Stranded knitting, fair isle knitting, two-color knitting – whatever you call it, it’s pretty. Here are a couple tips you can use to make it a bit easier for you.
Use Wooden Needles
Wooden needles grab your knitting and make it easier to hang on to the stitches. This is especially helpful when you’re starting out with multi-color knitting.
A lot of knitters have difficulty keeping a consistent gauge especially on the edges if you’re using two or more needles. One way to address this is to knit the item inside-out. You’re still working on the RS, but it’s at the back of your work. The charts all remain the same. The only change is how your work is oriented.
This can make it easier to straddle the gap between needles because the stranding happens on the outside.
Spread out your Stitches
This one sounds simple because it is. Take a moment every few inches of work around the row to spread out your stitches. This should automatically make your stranding better because it’s spanning the correct width. This can be even better when you use wooden needles (our first tip above).
There’s a definite difference between having the yarn at the top and having it at the bottom. There’s a lot to be said about color dominance, but for these tips we’ll just say – pick either the top or the bottom for one color and stick with it. If you willy-nilly switch which one is where, your stranding will show differences.
Do yourself a favor though and read all about color dominance. It’s important enough that we have a whole post dedicated to it.
Start with an In-The-Round Pattern
Many people only knit colorwork in-the-round – and most colorwork patterns are written this way. At minimum, when you start out, you’ll want to choose one that is in-the-round. Avoid adding to the complexity of learning a new skill by adding stranded purling too.
Do a gauge swatch
Many people have a tighter gauge when they’re knitting colorwork. If that’s the case, you can try loosening up your floats (the section of yarn that gets pulled in the back between two sections that need it). But you may also want to use a larger needle. This is particularly noticeable when you have a section of colorwork contained within a section of single-color knitting. You want to avoid there being any big gauge difference.
Yes, you may be able to stretch it out when blocking, but don’t rely on it. Try to get your gauge as close to correct as you can without blocking.
Start with a Larger Yarn
Even if you want to do that gorgeous laceweight shawl you saw, start with a thicker yarn in the beginning. Make it easier to notice gauge differences. I suggest a DK weight or thicker to start stranding. Get your bearings before you go gung ho with a thin yarn and tiny needles.
Hold the Yarn the Same Way Throughout the Project
There are different schools of thought in colorwork. Hold both yarns in one hand, or hold one yarn in one hand and the other yarn in the other hand. I say that either way is fine – as long as you’re getting good, even tension and YOU DO THE SAME THING THROUGHOUT THE PROJECT.
I can’t stress that part enough. Your knitting will likely look different if you change the way you hold the yarn.
If you liked this post you may also like our post on choosing colors. It gives you a variety of ways to find different color combos that you may like.