Intarsia 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.
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.
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. 🙂