Tips for Colorwork

I’m gearing up to release my new colorwork collection next week and I thought now would be a good time for some tips for colorwork (which umbrella includes stranded colorwork like Fair Isle and Latvian knitting, intarsia, and more).

  • Let’s start at the beginning: You will probably need to swatch, swatching flat is probably something you’ve done before, but if the project is knit in the round (like Metamerism and Chromaticity), then you will want to swatch in the round. Check out this great post from Hunter Hammersen on the WhipUp blog! Just sub your colorwork chart for the twisted rib she works in the example, and you’re set.
  • In stranded colorwork “floats” are the bits of the color you’re not currently using that carry across the back of the work. This post from Knitty is great for how to keep them loose and even, and how to catch them up and keep them in place for segments longer than 5 or 7 stitches.
  • eta: Carina Spencer posted a video on Instagram of the way she catches floats (on the following row), which seems ideal for sections with long-floats between motifs!
  • Yarn Dominance = which color appears as foreground vs. background on your knitting. And it all hinges on which strand is on top and which underneath. You can read about yarn dominance and why it’s important here. There’s also a nice article put a slightly different way here.
  • If you have trouble keeping your floats long enough to not pull the stitches, you should consider knitting colorwork inside out, you don’t have to reverse anything, just knit around the INSIDE of your tube instead of the outside. the fact that your floats are carrying across the OUTSIDE of your tube rather than the INSIDE can make a difference in their tension when you flip the whole thing right side out. Check out how to do it in the YouTube tutorial below from Melissa B.
  • Here’s a great video on how to change colors when working Intarsia in Garter Stitch — from lissaplus3.
  • When choosing colors for a stranded project, you need your colors to have sufficient contrast to show clearly. Your cell phone can help tell you if the colors have enough contrast between colors.
  • For part of Metamerism, you carry on colorwork on the front and back, but not on the sleeves (all while working in the round). To avoid having a million ends to weave in, try using Julia Farwell-Clay’s great tutorial.

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