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Recently I received two emails that woke a sleeping giant. The problem wasn’t the two new emails. The new emails were fine, but they reminded me of an old one that sits unanswered in my inbox. You see, every month when I open my file full of emails, I see it. It just sits there taunting me.

It’s my Everest. It’s my white whale. It’s the question that I couldn’t answer … but I’m getting ahead of myself. 

I Turn You Round Right

Our story begins with two emails on stripes in the round. These questions I CAN answer.

Hi Patty,

My mother gave me her mother’s old knitting notebook. It is a treasure, and I’m trying my best to work my way through it. She sometimes worked with a pattern as a starting place, but more often, she just did her own thing.

The problem is, often her “pattern” is the knitting equivalent of a recipe that calls for a “whisper of cream.” Like the notes on this super cute striped hat. It has 1×1 rib on the bottom and then it’s all single row stripes alternating between 4 colors. Her note tells me to “knit all 4 colors in the same round for a smooth stripe.” What? I’ve googled how I would knit all 4 colors in the same round. Since grandma is no longer with us, I asked my mom. She had no idea. 

Help!!! What could she mean?


Baffled granddaughter

Dear Baffled granddaughter,

It sounds very much like your grandmother was using Helix knitting. It is a fantastic technique for working a series of single row stripes that repeat. This only works when you are using the same set of colors throughout the project.

It’s not really single row stripes, but a fantastic illusion. To steal a quote from my husband’s friend, “It’s a trompe l’oeil that tricks the eye,” my favorite expression, right up there with daily per diem and soup du jour of the day, but I digress. 

The trick, as grandma noted, is created by working a set number of stitches of each color across a single round. What it creates is a barber pole effect. If you look at the finished front, you can see that it actually goes off at an angle.

Since each color joins separately, you will see the start of each color at the beginning and the end of the spiral.

But the sheer and utter brilliance of it all is that there is no jog on the right side or even the wrong side. Since there is no need to carry yarn, or twist yarn when changing colors, the inside looks perfect.

Set It Up

The set-up involves dividing the number of stitches cast on by the number of colors you want to use. Here I have 36 stitches on my needle. I have 12 stitches worked in the green, then I join the blue for 12 stitches, then the purple for 12.

Once you get your colors set, you will always work across the end-of-round marker with the same color that ended the round, until you reach the next color. 

Set It Spinning

Here I have worked the purple to the end-of-round marker, and I will continue past the marker for another 12 stitches, where I’ll find the green waiting, knit 12 of the green, where I’ll find the blue waiting …

Work the blue across the end-of-round marker where the purple is waiting, and so on and so on and so on.

Here’s a little video to help:

So knit on and know your grandmother would be so proud!


Earn Your Stripes

Dear Patty,

So I saw this sweater on TV …

REader’s picture taken of her monitor while watching Mad About You

… and it just jumped on my project queue. I thought I can probably do one of those recipes for a vanilla sweater and just add the stripes. 

I know there are a lot of tutorials on striping techniques out there to avoid the ominous jog, but this curious knitter wants to know … WWPD: What Would Patty Do?

Stripe lover

Dear Stripe lover,

Funny you should ask! I was just making a little striped cowl as a gift, and I was rocking my two favorite jogless joins. 

We all know what stripes look like if we do nothing:


Not pretty, and that sweater is too cute for all that mess, even at the side. I’m sure you’d rather not commit to walking around with one arm glued to your side to cover the jog.

The first thing to notice about the sweater is the width of the stripes. They are more than one row. (Yippee!!) Next thing to note is it’s all stockinette. That means you can use my all-time favorite trick—working into the row below. This brilliant “unvention” was created by Meg Swansen. It’s not the only one out there, but to me it’s the simplest and the neatest.

Look out Below!

Begin by working one full round in the new color. When you get to your end-of-round marker, insert the tip of your right hand needle, back to front, into the row below the first stitch of the new color.

Lift it up and put it onto the tip of the left hand needle, and then knit that first stitch and the row below together.

And, ta-da, perfectly lovely jogless stripe.

Here’s a little video to help:


Nothing is Everything

AND, since you know I love answering questions you didn’t ask—What if you want to toss in some purl ridges from time to time? A bit of garter or a single purl row adds a bit of interest in your stripes. For that, my favorite jogless join is doing nothing. Well, almost nothing.

This is what it looks like if I have a round of purl and a round of knit — a very noticeable jog.

