My Nosegay Progress + Meet Tina

When I put together my WIP blog posts, I like to do them at the last minute so you can really see where I’m at in a project when I post. The downside to doing it this way is that if anything doesn’t go as planned, I sometimes I run out of time to finish the post before I have to be somewhere else! That’s what happened to me yesterday.

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I laid out my knitting in a sunny spot on the rug, and my aunt and uncle’s dog Tina came diving in to curl up on the scarf I use as a backdrop. She was so cute that I couldn’t just push her out of the way. I had to take a few pictures and then give her some cuddles.

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As she got up to get out of my way, she darted back and grabbed my ball of yarn to scamper off back to her bed with her. She didn’t chew on it or lick it; she just stuck her nose deep in the ball to sniff it. Clearly she can appreciate a good woolly yarn.

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Anyway, here’s where I’m at on my back today. I’ve got about a dozen rows left before I bind off. We’re just slightly over the halfway point for the Nosegay Vest KAL, so I have a little catching up to do, but I also should have more knitting time soon, and I’m not worried about not getting it done in time.

How Many Balls?

One of the questions that came up after my last intarsia post was how many little balls or bobbins did I use for each color for the Nosegay Vest? That’s not something I really keep track of, but I had a swatch of an earlier version of the chart where I never trimmed my yarn ends, so I dug it out and counted.

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I used five different pieces of yarn in green, one for each major section, and I carried the green along the back for the stems and leaves for each of the top sections of greenery to avoid using more individual pieces of yarn. Smilarly, I used only two pieces for the dark pink sections. I used one for the large area at the bottom, and I carried a second one along the back for the scattered details. I ended up using about four light pink pieces. This swatch has a bit of duplicate stitch on it from where I adjusted things, and that makes the light pink hard to count. I needed more light pink pieces than dark pink because sometimes my working yarn ended up in inconvenient places. I used three pieces of yellow, one for one flower two for the other for the same reason. Last but not least, I had eight pieces of the main color including the yarn I started and finished my swatch with.

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I mentioned that I used one piece for one yellow flower and two for the other which likely sounds strange. The reason for it is that my working yarn ended at an inconvenient place after a row and I didn’t want to carry it along the backside across that many stitches. Here you can see that I knit two yellow and then on the next row, my yellow section starts many stitches away from where my working yarn was. The working yarn arrow is slightly in the wrong spot, but I think you can see what I mean. I chose to use a new piece instead of trying to make just one work. On the opposite flower, I only had to carry my working yarn over one stitch, so I didn’t have this problem.

Because of quirks like this, I never really plan my yarn usage for intarsia because it can be hard to visualize how direction plays a part. I just break off long pieces from my main ball as I work and don’t worry much about it. I don’t try to prevent having extra ends to weave in, and I always make sure to start with more yarn than I need in all of my colors just in case.

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I had been planning on knitting the front of my Nosegay vest first, but I was speeding along on it, and I think I might have passed the point where the back and front become different.

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I decided to just go with it, because I’ve been loving having such a plain project to work on. Things have been really busy around here. I’m working on a lot of projects– among other things, I recently had an article in Pom Pom and am working on my classes that I will be teaching at Knit Fit— and on top of that, I’m moving this month! Plain stockinette feels like a bit of a relaxing treat right now.

P.S. Don’t forget to share your Nosegay WIP using the #nosegayvestkal tag on Instagram and Twitter.

What is Intarsia?

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Intarsia is a colorwork technique for creating stand-alone blocks of color. Each block of color uses a separate little ball of yarn, and the different yarns are twisted together at every color change so the color blocks are interconnected. When working at a certain angles, the yarns don’t have to be twisted to be joined, but I find it easiest to twist every time I change colors. When working an intarsia square for example, if you didn’t twist the yarns at the color changes, you’d end up with large holes along the vertical edges of the square because you would have basically worked very long vertical buttonholes. By joining the different color sections with twists at the edges, you don’t have to carry any yarn along the backside, so intarsia ends up lighter weight and with fewer color-placement restrictions than stranded colorwork.

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When you’re working intarsia, you need one little ball of yarn per color section, not per color. For example, if we were knitting a blue square on a white background, we’d need one ball of blue for the square, and two balls of white, one for each section of white on either side of the square. Many knitters like to use cardboard bobbins like for embroidery to wind off and manage their small balls of yarn because complex designs will require a lot of little balls, but I tend to leave things messy. Because you’re constantly switching balls of yarn, you end up with a lot of ends to weave in, but that’s okay because the finishing process will allow you to tidy up your work and make it look perfect. It’s entirely okay to have your intarsia look messy and ugly before you’ve woven in the ends, and it’s pretty normal.

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To reduce the number of balls of yarn, a lot of knitters choose to combine intarsia with stranded and duplicate stitch techniques. There are a few downsides to doing this. Both stranded and duplicate stitch will add bulk to the section where you’re working it because there will be twice as much yarn. Combining stranded with intarsia techniques can run the risk of creating loose or holey intarsia because the yarn might not always end up in the right place to twist when you change colors, but it can be useful when doing a detailed multi-color section like the main rose on the Nosegay Vest.

Are there any aspects of intaria that you’d like to know more about?

Casting on Nosegay + the Alternate Cabled CO

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The Nosegay KAL starts today, which means it’s time to cast on your stitches! Because Nosgay is worked from the bottom up, a stretchy CO method is needed. For a lot of people, the long-tail cast-on method will be stretchy enough, but there are tons of other options. You could also use a tubular cast-on method or the alternate cabled cast-on method. I’m using the alternate cabled cast-on method because it’s my favorite for 1×1 rib. It’s easy to work, and it’s super stretchy but also snaps back into shape nicely. The alternate cabled cast-on is worked like the cabled cast-on method, but instead of knitting in between every stitch, you alternate knits and puls. Here’s how to do it!

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1. Start with a slip knot. The tail only needs to be long enough to easily weave in.

2. Insert you needle into the slip knot and knit a stitch, but do not drop the slip knot off your needle.

3. Slip the new stitch to the left needle.

4. Insert your needle in between the two stitches closest to the tip of your left needle purlwise.

5. Purl a stitch in between those stitches, but do not drop any stitches off your left needle. Slip the new stitch onto the left needle.

6. Insert you needle in between the two stitches closest to the tip of your needle knitwise.

7. Knit a stitch in between those stitches, but do not drop any stitches off your left needle. Slip the new stitch onto the left needle.

8. Repeat steps 4-7 until you’ve cast on enough stitches.