Lopi Week: Tips for managing colorwork

There are two things that are most appealing about knitting Lopi sweaters—the fact that they’re mostly seamless (you have to seam or graft the underarm, usually) and they have some great colorwork patterns in the yokes. The trick with knitting colorwork yokes is making sure that your tension stays even, and that is partly achieved by making sure the floats, or strands of yarn that “float” along the wrong side of the work between color changes, are kept even and consistent. To do that, you want to catch the floats, using the working yarn, every so often. But what’s the best way to do that?

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There are a few ways you can catch floats, but this method is my preferred method. It comes from the Armenian knitting technique, and is easy to work once you get the hang of it.

Watch this short how-to video for the Armenian knitting method of catching a float that won’t cause your yarns to get twisted and tangled.

Please note that I am knitting with the main color in the right hand (English style), and the contrast color in my left hand (continental style)—but if you prefer to knit colorwork in just the English or continental style, the technique is the same.

When to ‘catch’ the float:

-On the sleeve cuff, in mittens and gloves or anywhere you might catch your fingers on a float I like to work this technique for anytime I carry a yarn float that spans more than 5 stitches.

-On the yoke of a sweater or a hat, or anywhere the float is unlikely to be caught on buttons, jewelry or fingers I will carry a float for up to 7 stitches without working a catch.

-When knitting for babies or children I will work the catch anytime the yarn is carried more than 2 stitches for babies and toddlers, 3 for older children.

If working several rows with long floats stacked over each other, avoid working the catch in the same place on each row. The catch will show through to the right side if they’re worked after the same number of stitches. For example: If the span of the float is 7 stitches, on the first row carry the float 3 stitches, work the catch on the 4th stitch and then carry the float for 3 more stitches. On the next row, carry the float 2 stitches, catch the on the 3rd, carry for 1 stitch, catch the 5th and carry for the last 2. That second catch isn’t strictly necessary but it will ensure that things lie nice and smooth on your finished garment.

Use this technique to knit projects with colorwork yoke patterns, such as Riddari by Védís Jónsdóttir for Ístex.

 

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