Two-sided Reversible Intarsia

September 8, 2008 at 12:15 pm 16 comments

I got a request for a “ladybug” scarf.

ladybug 057cr1Ladybug

Design: a reversible spotted scarf

ladybug 001cr

I knew immediately which yarn I wanted to use. I had been suffering from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino envy and just needed an excuse. I knew it came in black and a perfect red. 

It’s light enough for an all-over k1 p1 ribbing scarf, it will be nice and flat. Since it will be hanging with all the tension in the lengthwise direction, it will always be un-expanded. 
Wider and shorter would be a great Baby Blanket , lots of great colors of DBBC!

I knit a large swatch in k1 p1 ribbing to get the pattern gauge.

ladybug 042cr1DBBC k1p1 ribbing swatch

I measured the gauge (un-expanded) and made a graph to match the size of the scarf I wanted.
Each square represents two stitches, one knit, one purl. Only the knit stitch will show, the purl stitches will recede and be visible as knit stitches on the other side.

ladybug graphcr

I added circles to represent the spots and then tried different combinations of filled squares to get the best approximation of a circle.

Next, the worst part, okay maybe the second worst part, figuring out how to make a two-sided intarsia scarf that doesn’t look crappy on one side.

ladybug 016crFloats = looks crappy

How to make the wrong side (WS) look as good as the right side (RS)…

ladybug 002crRS to the left, WS to the right

Here’s what I came up with:

ladybug 006crright side (RS), expanded

ladybug 013crwrong side (WS), expanded, much improved

Here’s how I do it:

To hide the floats, I lift the float over a (same color) stitch that appears as a purl stitch on the right side (RS) (knit stitch on the wrong side (WS)). The float zig zags between the front and back laying on top of the purl bumps.

ladybug 020crunattractive float (WS)

ladybug 021crWS, lift float over stitch so float hides on purl bump
(knit stitch on WS) of same color stitch

ladybug 022crWS, float dropped onto purl bump

ladybug023crhWS, float woven between stitches (hidden),
float highlighted with white dots

One more time, going back the other way.

ladybug 029crWS, ugly float

ladybug 030cr(flipped over to) RS, float lifted over from behind

ladybug 031crhRS, float dropped onto purl bump of same color,
float highlighted with white dots

ladybug 032crhRS, float woven between stitches (hidden),
float highlighted with white dots

ladybug 036crright side (RS)

ladybug 037crhright side (RS) expanded,
floats highlighted with white dots

ladybug 034crwrong side (WS)

ladybug 035crhwrong side (WS) expanded
floats highlighted with white dots

NOTE: Be sure to weave the float over stitches of the same color.

The Actual Worst Part:

ladybug 002cr2Weaving In The Ends
(thank goodness for Project Runway Season 3 on dvd!!!)

Each spot creates 4 ends. 21 spots = 84 ends
(in addition to the usual beginning and end of every ball)

NOTE: Weave in the ends mostly vertically, so they won’t work themselves out when the ribbing is stretched and springs back.

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, it is super soft. Lots of great colors for other spotted scarf combinations or baby blankets. It PILLS though. The beginning of the scarf was pilling by the time I finished it. DD is very happy with the scarf, we’ll see how it wears.

Entry filed under: Finished!, learning, Yarn. Tags: , , , , , , , .

CANADA! (Happy 150th Birthday British Columbia!) Knitted Skirt Design Class with Carol Lansinger

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tania  |  September 8, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    FINALLY you blogged about this! YAY!! I love that you highlighted the floats b/c even though I knew what you were doing logically, it always helps to have the visual. This is an awesome tutorial…nicely done! 🙂

  • 2. Ellen  |  September 17, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Re: How do you check gauge on lace @ yarn harlot

    Go to online knitting zine. Techniques with Theresa is about gauge and lace is included in the article

  • 3. emma  |  October 5, 2008 at 6:34 am

    OMG! You are too clever! I would never have thought of that and would have sonvinced her she really wanted something else. Or would have knit two scarves and sewn then together to be “extra warm”. Yeah, that’s it.
    Its gorgeous!

  • 4. sassysean  |  October 13, 2008 at 4:47 pm


    I found this site looing for how to weave in ends when intarsia knitting. Thanks for the tutorial. I have lots of ends but no floats. Where do floats come from in intarsia knitting??? I hope you can help.

    Will check back often!!!!

  • 5. Anet  |  May 18, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I wonder if this would require more yarn? I would like to try it with the new Nona’s Garden shawl by KnitPicks.

  • 6. Sam  |  October 15, 2009 at 9:46 am

    THANK YOU! I want to design an intarsia scarf but I don’t want to have to knit the damn thing in the round. This tutorial is awesome!

  • 7. Shan  |  October 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Hi! I’m newbie with intarsia and was wondering would your tip about the floats change if I was doing stockinette instead of k1p1-ribbing?

    • 8. knittinginmind  |  November 16, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Shan, The method I came up with won’t work with stockinette; it only works with K1P1 ribbing because the floats zigzag between the front and back, laying on top of and appearing to be purl ‘bumps’.

  • 9. Nicole  |  May 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I’m about to knit a scarf for my sister’s cat and was clueless about how to do an intarsia design that looks good on both sides. Thank you so much for this. Your explaination is so clear and easy to follow.

  • 10. Amanda  |  September 7, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Try as I might, I don’t understand how you use this little trick for the circles. Do you use it on every row?

    I don’t quite follow the trick in general. I learn better from video tutorials, but that’s my odd brain and not a criticism of your instructional skills! 🙂

    Just to give you an idea of my project, I’m knitting a scarf with the English rib stitch and want to knit simple ghosts, pumpkins, and maybe Frankenstein’s Monsters.

    I don’t want an ‘ugly’ side. Can that be done in my project?
    I appreciate any advice and pointers. Thanks!

    • 11. Peachy  |  August 2, 2020 at 11:22 am

      I’m with you … I would love to see a video of this technique actually being knitted.

    • 12. Peachy  |  August 2, 2020 at 11:30 am

      I did find this on Youtube!

      • 13. Amanda  |  August 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm

        I looked up a video of how to do intarsia from knit to purl and purl to knit, and taught myself so to work it into English rib (I wish I could post pictures), rounded shapes and all!

        It’s been a while though, so I’d have to practice again 😅

      • 14. Amanda  |  August 2, 2020 at 12:17 pm

        how* to do it

    • 15. knittinginmind  |  September 7, 2020 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you. I have thought about making a video, I don’t have the video skills yet, but you’ve got me thinking about it again.

  • 16. jpfancuff  |  October 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks a million for posting this! It’s the only reference I find anywhere on using 1×1 ribbing with intarsia. My project isn’t two-sided, so I’m not bothering with the floats, but someday I would love to do a scarf this way!


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