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Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

POSTED BY omega | 27 November 2016 | Design Concept

It's Fight Night and both contenders are now in the ring. The crowd roars with excitement as the match bell rings for the battle of the color techniques to begin. The contenders size one another up as they inch closer to one another. Intarsia moves with haste and fury "bobbin" and "weaving" around the ring with it's many "blocks of color." Meanwhile, Fair Isle gracefully "floats" like a butterfly and avoids each hit. Before the bell rings to end the first round Fair Isle swoops in with a swift uppercut and down goes Intarsia with millions of colorful ends to be weaved in at the hospital. The crowd jumps to their feet with excitement and I, the referee, walk Fair Isle around the ring with her gloves up over her head in triumph!

Boxing is one of my favorite sports to watch. It's exhilarating and I love every minute of it. So in my perfect world, if knitting techniques had their day in the ring, above is an example of how it would all go down between the two heavyweights of colorwork knitting. LOL!

Yesterday, I began swatching for a colorwork series I'm working on for Knitted Oaks TV. It was actually my very first time knitting fair isle and intarsia. In the past, these techniques were intimidating. They looked really complicated and fit for the more advanced knitter. I've been knitting for six years now and I've let that poisonous thought deter me for far too long. But I thank God for our many viewers on YouTube because they've literally inspired me to break the chains of such thinking and fearlessly knit on another level. Now, there's no looking back because like many knitting techniques I've conquered before, colorwork is addictive!

I wiped up some sketches on graph paper first and these are how the swatches turned out:

Intarsia knitting featuring 3 small hearts
Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

   
Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

Overall, I'm very pleased with how they came out and have already made some mental notes on what I will be doing differently for next time. Personally, as you can recall from the boxing match above, I prefer fair isle over intarsia and for several reasons. First, the clean up is minimal. By "clean up," I mean the millions of loose strands that needs to be weaved in at the end for intarsia. Fair isle is not as cumbersome because you are carrying both colors across every row together, creating floats at the back of your work. Whereas, you work in blocks of colors for intarsia knitting. (I'll explain each technique in greater detail in the series.)

Second, you have to pay closer attention when knitting intarsia. Depending on the amount of bobbins of yarn you choose to work with, you've got to stay focused on the project to make sure not to tangle the yarn and accidentally pick up a strand from the wrong place. In my swatch above, I had 5 bobbins per heart. That's a total of 15 strands to weave in at the end. Imagine what the count must be on larger swatches and actual projects. Yikes!

Finally, intarsia would be a death sentence to knit in the round. I cannot imagine the stress it would create for me, especially if I wanted to do more than two colors. Fair isle can be done stress-free in the round as well as flat.

With all that being said, I do love intarsia and it does have some pros that fair isle doesn't. For one, fair isle limits you to just two colors at a time. Whereas, intarsia allots you to work with as many colors per row as you want. Intarsia can also help you look like the Picasso of knitting.

For example:
Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

Fair Isle vs. Intarsia

 

If not before, your friends and family will certainly respect you when you cast off wonders like above from your needles. :-)

All being well, the series will begin at the end of this week. So stay tuned.

Have any of you tried any of these beautiful techniques before? If so, what was your first project?

Stay Blessed,
Dana

 

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