unusual, so that should be saved too, but perhaps for a later book?

I hope this helps.

Brigi said...

I also prefer number 1. It has a more modern feel to it. The stitch definition is busy in a different way..

Caitlin said...

I love the motif on number two, but it looks like the construction of number one would be far more interesting, and I think that's more important if you're planning to put it in a book. So I would go with option number one.

Tasha said...

First off, let me say how completely and utterly over the moon I am to hear that you are doing a book on vintage Shetland! I have always adored Shetland, long before I ever knit. We were planning a trip to Scotland that would include Shetland for our 10 yr anniversary this year, though buying a house put that to the side for this year. But we'll still be doing it. So I hope you'll post lots of things about your trip!

Now in terms of the sweaters, my vote is for #1. While I feel #2 is more representative of the more typical Shetland style pieces I've seen in books and resources, I feel #1 wins for being a bit different, a little bit more unusual, and likely would have a wider appeal to more vintage knitters. I love the combination of colors that was used, it manages to pop yet be subtle at the same time.

Personally though, I think they're both fantastic. The pattern in the second if beautiful and I love the colors. Maybe someday you'd consider writing a pattern for the sweater you don't select, and sell it on your site as a one off?

So excited about this book! :)

Jade said...

I prefer garment two. I love the design and the color mix. Nice projet by the way! Keep us inform of the development!

Purl City Yarns said...

Number one (although they are both lovely)!

MB@YarnUiPhoneApp said...

Ditto no. 1....Susan, can you tell what eras these sweaters are from? Just curious.

Ginny said...

I prefer number one. The colours and stripe design are nicer and I think would be easier to work into a modern wardrobe. I also prefer the shape of the first- it looks like it would be more flattering.

Mrs Juzzie Green said...

i like number 1 too. It seems friendlier and the second is more skilled but less cosy looking

Katie said...

I'm in love with the first one, and I agree, you need to save it before it completely fades away :)

The Knaught-ress said...

The unconventional construction of the first one wins. The second is lovely but preserve the one that is at risk!

The Knaught-ress said...

I say go with the unconventional and preserve the piece at risk (first one). The second is lovely and I love the pattern/colours but it is in great condition and pretty conventional.

Julie Ferguson said...

Definitely the first -it need re borning !! Love the colours love the style

Anonymous said...

No 1, the colours are so much more in the traditional style. My mother was from Shetland and I've always had a Shetland jumper.

Fiona said...

I too prefer the first garment - this one immediately appeals to me, particularly the neckline shaping. I can appreciate the lush colours on the second one, but this isn't a garment that would work in my wardrobe - and for me, the reason I knit things is so that they will be worn.

I am looking forward to seeing this book, it sounds very interesting!

Joanne said...

I would have to go for garment 1 too. I much prefer the colour palette and the alternating patterns just seems more fair isle to me.

Rachel Atkinson (knittingtastic) said...

I'm going to throw the cat amongst the pigeons and say, how about using the shape and colours from number 1 but the motif from number 2, it would look fab and I hear you have a top quality tech editor who would love a challenge like this!!

Can't wait to see the book, what an exciting project.

Good luck Susan

Joyuna said...

Going against the crowd, I absolutely adore the motifs of the second one! I also like how all the colors, though very different, blend together very nicely.

Lois Leigh-Ann said...

Number two is stunning! I can see that there are lots of votes for number one, but I don't think it's as attractive personally. The colour pallet is much richer and I love the moss stitch band!

mrspeppermouse said...

What a great survey! And such an interesting project to work on; I am really looking forward to seeing your book when it is ready. The second cardigan is a nice but rather conventional fair isle. I vote for no 1 which offers a rich yet subtle combination of colours and an unusual construction, making it both knitterly and wearable.

Cara said...

I would go with the first one. It needs saving. And I love the muted colours.

Cara said...

I would go for number one. It needs saving. And I love the muted colours.

elephantJuice said...

They're both beautiful and incredibly eye catching, but I think my choice lies with the first. There's something very charming about the colours and the motifs and the little idiosyncrasies that you've picked out, not to mention the idea of saving it! I hope it makes it into the book, I'd love to see it restored to glory :)

Misiula said...

Both are lovely, but since we have to choose, I have to admit my heart leaps up at the sight of cardi #1. The pattern on it is a little more subtle, more appealing to me.

