tension v. tangling :: a colorwork conundrum

The Deuce boy’s sweater, in progress

So the thing about colorwork is that, with the way I knit, I basically have a choice between wonky tension or tangled yarn.

If I knit with one color in each hand, which I like doing, my tension ends up on the tight side. Much tighter than the non-colorwork section. But if I hold both yarns in my left hand (I knit continental), the yarns get all tangled. I’ve tried one of those strickfingerhut things and had no real success with it.

For now I’m going to keep muddling along with two colors in one hand, stopping every few rounds to untangle. But it would sure be great to come up with a more efficient style. What are your tips for working with two colors or more?

12 thoughts on “tension v. tangling :: a colorwork conundrum

  1. I love the way those colors are looking!

    I knit with both in one hand — the trick for me is to always keep the same color in front (between middle/index; next color between middle/ring). That way they don’t get tangled at all and it has the added bonus of keeping the fore/back color intensity consistent. That said, I know a lot of people who go up a needle size or two in the colorwork section — have you tried that?

    • Oh that’s interesting – I hadn’t thought about keeping the two yarns between two different fingers. I will have to try that.

      I’ve tried going up a needle size in the past – totally didn’t think of that this time, but obviously should give that a go!! Thanks!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only person who has this issue! Now that y’all are mentioning going up needle sizes, I’m remembering that last winter, I swatched for the Plum Frost Cardigan (which I have yet to actually knit) and, according to my notes, I was getting gauge in stockinette on size 1s but was going up to size 6 for the colorwork. Crazy!!

  2. Until this year, I would drop and pick up, which is horribly inefficient. I taught myself to hold the yarn in both hands this spring and it’s been an absolute revelation!

    • I’ve done the drop and pick up thing in the past, and you are right – so inefficient! But it definitely prevents tangling. Glad you are enjoying knitting with both hands!

    • Thanks, Katrin. That’s the same device I have (the “strickenfingerhut” I mentioned), but I wasn’t successful with it in the past – felt so awkward. I should dig it out and give it another go!

  3. Like others have mentioned, going up a needle size or two, is a must for myself for color-work. I keep my yarn in my left hand, but throw the second color (right side) when doing color-work. To help me keep them from getting tangled I often keep a ball/skein on either side of my body. Of course this can get really messed up when trying to trap your floats!

  4. I put both yarns on the left, holding one in my fingers, and the other one hangs along the stitch line where I can pick the yarn.keep the dominant yarn on the bottom.

    • I put both yarns on the left since I am a picker rather than a thrower. I find that putting the yarn balls on opposite sides of where I am sitting works as well. I recently sat in on a free class at my LYS and they suggested always “stretching your needles apart” when changing colors. It only takes a second and helps with tensioning issues. Not sure if that last part makes sense but it really just involves pulling the needles a bit further apart – this tends to line everything up nicely and solves my tension issue.

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