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Norah’s Knits: Easy Fairisle Knits

Don’t be afraid of Fair Isle knitting. You can do it!  When my friend Grace taught me how to knit, she really pushed the limits by having me make a Fair Isle hat in 2 colors on a circular size 4 needle.  We were working with what she had around the house. I had a great sense of accomplishment when I was done and a learned so much!

Using circular needles is the perfect way to go for your first stranded project.  [FYI – Fir Isle Knitting is a specific kind of stranded knitting originating in Scotland, but I tend to use the term to describe any similar stranded color work pattern.] When you are working in the round, the RS is always facing you and you can always see what the pattern is doing.  When you work WS rows you have to rely more on counting and less on seeing. While it looks fabulously rich, Cheryl Burke’s Clinton is the perfect first Fair Isle project. It’s in the round,  there are only 2 colors in each row, the pattern is very predictable and there are very few long floats. Float is the term for the strand of yarn that lays across the WS of your work while it isn’t being used in a stitch.


For a sweater sized easy Fair Isle project take a look at Turia or Fieldstone.  Turia (left) has only a few rows of actually stranded color work and the color changing yarn does the rest of the work.


Fieldstone (right), another Cheryl Burke design, maximizes the very easy color work by adding a few rows of reverse stockinette stitch making adjoining colors intermingle and some fun embroidery stitches are added at the end for the feeling of complexity.

Islandic style knitting has become very popular and our free pattern Vik is an easy example of the style, knit in Peruvia Quick.  I was very careful to have only 2 colors in every row. The color work has a lot of impact and its ‘s only for 18 rows.

Starting small is another option. Most of the patterning in the John stocking is very easy.  The large star is the hardest and it’s not bad at all. There are just a few places where you’ll want to twist the unused color in the back so you don’t get your fingers caught in the float.

john_lgI made this stocking for John before we got married a few year back because he is a big Christmas kinda guy and he loves getting any giving stocking presents. In fact, he’s looking more and more like Santa every year….I wonder.

Are you thinking about diving into your first Fair isle project soon?

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