Welcome to the second installment of our hat “walkthrough”/ tutorial. We’re going to talk about colorwork! If you’ve missed part 1 you can check it out HERE! Choosing colors is a lot of fun, until the project doesn’t turn out the way you intended it to. How did this happen? and how can we prevent this!
Were going to go through a few techniques that will help you choose color schemes that will always work and we’ll talk about how to prevent puckering in your colorwork. I’ve added a little GIF about the backward loop cast on because I forgot to add it to the previous post.
Even though it’s one of the best parts of knitting, it can be quite hard to pick the right colors. Even when you think you’ve found the perfect combo, it might still not work out the way you intended. It’s still hard to translate balls of yarn into a colorwork pattern sometimes.
When you see the colors in the picture above you might think (like I did) that it’s going to work like a charm. I really felt that there was enough contrast between the colors.
But as it turned out, the second color was not a great match with the main color, causing it to almost disappear. It can be hard to find colors that match because even colors that are very different (like red or blue) can still suddenly disappear in colorwork patterns. To understand why this happens, we need to talk about “value”.
The human eye can’t really see the color value in real life (or in color actually). The best way to help you see it is by taking away all the colors so only the value is left. As you can see in the picture above, the value of contrast color 2 and main color is almost the same. No wonder contrast color 2 disappeared. Oops!
Now let’s take a look at the knitted pattern. Even though you can see the color changes up close, you won’t be able to see the colors from afar or in poor lighting.
If you do like the colors and don’t want to choose different ones, it’s possible to change the schematic by using contrast color 2 as the main color for the colorwork bit, and choosing a different color for the contrast color.
As you can see it would’ve been best to use dark green as the contrast color, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough left for the chart. I thin white works as well 🙂
Now that we’ve talked about the colors, we need to talk about technique. This tutorial is focussed mainly on magic loop, but it’s also possible to knit this pattern using dpn’s or 40cm circulars if you prefer. Which ever method you use, it’s very important to give your floats some space so it doesn’t pull your work in. When working with one color you knit 1 stitch and you use one thread. There’s no other factors to consider, and there’s nothing else to focus on but your tension (which you probably do automatically)
When you work with two strands, one will be your main color the other will be your contrast color. The color that you’re not currently using is called a “float”, and it floats in the back of your work. The float will have a different length than the yarn that is being knitted with, so the tension will vary. That is why sometimes this thread will be either too loose or too taught. This will result in either very large, loose stitches, or small contrast color stitches.
When you work with one color it doesn’t really matter if you use a small needle and have a lot of stitches smooshed on there, but when you work with stranded colorwork it’s very important to have floats that match the stretchiness of your knitted fabric (see pic above). The best way to do this is to make sure you stretch and pull a little after every change. You can still manipulate the stitches and the floats when you’re one or two stitches in. (the GIF below shows how I stretch and manipulate the stitches between color changes to make sure the floats are long enough)
Of course it’s also possible to do colorwork one color at a time. This means you’ll knit all the main color stitches for row 1, but skip the contrast color stitches by simply slipping them as if to purl. This way you already have to make sure the floats from the main color yarn aren’t too tight, but you won’t have to keep track of two different tensions and different colors. When you’ve done main color for row one, you’ll do contrast color for row 1, skipping all the main color stitches and only knitting the contrast color stitches. So knowing this, it’s absolutely possible for a beginner to knit colorwork without having to bother with stranded knitting.
When you look at the picture above you can see that the stitches aren’t puckered, but lay flat. When working smaller projects using magic loop, it can be difficult to get the floats to stay stretchy on the sides. This might cause the work to pucker or the stitches to stretch out of shape.
If you want to prevent this from happening, you can knit with your work inside out. When you pull your work inside out the floats will lie on the outside of the work, so they’ll naturally have a larger circumference, making the floats longer by a fraction. You’ll be knitting the same way except you’ll hold the “back” needles and the cable will be in front. This way you can turn your work and rearrange your needles while the floats stay on the outside of your work and stay neat and long.
The GIF above shows you what this will look like. Keep pulling the work and manipulating the stitches as you work. It’s still possible that your colorwork section turns out smaller or larger, you can always use a larger or smaller needle to make sure your gauge in colorwork matches your gauge in one color stockinette.
And we’ve reached the end of our second tutorial blog. Next week we’ll be working on the decreases at the top, making pom poms, weaving in the ends and blocking!