Today’s Knitting Bucket List Challenge comes courtesy of Victoria. She wrote, “I want to learn how to knit those beautiful Scandinavian mittens. The color work and needles intimidate me.”
Oh, Victoria! I feel you, deeply. I have always wanted to learn how to knit some of that gorgeous colorwork myself, and like you I’ve always felt intimidated by it! I have done stranded knitting twice in my knitting life. The first time, it was…okay. It didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, although my intended recipient was happy with it. The second time, it turned out much better — probably at least because the project was a lot smaller!
I think the best way to tackle this particular challenge would be to look at some tutorials first, and then find some reasonably simple patterns to test our skills. If you’re ready, Victoria — and anyone else who wants to learn — let’s dive in!
Stranded Colorwork Tutorials
Two-Handed Stranded Colorwork Tutorial: I love the way Carolyn Kern breaks down the techniques and tips of stranded colorwork. Her suggestions for using two hands (one for each color) and how to “trap” yarn are ingenious.
Fair Isle or Stranded Knitting Tutorial: This is a Knit Picks tutorial that offers both a video tutorial and a series of photos with descriptive text. If you don’t quite understand one, you can look at the other for help. I also like that Knit Picks offers a few different options for holding the yarn.
Fair Isle/Stranded Knitting: I like this tutorial because the photos are huge and, thus, easier to see how your knitting is supposed to look. I also like that it offers a chart that you can follow along with to make a swatch, if you’d like to try the technique without the pressure of producing a finished product.
Colorwork: Stranded Basics: This is a Berroco Knit Bits video tutorial that is extremely simple. The tutorial demonstrates knitting flat and how you can add yarns, pick up yarns, and float them. She uses a large, chunky yarn, so it’s very easy to see what she’s doing. This is a great first-steps sort of video that can be used as a springboard for more complicated colorwork.
KNITFreedom Fair Isle Tutorial – How to Knit with 2 Colors: I love Liat Gat’s video tutorials; her video work is always excellent, and she has a nice, calm way of explaining her methods. This video demonstrates multiple ways of holding yarn when changing colors.
Getting Started with Stranded Knitting: I like this tutorial because its focus extends beyond how to hold your yarn. This mentions other aspects, like keeping your yarn tidy and maintaining consistency while switching colors. It also contains links to further tutorials as well as other resources. It’s a great one-stop shop.
Beginning Stranded Knitting Patterns
Knitted Bauble Covers: This adorable “bauble cozy” pattern includes variations for plain, striped, and hearts, the last of which requires stranded knitting. It’s a great way to get your fingers flying in colorwork!
Snowflake Baby Preemie Hat: An adorable, tiny hat adorned with snowflakes. This makes great stranded knitting practice, and you can donate the results to charity!
Roll Brim Baby Hat: Practice stranded knitting on a slightly larger hat, with hearts, chicks, pumpkins, or trees.
Golden Pear Hat: Another sweet baby hat pattern; I like this one because it can be completely gender-neutral.
Aarne the Owl mittens: These adorable mittens are child-sized, so they’re a great way to practice stranded knitting. Scroll to just past the first set of photos and click “Get the instructions for Aarne the owl mittens from here” to access the pattern. (English instructions are on the lower half of the first page.)
Dreamin’ Again: Once you’ve tried the patterns above, this collection of patterns – a hat, a neck warmer, and mittens – is a wonderful way to fulfill your dreams of Scandinavian knitting!
You know, after checking into these tutorials and looking at these patterns, even I feel a bit bolder about stranded knitting. I hope you feel the same way, Victoria, as well as anyone else who has felt a bit timid about stranded knitting!