Don’t worry, keep knitting

Yeah, okay. I definitely owe you some better photos of the fabulous color combinations, courtesy of the artists at Lorna’s Laces.

Now let’s see if I can show by example how to get there, without any jogs.

Note: The Knitter’s Handbook has diagrams as well – it always helps to look at things from two different perspectives (pages 160-161).

I know it’s hard to see what’s going on with the stockinette wanting to curl outward and all, so the labels are there to help you. Also, isn’t the reverse stockinette of this fabric gorgeous?!?

When knitting in the round, attach as many yarns as you’d like, in the order you want the stripes to appear.

In simple terms: The easiest way to do this is to attach colors at evenly-spaced intervals – at the junction of double-pointed needles, as you see here, or at evenly-placed markers if you’re knitting a hat, for instance. You can do the attaching by simply picking up a color and starting to knit with it until you encounter the next marker, or by casting on a fraction of the stitches with each color you plan to use.

The whole story: You don’t have to use exactly four colors if you’re using five dpns as I do here – you can use more or fewer! And of course you don’t have to space your yarns exactly 1/n stitches apart (where n = number of skeins of yarn you’re using) – you can introduce them every two stitches, if you wish. But let’s go with the simplest method first. After knitting a few rounds following these instructions, you’ll be able to deduce all the variations on your own ;).

With each yarn, knit until you encounter the next one. After you’ve done so with every yarn, you will have knit every stitch once; in other words, you will have completed one round.

In simple terms: Pick up the yarn at the beginning of your round – in my case, that’s lilac. Knit with it to the end of the needle, where natural happens to be hanging out. Abandon lilac, pick up natural, and work to the next junction of needles. Repeat with blackberry and navy.

Now navy is at the beginning of the round. Pick it up, and repeat the process!

The whole story: At any given point, you can pick up any of the yarns attached to your knitting and work with it until you reach the next yarn. The only rule: if you reach a junction where two yarns are attached, work with the lower one. No need to pay attention to where the rounds begin, or where you left off last time… You’re working a spiral which is n stitches high (where n = number of skeins of yarn you’re using), and the colors will arrange themselves accordingly.

In other words – don’t worry, keep knitting, things will come out just fine :).

98 thoughts on “Don’t worry, keep knitting

Comments are closed.


  1. Stephanie Cullison

    How freakin’ smart are you? I love this! I usually knit on 2 circs but might be convinced to switch back to dpn’s just for these type of socks. I love it! And I have TONS of leftover sock yarns that would look great together…just like yours! Thanks Kathy!

  2. Bertha

    Oh man. I totally understand now. I was too embarrassed to admit yesterday that I had no clue what you were talking about! Hooray for today!

  3. Kristin

    That is so clever!

    I was a bit confused by yesterday’s post, but this one explains it wonderfully!

    What do you do once it comes to turning the heel? And how do you knit more rows with the same colour?

  4. Emmy

    Forgive me if this is an obvious question; I’m new to color work. Is there a way to use this technique if you want your stripes to be more than one row thick?

  5. stinkerbell

    wow… feels like I am on a merry go round.

    definitely looks like it could be fun, that said having so many balls of yarn attached to my sock would probably drive me nuts…

    I love watching how you go about things nonetheless :)

  6. Sarah

    After yesterdays post, I was really stumped for a while. I consider myself a pretty experienced knitter or at least a confidant one. I haven’t done everything, but I could figure it out. It took a bit of contemplating and a return to look at your photo again, but I finally got it. Thanks so much for introducing something new to my knitting notebook.

  7. mick

    Holy mackeral, this is so cool! Thanks so much for posting this; I never throw away my sock leftovers, and have been planning stripey socks for some time. I’ll definitely be trying this method!

  8. Emily

    I don’t know if you knew, but there’s a free sock pattern somewhere on the web called Stashbuster Spirals Socks (at hipknitism.com). Not that you are claiming the idea, but at the site the whole construction of the sock is explained, with pictures and tables for different sizes. Might be nice to know.

    I knitted my pair over 2 years ago and I love them.

  9. andrea

    i love how challenging this looks, but how easy it probably really is. if only i didn’t have 4 projects on the needles or i’d be trying this one out tonight.

    i must remember this for the future.

    thanks for you tips!

  10. sarai.

    Spacing your yarns… do you mean k/n stitches, where k is the total number of stitches in the round? ‘Cause 1/n stitches apart gets tough real fast. ;)

  11. Abby

    So, if I’m reading this correctly, the way you would make a color band of more than one row high of the same color, would be to have two small skeins of the same color attached successively.

    So, you’d knit with ball 1 of color 1 till you reached ball 2, then you’d pick up ball 2 of color 1, work with it, and then go to your second color?

  12. Denice

    Thank you for this post! It made the spiral socks so logical, even for a left handed knitter. I’m definitely going to make some.