CP said...

My vote is for number one, there's something about it which makes me smile with recognition and then with delight as I look closer.

Felicity Ford said...

I see the dilemma you have, here.

Both cardigans have amazing qualities; I feel particularly fond of the first cardigan for its beautiful primary shades and shetland sheep greys. And I can really see the temptation involved in "saving" it before it rots/dissolves/wastes away into history.

However the colours in the second design are absolutely knockout. I love those glowing shades running through the grey; it's absolutely gorgeous.

I agree with what Anni Howard said...

Why not integrate the two designs?

Perhaps there is a way of writing up the pattern so that the shaping and basic garment structure takes the best features from both designs, and then offering 2 options for fairisle patterning, based on both these designs. I haven't looked too closely, but it seems that if the number of rows and sts per pattern repeat were the same, then they could be used interchangeably?

Anonymous said...

I prefer cardigan 2. It is different, not the typical Fair Isle stripey pattern.

knutty knitter said...

I'd have to go with number 1. I like the colours and the shape. It has been so well loved for a reason I suspect. I would wear this but not the other which is beautiful but not for me.

viv in nz

sara said...

I vote for #1 but I love the colours in #2

thepurlyqueenknits said...

I think both are beautiful and think the pattern of the second one is gorgeous. But the unravelling sleeves and raggedy bits of the first one pull at my heart strings so I'll have to say, save the first one!x

Amber Weinberg said...

I'm going to be in the minority, but I LOVE the pattern and colours from garment two!

Catherine Smith said...

Both are beautiful - the colours and design of 2 seem more to modern taste, and it's for that reason, as well as its poor state, that I choose no.1 for the book! Its pattern and colours really characterise its period, and as it's close to coming apart in places, that is the deciding factor for me!

tomofholland.com said...

Well, I think you have already given the answer yourself, and there is no dilemma to be had:
Garment 1 is the one to include in the book, mainly because it has an unusual construction, which is well worth documenting. A straightforward construction can be found in any book on Fair Isle knitting, and is probably included in one of your other 20 patterns for your new book.

However, the thing that strikes you most about garment 2 is the patterns. You then mention it has a MATCHING SCARF. So, forget garment 2, and only include the pattern for the scarf! That way, you can include what you say you like best about this garment, and knitters would then be able to use the colour pattern for a cardigan of their own design.

Dilemma solved :-)

Johnston4kids said...

I too am in the minority with no. 2 and especially like the checkerboard edge. But the first has a much more vintage feel so it probably wins in the end.

ann said...

i really like the 1st one! the colors are beautiful and i could see myself in that one!

Andrea said...

I love number 2! It's the more unusual diamond motif that wins it for me.

janna Edrington said...

Garment 1. So pretty but I am draw to the atypical cardigan shape and I'm a sucker for moss stitch. Please save it in your book!

Anita said...

What Tom of Holland said;-)

Patricia Walters said...

Both are wonderful but I prefer number 2. The colors are luminous and t believe it's a more striking pattern. The other is too ordinary for me.

Maja said...

The first one without doubt. the colours are prettier and so is the pattern. I think the 2. one is too harsh and confusing in its design.

meppybn said...

I would go with No. 1 as well. Love love love the colourway but even if done in a different colours, the patterning and the style is just that much 'different'!! The high neckline making for a little standup collar is a also 'different' - what a fabulou project to take on!

Maria (viola33) said...

Hello Ruby! I find both cardigans wonderful. I relate to your feeling of rescuing and giving new life to the first one. I like its colour scheme as well. But I vote for the second one becouse its colour palette and pattern is not that usual and traditional, it stands out against others typical Fair Isle garments.
Maria

Susan said...

I love the first one the best -- although both are beautiful!! But the first one is like a lost puppy who needs a home and a new lease on life. It also has that edge of slightly more unusual!

fingersandtoes said...

I like the first. It's more something I would wear than the second.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, I like the first cardi.
This garment has been worn and worn and given many years of service to the owner or owners, it deserves to be conserved and brought back to life in the 21ist centuary. Jan

Jessie B. said...

I love the bold patterns and the colors of the second. Not to mention the thought of a matching scarf! But you should go with your heart. There's something very appealing about the thought of preserving the first.

Elise said...

