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Get Started with Colourwork

Posted by Allison Barnes on
Get Started with Colourwork

Colourwork is a beautiful way to add coloured patterns or motifs to your knitted projects and while it may look intimidating, it’s actually a really approachable technique!

Fair isle or stranded colourwork is created by working with two colours of yarn repeatedly in one row, keeping both threads continuous and often worked in the round. The trickiest part is keeping the right tension consistently!

This quick YouTube tutorial is a great beginner’s look at how to do colourwork knitting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P19RAfu-Cs4

Ready to cast on? Here are some tips:

  • Swatch and pay attention to your tension. Stranded colourwork relies on floats - yarn spanning the between stitches - on the back side of your project. The correct tension needs to be tight enough not to snag and hang between stitches but have enough give to allow the garment to stretch comfortably. Many knitters find they have an easier time managing the right tension by using needles two sizes up from their usual picks. 
  • Pick contrasting colours! Especially if you’re just getting started with colourwork, picking colours with high contrast will make it easier to identify the different strands as you work - plus ensure you have a visible pattern after all of your effort!
  • Block your knits before you judge your accomplishments! With colourwork, the difference before and after blocking can be quite significant with how the stitches lie.

Get knitting with one of these pretty patterns:

Passerine Hat by Erica Heusser

I love birds and I think this hat pattern is so charming; the pattern was named for the order of birds characterized by perching habits! Worked seamlessly in the round, from ribbing to crown, the pattern is recommended for intermediate knitters with experience with stranded colourwork, reading from charts, and knitting in the round.

Swedish Fish Socks by SpillyJane

These whimsical fish patterned socks are a great choice for an introduction to colourwork sock projects! They’re knit in the round in a stockinette stitch. 

Soldotna Crop by Caitlin Hunter

I recently completed my Soldotna Crop with yarn from my new BFL collection and I love how it turned out! This cropped sweater is a top-down circular yoke with beautiful stranded colourwork.

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