Fair Isle Concept Development

If you like fair isle and you like knitpicks you are most likely familiar with the drool-worthy centrefold that comes in most Knitpicks catalogues:


I have been struggling for some time to come up with the best way to choose fair isle colour schemes.  I’ve played with excel… and with copying colour swatches off of websites…  All too slow and not representative enough of the true wool colours.

I think I finally have a winner.

1.  I pulled the centrefold out of the knitpicks catalogue and bought a sheet of magnet from Michaels (our local hobby store.)  I stuck the centrefold to the sheet of magnet, and cut out the columns of colours.  Then I cut each column into individual colours.

2. I bought two whiteboards and stuck all the magnets to one whiteboard:


3.  On the second whiteboard, I can draft and re-draft the rough design, using the dry-erase markers.  I can also pull the colour magnets off the first board to play with different colour combinations.  When I am done, all the colours are already pre-marked with Knitpicks’ colour code and colour name so I can easily make an order for the project.


4.  When I am done, I can wipe it off, and I use the second board to cover the first board and keep everything together in a nice kit:


Today I tried it out for the first time and was VERY pleased with how free-form and useful this method has turned out to be.  This is the start of a fair isle sweater that I am making for next September when I go to Scotland for a long-awaited trip of castles, scotch and sheep:)  I intend to use Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.  A trip to Scotland deserves a real Shetland sweater.  We are lucky enough to have a source nearby in Orangeville, Ontario:  Camilla Valley Farms so I can just go pick it up next weekend rather than order from the UK.  This will be my first heirloom sweater!  I am currently calling it Warm Violet Shetland for lack of a better name, since the only picture I really have in my head right now is the colour scheme:


As you can see, one of the best part of this method is how easy it is to switch over to the electronic phase of the design.  I just took a quick picture of the board with my blackberry and saved it to my design folder.  I am now moving over to Stitchmastery to design the detailed motifs, and have collected all the Jamieson colours that I will be using off of the manufacturer’s website.  With 226 colours, I was able to get MUCH closer to the picture in my head with the beautiful saturated, heathered Jamieson colours than I could with the 150 Palette colours.  I still love Palette… but it is quite a treat using Jamieson yarn this time.  It really will be an heirloom sweater.  I can’t wait to see what happens to this yarn through the knitting, through the first wash, and through year after year of wear.


  1. Fabulous designer’s tools. I am always impressed with your sense of order and creativity.

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