Intarsia – I hardly know her!

Do you remember how I said I could do colour work whilst standing on my head and whistling dixie? It turns out that this is not so true. It doesn’t confuse me but I have terrible tension issues. Here’s a photo of a test swatch I just did. Messy isn’t it?

Messy Jolly Roger Too much rouching and loose stitches and what’s going on behind his nose (hole)?

So I decided to turn to the internet for help and advice. And here’s what I learned.

The Natty Knitter’s Top Tips for Intarsia

1. Learn how to make centre pull bobbins, they are really easy and much more manageable than plastic bobbins or sprung wooden clothespins. Take the ball of yarn in your right hand but hold the end against your left palm with your left thumb. Now do the vulcan salute or keep your little and ring fingers together and your middle and index fingers together (seriously this does work, just bear with me). Then wrap the yarn from the ball around these fingers in a figure of eight. When you have enough yarn on your fingers to make the bobbin, cut the yarn at the ball and slide the loops off your fingers. Fold the loops against one another and wrap the cut end tightly around the bobbin, tucking it under itself to secure.

2. Don’t be frightened of knots. Knots are not usually a big part of knitting (ironically). Normally there should be enough tension in your work that you don’t need to knot a new ball onto an old ball, especially as you would only do this at the beginning of the row. In my newer swatch I’ve been knotting new bobbins onto the yarn from the previous stitch. It gives you something to pull against when you’re trying to establish tension.

3. Swallow your pride and admit that you’ll have to do some tension adjustment. I never have to do tension adjustment in ordinary stockinette stitch, but with intarsia you have to expect to be pulling on loose stitches to redistribute the excess yarn throughout the rest of the row.

There’s a lot more I have to learn, I’m really struggling with the concept of not wrapping together the yarn on the left slanting diagonals, for example. But I already feel as though I’ve made some improvements and the new swatch (although only half done) is looking a lot neater. I’ll show you when it’s finished.

If you’re looking for the Doctor Who Monster Giveaway it’s on the next post down.


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