Here in the Blacker Yarns office, when we think about Fair Isle designs we imagine cosy wintry evenings, snuggled up indoors sitting beside a roaring fire with our knitting or being wrapped up warm with plenty of layers and wearing our favourite 100% British wool knitwear, as we take a stroll along a Cornish beach on a blustery autumnal day. Fair Isle has a comforting and nostalgic appeal.
A Bit About the History of Fair Isle
Fair Isle is a distinctive and stylish design which originated from the remote island of Fair Isle, north of Scotland. It is believed that the Fair Isle style of knitting evolved in the 1500s and may have been passed on by the Scandinavians or Spaniards. Fair Isle Sweaters were developed around the time of World War One, and whilst there have been periods when they were at the forefront of fashion, today they remain a classic design and a favourite with all ages.
Fair Isle knitwear often consists of horizontal bands of patterns using up to four colours of wool with intricate work involved. Our Fair Isle themed patterns, each created by a talented designer that we have worked with, are aimed at knitters with existing moderate to intermediate knitting ability.
Patterns Providing More Inspiration
The stylish and fun seasonal Frost and Fir Pullover is based on our popular Feeling Sheepish unisex pullover with a fitted and stylish design. The attractive Fair Isle design incorporates Christmas trees and stars around the body, and it can be made in 7 sizes. Worked in the round up to armholes, it is easy to knit and also a good first project to try, if you are an intermediate knitter. We recommend using our Tamar Lustre, Pure Shetland, or any of our other DK yarns to create the perfect Christmas gift that your friends or family will treasure for a long time.
The timeless and elegant Jura Cardigan pattern by Mary Henderson can be purchased on Ravelry. It has charming heart motifs and OXO designs with colourful corrugated ribbing at the hem, cuffs and neckline. The pattern has been designed using Tamar 4-ply, you could also knit the stunning fair isle design using Lyonesse, and Pure Jacob or any of our other 4-ply yarns.
Fair Isle Project Kits
We have put together two project kits based on Fair Isle knitwear, the pattern with in the kit is suited to both 3ply and 4ply yarns. First up is our bold Fair Isle Yoke Jumper Project Kit which includes the Fair Isle Yoke Jumper pattern designed by Rita Taylor and Cornish Garden 3ply in Hepworth and 1 skein of each colour, Trebah, Tremenheere, Boconnoc, Cotehele and Heligan for the colourwork. The Fair Isle Yoke Jumper Project Kit in Woodland uses our gorgeous 2021 Birthday Yarn, Limited Edition Woodland range and includes the Fair Isle Yoke Jumper pattern designed by Rita Taylor and Woodland 4ply in Silver Falls and 1 skein of each colour, Forest Berry, Frost, Lichen, Holly Bush and Copper Wood.
Both of these project kits come with 100g full skeins or yarn, which leaves you plenty of colourful yarn to add to your stash! With the extra yarn you could make a stunning and cosy pair of mitts to match your jumper.
Where To Find Out More
You can find out more about the origins of Fair Isle knitting and other traditions on the V&A website, which is our go-to-source of information about fashion and textiles heritage here: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/british-knitting-traditions. We also recommend checking out some of the videos posted on YouTube such as Fair Isle Knitting for Beginners and Learn How to Knit Fair Isle to help get you started.