Fair Isle or 2 Color Knitting?

I was doing some reading last night about 2 color knitting. I’ve been preparing for my Drops sweater and I want to make sure I do my homework.
I came across a new booklet — Stranded Color Knitting. After reading about it on a few blogs I thought it was worth trying out. At $9.99 I don’t think I have much to lose.
One thing caught my eye last night though. On a blog (I’m sorry, I can’t remember which one) the writer mentions there’s a difference between Fair Isle and 2 color knitting. I have to admit I don’t know the difference. Can anyone enlighten me?
Fair Isle
2 Color
Interesting Knitting Blogs

In case you’re curious, here are a few blogs I’ve been reading thru in preparing for my new sweater:

If anyone has a suggestion for additional blogs please let me know!

6 thoughts on “Fair Isle or 2 Color Knitting?

  1. I have that stranded colour knitting booklet, it’s a good read and I’m planning to try some of the ideas in it. I’ve never done colourwork before.

  2. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll have to take a look at it to prepare for the Gerbera sweater. My guess about the distinction between fair isle and two color knitting is this:
    Traditional fair isle involves stranding no more than two colors across a row. There are some colorwork projects that involve more colors per row than this. Take a look at a Kaffe Fasset (sp?) sweater, for instance.
    Also, there are other techniques that involve using different colored yarns: color blocking, intarsia, slip stitch knitting, stripes, etc.

  3. Well, of course, there’s WendyKnits.net! But you probably already know that *wink*…
    Ironically enough, the latest Interweave has an article describing three different ways to do two color knitting.
    I think that the main difference between 2-color and fair isle is not really a difference. Fair isle *is* 2-color – per row, at least. In fact, I believe that true fair isle is not allowed to use more than two colors per row and you it’s designs are not supposed to have long “carries”, i.e. you don’t have more than 3-5 stitches of either color in a row. Also, fair isle is usually made of traditional patterns mixed in different ways. So, it’s a particular style/use of 2-color.
    2-color is simply any sweater you use 2 colors in one row at the same time, but it is not necessarily fair isle (i.e. if you did 2 st of color #1 and 2 of color #2 on every row, it’s 2-color, but it’s not fair isle.)
    I could be wrong, but this is the impression I’ve always gotten from what I’ve read in the various books (St*rmore, Feitleson, etc.). :-)

  4. Hi Jody! Thanks for buying the book! Please let me know if you have any questions after it arrives. It generally takes Cafepress 12 days to 2 weeks to get the books to people.
    Amy & Eklectika are right – Fair Isle knitting is just one type of stranded color knitting. Norwegian knitting (like the beautiful Gerbera) is another type of stranded knitting but they occasionally use more than 2 colors per row. In Fair Isle both the foreground and background color can change while you are knitting. It makes choosing colors for a project a lot more difficult and an art form in itself.
    I think the most talented blogger I’ve seen in Fair Isle color selection is Sheila at
    Pink Tea is a group knitting blog with some great Fair Isles at http://www.nwkniterati.com/movabletype/pinktea/
    A great Norwegian sweater knitter is Geane at http://knitpix.blogspot.com/ She’s probably knit about 30 Dale of Norway sweaters.

  5. Hi, I’ve been looking around for this information about stranded color knitting; it was in my blog entry of 23 September 2003.
    Here you go!
    What makes a Fair Isle different from a Norwegian knit? I looked it up, but couldn’t find a definitive answer. So, I wrote to Meg Swansen, whom I consider Knitting America’s Greatest Treasure, and she kindly replied:
    “Ah – as it happens I have strong feelings about the mis-use of Fair Isle to describe any two (or more) -color knitting.
    Fair Isle is a very specific type of color pattern knitting: never more than two colors at one time; never any huge carries AND the use of color particularly separates Fair isle from Scandinavian knitting… only Fair Isle shades the motif while At The Same Time shading the background colors. Dale sweaters are Scandinavian, or two-color patterns — but are not Fair Isle.”
    Isn’t she the best? There you have it. My curiousity is satisfied, and this is the definition to which I will adhere just like Shetland yarn does to itself.
    I’m enjoying your blog and your knitting!

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