Thursday, November 29, 2007

Intarsia Part 1

A few months ago, I thought intarsia was something on a menu in an Italian bistro: intarsia in red sauce. Then Knit One started making all of those felted bags with pictures and I realized that life as I knew it would never be the same. Although intarsia does come from an Italian root word, it has nothing to do with food. It’s a form of torture that makes lovely pictures on one side of a sweater while leaving all sorts of twisted and confused threads on the back side of the work.
Of course, it is impossible to do if you are knitting a sweater in the round with no seams. If you try, the color you need when you come around to the start of the image is at the other end of the row and you have to add a new strand for each row. Not a pretty picture.
So, not only was I going to have to figure out how to change colors in the middle of a row without leaving a gaping hole, I was also going to have to knit sweaters in pieces and sew them together. I have been trying to avoid this for years! Only those of you who think Barbara Walker is a true genius and who are addicted to patterns by “Knitting Pure and Simple” can understand my anxiety.
It looks so simple when Knit does it but I just get a tangled mess in the back that has to be untangled every row. I even tried bobbins, those cute little plastic thingies you wind a small amount of yarn on but they just got entangled with each other and made it almost impossible for me to tame the yarn. Kafe Fassett says to just leave a small amount of yarn, unwound, just hanging there. Of course, I think one of the people in his studio probably gets to do the untangling so I’m not so sure I’ll go with that. Knit says to use small amounts of yarn and to wind them into “butterflies” and then rewind them after they’ve been used. I tried that but with counting stitches, checking the chart, winding at a color change so the fabric will be hole free my mind forgets to remind me to make the butterflies.
The photo above is for a baby sweater and it’s a giraffe. Even from the front you can see all those evil strands of yarn. I haven’t gotten to the head yet, and, yes, I know he has no legs but they get knit separately and get sewn on later so they can swing around. It’s a grand idea for an infant but older boys would give a leg one pull and off it would come. I needed a big boy picture.
Enter charts and graphs. But that’s part two of the story and will have to wait till part two.

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