The Daily Skein

All the craft that’s fit to make.

Counting Trick December 19, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 10:33 am
Tags: ,

This post was supposed to be up yesterday.  I had it almost finished, put my laptop to sleep, and went to bed myself Tuesday night.  Now, this strategy has worked very well in the past.  I wake up, proofread over breakfast, and post.  This time, the rough draft was gone when I woke up.  The darn laptop had restarted overnight and I have to start all over again.  And since yesterday involved more cleaning than a circus after-party (??) I didn’t get a chance to rewrite it.  So here it is.  Finally.

 

I hate counting rows in knitting.  Well, not quite as much as I used to, since now I can actually do it if I have to.  But I still strongly dislike it.  I have a number of row counters and always keep a post-it note handy to make hash marks in order to keep track of rows.  I imagine this is not uncommon.  But both of those solutions involve putting down one or both needles to count a row.  And I hate to have to do that if I’m working on a small project.  And why should I carry around a row counter when I only need it once or twice and the rest of the pattern I’m fine?

 

Well, if you’re like me and hate counting rows even though you can do it and you only need to count a few rows at a time, I have found a solution.  It’s not a life-changing epiphany or anything, but I think it’s rather clever.  And it doesn’t even involve putting the needles down.  Unless you drop something.

 

Say your pattern calls for you to knit five rows (or rounds.)

 

Knit the first row (or round), then place an extra stitch marker after the first stitch on the right side.  Ta da!  Now if you go to cook dinner, you’ll know that you’ve knit one row/round of the five because there’s one stitch between the marker and the tip of the needle.

 

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Knit the second row/round and move the marker to after the second stitch on the right side.  (This step is slightly easier to do in circular knitting, because you come to the marker before you come to the second stitch.  Knitting flat, it’s handy to have a locking marker for easy moving, or just slip the stitches back and forth on the needle.)  Isn’t this simple?  You can see you’ve knit two row/rounds when you stop to keep your dog from swallowing whatever that is.

 

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Knit the third row/round and move the marker to after the third stitch on the right side.  You’ve got the hang of this now, right?  Just keep going on like this, moving the marker with each row, until you don’t need to count anymore.

 

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Genius, right?

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Self-Striping Yarn Dyeing December 1, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 11:26 pm
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I’m fascinated by self-striping yarns, but I don’t like knitting straight stockinette stitch much.  I also rarely find a self-striping yarn that I like on the market.  I keep trying to get ahold of some Twisted Fiber yarn, specifically Angst in Kabaam, but I never get there before they sell out.  I just realized the other day that maybe I should sign up for their newsletter to avoid this problem in the future.  Anyway, I have no self-striping yarn or inclination to use it.

 

Except that I am going to be traveling and there’s something very handy about having a simple sock on the needles to keep the hands busy while chatting with people or just for therapy.  Of course, I’ll be bringing other projects because there’s no way I’m working on a “simple sock” on the 5-hour plane ride!  But I’ll need a project to work on during coffee trips with my dad and after dinner chats with my mom and maybe to work on while hanging out late at night with my sisters (bad lighting + after midnight = bad for charts).

 

I’m going to dye my own self-striping yarn.  And I’m going to show you how to do it too!

 

If you’ve never dyed your own yarn before, you’re missing out.  It’s not something I want to do all the time, but it’s fun occasionally and especially with some friends.   I like to use food coloring dying methods instead of chemical dyes because, well, it’s so much easier to clean up!  And cheap and easy to find the supplies.  I suggest reading up on the basic technique in these Knitty articles: Kool Aid Dyeing; Food Color Dyeing.  Kady and I have dyed together two different times.  The first time we both did the cold pour method.  The second time I did the hot pour and Kady stuck with the cold pour.  I dyed some Cascade Superwash with the dip-dye method by myself. All had pretty good results!  There’s a lot of set up to dye self-striping yarn, but the results are worth it.

