Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Here it is!!! The thing I've been wanting to tell you about for absolutely flipping ages but time and illness conspired against me and it wasn't until my manic WIPing day yesterday (how wrong does that sound?) that I got it diddly-done and here it is. I'm a bit in love.

It's from a set of patterns that King Cole have produced for the Olympics and the Jubilee. It's the only one I like so it's the only one we'll stock (that's my mantra for everything that gets put in the shop). It's up in the webshop now, as is the yarn (in just the colours that you'll need).

And here's my take on the pattern.

Intarsia is becoming more important again in the knitting world. Kaffe Fassett really got that down in the 80's and then it seemed to tail off but if you take a walk down the high street you'll see picture knits all over the bloody place. So it's a trend and if we're to be fashion conscious we'll need to be aware of it over the next few seasons. Because it went out of hand knitting favour, and hasn't really been back in over the last ten years, there's a whole generation of knitters who've never done it (and, surprisingly, some who've never even heard of it!). It's dead easy.

I guess you need to know when to use that over stranded or duplicate stitch and really, the answer is, you get a feel for it. A lot of knitters will say that intarsia involves blocks of colours but that's not necessarily true, you can create some fabulously intricate, swooping patterns in intarsia.

I think if you're looking at a pattern to decide which method to use you want to see whether the colour pattern repeats across the row, if it uses more than two colours and if it does, do the stitches travel more than say five or six stitches? If the colour pattern doesn't repeat across the whole row, it's a sure fire bet for intarsia. If the colour pattern does repeat but there are more than two colours then the method will most likely be intarsia. If the pattern repeats and it has three or less colours then you need to look at how many stitches there are per pattern repeat - if there are regular small blocks of colours then it'll most likely be fairisle. So:

Intarsia: Small blocks of colour, more than a few stitches to carry your yarn if you were stranding.

Intarsia with Duplicate Stitch: Small blocks of colour, too far to carry your yarn (i.e. the blue diamond to the next blue diamond would have to travel over five stitches), duplicate stitch for the green in the middle because, really, who wants to be bothered with intarsia-ing for just one stitch?

Stranding: Two colours repeating throughout, never stranding over more than four stitches. 

Stranding with Duplicate Stitch: Three colours repeating throughout, never stranding more than four stitches. The duplicate stitch comes at the very top and bottom of the diamonds where you'd have to carry your yarn over nine stitches (i.e. blue diamond to blue diamond) but you also don't want to have to create little balls for just one stitch. (If you do do a pattern like this, hide it from little old ladies, they'll have a paddy-wack about using three colours in 'fairisle'...).

Blimey - that was a bit of a marathon - it wasn't meant to be. So, when to intarsia? You'll work it out and you'll know if you're doing it wrong - it'll just be too much work!

Then, how to do it... I don't profess to be able to give you a full run down here (or even on one of our lessons) it's a massive subject and, as with most knitting, it'll take at least months if not years to master. Saying that, there are a few essentials that I can tell you:

- Each colour will need it's own 'bobbin'.
- I say 'bobbin' in inverted commas because I don't do that - I follow Kaffee Fassett's method: Break off a metre or two for each colour (longer if you've worked out that that's how long you need for that particular motif), leave these strands hanging wherever they fall and don't get worried about the mess that's created. When you come to each colour, tug gently at the needle end of the yarn and it will slip easily out.
- As you come to the next colour to be worked, pick up that next colour, wrap it around the colour that you've been working with firmly (literally, wrap it over, then under and then it's ready to work), drop the first colour and carry on with your new.
- Do this every time you change colours, even if you're moving one stitch over to the left in the pattern so it feels like it's caught. Do it!
- If you know you'll be moving the colour more than three or so stitches on the next row, 'catch' that yarn towards the point where you'll be picking it up next time and the back will look lovely.
- Catch the yarn by wrapping the working yarn around the caught yarn loosely and carry on as normal.

They're my tips and it works for me - but it's taken plenty of practice.

Luckily - I can tell you that this pattern is most definitely intarsia - and what's more, it's bloody SIMPLE intarsia!!! A great place to start!

I wouldn't usually get my knickers in a twist about a pattern meant for the Olympics (don't get me started about that politics (I just wrote nearly two paragraphs about it despite the fact that I said 'don't get me started'...)) but I think this is too damn cute! And I love the fact that I made a big 'mistake' with the colour choice and went for 'Slate Blue' instead of 'Navy' - no idea what I was thinking but now I think that that gives it a lovely vintage-y feel which is perfect for the Jubilee! (Which, in my humble opinion, is something very much worth celebrating).

All the way through knitting the hot water bottle cover I was thinking, 'what can I say about this pattern?'. About half way through I came up with, 'it's a bit too short - I'd add a row here and there' but now it's finished it's actually not. Bloody King Cole, ey? Nothing to complain about. It's just a good pattern, well written (with charts!) and all that's left really, is for you to decide whether you want to knit it and I won't force you but it is bloody lovely!

(Also - a bit of an aside - the teddy's jumper has a 14" chest size which by my calculations makes it roughly 0-3month sized. A baby? A tiny baby? In a Union Jack jumper? Don't mind if you do...)

I did have plenty of yarn left over, particular in the cream and the red, so tomorrow I have a little fun thing for crocheters.

Love Eleanor.

P.s. Since I've been writing this blog throughout today I've sold two copies of the pattern which leaves us with the grand total of one in the shop and one at my house (which will be brought in to the shop tomorrow). Bear with us - I've ordered more!

P.p.s. I went a bit mad with vintage gold buttons - my favourite!!

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