How to Use Stripes

Published November 9, 2015 by estherknit

One of the first ways we learn how to introduce a second colour is by knitting in stripes.  Although simple to knit, how do you decide on the number of rows in each stripe?  You can create a stripe effect on your knitted garment using different techniques.

  • Regular Stripes
  • Magic Stripes
  • Random Stripes
  • Fibonacci Stripes

Regular Stripes

You can always knit your garment in regular stripes.  This is not as interesting as a Fibonacci or a random stripe pattern but it can produce a pleasing result.  Simply decide on how many rows for each stripe.

Striped Hat

Baby hat in regular stripes

For example, you could knit 2 row stripes, 4 rows stripes or even 10 row stripes.  You can knit in stockinette stitch or any pattern you wish.  If you knit an odd number of rows then your yarn will be at the wrong side of your work and you will not be able to carry the yarn up the work.

Magic Stripes

You can create a stripe effect using special random dyed yarns.  As you knit the yarn creates stripes without you having to change your yarn.

Striped Poncho

Poncho in magic stripes

These yarns create stripes and jacquard effects and add interest to your knitted project.

Random Stripes

Another interesting way to add colour to your garment is to use a random number generator and knit random stripes.

Striped Tank Top

Tank top in random stripes

To do this successfully you have to have an eye for colour and like surprises!  However, it is a fun way to use up odd balls of yarn from your stash.

Fibonacci Stripes

You can create an interesting striped fabric by using a simple mathematical formula.  It is just a simple sequence of numbers known as the Fibonacci series, devised way back in 1202.  The Fibonacci sequence is the basis for the golden ratio – a pattern of numbers that occurs naturally in nature and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The numbers give perfect proportion and will produce interesting stripes.

Look at these numbers to see how the series works.

0 + 1    =    1

1 + 1    =    2

1 + 2    =    3

2 + 3    =    5

3 + 5    =    8

5 + 8    =   13

8 + 13  =   21

Can you see the sequence?  0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89,  and so on.  So, each number in this series equals the sum of the two previous numbers.  For example, 2 plus 3 equals 5, and 3 plus 5 equals 8.  These numbers are called the Fibonacci series.

Fibonacci 1b

So, how will this help your stripes?  Well, these numbers could be measurements in centimetres or inches or indeed rows themselves.  You might not want to knit with an odd number of rows and so add an 0 to the row numbers:  So you would have – 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 rows – and so on.  Use these numbers for stripe sequences, with or without the 0 added, and the sizes of the stripes will look in proportion, so no more trial and error.  You could also knit an increasing Fibonacci sequence in Colour A, with a decreasing Fibonacci sequence in Colour B.

Striped Wrist Warmers

Wrist warmers in Fibonacci stripes

With the help of these Fibonacci numbers your stripes can become a lot more interesting and lively than those you use to knit.   So, next time you have stripes to knit, remember these numbers and have fun juggling them around, then you will be knitting stripes with a difference.

Stripes with Pattern

The simplest stripes are knitted in stockinette stitch.

Striped Blanket

Blanket with stripes and pattern

However, why not try a pattern such as lace, garter stitch, a knit and purl texture, or a rib with your stripe sequence.  Your stripes will never be boring again!


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