Color Dominance: Tips & Tricks

Posted on July 08 2021

Color Dominance: Tips & Tricks


Want to make your color patterns pop? You can use the concept of color dominance to achieve the desired effect. 

Consider the pictured Border Leicester project, the natural color (Scour) is the background, and the blue (Gentian) is the foreground, the pattern you want to stand out. To accentuate the blue stitches, try this: When working the first stitch of the pattern color, bring the pattern strand under the background strand. Next, when switching to the background color, bring the background strand over the foreground color just worked. Stay vigilant and you’ll notice a difference in the clarity of your pattern. Consistency is the key to success. 

Above: When doing two-handed stranded knitting, carry the pattern yarn (the dominant color) in your left hand, and the background color in your right. The yarns will cross regularly—background over, foreground under—and automatically.

Below: If working the pattern by dropping and picking up colors each time you switch, pay attention to over and under—foreground strand travels under background, background over foreground.

If working in the round, when you finish with the background color, drop it over the needle to the front of the work and pick up the pattern color from below to work the next stitch. If working back and forth, on wrong side rows drop the background yarn to the back of the work and bring the pattern yarn up under it. Make it a mantra, “background over, foreground under.” 

What’s the rationale? The strand that travels the shortest distance, the one that comes from below, will make a slightly bigger (more distinct) stitch. The strand traveling over another strand has to slightly stretch, making for a smaller stitch. The difference seems minuscule, but you’ll be impressed at the difference. Attention to color dominance will take your colorwork knitting to new heights!

Colorwork Knitting in the Round

A few more tips to make your colorwork shine:

Choose wisely. Make sure your colors have good contrast when knitted together. It’s important that they not just be different colors, but that they have light and dark contrasts as well. Colors that are close in value tend to blend when they’re broken into little stitches that sit next to each other. Without a strong contrast, your color patterns will be timid and hard to read, no matter how careful your knitting technique.  

Stay relaxed. Keep yarn strands relaxed across the back of your work to prevent it from puckering—a common hazard with two-color knitting. To maintain a soft and pliable fabric, mind the distance your new yarn has to travel. When you’re ready to change colors, get in the habit of pausing to spread the stitches at the point end of your needle before making the next stitch with your new color. Similarly, when working back and forth (not in the round), work the last stitch of every round with both colors to anchor both yarns and keep an even tension on that wonky stitch at the last color change. 

Opt for wool. Being choosy about the yarn you use makes all the difference. Wool yarns with a bit of halo are ideal for colorwork; those little hairs that stick out grab adjacent stitches and keep gaps from forming in your work. Consider our Border Leicester: it’s smooth enough that stitches are well defined, and just fuzzy enough that it fills the gaps.

We hope these tips and tricks prove useful in your adventures in colorwork. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below!


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