Celebrating Stripes

A Class Anniversary

Some years ago now I worked with one of my favorite editors, Kara Gott Warner, and the folks at Annie’s Craft Store to develop an online class, Colorwork Without the Work. The class covers simple ways to work with color in stripes: basic stripe patterns worked flat and in the round, helix knitting, mosaic knitting (stripes with slipped stitches to make patterns!), and vertical intarsia stripes. As a project-based class, it also includes tutorials on techniques like working from a temporary cast-on, grafting in garter stitch, reading charts, and three-needle join.

Colorful Striped Coasters

This week I’m celebrating the anniversary of the class release with a post on stripes, specifically three-color one-row stripes worked flat, something I didn’t cover in class. Work the swatch coaster and you will also learn how to work the e-loop cast-on and work a sewn bind-off.

Grab three colors of DK or worsted weight cotton and US 5-6 needles, and let’s make some stripes!

Normally when we knit flat we work in pairs of rows: out then back, odd row/even row, RS row then WS row. Working one-row stripes in two colors requires working with double-ended needles and using a special move called the slide. Add a third color, however, and there’s no special needles or moves required. The yarn you need to use next will always be waiting for you on the other side.

Have a read through the coaster instructions, and then scroll to the skills section to get started!

Use this project to stretch your color muscles! Pull out your color wheel and use it to select a color triad. Or choose a key color and its split complementary hues. Or make it a study in light and dark: choose a hue, and a tint and tone.

Colorful Striped Coasters

three-color one-row stripes

4-5 g each worsted weight cotton in 3 colors A, B, C
US 6 needles
tapestry needle, scissors

With A and using e-loop cast-on, cast on 20 sts. Leaving tail of B, join B and knit one row. Leaving tail of C, join C and knit one row.

Row 1: With A, knit.
Row 2: With B,  knit.
Row 3: With C, knit.

Repeat rows 1-3 until piece is square (check by folding one corner of the cast-on edge diagonally up to the needle; if it meets the end stitch then the piece is square), approximately 4 inches from cast-on.

Cut the last yarn used and the one on the far end, leaving 4-6 inch tails. Leaving a tail 3-4 times the width of the piece, cut the yarn for binding off and thread on tapestry needle. Using sewn bind-off, bind off.


E-Loop Cast-On

The e-loop or loop cast-on is not my favorite cast-on but it is the right one for imitating a one row stripe. Be sure to hold the tail tightly as you cast on the first few stitches as they tend to want to fall off the needle. Use the same caution when you work into those loops on your first real row.

Join B And C

Turn the work as usual at the end of the A cast-on. Leave a tail of B and with B, knit across the row. Turn the work. Leave a tail of C and with C, knit across the row. The working yarns for C and A will be at one end, and B at the other. As you continue working back and forth, use the yarn that is next in the sequence (A, B, C) and which should be waiting for you as you finish the current row.

Switching Yarns

When you get to the end of a row there will always be two yarns at that end, the one you just used and the one you need to use next. To switch to the new yarn, simply drop the one you just used and let it hang where it falls. Pick the new one up and take it to the back to begin knitting or to the front to begin purling.

Binding Off: Sewn Bind-Off

Leaving a tail 3-4 times as long as the piece is wide, cut the yarn you will use for the sewn bind-off and thread it through a tapestry needle. Hold the work in one hand and with the other, *insert the tapestry needle purlwise and right to left through the first two stitches, pull yarn through. Insert the tapestry needle knitwise from left to right through the first stitch, then slip this stitch off the knitting needle. Repeat from * , adjusting tension of the sewn stitches to match the fabric, until all stitches have been slipped off.

Want More Stripes??

Take a stripes class with me at STITCHES West 2020!

I’ll be teaching Stripes of the Circular Type on Thursday, February 20, 2020 from 9-noon. You will learn how to carry yarns up the inside, minimize “the jog,” try helix knitting, and make mobius stripes. I’ll also talk about principles of contrast and repetition, and strategies for creating your own stripe patterns. Let’s make stripes in the round! Learn more here.

