How to join yarn and change colors in knitting

Using different colored yarn to produce a pattern

As knitters become more proficient in their craft they try more complex patterns which may involve using yarns of different colors. It is important to know how to join the different yarns properly. Some different types of knitting that use more than one color yarn are stripes, Fair Isle, picture or motif and Argyle plaid.

Stripes are perhaps the easiest to do. Fair Isle, or stranded knitting as it is sometimes called, uses two or more colors to make a design that is repeated throughout the row. Picture or motif knitting, as its name implies, produces a picture in knitted form. There may be one or two colors or many, used to make the design. The most common use of Argyle plaid knitting is in socks, but it can be found in other designs as well. Usually several colors of yarn are used to make the Argyle design.

The method you use to join the yarn in each of these types of knitting depends upon its suitability to the pattern and the end use of the garment.


Step 1

Horizontal stripes

To knit horizontal stripes, you will change colors at the end of a row. When repeating the stripes every two or four rows, carry the other color yarn loosely up the side. If the stripes are wider than four rows you will either cut the yarn not in use leaving a long enough end to weave in when you are finished, or twist in the unused yarn at the edge every two or four rows.

Step 2

Fair Isle knitting

For Fair Isle knitting you may be using only two colors of yarn, although some designs call for several colors. In either case, you will carry the unused yarn across the back side of the item. It is important to cross or twist the new color yarn around the old color yarn to prevent a gap in the finished article. One yarn is dropped and the next one picked up from underneath it, thus crossing the yarns.

Step 3

Motif inset

When knitting a picture or motif into the garment using more than one color, separate balls of yarn are used for each color. To change from one color to another, twist the new color being introduced over the previous color. When the motif is complete, cut the yarns, leaving enough yarn to weave into the back when finished.

Step 4

Argyle plaid

In Argyle knitting, diamond blocks are overlaid with stripes of two or more colors. With this type knitting it is more easily done by winding each color yarn around different bobbins. The yarn is released from the bobbin as needed. It is necessary to twist the yarn with each color change.

Things Needed
• Knitting needles
• Yarn
• Bobbins
• Pattern chart

Tips & Warnings
• Stranding (carrying the yarn across the back) is best accomplished by working one color with the right hand (English style), the second color with the left (continental style).
• Weaving is similar to stranding, but the carried yarn is brought alternately above and below each stitch, in effect, weaving it in.
• More yarn is used in stranding and weaving which adds both thickness and warmth. Practical for outer garments and blankets.
• Check the legend or key of the pattern chart closely to determine what each symbol means.
• Usually, start each chart at the bottom right corner and knit the knit rows from right to left, in flat knitting. For the wrong side, purl rows, knit the chart from left to right.
• When knitting in the round, the chart is always read from right to left.


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