I said I was up for a knitting challenge, and here I am knitting up a jumper using both a stranded & intarsia knitting techniques all in one go. Pure craziness!
Stranded knitting (or more commonly known as Fair Isle) is when you knit with two colors on the same row, alternating back and forth, bringing the strands across the back of the work.
This isn’t the traditional look of a fair isle knit, but it shows the difference quite clearly when you look at the back of the piece.
Right Side of Fair Isle:
Wrong Side of Fair Isle:
This creates a thicker fabric since it’s two strands in each row, not just one.
Intarsia knitting is when you have one color motif and other colors on either side of it.
Right side of Intarsia:
Basically you knit the right portion (right of the motif) with one strand of yarn (white), the motif in its own strand of yarn (blue), and use a third strand of yarn for the section to the left of the motif (white).
While this may look very similar to the first swatch of fair isle above…. Here’s the back of the square for comparison.
Wrong side of Intarsia:
You see, instead of carrying the white across the back of the blue motif, the threads are twisted and dropped (and later woven in). In each color section there are no floats along the back just one color in each section.
Now…. recall my floral blouse pattern:
It has loads of white floral motifs, but on either side there may be stripes of pink or navy. What I’ve decided to do is the intarsia method for the white flowers-so I have 5 separate white bobbins for each of the flower sections. And for the stripes of other colors, I’m working those using a stranded method (or carrying the threads of yarn through the back of the flowers).
Crazy for a first project, no?!
I only just started the flowers so here they are so far:
And the wrong side:
Floral motif detail:
You can see I’ve stranded the pink and navy rows across the back of the white flower, yet the white is contained within the flower.
Things I’ve learnt so far:
Tension is Key!
I’ve already spotted a few places on the bottoms of my flowers in which the tension is too tight. The white flower is pulling the yarns all around it. To fix this as I continue to work upwards, is to pull the fabric after each twist of my yarn to ensure I’m not holding the yarn too tight causing more of these puckers.
How to Wind Butterflies of Yarn:
Using intarsia, you need separate lengths of yarn for each motif. You can use bobbins or clothes pins or create center pull butterflies of yarn. I did the last one and used this youtube video to learn how to do this. It was kinda fun actually. :) Doing this helps keep all of the colors tame & tangle free as you work.
How to Twist my yarn to prevent holes when switching between colors:
Again, this is another key thing you have to do while you knit with multiple colors. If you just drop your yarn and pick up the new color, you’ll have a small gap or hole between the two colors. So you have to twist the yarn as you go (at the back of the work) to prevent holes.
I Should Have Used a Different Yarn:
I’m using a cascade wool: 75% merino wool and 25% nylon. While I think my yarn is perfectly adequate for this jumper, I fear it won’t get much use in a Chicago summer. I should have taken more time to look for a fingering weight cotton. But what’s done is done… and I’m still working forward on my jumper.
After I just wrote that, I keep thinking….
Do you guys think I should stop now and pick a different yarn before I get too much further? What would you do?
I found this knit picks yarn with 75% cotton and 25% nylon that could work. (It doesn’t have a great navy color, but I could use the black or a brighter blue in between the pink.) I’ve never worked with cotton yarn before, so I was always hesitant to go this route, but I’m having second thoughts.
All thoughts are welcome!
I’m using Ella Rae Baby Cotton (88% cotton/12% nylon) for a project now. I like it, so far. I think the nylon content makes the cotton less hard on your hands. I would give the blend a try if your heart is really set on making this a summer garment.
Last year I learnt stranded color work method which allows you to work with two colors strands to create a colorful motif (I used three colors). Why it’s good? Because it helps you resolve the issues with tension! This method was very helpful when I knitted this jumper last year.Watch this video!
As to your last question, I would knit two blouses: cotton and woolen ;)
The video is here
Tension problems will relax after you wash and block the sweater when you are done, because you are using wool. Cotton behaves differently and tension problems are much harder to fix. I would choose a wool/cotton blend so you still get some of the good characteristics of wool.
Otherwise – nice work! And way to jump in the deep end.
Your sweater is looking great so far! If you do decide to switch to a cotton yarn, I suggest skipping this particular knit picks yarn. I usually like knit picks, but I used this cotton once for a sweater, and it hasn’t worn well, at all. It actually wasn’t bad to knit with (most cotton is really hard on my hands) but I’m really disappointed with the end quality. Hate to see you knit this beautiful sweater with a yarn, that in my experience, just didn’t hold up.
What about going ahead and using it in those in-between months? You work in an office don’t you? I’m sure you could pair it with a nice woolen skirt and get about the office in it. Not to mention I’m sure you could wear it in winter with a long sleeved top underneath or something to make it work for the colder weather?
I’ve only swatched with that Knit Picks yarn but it’s so light and soft that it would be great for the heat that’s coming our way. Also – that top is going to be so cute on you! What will you wear with it? I know, I’m getting ahead. Happy knitting!
I’d second that comment above about using a cotton-wool blend (or a cotton blended with something that has a bit of give), as cotton is incredibly unforgiving, if you’re going to go the cotton route. You’ll need something that has a bit of stretch to it, to make the intarsia lie well.
Good luck with your sweater!
It is looking pretty so far though :)
I use Comfy in sport weight a lot for baby items and love working with it. It’s really easy on the hands for cotton. It does fuzz/pill a good bit when machine washed and dried.
I swatched for a sweater in Comfy fingering, but am not very far along yet. I tested the swatch by machine washing 3x, and it fuzzed significantly less than the sport weight.
Note that the colors (at least on my screen) look more vibrant on screen than they do in real life. In reality, the colors are slightly lighter or more “dusty” than they appear on-screen.