Episode 18 – Fairisle on the Purl Side

In Episode 18 of the Fruity Knitting Podcast, we’re looking at a few knitting challenges.  

Marie Wallin is putting Andrea’s technique to the test.  Fair Isle is normally done in the round, but Marie Wallin’s Amaryllis uses fair isle in the flat.  Andrea shows us how to fair isle on the purl side.

Intarsia is normally done in the flat, but Marie Wallin’s Blossom uses intarsia in the round – which is making some trouble.

We get a bit nostalgic and confront a boyfriend sweater problem.  It’s serious stuff.  

Episode 18 - Click on the image to view
Episode 18 – Click on the image to view

But we also celebrate the successes of our First Garment and Fair Isle Garment KAL participants – in technicolor video.  And we travel to Amsterdam to meet Dutch Jacky, our guest on Knitters of the World.  We hope you enjoy it.

Intarsia in the round – Blossom by Marie Wallin

The Blossom design by Marie Wallin includes some fair isle in the yoke, but the rose buds above the band and cuffs and the full roses at the top of the yoke are done in very intricate intarsia.  Whereas fairisle is generally limited to two colors in any row, with intarsia you have a single yarn for each vertical section of color.  With five roses around the yoke and many sections of different colors in each rose, that makes for a lot of individual bits of yarn.

Blossom, by Marie Wallin, in progress. Note the many yarns used in the intarsia roses
Blossom, by Marie Wallin, in progress. Note the many yarns used in the intarsia roses

Another contrast between the fair isle and intarsia techniques is that fair isle is commonly done in the round, whereas intarsia is normally done in the flat.  Purling in fair isle is considered difficult.  With intarsia, purling actually helps because it ensures that your yarn is where you need it on the next row.  When knitting in the round, the yarn tends to be left on the “far” side of the section of color, so you need to bring it back to start that block again.

That’s what’s happening in the Blossom, and it seems to be causing some puckering inside the intarsia sections and pulling and holes at the edges.  So, Andrea is looking at ripping back the roses and doing that section again in the flat, with a single seam at the back.  (There are just two roses on the back, so it would be possible to have a seam just between them.)  I’m guessing she would “kitchener” the new flat knitted section onto the round knitted body of the jumper…

There are some techniques for handling intarsia in the round.  One, which I kind of understood, involves slipping the stitches of the intarsia section onto the other needle, then purling that section, then slipping the stitches back – something like that!  There is apparently another method, but I didn’t pick that up at all.

The sweater is completely beautiful.  There was some discussion about dropping the roses altogether, but that would be a shame, and I think we’ve moved on…

Fair Isle on the Purl Side

Amaryllis by Marie Wallin
Amaryllis by Marie Wallin

Moving from one Marie Wallin design to the next (or actually to the previous one).  Amaryllis features a little intarsia, but is mainly done in fair isle.  Here the challenge is that the cardigan is knitted in the flat.  Andrea demonstrates two-handed fair isle on the purl side.  This goes back to the lessons of Ann Bourgeois from the Philosopher’s Wool Company (interview in Episode 7).  (If you haven’t seen that episode, you should.  Ann and Eugene Bourgeois are wonderful people and are an inspiration for knitters and indie yarn producers.)

Marie Wallin recommended that knitters learn to fair isle on the purl side for the versatility in her interview in Episode 17.

Knitters of the World – Dutch Jacky

"Dutch Jacky"
“Dutch Jacky”

Andrea has been following “Dutch Jacky” on Ravelry for a few years due to their shared admiration of Kim Hargreaves.  Jacky is a regular at Stephen West’s knitting evenings and has earned a position as his personal test knitter.  Jacky’s work can be admired at Stephen’s trunk shows.


Jacky can be found at:


Music Credits

  • Franz Schubert, The Shepherd on the Rock, Performer Musicians from Marlboro, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License
  • J. S. Bach, The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1, Prelude No. 3 in C sharp major, BWV. 848, performed by Kimiko Ishizaka, Creative Commons Atribution 3.0 License
  • Fiddles McGinty, by Kevin McLeod, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

10 thoughts on “Episode 18 – Fairisle on the Purl Side”

  1. Watching you work on you circular needles, what brand do you work with. The cables seem quite heavy. I was stuggling with two hand fair isle knitting but you taught me how to work the left hand.I got it now and I love it. Just joined you at #17, fantastic work and information. You are the one and only one I watch. well done. Congratulations

    1. Hi Ruth. Andrea says she’ll use just about any needles – I do joke that she uses two sticks from the garden. I pushed her and she said Chia Goo (spelling – sorry). My tip would be to send / take the needles back if you have problems. Sometimes the joins are bad on a particular pair even if the brand is in general ok. Cheers, Andrew.

  2. Suzann Eshleman

    I just had to watch the episode of the 50’s US TV show “Ozzie and Harriet”. I was vry young, but of course had a crush on Ricky Nelson. At the time, his hairctlyye was “daring”. i don’t recall this episode, but the show was watched faithfully in black and white. Do you realize that the actor playing the guy with the girlfriend named GINger was Micky Rooney (a child actor who went on the act his entire life, mostly as a comedian, lived to a ripe old age. Ozzie and Harriet Nelson and Rickand Dave were a real family and used their real names. As Ricky got older, he got cuter, and recorded a hit single “Hello MaryLou”. He married his girlfriend Chris. They had 2 twin sons (Gunnar and ?), and a daughter, Tracy Nelson (actress). Rick died in a plan crash when his children were young. It was a sad time for all.

  3. Suzann Eshleman

    p.s. typos in previous post, this is a very small font. I was hoping you would post the source of the Ozzie and Harriet Episode (number, date).

  4. Hi Andrew and Andrea, at the moment I am watching this episode(18), and I can see the problems you’re having with the full blooms on the upper edge of the sweater. Another solution would have been to swiss darn them on the knit fabric.
    Mostly I hear people in other countries(other than the Netherlands) talk about swiss darning to attach one piece of knitting to another but Swiss darning is also a method to embroider your knitting. On my ravelry page I have a child sweater called “strand trui” which has been swiss darned. viool46 is my ravelry name.

  5. Just watched this podcast and enjoyed the episode of “Ozzie and Harriet.”

    Before they were on TV, they were on radio and there’s an episode of the radio show where Ozzie and Harriet are having a sock knitting competition. Ozzie impresses himself with his progress, unaware that Harriet is fixing and adding to his sock each night after he goes to bed.

    1. Hilarious. I wish that would happen around here!! I did have the idea of removing some yarn from the inside of the ball to get my scarf finished a little quicker…

  6. Hi Andrea & Andrew:
    I was keen to see the vlog on intarsia, because I’d just the week before seen a wonderful demonstration by Suzanne Bryan explaining intarsia in the round and how to loop the yarn so that every intarsia row is a knit row. You can find her 15 minute video here: https://youtu.be/dgWS-IiFpEE

    I am an Australian (from Brisbane & Sydney) living in Alberta, Canada. I learned to knit from my Grandmother when I was about 7 years old, mostly knitting toys for younger siblings. I didn’t knit my first garment until I moved to Sydney at 17, there not being much call for warm clothing in Brisbane as you’d know. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm, which has inspired me to start knitting sweaters again, and to visit an Albertan woollen mill next summer. My husband and I are both enjoying your show. Best wishes to you both, and a few more for Andrew’s health.

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