Four Color Stranding - Is It Worth The Trouble?

I am now working on the second sleeve for my Masterpiece cardigan. And once again I am all tangled up with four colors of yarn that I am somehow handling all at the same time.

In my excitement and being amazed by all those absolutely beautiful FOs on Ravelry, I took on a very ambitious plan.
I turned the originally two colored pattern into a four colored one.

And here I am fighting through the strands tangling up.

How do I do it?

Well, first there were only two colors. All good.  Then came the third one.
So, I looked if I could find something on how to best handle three colors at the same time. But I couldn't really find something useful.

I had to make up my own system. So, what I did is still using only two colors at the same time by switching through all three. The two colors that I was knitting with are the main color and the current contrasting color. I was switching between constrasting colors if you will. But still having in mind to not have a strand that's longer than 3 stiches.

I don't know if that's the right way to do it, but after a few rows (and a little bit practice this way) it worked just perfect!

And that's basically what I am doing with 4 colors too. It's the same principle. Only having two colors at the same time to knit with but constantly switching contrasting colors while having in mind that there shouldn't be a strand longer than 3 (or maybe absolutely max. 4) stiches.
This way it really takes some time to get through the rows but the system works. I don't think that anyone is holding 4 yarns at the same time?! Is that even possible?

Some other thoughts on my stranding experiences so far: I first went up half a needle size for stranding but already noticed after a few rows that that's not going to work. It was just way too tight. So, I ripped and started again. This time using a whole needle size bigger. And that's where it went way better!

So, I can recommend using at least a one size bigger needle for stranding than for the rest of the garment. The best way to find the optimal solution will be swatching :) (or starting and ripping again like I did :) ) Well, I made a little test sleeve in the beginning, but apparently it was too small because it didn't tell me enough to start stranding with 4mm needles in the first place...

I also want to add that stranding has to be knitted very loosely. Otherwise the whole piece will go out of shape and some stiches may "disappear" because of to much tension.

Is it worth the trouble and of course all the time it takes in the end?

Oh, absolutely yes! Yes, it is! I find the four color version so very pretty!
It definately takes some practice and a lot of patience. So, you definately should be aware of that.
But once you see the colors interact with each other, you'll be sure it's time spent well :)

Do you have experience in knitting with 3 or more colors at the same time? What's your way to manage this?

I wish you all a great week!

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