5 Ways to Carry Yarn Up the Side of the Work

5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work

When I started to research this topic, I never expected to find so many different ways to tame those multiple strands of yarn. And I am happy I did find them because each of these ways has its pros and cons. If you can't use a certain way in a particular situation, there is always another one, that will do a better job and will help you make your colourful creation the best it can be.

I was thinking of giving a working name to each of the ways, but it's not that easy. So I simply assigned each of them a number. The numbers are random, and the first way is not necessarily better than the fifth one. 

Let's take a look at them one by one.

WAY #1

5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work

This way seems to be the most popular one. Many of the online tutorials and blog posts show this way as a solution for keeping the strands intertwined at the side of the work as you carry the yarn up. 

And it does work fine if the stripes are narrow and we knit with just two colours. It gets messier when the stripes become wider, or we decide to add a third colour. 

You can tell the difference when you look at the photo above. I knitted the bottom half of the swatch with two colours and changed the colours every two rows. As a result, we see a nice line of short strands formed at the side of the swatch. 

The strands become longer and loopier when I added one more colour to work (the yarn tail in camel colour marks that spot). The edge still looks nice, but the strands got visibly longer, and it's harder to control the biggest issue this way has - tension.

We have to be very careful to make sure we leave just enough yarn at the side of the work to keep the tension at the both sides of the work same. Otherwise, one edge gets puckered and ruins the overall look of your project.

Here's how this way works:

1. At the beginning of a right side row (I assume that you change colours in right side rows) take all strands that you don't plan to use in this row (let's call them "resting strands") and bring them to the back of your work. 

2. Then take the strand that will be your working yarn for this row and bring it over the other strands.

3. Pull the bottom of the fabric a bit as you knit the first stitch to make the strand at the side long enough to prevent puckering.

4. After you knit the first stitch, stop and adjust the tension at the side of the work. It will be impossible to do it later without deforming the stitches.

5. Continuing to work the row as usual

Repeat every other row.

Click here to watch the video that shows how it's done. Demonstration of this way starts at 00:19.

WAY #2

5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work

This way fixes the tension problem. No more pulling the fabric when you knit the first stitch, and no more adjusting the tension at the side of the work. Your edge will be stretchy, and the side stitches uniform even if you use several colours and knit them into wide stripes.

But this way has its own issues (nothing is perfect, right :-)) - one of them is the look of the edge. You see, when we use this way, we wrap all "resting strands" around the working yarn, and that creates a bump at the side of the work. The more colours you use, the bigger the bump (as you can clearly see in the photo above). 

This bump is a very useful one - it ensures there is enough give at the side of the work to avoid puckering. But it doesn't look nice, especially if there are more than three strands in use. If you plan to hide this edge in a seam, the look of the edge is not really a big problem. So it would be ok to use this way to carry the yarn up ...

... If not for the other issue it has - greater risk of tangled yarns. When you knit with several colours, there is always danger that your yarns will turn into a tangled mess, and we discussed it in the article "How to keep yarn from tangling".

But this way of carrying yarn up amplifies the problem because we twist all strands to create that "useful bump" I've just mentioned.

Here's how this way works:

1. At the beginning of a right side row take all the strands hanging at the side of the work and twist them three times.

2. Take the strand that will be your working yarn for this row and knit the row as usual.

Repeat every other row.

Stop after every few rows and untwist the balls of yarn to keep them from tangling.

Click here to watch the video that shows how it's done. Demonstration of this way starts at 02:21.

 

WAY #3

5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work

This way solves the tangling problem, and that's great. The edge formed when we use this way is a bit bulky, especially if we work with more than two colours. 

On the other hand, it's not that bad compared to the possibility of tangled yarns if we use way #2, or numerous tails that need to be woven in if we don't carry the yarn up at all.

So we can safely say that this way is a good solution if you knit wide stripes with up to three colours. Maybe even up to five colours if you don't mind to have a bulky edge.

Here's how this way works:

1. At the beginning of a right side row take all strands together as a bunch and knit the first stitch using all strands together.

2. Take the strand that will be your working yarn for this row and knit the row as usual.

Repeat every other row.

That's it. Easy and efficient. 

Click here to watch the video that shows how it's done. Demonstration of this way starts at 04:27.

One warning though - remember to treat the bulky stitch as one when you purl it at the end of the wrong side row. 

WAY #4

5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work

This way is the most elaborate of them all. I found it in an old knitting book that I have, and I've never seen it anywhere else. 

It looks like a statement to me - "yes, we carry the yarn up the side of the work, and yes, we are not afraid to show it". Or maybe I'm just making it up :-)

In any case, this way definitely has its place in our skill set. The only limitation it has is that it works best when you knit with no more than two colours

Using this way, we don't carry the yarn up. We use both colours in each row. That results in the absence of loose strands at the edge and no issues with tension. The problem with tangled yarn is still there, but no more than in any other type of knitting with several colours.

Here's how this way works:

1. At the beginning of a right side row, take the "resting strand" and knit the first stitch with it.

2. Twist two strands at the back of the work, take the working yarn and knit to the end of the row.

3. Turn your work, and purl with the working yarn until you come to the last stitch of the row.

4. Twist two strands again, take the "resting strand" and use it to purl the last stitch.

Repeat these steps starting with every right side row.

Click here to watch the video that shows how it's done. Demonstration of this way starts at 05:59.

WAY #5

5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work

Last but not least, this way is a good solution for many situations when we deal with several strands of yarn in the same project. 

This way is easy to use, it does not mess up the tension, works for up to five colours and creates a nice stretchy edge. The edge does not look perfect, as you can see in the photo above, but it's not as bulky as the edge formed when we use way #3.

As you probably guessed, this is my go-to way to carry the yarn up the side of the work :-) I came up with it several years ago when I was knitting a scarf in a slip stitch colour pattern that used four colours. It seemed silly to cut the yarn every time I had to change the colour. So I started fiddling with the strands trying to keep them together and preferably look nice. 

This way was my best solution at that time, and I used it ever since whenever I was working with several colours.

Here's how this way works:

1. At the beginning of a right side row take all strands together and place them on your left index finger.

2. Slip the first stitch to the right needle.

3. Place all strands on top of the left needle between the first and the second stitches.

4. Return the slipped stitch to the left needle.

5. Bring the strands to the back of the work so that they make a wrap around the first stitch.

6. Take the working yarn from the bunch of strands and work the row as usual. If you work with two colours, you can knit the first stitch. If you work with more than two colours, slip the first stitch to give more room for the wraps.

Click here to watch the video that shows how it's done. Demonstration of this way starts at 08:51.

Note: If you want to use this way in your project, plan an extra stitch to be a selvedge at the right side of the work. This stitch will be all wrapped with strands and can't be part of the pattern. It has to be your little soldier on duty :-)

Have fun making colourful knits!

5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work | 10 rows a day
5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work | 10 rows a day
5 ways to carry yarn up the side of the work | 10 rows a day

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