Holding your yarn and colour dominance.
When using the Fair Isle or stranded technique, it’s important to maintain consistency with yarn dominance. It all comes down to how you hold your yarn.
It’s important to remember that the dominant colour will always be the yarn that is held in the lower position.
I knit English style and when I’m using two yarns at once I have both in my right hand like this. The blue yarn is held above the white. The white stitches will be slightly larger and therefore more dominant.
First I wrap both yarns around my little finger to tension them..
…then I pass the colour I want to dominate (have larger stitches) over my middle finger and the non-dominant colour over my index finger…
The dominant yarn (white) has to pass under my index finger while I knit. So now I can just change the yarn for each stitch by moving either my index or my middle finger forward (see the first picture).
It takes a bit of practice but it’s worth it. I find that I can keep an even tension with tidy floats/stranding across the back of the work this way.
Because both yarns are running together around my little finger, they can tangle, so I adjust every 20 stitches or so.
In the pictures above, the white yarn is the dominant colour – which is achieved by having it in the lower position. When knitting fair isle one yarn is always held above the other, regardless of the technique you use. The stitches of the lower yarn are slightly bigger which is ideal for the “pattern” stitches (as opposed to the background colour).
If you look at the back of your work, you can see any irregularities in yarn dominance. In the first picture, my strands/floats are all even. In the second, you can see a spot where they become uneven, there are two while strands that are too close to each other.
On the right side, the knitting will be uneven and patterns wont line up well.
In the first picture below, the yarns are held in the right position consistently – the white yarn is always the dominant yarn resulting in a nice, regular result.
In the second picture, there has been some mixing up of which yarn is dominant. The result is uneven stitch/colour dominance. Look at the little mini-diamonds (circled in red) – the bottom stitch doesn’t join up properly with the others and the diamond shape is lost.
Although this mix up is not going to be a huge problem for this project – only a few stitches are mixed up and it’s a prototype anyway – it can ruin the look of your fair isle piece. The impact of mixing your stitches is most obvious where, as in these examples, you are only using two colours.