Like most knitters, I learned the tricks to stranded knitting the hard way. Many sweaters were knitted and ripped out, knitted and ripped out, until I figured out my own strategies for perfecting it. And actually, I still don’t feel that I’ve perfected it!
Stranded knitting uses two or more colors to create stitches. The colors change often, creating what we call “floats” behind your work. If this is a completely new concept to you, you can read more about what stranded knitting is before checking out all the tips.
Stranded knitting tips from pro knitters won’t solve all your problems. After all, knitting is like playing an instrument; you have to practice to get really good at it. But heeding the advice of experienced knitters might stop you from making a few common beginner mistakes.
Take the advice of these knitting experts before you dive in to your next stranded knitting project.
How to Hold Your Yarn
How you hold your yarn when working with stranded knitting is important because it helps control the tension. Sara of Let Me ExplaiKNIT discusses three ways to manage your yarn strands: both in your left hand, both in your right hand, or one in each hand.
Holding one in each hand is the most common, Sara says. Your left hand will carry one color and pick stitches Continental-style while your right hand carries the other yarn and throws the yarn to make stitches. Read more about the other ways to hold your yarn on Sara’s blog to find the way that works best with your knitting style.
Where to Put Your Floats
Have you heard of The Armenian Knitting Technique for Stranded Knitting? This technique limits floats by tacking the work every 3 stitches, making the back of your work neat and tidy. Sarah Johnson shows you how it’s done.
Needles and Gauge
Eunny Jang of See Eunny Knit! is always full of helpful tips, and stranded knitting is no exception. Eunny has a number of Fair Isle tips that will help both beginners and advanced stranded knitters.
Eunny suggests using wooden needles instead of metal ones to ensure the needle gets a good grip on the yarn and helps to spread out the stitches when switching colors. This will help avoid that common stranded-knitting mistake of a too-tight gauge.
She also advises meeting row gauge (rather than stitch gauge), then blocking to meet the stitch gauge later. “You'd be surprised at how much stranded knitting will stretch laterally without looking significantly different,” Eunny writes.
Managing Your Floats
Threadpanda offers tips for managing your floats in stranded knitting. The back of her stranded knitting is so beautiful, it could almost be the right side! She found that the trick to managing the floats in the back is holding her yarn properly while also wrapping the yarns the same every time. Read more about Threadpanda’s perfect floats.
Ready to test the stranded knitting waters? Knit The Fair Isle Vest with Mary Jane Mucklestone. Mary Jane will walk you through each detail of creating the vest, from casting on to reading colorwork charts. If a sweater is more your style, take a peek at the Custom Yoke Sweater with Amy Detjen, where you’ll learn how to trap your stranded colorwork like a pro.