Fair Isle floats

Midweek Masterclass - catching Fair Isle floats

Keep your Fair Isle knitting neat and tangle-free with these simple steps

25th May 2016

Anyone working Fair Isle for a while will know that it can be a bit tricky keeping your yarn floats neat across the back of the work. Luckily, with the help of what feels like a few ‘new’ stitches, this becomes much quicker and easier, with the added bonus of your balls of yarn staying tidy and not getting tangled up.  
Note that to work these steps, you need to be working Fair Isle with one yarn continuously as the upper yarn and one as the lower yarn in order for the floats to come out correct, and that the position of the upper and lower yarns will change depending on whether you are working 
on the right or wrong side of the fabric. 
For more details on colour dominance and positioning the yarns, see our Masterclass.

One-handed fair isle, yarns held in the right hand

When you are knitting with both yarns held in your right hand, the upper yarn will be the yarn closest to you, on your index finger if you are using different fingers, or the one on the right if both yarns are held on the same finger.
When you are purling, the position of the two yarns will change - the upper yarn will now be the one furthest from you, if you are holding the yarns on two fingers, or the one on the left, if both your yarns are held on your index finger.

Catching the upper yarn on the knit side

1 Insert the needle into the next stitch as if to knit. 
2 Wrap both yarns around the needle knitwise. 
3 Unwrap the upper yarn and complete the stitch.

Fair Isle floats steps 1-3

Catching the lower yarn on the knit side

4 Insert the needle into the next stitch as if to knit and wrap the lower yarn around the needle in the opposite direction to how you would normally knit. 
5 Wrap the upper yarn around the needle knitwise.
6 Unwrap the lower yarn and complete the stitch.

Fair Isle floats steps 4-6

Catching the upper yarn on the purl side

7 Go into the next stitch as if to purl, and wrap the upper yarn round the needle in the opposite direction to how you would normally purl. 
8 Wrap the lower yarn around the needle purlwise. 
9 Unwrap the upper yarn and complete the stitch.

Fair Isle floats steps 7-9

Catching the lower yarn on the purl side

10 Insert the needle into the next stitch as if to purl, and wrap both yarns around the needle purlwise. 
11 Unwrap the lower yarn and complete the stitch.

Fair Isle floats steps 10-11

About our expert 
Faye Perriam is a designer and the technical editor of The Knitter and Simply Knitting. She enjoys exploring construction and finishing techniques to achieve neater results.

If you enjoyed this you can find more of our Masterclasses here, along with links to all our topics here.

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