Knitting Blog

Knit Colorwork That Wows! 10 FREE Fair Isle Patterns

Free Fair Isle Knitting Patterns

Stitch up these free Fair Isle knitting patterns that are as warm as they are impressive.

Fair Isle knitting is a stranded colorwork technique where the unused yarn floats along the wrong side of the work. This creates a knit fabric that is not only stunning, but also warm since the unused yarn in the back provides extra layers.

This knitting technique traditionally uses no more than two colors per row, but today’s designers — like some of the designers of these free patterns — are modernizing that tradition, creating gorgeous color work that plays with both pattern and color.

If you’re trying these Fair Isle knitting for the first time, don’t be intimidated. While the technique does take some practice, it’s a must for anyone who wants to take advantage of all the beautiful colorwork patterns out there. And what better way to practice than with free Fair Isle knitting patterns that won’t drain your craft budget?

Enya Rectangle Fair Isle Shawl FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Rita Maassen

1. Enya Rectangle Fair Isle Shawl

You’ll need just two colors to create this gorgeous shawl. The shawl is shaped like a rectangle, so you can focus on the color work instead of shaping. You could even increase the size of the shawl to make a blanket using the same pattern.

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Miss Rachel Hat FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member TanisKnits

2. Miss Rachel Hat

This hat provides an opportunity to use up some of those scraps you have in your stash. This is a nice intro to colorwork, too, since the hat is smaller and worked in the round. (I find color work easier when it’s worked in the round, since every row is a right side row!)

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Snowflake Mittens FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy instructor Patty Lyons

3. Snowflake Mittens

Because colorwork has several yarns floating in the back, it makes an extra-warm fabric. That means it’s ideal for winter accessories like these mittens. There’s colorwork on both the top and bottom of the mittens, though the pattern is slightly different.

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Snowflakes at  Night FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Misssetters

4. Snowflakes at Night Hat

This hat was inspired by the brilliant sight of an extended dawn and dusk over a blanket of snow in British Columbia. The four-color pattern also means that there are plenty of strands on the wrong side of the hat to keep you warm, even if your winter isn’t as long and cold as British Columbia’s.

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Festivus Cowl FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member TanisKnits

5. Festivus Cowl

A cowl with stranded colorwork has the same advantage as a hat with stranded colorwork: it gives you some extra warmth. Once you memorize the pattern of the cowl, you may not even need to refer to the chart to complete it.

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Selbu Modern FREE Knitting Hat Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Kate Gagnon Osborn & Courtney Kelley

6. Selbu Modern

Here, fingering-weight yarn in a classic white-and-gray color combination gives a nod to traditional Fair Isle motifs. Of course, you’re free to change up the color combination if you want to go for something that’s a little more modern or bold.

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Clayoquot Toque FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Tin Can Knits

7. Clayoquot Toque

This is the sister pattern to the beautiful Clayoquot Cardigan, named for the Clayoquot Sound off the coast of Vancouver Island. The designer recommends using the hat as a blank canvas to test your favorite yarns and color combinations. 

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He Said She Said FREE Hat Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member TanisKnits

8. He Said She Said

Your favorite part of this hat might be the colorwork — or it might be those cool i-cords that are stepping in for the usual pom-pom at the top of the hat. This pattern is yet another opportunity to use up some of those yarn scraps you just couldn’t let go of.

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Fair Isle Hat FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Venus2blue

9. Fair Isle Hat

You’ll get practice with two different types of color work with this hat, since the band is worked using the mosaic technique while the rest of the hat is worked in Fair Isle. The Fair Isle motif in this hat is certainly a traditional one; it’s based on a stitch pattern found in The Art of Fair Isle Knitting History, Technique, Color & Patterns by Ann Feitelson.

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Wesley's Baby Hat FREE Knitting Pattern

Photo via Craftsy member Patchworks by D

10. Wesley’s Baby Hat

The designer is offering this pattern for free in celebration of her daughter. This hat was her daughter’s third knitting project ever, and the designer couldn’t be more proud! Perhaps this will encourage those of you trying color work for the first time to be brave and just jump right in.

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Take your Fair Isle skills to new heights!

stranded colorwork class

Knit a matching three-color hat and mittens set as you learn to create traditional stranded colorwork in this on-demand video class.Enroll Now »

2 Comments

ROSE MERKOSKY

Love knitting childrens toques,scarfs & ladies scarfs!Slippers etc for kids!

Reply
Helen (of troy)

Anne Zilboorg has pointed out, some color work patterns “are a particular pleasure to knit” the pattern featured in the Enya scarf/shawl (first pattern) is, for me, one of those particularly pleasurable ones… I have used it for both socks and mittens and it makes my fingers dance in a most enjoyable way….

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