Charting the Fair Istes

Fair Isle charts read like stitch pattern charts. Each square represents a stitch, and the symbol or color given in each square represents the color in which to work the stitch. The pattern chart includes a key listing the symbols used and the colors they represent (for more information on reading charts, refer to Chapter 3). Beyond these basic rules, here are some points specific to Fair Isle charts:

The first row of the chart shows the first right-side row of your knitting and is worked from right to left. The second row of the chart shows the second and wrong-side row of your knitting and is worked from left to right.

For repeating patterns, the chart shows only one or two repeats and indicates where you're to begin and end the chart for the piece you're working on.

Most color patterns are worked in stockinette stitch. Unless your pattern tells you to do otherwise, knit the pattern on right-side rows and purl it on wrong-side rows.

The famous and sought-by-collectors Bohus Stickning sweaters from Sweden are knit very much like traditional Fair Isle sweaters, except they often incorporate purling on the right-side of the color work, which adds additional texture and visual interest. Many photos of original and updated Bohus pieces are available at

i If the design uses a stitch pattern other than stockinette, the symbol will represent the color used and the type of stitch to make. For example, an x may tell you to purl with red on right-side rows and knit with red on wrong-side rows; the symbol y may tell you to knit with red on right-side rows and purl with red on wrong-side rows.

i If you're knitting in the round, all rounds are right-side rounds. You work the chart from right to left on every round. See Chapter 8 for more on knitting in the round, or circular knitting.

For a black-and-white chart with symbols indicating colors, you may want to make a photocopy of it (enlarged if you like) and color it in so that you don't have to refer frequently to the key to decipher tiny symbols.

Figure 13-1 shows a chart for a repeating triangle pattern 6 stitches wide and 4 rows high. (You can see it knitted up in the bag shown in the color insert.) This chart doesn't need a key; just pick two yarn colors and plug them in for the different symbols in the chart. (Note: If only two colors are used in a pattern, generally the background is called MC, for main color, and the other color is called CC, for contrast color. When a pattern includes several colors, they're usually designated by letters — A, B, C, and so on.)

Figure 13-1:

Chart for a Fair Isle end Pattern triangle pattern.


-6-stitch repeat-

gin pattern

Figure 13-2 shows some Fair Isle patterns in chart form. Use them in the Everywhere Bag or the hats presented in Chapter 9.

If you want to experiment with a different color combination, make several copies of your pattern and color them in with different colorways (knitterese for "color combinations") until you find one you like. Knit a little of the pattern in your color choice to see whether it looks as good in yarn as it does on paper. If you're convinced that it does, you're ready to cast on.

Remember that knit stitches are wider than they are tall. So to chart your own color designs (some designers use Microsoft Excel for this), you need to make the cells approximately half again as wide as they are tall. Or buy some knitter's graph paper and go for it with colored pencils!

Karma Crash Course

Karma Crash Course

Finally, The Ultimate Guide To Changing Your Life Forever. Get Your Hands On The Ultimate Guide For Improving Karma And Live A Life Of Fortune And Certainty. Discover How Ordinary People Can Live Extraordinary Lives Through Improving Their Karma.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment