Color Knitting

Add a Spark to Your Stitches

A simple two-color slip stitch pattern. © Sarah E. White, licensed

There are a wide variety of color knitting techniques that allow you to make basic knitting projects a lot more interesting. I love color knitting so much I've actually written a book on the subject, which includes information and patterns for knitting with several of these techniques.

From knitting in stripes or using a multicolored yarn to complex entrelac and intarsia knitting projects, there are lots of ways to brighten up your knitting that isn't necessarily difficult. Here's a look at some of them, along with patterns for you to try.

Multicolored Yarn

Working with multicolored yarn is the easiest way to bring color to your projects because you don't even have to think about it; just keep knitting as normal.

Whether the yarn is variegated (a series of colors that are often random) or self-striping, knitting a project with this kind of yarn makes it look much more complicated than it is and adds a bit of pizazz even to plain Stockinette Stitch.

Patterns Using Multicolored Yarn

Knitting Stripes

Adding stripes to a knitting pattern is not that difficult, just remember to change colors at the end of a row or round and, if you're knitting in Stockinette Stitch or a similar stitch and don't want the broken line where the colors change to show, start the new color on a knit row.

Sometimes, however, you might want to use that line as a design element.

Patterns Using Stripes

Duplicate Stitch

Using duplicate stitch is an easy and fun way to add color to a knitting project after the fact. You can use as much or as little duplicate stitching as you want on a project, but be mindful that the stitching makes the work bulkier and a little stiffer than it would be without that extra layer of stitches.

Duplicate stitch is also a great way to add more personality to projects, as with the animal hat patterns below.

Projects Using Duplicate Stitch

  • Olympic Rings
  • Bunny Hat
  • Dog Hat

Slip-Stitch Knitting

Slip-stitch knitting looks more complicated than it is, because it uses multiple colors of yarn to make designs, but you are only working with one color at a time. Other stitches are slipped so that the color from the previous row shows on those stitches, making interesting patterns.

This technique is also known as mosaic knitting, which is actually a specific technique that was popularized by Barbara G. Walker and involves designs that can be worked on any number of stitches and are charted, with the wrong side row worked in the same manner as the right side.

Projects Using Slip-Stitch Knitting

Fair Isle or Stranded Knitting

Stranded knitting, also sometimes referred to as Fair Isle, is a relatively easy way to work two colors into the same row of knitting.

Holding one yarn in each hand or dropping and picking up colors as you need them, the unused color is stranded across the back of the work, giving you a double-thick layer of knitting that's super warm.

This technique is good for simple patterns that are just a couple of stitches in width and repeat across a row.

Patterns Using Stranded Knitting

Intarsia Knitting

Knitting intarsia, or picture knitting, is the way to add more complex, larger designs that don't cover the whole width of a knitting project. Each color is worked as a block, with a different strand of yarn used for each time a color appears in the project.

For example, if there's a red motif in the middle of two sections of brown knitting, you'll need three strands of yarn, one red and two brown, to work the pattern.

Patterns Using Intarsia

  • Mom's Tattoo Bag
  • Felted Halloween Bag
  • Christmas Tree Pillow
  • Intarsia Apron

Entrelac Knitting

Entrelac does not necessarily have to be worked in color, but the woven patterns are traditionally seen knit in at least two colors.

One really fun way to work entrelac that's also quite easy is to use a multicolored or self-striping yarn to work the squares and triangles, which adds a lot of color with no extra work.

Patterns Using Entrelac