5 Tips for Better Intarsia: The 2017 Kaffe Afghan KAL
In 2016, it came as a shock that Rowan's Kaffe Fassett KAL would not include "intarsia" -- a way of knitting with an infinite number of colors in one row. After all, wasn't that technique that made his name? The project was actually more of a nod to his quilting persona and ended up truly stripe-tastic.
This was my version:
Well, we didn't have to wait long for Captain Intarsia to arrive! The 2017 Rowan Kaffe Fassett Afghan KAL starts March 30, and it is filled with it. (Join the free KAL at the Rowan Yarns group on Ravelry)
If you thought the first one was hypnotizing and possibly seizure-inducing, this one might really get you to shake.
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DON'T BE AFRAID! You can do this!
👉 And, with less crazy colors.
I looked at their shopping list, threw out ALL the color and bought 30 balls of the Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted shades that make up the "tumbling blocks" squares. That's 10 balls each of Soft Cream, Moonstone and Charcoal Grey, if you want to carbon copy my future afghan.
Now, I imagine that those of you interested have done a little intarsia in the past. I'm not going to talk about HOW to do intarsia, but I do want to give you 5 tips on how to do it better.
1. Use bobbins
You may be tempted to use the balls themselves while knitting, or maybe even hand-made yarn "butterflies" that don't require equipment, but bobbins are better. (Actually, using the full yarn balls will just make you just want to die and never knit again, so don't even think about it.)
The advantage to bobbins is their weight (to keep tension at color joins) and how easy you can release more yarn to knit with. There are some bad ones and some good ones -- if you do a lot of intarsia, you should try a bunch and see what you like.
My favorites have these elements, but these particular ones are from Susan Bates.
2. Tug your old bobbin after 2 stitches
Not zero, 1 or 3. TWO! Sounds picky I know, but I've done a LOT of intarsia.
Tugging right away or after just 1 stitch only moves the yarn uselessly around the needles. You simply need two whole stitches worth of loops to have something to tug effectively.
After 3 stitches, it's just too annoyingly far to reach.
3. Don't purl
Listen, there is nothing more irritating in intarsia than turning your work and watching every bobbin twist into a intricate cat's cradle. INFURIATING, actually!
The point here is to never turn your work and purl by knitting FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. This technique is not only useful in intarsia, but also when you need to turn frequently, like sock short rows or i-cord.
I can only show you with the English method, yarn held in right hand -- 'you continentals' may want to look around for a good tutorial for yourselves, it's worth it.
1. When you get to the end of a row, insert your needle into the BACK of the stitch you just knitted.
2. Loop yarn over the needle towards you.
3. Pull the loop through the stitch.
4. Move stitch onto left needle.
4. Weave in ends along color joins only
When you join a new bobbin you are going to get a big wonking hole. You're going to hate that hole while you knit -- but don't worry, the loose end is going to close it up real nice!
JUST DON'T BE TEMPTED to weave in the end into the block of color. Intarsia is unlike stranded knitting, it's only one layer and you can see through it. Not only might you see the totally different color behind it, but you WILL see the change in tension where you wove.
5. Leave a longer cut end than usual
In my opinion, the more color changes in intarsia, the more fun. I'm STILL working on this stained glass madness!
You won't have as many ends as I have here, but you'll have a bunch. YOU DO NOT WANT THOSE TO GET OUT, OMG! Just leave the ends a tad longer than usual. I know this is an afghan and I know the back side is showing... but safety first, yo.
Hell, it will tell everyone YOU made your masterpiece -- not some machine for Urban Outfitters!
If you're joining in the KAL fun or just want to watch the progress, join us over in the Rowan Yarns group on Ravelry. I'm sure I'll think of some other tips, too.
See my Captain Kaffghan on Ravelry
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