How To Change Colors In Knitting (Easy Stripes)

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In this blog post, you will learn how to change colors in knitting (easy stripes). 

Get ready to learn everything you need to know to add a pop of color to your knitting projects and take your skills to the next level.

Learning how to change color in knitting is an essential skill that opens up a world of creative possibilities and allows you to enhance the visual appeal of your projects. 

Whether you are a new or experienced knitter, learning how to change colors in knitting is a great technique to know. 

You can add color to your plain knit fabric or make colorful baby blankets without using a variegated yarn.

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How To Change Colors In Knitting

How To Change Colors In Knitting – A Guide

How to change colors in knitting ( The Easiest Way)

Here’s step-by-step instructions on how to change colors in knitting for a beginner:

  1. Prepare Yarn Ends: Before you reach the point where you want to change colors, leave a tail of about 6 inches for both the old and new colors. This will provide enough yarn to weave in the ends later.
  2. Switch Yarns: When you’re ready to change colors, simply start knitting with the new color. Drop the old color and hang it loosely at the back of the work. Leave the old color yarn attached; you’ll use it again when you switch back.
  3. Weaving in Ends: To secure the yarn ends, weave them in as you continue knitting. Hold the loose ends along the back of the work, knitting over them for a few stitches to secure them in place. Weave in the remaining ends later using a yarn needle once your project is complete.

How many ways can you change colors in knitting? 

Changing colors in knitting can significantly enhance the visual appeal of your projects, allowing for creative patterns, designs, and personalized touches.

There are several methods for changing colors in knitting, each suited to different types of projects and patterns.

Here are some of the most common techniques:

1. Stripe Color Change

  • How It’s Done: Simply drop the old color and start knitting with the new color at the beginning of a row or round. This is the simplest way to change colors and is ideal for horizontal stripes.
  • Best For: Projects with large blocks of color or where the backside won’t be visible, as it can leave loose ends to weave in.

2. Carrying Yarn Up the Side

  • How It’s Done: When working with stripes or color changes every few rows, instead of cutting the yarn each time, you can carry the unused color up the side of your work by twisting it around the new color at the edge.
  • Best For: Projects with frequent color changes, such as striped scarves or blankets, to avoid weaving in many ends.

3. Intarsia

  • How It’s Done: This technique involves using separate balls of yarn for each area of color in a pattern. You drop one color and pick up another, twisting the yarns on the wrong side to prevent holes.
  • Best For: Large blocks of color in a single row, detailed designs, or when knitting flat pieces like sweaters or wall hangings.

4. Fair Isle (Stranded Colorwork)

  • How It’s Done: Carry two or more colors across a row, “stranding” the unused color along the back of the work as you go. This method is used for creating patterns with multiple colors in a single row.
  • Best For: Patterns with frequent color changes over a few stitches, such as traditional Icelandic sweaters or patterned hats and mittens.

5. Slip Stitch Colorwork

  • How It’s Done: Knit with one color at a time while slipping stitches of the other color without knitting them. This creates color patterns without carrying multiple yarns across a row.
  • Best For: Adding texture and color patterns to your work with minimal effort, especially effective in accessories like hats and cowls.

6. Helix Knitting

  • How It’s Done: When working in the round, you knit continuously with each color in a spiral, ensuring that the color changes are staggered to avoid a jog.
  • Best For: Seamless color changes in tubular projects like socks, hats, or cowls, particularly effective for stripes.

7. Double Knitting

  • How It’s Done: This technique involves knitting two layers of fabric simultaneously with two strands of yarn. You can create designs that have different colors on each side.
  • Best For: Projects where you want a reversible effect with different colors or patterns on each side, such as scarves or blankets.

Each method offers unique advantages and can be chosen based on the project’s design requirements, the effect you wish to achieve, and your comfort level with the technique.

Experimenting with different color-changing techniques can greatly expand your knitting repertoire and allow you to create intricate and colorful knitted items.

how to change yarn in knitting

 How do you change colors when knitting without cutting?    

Changing colors without cutting the yarn is known as “striping” or “color-block knitting.”

