There Really Is Simple Color Knitting Techniques

Striped DIY Scarf

Striped DIY Scarf

Working with many colors is rewarding, but can be daunting for beginners. A good way to introduce yourself to color knitting is to try stripes and mosaic designs. Alternating stripes of colors is the easiest to knit. Mosaic knitting is also easy. The patterns look sophisticated, use two colors, and are simply executed by slipping stitches.

Knitting Stripes

Stripes are made by knitting rows to desired length with one color, then changing to a new color. There are no color changes mid-row. To avoid cutting yarn after finishing every stripe, and weaving in a multitude of yarn ends, the yarn can often be carried along the side of the knitting, depending on the width of the stripes and color repeat.

Horizontal Stripes

Carrying yarn up the side of the knitting works best with narrow stripes, few colors, and an even number of rows, so the yarn change will always be at the same side when you need it. If you have a striped color pattern repeat using many colors, like my DIY scarf above(13 colors), it is best to cut the yarn rather than carry all the colors.

To carry the yarn along the side with a narrow striped pattern, drop the old color, then bring up the new color under the old color. Begin knitting with the new color. Do not pull the yarn too tightly or the side edges will pucker. When knitting wide stripes, 4 rows or more, carry the old color along the side by catching or twisting the new yarn around the old color at the first stitch, every other row. Note: When purling a new color on top of knit stitches on the right side of your work, a broken line will occur. If you want to avoid the broken line, you can knit one row first with the new color, and then resume the pattern.

Joining New Colors

The easiest way to join a new color is with the overlap method. Weave the short ends of the new and old colors along the back of the work by laying the ends over top of the right needle and knit with working yarn until they are completely woven in. This saves time weaving in yarn ends with a tapestry needle.

Mosaic Patterns

My favorite pattern stitch expert, Barbara Walker created the technique of Mosaic knitting, because she didn’t like changing colors in the traditional ways, stranding or using multiple bobbins.

Mosaic patterns are designs in slip stitch color knitting. They appear complicated but the technique is simple. Mosaic patterns are knit in either stockinette, reverse stockinette or garter stitch. Typically mosaic patterns are knit in contrasting colors; two colors (one dark, one light), and each color is used alone for two rows. The colors are changed at the end of the row.

Mosaic Pattern Stitch Coat

Mosaic Pattern Stitch Coat

Mosaic Pattern close-up

Mosaic Pattern close-up

Mosaic Color Charts

In the past, pattern directions for Mosaic knitting tended to be long, written text; so the use of charts works very well for those averse to text. They are read somewhat differently than regular, charted instructions.

Usually, only the right side rows are charted, so one row represents two rows of knitting. Two colors are used for each design motif and each color is used alone for the whole row. The first stitch of a color chart row indicates the color to be worked on that row, or a letter on the right hand side will represent the color you will be knitting, as in the chart below. The right side rows are read from right to left. When working the wrong side rows, a chart row is not necessary, as the colors are worked the same as the previous row (in the chart below, an even number was placed on the left of each row to indicate this). One color is worked over two rows, slipping the other color. When slipping stitches, slip them with yarn in back (wyib) for right side rows, and with yarn in front (wyif) for wrong side rows, so the yarn is always carried on the wrong side of the work. The chart below is a mosaic pattern.

Mosaic Chart Pattern

Mosaic Chart Pattern

The coat I knitted in the picture above is a very simple mosaic pattern in garter stitch. The wrong side of the front lapel is shown along side the right side of the front, so you can see the carried yarn.

Right and wrong sides of a Mosaic pattern stitch.

Right and wrong sides of a Mosaic pattern stitch.

I hope you will give these color knitting techniques a try; they really are simple!

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