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I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but I really like to knit with a lot of color. People laugh when I say rainbows are my neutrals, but it’s true. Color uplifts my mood and I’ve even found it uplifts my students too. When I walk into a classroom wearing a rainbow sweater, they can’t help but smile.

I have a bundle of favorites on Ravelry of patterns that I can make with two or more colors. I’m also obsessed with two-color brioche, and I try to convert everyone I know to learn it. I thought this month I’d pick a few brioche patterns and a few easier slipped stitch patterns that will help you explore using more color in your knitting.

Inkwell by Alice Caetano

Photo courtesy of amirisu.

Inkwell looks complex but it’s not. The grid is a slipped stitch pattern, so if you’re a little intimidated by brioche, try this as an alternative. Even though the sample is knit in black and white, why not replace the black with a variegated yarn? Go for a bold pop of color and pair it with a neutral so it’s not too much color overload your first time.

Mabel’s Sister by Fiona Alice

Photo by Kristin perers for Loop London. photo courtesy of loop london.

This swing cardigan by Fiona Alice moved up to the top of my favorites list the moment I saw it. Again, another slipped stitch pattern that looks more intricate than the knitting actually is and allows you to play with color. I’d knit this with olive as the main body color and then a vibrant hot pink or red as the secondary accent color, so you could still consider it a pretty neutral piece.

Vitamin B by Simone Kereit

Photo by Simone Kereit.

If you’re a brioche newbie or a bit scared, the Vitamin B pullover is the perfect starter piece. Just a touch of brioche on the sides as a nice accent to a simple pullover. You can dip your toe into brioche and add a fun pop of color to the side of the knits. Think of a solid gray sweater with a sunny yellow brioche pop for fun.

La Brioheme by Lesley Anne Robinson

Photo by Lesley Anne Robinson.

If you’re more confident with your two-color brioche skills, this is the sweater for you. I’ve knit it twice, once for myself and once for my cousin. You start by knitting a brioche strip for the hem and then knit from the bottom up. It’s a fun construction that keeps you engaged but allows you to explore and play with fun color options.

Pretty Things Poncho by Lavanya Patricella

Photo by Lavanya Patricella.

If you’re really into brioche, might I suggest the Pretty Things Poncho? I know technically it’s not a sweater, but with the double fabric brioche stitches make, this is going to be warmer than any other knit in your closet. Added bonus, it is worsted weight and will work up quickly.

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Remember the “Feather” Featherweight cardigan by Hannah Fettig? I finally knit this one for myself and then decided to make a tiny pullover version for Jellybean.

Talk about an electric color combination and a fun knit!

Be bold with color choices for your next sweater and you’ll always smile when you wear it.

All photos used with permission.



About The Author

Dana Williams-Johnson knits every day. Knitting is what brings Dana joy, and she shows that through her use of color (hello, rainbows) and modifications of favorite patterns into replica sweaters for her dogs.

You can read about it all on Dana’s blog, Yards of Happiness, and watch her video podcasts on YouTube.


  • Dana, I really love your posts here! Your use of colour is amazing and you always find such excellent patterns. Thank you!

  • Dana exudes Joy! It is delightful to see all the blog photos as she wears her colorful sweaters, holding her best dressed dogs. Definitely inspirational! I think Yards of Happiness has evolved into Miles of Happiness. What a journey.

  • More More. I love being introduced to new patterns through Dana’s color-loving eye.

  • Dana you are such a talent! And seeing mini version on Jelly Bean always puts big smile on my face. Your sweaters fit you guys so well.

  • So excited to see two of my favorite (and local) knitwear designers featured here today! Dana always brings the best.

  • Love the feather sweater on the sweet dog..

    • I have that dress and I need to stop pairing it with a black cardigan!

  • Dana your joy of what you do shines through in the words you write. but especially in your beautiful face and smile. Keep bringing the joy!

  • I love the colors in your matching Feathers. I knit a cat bed in those colors and with a similar look. It was years ago and I think it was from the first MDK book. I held two yarns together – an eyelash and a worsted to get that effect – before marling was really a thing. When Scooby passed, my daughter wanted him cremated in his bed because he loved it so much but your photos reminded me of it. Thanks for the happy memory!
    I also have a question. I am afraid to do a brioche sweater because I have found that even a quick dunk makes my brioche grow exponentially. What is the best way to wash a brioche sweater without having it turn out huge?

    • Wash your swatch so that you get the gauge right for when the sweater gets washed:-)

  • I don’t wear that much color but you may convert me. Your versions look so much better than the pics in here! I also love how u mix yarn brands. I do that too. Thanks for an excellent post! (Also thanks to having to click through to see your versions I now know about your fantastic blog!)

  • I always love reading Dana’s posts, and this one is just about my favorite. I’ve not knit any Brioche yet, but Vitamin B may get me there. Thank you for all of the colorful inspiration!

  • Reading what you have to say always makes me happy and inspired. Thank you so much.

  • Love the way you bring color (and your gorgeous smile) into everyone’s life. “Rainbows are my neutral.” 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you!

  • Dana you are so talented and creative. I have Mabels sister on my must knit list and now Photo. I am a curvy woman so Photo would be flattering! I am a big fan of color, I have a Steven West shawl with at least 6 brights. I started while battling pneumonia. It lifted my spirits. Dana, you combine yarns another favorite technique of mine, too. Thank you Dana, for the inspiration. I wish you a great academic New Year. I am a semi retired teacher.
    Thanks again, MDK love your posts. Your products, too. Just received 11 &12. Ex cited to try some new patterns.
    I encourage all my knitting friends to join the fun with MDK.