 

Self-Striping Yarn Tutorial

Materials

  • Enough wool yarn to make your desired project, in this case 420 yards undyed superwash wool
  • Needles for project, in this case Size 1 (2.25mm) DPNs
  • Yardstick/ruler/tape measure
  • Space to wind a long skein of yarn
  • Light colored, smooth waste yarn to tie skein
  • Food coloring/Kool-Aid/chemical dyes
  • Vinegar
  • Pots, measuring spoons, stove

 

Swatch 1

First, as with any knitting, we have to swatch.  Pick your yarn, in this case Knit Picks Undyed Essential, and your needles, in this case Size 1 (2.25mm) and knit a swatch.  If you’ve knit a plain sock with this yarn/needles before, you can skip this swatch.  Figure out your stitches per inch (and rows, if you want).  Multiply your sts/inch by the circumference of your ankle or middle of your foot.  For me, that’s 8 x 9″ = 72 sts.  Socks have negative ease so that they cling, so take that number and multiply it by 0.9.  (That’s an easy way to subtract 10%.)  For me, that’s 72 x 0.9 = 64.8.  I’ll round that down to 64 stitches.

Swatch 2

Cast the number of stitches from the end of Swatch 1 (for me, that’s 64 sts).  Join in the round.  Knit 1 round.  Using a permanent marker, mark the first stitch of the second row.  (You can see I’m swatching with Essential Tuscany, instead of the Undyed. Same yarn, just a different color.)  Then knit 2-8 rounds.  I knit 8 rounds, I’m not really sure why.  At the end of the last round, mark the last stitch.  I marked the yarn close to the last stitch instead.  (Advice: be careful not to get Sharpie on your needles.  Let the marked yarn dry about 10 seconds before knitting with it, it’ll bleed Sharpie on the needles.)

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Unravel and Measure

Unravel Swatch 2.  Find the two marks and line them up.  Trim off the cast on/round 1 yarn if you want.  Fold the yarn between the marks into as many rounds as you knit.  I knit 8 rounds, so I folded the yarn between the marks into eighths.  If you only knit 2 rounds, just line up the marks.  If you knit 4 rounds, fold the yarn in half once to make fourths.

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Lay the yarn against a yard stick or ruler and measure.  Don’t worry if the yarn isn’t completely straight.  This project involves a lot of math but isn’t an exact science.  This tells you how many inches it takes to knit one round of your sock.  It takes me about 24″ of yarn to knit one round of my 64 stitch sock.

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Figuring Out the Stripes

I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what colors you’d like to use and how many and thick you’d like your stripes.  I’m going to use a dusky green and deep violet (hopefully) as well as leaving some of the yarn undyed/cream.  I have decided to have 3 rounds of green, then 3 rounds of cream, then 2 rounds of violet, then 2 rounds of cream again.  That means I need 72″ of green, 72″ of cream, 48″ of violet, and 48″ of cream in each stripe repeat. (3 rounds x 24″ per round = 72″; 2 rounds x 24″ per round = 48″)

yarn chart

Adding those lengths up, I’m going to need to make my skein 240″ around. 

 

Re-skeining the Yarn

I took the skein from Knit Picks and balled it up on my swift. Ask me about the time that I tried to re-skein directly from the Knit Picks skein.  Go ahead, ask me about the 4 hours I spent untangling the yarn.  I dare you.

 

Measure out a track using whatever’s at hand that measures the desired length of the skein, in this case 240″.  I used two chairs, 19″ wide, and placed them a little under 8.5 ft apart, making a 240″ circle.  (240″ – 19″ – 19″ = 202″; 202″/2 = 101″; 101″/12″ = 8.4 ft)  Remember that the yarn is going in a circle when planning the track.  (I don’t know why the pictures all turned out so blurry… next time I do this, I’ll take better pictures!)

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Using the light colored scrap yarn (dark colors will bleed; I used some left over Mist Palette) tie the skein in as many places as needed.  Wrap the ties loosely when tying; if you tie them too tightly, the dye won’t absorb the same as in other spots.  I’m paranoid about my yarn getting tangled, so I tied the yarn in 8 places.  I didn’t think about taking pictures though; the light gray yarn doesn’t show up in the pictures very well!

Using a different color yarn and the same technique, mark the color segments on your skein.  I was stupid and used the Mist for the whole thing.  I got very confused later on.  Trust me, use a different color yarn for each color segment!  This is how I marked my skein, measuring along the yarn and tying markers as needed.  Tie your color markers loosely, but not so loosely that they’ll slide around.  I might have tied my markers a little too loose.  Oh well.

