A Year of Techniques: Helical Stripes!

By Kay Gardiner
March 1, 2017

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  • Squeal! So excited about this. My zaberball hasn’t arrived yet but soon I hope as can’t wait to try

  • I’ve just made Donna Druchunas’ Resist hat with two single-row stripes. Oy! I tried several techniques…none was especially easy to follow nor what I hoped to achieve. I have a Z-ball and can’t wait to start!

    • Hats! I didn’t even think about hats!

  • That is bloody brilliant.

  • So clever! So simple! What a great year this will be, lots of new techniques and colorful zauberballs making a daring appearance in monochromatic NYC!

  • I’m itching to cast on right now!

  • Is it just me, or was that difficult to see? I would love to see it again with larger needles and using more contrasting colors.

    • It’s not just you. I would love to see a video with actual contrasting yarn and also a tiny bit more time spent explaining the dpn situation.

    • Hi Visually Oriented and Susan,
      We were aiming for a balance of keeping the technique looking like its related project, and it being visible. I really do take on board your comments though, and we will endeavour to get a better balance on the following videos. Many thanks for your feedback. Jen

    • I was able to follow magic loop – but couldn’t really figure out how she was doing the dpns – did she stop a whole needle away from the second color and if you never catch up how do you get the stripe effect – I can’t do magic loop so I need to understand the dpns –

      • Yes, you just stop a whole needle away. It just saves slipping any stitches. You might find it easiest to just cast on some stitches and try it. It’s tricky to visualise and understand but super simple to do. There are lots of us around in the knitalong threads to help out if you’re stuck.

      • Agree — a round or two more w/dpns would have been great on the video as I don’t do Magic Loop (I know, I know).

  • Your skill acquisition observations perfectly match my knitting history. This one skill per month approach is more likely to really grow my available techniques as opposed to a weekend retreat or a solo do it yourself plan. Thanks.

  • Mind blown! I was wondering what to do with my J. Draper bouquet, and am now inspired. Helical stripes!

  • This is almost cosmic! Last week i decided to knit some baby balloon pants with single row stripes. At my LYS, the owner, Mary, suggested this type of striping and explained how to do it. And here I now have the directions and a video coming! Perfect!

    • How wonderfully serendipitous. 🙂 I hope you enjoy them!

  • Hmmm..can’t open zip file on my iPad Pro? Any tips? Also is tutorial only on MDK site? I had bookmarked this hat awhile back so I am eager to start my hand warmers

    • I’m having trouble on the iPad Pro too! I can’t get it out of Dropbox.

      • I think my reply to Di should help you out as well. There’s a post in our group on Ravelry explaining how to add your patterns to your Ravelry library, where they are available as pdf files. Please do drop me an email with your full name and Ravelry username if you need further assistance. Many thanks again, Jen

    • Hi Di! I’m sorry to hear you’re having difficulty with the zip file on your iPad. It sounds like you’d find it much easier to use the Ravelry library instead, since then it’s just pdf files to open. This post tells you how to add A Year of Techniques to your Ravelry library:
      http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/arnall-culliford-knitwear/3587331/1-25#3 But if you have any difficulty with that at all, then please just email me on [email protected] with your full name and Ravelry username and I can help you to get it sorted out. 🙂 Many thanks, Jen

  • Kay, it looks as though you are using Magic Loop? I so much prefer that to dpns – is there anything I need to know to adapt that or is it an easy transition?

    • Hi Teresa! Kay may be doing two circs. I’m definitely using Magic Loop for my Hyacinthus armwarmers, for the first time, and I am HOOKED. It works beautifully with this pattern.

      Live and learn!

      • Thanks Ann! I was dreading the dpns – now I can’t wait to cast on!!!

        • In the video, you can see Jen using Magic Loop for her armwarmers. That’s where I got the idea–have always meant to try it but never did. Very Pink Knits has a great quick tutorial for Magic Loop:

      • what length are you using –

        • Not terribly long circs–I don’t have them in front of me, but 24 or 29″?

  • Absolutely brilliant!

  • For a sock pattern using this technique, try Dorothy’s Slip Stitch Spiral Knit Socks. Lots of fun…it adds a slip stitch to the pattern, making a vertical stripe over the horizontal ones. Now to get out that Zauberball and try the handwarmers!

  • I got my pattern this morning too, and thought the same thing after reading through the description: I wonder if this will work on the Honey Cowl? Can’t wait to get started…even though I have to, at least until I get home from work!

