Book Review: 200 Fair Isle Motifs

Like many knitters, I love the look of beautiful, intricate colorwork. You know the kind I’m talking about. Fine gauge, perfect balance of colors, subtle patterns hidden within the larger and more obvious ones. Creating these kinds of pieces is like making a piece of art, and therefore must require some serious creative genius, right?

Well, it could. Or you could also borrow from the genius of someone else, seeing as how said genius has so thoughtfully packaged up so many of her insights into one tidy little book:


I’ve long been an admirer of Mary Jane Mucklestone’s beautiful colorwork designs (also, I wish I had a name a cool as hers…but I digress). Seriously. The woman has an amazing sense of color! So when a friend showed up at knit night with the book 200 Fair Isle Motifs and I saw who the author was, I knew I had to get a copy of my own.

Fortuitously, I also had a good reason to give the book a bit of a test drive, as this Cascade 220 recently fought its way to the top of my stash pile and has been demanding attention:


I broke out some needles, flipped open the book, and sat down for a weekend of reading, charting, and swatching.

My verdict? This book is pretty awesome! It does, as promised, contain 200 fair isle motifs, but there is also a great information section preceding the actual motifs. This more text-y section has great info on planning a fair isle piece, steeking, mixing and matching motifs, and color theory to help you plan the palette for your own fair isle piece:


And then, of course, lots of eye candy with the actual motifs:


There were a couple of things I really liked about the motifs section. First, many of the motifs have alternative colorways charted, which really highlights the dramatic changes you can effect in a motif with just a few color tweaks. Second, each motif also came with a black and white chart that made the basic structure of the motif much easier to see, which again provides a great jumping off point if you want to start playing around with colors.

So, have I figured out what to do with all that Cascade yet? Not quite, but I’m definitely making progress:


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