Knitting Stripes – How to Knit Stripes for Beginners

Learn all about knitting stripes with this easy tutorial for beginners. One of the easiest ways to start working with color in knitting is to knit horizontal stripes. They are really easy to work with, and you can easily add stripes into any pattern you may already have. It is fun to knit stripes, and they add a stylish look to any garment.

Knitting Stripes, How to Knit Stripes

Knitting Stripes Tutorial


  • Yarn in the colors you have chosen for your stripes.
  • Knitting needles suitable for that yarn.
  • Yarn needle.
  • Scissors.

Tip: If you are purchasing yarn, especially for your stripey project, be sure to get the same type of yarn, just different colors. This will ensure that your stripes are all the same gauge and thus the same thickness. If your plan is to stash bust and use up yarn scraps, try to use the same thickness of yarn for each color so that the variations in gauge don’t look too drastic!

Knitting Stripes, How to Knit StripesPin
Knitting Stripes, How to Knit Stripes

How To Knit Stripes Step by Step Instructions

The only thing you really need to concentrate on when knitting stripes is the changing of colors.

Changing Colors in Knitting Stripes

Cast on, and work as many rows of knitting as you want for the width of each stripe. Stockinette stitch is a good choice for clear, crisp stripes. Remember stockinette stitch is formed by alternating one knit row and one purl row.

  • When your stripe is the width you want it to be, you need to start your new color.
  • If you want smooth, clear stripes, always change color on a right side row. It also helps to keep all your tails on the right hand side for easier finishing off later.
  • Drop the first color and pick up the yarn for the second color.
  • Leave a long tail of both yarns (about 6”, 15cm.) for weaving in later.

Start Knitting In The New Color

  • The stitches should be on the left needle.
  • Insert your right needle into the first stitch, just as you would if continuing in the same color.
How to Change Yarn for Knitting StripesPin
How to Change Yarn for Knitting Stripes
  • Then wind the new color yarn around the needle and complete the stitch with that new yarn. You do not need to worry about knots to join yarns, as long as you weave those ends in very securely!
How to Change Yarn for Knitting StripesPin
How to Change Yarn for Knitting Stripes
  • Hold both yarns together while you complete that first stitch.
  • This first stitch will look very loose! When you have knitted a few more stitches, go back and tighten it up gently by pulling on the long tails.
  • Knit across the row in the new color.
How to Change Yarn for Knitting StripesPin
How to Change Yarn for Knitting Stripes
  • Keep knitting until you have knitted the width you require for the new stripe.
  • You can now go back to your first color or add in a third color, whichever you fancy!
  • The method to change color yarns is exactly the same each time you change colors.

Carrying Yarn Colors of Knit Stripes

If you are knitting even numbers of rows for each stripe, you can choose to carry the colors up the side of the knitting. This is a lot easier than cutting the yarn each time you change colors, and it saves you from having to weave in ends for every stripe.

  • Do not cut the yarn from your first color.
  • As you are about to change yarns, place the old yarn over the new yarn and hold it in place while you knit that first stitch. This will twist it slightly.
  • Twist the 2 colors together at the end of every second row. This will carry the yarn upwards towards the next yarn change and prevent large, loose loops from forming at the sides. It will result in a neat edge that is hard to see on the knit side.
How to Knit Stripes and Carry the YarnPin
How to Knit Stripes and Carry the Yarn
  • If you are using more than 2 colors, carry all the colors up the side of the knitting to be ready for when that color is needed again.

Changing Back To The Carried Yarn

  • When you are ready to start the next stripe, drop the color you are using and pick up the carried color.
  • Knit the first stitch with the carried color.
  • Be careful not to pull too tightly on that color, or your knitting will bunch up at the edges!
Knitting Stripes and Changing YarnPin
Knitting Stripes and Changing Yarn

Weaving In Ends of Knitted Stripes

If you choose to carry your yarn, you will have much less weaving in to do at the end, but you will still have ends at the beginning of each color and at the start and finish of your entire project.

To do this, thread those long tails you left into your yarn needle and weave them into the same color.

You can weave through the purl loops of the knitting, just keep checking that the ends are not showing on the right side of the fabric.

How to Weave Tails into StripesPin
How to Weave Tails into Stripes

Another method is to stitch the ends up vertically along the edge of your work. This will be hidden inside the seas. This does not work as well if you are making something like a scarf or a throw, as they have no seams! You can then either work a border to cover your stitching or just choose the weaving into the purl loops method. Keep it as invisible as possible!

Knitting Stripes In Garter Stitch

Usually, when you are working in garter stitch, you don’t need to worry about the right and wrong sides of the work, as they both look the same. This changes when you are working with stripes!

On the wrong side of the work, the colors will visibly interlock in the same row. The right side will look smoother, but because of the bumpy nature of the garter stitch, still not as smooth as the stockinette stitch. Some people like this look and choose to make it the right side of the work.

Knitting Stripes in Garter StitchPin
Knitting Stripes in Garter Stitch

This interlocking of colors looks especially cute on children’s garments! Also, if you use similar colors, it does give a lovely blended appearance rather than a distinct separation of colors. It all depends on what look you are going for!

Knitting Stripes In Ribbing Or Seed Stitch

When working in knitted ribbing or seed stitch, where you are using different stitches in the same row, you will also get this interlocking color effect. Because it isn’t on every stitch, it looks like a row of dashes in a different color, and is called the purl dash effect.

Knitting Stripes in Ribbing - Dot DashPin
Knitting Stripes in Ribbing – Dot Dash

If you want smooth, clean stripes in your ribbing or seed stitch, this is the solution: Each time you start a new color, instead of working the combination of stitches (eg. k2, p2 or k1, p1) along the row, Just knit that row in plain knit stitch. You will still have purl dashes on the wrong side, but the right side will be smooth. The row of knit stitches will blend in and look invisible.

Knitting Stripes in RibbingPin
Knitting Stripes in Ribbing

This method does not work with very narrow stripes, as you will be changing color too often, and the rib will lose its stretch.

Other Methods Of Knitting Stripes

Textured Stripes

You may not want to keep changing colors, but still want a stripey effect to your knitting. By working entire rows of different stitches, you will create textured stripes, which are also known as welts. Here is an example of how to do striped in a solid color:

  • Cast on the required number of stitches.
  • Rows 1, 3 and 6, knit.
  • Rows 2, 4 and 5, purl.
  • Repeat these rows until your fabric is the required length.
Knitting Textured StripesPin
Knitting Textured Stripes

Another, lovely version, which gives both color and texture changes, is to work 4 rows stockinette stitch in color A, then 2 rows garter stitch in color B.

Knitting Stripes with Variegated Yarn

This is the easiest method to get a stripey look to your knitting. The disadvantage is that the stripes will be uneven, not clear, and precise. If you are looking for a subtle, blended effect, this will be a super easy way to get it without worrying about color changes at all! You will need to find a variegated yarn with long sections of each color for this, rather than one which changes color every inch or so!

Knitting Stripes – In Conclusion

Stripes do not always have to be the same width! You can have some wide stripes and some narrow, as long as you work with an even number of rows every time so that you change colors on the same side every time and avoid the ‘purl dash’ effect.

I hope these ideas and tips will be useful to you when you decide to create something with stripes. Enjoy your knitting, and enjoy knitting stripes in every way possible!

Leave a Comment