Knitting intarsia designs is a fun way to add color into your knitting. It's another method of colorwork knitting, although in this case the yarn is not (generally*) carried around the piece. Intarsia is knit flat using a separate ball of yarn for each color you use. With this method, more than one color can be worked in a row. It's often suggested that a knitter winds their contrasting colors onto bobbin. This makes it less likely that your many colors of yarn will tangle, and also make it easier to untangle when they do.
*Note: It should be noted that there is a method of intarsia in the round. Most patterns that include this method will go into further detail to explain how to do it.
Photo via the Craftsy class Intarsia: Basics & Beyond
What makes intarsia knitting even more fun is that it can be added in as small or as large of an area on your knitted piece as you want. Since the piece is knit flat, you can do an intarsia design in just a small section and the rest in the main color, or fill the whole front with beautiful intarsia designs.
When incorporating intarsia knitting motifs, it is important to twist the main color and contrasting color each time you switch yarns. This essentially locks the intarsia piece into the main knitted piece. This takes a little while to get the hang of (or in my case, remember to do), but once you get going you will find that it becomes more natural.
Ready to give this fun technique a try? Here are a few of our favorite intarsia designs:
Photo via Craftsy member MegRoke
Tweet-Tweet knit hat
This has to be the cutest and best pattern for someone new to knitting and intarsia. Hats are always a great first project because they don't take too much time and, knit in worsted weight yarn, this too will work up quickly. A small intarsia bird design will get you to practice using two contrasting colors. Even better, this hat pattern comes in five sizes to fit 16" to 20" heads!
Photo via Craftsy member MariKnits
Two Hands Make a Snowflake mittens
Another small and fast project are these beautiful mittens. The small snowflake design can either be knit using intarsia, or even done in duplicate stitch after the mittens are complete. I generally don't knit a lot of accessories but I'm really taken with the simplicity of this design.
Photo via Craftsy member iknitdesigns
Sheep sweater and hat
What knitter doesn't love sheep? This is a great project for knitters with little ones to knit for. This sweater is sized from 2 to 10 years and includes instructions for the matching hat. Knit in worsted weight yarn, this design only calls for two contrasting colors for the sheep, making this a good project for those new to intarsia.
Photo via Craftsy member al-fa
This beautiful tunic-length pullover has a large flower motif on the yoke and pockets that are knit using intarsia. There will be some stranded knitting, which does differ from the traditional intarsia technique, but instructions are provided in the pattern. This piece will have you creating a beautiful pullover that you can wear with pride but may be a project for a more adventurous or experienced knitter.
Photo via Craftsy member dyanita
Telon & Mio cat scarves
Now this is a scarf for an adventurous knitter! This fun project uses intarsia in either two or three colors to knit a cat scarf. The pattern includes instructions for the two or three color patterns, with the option of using your own colors or even creating your own colorwork chart for a cat. Perhaps knit a replica of your furry friend?
In this class, you'll get all the intarsia instruction you need, but won't find in patterns. You'll learn to create basic intarsia color crosses, secure floats, weave in ends, and will even learn how to create your own intarsia designs!