My First Time Trying Colorwork!

The Princess Tee in Color

Since knitting the princess tee for Violet in time for her first birthday at the end of February, she has had a growth spurt and no longer fit into the original 12 month size I made for her. 😢 Ah, the trouble with baby knits. You spend time making them and they only wear them 4-5 times before they grow out of it...

Because I love the sweater tee so much, I wanted to make it for her again in a larger size. So I hunted around my stash for more of that beautiful Capretta yarn from Knit Picks and I found several skeins in the Neon edition from a sale we went to about a year ago. 

The tubular turquoise is a fun bright and light color, great for spring. The blueberry blast is a classic royal blue (which is one of my favorite colors). I had a tough time deciding what color to knit the princess tee in and decided to use both! The color combination is actually beautiful, and I could try some colorwork knitting for the first time ever. What better excuse to learn a new technique. Even if it doesn't turn out great she'll only wear the sweater a couple times anyway (ha, sad but true, being a realist here).

What does colorwork knitting mean?

Colorwork knitting refers to a variety of types of knitting that uses multiple colors of yarn. It could be something as simple as changing colors for stripes or color blocks within a project, or as complex as fair isle knitting using 2-3 colors worked at the same time following a graphed pattern chart. When switching colors in fair isle or "stranded" knitting, the non-worked yarn is carried through the back of the work creating what's called a float. The stranded yarn floats are loose on the wrong side of the project but the yarn is constantly picked up again to work either flat or in the round so no tails to tuck in for finishing later. One other style of working with two colors is called intarsia where when switching colors, you switch to a different skien of yarn and thus creates blocks of colors in whatever shape you chose. Intarsia is only worked flat as you don't carry the yarn around the back of the work. For more information on Intarsia, check out this resource here.

For my first time experimenting with color, I chose to try the fair isle or stranded knitting technique in the small chest section of the sweater where it is worked flat before joining in the round. After watching a few YouTube videos on stranded knitting, I felt it could be relatively easy to do. I did have a few fears and reservations, like maintaining good tension with the two colors and floats and watching the yarn for twists and tangles while working back and forth. But it really is as simple as dropping one color and using the other color to knit making sure to twist in the float for any long sections of a single color (more than about 5-6 stitches in a row). Check this resource if you also have some fears about knitting fair isle colorwork.

The Design Chart

Now it was time to select a design. I wanted to stick with the royal theme and while I considered a tiara, I was inspired by a fleur-de-lis shape as found on Pinterest and I created my own chart design as seen above. I used Stitch Fiddle to create the chart using 53 stitches over 29 rows. The main color (white on the chart) would be the turquoise and the contrasting color (blue on the chart) would be the blueberry blast. 

I'm pretty proud of myself for how this turned out! I think the tension worked out great- the floats aren't too tight at all, and there was only one or two "holes" where I changed colors and it was a little loose but the design looks great and I'm very happy with it! Once I finished the color section I joined it in the round and kept working with the main color for the rest of the body of the sweater. I'm also really happy about this color combination. The turquoise is so bright in the sun and the royal blue is such a great contrast, I'm in love! I considered using the royal blue on the bottom and sleeve edges to bring the blue back in, but decided to keep it simple and use turquoise everywhere else.

Here is what the back of my colorwork looks like.

You can see where I caught the floats so there aren't long sections of loose yarn in the back and nothing looks stretched too tight either. Although I was intimidated by this before, there wasn't much to be afraid of and really the looser the yarn is held, the better. So instead of trying to wrap the yarn around my right and left fingers, I literally just dropped the yarn. Just like in life sometimes you gotta let go and trust everything to work out the way you want because holding on too tightly thinking you have control can actually make things worse.

I occasionally twisted the dropped yarn with the working yarn as needed by wrapping the working yarn UNDERNEATH the stranded yarn and brought up in the back to keep knitting. Quite simple so give it a try and know practice will help you get better. I will definitely consider this type of colorwork again and I'll keep practicing so I can get better at it, maybe even try three colors at once 😳!

I love the puff sleeves, it's still my favorite part. And Violet looks adorable in the bright turquoise and soft cashmere sweater. She loves the texture and I plan to put this on her as much as I can this cool spring so she can get some good wear out of it before it's too small for her again.

Make sure to check out my inspiration and design notes on the Princess Tee and please consider purchasing my pattern buy now!

What is your experience with color work? Do you enjoy fair isle knitting or intarsia? Or do you feel intimidated by using multiple colors and avoid it? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. This is really pretty! It looks great on Violet. I LOVE the look of the wrong side of your work. My floats aren't as consistent and the wrong side is not as neat. I guess I need to practice some more. Any tips would be welcome!

    1. Thank you, I was very pleased with the wrong side of the work. The only tip I have is to keep the strands looser than you think you should, it will feel scary but it will provide the wiggle room to stretch as you need


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