Categories
Tips

How to Knit Stranded Colourwork

Have you wanted to try knitting colourwork, but think it’s too hard or you don’t have the right skills? Then this post is for you! Here are my tips for beginner knitters to get started with knitting colourwork patterns and let me assure you – you absolutely can do it!

There are so many beautiful colourwork knitting patterns out there, everything from sweaters to hats to socks! Starting a colourwork knitting pattern for the first time can be intimidating. But I assure you, knitting stranded colourwork is not as hard as it looks and if you can knit the basic knitting stitches you can knit stranded colourwork. 

These tips will help beginner level knitters mast the basics of stranded colourwork. 

Tips for Stranded Colourwork: Gauge and Swatching

What is gauge?

If you’re not familiar with the term gauge and what it means, here’s a quick rundown. 

Gauge is how many stitches and rows of knitting fit within certain measurements, usually measured over 4”.  The pattern for your colourwork project should include the gauge and the stitch pattern to measure your gauge over.

Gauge can change depending on many factors, some yarn doesn’t puff up, or bloom, as much as others, certain fibers can knit up tighter or looser. And naturally knitters can have a tighter or a looser gauge as well.

If your gauge is tighter than the designer’s gauge, that means that your stitches are smaller, so it takes you more stitches to knit 4”. If you try to knit the colourwork project at that gauge with the designers instructions, it will come out way too small!! 

The opposite is true if your gauge is too big, your project will come out too big as well as it takes you less stitches than the designer to knit 4”. 

Measuring gauge when knitting stranded colourwork

To measure your gauge you will need to knit a swatch using the yarn you are going to use. 

A swatch is a square of fabric knit in the stitch you need to measure your gauge. Most colorwork knitting patterns will tell you to swatch using the colourwork part of the pattern, the pattern may also include the gauge for other stitches that are used in the design.  

For your swatch, you should cast on more stitches than you need for 4” and knit more rows than needed so your square is larger than 4” by 4” as you’ll want to measure in the middle, not near the edges where your stitches can be tighter or looser. 

Make sure you block your swatch so you have an accurate measurement of gauge. 

Once your swatch is blocked and dry it’s time to measure your gauge. I always start with rows personally! 

Lay your measuring tape down at the top of a stitch and count the number of stitches that fit in 4”. That’s how many rows you knit to reach 4” in length. 

Then lay your measure tape across your swatch starting from the left side of a stitch and count the number of stitches across to 4”. That’s how many stitches it takes to reach 4” across.

How stranded colourwork can affect gauge

Just like regular knitting, your colourwork can be tighter or looser, and because you are knitting a different technique you may find your colourwork is tighter or looser than your regular knitting. It’s really common for knitters to knit more tightly when knitting colourwork. 

If you are new to knitting stranded colourwork you should swatch over the colourwork portion of the knitting pattern, even if the pattern hasn’t said to, as you’re not used to what your gauge is over stranded colourwork.

What to do if your gauge is too small

If you are getting more stitches or rows in 4” than the pattern states than your stitches are tighter. To remedy this go up a needle size (or two if you’re really small) and swatch again to get looser, bigger stitches. 

What to do if your gauge is too big

If you are getting less stitches or rows in 4” than the patterns states than your stitches are looser. To remedy this go down a needle size (or two if you’re really loose) and swatch again to get tighter, smaller stitches. 

Tips for Stranded Colourwork Knitting: Reading Colourwork Knitting Patterns

Colourwork knitting patterns can have written or charted instructions. Most colourwork knitting patterns will be charted and may or may not have written instructions. 

Here’s an example with a quick colourwork pattern I’ve just made up on the spot. We will be discussing colourwork knit in the round from now on, as stranded colourwork is most commonly knit in the round. 

Written instructions will give the pattern instructions for the colourwork pattern like this (normally the written instructions would use abbreviation, but I have written them in full so it’s easy to understand):

Round 1: * Knit 7 stitches with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 2: * knit 1 stitch with colour A, knit 5 stitches with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 3 & 4: * knit 1 stitch with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, knit 3 stitches with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, knit 1 stitch with colour B, knit 1 stitch with colour A, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 5: * knit 1 stitch with colour A, knit 5 stitches with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

Round 6: * Knit 7 stitches with colour A, knit 1 stitch with colour B, repeat from * to beginning of round

The chart for these same instructions looks like this:

As you can probably tell it’s a lot quicker to read – and to create – the chart. it also makes it easier to avoid mistakes! This is why most stranded colourwork knitting patterns provide charted instructions only. 

