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Knittin Nora Fair Isle Patterns Then And Now

19th September 2013 | Posted in Mens

Can you believe it's going to be October in a couple of weeks?! Dark nights and cold climbs are a down right depressing thought to be having after such a roasting Summer- so how are you planning on keeping warm when those temperatures creep into single figures?

The traditional Great British answer is to find the biggest, thickest, longest, horrible looking coat and cling on to it like a man possessed.

However, there is another way. This Winter, consider layering up with long sleeve shirts, strong knitwear and weatherproof outerwear.

It's easier said than done, especially when you're trying to pick out a piece of knitwear that isn't at the extreme of being a Christmas jumper your nan might have knitted for you- so take a leaf out of our book and consider getting your hands on some fair isle knitwear.

The perfect piece for grabbing attention, whilst still giving a strong slice of nostalgia, Fair Isle knits have a great stylish feel, as well as an impressive back story that not many wearers know about.

Typically, a modern definition of a fair isle knit is any piece of knitwear that features a multi coloured pattern. However, this wasn't always the case.

Heralding from the remote island of Fair Isle, halfway between Orkney and the Shetland Islands, Fair Isle is a bleak, wind swept place, bang in the middle of where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea.

The islanders on Fair Isle have always had a traditional existence, trading their own wears to passing merchants. When Norse settlers bought a hardy breed of sheep to the island with them, who could survive in the harsh conditions by foraging for food on the bleak landscape. The islanders used the wool from these sheep to create warm Winter clothing, then dyed them using the plants that naturally grow on the island.

The knitwear was heavily patterned, using special knitting techniques to create 'OXO' patterns, the original Fair Isle patterns were said to be inspired by survivors of a Spanish ship, the El Gran Grifon which wrecked on the island in 1588. Other shapes and patterns developed from this 'OXO' pattern, including everything from hexagons, to anchors and even rams heads to reflect life on the island.

The word soon spread about the Fair Isle knits and their superior quality, with the islanders trading with passing merchants ships. Their goods traveled the world, gaining notoriety and admiration everywhere they went.


Lyle and Scott Fair Isle Jumper

Lyle and scott fairisle jumper

We love the bold green colour running through this Lyle and Scott jumper. The eye catching pattern will look great over a plain Oxford shirt, and teamed up with a pair of slim raw jeans. The deep green is a great colour for the Winter, whilst the yellow lifts it enough to draw attention.

Superdy Matterhorn Henley Half Zip Knit

Superdry Matterhorn half zip at

Something to wear on a more casual look, this half zip knit by Super Dry features a contrasting Fair Isle pattern across the chest, giving a simple style a new lease of life.

Superdry Epso Fair Isle Jumper

Superdry Epso jumper at

Burgundy is set to be a huge colour again this Winter, so why not integrate some attention grabbing design with his Superdry knit? Perfect for layering up with a shirt that has collar detailing, we reckon this will be one of the most popular jumpers this season.

Superdry Lillehammer Fair Isle jumper

Superdry Lillehammer jumper at

Not quite feeling a full burgundy jumper? Graduate the colour into your look with this Superdry knit, which features a burgundy border around the traditional knit detailing across the chest.

Fred Perry Fair Isle Beanie

Fred Perry Fair Isle beanie at

Here's a cool way to work some really traditional looking Fair Isle into a proper Winter. We're going to link this Fred Perry bobble hat with an olive green Winter jacket- it'll come in very handy during a cold snap!

Ryan J Gray


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