Knitting Pattern: Nailed It! (NOT)

I’ve been working on a test knit for my mug cozy for probably a month, picking it up and putting it back down. The intarsia was a slow process, since I designed the color changes based on my own visual likes rather than ease of knitting. I’d also never done intarsia knitting before this.

Sheep in a field - gridded drawing
For your memory, this is the color pattern I was working from.

With intarsia, you create a new little bobbin of yarn to work from each time there is a color change. So, you’re knitting around in blue, get to a cloud, switch to a small bit of white, then switch to a new bit of blue (that’s right, you don’t just pick up the old blue you were using before until you come back around). Because you don’t bring the yarn along behind the work, every time there is a color change, you get a new bit of yarn. For every new bit of yarn, there is going to be an end to weave in.

Intarsia chart
For a visual representation: All of the stars in this section of the pattern show where a new bit of yarn is going to be used. The thicker black lines indicate a section where a bobbin of different yarn is used.

As I was designing this, I had no experience with intarsia, therefore, gave no thought to how many ****ing ends there would be to weave it when I finished the cozy.

Knitting - so many ends to weave in
Attack of the spaghetti monster

I don’t even want to pretend I’m going to finish this test knit.

But either way, NAILED IT!

Crappy knitting

Hahaha, just kidding. This poor mug cozy is a step away from being knitted vomit.

Aside from being a finishing nightmare, my technique was just not very good. The randomly loose stitches above would be fixed after I weaved in the ends of the yarn — they’re just loose because they’re not quite attached.

The blob thing that should be a sheep in a pasture though… wowwee.

I knit the clouds in seed stitch – k1, p1, then on the next row I’d purl the knits and knit the purls, creating these cute, fluffy clouds because purl stitches create a little horizontal bar that puffs out a bit.

The problem with purl stitches in colorwork is that the previous stitch is visible behind the purl bar. Not so noticeable when it’s white on light blue, but super noticeable when it’s white on dark green. I wanted the sheep to be fluffy, so I tried the same thing on them.

Colorwork gone wrong - knitting
Another example of how using purl stitches in colorwork can go horribly wrong, since I did purl the white stitches below the black stitches

Another issue I had was in using this technique to be able to knit in the round while still using the intarsia technique. I thought I did this correctly everytime I turned my work, but apparently not because the start/end section of the mug cozy looks quite… jacked. If you’re not a knitter, just notice how most sections have a straight line of Vs going down, but in the middle… who knows what’s happening? Also, you should become a knitter.

Bad knitting
Did I add stitches? I’m not sure, but that section looks totally wibbly-wobbly.

And my last gripe with this is that the green on the bottom needs more saturation. It’s being ousted on the next run.

So, it’s back to the drawing board with this pattern. Lessons learned:

  1. Practice the intarsia in the round technique way more, or just knit it flat and sew it into a cylinder when you’re done.
  2. Make sure your yarn colors are all equally saturated or it just looks sad.
  3. Don’t try to be cute with your fluffy purl stitches when doing high-contrast colorwork.
  4. It may not be worth the pain to create a color chart based solely on visual design — take the knitting experience into account and try to reduce the number of ends that will need to be weaved in at the end.

Read more about my adventure in creating my first knitting pattern:

Designing a knitting pattern: The learning curve

As I had written a few weeks ago, I have started working on my first knitting chart / pattern. My hope is to be able to design a simple, knitted travel mug cozy featuring a few sheep grazing on a hill.

My test knitting has been slow because I’m using fingering weight yarn and I have been picking it up and putting it down quite a lot. I have also started over twice, of course (it’s very rare that I can get my knit right on the first try).

Even though I’ve only gotten past knitting up a few clouds, I’ve learned a few things so far that may change the way I knit this and what the final pattern becomes.

1. I probably shouldn’t wing the design as I go. Like I had mentioned in my previous post, my gauge using the fingering weight yarn for this mug cozy is much different than the gauge I had used for my initial design (based off of worsted weight yarn used on previously created mug cozies). Instead of counting my stitches and altering my color chart, I started winging it.

It seemed easy at first but now that I’ve finished a few clouds, I don’t like the way they look (not fluffy and round enough). If the clouds didn’t turn out well when winging it, I doubt the sheep or hills will.

Using a fingering weight sock yarn, I’ve gotten about 3 inches knitted. Like I said, gauge is important, even for a mug cozy. Travel mug cozies should probably only be 4 inches tall. So now that I’ve only got clouds, there’s definitely no room for sheep. I need to go back to the drawing board.

An example of puckered knitting caused by tight floating yarn
Floats are too tight in some places, causing puckering on the knitting around the cloud edges

2. I need more experience and practice in colorwork knitting. As I started making color changes that were 2 inches apart, I noticed I had a lot of yarn being carried around the inside of the mug cozy. It is a huge mess and I’m pretty sure it would be quite difficult to put this cozy onto a mug without having to push, shove and coddle the yarn on the inside into place. It’s not practical and not even worth continuing if I can’t fix this mess.

Too much floating going on in this knitted cozy
Too much floating going on in this knitted cozy, it’s a huge mess in there!

I’ve also learned that keeping your floats (the colors not being used at the time that are brought along the back of the knitting) on double pointed needles is difficult when the color break spans two needles. This article from Knitty has some good tips on how to weave in your yarn along the back if you have longer stretches of color. This is something I will definitely need to practice.

Knitted Cloud
Seed stitched cloud, with one row mucked up near the top (woops!)

3. Colorwork doesn’t need to be in all stockinette stitch. I had a few rows of clouds on my needles before I realized that some seed stitch would make for a really fluffy-looking cloud. Knit 1, purl 1, then knit the purls and purl the knits on the next row.

You can see from the picture that I mucked up one row, but since I need to start over again anyway, I guess that’s okay! I love how fluffy and textured the clouds are just by adding the seed stitch.

I was excited to be able to design in more than just a color change. I have made one hat in the past without a pattern but other than that I stick to patterns because I haven’t had much confidence in the past that I knew what I was doing enough to go out on my own.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of this adventure. I’m hoping I can finish a new chart this afternoon and re-start my test knit again tonight or tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Read more about my adventure in creating my first knitting pattern: