Friendly Fair Isle Sweater

Being partial to lore and a sucker for furry creatures with power, each year leading up to Groundhog’s Day I wonder what Punxsutawney Phil will predict. And each year, I am conflicted. Do I want the warmth and light that come with an early spring, or do I want six more weeks of winter cold so I can keep knitting with gloriously thick and wooly yarns?

Well, my ambivalence didn’t stop Phil from deciding. His decree: six more weeks of winter. But fear not, those who’ve grown weary of windburn, this Friendly Fair Isle Sweater is for you! Not only is it cuddly warm for an enduring winter season, but this punchy sweater also spreads the brightness and cheer of spring. And just in case Punxsutawney Phil’s meteorological skills aren’t quite on point this year, the Friendly Fair Isle is such a fun, quick knit, you’ll be weaving in your ends long before that early spring arrives!

I designed this no-fuss pullover with a classic cut and a raglan sleeve shoulder. And for speed and coziness, I used Purl Soho’s aptly named Super Soft Merino. The colors, I picked purposely to pop out like spring’s first flower buds peeking through the earth.

Since Phil is as unpredictable as the weather itself, I’m glad that this year I have my bases covered, a toasty sweater for winter, done well before spring… no matter when it comes!

For more information about the Friendly Fair Isle Sweater, please read below. And for the full pattern, please click here. -Laura



12 stitches and 15 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch


The Friendly Fair Isle Sweater is designed with 4 inches of ease. It can, of course, be worn tighter with a 2-inch ease or looser with a 6-inch ease. Please pay close attention to the finished dimensions below when choosing which size to knit!

For a Women's XSmall (Small, Medium, Large)...

  • Finished Chest Circumference: 36 (40, 44, 48) inches
  • Finished Length from Shoulder to Bottom Edge: 22 3/4 (23, 23 1/4, 24) inches
  • Finished Length from Underarm to Bottom Edge: 13 inches
  • Finished Length from Cuff to Armhole: 18 1/2 (18 1/2, 19, 19) inches

37 Responses to Friendly Fair Isle Sweater

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  1. This is really a cute sweater! You say it's an easy and quick design, so that means that it'll be done by the time next Winter comes, but at least that means it will be done in a year instead of in fifty!

  2. maggie says:

    WOW that is totally gorgeous!!!

  3. Catherine Nietzel says:

    Had no interest in doing another sweater. Until I saw this. Beautiful.

  4. Julie Sawyer says:

    This sweater is so fresh and new!
    It is so Laura! You are all such talented designers.
    Thank you.

  5. Talia says:

    I've yet to actually knit a sweater, but my mind is made up, this one will be my first! Love the colors you chose.

  6. I've said it before, but if only I could knit! xx

  7. KNITTINGKEY says:

    easy and beautiful

  8. This is a darling sweater. So classic!

  9. Mary says:

    Beautiful! Can a fairly new knitter do this? Is it a top down sweater? (I.e. No seams?)
    Love your site.

  10. Theresa says:

    Can you give other yarns to make this pattern that are not wool I would live to make this sweater for my mom and she is very allergic to wool thank you.

  11. Sarah says:

    I love it! I'm thinking this will be the first sweater I knit. The colors are just perfect … so cheery!

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Theresa,
    Thanks! I'm glad you like it. As for yarn substitutions…
    Purl Soho doesn't carry any chunky weight cotton yarns… but it could be interesting to pull two strands of Blue Sky's Worsted Cotton together for this project.

  13. purl bee says:

    Hi Mary,
    Yes a fairly new knitter can definitely do this sweater. It is a bottom-up construction, worked in the round, with no seams. Also… we are ALWAYS here to help you along the way!

  14. Danielle says:

    I really like like the pink with the sea salt color. Are you getting more? I saw there were only 4 left….


