Master Knitting Stranded Colorwork: 3 Tips For Success

If you caught Thursday’s post, you’ll know there’s nothing to fear in knitting stranded colorwork. So now let’s get down to some practical tips you can practice with this simple hat pattern to knit! With practice comes confidence and with confidence comes the realization that you can knit anything! 

When you learn to manage these 3 things, you will master knitting stranded colorwork in no time! 

knitting stranded colorwork

1. Decide How to Hold Your Yarn While Knitting Stranded Colorwork

There are a lot of different ways to hold 2 strands of yarn and trial and error will show you which yarn management strategy is best for you. Make sure that you give each method a long try (at least half the colorwork motif) to get past the initial awkwardness and see if it clicks. 

3 Yarn Management Methods: 

  • Holding one strand in each hand. After much trial and error, I found this method works best for me. I am a continental knitter by nature and combining that with flicking (a style of English knitting) I found my stride. You put the main color in your dominant hand and the secondary color in your other hand. This is a great method because it’s fast and the chosen method for many knitters, though if you’ve never knit with your other hand it can take some getting used to. 
  • Holding 2 strands in your dominant hand. This involves draping the two strands over the pointer fingering—the main color of yarn in front and the secondary color in back. To accesss the secondary color, you dip under the main color catching only the secondary color for the stitch. This is a great method because you don’t need to learn to knit with a new hand or use any special tools, but keeping the yarn separate and untangled can be tricky. 
  • Using a colorwork ring. A colorwork ring, like this one, allows you to hold the 2 strands on your dominant finger, but keeps them separate above and below the finger using the little loops which you can thread the yarn through. This is another fast option that takes some getting used to. You’ve still got to work out knitting above and below, but it’s a great option. 

Choose which one you want to try first and give it a go! 

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Note: The yarn for this pattern was provided for me at no charge by the yarn company. Yarn support allows designers, like me, to continue to provide you with gorgeous patterns while we grow!

2. Balance Your Tension in This Simple Hat Pattern to Knit

After learning how to manage holding your yarn, learning to manage your colorwork tension is the next big step. We tend to bunch up our newly knitted stitches on the righthand needle, so it’s important to stretch those stitches out before picking up the next color so that “float” (the strands of yarn hanging out behind the stitches) matches the length of those stitches. 

If your float is too tight, it will cause the stitches to pucker and may not leave you with enough room to fit your head (or your chest or hips if you’re knitting a colorwork sweater instead of this simple hat pattern to knit). 

If your float is too loose, as if you’ve stretched the stitches too far, you will end up with big loose stitches along the edges of your colorwork changes. While this is not great, it’s better than the alternative of too tight. If the floats are too loose, blocking will help wiggle everything into place and even out your stitches a bit. 

It may take you some time to hit the Goldilocks zone for colorwork tension so give yourself some patience and grace. (You can always donate version 1 of this simple hat pattern to knit and knit yourself another!)

knitting stranded colorwork

3. Catch Your Floats While Working A Large Colorwork Motif 

Now that you’ve learned how to manage the tension in your floats, you need to learn how to “catch” them. 

When your floats are longer than 3-5 stitches, they become a snagging hazard. They can get caught on your fingers, the button of your jean, etc. and cause a giant pull in your knitting or even snap the strand. 

To avoid this tragedy, we “catch” the floats every 3-5 stitches. 

How do you do this? It’s simple! Knit 3-5 stitches in your main color (MC). Then lay the secondary color over the top of the MC strand from right to left. Then knit as normal. 

Yep. It’s really that simple! 

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Now You’re Ready To Knit The Falling Up Hat! 

Now that you know the top 3 things, it’s time to practice on this simple hat pattern to knit! What makes it so simple? It works up in one size (good for all adults). You start with a hem, which allows you to hide your longest floats without catching them. 

Work your way up through a simple geometric motif that will allow you to easily see what you’ve knit before and what you need to knit next—all of which ends before your simple crown decrease. 

knitting stranded colorwork

Make it a Party: A HUGE deal in Knitting Stranded Colorwork! 

Grab the DK weight Falling Up Hat all by itself, with its sister pattern the Falling Up pullover or get the whole Falling Up pattern pack for 30% off, which also includes the sport weight Falling Up Cardigan and Falling Up Cowl! 

Get the Bundle!

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Falling Up Hat Pattern Details 

Size 

Finished Circumference: 22”/55 cm

Height: 9.25”/23.5 cm

Pattern includes notes on fit and how to tweak the size to get the perfect fit for you! 

Yarn

MC – 100 yds/91.5 m 

CC – 155 yds/142 m

Suggested Yarn: 

MC – Magpie Fibers Swanky DK (80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon) 250 yds/229 m, 115 g/4 oz – 1 skein in Masquerade 

CC – Spincycle Yarns Dyed In the Wool (100% superwashed American wool) 200 yds/ cm, 50 g/1.75 oz – 1 skien in Nostalgia

Needles & Notions

US 8/5.00 mm & US 7/4.50 mm – 16” circulars and DPNs or Magic Loop – preferred method of small circumference knitting (or needles needed to obtain gauge!)

Stitch markers, tapestry needle

Concentration

High – The entire body of the hat is knit in colorwork and though it’s an easy to memorize pattern, you’ll still need to pay attention to what you’re doing. But as a quick pattern, it’s the perfect size to test out a new skill or keep an old one from getting rusty!

Techniques to Indulge In

Provisional CO

Knitting a hem (knitting stitches together from a front and back needle) 

Stranded colorwork 

Knitting 2 sts together

simple hat pattern to knit
knitting stranded colorwork
knitting stranded colorwork

Go Forth and Conquer!

Now that you know the top 3 things you’ll need to learn to manage for success in knitting stranded colorwork, you are ready to take the colorwork world by storm! So grab the pattern using the link above, pick up those needles and give it a go! 

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