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fabric Fair Isle

Fair Isle knits are characterised by repetitive multi-coloured patterns of elaborate geometrical and natural shapes, laid out in horizontal strands. The knitting tradition originated on Fair Isle, the southernmost of the Shetland islands off the north coast of Scotland, during the 19th century and is likely inspired by traditional Baltic and Scandinavian knitting.

fabric Fair Isle

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Fair Isle knits are characterised by repetitive multi-coloured patterns of elaborate geometrical and natural shapes, laid out in horizontal strands. The knitting tradition originated on Fair Isle, the southernmost of the Shetland islands off the north coast of Scotland, during the 19th century and is likely inspired by traditional Baltic and Scandinavian knitting.

The pattern sequence is gradually created with a float-jacquard knitting technique, where an extra yarn of a different colour is added to the stitches. On every row, one yarn is used to knit the stitch while the other is floated behind the piece. The most basic type of jacquard knitting, the Fair Isle technique produces relatively light fabrics.

Traditionally hand-knitted with naturally light white, grey and brown Shetland wool, Fair Isle patterns have incorporated shades of yellow, green, orange and purple made with dyes from local plants and lichens. Photo: Getty Images.