Fair Isle is a surefire favorite with knitting newbies and veteran knitters alike. One of the most traditional knitting techniques, Fair Isle is used to create gorgeous patterns using multiple colors.
What exactly is Fair Isle knitting?
It might sound fancy, but Fair Isle is just a knitting technique used to create patterns using multiple colors. It lends its name from one of the Shetland islands in the UK, Fair Isle, where it originated. Fair Isle picked up popularity in the 1920s, when the Prince of Wales sported a collection of perfectly patterned jumpers during public appearances.
Traditional Fair Isle consists of a limited color palette, uses two colors per row and is worked in the round. However, nowadays many knitters refer to any kind of knitted color work as Fair Isle, particularly if working in alternating colors.
The simplest way to achieve stunning Fair Isle knits is stranded knitting. Stranded knitting involves using two colors of yarn at the same time, carrying the yarn that’s not in use loosely across the back of your work. This makes it super quick and easy for you to change colors as you go.
How to knit the Fair Isle technique
On a knit row, insert the right needle into next stitch working with the first color. Then, when changing colors pick up the second color, take it under the first color and knit the next stitches.
Change back to first color and, taking it over the second color, work the next stitches
Repeat, making sure that the same color is taken under, and the same color over. This will stop the yarns from tangling
Keep the work on the right needle spread out to avoid the work from pulling in and to keep the work elastic
On a purl row, insert the right needle into the next stitch, working with the first color. Change color by picking up the second color and taking it under the first color and purling the next stitches. Change back to the first color and, taking it over the second color, work the next stitches
Repeat, making sure that the same color is taken under and the same color over