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Intarsia Knitting: May the force be with you!

Mar 12, 2012
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Cutie-pie Henry loves his R2D2 hat!  
   

About six months ago, my sister-in-law sent me the link to an R2D2 hat and said that my nephew, Henry, would love it. I knew she was right because Henry is a Star Wars fanatic (and it's super cute, yes?). "No problem," I said, "It's as good as done."

I spoke too soon, though, because the hat is an intarsia project, and I've only got a couple of those under my belt. I dove in, though, thinking it couldn't be that hard.

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  Oh, the humanity!
   

"Hard" isn't really the right word, but "fiddly" certainly is, and "tangled," too: Once I got into the intarsia portion of the hat I had about 60 strands of yarn hanging down from a 2-inch high, 18-inch wide piece of knitting. Check it out in the photo at right.

I was overwhelmed at first, trying to keep track of all of the ends, the chart, and twisting my yarns the correct way so I didn't end up with holes. So I have to admit, I shoved the whole thing in a Ziplock bag, further tangling the strands of yarn. And I didn't care. I put the bag in a drawer so it couldn't mock me, too.

But soon I started feeling guilty about my poor little Henry without his R2D2 hat. So I got the bag out of the drawer, pulled out the big blue and white mess, and started in. I realized that my biggest issue was with the strands tangling so badly, so I set out to solve the problem.

I had a mess of strands on bobbins, strands tied up in yarn butterflies, and some just hanging there. I realized that the strands that weren't in bobbles or butterflies were a lot much easier to deal with. The yarn was a smooth, acrylic mix and if I pulled gently and steadily, the strand I wanted came free of the rest of the yarn. Yahoo!

One surprise was that once I got into the pattern, I couldn't stop knitting, and I finished the remainder of the hat in one evening.

   
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  Before the Weaving In of the Ends
   

Then I was faced with the dreaded Weaving In of the Ends. Check out the photo at right. You might think I returned the hat to the bag and the bag to the drawer—and I didbut just for one evening.

The next night I got out the hat and had a happy meeting with my tapestry needle and perhaps a fleeting case of OCD. I wove all in all of the ends in one sitting.

And then I got out my red yarn and black yarn and used duplicate stitch to add the little details. Those details were included in the intarsia chart, but I couldn't be bothered to add even more ends to to mix, and duplicate stitch works great in these situations.

The finished product is darling, and I'm so happy with it, although I did get some slightly sad news from my sister-in-law. Henry is getting really into Harry Potter now, and the Star Wars love is fading a bit. On the flip side, I see a Hogwarts scarf in my near future!

If you want to join me in adventures in advanced intarsia knitting, check out Anne Berk's new Knitting Daily Workshop Intarsia InDepth. Anne is the intarsia master, and she's got a wonderful technique for knitting intarsia in the round. If you love color knitting, this DVD is for you!

I wish I'd used the force to guide me to this video before I started the R2D2 hat!

Cheers,
P.S. If you want this pattern, just search the web for the free R2D2 pattern.


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Comments

rettingerc wrote
on Mar 19, 2012 3:08 PM

The hat (and your nephew) are really cute!  You could have used bobbins to carry and interwaeve the yarn as you knitted each stitch. It is adorable!!! The FORCE IS with you!!! I'm sure you made the little guy very happy!  :)!

Linda1313 wrote
on Mar 18, 2012 3:53 PM

I'm a brand new knitter and am working on my first pair of slippers.  My friend is passing on her passion for knitting to me so when I've had a little more practice, I'll pass my passion onto someone else.

on Mar 18, 2012 9:41 AM

Thought you'd enjoy this since you're also doing intarsia.

Lisa

DianeU wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 11:34 PM

carissaknits.blogspot.com/.../r2d2-beanie.htm

If you put R2D2 hat into your address field and enter, this pops up.  Looks like what she used plus the arm thingie.

KellyM@42 wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 9:54 PM

I ran "r2d2" thru the pattern search at Ravelry, and here are the free ones:

www.ravelry.com/.../search

Happy knitting!!

GinaC. wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 7:13 PM

Tough call! I love the gentle cables of the Treccia wrap and also the textured edges of the Albero jacket!! Would be a lovely book to have for my library!

GinaC.

NanaD wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 12:37 PM

so far I've made 6 of these hats - 2 were made only because the first ones were too small!!!  It was an experience keeping all the ends in line and I HATE weaving in ends.  But all the recipients LOVE the hats.

NanaD wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 12:36 PM

so far I've made 6 of these hats - 2 were made only because the first ones were too small!!!  It was an experience keeping all the ends in line and I HATE weaving in ends.  But all the recipients LOVE the hats.

NanaD wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 12:36 PM

so far I've made 6 of these hats - 2 were made only because the first ones were too small!!!  It was an experience keeping all the ends in line and I HATE weaving in ends.  But all the recipients LOVE the hats.