How to read a colourwork knitting pattern chart?

The first thing you should note when looking at the colourwork chart is the legend which will tell you which colour is which. The pattern will note how the different colours are labeled, some common ones are:

MC for Main colour and CC for contrast colour 

CA, CB, CC for Colour A, B, C etc.

C1, C2, C3 Colour 1, 2, 3 etc.

The example I’m going to show is just two colours, but stranded colourwork patterns can have 2 or more colours. 

In this legend the colours are marked Colour A and Colour B

You need to keep in mind which colours you are using for each, so you may be using black for Colour A and red for Colour B so where the chart is purple you will use black and where it is pink you will use red. 

The chart is read from the bottom right, it’s the opposite of how you’d read something normally, but it is also the direction in which you knit from right to left and starting at the bottom of a piece. 

The numbers along the bottom label the stitches and the numbers on the side are the rows/rounds. It is also common for charts to show more than one repeat, in this pattern a repeat is 8 stitches, but three repeats are shown to give a better idea of the pattern.

So you will start with round 1 but knitting 7 stitches in colour A, then 1 stitch in colour B and repeat that all the way around. 

Then you’ll move up to round 2 and knit 1 stitch in colour B, 5 stitches in colour A, 1 stitch in B, 1 stitch in A and repeat those 8 stitches all the way around. 

Then you’ll move up to round 3 and continue until you have knit the whole chart. 

Stranded Colourwork Knitting: What are floats? 

So now you know how to read the chart, but how do you actually knit with two colours? It’s a lot simpler than it seems. You will be creating strands, called floats, along the back of your knitting.

Floats are the strands of yarn that will be on the inside of your project. You create a float when you knit the next stitch in a different colour and bring that yarn strand across a section of stitches. 

Using stitches 2 to 6 in round 3 of our sample chart here’s an example: 

Stitch 2 is knit in colour B followed but three stitches in colour A. When we switch back to knit the 6th stitch in colour B a float is created behind the 3 stitches knit in colour A.

Catching floats

If you have to bring your yarn across a lot of stitches it is common to use a technique called catching, or trapping floats. This makes it so you can avoid having such a long loose float. This helps with the overall tension so a long float doesn’t pull too tight or be left too loose. 

You won’t need to catch your floats every time, only when you have a lot of stitches to cross. It’s recommended to catch floats when the float is going across 7 or more stitches, or longer than an inch. 

So in rounds 1 and 6 of our example, you’d probably want to catch your floats. You’ll catch your floats by trapping the non-working yarn behind your working yarn when you knit a stitch. 

Using round 6 as an example:

Knit 3 stitches with colour A (the working yarn). Then before working the fourth stitch, take the non-working yarn (colour B) and put it over the working yarn before knitting your next stitch. 

Now when you knit the next stitch with colour A the non-working yarn (colour B) is trapped by your working yarn, creating a shorter float. 

Managing the tension of your floats

When knitting stranded colourwork it’s important to manage the tension of your floats. If your floats are too tight then your knitting will be pulled in by the floats and pucker, it won’t lie flat. If your floats are too loose your stitches will be loose as well and won’t lie evenly in your knitting. 

To avoid tight floats stretch out your stitches along the right hand needle when you are creating your float so the float is going across the stitches at their full width and not bunched up. 

In the picture above I’m stretching out the three stitches in colour A so that when I knit the next stitch with colour B the float is not too tight. 

To avoid loose floats make sure the float is lying taunt, but not tight, against the back of your work and the stitches on either end are even and not loose. 

How to hold your yarn when knitting stranded colourwork

How you hold your yarn to knit colourwork will depend if you’re an english or continental style knitter. I knit english style and I will hold my yarn in one of two ways depending on how I’m feeling that day (LOL) and depending on how often I have to switch colours. 

