Tutorial: Icelandic intarsia knitting

Icelandic intarsia: all the basics

Icelandic intarsia is an old knitting tradition in Iceland, mostly used in knitted shoe-inserts. It is basically intarsia in garter stitch, displaying brightful patterns in many colors. This unique tradition was unfortunately being lost. My book, Icelandic Knitting using Rose Patterns (Search Press 2008), aims not only to preserve it but also give it a new life.

Here is a little tutorial on Icelandic intarsia. If you have more questions, or if something seems unclear, do not hesitate to contact me. Have fun! The link to the tutorial is to find permanently in the SUPPORT section (horizontal menu).

Rose-pattern insert knitting is worked in the same way as regular intarsia knitting but in garter stitch. 

It is easier to follow the pattern knitting in garter stitch because, on the wrong side, colors are knitted in the same way than on the right side (you don´t have to read the chart from left to right on the wrong side).

Each block of color requires a separate bobbin or ball of yarn. It is a good idea to keep the bobbins close the needles to avoid tangling the yarn.

Home-made bobbin.

You can also use a plastic bag with a rubber band, a small clothes-pin or a special card.

You can use a loose length of yarn. It is a good idea to have it no longer than your arm´s length to avoid tangling. This is especially true with fuzzy yarns .

You can join the ends together by twisting them together: split the ends in two and rub them between your fingers with mouthwater. The excess yarn is cut away after the knitting.

When joining in a new color, yarn that has been used so far is drawn over the new color yarn. On right side.

On wrong side, yarn has to be brought between the needles. Yran that has been used so far to the front and new color , to the back.

The new yarn must be on the right side of the color block to be knitted. As the pattern moves to the left, it is knitted-in (shown here on the wrong side).

When the pattern moves to the right, the yarn is left lying across the wrong side, then knitted-in (shown here on the wrong side). To do so, knit every other stitch with the lying yarn. It´s sometimes called weaving in.

It is a good idea to knit in or darn in loose ends regularly while working. Darn ends around the blocks, in one direction, then on the other to be safe.

In some cases, in order to avoid unnecessary loose ends, begin at the center stitch and work the ends individually in both directions.

In order to determine the length of yarn needed, when working a small block of color, wind the yarn as many times around the needle as the number of stitches required.

In some cases, it is possible to work a piece using both intarsia and Fair Isle knitting technique. For instance, the motif is knitted using intarsia technique while the main color is knitted along the whole way.