Intarsia Knitting - basics

I’m a new forum member and a relatively new knitter. I have some basic questions about how to change colors in a row, as in intarsia knitting. I’ve read about how to twist the yarn and how to keep the colors wound in bobbins, but I tried it and am really confused! Additionally, the instructions I’ve found in books and online begin after several rows have been completed.

I’m looking for very simple directions on how to start the first mid-row color change in a project. I am practicing by trying to knit a heart shape in a contrasting color to the background. But whenever I try, I wind up with a mess of random loops in both colors on the needles. Can anyone help? Thanks!

When you change colors in intarsia, you really just have to hold the yarn you’re stopping over to the left and then bring the new yarn up from under it. This will twist it.

To start the first stitch, you can just knit that stitch with the new color and then weave in the end later.

Here is a good site for intarsia, as well.

Ingrid, Thanks so much! I am still wondering about how to prevent additional loops when switching colors. I’ll try to illustrate my question in an example:
Let’s say I cast on 20 sts in black, and in my second row, I knit 10 black stitches, then add 5 in yellow, and then I complete the reamining back stitches (10). When I start the third row, there will then be 25 stitches on the needle instead of my original 20! How do I prevent from adding these extra loops when trying to add new colors?
Thank you!

Let’s use your example. You’re starting with 20 black stitches and you want to add 5 yellow in the middle. Actually 21 black would work better because you can leave 8 on each side.

kkkkkkkk[COLOR=Orange]kkkkk[COLOR=Black]kkkkkkkk row 2[/COLOR][/COLOR]
[COLOR=Black]kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk row 1

You’ll start to knit with the yellow where you want it to start–knitting the black with the yellow.

You’d knit 8 black, drop that yarn, knit 5 yellow, drop that yarn, knit 8 more with another strand of black.

I think I see what you’re doing…maybe. Are you casting on the 5 in yellow, or switching to yellow (dropping the black) and knitting those 5 middle stitches with the yellow, then picking up a new strand of black to finish out the row?

Granted, I’m not the best to offer help about intarsia, having only done one thing with it, but every little bit helps.

Ok, I think I’m doing the latter. I’ll try to describe my steps (using the above example):

  1. I cast on 21 stitches in black.
  2. Then I regualrly knit 8 in black.
  3. Then I tie the yellow yarn (by the needle) onto the black yarn that leads to the ball.
  4. For the first stitch that I want yellow, I stick the right needle into the 9th loop (black) on the left needle, but I use the newly tied-on yellow yarn to wrap around and complete the stitch.
  5. I continue as above for the remaining 4 stitches that I want yellow.
  6. Then I want to knit the remaining row in black, and there should be 8 stitches to complete the row, but there will still be 13 black loops on the left needle!

Is anyone able to follow this? I’m probably doing something dumb, but I feel so determined to figure out how to fix this!

:?? can you post a picture? I can’t figure out where the extra stitches are coming from either. If you start with 21 and knit one in each of the 21, regardless of color, you should end up with 21. :??

You won’t have 13 black loops left on the left needle, because you knitted 5 of them with the yellow yarn. In your step 4 you stick your needle into the black loop, wrap it with the yellow yarn, then pull the yellow yarn through and push the black loop off your left needle- just like if you were knitting that stitch with the same color yarn instead of with different color yarn. Step 5 does the same with the next four stitches, leaving you with 8 black stitches on the left needle.

I think you’re just having trouble picturing it in your mind- I bet if you just cast it on and do it, it will make sense. :slight_smile:

Thanks! I think I figured it out for now. I’m not sure what I was doing before.
But I’m impressed by the helpfulness of the forum members - I will be sure to participate in future postings!

Ok, now I have a new question about intarsia! Thanks to your help, I was able to get started on some practice swatches. But I was wondering why the black yarn (main color) goes back and forth over the back of the yellow piece. I attached a picture of the back side of the swatch as a visual aid. I hope I described this well enough. Am I twisting incorrectly? Or is this how the back is supposed to look?

For it to be true intarsia, you need to have 2 strands of black and one of yellow going. You knit off one ball or strand or bobbin of black, switch to one of yellow, and then switch to another black. Here’s a picture of the chickie I just finished recently for an example (well the back of it anyways) :

I did “some” stranding but not too much. Here’s a picture of the front…

(the holes will go away when I weave the ends in)

I can’t see your picture but I think you may be stranding - if you use the same strand of black for the first black stitches and then also for the other black stitches after the yellow, you will get floats (probably way too long). For a yellow shape in the middle of a black background, you should use one strand of yellow and two strands of black (one on each side).