One hand

If I don’t have to switch colours too often, I will just drop the working yarn and pick up the next colour with my right hand and keep going. So this means I just keep knitting normally in english style pausing every now and then to drop the working yarn and pick up the next colour. I only use my right hand to hold the working yarn. 

Two hands

If I have to switch colours frequently I will hold a strand of yarn in each hand and knit a combination of english and continental style. 

How you hold the yarn will depend on what you’re comfortable with! Experiment with different techniques as you learn. You can also use tools like a Norwegian knitting thimble to help manage your yarn strands. 

Don’t cross the streams!

Except for when you are catching floats, avoid crossing your yarns strands if you can as it will cause them to tangle and it will eventually be difficult for you to pull from your yarn. 

To avoid crossing the strands always take your second colour from underneath the first so you’re not crossing it over the yarn coming from the ball (except of course when catching floats and you want to cross the non-working yarn over the working yarn). 

There you have it! Those are the basics of knitting stranded colourwork, not so bad right? Now you’re ready to go out and tackle your first stranded colourwork knitting pattern. If you need a suggestion I’ve recently released a beginner friendly colourwork hat pattern called Brigand – you can find it on Ravelry! It’s worsted weight and is has instructions for three sizes: baby/toddler, child, and adult. 

Categories
Knits of Steele Designs

Brigand Pattern Release: New Hat Knitting Pattern

Hello everyone! Today is a very exciting day because I’ve just released a new knitting pattern! I teased this knit colourwork hat back in my January 2021 round up post and it is finally out.

This cute colourwork knit hat uses two colours of worsted weight yarn and comes in three sizes, baby/toddler, child and adult. I think it would look great on anyone and there are so many fun colour combinations that you can experiment with.

The colourwork is simple and engaging, the colourwork portions are charted in the knitting pattern. This pattern is great for beginner level knitters who are looking for a first stranded colourwork pattern and learning how to read charts.

I’ll be putting out a blog post next week with some tips for getting started with stranded colourwork for anyone who wants to try, but feels a bit hesitant about the skills involved.

Spoiler for that post: it is easier than it looks and you can totally do it!!!

I went out with my dad for a cute photo shoot in the park before all the snow melts and we got some great photos! He even modeled Brigand for me.

You can find the Brigand hat knitting pattern in my Ravelry store and if you purchase before end of day on Februay 28th (eastern time) you can save 30% with the code BRIGANDRELEASE2021.

Categories
Monthly Round UP

February 2021 Round Up Knitting Blog

So look, I know February is a short month but February 2021 has absolutely FLOWN by. In this month’s knitting round up blog post I have some new WIPs to share with you, an FO sneak peek and some new yarn.

And as usual I’ll be sharing the books, knitflixes and podcasts I’ve been enjoying.

Works in Progress

Cozy Memories Blanket

I’ve been working on my cozy memories blanket this month and now that it’s bigger I can get a better idea of how many squares I need. And good news it’s 2 less rows across and up than I thought so I’m going from needing 340 squares to 270.

Espresso Cross Stitch

I started cross stitching in the Fall of 2020, but I haven’t done any for the past month or so. I picked up my vintage espresso cross stitch over the weekend and made some progress. I’m hoping if I keep working on it here and there I can finish it up next month and start something new.

With my stitching I’m being more mindful about acquiring new supplies and patterns and only working on one project at a time so it doesn’t get out of hand like my knitting and yarn obsession!

Shag Carpet Shorties

So if you’ve read this blog post, you know how much I love this sock design by Woolfield.

I have been dreaming of hot pink Shag Carpet Shorties since I bought this yarn during the Great Toronto Yarn Hop last summer. This is Artfil Belle in the colour Bubblegum and I’m holding it double to make these socks.

These will be a March FO for sure!

Finished Objects

I am so excited to report that I completed my For Fox Sake sweater in February. I started this sweater back in October 2020.

It is so comfy cozy and I’m really happy with the fit. the sleeves are my favourite part they just fit perfectly! This has become my go-to sweater to pull on for video meetings for work.

I did mess up the colourwork a bit and there are some parts where my floats are too tight and it’s pulling…to be honest it does bother me a little, but I don’t think it’s really noticeable. And for my first time doing stranded colourwork with more than two colours I think it turned out really well.

