Intarsia is used when you are making blocks of color over several rows. It is good for representative (picture) knitting, as well as geometric shapes which don’t repeat on a small scale, such as argyle sock diamonds.

Each color block requires it’s own bobbin of yarn. From either the back or the front, the intarsia block is clearly visible

Intarsia is worked by keeping the colors separate from each other rather than carrying the unused color to the back of the work as in stranded knitting. This requires that you twist the yarn at the joins in order to prevent holes from occurring.

Prepare for knitting by winding off a small amount of yarn for each color area ahead of time. As a guideline, wrap the yarn around the needle once for every stitch in the block, then add another foot of yarn. Wrap this yarn on bobbins. For larger areas, you can use a small ball of yarn.

To keep the knitting smooth across color changes and avoid holes, keep these two rules in mind:

  • When the change occurs at or before the color in the previous row, you must be sure and pick up the new color from underneath the color currently being worked. This will twist the yarns around each other.
  • If the change occurs after the change in the previous row, you can simply drop the current yarn and pick up the new color without twisting.