Intarsia Knitting: May the force be with you!

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Cutie-pie Henry loves his R2D2 hat!  

About six months ago, my sister-in-law sent me the link to an R2D2 hat and said that my nephew, Henry, would love it. I knew she was right because Henry is a Star Wars fanatic (and it's super cute, yes?). "No problem," I said, "It's as good as done."

I spoke too soon, though, because the hat is an intarsia project, and I've only got a couple of those under my belt. I dove in, though, thinking it couldn't be that hard.

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  Oh, the humanity!

"Hard" isn't really the right word, but "fiddly" certainly is, and "tangled," too: Once I got into the intarsia portion of the hat I had about 60 strands of yarn hanging down from a 2-inch high, 18-inch wide piece of knitting. Check it out in the photo at right.

I was overwhelmed at first, trying to keep track of all of the ends, the chart, and twisting my yarns the correct way so I didn't end up with holes. So I have to admit, I shoved the whole thing in a Ziplock bag, further tangling the strands of yarn. And I didn't care. I put the bag in a drawer so it couldn't mock me, too.

But soon I started feeling guilty about my poor little Henry without his R2D2 hat. So I got the bag out of the drawer, pulled out the big blue and white mess, and started in. I realized that my biggest issue was with the strands tangling so badly, so I set out to solve the problem.

I had a mess of strands on bobbins, strands tied up in yarn butterflies, and some just hanging there. I realized that the strands that weren't in bobbles or butterflies were a lot much easier to deal with. The yarn was a smooth, acrylic mix and if I pulled gently and steadily, the strand I wanted came free of the rest of the yarn. Yahoo!

One surprise was that once I got into the pattern, I couldn't stop knitting, and I finished the remainder of the hat in one evening.

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  Before the Weaving In of the Ends

Then I was faced with the dreaded Weaving In of the Ends. Check out the photo at right. You might think I returned the hat to the bag and the bag to the drawer—and I didbut just for one evening.

The next night I got out the hat and had a happy meeting with my tapestry needle and perhaps a fleeting case of OCD. I wove all in all of the ends in one sitting.

And then I got out my red yarn and black yarn and used duplicate stitch to add the little details. Those details were included in the intarsia chart, but I couldn't be bothered to add even more ends to to mix, and duplicate stitch works great in these situations.

The finished product is darling, and I'm so happy with it, although I did get some slightly sad news from my sister-in-law. Henry is getting really into Harry Potter now, and the Star Wars love is fading a bit. On the flip side, I see a Hogwarts scarf in my near future!

If you want to join me in adventures in advanced intarsia knitting, check out Anne Berk's new Knitting Daily Workshop Intarsia InDepth. Anne is the intarsia master, and she's got a wonderful technique for knitting intarsia in the round. If you love color knitting, this DVD is for you!

I wish I'd used the force to guide me to this video before I started the R2D2 hat!

P.S. If you want this pattern, just search the web for the free R2D2 pattern.

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