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The Fair Isle Project - Can You Help?

We all have a picture in our heads of what a Fair Isle sweater looks like, but did you know that Fair Isle knitting - as practised here in the isle of Fair Isle - has its own characteristics which distinguish it from 'Fair Isle' knitting produced elsewhere?  Just as other regions of Shetland have their own knitting traditions, such as the colourwork of Whalsay and the fine lace knitting of Unst, so too does Fair Isle. 

As far as I'm aware, there has never been any academic research carried out into Fair Isle knitting that was specifically made in the island of Fair Isle and this is something I'm hoping to change!  


My aim is to track down as many extant examples of knitting from the isle as possible and compile a 'visual archive' of them.  A number of examples are held in museums, galleries and private collections around the U.K., which I am hoping to visit later in the year, but a large number will be owned by individuals around the world - and this is where you come in!

Do you own a knitted item that you know to have come from Fair Isle?


Would you be willing to send me photographs and information about it?

It can be very confusing that the term 'Fair Isle' is nowadays applied to all kinds of stranded colourwork knitting, regardless of where it has been knitted - you may own a 'Fair Isle' hat or sweater, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it was knitted in Fair Isle!  


One way of telling is that your item may have one of the above labels sewn into it, or a label from one of the more recent knitwear businesses in the isle.  Alternatively, there may be a story attached to it which ties it to having been knitted in Fair Isle.

I am interested in any knitted item that you may have - it doesn't have to be a sweater, it could be a hat, scarf, mitts or other accessory, or an item of homeware such as an egg cosy or tea cosy! - but:

There must be proof or strong anecdotal evidence that the item was knitted in Fair Isle.

If you don't have any knitted items, perhaps you have photos from a visit to Fair Isle which show people knitting or items of knitwear for sale?  I would love to see them if you're able to email me a copy!

You can get updates on the project on either Instagram or Facebook:


and you can contact me via email at:

All photographs bar top © The George Waterston Memorial Centre & Museum, Fair Isle

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