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February 07, 2020

The first pattern of our new Colourwork Clubis out now! To go along with our new accessory patterns, we’ve put together a series of blog posts to walk you through your first stranded colourwork project, along with tips and tricks perfect for all levels of experience.

What is stranded colourwork?

In stranded knitting, two (or more) colours are used in the same row to create a pattern, with the unused colour carried across the back of the work. There are loads of different ways to hold and manage the two strands - experiment to see what feels comfortable for your knitting style. Our next post will be all about different ways to hold the yarn.

Colourwork patterns are usually given in the form of charts, with symbols and hues representing each yarn. Our Colourwork Club patterns include full colour charts for each of the three Club yarn kits, as well as a black-and-white version for you to colour in yourself. Regional specialities of stranded colourwork include Fair Isle patterns from Scotland, Bohus sweaters from Sweden, and Lopapeysas from Iceland. Learn more about stranded colourwork by exploring our colourwork books.

What makes a good first colourwork project?

It’s easiest to knit stranded colourwork in the round. Because the right side of the work always faces you, it’s easy to see the pattern developing and keep track of where you are in the chart. Knitting stranded colourwork flat takes a bit of extra concentration!

Hats and cowls make great projects for honing your stranded colourwork skills. They can be made on 16” or 24” circulars, and are satisfyingly quick to work up. Using double pointed needles on your first colourwork project can be a bit tricky to manage, depending on the pattern - the junctions between the needles can be especially prone to laddering and twisting while you’re learning how to manage your two strands and needles.

Patterns worked in 2 colours, with stitches of the same colour no more than 5 stitches apart, are easiest when learning to manage your tension. For a very gentle introduction try a pattern with only a few colourwork rounds. Keep in mind that stranded colourwork tension is generally quite a bit tighter than single colour stockinette, so you might need to adjust needle sizes to compensate.

What’s a good yarn for stranded colourwork?

Yarns with good elasticity and some grip, such as wool and wool blends, are ideal. Rustic or “sticky” wools will felt together over time, anchoring the floats across the back of the work and creating an extra strong, cohesive fabric. Ysolda used Rauma Petter for this club design, which is a superwash wool that is machine washable, but retains good wooly character that’s easy to work with. Avoid very slippery fibres like silk if you’re new to colourwork - it’s harder to keep your tension even, and the stitches can become quite uneven.

Ready to give it a try?

Ysolda designed the Brunstane cowl, the first pattern in the Colourwork Club, to be an ideal first project for beginners. You can get the pattern now by purchasing the Colourwork Club, and you'll also receive two more accessory patterns designed to help you grow your skills. 

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