Sunday, August 5, 2012

An 'Allover'

Every now and then I am reminded that although I speak English, I speak American English that is influenced by my upbringing in the Midwest and my current life in the Northwest.  It's not until my good friend Karran (who is part Manx and part English) starts talking about her mum's cottage on the Isle of Man that I have to step back and remember that the English language  is much broader than my version.

So it was a few months ago when Elizabeth Johnston and Martha Owen started talking about the 'allovers' they were knitting. Both of them have been traveling a bit this year...Martha especially.  New grandbabies in distant places have beckoned to both women, so off they have gone with knitting needles in tow. (Can you imagine a plane trip without knitting needles?!)

Martha walking in the Lake District, England in her Shetland 'allover' jumper
So, I had to ask (because obviously I wasn't paying attention when I read parts of Ann Feitelson's book "The Art of Fair Isle Knitting").  What's an 'allover'?  Allover is the Shetland term for Fair Isle knitting.  In fact in the early 1900's no one talked about Fair Isle knitting, but rather about knitting an allover - a garment with patterns all over it.  Ann interviewed one knitter who felt that the term 'Fair Isle' knitting was a bit discriminatory since many of the patterns used have been developed by Shetlanders from islands other than Fair Isle.

The allover that Martha is knitting is based on a Shetland allover she wore on her travels this spring to stay warm. Except in the case of her knitting allover project, she handspun and dyed her own yarn in 'Martha colors'.  (I have yet to see the allover that Elizabeth is working on.)
Martha Owen knitting her own allover based on a Shetland allover
Unlike traditional Shetland allovers which are made for Shetland wool, Martha has several sheep represented in hers....white - Romney/Corriedale and dyed colors - Corriedale (from her sheep), black - a blend between Shetland and Wensleydale (from those places), and grays - Shetland from Shetland.  I can just imagine the hand of this sweater - so soft and silky!

Detail of Martha's allover
Last I talked to her, she was finishing up the torso, planning on adding the sleeves and then plotting her next allover.  I don't seem to be going as fast with that new set of 000 double points and the Estonian gloves with all the yarnover braids...oh well. I guess I should have tried harder to find a pattern for my 1's!

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