Monday, August 26, 2013

Link to the Hélène's blog

Just because I forgot to do it in the previous 2 posts...

"Don't be afraid, it's just yarn"

That's one of the most useful and encouraging things I've ever heard about knitting. I got this advice on Ravelry, after I said I was afraid to try color knitting. Words "Icelandic intarsia" definitely would have sounded like something waaaay too advanced back then. Today, I'm knitting a coat in Icelandic intarsia with 5 colors at the same time and it's not scary at all (though I'm sure that people on the train think differently).

Blog of Hélène Magnusson has been a huge help so far. The post about basics of Icelandic intarsia is like reading about magic. It doesn't make sense the first time you read it, nor does it the second, but when you start knitting and just trust her and do it the way she tells you to, it all works out.

I'm talking about shifts in pattern. Say, you have 2 blocks of grey and 2 blocks of black. Then the pattern shifts and you have 1 grey and 3 black blocks. Or other way, 3 greys and 1 black. I'm sure that if I had to do that on my own, the wrong side of my knitting would have been a mess. But with tips of Hélène, it's VERY neat. I'm not going to explain it here, just read her blog, if you're curious, it's worth it.

But as with everything, once you get over your fear for one thing, another scary tjing replaces it. Look at this crazy intarsia and you'll see what I mean. That's Dayana's work, who in my eyes is an absolute goddess of knitting. :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Icelandic intarsia: first experience

A week ago I started knitting a coat in Icelandic intarsia. And while "knitting a coat" sounds like it will take ages, this one knits up rather fast.

The pattern is Flowerpot by Hélène Magnusson and it uses Alafosslopi which is exactly the type of wool we all hated when we were children: thick, rough, scratchy and it sheds. :) But I like knitting with it (except for one thing that I'll talk about later) and I'm sure the end result will be amazingly warm and nice to wear.

The pattern itself, while being very simple and straightforward,  is written with experienced knitter in mind. It assumes a lot and doesn't give super clear step-by-step instructions. But once you read through it a couple of times, you understand it.

It's my first time knitting intarsia (and Icelandic intarsia is knit entirely in garter stitch), so I made sure to read all tutorials on Hélène's website. She does not recommend knitting Icelandic intarsia on circular needles, but I never knit on straight needles (except DPNs), so I decided to give it a try. It's possible, though very fiddly in the beginning, because you have one extra "thread" - the needles cable - to take care of, in addition to all the colors you knit with.

What works the best for me is this:
1. When starting to work RS, make sure your yarn(s) are hanging behind your work, grab the free needle from the left side and bring it to the right across the work on the RS.
2. When finished, turn your work clockwise (the right neddle's tip is moving away from you)
3. Don't untagle the yarns now, even though it will be messy.
4. When starting working the WS (and this took me some time to figure out), let your yarns hang in front of the work (the threads will go under the work to the skeins), pass your right hand under the threads from right to left, grab the free needle and bring it to the right as in step 1. The cord should be under the yarns, not above them.
5. Turn your work counter clockwise now. Normally your yarns should be untangled now all by themselves.

A word about the yarn management. Hélène recommends putting the skeins in a box and pull the thread from the center. It does work like a charm, but... if you plan to do it this way, rewind your skeins to form center-pulled balls. Because: 1. It's very difficult to find the 2nd end without quarter of the skein coming out. 2. There's a chance you'll come across a tangle in the middle of the skein (speaking from experience here). So, to spare yourself some frustration, rewind.