Let's talk about the next step in working with color: stranding
Last month we featured a simple pullover worked in intarsia squares of variegated yarn. This time we want to knit a hat with a small, repeated stranded pattern. We've offered two options -- a skully and a more traditional watch cap style. We're using four colors of KPM in two different combinations. In this case, we recommend using Koigu's beautiful solids. The best choices will have one dark, one light and two in between, so the pattern really pops.
We chose some fairly bright, maybe more "girly" colors for one sample and a quieter, more unisex arrangement for the other.
You could also choose four neutral colors: black, grey, ecru, sand, for example. Or go even more basic with two contrasting colors. Just imagine the Koigu possibilities!
The most traditional way to knit a hat is by using double-pointed needles. The stitches are cast-on and evenly divided among three or four needles and worked with another. A German Twisted Cast-on is nice and stretchy and you can find great tutorials online. It's a useful cast-on to know, since it is really good for socks, too. You can also work on a smaller (16"/40cm) circular needle and switch to double-points when you decrease for the top of the hat, or use what's known as Magic Loop, with one really long circular.
When you're knitting with two colors in a row, you want to keep a few things in mind. Make sure you're not pulling the color not in use too tightly across the back. Stretch your knitting out on the needles to make the fabric smooth.
Don't carry the yarn over too many stitches. This can result in having the floats catch on fingers or jewelry and pulling out of shape. The colors change every three stitches in this pattern, so it's not a worry. But in general, don't carry yarn over more than five stitches. Instead, catch the yarn when you have longer groups of stitches.
Rather than cutting the yarn as you finish with a repeat, you can leave it attached and loosely strand it up the "seam." It won't show on the outside and think of all the ends you won't have to weave in.
Finally, choose one color you're working with to strand over and the other to strand under. For many people, this can be most easily accomplished by holding one yarn in each hand. Be consistent and you'll never have tangles! You'll learn, instead, to enjoy working designs in color.......continue reading