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How to Master Stranded Knitting with Free Tutorials & Patterns

stranded knitting
Do you love the look of stranded knitting but feel completely intimidated at the thought of trying it? You’re not alone! Try one of these free tutorials and patterns

Nicole’s Note: A few years ago, I invited readers to share with me their “knitting bucket list” items. That is, what were the items they’ve always wanted to knit and hope to someday? I took many of these “knitted bucket list” items and created challenges around them. That is, I said “okay, here’s how you might be able to tackle this” in a series of articles.

This is one such article! And it’s a great way to dig into the excitement of stranded knitting. So dig in!

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. For years I wanted to learn how to knit some of that gorgeous colorwork myself.  Like you, I felt intimidated by it!

I have done stranded knitting a few times 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. And I think it’s because the project was a lot smaller!

The most recent stranded knitting project I did was a huge success. (You can see a photo of it in this article.) I think my earlier attempts helped me. With this challenge I think it’s important to start small and work your way up.

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 and “trapping” 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. This is a great way to try the technique without the pressure of producing a finished product.
Colorwork: Stranded Basics: This is a simple Berroco Knit Bits video tutorial. It 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. It 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. Here you’ll also learn how to keep your yarn tidy and maintain consistency while switching colors. It also contains links to further tutorials as well as other resources. It’s a great one-stop shop.

Knitted Bauble Covers
Photo: *B*A*M! Crafts

Beginning Stranded Knitting Patterns

Knitted Bauble Covers: This super-cute “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 Preemie Baby Hat
Photo: Stepheny White

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!

stranded knitting
Roll Brim Baby Hat
Photo: Laurie Sundstrom

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.)

stranded knitting
Dreamin’ Again
Photo: DROPS Design

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!

I can’t help feeling emboldened after checking into these tutorials and looking at these patterns! I hope you feel the same way, Victoria. And if you’ve also felt a bit timid about stranded knitting? I think these solutions are just what you need!

Find more articles offering help with knitting techniques here!