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