If you have admired knitted colorful garments with complex patterns, you have likely seen stranded knitting. A type of knitting where multiple colors are used in a single row or round to create a pattern, stranded knitting is also referred to as colorwork. There are several types of stranded knitting to include:
Creating colorful patterns in knitting is fun and feels adventurous to beginner knitters. If you want your color to be patterned, rather than striped, stranded knitting is the way to get there. When you first start with stranded knitting, it may feel a bit confusing or cumbersome. Here are a few ways to improve your stranded knitting to achieve the results you want.
You work hard to develop your stranded knitting patterns, so you want them to stand out. Using high contrast colors will allow your pattern to "pop" when the garment is complete. One way to confirm that your yarn colors have enough contrast is to take a photo of your yarn using a black and white filter. If your yarn blends together in a black and white photo, you don't have enough contrast.
Most knitters find that they knit more tightly in stranded knitting. Using needles that are 1-2 sizes larger than you would typically use can help to maintain your gauge with colorwork.
When you begin your color pattern, decide which color strand will be over the other and maintain that throughout the colorwork. For example, if you are working with blue and yellow yarn, if you start with the yellow over the black yarn, keep it that way for the remainder of the pattern. This will prevent the yarn from getting twisted, will keep the pattern consistent, and will allow the wrong side of the piece to be more aesthetic.
To prevent your garment from being bunchy, regularly take a second to spread out your stitches on your right needle. Doing this will keep your strands at the right length so that they are smooth on the wrong side of the piece.
If your pattern calls for more than three stitches between color changes, twist the strands to prevent a long strand of yarn on the wrong side of the piece. This twist is referred to as catching a float. As long as you catch a float every 3-5 stitches, you won't have this issue.
If you struggle to keep track of the rounds in your stranded knitting, a row counter is a helpful tool. Turn the dial each time you finish a round of color to track your pattern perfectly.
Colorful patterns are less forgiving with inconsistencies. If your stitches do not have the same degree of tension or you change knitting style or technique, it will show. The difference could be minor, but the adjustment will be obvious in your colorwork.
If stranded knitting is new to you, start with a binary color pattern. With this pattern, you will need to pay attention to the start of a round. With this pattern, there is no need to keep track of a complex pattern or catch floats.
Use these tips to dive into stranded colorwork. Once you create a more complex color pattern, you will look at knitting in a new way.