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Soak the Yarn

Soak the yarn in a cold water bath with a 1/4 c (60 ml) of vinegar for a few hours or overnight. (Remove from your skein track, obviously.)  I don’t know if this is completely required, but I do it every time anyway.

 

Ready the Dyes

Mix the dyes as needed; I refer to this article in Knitty when mixing up my dyes.  I used Wilton’s Juniper Green and Violet for this skein.  I dissolved the dyes (quite a bit of dye… more than I needed, I think) in big pots of water and brought to a simmer.

 

Dyeing (Finally!)

Drain the yarn and squeeze lightly to get rid of the excess water.  Find your color segment markers and put the yarn in the right pots based on that.  You can see my undyed/cream sections are carefully held up and out of the way by the strategically placed pot handles.  If you had more colors, obviously the yarn would be in more pots or jars, etc.

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Let the yarn soak until the color is just right.  I think I left the green in a little too long, but I’m really happy with the purple.

 

Carefully remove the yarn (it’s hot!! Use tongs!) and rinse in cold water.  The purple didn’t bleed at all, but the green did quite a bit (probably because I put too much dye into the pot) so keep the color segments separate until the rinsing is complete!

 

Squeeze the yarn gently to remove the excess water.  You can hang the skein up somewhere to dry, or you can use my favorite cheat.  If your dryer has a shoe/sweater rack, stick the yarn on that and set on med/low heat!  Only takes about an hour instead of the hours it could take yarn to dry.  And it’s safe from children and pets, which is a nice plus.

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Re-skeining Part 2

Put your dry yarn back on the skeining track from earlier (or anything similar that will keep the skein from tangling.)  Remove all the ties and re-skein the yarn into something that will fit on your swift (I don’t have a niddy-noddy, so I used a piece of cardboard) or wind into a ball directly.  Admire the pretty new yarn!

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Oh yeah, I saved some of the undyed yarn and made a little mini-skein to dye at the same time for coordinating cuffs/heels/toes.

 

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Check it out, stripes!! (As you can tell by the lack of ribbing, this is just a test swatch, not the actual sock.)  Tip: Start your project at the beginning of a color segment (this swatch starts halfway between cream and green) so that the stripes line up correctly.  I’m so excited to knit these socks!

 

Lifted Increases September 13, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 6:25 pm
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I’ve been knitting as fast as I can on the Aran Tam.  Unfortunately, the bottom of the tam is mostly ribbing and stockinette, which tends to bore me (I’m such the process knitter) and I’ve been kind of slow on it.  The interesting stuff is all on the top.  I thought about changing that in my pattern, but I want this to be traditional, and the ones I found online were all plain on the bottom (as far as I could tell.)  Anyway, I only have two more increase rounds then the fun starts!  I’ve also been working on a pair of mystery mittens, but you’ll have to wait for pictures of those.

 

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Not much to gawk at yet; but soon, soon it will be gorgeous!

 

So, on to the real purpose of this post.  In my quest to make the Arthurian Anklets easier to understand and knit, I’ve taken some pictures for a tutorial on the lifted increases, called LRinc and LLinc in New Pathways for Sock Knitters.  These are different from an M1 increase.  M1 uses the strand of yarn running between stitches, while the lifted increases use the right or left leg of the stitches in the row below.  Unlike an M1, you can use a lifted increase at the beginning or end of a row.  These increases are nearly invisible, although there will be a tiny hole, about the same or smaller than an M1.  I’m not sure if I like lifted increases more or less than M1s, but I believe in knowing as many ways to do an increase (or anything, really) as I can.

I first saw these increases in Knitter’s Arans and Celtics and the way that they were explained confused me to no end.  Once I figured them out, they were really easy, but I wondered why such awful instructions were used.  Hopefully you won’t have that problem. 🙂  Yarn used is Knit Picks CotLin in Key Lime on size 4 DPNs.

 

LRinc (Right-Leaning Lifted Increase)

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Knit to the point where you need to increase.  See that blue stitch there? (Love Photoshop!)  That is the stitch below the next stitch on the left needle.

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Insert the right needle into the right (closest) leg of that stitch.  Place that loop on the left needle.