  15. Lily says:

    Beautiful!! That beautiful pink livens it up and keeps it from looking "old" :)

  16. Casey says:

    LOVE this pattern! So beautiful and it looks like it will be perfect for my first fair-isle project. I have a question about sizing: the size small should come out to a 36" chest circumference, so that would fit someone with a size 32" bust (with the four inches of ease)? Just wanted to confirm. Thank you!

  17. purl bee says:

    Hi Casey,
    The XSmall, with a finished dimension of 36 inches around the bust, will definitely fit a person with a 32-inch bust.
    The Small, with a finished dimension of 40 inches around the bust, would probably be a little larger than you'd want.
    Good luck with the sweater, hope you enjoy it! We're here if you have any questions…

  18. Ariane says:

    Beautiful, as always!

  19. Lucio says:

    Hello there,

    this pattern looks so nice and I am particularly amused by the fact it is a seamless sweater using a bulky yarn – this makes it perfect as my first attempt with a sweater. In fact I think I need to see the work growing fast as first sweater project (or I'm afraid I would get discouraged easily).
    My question would be: can it go for a very slim man too (me), if I use a large woman size?
    Thanks a lot ;)
    Lucio (ITALY)

  20. Jennie K says:

    Actually, the XSmall has a finished chest circumference of 36", right? And the Small size has a finished chest circumference of 40". If I have a 34" bust size, should I knit the Small or the Medium? Is your model wearing a Small or an XSmall?

    Jennie K.

  21. purl bee says:

    Hi Lucio.
    If you are a slim man, the Large will definitely fit and maybe even the Medium. If you measure you're chest circumference and add 2 to 4 inches and that number comes to either 44 or 48 inches… then the Medium (with finished measurement of 44 inches) or the Large (with finished measurement of 48 inches) will fit.

    Men tend to have longer limbs than women. So you may have to make modifications at the sleeves, but the nice thing is, you can try these on as you knit them.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  22. purl bee says:

    Hi Jennie K.
    Thank you so much for pointing out my typo before. I have gone in and edited the previous comment to correct it.

    The model is wearing the Small in these photographs, although I think the XSmall would have fit her better. I have a 36-inch bust and the Small (with a finished dimension of 40 inches) fit me perfectly!

    If I had a 34-inch bust, I would probably make the XSmall, unless you want to wear this sweater over other sweaters in which case the 6 inches of ease that you'd get from the Small would be ideal.
    Hope this helps.
    Thanks again for writing in!

  23. Claire says:

    This looks like it could potentially be a great first sweater pattern! As much as I like Purl's Super Soft Merino, I'm afraid I have to find a less expensive yarn given the number of skeins this pattern requires.

    Do you have more specific measurements for the yardage requirements for this pattern? Am I correct in thinking that the S/M sizes call for at least 700 yards for the main color? I'm also curious as to how much of the CC you had left over.

    Thank you!

  24. purl bee says:

    Hello Claire,
    Thank you for your interest in and inquiry about this sweater!
    Here are the yardage requirements for the Friendly Fair Isle Sweater…
    Main Color (MC): 595 (645, 695, 770) yards
    Contrast Color (CC): 60 (65, 70, 75) yards

  25. Dianne says:

    Love,love this pattern & am ready to start, bought my yarn & pattern yesterday at Purl Soho. But I have noticed that the sleeves are the same size for all sizes , I like a slimmer sleeve & I am knitting the size SMALL. Is it possible to make a smaller sleeve ???

  26. purl bee says:

    Hi Dianne,

    Although the cast on for the sleeve for all of the sizes is the same, after working the increases, the stitch count is different: 48 (50, 52, 58) stitches.

    If you still wanted to do one less round of increases for the SMALL. You'll need to compensate for the stitch count later in the pattern. You have two options.
    1. Hold off a 2 fewer stitches at the underarm so that number of stitches you are joining to the body is unchanged.
    2. Hold off the instructed amount of stitches at the underarm, resulting in having 2 fewer stitches to join to the body, then once you begin shaping the raglan, omit the sleeve-side decreases on the first round. After this your stitch count should match the pattern's.

