6 tips and tricks for flawless Fair Isle

Follow Rosee Woodland's expert advice to get great results from your stranded colourwork knitting.

Work neat corrugated ribbing
Published: October 16, 2019 at 5:18 pm
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Weave in as you go

Weave in your ends as you go or, if you’re working with a sticky, Shetland-style wool, leave cut ends about 10cm long at the end of rounds when joining in new colours. Use these later to duplicate-stitch any messy sections or mistakes.

Tidy up with duplicate stitching

Neat ribbing

If working corrugated ribbing, knit the entire first round in the main colour and then join in the contrast colour purl stitches in the second round. This will prevent a visible colour change on the first round of the purl stitches.

Work neat corrugated ribbing

Blocking is best

Always block stranded colourwork made with traditional yarns. This will really blend the colours together where they join and give a lovely finish. Be careful not to roll up too tightly if using the ‘Swiss roll’ method to squeeze out the water – this can flatten the fibres too much and take some of the bounce out of the fabric.

Block your stranded colourwork

Wood is good

Use wooden knitting needles instead of metal if you’re new to stranded colourwork. The wood will grip the stitches better than metal needles, stretching them out a little more to help you get even tension (thanks to Eunny Jang, former editor of Interweave Knits, for this tip).

Use wooden needles for more grip

Flip it around

It can be hard to control tension when working stranded colourwork in small circumferences (for example, the thumb of a mitten). To avoid pulling one colour more tightly than the other, turn your knitting inside out before you work (you’ll be knitting at the back rather than the front of the work facing you) – this will stretch the loops of unworked yarn more evenly across the wrong side of the work.

Work mitten thumbs inside out

Do the twist

If working stranded colourwork flat, take both yarns to the end of the row and twist the two colours together at the end – this gives the neatest finish, although you will probably still need a little duplicate stitching here and there.

Twist yarns at the end of rows


Rosee WoodlandTextile Designer

Rosee Woodland is a designer and freelance journalist. She lives in Bristol with her family and their Boston terrier, Ponyo. See specialises in knitting design and grading, and regularly teaches classes for A Yarn Story in Bath. She’s worked with leading brands in the craft industry including Rowan, Patons, Aurifil, Rico Design and Lewis & Irene. Her work has been featured in many magazines including The Knitter, Knit Now, Simply Knitting, Mollie Makes, Simply Sewing and Simply Crochet. When she’s not busy making she shares her wild swimming adventures at www.iswimlikeagirl.com.

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