Video Tip: Managing Yarns When Doing Colorwork

Colorwork patterns–such as the gorgeous Poetry Mittens we put into the online store on Wednesday (see below)–are some of the most beautiful knitting on the planet. But they can also seem quite daunting, since they involve working with more than one yarn at a time.

But learning to work with two or more colors of yarn is just the same as learning any other knitting technique: It's really quite easy once you see it done!

Today we have color expert (and Interweave Knits editor!) Eunny Jang with a video that shows you exactly which yarn goes where, and how to knit both stranded and intarsia patterns with ease.


If you have trouble watching the video above, click here to view it.

This video is an excerpt from Episode 203 of Knitting Daily TV Series 200, "Crazy for Colorwork." In this episode, Eunny and the hosts of KDTV give us tips, tricks and techniques for no-stress knitting in color! (Watch the video carefully and in addition to Eunny, you might see another familiar face on screen. Yep, that's me, doing the opening interview.)

Purchase the all-new Series 200 Knitting Daily TV DVD.

Find out where Knitting Daily TV is being shown in your area.

Want the pattern for the mittens Eunny was knitting in the video? Download the free pattern for the White Witch Mitts!


What's a poetry mitten?

In the January/February 2008 issue of PieceWork magazine, Veronica Patterson told us about a fascinating knitting tradition in early America: Women would choose a favorite poem, and knit the text into their mittens. There are several examples of these charming mittens in the Smithsonian, and so Veronica and Jane Fournier decided to knit up a modern version for the PieceWork audience. That mitten pattern made that issue one of our most popular back-issues ever.

That's when we decided to have the poetry contest, so we could have a pattern inspired by YOU. The winning poem–by Angela Lane of Vidalia, Georgia–has been knit into a new set of poetry mittens, with a poem to warm any knitter's heart.

The newly updated pattern PDF contains the full instructions and charts for the 2008 PieceWork mittens, as well as an all-new chart for Anglea's winning poem-knit-into-mittens. We've also included Veronica's article on the history (and the mystery!) of poetry mittens, plus photos of everything because photos are the best part!

Purchase the Poetry Mitten pattern in our online store.

New Free Pattern:
Norwegian Gloves by Nancy Bush

A little lace, a little colorwork…and ten fingers later you have warm, pretty gloves on a snowy day! The patterning in these gloves is based on that of a pair found in the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. And best of all, the pattern is free!

Download Nancy Bush's Norwegian Glove Pattern


Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? I've been finishing up things this week–seaming sweaters that had long languished in my knitting closet, for one thing–and now I have to decide: do I start the Central Park Hoodie my sister asked for, work on baby gifts for all the new members of my family, or start another lace shawl that is a gift for (shhh) someone else? Choices, choices. 


Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Knitting Daily Blog

20 thoughts on “Video Tip: Managing Yarns When Doing Colorwork

  1. This video segment was great! I have had the first video collection on my wish list for a while, and seeing the clip only made me want them more!

    I have used the intarsia method before, but haven’t tried fairisle. It was very useful to see how she manipulated the stiches (and I’m a thrower, so seeing both techniques was very handy).

  2. Hi Sandi,
    OK, now that you’re in Ontario, where do you watch Knitting Daily?
    I can’t find it – I’m here in the GTA (Mississauga) Ontario, saying hey 😀 and Welcome – it’s nice to have a voice from Ontario 🙂
    The Knitting Daily show finder won’t accept the alpha characters that are in our potal code… and doesn’t list any of the provinces either…
    Now that you’re one of us ^.^ – can you fix that?
    Keep up the GREAT work !!!
    Love Knitting Daily 🙂
    And, it’s even better now that you’re here with us in this wonderful winterland 😀
    Betty BJ here in Ontario

  3. Oh, it’s me again…
    Is there a deal (discount, freebie, promotion) for purchasing both Knitting Daily TV Series (100 and 200) DVD’s?
    If not, can we have one 😀
    Pretty Please… (Loved the 2-for deal on the Style books… bought it even tho I already had the freebie book – it will make a great gift… – hint, hint, about deals… ^.^ )
    Take care, Betty BJ


  5. I enjoyed watching the video Managing Yarns . I haven’t worked several yarns in a long time and I think I will give it a practice try once again. I loved the Norwegian Mitten Pattern . Thank you for peaking my interest in colors. Once again great job form knittingdaily. Kym

  6. When I think about how this web site is supposed to replace the original “Interweave Knits” website it makes me sad. Mostly what I see here is you trying to sell patterns, etc. Of course there are the “free” patterns – which never change. Oh, yes there are the gloves and the socks with sometimes a whole top of some kind thrown in. I’ve tried and tried to find the best qualities but none of it compares to Berrocco’s web site. I’m ready to deactivate myself from this one. I wish you well, I know that there are nothing but good intentions here.

