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How do you start a new color in the middle of a row in knitting?


When knitting a project that requires color changes, you will inevitably need to start a new color in the middle of a row. This is a very common technique in knitting that allows you to create beautiful colorwork patterns. While it may seem daunting at first, starting a new color mid-row is actually quite simple once you know what to do. In this article, we will walk through the step-by-step process and provide tips for smooth and seamless color changes.


Before starting a new color, there are a few things you need to do to prepare:

  • Have both yarn colors handy – Make sure the new color yarn you want to switch to is ready to go. Have the ball unwound enough that you can comfortably start knitting with it.
  • Finish the row with the old color – It’s easiest to change colors when you are at the end of a row, so complete the row you’re on in the original color before making the switch.
  • Check your knitting – Take a close look at the last few stitches and make sure there aren’t any errors. It’s much easier to fix mistakes before changing colors.
  • Read the knitting instructions – Verify where exactly in the row you need to change colors and how many stitches the new color should be worked for.

Taking the time to prepare helps make the color change smooth and seamless.

How to Join a New Color Yarn

Once you’ve prepped your materials and are ready to switch colors, follow these steps:

  1. Work to the point where you need to change colors as instructed. Stop after working the indicated stitch in the old color.
  2. Drop the old color yarn, leaving a tail of a few inches. Bring the new color yarn up and into position to work the next stitch.
  3. Work the new stitch with the new color. Make sure not to pull too tight.
  4. Proceed across the row in the new color as instructed in the pattern. Work over the tail of the old color as you go to secure it.
  5. When you get to the point where you need to change back to the old color, drop the new color and pick up the old color yarn tail.

And that’s it! It’s a very simple maneuver once you try it. The key things to keep in mind are:

  • Be sure to leave enough of a tail with the old color so you can weave it in later. About 4-6 inches is sufficient.
  • Work over the tail of the old color with the new color to prevent holes.
  • Do not pull too tight when first joining the new color or the knitting may pucker.

With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to change colors mid-row with ease.

Tips for Smooth Color Changes

Follow these tips for clean, smooth color changes every time:

  • Maintain even tension – Try to maintain the same tension with both yarn colors. If the new color is significantly looser or tighter than the old, it will show.
  • Twist yarns – When changing colors, give the old and new yarn a twist together where they meet. This secures them and prevents holes.
  • Weave in ends neatly – Weave in the tail ends with a tapestry needle so they are secured inside the knitting. Trim any excess.
  • Use proper stranded technique – When working color patterns, be sure to catch the unused color tightly to prevent long loops on the wrong side.
  • Block your knitting – Blocking helps even out the stitches and makes the color changes less obvious.

Mastering these techniques will give your colorwork a professional finish.

Common Issues When Changing Colors Mid-Row

Sometimes you may encounter these issues when working color changes:

  • Holes or gaps – This happens if old and new yarn tails are not twisted together, or if the unused color is not caught properly in stranded knitting.
  • Puckering – Too much tension when joining a new color can cause puckers in the fabric. Be careful not to pull too tight.
  • Jog at color change – If there is a visible “jog” or stitch offset at the color boundary, try working the first stitch of the new color through the back loop.
  • Differing color gauge – Knitting the new color much looser or tighter than the original color can distort the fabric.

Being aware of these potential issues will help you identify and fix any problems. With practice, you will be able to achieve perfect color changes every time.

Special Techniques for Specific Scenarios

There are also some special techniques for handling certain color change scenarios:

Changing colors in ribbing or colorwork:

  • Use a jogless join – Work the first stitch of the new color through the back loop to prevent a jog between colors.
  • Maintain pattern – When changing colors, be sure to maintain the ribbing or colorwork pattern consistently.
  • Weave in ends – Weave in ends through the bumps on the wrong side of the fabric, not through the ribbing valleys which will show.

Changing colors in garter stitch:

  • Change colors on edge stitches – When working garter stitch, only change colors on the edge stitches, not mid-row.
  • Carry color up the side – Bring the new color up along the edge, twisting it once with the old color.
  • Avoid color fringing – Work the first stitch tightly and weave in ends carefully to avoid loose fringe.

Changing colors in lace or openwork patterns:

  • Change after a yarn over – Make color changes directly after yarn overs to hide ends behind the open stitch.
  • Use duplicate stitch – Use duplicate stitch embroidery to change colors in noticeable areas.
  • Plan color placement – Strategically place colors in the less open areas of the pattern.

Learning these special techniques allows you to seamlessly change colors in any type of knitting project.


Starting a new color in the middle of a row may seem challenging, but is a fundamental knitting technique that opens up many possibilities for knitting patterns. With the right preparation and method, you can achieve perfect color changes every time. Be aware of potential issues, learn special techniques for specific situations, and remember to knit with an even tension. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon be changing colors mid-row with confidence and ease to create beautiful colorwork projects. The ability to work clean color changes anywhere in the knitting opens up a whole world of creative possibilities.

Issue Cause Solution
Holes or gaps Not twisting yarn tails together
Not catching unused color properly in stranded knitting
Always twist new and old yarn when changing colors
Make sure to catch unused color every few stitches in stranded knitting
Puckering Pulling too tight when joining new color Be careful not to pull too tight when working the first stitch in the new color
Jog at color change Stitch offset between colors Work the first stitch of new color through the back loop
Differing color gauge New color is knit much looser or tighter than original Work new color with matched gauge to original color

This table summarizes some common issues that can occur when changing colors mid-row in knitting, along with the typical causes and solutions for fixing them properly.