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by Nuala Fahey October 04, 2019


Image of a white skinned woman wearing a fair isle vest over a checked shirt, it is cropped to show the v neck and shoulders

Autumn is vest time and we decided to go into Ysolda’s back catalogue and pull out a great autumnal classic. The Bruntsfield vest was originally worked in five undyed colours to make the most of the amazing variety of Shetland fleece, but it is also a great canvas to play with colour. The larger motifs are traditional Xs and Os worked against a gradient background and the smaller motifs (called peeries in Shetland) use the middle of the gradient as their dominant colour.

Image of a white skinned woman wearing a fair isle vest under a warm jacket

We don’t stock the Uradale undyed colours anymore, but after Dianna Walla shared her version in Finull PT2, we realised it was also a great choice for Bruntsfield.

5 balls of wool labelled with their shade numbers

Dianna made hers in shades of grey and black - she used

C1 - 414 
C2 - 404  
C3 - 436  
C4 - 403  
C5 - 405

I started swatching these ideas before the heathers came in, but they arrived in time for the last swatch. Heathers are often the perfect 'in between' option when trying to mix colours together in fair isle - the depth in their tones can help bridge colours.

Image of a fair isle swatch

A neutral version

This is not an exact recreation of the original Bruntsfield - Finull PT2 colours are dyed rather than natural fleece, but it is an autumnal combination of greys and browny beiges.

5 balls of yarn labelled with their shade numbers

C1 - 405
C2 - 404  
C3 - 4081  
C4 - 4078
C5 - 406

A purple fair isle swatch pinned to a blocking board

A purple version

This started as a attempt to blend greens and purples but by the time I had looked at several combinations by holding balls together and looked at the contrast options available it ended somewhere quite different.

5 balls of wool labelled with their shade numbers

C1 - 425
C2 - 487  
C3 - 488  
C4 - 406  
C5 - 4010

image of a red brown fair isle swatch pinned to a blocking board

A rich reddy brown version, using the heathers

With this version I knew I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful red browns from the new Finull PT2 Heathers but I struggled to find a good contrast for a while. At first I was unsure this acid yellow would work but often a colour combination that wouldn't work in stripes is just what's needed for fair isle.

5 balls of wool labelled with their shade numbers

C1 - 4132
C2 - 406  
C3 - 4120  
C4 - 4137 
C5 - 4121

When coming up with colour combinations for Bruntsfield, it is helpful to group the background colours for the Xs and Os as a gradient from darkest to lightest and then look for 1 contrast colour that works with all 3, which is your motif colour and 1 that contrasts with the middle colour in the gradient which is your background colour for the peerie stripe.

If you want to try out some colour combinations, we've got several tutorials that will be helpful:
Swatching in the round
A method for playing with colour combinations before you swatch
Colour dominance

Nuala Fahey
Nuala Fahey

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