    • I’m a bit confused as to how you would use it in a honey cowl. I have made one before, but don’t see how it applies here. I just made with a single hand painted yarn. Would you be alternating it with another color each round? Could you explain please? Sorry, I guess I need someone to draw me a picture. Lol.

  • I had not succumbed to this temptation until today’s post which hooked me right in! Thanks, MDK.

  • I don’t understand this statement: “I divided it unevenly, to maximize contrast in the stripes at the start of my mitts.” How will making your balls of unequal size affect the contrast? Unless you mean your mitts will each start with different colors?

    • I am not Kay, but having done this myself I think that yes, that’s exactly what she meant. Start with one end white and one end black, even if that’s not in the middle of the ball. I did this with a pair of socks… that I wish I had known how to do four row helical stripes with at the time!


      I am very excited about the idea of learning new techniques. I recently did a brioche challenged that got me knitting brioche… I’m going to try another striped sock using this helical technique. And I can’t wait to see what’s next!

      • Actually, really looking at my photo that’s not what I did… I thought I had, but I just wasn’t Kay-level clever yet. So the start of her mitts will be high contrast like the area around my sock heels, not like the cuffs or toes.

  • What a fantastic year it’s going to be!

  • How do you use this wonderful technique when your stripes change color…ie pink, purple, pink, purple, orange, purple, orange, purple, etc. When I try it I seem to get 3 stitches that aren’t in the correct color. Suggestions VERY welcome!!!

    • I wonder which yarn you are using? If you are using a self-striping sock yarn with short bursts of colour, you might be better working it against a plain colour so you have a good contrast. The colours may change more than once in a round, so you run the risk of having both yarns in the same shade.

      If you are using a Zauberball, you should get the graduated change in colour like the photos with the pattern. If the colour changes while you’re working with a yarn, just go with it and keep following the instructions.

      To check that you have the technique down, maybe swatch in 2 plain colours. Do a couple of plain rounds in one colour, then join in the other work a few rounds in helical stripes. If you’re getting it right, it will be obvious right away.

  • Can I use a ball of crazy?

    • Hi hmontini! I would suggest caution with the Crazy Zauberball. The normal Zauberball has a single ply which gradually changes colour, so when you work with two balls of it, then you’re striping one colour against another. The Crazy Zauberball is made from two plies and they are each different colours that gradually change. So when you stripe with two balls of this, you get the two colours against two colours, which means that there is generally much less contrast, and often two of the four possible plies are the same colour. If you have a Crazy you’d like to use, then I’d suggest pairing it with a solid coloured sock yarn. That way you’ll get great contrast throughout. I hope that makes sense. It’s hard to explain why it doesn’t work quite so well. 🙂

  • These look like so much fun! I love them. The colorway of Smoking Area is gorgeous and I can’t wait to see it in person, but I really, truly, hate the name. 🙁

  • Living in the NYC area, your comment about only shipping Zauberball colorway Shadows to NYC absolutely cracked me up. Thank you for that!

  • I’m currently knitting the beginning of a 2 row striped top down raglan, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to apply this technique, which I think will be extremely helpful in minimizing the jog.

  • What a (dare I say) brilliant idea – A Year of Techniques! Thank you so much, Ann and Kay! I’ve been searching for a way to expand my knitting horizons, and this is a great fit: learn something new, apply it, and complete a project. I’m currently having fun with helical stripes and looking forward to the next lesson.

  • I am thinking about making the summer honey cowl that Kay posted today. If I use your technique for the stripes and slip 3 stitches before the marker wouldn’t that leave a hole? I think I understand that you do that on each color. I guess it works out somehow but wanted to check. I also want to make sure you can just use the technique with the circular needle, not a magic loop needle. Thanks!

  • I had come accross Helix knitting for stripes a few years ago but it never dawned on me to use it to alternate skeins of hand dyed yarn. Someone mentioned it the other day and I’ve been combing the internet for info. It’s such a brilliant idea. I hate that spine but I accept it and do my best to make it less obvious. This is a game changer for sweater knitting.

  • Does anyone have a hint on how to finesse things when you drop your contrast yarn and return to the background colour? When the background colour laps the end of the contrast stripe, it has to sort of jump down a level and my knitting looks a bit distorted. Hmm, maybe join in a second strand of the contrast colour? I’ll have to experiment.