Test Your Knowledge of Fair Isle Knitting Technique and Patterns!

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is Fair Isle knitting?

Where did Fair Isle knitting originate from?

When did Fair Isle knitting gain popularity?

What is the palette size of traditional Fair Isle patterns?

What is the maximum number of consecutive stitches of any given color in traditional Fair Isle patterns?

What is the construction process for a Fair Isle jumper?

What is the term for the generic technique of stranded colorwork?

What are common motifs in Fair Isle knitting?

What is the limit on the number of stitches that yarn can be carried across the back of the work in Fair Isle knitting?


Fair Isle Knitting: Techniques, Traditions, and Patterns

  • Fair Isle is a traditional knitting technique that creates patterns with multiple colors.
  • The technique is named after Fair Isle, one of the Shetland Islands, and gained popularity after the Prince of Wales wore Fair Isle jumpers in public in 1921.
  • Traditional Fair Isle patterns have a limited palette of five or so colors, use only two colors per row, are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular color.
  • The term "Fair Isle" is reserved for the characteristic patterns of Shetland, while "stranded colorwork" is applicable for the generic technique.
  • Basic two-color Fair Isle requires no new techniques beyond the basic knit stitch.
  • The simplest Fair Isle pattern uses circular or double-pointed needles, alternating colors every stitch.
  • Traditional Fair Isle patterns have no more than two or three consecutive stitches of any given color, while modern variations allow for larger blocks of color.
  • Fair Isle jumper construction involves knitting the body of the jumper completely in the round, with steeks worked across the armhole openings.
  • Once the main body of the jumper is complete, the armhole steeks are cut open, and stitches are then picked up around the armhole opening and the sleeve is knitted down toward the cuff in the round.
  • Since the 1990s, the term "Fair Isle" has been applied very generally and loosely to any stranded color knitting regardless of its relation to the knitting of Fair Isle or any of the other Shetland Islands.
  • Fair Isle knitting uses only two colors per round and yarn is carried for a limited number of stitches across the back of the work.
  • Common motifs in Fair Isle knitting are "OXO" shapes, "peeries," or simplified geometric shapes inspired by nature.


Think you know everything about Fair Isle knitting? Test your knowledge with our quiz on the techniques, traditions, and patterns of this traditional knitting style. From the origins of Fair Isle to the construction of a Fair Isle jumper, this quiz will challenge your understanding of the craft. Can you identify common motifs and colors used in Fair Isle patterns? Do you know the difference between "Fair Isle" and "stranded colorwork"? Take our quiz and find out!

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