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How to Knitting: The Secret to Knitting Fast - Stranded Colorwork Starting Points

21st Jun 2019

By Ailbíona McLochlainn

Ailbiona is an Irish designer and expert in colorwork. You can see her colorwork designs here


Oftentimes knitters who try colorwork for the first time, tell me they are frustrated with how slow they find the process.

 

Technique, technique, technique

But in fact knitting stranded colorwork is extremely fast, if you take the time to learn the proper technique. 


When working with yarns of two different colours, what a novice colorwork knitter tends to do is: Knit with Color A, then drop Color A, pick up Color B, knit with Color B, drop Color B, pick up Color A again, and so forth. This indeed makes for some very slow knitting! Not to mention the mess of tangled yarn it creates. So it might relieve you to know, this is not how you are meant to knit colorwork!


When working with two different colours, you should be carrying both strands of yarn simultaneously, at all times. This is the secret behind speedy colorwork knitting, and it is an essential skill to learn before you get started. 

 

Dervla colorwork sweater - the perfect colorwork project

 

The Methods

There are several different methods of managing multiple yarns in colorwork knitting. 


English style: If you are an English-style knitter and tension yarn with your right hand: Start by wrapping both Color A and Color B around your right index finger. Then anchor the yarns to prevent crossover, by letting one strand hang straight down, and routing the other around your middle finger first. When working stitches in Color A, throw with Color A while letting Color B glide loosely through your fingers. And vise-versa when working with Color B. 


Continental style: If you are a Continental-style knitter and tension yarn with your left hand: Start by wrapping both Color A and Color B around your left index finger. Then anchor the yarns to prevent crossover, by letting one strand hang straight down, and routing the other around your middle finger first. When working stitches in Color A, pick at Color A while letting Color B glide loosely through your fingers. And vise-versa when working with Color B. 


Two-handed style: There are also knitters who prefer to work colorwork with both hands, tensioning Color A around their left index finger, and Color B around their right index finger - then picking with Color A, and throwing with Color B. This method does require knowing how to knit in both the English and the Continental styles. So if you’ve always been an English knitter and curious about Continental, or vise-versa, this is the perfect opportunity to learn!

 

Get started with colorwork with this quick project

 

Research will save you time

There are many variations of these three methods. Some knitters choose to wrap yarn around digits other than the index finger. Others find it useful to use special ‘helper rings’ through which they can route the different strands of yarn. There are countless free online video tutorials which demonstrate all of these methods. So before you begin your first colorwork project, visit YouTube, search for terms such as ‘stranded knitting left hand,’ ‘stranded knitting right hand,’ or ‘stranded knitting two hands,’ and prepare to be dazzled!


Just remember that, regardless of which technique you eventually settle on, the key is to carry both strands of yarns at all times, rather than letting the color you aren’t working with drop. It is this, that makes colorwork knitting speedy, fun, and tangle-free.

Read more:

10 Problems Every Knitter Has

Sweater Range Launched

The Importance of Color Dominance

Who is Yarn Vibes?

Yarn Vibes is an exceptionally high-quality yarn, made using natural, 100% Irish wool.

At Yarn Vibes our goal is to produce the finest quality ethically sourced and produced yarn; in beautifully natural, traditional and modern colorways.

Read more here