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  • cdfleiner

The Forum Fair Isle Tank Top

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Back in September 2019, I spent a warm late summer's day faffing about in the Forum. Bright sunshine, blue skies, crumbling stones. Everywhere, out of every cranny and nook, there was wisteria in full purple bloom.

Earlier this year, during the spring lockdown, we wound our way through the original series of All Creatures Great and Small, which I hadn't seen since I was a post-grad student living in Virginia in the 1990s (or from when I saw it originally on PBS while still a student living at home in Delaware. I recall my sister being annoyed that 'Doctor Who' was being replaced with 'the Doggy Doctor', i.e., when the Peter Davison Doctor Who serials began running on the local PBS station in 1983).

Anyway, one thing that always stands out is that someone, somewhere, knitted up a heck of a lot of Fair Isle tank tops and jumpers for Peter Davison as Tristan Farnon. I swear he never wore the same one twice.

(Photo - Alarmy stock photo published in The Guardian 6 February 2018)

All this put me in the mood to leave aside knitting socks for a bit and have a go at knitting a tank top for myself.

Since it'd been awhile since I'd done any stranded colour work, I decided to practice with a baby-sized jumper. The bands were chosen randomly from one of Alice Starmore's books, and I used a brown/neutrals colourway sampler box of Jamieson 2-ply Shetland wool. I used an infants-sized pattern that I found on Ravelry (Oorik Tank Top by Mary Jane Mucklestone). It knitted up pretty quickly during a watch of The Terror in March 2021.

Speaking of the terror, here is Tiny Toast modelling said result. One of the teddy bears is currently wearing the tank top.

The pattern for the adult-sized one also came off Ravelry (Islay by Mary Henderson). I wanted the pattern for the basic shape, in-the-round tank top. It's knitted from the bottom up; the finished garment is shorter than I would like on my longer frame, so when I use this pattern again, I'll probably add about 4 inches to it before I start making the armhole steeks.

Here it is pre-blocking. Always block, kids, to avoid the 'loving hands at home' look.

Anyway, I chose my own colourways -- a lot of pale grey Jamieson 2-ply for the ribbing, but also to use throughout the bands as there is so much grey exposed amongst the ruins and the pathways. One repeated band is done in a pebbly sort of pattern to represent the cobbled pathways and steps throughout the Forum.

A bold band of dark red and green is derived from the brick of the Senate House and the now-verdigris copper window grills high up on its walls.

Small bands of a leafy flower band separate the two bolder bands, meant to represent the buddleia.

Finished piece, front and back, all blocked.


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