This technique is commonly used in projects with multiple colors or when knitting stripes (thin stripes or thicker stripes) where the colors are carried along the edge of the work. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change colors without cutting the yarn:

  1. Prepare Yarn Ends: Before you start, leave a 6-inch tail for both the old and new colors. You’ll use these tails later for weaving in the ends.
  2. Switch Yarns: When you’re ready to change colors, simply drop the old color and start knitting with the new color. Leave the old color yarn hanging at the back of the work.
  3. Weaving in Ends: As you knit, weave in the yarn ends. Hold the loose ends along the back of the work, knitting over them for a few stitches to secure them in place.
  4. Carrying Yarn Up the Side: As you switch colors, carry the unused yarn along the side of the work. To avoid gaps or holes, twist the old and new yarns around each other at the side of the work.
  5. Avoiding Tangles: Be mindful of the tension in the carried yarn. Make sure it’s not too tight, as this can cause puckering, but also not too loose to avoid snagging. The goal is to create an even and smooth edge.
the wrong side of garter stitch stripes
The wrong side of garter stitch stripes.

How do you change the color of a new row in knitting?   

Changing the color at the beginning of a new row in knitting is a straightforward process.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change colors when starting a new row:

  1. End the Previous Row: Complete the last stitch of the previous row with the old yarn.
  2. Turn Your Work: Turn your work as you normally would when starting a new row.
  3. Pick Up the New Color: Hold the new yarn color yarn in your right hand, leaving a 6-inch yarn tail. If you were knitting with the yarn in your left hand, switch to the right hand for the new color.
  4. Make a Slip Knot: Create a slipknot with the new color yarn and place it on the right-hand needle. This slipknot counts as the first stitch of the new row.
  5. Start Knitting: Begin knitting the first stitch of the new row using the new color yarn.
  6. Weave in the Old Color: As you knit the first few stitches with the new color, hold the tail of the old color along the back of the work. Knit over the old-colored yarn for a few stitches to secure it in place.
  7. Continue Knitting: Complete the row with the new color, knitting as usual.
  8. Weave in Ends: Once you’ve changed colors and completed a few rows, weave in the ends of both the old and new color yarns to secure them.

Remember to twist the old and new color yarns around each other at the edge of the work to prevent holes or gaps in your knitting.

This twisting technique helps create a neat color change transition.

Practicing this process with a small swatch can help you become more comfortable with changing colors at the beginning of a new row. 

how to change yarn colors in knitting

Do you change color on a knit or purl row?    

You can change colors on either a knit or a purl row, depending on your desired pattern and the effect you want to achieve in your knitting project.

Here are a few considerations:

  1. Changing Colors on a Knit Row:
    • Changing colors on a knit row is often the simplest and most common method.
    • The transition between colors is usually smoother on a knit row, especially when working with basic stitch patterns like garter stitch or stockinette stitch.
  2. Changing Colors on a Purl Row:
    • Changing colors on a purl row can be used to create a textured effect or to complement a specific stitch pattern.
    • This method is often chosen when working with patterns like seed stitch or other textured stitches that involve both knits and purls.
  3. Garter Stitch:
    • For garter stitch, where every row is a combination of knit and purl stitches, you can choose to change colors on either the knit or purl row, depending on the look you prefer. Learn how to knit the garter stitch here – How To Knit Garter Stitch – Handy Little Me
  4. Stockinette Stitch:
    • When working with stockinette stitch, changing colors on the knit side (right side of your knitting) is more common, resulting in a smoother color transition. Learn how to knit the stockinette stitch here – How To Knit Stockinette Stitch (For Beginners)
  5. Stranded Colorwork:
    • In stranded colorwork or Fair Isle knitting, color changes often occur on the right side row (knit side) to showcase the color pattern.

How do you change colors in knitting with slip 1 at the beginning of the row?    

Changing colors at the beginning of a row in knitting with a slip stitch involves a technique commonly known as a “slip stitch edge” or “slip one at the beginning of the row.”

This technique helps create a neat and smooth transition between colors.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Complete the Last Stitch of the Previous Row: Finish the last stitch of the previous row using the old color.
  2. Turn Your Work: When starting a new row, turn your work as you normally would.
  3. Slip the First Stitch: With the yarn in front (as if to purl), insert the right-hand needle into the first stitch on the left-hand needle. Instead of knitting or purling, simply slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle without working it.
  4. Pick Up the New Color: Hold the new color yarn in your right hand, leaving a tail of about 6 inches. If you were knitting with the yarn in your left hand, switch to the right hand for the new color.
  5. Create a Slip Knot: Create a slipknot with the new color yarn and place it on the right-hand needle. This slipknot counts as the first stitch of the new row.
  6. Start Knitting: Begin knitting the next stitch using the new color. The slip stitch creates a smooth transition and avoids a noticeable jog in the color change.
  7. Weave in Ends: As you knit the first few stitches with the new color, hold the tail of the old color along the back of the work. Knit over the old color yarn for a few stitches to secure it in place. Weave in both ends later.
  8. Continue Knitting: Complete the row with the new color, knitting as usual.

