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Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Colorwork knitting can seem daunting at first, but after a little practice, it's really quite simple. If you’ve been wanting to give colorwork knitting a try, here are some tips to get you started on this fun and addicting knitting technique.

1. Try mosaic knitting first

Mosaic knitting is a great introduction to colorwork. In mosaic knitting, you slip the stitches in the second color, so you're only ever working with one color at a time. It can be worked flat or in the round, and if you can knit, purl, and slip stitches, you can easily conquer mosaic knitting.

knitting on table with coffee mug, project bag, notebook, pen, and paint.

2. Choose high contrast colors

When choosing colors for your colorwork project, make sure to pick colors with high contrast. A color wheel is a great tool to use when deciding what colors to knit with. Something else you can do is take a black and white picture of the yarns you want to use and see if there is a noticeable difference between the colors. If the two colors are similar in black and white, the contrast will be minimal.

3. Use a larger needle size for colorwork knitting

Sometimes your gauge for colorwork can be tighter than it is when you’re knitting stockinette. To help match your gauge, especially when you're knitting a sweater with a colorwork yoke and a stockinette body, going up a needle size or two can help you maintain your gauge when switching from the colorwork section to stockinette.

4. Start out with only two colors

There are some colorwork projects where you'll be knitting with more than two colors at a time. Keep it simple and stick to projects where you only have to knit with two colors at once, at least for your first couple of colorwork projects.

5. Learn how to hold your yarn

When knitting colorwork, practice holding one color in one hand and the other in the other hand. This makes things a lot faster instead of having to drop and pick up the yarn every time you need to make a stitch in a different color.

One of my favorite tips is to hold the background color in your dominant hand and the pattern color in your non-dominant hand. If you're right-handed, you would hold the background color in your right hand and the pattern color in your left. If you do this, the pattern will pop out from the background, and it'll make your colorwork a little more interesting.

stranded knitting in black, red and white

6. Don’t forget about those floats

When you knit stranded colorwork, you'll have floats on the back of your work, and it's very important to maintain the tension in these floats. You'll want them loose enough to maintain the elasticity of the fabric you’re knitting and to keep your knitting from puckering, but not too loose because then they can get easily caught on things.

Colorwork is a very fun knitting technique to learn. It's so satisfying to see the image grow as you keep knitting, and after a little trial and error, colorwork can be a relaxing yet engaging project to work on.

If you're interested in colorwork knitting, make sure to learn the difference between mosaic and stranded knitting.


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