Saturday, January 05, 2008

Stranded Knitting I

Ok, hopefully my ramblings yesterday made you sort of interested in colour knitting.

One thing I have had a terrible time with is the issue of yarn dominance. Yarn dominance basically means that one of your yarn colours will be slightly more emphasized than the other in your final piece, and therefore dominant. This makes your pattern more prominent than the background.

I've heard a lot of people talk about it, and some say to play around with your colours to see what works - but I've never had any luck at that. I tend to learn things by condensing down the basic principles into a simple rule. "Simple" means something that can easily become automatic, like which way to wrap your stitches. I also believe that simplicity breeds consistency. It's much easier to be consistent at something simple than at something overly complicated.

So for whatever reason, "yarn dominance" has always been one of those really complicated issues - I hold the yarn different every time, or I can't quite see what they mean, or whatever. This went on until I found a wonderful explanation here (and yes, do go click the link, then come back here). It crystallized the principle for me - contrast yarn rides below - but what does that look like in practice?

My simple rule is: Contrast colour goes in your left hand. This means it will ride below the other colour. Don't believe me? Well, I took pictures! Here's a chart.

Holding your yarn for stranded knitting

To help me remember, I **do** write on my pattern which yarn goes in which hand:
Orange = background colour / right hand
Gold = contrast colour / left hand

Note: If you're a two-color knitter who holds both strands in your RIGHT hand, please write in and let me know how you handle this issue. I played around with this for hours and could not figure out how to do it with both strands in my right hand - then again, I can barely knit right-handed.

There are two more posts/comics in this series. They can be found here: Stranded Knitting II and here: Stranded Knitting III.

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Blogger Sheila said...

I said it on flickr but am compelled to repeat it here - you are my hero!


4:16 PM  
Blogger Suburbaknitsta said...

that is so cool!! I would love to try a knitting ring thimble thing must try to find one :)

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Shayla said...

Ooh, where'd you get your knitting thimble? I was making endpaper mitts and had the hardest time keeping tension with the two stands. Thanks for the tutorial!

7:05 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

I've heard this before, but I am really a confused Continental knitter. If the contrast color goes in my left hand, I won't use it as much as the right hand (which is not the hand I prefer to use). This isn't *so* bad if it's knit in the round, but my "throwing" purl really sucks, so if I had to do that a lot on a flat piece, I'd be super slow. What are your thougths on that?

8:11 PM  
Blogger Batty said...

Great picture tutorial, thanks for posting it!

I also hold the contrasting color in my left hand. I started as a continental knitter but switched to English, with the result that the main yarn gets knit English from my right hand and the contrasting color continental from my left. The only pain in the neck is when more than 2 colors are involved and there's a change in which one is the contrasting color and the main color.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Martina in AK said...

I love your blog; nice use of Comic Life! Your simple trick is excellent advice. I love to knit stranded colorwork, and this little bit of advice is most useful! Those mittend ou linked to are gorgeous. I was going to make myself some plain mittens out of some multi-colored yarn, but now you are making me rethink things.

1:53 PM  
Blogger TK said...

Very nice tutorial. I knit English and have only recently attempted stranded color work. I wrap the main color around my index finger and the contrast color around my middle finger. It seems to work for me. I used to drop the yarns, which is just too fiddly.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Kelley said...

I love the pics and the finger thingy. I knit continental, I put both strands over my left hand and then pick up whichever I want with my needle in my right hand. This is how I have done the fair isling to date.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Mel said...

This is awesome, thanks for the tips! That said, I'm sad because I knit continental, so using my dominant hand for the less used contrasting color does not sound like fun. I guess I'll have to find one of those thimbles!

This should speed up the progress of my fair isle scarf considerably (as I had been using the drop and grope method).

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

I'm super late to the party, but I just came accross this and wanted to tell you that I hold both strands in my right hand and throw the contrast color with my index finger and the background color with my middle finger. So there!

4:10 PM  

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