Hello lovely knitters! Today we thought we’d delve into the world of intarsia knitting and show you how you can do it yourself in the simplest way.

Intarsia is the technique used to create knitted designs that feature separate and independent blocks of colour. These might be single large motifs, bold geometric patterns or so-called ‘picture knitting’.

Unlike Fair Isle knitting in which colours are carried across the back of the work to create small repeat patterns, intarsia involves the use of a separate ball of yarn for each block of colour. The result is a lighter weight, single-thickness knitted fabric.

Designs are generally worked in stocking stitch from a chart. When each new colour comes into play, the yarns are twisted around one another on the wrong side to prevent holes appearing in the work – these twists will only be visible from the wrong (purl) side of the work. A separate small ball of yarn is required for each colour block, and these must be prepared before starting to knit an intarsia design.

Following an Intarsia chart

An intarsia pattern is given as a chart with a squared grid. Each square has a colour or symbol that corresponds to a yarn colour indicated in the key. Each square represents one stitch and each row of squares indicates a row of knitting.

The design is worked from bottom to top as with any knitting pattern, thus rows are numbered from bottom to top of the chart. Working in stocking stitch, the first row, and every following odd number, is a knit (right side) row and the chart for these rows is read from right to left; the right side row numbers are shown on the right of the chart. The second row, and each following even number, is a purl (wrong side) row, and the chart for these rows is read from left to right; the wrong side numbers are shown on the left of the chart.

Here’s a practice chart with step-by-step instructions you can use to try out intarsia for yourself. Good luck with your intarsia creations!

The pattern is worked in two colours; you will need five balls of colour A and four of colour B.

1. Cast on 30 stitches with A. Work the first (right side) row: knit 10 stitches in colour A. Drop colour A and insert the right needle into the next stitch. Keeping a 10cm tail, pass yarn B round the right needle and take the tail over the new working yarn. Hold the tail taut to knit the first stitch tightly.
2. Knit 10 stitches in colour B. Then take a new ball of colour A, join it in as before and knit 10 stitches in colour A.
3. Turn and work row 2 (the first purl or wrong side row). Purl 10 stitches with A. To change colour in a purl row, cross yarn B under yarn A and purl the first B stitch firmly. Purl 10 stitches with B then change to A in the same way.
4. Turn and work row 3 (a knit row). To change colour on a knit row, drop one colour, pick up the new colour and cross the yarns at the back of the work. Knit the first new stitch tightly to prevent a hole.
5. Continue with these three balls until you have worked 10 rows. The pattern changes in the next row. Add in new balls of yarn as before and work the next ten rows. For the last ten rows add in the remaining three balls of yarn. Cast off in colour A.
6. When an intarsia design is complete, carefully pull the yarn ends on the wrong side to adjust any loose stitches, then use a tapestry needle to weave them into the loops on the edges of colour blocks. Trim off the ends.