Fair Isle Knitting Books

I have just learned to knit Fair Isle and frankly, I'm addicted! I love it and wonder why I waited so long to give it a go.

I would like to purchase some books on Fair Isle knitting but I see that they are very dear on-line (none to be had here). I don't want to spend a lot of money on books I know nothing about, so I'm requesting recommendations - or warnings - about any FI books.

Your assistance will be greatly appreciated!




Kerry's picture

Hi Jesse, welcome to FI. I've got a couple of books I found in second hand bookshops, both published in the 80s. New Directions in Fair Isle Knitting by Patty Knox and The Traditional Sweater Book by Madeline Weston, the latter not 100% FI. Both worth a look. Alice Starmore is the high priestess of FI, but some of her books are very expensive. What about your local library?

ronhuber's picture

I think in the last little bit Alice Starmore has fallen from her position due to the fact that she has been caught in some outright untruths. Perhaps they were truths to her. However, she did not invent the expression "to steek" as she claims. Two books that would serve you in fair isle all the rest of your life are "Traditional Fair Isle Knitting" by Sheila McGregor and "Sweaters From Camp" by Meg Swansen. Both available from Schoolhouse Press in Wisconsin. I know they ship interntionally. They also sell Shetland wool but lately I have been ordering directly from Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick Shetland and get these lovely packages within days. Of course, you might have to get up in the middle of the night to connect with their hours. Still looking forward to a trip to Shetland. Starmore's designs for the most part call for wool she sells under her name and now it is difficult to find. Both the books I mentioned use Jamieson and Smith. For me Fair Isle is so addictive. Left over wool can be made into hats, shawls, blankets, etc. The colours are wonderful. AND the big plus when using Shetland wool is that you can just cut it when steeking. No sewing or crocheting. Good luck with your life long addiction.

grandcarriage's picture

I second Ron on the "Sweaters from Camp" book. I had really no interest in fair aisle until I saw that book and just about plotzed: It opens with a sweater that a man made at camp for his (male) partner. A) It's droolworthy gorgeous. B) I thought it was extremely cool for them to start with a male knitter who outright says that he knit it for his parter. The sweaters are A-MAZING and far beyond the ordinary. Very modern, tasteful, and stylish.


Rowan's picture

Hey Jesse,

I do Fair Isle Knitting along with cables, and am pretty knowledgeable on both. As far as books go, I have no books on Fair Isle and have none to recommend. There aren't any good books that focuses on this technique since it is a hard topic to write about. Fair Isle requires a lot of inspiration and experimentation ~ it also requires graph paper to combine different borders and peeries to an overall unique design that is yours.

Incidentally, I am combining my two loves (fair isle and cables) into a sweater. The hem bands and yoke will be in Fair Isle, and the rest of the sweater is cabled. So far I am at the yoke and the sweater is turning out beautifully ~ so colorful and highly textured! I love experimenting!!!!