working a pattern in stripes, sometimes you'll see an instruction
"Carry the yarn not in use along the side" (as with the Knit
Shell Beach Washcloth shown at left); other times you won't see an
instruction at all.
What should you do then? "Carry the yarn along the side" means
nothing more than leave the color you are currently not using at the
side of your work without cutting it. You'll pick it up again later
when you are to use that color again. If you are not going to use the
color for 4 more rows, the next time you are at the edge where the
unused yarn is, you will need to twist it with the color you are using.
This will keep a loose loop from forming (the loose loop might get
snagged or look unattractive if it isn't twisted into the other yarn).
If you're working 2 rows of one color followed by 2 rows of a second
color, carrying the unused yarn makes sense, because all the color
changes are on one edge of the piece, meaning that you can simply pick
up the next color at the side and proceed.
If you're alternating three colors, working 2 rows each, you will
need to twist both colors not in use. Drop the color you just finished
behind the other two, twist the other two, pick up the next color you
need and continue.
If the pattern is anything other than 2 rows of color A followed by
2 rows of color B, even though you've been told to carry it, you still
have a personal choice to make and should consider several factors that
may lead you to cutting it every time instead. The down-side to cutting
the yarn is that you will have many more ends to weave in (but if you
weave in as you go, this task will not be as daunting). The upside? The
row edges will be much neater. This should be especially considered
when you are making a scarf or a throw where the edges will be seen. In
a sweater, the edges will be hidden in a seam; however, the seams will
be bulkier because you've carried the yarn so that’s a negative factor
There is no hard and fast rule but generally if you are going to be
working more than 4 rows before needing the color again, strongly
consider cutting it. Some people will stretch this to 6 rows. Every
time you twist the yarns, you are adding more bulk to the edge.
And you can always weave in those ends while watching TV.