How do you avoid your yarns getting tangled when working with more than one colour continuously?

Most of my tricks depend on one thing: taking the yarn from the centre of the ball, instead of the outside –

Admittedly, sometimes it takes a bit more fishing about than this video shows. However, using the yarn from the centre-out means the ball stays in one place and isn’t bouncing around the floor.

So, we have our wool sitting nicely, in one place, not gathering dirt and cat-hair.

Most of my colourwork is in the Fair Isle vein: 2 colours in each row/round. For this, I hold one yarn in my right hand, and the other yarn in my left hand – usually the dominant colour in my right hand as I am a British-style knitter:

This allows me to keep one ball on my left-hand side, and the other on my right-hand side – so they can’t get twisted up.

On the rare occasions where I use more than 2 colours per row/round, I have a few different techniques.

  • if the 3 (or more) colours are used in roughly equal amounts and/or regularly across the row/round, I usually just work across/around with 2, using the two-handed technique above, and slipping the stitches to be worked in the other colours; then, I work the other colour(s) across/around, slipping the stitches in the first two.
  • if the colours are not very equally or regularly used across/around, then I use a knitting thimble.
A Prym knitting thimble in ales packaging. This fits over the index finger, and has 5 plastic extrusions on one side, topped by a movable metal flange: this creates channels through which up to 4 yarns can be held and worked simultaneously.
Prym knitting thimble.
  • if I’m using a lot of colours in very irregular amounts, it’s usually intarsia or ‘picture’ knitting. Then, I wind a metre or so of each colour onto a yarn bobbin, which can hang at the back of the work wherever that colour is needed:

I do not like the knitting thimble as I’m a fairly tight knitter and find Continental knitting (yarn in the left hand) lends itself to lots of annoying dropped stitches, but needs must. I have been known to combine techniques, e.g., two-handed knitting with a thimble when working with one dominant colour (right hand) and 2 or more non-dominant colours (left hand).

Quora linky.

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