The Porty Pullover: An intro to Fair Isle Knitting by Emma Barnaby

The Porty Pullover: An intro to Fair Isle Knitting by Emma Barnaby

By Priscilla Rivera

Porty Pullover

 Are you an aspiring fair isle knitter? An experienced fair isle knitter? Anywhere in between? This beautiful fair isle sweater by Gudrun Johnston is a lovely first (or 40th) fair isle garment. There’s plenty of stockinette, some fun color play in the yoke, and best of all…no steeking necessary!

The Woolly Thistle The Porty Pullover Blog


 The Porty Pullover is a top-down, seamless sweater with optional waist shaping. There’s a unisex version, a women’s version, and even a cardigan version if you want to try your hand at a simple steek! It’s knit in fingering-weight Shetland wool. If you’re comfortable with colorwork knitting but are a little daunted at the idea of making a full fair-isle sweater, this is a great place to start!

 TWT stocks a large selection of fingering-weight yarns you can use for this project. I knit mine in a combination of Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight and Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift, which are both woolen-spun yarns, but you can knit this in a worsted-spun yarn as well: try Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage or Jagger Spun if you’re adventurous. It’s also a great project to use up your Shetland wool leftovers – see Kelsey’s video segment in the 8/13 Shopcast for tips on how to make sure you have enough yarn!

If you’re a little daunted by the prospect of picking a fair isle palette, don’t worry! The original pattern only has two color groups – you choose three shades of one color (including the main color of the sweater) and two of another. Or, if you’re like me, you can go totally rogue. You can also send an email to for advice or tips or check out others’ projects on Ravelry for inspiration!

The Woolly Thistle The Porty Pullover Blog

 I’ve recorded a video for more information on how I chose the color palette (including info on the actual colors) and how I tackled gauge issues.


Emma Barnaby is a fair isle knitter based in Vermont. You can find her on Instagram as @barnaby_knits, YouTube as Barnaby Knits, and Ravelry as ebarnaby93.


  • Would you be willing to send me the exact color combo info you knitted it in? I just love the colors. Or a kit?

  • Great explanation on selecting colors that contrast and what you used.

    ellana bessen

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