    I love “interweave Knits” It is the only knitting mag that I subscribe to on a regular basis and I surely will continue with to do so.
    Good luck to you all.
    Monica in NC

  7. Wow Monica that was a tad acerbic and completely unnecessary. As with anything in life “you can’t please everyone” and as I recall “there is no free lunch”. But since we are airing our opinions, hear mine. I consider Berrocco a site to help with the Christmas baazar down at the church and Knitting Daily a site to intice artistry and passion. So maybe for those that need a “quick and dirty” fix of knotted yarn to drape here and there, it suits a purpose. I have on occasion enjoyed the overuse of asymmetry, but it doesn’t replace learning, knowlege and appretinceship. So enjoy your Berrocco while we enjoy FIT ,ARTISTRY and PASSION!!

  8. CHILDREN…stop your bickering. As to the original topic (two or more colored knitting) I am a picker and I just hold two strands of yarn under tension and then pick whichever color I need. It does take a bit of practice to keep the yarn flowing evenly, but when you get the hang of it, it is pretty speedy. Mary, bobbins are still a choice, and that is kind of what the little yarn wraps are. Using the wraps means you never have to hunt for bobbins…

  9. FIVE STARS for a great video, well demonstrated, and well spoken.

    I was hoping for further elaboration on the INTERLOCKING of colors. I actually thought that was the next sentence to be spoken on the video, and then before I knew it, the video was over. So sad.

    As for changing color, I think I have it, and lo and behold I don’t have it. I try to add a new color going UNDER the formerly used color, it seems to work but NOT all the time. So, am I not always doing this the same way? Or, am I not changing colors as I think I should be changing them.
    I am asking for Fair Isle and also Intarsia. Also, doing Argyle patterns, what method is used for that?
    Wow, a lot of questions, and I hope I can ask here.

  10. Argyle is worked using Intarsia methods. I have had pretty good luck always picking up the new color from under the old color, not alternating below and above like Eunny demonstrated. Of course you have to stop and unwind fairly often if working in the round. If working back and forth, the yarns will work themselves out on the return (purl) row, more or less. For intarsia, make sure the new color is looped around the the old color. Wish I could draw a picture, it would show what I mean so much better. The yarns look kind of like the fingers do when you “pinkie swear”.

  11. I have tried and failed in the past to keep my tension even when knitting fairisle. I’ve since then been afraid of colourwork and sit and watch from the sidelines, doing my own single colour thing (and improving that with the help of knitting daily – thanks!) while others produce gorgeous colourwork. May be 2009 will be my year to retry colour and be fearless?? Thank you for the video clip. Whilst it is not the whole picture (tight tension is my biggest failure in colourwork) it has inspired me to think about getting out of my safety zone.

  12. It really makes me appreciate what a wonderful knitter my Mum must have been to have knitted me a fairisle sweater in thirteen different colours in what must have been the equivalent of 3 ply yarn way back in the early 1950’s. The video has inspired me to pick up several shades of my handspun yarn and see what I can do with it using the Norwegian glove pattern.

    I so look forward to the daily doses of knitting from you as we have nothing comparable here in the UK as far as I’m aware. Many and sincere thanks.

  13. Sandi, I catch up on all the knitting news daily and thank you for the wonderful help and inspiration that you give. Here’s all little for you. You had mentioned that you were on a weight loss plan and, from the current picture, it looks as if you have been very successful. I have been in the weight loss battle all of my life and recently lost 60 pounds that I have kept off for a year all. I KNOW how hard it is and wanted you to know that you look great. Keep it up, both the wonderful knitting info and the weight loss.

  14. Intarsia and stranded two-color knitting have different strategies for where the yarn is taken from. This wasn’t really clear enough in the short video we have here. In stranded knitting, it is important to take one color from above and the other from below. This gives even tension for each color (individually), as the color taken from above has a slightly different tension than the color taken from below.

    For intarsia, it is a good rule to always pick up the new color from below, so that the join between colors is nice and even.

    I was a little disappointed that Eunny implied that you should hold only one color at a time if you want to always hold the yarn in the same hand. Here in Norway, the usual way to knit with two colors is to hold both in the left hand at once, and pick whichever color is needed. To keep one color above the other, you can put your middle finger between the two yarns to keep them from exchanging places. When I started knitting with two colors, I did it like Eunny Jang shows it, and my Norwegian friends just laughed, and showed me how they did it.

  15. Yesterday when I was going thru some old craft magazines and came across the original Poetry Mittens article in Piecework November/December 1995 – some 13 years before your reference in the e-mail! I subscribed for some years in the early days – certainly am going to be looking for the current Jan/Feb knitting issue.

  16. I just LOVE Knitting Daily and have learned a lot. The only thing I would ask is if when Eunny demonstrates on these videos, if she would p l e a s e do the work in S~L~O~W motion for those of us that are new at knitting. I love to watch her knit, she makes it look so easy, but I can’t see/follow what exactly she is doing when she does the steps to all her demonstrations.
    Thanks for considering and Happy New Year to all of you!!

  17. Excellent presentation. Yes, it could be done a bit slower, but it was very helpful all in all. Personally, I use bobbins at the back of my work. I also use one color in one hand and another in the other. Watch the tension and check the gauge from time to time. It does pull in a bit.