We see the distinctive Fair Isle pattern on knitwear every season, and over the decades it’s become quite the classic. It is particularly popular during ski season and over the Christmas period in the northern hemisphere because of its strong Wintery integrity. Fair Isles are often prominent on the “holiday sweaters” that come out for casual holiday get togethers with friends and family.
Fair Isle knitwear can be chunky or fine gauge, and comes in a wide variety of colours and silhouettes. Sometimes the patterns cover the entire sweater, and sometimes only parts of it, like the yoke and hems. They are strictly casual pieces, but can be worn with dressier bottoms to create interesting juxtapositions.
I am lukewarm on the Fair Isle sweater trend. I’m drawn to the neutral styles with a yoke and hem border every season (the cream oversized turtleneck sweater from the Gap tickles my fancy). But I haven’t felt fabulous in a Fair Isle since I was a teen back in the ‘80s. Perhaps that’s my challenge. I think of Fair Isle as a juvenile pattern.
Fair Isles can look slightly frumpy when worn without fashionable intention. I also find the stitching across the yoked styles uncomfortable when I reach out or raise my arms because there is no shoulder seam. But I’d definitely wear a fun neutral Fair Isle if I met the right one. They look cuddly and gorgeously Nordic.
Over to you. What’s your take on Fair Isle sweaters?