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Knit that new loop through the front.  Knit the next stitch on the needle as normal and continue on your way.  The second picture shows what things look like after you’ve knit the new loop but before knitting the next stitch.

  100_3694 - Copy (2) 100_3694 - Copy 

There’ll be a little hole where the increase is, but after a few rows, it’s practically invisible!  But there it is.

 

LLinc (Left-Leaning Lifted Increase)

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Knit to the point where you need to increase.  This time the stitch needed is the second stitch below the stitch just worked on the right needle, shown in orange.  Don’t use the stitch directly below the stitch just worked (blue).  The orange stitch is part of a previous row, just like the stitch used in LRinc; the blue stitch is part of the row you’re currently knitting into, which would make your increases be on different rows and probably look ugly.

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Insert the right needle into the left (closest) leg of the orange stitch.  Knit into the back of this new loop.  Knit the next stitch on the needle as normal and continue on your way. 

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Ta-da, mirrored increases!  Pretty, huh?

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Do the Loop de Loop September 2, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 7:43 pm
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Hope you had a fun holiday.  We went on a nice long hike yesterday, up to a very pretty alpine lake.  It’s at the base of a mountain that we’re planning on hiking to the top of next weekend.  (Gotta get those last big hikes in before the rains come!  Because then those hikes’ll be covered in mud… then snow!)  No pictures, because, well, sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the scenery with your eyes instead of through a viewfinder.  But man, I’d love to capture the color of that lake in a yarn or fabric… the light brown by the shore, the teal with the sun sparkles, and the dark blue in the center.  Beautiful.

 

I’ve also been taking some time and getting used to writing and publishing my posts with Live Writer instead of the WordPress writing-thingy.  I’ve tried out a number of other writers and I actually can’t remember all of them now that I’ve uninstalled them.  So far, I’m really liking Live Writer.  It’s got a number of neat features, like a link glossary for pages I link to a lot and it’s really easy to link to old posts.  Anyway, it’s got its own set of problems, too, which I’m trying to work around, like not center aligning when I tell it to.  The biggest problem I’ve run into so far is pictures.  It’s great not to have to upload every single picture by hand, but if I have to edit an old post, Live Writer uploads all the pictures every time I re-publish.  This sometimes leads to problems with image links and other nastiness.

 

Long story short, please let me know if there are any broken images or links.  And I hope that I’m not messing up anyone’s RSS feed or anything by having to publish posts multiple times to make sure the images are right.

 

That taken care of, let’s get to the interesting part of the post.  I’m starting to get into a real glove/mitten groove with the air starting to get a little nippy. (My hands are always cold).  A friend of mine a while ago was making the Queen of Diamond Gloves from Knit Picks, which I made 3 pairs of last year. (I think that’s the most times I’ve ever knitted the same pattern, although I did change the cuff for each…) She asked me to explain the Backwards Loop Cast On (BLCO) to her when she got to the part to divide the thumb.  So I demonstrated… Turns out this was how she casts on all her projects, she just didn’t recognize the name!  And I started to wonder if other people were confused about this.

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This was the cast on I was taught as a kid.  I remember it was my favorite part of knitting back then; I was crazy fast at it.  It’s a very easy cast on to do, but it’s hell to knit.  Because it’s just a series of loops, the tension gets all off.  As you work a loop, it gets pretty loose, but then the next one is very tight.  It can become almost unworkable in long cast ons.  It’s not stretchy and gives a rather messy edge for large things, like socks, sleeves, and certainly sweaters.  I use the BLCO for casting on over gaps in thumbs/fingers for gloves and that’s about it.  I’ve heard that it’s a great cast on for lace, because it blends in perfectly.

 

In case you haven’t seen or heard of this cast on before, and you’re working on some gloves (hopefully the Snowflake or Albuquerque gloves, hehe) here’s a picture tutorial for you.  There are lots of ways to do this cast on (video, Knitty, Knitting Daily), this is just the way I learned.  This is different from “looping on;” in BLCO, the stitches are cast on twisted to make them a little more stable (but not much!)

Backwards Loop Cast On

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If you’re casting on for a project, make a slip knot about 6″ in from the end of the yarn.  If you’re casting on in the middle of a round for fingers/thumbs/buttonholes, skip the slip knot step.

