Color Knitting

One of the most enjoyable aspects of knitting can be choosing the colors—standing in the yarn shop, holding one ball of yarn next to another to see how they work together. You can use color in your knitting to create beautiful, vibrant designs using several methods: simple horizontal striping; Fair Isle knitting, which involves the stranding of two colors in one row; slip-stitch color knitting, which is a deceptively easy way to create elaborate color patterns; and intarsia knitting, which involves the use of bobbins to create isolated blocks of color. Color choice can play a less important role when you need to showcase a special stitch pattern, or suit a particular style. Take your time when choosing colors, and look to this chapter to learn ways to integrate them into your projects.

A Look at Color 124

Make Horizontal Stripes 128

Fair Isle Knitting 130

Weave Yarns in Fair Isle Knitting 134

Slip-Stitch Color Knitting 138

Intarsia Knitting 140

A Look at Color

One of the many joys of designing handknits is choosing the colors. It's easy to choose one color of yarn; however, choosing colors that work well together can be challenging. Remember that you'll be spending many hours knitting in this scheme, and so you want to choose colors that complement each other and that you like—whether they be different shades of blue or high-contrast opposites. Here are a few color concepts to consider when choosing colors.

CHOOSING COLORS THAT WORK WELL TOGETHER

Sometimes it's hard to choose colors that go well together. You may find yourself drawn to the same color combinations over and over again, and decide that you need to go in a new direction; or perhaps the color combination that you would choose is not available in a particular yarn. You can use a 12-part color wheel, as shown, to help you in your choice. To use it, simply choose a starting color. Then aim one of the arrows or points of the triangles or rectangles to the starting color and see what colors the color selector recommends. A color wheel might help you find a color combination that you never would have chosen on your own.

CHOOSING A MONOCHROMATIC COLOR SCHEME

An easy way to select colors that work well together—and you don't need a color wheel for this—is to choose monochromatic colors. A monochromatic scheme uses variations of the same color, as shown here, in this soothing, quiet combination of blue colors.

Photos Monochromatic Scheme

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CHOOSING AN ANALOGOUS COLOR SCHEME

Another easy option is an analogous color scheme—that is, a scheme made up of three to five adjacent colors on the wheel. The result of this type of combination is generally harmonious and peaceful, as shown here. For example, you may have one color of yarn that you know you want to use, and you want to choose some colors to go with it. You can match your yarn to its corresponding color on the wheel and then choose yarns that match the adjacent colors on either side.

CHOOSING A COMPLEMENTARY COLOR SCHEME

A complementary color scheme is made up of two colors that are opposites on the color wheel. This high-contrast combination is bold and appealing; however, bright opposites placed together sometimes vibrate so much that they're hard to look at. The swatch shown here is knit in violet and yellow; blue and orange are also complements, as are red and green.

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A Look at Color (continued)

CHOOSING A TRIADIC COLOR SCHEME

When you choose three colors that are equidistant from one another on the wheel, you have selected a triadic color scheme. There are four triadic color schemes: the primary triad, made up of red, yellow, and blue; the secondary triad, made up of orange, green, and violet; and two tertiary triads, one made up of red-orange, yellow-green, and blue-violet, and the other made up of red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green. The primary tri-adic color scheme shown here conveys a childlike simplicity and can be a little sterile, while secondary and tertiary triadic schemes are rich, subtle, and complex.

CHOOSING A SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY COLOR SCHEME

This swatch is an example of a split complementary color scheme. This type of color scheme is made up of three colors: a starting color and the two colors on either side of its complement. For example, if you had violet yarn and wanted to try a split complementary color combination, you would choose a ball of yellowish green and a ball of orange to go with it, because those are the two colors on either side of yellow—violet's complement.

CHOOSING A TETRADIC COLOR SCHEME

Things become complicated when you work with a tetradic color scheme. Usually a daring color statement, a tetradic color scheme is made up of two sets of complementary colors. For example, a tetradic color scheme might be made up of red, green, orange, and blue because red and green are complements, as are orange and blue. Experiment with various amounts of each of these colors, as four competing opposites can be difficult to look at all at once.

Note: The swatch shown here is made up of more orange-red than the other colors.

EXPERIMENTING WITH COLOR

After you've pored over the color wheel, you can knit up test swatches in different color combinations to see how they actually work. This swatch uses the same stitch pattern in three assorted combinations. It's remarkable how dissimilar the same design can look in different color combinations.

Make Horizontal Stripes

Working horizontal stripes is one of the easiest ways to combine more than one color in your knitting. If you know how to knit, purl, and change to a new ball of yarn, then you can knit horizontal stripes. Stripe patterns are easiest to knit if you use an even number of rows for each stripe. This way, changing colors always occurs at the same edge, enabling you to carry the yarn up the side of your work, and ultimately saving you the trouble of weaving in a lot of ends later.

