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How To Change Colors in Knitting: Making Stripes

Liat Gat - Founder

January 19, 2011

Making stripes in knitting is as easy as starting to knit with the new yarn. I show you how, plus tips like how to twist the yarn up the sides of your work so you don't have to cut it, and how to make stripes on ribbing without an ugly purl-bump row.

Lolcat tiger stripes
It’s almost this easy! Changing colors to make a striped scarf or hat is as easy as falling off a log.

This is the same technique you should use when you run out of yarn and need to switch to another ball.

To Change Colors, Start Knitting With The New Yarn

When you get to the end of your row, start knitting with the new yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail hanging down for weaving in later. It’ll all become clear when you watch the video.

KnitFreedom - How To Join a New Ball of Yarn/Change Colors in Knitting/Make Stripes
KnitFreedom - How To Join a New Ball of Yarn/Change Colors in Knitting/Make Stripes

Twist Your Yarn So You Don’t Have To Cut It

Happy Stripes Guy
Stripes… Ur Doin’ It Rite

If you are making thin stripes (six rows or fewer), don’t cut your yarn!

Instead, twist the unused color up the side of your knitting every two rows, like I show in the video below.

You can use this technique on the delicious Classic Washcloth by Clara Parkes, or an unevenly striped sweater like the Poppy by Lisa Mason.

Other classic striped projects to try:

Here’s how to bring your yarn with you unobtrusively so you can change colors without having to cut your yarn or weave in ends:

Twisting Yarn up the Sides of your Knitting - Making Stripes
Twisting Yarn up the Sides of your Knitting - Making Stripes

Knit A Plain Round Before You Switch Colors in Ribbing

Colored Purl BumpsRebecca, one of the KnitFreedom Forum’s knitting angels, asked a great question this morning about adding stripes on a ribbed project, like a hat.

She was worried that the tell-tale two-color bumps would show on the purl stitches and look awful.

An easy solution to the problem is to work a knit row all the way around right when you start the new color.

Worried that it will look funny? Try it for yourself and see.

Rebecca says, “It doesn’t look bad at all! It looks great. You really can’t tell that you knitted on the purl stitches, and it transitions beautifully. I made sure to knit that round a bit on the loose side, and it still stretches very nicely.”

How to Switch Colors on Garter Stitch

If you are creating a striped garter-stitch scarf, only change colors when the pretty side is facing you. The wrong side will contain the color-change rows (like the photo above) and the right side will just switch invisibly to the new color.
So there you have three tips for how to change colors in knitting and make stripes. Now go forth and stripe!

If you liked this tutorial on how to change colors in knitting, post in the comments!

See also: How to Count Rows on Garter Stitch

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