A tough decision, both are beautiful! However I think I like the first sweater best. Its motif is really neat while not being quite as busy as the second's motif. I also like the first sweater's neckline.

Sarah said...

Hi Susan :-) Like everyone else I can see this is a difficult decision! But I feel that cardigan number one should go into the book it has more appeal and is the one I would wear and the whole point of putting these patterns into your book is to encourage people to knit them and to save the designs and patterns from disappearing. So S.O.S Save Our Shetland and put in cardigan number one :-) Jenny

Anonymous said...

I rarely agree with the majority, but I also like garment one...the colours, the pattern and the shape, as I have a sleeve-knitting-phobia, I am very impressed by unusual sleeves, even though I am unable to knit any sleeves that fit the armholes...
But maybe one day?
In ny case, I am already looking forward to the book!
griseldis

elisesophie said...

They are both so lovely, but I think I prefer the second one. It is more classic in shape and assembly, and the colours are just perfect. It gives a feeling of being close to the sea while at the same time hinting at being out and about working in woods.

Scully said...

Susan, I think it's great you have a Shetland book planned.
I quite like Cardigan #1 but am not so sure of the colours used.
#2 for me is simply stunning! The motifs appear unusual to me and I agree the little checkerboard motif is really wonderful.
I also think that this design at first glance looks like it is much more complicated than just two colours a row.
The second design would also lend very well to the colours in your Excelana range.

All the best for the book and enjoy your trip.
Scully ♥

Mina said...

Although I'd probably wear the second one, in the interest of conservation - and because it has a more unusual construction - I think garment one should be the one selected for the book. Looking forward to the completion of this project!

Anna said...

Hi Susan,

I too am so excited about this book - I've been making lots of shetland jumpers over the last few years. I've collected so many (mostly bestway) patterns, and there's a fair amount of repetition of motifs, which is why I'm most enchanted by the first cardigan - I haven't seen that design before. However - is there scope for doing a one-off design for the second, not for the book but for your loyal readers? :)best wishes, Anna

Helen Gibson said...

I prefer garment one because of the gorgeous colours, particularly the red.

Steph said...

There is something about the first one that I just can't put my finger on. I vote for the first garment.

catchupwithjaneandlara said...

I love the first one. When I imagine a fair isle in my head, I see something like this. The colours are clean and fresh. The shades of yellow against beige add brightness, and the read and blue are clear and contrast well. It is also slightly unusual in the red shapes - are they leaves or trees? - on beige. I eagerly await the pattern!

Hélène Magnússon said...

Not being very original and choosing number one for all the above reasons and one more: it reminds me of a vintage lopi sweater (an ancestor of the yoke one) !

David and Sara Gormley O'Brien said...

They are both lovely, I can see your dilemma. I think I would select the first one, the combination of the gorgeous colours and patterns, the neckline and the fabulous full sleeve head; I am not so sure about the odd bit of pattern (almost like a pattern notch). I look forward to seeing the pattern in print and the fantastic historical notes I anticipate.

Anita Fern said...

Number one for me, too. I like that style of cardigan with a dress particularly. Although the colour work of the second is very attractive.

Susie Hewer said...

I would choose number 2 for myself because I think it would appeal to people who wouldn't ordinarily give Fair Isle a second glance. The colours are gorgeous and the motifs don't shriek 'Fair Isle' at you which is what puts some people off - but obviously not those of us, like me, who love Fair Isle patterns!

However, for a book about vintage Fair Isle I think it has to be number 1 as it is just so typical of the genre. In the 1960s, my mum knitted me a cardigan in very similar colours and I adored it.

chel1313 said...

I prefer cardigan 1. I like the neckline and band better. I also prefer motifs in number 1.

Laura said...

I prefer the first one as well. I find the colours more exciting and I like the contrast created between the pale and vivid sections of the pattern.

Stacey Whittle said...

I prefer the first one for wearability (is that a word?) I could see myself throwing that over a pretty dress or just with jeans - the colours are also fab but it's the style that I prefer. So though both cardi's are lovely I would be much more likely to knit the first.
best
Stacey

MoniqueB. said...

Lovely!

I'm totally new on Fair Isle knitting, I've made the Rams and Yowes blanket, mainly because I do not dare to start on a garment.

What you do with Fair Isle, i do with Shetland Lace. It's good fun and very rewarding.