Holding all that yarn
Don’t forget about the colorwork week contest!
I’m going to preface this by saying that these aren’t the only ways to hold yarn in colorwork, they are just three popular options. It’s really all about finding a way to hold the yarn in a way that works best for you, which takes practice. You might not be knitting at anything close to your usual speed right away, but in time, you will be.
It’s important to remember that you are only using one yarn at a time, so it is no harder than regular knitting. Your hands just need to get used to holding all that yarn. I always add the second yarn by leaving a 6-8 inch tail, pinching a little loop, inserting my needle as to knit, and then putting the loop on the needle and knitting like that. I worry about the ends at the end.
So there are three ways to hold yarn. The first is the Super English Way, which I have named so because you are holding two yarns in your right hand and throwing them over the needles. You might figure out a way to hold both, or you might pick the working one up and drop the one not in use.
The second is the In The Middle Way, which is a halfway point between English and Continental style knitting. You hold your “pattern” color in your left hand and pick at it, and your “background” color in your right hand and throw it. I really reccomend giving this way at least a bit of a try.
The third is the Super Continental Way, which is, as the name suggests, both yarns in the left hand. You pick at whichever you are using. They even make cute little yarn thimbles that are fun and worth a try if this is your preferred way of working.
There are three important things to try and remember while you knit:
1. Yarn Dominance – basically, you are always trying to bring each yarn to knit in a consistent manner. You want to bring the “background” color up and over, and the “pattern” color, which is the one you want to pop more under. It’s said that the color brought under pops more, because just a bit more of the yarn knit in this manner ends up in your work so it stands out more. And it keeps your yarn from twisting too much. This might seem strange written out, but just try it. It will also make the back of your work look prettier, and make your work look more consistent in general.
2. Keep your worked stitches STRETCHED! What I mean by this is the stitches on your right-hand needle that you’ve already knit should be evenly stretched along the needle so that the floats (the bits of yarn hanging in the back) have to travel a bit further to knit, making sure that you don’t knit too tightly and end up with puckering. Use your finger to space them out as you knit.
3. Generally, if you are going to knit with one color for a long stretch, you need to tack the other yarn down. So if I am knitting the 5th stitch in the same color, before I knit it I gently twist the two yarns. There are many ways of twisting or weaving the yarns together, and Stitch N’ Bitch Superstar Knitting actually has the best explanation of all of them I have seen. I could not do it justice here, but if you are new to colorwork, above all sources, I found the chapter on stranded knitting to be pretty great. Knitting for Dummies has a good chapter too, and here’s a link to one float catching technique.
If I am knitting Super English Style, I just twist, or you can lay the unworked yarn over the yarn you are going to knit with, knit, and then bring it back to where it belongs.
When knitting the Middle way, I just cross whatever yarn I need to tack down with the yarn I am going to knit it, and then bring it back when I am done knitting the stitch.
Remember, above all else, just keep trying! It won’t seem easy right away, but nothing does. Don’t give up! Here’s a great post from the Yarn Harlot to reassure you. Your hands just need to practice and find their own way of doing things, and the best way to do this is to knit. Lots. Like you needed an excuse.
And finally, here’s a great video from Knit Picks if you’re the kind of person who likes to see their pictures moving.