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Inspired Fair Isle Knits
by Fiona Ellis

Much of Fiona Ellis’ design philosophy is contained in this statement from her introduction: “Even though many of the techniques we use in knitting have been around for practically forever, there are always new ways of using them to achieve fashionable and contemporary-looking garments." In Inspired Fair Isle Knits: 20 creative designs inspired by the elements, Ellis explores fair isle knitting, combining traditional with modern to create the unique garments showcased in this collection.

Like her first collection Inspired Cable Knits, Ellis draws inspiration from nature. Each of the four natural elements – earth, air, fire and water – influence her choices in colour palette, design elements and fair isle pattern. While Ellis has provided 20 stimulating and challenging patterns, her hope is that her designs will inspire creativity and new ways of thinking in her audience and to facilitate this she includes design notes and reflections.

Each element is the focus of one section of Inspired Fair Isle Knits and is distinguished by its own colour palette, yarn properties and design elements. For example, the water section is worked in blues, greens and purples with shiny or smooth yarns that “recall water’s reflective properties" and wavy edges brings to mind the movement of water or snowflakes.

Ellis designs for a wide range of sizes with finished chest measurements ranging from 32" – 56", with the average falling between 38" – 50". Inspired Fair Isle Knits includes two child’s patterns, as well as designs for two wraps, a pillow cover and a felted bag. Many of the patterns here are geared to advanced or experienced knitters with a few suitable for those starting out in colourwork. Those wishing to explore colour theory further should consult the reading list included at the end of the volume.

Inspired Fair Isle Knits focuses on colour and Ellis has pushed the boundaries with some of her design choices, thus knitters’ personal preferences are more likely to affect their opinions of this volume. Knitters may not like every design but Ellis’ strong writing and clear instructions have produced an instructive volume which showcases her growth as a designer.

Reviewed by Janelle Martin

Janelle is an addicted reader and a book reviewer for
Armchair Interviews . A passionate knitter in what remains of her free time, she wonders, "Why can't we knit at work?". Her blog can be viewed at http://antheras.blogspot.com

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