Carry or Break? Tips for Carrying Yarn up the Side

Goldfish Shawl by Casapinka

This is the time of year I get into the mood to knit projects that remind me of warmer days and spring flowers.  We are beginning to have days in Estes that are warm enough to sit outside, knit, and soak up some sun.  That is exactly what I love to do and projects that make me think of spring are hard to resist.

Baa Yarn La Jolla Pink

Shawls in bright colors and lightweight yarn are appealing to knit this time of year and my current project, Goldfish Memory by Casapinka, is not an exception.  I am knitting it with Baah Yarns La Jolla, a 100% superwash Merino Wool fingering weight, that has a luxury feel.  The pattern is fun to knit with simple pattern changes about every 20 to 40 rows, so you never get bored.  The color changes occur only at the ends of the rows.  The pattern is achieved using slip stitches so no carrying color across a row.  As described by the designer, “Urban legend has it that a goldfish has a memory or attention span (I’ve heard both) of about 3 seconds, or the time it takes to swim around its bowl.  I can be like this, and at those times, I just want a nice big knitting project that will keep me occupied while letting me watch bad eighties airplane movies on YouTube….” 

Goldfish Shawl by Casapinka

As you might notice from the photograph (left), the pattern uses only two colors at a time.  Although the directions suggest that knitters can break yarn or carry yarn at each color change, I prefer to carry the yarn up the side for each section.  I really do not enjoy weaving in lots of ends — it’s tedious.   Carrying the yarn is fairly simple when there are two or three rows of each color.  Just wrap the new color behind the old color, pick up the new color, and knit.  The challenge can come when there are five or six rows before a color change.  In that case, you can make a single twist (placing the old yarn on top of the new and then picking up the new yarn to begin the row).  This anchors the old yarn along the side as you knit the rows.  When I need to knit more than six rows between color changes, I usually break my yarn and accept that fact that I will need to weave in the ends.  If this sounds confusing, click on the tutorial below (Carrying Yarn Up the Side - Stripes, Colorwork by KnitPurlHunter).  Let’s face it, a picture is worth a thousand words.

What I have learned, and this is true with changing colors in the middle of a row or at the end of rows, is that I must pay attention to my tension.  As I carry the yarn up the side of my work, I make sure that the stitches are pulled snug enough to keep my stitches even, but not so tight that the fabric crinkles up.  The more I do it, the better and more consistent I have become.  That is one reason to take on a color-work project.  It is fun to see the colors change and keeps my skills sharp.  Shawl and scarf patterns are good choices.  They are smaller in scale than sweaters and are worked flat.  Knitting a garment that requires carrying yarn in the round will be much more fun once you feel good about carrying yarn up the side.