Colorwork Tips from Ella Austin

To a beginner knitter, colorwork can seem like a challenging task. Luckily, we have the highly talented Ella Austin, author of Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting, here to demystify the technique and give you her top tips to know before you get started. — Nadine Matthews

Over to you, Ella.

Ella Austin tips

Thank you for having me! Here are five things to know before you get started:

1. Don’t feel daunted by colorwork.

Colorwork techniques are easier to work than they first appear. Knitted colorwork patterns look complicated and impressive but are actually deceptively simple to learn.

2. Don’t worry too much about how you are holding your yarn and needles.

When learning how to knit colorwork, sometimes you come across advice on ‘yarn management,’ and it can sound stressful. The important things are that you are comfortable and you are happy with your knitted fabric. It also helps to untangle any knots or tangles as you work!

3. Try to keep an even tension.

This is especially important for stranded colorwork where most knitters have a tendency to knit tighter than they usually would. Keep your ‘floats’ loose enough for your knitted fabric to stretch. One of my favourite colorwork tips is to knit stranded colorwork inside out—this is a tip covered in the book.

4. It’s worth visiting your local yarn store to select your yarns.

Choosing colors to use together from a website can be tricky; it’s much easier when you can see the yarn in real life. Color cards can help, but visiting a yarn store is better both for inspiration and comparing yarn choices.

5. If you want your pattern to stand out, focus on the ‘value’ of your colour choices (how light or dark the colors are).

This is especially important for stranded colorwork and some slipped stitch patterns. Two very different colors of yarn can blend together a surprising amount in your knitted fabric. A high contrast in value will help the eye to pick out the pattern.

Ella Austin tips

Bonus Tip! Don’t be put off by color fails.

Sometimes colors that look beautiful next to each other in the ball or skein just don’t work when knitted up together in a pattern. Just keep refining your color choices until it looks right. This is where swatching can be a lot of fun!

There we go! And just like that colorwork knitting doesn’t seem like such a stretch. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to get out my needles and get going.

You can find 16 gorgeous colorwork projects including blankets, socks, bunting, and more in Ella’s new book, Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting.

—Ella Austin

Start a new colowork project today!

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