I used Berroco Vintage DK for this sweater which is an acrylic and wool blend and I will definitely use this yarn again. It is so soft and comfortable to wear and it was nice to work with.

I also finished a new design this month! This cute headband is perfect for scraps of DK weight yarn. This will be a free pdf download in March through Ravelry so make sure you keep an eye out on Instagram for information about that release.

Upcoming Knits of Steele Pattern Releases

Brigand comes out on Friday February 26th on Ravelry. There will be a discount code for release so make sure you follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss it.

This is a super fun colourwork knit and it’s great for beginner knitters as a first colourwork project! I’m going to be posting a blog with tips for knitting colourwork the first week of March.

New Yarn

I have two new skeins of yarn this month, and this might be it for a while (other than maybe one more order).

I was worried about running out of yarn for my Shag Carpet Shorties so I ordered another skein of Artfil Belle in Bubblegum and I needed one more colour for a project.

So I picked up these two skeins of yarn from The Knitting Loft and my picked up I mean ordered online and had them delivered LOL

I won’t need any more Bubblegum for my socks, or if I do it will just be the tiniest bit, so this skein of Bubblegum is going to go on to become a pair of colourwork socks with some other Artfil Belle that I have on hand.

And here is the complete fade I’ve put together for my faded Ripple Crop Top that I am planning to knit in the next couple months. More on this project and these yarns to come!

Reads of Steele and Knitflix

Spinning Silver

I enjoyed this book for the most part, it took me much longer to read than I expected it to. I was really into the story at the beginning, for the first half I’d say then I struggled with staying engaged in the middle until right towards the end it grabbed my interest again.

Chosen

I was reading this book in January, but I had to return it to the library before I could finish it. I only got about a third of the way through. I’m nearly done now and will have it finished by the end of February.

This book takes place in the same universe as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Buffyverse as fans call it, and I really enjoy it for that reason the little Easter eggs and crossovers to the main series are so fun!

Lord of the Rings trilogy

Over the course of February Matt and I have been working our way through the Lord of the Rings movies, for the hundreth time they are a favourite in our household.

This re-watch is giving me so much knitting inspiration, there are so many beautiful textiles and patterns in the costumes. I had a brief moment of trying to do a fancy braided hairstyle, but it quickly ended in a huge mess of tangles so I’ll stick to keeping my Lord of the Rings style appreciation in my knitting.

And in social media news I posted my first Instagram Reel! And my first Tiktok. I had wanted to try the reels feature for a while, but Instagram just kept giving me error messages. Well I recently got a new phone so I gave it another try and it worked. I’m really excited to try out these new channels to share my knitting adventures and some helpful tips and tricks for you all as well.

Categories
Knitflix and Chill

What’s on my Valentine’s Day Knitflix List

Hello knitters! Love is in the air and Valentine’s day is approaching. I know that it is super corny, but I really enjoy this holiday because I love pink! AND I like cheesy romance movies, particularly of the ’90s variety.

So this week while I’m sitting on the couch with my knitting here are the movies on my Valentine’s Day knitflix list.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

This movie is on the top of my list because I haven’t seen it! I didn’t jump on the bandwagon when this movie was trending, so now here it is on my list and little bit late for all the hype.

Dirty Dancing

A classic! I saw Dirty Dancing for the first time on TV one weekend when I was a teenager and have loved it ever since. This movie is a must-watch for me every year.

P.S. I Love You

Get the tissues!! This is a great movie, but boy oh boy what a tear jerker. I just love the story, it’s different from your typical romance film, and the soundtrack is excellent.

Romeo + Juliet

You can’t get more classic than Shakespeare right? I have been wanting to watch this movie again and Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion.

To be clear I’m talking about the 1996 one with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. But the more traditional one from the ’60s is good too!

10 Things I Hate About You

If you want a ’90s teen romantic comedy movie than look no further! This is another of my favourite movies, but I’m not sure I’ll be giving it a watch this week because I just watched it a couple weeks ago…

Fun fact: this story is based on Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew. The first time I watched this movie was for English class in school. So I guess two points for Shakespeare on this knitflix list!

