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Knitting Swaths of Rainbows: Colorwork

Swaths of rainbows, that’s what all of these new hats feel like to me. I’ve always admired the intricate color combinations and the contrasting delicate and bold beauty brought with adding colorwork to a knitted piece. The varying rainbows of color are endless.

This year, one of my New Year’s goals is to delve into the world of colorwork. I’ve knitted a few small kits gifted to me over the years, but I’ve never really explored all that it has to offer. Using the Anthology hat “recipe pattern” by TinCan Knits I have been investigating this intriguing technique and I am thoroughly hooked!

Three hats showing colorwork stacked on top of each other.  Top hat is golden yellow with dark blue and turquoise designs.  The middle hat is shades of brown ranging from medium to light with a splash of turquoise.  The bottom hat is charcoal grey with dark blue, turqouise and white designs.

As when trying any new technique I’ve run into a few challenges. However, these are more joyous obstacles to problem solve rather than insurmountable difficulties. The two most exciting “problems” are deciding what patterns to choose and what colors to use. There seems to be no end to the patterns available and the way they can be combined. The thing I keep in mind when choosing a pattern is how many stitches and row repeats the pattern contains. By doing a little basic math, I can figure out if it will fit within the number of stitches cast on and if it will fit within the desired number of rows. Adding color is my favorite part! Each color combination adds a new element to the design. It’s fun to play with different looks and types of yarn that will fit the personality of the wearer. For my first hat (top hat in the picture below), I choose to stick within a color family and add a neutral background. I thought an all-neutral look with a subtle pop of color would be most suitable for my husband’s tastes (middle hat in the picture below). While my son’s hat (bottom hat in picture below) has a bolder color background with stripes of colorwork. I also added a subtly variegated yarn to his hat which gives an interesting effect since it is constantly changing ever so slightly.

Three hats showing colorwork.  The top hat is charcoal grey with a dark blue, turqouise, and white design.  The middle hat is shades of brown rangning from medium brown to light brown with a splash of turquoise.  The bottom hat is golden yellow with bands of dark blue and turquoise colorwork.

I’ve discovered the most difficult parts of colorwork are keeping even tension and preventing my yarn from getting too tangled. The tension has improved with each hat and seems to be a matter of learning to float the yarn behind properly. The tangled yarn?...well, I’m still working on that. If I come across any amazing tips I’ll be sure to let you know.


I’m so excited to add colorwork to some of my designs this year! Please subscribe to my mailing list to be the first to know when new patterns are published, about monthly blog posts and discounts.

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