"Fair Isle"

BeckyS commented...

Forgive my ignorance, I know very little about such things, but I am totally confused here.. what little I've read about Fair Isle is pretty much what Sandy put into her post about Fair Isle. So, can someone please enlighten me as to what was incorrect in her post? I hate having wrong information... makes me look like an idiot when I'm trying to be a know-it-all! LOL

Well Becky, Fair Isle was attributed to the Faroe Islands.......while Fair Isle is one of the Shetland Islands, which is where the true"Fair Isle" style of knitting was "invented" and it spread to the rest of Shetland. This may seem like a trivial mistake, but there is a particular style of stranded knitting that is traditionally Faroese also. (I notice it has been changed since the original publication.)

I feel it's important to recognize the difference between all of the different traditional stranded knitting styles. This is not my original opinion, just something I totally support. This was first pointed out (to me) while watching Meg Swansen's Fair Isle Vest video....she discusses how "Fair Isle" has become to refer to a technique, not the specific style.

Rowan also uses the term "Fair Isle" as a technique.....they should use the term "stranded knitting" .... but who listens to me LOL!!

My own definition of a Fair Isle sweater?

Well, it uses traditional Shetland yarn (which helps to "catch" the stranded yarn)
at the traditional fine gauge
knit in the round
and I prefer the traditional OXO border and pirie patterns
which are designed to avoid long carries (or floats) of yarn
and naturally stabilize the stranded knitting

IMHO of course!


  1. Second! Nicely put. I'm just recently back from Shetland. It was nice to get a "re-up" on the real thing.

  2. Anne- I think everyone's interpretation is different, but to me it includes symmetry, carrying wool over no more than 1", and it must be Shetland yarn.

    And no more than 2 colors per row.

  3. Yup, I agree with you completely! Remember that conversation we had at KW a couple of years ago?

    Pirie patterns and oxo's are typical hallmarks of FI knitting...

  4. Personally, I think that Fair Isle as a technique should include, stranding, knitting in the round and steeks.

    I am more forgiving as to the pattern/motif as I think of it as something that is still evolving.

  5. Thanks for the info. The only thing I wasn't aware of was the difference between Fair Isle and Faroese.

    And, just for the record, it drives me nuts to see all stranded knitting referred to as "fair isle" also! How hard is it to get that little bit right?


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