There are several ways to work with two or more colours in the same row or round – we can hold all strands in one hand (with or without a yarn guide), hold one strand in our left hand and one strand in our right hand, or hold just the strand used to work the current stitch.
I tried all of these ways and discovered that the third option is the easiest one. When we hold one strand at-a-time in the hand that we normally use to hold the working yarn, there is no need to fiddle with several strands or re-learn the whole process of knitting by trying to use the hand that doesn’t hold the yarn when we work in a solid colour.
With practice, we can get really fast and efficient when we drop unused strands every time we change colour in our project. And, we can use this method when we normally hold the working yarn in the left or in the right hand. In this tutorial, I’ll show you both ways.
If you are a visual learner, click here to watch this technique demonstrated in a video tutorial. Or, scroll to the bottom of this page to see the embedded version of the video.
IF YOU PREFER TO HOLD YARN IN YOUR LEFT HAND (Continental and Russian knitting styles)
When it is time to change colours in the colour pattern you follow, hold the tips of both needles with your right thumb and index fingers and drop all strands from your left hand.
With your left hand, pick the strand in a colour that you need to make the next stitch. Place this strand on your left index finger and hold it with the rest of your left fingers.
Stranded colourwork is usually tighter than a fabric worked in one colour. That’s why it is better not to wrap the yarn around any fingers of your left hand and let the yarn flow freely.
Knit all stitches that are supposed to be worked in this colour.
The colour pattern that I use to make a Binary sock featured in the photos is very simple – two stitches of one colour alternate with two stitches of the other colour in every round. As you see from the photo above, I knitted two stitches with the white yarn.
Repeat the same process every time you need to change the colour.
Try to always keep one strand of yarn over the other one when you change colours.
For example, when I started to work the colour pattern in my project, I decided that the yarn in the white colour will stay over the yarn in the black colour. So every time I take a black strand, I take it from under the strand in the white colour.
This little trick keeps the colour dominance consistent and prevents the strands from tangling.
IF YOU PREFER TO HOLD YARN IN YOUR RIGHT HAND (English knitting style)
The idea of picking only the strand that you need to make the next stitch is the same no matter how we hold the yarn. But when we use the English knitting style, it is easier to change the yarns when the tip of the right needle is inserted into the next stitch.
Here’s how it happens step by step:
When it is time to change the colour of the yarn, insert the tip of the right needle into the next stitch (left to right if you plan to knit this stitch and right to left if it is going to be a purl) and hold the tips of both needles with your left thumb and index fingers.
With your right hand, take the strand in a colour that you need for this stitch. Take this strand over or from under the other strand depending on the way you decided to arrange the strands. I’m going to work the next stitch with the white yarn, so I bring the white strand over the black one.
Just as it is true for the Continental and Russian knitting styles, don’t wrap the yarn around any of your right fingers, especially if you are a tight knitter.
Wrap the picked strand around the tip of the right needle and finish off the stitch.
Work the rest of the stitches that are supposed to be worked in the same colour. In my case, it is just one more stitch in white.
Repeat these steps every time you need to change the colour of the yarn according to the colour pattern you follow.
This method is the same for Fair Isle and other stranded colour patterns worked with two colours, and for the colour patterns worked in three and more colours.