Yarn Dominance in Stranded Knitting

Yarn Dominance in Stranded Knitting
May 09, 2020

Yarn (or Color) Dominance refers to the tendency of one color to stand out more in two-color stranded knitting. It’s important to make sure that you’re always stranding your colors in the same way throughout a piece, because switching the dominant color will change the way your colorwork looks.

An example of yarn dominance

In this sample piece, I held the orange yarn dominant on the right side and the green yarn dominant on the left. If you look closely, you can see that the orange crosses stand out more on the right side of the work

What causes Yarn Dominance?
This is caused by the stranding of floats along the back of the work — the yarn which is stranded underneath the other will have slightly larger stitches and appear to ‘pop’. Tension issues exacerbate the problem, but it’s very difficult to eliminate yarn dominance altogether.
The reverse side of my sample shows how the floats appear differently when the yarn dominance is switched.

Generally it is best to determine a "background" color and a "contrast" color, and make sure that the contrast color is made dominant by stranding it beneath the background color. The best way to ensure this is different depending on the technique you use for holding the yarn.

If you are working with one yarn in each hand, this can be accomplished easily by always working the dominant color Continental and the background color English:

In this photo, the green yarn is held in the left hand and is therefore dominant.

If you are working with both yarns held Continental, the dominant color should be held (counter-intuitively) “on top”, or closest to your fingertip:

In this photo, the orange yarn is held on top and is dominant.

If you are working with both yarns held English, make sure to always cross the background color over top of the dominant color:

In this photo, the green yarn is the background color and so is crossed over top of the orange.