Fair Isle for Everyone

In a recent issue of Elle, they had a “look book” of designer fashions inspired by Fair Isle knitting. Since then, I’ve been seeing stranded colorwork, or prints that look like stranded colorwork, pop up all over the fashion pages.

As you probably know, the term “Fair Isle” has been generalized to refer to stranded colorwork—using two or more colors of yarn in a way that creates strands (or “floats”) across the back of the work. Some people prefer to use the term Fair Isle to refer only to those motifs that are common to the Shetland Islands north of Scotland, where the physical Fair Isle is located. On the other hand, stranded colorwork is a broad term encompassing all sorts of motifs and styles: Norwegian motifs, tribal motifs, Cowichan motifs, etc.

I love the look of stranded colorwork in knitwear, though it can be challenging to get the hang of knitting it at first. I prefer to knit stranded colorwork with the two-handed method (I’ll post more about this tomorrow), and strongly suggest using this method for anyone wanting to do colorwork patterns, as it’s quite fast and much easier to wrap floats, once you get the hang of it.

If you are currently too intimidated (don’t be) or overwhelmed by other knitting projects (understandably) to contemplate whipping up your own Fair Isle projects, walk into just about any clothing store this time of year and you can find something to hold you over until a future point in time. If you have the time and the desire to DIY a Fair Isle project, here are some of my favorites from Ravelry.


2 thoughts on “Fair Isle for Everyone

  1. I just cast on a fair-isle hat last night. It’s for the I-minion, and it’s going so fast! Have you seen all the stranded colorwork in the new Harry Potter movie? It’s epic.

    • YES. I love all of the knitwear in the last few Harry Potter movies, in general, but the fair isle pieces make me super happy.

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