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FAQ: What is Intarsia?

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FAQ: What is Intarsia?

Intarsia is a color work technique that is used to create individual fields of color in one piece. Yarn is not stranded horizontally (like in Fair Isle knitting); rather, each section of color has its own working yarn that moves vertically. You can usually identify intarsia because the color work does not continue over the course of the entire row. Thus, it would be pointless to strand a yarn over a row in which it is not used. Here’s an example that I knit up.
Intarsia front
While I only used two colors of yarn, I used three different strands of yarn: one purple piece for the center, one mustard piece for the left, and one mustard piece for the right. Here I have recolored my swatch to show where the matching mustard piece is.
Back recolor
As you can see in this close up, it is important to twist your working yarns when you change colors. This helps to prevent holes from forming when you change colors.
Intarsia back

And what can you make with intarsia? Click here to see seven knit and crochet intarsia patterns.

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  • Great post Jess. I think intarsia is one of those advanced skills that scares a lot of people. I would love to give it a try with the right project in mind. I really like the tumbling blocks afghan pattern I think maybe as a pillow or a bacg it would be an interesting starter project.

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    I would like to receive more information by work with two or more treads.

    Zontee says: Hi Mary, you can browse our blog for other articles about color work. You can also do a search on your preferred search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) for “knit color work” and you will find many tutorials about different methods. Hope that helps!

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  • JnACross

    OK I understand what it is but I don’t understand how to do it.

  • Fivsonsmom

    Is it possible to show a picture of the actual stitches being done?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Fivsonsmom, the stitches are regular knit and purl stitches. You simply change the strand of yarn being used when you get to the color change. To see examples, try visiting and type “knit intarsia” into the search box to see tutorials.

  • Carole VanSlyke

    Is this procedure like knitting mosaic? I have mad 3 or 4 afghans with mosaic with each block using 2 colors and 2 rows.

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