You’re knitting intarsia, stranded or fair isle colorwork and you notice that your fabric looks a little funny. Maybe some stitches seem tight while other are loose or the fabric appears puckered in places instead of laying flat. The bad news is that you probably have a problem with your tension. The good news
You’re knitting intarsia, stranded or fair isle colorwork and you notice that your fabric looks a little funny. Maybe some stitches seem tight while other are loose or the fabric appears puckered in places instead of laying flat. The bad news is that you probably have a problem with your tension. The good news is that we can solve it! Here are some easy tips to improve the looks of your colorwork:
Change Your Needle Size
Sometimes the only problem is that you are working with the wrong sized needles. This happened to me. I took a class on stranded colorwork, and despite following all the instructions, my stitches looked uneven at the points where the colors changed. The teacher kindly suggested I drop a needle size, and from that point on my work looked just as good as all the other students. Sometimes changing your gauge is all it takes.
Whether you are using stranded or fair isle, you’ll have floats on the wrong side of the work. It is vital that you keep them nice and even. Pulling the floats too tight will cause unattractive puckering on the right side of the work. Unfortunately, these puckers will not dissipate as you continue to knit. Instead they will only become more pronounced. The key is to bring up the working yarn at each color change without pulling it taut. Knit one stitch in the new color, then check the float to make certain it has enough slack to comfortably reach across the stitches worked in the previous color. If the float is too tight, loosen it a bit before moving on the next stitch.
Of course if you are doing intarsia, there won’t be long floats carried across the wrong side of the work. Instead you’ll primarily be twisting the yarns in the same manner as stranded colorwork. (Fair isle knitting does not require twisting the yarns in the back.) However, pulling too tight will still cause unwanted puckers. Take care to give the working yarn the right degree of tension and keep your stitches even when changing colors.
Don’t Skip the Blocking
I’ve learned that colorwork, like lace knitting, doesn’t show its true beauty until it has been fully blocked. So not only is it essential that you block the finished project, it is also important that you also block your swatch. Blocking will go a long way toward evening out all the stitches and floats, but I’m afraid it can’t fix everything. If you have an underlying tension or gauge problem that cannot be addressed by blocking, you’d rather find out after finishing the swatch rather than the entire garment.
So give these tips a try. With the correct needles, relaxed floats, and some good blocking your colorwork will turn out smooth and even every time.