IN STOCKINETTE STITCH

1 To make a stripe in a contrast color, work as many rows as you want the first stripe to be. At the beginning of the next row, drop the old yarn and knit or purl across the row in the new yarn, depending on which side you are on.

2 Carry the yarns up the side by twisting the first yarn around the second yarn at the edge of every other row. (If the stripes are only two rows each, this is not necessary; the yarns will be carried up sufficiently on their own.)

IN RIBBING

Work as many rows as you want the first stripe to be, ending with a wrong-side row. At the beginning of the next row, drop the old yarn and knit all stitches in the new color. Work the subsequent rows in the ribbing pattern as established, until it is time to change colors again. Alternatively, if you're working ribbing stripes for an odd number of rows, and you are switching colors on the wrong side, then purl the first row of the new color.

Note: Knitting on the right side or purling on the wrong side the first row of a new color ensures that the color break will be smooth on the right side.

IN GARTER STITCH

If you're knitting a scarf or other two-sided project, color bumps could become part of the design. However, if you want to knit garter stitch stripes without the broken lines, you need to change colors on the same side every time—this will be the right side—and you need to work stripes over even numbers of rows only. The swatch here shows garter stitch stripes made up of even numbers of rows.

Corrugated Ribbing: Another Way to Work Stripes in Ribbing

You can work ribbing in two colors in another way: in corrugated ribbing using vertical stripes. You see corrugated ribbing on the cuffs and hems of a lot of Scandinavian sweaters. It's a lively accent, and it creates a firm edging that looks like ribbing, but is not as stretchy. You work it by knitting the knit stitches of the rib in one color, and purling the purl stitches of the rib in a second color. For example, if you're working a knit 2, purl 2 rib, you would knit 2 in the first color, purl 2 in the second color, knit 2 in the first color, and so on. On the wrong side, you purl the stitches in the first color, and knit the stitches in the second color.

Fair Isle Knitting

Fair Isle knitting involves working with two colors across a row, carrying both yarns across the back. The challenge in Fair Isle knitting is maintaining tension: If the yarns stranded along the back are too tight, then your knitting will pucker and have no elasticity; if they are too loose, then your stitches will look uneven.

There are a couple of ways to approach Fair Isle knitting. When the intervals between color changes are no more than 4 stitches, you can do one-handed or two-handed stranding.

ONE-HANDED STRANDING ON THE KNIT SIDE

1 Work to the point in the row where you need to change colors. Let go of yarn A, pick up yarn B and bring it above and over yarn A, and knit the correct number of stitches in yarn B.

Note: To avoid puckering, you need to keep the stitches on the right needle spread apart so that you can strand a sufficient length of the non-working yarn across the back.

2 Work to the point in the row where you need to change colors again. Let go of yarn B, pick up yarn A and bring it underneath yarn B, and knit until the next color shift.

3 Repeat steps 1-2, taking care to keep yarn A underneath yarn B when changing colors.

Note: Always carry both yarns to the end of the row because the color pattern may call for the other color to begin the next row.

ONE-HANDED STRANDING ON THE PURL SIDE

1 Work to the point in the row where you need to change colors. Let go of yarn A, pick up yarn B and bring it above and over yarn A, and purl the correct number of stitches in yarn B.

2 When you reach the point in the row where you need to change colors again, let go of yarn B, pick up yarn A and bring it underneath yarn B, and purl until the next color shift.

3 Repeat steps 1-2, taking care to keep yarn A underneath yarn B when changing colors.

Note: Always carry both yarns to the end of the row because the color pattern may call for the other color to begin the next row.

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Yarn in tangles?

It's easy for yarns to tangle when you're knitting with more than one. Keeping the same yarn above and the same yarn below when changing colors helps; also, do not twist yarns when you turn your knitting to switch from the right side to the wrong side, and vice versa. You can also try keeping each yarn in its own zipper seal bag; cut a little corner off the bottom for the strand to come out, and zip the ball into the bag. This is more portable than using plastic containers, boxes, or lidded drinking cups, which also work at keeping the yarns from rolling around and getting tangled. Either way, if the yarns do snarl up, it's easy to rearrange the bags or containers to correct the problem.

Fair Isle Knitting

(continued)

TWO-HANDED STRANDING ON

THE KNIT SIDE

1 Hold yarn A in your right hand, English style, and yarn B in your left hand, Continental style.

2 Knit with yarn A in your right hand, holding it above yarn B, to the point in the row where you need to change colors.

3 Knit with your left hand using yarn B, which should automatically come from underneath yarn A.

4 Repeat steps 1-3.

Note: Always carry both yarns to the end of the row because the color pattern may call for the other color to begin the next row.

