In this post, an easy hack for how to control all those bobbins when you’re doing complex colourwork, especially intarsia. 🙂
Colourwork is a fantastic thing in knitting and crochet: it’s like painting with yarn – even painting in three dimensions, should you choose to engage in that level of crazy. I love most colourwork – stranded/fairisle especially, but also, slipped stitch work, and stripes. But I do not love intarsia*. Intarsia hurts my sanity. It’s a technique in which even the tiniest increase in the complexity of motif leads with terrifying speed to an exponential rise in the number of bobbins dangling and tangling in a hideous hairy heap in your lap, and needing to be painstakingly separated from each other every row because they just wanna mingle. Trust me, I’ve been there and I’ve got the fluent facility with swear words to prove it.
Stranded/fairisle work, on the other hand, is a lot more civilized in my un-humble opinion, because even if your finished object is a wonder of many-hued complexity, you only have to wrestle two shades within any given row. Two! I can cope with two. I even have two hands: look! So I’ll leave the intarsia to octopuses and millipedes, thank you very much. Also to spiders, as long as they keep the hell away from me whilst they’re doing it.
But despite the sanest of intentions, I still occasionally end up making something that involves a lot of different mini-balls of yarn, all at once. I know you can buy or make those mini-bobbins to control your wool, but they’re not much use for larger quantities of yarn and they’ve never completely saved me from the need to de-tangle. Elastic bands or hair bobbles can work quite well for larger quantities, if you remove the band from whichever ball of yarn is ‘live’ and then replace it when you swap to the next colour.
But the easiest technique that I’ve found to control the mess is to use small butterfly hairclips. AND they can cope with both larger and smaller quantities of yarn.
Quick to take off and then put back on as you swap each colour in and out, you can even use them to clip the yarn to the actual knitting so that there’s NO WAY it can sneak off for a group hug with its neighbours. Your knitting will still move happily along the cable/needle when you do this. Result! Problem solved!
So far, I’ve only discovered two disadvantages to this technique. First, when I’m doing intarsia, I CAN NEVER FIND ANYTHING TO CLIP MY FLIPPIN’ HAIR. And second, if you leave your knitting lying around like this, you risk coming back to find all the clips missing, and several small children running around giggling at the clips on their hair, their ears, their noses, the curtains… I haven’t yet found a good technique for managing tangled children, sorry.
And look, you can pick the whole thing up and NOTHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS!
I still don’t like intarsia, though.
- Just in case you’ve never had the ‘pleasure’ (by which I mean ‘soul-wrenching torment’), intarsia in knitting or crochet involves working a picture or motif by swapping in and out different shades of yarn as needed, without carrying them all the way across the work as you would in stranded work. OK, that’s not the best description: go take a look at THIS.