I know I mention in my Yuki Cookie Ninja knitting pattern that I was going to do a color work in the round tutorial here on the blog, yet I haven't managed to get a chunk of time to sit down and actually get it done since! But, I snagged a little time over the last weekend and here it is as promised.
This is a super picture heavy post, you've been warned!
Here we go....
I get a lot of questions about doing color work in the round in my patterns, like the Yuki face, or the heart of Louie Lovebot. When Louie came out there was some discussion in the Danger Crafts group on Ravelry of how people like to tackle this technique, and I've been feeling like I should do a post on it ever since. This is how I do color work in the round, but remember there are many different ways and something else might work better for you.
So first, get to one stitch before the spot in the pattern where you are ready to add in your second color:
Grab your second color and pull out a length about 4 times or so as wide as the section you are working. When I do color work in the round I use one piece of yarn for every two rounds of color work. Then I can avoid carrying the yarn all the way around the back of the piece AND have less ends to weave in than using one piece per round.
Now, hold up your second color so that the middle of it goes over/across the top of your first color (so incredibly handy I decided to do this on the ninja, since the colors are black and white and a great contrast in the photos!). What I mean is that the 4 times as wide piece you pulled out earlier will be the "tail" of the piece you are working. Make sense? This will give you the 4 times tail to knit in the next round.
Knit the next stitch, catching the lighter color on the back of the fabric with the darker color as you go. The next stitch to be worked now should be the first to be worked in the lighter color. You can see here it is caught in the darker yarn on the back.
Now, with the yarn still attached to your yarn, knit the next three stitches in your lighter color. The stitch you just worked where you attached the lighter color to the back of the fabric was to anchor the center of this new piece of yarn into your work. You could knit with the tail this round, then the still attached yarn the next round, but in this example I'm working with the attached yarn first. The next two photos are what the anchor point looks like on the front and the back and the third is the next 3 stitches worked.
Ok, once you have knit 3 stitches you are going to carry your darker yarn as you go. The general rule of thumb is 3-4 stitches between carries, but you can decide how many you are comfortable with. What I do is carry every three stitches (approximately, depending on number of stitches) the first row with my piece of yarn, then four on the second row with the tail from my same piece of yarn (again depending on how many stitches you are working with). If you carry in the same spot on every row you can get a little gap in those spots, which is why I switch it up. To carry simply place your dark yarn over your lighter yarn, just like you did in the beginning, and then continue knitting with your lighter yarn. Leave the darker yarn fairly loose, not super loose, just fairly loose on the back side. I find you can adjust the tension on the darker carried yarn up until you start knitting with it again, so I don't really bother with it until that point.
After the carry, knit three more stitches.
Looking at the back again, hold the darker yarn over the lighter yarn again for another carry.
Continue this knit three, carry, knit three, carry, until you have worked all of the stitches in your lighter color and are ready to switch back to the darker color. In this example I carry at stitch 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 and am ready to start with my darker color on stitch 18.
Here's what my carries look like on the back. At this point I adjust the tension on the carries on the back, loose-ish, especially to allow for expanding when stuffing, but not looping all over the place.
Here is a picture of the carries from the front top to give you a better idea of the tension.
Ok, moving back to the darker color....simply knit the next stitch with the darker yarn. Drop the lighter at this point and don't worry about it.
After one stitch has been worked, turn to the back for the final lighter yarn carry.
I find that if I carry the lighter yarn over/across the darker time this last time it makes my final light stitch look cleaner. So hold the lighter yarn over the darker just like with the other carries.....
Then knit the next stitch like normal with the darker yarn.
Here's the final carry on the back.
Now get to a good stopping spot (the end of the needle if you are doing magic loop like me) and cut your yarn. Leave a 6"-ish tail. Long enough to tidy up and knot at the end, but you can always trim it down more later.
Finish up that round and get to the spot where you are ready to switch colors again (the next stitch this time, not one stitch before)
Pick up the tail that is already there and waiting and start stitching. I knit four stitches then do a carry on this round. As you switch colors just drop the darker color. We won't worry about it again until the first carry.
After four stitches carry the darker yarn over and across the lighter yarn, just like on the round below.
Then turn to the front and keep knitting, doing four more stitches. Keep carrying on the 4th stitch of this row, unless you come to a multiple of three where you already carried the round below. For instance carry on stitch 4 and 8, but once you get to 12, you carried on that stitch the row below, so do something like 4, 8, 11, 14, and 17. Or whatevs. Mix it up, you're the boss of your knitting.
Once you have knit all of the stitches in your lighter color, go ahead back to your darker color and knit two stitches this time (you did one in the round below). Don't worry about what your lighter color of yarn is doing as you switch.
Once those two darker yarn stitches have been work, go ahead and do a final carry with your lighter yarn over and across the darker yarn.
Tah-dah! Here's the carry and completed color section from the back.
Repeat these two rounds until you have made it through the color work section. Here I have done about half of the ninja face.
You might find the stitches near my thumb here are loose and sloppy. Clean them up by watching the front of the fabric and gently pulling down on the ends on the back of the fabric. Gently though! Not too tight or it will pucker and not look good.
I know, no knots in knitting, right? But I do tie each set of yarn ends (from one piece of yarn over two rounds) together in a knot when I am done. I wait until I have worked several more rounds above where I am tying a knot those, as not to distort the fabric in the end. Here I have put a little knot in the back and you can see what it looks like on the front.
Once you have done all of your color section you can clean up all of those ends and trim them fairly short to tidy the whole thing up.
Here is it on the back. Look at all of those lovely carries!
Here's a close up of all those knots and shortened tails.
And one final one of the finished color work from the back.
I hope this has been helpful for y'all!