Color technique for small and numerous details

Hi friends - please let me preface this by saying that I’m a complete newbie at knitting…so please have some patience. :slight_smile: Also, what I’m attempting to do is well beyond my skill level (but isn’t that how you learn?)

So, essentially, what I’m trying to do is create a tri-color piece that is color-appropriate. Think: blue sky, green vines, yellow flower buds on the vine.

What I’m having trouble with is how to introduce these colors. Carrying the yarn with the work a la fair isle seems like it would be hideous with the loops, since many colors (like the vines) would be used only on intermittent stitches throughout the rows. On the other hand, intarsia for all the flower buds seems like it would be super tedious.

I’ve considered the thought of doing fair isle and cutting the yarn off the piece afterward, but I’d be left with a ton of lose ends that I wouldn’t know what to do with.

Any thoughts?


Hi, welcome aboard!

You might benefit from looking at one of Kaffe Fassett’s books, I’m thinking “Glorious Knits” was a title. He worked/works with multiple colors in small amounts and gives some tips about how to go about it. You can find his books through a library many times. They may not all have the tips, but I [I]think[/I] Glorious Knits does.

Without knowing exactly what you are doing as far as how many stitches/rows between uses of a color and what you are making (will the back show?) and if it is flat or in the round I can’t be very specific, but here are a few ideas.

You can work with short sections of yarn and work over the ends as you go along. (both Kaffe Fassett ideas I think) That would probably all be intarsia. If you don’t have too many stitches between uses of the sky and the vines you might do that part stranded and then go back and add the flowers with duplicate stitch. I only tried to mix intarsia and stranding once and I wasn’t very pleased with the result.

If the inside will truly be inside, like a hat or sweater keeping the inside pristine may be overrated. Who cares if the inside has some danglies if the outside is glorious. Also working in ends can become something you like to do. I don’t mind it and have had hundreds on a few projects. :slight_smile:

What technique you use (intarsia, fair-isle/stranding) really depends on what the design is and how it is laid out.

For something that frequently repeats (like a checkerboard) it is better to carry the yarn (fair-isle/strand) and do an extra twist to hold the strand in place whenever it is longer than 5 sts.

If however, the pattern is infrequent, or tall and vertical (tree trunk, flower stem) then intarsia is best. You work up to that point with color 1. Pick up color 2. Work color 2 while stranding color 1. Drop color 2 when done and continue on with color 1. When you come back on the next row the color will be there waiting for you.
Even better, is that if you have multiple vertical patterns then each can have its own strand of yarn to work with, and you don’t have to carry it between each pattern/design.

Maybe if you drew out what your idea is, someone could look at it and best suggest where to use each technique, or how to tweak the pattern so the techniques are easiest to do.

Thank you for your input! I will try to find that book - perhaps on Amazon.

To sate your curiousity - I am considering knitting a scarf (flat) with snaking grape vines. I’d like to do two versions - one with a baby blue base for a female, and one with a black base for a male. The vines would be a dark green and the grapes are purple.

With the vines I think it makes sense to do intarsia, from what I understand, as that pattern will be contiguous through the piece (at least each ‘vine’ would be). What I am most concerned about are the bunches of grapes.

Thanks for the fast and detailed replies! I am very grateful. :yay: