Day 6 – Introducing Colour

Welcome back, fellow knitters! I hope you have finished the garter stitch edge on your cowl by now. I promised to tell you about colour variations that you could use to spice up the look of your cowl. There are many ways to introduce colour in your knitting but the simplest way is to knit horizontal or vertical stripes.

Before I show you how to knit stripes let me give you one very important tip. It is always better to introduce a new colour by using it for knitting rather than for purling. When you purl with a new colour, bumps of the old colour show on the front side of your work distorting the look of the colour change. But when you knit your stitches with the new colour, the colour change looks smooth.

Introducing a new colour on purl stitches on the left of the green marker and on knit stitches on the right

In the picture above, on the left side of the green marker, I have purled white stitches using a red yarn and on the right side, I have knit white stitches using a red yarn. You will see white bumps above red bumps on the left side of the marker, which are not there on the right side. The right side shows better transition from white to red than the left.

The way to knit horizontal and vertical stripes is the same for both circular and straight needles so I’m going to show you how to do it on straight needles.

Horizontal Stripes

Horizontal Stripes are actually quite easy. For horizontal stripes, you need to introduce your new colour at the start of a new row/round. This you do the same way you join a new ball of yarn to your knitting once the old one gets over.

Make a loop of the yarn of the new colour leaving a 6 inch tail. Insert your right needle into the first stitch on the left needle as if to knit and place the loop of the new colour on the inserted needle. Then knit that stitch the way you would normally knit. You’ll get your first stitch of the new colour on the right needle.

Continue to knit back and forth in the row/round till you get a stripe of a width of your choice. You need not cut your yarn each time you finish a stripe of one colour especially if your stripes are not going to be very wide. However, this is not a good idea if the the stripe is too wide as it causes puckering of the fabric.

Carrying the yarn up along the red stripe
Red and White horizontal stripes in Stockinette Stitch

Vertical Stripes

If you want to knit vertical stripes, you’ll need to know how to use more than one colour in the same row/round. This sounds difficult but is actually quite simple.

I wanted to knit red and white vertical stripes. I began the row by knitting my first 7 stitches with the white yarn which constituted the first white stripe. Then I introduced my red yarn in the same way I had introduced a new colour (above) i.e. by making a loop of the new yarn and placing it on my inserted needle. I proceeded to knit the next seven stitches with the red yarn creating my first red stripe.

For the next white stripe, I carried my white yarn behind my work across my red stripe creating what is called a Float and knit the next 7 stitches with it. I finished the row/round with more stripes of both colours by carrying the yarns and creating Floats at the back of my work.

I continued to knit more rows in the same manner, making sure to use only the white yarn for white stitches and red yarn for red stitches. Have a look at my vertical stripes

Red and White vertical stripes in Stockinette stitch

Stripes for your Cowl

Now that you know how to knit horizontal and vertical stripes, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to introduce colour variations in the cowl you’re knitting. Knitters using straight needles, please bear in mind – the cowl you’re knitting will be worn perpendicular to the way it is being knitted, therefore your vertical stripes are going to become horizontal stripes and vice versa.

For those knitting with circular needles, you’re knitting your cowl in the same direction in which it is to be worn so your vertical and horizontal stripes will remain the same.

I hope this helped in bringing some much needed colour to your cowl. Happy knitting folks!!

~P