Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Stanley Cursiter Inspired kep

I've spent a long time over the last few years looking at images of Stanley Cursiter's 1923 painting 'The Fair Isle Jumper'. I really admire the jumper but since joining The Fair Isle Fisherman's Kep page on facebook about 3 years ago I've been more interested in the hat the girl wears. 

The kep page is excellent - conversation is strictly limited to discussion and pictures of the Kep pattern by Anne Sinclair that is only orderable through the group. Any relevant knitting or yarn questions will be answered by members, and as we span the globe that's really useful for anyone trying to source appropriate yarn. Everything else is banned, including discussion of other Kep patterns. This suits me perfectly - I like a group that stays entirely to the point - and I really recommend joining. Buy the pattern, it's money going to a good cause (the local museum on Fair Isle) knit some keps - they're fun, and seeing the variety f patterns that people come up with is exactly the sort of coping mechanism that 2020 wants.

After a lot of staring, doodling, and searching on Ravelry for other Cursiter reconstruction keps I came to the conclusion that the models hat was probably constructed very much like the Anne Sinclair pattern the facebook group is built around. The main difference is that the crown is plain rather than patterned. The brim pattern is the biggest puzzle.

It's traditional in Fair Isle knitting not to use more than 2 colours per row, it does happen occasionally, but one reason not to do it is that the knitting becomes quite bulky. The pattern that Cursiter paints does have 3 colours to a row, and doesn't look at all like a Fair Isle motif, although it is pretty. There are a few versions on ravelry, and Kate Davies Sixareen Kep owes a lot to the Cursiter image too but none of them feel quite right to me.

I've finally knitted my own version, which needs a few tweaks - I used the Jamieson and Smith Heritage yarns which were perfect for the brim - the colours and texture of it are a good match for period items I've seen, but the natural moorit yarn is a lighter weight than I'd really like, so it'll be back to jumper weight for my next attempt. I want to fiddle with the colours, and possibly the motif, for the brim as well - but the main thing is that it behaves exactly like the kep in the picture, and feels very wearable as well. 

I'm pleased with this and imagine I'll make a few more versions of it. The Pom-Pom's were a pain so I might ditch them too, unless I can find a willing child to make them for me, but right now I'm enjoying all the satisfaction of a job well done.

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