Here I have joined a new color and purled one full round. When I get to my end of round marker, I slip the first stitch purlwise from left hand needle to right hand needle, and keep knitting. Here, nothing really looks like something!


Okay, I can hear you through my computer screen. But what about the unanswered question? What about the white whale? Will you solve that knitter’s problem? To you all I say, “Like sand through the hourglass, these are the stitches of our lives.”

In other words, as they say on daytime television … stay tuned.

[Editor’s note: See Patty’s jogless joins update here.]

Patty in your Pocket

Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.

About The Author

Patty Lyons is a nationally recognized knitting teacher and technique expert. In her pursuit of training the mindful knitter, Patty is known for teaching the “why” in addition to the “how.” She specializes in sweater design and sharing her love of the much-maligned subjects of gauge and blocking.

You can find Patty at her website and on Ravelry.

Do you have a problem you’d like Patty to tackle? Write to her at



  • I once saw an episode of Knitting Daily on PBS where Euny Jang knitted with a different color yarn on each of three dpns. It gave the barber pole affect. While I remember the episode clearly, I was a very new knitter at the time and didn’t fully understand. I didn’t even own dpns at the time. Is the single stripe in helix knitting the same technique? I would love to try it! If you only want two colors, do you just divide stitches in half? Thanks for explainin things so clearly!

    • Yup, that’s Helix knitting on DPN. For two color stripes you can also check out this variation (called Helical Knitting in the video) from another MDK column –

      • Thank you for such a clear explanation of knitting stripes in the round. My question is when you’re knitting two or more rows of alternating colors, are you bringing your yarn up the inside of the garment? Thank you!

    • I discovered the helix technique when I was knitting a holiday baby hat. It turned out perfect and was interesting to do. It was two colors but doing three or four colors would be fun. Always love your tip & tricks…

  • Whoa—I love that jogless solution (no. 2). I gotta go find me some stripes.

    • Thank you Patty!!!! So simple, but such an elegant solution to this confounding issue!

  • Brilliant!

  • Simple. Elegant. Brilliant. Genius.

    When I first read this it was early and before coffee. I could not get my head around the helix concept. Now that I have had coffee, seen pictures, and given it some thought, I am ready to get the helix around my head.

    • Think of a barber pole. It’s basically the colors chasing each other around the pole, and they can NEVER catch the other color!!

  • Thank you!!! I am beginning a striped baby hat today and was going to look for a refresher on the jogless join…. opened my emails and voila! I wish that I had three colors to try the helix. Love your instructions every time, Patty –

  • I’m almost finished with an Elfe tee by Astrid Schramm and I wish I had taken the time to research your lessons! Thanks so much Patty, I plan to knit this again and will definitely use your technique for it.

  • I’m not sure if you have heard of Jen from acknitting but she does helical knitting another way, where three stitches get slipped? I’m sorry I can’t remember all the details but she produced an ebook on it

    • Yep, that’s great if you are only doing 2 colors. I prefer Helix knitting for 3 or more. I linked to Helical knitting in a comment above for someone who was asking if it worked for 2 colors. What I love about Helix knitting is how simple it is. Just divide your stitches by the number of colors and chase them around. No need to stop and slip, just knit!

  • Thank you, I’m excited to try this. Stripes, here I come. 🙂

  • Thanks Patty! My next question is: when will you have a video KAL with stripes as an option?

  • Thank you Patty.

  • Thank you for this wealth of information! After I finish the two cardigans I am working on I plan to knit a sweet little summer Tee that has both stripes and single rows of purls for textured stripes. This article will prove to be invaluable! When beginning knitting after a purl row, if I read it correctly, I just begin knitting, I don’t need to do anything special on that first row of knitting after the purl row. Is that correct?

    • Yep, in my sample I changed colors and did one full round of purl (to get that nice two color accent. When you are back to that first st and you change to your knit round, you slip the first purl st of the round and start knitting.

  • When I try the 2-row jogless join, the stripes line up but I end up with what looks like a slipped stitch at the beginning of the round. Am I doing something wrong? You’re sample doesn’t seem to do that.

    • Did you knit the stitch as I show in the video, or just slip it?

      • I think I knit the stitch just like in the video – pick up the stitch from the back, lift it onto the needle, and knit together with the first stitch.

  • This actually answered my problem, thanks!

  • Just a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great pattern. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.” by Albert Einstein.

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