How to Knit Jogless One Row Stripes in the Round
One row stripes are great for making incredible colour combinations, for using up odds and ends we have in our stash, and for seamlessly blending several dye lots in one project.
When worked in the round those stripes usually cause a few issues:
1. Inevitable jog that happens when we switch from colour to colour.
2. Messy strands that appear on the wrong side of the work when we carry all the yarns up. That leads to another problem:
3. It is not comfortable to use more than three colours in the same project.
All these problems are easily solved when you use the helix knitting technique.
When I first saw this technique in “Circular Knitting Workshop” book by Margaret Radcliffe, I was suspicious – How can it be? No jog, no carrying the yarn up and no limit to the number of colours we can use. Too good to be true, right?
After a fair amount of swatching, I can say that this is one of the most fascinating knitting techniques I’ve ever tried.
The benefits of helix knitting come from a simple fact, that when we work in the round, we, in fact, work in a spiral. Every round is just another loop of that spiral.
Once we understand this simple truth, we know that if we introduce different colours to that spiral at equal intervals, we’ll get the “barber pole” effect when colours move up in continuous stripes.
Now, that we understand the WHY of this type of knitting, let’s take a look at the HOW.
BASIC SET UP
1. Decide on the number of colours you want to use in the project. It could be any number over 2 (you can’t make stripes with just one colour 🙂). When you use more than 5 colours, it could get a bit complicated because it’s not easy to manage more than 5 balls of yarn at the same time.
For our test swatch, let’s use 3 colours. I picked rusty, golden and olive green.
2. Divide the number of stitches you plan to cast on by the number of colours in your project.
We will cast on 30 stitches and use 3 colours, so the math is 30 / 3 = 10 stitches in one segment.
3. Cast on 10 stitches with colour A. Then attach colour B and cast on 10 stitches with colour B. Finally attach colour C and cast on 10 stitches with colour C.
Casting on with multiple colours is quite easy if you use the “knit on” or the “cable” cast on.
Feel free to use any tools you normally work with when you knit in the round. Double pointed needles, two circular needles, one circular needle with or without the magic loop – they are all good for helix knitting.
4. Make sure the stitches are not twisted and start working in the round with colour C. Demonstration of this part starts at 03:09 in the video.
You can also add a section with helix stripes to any part of your project. For example, make a hat with ribbing in colour A, and then add colours B and C to make the body of the hat stripy.
Or you can knit mittens with a cuff in a solid colour, helix stripes in the main part and a solid colour again at the top of the mitten.
Just think how many options we now have for socks… I’ve already added a pair of helix socks to my “to-knit” list 🙂
Here’s how to add helix stripes to a project we already have on the needles:
Follow steps 1 and 2 of the “Basic Set Up”. Then knit 10 stitches with colour A. Attach colour B and knit 10 stitches with colour B. Attach colour C and knit 10 stitches with colour C.
WORKING IN HELIX COLOUR PATTERN
1. Use the current colour until you come to the first stitch in a different colour. This is the place where we’ll change colours. Bring the yarn in the colour you’ve been working with (let’s call it the “old” yarn) to the right, and pick up the yarn that is hanging right there (let’s call it the “new” yarn).
2. Work the next segment in the “new” colour.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 throughout the project.
You will notice that in every round one of the colours is used for a segment that is twice as long as other segments. That’s perfectly fine and doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake. Simply work with the same colour until you come to a spot where “colours meet”. Then change the colour and keep working.
Helix knitting is an easy almost mindless experience 🙂
– Don’t twist yarns when you change colours! I tried, and it totally ruins the look of the stripes. Bring the “old” yarn to the right, and take the “new” yarn from underneath the “old” yarn.
– Don’t pull the “new” yarn before making the first stitch. Stripes are continuous. When we start working a segment in a certain colour, we are not starting a new round. We continue the previous segment worked in that same colour.
That means that if we pull the yarn too much, we’ll tighten up the last stitch of the previous segment. And that interrupts the continuity of the stripe.
– Because we are using several balls of yarn at the same time, the yarn will tangle. It helps a lot to move the ball of “old” yarn to the right every time you change the colour.
If you don’t want to worry about rearranging the balls of yarn every time you change colour, simply stop knitting and untangle the yarn once in a while.
There is one more thing you don’t need to worry about – the messy strands that appear on the wrong side of the work when we carry the yarn up.
When we make helix stripes, there are no strands AT ALL. See for yourself:
1. Decide which of the colours you will use to bind off stitches.
2. Knit to the spot where you start working with that colour.
3. Bind off stitches as usual.
Now that we know how to make helix knitting happen, here are
A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER
1. Helix knitting only works when you knit in the round. There is a simple way to make one-row stripes when working flat, but we’ll discuss it some other time.
2. If you want to make stripes that are wider than one round, attach a few balls of yarn in the same colour. For example, if you’re going to make a pattern of 2 rounds of colour A and one round of colour B, use three balls of yarn – colour A + colour A + colour B and add them to the work as if you used 3 colours.
3. Colours can only be used in the same sequence. For example, if you started your work with colour A, colour B and colour C, you will work in that sequence throughout the project. You won’t be able to change it to B + A + C without a visible jog.
So plan your colour pattern carefully. If you are not sure how the colours look together, make a swatch.
There is one interesting thing I noticed about sequences – if we start with colour A, then add colour B, and then colour C, the stripes will appear as A + C + B from the cast on and up. I haven’t seen this information in any of the sources about helix knitting I found, so I am not sure whether other knitters noticed that as well.
I made several swatches using this technique, and every time colours B and C seem to switch places in the colour sequence. Let me know if you experience that too.
4. The swatches shown in the photos are made in stockinette stitch. It doesn’t mean that helix stripes can only be worked in stockinette. You can work in any pattern.
It’s wise to swatch first though because multiple colours could look quite messy in a complicated pattern. Make sure you like the look of the fabric before you cast on for your project.
Here’s a photo of a swatch I made with helix stripes worked in “knit 1, purl 1” ribbing:
It’s incredible how one simple technique can provide so many different options.
Stay creative, my friends 🙂
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.
Dealing with Unfinished Projects
Dictionary of Knitting Symbols and Abbreviations – E-Book
Eastern (Russian) Knitting Simplified
Knitting Collection #6
Simple Socks in Any Size with Any Yarn
Top-Down Hat in Any Size with Any Yarn