Woman stood outdoors wearing hat, jumper and blazer

A British Country Classic: Fair Isle Knits

Fashion /


The jumper that never goes out of style

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In 1862, The Shetland Advertiser offered a ‘varied assortment of curiously knitted goods from the Fair Isle’. Some 159 years later and while only a few knitters remain on the island, the legacy of the Fair Isle knitters, and the styles they popularised, are going strong. Here’s the C&TH guide for everything you need to know about the humble Fair Isle knit. 

The Country & Town House Responsible Buyers’ Guide

Fair Isle Knits: A Guide for Winter 2023

It’s official: Fair Isle knitwear is back on the sartorial map. Kate Middleton donned a Holland and Cooper Fair Isle Knit for a rare BBC TV appearance reading the children’s book, The Owl Who is Afraid of the Dark for Children’s Mental Health Week 2022 – and we’ve been a massive fan ever since.

Kate Middleton wears a Holland and Cooper Fair Isle Jumper

Image courtesy: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge @KensingtonRoyal Twitter

Buy Local

While just a handful of Fair Isle crofters remain, supporting their work is not only important but a great way of investing in a piece you’ll treasure forever. Mati Ventrillon is a Fair Isle crofter and knits to order, or you can order one of her Mak-Kist knit kits to try and make your own. Marie Bruhat is a French Knitwear and Textile Designer living on the island using traditional Fair Isle knitted techniques. Elizabeth Riddiford also knits to order via an online order book. Learn more about local crafters at fairislebirdobs.co.uk.

Outside of the island itself, investing in a hand knit is a great opportunity to support a local business and local craftmanship. Check your local area for crafters or check out national family-run businesses like &Daughter.

Fair Isle Knits: Browse The Edit

Choose a Fair Isle knit from the above crafters you’ll keep forever or choose a cosy copycat from our edit for the season, below.

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Fair isle knit jumper

Holland Cooper

Heritage Fair Isle Knit, £149, hollandcooper.com

Cream and beige jumper

Celtic & Co

Diamond Fair Isle Jumper, £125,  celticandco.com

Black knit jumper

House of Bruar

Joules Elvie Fairisle Jumper, £94.95, houseofbruar.com

Blue button up sleeveless cardigan

Brora

Wool Fair Isle Sleeveless Cardigan, £149, broraonline.com

Brown and grey fair isle jumper

Beyond Retro

Nordic Knit Jumper (Size XL), £30, beyondretro.com

Pink and green fair isle jumper

Boden

Embellished Fair Isle Jumper, £84, boden.co.uk

Pink cardigan

Beacon Cove

Lambswool Fair Isle Beige and Pink Cardigan (Size 16), £29.50, ebay.co.uk

Model in black and whiter fair isle jumper

Sunspel

Lambswool Fairisle Jumper, £187, sunspel.com

Printed sweater vest

Scotch & Soda

Relaxed Fit Fair Isle V Neck Vest, £120, scotch-soda.com

Fair isle knit jumper

Farlows

Ladies Supersoft Fairisle Jumper in Tusk, £129.99, farlows.co.uk

Brown knit jumper with roll neck

Holland & Cooper

Heritage Cable Fairisle Knit in Camel, £149, hollandandcooper.com

Pictured: Holland Cooper