Give Stranded Colorwork a Try: Two Color Knitting Tips

I love knitting with two (or more!) colors. It always seems to add a bit of extra excitement and interest into your otherwise regular knitting. If you haven’t done stranded colorwork knitting before, it’s easy to be scared off, but don’t worry! With a few tips and perfectly picked patterns, you’ll be on your way to creating the stranded knitting projects of your dreams!

Sawatch mittens

Sawatch mittens made in the online knitting class Stranded Colorwork: Basics & Beyond by Craftsy member Justine Lark

Here are a few tips to make your adventure into knitting with two colors a little bit easier.

Start small and knit in the round.

If you’ve been eyeing an gorgeous Fair Isle sweater but aren’t ready to take on the challenge, or time commitment, start will a smaller project. These projects can be just as gorgeous and are also lower risk. This means, if you notice an error or are having tension issues you could potentially have to rip back 50 yards where ripping back in a sweater can mean hundreds!

Knitting a colorwork project in the round means no purling. Many people find purling colorwork to be a bit fussier and hard to manage (especially if you’re new to two color knitting). Starting with a round project like a cowl will allow you to practice the motions of switching between colors.

Colorwork Cowl Pattern on Craftsy

 Photo via Craftsy instructor Miriam Felton

This cowl is a great example of a starter colorwork piece. While the design is shown using multiple colors, the designer also has a sample that is just as stunning using only three colors. The colorwork pattern in the cowl is simple and will be very intuitive to knit. This is also a great project to use up those special skeins of fingering weight yarn many of us have stashed away.

Get the Chromaticity Cowl pattern here.

Winter-themed Eivor Cowl Pattern
 Photo via Craftsy member PuddleFish

This lovely cowl is knit in worsted weight yarn and uses less than 100 yards for each color, meaning your first colorwork cowl will work up quickly! It features a lovely winter motif that uses only two colors and will give you a lot of practice switching between colors.

Get the Eivor pattern here.

Round yoke sweaters

When you’re ready to move past small projects, consider trying a round yoke sweater. These sweaters are immensely enjoyable to knit. Most feature the colorwok portion only on the yoke and/or cuffs and hems. When you’re knitting a colorwork design in a round yoke sweater you will work straight portions of colorwork, followed by a row that incorporates increases or decreases (this will vary depending on if the sweater is a top-down or bottom-up construction).

No Bad Weather Pretty Yoke Sweater Pattern

This lovely sweater is knit from the bottom-up. The two color portion is worked in the yoke only and while this sweater does utilize two other contrasting colors along with the main color, only two colors are ever worked in the same row. This would make a perfect beginner sweater, allowing you to practice some new techniques (short rows!) and finish with a phenomenal looking sweater.

Get the No Bad Weather Sweater pattern here.

Make colorwork work for you with the online knitting class Stranded Colorwork: Basics & Beyond! Get in-depth instruction for knitting three pairs of mittens with eye-catching stranded colorwork from knitwear designer Sunne Meyer.

Sign me up! >>

Do you love to knit colorwork? If you haven’t tried it before, what aspect do you feel the most nervous about?



Kay Chapman

I did this many years ago and stopped. I was sure I was doing it wrong (before the internet and I am self-taught). It is the back of two-color knitting that I would like to see presented. I want to compare to what I did.

Jimena Rojas

I’m always wondering what it looks like in the back. I’ve tried two color knitting patterns with swatches, and there’s yarn that hops over the second color stitches until I need it next, but leaves these weird loops on the WS of my knitting… I’ve tried it with gloves too, and my fingers get caught in the loops and snag – I know I’m not doing it right.


That sounds right, actually. You have to twist the yarn around each other to carry it along… If you have long stretches of 1 color though, you will have longer “loops” of yarn that hang and you could get your fingers caught in if using stranded color work in gloves… To fix this, every 3-4 stitches, “twist” the yarn again by tucking the color you’re NOT using behind the color you are working with before knitting the next stitch. Its easier to watch videos to have this explained, there’s plenty on YouTube to check out. Sounds like you were doing it right though, so you do have the general idea.


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