Fair Isle is a tradition which originated in the Fair Isle, which is part of the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. Whether Vikings or Moors or Baltic traders influenced their knitting style long ago in antiquity is up for debate. But their style is unique, yet since the 1990's the reference to Fair Isle has often been used to cover colorwork in general.
Ideally this style has certain characteristics from the use of only 2 colors per knit row and in general sticking with 4 or 5 colors. In Fair Isle families have certain styles that are unique to their family. Fair Isle became popular when the Prince Of Wales in the 1920s wore fair isle sweaters and vests, he later became King Edward VIII.
An interesting resurgence of fair isle on the island it originated on- Fair Isle.
The WEBS Get Ready To Choose Your Own Adventure that started July 5th is an opportunity for me to learn colorwork. The Hat KAL gave an easy tutorial and a graph and with intense concentration I'm doing it, trying to not loose track.
My friend Maureen back East, who is more of a knitting expert, is also starting the Hat KAL and she's doing colorwork too.
Her Mojorao's Adventure KAL Hat-
But when she started she copied the chart, whipped out multicolored pencils and started adding more color. Sigh, wish I could say the same. I'll get there!
When I asked her about how she holds her yarn for this she replied that she usually knit's continental and she holds one color in each hand. To keep that two handed approach she is re-designing the chart with more colors, but only 2 colors per row, which is the traditional fair-isle technique. "In genuine, traditional Fair Isle knitting made on Fair Isle, two colours are used in each row with an average of four colours used throughout the whole garment. Blocks of patterns are not repeated." Exclusively Fair Isle
So with this KAL I've also learned how to do a two-colored long-tail cast on. With the fair- isle under my belt and the ability to follow a chart this KAL is proving very valuable. Also thinking of doing hats for this Christmas. Socks obviously are not going to be flying off my needles too soon, or soon enough to give as gifts! Hats, hats we can do! I'll become a Christmas mad hatter! They're so much fun, and with this new ability to do colorwork it'll be doubly fun!
"Crew of the Norwegian Tall Ship Sorlandet and their newly bartered Fair Isle Keps - July 2011" Story- Fair Isle
Websites on Fair Isle Knitting
More on Fair Isle