  13. Morticcia

    It is reassuring to see others were wtf yesterday! This is a handy little trick. I’ll have to check out that section of the Montse bible.

  14. Sarah O G

    Thank you for the wonderful idea, and I even have that book :D. I’ve been wanting to make leg warmers for my kids with some microspun I had laying around and this will work great. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I’m very excited to get started, of course I have 30 other projects going that need to been seen to but eh! this is too cool.

  15. Kathleen C.

    Thanks for the further explanation. I admit it… I was a bit confused yesterday (I didn’t understand that you were staggering the casting on of each color. Duh), but the process makes complete sense now.

    Ingenious indeed!

  16. Kate

    Oh, that’s neat. I’m going to have to make that with the leftover yarn from my Tweed Socks. (Now I don’t have to wonder what to do with it!)

  17. SallyA

    I totally get it now. And it’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in ages. Thank you so much for further elucidating how to do this. You are a gem!

  18. Amy

    Thank you for the visual. It confirmed how I thought you explained it. I now can’t wait to try this out. Thanks again.

  19. Janis

    Okay, NOW I get it. Yesterday I couldn’t get it at all, but now, brilliant! Thank you for explaining it with pictures.

  20. Barbara

    This is so brilliant! I’m planning to knit a top in the round, and I wanted stripes of two rows for each color, and this is the perfect way to do that. Thanks so much!

  21. Vicki

    Whoa! So you don’t have to remember where you left off. That is pretty cool. I’m loving this more and more all the time.

  22. Jenna

    This concept is a bit of a mind-bender! I’m now trying to think of my circular knitting as stacked spirals, but I’ve not had success yet.

    So, I tried this yesterday on a sleeve I’m knitting and it was so much easier than carrying the yarn every two rows! For those who are only knitting with two colors, note that you will actually be doing a full round with each color before you change (unless I’m doing something wrong).

    Thanks again for being such a great resource to this community.

  23. Diane

    To people who asked how to make stripes more than one row high: you’d need as many balls of the same color as you want your stripes to be high, and space the new balls just like if they were all different colors. I tried this with a two-row versus a one-row stripe – it looked good.

  24. knitopia

    I think some sort of lazy Susan would come in handy for keeping all those balls of yarn untangled! I am excited to go look through my leftovers now.

  25. HeatherM

    That is so cool! My head was spinning with spirals from yesterdays post, but this post made it all clear – I guess the live photos helped me. Thanks for the demo – you’re so clever!! =)

  26. Nancy

    Janice in GA beat me to it, but I also made “Stashbuster Spiral” socks like this in the Six Sox KAL a couple of years ago. It’s a nice technique for striping, but I didn’t care for the toe-up part. I love your colors, by the way. Maybe I should do some more, this time top down like yours.

  27. Lizabeth

    Oh, I’m so glad you explained that. I didn’t understand it yesterday at all, and I didn’t have a chance to go check the Stanley book. Now it is crystal clear. You are a very good explainer, indeed.

  28. Rachel McDonald

    Be still my beating heart.

    Those socks are SO gorgeous (purple is my most favorite color in the whole entire world), and I simple must have some! I think I have some Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in coordinating colors – they won’t be as awesome as your purple-y version, but maybe for a gift…

    You are my most favorite person on the planet today!

  29. Jill

    I think I kinda, sorta get what you’ve got happening there. Are there holes or more noticable ladders? Are you sure you don’t need to pick up one colour under the other? Of course you’re sure. I think I just need to try this sometime…

  30. kmkat

    Thinking about this in the abstract without having yarn and needles in my hands is kinda like those pictures that are total jibberish until you stare at them with your eyes unfocused for a while and suddenly the 3-D image jumps out at your. And then jumps away again. I understand it momentarily, and then poof! it’s gone. But everytime I *get it* it stays in my brain a little longer.

    Two questions: can you really start ANYWHERE next time you pick it up? and, can the stripes be wider?

    Thank you for expanding my knitting universe!

  31. Alexandra

    I love this! Once I drew it out for myself (with 2-D spirals) it made perfect sense. One question, though– you said that if you had two colours, it would make double-thickness stripes. Why? I understand if you are using two balls each of two colours, ordered 1 1 2 2, then you would get double-thickness stripes (oh my god, this is genius, you can control the thickness of the stripes by how many ends of the same colours you use! ), but if you had them just ordered 1 2, then you would end up having single stripes. You would just knit a full round every time. Again, thank you so so soooo much for showing this. This is genius. I’m sitting in the library sketching this out, and I’m just itching to go home and try this for myself.

  32. Caitlin

    Beautiful socks! I love this technique… I learned it from the awesome and well-photographed tutorial on Ysolda’s website (www.ysolda.com)

  33. starfish

    and she says magic loop is fiddly…honestly.

    this is brilliant. I need to try this right away.

  34. starfish

    and she says magic loop is fiddly…honestly.

    this is brilliant. I need to try this right away.