Fixing Uneven Fair Isle Stitches

Often Fair Isle knitting comes out looking a little uneven, or slightly puckered. You can easily neaten and smooth the rough surface by giving your Fair Isle knitting a quick, light steam with an iron. Do not press down on the knitting; lightly run the iron, steam on, over the surface, and watch the imperfections disappear.

Combining Fair Isle and One-Color Knitting

You might have noticed that you don't get the same gauge when knitting Fair Isle patterns as you do using the same yarn on the same-size needles in one-color stockinette stitch. This can be tricky when you're working a garment that is a combination of the two. Often the row gauge in Fair Isle knitting is close to or equal to the stitch gauge because Fair Isle stitches have a more square appearance. It is not uncommon for the stitch gauge to be slightly compressed. If you're working on a fabric that combines large blocks of non-Fair Isle with segments of Fair Isle, try working the Fair Isle section using needles one size larger. Work up a gauge sample that combines the stitches to see if this works for you.

Weave Yarns in Fair Isle Knitting

When your color pattern has more than 4 stitches between color changes or more than two colors per row, you carry the non-working yarn along the back by weaving it in and out of the backs of every few stitches made in the working yarn. How you weave depends on whether you're knitting or purling, as well as which hand is holding the working yarn and which is holding the weaving yarn.

WEAVING IN, KNIT SIDE: WORKING YARN RIGHT, WEAVING YARN LEFT

1 Holding yarn A (the working yarn) in your right hand, English style, and yarn B (the yarn that will be woven in back) in your left hand, Continental style, insert the right needle into the next stitch on the left needle. Move your finger to bring yarn B from back to front, and lay it against the tip of the right needle. Wrap yarn A as usual to prepare to knit the stitch.

2 Knit the stitch.

3 Move your finger to bring yarn B away from the needles as usual. When you knit the next stitch, yarn B gets caught under the horizontal bar between this new stitch and the last stitch.

2 Bring yarn A back off the right needle to where it came from, leaving yarn B wrapped around the right needle, ready to be knit.

3 Knit the stitch.

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One-Handed Stranded Knitting

If two-handed stranding is not for you, there are a couple of one-handed options that are more efficient than dropping the yarns each time you change colors. You can hold one yarn looped around your index finger, and another yarn looped around your middle finger. Or you can buy a yarn guide ring to wear on your index finger. It has several holes at the top that guide and separate the different strands of yarn while you work your color knitting.

WEAVING IN, PURL SIDE: WORKING YARN RIGHT, WEAVING YARN LEFT

1 Holding yarn A (the working yarn) in your right hand, English style, and yarn B (the yarn that will be woven in back) in your left hand, Continental style, insert the right needle into the next stitch as if to purl. Move your finger to bring yarn B from front to back, and lay it against the tip of the right needle. Wrap yarn A as usual to prepare to purl the stitch.

2 Purl the stitch.

3 Before purling the next stitch, bring yarn B down and away from the needles; wrap yarn A as usual and then purl the stitch.

WEAVING IN, PURL SIDE: WORKING YARN LEFT, WEAVING YARN RIGHT

1 Holding yarn A (the weaving yarn) in your right hand, English style, and yarn B (the working yarn) in your left hand, Continental style, insert the right needle into the next stitch as if to purl. Bring yarn A under the right needle from front to back; then lay yarn B over the tip of the right needle from front to back.

2 Bring yarn A back to the front-to where it came from (it will be hooked around yarn B)-and then draw yarn B through to purl the stitch.

3 Hold yarn A down away from the needles, and purl another stitch using yarn B.

Slip-Stitch Color Knitting

Slip-stitch color knitting, also known as mosaic or colorship knitting, is another way to work with two colors at the same time, without stranding or using bobbins. You don't even have to change colors mid-row. You work one color at a time in each row, using the same color over two consecutive rows, and slipping the stitches purlwise that will be worked in the second color on the following two rows. You can work slip-stitch knitting in stockinette stitch, or in garter stitch, following either a chart or row-by-row instructions.

READING A SLIP-STITCH COLOR CHART

Some slip-stitch patterns are worked from charts; others are written out with indications of how many stitches to knit or purl, and how many stitches to slip. Right-side rows are read right to left, and wrong-side rows are read left to right. Unlike other stitch pattern charts, rows are numbered on both the right and the left sides of the chart—odd numbers on the right, even numbers on the left—and every row is labeled with an odd and even number. For example, the first row is labeled 1 on the right, and 2 on the left; the second row is labeled 3 on the right, and 4 on the left. This is because the second pattern row, the wrong-side row, is worked the same as the right-side row preceding it: The same stitches that are knit on the right side are worked on the wrong side, and the same stitches that are slipped on the right side, are slipped on the wrong side. Most charts also have a color key running alongside the chart to show the working color for each row.

The knit sample that is shown here corresponds to the chart above.

•-10 stitch repeat-•

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