Classic Fair Isle Patterns

The little geometric patterns used in Fair Isle knitting are called peerie patterns. Worked in stocking stitch, they can be combined over several rows to make a repeating pattern or used as a contrast to more complex motifs. Here we show you a few of the more popular designs. For all of these, cast on the required number of stitches and work in multiples of four or eight stitches.


Fair Isle patterns are worked from charts and use just two colours in a row. Most stranded colour work like this is worked in stocking stitch and traditionally are often worked in the round.

Step 1


Pattern 1:

This first pattern is worked over a multiple of eight stitches. Read the first knit row of the chart from right to left and introduce the second colour where indicated (see photo in step 2 for pattern).

Step 2


Work back across the stitches for the purl row reading the second row of the chart from left to right. The pattern is completed in three rows and forms oblongs of stitches in the second colour with the side stitch of the oblong placed one stitch outside the three at top and bottom.

Step 3


Pattern 2:

Carry the yarn up the side of the work to introduce the second colour on this second pattern.

Step 4


This is the most simple of patterns, alternating blocks of two stitches but it looks very effective combined with more open patterns.

Step 5


Pattern 3:

This third pattern has staggered blocks of colour to make a ‘wave’ pattern as the colour moves up and down across the rows. It is worked over three rows. Strand the yarn loosely across the back as you work so the fabric remains flat.

Step 6


Here you can see the wave pattern above the more solid blocks of pattern 2. You can also vary the number of plain rows that you work between patterns so the overall effect is of bands of pattern.

Step 7


Pattern 4:

The next pattern is more dense and is worked over multiples of four stitches. An equal number of rows has been left between the previous pattern and the following one so it stands out as a band.

Step 8


Pattern 5:

The final pattern is a simple pyramid of single stitches in the second colour. Again this is worked over multiples of four stitches to create a ‘wave’ effect.

Step 9


With this selection of simple patterns you can create all kinds of Fair Isle. Don’t forget that you can vary the colours used and the space between rows of pattern.