The Sawmill hat from Cosy Knits is a really good project if you are new to colourwork. The gauge is heavy enough that you’ll have the knitting done very quickly and the stitch pattern is not too complex and has enough repetition that you’ll be able to memorise it. There are a few skills that you’ll find useful for working on this hat and I’ve pulled together some tutorials that should help you out if you’re new to colourwork or circular knitting.
The first thing you need to think about when knitting a colourwork design is the colours. But interestingly ‘tone’ is far more important than the actual colours used! In the photo above I’ve taken out all the colour to create only a black and white image. This gives you information on colour tone, or how dark/light the colours are relative to each other. For colourwork to stand out you want contrast in the tone rather than the colour. In the photo you can see that the lightest colour is the background one. Then the single stripe of colour near the top is the middle tone and the first colourwork colour introduced is the darkest one.
If you are having difficulty figuring out the tones of your colours (the actual colour is very distracting!) why don’t you take a black and white picture and use this as your guide?
Stranded colourwork is primarily worked in the round. This is by far the easiest way of doing it. There are many different ways of holding the 2 colours; some drop and lift the different colours, others use colourwork rings but the most common and successful methods I’ve found is 2-handed colourwork. With this method you hold one colour in each hand. Ideally you want the dominant (or pattern) colour in your left hand and the background colour in your right hand.
You can see it in action in this video:
Working a hat in the round for the first time can be a little tricky. There are many different ways to knit a small circumference and it takes a bit of trial and error to find the method that is right for you!
The 2 methods I general use are:
This has got a big advantage because you never have to change the needle for the project. As a hat is a good bit bigger than a sleeve or sock though you generally need a 40″ / 100 cm long cord to make it comfortable.
The other method starts with a short circular needle which can be used until you begin decreasing for the crown. At this point the circular needle will become too long so you will need to move to double pointed needles.
If you want to try out Sawmill Hat you can find kits that include the book, yarn and extra goodies here.
One of the big reasons to add a fringe is that it saves weaving in half of your yarn tails! I located my fringes close to spots where there were tails and then I just pulled the yarn tail through into the fringe as I was anchoring it in place. This make the tail nice and secure and it adds a nice bit of bulk to your fringe.
You create the fringe by wrapping yarn around an object the width you want your fringe to be. Use a wider strip of cardboard (or anything will do..phone, gauge square, up to you) for a wide fringe and make it smaller for a narrow one.
The thickness of your fringe is determined by how much yarn you wrap around. If you wrap more it will be thicker and less will be thinner. Keep in mind how much yarn you have left when making this decision. If you have either an extra skein of yarn or if you have other yarn in a complementary colour then you can totally go to town on this!
If in doubt with this one you can opt to space them widely and then come back and add extra between them. I wanted to have them fairly closely spaced so I kept the fringe less thick so I’d have enough yarn.
For the blue/purple version of the shawl I had a small amount of all colours so I opted to combine the colours for a multi colour fringe. This meant that if I ran out of yarn it was easy to mix and match the colours. Sue did the option 2 colour and she had an extra skein of yarn. Because of this she has a thicker fringe and she kept each fringe section in a single colour.
You can see both fringes side-by-side here which might help with your decision!
I’ve done a video showing how I added my fringe – do be warned that it has KAL spoilers!!
Now what if you’ve decided that a fringe is not for you? The biggest task you’ll be faced with is the ends to weave in.
If you’ve made the decision before you start knitting then you can take advantage of that to weave the ends in as you work. I’ve done a tutorial on this method here.
If however you’ve made the decision at the end then that video doesn’t help much so I’ll give a few pointers that I use when weaving in.
To start with I weave in along the back of the work in the opposite direction that I was knitting.
You want to mimic the path of the stitch so that it is as invisible as possible.
“work the tails from a smile into the frown in row above, then follow that frown around down into the smile of the row below” which sounds like a great way of remembering it!
