Fair Isle knitting book mixes contemporary and traditional

The Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers has published their third book and second pattern book, Fair Isle designs from Shetland Knitters Volume 1.

A Legacy of Shetland Lace was the first pattern book the guild produced which focused on lace patterns. 

This follow-up contains 15 original hand knitting patterns from members of the guild focusing on Fair Isle knitting, ranging from smaller projects like wrist warmers and phone covers to all-over cardigans and yoke jumpers. The book begins with a number of pages containing essential information for people wishing to knit like a Shetlander: finishing, washing and dressing as well as Shetland dialect words associated with knitting are all covered. 

Each pattern is given a difficulty rating from one to five and they all have clear and well laid-out charts. There is an excellent mixture of traditional designs with contemporary colour choices and patterns and it makes for a very inspiring read. 

Almost all of the best-known books on Shetland knitting are written by non-Shetlanders so it is great to see a publication by local knitters sharing their skills and showing how they put colours and patterns together.

Shetland’s hand knitting culture is dependent on these skills being passed down and there are patterns in the book like the Frances Frilly Pixie Hat by Linda Shearer and the Hvarfi Gloves by Pearl Johnson which all Shetlanders have seen variations of in their lifetime but never in a pattern book.

The wide range of patterns means a beginner could work their way through the projects but experienced knitters will still find lots of inspiring patterns. 

The “Volume 1” in the title makes me think another is in the pipeline. I can’t wait to see what Volume 2 will include. 

Ella Gordon

Fair Isle Designs from Shetland Knitters, by Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers. Published by The Shetland Times Ltd at £21.99. Available at The Shetland Times Bookshop and the online store.


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