Here are a few facts I know about stranded/fair isle colorwork: It’s really pretty, it’s not as hard or as intimidating as it looks, and I’m not an expert so I’m going to give you some of my tips, but I’m also going to link to people who know a lot more than I do!
1. Color Dominance and Hand Placement. When you’re stranded knitting, you hold at least 2 colors of yarn in your hands for the entire row. Because you’re carrying both yarns and obviously only knitting with one color at a time, this creates strands or floats in the back of your work. But what you might not realize is that one color is dominant over another – and it can definitely change the outcome. The color that is carried underneath will always show up better in your knitting – so be sure and know which color you want to stand out more! Diana from Paper Tiger has an incredible post up with plenty of pictures if you want to learn more. If you prefer video form, check this out:
2. Tension Your Strands. Because holding 2 colors of yarn at once doesn’t come natural to you, you’re going to have to really watch your tension. Remember when you first struggled to learn to knit? It’ll be like that at first, but you’ll get it and then it’ll be second nature. Until you it becomes second nature though, make sure each yarn is held at the correct ease and tension, regardless of the color you’re knitting at the time. If your tension is too tight, your knitting will pucker and pull when you’re finished – I like to spread my stitches out on my right hand needle as I knit them, so they appear on the needle as they would when I bind off, and then loosely lay my next color across the back of them.
3. Anchor your strands/floats. If you’re knitting in one color for too long of a time without switching to the second color, you’re going to get a really long float in the back which can cause issue with tension – or at the very least, it can make it difficult to put on if your fingers are getting caught in the strands in your mittens, for example. Here’s a quick way to anchor your strands:
But wait, do these tips mean nothing to you? Check out this video to get started:
Let me know if you have any great tips or links to videos to add to the list!