Sure, I knit a few hats with a colorwork band way back when I first learned to knit (here's one :)), but I pretty much limped my way through those:
Pick up Yarn 1, k 2 sts. Drop yarn. Pick up Yarn 2, k 3 sts... and so on. Gets the job done, but talk about slow.
When I got the urge to knit a earflap hat for Annette with a colorwork band, this painstaking method worked fine for the first hat. I had no trouble keeping gauge and it looked great. But, once I decided I wanted to turn this into a design, I knew what that meant: lots of colorwork knitting was on my horizon.
I'd have to actually figure out how to knit colorwork the "proper" way, or get super frustrated with with my slugs-pace skills. ;)
Google to the rescue! One quick search and I'd uncovered lots of articles and videos. I found these really helpful:
- Stranded Knitting Tutorial by Knit Picks - an overview of stranded knitting methods (with video)
- Color Stranding Article on Knitty - good information on maintaining proper tension
- Two Hand Stranded Colorwork Tutorial - detailed pictures on holding the yarn with 2 hands
I knit English style (my right hand holds and "throws" the yarn) and had only dabbled in Continental style once. So, originally I got a yarn guide thinking that holding both yarn strands in my right hand would feel the most natural. It felt pretty clunky over all, though, and I just couldn't get into a rhythm with it.
Next I tried two handed stranded knitting, (using the information in the links above - the video by Knit Picks being especially helpful). This felt strange at first since it combined both English and Continental style, but eventually I got the hang of it and it felt really natural. Colorwork was no longer a laborious chore (you know, "only 4 more rows until I'm done with the chart!"). It was actually really fun!
Relax your left hand!
If (like me) you are not used to Continental style knitting, you'll probably be tempted to keep it super rigid and tense while you learn this. Not a good idea! Your left hand will hurt. So (unlike me :)) take multiple breaks if it starts to hurt and try to just relax it while you are knitting to avoid strain.
Keep the strands/floats the same tension as the knitting!
If you don't, the front of the colorwork will pucker. This sounds scary and hard, but it's really not. For example, when you switch to knitting with Yarn B, you'll "float" the Yarn B strand behind the Yarn A stitches you just knit. All you've got to do is make sure you "float" enough Yarn B yarn behind those Yarn A stitches so that the Yarn B strand doesn't pull them together at all. I found that I got perfect tension on the strands/floats when I:
1) knit in a relaxed manner AND 2) made sure to not pull on each yarn strand too tightly whenever I made a color change and knit the first stitch.
Begin with an "in the round" project!
If you've never knit Continental style before, knitting is going to be challenging enough. You don't want to also have to learn how to purl. So, do yourself a favor and knit your first 2 handed colorwork project in the round. No purling!
Understand it won't look amazing right off the needles!
It takes a good blocking to even out those colorwork stitches and give it a finished look, so don't be disappointed if it doesn't look amazing once you finish it! As long as the strands/floats aren't too tight, blocking it should make the design really "pop".
So, have you tried colorwork?
Have you mastered the art, are you working on it, or are you still scared off?
Comment below! I'd love to hear about your experience!