Knitting Intarsia: Tips to Help You Find Knitted Success

Have you ever wondered how exactly you create a gorgeous colorwork pattern in only one spot of your knitting? Chances are, you’ve been admiring an intarsia design! I’m here to share more with you about this knitting technique, plus a couple awesome tips to use along the way. With a little help and some practice, you’ll be on your way to knitting a beautiful knit intarsia design!


Winnipeg pattern via Bluprint instructors Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley

What is intarsia?

Intarsia is a method of colorwork knitting where you knit with one or more contrasting colors to create a design in only one portion of your knitting. This is done in the without carrying multiple strands of yarn, and is knit flat (back and forth). With this method, you can create any type of design you’d like, on virtually any piece of knitting.

Adorable knit anchor pillowThe Anchor Pillow pattern via Bluprint user 5410Studio

Following an intarsia pattern

Intarsia designs are laid out in a grid. You follow this grid by knitting the correct color in the correct position. It’s like a knitting paint-by-number. To work you intarsia design you will knit with the main color to the point of beginning the intarsia pattern, you will drop the main color, and begin knitting with the correct contrast color(s). At the end of that row, you will drop the contrast color and begin knitting with the main color again.

Depending on the size of the intarsia pattern, you will use either one ball of the main color and carry that yarn across the back of the pattern, or you will join the second ball and work with that on the other side of the pattern. The contrast color will be left hanging on the wrong said, waiting for you to work back with your knitting and pick it up.

To manage the multiple colors, you can wind your contrast color yarns into little balls or onto spools. This will cut down the tangling somewhat.



Snowmass Intarsia Tee by Bluprint member BijouBasinRanch

Be sure to twist your yarn (main color and contrast color) in order to essentially lock it into place. When weaving in ends, give them a twist before using duplicate stitch to weave them into the wrong side.

I love that by using intarsia you can create so many interesting shapes and designs in any part of your knitting. I also find that correcting tension issues in intarsia is easier than in stranded knitting since you’re only using a small amount of yarn for each row of the pattern. I am very excited about the Bluprint class Next Steps in Intarsia. This class will teach you the techniques you need not only to knit intarsia in multiple colors but in the round also! You’ll make some really gorgeous plaid mitts and even learn how to fix your mistakes.

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