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Protecting Fair Isle knitwear


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Should we be looking to try and protect Fair Isle knitwear?


These articles have appeared in the National press recently:






And it would seem that there would be some national interest should a campaign be brought about.


What form would such protection take? Would it be purely for the residents of Fair Isle to take up the case and protect if for that isle, or should it be Shetland-wide?


The Harris tweed spec seems to be “hand-woven by the islanders at their home in the Outer Hebrides and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebridesâ€, so not specifically in Harris, but it doesn't protect against the style being used afaik, just the name


Given the vogue for fair isle patterns at the moment, I think this could be an interesting case, maybe worth campaigning for?



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  • 2 weeks later...

Sadly, to do so would involve serious cost & much litigation.



Firstly you'd have to stand up and scream from the rafters that real Fair Isle is actually a defined way of knitting a garment, it is a definate pattern style that differs from Shetland knitting to the point that you notice the difference straight away. Shetland knitting has repeats, Fair Isle does not.


Trying to seperate the two means battling your way through one or 2 generations of knitters & designers who have over time picked up the term Fair Isle as a generic term under which to dump all styles of stranded knitting regardless of it being in trad Fair Isle style, Shetland, Nordic, Icelandic etc, these days anything that involves working with multiple strands of yarn for anything other than a large single motif pattern is lumped under the term Fair Isle, with every outlet claiming to sell the one and only authentic genuine garment, which if we are to split hairs and really nail things down, the only authentaic Fair Isle are those produced on Isle in our traditional format & labeled as such.


For the matter of nit picking, last time I was out on the mainland, I did the wander through the shops selling *Fair Isle* and found multiple Shetland Style garments, nordic style, icelandic style, but not a single garment knit in the traditional non repeating pattern bands as traditionally worked on the isle itself.


Then we have those outlets who feel they have to go one step further and put the thought into the customers mind that there is a link with this company and the knitwear it produces with the Isle itself, photographs of the isle used as missleading advertising, garments labeled authentic home produce fair isle etc etc, in the past there was even 1 company claiming that some of us on isle produced garments for them when here on the isle, the garments we produce can only be purchased on isle or via mail order direct from us.


As was said before, an attempt was made to secure the name Fair Isle in direct relation to the tradition of the garments produced on isle but the lack of support from the council at that time resulted in everyone being grubbed under the term *Shetland Knitwear* and thus the name as something that meant something very specific within the knitwear industry was thrown out to the wolves to be abused the world over, the result being that these days Traditional Fair Isle has almost lost its identity and individuality.


Its a sad state of affairs, esp when local councilors are quoted in the press as having little support for an action to retrieve the identity of a very individual style of knitting.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the prompt response fellas- The shetland-knitwear fair isle was the one I saw on here before ...... Now all I've got to do is scrape together the £63 !!!! Embarrassed Very, very nice - seem to remember the inimitable ( Wink) Paul Weller wearing a very similar affair a few years ago .... you can take the man out of the 70's - but you can't take the 70's out of the man ! Cheesy

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If you search on Ebay, you can see how easily folk attach the Fair Isle tag to any garment.

I think the other post is correct about lack of support, it was even noted with some anger in a book by Moffatt in the early thirties, to no avail.


Time for action, you will need to get onto the big chains and ask them how they categorise Fair Isle, then move from there. It would be too much to go back to its origins, ie reports that the patterns were of Spanish influence.

The type of knit may be the bench mark. Many adds do say Fair Isle Style.

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  • 9 months later...

Native Shetland wool secures protected status




Native Shetland wool is set to secure protected status, following a six-year battle by local crofters and farmers.


The wool is to be granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) under the European Union's Protected Food Name scheme.


It will become the UK's first non-food and drink product to be registered under the scheme.


Formal legal protection for "Native Shetland Wool" will come into force before the end of November.


The designation will give consumers a guarantee they are buying a genuine, premium product from Shetland.


The wool joins products such as Shetland Lamb, Cornish Clotted Cream and Blue Stilton Cheese in receiving PDO accreditation.

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