Two weeks of Horror-riffic Halloween Mystery Mittens have gone by so fast! Here's another colorwork tutorial that might come in handy when working these mittens. But first: what are floats and why do you need to catch them?
I've received so many questions about the colorwork tool I'm using in this tutorial. The tool is called a Lankapiika yarn guide and it was made by a local-to-me jeweler Sanni Lehtinen. You can buy the Lankapiika yarn guide ring and other handmade jewellery from her Etsy store.
In colorwork, you usually have two — sometimes more — colors on any given row of the work. While one color forms the pattern, the rest are carried at the back of the work, waiting their turn, and form long horizontal strands of yarn. These strands are called floats. The key to successful colorwork is to have floats that are loose enough so that they don't pucker your work on the right side.
Catching, trapping, securing, or locking floats is needed so that the strands on the inside don't catch on anything, such as your fingers or toes. Catching floats also helps in keeping your tension even and the inside of the work looking neat. There are several different techniques for catching floats and I've included links to a few tutorials in the Horror-riffic Halloween Mystery Mittens pattern.
My favorite method for catching floats is a little bit different compared to what I've seen out there because it happens on the following round after a long float has been formed. I've sometimes seen it referred to as next round trapping or lazy trapping although I don't think there's anything "lazy" about it. Quite the contrary, I think it requires more forethought and planning or the ability to juggle two colorwork rows in your head at the same time: the one you're working on and the one where the floats are.
But the technique itself is really easy! All you have to do is scoop the long float on the left-hand needle and knit it together with the next stitch. I'll demonstrate this method in the video tutorial below.
The longer the float, the more often you need to catch it. I usually catch floats that are 6 stitches or wider; 10–12 stitches or more and I'll catch the same float twice. In Clue 2 of the Horror-riffic Halloween Mystery Mittens there's a big stretch of negative space in the motif. Here's how it looks like — from the outside and the inside — using next-round catching.
One thing to remember when using any method of catching floats is not to stack the float-catching points on the same vertical column of stitches because that will start to show on the right side of the work. Instead, stagger the points so that they are different widths apart and fall on different columns. See those strands of navy peeking out from the fabric? That's where I forgot to do this.
If you're new to colorwork, you might want to plan ahead and mark the float-catching points on the colorwork chart. Here's the chart I used for my little orange-and-brown swatch — the float-catching points are marked with a downwards arrow.
Next-round catching is a great little colorwork trick to remember even if you usually use some other method. If you ever forget to catch a float, no need to rip back! You can use this method to catch floats even two or three rows after — just make sure there's enough slack in your floats so that they don't pucker the work.
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