Thursday, February 9, 2012

From Fair Isle to Intarsia

There's a great science fiction series - the Miles Vorkosigan Saga that Jim got me hooked onto a few years ago.  Each planet has a different culture that started from different areas of Earth or different viewpoints on life.  The uniting factor is Miles, a forward thinking, very active brilliant character who likes strong women and men friends leading to some very fun and interesting stories.  The series begins with Cordelia's Honor.  Cordelia becomes Miles' mother.

If you have any idea of what Ravelry can encompass, and it is beyond extensive, then you will not be surprised that there is a forum called the Dendarii Free Knitters, after the Dendarii Free Mercenaries in the Miles series.  Knitters have many interests so it has been fun to 'talk' Miles with others from all over the place.  The author, Lois Bujold, who also writes Science Fantasy (that's for another day),  has a new book in the series coming out in the fall.  It will be about Mile's cousin Ivan. Ivan plays a role in several books but always second or third string.  This new book will be all about him.

We got so excited we decided to make Ms Bujold an afghan of blocks representing different aspects of the series.  Actually started discussing the possibilities last fall with the due date for the blocks being May, giving the finisher several months to put it all together.  One person will be designated to present the afghan to her at a signing.

After much discussion on color and availability we decided to use Cascade 220 Superwash in 
Silver #1946, Medium brown #862, Blue #813, Red #809, Dark Brown #819, Off-White #817
The possibilities for blocks are wide open.  So far we have my Dendarii Free Mercenaries Logo, Humping Bunnies (more about this one tomorrow) another Logo, Ekaterin's Garden, Imp Sec Horus Eyes, Auditor's Seal, DNA, Zap the cat, wormhole nexus and more to be decided later.  Such fun.
I couldn't get to my squares, even though I bought the yarn last December from Spun Right Round (oh and Webs is backordered so this LYS may be your solution), what with getting this and that finished for different deadlines until this month.  It was something to look forward to until I realized it is flat knitting and more than one color.  oy  big OY!  Doing the square in Fair Isle technique would look awful on the wrong side,  as Fair Isle has all the colors go all the way across stranding the unused yarn in back (wrong side) (or front as the case may be) along the way.  Since this is an afghan, there is no way to hide that.
So I put on my big girl pants and read up on Intarsia as compared to Fair Isle/stranded knitting.  I have done lots of Fair Isle, but always in the round as I avoid flat knitting whenever possible.
Intarsia uses more than one color but leaves yarn 'stranded' in the knitting and is done flat, often with bobbins of yarn to aid in not confusing all those balls.  On the wrong side or return, the yarn is picked up and purled where it is needed, then when the next color is needed it is wrapped with that color, dropped and one purls on with the new color.  This actually works on both sides in a similar manner except that the wraps are always on the Wrong Side.


Years ago, Anne F saw me struggling with wrapping yarn in Fair Isle and taught me to knit 2 handed, speeding up the process enormously.  I am told that it was probably easier for me as I knit English so learned a bit of Continental to strand the unused yarn with my left hand.  Normally I can't keep any kind of even gauge with Continental knitting so stick with English unless I am doing colorwork.

So there I was with 2 bobbins and one ball stranding just fine on the right side, but on the left I was doing that tedious wrapping when yarns had to be fair isled for a few stitches to get them to a second or third place.  "How difficult could it be to do 2 handed purling?", I said to myself.
Not as difficult as I thought, it turns out.
And now we have the Dendarii Free Mercenaries Logo Square ready to go.

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