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.

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