General, Knitting Know How

What is Intarsia and how do I work it?

Intarsia

Intarsia Colour work

Sometimes known as picture knitting, intarsia is a method of creating a single thickness knitted fabric with a motif on it. As yarns are not stranded/carried across the back of the work (as with stranded colour work or fair isle knitting) each time you come to a new colour, you start a new bobbin/length of yarn.

How to work it

In order to prevent gaps appearing in the work at the edges of the colour changes, the yarn that is being put down is twisted with the new yarn that is being picked up. On vertical lines the yarns are twisted every row.

intarsia twist 1
The blue yarn is taken over the top of the white yarn after the last blue stitch, to twist it 
intarsia twist 3
the blue yarn is dropped and the next stitch purled using the white yarn
Intarsia twist 2
when the white stitches are completed, the white yarn is taken over the next blue yarn and dropped. The blue yarn then purls the next stitch and onwards.

When working on a diagonal slant, the yarns are twisted every other row. For a diagonal slant to the right, the yarns are twisted on the right side. For a left slant, they are twisted on the wrong side.

The result as mentioned above, is a single thickness fabric comprised of sections of different colours.

intarsia post 5
the back of a motif showing the single thickness fabric

When to use Intarsia and when to strand?

Intarsia is usually used for blocks of colour and single motifs where colours are not regularly repeating. Stranding is usually used for repeating patterns where each motif is only a few stitches width and colours are repeating all the way across a row/round.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that intarsia can’t be knitted in the round. As yarns are being left at the end of each motif they require a wrong side row to pick them back up again.

Sewing in the ends

Lots of bobbins means lots of ends to sew in (as well as a few tangles during the knitting process). Where possible I try to follow the edges of motifs when weaving my ends in during finishing.

intarsia 6
weaving in the ends, following the motifs

Patterns to practice your intarsia skills

The following two designs use an intarsia motif for decoration. Follow the links in the captions to the pattern.

heart gift bag with knitting etsy
Intarsia heart gift bag. Free pattern available here
Manga tee 3
Manga Tee. Pattern available here.

I hope I’ve given you a taste for picture knitting. It is a lot of fun despite the tangles, and is a method I’ve often used for my knitted art work as well as knitwear. If you’d like to watch a video on how to make a butterfly “bobbin” then visit my Instagram page and take a look at my stories.

Let me know how you get on……

 

 

 

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