Fair Isle & Nordic sweaters

Discussion in 'Andy's Trad Forum' started by Future_Quant_Deji, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Good day to everyone. I am somewhat confused as to the difference between a Fair Isle and Nordic knitted wool sweater. Is there a difference between the two? I ask such a question because I saw pictures of BB Fair Isle and Nordic sweaters, and they seem to have similar knitting. Perhaps someone on here can enlighten me as to what differentiates the two. Another question, are Fair Isle sweaters trad?

  2. hardline_42

    hardline_42 Well-Known Member

    The knitting technique is the same for both. They use a maximum of two colors per row and the unused yarn is strung loose on the inside of the fabric. I can't remember how many times I've caught my watch on the yarns while putting a Fair Isle sweater on. The difference is mainly in colors and patterns. Nordic sweaters are typically two colors only and have large patterns with snowflakes and such. Fair Isle sweaters have tighter, more intricate patterns and many more colors.
  3. Sartre

    Sartre Well-Known Member

    I wonder if the wool isn't different as well? The Nordic type sweaters that I've most often seen are quite heavyweight compared with a Fair Isle sweater. And then there's the Icelandic (http://www.nordicstore.net/icelandic_wool_hand_knitted_sweaters_1273_ctg.htm), which is a real beast. I used to have one of them from LLB back in the day.

    In my personal opinion the Fair Isles are a bit twee. I see them worn on British television and like them very much, with the tweed jacket and the tattersall shirt and the wellies and the Barbour, going out to the barn to inspect the pigs...but somehow I don't get out to inspect the pigs that often here in Philadelphia. Brooks sure is carrying a lot of them.

    I think the Nordic sweaters, with the snowflakes and all that, are more difficult to pull off, unless you are a tall blond lantern jawed lacrosse player from UVM spending winter break in a ski lodge...
  4. hockeyinsider

    hockeyinsider Well-Known Member

    What is the best place to buy one? I should qualify that if reasonably priced. I've done a few searches on Google, but have been overwhelmed. Surely there must be some nice grandmother somewhere on the internet selling her handmade sweaters?
  5. Bjorn

    Bjorn Moderator

    Dale of Norway is a known brand.

    I kinda like the Moods of Norway take on them:

    Gant also have some good quality offerings.

    If buying such a sweater, don't be deterred by snowflakes. They are traditional.

    Theres nothing as pointless as a Norwegian sweater without pattern or color mix. Very untraditional.
  6. straw sandals

    straw sandals Well-Known Member

    You can try etsy for hand knit sweaters, but they won't be cheap. Scouring ebay will also yield good results, if you structure your search to find "hand knit" "vintage" sweaters.

    Of course, you'll be buying a fair isle pattern sweater, not a real Fair Isle sweater. Fair Isle sweaters are made on Fair Isle and are not inexpensive. I found a real Fair Isle on eBay a few years ago; it's the warmest, most beautiful sweater vest that I own.
  7. The Rambler

    The Rambler Well-Known Member

    Spirit of Shetland offers beautiful Fair Isle type sweaters for a good price. They are not true handknits from Fair Isle, which are very costly and hard to find, but they are knit to order (by hand, on a frame) on the Shetland Islands, of true shetland wool.
  8. hardline_42

    hardline_42 Well-Known Member

    I'd say those prices are quite reasonable. The ones I saw on etsy were anywhere from $350 to $700 for a made to order sweater with wool from who-knows-where.
  9. C. Sharp

    C. Sharp Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  10. Bjorn

    Bjorn Moderator

    Fair Isle=boring


  11. So would it be okay to layer a Nordic sweater underneath a Harris Tweed sport coat? I suppose I am asking how would/should one wear a Nordic sweater?

  12. The Rambler

    The Rambler Well-Known Member

    Those Anderson sweaters look great, CS, thanks for the link. Excellent prices for seamless knits.
  13. The Rambler

    The Rambler Well-Known Member

    Depends on the tweed, I'd say, nothing too busy. Also, it would have to be a roomy jacket, Nordic sweaters are fairly bulky.
  14. roman totale XVII

    roman totale XVII Well-Known Member

    Fair Isle = cool

    Nordic = for women
  15. Benson

    Benson Well-Known Member

    O'Connell's also recently put up some fair isle sweaters.
  16. Bjorn

    Bjorn Moderator

    Fair Isle = for Gumbys

    Nordic = since 1400s

    Fair Isle, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroe, it's almost the same kind of sweaters. They're all Nordic sweaters. Check the location of the Fair Isles.

    I find the Norwegian styles to be a tad less frumpy in color than the Fair Isles. Would personally go for Moods version since they're fun and a tad thinner, or so I've heard.

    When wearing a Nordic sweater, whether fair isles, Norwegian etc you will look like you are wearing a Nordic sweater. Own it.
  17. hockeyinsider

    hockeyinsider Well-Known Member

    That's way too expensive for me.
  18. CMDC

    CMDC Well-Known Member

    I suppose but it would help if you were also living on the North Pole. That makes me sweat just thinking about it.
  19. Bjorn

    Bjorn Moderator

    I don't think there's any weather where Nordic sweater plus HT would be good except for the Scottish highlands.

    If it's cold, windy and frequently damp, then sure. But a thinner Scottish wool sweater would be better under a HT.

    The Nordic sweater is the equivalent of the tweed jacket, so layering them is a bit excessive. And if you're layering for really cold weather, it's better to layer clothes specifically made for layering.

    To my mind, it's either nordic sweater or jacket. Unless it's a thinner more modern version, where you get the color/patterns but not the bulk thickness of the original. Which I like, but it's not how they are traditionally made and worn.
  20. williamson

    williamson Well-Known Member

    Ridiculous! Go to Norway and see.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011

Share This Page