Tutorial: Knitting Intarsia in the round

Tutorial: Knitting Intarsia in the round

For some of my handpuppets it’s neccessary to knit intarsia in the round. Intarsia is a colourwork technique where the yarn is not floated in the back of the knitting as in fairisle techniques, but each section is knit with it’s own thread. Intarsia is often used where the pattern calls for bigger sections in one colour when stranded knitting would create a thick fabric.

Usually intarsia is knitted flat. Knitting back and forth you always have the threads in the direction you want to have it. When knitting in the round you knit in one direction only. So here is the problem. Given you have 2 sections and knit section 1 and 2 and want to continue with section number 1, the thread of section number 1 is still at the end of the section – not where you need it.

In fact you can’t knit intarsia in the round UNLESS you like cutting the yarn at the end of each section and starting with a new thread each section, which results in a lot of weaving in ends afterwards (and who likes that?). So working intarsia in the round is  actually simulating working in the round by knitting it back and forth and connecting the sections in several ways.

The easiest way with multiple sections is to create a seam where you turn your work back and forth. There are several ways to manage that seam, which I will not describe here.

If you only have 2 colours/sections like in my patterns here is the way I do it:

In this tutorial main colour=black, contrasting colour=white


1. Start with main colour and knit to the end of contrasting colour.




2. Lay yarn in front of the knitting and slip the next stitch (main colour).

Thus the stitch gets wrapped in the yarn.




3. Turn work.







4. Slip the wrapped stitch (main colour).





5. Purl next stitch. Be careful not to pull the wrapped stitch. If it gets too

tight, it will be difficult to handle in the following steps. Purl to end of contrasting colour stitches.




6. Change to main colour. It’s very important to watch out here. The contrasting colour must lay above the main colour yarn. This way the connect the two pieces of knitting. If you don’t do that, you’ll end up with two nicely seperated pieces.






7. Purl to the last stitch before the end of main colour stitches.




8. With your right hand side needle move the wrapping of the stitch up to the needle. If you pulled your yarn too tight before, you will recognize it now.




9. Purl together the main colour stitch and the wrap you put on the needle.





10. Turn work and slip first main colour stitch. Knit to end of main colour stitches.

11. Lay the main colour yarn over contrast colour yarn and knit to end of contrasting colour stitches. As in step 6 it’s very important to do so or your pieces will seperate.

Repeat from step 1.

Techniqually this method is not seamless, but it completly disappears in the border of the two sections.

Here is what the front and back should look like when you have finished some rounds:


Find some good advices on wrapped stitches in this tutorial video. It’s made for short rows, but the technique is the same.

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