  35. Jamisen

    What a great idea! I am trying it with two different self striping yarns just to see what happens. Thanks for a cool project to try.

  36. Connie

    I made a hat using the helix technique, and for some reason doing helix seems to make the colors “pop” more…..what do you think? Love your color combos.

  37. Laurakeet

    Wow, this is awesome. It’s like learning to knit in the round all over again. I was behind one post so got to read this post and the previous one at the same time. Glad I did since I was perplexed and at first couldn’t wrap my mind around it (ha, no pun intended), but you are an excellent teacher! Can’t wait to try this out.

  38. Suzanne V. (Yarnhog)

    Okay, this is way cool. I have spatial orientation issue, though, so forgive this question: When you reach the point where another color is attached, do you have to twist the two colors together, or will the new color automatically be “lower” on the spiral?

  39. lillian

    I just started a pair of socks using one of Lang Jawoll’s self-striping yarns and I’m doing this technique using both ends of one ball per sock.

    Yeah, I’m striping a self-striping yarn.

  40. Seanna Lea

    Very nifty. I’ll have to invest in some sock yarns that go together well without being too matchy. Currently all of my sock leftovers are either shades of blue or bright pink. Definitely not the mix and match combos I’m looking for.

  41. Tracey

    thanks for this post! i was thinking about your previous posting on my commute to work – imagining this clever spiral and planning to add a comment to that post. and now what do i find? even more details and diagrams! i’m looking forward to trying this technique myself and can’t wait to see your finished sock. i really appreciate all the time you spend putting up this information for your cyber-fans. :)

  42. Shelda

    This is so cool, Grumperina! I made a hat this way several years back, and thought to myself, “Wow, this would make cool socks!” But that thought was as far as I got. Very neat to see you making it happen! And thanks for the reference to Montse Stanley’s books. I hadn’t realized that was in there. I love that book.

  43. Sarah

    That. Is. So. Freaking. Cool! I have some yarns that I have wanted to do striping socks with but have abandoned the idea because of the joggless jog stuff but you have changed my mind!

  44. Linda F

    Brilliant!!!!! I am using this technique now as we “speak” in making a hat. But I wanted to ask you if you did anything special when adding on the new color. Although I see no jogs at all in the spirals, I can see when I joined on the new colors (a bit of a gappy jog). Any tips you would like to share???? Thanks for sharing all your brilliant ideas! Keep on Knitting :-)

  45. Rhonda S

    You. Just. Blew. My. Mind.

    Like everyone else, I can’t wait to try this… I love finding things that I would never in a million years have thought to try.

  46. waitandsee

    Oh my gosh. When I read the first post on this, I didn’t get it. With your visual instructions, the light bulb totally went off. This is brilliant, I love it.

    At the same time, I realize I will always follow others’ leads with knitting and not blaze my own trail, because I am not smart. :-)

  47. Jomy

    I BET THAT’S MIGHTY FIDDLY, THOUGH. THE BALLS ARE SURE TO NOT SIT AS NEAT AND ORDERLY AS THEY ARE IN THE PICS.

  48. Kassia

    Great tutorial! I love the colors you chose for your sock. You’ve inspired me to make my own pair of stripey socks. :) What do you do when you get to the heel though?

  49. Jennifer

    Last Christmas I tried knitting a Christmas ball ornament in red & white hoping for a peppermint look. It turned out looking Cat in the Hat-ish. This technique should do the trick. Thanks so much! Oh! And I can do candy cane-like socks too! Fantabulous!

  50. Janie

    Thanks Kathy, your coloured arrows made perfect sense to me. I feel like I must sort through my leftover sock yarn to cast on asap…..

  51. moiare

    That is great. I’m going to have to buy the knitter’s handbook now. I have a very small (one Vogue Knitting) reference book, but I appear to be approaching a stage in my knitting life where more resources might be interesting. Thanks!

  52. pamela wynne

    Dude. Seriously. Thank you so much — I’ve been sort-of-trying to interpret the K.H. diagrams for ages, and still just not quite getting it. This post was exactly what my lazy ass needed.

    P’raps your next project should be a series of prose+photo explanations of all the K.H. techniques? I bet you could do it in under 10 years.

  53. Petunia

    I have a lot of hand-dyed left overs – I’ll be looking for a few solids to co-ordinate, and try this. That’ll help use up the wee bits. Thanks so much for posting it for us.

  54. Tracey

    I LOVE this concept. I am just about done my current project. And, while my next big one is a sweater for DH, I’m going to start a pair of socks using this technique first. Thank you so much for sharing.

  55. Sarah

    This is very cool. I saw this demonstrated in “Spin-Off” magazine last fall too. There was one good tip in that article – when you put down your knitting, do not finish the current row. That way you can easily figure out where to start when you come back.

  56. kimberly

    I absolutely love these colors together! I have yet to try the helix thing – only read about it once. But, I think I understand now.

Comments are closed.