Fair Isle is a well-known and popular color knitting technique — but did you know you can achieve a strikingly similar technique in crochet?
It’s true! You can!
This is fantastic news for people who aren’t interested in knitting — or who don’t feel like hassling with sets of double-pointed knitting needles (the tools most frequently used for knitting mittens). With one crochet hook and two or more colors of yarn, you can crochet mittens or other projects that resemble Fair Isle knitting.
I specifically mention mittens because I have in my hands right now a brand new and, I think, ground-breaking pattern book called Fair Isle Mittens by Lori Adams. This lovely book is entirely focused on giving you patterns for crocheting mittens using this technique.
Mittens aren’t the only types of projects you can make using this technique, but they are the ideal projects you might want to try making. Mittens are small, low-commitment projects that are endlessly practical to have. You can never have too many of them — but if you do somehow manage to make more pairs of them than you can comfortably wear, they make fantastic gifts for others, too. You could give pairs of mittens to all your family members, friends, co-workers or neighbors as Christmas gifts or birthday gifts. They’re wonderful Christmas stocking stuffers.
What You Need to Know About This Crochet Pattern Book:
Author: Lori Adams
Publisher: Leisure Arts
Copyright Date: 2019
ISBN 13: 978-1464775024
ISBN 10: 1464775028
This book is available in the following format(s):
Number of Pages: 64 pages
Skill Level: The team at Leisure Arts has assigned a skill level rating of Easy + to all the mitten patterns included in this book. More on that momentarily.
Important Note: The book’s cover has been redesigned since I originally posted this book review of Crochet Fair Isle Mittens. To the best of my knowledge, the contents of both books are the same.
Crochet Projects Included in This Book:
Before I get into the projects you can make from this book, there’s something important you really need to know. This book is different from other crochet pattern books you might happen to own. Most crochet patterns do not overtly give you choices for each detail of your project. This one does.
You can mix and match different design elements to create exactly the size and style of mittens or fingerless gloves you want to make. So, for that reason, it’s really challenging to explain all the possibilities for design choices you get here. With most pattern books, it’s easy to count up the number of patterns you get in the book. With this one, it isn’t so easy to come up with a count, since each colorwork pattern can be used to create multiple silhouettes including mittens, convertible mittens, fingerless gloves, styles with cuffs, styles without cuffs, lined mittens, or unlined mittens. Then if you want your mittens to have linings, you get to choose which style of lining you want, because there are 2 different lining styles.
This book will require you to put on your designer’s hat and your “thinking cap” and make a series of design choices. I think the patterns in this book are straightforward and easy to understand if you’re paying attention — but, they aren’t laid out with sequential, start-to-finish instructions as most other crochet patterns are. As you make each choice, you’ll be directed to the next relevant section of the book to follow the correct set of instructions.
I think this aspect of the book is absolutely wonderful! I love all the choices. I think you’ll love them too, but it may take you a little while to wrap your head around how to use this book. Luckily, there is a clear and straightforward section of the book called “How to use this book” that will be essential reading if you hope to understand how to use the patterns it includes.
So now that I’ve explained that, let’s get into the actual design motifs and colorwork patterns presented in this book:
Argyle Crochet Mittens
This book includes both 2-color and 3-color argyle patterns. Pictured above, you can see the 3-color version of the classic argyle pattern. If you want an understated argyle, choose this pattern for crocheting your mittens, fingerless gloves or convertible mittens.
Houndstooth Crochet Mittens and Fingerless Gloves
Convertible Crochet Mittens With Simple Dot Pattern
Fish Skeleton Crochet Mittens
Most of these colorwork pattern designs work just as well for fingerless mitts as they do for mittens. I think there’s only one exception, and that’s these fish skeleten mittens. There are instructions for crocheting these as fingerless mittens, but it looks to me like in this particular version of the pattern, the fish skeleton is missing its head.
I”ve never personally been a fan of headless critters used as design motifs, so count me out on making this particular version of the design. In this case, I’d be far likelier to make the mittens instead.
But overall, I think it’s truly wonderful that you have the choice to make each of these designs as fingerless gloves if you want to, including this one — so if you’re cool with the idea of wearing a headless fish skeleton on your hands (maybe as part of your Halloween costume?) please don’t let my lack of enthusiasm hold you back from making yourself a pair of ’em.
Additional Projects Included in the Book That Are Not Pictured Above:
- Heart Crochet Mittens
- Plaid Crochet Mittens
- Simple Dots Crochet Mittens
- Two-Color Argyle Crochet Mittens
- Snowflake Crochet Mittens (pictured on the front cover of the book)
- Diamonds Crochet Mittens Pattern — These mittens feature a simple two-color repeating diamond pattern.
- Gingham Check Crochet Mittens
- Stars and Stripes Crochet Mitten Pattern
The Best Things About This Book
The projects included in this book are outstanding, appealing and practical ones.
In my opinion, this is an innovative and ground-breaking book. I am not aware of any other title that has contents comparable to this one. You are extremely likely to learn some new things from reading Fair Isle Mittens. At least, I did — and I have been crocheting for somewhere around 40 years (and I have a sizable library of both contemporary and vintage crochet pattern books). You might have a gigantic crochet library already, but I’m betting you don’t already have a book like this one in it.
