The Icelandic Star Cowl

This week I've started a new project. Yes, I do have several WIPs on various needles stashed about my house. Yes, I sometimes have trouble following through on said projects. But I needed to give my hands a break from teeny tiny stitches, and I will finish my underway projects, in good time, that's a promise. Now that it's fall though, I really just wanted to make something cozy for myself.

The chosen project is Julia Farwell-Clay's Icelandic Star Cowl from Knitscene Accessories 2013. It is knit flat, with bulky yarn, and features a gorgeous intarsia star pattern. I've never done intarsia before, but this project seemed like a good way to learn. I am using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky, in Navy Pier for the main color and Harvest for the contrast color. These two colors together remind me of the Swedish flag (I studied in Sweden and am more than marginally obsessed with all things Swedish), thus the pairing makes me incredibly happy. If this combination is not your cup of tea though, I highly suggest browsing through Lorna's Laces colorways for inspiration. All colors are sweepingly beautiful, and an added bonus is they have fantastically evocative names, such as Navy Pier, Lincoln Park, and Baltic Sea.

Amy walked me through intarsia basics. For those who do not know, intarsia is a colorwork technique involving using new strands of yarn for each section of color you are working. The first key is to make sure that you wrap your strands around one another at the end of each color section so that you do not get holes in your work. In the below left photo you can see the back of the fabric and how the gold and blue are locked together. I like the way this looks, and it means that the fabric is secure. OK, no holes!

Moving on, the second key (as far as I can tell) is to try to keep your many strands of yarn in order. As you can see from the below picture (thank you Amy!), it sometimes looks like I am going to battle with my knitting…and we are not on the same side. Strands are twisted and twined in unattractive ways, and I've found it requires a solid amount of patience to untangle the yarn without making it worse. I am in the midst of winding yarn onto homemade cardboard bobbins to make this less of an issue. Julia Farwell-Clay herself suggested this, and it definitely makes switching from one color to the next a much smoother experience.

I've found this project to be really addicting, and it moves quickly because the yarn is bulky! I don't feel overwhelmed by the intarsia because it starts simply and gets more complex as the knitting continues. If you are looking for a first intarsia project, an intarsia refresher, or just a comfy, stylish knit, I suggest you cast-on post haste. And if you're looking for a more in depth explanation of intarsia, I suggest you check out Kathleen's Intarsia Tutorial from January, it's very helpful.

Do you have any intarsia tricks or tips? Do you wrap your strands in a cool way? Please share below!

Happy (fall) knitting,

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