NanaD wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 12:36 PM

so far I've made 6 of these hats - 2 were made only because the first ones were too small!!!  It was an experience keeping all the ends in line and I HATE weaving in ends.  But all the recipients LOVE the hats.

NanaD wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 12:36 PM

so far I've made 6 of these hats - 2 were made only because the first ones were too small!!!  It was an experience keeping all the ends in line and I HATE weaving in ends.  But all the recipients LOVE the hats.

NanaD wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 12:36 PM

so far I've made 6 of these hats - 2 were made only because the first ones were too small!!!  It was an experience keeping all the ends in line and I HATE weaving in ends.  But all the recipients LOVE the hats.

NanaD wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 12:34 PM

so far I've made 6 of these hats - 2 were made only because the first ones were too small!!!  It was an experience keeping all the ends in line and I HATE weaving in ends.  But all the recipients LOVE the hats.

singersewer wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 11:09 AM

"Oh, the humanity!" is right.  Your remarks are so comical, and just what I felt as a beginning knitter tackling a child's intarsia sweater...I only had 15 lines dangling.  It actually turned out well, but the panic in the making of it!  Thanks for the laugh, Kathleen.

SeattleAmy wrote
on Mar 17, 2012 9:59 AM

Where the heck does one get this pattern?  I've looked in Ravelry and everyone appears to be asking the same question!

Noellepaq wrote
on Mar 12, 2012 10:59 PM

Kathleen

There is an easy technique to carry over the yarn that you don't use without getting a long strand of yarn at the back and without the need to weave in a lot of ends.

It looks like your nephew's hat had 2main colors: white and blue. You can start with the blue and carry it over for most of the pattern without cutting the yarn. For the black and red spots, I agree that you cannot carry over the yarn.

The technique is to keep the unused color in the back when knitting and front when purling and put it alternatively on the top and bottom of the right needle for right handed knitting. That way the yarn weaves itself into the knitting.

When there is a big contrast of color you may want to do it every other stich as it may show a little in the right side of the knitting. To avoid holes you may want to twist the yarns at the change of color. Try it, have fun and let me know., Noelle

Noellepaq wrote
on Mar 12, 2012 10:59 PM

Kathleen

There is an easy technique to carry over the yarn that you don't use without getting a long strand of yarn at the back and without the need to weave in a lot of ends.

It looks like your nephew's hat had 2main colors: white and blue. You can start with the blue and carry it over for most of the pattern without cutting the yarn. For the black and red spots, I agree that you cannot carry over the yarn.

The technique is to keep the unused color in the back when knitting and front when purling and put it alternatively on the top and bottom of the right needle for right handed knitting. That way the yarn weaves itself into the knitting.

When there is a big contrast of color you may want to do it every other stich as it may show a little in the right side of the knitting. To avoid holes you may want to twist the yarns at the change of color. Try it, have fun and let me know., Noelle

Amontillada wrote
on Mar 12, 2012 6:38 PM

And in a striped Hogwarts scarf, you change colors at the start of a new row! I like knitting Hogwarts scarves. It's nice to know that even a top knitter is challenged by intarsia. Keeping the tension even is my downfall!

JohannM wrote
on Mar 12, 2012 5:25 PM

If you want to make the best ever Harry Potter scarf, the Dark Mark Scarf is the one to knit. You can find it at

thestormmoon.blogspot.com/.../dark-mark-illusion-scarf-pattern.html

It's an example of shadow knitting. When you just look at it, you see a black and green striped scarf, but when you look at it from the right angle, the Dark Mark magically appears!

I made some out of sparkly bright green Christmas yarn, with a matt black for the background, and when the dark mark appears, it looks exactly like it's described in the book!

EllenF@3 wrote
on Mar 12, 2012 3:03 PM

I totally agree on duplicate stitch for the little details. I made a peter rabbit sweater that included the little tails in the chart but decided to satin stitch them after completing everything else, which gave it some surface interest and was so much easier.

Charlsie wrote
on Mar 12, 2012 7:16 AM

I've had a bit of experience with intarsia designs, and the biggest tip I can give, is to put the yarn into balls, and pin them with bobby pins! It really helps to avoid the tangle. I recently made my mom a tiger face blanket, tons of yarn balls hanging off of it, the occasional wrap up, but not anywhere as bad as some other projects. Well worth it though, and quite fun!

skaterjo wrote
on Mar 12, 2012 7:07 AM

I recently finished a Star Wars hat for my grandson. It has Star Wars in big letters and numerous crossed light sabers in the colors they were in the movie...he loves it and it was fairly simple to do... Yours is great...you can see my hat under skaterjo on Ravelry...love your column, thank you!