Fair Isle knitting is named for the island of Fair Isle, part of the Shetland group off the coast of Scotland, UK. Although traditional Fair Isle knitting is very distinctive in form, the name is now loosely taken to mean all forms of stranded colourwork.
Traditional Fair Isle knitting consists of small coloured patterns on a coloured background. Both the pattern colour and background colour change often but with never more than two colours in one row.
Other forms of stranded colourwork may involve only two colours: a pattern colour and a background colour, or a combination of plain and patterned backgrounds.