intarsia7Intarsia is one of those knitting skills that I’ve read about but haven’t ever tried for myself- probably because I knit almost everything in the round and intarsia is specifically for flat knitting- or is it?!?

Recently, I discovered a technique for intarsia-in-the-round that involves back-and-forth knitting on circular needles where you “pre-link” your yarns when you reach the end of a row and need to turn your knitting around and purl back.  This links your ends of the row together and makes it appear that you have been knitting in the round.  The benefit to intarsia-in-the-round vs flat knitting is probably just the avoidance of seams because there’s still lots and lots of purling involved.

My cat beanie pattern is very simple and done in the round so I figured I could “intarsia-on” a cat muzzle.  This would require only 2, maybe 3, colors.  Easy test run, right?!?  Nope.  Wrong.

The major mistake I think I made was trying intarsia on the ribbing.  I’m not sure, but maybe it never looks good in ribbing?  After 3 different attempts with some seriously strange stitches, I abandoned the idea and moved onto Plan B: adding the white muzzle after the ribbing.

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View from the wrong side. The left side is the “pre-linked” join. Weird.
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View from the right-side. The “pre-links” are now on the right. Still weird.

After knitting the ribbing in black and then beginning the intarsia, it was clear that it looked much better in plain stockinette stitch. However, my regular intarsia links look much different than my “pre-links” And, the stitches are looser and wonkier on the pre-link “seam” than the regular intarsia “seam”. I couldn’t figure out how to make the “pre-links” look like the regular links no matter how I twisted the yarns.

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The “pre-links” are on the right.
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“Pre-links” are on the left. Wonky!

My conclusion from this bit of experimentation was not that I’ve gotten the technique wrong.  (Although, this probably is the actual case.)  Nope, my conclusion is that intarsia is best left to flat knitting.

I can see the potential and freedom that intarsia-in-the-round can provide in knit design but I think I’m going to shelve this particular skill for a while.  At least my daughter loves her beanie that matches her cat.  She is happily oblivious to the funky stitches.  🙂intarsiabeanie

5 thoughts on “Intarsia-in-the-Round Experiment

  1. I love it! I do intarsia in the round all of the time, you sometimes need to duplicate stitch at the edges to make them neater but I do that when I am weaving in all of those pesky ends! I need to post some pictures but if you go to my ravelry page (Mesoarty) you can see “Cheyenne”, “you know nothing John Snuu”, and my blue and brown tam. Now I really need to make your KitKat hat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing work!! Thanks for sharing, it gives me hope for the technique. 🙂 Do your “pre-links” look different from your regular links too? Maybe it’s just part of intarsia-in-the-round and I didn’t mess it up after all?

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  2. Good for you for giving it a go! I’m going to say if you can take a picture of a cat with that priceless expression, you don’t need to worry about intarsia in the round 😉

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