AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary – Andrea Rangel’s Tips for Better Colorwork
The energy around Andrea Rangel’s new book AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary is palpable. We’re all a buzz in the office (Meghan Babin has declared her love publicly and we’re already seeing tons of posts tagged #alterknitstitchdictionary popping up online. YAY!), and cannot get enough of gazing at these stitch patterns. Holy inspiration.
When you get your hands on a copy, I think you’ll immediately see why everyone is so excited. Andrea has packed this book with amazing content! (So much, in fact, that we added 4 extra pages in the last days of production. We didn’t want to cut a word! So, instead of the standard 160 pages, you’ll notice it’s 164.)
You might be thinking colorwork isn’t really your thing, though. Perhaps you’ve never really caught on to how to read the charts, or you’ve struggled with gauge and color dominance. Never fear—Andrea has you covered. Here are some of her tips for better colorwork:
If You Struggle to Keep Your Place
Keep losing your place in the chart? There are lots of handy tools to help with that!
• Highlighter tape. It’s clear, so you can see where you’re at, but also where you’ve been. Pro tip: Fold over the end of your tape so you can easily remove it when you’re ready to move up to the next row.
• Clear ruler. Works the same way as highlighter tape, but doesn’t stick put.
• Knitting Chart Keeper. Made by Knit Picks; it comes with magnetic strips to mark where you’re at on the chart.
• Sticky Note. Great for staying put and showing where you’re at.
• Row counter. If you don’t want things on your chart or you’re using a computer, tablet, or phone to follow your pattern, just use one of those clicky counters.
• E-reader. If you’re using an electronic device with a PDF reading app that allows you to mark up your file, just draw a straight line on your document and move it up every time you complete a row.
• Getting into a rhythm. Try tracking your color changes by counting the number of stitches in each color. Many of us can keep a few numbers in our head at a time (remember when we used to memorize phone numbers?), and this rhythm will help you keep your place during the round.
If You Have Bunchy Fabric
Are you unsatisfied with your fabric? Is it all bunchy and uneven? Maintaining tension while working with two colors does take practice, but there are a few strategies you can employ to improve your fabric.
• Regularly pause and spread out the stitches you just worked.
• Swatch using different techniques to see which one works best for the project you’re working on.
• Try a different yarn. Some yarns are just not forgiving of uneven tension and may not be worth it if you’re struggling.
• Block your work before you judge it!
• You can manually manipulate unruly stitches. Inspect your fabric for particularly loose or tight stitches; sometimes the first stitch after a color change will be a little funky, but you can use a pointy knitting needle to tug on the legs of those funky stitches, drawing more yarn from neighboring stitches into tight stitches and giving some slack from loose stitches to the stitches nearby.
If You Feel as If Your Yarn Is Unmanageable
Are you getting all tangled up in your yarn? Here’s how to make your yarn behave.
• Keep a ball of yarn in its own spot. I always set my dominant yarn down on my left side and the nondominant one on my right. Yarn bowls can be handy for this, too—just use two instead of one! Or if you’re wearing a frock with giant pockets, as I love to do, use them in the same way—one ball of yarn in each pocket. And don’t let yarns get tangled at all. If they get wrapped around each other even a tiny bit, pause to unwrap them immediately to avoid frustration later. It never gets better without intervention, but it can easily get much, much worse.
If You Have Poor Stitch Definition
Are you having trouble making out your color pattern? The design just isn’t showing up very well?
• Your colors may not have strong enough contrast to work with the color pattern. Even if the hues are different (such blue and yellow), the value (relative lightness or darkness) of the colors may be too similar to create a contrast, which could make your work look muddy or unclear.
• Consider color dominance. Be sure you’re always holding the same color dominant; if you stitch every row now and again, the pattern won’t show up as well.
You’ll find even more the handy tips and techniques in AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary. And they’re just a few of the reasons we’re all head over heels for AlterKnits! You’ll also find detailed information on color(work) theory, managing floats, illustrations and instruction on how to hold your 2 yarns (whether you work English, Continental, or hold yarns in both hands), and more. Not to mention the 200 stitch motifs and projects!
Grab a copy for yourself today; you really don’t want to miss this one.
Editorial Director, Books
Break the rules. Knit outside the lines and take an unexpected look at colorwork!