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Wrap the yarn around your thumb (I prefer left thumb) from the backside to the palmside or counterclockwise if you prefer. (I know that first picture has more sts on it than it’s supposed to).  Bring the needle in front/over the yarn coming from your thumb.  This makes a loop where the working yarn goes around your thumb and under the yarn on the needle.

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Insert the needle up through the loop you just made.  Drop the loop off your thumb and tighten gently on the needle.  I suggest keeping it fairly loose.

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Repeat as needed.  You don’t have to do this cast on at the base of your thumb, or with your thumb at all; I’ve seen people do it with their index or middle fingers. I personally do this cast on at the tip of my thumb.  Remember that the cast on stitches are twisted; I like to knit them through the front loop on the next row.  I think it tightens things up better.

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Vikkel Braid August 23, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 9:48 pm
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This was supposed to be up much sooner this week, but we’ve had some Internet problems and been pretty busy.  Anyway.  Enough about me, on to the braid!

Edit 8/20/08: I can’t believe I didn’t actually link this back to the project it’s used in!  The vikkel braid is used in the Arthurian Anklets.  And probably other projects in the future.

I first learned about the vikkel braid in Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia.  This is a great book if you’re interested in historical/traditional knitting.  She has instructions for 3 different braids in the book; all make the stitches look like they’ve tipped over onto their sides, but all made very differently.  According to the book, vikkel is the word for stitches that cross over each other, which is just how this braid is worked.  This braid looks so nice on socks and mittens and it’s sure to bring questions of “How did you do that?!”  As you’ll see, it’s pretty easy to get such adulation.

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Step 1: Increase 1 stitch using an M1 increase. 

Step 2: Place the stitch just made back onto the left needle. 

Step 3: Bring the right needle behind the left needle, knit the second stitch on the left needle through the back loop,

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then knit the first stitch on the left needle through the front as normal. (Getting the right needle around the left needle tip smoothly takes a little practice, but you’ll get the hang of it.)  Drop both the first and second stitch off the left needle.

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Repeat Steps 2-3 until the end of the round, rearranging stitches as needed.  Give the working yarn a good pull right before slipping the stitches off the needle to keep the tension right.

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At the end of the round, slip the last stitch over the first stitch of the round to get back to the original stitch count.

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See, I told you it was pretty easy.  Now, go forth and vikkel!

 

Twist and Shout July 24, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 11:54 am
Tags: ,

As promised, a tutorial on twisting stitches without a cable needle. This is my favorite way to do twisted stitches, but there are others. The other method that I’m familiar with is to use a combo of k2tog and then knitting into one of the stitches again. That just seemed too… let’s say “annoying” when there were going to be a lot of purl stitches to deal with. The following method is used by Nancy Bush in Folk Socks for her Chalet Socks and by Eunny Jang for her Bayerische Socks (both of which were inspiration for the Danubes.) I do my twists so that the loose stitch is always at the front of the work (I think it’s easier to pick them back up) but Eunny does her left twists slightly differently.

Like I said before, twisting stitches is very similar to cabling without a cable needle, so if you’ve done that before, this will be a piece of cake. (Here’s a different tutorial from Wendy.) If not, I suggest getting some chocolate and maybe some relaxing music- the first few times you do this it can be a mite stressful. 😉 I used some kitchen cotton in the pictures- don’t use that to practice! Use a nice wool, something that sticks to itself pretty well and doesn’t split a lot. (In other words, acrylic is not recommended.)

Twisting Stitches for Austrian/Bavarian Patterns

Left Twist

From the back of the work, insert the right needle into the back of the second stitch on the left needle.

Take a deep breath and pull the left needle out of the two stitches. The first stitch will be hanging free. Don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere.

Reinsert the left needle into the loose stitch. (Ah, safe again!) Slip the stitch on the right needle back to the left needle. Now you can knit both stitches tbl or purl 1, knit 1 tbl as the pattern demands. (Here’s a tip for the Left Purl Twists, because the stitches can get tight: Before twisting the stitches, bring the yarn to the front; when you slip the right stitch back to the left needle, don’t pull the right needle out, just purl from there. No pictures of that right now, sorry.)

Right Twist

Slip the next two stitches purlwise to the right needle.