By slipping the first stitch of the new row, you create a clean and tidy edge that helps prevent gaps or uneven tension at the color change.

This technique is especially useful when working with stripes or color blocks in your knitting projects. 

How do you change colors in knitting without leaving holes?    

To change colors in knitting without leaving holes, especially when working in the round or on the edges of flat knitting, you can use a few techniques to create a smooth and seamless transition.

Here are two common methods:

1. Weaving in the New Color:

a. Finish the Last Stitch in the Old Color: Complete the last stitch in the old color, ensuring that it’s snug but not overly tight.

b. Turn Your Work: If you’re working flat, turn your work. If you’re working in the round, continue knitting.

c. Hold Both Yarns: Hold both the old and new color yarns at the back of your work.

d. Knit the First Stitch with the New Color: If you’re working in the round, knit the first stitch of the new round with the new color. If you’re working flat, purl the first stitch of the new row with the new color.

e. Twist Yarns: As you knit or purl the first stitch with the new color, twist the old and new color yarns around each other to secure the transition. This helps avoid a gap between the old and new colors.

f. Continue Knitting or Purling: Complete the round or row with the new color as needed.

g. Weave in Ends: Weave in the ends of both the old and new color yarns later, securing them along the back of the work.

2. Jogless Join Technique:

This technique is particularly useful when working in the round and helps eliminate the visible step that can occur at the color change.

a. Finish the Last Stitch in the Old Color: Complete the last stitch in the old color.

b. Knit the First Stitch of the New Color: Knit the first stitch of the new color of yarn.

c. Slip the Second Stitch: Slip the second stitch of the new color as if to purl.

d. Continue Knitting: Continue knitting in the new color as usual.

e. Weave in Ends: Weave in the ends of both the old and new color yarns later, securing them along the back of the work.

These techniques help minimize the appearance of gaps or holes at the color change, providing a cleaner and more polished finish to your knitting.

Practice these methods on a small swatch to become comfortable with the process before incorporating them into larger projects. 

How do you add a new color mid-row in knitting?    

Adding a new color mid-row in knitting is a common technique for colorwork and striped patterns.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to add a new color in the middle of a row:

  1. Choose the Stitch for the Color Change: Decide where in the row you want to start using the new color. This could be any stitch in the middle of the row.
  2. Finish the Last Stitch with the Old Color: Knit or purl the stitches leading up to the chosen stitch using the old color. Complete the last stitch with the old color.
  3. Hold Both Yarns: Hold both the old color and the new color yarn tails in your hand. The old color yarn should be coming from the last stitch you worked on.
  4. Insert the Right Needle: With the right needle, insert it into the chosen stitch as if to knit or purl, depending on your pattern.
  5. Yarn Over with the New Color: Wrap the new color yarn over the right needle as if you were starting a new stitch.
  6. Pull Through: Pull the new color yarn through the stitch, completing the stitch with the new color.
  7. Continue with the New Color: Continue knitting or purling the remaining stitches in the row with the new color.
  8. Weave in Ends: As you knit or purl the first few stitches with the new color, hold the tail of the old color along the back of the work. Knit or purl over the old color yarn for a few stitches to secure it in place. Weave in both ends later.
  9. Maintain Consistent Tension: To ensure even tension, avoid pulling the yarn too tightly. Consistent tension helps prevent puckering or distortion in the fabric.

How do you change the color seamlessly when knitting in the round?    

Changing colors seamlessly in knitting in the round involves a technique that minimizes the jog or noticeable step that can occur at the beginning of a new color round.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change colors seamlessly in the round:

  1. Complete the Last Stitch of the Current Color: Finish the last stitch of the current color in the round.
  2. Slip the First Stitch of the New Color: When starting the new round with the new color, slip the first stitch purlwise (as if to purl) instead of knitting it. This slip stitch is often referred to as the “jogless join.”
  3. Turn Your Work Slightly: Rotate your work slightly counterclockwise. This turning action helps minimize the jog in the color change.
  4. Knit the Remaining Stitches: Continue knitting the rest of the stitches in the round with the new color.
  5. Complete the Next Round Normally: For subsequent rounds, knit all stitches in the usual manner without slipping the first stitch.
  6. Weave in Ends: Weave in the ends of both the old and new color yarns later, securing them along the wrong side of the work.

By slipping the first stitch of the new color and turning the work slightly, you create a smoother transition between color rounds in the round.

This technique works well for projects like hats, socks, or any other circular knitting where you want to minimize the visible jog at the color change.

Practice on a small swatch to become comfortable with the process before incorporating it into larger projects.  

How do you change the color of a rib stitch?    

