Learn to Knit Stripes

After you've knit a few projects using a solid color or a multicolored yarn, you're going to want to learn to knit stripes. Stripes are an easy way to add color (obviously) to your knitting and to make it a little more fun to knit and playful to wear. And it's actually super easy to add stripes to any knitting project, even if the original was knit in a solid color. Be bold!

A Note about Gauge

The simplest way to start knitting stripes is to choose yarns from of the same make (all Berroco Comfort, for example), because you'll be assured that a stripe you knit in Navy Blue will be the same gauge as a stripe you knit in Turquoise.

As you build up your stash and start wanting to knit with odd balls and leftovers, though, you will probably want to combine yarns that aren't the same in the same project. That's OK, too, but be aware that there may be variations in gauge between different yarns of the same weight (combining Comfort and, say, Cascade 220 in the same project).

This can make a difference if you're knitting something that needs to fit or if the difference in gauge is vast. Usually you can make stash busting projects like blankets, scarves, socks and even hats with a variety of yarns of the same gauge and they come out looking fine.

You'll be less successful if you want to combine yarns of different weights in the same project, unless the variation in widths is what you're going for. You could also increase or decrease stitches as needed to keep the width consistent, or use lighter-weight yarns held together to make the stripes more consistent.

Where to Start Your Knitted Stripe

The main thing you need to know when contemplating knitting in stripes is where to change colors. Remember to always change colors at the end of a row so that your stripes will be crisp and even -- unless the random look is what you are going for, but then your stripes will not read as solid.

Changing Yarn

When you get to the end of one stripe and are ready to start the next color, cut the yarn of the original color, leaving a few inches of tail. This will be woven into the work later.

To add the new color, leave a few inches of tail, hold it tight as you would hold the yarn to begin a regular row, and begin knitting. If you find this very awkward, try holding the tail of the other yarn along with the new yarn as you make the first stitch, being careful to only make the loop with the new color.

Tying up Loose Ends

If you're worried about having loose tails on the side of your work as you knit, you can loosely tie the two tails to each other as you work. This might make it easier for you to make the first stitch in the new color. Just remember to untie the tails before you weave in the strands, or your colors will get mixed up. Also make sure you leave generous lengths of yarn each time you change colors, which will make it a lot easier to weave them in later.

Finishing Your Knitted Stripe Project

When you've finished knitting, you will be left with a bunch of tails on one side of your work from all the times you cut the yarn to change colors. All of these will need to be woven into the work before it is finished.

Make sure you weave the tail into the stripe of the same color, so the stripes will stay distinct.

Carrying the Yarn

One alternative to having all those tails if you're working narrow stripes is to carry the color you're not working with up the side of the project as you go. When you end one stripe, leave the ball attached and just start knitting with the next color.

The next time you get to that side, pick up the old color, wrap the yarn you're working with around it and go on knitting. This will secure the yarn to the side of the project and move it up to where you'll need it next. If you look closely you'll be able to see the yarn moving up the side of the work, but it sure beats weaving in a million ends.