Friday, November 30, 2007

Intarsia versus Duplicate Stitch

When I last posted to this blog, I was feverishly knitting the last part of a pair of Cherry Hill socks for my 15-year-old daughter's birthday. I finished the socks and presented them to her on her birthday, along with my pair of Sidewinders. She's a child who truly appreciates hand-knit items, and she rubbed them against her cheek in ecstasy before putting them on her feet.

Socks done, I was able to return to the cat pullover for my son.

My older daughter and older son usually request some kind of intarsia design for their sweaters.

I don't love intarsia. For one thing, I like to knit in the round, and the convolutions required to knit intarsia in the round are labyrinthine. For another thing, I'm not wild about floats. I once had a knitting machine that double-knit the floats into a reversible fabric. That seems a neat way to handle color patterns. Floats are clearly an inferior solution and yet I'm not quite up to double-knitting jacquard patterns by hand.

My son and I came up with the idea of a band of cats alternating with purple flowers for this sweater. I charted the design based on a cross-stitch pattern and resolved to use duplicate stitch and backstitching for the motifs.

I like it. The knitting went quickly. The duplicate stitch did not go quickly, but it's a pleasant enough process. The results are clearly superior to intarsia, both from the right side of the fabric and also from the wrong side. There's no gaps or pulling, no heavy floats distorting the fabric.

The duplicate stitch also adds a nice texture element, a depth to the motifs that you don't get in intarsia.

The cats will have bead eyes and noses, but I haven't put them in yet.

This sweater has a round yoke. I love knitting round-yoke sweaters. I especially like laying the yoke out in a circle.

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