No Super Powers Required: Knitting Colorwork for Beginners

Posted by on Dec 24, 2013 in Knitting | Comments


A lot of knitters are freaked out by using multiple skeins of yarn. Are you one of those beginner knitters? Fear not! Colorwork doesn’t always mean juggling 10 skeins of yarn while you follow a pattern that makes your head spin.

There are multiple colorwork knitting techniques out there, and not all of them require super knitting powers — though if you have any of those powers, please send them my way.

Colorwork afghanPhoto via Craftsy instructor Rhonda Fargnoli

Check out these 5 beginner-friendly tips for knitting colorwork and you’ll be BFF with a new color technique in no time!

1. Try multiple techniques

There are plenty of colorwork techniques to choose from, and they’re all different! You can try intarsia if you want to knit a little picture onto your knitting, like a heart or a flower. The gorgeous afghan above, which you can learn knit in Rhonda Fargnoli’s My First Slip-Stitch Afghan class, is knitted using slip-stitch patterns that don’t require you to carry two colors in the same row.

For the truly brave, there’s also Fair Isle knitting and Jacquard knitting, which often involves working with many different yarn colors at once. Experiment a little with each technique to see which one you like best.

2. Pick a palette

Choosing a color palette is one of my favorite parts of colorwork knitting. If you’re a beginner who’s a little nervous about trying colorwork, make it a little more fun by focusing on choosing your colors first. Your palette will inspire you to complete the project. If you’re not sure where to start, you can even use a color wheel to help you choose colors that go well together.

3. Start small

Don’t commit to a huge colorwork project. That can be overwhelming, especially for a beginner. What I like about Rhonda’sslip-stitch pattern, from her class, seen at the top of this post is that it starts with a center square and builds out from there, so the project is broken down into manageable pieces that don’t make you feel crazy.

4. Practice makes perfect

Don’t jump right into a project without first practicing the colorwork. Work a smaller piece of the project, keeping in mind that you’ll rip it out later. When you start your actual project, you’ll be less likely to make mistakes.

5. Control those floats

Yarn floats, the strands of yarn you carry behind your knitting for some colorwork, are perhaps the trickiest part of knitting colorwork for beginners. If you can keep those floats under control, the rest is easy! Craftsy instructor Miriam Felton has some really great tips for colorwork on her blog, including tips and videos for working your piece inside out, which helps control the length of the floats on the back of the work. Brilliant!

Need more colorwork help and inspiration? Check out our tips for unfussy stranded knitting.

And don’t forget to check out Rhonda’s My First Slip-Stitch Afghan class, where she walks you through all the steps to creating that insanely awesome slip-stitch afghan pictured above. She’ll even answer any questions you have along the way!

Have you tried colorwork yet? What kind of project did you knit first?