Monday, February 5, 2018

A Fair Isle Fisherman's Kep

There's a Facebook group devoted to what I'm going to refer to as the official Fair Isle Kep. I followed a link to it and immediately fell for the glorious variety of Kep's people were producing, so I joined the group, and bought the pattern created by Anne Sinclair. (It costs £10, the money raised goes to fund the local museum, so even if I hadn't knitted it, it would have been money well spent).

Kep's, for the uninitiated, are a bit like an extra long ski hat, and I guess we're traditionally worn by fishermen looking to keep warm at sea - I've seen old ones in the Shetland Museum, seen pictures of even older ones, and read accounts of them in descriptions of local costume from at last the early 19th century. They are remarkably flamboyant articles.

The Facebook group is having a Kep-along at the moment which was just the spur I needed to use up some of my yarn stash and get on with it. The group is friendly, supportive, deeply enthusiastic about all things kep, ranges from beginner knitters to old hands, and has almost 4000 more members than Fair Isle has inhabitants (which I think is about 55, give or take). I do love the thought of thousands of people across the world having this particular link to one small island. 

Meanwhile knitting the kep was fairly straightforward, I learnt a bit doing it, and realised there's a lot more still to learn - which is all to the good. I used Jamieson and Smiths heritage shades - it's a nice soft yarn, especially for Shetland wool, and as the range is designed to work together I thought I'd be on safe ground colour wise. I stuck with the patterns provided by Anne Sinclair (but have seen an amazing array of possibilities in the last few weeks) and avoided adding extra stitches, wanting to keep it as simple as possible first time around. The pattern gives you a basic template to work too, but with all the room you could want for personal variations - which is perfect. 

I'm quite happy with the results - there are mistakes, but they're not to obvious. How I put colours and patterns together needs more work, but I find it easier to learn from not getting it quite right first time than from careful planning (which I don't always have the patience for). I really enjoyed the community aspect of the knit along and being able to ask questions, or better yet see that someone else had already asked the question. It was also a fun thing to knit.

There is a reasonable chance that if you know me, you'll be getting a kep. 




6 comments:

  1. Beautiful colorwork! Such even tension. I love colorwork but am still, shall we say, learning. Can we see the wrong side?

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    1. Ahem, I've only just started to understand the thing about keeping one yarn dominant- I'm not sure the inside will bear much inspection. I love colourwork too, and find the basic rules of Fair Isle (only 2 colours a row, generally no more than 5 stitches between colour changes) really help with the tension. The nice thing about it is that it's easy to follow or see where you go wrong (if you go wrong!) - that and it's oddly addictive.

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  2. Oh well done! I would be so happy if I had achieved that, it is remakable.

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    1. It's very bright, my partner keeps looking askance at it, he's afraid I'll make him one too. Happily it was an easy pattern to follow, and nobody can see the mistakes I made in the picture!

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  3. I am having trouble finding the link for the pattern. Would you be able to post the link?
    Thanks. Sandy

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    1. I believe you have to join the Facebook group, and then follow the instructions there. You pay the Museum on Fair Isle and a pdf is sent back within a couple of days. It sounds a bit clunky and old fashioned, but it's what suits the group moderators. The group itself is really helpful for answering questions, giving support, and there's a ton of inspiration when you see all the different things people are doing. The pattern itself is more of a basic template with some suggestions for traditional motifs.

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