    If you omit more than one round increases at the sleeve, simply modify in the same way but either 1. hold of 4 fewer stitches or 2. omit the sleeve-side decreases on the first two rounds of raglan shaping.

    Be in touch and let us know how it goes!!

  27. MJ says:

    hi there,

    I'm cuckoo-banana's for this sweater, but as a novice, I'm having a hard time starting the sleeves and getting them connected in the round and staying in the rib pattern, etc.

    is there any way to start from the top of each sleeve and decrease on the way down and eventually end up on the double-pointed needles?


    ps. making it in burnt charcoal (MC) with dessert blue (CC). looks insanely good!

  28. purl bee says:

    Hi MJ,
    Charcoal and Desert Blue sounds beautiful. I bet the blue pops!

    As for working in the round… have you seen this tutorial: I think it might help you get started on the sleeves.

    If you'd like to do the sleeves top-down, just one warning: the Fair Isle potion is going to look different than on the body. The Vs formed by the knit stitches will be upside down. If you still want to work top down… simply cast on the final number of final stitches (including the stitches on hold for the underarm and) using a provisional cast on ( This way the stitches will still be 'live' and you'll be able to pick up and work in the other direction, attaching them to the body.

    All that said… I really encourage you to try working the sleeves from the bottom up. For this project, I think it will be easier in the long run.
    I'm here if you have any questions though!!

  29. Dianne says:

    Hi Laura, I have knitted up the body to 13" but can't quite understand the instruction from CONTINUE – I have knitted my 60 stitches do I place the last 7 on an stitch holder ? How can I keep knitting to the end with my needles ? Sorry, I know that it is probably very simple but I just can't see how to do it ?
    I might have to come down to the store for a demonstration !

  30. purl bee says:

    Hi Dianne,
    Once you've knit your 60 stitches, take a tapestry needle threaded with scrap yarn or a stitch holder and with the tip of that tapestry needle/holder slip the last 7 stitches off of the right needle onto the scrap yarn/holder. Your working yarn will be coming from that last stitch on hold, but you can still continue working with it. Just let the holder/scrap yarn hang gently from your knit fabric and continue with the pattern… knitting another 60 stitches and then placing another 7 stitches on hold. At this point you have divided the Front from the Back and you'll be ready to join the sleeves.

    If this isn't clear, the folks at the shop are more than happy to walk you though this. I can forward them your comment so that they know you're coming and what your question is!
    Or if you have any follow up questions… I'm here!

  31. Dianne says:

    Hi Laura,
    Thank you so much , that really helped. Now for the sleeves !!
    All the best

  32. Dianne says:

    Ta, da !!! I have finished the sweater & it looks great. Just for your information, I am an average knitter & I knitted the SMALL but I have a full ball leftover. It really only needed 7 not 8. Thanks for your help & guidance ,

  33. Alice says:


    I’ve started with the sleeves on the sweater twice and both times they’ve come up at 13 inches rather than the 18 1/2 which the pattern says the small size should be. Have you got any advice, the second time I tried to knit a lot looser but it has only made the sleeves wider rather than longer! My gauge measured correctly so I’m a little confused! Thanks!!

    • Laura from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Alice,
      Thanks for writing in.
      It sounds like our row gauge could be pretty different. I worked this pattern at 15 rounds = 4 inches or 3 3/4 rounds to 1 inch.

      After the 3 inches of ribbing, you work 11 rounds at this point you should have approximately 6 inches of sleeve already.

      Then you have 12 1/2 (12 1/2, 13, 13) more inches over which to work 10 (11, 12, 15) increase rounds.

      I would add 1 round of even knitting between each increase round and see where that gets you. You should be able to reach 18 1/2 inches.

      I hope this helps.
      Thanks for writing in.

      • Alice says:

        Hi Laura,

        Thanks so much for your help, I will have a look and see if I have gone wrong anywhere. It’s a lovely pattern so would love to get it right!

        • Laura from the Purl Bee says:

          Hi Alice.
          Definitely let me know if I can help more!

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