Knitters will tell you if that jumper is the real deal
FASHIONISTAS are grappling to get their hands on knitwear produced on a remote island lying midway between Orkney and Shetland.
The woollen designs are traditionally hand-produced by just a small group of knitters on Fair Isle, who are struggling to cope with the surge in demand. While high street stores cash in on the trend, many people are turning to second-hand stores in a hunt for the genuine article.
Now they are to get a helping hand from the Fair Isle knitters, who have agreed to authenticate their jumpers – which sell for hundreds of pounds – online.
From Boxing Day until December 31, anyone who wants to check whether their jumper is the real deal is invited to e-mail a picture to the resident archivist at Fair Isle Crafts.
Patterned knitwear featured strongly on the catwalk this year, with fashion houses Gucci, Marc Jacobs and D&G all showcasing Fair Isle-style garments.
The term is used to denote horizontal bands of multi-coloured geometric patterns, a design established more than 100 years ago by women on the island, who used to trade their knits with passing ships.
Authentic Fair Isle goods are made from the wool of Shetland sheep, whose longer fibres increase the garments’ shelf life. Their patterns normally have no more than two or three consecutive stitches of any given colour.
Fair Isle knitters teamed up with newly launched second-hand goods website SpeedSell (www.speedsell.co.uk) to provide the authentication service.
Site founder George Bevis said: “The idea that some of these jumpers from decades past might qualify as valuable vintage items is exciting
“The ladies of Fair Isle Crafts are the only ones qualified and skilled enough to make the real designs, and therefore to authenticate their own handiwork and that of their forebears.”