How Do I Choose the Best Intarsia Knitting Patterns?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Intarsia knitting is a technique utilizing multiple blocks of color to create a picture or design in the fabric. Suitable for intermediate and experienced knitters, intarsia knitting patterns build upon basic techniques to create a visually interesting project. Knitting patterns featuring intarsia designs vary from accessories such as gloves, scarves and hats to larger projects such as bags, sweaters and blankets. The best intarsia knitting design is the one that meets your needs and aesthetic preferences. To choose the right one, you should examine your needs and skill level as well as your desires for the finished project.

Intarsia patterns fall under the broad category of "colorwork." Patterns for intarsia knitting range in complexity from simple geometric shapes, such as a design worked using one main color and one background color, to more intricate, mural-like works involving a dozen or more colors. Intarsia knitting patterns utilizing many colors are more complicated and require a higher skill level than those utilizing just one or two hues. It’s recommended that knitters choose a simple design to build their skills before moving on to more complex projects.


Intarsia knitting patterns are calculated with a specific number of stitches and rows. In order for a design to work, your project must have at least as many stitches and rows as the knitting pattern charts. An intarsia design made for a blanket, for example, is usually too large to fit on a scarf. Although this is usually true, a design made up of many smaller repeats of a graphic motif can easily translate from large projects to smaller works.

Knit a sample using your chosen yarn and needles to determine how many stitches and rows you knit per inch. Compare these numbers, which are called your gauge, to the knitting pattern charts to determine whether or not the intarsia pattern is suitable for your project. Count the number of stitches and rows in the intarsia knitting patterns you're considering. Using your gauge swatch, you'll be able to determine the approximate size of the design.

Not all knitting patterns are created equally. Intarsia knitting patterns, like other knitting patterns, are not subject to a universal vocabulary or format. Look for a pattern or chart that is clearly labeled and detailed in its instructions. Some knitting patterns are written for more advanced knitters who are able to read them clearly and make use of abbreviations or implied knowledge. Choose a pattern with minimal abbreviations and plenty of detail for your first foray into intarsia knitting.


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