The Floats

The Floats

Loose floats are happy floats, color dominance, the increases; scroll down for a video.

All of my thoughts for the day are for concurrent situations, so let's just jump in and circle around a few times!

Let's pick up today's thoughts just after the cuff.  The cuff is knit, you switched to the larger size needle and started the colorwork.  First thing, there are increases!  But, they are not on the chart.  What to do!  Well, as with any good pattern, I've got circles and arrows and highlighters all over mine, so, we might as well just go ahead and draw on the chart too.  The check marks mean I did the increase.

chart doodles


For my size M, increases are every 10th row.  So, I penciled in another column of stitches, and shaded in a couple boxes for an idea of how to keep the patterning going.  I'm also going to show you my actual knitting, and at that point I hope you don't unfollow me for bad advice, I do tend to wing things sometimes, deciding in the moment what color those stitches should be.  I can live with it.  I can also think up 3 other ways to do it better/ different next time, keep reading.

One more thing before I show you that.  Stitch markers are your friends, and I had a horrible time even starting each row, until I put 2 stitch markers in, denoting the actual start of the charted row, with the increased stitches marked.

stitch markers

So, here's my finished sleeve, I'm sharing the worst right here.  But notice that even though the pattern is a bit joggy, at least the floats were happy which you can tell because it lays pretty flat:

maja the underbelly


How to do it better/ differently? Here's 4 ideas, sorry no pics, just swimming in my head.

1.  Like an arm band tattoo, keep the motifs from connecting -- there will be an ever-widening space of background color.  May lead to long floats, which is why i didn't do this.

2.  Vertical stripes up underarm.  Once you've knit around, decide how many stitches are outside of a full repeat, and start a set of 1x1 vertical stripes with your 2 colors.  Should add up to very long V shapes.  I wish I'd done this.

3.  Guesstimate.  Add in those extra stitches as best you can to the pattern.  This is what I did do.  The less-than-whole repeat is just that, and it's partial-ness is exacerbated by the jog at the BOR caused by the fact that knitting in the round is a spiral, not actually rows stacked on top of each other.

4.  Horizontal stripes up underarm.  What if one row had the background color for those stitches, and the next row had the contrast color?  You'd get small horizontal stripes, that get wider as you go.  This thought intrigues me, I hope I get a chance to try it.

Last thoughts on this problem.  IT'S ONLY A FEW STITCHES. Sorry, just had to mention that in the light of this larger project, the 6-ish stitches under the arm are maybe not the thing we should fixate on.  But cheers to learning new things, and striving for the best with our mindset of growth.  Boo to perfection, it's an arbitrary benchmark stuck in a fixed mindset.


OK, on to the other thoughts of the day.

Color dominance.  This is a product of 2-color knitting; one color is more obvious and one is less defined, and it has to do with how you hold the yarns, NOT to do with colors on the charted pattern.  Because we change color, one of the yarns will sit closer to the knitting and one will sit outside of that, hugging the other so it is pushed closer to the knitting.  The one sitting closer to the knitting is the dominant one.  The one that floats farther out is not dominant.  So, we have a chart with one motif sitting on a background; it makes sense to choose to make the motif the dominant color, so it pops off the background just a little more.  The yarn that sits most to the LEFT is the dominant one. 

Check it out, I made you a video.  I'll make it landscape mode next time.

Keep reading, this is good stuff!

How do you hold your multiple strands, and does that make a difference in color dominance?  With all of these fingers and two hands, there are plenty of choices on how to hold your yarn.  I hold both of mine on 2 fingers of my left hand.  Here's a video from Modern Daily Knitting that you should watch, and she shows 3 other ways to hold the yarn that are different than mine!

I am not the float police, so if you find yourself knitting a couple stitches, then dropping the yarn and picking up the other, I won't be mad, but you should know that you might be working in a technique that is closer to Twined Knitting or Two Ended Knitting, causing the yarns to spiral around each other with every color change.  I don't like to tell people they are doing things wrong, but ... what I do know is, if you are doing this, the idea of color dominance is out the window, and you are going to have more tangled yarn than the rest of us, and very, very, warm and unstretchy fabric.  I hope you will consider letting this color dominance/ how to hold multiple yarns info sink in for future use.

So it matters what yarn is held where, but how much does it REALLY matter?  Well, if you watched that video, there is a picture of 3 samples done with different dominance.  If this is too nitpicky for you, then do your best and know that this color dominance info will still be available if you ever find it pertinent.  I would say LOOSE FLOATS are more important than 100% adherence to dominance, the garment will be more wearable.

A note on catching long floats; pros and cons.  This pattern doesn't have any huge floats.  I've made 2 sweaters lately that had 15-20 stitch floats and those are loooong floats.  Putting a garment on with un-caught floats just requires a little care to not snag one.  All that being said, I just about never catch floats because sometimes they show through the right side, especially if you are a tight knitter, especially if there are two in the same column of knitting near each other.  Uh, what is catching a float?  That is when you grab a long float as it is in progress by way of knitting the other color and sandwiching the float in as you go....  Google it if you must, I am not in love with catching floats.


So, we've got cuffs, we are knitting colorwork, sleeves are happening.  Add your questions and comments below!  I can't wait for next week.

[Oh, and check out my new mug in that top pic, my friend Patti @ Stone Cottage Pottery and Farm made it for me and I am in looooove with the snowiness of this pretty white glaze.]




  1. Shelley Stone Shelley Stone

    Thanks Jean, I'm hoping to meander through topics one at a time and post them here!

  2. Jeanne Leffingwell Jeanne Leffingwell

    Wow, Shelley, you have just saved yourself a ton of time, by me not needing having to repeatedly come into the shop with 100 questions. I did not discover your blog until just now. (You should toot its existence more with us locals.) Wonderful stuff. Now when I want to do a next project, all I will have to do is figure out how much help you've already got out here!

  3. Charla Charla

    Hi Shelly!
    After making it too row 20 on the sleeve color chart I decided to rip it out an try again. I hope to use the tips for holding the yarn. I learned from your video an the other one you shared. Thanks for making your comments so easy too follow an fun!

Leave a comment
* Your email address will not be published