From the back, insert the left needle into the back of the first slipped stitch.

Another deep breath and… Pull the right needle out of both stitches. The second stitch is waving in the breeze. Reinsert the right needle into the loose stitch (you can breathe again now)

… and slip the stitch back to the left needle. Now, knit two tbl or knit 1tbl, purl 1 as the pattern dictates.

(Another tip, which works for both right and left twists: If the first stitch is a knit, don’t pull the right needle out after slipping the stitch back to the left; rotate the needle to the back of the stitch and knit it tbl like normal.)

 

Weaving in Ends May 5, 2008

Filed under: knitting tutorials,Tutorials — Cailyn @ 7:51 pm
Tags: ,

Hate dealing with the nightmare of weaving in ends? Are leftover strands of yarn ruining your life? Do you have two, three, or even seven projects unfinished because of this problem? Ask your doctor about Weavendix, the revolutionary drug to solve this problem for you!

Or you can just look at my tutorial.

Weaving in ends as you knit is perhaps the best trick I’ve ever learned to help my knitting. I use it all the time, whether I’m just joining a new ball or joining a new color. If you’ve done a lot of colorwork, you probably do this all the time, but might not realize the full extent of its usefulness! I didn’t. I particularly love using this trick when I’m working Fair Isle in the round, because if you weave in the new tail before the end of the current round, there are no holes on the side when you switch colors. I mention this technique in my Fingerless Gloves patterns, so master this to make those patterns easier. Without further ado:

I’ve set up these pictures with a small piece of knitting in the round in green on one circular needle. I’m about 3/4 of the way done with the round and it’s time to join a new color, in this case grey. I’ll show the “easy” way to do this first, then right/left handed instructions that are a little faster. It’s essentially the same no matter which way you do it.

Step One: Place your new yarn (grey) over your working yarn (green), leaving a short tail (since you won’t need to weave the tail in, you don’t need a long one, although you can still weave the tail in, if you’re worried about security. I’ve certainly never done that. *cough*) The tail should be on the right.

Step Two: Without moving the new yarn, knit your next stitch as normal. Tada! The new yarn is now trapped (although not yet locked in, it needs a few more stitches.)

Step Three: Grab the new yarn and move it over the working yarn. Without moving the new yarn, knit your next stitch.

Step Four: Move the new yarn under the working yarn. Insert your needle into the next stitch, then go under the new yarn and grab the working yarn to complete your stitch.

Just repeat steps three and four until you reach the point of knitting with the new yarn!

Now, for a slightly faster way. The basic idea is the same, (actually it’s exactly the same) but instead of dropping the new yarn each time, you “weave” by wrapping the new yarn around the needle. I learned this technique here: Sock Pron. The right and left instructions are essentially identical, but I’ll put up pictures for both. If you can knit with both hands, it’s great to work the new yarn in your other hand (in my case, my right hand, but that’s not shown.)

Right-handed knitters:

Setup: Knit to the point of joining the new yarn. Insert the needle into the next stitch. Hold the tail of the new yarn against the project and *drape the new yarn from right to left over the needle.

Wrap the working yarn around the needle as normal…

and pull the working yarn under the new yarn and through the stitch.

Knit the next stitch as normal.*

Repeat from * to * until you’re done! It doesn’t matter whether you end on a draping stitch or a plain knit stitch.

Left-handed knitters (near and dear to my heart):

Setup: Knit to the point of joining the new yarn. Insert the needle into the next stitch. Hold the tail of the new yarn against the project and *drape the new yarn from right to left over the needle.

Wrap the working yarn around the needle as normal and pull the working yarn under the new yarn and through the stitch.

Knit the next stitch as normal.*

Repeat from * to * until you’re done! Again, it doesn’t matter whether you end on a draping stitch or a plain knit stitch.

You might have noticed that what you’re doing is wrapping the new yarn in the opposite direction that you wrap the working yarn to make a stitch. Pretty cool, huh?

This is what the work looks like on the the from and back when you’re done. Sometimes this method works better than other times; if the two yarns are very different colors (like black and white) you might be able to see the woven yarn through the work. (That happened to me.) This can also be a problem if the gauge is really loose. But overall, this is a great technique to make colorwork or just finishing easier!