Simple Technique to Knit Intarsia


Intarsia includes working with different color blocks. This knitting colorwork technique can be of any design and shape that you like. You have to keep in mind that while changing colors you do not strand the colors across the back as done in Fair Isle.

Twist the two yarn strands around each other when you need to change colors otherwise two halves will not be joined and they will appear to be separate knitting pieces. This is easy technique but need to be done systematically as you need different yarn strand of each color within your design.

In this tutorial we have uses two color block of 20 rows and 20 stitches with a 10 stitch, 10 row block of the second color in the center of the first. You will need two strands of the first and one of the second color. The two strands of the first is used for each side of the square. You can cut long strands for small swatch but a bigger project needs balls of yarn.
Set up intarsia by knitting rows that do not include the color design.

To set up your intarsia, knit any rows that don’t include the color design. In this case, cast on 20 stitches and worked 5 rows, beginning and ending with a purl row.


Intarsia on the Knit Side

To begin, knit 5 stitches in red, 10 in beige, and 5 again in red. As mentioned earlier, that means you need three strands of yarn, one for the first part of the red stitches, one for the beige stitches and one for the remaining red stitches.

To begin intarsia on the knit side, work the first stitches in your background color, pick up the second color and knit the next stitches with it, then start a new strand of the background yarn on the opposite side. If you’re following a chart, this will work in the same way.

Starting a new color of yarn is similar to joining a new ball of yarn at the edge of a piece of knitting, as you might have done when knitting stripes.

Remember to leave a few inches of tail each time you start a new yarn to weave in later and don’t cut any threads you’ve been working with; you’ll need them again on the next row.

Purl the Intarsia

On the purl side of the work, the process of knitting intarsia is pretty much the same as it was on the knit side. Now that we are no longer on the first row, though, it’s possible to twist the yarns as we change colors to ensure that the different pieces of knitting stay together as we work.

To do this, pick the yarn you’re about to start working with up from underneath the yarn you’ve just finished working with. This will twist the yarns and join the separate blocks of knitting together.

If you didn’t do this at all, you’d have three separate pieces of knitting on your needle. If you don’t do it consistently (on both the knit and purl sides), you’ll have holes in your knitting.

Continue in this manner across the row, following your chart or, if you want to knit this practice swatch, continuing to work with 5 stitches in red, 10 in beige and 5 in red (or colors of your choice).

Complete the Finishing Touches

Now that you know how to work intarsia on the knit side and the purl side, keep doing what you’re doing, following the chart you’re working or whatever design is striking your fancy.

Remember that the threads need to be twisted each time you change colors, and after a few rows you’ll probably want to straighten out your threads a bit, so you don’t make too big of a jumbled mess.

To finish the sample swatch as shown, work the established center pattern for 10 rows, then work 5 rows in red (you can cut your beige and the other red yarn at this point) and bind off.