Fair Isle Knitting


FYI: This site receives a small amount in commissions from affiliate links and third-party advertising. 

Quick Links


Fair Isle knitting is a traditional knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours. Traditional Fair Isle patterns generally use a limited number of colors (five or less) and use only two colors in each row.

As the second or unused color is left at the back of the work (stranded) most traditional fair isle patterns rarely have blocks of color larger than three stitches across the row. 

fair isle knitting© Katherine | Flickr - Knitting a Fair Isle Pattern

Some people use the term "Fair Isle" to refer to any knitting where two or more colors are used, whereas others use the term "stranded colourwork" for the generic technique, and reserve the term "Fair Isle" for the characteristic patterns of the Shetland Islands.

Fair Isle Knitting Tips

Generally the only stitches you need to have mastered to knit a Fair Isle garment are knit and purl stitches.

However, there are a few tricks to knitting fair isle successfully!

First of all, knitting fair isles involves working with several balls of wool simultaneously and if you are not careful you may end up with an awful tangle on your hands. One way around this problem is to use a small amount of yarn in your contrast colors, wound onto a shuttle rather than using a full ball of wool.

If you are doing a traditional fair isle stitch pattern, you will only be trying to manage two colors at a time, but if you are ambitious you will be able to find patterns that use anything up to five colors in a single row!

If you are using the stranded method of knitting fair isle, you will just be leaving your unused yarn at the back of the work and switching color as necessary. It is rather easy to leave too much or not enough yarn resting at the back and as a result, your knitted fabric can be tight in patches and loose in others.

Worst case, you could have holes or gaps in your knitted fabric where you have been too generous with the yarn being carried at the back. It is important that you keep your tension even, both for the knitted stitches and the carried yarn.

Fair Isle Pattern Books

If you are keen to try some Fair Isle, unless you are prepared to create your own Fair Isle pattern, you are probably going to need to get your hands on a pattern book or two.

Check out these books from Amazon.com, if none of them look quite right for your needs, click on any of the images to go to the main Amazon site and search on 'Fair Isle Knitting' to find the right book for you.


If you are interested in Fair Isle Knitting, you might like these as well...

  • Double Knitting

    The phrase double knitting has a couple of meanings in the knitting world. Double Knitting or DK is a weight of wool and a knitting method.

  • Continental Knitting

    There are two main methods of knitting, the one used on this site is generally called the English method. The other is the Continental Knitting Method.

  • Aran Knitting

    Contary to popular belief Aran knitting is not a knitting style that is centuries old, but was in fact created in the early 1900s in the Aran Isles.



Couldn't Find What You Were Looking for?

Try searching the site using the search box below:

Custom Search



New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave a comment in the box below. This comment will be shared on your page and be visible to the users of this website.

PLEASE NOTE: I will not be notified of any comments unless you tag me or my page in your comments.






Recent Articles

  1. Shetland Lace Knitting

    Dec 11, 19 07:03 PM

    Shetland Lace Knitting is a particular style of knitting that developed in the Shetland Islands and was one of the main exports of the Island early in the last century.

    Read More

  2. kfb: Knit front and back

    Nov 26, 19 06:24 PM

    kfb or knit front and back is a method of increasing your number of stitches by one and involves knitting into a single stitch twice.

    Read More

  3. Crochet and Knitting

    Nov 24, 19 11:04 PM

    Crochet and knitting are two different yarn crafts, and I do tend to get a little annoyed when TV shows or movies get them mixed up.

    Read More



Subscribe Here: