Saturday 20 June 2009

Experiment with intarsia design

A few blogs back I mentioned that I had had a 'Road to Damascus' moment when it suddenly hit me that designing charts for knitting (especially intarsia) ought to be no different to designing a tapestry... or even to working with pixels.
This is an idea that I have been interested in for years, having experimented with paintings that mimic the effect of enlarged pixels. So this really caught my interest... but I digress.

This post is simply to share my first stab at kntting up my very first intarsia design. I have completed a test knit for my bare trees chart... pics of the chart and the test knit are below.

I should mention that the sample did not turn out 100% as I intended, but I do quite like it and will probably turn it into a bag, once I can muster the inclination to knit the rest of it...

The sharp eyed among you may notice that my knitted tree points a different way than the chart... this is a schoolgirl error! I made the mistake of casting on in the same direction that I planned to knit my first row. (I should either have cast on from the opposite end or started with a purl row in order to get my tree to point the right way... doh!)

The chart itself was designed using my faithful old friend, Excel. I simply created a grid of squares and coloured them in, in stages... essentially just like drawing.

A good lesson learned from this test is that my test gauge did not perfectly match the size of my squares. The next time I do this, I will first of all plan the yarn and knit a gauge swatch, then size the Excel squares exactly according to my knitted swatch... this way I can ensure, while drawing, that the design proportions I am seeing on screen are exactly as they will look when knitted in the proposed yarn.
Anyway this experiment has got my creative juices flowing and I can see lots of potential for designing charts, either for intarsia or just regular stitch patterns...


  1. What a lovely design! It's really beautiful. I have graph paper that is not square which helps with charting. I didn't know you could alter the dimensions of the grid on Excel. I'll have to try it! Thanks!

  2. Thanks mel, that's really kind of you. This time around I just selected 80 excel columns and rows and set the size by hand... (which was not very scientific!) Next time I will use the settings to specify the exact width and height to match my stitch ratio.

  3. Love love love this chart! May I use it for the mini tote I'm knitting please?

  4. Hi Moonkissed,

    I've actually been meaning to write this up as a bag pattern for some time now. If you'd like use the chart for your tote bag, please will you send me some feedback on how you get on - and pics of the finished bag? I'd love to see how it goes.

    Susie F

  5. Okay, awesome. Thanks! I'd started a bag with a different pattern but frogged it because I couldn't successfully knit intarsia in the round :( I think I'm just going to duplicate stitch this one on since I don't know if I'll have enough yarn to finish the bag in the first place.

  6. I'm going to frog it and redo it once I get to NY. I flipped the chart so the tree is on the right, it looks better like that :)

  7. This is stunning! Fabulous job!
    What size needles did you use? What was the yarn weight? Lorene