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.


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.


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.





3 responses to “How Many Balls?”

  1. Intrasia is just so beautiful! I have never tried it myself, I guess the main reason is the fear of weaving in so many ends!

  2. Thank you so much for answering my question! I have to say, I feel much more confident now that I’ve seen the back of your swatch. This is my first official intarsia project, and I’m using the craftsy class to figure it out, but that class tells you not to strand but to make new balls each time. Once I started going, I knew that wasn’t possible with this pattern, so I started stranding. I’m relieved to see you stranded as well 🙂 I’m also much less worried about how mine is all uneven looking.

    Thanks again so much! I feel so much better 🙂

    1. It was a good question, and I’m glad you asked!

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