What Is Helix Knitting? Learn All About the Technique That Puts Your Leftover Yarn to Good Use

This clever technique gives a seamless look to your hats, mittens, and more.

As knitters, one of the things that we don't want to do is toss leftover yarn. Of course, figuring out what to do with those dwindling skeins can be a struggle. Most knitting patterns require that you have a certain amount of a particular yarn and you can't change it in the middle of the pattern without producing some interesting (and perhaps undesirable) results.

This is where helix, or spiral, knitting comes in handy. It's a little-known technique—but if you're a knitter, you may find it handy enough to add to your repertoire.

circular knitting needles and yarn
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Helix Knitting, Explained

Helix knitting is a technique that creates single-row stripes when knitting in the round, when you have at least two different colors of yarn. What makes this unique from the traditional method is that instead of doing one color, one round at a time, you knit each round using all of the yarn colors at the same time in succession.

Deciding on the Pattern

In order to determine your pattern, you will divide the cast-on number by the number of colors, and you will knit that number of stitches for each color in each round. So, let's say that your pattern calls for 98 stitches and you plan to use six colors—then you would be making 13 stitches for each color per round.

How to Start Helix Knitting

According to The Knitting Guild Association, helix knitting is also known as barber pole knitting, since the process interweaves two or more hues in the spirals. However, the colors never actually intertwine. To learn how to master the helix knitting techniques, follow the below tips.

Cast On

After determining your number of stitches, line up your yarns in front of you. Cast on in your first color with the predetermined number of stitches, then move the skein to the back of the line; cast on in your second color with the predetermined number of stitches; repeat this technique so on and so forth, keeping all yarns attached and properly in order.

As you change colors, you will want to bring the previous yarn to the right, and take the next yarn from underneath the previous yarn.

Use Circular Knitting Needles

Using circular knitting needles creates the spirals (helix) that also eliminates the jog at the end of the pattern. This is because of the spiral and the alternating colors on the round; the colors seem to never touch and result in perfect stripes.

You can use leftover yarn with helix knitting since this technique involves alternating the colors as you knit instead of using one color yarn throughout the entire round. Gorgeous stripes—in hats, mittens, and more—are all at your fingertips.

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