Here is a visual of that in action:
When you’ve done that for a few stitches then pull the tail down diagonally and cut it with a little left. It sometimes helps to open the very end out so that it’s less likely to pop out from your work. I sometimes wait until after a shawl is blocked to cut tails as I find aggressive blocking makes them very likely to come out again.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a pattern with Knitty so I’m extra excited about this one! Pistachio Saffron is my cosy, go-to autumn sweater. It’s got a wider relaxed neckline, an oversized, swingy shape and a little bit of colour interest with simple stripes. It’s the perfect sweater for trying out some new techniques and would make an excellent first sweater project. It’s knit at a fairly loose gauge in my Nua yarn which has a nice drape and softness due to the addition of Yak and Linen.
The sweater is knit from the top down with raglan shoulder shaping. I use a modified version of the raglan to ensure that neck, body and sleeve are all the right size especially as sizes get bigger. If you don’t do that you can end up with sleeves that are far too larger for bigger sizes! I’ve put a chart together that you can use with the pattern that gives the stitch count at every section for front/back/sleeves. I find this really useful as a check for myself along the way.
Most of the techniques used in the pattern are fairly standard; the two that are a little different I’ve detailed below. The first is the neck finishing and the second is working the stripes (ideally jogless!).
While the sweater is loose and flowing you still want to make sure that the neck holds it’s shape! It is knit from the top down but when the sweater was finished I went back to work the neck.
It starts by picking up stitches all around the neck opening with the contrasting yarn. I usually begin at the centre of the back as that way any joins will be hidden at the back. Now I knit 3 rounds.
Once this is done I switch to a smaller needle size and knit another 3 rounds. The reason to change to the smaller needle size is due to the way the neck will fold. You are going to fold the neck inside so you want the inside ‘layer’ to be smaller than the outer one.
When all the knitting is finished you now want to cast-off. This is a special cast-off that also joins the fold of the neck edging.
If you take a look inside your work you’ll see very clearly the bright green ‘loop’s from where you picked up your edge stitches. You will use these to fold and join the neck edging.
Now with your right needle, pick up a loop of the contrasting color 6 rows below next stitch on left needle.
Slip the picked-up stitch to left needle and knit it together with the following stitch on the needle.
Pick up loop 6 rows below next stitch and knit together with following stitch on left needle.
Lift the second loop on the RH needle over the first to bind off one stitch.
Repeat steps 3-4 until all stitches have been bound off.
So you can see with each step what you are doing is picking up that loop from the cast-on row (easy to spot as it’s colour coded with a different colour!) putting it on the left needle and knitting the loop with the next stitch. From there you are just working your bind-off as a standard bind-off.
This sweater has narrow stripes worked every 12 rounds. It’s important when working stripes to put the start of your stripe somewhere unobtrusive. The start of the round is at the left front shoulder which doesn’t work for the start of the new colour (I tried and it was awful!) so I start the new colour at the centre of the back. I’m not the greatest in avoiding the ‘jog’ you get with a colour stripe in circular knitting but there were a couple of things I did that helped.
When the stripe is just 2 rounds there’s no need to break the main colour for the stripe. However this did cause me problems when I wasn’t careful. When you pick the main colour up afterwards you will try to pull it snuggly. You need to avoid this at all costs as it create a distorted stitch. In fact I’ve suggested wrapping the yarn an extra time for the first stitch to make sure you have some slack in the yarn.
The method I use for a jogless join is this; First I knit a single round in the new colour, then when you start the next round you lift the first stitch of the round below (it will be in the old colour), place it on the left needle and knit it together with the new colour.
The combination of these 2 methods should help even out the jogs from the stripes and if they don’t you can always just embrace the jog as a design feature!
Helping Hand or Knit-curious?
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We have easy step by step guides/video tutorials on everything from casting on, bind off, short rows, cables and more. As is Carol's style, everything is ready for you in bite sized videos of ten minutes or less so that you can make the most of the time you have available. So what are you waiting for? Let's dive in now:
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