Changing colors in a rib stitch pattern involves coordinating the color change with the ribbing sequence to maintain the pattern’s integrity.

Whether you’re working in a 1×1 (knit 1, purl 1) or 2×2 (knit 2, purl 2) rib, the process is relatively similar.

Here’s a general guide:

Changing Color in 1×1 Rib Stitch:

  1. Finish the Last Stitch in the Old Color: Complete the last stitch of the row using the old color, whether it’s a knit or a purl stitch, depending on the rib sequence.
  2. Turn Your Work: Turn your work as you normally would when starting a new row.
  3. Change Colors: Hold the new color yarn in your right hand, leaving a tail of about 6 inches. If you were knitting with the yarn in your left hand, switch to the right hand for the new color.
  4. Start Ribbing with the New Color: Begin the new row by following the ribbing sequence. If you’re in a 1×1 rib, knit the first stitch with the new color (or purl if the last stitch in the old color was a knit). If you’re in a 2×2 rib, knit or purl the first two stitches, depending on the sequence.
  5. Weave in Ends: As you knit or purl the first few stitches with the new color, hold the tail of the old color along the back of the work. Knit or purl over the old color yarn for a few stitches to secure it in place. Weave in both ends later.
  6. Continue Ribbing: Knit to the end of the row in the ribbing sequence with the new color, maintaining the pattern.

Changing Color in 2×2 Rib Stitch:

The process is similar, but in a 2×2 rib, you’ll be coordinating the color change with two stitches at a time.

  1. Finish the Last Stitches in the Old Color: Complete the last two stitches of the row using the old color, considering the rib sequence.
  2. Turn Your Work: Turn your work as you normally would when starting a new row.
  3. Change Colors: Hold the new color yarn in your right hand, leaving a tail of about 6 inches. If you were knitting with the yarn in your left hand, switch to the right hand for the new color.
  4. Start Ribbing with the New Color: Begin the new row by following the 2×2 ribbing sequence. Knit or purl the first two stitches with the new color.
  5. Weave in Ends: As you knit or purl the first few stitches with the new color, hold the tail of the old color along the back of the work. Knit or purl over the old color yarn for a few stitches to secure it in place. Weave in both ends later.
  6. Continue Ribbing: Complete the row in the 2×2 ribbing sequence with the new color, maintaining the pattern.

By coordinating the color change with the ribbing sequence, you’ll create a smooth transition without disrupting the established pattern.

Practice on a small swatch to become comfortable with changing colors in rib stitch. 

Learn how to knit the rib stitch here – How To Knit Rib Stitch Patterns (1×1 and 2×2 ribbing)

How do you alternate row colors in knitting?    

Alternating row colors in knitting can create stripes or a patterned effect in your project.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to alternate row colors:

  1. Finish the Last Stitch of the Current Row: Complete the last stitch of the current row using the old color.
  2. Turn Your Work: Turn your work as you normally would when starting a new row.
  3. Pick Up the New Color: Hold the new color yarn in your right hand, leaving a tail of about 6 inches. If you were knitting with the yarn in your left hand, switch to the right hand for the new color.
  4. Start Knitting with the New Color: Begin the new row by knitting the first stitch with the new color.
  5. Weave in Ends: As you knit the first few stitches with the new color, hold the tail of the old color along the back of the work. Knit over the old color yarn for a few stitches to secure it in place. Weave in both ends later.
  6. Continue in the New Color: Complete the row with the new color, knitting as usual.
  7. Change Color Again on the Next Row: Repeat the process when you reach the end of the current row. Finish the last stitch with the current color, turn your work, and start the next row with the alternating color.
  8. Maintain Consistent Tension: To ensure even stripes, maintain consistent tension and avoid pulling the yarn too tightly. This helps prevent puckering or distortion in the fabric.
  9. Weave in Ends: Weave in the ends of both the old and new color yarns later to secure them.

By consistently changing colors at the end of each row, you create alternating rows of colors, resulting in stripes or a patterned design.

You can experiment with different color combinations, widths of stripes, or stitch patterns to achieve various effects in your knitting project.  

Knitting Lessons

If you are a new knitter and need help with the knitting basics, check out the knitting lessons here – Knitting Lessons (With Video Tutorials).

There, you will find step-by-step tutorials for all the knitting techniques a newbie needs to know. 

Including how to cast on, how to knit the knit stitch, the stockinette stitch, the rib stitch, the garter stitch, a list of knitting abbreviations, and more. 

And if you need more video tutorials, check out my YouTube channel here Handy Little Me – YouTube. 

Happy Knitting!

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