I was aware of this technique already, thanks to Carol Ventura’s blog. Carol and Lori have different names for what I believe is the same technique. Lori calls it “Single Crochet Fair Isle Stitch” or “Split SC” (Split Single Crochet). Carol calls it “Shallow Single Tapestry Crochet”. I think the name “shallow single crochet” originally came from an old Harmony Guide stitch dictionary by James Walters and Sylvia Cosh, which I used to own but don’t have any more. In that book, James and Sylvia presented a solid-colored version of the stitch, which is where I first learned about it. I’m personally going to continue referring to this stitch as “Shallow single tapestry crochet”, because I think that’s a more precise name for it than “Single Crochet Fair Isle Stitch” is, and because my longtime readers already know the stitch by that name.
Back in 2014 or thereabouts, when I first tried the shallow single crochet stitch and posted instructions for it, I wrongly concluded that the technique had limited usefulness for me — because there are a couple of problems inherent in the technique that I wasn’t totally able to solve.
BUT! Lori Adams was able to find easy and elegant solutions for them — and she shares them in this book. My hat’s definitely off to Lori for being a more persistent problem solver than I am. The solutions are actually really simple ones, which you are sure to appreciate if this is a technique you would enjoy.
I have a free tutorial and change purse pattern available for learning the solid-colored version of this stitch, the shallow single crochet stitch. Feel free to use this tutorial if you want to, but be aware that my free material does not offer the most viable possible solutions for the aforementioned problems — one of which is work that slants, and the other of which is that the fabric’s back side is not particularly comfortable (which doesn’t matter for the change purse, but would matter a great deal for mittens and other wearable items).
Lori has solved both of these problems beautifully for this book — which is another reason I consider it an essential and ground breaking work.
Other Observations About This Book
This book was made in the USA.
These patterns are graded for a broad variety of sizes: men’s, women’s, teen’s and children’s. You need different yarn sizes to crochet each size.
The photography in this book is beautiful, artistic and outstanding. There are some blurry spots in a few of the photos, but overall, I think there are enough excellent-quality photos that you’ll be able to see what you need to see in order to successfully reproduce these projects for yourself.
About those skill level ratings. I already mentioned that the team at Leisure Arts has assigned a skill level rating of Easy + to all the mitten patterns included in this book. I’ve never been able to find an official definition for this skill level rating. The Craft Yarn Council’s Yarn Standards website defines an “easy” pattern by saying
“Projects may include simple stitch patterns, color work, and/or shaping.”
They define an intermediate level project by saying
“Projects may include involved stitch patterns, color work, and/or shaping.”
I’m guessing the intention here is to indicate that these projects fall somewhere between “easy” and “intermediate” level. The floor is open for comments; if you have a clearer understanding of this skill level rating than I do, please do comment. Thanks!
If I had been tasked with assigning skill level ratings to these patterns, I’d have personally chosen “intermediate”.
But don’t let that scare you if you don’t think of yourself as an intermediate-level crocheter yet. No matter what crochet skill level rating you assign to these patterns, I find this technique to be easier than stranded color knitting is. Plus these designs have another advantage: There are no floats on the back of the work to contend with.
No matter how easy or hard you find this technique, I think it is well worth learning. And, honestly, the only thing standing between “easy” and “intermediate” is practice. There isn’t anything overly challenging about these projects. It will just take a bit of practice to master the technique. You can TOTALLY make these if you decide you are going to master the shallow single crochet stitch.
If you don’t already know how to do tapestry crochet, you can expect that there will be a learning curve when you buy this book. And, even if you do already know how to do tapestry crochet, you’ll be using the same basic idea with a variation on single crochet rather than actual single crochet. It took me a bit of practice before I was able to work the stitch with an even tension, and it will probably take you some practice, too.
But, if you already know how to crochet, and you don’t know how to knit, but you want to make beautiful mittens that look like Fair Isle knitting, I think you’ll have less of a learning curve with this book than you will with a Fair Isle knitting book.
This is a unique, lovely and innovative book. I don’t know of any other book that’s comparable to it. It answers one of the hottest frequently asked crochet questions of all time — “How do I make my crochet look like Fair Isle knitting?” Read this book, and you’ll have your answer — plus you’ll also get a whole bunch of really cool patterns to use for practicing the technique.
If you want this information, you shouldn’t hesitate to buy this book. I’ve already pointed you in the direction of the free resources I know of on this topic — but this book will give you clearer, better and more helpful information by far than the free resources I’m aware of (and I’m the author of one of the aforementioned free resources!)
If you want to fully master the art of crochet, I think this is essential reading. This book’s asking price is a tiny price to pay for the information it includes.
Where to Buy This Book:
More Goundbreaking Crochet Pattern Books You Might Enjoy
Some crochet books do more than others to further the art form. When a book’s author introduces and expands upon information that isn’t widely known to the crocheting public, I consider that book to be a groundbreaking one. Fair Isle Knitting, the book I reviewed above, is one of those titles. The following crochet books are others that could similarly introduce you to new things you never knew about crochet:
Overlay Crochet — The same publisher, Leisure Arts, has introduced another groundbreaking book that fills a massive hole in the marketplace. This is another crochet colorwork technique book, but the technique is substantially different; with this technique, you only ever need to use one color per round or row. Learn more about the technique in this interview with the author, Kristi Simpson.
Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet — Brenda Bourg gives you a different answer to the question, “How do I make my crochet look like Fair Isle knitting?” With this technique, you learn how to adapt the Tunisian knit stitch to do colorwork patterns. It’s a totally different technique than the one Lori Adams has introduced in her Fair Isle Mittens book. I think both techniques are well worth learning.
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