Fabulous Fair Isle: 12 designs to brighten up your wardrobe
Show off your Fair Isle skills with our favourite patterns for stranded colourwork knitting.
At the heart of every Fair Isle knitting pattern are two simple rules: the knitting must be worked in stocking stitch, and only two colours can be used on each row.
From these simple principles come almost endless design possibilities. And with so many beautiful knits out there, finding your perfect Fair Isle knitting pattern can be tricky – but Gathered is here to help!
We've rounded up a mix of garments and accessories in styles ranging from traditional to modern. You'll find classic Fair Isle motifs as well as stranded knits inspired by broader colourwork trends.
With 12 patterns on our list, including seven Fair Isle sweater patterns, there's something here for every wardrobe.
The patterns we've chosen are mainly suitable for intermediate knitters, but some are also in reach of adventurous beginners. Check out our in-depth guide to Fair Isle knitting for everything you need to know before you cast on.
12 eye-catching Fair Isle knitting patterns
1. Rowan Jess sweater
Want to turn heads this winter? Treat yourself to this colourful Fair Isle sweater pattern featuring bands of motifs across the body and cuffs. Get the design in The Alpaca Collection by Lisa Richardson for Rowan, which features 14 projects in snuggly alpaca yarns.
- Buy The Alpaca Collection pattern book from John Lewis
2. Kate Davies Knitting Season jumper dress
Every season is 'knitting season', so find a cosy, comfy space to cast on some gorgeous colourwork from Scottish designer Kate Davies. She has so many great Fair Isle knitting patterns to choose from, but this yoked dress has to be one of our favourites.
- Buy the Knitting Season pattern book from Ebay
3. Caitlin Hunter Navelli summer sweater
If you've been anywhere near Instagram lately you've probably seen Caitlin Hunter's colourwork jumpers in your feed. We love this lightweight Navelli crop, a relaxed, Italian-inspired summer sweater that's perfect for wearing over dresses.
More like this
- Buy the Navelli summer sweater pattern from LoveCrafts
4. Sirdar all-over Fair Isle sweater
Go big or go home! This eye-catching Sirdar sweater features an all-over Fair Isle pattern and contrast colour block ribbing. Knit it in Cashmere Merino Silk DK for added luxury, and find more contemporary spins on traditional motifs in the Modern Fair Isles Collection.
- Buy the Sirdar Fair Isle sweater pattern from Sirdar
5. Arne and Carlos sweater and scarf
We couldn't write a Fair Isle knitting patterns round-up without mentioning Arne and Carlos. The Scandinavian design duo are famous for their bold and beautiful stranded colourwork, including this coordinating jumper and scarf from their Greatest Knits collection.
- Buy the Arne and Carlos Greatest Knits pattern book from Waterstones
6. West Yorkshire Spinners men's jumper
Sometimes simple is just as effective, like this pared-back patterning from West Yorkshire Spinners. A neat diamond band shows off the natural, undyed wool used for this cosy Fair Isle sweater. It's from the Fleece collection, which includes knits for men, women and kids.
- Buy the West Yorkshire Spinners Fleece pattern book from John Lewis
Knit flawless Fair Isle
Designer Rosee Woodland shares her top Fair Isle knitting tips to help you get perfect results every time.
7. Mary Henderson Eilidh vest
With its corrugated ribbing and classic floral motif, this Eilidh vest by Mary Henderson is one for traditional Fair Isle fans. You can find out about more of Mary's gorgeous tank top patterns on Gathered, and she's also a regular designer for The Knitter magazine.
- Buy the Mary Henderson Eilidh vest pattern from Ravelry
8. Debbie Bliss Fairground layette
This gorgeous set from Debbie Bliss is designed for toddlers aged 12 to 36 months, and includes a cardigan, jumper, hat and socks. Go for bright fairground colours or choose your own palette from the huge variety of shades in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.
- Buy the Debbie Bliss Fairground layette pattern from LoveCrafts
9. Jennie Atkinson Cartwright jumper
Go beyond Fair Isle with a design that mixes different techniques to dramatic effect. For this smart-casual jumper, Jennie Atkinson has combined bands of vintage-style motifs with tweed-effect slip-stitch colourwork. The result is a strikingly modern look.
- Buy the Jennie Atkinson Cartwright jumper pattern from Etsy
Free Fair Isle knitting patterns
We have lots of gorgeous Fair Isle knits right here on Gathered! These are our top three:
1. Fair Isle dress
With its simple geometric pattern of diamonds and triangles, this tunic dress from designer Pat Strong is a joy to knit – and guaranteed to turn heads! The gorgeous rustic shades of Rowan Felted Tweed give it a timeless appeal. Which colours will you choose?
- Cast on the free Fair Isle dress pattern
2. Fair Isle tank top
Make this versatile tank top a staple in your spring wardrobe. Created by Rosee Woodland, it mixes classic diamond motifs with soft floral colours and is perfect for layering over blouses and dresses. Knit it in a cashmere-blend yarn for sumptuous softness and warmth.
- Cast on the free Fair Isle tank top pattern
3. Fair Isle hat and matching mitts
Add a pop of bright colour to any outfit with this fun accessory set designed by Sophie Jordan. We can't resist the marled shades of Scheepjes Stone Washed, which look fantastic together in the big pompom that finishes off the hat.
- Cast on the free Fair Isle hat and matching mitts pattern
A timeless technique
One of our favourite qualities of Fair Isle is its versatility. We love how old motifs can look different in new contexts, and simple changes of colour palette can make designs from long ago feel fresh and modern.
Do you prefer the novelty of current graphic styles or the familiarity of traditional motifs? Subtle colour shifts or bold contrast? All-over colourwork or just a hint of pattern?
Whatever your style, there are Fair Isle knitting patterns to suit – and we hope we've helped you find the one that will be next on your needles.
Knit Fair Isle like a pro
Keep your colourwork knitting neat and tangle-free by learning how to catch Fair Isle floats. Boost your knitting skills with Gathered.
As well as spending her working life thinking about yarn, Sarah designs knitting patterns in her spare time, too!
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