Question – I’ve spent ages on a  gorgeous, colourful Fair Isle pattern only for it to finish up looking furrowed like a piece of corrugated card of wrinkled like my fingers when I’ve spent too long in the bath. It’s frustrating, because I’ve had to start all over again. Why does this happen and how do I prevent it?

Mans Vintage Fair Isle Slipover

Answer – The last thing you want is for your garment to look puckered. If that’s what’s happening, then you’re carrying the yarn not in use too tightly along the wrong side. Carrying the yarn across the wrong side is called Stranding.

You need to allow enough slack when stranding to allow the pattern to lie completely flat. The way to do this is to make sure that the stitches you’ve just worked are stretched out on the needle before carrying the yarn not in use across the back and working it into the next stitch. Just straighten the stitches on the needle so they’re the correct width for how the pattern should look and you’ll avoid any tightness or puckering and your garment will be neat and, importantly, flexible. But you’ll need to make sure you don’t have too much slack in the strands of carried yarn as, when the garment’s finished, they can snag on your hands when you’re putting it on. And too much slack also means a waste of yarn!

You can avoid the problem of slack in the strands of carried yarn by weaving them into your knitting. And you should really be doing this if your yarn is going to be stranded over more than 3-5 stitches. All you need to do is catch the stranded yarn on the wrong side with the yarn you’re using. Simply knit one stitch and cross the stranded yarn over the working yarn to catch it in place. Continue until you need to weave again, only this time cross the carried yarn under your working yarn.

As always, practice makes perfect! And I’d recommend you try a little swatch before starting a project proper.


If you’d like to try knitting with colour, we show you how to knit Fair Isle in this video.


Our Knitting Expert Tina Egleton


Meet Tina – our Technical Knitting Editor

Tina Egleton has been Technical Knitting Editor at Woman’s Weekly for the past 14 years. If you need help with your knitting you can view our range of knitting tutorials or  contact us via email.