February 5th, 2013

Tuesday’s Tip: Easy Knitted Plaid

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This week, Sara Delaney shows us a clever and simple way to create beautiful plaid fabric with your knitting!


Knitting plaid fabrics can seem like a daunting task when you consider that they could involve not only two or more colors but intarsia work as well. And how do you keep the tension even in an intarsia section that is only one stitch wide?

Why not skip the intarsia all together with some cleverly placed purl ravines and the use of a crochet hook!

Work the horizontal stripes of your plaid normally and wherever you’d like to have the vertical stripes just work a purl stitch in that vertical column of stitches.

Once you’ve finished knitting the piece you can go back with your crochet hook, and slip stitch a line of stitches into the vertical purl ravine. The slip stitches will lie even with the surface of your knitting.

With this technique, it’s easy to create multi-colored plaid by changing the colors of your vertical stripes. You can stick to two colors, or get creative with as many as the color wheel can hold.

Easy to make plaid sweaters, cowls and hats…it’s addictive!

Check out our video tutorial for more details.

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29 Responses to “Tuesday’s Tip: Easy Knitted Plaid”

  1. Claudia Kirkland Says:

    I really love this idea, but I would need a simple pattern to get started. Can someone give me some ideas?

  2. WEBS Yarn Store Says:

    What would you like to make? Pillow, mittens, hat, sweater, scarf…?

  3. Linda Hensens Says:

    How COOL is this??? I have wanted to make some black watch plaid pillows and afghan for my home since I started knitting! I have the yarn to do it with but every pattern that I have seen for same is so overwhelming.. Thank you!

  4. Marie Waterman Says:

    Great idea!

  5. Linda Says:

    “with your crochet hook, and slip stitch a line of stitches into the vertical purl ravine” Is there a video that shows how to do this?

  6. WEBS Yarn Store Says:

    Not yet. But we might be able to do one.

  7. CatherineS Says:

    Wouldn’t knitting the intarsia actually be easier than adding an extra crocheting step? I love the look of the plaid, but carrying the color in the back on small knitting bobbins would be easier for me, since I don’t crochet….

  8. msprudy Says:

    This is a really great idea! I’ve seen a few different ways of faking plaid (like you’ve said, dodging the intarsia) but this one makes so much more sense! Thanks!

  9. Michelle McMillen Says:

    I would need that tutorial video, too, but I LOVE this idea!

  10. Virginia S Says:

    Great idea! I always use a crochet hook to fix simple “errors” or missed stitches so this would be easy!

  11. scitchr Says:

    Very cool – would love a video too!

  12. Sarah Laible Hollandsworth Says:

    This is great for me because I was trying to figure out how to do a flat plaid scarf without having to make a tube in the round. Nice timing! Thanks.

  13. Judy Says:

    This is a great idea, and no messy backs!

  14. WEBS Yarn Store Says:

    We’ll be doing a video of this technique soon, but you don’t need to know how to crochet to do it. It’s as simple as picking up stitches from a dropped stitch with your crochet hook.

  15. BlueLoom Says:

    I couldn’t tell from the description whether you drop the purl st back or just pick up along the spaces that inevitably develop when you switch from knit to purl (or vice versa). Can you clarify?

  16. Rachel Says:

    May I ask a stupid question? How do you slip stitch the line of stitches into the vertical ravine?

  17. WEBS Yarn Store Says:

    Not a stupid question at all. Others are also wondering. We’re in the process of making a video of this technique and will post it on this page when it’s done.

  18. WEBS Yarn Store Says:

    We’re in the process of making a video of this technique and will post it on this page when it’s done. But I think you don’t drop the purl stitches back, but just slip stitch over them.

  19. Lynn Andrews Says:

    Will there be some patterns available to use this technique. I guess it could be used with any pattern??

  20. Sarah Christianson Says:

    This is so cool!! I can’t wait to try this. If you do post patterns, my vote would be for mittens. If someone told me how to do that, I bet I could adapt it to anything flat, like a pillow or scarf. Although some tips on how this might affect gauge would be great. Would it shrink a swatch in one dimension compared to stockinette?

  21. tiburonsaanz Says:

    Love it!

  22. Donatella Says:

    I pinned your pic last year and finally put it to a good use! thank you so much – linked back to this post and to your video. 🙂 xox,donatella


  23. Nitterbet Says:

    Thank you. Just made my friendship square using this technique so I won’t forget it. It was easy but fiddly to crochet into the purl stitches.

  24. Jill Says:

    How do you knit the horizontal lines? It says knit those like “normal”, do you switch colors while knitting or is this done after the blanket is done?

  25. Sara Says:

    Hi Jill,

    The project shown is a Cowl, knit in the round but you could easily knit a flat project and make use of this technique. It is really as simple as knitting rows in different colors. Wherever you want a stripe of a different color just begin that row with the new color and knit till the stripe is as thick as you’d like it, then begin the next row with your original color or an additional one!

  26. miss mae Says:

    This is such a simpe idea! I am fairlly new to knitting but I know my way well around a crochet hook. I must give this a go!

  27. Sherolyn Henderson Says:

    I am knitting a plaid baby with 3 main colors. The directions say not to carry yarn when changing colors. Each block is k16. How do I change colors without carrying the yarn across the back. Do I cut the yarn at every color change and start over with a new color? Please help!

  28. Marykate Says:

    Hi Sherolyn, it sounds like they mean that the project is not Fair Isle, where you’d carry your yarns across the project and lock the floating yarns as you’re knitting them. If the plaid is Intarsia, you don’t need to carry the colors at all, because each color is its own block, and you do not cut the colors. Are you able to share what pattern you’re working on?

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