Color work, two ways

I’m teaching two classes at Stash in Corvallis on Saturday. One is an introduction to stranded color knitting, and the other is slip stitch cowl design. Both techniques let you play with color, but in very different ways.


Stranded color knitting involves carrying two (or more) colors across the row/round with you. We’ll talk about how to manage your yarns without a tangled mess, among other things. How do *you* manage your yarns? One in each hand? Drop and pick up the working yarn as you go? Two on the left? Two on the right? It’s a little different for everyone, so I’m curious what works for you.

I’m a thrower; I carry my yarn in my right hand. I took a colorwork class with Anna Zilboorg at Stitches way back in the 90’s. In preparation, I taught myself to knit continental style (hold yarn in left hand, pick with right needle) so I could carry one color in each hand. I was pretty pleased with myself, although it was a bit awkward. When I got to class, Anna showed me how to carry both colors in my right hand, which was a lot easier for me. That’s what I do now. Here’s a video tutorial, if you’re interested.

pdxknitterati knitting

Slip stitch knitting means you get to play with color, but you only work with one color per row/round. This can be a little more relaxing for the novice color knitter, and it’s very pretty. We’ll be swatching some of these patterns, and then designing our own slip stitch cowls. Here’s the one I’m knitting now:

pdxknitterati slip stitch cowl

Have you tried both kinds of color work? Do you have a preference? And please do tell me how you like to manage your yarns for stranded colorwork.

I think there’s still some room in class on Saturday, if you want to come play hands on!

6 responses to “Color work, two ways

  1. I do one strand in each hand, although my right hand technique is fairly inefficient with a drop and pick up sort of throwing method. But I’m so used to that right hand technique, it worked much better once I learned to knit continental well enough to just have to do that with one strand! 🙂

  2. gorgeous photos and gorgeous knits!

  3. knitterbeader

    I’ve followed your blog for several years now, and often get great tips from you. But this one with your past video on holding two colors in your right hand (I also “throw), will be fun for me to try. I’ve not done a lot of colorwork as it seems quite cumbersome, and I’m thinking this will help a lot. Thank you.

  4. I’m a thrower too. I switch between both colors with my right hand.

  5. I started out as a right hand knitter, since that was the instructions in the book I was teaching myself from. (Interesting book, it left out the whole “move yarn forward” for teaching how to purl.) I did okay, but it was an awkward thing. I took a continental knitting class with my MIL and things were suddenly “right” again, because the carried yarn was in my left hand. All those years as a crocheter meant that I carried my yarn in my left hand so where it “belonged”.

    Fast forward a few years and when I tried out stranded knitting, it only seemed to make sense to have each color in each hand. Also keeps the yarns for tangling up on each other by having each ball on either side of my lap too.

    How do you keep your yarns from becoming a tangled knot while carrying in the same hand? I have one of those little rings from Knit Picks to try out, but it will be a couple weeks before I start my next stranded knitting project. I have a few hats for those that need to be done for holiday gifting.

  6. The first colourwork project I did, I alternated in my right hand. The next one, I learned to hold one in each, and that worked out rather well, I thought (although it took me a while to intuitively remember how to pick the yarn continental to not end up with a weird twisted stitch). Then I did a project with more than two colours per row (annoying!), so I carried one in my right, and alternated the others in my left. I just don’t think I can quite handle holding more than two at once. I think just the two, with one in each hand, is probably my fave. All that switching back and forth between English and continental is a fun little brain challenge, too.