Designing Fair Isle Patterns From Nature

Nature has been an inspiration to creative minds throughout history, from ancient Greek art to modern fashion. One creative craft that draws heavily from nature is fair isle knitting. Fair isle knitting is a type of stranded knitting technique in which two or more colors of yarn are used to create complex colorwork patterns. The technique is named after Fair Isle, an island off the coast of Scotland, where the tradition of fair isle knitting originated.

The patterns used in fair isle knitting are often inspired by nature and the landscapes of the Scottish Isles. The island of Fair Isle has a unique environment, with an abundance of wildflowers and birdlife. The island’s unique environment has led to the development of a distinctive style of fair isle knitting, which is characterized by intricate, interlocking geometric patterns. These patterns often feature the colors of the sea, the heather, and the wildflowers, which are often depicted in the pattern. Fair isle knitters have a deep respect for nature, and this is reflected in their designs. They strive to capture the beauty and complexity of the natural world in their work.

I can thank my own Scottish ancestry for my love of Fair Isle colorwork. One winter, during a snowstorm I knit this bird watching hat for my daughter. The strands, that are pulled across the reverse side of the knitting, create an extra layer of thickness, making a very cozy hat.

This chullo was created using patterns from Colorwork Creations by Susan Anderson-Freed. After working with two strand fair isle knitting for many years I challenged myself to learn five-strand knitting which allowed me to pull even more color into my projects.

Fair Isle Forest Adventures

This month I have been working with a Nature Preschool here in British Columbia. Bird watching in the forest with kiddos is one of my favourite things.

My Fair Isle Forest Adventures pattern is inspired by the creatures and plants that live in our forests and the hand knit mittens, hats and other woolies that keep us warm while we adventure.

It was created in the fives strand style using Adobe Photoshop and my Wacom Cintiq.

photo courtesy of Sander Weeteling

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