If you need a knitting project to get you in the Valentine’s Day spirit, check out my For the Love of Stripes knit hat design on Ravelry. This free hat knitting pattern is inspired by Valentine’s Day!

Categories
Monthly Round UP

January 2021 Round Up

Hi everyone! We made through the first month of 2021. I know this round up post is coming a little bit late, but I was really focusing on the tips for knitting your first sweater post and it was a beast!

That post ended up being so much longer than I originally planned, but I really hope that anyone who wants to knit their first sweater will find it useful.

January 2021 works in progress

I’m still working away on my For Fox Sake. I knit the sleeves this month, sometimes I like to do my sleeves first! I’m so ready to take on the rest of the body. Mindless stockinette is my go-to for knitting while reading and I have been doing a lot of that lately!

I’ve also been making progress on this baby blanket, I was trying to work on it for 30 minutes a day this month. I’ve been slacking recently, but I just need to do two more pattern repeats.

In February I’m setting a goal to knit a row a day and hopefully I’ll be finished by the end of the month.

January Finished Objects

I was so close to not having any Fos this month, but I finished my vampire vibes socks on January 31! I started these on Halloween and this has been my other go-to project lately for knitting and reading.

There were new cast ons in January!

Unless you count….

New design sneak peek

I have been working on a colourwork hat design for the past couple months! This is the Brigand hat. It uses worsted weight yarn and has a cozy double brim.

There are instructions for three sizes baby/toddler, child, and adult. By the time this is posted hopefully this pattern will be in testing. Keep an eye out for this pattern release sometime in February!!

New yarn!

I did some shopping this month!!! I don’t want to go too wild with buying yarn this year, however, I want to buy more yarn this year, specifically buying form indie dyers and local yarn stores.

Breaking Yarn

I won a gift card for Breaking Yarn from a knit-a-long hosted by Knitty Natty. Definitely go give Breaking Yarn a follow on Instagram. And the dyer just started a new podcast, so you should check that out too.

I picked up a skein of worsted and a sock set (showing significant restraint might I add because sooo many beautiful colours). As soon as I saw this yellow I knew I had to have it. It’s going to be a hat, I’m thinking something with cables.

Dragon Hoard Yarn

I am obsessed with the A Court of Thorns and Roses book series by Sarah J. Maas (more on that below) and Dragon Hoard yarn has a Sarah J. Maas inspired collection.

This is Valeris and it’s one of the mystery colourways from January. As you can see it’s beautiful, I will definitely be ordering more yarn from Dragon Hoard Yarn in the future (like maybe I already have some in a cart lol).

Shirley Brian Yarns

When I saw this this adorable knitasaurus bag from Shirley Brian Yarns I could not resist! I love a good dinosaur pun and while I was there I had to buy some yarn. This is Aperol Spritz on the slub base. I have been planning a faded sweater using slub yarn and this just fit right into my colour scheme I had to have it.

Reads of Steele

I have been reading a ton lately. At the end of December I read the whole A Court of Thorns and Roses series and it really brought back my love of reading. Here are all the books I’ve read this month (cheating a bit to include some I read at the end of December).

This is more books than I’ve read in the last two years! I used to love reading as a kid I devoured books, but lately reading didn’t hold much interest for me, which made me sad. I’m so happy to have my love of books back!

What’s my secret to knitting and reading? Ebooks! I read ebooks on my tablet propped up on a stand so it’s hands free, I just need to lift a hand every now and then to flip the page.

Knitflix

I was getting so bored and running out of things to watch, but I’ve re-discovered an old favourite and started some new shows with Matt.

  • Gilmore Girls – I started a re-watch of the series and it’s so nice to remember how much I love it. The early seasons are so fun! I’m halfway through season 3 now.
  • My Hero Academia – Matt and I were in need of a new show so he put this on the other night, he’s seen it before, and I was surprised by how much I got into it.
  • Marvel movies – we’ve been watching a lot of Marvel and other superhero movies lately. It’s a phase!
  • Wandavision – and of course with all the Marvel we’ve been watching we had to start this new Disney+ original

Thanks for reading the January round up! And as always you can follow my day-to-day knitting adventures on Instagram. I’d love to connect with you 🙂