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Easy two-color knitting two rows at a time

by Charles Voth

If you’re not ready to jump into Fair Isle knitting or the intarsia technique, today’s post will give you a chance to try some beautiful, easy two-color knitting without even having to purl!

2 skeins of tweed yarn with a swatch of two-color patterned knitting in the background. The swatch consists of a pebbled-looking fabric made by working only 1 color on any given row.

This easy, two-color pattern uses only one color of yarn per row

I knit this two-color swatch with Deluxe Worsted Tweed Superwash for two reasons: first because I wanted to find a tweedy stitch pattern to complement this tweedy yarn, and second because I wanted to explore some easy stitch patterns to teach in my knitting classes.

I’ve heard this stitch pattern called the 2-color bee pattern. It’s made completely of knit stitches, but there’s something new to learn here. It’s not a purl stitch, but it’s a variation on the knit stitch. Sometimes you’ll need to “knit in the stitch below”.

Close up of 2-color Bee Stitch worked in cream and pine-green tweed yarn

Close up of 2-color Bee Stitch

Looking at the swatch again, you’ll notice that something looks different in the middle 10 or 12 rows. We could call it a mistake, but let’s just call it a design feature. Near the left edge of the 4th set of light colored yarn you’ll see a circle around two cream-colored stitches. They should have been separated by a green stitch. This mistake throws off the staggered dots pattern and instead we have…zigzag-like stripes. I think using both stitch patterns together does create some visual “noise” but you may not really like that! If not, no worries, I’ll give you the instructions so you can choose which way you’d like to run with things.

A knitted sample of the 2-colored bee pattern with a yellow circle around two off-white stitches in the lower left quarter which caused the next 10-12 rows to showing how the center 8 rows look a little different

2-colored bee pattern with a slight variation

First, the real 2-color bee pattern.

Multiple of 2 stitches, plus 1 for edge symmetry. (I cast on 25 with MC)

For this swatch I knit the first and last stitch of every row, RS or WS.

In my swatch the MC (main color) is the pine and the CC (contrasting color) is the porcelain. Both these color names are what Universal Yarns gave to these 2 out of 14 colors of Deluxe Worsted Tweed Superwash…and I really love “porcelain” as a color name. One of my dream jobs would be to name yarn colorways! But I digress.

Row 1: With MC, knit.

Row 2: With MC, knit.

Row 3: With CC, k1, [k1b, k1] across.

Row 4: With CC, knit.

Row 5: With MC, k2, [k1b, k1] across to last st, k1.

Row 6: With MC, knit.

Repeat rows 3-6 for pattern.

Center rows look like zig zag stripes instead of the evenly distributed pebbles.

The Zig Zag Stripes design element pattern

Around Row 16 is where I went awry and got the zigzag stripes. The instructions to achieve this on purpose rather than by accident are:

Row 1: With MC, knit.

Row 2: With MC, knit.

Row 3: With CC, k1, [k1b, k1] across.

Row 4: With CC, knit.

Row 5: With MC, k1, [k1b, k1] across.

Row 6: With MC, knit.

Row 7: With CC, k2, [k1b, k1] across to last st, k1.

Row 8: With CC, knit.

Row 9: With MC, k2, [k1b, k1] across to last st, k1.

Row 10: With MC, knit.

Repeat rows 3-10 for pattern.

My sons and I don’t shy away from color, so I think this pattern with these yarns will make a great scarf for the 3 of us to take turns using this winter — until I get the other two knitted up. Too many ideas, too little time!

Tomorrow I’ll continue exploring using two-color patterns two rows at a time to see what other fun projects we could knit.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1:  Knitting with Deluxe Worsted Tweed Superwash

Go to part 3: Easy two color knitted mock houndstooth pattern

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AMy rouse June 7, 2017 - 9:22 pm

Love the look of this stitch!

Terry Anne Smiley October 15, 2016 - 6:20 am

I agree! Naming yarns would be a fun job and “porcelain ” is a good one! Thanks for posting this. I learned to knit and purl at age 5 when my great grandmother taught me, and I’ve knit a lot of things through the years but the only multicolored items were thanks to variegated yarns; I haven’t had the courage to do multi yarn colors yet. I saw a friend knitting a complicated fair isle and picture pattern and while he tried to show me how to “carry the yarns” it was intimidating and scared me off. With a pattern like this, perhaps I’ll figure out what to do with the alternate color as I go along! Pinned it!!


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