Changing Colors When Knitting Stripes

How to Change Colors When Knitting
Mollie Johanson
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Changing colors in your knitting is simple, and it's a skill that every knitter needs to know. Knitting stripes is the easiest way for knitters to add their own touch to a project and to add a bit of color to what would otherwise be a plain knit fabric.

While it might seem that you should just tie your two yarns together at just the right point, the process is even simpler than that. Plus, you won't end up with a knot in your knitting that looks unsightly and adds a small lump to your work. Follow this seven-step guide to be a color pro when knitting stripe patterns and you'll get that project done so much faster.


Watch Now: How to Change Colors in Knitting

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 2 Knitting needles
  • 1 Darning needle
  • 1 Scissors


  • 2 Skeins of yarn in different colors


  1. Drop the First Color and Start the Second

    To begin, cast on and knit (or work whatever pattern stitch you like) as many rows as you would like for the first color of yarn you're using.

    It's a good idea to change colors at the beginning of right-side rows, particularly in stitch patterns like Garter and Stockinette. This will make the color change crisp and straight rather than dotted.

    When you're ready to start working the second color, simply drop the first color and pick up the yarn for the second color. 

    Leave a yarn tail of at least six inches on your new color. This will make it easy to weave the ends in securely when you finish the knitting. 

    Loop the New Yarn Over the Needle
    Mollie Johanson
  2. Knit the First Stitch With the New Color

    Insert your needle into the first stitch and hold the end as you loop the new yarn over the right needle, just as you would normally knit the stitch.Complete the first stitch.

    This stitch will look really loopy, loose and awful when you first knit it, but that's normal. When you are further along in the row, you can tighten up the last stitch of the previous row and the first stitch on this row by pulling gently on the yarn tails.

    Knit the First Stitch of the Row
    Mollie Johanson
  3. Knit Across the Row

    Once you've successfully changed colors, knit across the row and keep knitting in the new color until you want to switch colors again.

    You can add a third color or go back to the first, whichever you like. The method is the same regardless of how many colors you use.

    Knit the Row With the New Color
    Mollie Johanson
  4. Carry Colors Along the Edges

    If your stripes are short and you're going to use the same color again, you can carry the unused yarn up the side, so it's where you need it when you need it again.

    To carry the yarn, give the two colors a single twist at the edge every other row or so. This prevents the carried yarn from becoming too loose.

    Carry the Second Yarn Color Along the Edge
    Mollie Johanson
  5. Keep the Carried Yarn Smooth

    As you carry the yarn along the edge, gently pull it taut, so it is wrapped in the ends of the rows. This keeps the edges smooth.

    With some knitting stitches, the carried color may show a little. Adding a border can help hide this with a decorative finish. However, often the carrying is barely noticeable.

    Changing colors

    The Spruce / Mollie Johanson

  6. Change Colors Back to the Carried Yarn

    When you are ready to change back to the carried yarn, drop the color you were using and pick up the carried color. Knit the first stitch of the row just as you did with the first color change.

    Change to the Carried Yarn
    Mollie Johanson
  7. Weave in the Ends of the Yarn

    Once you've finished all your stripes, thread a dangling piece of yarn into your darning needle and weave in all the ends. Usually, five or six stitches in two different directions will do a thorough job of securing the yarn in place. Clip the remaining tail with your scissors.

    The back of the stockinette stitch shows how the color change looks and why it's best to start a new color on the right side of your work. Those extra lines aren't usually what you want to see on the front. However, you can choose to use this as a design element.

    Back of Stockinette with Color Changes

    The Spruce / Mollie Johanson