Fair Isle Knitting For Beginners
Fair Isle knitting is a beautiful colour work knitting technique that originates from Scotland.
It is also knows as Norwegian or stranded knitting.
Many knitters are scared to try Fair Isle knitting as it looks really complicated. Well, the truth is that actually it can be really simple once you have nailed down a few basics.
If you are new to Fair Isle knitting and don’t know where to start, please read on for some helpful hints and tips
Choose a Small Project
When you are learning any new knitting technique, it is best to start off small.
This is especially true with Fair Isle. Choose a small project such as boot cuffs, headbands, or even coasters, and keep it simple by only working with two colours at any one time.
Another idea for practicing our colour work technique is to incorporate just a small block of it within a larger, plain design.
Watch Your Tension
One reason that many knitters give up on working with stranded Fair Isle projects is that their work puckers up and doesn’t sit right. This can be resolved simply by knitting less tightly. As you knit Fair Isle, you carry the work across the back of the work. It is really important that these carried over strands aren’t pulled tightly. Just casually take them across and your work will turn out great.
The Importance of Preparation
Before you start a Fair Isle project, spend some time studying the chart. Make sure that you understand the key and the direction that you need to work in, and so on.
In general, Fair Isle charts start from the bottom up. If you are working in the round, you will generally follow the chart from right to left.
This is not, however, the case when knitting on straight needles. When knitting flat, knit rows will be worked from right to left, and purl rows from left to right.
It may well be, however, that the designer of your pattern has a whole different set of rules to this. This is why you really need to be prepared and fully clued up about your chart before you pick up your knitting needles.
Be aware that some Fair Isle knitting patterns are not presented within a chart but as stitch for stitch written instructions. Which is easiest is really a matter of personal preference.
As you work Fair Isle, your yarn will twist. This is because you have to wrap/cross over the strands of yarn as you knit. If you don’t do this, your Fair Isle knitting will develop holes.
Depending on the size of your project, you need to untwist it at the end of every row and sometimes even in the middle of the row. If you don’t untwist the knitting yarn, you will end up in a hot mess.
Keep the main colour to the right, the contrast colour to the right. Get into the habit of untwisting periodically, and you will be fine.
We hope that this article has encouraged you to try out a bit of Fair Isle Knitting. When you are ready to to start please check out our list of Fair Isle Knitting Patterns for Beginners for inspiration.
If you are an absolute beginner to Fair Isle knitting, we would recommend reading this tutorial (link to Knitpicks website). It explains how to wrap the yarn and has many other excellent Fair Isle knitting tips.