Knitting Fair Isle (or other stranded colourwork) from the bottom up

I prefer to knit items in such a way that they can be constantly tried on to check for the perfect fit, however most stranded knits are done from the bottom up, in 3 pieces which are then joined at the yoke and then knitted as one piece. As my husband is tall with a slim/fit build it is difficult to size things for him perfectly and as I've had to cut, then pick up and knit an item longer I really wanted to avoid this happening again!

First I looked into increasing with fair isle knitting, after a lot of searching I was able to conclude that when increasing there is more room for error when it comes perfect symmetry, however when decreasing the decreases fall evenly in the middle and are very pretty. If you were knitting something with rest rows or a pattern that didn't require symmetry this would not be an issue, but for an item with peaks or little triangular shapes it makes a big difference. So this idea was out!

I ended up doing a provisional cast on for the required number of stitches at the yoke (after sleeves where attached). I then knitted this from the bottom up, after completely the yoke I had the intended owner try it on to see how far I should knit down. 

The provisional cast on can be seen here in the blue cotton, after trying this on I also realised I am not completely happy with the collar. I will likely rip this back about 1 cm as I think it will sit nicer. 

I was able to see that the cotton sat about 2cms above the area that the sleeves and body would normally be joined, so I knitted down to here and tried it on again. 

Once you're happy, look at the pattern again and see how many stitches are needed for sleeves, body and underarms then divide up your sweater with stitch markers. We now treat this sweater like a top down circular or raglan sweater. 

fair isle sweater in Lopi

Place sweater sleeves onto waste yarn.
Knit across work to sweater, then either cast on require stitches for arm pit or (my preference) pop another provisional cast on here for the required stitches. This then leaves stitches live to be picked up and creates a completely seamless sweater which is very tidy.

Body is now knitted down in pattern, making adjustments as you go, once you have finished its time to start with sleeves.

Pick up stitches and knit sleeves down in pattern! 

And that is how you have the best of both worlds

Spotlight: New Lanark Mills

Set in the village of New Lanark, on the banks of the River Clyde in South Lanarkshire, New Lanark Mills specialise in producing fantastic quality woolen yarn with very traditional methods on a 19th century spinning mule. This heritage site is both a tourist destination and working mill, with yarn purchases helping support the site.

Characteristics of New Lanark Aran

The beautiful depth of colour from the tweedy flecks bring something special to any woolen item, however this yarn really excels in traditional style garments. This yarn seems to be extremely hardwearing, we have a sweater here that is 4 years old and shows zero signs of wear. The owner (Frank!) even kneads bread in it causing chunks of dried glue flour to then be picked out. The sweater rarely needs washing, rather a good airing in the sunshine keeps it smelling fine. 

There is also almost no signs of pilling, a few tufts here and there which can be removed but that's it! 

It's a rare thing to be able to compare yarn batches 4 years apart and after wear but I can happily say that there is zero different between the colour, I'd feel confident mixing batches with at least cobolt. Perhaps time will tell with other colours.

Elbow shows no signs of wear

Elbow shows no signs of wear

Wrist still looks great

Wrist still looks great

What to knit with New Lanark Aran?

Due to the construction of this yarn, you can see that cables look amazing, we would also recommend any style of traditional British knitting. In saying that, as the yarn does have little details and notes of character it would also shine in a simple garment. 

Softness of New Lanark Aran?

As for softness, it is softer than most traditional British yarns, most people have medium sensitivity to coarseness could wear this as a garment (but perhaps not a scarf).