Scribble Lace Stripes

Back when I first began working in this crazy wonderful world of things to do with string, one of the recently-published books I just HAD to add to my library was Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting. The title alone was intriguing—so unexpected. When I saw the cover, I immediately bought the book. It contains chapters on topics such as free-form, swirl, sculptural, cellular automaton, ouroborus, and labyrinth knitting.

And there is something called scribble lace. The name alone intrigued—scribble lace. It conjured images of authors and artists thoroughly absorbed in the rush to get their ideas down on paper. How would a knitter scribble ideas down with yarn?? Fascinating.

Left over fine mohair and Colinette Point Five

Scribble lace is actually a simple technique for placing squiggly thick yarn stripes across a diaphanous background of fine weight yarn. It is worked with needles of the size appropriate for the thick yarn. The hardest part is getting used to working the rows between the squiggles with the fine yarn on those fat needles.

I had quite a lot of short-ish lengths of Colinette Point Five (A) left after finishing the Big Blocks Afghan. While rummaging through the lace yarn section of my stash, I found a good bit of an unknown fine mohair (B) that seemed like it would make the perfect background for the stripes. And the pattern below was born. I hope you enjoy it!

About Scribble Lace

For a firm start and finish, the pattern begins and ends with an A row. For the cast-on, A and B are held together to make a temporary slip knot, then separated to work a long-tail cast-on, thereby making the first A and B rows.

When not in use, the A yarn is carried up the side edge. While working Rows 1-6, when A and B are on the same end, work as follows:

When you reach Row 7, both yarns will be at the same end. Leave B hanging, and knit across with A. Row 8 is worked with B. To get to where B is, slide the stitches to the other end of your double-ended needle: voila, you are ready to work the next row, alternating knit and purl stitches.

Why is Row 8 worked in a 1×1 rib pattern? To put the tops of the A loops on both sides of the fabric, alternating across the row. Repeat rows 1-8 until your scarf is long enough (or you are close to running out of yarn, like me!). Work the final row with A, working in rib pattern as you bind off.

As you work with the finer weight yarn, be careful to separate stitches on the left needle. They have a tendency to bunch up and you may think there is one when there is two. I’ve also had them jump in front/behind each other, appearing out of order. Spread the stitches out as they move up on your needle end.

As for combining yarn colors: there are many pleasing combinations! Choose colors to make foreground or background stand out, use similar hues for both A and B, or choose high-contrast brights. Once you get the hang of scribbling, experiment with more or fewer rows between “scribble stripes.” Try varying the relative weight of the yarns used (always use the needle size recommended for the thicker yarn, or even a size larger!). Have fun scribbling!

Scribbling Square Stripes Scarf


  • 65 yds #6 (super bulky) wt thick and thin yarn (e.g. Colinette Point Five or Malabrigo Gruesa), A
  • 230 yds #2-4 (fine to worsted) wt kid mohair/silk blend (e.g. Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Crystal PalaceKid Merino, Malabrigo Lace), B
  • US 15 [10 mm] circular or long double-pointed needle


Holding A and B together, tie a temporary slip knot and put on needle. With A over thumb and B around index finger and using long-tail cast-on, cast on 24 sts, not counting slip knot. At end of first Row 1 below , untie slip knot.

Rows 1-6 with B and carrying A up the side it is on , knit.
Row 7 drop B; with A, knit; drop A.
Row 8 slide stitches to other end of circular needle where B waits, with B [k1, p1] 12 times.

Repeat rows 1-8 to desired scarf length, ending on a Row 6 row. Cut B; with A, work in [k1, p1] patt as you bind off. Fasten off last st.

Weave ends. Stretch scarf to “block” and open up lace. Cut and attach fringe if desired; sample has 9 lengths folded and attached to each end.