Knitting Colorwork: Managing Your Yarns

Donna Druchunas is passionate about the textile traditions of Lithuania. An authority on Lithuanian knitting, she shares her expertise on knitting colorwork for socks and sock construction in her PieceWork video Knitting Lithuanian Socks.

Managing your yarns is one of the trickiest parts of knitting stranded colorwork. You have several options when it comes to how you hold your yarn; there is no one “right way.” Some will knit with both yarns in one hand or one in each hand. Knitting the way that is most comfortable for you will ultimately make for a much more enjoyable experience.

One yarn in each hand

One yarn in each hand

Most stranded colorwork is knit with two colors in a row. Donna Druchunas prefers to hold one yarn in each hand as she knits. She holds the dominant color in her left hand because she is a Continental knitter. The contrasting color is held in her right hand.

Pickup third color

Pickup third color

Some Lithuanian socks have a third color. There are a few ways to manage the third color. Some will hold one yarn in one hand and two in the other. Donna prefers to only hold one at a time. She holds the dominant color in her left hand, and then she knits with the other two colors in her right hand picking up whichever one is needed and dropping the other. She also will often use duplicate stitch for the third accent color rather than strand it.

Using a yarn guide

Using a yarn guide

A handy tool Donna recommends for managing stranded colorwork when knitting with more than two yarns is a yarn guide. This inexpensive tool will help you hold up to four strands on one finger and allow you to pick which color to knit.

Difference in knitting when yarns are held in different hands

Difference in knitting when yarns are held in different hands

Donna’s most important tip is to remember to be consistent. No matter which method of managing your yarns that you use, use that method throughout the entire project. Switching the yarn between hands or changing methods will result in knitting that has a different look. Here, changing methods of holding the yarn caused one mitten to look different than the other; notice how the green yarn is more dominant in the left mitten versus the right.

With practice, managing your yarns for stranded colorwork will become second nature. Try out different methods for holding your yarn to see what is most comfortable and gives you the most even tension for beautiful colorwork socks and more. Thanks to Donna for sharing her tips and her love of Lithuania in Knitting Lithuanian Socks!

Happy knitting!
Elizabeth