Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Fair Isle and Tattersall

Photo by Salt Water New England

I grew up wearing Fair Isles, but spent a bit of time without many when I couldn’t find a great source for them.  Now, for the last couple of years, I have been wearing a lot of them and once again appreciating just how flattering and versatile they are.  With the appropriate colors, they seem at home in every season as well as the holidays.  

One pairing, which has been oddly satisfying, is Fair Isles with tattersall.  

Perhaps it should not be too surprising.  Both have their origins in Britain.  

Fair Isle knitting patterns originated on a Scottish island in Shetland, Fair Isle, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.  And as many already know, the allover Fair Isle pattern was popularized in the 1920s in the famous painting of the Prince of Wales.

And the tattersall pattern originates from the checked horse blankets found at Tattersalls (or Tattersall’s) in the 18th century, the famous race horse auction house in Newmarket, England.

Closer to home, my mother always wore Fair Isles (and pearls) and my father always wore tattersall shirts.  So perhaps it was inevitable. 


  1. This will date me but Fair Isles sweaters take me back to the Carrol Reed Ski shop days. They always had a nice selection of Nordic Fair Isles sweaters, if I'm remembering correctly.

    I love the pairing of the tattersall shirt with the fair isle

  2. I remember the Carroll Reed shops! I also loved Fair Isle jumpers and cardis as a young person but couldn't source them (not the authentic ones anyway) by the time I was in New York City in my 20s and 30s. Living close enough to the UK for more than 2 decades now, I have found the gorgeous artisanal sweaters of Mati Ventrillon, who is a crofter on Fair Isle, who's now become so famous that it can take more than 2 years to order a bespoke piece, as well as the more modern ones of Eribé Knitwear (in fun colours; I discovered these whilst on the isle of Iona). Thanks to Muffy's blog, I now have a few Bosie pieces as well.

  3. I love the combination of tattersall and Fair Isle! I'm lucky to have inherited a large collection of Fair Isle sweaters from my grandmother and her best friend. Most are from the English Sports Shop. I have really enjoyed seeing your newer acquisitions, and am happy that Bosie has such lovely quality sweaters. I'll be adding these to my to-buy list!

  4. Superb to say the least! So very classic in every respect. Thank you!

  5. I lived in Dean of Scotland Fair Isle sweaters in the 70’s. Being unable to find anything comparable I was thrilled when you introduced us to Bosie. The patterns are beautiful and the quality top notch. Thank you, Muffy!

  6. I miss Carroll Reed.


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