A step by step tutorial on how to knit jogless stripes in the round the easy way – 4 different methods.
Stripes are the easiest colorwork technique in knitting. Unlike intarsia or Fair isle, it doesn’t require any special joining techniques. But when you are knitting in the round things get a bit problematic. Every time you change colors, you are creating a little step or jog. So, here’s everything you need to know about knitting jogless stripes.
Note: If you want to polish up your knitting, read my guide with 10 tips and tricks to knitting with double-pointed needles like a pro.
Why is there a jog when knitting stripes in the round?
First of all, I want you to understand the reason why these little unsightly steps are created when you join colors in the round. It’s quite simple: You are actually knitting in an upward spiral.
You are not finishing one row and then it’s onward to the next. No, it’s one continuous line of (knit) stitches corkscrewing towards the top. So, when you start a new round, you have to bridge the gap between the previous round with one stitch and this gap becomes visible when switching colors.
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Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s actually quite easy to knit stripes without jogs and you only need to learn one stitch. I’m calling it K1tog RL – knit 1 stitch together right loop. Don’t be scared, it sounds awful technical but it’s actually super easy to knit.
But please, also remember to scroll further down, because I’ll show you a couple of different techniques for different circumstances.
- Change the color as normal and knit one round
I know you are probably expecting some magic, but for the first round in the new color, you can keep everything the way you always did. Just change your colors the usual way and knit one full round.
- Lift the stitch one round below the first stitch of the second round
Before you begin knitting the second round, lift the right leg of the stitch one row below the first stitch of the new round (it should be in the old color) onto your left needle.
- Knit the lifted loop together with the first stitch
Last, knit the loop you just lifted onto your left needle together (just a regular k2tog) with the actual first stitch. This will finish your K1tog RL.
As I said, it's really simple. It doesn't require any stitch markers or stitch counting, you just need to remember to knit together that first stitch, and you are done.
There are two problems with this technique:
- Due to the lifted stitch, the transition becomes structurally visible. From a certain angle, you will still see the difference.
- This method won't work for projects where you want to change colors every round.
On the plus side, it's about the only technique that really works if you only want to add one contrasting stripe (like in the middle of a project).
Simple helix stripes
If you want to knit 1-stitch-high stripes in the round, you need to revert to helical knitting. This can be incredibly complicated, but there is actually quite a simple solution as long as you only want to knit with two colors. This technique will leave absolutely NO jog.
Step 1: Knit one round in color A
Step 2: Change colors and knit in color B up until three stitches before the end of that row.
Step 3: Drop yarn B and slip the last three stitches in color A purlwise.
Step 4: Continue knitting with yarn A up until three stitches before the end of that row.
Step 5: Drop yarn A and slip the last three stitches in color B purlwise.
Continue repeating steps 2-5 until you reached the desired length.
So, essentially you are moving the start of your round three stitches back with every color change. There’s just one thing you need to remember. Don’t cross the yarn as you change colors. This will be fundamental for a neat finish.
And there is one more problem with this technique. There will be quite a visible jog at the start of your helix. Now, if you are knitting a nice pair of socks you can easily hide that start on the inside of your calves. And that one big jog is certainly better than 50 smaller ones in the rows to follow.
Still, it won’t be a good technique for only a small number of stripes because you will get the same kind of jog at the very end of your helix as well. You can also knit a helix with multiple colors, but then the technique gets a bit more complicated.
One incredibly trivial way to avoid jogs when knitting stripes is redesigning your project in a way that there is no continuous line of stripes. Lots of knitting books will call this picture-framing. Why? Well, when you are knitting fancy stranded colorwork designs (=picture) a column of 3 or 4 stitches in always the same color will look a bit like a frame around that picture.
This method becomes even smarter, when you are knitting a cardigan (or a sweater with a zipper) where you will want to do a steek (cut through a specially prepared line of stitches).
Sounds too easy to be true? Well, for pure stripes it is a bit more complicated because you are not knitting with one background color in every round (unlike in Fair Isle). So, what you would have to add is a little Intarsia panel right at the beginning of your round.
The good news: Intarsia in the round is a nightmare to knit, but as your little frame should only be 2 or a maximum of 4 stitches wide, you can get away from dragging the bobbin back to the start with each row. This will create a little float on the backside and it might pucker a bit if you don’t knit with a lose enough tension.
Traveling jogless stripes stripes
The last method I want you to be aware of is called traveling jogless stripes. I am a bit reluctant to mention it because I am not a big fan of it. Basically, it boils down to moving the start of your round by one stitch with every color change. This will make the jog less visible. By slipping one stitch it will also make it less pronounced.
Step 1: Knit one full round in the new color as normal.
Step 2: Slip the first stitch of the second round purlwise, place a stitch marker after it (this will be the new start of your round and continue knitting as normal).
Step 3: Start your next color right after the marker and slip the first stitch of the second round again and move the marker one stitch forward as you do.
Continue changing colors in that manner.
This technique to avoid jogs when knitting in the round will appear in quite a lot of old books but there are three problems with it:
- The start of your round moves by one stitch for every color change. If you are knitting plain stockinette stitch, then that’s no problem, but for more complicated repeats it will be quite a nuisance.
- As you slip the stitch, you are creating a little float on the wrong side. And this float risks puckering in that place making the color change structurally visible
- Because the start of your round travels, the gap you need to bridge with the yarn across the stripes gets bigger (a slant is always longer than a straight line) and you are creating tension in a direction that is unnatural in knitting (stockinette stitch has tension towards the top).
- (it also doesn’t work for stripes that are one or two rounds high)
So, I feel it’s kind of an outdated method of knitting jogless stripes in the round. But I still didn’t want to skip it for the sake of consistency and to show you the difference. Maybe it’s easier for you to knit.