Fair Isle knitting

Jacklien Fernendus

Author for handknitty.com
I have worked in the knitting industry for the past 15 years. When I was a child, my grandma used to knit and enjoy spending time with them on an easy chair in the winter to keep them warm and occupied. Now that I work in the modern knitting & Fashion industry, I see the same fascination in my 4-year-old daughter’s eyes when seeing me working.

Fair Isle Knitting: Scotland’s Legacy

Fair Isle knitting is a traditional style of knitting that originated on Fair Isle, a small island located between Scotland and Norway. This technique is characterized by its use of multiple colors and intricate patterns, making it one of the most recognizable and beloved styles of knitting in the world.

The History of Fair Isle Knitting:

The origins of Fair Isle knitting are not entirely clear, but it is believed that the technique was brought to the island by Norwegian fishermen who traded with the locals. Over time, the Fair Isle community developed their own unique style of knitting, using a limited palette of colors to create intricate patterns that reflected the natural beauty of their island home.

Fair Isle knitting gained popularity in the early 20th century when the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII, was photographed wearing a Fair Isle sweater while playing golf. This helped to popularize the style throughout the United Kingdom and beyond.

The Techniques of Fair Isle Knitting:

Fair Isle knitting is known for its use of multiple colors in a single row of stitches, which creates intricate and colorful patterns. To achieve this effect, knitters carry two or more colors of yarn at the same time and alternate between them to create the desired pattern.

One of the unique aspects of Fair Isle knitting is the use of a technique called “steeking.” Steeking involves cutting the knitting to create openings for armholes or necklines. This technique can be daunting for beginner knitters, but it allows for more complex designs and a seamless finish.

Fair Isle Knitting

The Legacy of Fair Isle Knitting:

Fair Isle knitting has become a beloved style of knitting around the world, and it is closely associated with Scotland and the Shetland Islands. The intricate patterns and colorful designs have inspired countless knitters, and many designers continue to create new and innovative Fair Isle patterns today.

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In addition to its popularity in the knitting community, Fair Isle knitting has also become an important part of Scotland’s cultural heritage. The Shetland Islands, in particular, have become known for their annual Wool Week festival, which celebrates the island’s rich history of knitting and textile arts.

In conclusion, Fair Isle knitting is a beloved and iconic style of knitting that has its roots in the small island community of Fair Isle, Scotland. This technique has become an important part of Scotland’s cultural heritage and continues to inspire knitters around the world with its intricate patterns and colorful designs.

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