Friday, 29 April 2016

Tackling Intarsia!

Intarsia is not my favourite knitting technique, I have to confess. A couple of years ago, I spotted a knitted handbag in a magazine and thought it looked fun and would make the perfect Christmas present for a friend. After all, how hard can intarsia be?

I know. Ignorance is bliss right?

Off the top of my head, this had about five colours in it and regular breaks, so I was juggling up to three mini balls of each colour. It was an absolute nightmare, I just couldn't get it right. I gave up on it and it's currently sitting at the bottom of my Ravelry Projects Page in the ignominious Frogged pile.

I vowed never to touch intarsia again because it was stressful and hideous and - well, you get the idea of how I felt about instarsia.

Thankfully, nothing using intarsia ever popped up that I wanted to knit (whether because of my loathing for the technique or because I genuinely never saw anything I liked enough, we'll never know). Until, that is, Katie of the Inside Number 23 video cast started a Harry Potter KAL. We all know I love Harry Potter and when I saw her Weasley Jumper, I just knew I had to have one. And that, my friends, is how I came back to the land of intarsia. Not kicking and screaming, not even grudgingly, but with an actual smile on my face. Who'd have thought?

I had a few problems - shock! horror! - with the intarsia in this project, but it was more about looks than the technique.

Too small!
I made myself a pattern based on the H given in the pattern, using the same sizing and style, but about three rows in I knew I didn't like it. I'm not a large person, but it just looked far too small for the size of the jumper and I didn't like the style of it.

I went back to my graph (I have MacStitch software on my computer which is really handy for this kind of thing) and tried again.

Too big!
This time I put in the number of stitches horizontally and vertically that I had available and filled the space, leaving a small margin above and at the sides. I also tried a slightly different style of letter, going for a more traditional serif font than the blunter version in the pattern.

This time I got about five rows in before I realised there was a strong chance I'd be playing yarn chicken and that it was far too big. It would have ended up looking childish (says the woman knitting a Harry Potter jumper with her initial on it - don't worry, I appreciate the irony).

Back to the drawing board!

Just right!
This time I took a little more time to figure out what I actually wanted. I lay the jumper on the floor, measured out how much more of it there was to go and how much of that space I wanted filled up with the letter. I settled on 6"x6", sketched out what that translated to in rows and stitches and then designed the letter.

I'd recommend actually doing this first, rather than going through the too big and too small process!

It was still an incredibly lengthy process, even once I had it right. It was very slow going as I stopped at the end of every row to make sure I wasn't in a tangle. But apart from that, I didn't have a problem with the intarsia itself.

Sometimes a break is good - coming back to something a while later can be really beneficial. I had gotten over my intarsia is evil feelings and was ready to try it again. Coming back to the first project day-after-day, getting madder and madder probably didn't help the process at all.

What I've learnt from this process is something that I ought to have known already really - don't run before you can walk! Perhaps if I'd started out with two colour intarsia, I wouldn't have avoided it for years. Learning a technique in a simple form is so much easier than diving straight in at a higher level. I shouldn't have to learn that, but apparently I needed to.

1 comment:

  1. I love this jumper! And next time you do intarsia, use yarn bobbins, they stop the yarn getting tangled while it's waiting at the back to be used. And they're a bargain at about £1.50 for 10.