My Adventures in Stranded Colorwork- Part One

Posted by Julia Wardell on

As a knitter I am always looking to knit the next best thing or challenge my skills. Because at some point I would like to at least hold the title of 'Master Knitter'. The trend in knitting this year seems to be colorwork knitting. Which is drastically different compared to last years obsession with all things fade. And don't get me wrong, I still love the idea of melting colors together. But there always seemed to be something mysterious about stranded colorwork. Working with more than one color at the same time seems like a daunting task especially if those multiple colors are not automatically striped into the yarn. 

In the past I have done smaller colorwork projects like some fingerless mitts or even a hat. But while I completed the task and gave myself a good pat on the back, I was left unimpressed with the finished object. I guess the real challenge would always be with the colorwork yolk sweater.

There are plenty to choose from on Ravelry but I have always admired those designed by Kate Davies. Her Paper Dolls Sweater published back in 2013 was the first one to catch my eye. And over the years I have seen how people have changed and modified the yolk chart on this pattern to make it a little more personal for them. My favorite is still millicurie's I want to Believe version of this pattern. Who doesn't love Aliens?

What is the point of all of this? Over the past few months I have been inspired to try and tackle colorwork knitting again. My sweater knitting skills are still 50/50 at best as far as them actually fitting me properly. But why not dive head in and give it a try. Right now I am obsessed with everything that Caitlin Hunter is designing. I saw her patterns as one of the many stepping stones into mastering the colorwork genre of the knit world.

So I thought to myself why not start with something simple... like a shawl. I can totally knit a shawl in my sleep! This will totally be easy and so I downloaded the Kodikas pattern and picked out my colors.

I decided to go with my Trio DK base- the thought of knitting with cashmere made my heart happy. It was also to ensure that I took my time and take things slow as I didn't want to ruin this beautiful yarn. I CO and always kept telling myself in the back of my mind that this would be a total learning experience and that I shouldn't beat myself up if something went wrong.

Everything was going smoothly and I quickly learned several things. First- that knitting colorwork flat is actually harder than knitting it in the round. Because you have to work the colorwork on the WS which can be confusing at times. And Secondly- that as a tight knitter I definitely need to go up a needle size when knitting colorwork. The first colorwork section I knit it with the same needle as the stockinette and I could see by the end that it was pulling slightly tighter at the edges. But, my floats were looking good!

I decided then that I would go up a needle size when working the next few charts. And despite my accomplishment in conquering this first section and learning from my mistakes my self doubt crept back in and I began to obsess about the tension of my floats. In some sections I made them too loose. So when I blocked the shawl you could see close up where the stitches had opened and clearly see the floats behind. The third lesson learned is that I need to find the happy medium with my floats. Which is a skill that will only come with time and practice.

Despite the massive learning curve I am totally pleased with the finished result. And the beautiful thing about a shawl is that it can easily hide a multitude of knit mistakes that a good blocking could not fix. Even with its tiny mistakes I still love this shawl. Now that I had a little more confidence it was time to take the next big leap and knit a colorwork sweater.

For more information about this project, my notes, yarn, and colors used- please visit my Ravelry Project Page.

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