  • I love this article and ALL the sweaters, but stop the press!! I am floored with how beautiful Pretty Things Poncho is, it just got my eye. You just introduced Lavanya’s designs to me and I’m in love. Also Dana’s matching sweaters with her pup I can’t get over that! So adorable!
    Thanks MDK!

  • Hmm..the Vitamin B does look fun for a first attempt. But I have to say the matching Feather cardigans are the best!

  • Dana, you are a knitter after my own heart. I love your wardrobe (and Jellybean’s, too)!

  • I always love your posts. Full of color, wit, great ideas and inspiration! Never fails to make me smile. I only wish I could knit faster!!!

  • That settles it. When I go to Rhinebeck this year, I am going to look for some yarn that pops!

  • I LOVE your patterns, use of color, and generally…..just you ❤️

  • Dana, Your posts are so good. I love the patterns you find, and seeing your smiling face always brightens my day. I love your sense of color and your spirit and little Jelly Bean! THANK YOU!

  • Wow, those are really nice sweater choices. I like four of those and have added them to my “dream” list. (I don’t knit as quickly as you do.)

  • Count me in on the passion for color, and a growing love of brioche, too! I’m excited about a couple of these patterns — thanks for sharing!

  • I’ve had Vitamin B in my favorites for a while but this lovely article reminds me how much I liked it. So I need to figure out the yarn! I am actually thinking a rich mahogany color with the accent being a variegated cobalt blue, but grey and yellow is lovely too. Or dark teal and yellow…I think jewel tones are my neutrals 😉

    Thank you for including Inkwell in this article, too! What a stunning design. I am not usually one for black and white but the contrast is really striking.

    Jellybean looks nearly as stylish as Dana in his little sweater!

  • Dana, I am totally printing out a picture of you to look at when I feel blue. That smile ! in front of that blue wall! an uplifting kind of blue !!!

  • You’re adorable! I knit everyday as well.

  • Your color choices are so fabulous and fun!! ❤ You might like Luna by Anna Strandberg for a great brioche sweater that could make for amazing color combos. It’s been in my queue for way too long!

  • I am so obsessed with brioche right now, but all I’ve made are shawls and a hat. I love Vitamin B, with the peek of color through brioche! Thanks – and scritches for Jellybean!

  • Dana, every time I think I’ve read your best post, another “best” comes along. Love these sweater. Thanks so much.

  • This may be Jelly Bean’s most fun sweater yet – her little head and legs popping out from that bright three-dimensional fabric. But then I always say that. Chloe

  • Dana, you always manage to find the cutest patterns! I swooned as soon as I saw Mabel’s Sister – I have GOT to make that! Thank you again!!

  • I love your posts. I have been afraid of brioche, so your suggestions will definitely help me. I’m interested in trying Vitamin B.

  • I’m right in the middle of knitting Inkwell right now. It’s fun, and will result in a really distinctive knit. I was lucky enough to buy the yarn at the Amrisu Kyoto shop during a family trip to Japan – it’s going to be the ultimate holiday souvenir when it’s finished.

  • interesting comment about rainbows and neutral. In the grade 3 class in Waldorf education the children crochet close fitting hats that they have to fit to their own heads ie no pattern. Ideally the teacher has a basket of small balls of truly rainbow coloured yarns and the students are encouraged to change up their colours. If the colours are truly rainbow coloures any two will fit harmoniously together -saving the teacher from saying ‘are you sure you want those two together ?’ Same idea in early music classes – they use a pentatonic scale recorder – any two notes sound harmonious together so no such thing as a wrong note.
    Admire your prolific amount of lovely knitting for you and the wee dogs.

  • I love to see you are doing a column, Dana, because I find a big smile on my face when I see yours in the opening photo: it’s infectious. Your knitting choices are a breath of fresh air for me: they are usually patterns I’ve never seen or considered, and they are beautiful. Thank you!

  • Oh my. More sweaters on my queue AND with the guidance of the fabulous DJ. Time to get out of my color rut and get some pop in my wardrobe.

  • That photo of you and Jellybean just MADE MY WEEK!!! (I used to knit sweaters for my dachshunds, as I live in Minnesota, and those short legs and bare bellies are NOT conducive to winter walks. One would give me a look, like, “MOM! I don’t want to go out in THIS!” but the other would just strut out there like a major diva!)
    Please do a column on how you manage to knit SO MANY SWEATERS!!!! (My theory – you are a secretly a vampire and need no sleep!)

  • Not a fan of brioche AT ALL (well wouldn’t it be a boring world if we were all the same!) but Mabel’s sister has been in my queue forever. As to your Feather cardigan – WOW – its absoultely GORGEOUS! Thank you Dana – I always look forward to ypur posts on here as they make me smile and lift my heart. I too love bright colours and agree that they are THE greatest of mood lifters 🙂

  • I love the idea of a variegated for Inkwell! I hadn’t thought of that. For the color-shy, there is a color-picker on the bottom of this page:

  • That sweater is absolutely perfect with the dress!!

    I have been putzing around with the brioche stitch but my biggest problem is fixing a mistake when I make one. I have a bad habit of knitting to the point where I am so tired I start to doze off with needles and yarn in hand. I’m thinking though that maybe two color brioche will help me keep track of my stitches better?? Hopefully??

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